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Sermon on the Mat (July 28, 2016): Scenic City Invitational preview, AIW Absolution XI results, AAW United We Stand results, Progress Chapter 33 card, and more!

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Scenic City Invitational

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

With one quarter of the G1 Climax done and dusted, I tossed together a guide to the first five nights of the tournament. Also make sure to check out The Great Wall of Slow's FanPost breaking down the first six nights, man by man.

And in other New Japan Pro Wrestling news, they now have an official English language Twitter account, @njpwglobal that you can go ahead and follow for card updates and NJPW World news. It's one more step on the road to having full service available in English as they try to expand their presence in the international market.

AIW Absolution XI results from July 22nd

Laredo Kid, Matt Cross, & Zema Ion over Gringo Loko, Skayde, Jr., & Steve Pain

Tim Donst over Raymond Rowe

Eddie Kingston & Frankie Flynn over BJ Whitmer & The Duke

Alex Daniels (c) over Cedric Alexander, Facade, and Jerry (AIW Intense Championship)

Dick Justice over Jock Samson (Texas Death Match)

To Infinity and Beyond (Cheech & Colin Delaney) over Dominic Garrini & "Hot Sauce" Tracy Williams

Louis Lyndon over Zack Sabre, Jr.

Candice LeRae & Johnny Gargano over Ethan Carter III & Karlee Perez

Josh Prohibition over Ethan Page (c) & Josh Alexander (AIW Absolute Championship)

I ran a quick preview of AIW's big night last Sermon, and you can see just from a scan of the results that it was quite eventful. Several substitutions were to be had, with Matt "Son of Havoc" Cross made a triumphant return to AIW, replacing Bandolero in the opening match, his first appearance for the promotion in over six months, and Tyson Dux was unable to make the show due to travel issues, resulting in Hot Sauce selecting Dominic Garrini as his partner. He wasn't the only surprise partner to be had, as Frankie Flynn brought Eddie Kingston with him as his mystery tag partner, and the War King lead him straight to victory.

Following Alex Daniels' successful defense of the Intense Championship, long-time AIW loyalist Jerry announced his retirement. EC3 and Karlee, in a previous life original style NXT stars Derrick Bateman and Maxine lead Candice and Johnny through a series of challenges much like they suffered through on that show before the match began. And obviously a title change is always a big deal, with veteran Josh Prohibition ending Ethan Page's record-setting third reign as Absolute Champion. Tim Donst ended the show attacking Prohibition and presumably trying to set up a title shot for himself.

So if any of that sounds like it's worth your dollars and hours, and it sure does to me, head on over to Smart Mark Video here for the MP4 or here for the VOD and save yourself two bucks.

AAW United We Stand results from July 23rd

Davey Vega over Buck Nasty, Candice LeRae, Colt Cabana, & Dezmond Xavier

Josh Alexander over Silas Young

OI4K (Dave & Jake Crist) over Eddie Kingston & the Hooligans (Devon & Mason Cutter)

Zack Sabre, Jr. over Cedric Alexander

Fenix over Marty Scurll

Jessicka Havok over Heidi Lovelace

AR Fox (c) over Mat Fitchett (AAW Heritage Championship)

Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa over Andrew Everett & Trevor Lee

Pentagon, Jr. over Sami Callihan (c) (AAW Heavyweight Championship)

AAW had an eventful show this past Saturday, featuring Cedric Alexander and Zack Sabre, Jr. in a hot matchup that everybody from PWX to Evolve is booking this summer, Johnny Gargano's farewell match for the promotion (with NXT tag partner Ciampa against TNA standouts Everett & Lee, because 2016), and perhaps most shockingly, Pentagon, Jr. taking AAW's main title home with him. At least somebody gets it, huh? And note that I said it's Gargano's farewell-- Ciampa ain't leaving quite yet, as he's coming for Pentagon, Jr. and that championship on September 1st. Sounds good to me!

Anyway, you'll be able to check it out on DVD or MP4 here once it goes up and in the meantime you can watch a trailer for the show right here.

Progress Chapter 33: Malice in Wonderland (July 31st)

"Bodyguy" Roy Johnson's Wasteman Challenge

Jack Gallagher vs. Zack Gibson

Dunne Bros (Damian & Pete Dunne) vs. Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate)

London Riots (James Davis & Rob Lynch) (c) vs. War Machine (Hanson & Ray Rowe) (Progress Tag Team Championship)

El Ligero vs. Mark Andrews

Mark Haskins vs. Will Ospreay (Progress Championship #1 Contender's Match)

Marty Scurll vs. Pastor William Eaver (c) (Progress Championship)

Progress returns to the Electric Ballroom in London this Sunday with Chapter 33: Malice in Wonderland, and they've got quite a card laid out. Obvious highlights from my vantage point include Cruiserweight Classic competitor Jack Gallagher taking on Liverpool's Number One (and everywhere else's number two, if you catch my meaning) Zack Gibson in what will surely be a grappling exhibition of titanic proportions, London Riots and War Machine in ALL OUT HOSS WAR, Will Ospreay shrieking in pain as Mark Haskins twists his limbs in all sorts of unnatural variations, and The Villain trying to take his title back from the Blessed in the World.

Like all Progress shows, this one will be up on their on demand service after the fact, which I'm on the record as saying is the best $7.50 you'll ever spend on pro wrestling. And of course, once it goes up, you can count on having some kind of recap action right here, on Cageside Seats.

Sami Callihan (c) vs. Tommy End (AAW Championship)

This one comes to us from Southside Wrestling Entertainment in the UK by way of the good folks at AAW, seeing as it's a match for their title.

As you'd expect, it's a real hard hitting affair from both men. Brutal kicks abound, and check out that cannonball into the second row and the double stomp that is the receipt for it! If you never got what the fuss with Callihan was when he was in NXT as Solomon Crowe, this match might just help you figure it out. And of course, with End heavily rumored to be on his way in, it acts as an excellent preview of what you can expect from him.

Scenic City Invitational 2016 (August 5th & 6th)

Next weekend the Scenic City Invitational, one of independent wrestling's premier singles tournaments, returns for a second outing. Last year's was a pair of the best two shows of indie action all year, featuring a mix of relative unknowns and national names and this year's is set to be no different. With no further preamble, let's run down the Night 1 tournament matches in the order they'll be taking place!

Jimmy Rave vs. John Skyler

Last year's winner and Man Who Should Really Be Booked By More Promotions Jimmy Rave faces down two-time PWX Champion and occasional NXT superstar John Skyler. Rave has experience and perhaps the larger share of grappling acumen on his side but Skyler's rocketing to the top. It's his first SCI, but with the way WWE have been rumored to be hoovering talent up, it may well be his last, especially if Rave brings his full bag of underhanded tricks with him again. He beat Gunner Miller in the second round last year after elaborately staging a shoulder injury, going so far as to claim a car accident, so you know his line is way out there. Another factor to consider is the possibility of Skyler looking for some revenge against Rave on behalf of tag partner Corey Hollis, who was the last man standing in the finals next to Rave before he fell to From Dusk till Dawn.

No matter the outcome it should be an excellent opener to set the tone for two nights of white hot southern wrestling action.

Joey Lynch vs. Ray Fury

Joey Lynch was knocked out in the first round last year but went on to gain an impressive non-tournament victory over Anthony Henry on night two. In addition to those two, he also holds victories over fellow entrants Drew Delight and Kyle Matthews and is the current Empire Heavyweight Champion for Empire Pro Wrestling. Ray Fury, meanwhile, is one of the lesser-known entrants to this year's tournament, but don't count him out as he owns a pinfall victory over former ECW and NWA World Heavyweight Champion Steve Corino.

Can Lynch capitalize on last year's breakout and break through even further or will Fury be the man to step up and earn his time in the spotlight?

Drew Delight vs. "Wild" Billy Buck

Perhaps the least known pairing out of all these first round matches (they certainly were to me), but part of the joy of watching a show like this is discovering new talent and suddenly pining for them to get booked anywhere and everywhere else. Delight has held down the fort in the Eastern Tenessee/Northern Georgia independents for twenty years and holds victories over fellow entrants Kyle Matthews and Gunner Miller. Buck, meanwhile, has thirteen years, going back to the final days of NWA Wildside (where no less than AJ Styles first broke out) and on through to NWA Anarchy, where he was the promotion's final champion before they shut down last year.

Both men are veterans. Only one can proceed. All of these first round matches have a heavy weight to them, a gravitas if you will, here in the southeast's most prominent tournament, but this one might have the most on the line of them all.

Anthony Henry vs. Lio Rush

Of all the unfamiliar talent at last year's SCI, I don't think anybody impressed me quite like Anthony Henry did. He lost both his matches that weekend, but I walked away a fan, 100%. He has a mix of high flying and technical wrestling skill that puts me in mind of TJ Perkins, and you know that's no mean praise. He's coming into the tournament fresh off a victory over Roderick Strong in PWX.

Lio Rush, while not in the tournament last year, first came onto my radar under similar circumstances, at FIP's interpromotional trios tournament at Fallout last year. As part of Team Maryland Championship Wrestling, he stood right out from the pack in a big way with his insane aerial athleticism. And no less than indie titan Ring of Honor noticed, putting him in the 2016 edition of their Top Prospect Tournament, and following his victory, signing him just this past March.

Of all these first round matches, this may well be the one I'm most looking forward to, folks.

Chip Day vs. Odinson

Chip Day is another guy who stood right out to me at last year's SCI. With kicks that sound like gunshots, he's one of the best wrestlers in the southeast today, and increasing numbers of promotions outside his proverbial home turf have deservedly begun booking him. He lost in the first round last year to Gunner Miller but holds victories over the likes of WWE Cruiserweight Classic competitors Tommaso Ciampa and Cedric Alexander.

Odinson, meanwhile, hails from the golden halls of WWA4, the school ran by Mr. Hughes that produced such indie standouts as AR Fox, Moose, and Uhaa "Apollo Crews" Nation. And indeed, much like Uhaa and Moose, he's a mountain of a man who moves with incredible dexterity.

Odinson finishes folks with an F-10 (that's a spinning F-5), and Day's gonna have to work hard to chop down the mountain if he doesn't want to ride the tornado.

Gunner Miller vs. Mikael Judas

Gunner Miller is a former football player turned blue chip babyface prospect who had garnered WWE interest after only a year on the indies. Well, he's still with us on the independents for now, but you know they love that background, folks. As previously mentioned, last year he only missed the finals due to Jimmy Rave's subterfuge, this year he's got to be a real threat to go all the way.

Mikael Judas, perhaps best known to fans around the world as Murphy from his time in TNA, follows up on former tag team partner Phill "Gunner" Shatter's appearance in last year's SCI that opened a lot of eyes to the former TNA superstar's potential. Another man who ran the gauntlet from NWA Wildside to NWA Anarchy, Judas's years of experence give him perhaps a natural edge over Miller.

In addition to the experience factor, Judas has five inches and fifty pounds on Miller. It's not gonna be easy for him to topple the beast, but it'll sure be fun to watch.

Corey Hollis vs. Matt Riddle

Corey Hollis has actually wrestled more matches for WWE (including NXT) this year than he has for any independent promotion. I stumbled on that statistic on Cagematch while trying to decide how I was going to describe him for this preview. That's crazy, right? Well, it would be, if he weren't so damn good.

Matt Riddle is the fastest rising superstar on the independent scene today, no doubt about it. I've waxed poetic enough about him before, but it bears saying-- just 17 months into his pro wrestling career, he's already one of the best in the world, both in that ring and on that microphone. He's tore through Evolve like an unstoppable juggernaut, and is set for the other big independent wrestling tournament on everybody's radar, PWG's Battle of Los Angeles.

Hollis made it all the way to the end of last year's tournament, and it'd be no surprise if he were to repeat that feat this year... if he weren't staring down a roadblock like Matt Riddle.

Chris Hero vs. Kyle Matthews

Speaking of roadblocks... Chris Hero is a man-- no, Chris Hero is the man. Wherever he goes, he's the man to beat. He's taken to calling himself the Greatest of All Time lately, and while there are other folks I might be more inclined to argue for that spot personally, I find it hard to disagree. The man simply has incredible matches against all comers in all situations, from one-offs to long-running storylines.

Kyle Matthews, conversely, is a name I've heard for years, for about as long as I've had an interest in independent wrestling, in fact, but never really had an opportunity to watch. He's had opportunities for everyone from Pro Wrestling Zero1 to TNA to ROH to Evolve, but none of them ever quite latched onto him. It's clearly not for lack of talent, and the SCI is a clear opportunity to show all of 'em what fools they've been.

Matthews was the favorite to win the whole thing over at the official Wrestling With Words fantasy booking thread before the first round matchups came out, but now he's staring down Chris Hero. Well, Kyle nearly took another man often considered the GOAT down six years ago. Who's to say he won't go all the way this time?

But that's not all the Scenic City Invitational has for us, no sir.

Night two always features a few non-tourney spotlight matches and this year is no different, with the team of Tank & Iceberg taking on opponents yet to be announced. Could be men knocked out of the first round, could be special guests, who knows? I'm just pretty sure it's gonna be a good time.

If you're in the southeast or just willing to travel to eastern Tennessee to watch some damn good wrestling, general admission tickets are still available here, or you can be a schlub like me and wait for it to come out on VOD courtesy of WHOO! Wrestling.

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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