The show starts just a few minutes after the scheduled bell time with Trevin Adams and Timothy Barr in the ring to welcome us to the show.
Matt Riddle vs. Rayo (Style Battle Season 1 Episode 8 Bracket B First Round Match)
Riddle, of course, well known for his UFC career and he brings those MMA sensibilities to pro wrestling, albeit leavened with a healthy dose of indie main event action at this point. Rayo comes in known for his kicks and his flying.
Rayo with a happy birthday before trying to steal the win out the gates, trying a bit of flying and multiple pinning predicaments, Riddle powerbombs him...
Matt Riddle wins by pinfall with a running knee strike to the face.
Poor Rayo. Even if he keeps doubling his match time every time he appears in WWN he’s gonna take ages to get to a competitive match, but so it goes. Fine for what it was, of course.
Interviewed about his match, Riddle says that was just a taste and the beginning.
Brody King vs. Kyle the Beast (Style Battle Season 1 Episode 8 Bracket B First Round Match)
Kind of a mirror match here, two very agile big men, a pair of textbook modern indie HOSSES, capable of flight and power in equal turn.
Testing strength, into a bit of light lucha libre, double dropkick and a kip-up stalemate! Things proceed to a striking battle, King with a lucha armdrag and a headscissors takeover and following it with a dive! KTB TOPE CON GIRO! Back inside, more striking, Brody pulls ahead with a suplex but gets dropped by a corkscrew uppercut!
Just slugging it out, the Beast with a front fireman’s carry slam into the quebrada... ONLY ONE! Back to slugging it out after King drops Kyle on his head in the corner, jockeying for position, crazy double jump blockbuster from Brody... NOT ENOUGH! KTB with a brainbuster in turn... NO GOOD! Bridging German suplex doesn’t do it, release powerbomb into a falling lariat but the Beast still has gas left in his tank!
Struggling in the corner, KTB with a gallon throw, rolling through into the half crab and keeping King in the center of the ring...
Kyle the Beast wins by submission with a half-crab.
This kind of ruled. Two big dudes at turns beating the crap out of each other and flying, not the most elaborate or deepest match, but good stuff all the same.
KTB is interviewed and says it doesn’t matter how big you are or how hard you hit, he’s taking round two.
Brandon Watts vs. Joey Janela (Style Battle Season 1 Episode 8 Bracket A First Round Match)
A clash of the flyers here, but where Watts is a bit more traditional, Janela is an absolute madman who’s also well-versed on the mat and in deathmatch action.
Feeling out, very playful is Joey, even stopping at one point to cut a promo about how he’s a very good boy today and feels like offering up some sportsmanship. Brandon is skeptical but takes it and of course it’s a ruse because Janela is a bad, bad boy. Taking his time, chops and whips, posing for the crowd... and inevitably paying for it with a dropkick to the face that sends him to the floor.
Outside, following it up, Watts starts fooling around in turn and it lets Joey take charge on their way back into the ring. Back and forth, Sick Kick from Janela gets a nearfall and we get an extended slugfest section before Joey takes a very vocal break with a kneeling surfboard. From there into an extended figure four sequence, manipulating Brandon’s foot shortly before getting forced into the ropes.
Joey comes up yelling about his meniscus after the reversal and heads outside when Watts is in danger of flying on him, only to get leveled with a tope anyway! Back inside, struggle in the corner, Janela with an avalanche Falcon Arrow... NOT ENOUGH! Up top again...
Joey Janela wins by pinfall with a diving double stomp.
This didn’t come together for me at all. The stalling early was fun but it felt like just as it was time to go into second gear things fell back with the extended figure four sequence and never quite recovered. The promo you’re about to read a summary of was really good, though.
Janela is interviewed and asks if they’re sure they want to give him a live microphone before yanking the mic away and cutting a promo asking WWN why they won’t book him more and how they keep saying he’s not good enough, he can’t hang with Zack Sabre, Jr., Darby Allin, Fred Yehi, and Matt Riddle, but he’s got some news for them, he can hang with any professional wrestler in the world and he’s gonna prove to Sal and to Gabe that not only can he hang with those guys, but that he’s a bad, bad boy.
Nick Gage vs. WALTER (Style Battle Season 1 Episode 8 Bracket A First Round Match)
Nick Gage is the ultraviolent king, a deathmatch legend who once suffered a wound so bad at Tournament of Death that he’d end up dying on the operating table but still had every intention of finishing the match before being forcibly evacuated. WALTER is a catch wrestling maestro, one of the best grapplers in the world, and with a power game befitting his enornmous frame to boot. This is, in the best sense, a battle of styles.
Jawing, Gage piefacing and slapping WALTER and getting booted right back! Staying on him, Karelin lift but Nick is right back on his feet and trading chops! The Ring General locks a torture half-crab on into an elevated crab that turns into a proper Liontamer! Slap exchange, Gojira Clutch, Ringkampf rope break, following it up with a butterfly suplex but Gage gets right under him with a back suplex!
Nick takes things outside after a while, looking to whip the big man and failing, taking more chops for his trouble, his chest red, old scar tissue becoming prominent. Back inside, piledriver denied with a back body drop, powerbomb escape, chop connects, Gage slides outside and wants the fight on the floor again! Slugging it out, WALTER back body drops Nick into the crowd!
The referee, tired of admonishing them, throws the match out.
Brawling on the floor, throwing chairs, WALTER puts Gage deep into the crowd as the locker room empties and they keep fighting! Nick back for more, he and WALTER throwing hands as the locker room tries to keep them apart and the Ring General slugs one of the referees! BACK SUPLEX ON THE APRON! Pulled apart again... Keith Lee is here and he clocks Gage!
WALTER offers Lee a handshake but the champ passes it up. Headed out to leave... AND NICK GAGE IS BACK AND THEY’RE STILL FIGHTING!
So that was absurd in a great way. Any kind of a draw in a tournament always feels a bit off because I wanted to see one of these guys wrestle Joey Janela! But the action here was great, the brawl after was super intense, and we got setup for Keith Lee vs. Nick Gage, which is both highly unexpected and also very awesome. Can’t wait!
Kyle the Beast vs. Matt Riddle (Style Battle Season 1 Episode 8 Bracket B Semifinals)
Right out the gates with hard striking, both men standing their ground. Turning the heat up the Beast gets a good few licks in but Riddle pops out of a German suplex, hits a knee, fisherman buster, only a nearfall! Bro 2 Sleep into the bridging German, not enough, clubbing away, Bro stomping at his head but Kyle won’t go down!
Into the senton sequence, KTB gets the knees up but Deep Waters finds a way...
Matt Riddle wins by pinfall with a running knee strike.
A good solid sprint in Bro’s usual style, wish I had more to say about it but being totally honest I was kinda bombed out after our previous brawl.
Interviewed after the match, Riddle tells Janela to get ready for the biggest ass-whooping of his life because he’s not losing on his birthday!
At this point the show takes a short intermission.
Jack Gallow vs. Jimmy Lloyd
Hot start, double lariat stalemate in seconds leaves both men a bit slow to get up. Gallow with a lariat from the apron, diving splash, only a nearfall! Slugging it out, off the ropes Jimmy gets caught by a German suplex into a series of strikes, but Jack can’t put him away. Lloyd back into it...
Jimmy Lloyd wins by pinfall with a Beach Break.
Nice little sprint to kick the second half of the show off there, both guys going hard, no wasted time, real maximize-your-minutes stuff.
Adrian Alanis vs. James Bandy (c) vs. Jaxon Vile vs. Liam Gray (WWA4 Championship)
Alanis and Gray with an alliance but Bandy and Vile make the first strike in a very literal sense. Vile takes Bandy out with a full nelson slam, Liam slides in and he and Adrian have a falling out over a pinfall attempt. Alanis overpowers him, backbreaker into a tossing slam, a boot sends his former ally packing and he ends up on the bad side of the champion shortly after.
To the floor, Bandy runs into a swinging back suplex on the apron, Jaxon takes flight and Gray follows, reminding us that these are in fact AR Fox’s students. Liam takes Adrian back in but Vile cuts him off and a Tower of Doom ensues! Bandy Buster denied, Alanis goes for an underhook maneuver, the champ slips out, hits the Buster and Vile breaks it up!
Whip, Stinger splash but Jaxon cuts him off with a spear and gets the nearfall! Gray in with a kick, lifting STO, he’s fired up, off the ropes and Adrian catches him with a Big Ending that’s also a leg drop on Vile! Nearfall, setting Liam up in the corner, jockeying for position, James cuts Alanis off with B2 and Gray comes off the top to break it up!
Package piledriver, Vile with the save but he takes a kick to the face, stops a crucifix short...
Jaxon Vile wins by pinfall with the Vile Driver on Liam Gray, winning the WWA4 Championship.
Always a fun time when AR Fox’s kids show up at Style Battle. Little shaky around the edges (that Tower of Doom didn’t go right at all), but some kids doing new and exciting stuff all the same.
It’s finals time so that means interviews! Janela’s up first and says just as he suspected, Gage and WALTER are scared of him before telling Riddle to make his day and come to the ring.
Riddle, for his part, responds by saying he’s ready to fight.
Joey Janela vs. Matt Riddle (Style Battle Season 1 Episode 8 Finals)
Janela makes it clear he didn’t want, like, a mixed martial arts fight, he wants a pro wrestling fight.
Test of strength ensues and Bro gets a one-arm waistlock takedown that sends Joey to the floor for a breather! Into some grappling, Janela with a sweet World of Sport headstand escape on a wristlock and they end up in the ropes, Riddle getting a handful of hair. Some banter over Matt having recently gotten a haircut follows and Janela gets the taste slapped out of his mouth!
Slugging it out, slap for slap, Matt fired up, slap rush in the corner and Joey gets a rake of the eyes! Tenryu jab connects and Janela follows with a wristlock, saying he’s going to prove those who thought he couldn’t wrestle wrong. He applies an armbar and goes for some finger manipulation, Bro reverses and Joey breaks his damn toe!
Back after the leg, grapevine applied as he wrenches the foot and Bro kicks his way out with his good foot. Riddle dumped to the floor and Janela takes flight with a suicide dive! Fighting on the floor, putting Matt into barricade and post, insisting he has until ten, choking him over the post and breaking the count. Whip reversed, running knee connects and he dumps the Bad Boy back in the ring.
High jump senton, Karelin lift, rolling through for a second but Janela’s able to turn the tide and connect with a few running boots in the corner into a facewash, Bro seemingly out of gas but still able to barely kick out. Joey with an armbar, Matt keeps his hands clasped and rolls around, deadlifting him into the powerbomb!
Senton follows, up top for the diving one but Janela rolls away! Forearm for forearm, from their knees to the feet, finally both men taking a knee and Deep Waters hits the Superman Punch! German suplex into a folding press... NOPE! Beckoning the Bad Boy up, chest kicks and another senton but Joey won’t stay down! Shoulder Jawbreaker from Janela for some breathing room, a superkick into a fisherman buster, only a nearfall!
Joe reaches into his trunks for a round of the circle game before delivering a buzzsaw roundhouse kick! Riddle blocks a lariat, Pele kick connects, stomp to the back, hoisting him up, jumping tombstone... NOT ENOUGH! Headed up top, jockeying for position, Joey with an eye rake, down with the double stomp... NO GOOD! Janela singing Happy Birthday as he lands chest kicks and the buzzsaw finale finds home!
Riddle fires up, powerbomb, off the ropes, knee strike... JANELA’S STILL IN IT! Stomp in passing, Bro 2 Sleep denied, superkick connects for a nearfall! But Matt’s on him with the Bromission...
Matt Riddle wins by submission with Bromission, winning Style Battle Season 1, Episode 8 and advancing to the Style Battle Season Finale on WrestleMania weekend.
So this was great. The basic story here is that Janela, despite his earlier complaints and declaration that he can hang with anybody, just couldn’t force himself to take the match as seriously as he needed to in order to beat a man like Matt Riddle. And in execution it was thrilling, especially towards the end when both men hit what got them out of the first round only to find it wasn’t enough in the finals.
Riddle is interviewed after the match and says WrestleMania weekend is what’s next for him, and he’s gonna show the world that he’s the one that carries the World Wrestling Network on his back!
A good conclusion to the first round of Style Battle Season 1. Although Watts/Janela was a complete misfire for me personally, Gage/WALTER was everything I hoped it would be and more even with the no contest draw, since that finish is absolutely begging for a rematch with less rules and a decisive winner somewhere down the line, whether at Evolve 100 or WrestleMania weekend, and Riddle/Janela was a hell of a main event to cap it off.
And now we’re set to head into the season finale WrestleMania weekend with our final field being as follows:
- Dave Crist
- Tracer X
- Jon Davis
- Jason Kincaid
- Anthony Henry
- Fred Yehi
- Darby Allin
- Matt Riddle
Which, all in all, should make for an excellent tournament!
Check it out when the VOD goes live on WWNLive.com, folks.