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Now that I have that out of the way, it’s time for the monthly NOVA Pro Report with your flunky for Sermon on the Mat. Big deal this time around, as NOVA Pro took a huge risk and ran an open tryout show as well as their usually monthly fare. And because I’m dedicated, I watched the whole thing. Five hours of show with a two-hour intermission. TWENTY matches in all.
God help us if Vince hears about it, or WrestleMania may take up an entire fortnight.
I was very fortunate to take advantage of open seating for the afternoon tryout show. I got to sit alongside a bunch of the wrestlers and personalities in the region. Our front row had myself, Beau Crockett, Mecha Mercenary, Brad Stutts, Mike E. King (the promoter), and Papa Hales. Behind us were Anthony Henry and Fred Yehi. Stutts even made the fellow wrestlers little signs with houses on them in case the talent felt the match was heading to a trainwreck and needed to be wrapped up. Or in case they felt like trolling. More on that later.
And yes, I’m going over the tryout show, because it actually impacted the evening main show. Several wrestlers were moved to the main show based on their performances during the tryout. They had to: some regulars were elsewhere since it was a Saturday. Rayo had a match in New Jersey he was previously booked for, and Logan Easton LaRoux – Commonwealth Cup winner and presumed top heel – said he was working for CHIKARA that weekend. (On YouTube, he cut a promo saying he was offended at not being in the main event and would boycott the show.)
It seemed like life would go on when it was announced Chet Sterling would defend against Sonjay Dutt and Shane Strickland, but Strickland withdrew the week before the event. It was openly stated the top performing prospect would take his place with at title match, making all of these matches somewhat important. In theory.
NOVA Pro Presents: Life is Like a Box of Chocolates – the Tryout Show
Just match-match-match here, as you’d expect. I’ll give you the highlights of each match.
· THICK VIC vs. MR GRIM vs. WES ROGERS vs. DANTE BISHOP vs. MERCENARY BELL vs. IVAN ALI: Don’t be worried if you haven’t heard of these guys, as much of them are micro-level talent hoping to break into the next level. Thick Vic does a bowling gimmick. Bell came to the ring with a bazooka and scared everyone off. Wes Rogers took a backdrop over the top rope to the floor and the people who should’ve caught him missed. Ali and Bishop did the staredown showdown spot. Grim pinned Bell with That’s Incredible. Call it 0.75 stars out of 5.
· CABANA MAN DAN vs. DONNIE PRIMETIME: Cabana Man Dan is a Filipino wrestler who dresses like Carlito without the outrageous hair. Donnie Primetime is the white guy who thinks he’s a black belt in his own martial art and looks like Chris Jericho ca. 1998 WITH the outrageous hair. Primetime was DQ’d by overzealous referee Todd Myers for not breaking in the ropes at a 5 count. Neither wrestler was too happy. 1.75/5
· FENIX FURY vs. DANTE CABALLERO: The whole front row at this point began butchering the Spanish language to get Caballero’s attention – seeing as how he’s been in NOVA Pro before and was here as a reference for Fury, this was fine. Fenix asked us to "MAKE SOME NOISE" so we began a "NOISE! NOISE!" chant. At this point I asked Beau if I was in the RiffTrax Row, and he phrased it as "the row of people who already have jobs". Fenix wins with the Codebreaker, because he’s Puerto Rican and has to have a finisher resembling the Colon’s’s. 2
· LAYNIE LUCK vs. ALLIE KAT: Allie Kat is a pure gimmick, and I mean that in the nicest way. She’s "from the local animal shelter", she crawls on all fours to the ring, she has a picture of a tail on her tights, she drew whiskers on her face, her offense has lots of hissing an scratching, the works. She is, however, a decent wrestler, and got the win here with a Ripcord Headbutt. Veda Scott entered the ring after the match and asked her to work on the main show in her tag match. 1.5
· DeJUAN O’NEAL vs. MACK BUTLER vs. THOMAS MUNOZ: O’Neal had some fans in the front row (particularly Mech, a fellow Red Sox fan). Butler has a trucker gimmick. This was a hoss match, and a bit disjointed. Munoz tried a spear, and this led to my discussion with Beau (who uses the spear as a finisher) as to why he wasn’t doing it right. Butler pinned O’Neal with the Rydeen Bomb. 0.5
· JEAN-JEAN LeBON vs. PRAKASH SABAR: Sabar is someone who has been up and down the East Coast and does a Middle Eastern DX gimmick, hailing from "X-Pac-kistan". But LeBon had him beat, as he was a wrestling mime. And the crowd leaned HARD into this, silently air clapping with his moves, non-vocally chanting him, and so on. Between the two, we had a Monday Night Wars’ Greatest Hits match, and the comedy was amazing. Sabar won with a sunset flip, after which LeBon thanked us in a post-match promo. At least, I think he did. I was too busy mouthing a Please Come Back chant. 1 for the workrate, 5 for the experience.
· ISAIAH FRAZIER vs. JUSTIN D’AIR: Frazier is a semi-regular in NOVA Pro and espouses Money Greene’s "Cheat To Eat" philosophy. So this was a tryout for D’Air more than anyone else. I should note, by the way, that both people in this match (and in a few others) came out to "Green Light" by Flo Rida, because if you couldn’t be bothered to bring your own music, you’d get this instead. D’Air looked decent, and this wouldn’t have been out of place as an opener on the main show. D’Air wins with the 450. 1.5
· CAMERON ACTION vs. ERIC SILVA: Cameron is very green, but is full-tilt into his gimmick: a former camera man who stepped into the right. In fact, his nickname is "Lights" – you know, Lights Cameron Action? Get it? Anyway, Eric Silva is doing a gangster gimmick, and the crowd was kind of intimidated by him. But not Cameron. Though he should’ve been. Silva with the jumping Complete Shot for the W. 0.5
· MATTY STARR vs. ZOMBIE DRAGON vs. LIASO: Starr was hurt early in the match and being looked at by officials while the other two did their thing. This was not good. Lots of pauses and poorly executed moves. The front row gave them the go home sign, but that’s when Starr returned to try to salvage the mess. Liaso won with an inward senton. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out Zombie threw some of his entrance gear out of the ring carelessly and wound up hitting me with it. DUD
· DONNIE DOLLARS vs. JORDAN BLAKE: Everyone gave Donnie the go-home sign on his way to the ring – it’s okay, because most of them have fought Donnie in the Ohio indies. Jordan was making her debut here. Not her NOVA Pro debut, her wrestling debut. Donnie was a foot taller and twice as big, so he threw her around and made arrogant covers to help her time her comebacks. Donnie won with a big boot. Jordan got an ovation for her first match ever. 1.75
· A.C. HAWX vs. SUGAR DUNKERTON: Now here’s the good stuff. AC Hawx is a Storm-trained wrestler who is very good technically, as you’d expect. Sugar Dunkerton is a CHIKARA guy who dresses like Sly and the Family Stone and has a pure 70s funk gimmick. He even claps us along to the beat of his entrance music before appearing! Dunkerton’s banter is off the charts, including a "GREAT BENOIT’S GHOST" after being German suplexed. Dunkerton won, but I was too busy laughing to see how. Still, both guys were great. 2.25
And now, we took a 90-minute break between shows. Here’s the report on the main card:
NOVA PRO WRESTLING PRESENTS: HI FIDELITY
"Don’t you know a mime is a terrible thing to waste?" – Richard Lewis, "Robin Hood: Men in Tights"
We opened with two guys from the tryout show getting a better chance to show their stuff:
MATCH 1: PRO-SOUTH ALL OUT CHAMPIONSHIP: Donnie Primetime (challenger) vs. Cabana Man Dan (champion)
Fortunately, for the rematch we had Jason Register doing the officiating as opposed to Todd Myers. However, the crowd began a running gag during this match: every time the official threatened a DQ after a count of 4, someone (or someones) in the crowd would shout, "Don’t push it; we’ve seen him do it." Dan came to the ring in flip-flops and – somehow – was allowed to use them on his hands when doing chops. Primetime tore up one flip-flop, but Dan still had the other and put it on his foot for his finisher. Better than last time, and both guys looked like good opening match people.
Cabana Man Dan d. Donnie Primetime with a leg lariat to retain the Pro-South All Out Championship. (2)
Brad Stutts informs us that with so many great wrestlers passing the tryouts, the card was changed in multiple locations. The big example is that the triple threat PWI Ultra J Championship match was now a four-way. Sterling was still defending against Dutt, but they would be joined by Bobby Shields and the top prospect from the tryout show. Shields said this honor was a long time coming.
MATCH 2: Brandon "Money" Greene and Ethan Alexander Sharpe vs. A.C. Hawx and Matty Starr
Starr was given a second chance after the trouble in his tryout match, while Hawx fully earned his second go-round. Greene and Sharpe are cheating heels who happen to have a decent amount of money. Greene is also one of the best at bantering in the East Coast – only about a half-step behind Sugar Dunkerton, for example. Case in point: he mocks Hawx for an early headlock, but when Hawx reverses, Greene gets to the ropes with his long frame and shouts, "See? I’m in the ropes! That’s what you call Ring Awareness!" This got a RING AWARENESS chant started.
Greene was coaching Sharpe along, storywise, and deciding what moves they should do next. When Starr got the hot tag to Hawx, Greene began begging like his life depended on it. Eventually, Sharpe tripped Hawx and things went downhill from there.
Brandon Greene and Ethan Sharpe d. A.C. Hawx and Matty Starr when Greene pinned Hawx with Sharpe’s help off of a suplex reversal straight out of the WrestleMania V playbook. (1.5)
MATCH 3: Fred Yehi vs. John Kermon
Kermon is an MMA/wrestling hybrid guy, so he meshed very well with Yehi. Yehi has amazing facial expressions; he looked like he wanted to kill Kermon. The first time the two men tumbled to the ropes on a grappling exchange, the crowd resumed the RING AWARENESS chant. (Have I mentioned this crowd was into it all night?) At one point, the following exchange happened:
Kermon: "Is that all you got? YOU are in BIG trouble."
Yehi: "You did NOT just go there! You are in SUBSTANTIALLY bigger trouble now!"
But Kermon had the answers and kept Yehi from putting on any real submissions. Kermon got Yehi in the triangle, and when Yehi tried to powerbomb out of it, Kermon shifted his weight and the hold and got a tap out of it.
John Kermon d. Fred Yehi with a straight cross armbar. (3)
MATCH 4: The Carnies (Nick Iggy & Kerry Awful & Beau Crockett) vs. Lucas Calhoun and the Sandwich Squad (Aaron Biggs & Mecha Mercenary)
If Beau’s name inside the parentheses doesn’t make sense to you Carnies faithful, he joined at last month’s show and we’re not sure if he’ll team with them outside of Virginia. Calhoun is an Elvis impersonator (Vegas Elvis edition) who does KARATAY a lot. The Sandwich Squad are both 400 pounds each, so of course Calhoun was the face in peril. Hot tag went to Mecha, and he steamrolled everyone he could.
The Carnies’ heat segment was very good, and their selling really helped put the big boys over, but in the end, both men were taken out and Calhoun was all alone. Beau had a better idea than the usual Car-Knees finisher: do the move he and his ex-partner did to rub it in! After all, it wasn’t like former partner "Innocent" Isaiah Santero was in the building…
The Carnies d. Lucas Calhoun and the Sandwich Squad after Iggy pinned Calhoun when he and Beau Crockett did the Time Of Your Life. (2.25)
…oh wait, Isaiah IS in the building, and here he comes through the crowd to attack! The Squad held off Iggy and Awful, allowing Isaiah to go to town on Beau in one of the loudest pops of the night. Beau finally escaped out of the ring, and they did the "yeah, I’ll fight you, just not now" bit. Isaiah left with the fans chanting his name.
MATCH 5: Veda Scott and a partner of her choosing (Allie Kat) vs. Faye Jackson and a partner of her choosing (Jordynne Grace)
As you remember from the tryout show, Allie Kat does a lot of feline stuff for her gimmick. Veda remembered, and when Allie wouldn’t get in the ring during intros, Veda pulled out a laser pointer and coaxed Allie in! Veda freaked out when Grace was named the partner and insisted Allie start. Some cheating got Jordynne to be face in peril (it involved Allie climbing to the top rope and asking for the ref’s help to get down – cuz she’s a cat, you see – allowing Veda to blindside Grace). A few fans could be heard trying to start the Meow Mix jingle, but it didn’t take.
Allie had Grace in a sleeper hold, and Grace reached up and… petted Allie’s head? And it WORKED: Allie abandoned the hold and curled up in Jordynne’s lap, allowing her to go for the hot tag. Veda soon bailed out, refusing to take too much punishment from Faye, and that allowed the finish.
Faye Jackson and Jordynne Grace d. Veda Scott and Allie Kat when Faye pinned Kat with a fisherman’s suplex. (1.75)
MATCH 6: Anthony Henry vs. Tim Donst
This was the match where the crowd went full ECW in a good way: Donst came out, then noticed his bootlace had come untied. He took time to re-tie it, and the fans started a DOUBLE KNOT chant. So he did that. Henry, not to be outdone, gave HIS boot a double knot. This led to a WRESTLE SAFELY chant. Donst, Scumbag for Hire, then played off of it by threatening to untie Henry’s boot, which led to a YOU SICK FELLA (we don’t swear here) chant.
Minutes later, Donst went to the top rope to (ostensibly) try something to Henry on the floor, but whether intentional or a happy accident, he stumbled a tad and decided to hit the axehandle off the apron instead. He made it look like an intentional decision, and the crowd rewarded him with a SAFETY FIRST chant! As for the match, Henry had good high-flying timing and Donst held it together with his crisp mat wrestling. Lots of fire shown too – there’s a reason Donst usually gets the "Act 1 main event" spot. We started a BOTH THESE GUYS chant during the match. Donst caught Henry on a reversal and got the win.
Tim Donst d. Anthony Henry with his From Dusk Til Donst full-nelson crossface. (3.25)
After the match, Donst congratulated us on coming up with the Safety First chant and credited it with helping him come back for the win. He then led us in a Please Come Back chant for Anthony Henry, which we turned into a HE CAME BACK chant when Henry entered the ring. The two shook hands, and Henry held up three fingers (to indicate that, along with the "two" appearances tonight, he’d make a third one).
Bryan Hughes thanked us for making him enjoy the fan antics, and we went to intermission.
As you recall, Bobby Shields got moved to the title match. This left Arik Royal, one of the most consistent NOVA Pro wrestlers and proclaimed Ace of the company, without a dance partner. We shouldn’t have worried.
MATCH 7: Sugar Dunkerton vs. Arik Royal
Royal has been able to play off of David Starr and Rickey Shane Page in the banter department, but this took it to a whole new level. The fans were all in on it too! For example, after Royal wins a lockup by shoving Dunkerton into the corner:
SUGAR: "Hey! Y’all didn’t tell me he was that strong!"
FEMALE FAN: "You didn’t ask!"
ROYAL: "You know, she’s got a point?"
MALE FAN: "He’s a brother with a beard; of course he’s strong!"
SUGAR: "HEY! That is stereotyping!"
SAME MALE FAN: "I’m black; I can do that." (Note: so are Royal and Sugar.)
ROYAL: "I think he’s got a point, too."
SUGAR: "All right, all right, gimme a sec." (he turns around and pretends to diagram a play on an invisible whiteboard)
ROYAL: "You gotta carry the 2!"
Once the meet of the match started, it was a great speed vs. power match, with Sugar trying hit-and-run tactics and getting caught by Royal. They even teased a double countout that the crowd got into. Near the end, Royal went for the Space Jam (Lionsault-style springboard into a clawhold slam) but Dunkerton blocked it, because NO ONE slams on Dunkerton! Near the end, Dunkerton pulled himself up and screamed "I CAME TOO FAR FOR THIS!" before smashing a forearm to Royal, who responded "SO HAVE I!" and fired back. This set off a strike war that the crowd really got into, but Royal was able to fake out Sugar in the end…
Arik Royal d. Sugar Dunkerton with the low-angle Pounce. (3)
After the match, Royal gave Sugar props for avoiding the Space Jam, which never happens, and said he was impressed with the guy’s ability. The two embraced, and Sugar got a huge Please Come Back chant and a curtain call from the announcer.
MATCH 8: Rachael Ellering vs. Angelus Layne
Ellering booted Layne off the apron and attacked on the floor, where a good 70% of the match took place. Chairs and trash cans were used (with the crowd getting an ECW chant started for the introduction of the latter). At one point, Layne trapped Ellering’s leg in a chair – not a folding chair, but a straight-back convention floor chair – and worked away on it. When they FINALLY got back to the ring, this played a role in the outcome – Rachael’s leg collapsed when she tried the TKO, and she couldn’t withstand the bizarre submission Angelus did.
Angelus Layne d. Rachael Ellering with some sort of crossface abdominal stretch legbar. (1.75)
Angelus kept up the attack after the match. Rachel tried to crawl after her, refusing help at first.
So… as you recall, Logan Easton LaRoux was off the show by his "own choice". Bobby Shields, his teammate in the One Percent, was in the title match. There was one other spot left open for a top prospect. Who got it? Well, the fans wanted the mime, and they got him!
MAIN EVENT, PWI Ultra J Championship: Chet Sterling (champion) vs. Bobby Shields (challenger) vs. Sonjay Dutt (challenger) vs. Jean-Jean LeBon (challenger)
The crowd went nuts when he came out before remembering their manners and being silent-nuts. A huge "SH!" chant broke out. Meanwhile, I noticed that the wrestler was the same size as many cruiserweights and was masked AND covered head-to-toe in costume. Plus, when the match began, the first thing LeBon did was a pantomime bit with Shields, who oddly enough played along. My head was broadcasting more alarm bells than the RTC theme.
Dutt and Sterling superkicked both men out of the ring and dove on each one in turn. LeBon bounced into the crowd, where he pulled up a chair and watched. A few minutes later, he lay down playing dead (literally – arms crossed and everything) right in front of me. I got a good look through the mask, then turned to the guy next to me and said, "Prepare for a stupid finish." Meanwhile, the crowd was all-in whenever the mime did anything, which was to the detriment of the match itself – too bad, because it was a decent three-way.
Sterling looked to get the pin with the Blockbuster, and LeBon chose that moment to run in and break it up. He came off the top with a front missile dropkick as Shields snuck out of the ring, then held up the index finger high – that’s the One Percent salute! Shields returned as Sterling tried to get LeBon from behind, and he returned with a brass pole (like the type that holds up a velvet rope) and smashed it into Sterling’s back. Unfortunately for him, Todd Myers (he of the quick DQ) was the ref, and this was NOT a no-DQ match. In the chaos, LeBon pulled the mask off… and you’ve probably guessed who it is.
Chet Sterling retained the PWI Ultra J Championship over Sonjay Dutt, Bobby Shields, and
Jean-Jean LeBon Logan Easton LaRoux by disqualification of Shields. (2.75)
For the record, the crowd’s reaction was to start a "WE ARE STUPID" chant.
LaRoux refused to accept the DQ; instead, he and Shields superkicked Myers into unconsciousness. LaRoux hit the SPM (SubPrime Mortgage aka RKO) on Sterling, and Shields used Myers’ hand to count three. Shields then announced LaRoux as the new champion even though the bell had rung a LONG time ago. Officials and wrestlers came out to check on Sterling and Myers (although we insisted the ref was goldbricking).
When Sterling came to, he grabbed the mic and laid out the challenge: if Logan’s going to backstab his way to the top of the food chain, he can climb over Sterling’s dead body – next month, they end this in a LADDER MATCH!
Next month is "American Slang ‘17", coming to you on July 14 from the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia. In addition to our ladder title match, we’ve had announced the following:
· Matt Cross vs. Sonjay Dutt
· The Ugly Ducklings (Lance Lude & Rob Killjoy) vs. The GymNasty Boys (Timmy Lou Retton & White Mike)
· The return of Joey Janela
See you then, guys!