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
Beyond Wrestling Americanrana (July 31st)
Keith Lee over Brian Cage
AR Fox over Matt Tremont
Crusade For Change (Anthony Gangone, Darius Carter, Devin Blaze, TJ Marconi, & Tommy Trainwreck) over Strong Style Squad (B-Boy, Dan Maff, Eddie Kingston, Homicide, & Monsta Mack)
Chris Hero over Kimber Lee
Donovan Dijak over Chris Dickinson and JT Dunn
Tanya Cornell over Joey Ryan and Suge D (c) (DDT Pro Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship)
Matt Riddle over John Silver
Team Pazuzu (Angel Ortiz, Jaka, & Mike Draztic) over Catch Point (Drew Gulak, TJ Perkins, & "Hot Sauce" Tracy Williams)
David Starr over Johnny Gargano
Joey Ryan over Johnny Cockstrong (c) (DDT Pro Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship)
The Audience over Joey Ryan (c) (DDT Pro Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship)
Joey Ryan over The Audience (c) (DDT Pro Ironman Heavymetalweight Championship)
Brian Fury over Tommaso Ciampa
Jonathan Gresham over Zack Sabre, Jr., two falls to one
Beyond Wrestling put on the latest edition of Americanrana last weekend, and as you can see, it was a stacked, stacked card. Yes, that's no less than four DDT Pro Ironman Heavymetalweight defenses, and there were two more on the Women's Wrestling Revolution show earlier in the day and three more backstage. Aren't 24/7 titles great? You can check out all those right here on Joey Ryan's YouTube channel.
Beyond (heh) the chicanery, it seems to have been a night full of decisive action, with David Starr bringing himself to 2-0 over Johnny Gargano in a match that was a year in the making, Donovan Dijak staking a claim to be the ace of Beyond Wrestling, Team Pazuzu prevailing in the next round of their war against Catch Point, and Jonathan Gresham proving himself, at least in Beyond, to have the better of Zack Sabre, Jr. in a definitive and final manner.
Looks like a great show, and if you'd like to check it out, it's up on Beyondemand right now.
AIW Girls Night Out 18 (August 6th)
Angeldust & Brittany Blake vs. Marti Belle & Ray Lyn
MJ Jenkins vs. Vanity
Angelus Layne vs. Kelly Klein
Veda Scott has an open challenge
LuFisto vs. Nicole Savoy
Allysin Kay vs. Britt Baker
Annie Social vs. Shayna Baszler
Heidi Lovelace (c) vs. "Crazy" Mary Dobson (AIW Women's Championship)
One of the premier institutions in women's independent wrestling is back again as Absolute Intense Wrestling put on another edition of Girls Night Out this Saturday. Personally I'm most on the hype wagon for Nicole Savoy's match against LuFisto, since their match at Shimmer 80 this past April was a highlight of that particular show, but with Allysin Kay, Heidi Lovelace, and Shayna Baszler in action it had ought to be a pretty awesome card not matter what.
If you're in the Cleveland area or willing to travel, you can pick up tickets right here or you can wait for the video release, which shouldn't take long at all seeing as Absolution XI was out the day after it actually happened.
Marty Scurll vs. Mustafa Ali
Our freebie this week comes from Freelance Wrestling's recent sojourn to the Warped Tour, as Cruiserweight Classic participant Mustafa Ali defends his Freelance Championship against the Villain himself, Marty Scurll. Enjoy!
PWX Another Level (July 24th)
When PWX announced Anthony Henry vs. Roderick Strong for Another Level, I knew I'd likely end up seeking it out on VOD, and here we are. The turnaround time was pretty impressive, with the show going up just five days after it aired. Enough preamble, let's get with the coverage!
Ugly Ducklings (Colby Corino, Lance Lude, & Rob Killjoy) over Team Tommy (Chip Day, Darius Lockhart, & Mason Maddox) by pinfall.
Only at all familiar with Corino and Day out of these guys, but a big part of the joy of indie wrestling is watching foks you don't know and giving them a chance to earn your attention or, on a really good day, blow you away right out the gate. And these dudes don't disappoint on that front, each man getting the opportunity to show what they've got. Corino in particular stood out since I've only seen him as the Decade's oft-abused young boy on Ring of Honor TV, but as it turns out he's got a bag of neat tricks including a suicide dive that turns at the last second and a cannonball-style rolling Alabama Slam into the turnbuckles. Real fun opener, look forward to seeing all these dudes again sometime.
Gunner (c) over James Drake by pinfall to retain the PWX Innovative Television Championship.
James Drake another first-timer for me here, taking on modern-day viking and former TNA superstar Gunner. And I dig his work here, mostly brawling but a couple of moonsaults and power moves (including an impressive Liger Bomb out of the corner) to provide some spice. Short, owing to the ten-minute TV title time limit, but sweet.
Ethan Case jumps down from the commentary booth to cut a promo, talking about how he's been here for four years, only missed one show, and how he's been on a losing record since winning the X 16 tournament last year, and now he's not booked on the show. Other guys leave, but he's Mr. PWX and he's not going anyway, and he calls Elijah Evans IV down to the ring to talk the shit he's been talking about Case and his family to his face. Elijah comes out with his security team looking for a suckerpunch but Case catches him! Evans flees and Case offers a challenge then and there but gets denied.
Good bit of storytelling there, pretty standard but the standards are standards for a reason. Sometimes a mid-show promo segment on from a promotion you don't follow closely leaves you more confused than anything, but this got their story over quite effectively.
The Revolt! (Caleb Konley & Zane Riley) over Scarlet and Graves (Dezmond Xavier & Zachary Wentz) by pinfall.
Caleb Konley, of course, a man I'm quite familiar with from his time in Evolve (but boy does he look different with his hair cut and long tights here), and I've seen Xavier a few times as well, but their tag partners are new to me. Zane Riley is a hoot, with his Greco-Roman nipple twists and double thumb-in-the-bum suplexes. Wentz and Xavier fit really well together as well, with one particular double-team standing out where Wentz goes for a standing shooting star press from below Riley's feet and Xavier pushes him in mid-air so he lands normally on Riley's chest. Crazy. One of the most innovative things I've seen in a long time. Awesome match.
David Starr over Corey Hollis by pinfall.
You may know Corey Hollis from such Raw matches as "Braun Strowman vs. Evan Anderholm" and "Shining Stars vs. Local Talent". Starr's no slouch in the "losing in short order on cable TV" area either, having just been defeated by Moose on last week's Impact. In all seriousness, I like both guys quite a bit and they have a great match here.
Trickery and taunting early on but Starr eats a ringpost hard and Hollis exploits it. Starr fights back one-armed, with a trio of suicide dives deep into the crowd before an arm wringer on the apron leads to a count-out nearfall. Hollis grabs a top wristlock and Starr deadlifts out with a surge of adrenaline and hoists Hollis to his shoulders and rams him headfirst into the turnbuckle! Tombstone piledriver! Forearms for shoulder blocks and Starr's arm hangs limp as he desperately tries to pop it back into place. A series of pinning predicaments are exchanged and Starr picks up the win with a really cool leg-and-head scissors rollup.
Gunner attacks Starr afterward, powerbombing him in the ring. This matchup seems relevant to my interests.
Anthony Henry over Roderick Strong by pinfall.
An intense lockup starts this one off before Henry goes for an armbar and Strong goes for Strong Hold, both men looking to end it before it starts. A chop exchange while Roddy tried to get Henry locked up changes to a standing chop contest and quickly spills outside! Back in the ring and Henry shows off his high flying skill before taking it back to the mat.
Back in the crowd, Henry sets Strong in a chair before hitting a vicious running knee! As they try to climb back in, Strong catches Henry with a fireman's carry slam on the apron before chucking him into the ringpost. Roddy goes on from there to just dominate the guy for a while, dipping into his arsenal of backbreakers and wrapping him up in the ropes for a neat surfboard variant. An Olympic Slam and a back suplex and Henry's still struggling, but he finally manages to haul himself back to his feet and trade forearms.
Missile dropkick from Henry and both men end up laying. A series of lariats for two and both men dodge and dive for a second before Henry just barely clips Strong with a springboard kick. Henry off the top and Strong nails him in the mouth with a laser-precise dropkick! Roddy follows up with running knees and forearms in the corner before picking Henry up for the tossing back suplex that lands him on his face! Strong to the top but Henry gets in there, setting him up for a trio of tree of woe dropkicks and a fourth off the top, Coast to Coast style!
Strong picks Henry off the top in turn for a wicked backbreaker, following a short while later with the superplex. Strikes exchanged as we creep towards the twenty minute time limit, Henry follows up with a strike rush but Strong catches him with the fireman's carry gutbuster and a Sick Kick for two! Air Raid Crash and Frog Splash from Henry gets his own two count! Both men are desperate for the victory and commentary announces that the time limit has been extended! Henry squeaks it out with a small package! Excellent match, just great stuff.
Roddy gets on the mic and tells Henry that he impressed him, and thanks him for welcoming him back to PWX.
Bravado Brothers (Harlem & Lancelot Bravado) (c) over Team IOU (Kerry Awful & Nick Iggy) by pinfall to retain the PWX Tag Team Championship.
Even trading early but Team IOU pulls out ahead, working Lancelot over. He barely escapes with a belly-to-belly to Kerry Awful and Harlem comes in like a house afire. Exploder to Iggy onto Awful! Tiger Driver! IOU back into it with pop-up double knees and an assisted Michinoku Driver before Harlem tags Lancelot back in.
Things break down a bit and the Bravados start flying-- a tope from Harlem, slingshot DDT from Lancelot, slingshot somersault stunner from Harlem and then into their wheelbarrow cutter! IOU force Lancelot to Canadian Destroyer Harlem! Suicide dive Doomsday Device! Gentleman's Agreement and it's over!
Really fun match from two excellent teams here. The Bravados are pretty well known at this point from their time in ROH, Dragon Gate USA, and Evolve, but Team IOU are also great in their own right. They have an interesting chemistry where they're kind of superficially an odd couple team (given that Nick Iggy is a relatively clean-cut dude who wears a blazer to the ring and Kerry Awful is this huge tattooed dude with a hobo beard) but they've got great double teams and they're just a lot of fun to watch. Keep an eye out for 'em, folks, you won't regret watching them wrestle.
Harlem on the mic after the match to talk about his and Lancelot's 3-0 record and asks PWX management to keep 'em coming so they can keep winning.
Cedric Alexander over Marty Scurll by pinfall.
Fast, flashy grappling to start, with Scurll settling in to lead Alexander around by the wrist. Some pyrotechnics and a chop war later and both men look for their finishers before Scurll reestablishes dominance with an arm wringer and a few superkicks. A little fun on the outside and then back in the ring, the Villain starts wrenching Cedric in the ropes before going back to the arm with stomps.
Can't count Cedric Alexander out, though, and he comes back with a vengeance, nailing Scurll with a huge suicide dive into the third row and a diving lariat. Scurll dodges a Lumbar Check and 540 enzuigiri but gets caught by the pop-up Michinoku Driver! Frog Splash but Marty gets the knees up and follows with some kicks and a jumping piledriver!
Alexander ducks a chickenwing attempt into a victory roll but falls to the fakeout superkick to the knee! Some moves exchanged with fighting spirit and both men sprawl on the mat after a Cedric Alexander brainbuster. Spent and kneeling they trade punches until Cedric pulls ahead. Goes for Lumbar Check again but Scurll slips out and eventually turns it into the crossface chickenwing. Alexander trying to break free but Marty snaps one of his fingers! Lumbar Check outta nowhere, it's over!
Definitely a bit of indie excess in this one, but they kept the pace up and I enjoyed it.
Cedric gets on the mic after but the crowd's cheering so loud that he just soaks it in as cheers turn to "Thank you, Cedric!" chants. He doesn't know how much time he has left here in PWX, anything can happen, he can get signed, he can not get signed, but he knows for sure he wants to be a two-time PWX Champion before it's all said and done.
Jake Manning over John Skyler (c) to win the PWX World Heavyweight Championship (No Holds Barred Career vs. Title Match)
Starting off hot with Skyler throwing an NXT t-shirt in Manning's face before they head to the outside! Commentary puts the story going into the match over, talking about Skyler promising to leave PWX for greener pastures while still champion, really cool sounding stuff that makes me regret not dipping into PWX sooner. Out to the bar and Manning's just beating the holy hell out of Skyler. An Irish whip back at ringside sends Skyler into about the ninth row! Another whip sees Skyler leave a dent in the stage(!) before Manning drags him back in the ring.
Backbreaker/reverse STO combo (quite lethal, really) and Manning gets a chair in the ring and repeatedly slams Skyler's face into the steel. Goes for a bulldog but Skyler drops him knee-first into the chair and starts working it over something fierce. Commentary puts over Manning as having a severe knee injury that he opted to not have surgery on, too. Skyler with a figure four around the ringpost (one of my absolute favorites) and kicks to the knee besides! Inverted Indian deathlock in the middle of the ring but Manning fights out with punches to the face.
Manning attempts to mount a comeback but gets kicked in the groin for his trouble. Skyler whipping Manning with a belt and demanding the ref ask if he wants to continue after every lash before choking him! Another chair and he Pillmanizes the leg. Apparently Manning is on a two-year losing streak, raising the stakes even higher. Skyler off the top but Manning catches him with the chair! Hobbling he tries to take Skyler's leg in return!
Gunner and Hollis run in and get a table out from under the ring, setting it up inside. They try to put Manning through with a triple powerbomb but the Revolt! run out to even the odds! Manning with a plancha into the brawl! Back in the ring he piledrives Skyler for two. Thumbtacks on the table! Skyler sunset flip powerbombs Manning through the table into the tacks!
Back to the leg with a Sharpshooter with the legs crossed such that all the pressure is on the bad leg and PWX owner Brian Kanabroski runs out to tell referee Kevin Pierce to ring the bell! It's a screwjob! But George South runs out for the equalizer! Superkick to the bad knee and Skyler goes for a Pedigree, spelling out NXT in the air but gets catapulted into the corner for taking too long. Manning with a kick to the gut and his own Pedigree and it gets three!
That match was something else, boy howdy. Commentary did an excellent job putting the stories in play over so I could follow them without having previously followed PWX. Could kvetch about losing the plot with the knee a little bit towards the end, but as much as this match was built around Manning's injured knee, it was really more about the heart and soul of PWX and Skyler's attempt to tear it out as he climbs the ladder and (hopefully) heads to NXT on a more regular basis soon. Really good stuff.
And a really great show overall.
Henry/Strong and Starr/Hollis are at the top of the pack, but Bravados/IOU and the main event could also headline just about any show anywhere, and there wasn't a bad match in the bunch. Full recommendation, folks. Them southern boys are on fire right now, if you're not paying at least a little attention, you're missing out.
You can check it out along with the rest of the PWX catalog and a bunch of other awesome stuff over at the Highspots Wrestling Network for just $9.99 a month, or you can buy it to own on DVD or MP4 from Highspots proper. Or, if you're in the Charlotte, North Carolina area, check out their next show live on August 21st. Scout's Honor's card is only partially set, but it's already pretty loaded, with Anthony Henry vs. Moose, David Starr vs. Gunner, Cedric Alexander vs. Jake Manning for the PWX Championship, and the Revolt! (Riley & Konley) vs. Nuclear Kaasarole (Chase Brown & Peter Kaasa) all looking pretty enticing.
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.