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Sermon on the Mat (July 10): Scenic City Invitational first round matches, Freelance vs. CZW recap, and more!

Freelance Wrestling

Welcome back to the Sermon on the Mat, your weekly one-stop shop for news from the wider world of wrestling beyond the big cable TV monoliths that get all the coverage.

In the news

In case you missed our dedicated coverage, Evolve announced two big matches for Cody Rhodes. Johnny Gargano's out of Evolve 66, but Cody's still got a huge match lined up as he faces down Zack Sabre, Jr. And then the next night in Brooklyn, he'll check a match off his list as he runs up against Chris Hero.

Scenic City Invitational first round matches

The second annual Scenic City Invitational might not be as big as PWG's Battle of Los Angeles, but it's just as hot, and first round matches were announced earlier this week in a special podcast on Wrestling With Words.

Anthony Henry vs. Lio Rush

Joey Lynch vs. Ray Fury

Gunner Miller vs. Mikael Judas

Chip Day vs. Odinson

Billy Buck vs. Drew Delight

Jimmy Rave vs. John Skyler

Corey Hollis vs. Matt Riddle

Chris Hero vs. Kyle Matthews

It's an incredible field and these matchups are dynamite! I'm probably most excited for Hollis/Riddle, Day/Odinson, and Henry/Rush, but they've got an excellent mix of established names and relative unknowns. I can't wait until I can get my grubby mitts on the VOD.

CMLL International Gran Prix on YouTube, NJPW partnership deepens

Last week in my IGP recap I finished off unawares of how or when or even where you might be able to check it out on demand, but good news is here, as you can go rent the 16-man main event on CMLL's YouTube channel for just 99 cents. Hopefully at least Bárbaro Cavernario vs. Rey Cometa will be joining it soon, if not the whole event.

Meanwhile, New Japan have announced that starting with this week's episode, CMLL Super Viernes, their most important weekly show, will be on NJPW World at no additional cost. A bit of a bummer for those of us outside of Japan, admittedly, as currently the broadcast is limited to Japanese users only, but it's a bold move that will hopefully lead to more such content exchanges in the future.

Full Impact Pro Declaration of Independence results for July 8

Aaron Solow over Gary Jay to become #1 Contender to the FIP Florida Heritage Championship

Odinson over Jake Dirden

Chip Day over Jason Cade

Greg Glover & Nick Cutler over Ace Andrews & Rex Bacchus

Jon Davis over Rhett Giddens

Jonny Vandal over Teddy Stigma

Martin Stone (c) over Donovan Danhausen to retain the FIP Florida Heritage Championship

The Hooligans (Devin & Mason Cutter) (c) over Team IOU (Kerry Awful & Nick Iggy) to retain the FIP World Tag Team Championship

Fred Yehi (c) over Aaron Solow to retain the FIP World Heavyweight Championship

FIP ran their annual Declaration of Independence show with a card heavy on fresh faces, with Jake Dirden, Chip Day, Greg Glover, and Nick Cutler all making their official FIP debuts, although both Dirden and Day were on last fall's excellent interpromotional trios tournament at FIP Fallout, which if you haven't seen, I highly recommend you check it out.

I was unable to check it out personally, but reports seem to agree that it was a strong show despite some last minute card reshuffling when Michael Tarver, John Wayne Murdoch, and Reed Bentley proved unable to work the show. Notable beyond the basic results is the return of Eddie Graves, cutting a real interesting sounding promo about how he was told he'd never amount to anything, that he's not one of the stars that's going anywhere and renaming himself Dread in the process.

The fine folks over at WWNLive have already uploaded the show as a VOD, to boot.

The Card is Going to Change

If you're at all interested in how the proverbial sausage is made when it comes to independent wrestling, you owe it to yourself to check out The Card is Going to Change, the new podcast from Absolute Intense Wrestling head honcho John Thorne and co-owner Chandler Biggins. From Kamala not making a date because he wore the wrong pants to TNA upending an entire weekend of shows, they've got it all, and there are only five approximately half hour episodes so far, so it's an easy catchup.

Andrew Everett vs. Trevor Lee (c) (CWF Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship)

CWF Mid-Atlantic's weekly show (which you may remember from the 105-minute Roy Wilkins vs. Trevor Lee match that made some waves earlier in the year) goes up on YouTube every week after NXT, and this week brings us another match in Andrew Everett and Trevor Lee's long series.

Freelance vs. CZW Recap

As mentioned in last week's sermon, Freelance ran a joint show with CZW on Friday and aired it as a $5 stream on their website. Freelance have been doing free streams of their shows for some months now, just a single hard camera pointed at the ring to give folks a taste without giving the whole final polished product away, and this is the first of those that they've charged for.

AR Fox over Austin Theory, Brubaker, Kobe Durst, Matt Knicks, and Rey Furia

Your obligatory Freelance Wrestling six-way opener, with plenty of high octane indie action to be found. AR Fox was a great surprise here, though, and of course he brought his obligatory over-the-ringpost tope con giro. Austin Theory made his debut here and really brought it, which isn't too much of a surprise since he's a product of Mr. Hughes' excellent WWA4 wrestling school. Dude has a really beautiful German Suplex, in particular.

"All Ego" Ethan Page vs. Robert "Ego" Anthony ends in a draw (2 Out of 3 Falls Tables Match)

Robert Anthony out like a house of fire, cutting Ethan Page off during his entrance and beating the holy hell out of him. Mostly fighting in the crowd early on (although hat tip to both men for bringing directly in front of the hard camera for the benefit of those of us on the stream) with both men using a table as a weapon in ways that would make Genichiro Tenryu shed tears of joy. Anthony introduces firecrackers into the match! Page picks up the first fall with RKEgo.

Early in the second fall, Anthony calls for the fans to lend him a chair and the ring starts filling with chairs like it's Hardcore Heaven 1994. A few punches to the ol' beanbag and a Death Valley Driver off the second rope later, and the falls are evened up, one to one.

Laying Page on the table and covering him with chairs before going back to the second Anthony has evil intentions, but Page wakes up and starts chucking chairs at him. Perched in the corner they lock up and throw headbutts at each other before going woozy enough to fall backwards and through both tables. The third fall and the match as a whole is a draw! But neither Ego will have it and they brawl around the ring!

Good friendly violent fun, to steal a phrase from Exodus. Page has developed into a hell of a brawler in his own right and Robert Anthony's one of those real solid dudes that's been around forever and knows a thing or two about a thing or two.

Bryce Benjamin over Stevie Fierce

Bryce's tag team with Acid Jaz, the N Words, has been a highlight of every other Freelance show I've seen, so I'm pretty stoked to see him in singles action here.

Bryce largely dominates the early goings until Stevie drops him with a huge back suplex on the apron. He follows that up by grinding his crotch into Bryce's face, so, uh, he's got that going for him. Both men's tag partners are at ringside and not afraid of injecting themselves into the action, either.

More cocksmanship and a huge German starts the tide turning for Bryce. Desperation strikes from both men as their reserves flag, and then an excellently executed sequence starting with a springboard corkscrew crossbody and ending with a superkick, both from Bryce. Brainbuster into a Last Chancery from Stevie but Bryce slips out and counters it with a fisherman buster! Rob Matter tries to introduce a beer bottle and it backfires when Bryce dodges and Matter nails his own tag partner in the dome! N Words challenge Beauty and the Beast for the Freelance Tag Team Championship on August 26th!

That got really good at the end there. Just really tight sequences, well executed and structured. Great work from both guys.

Acid Jaz over Rob Matter

An impromptu match, made and ended quickly after Rob Matter issued a double or nothing challenge (where Jaz would pick a stipulation for the match Bryce just won if he won, and the match would be called off if Matter had won) and got dropped immediately by a World Star.

Acid Jaz picks the stipulation for their tag title shot on August 26th, announcing that it will be a TLC match! Well that sounds like a load of fun, right there.

Team Freelance (Arik Cannon, Chris Castro, Sally Stitches, & Space Monkey) over Team CZW (Brittany Blake, Connor Claxton, David Starr, & Joe Gacy)

The hard camera angle isn't exactly optimal here, as the active corners are the ones directly in line of the camera, obscuring a good chunk of the ring. Kind of hard to be able to watch and recap, but I'll give you what I can get here, folks.

Team CZW work Space Monkey's tail over, dropping legs out of the corner and everything! Castro and Gacy in against each other for just a moment and I want more. Stitches gets on Blake and gets rewarded with a superkick party! Cannon busts out the PBR Mist but Gacy catches him with a handspring stunner! SPACE MONKEY SHOOTING STAR PRESS TO THE OUTSIDE! Sally Stitches cleans up with a headscissors driver for the win!

Early goings were pretty severely hurt by the fact that I couldn't really see anything, but once it heated up and stuff started to break down, that was a lot of fun.

Chris Castro on the mic for a second before being ambushed by former tag partner Matt Knicks. He fights him off with an awesome pop-up cutter before challenging him to a Last Man Standing match.

Suge D over DJ Hyde

Hyde opens up challenging Suge to make this an "ultraviolent affair". Suge says this is Chicago, and DJ can change the rules all he wants, but these people believe in him. So he accepts the challenge and we're off!

Well, kind of. Lot of stalling and playing to the crowd to start. Action gets going and we've got some good David and Goliath stuff, Suge eking out an advantage here and there only for Hyde to swat him back down. They fight to the outside and Suge traps Hyde and parades him around the front row for chops from the Freelance faithful. Over to the bar, I'm assured, but they're way off the hard camera now.

Finally back to the ring! Suge taking it to Hyde but gets dropped by a sleeper suplex. Hyde goes for Summoning but Suge ducks and steals the win with a schoolboy!

Enjoyed that a lot before they fought off-camera, imagine the final version with full production will be quite good. Anyway, DJ puts Suge over before heading to the back, only for Christian Rose to attack Suge from behind, zip-tying him to the bottom rope. He cuts a promo about how Suge only cares about impressing DJ Hyde so he can get booked at CZW and leave Freelance behind, which just seems inaccurate from all I know about the man some call Sugar Dunkerton. Suge tells him he could still kick his ass even with his insides coming out of his arm and gets his head stomped in.

We go to intermission and... we don't come back. Whoops! By the time I find the link for the new stream, GPA vs. Kenny Sutra is done and gone, unfortunately.

Matt Tremont (c) over Isaias Velazquez to retain the CZW World Heavyweight Championship

That said, I got no picture to start with on this one. And the audio's gone. Indie wrestling, folks. I love it, but it is not without its speed bumps and foibles.

Here we go! They're out in the crowd, just wailing on each other! Back in the ring finally and Velazquez hammers Tremont with running knees and kicks in the corner! Coast to Coast! Tremont hits a snap DVD and regains the initiative! Bullfrog Splash onto chairs ends it.

Another match where I assume even if I had seen all of it I would have missed a lot of it due to the hard cam, but what I got in the ring was pretty enjoyable all the same, and again, with full production on the final VOD, it should be a damn good time.

Velazquez's stablemates hit the ring to beat him down and kick him out.

Mustafa Ali (c) over Jonathan Gresham to retain the Freelance Championship

Grappling to start, as Gresham plays to his strengths, eventually getting to a point where he can start with the small joint manipulation. Ali eventually evens the playing field with a half crab and commentary puts over that he's representing Pakistan in WWE's Cruiserweight Classic, which still feels like a thing that could never happen despite starting just a few days from now.

Gresham goes back to the fingers and wishbones 'em! But it ain't all gritty grappling as he tosses a headscissors takeover off and follows it with a dropkick. Some neat World of Sport style evasion and smooth nearfalls follow before Gresham begins dissecting the arm further, this time stomping and wrenching. Locks the arm up and throws headbutts to the elbow!

Chop for chop and Gresham throws a heart punch! Ali fights fire with fire, climbing to the top and hitting a 450 splash directly to Gresham's arm! Chop for chop again but this time Gresham ends it with a chop just high enough on the groin to avoid losing the match then and there. Gresham with the arm wringer shoots Ali off the ropes and Ali comes back with a leg lariat, leaving both men on the mat.

Ali with Chaos Theory! Rolling Thunder neckbreaker! A stunner and a low enzuigiri lead into a German for a nearfall from Gresham in return! A Lionsault, a running knee, and a pumphandle Michinoku Driver still aren't enough as the champion refuses to die! Gresham gets Ali up top but Ali gains enough control to hit a springboard Spanish Fly! No good!

Gresham with a Penalty Kick to the arm, followed by a tilt-a-whirl La Magistral! Ali reverses but Gresham turns it into a crossface! Ali gets to the ropes! Gresham with the Avalanche Hurricanrana and they trade pinning predicaments! They trade brainbusters for two and three quarters! Springboard tornado DDT from the champ into a crucifix pin! More pinning predicaments until Ali pulls it out with a jackknife backslide!

Incredible match, full recommendation. I'm not really in the business of naming Match of the Year Contenders, but this feels like one.

And overall, a good show, albeit marred somewhat by the stream issues coming back from intermission. But then Freelance's stream is never meant to be the definitive version of a show, so even that is less of a concern than it would be were the stream the actual final product. My only real complaint is that the camera was zoomed a bit too far out, so even full-screened on my laptop the actual viewing area of the ring was a smaller than I'd like. It'll certainly be worth your time on VOD with full production, camera angles, and whatnot.

As always...

Remember folks, no matter what type of wrestling you like, no matter how down you feel about the state of WWE, TNA, ROH, or any other "big-time" pro wrestling, there's something out there for you. There's a pro wrestling product that can hit you in the right spot and make you love wrestling like you thought you'd never be able to love it again. It's there, I promise. You just gotta reach out and find it, and that, my friends, is what the Sermon on the Mat is all about.

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