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NOVA Pro Commonwealth Cup 2018 preview

NOVA Pro Wrestling

Independent wrestling is awesome. Tournaments in wrestling are awesome.

An independent wrestling tournament? YES.

Hey there, folks, I’m your NOVA Pro correspondent WWORDuke, slowly trying to win over more fans to the greatest little promotion in the Mid-Atlantic. With me for this preview is the right Rev. Claire, as she will be filling in where my knowledge falls a little short (which it will, several times). Our topic? This weekend’s Commonwealth Cup, June 8 and 9, live in Annandale VA. If you want to be a part of the action, get your tickets… or, heck, get Powerbomb TV and watch shows 1 and 3 streaming! (Use code NOVAPRO for a 20-day free trial.)

The Commonwealth Cup… wait, let me rephrase: the Commonwealth CUPS will be a PAIR of tournaments held this weekend. Yes, two. 16 men and 8 women will gather to determine who the best in the Mid-Atlantic is. Here at Cageside Seats, we’ll run down the 12 first-round matchups for you. As the brackets are being kept a secret, the matches are being looked at in order of announcement and should not imply second-round meetings. In my analysis, I will share the kayfabe look at the match; Claire will chip in with a more outsider perspective.

With that in mind, let’s start on the Men’s side, as their first-round matches will be Show #1!


  • Nickname: “The Ace of the Mid-Atlantic”
  • Height: 6’3
  • Weight: 255
  • FROM: Riverside, California (currently residing on the Planet of the Ace)
  • Finisher: Pounce
  • Accomplishments: Commonwealth Cup I runner-up; NOVA Project 3 main event winner; Old Dominion Rumble winner; second-longest reigning champion in CWF Mid-Atlantic history; CWF Mid-Atlantic Triple Crown winner



  • Nickname: “The Champion of the 1%”
  • Height: 5’11
  • Weight: 202
  • FROM: A gated community inside of a gated community surrounded by yet another gated community in Great Falls, Virginia
  • Finisher: Gentrification Cutter
  • Accomplishments: Commonwealth Cup I winner; NOVA Project 2 main event winner; PWI Ultra J Champion; CHIKARA Tag team champion

History: NOVA Pro series tied 1-1 (Logan d. Arik, Commonwealth Cup I final; Arik d. Logan, NOVA Project 3)

Arik Royal: YeahYAYEE! Since the beginning of 2016, Royal has been NOVA Pro’s ace, defending the territory against all comers and helping build its stock slowly. The list of people he’s beaten reads like a who’s who: Tracy Williams, Donovan Dijak, Kassius Ohno (then Chris Hero), Rickey Shane Page, Fred Yehi, David Starr, Tim Donst… but there are two people who have gotten the better of him. One is Gunner Miller, who needed low blows to do it. The other is Logan Easton LaRoux, who used distractions and interference from Alexander James. Royal has never been happy with the 1%’s tactics, and when he won the Old Dominion Rumble and got to pick his first-round opponent, he didn’t hesitate in naming LaRoux to get him out right away.

Logan Easton LaRoux: If any group has annoyed the NOVA Pro faithful, it’s the one led by this guy. Smug, overbearing, and definitely anything but humble, the man from the gated community (inside of etc etc) loves to use his wealth to feel important, even reserving about 20 seats for his neighbors so they can cheer on his tactics. It’s not all cash, though: the guy can back it up. He’s beaten people like Starr, Joey Janela, Chet Sterling, Sonjay Dutt, and even Royal himself. Royal didn’t choose a cakewalk, and everyone knows it.

Duke’s Analysis: This is a classic matchup of Royal’s power and fire against Logan’s speed and deception. When Logan won, both men were on their third fight; it’s debatable whether James’ interference was the turning point, but Royal may have been out of gas either way. When Royal won, both men were fresh, BUT Logan’s friends were banned from ringside; I’m certain no such ban will be in effect here, and Bobby Shields of the 1% is a key candidate to be Logan’s cornerman. These two know each other very well, and while I don’t expect the six-minute quick-strike that won Logan last year’s Cup, I also would be surprised if they went 25 like they did in NOVA Project 3. For the moment, let’s give more weight to the match without interference, however.

Duke’s Pick: Arik Royal; Over/Under of 16:30

Rev’s Analysis: Their NOVA Project 3 match was a classic absolutely worth the hype it received ahead of time, and I have a hard time imagining this not delivering on a similar level unless someone’s nursing an undisclosed injury. There’s another factor to consider that may be fueling Royal going into this, as well— he’s got a shot at Independent Wrestling Champion “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams at Action Wrestling at the end of the month, and what better way to start building momentum to a title victory than by closing the book on his feud with LaRoux here and now?

Rev’s Pick: Arik Royal


  • Nicknames: “PCO”, “The Quebecer”
  • Height: 6’1
  • Weight: 235
  • FROM: Montreal, Quebec
  • Finisher: Cannonball Senton
  • Accomplishments: 3-time then-WWF Tag Team Champion; WCW Hardcore Champion; IWAPR Intercontinental Champion



  • Nickname: “The King of Ultraviolence”
  • Height: 5’11
  • Weight: 240
  • FROM: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Finisher: Chokebreaker
  • Accomplishments: AIW Absolute Champion; 4-time CZW Champion; CZW Triple Crown Winner twice over

History: First time for both men in NOVA Pro, and first time as opponents

Pierre Carl Ouellet: If you’re reading that profile and saying to yourself, “Wait, THAT guy?”, boy have times changed. Ever since getting a second lease on his career as the heir to Terry Funk’s middle aged and crazy routine, Ouellet has put on show-stealers with the likes of Joey Janela and WALTER. But more to the point, he’s re-invented his character. No longer the goofy law enforcer of old, he now plays like a Frankenstein creature, and the transformation has made him a shortlist candidate for Comeback Wrestler of the Year. Not bad for a dude who’s more or less blind in one eye, if you ask me.

Nick Gage: One of the original badasses of CZW (the self-appointed spiritual successor of ECW), the Hate Club faction of Gage, Nate Hatred, Justice Pain, and Zandig enabled Gage to win 5 tag and 4 singles championships in the Combat Zone. Time hasn’t mellowed the man, nor has a five-year layoff from 2011-16. With success both back in CZW and in Ohio’s AIW, the path of destruction never stopped.

Duke’s Analysis: So, we got one guy who’s a Frankenstein rebirth, emphasizing menacing look and being able to do stuff like bite a tennis ball in half. On the other side is a CZW Original who made his home in the Cage of Death and has something to prove after a layoff. If any of these 12 matches will end in a blood stoppage, it’s THIS one. Expect a wild brawl that could go anywhere in the building, and a double DQ or double countout is not off the table. But I have to pick a winner, so I’ll go with the young(er) one.

Duke’s Pick: Nick Gage, Over/Under of 9:45.

Rev’s Analysis: We’re all gonna die.

...but for real, this is gonna be awesome. Not just for the likelihood that they’ll have a wild and crazy brawl like PCO did against WALTER at Joey Janela’s Spring Break, but part of Pierre’s reinvention that gets lost amongst the moonsaults and chop wars has been emphasizing the shoot-style elements of his grappling, and Gage is a really crisp technical wrestler in his own right. Basically, what I’m saying is don’t be surprised if this starts off grappletastic before turning the violence on.

(And, although I’m going with the King, MDK, gang-affiliated, I would not be shocked if PCO picks up the win. He beat WALTER, after all.)

Rev’s Pick: Nick Gage


  • Nickname: “The Notorious 187”
  • Height: 5’10
  • Weight: 220
  • FROM: Bed-Stuy (Do or Die), Brooklyn, New York
  • Finisher: Cop Killer
  • Accomplishments: IWA Mid-South Tag Team Champion, Jersey All Pro Hall of Fame, PWG Tag Team Champion, ROH World Champion, TNA Tag Team Champion (NWA Era and TNA Era), TNA X Division Champion, One-half of the Observer 2006 Team of the Year



  • Nickname: “The Beau Show”
  • Height: 5’10
  • Weight: 220
  • FROM: Poquoson, Virginia
  • Finisher: Spear
  • Accomplishments: auxiliary member of the Carnies

History: Homicide’s wrestled just about everyone, and Beau’s a longtime Virginia veteran, but they’ve never crossed paths before.

Homicide: If you followed independent wrestling at all during the early post-InVasion days, you’ve heard all about Homicide. From his early days in Ring of Honor up to being grabbed by the nascent TNA, his star rose very quickly. His feuds with Styles, Daniels, Steve Corino, Colt Cabana, and everyone else in both TNA and Ring of Honor grabbed the wrestling scene’s attention. Now more of a mentor and trainer, he wants to prove he still has a few tricks left up his sleeve, and when an opening became available, he jumped on it.

Beau Crockett: Beau has been with NOVA Pro since Day One-ish. (See what I did there?) Originally, he was part of a very popular tag team called Cutie and the Beast, a mismatched couple with Innocent Isaiah. Beau disposed of Isaiah, piledriving him onto a chair to put him on the shelf to this day, and cast his luck with the Carnies. While success has been a slow rise for him, it has been a rise, as shown by his qualification over two other NOVA Pro locals, John Kermon and Bobby Shields.

Duke’s Analysis: Man, that history section looks a little one-sided, doesn’t it? Don’t think this’ll be a walk in the park, though -- opportunity hasn’t been even, and this is Beau’s highest-profile match yet. He’s eager to prove he is more than just a local fighter in this one. But fate hasn’t been kind to him. First, the random draw put him up against NOVA Pro’s unbeaten hoss Gunner Miller. When Miller announced he tore his PCL and would be out for the rest of 2018, what seemed like a lucky break turned into an even bigger obstacle. Beau will show his skills in this match, but an upset is a bridge too far.

Duke’s Pick: Homicide; Over/Under of 7:00

Rev’s Analysis: Let’s not mince words, folks— Homicide’s ability is not what it once was. Father Time comes for us all, and Homicide is no different. But what age takes away in physicality, it makes up for in veteran wiles, and Homicide has one further key advantage here— he can still summon that pure terrifying aura of violence almost at will.

This is a man who once poured Drano down Colt Cabana’s throat, people. Homicide is an apt name for him, because there’s no line he will not cross. Beau is a slimy snake and a damn good competitor in his own right, but that aura means nobody can be cavalier about wrestling Homicide for the first time. Given half a chance, he’ll put that fear in the base of your spine, and it’ll be over before it begins.

Rev’s Pick: Homicide


  • Nickname: “The Mad King”
  • Height: 5’11
  • Weight: 228
  • FROM: Yonkers, New York
  • Finisher: Royal Flush DDT
  • Accomplishments: CZW Champion; IWA Mid-South Champion; CHIKARA Grand Champion; EPW Champion; AAW Champion



  • Nickname: “The Bone Collector”
  • Height: 5’11
  • Weight: 202
  • FROM: Canton, Ohio (representing East Coast Martial Arts)
  • Finisher: Piledriver
  • Accomplishments: Top-ranked Purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu; Member of Catch Point

History: None is evident, and certainly not in NOVA Pro, where Kingston makes his first appearance.

Eddie Kingston: Another name synonymous with CZW’s history, Kingston has since branched out to the world of Impact Wrestling, where he appears to be helping the LAX recover from losing Konnan as a mentor. It’s not Kingston’s first appearance for the former TNA, as he was to play a part in James Storm’s DCC crusade against Billy Corgan before ownership hell scuttled that idea. His CZW exploits are legendary, and as you can tell from the list of championships, Kingston is one of the top names “under the surface” of national television.

Dominic Garrini: For a guy with only two years’ ring experience, he’s taken to the squared circle quite nicely, even getting Stokely Hathaway’s attention down in EVOLVE. However, he’s in here basically through foul play. He lost a qualifying six-way when Sage Philips (we’ll get to him later) rolled him up for the winning decision. Last month, after getting even with Philips, he threatened to break the youngster’s arm unless he got his Commonwealth Cup spot. Well, he’s in.

Duke’s Analysis: Kingston was an invite and the first person announced as being in the field. Garrini literally strong-armed his way into the tournament after failing to qualify on his own. Normally home-ring advantage is a thing, especially in NOVA Pro, but with Garrini’s underhanded tactics just to get in, he’s looking at an uphill battle. He’ll need to keep Kingston grounded and hope he doesn’t make mistakes betraying his lack of experience. That’s a tall order against someone with three major independent wrestling titles to his name.

Duke’s Pick: Eddie Kingston, Over/Under of 8:30

Rev’s Analysis: Here’s the thing you have to know about Dom and Eddie. Eddie, uh, doesn’t like wearing wrestling gear. Odds are if you see him wrestling a match today, he’s gonna do it in basically his street clothes, and if he’s wearing gear, it’s because somebody got on him about it and he only put proper gear on to shut them up. In AIW, Dom is that guy.

So there’s a degree of mind games to be had on Kingston’s part in whether or not he wears gear here. If he does, he’s less personally comfortable but he might lull Garrini into thinking he’s in control before the bell even rings. If he doesn’t, it might be a red flag to a bull. In any case, I gotta represent Evolve with my pick here...

Rev’s Pick: Dominic Garrini


  • Nicknames: “Proficient”, “Spitfire”
  • Height: 5’9
  • Weight: 176
  • FROM: Bloomington, Indiana
  • Finisher: Butterfly Suplex
  • Accomplishments: Almost PWI Ultra J Champion



  • Nickname: “Zombie Princess”
  • Height: 5’7
  • Weight: 169
  • FROM: Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Finisher: End Time choke-out
  • Accomplishments: IWA Mid-South Lt. Heavyweight Champion; IWA Mid-South Heavyweight Champion; ROH Tag Team Champion (alongside Tyler Black aka Seth Rollins); PWG Tag Team Champion; AIW Tag Team Champion

History: Jacobs is making only his second appearance in NOVA Pro, and the first was not with Sage. In fact, this appears to be a first time match.

Sage Philips: You heard the rap cliché, “Started from the bottom, now we’re here”? That’s Sage. He began his career in NOVA doing dark matches and random six-man tags before a knee injury robbed him of a year. He came back and rebuilt from the dark match portion, eventually busting out in October as a surprise challenger for the Ultra J title – and he almost won it except that the referee was called out for a fast count and the decision reversed. Since then, he’s proven his staying power by winning a six-way qualifier and by being the Old Dominion Rumble Iron man at almost 45 minutes.

Jimmy Jacobs: This guy’s WAY more than just the man with Kongo Kong’s leash in his hand. Ring of Honor owes a major debt to his performances, whether as the over emotional lovesick loser, the wannabe Berzerker tribute act (just imagine someone 5’7 trying to step over the top rope), or the sinister leader of Age of the Fall. His mind for how to get under people’s skin isn’t limited to his ROH exploits; he famously told Chris Jericho that carrying around an enemies’ list would be a great psychological edge.

Duke’s Analysis: You’re not going to see too many cases where Sage is the larger man in the match, albeit barely. Philips makes his money out of the big/little playbook, countering power moves and tiring the opponent. The good news is he has faced a cruiserweight before in NOVA Pro, taking on Jonathan Gresham at the Rumble. The bad news? He lost. Jacobs may not be as talented as Gresham at this point in his career (then again, who is), but he makes up for it with an unpredictable persona and a very clever mind in the ring. Sage may be in over his head.

Duke’s Pick: Jimmy Jacobs, Over/Under at 10:45

Rev’s Analysis: This is absolutely the Zombie Princess’s match to lose. But I got a feeling that Sage is at the vanguard of the next wave of guys to start breaking out and going from local up-and-comer to national up-and-comer, and a win over Jimmy Jacobs in one of the most prestigious tournaments in the Mid-Atlantic would be a hell of a way to kickstart that.

Rev’s Pick: Sage Philips


  • Nickname: None (Well, he goes by Jimmy Yuta in MLW and a few other places, but...)
  • Height: 6’0
  • Weight: 198
  • FROM: Silicon Valley, California
  • Finisher: Combo Breaker / YUTA Jazz (inverted DDT slam)
  • Accomplishments: CHIKARA Young Lions Cup 2017



  • Nicknames: “Young Lion”, “Prince of Pro”
  • Height: 6’1
  • Weight: 229
  • FROM: Hereford, Maryland
  • Finisher: Bloody Sunday
  • Accomplishments: Made the WXW roster

History: None in NOVA Pro, although both are becoming regulars; however, they have met in CZW’s Dojo Wars shows as part of a six-man scramble (neither man won it).

Wheeler YUTA: Originally invited into NOVA Pro as a sparring partner for John Kermon (to warm him up for Garrini), YUTA stuck around and became a bit of a crowd favorite, even getting a match with LaRoux. At the Rumble, he beat a strong field of Jake Parnell, John Skyler, and Percy Davis to qualify for this event. He can grapple with the best of them – his time spent under the learning trees of Mike Quackenbush and Tracy Williams has paid off – but when things get to the nitty-gritty, he’s not afraid to strike, and strike hard.

Alexander James: Playing up a high society gimmick in the CZW Dojo Wars got him the attention of Logan Easton LaRoux, who made him his lieutenant in the 1%. While improvement was always expected from the youngster, things really took off when he was invited to do a tour of Germany with WXW. He’s made the proverbial Leap in both confidence and skill, and now can destroy your arm with the best of them, as he did to Jaxon Stone to qualify for this match.

Duke’s Analysis: So, you wanna see the future of wrestling? This match, bro. Two rising stars on the East Coast are ready to face off and see who can elevate their stock. If you watch WXW, you know James is a lethal arm worker. But it’s not like he has a clear-cut edge in submissions. YUTA’s been known to slap on an STF and tie his opponent in knots, and not even grappling specialist Travis Huckabee could get or keep an edge on him. This seems on paper, given the loaded nature of the Cup, to produce a second-round loser; I say, the winner could make the Top 3.

Duke’s Pick: Wheeler YUTA; Over/Under of 11:00

Rev’s Analysis: What I just said about Sage Philips going from regional to national? That’s where Wheeler YUTA was a year ago, and now he’s got a win over no less than Matt Riddle at Beyond All Day last month. Yeah. Wheeler’s literally coming off a win over arguably the pound-for-pound best wrestler in the world. Alexander James is good— REALLY good— but he ain’t ever beat the King of Bros.

Rev’s Pick: Wheeler YUTA


  • Nickname: “Hot Sauce”
  • Height: 6’0
  • Weight: 188
  • FROM: New York City
  • Finisher: Sauce-Face
  • Accomplishments: Two-time EVOLVE Tag Team Champion; Current Powerbomb.TV Independent Wrestling Champion



  • Nickname: “Lone Star”
  • Height: 6’1
  • Weight: 189
  • FROM: Crane, TX
  • Finisher: Buck Off
  • Accomplishments: Scenic City Trios Tournament winner

History: First-time-ever meeting, according to my Google Fu.

Tracy Williams: One of the original stalwarts of Catch Point in EVOLVE, and a former teammate of none other than Drew Gulak, Williams is known for being very well-versed in holds and counter-holds. NOVA Pro knows the deal – they’ve seen him keep up in pace with Jonathan Gresham, work John Kermon’s joints into a fine paste, and nearly upset Arik Royal by keeping him grounded. These techniques and others are why he’s the Powerbomb Champion, and he’s defended it with honor and success over the past 4 months.

Curt Stallion: For someone just coming up on five years in the business, it looks like Stallion’s picking the right time to break out. His climb to success started with the Scenic City Trios tournament, where he teamed up with Myron Reed and Gary Jay to lead the Glory Pro reps to the top. He’s won some smaller company titles, such as the ACW title (notably beating Raymond Rowe of the War Raiders to do so), but success in the bigger companies has been elusive. His first appearance in NOVA Pro led to a loss at the hands of Sonjay Dutt. Can he do better here?

Duke’s Analysis: Much like Sage/Jacobs or Kingston/Garrini, this feels like an old vs. new matchup, in that you have the established Williams going against the up-and-coming Stallion. Thing is, Stallion (according to most records) is the one with the longer career. Williams has achieved a lot, very quickly, and it’s clear he’s going to bust out if he keeps this up. (Drake Maverick is scouting him, right?) Going against someone where size is a non-factor and skill will dictate, Williams ought to come out ahead.

Duke’s Pick: Tracy Williams; Over/Under of 6:45

Rev’s Analysis: Curt is a guy who almost reminds me of a young Drew Galloway in his physicality, but he’s still got some growing left to do, some confidence to earn and fluidity to gain to his ring work. Hot Sauce, meanwhile, is essentially a finished product. I expect Stallion to put up a hell of a fight, but there’s only one way this ends, and it’s not with the Powerbomb Champion on his back.

(Also, like, I named a cat after Hot Sauce, I’m kinda biased here.)

Rev’s Pick: Tracy Williams


  • Nickname: “Big Trouble”
  • Height: 5’9
  • Weight: 185
  • FROM: Waterloo, Iowa
  • Finisher: Koji Clutch
  • Accomplishments: Anarchy Wrestling tag team champion; FIP World Heavyweight Champion (longest reigning in history!); EVOLVE Tag Team Champion (with Tracy Williams, incidentally); Style Battle Season 1 Episode 6 winner



  • Nicknames: “The Mat Wrestling Machine”, “OSHA’s Favorite Wrestler”, “The Two-Second Man”, “Scumbag For Hire”, “Safety First”, “He Is Wrestling”
  • Height: 5’10
  • Weight: 230
  • FROM: Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania
  • Finisher: Safety Last tiger driver
  • Accomplishments: AIW Absolute Champion; CHIKARA Young Lions Cup 2010; CZW Wired Champion; Cancer survivor

History: Not only have they met once before, it was in NOVA Pro! As part of August 2017’s Cool for the Summer, Donst picked up the win with a cradle on Yehi.

Fred Yehi: YEP! Yehi is a buzzsaw of energy, willing to go into high octane in order to keep the edge on his foe. How high? “Yea high!” But seriously, he likes using his speed so much he eschews wrestling boots for shoes and bounces off middle ropes for more momentum. His shotgun dropkick is a thing of beauty, and just when you think you can breathe after impact, he’ll try to break the bones in your hand or ankle. No downtime when Yehi’s involved.

Tim Donst: CHIKARA Special double agent, Young Lions Cup winner, CZW’s fastest victory holder, AIW Absolute kingpin, and NOVA Pro’s Bugs Bunny and Heart of the Promotion. And that’s just in the ring; outside of it, he’s beaten cancer and made a full-time return. This former amateur wrestling standout has become a jack of all trades in the wrestling scene. Now, he’s more comedic than normal, using his Safety First mindset to throw opponents off his game. But when the chips are down, the Mat Wrestling Machine comes out to play, and that’s when Donst is at his most dangerous.

Duke’s Analysis: First off, throw out the first match; not only was it 10 months ago, but more to the point, Donst has changed strategies and ideology since then. The question will be how Yehi adapts to the early shenanigans that Donst will provide. Some opponents play into it, notably Rickey Shane Page; others like Jimmy Jacobs try to go to the opposite extreme. If Yehi can wrestle HIS match and take Donst’s behavior out of the equation, he’ll have a very good chance. Then again, Tim Donst is more than Safety.

Duke’s Pick: Tim Donst; Over/Under of 16:30

Rev’s Analysis: YEAHYEAHYEAHYEAHYEAH! I’m super excited for this one. I haven’t seen nearly enough of Fred since he left the WWN family of promotions this past February, and now I get to see him wrestle Tim Donst?! Okay, cards on the table, I love the Safety First schtick but I’m not gonna lie, what I most want out of these two is a straight, nose-to-the-grindstone technical wrestling match. That is not likely to happen here, perhaps I’ll have more luck on a hypothetical Matt Riddle’s Bloodsport 2.

Regardless, I expect to really enjoy this one, and I feel like Yehi’s unorthodox stomp-oriented offense may well provoke Tim into ditching safety sooner than the average bear. And, once applied, the Koji Clutch is nigh-unbreakable— even Matt Riddle in the midst of his crusade against rope breaks had to seek solace in the ropes to escape it.

Rev’s Pick: Tim Donst

But wait, there’s more! During the Saturday afternoon show, we’ll begin the women’s Commonwealth Cup. Most of the tournament will be held during Show 2, which is unfortunate; however, the finals will be part of the Show 3 stream alongside the men’s final.

As with before, these matches are in the order of announcement and bear no indication as to the bracket. Also, I’m not including height and weight because that’s just rude. (Claire’s note: I’m 5’4” and 139, just in case anybody really feels cheated by a lack of feminine statistics here.)


  • Nickname: “The Milkshake That Brings the Boys to the Yard”
  • FROM: Toledo, Ohio
  • Finisher: Guillotine headscissors
  • How she got here: defeated Terra Calaway in a qualifier



  • Nickname: “Jade”
  • FROM: Originally Fontana, California; grew up in Oakton, Virginia
  • Finisher: Eat Defeat
  • How she got here: by invitation

History: Never on opposite sides of the ring, but they were teammates in a NOVA Pro Survivor Series match.

Faye Jackson: For someone with only two years in the ring, the charisma and crowd connection is undeniable. Even Logan’s high-roller friends are taken by her, often making it rain during her entrance. (They use fake bills, but one fan memorably threw a wad of REAL cash into the ring during her early-match dance-off!) Jackson’s in-ring style is mostly modeled after Rikishi, especially with the Island Driver and running hip check in the corner. She’s an up-and-comer on the scene and someone who would fit in well for the 2nd Mae Young Classic. Hey, speaking of that…

Mia Yim: Yes, she was a participant in the first Mae Young Classic. She’s also a TNA long-timer and Knockouts Champion emeritus. Oh, she’s also head the Shine Tag Team Titles alongside Leva Bates and her blue pants. Not only that, but she’s never been pinned or submitted while on the NOVA Pro roster! She’s appeared on two NOVA Project shows, each time getting a conquering hero’s welcome in victory over first Brittany Blake, then Angelus Layne. She’s the bookmaker’s favorite right now.

Duke’s Analysis: Here’s the thing: they wanted this match. In March, both women requested to face each other in round 1, and as you can see, the request was eventually granted. Be careful what you wish for, Faye; now you have it. Jackson’s been a quick riser in the ranks, but she’s up against someone who’s been to the top (WWE and TNA have both brought her in, and not just to lose either). That level of experience will be a wake-up call for poor Faye.

Duke’s Pick: Mia Yim; Over/Under of 10:15

Rev’s Analysis: Faye has absolutely come a long way in a short time, and she has the relative advantage of being in a friendly matchup here, but (and I hate to lean on Beyond’s last weekend again, but statistics are convenient!) Mia Yim just sent Keith Lee packing from the indies entirely. Chalk it up as a learning experience.

Rev’s Pick: Mia Yim


  • Nickname: “The One Woman Minnesota Wrecking Crew”
  • FROM: Sauk Center, Minnesota
  • Finisher: TKO
  • How she got here: by invitation



  • Nickname: “Thicc Mama Pump”
  • FROM: St. Louis, Missouri
  • Finisher: Vaderbomb
  • How she got here: won a 3-way qualifier over Isla Dawn and Laynie Luck

History: They’ve met twice before, once in a four-way for the PWM Women’s Title, and most recently in WWR in October. Grace won both meetings.

Rachael Ellering: While being the daughter of Paul Ellering meant a lot of informal training, mostly through her friendship with the Road Warriors, it was the formal training from Lance Storm that has helped her become the all-rounder she is. Much like Hawk and Animal, she is a powerlifter turned wrestler who uses shows of strength in her arsenal. But the Storm part shows in her ability to work her way through otherwise-awkward situations, such as stealing a win from Marti Belle at the Mae Young Classic (and if you don’t remember the Ellering name there, she went by Rachel Evers so that the WWE brass wouldn’t show her favoritism).

Jordynne Grace: Grace is a pocket powerhouse who, despite her small stature, could lift me over her head if she wanted to. A Midwestern standout early, it was her move east that has brought her greater acclaim. She’s become a regular at Beyond, shone brightly in NOVA, and even became a finalist in the first Making Towns Classic. The tutelage of LuFisto has helped her grow into a stronger fighter as well, and when the two of them team up, watch out.

Duke’s Analysis: There’s a “funhouse mirror” aspect to this match. Both women began as weightlifters; both women love power moves; both women are quick learners who have the advantage of picking the brains of legends. Sure, Rachael’s a bit taller, but Grace is 2-0 in their meetings so that’s a non-starter. Ellering is the type of wrestler who has the higher-profile experience, but that means nothing once you learn a person. And Grace appears to have “learned” her.

Duke’s Pick: Jordynne Grace; Over/Under of 7:00

Rev’s Analysis: This is gonna be good. But I have to concur with Duke here, not just for the reasons he’s laid out, but Jordynne’s on a hot streak right now. She’s Black Label Pro Champion and arguably Women’s Wretling Revolution Pro’s ace, and furthermore, bold predictions time, she’s my pick to take the whole Commonwealth Cup.

Rev’s Pick: Jordynne Grace


  • Nickname: “The Body Kat”
  • FROM: The local animal shelter
  • Finisher: Ripcord Headbutt
  • How she got here: defeated Solo Darling in a qualifier



  • Nickname: None, but she has a cat named Ted and that’s pretty cool
  • FROM: Providence, Rhode Island
  • Finisher: Flying clothesline
  • How she got here: won a 3-way qualifier over Facebrooke and Jordan Blade

History: More than you’d think, though all as teammates. In 2016, they teamed to be on the losing end of a 6-woman tag in WrestleCircus; fast-forward to one year ago, and Kat made her official NOVA debut as Veda’s partner, losing to Jackson and Grace. Then, in November, they were part of a Survivor Series match as teammates, where disagreements over cheating led to Scott being eliminated but Kat being the sole survivor.

Allie Kat: First off, if you don’t realize this is Rev’s sentimental pick to win the whole thing, you really haven’t been paying attention to his comments on my recaps. Allie was brought in as a more feral wrestler, but let’s be honest, how the heck can you stay mad at someone who does a full-on cat routine as a wrestler? Add in that she’s been more or less “adopted” (sorry) by a four-year-old girl superfan, and Allie is the Soul of the Promotion. The sky is the limit for her here in NOVA, as demonstrated when she was the last female participant in the Old Dominion Rumble.

Veda Scott: A very late arrival to wrestling – law school of all things got in the way – Veda’s strengths lie in her character work. No one is as despicable as she is when it counts, and no one can hit and run like she does. In fact, that’s how she’s won her two highest-profile matches in NOVA – both the qualifier and a 3-way with Jackson and CWF’s monstrous SIS were won by talking the two of them into fighting each other and picking up the scraps. Hey, whatever works.

Duke’s Analysis: This is where Veda’s strategy runs into a bit of a snag; there’s only one person in the match with her, so all the focus will be on her. Negotiations won’t help as they do when she’s in multi-person matches; she’s gotta go this alone. And while Veda does enjoy a modicum of popularity, it’s dwarfed by the excitement her foe brings to the ring, which has carried her to a pinfall win in tag action over the Carnies! This seems like the most lopsided quarterfinal.

Duke’s Pick: Allie Kat; Over/Under of 5:30

Rev’s Analysis: I am doing these stream-of-consciousness and now regret picking Jordynne to win the whole deal. Although Allie’s anti-Wawa and they have very delicious sandwiches, so... Carrying on, I feel like Veda’s one advantage is that she’s a cat person. And not in the sense that Allie Kat is a person who is a cat, but in the sense that she has a cat. She knows the ways. She might be devious enough to bring catnip. But I don’t think that’s enough to turn the tide.

Rev’s Pick: Allie Kat


  • Nickname: “Pro Wrestling’s Bride of Frankenstein”
  • FROM: The nearest emergency room
  • Finisher: Gravedigger suplex
  • How she got here: through a special bargain (see below)



  • Nickname: “The Hot Mess”
  • FROM: Victoria, British Columbia
  • Finisher: Unprettier
  • How she got here: through invitation

History: This appears to be a first-time-ever matchup.

Angelus Layne: Public Enemy #1 to the NOVA Pro brass, Angelus Layne had one little booking canceled back in October 2016 and still hasn’t gotten over it. She’s stormed in and staged a sit-in on pre-shows, she’s attacked both women after matches, and she’s even thrown a fireball in the promoter’s face. (Keith Lee was brought in to punish her for that last bit.) And still she feels disrespected, certain that an injury that would’ve forced her to miss qualifying would mean she’d be out of the Cup. And as if her bad behavior wasn’t enough, she’s an incredible power wrestler and a dirty player when she has to be, so it’s not like a Michael Cole vs Jerry Lawler situation.

You mentioned a bargain? Oh, right. Layne went on YouTube/Twitter and begged to be given a bye into the Cup even though her qualifying match had to be called off. She fully expected that she wouldn’t get her way unless she made a Godfather offer, so she did: if Layne loses this match in the first round, she can no longer wrestle in NOVA Pro. Management accepted the offer, and then the random draw of the first round spun out…

Chelsea Green: Remind me not to invite her to my wedding. I’m sure Chelsea Green’s a lovely lady, but it’s her alternate personality – the meltdown-suffering Laurel Van Ness – that I wouldn’t want coming out of the woodwork. Yes, you remember how this went if you watch TNA: Van Ness’ attempts to destroy little Allie by marrying her boyfriend fell apart at the last second. Unable to cope, Laurel became a full blown Miss Havisham, minus the young ward or Philip Pirrip. (And I feel REALLY old for making this joke.) Never removing the wedding gown, doing a pure hatchet job on her makeup, and beating up anyone she could, Van Ness became the scourge of TNA. But that’s Laurel – I’m sure Chelsea will stick to athletic competition. Right?

Duke’s Analysis: Well, I got to think Chelsea Green will be a very difficult foe for anyone to beat. She’s achieved TNA championship success, she’s dangerous, she has a darkside… everything points to this being Angelus Layne’s last stand. But funny things happen when your back is against the ropes. You fight with more desperation. You do whatever it takes. And if we’ve seen what Layne does when she feels secure, she could be lethal when panicked.

Duke’s Pick: Angelus Layne; Over/Under of 9:30

Rev’s Analysis: Not to pull the curtain back too much, but you may have noticed that when people in wrestling put something as big as their career in a promotion on the line, they tend to win. I expect this to be awesome, but I only see one outcome.

Rev’s Pick: Angelus Layne

There you have it, folks! Three shows, two days, one very excited reporter! There’s more than just tournament action, but for that, you’ll have to wait for the Sermon on the Mat because I’m not stealing all of Miss Claire’s thunder over here!

See you then!

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