PWX He Who Cast the First Stone went up on the Highspots Wrestling Network over the weekend, so let's dig right in, shall we?
The show opens with Tommy Thomas and Montana Black of the Syndicate interrupting the initial run-down of the card we don't usually get to see on VOD here. Tommy gets on the mic and complains about Elijah Evans IV being the only one of their number on the card tonight and introduces Timmy Lou Retton and TJ Boss as paying customers before graciously letting the show begin.
Darius Lockhart (c) vs. Nathan Cruz (PWX iTV Championship)
Mat grappling in the feeling out, neither man able to pull too far ahead until Lockhart busts out some rolls and ties Cruz up with the Paradise Lock. Nathan hot after the break with the kick, ducking and dodging and Darius lands a springboard back elbow. Running knee off the apron and Lockhart jaws at the tag champs in the front row.
Back in the ring, the champ pressse the attack with stomps in the corner but Cruz catches him with a Hot Shot into a neckbreaker, dropkick to the back of the head and a nearfall. Slingshot back suplex follows it up but he can't put Darius away and gets caught with a kick to the face trying to yank him away from the ropes! Duck the lariat, throwing kicks, backing the former Progress Champion into the corner and absolutely crushing him with a knee to the face.
Big rights, ducking Cruz's attemps at returning 'em, capture suplex, only a nearfall! Lockhart looking for a back suplex, Nathan rolls through into a pin for two, fireman's carry, Darius slips out, O'Connor roll denied, to the apron, Cruz lands a rope-hung Codebreaker... NO GOOD! Arm-trap crossface applied but the champion gets the ropes, schoolboy denied, rana pin, still not enough!
Big lariat from Lockhart and Nathan counters by choking him with his wrist tape! The referee disposes of it, Cruz with a low blow, Showstolen... NOT ENOUGH! Trying again, this time Darius uses the ropes to free himself before the impact, kick to the leg, knee to the back of the head...
Darius Lockhart wins by pinfall with the tossing back suplex, retaining the PWX iTV Championship.
Fun opener, I find I always enjoy Cruz a bit more in the US and Lockhart is very much in the throes of his "he's gonna be a big deal someday but right now you get to watch him grow and develop every show" phase.
Chip Day passes by Darius on his way out for his match, holding his contract for a title shot of his choosing at any time and patting the iTV Championship.
Chip Day vs. David Starr
Day in hot with a Mafia kick before the bell! Trading strikes, Starr with a Lou Thesz press into a pin and a test of strength, evasion city, double chickenwing cover, stuff is happening fast and furious here folks. Chip in control when the dust settles, stomping away in the corner, firing kicks away but the Jewish Cannon is just getting fired up and asks for more, hurling epithets at Atlanta's Arrow!
Ducking kicks and throwing chops now, a big right knocks Day loopy and it's time for a good old-fashioned violence party! Springboard lariat puts Chip down on the apron, rolling lariat into a rope-hung reverse STO, only two! Thinking Product Placement but he can't get it, another lariat and now it's Chip's turn to get fired up. More epithets, lariats on lariats, just clubbing away on each other!
Trading kicks, Starr ends up outside but stops the dive with a spike DDT on the apron! Back inside, turning each other inside out with running lariats and both men are down and out as referee Kevin Pierce counts. Davey with the double leg into the corner, charging forearms but Day trips him up with a kick. Again nearly caught on the dive with the DDT but Chip slips out, lands a boot, and Atlanta's Arrow flies!
Back inside, senton atomico connects... NOPE! Roundhouse kick follows, the knee misses, Starr gets a superkick off, brainbuster onto the knee... NO GOOD! Another superkick... GONNA TAKE MORE THAN THAT TO PUT CHIP DAY AWAY! David digging deep, his expression letting you know he's trying to figure out what he needs to do to win this match. Looking for Product Placement, Day backs him off twice running.
Knee in the corner, tornado DDT denied and Davey fires a bunch of elbows off, Product Placement countered into a pin, reversed, stalemate! Starr ducks a roundhouse, rolling elbow, again trapping the arms and again Chip escapes! He lands a kick...
Chip Day wins by pinfall with the knee drop to the back of the head.
Great match, violent, intense, and sprinty in a great way. A veritable hoot, if you will. And, given Day's possession of the guaranteed title shot, a very necessary building block, to have him re-establish his bonafides in a decisive victory over a rival he's never beaten in the form of David Starr.
Aerial Monroe vs. Lady Katherine Darcy
Monroe in charge early through some light mat grappling but Darcy is canny and able to keep herself in the fight. Indeed, the fighting spills outside and Katherine gets a kick in that turns the tide. Back in the ring, clubbing away, smashing Aerial's face into the turnbuckles and following it up with a snapmare into a cravate. Firmly in control, rubbing Monroe's face into the mat and fending off her attempts to kick herself back into the running.
Stomping away at the hamstrings, starting to focus on the legs is Darcy, knee drop shinbreaker into a kneeling toehold. Throwing uppercuts, Aerial firing slaps off in return, she gets some kicks in, armwringer, basement reverse STO, only a nearfall! Blue Thunder Driver follows, again just good for two and it's arm time, kicking and trying for a hold but Katherine is right in the ropes.
Inverted headlock elbow drop nearfall, Monroe with a ripcord rolling elbow attempt that gets ducked, jockeying for position she gets back to it and connects with it... NO GOOD! Armwringer, she steps over and falls back...
Aerial Monroe wins by submission with a armscissors armbar.
A bit slow and awkward to start and it kind of ended right as it felt like it was getting good but a solid match.
Alexander James vs. Elijah Evans IV vs. Ethan Case vs. Fred Yehi vs. Jason Cade (X16 Qualifying Match)
Evans bails and the other four pair off and brawl, the focus settling on Yehi and Cade in the ring engaging in some light lucha libre until Fred goes a-stompin'! Case and James are fighting on the outside as Yehi pops Jason up into a German suplex and Elijah enterst the fray. Fred immediately connects with a stomp and Evans runs right off. Ethan in with Yehi, ducking the stomps and landing a rolling solebutt.
Up and over, Case gets the Ace Crusher but Fred rolls outside! Alexander in, misses a kick and takes a superkick but denies the Iconoclasm and hits a diving forearm. Jason in, a Frankensteiner and a handspring Codebreaker, Elijah goes to pick the bones but Cade breaks it up! To the second, Evans cuts him off with a forearm and climbs up with him, they struggle and everybody comes over for a tower of doom... FROG SPLASH FROM JASON CADE! NOT ENOUGH!
Yehi and Cade back in it, Fred in charge and stomping away into the Liu Kang bicycle kicks and Alexander adds a pump kick to wipe the high flyer out. Trading forearms with the former Evolve tag champ, wiping him out with an elbow, getting into it with Ethan and they clunk heads leaving everybody laid out and Evans ready to pick the bones. Case gets an elbow on him, James with the ripcord backfist, Ethan ducks, Elijah in with the spear... NOPE!
Jason on Evans, handspring gets caught into a Blue Thunder Driver but Yehi's right there to break it up. Overhead elbows to block a Blue Thunder Driver, the nuke follows and Alexander breaks it up! Tower of London... Cade with the save! He superkicks Alexander's legs out from under him in the turnbuckles, double stomp, Tiger Driver... NO GOOD! Jason firing knees off, Case catches him with Eat It off a pop-up from Evans!
Slugging it out, Ethan gets the Sharpshooter on Elijah, Evans crawls for the ropes and on top of Jason Cade...
Elijah Evans IV wins by pinfall with a lateral press on Jason Cade, qualifying for the 2017 X16.
First off, what a cool finish! A flash of their former tag team taking Cade out only for Evans to steal the pin while IN a submission hold and deny 2015 X16 winner Case a spot in the tournament, for now at least. And as a whole, this was, rather predictably for a scramble with this kind of talent in it, really good.
John Skyler vs. Martin Stone
Grappling to start, struggling over a test of strength leads to a stalemate and frustration for Skyler. World of Sport escape on a full nelson leaves Stone frustrated in return and he grabs a wristlock and wishbones John's fingers! Headlock takeover from the Southern Savior, Martin forces him into the ropes for a break and goes back to the arm, again snapping the fingers!
Running the ropes, Skyler goes for a leapfrog and the Guv'nor picks his leg but again we stalemate after John denies a submission followup and kicks out of a schoolboy. Stone offers a handshake but Skyler isn't having it and a shoving match breaks out. Trading chops, into forearms, slugging it out, backslide, a Finlay Roll follows it but neither can put Martin away.
Shoulder thrusts, pressing the attack, John settles on a Muta Lock but can't quite get all of it and Stone gets out. Sidestepping the diving knee, the cover gets two, snapmare into a reverse chinlock, alternating between bridging back for more leverage and taking the Southern Savior to the mat to keep him grounded. Side Russian legsweep to cut off the escape but it's only good for a nearfall.
Knee to the face, wrenching at the face, overhead elbow, Stone deciding he's gonna do whatever it takes to win tonight. Clubbing away, John throwing desperate hands to get back into it but Martin lands a drop toehold into an STF, grinding the bones of his forearm into the Southern Savior's face. Whip to the corner, Skyler fired up and throwing elbows, sidestepping a charge, boot, snapmare into a big senton!
Underhooks, Tiger Driver into a folding press and transitioning into the Boston Crab when it's clear Stone is kicking out! The Guv'nor gets the ropes but John stays on him, attacking the leg and throwing uppercuts in the ropes. Martin gets a lariat off, Ace Crusher denied and Skyler hits the slingshot spear... NOPE! Stone gets a gamengiri on a charge, exploder suplex, a punch to the face gets a nearfall but he turns it right into the arm-trap crossface!
John wavers but does not fail, rolling it into a pin to escape. Jockeying for position, Stone with a sleeper hold, following it up with a knee trembler, leaving both men down and out. Uppercut for uppercut now, Martin pulls ahead and lariats Skyler to the apron, following after him, thinking German suplex to the floor but John fights it off... SPEAR ON THE APRON!
Skyler chasing Stone on the floor, trading hands when the Guv'nor lands a headbutt that dazes the Southern Savior. He throws him back in the ring but John comes right back out and lands a superkick... here comes Corey Hollis. Skyler stares at him for a moment before heading back in the ring, he goes back to the Boston Crab, Stone slips out...
Martin Stone wins by pinfall with a rana pin.
Really good match, following on nicely from Skyler's time limit draw against Timothy Thatcher with the recurring stalemates showing how evenly matched these two men are as grapplers. A bit of a down ending but it's in service of one of the best stories on the indies today so I'm willing to let it slide for sure.
Stone isn't happy about winning like that and offers a handshake in good sportsmanship and apology before leaving. Hollis gets in the ring with Skyler and asks if he's in his head now and if he understands where he's coming from now. This isn't going to stop until he does something about it, and the problem is John isn't a savior or a false prophet, but just a "little bitch".
This gets Skyler to his feet... HE FINALLY PUTS A HAND ON COREY HOLLIS, GRABBING HIS SHOULDER AND TAKING THE MIC! He tells Hollis to shut up and calls him a "selfish, sanctimonious pissant" and says he's gonna hit him with a whole bunch of truth. Corey wanted so bad to be a leader but all he's ever been is a follower-- he followed Jimmy Rave around when he first broke in, and then he latched on to Chip Day, and then he was in a tag team called Country Jacked with a guy you might know named Adam Page.
While he's in New Japan and Ring of Honor, Hollis sits here and whines and cries and nothing ever changes. And after that he latched on to Skyler, and it's quite apropos that Corey is wearing a John Skyler t-shirt, because the shirt on his back is as close as he'll ever get to being John Skyler. For months he came out here to fight and John said no, trying to help him find the real Corey Hollis, but along the way he forgot who the real John Skyler is.
He forgot about the John Skyler who is a cold remorseless man without one good bone in his body that'll DDT you on concrete and laugh about it. When he refused to fight Hollis, it wasn't to protect him, no, it was because he was afraid of what he might do to a man he called a brother if there were no rules. He didn't want to go to that place but Corey leaves him no choice.
This undersized anti-hero in front of him? His arms are a little too short to box with god. Every time he's asked the answer has been the same, he will not fight him, but he forgot to mention one thing... he lied. LARIAT! MOUNTED PUNCHES! REFEREES HIT THE RING TO TRY AND BREAK IT UP BUT THEY WILL NOT BE DENIED! HOLLIS WITH A DOUBLE LEG AND IT ENDS UP ON THE FLOOR!
THE LOCKER ROOM EMPTIES! Finally security manages to get them apart but John shortcuts through the ring and gets right back on Corey! Again they separate and this time it's Hollis' turn to break free and restart it! One more separation... THIS TIME SKYLER DIVES OFF THE STAGE! COREY DDTS A SECURITY GUARD ON THE FLOOR! JOHN SKYLER DIVING SPLASH INTO THE CRUSH! Alone in the ring... but the locker room floods in and cuts them off before they can do anything further!
Things are bad enough here that PWX owner Brian Kanabroski is in the ring trying to defuse the situation as each man needs about ten more holding him back... AND STILL IT DOESN'T WORK! Skyler gets back on the mic and says if it's a fight he wants, it's a fight he'll get, and he lays the mic down.
Jonathan Gresham vs. Tracer X
Bit of mat wrestling in the feeling out, Gresham getting right to work on X's arm. Side headlock, shoot off, Tracer getting into it just as we stalemate. Jockeying for position in the corner, X straight-up punches Jonathan in the side of the neck! Off the ropes again, to the apron, Tracer back in with a springboard lariat but it's only good for two. Gresham blocks a fisherman, dodging and sidestepping and he gets a dropkick to the knee that wipes X out!
Jonathan going after his leg to capitalize, wrenching away for an extended period until Tracer manages to kick him away, he hits a snap scoop powerslam but the leg gives out on him! X throwing hands in the middle of the ring, fighting the good fight, Gresham gets an enzuigiri off but Tracer lands on his feet off a German suplex and the leg buckles!
Still on his feet, 540 roundhouse kick, pumphandle straight suplex... NO GOOD! Jockeying for position in a waistlock, Jonathan with a kick to the knee and a quebrada, right into the ankle lock! Transition to a figure four leglock, X has nowhere to go! Swatting desperately, trying to pull himself into the bottom rope... he rolls it over and reverses the pressure!
Gresham rolls him right back but the motion gave Tracer room to get the ropes and force the break. Boot up on the charge, Jonathan gets an O'Connor roll, off the ropes, hip tosses denied, bridging German suplex, only a nearfall! Looking for the figure four again, X reverses to a cradle for two, sidesteps a charge and springboards in with the reverse STO... NOPE!
Tracer up top, thinking 450 but Gresham rolls away, Frankensteiner, X rolls him through but Jonathan stomps the knee a few times and begins posting it repeatedly into the mat...
Jonathan Gresham wins by submission by repeatedly posting Tracer's knee into the mat!
Man this show is just full of really cool inventive finishes! Very good match with a great finish, continuing the recent storyline trend of "Tracer can go toe-to-toe with the national stars, but he can't beat them" with aplomb, and Gresham was a particularly good opponent for him, being not only one of the best, most innovative submission wrestlers around, but having a surprising amount of precisely deployed high flying acumen.
"Manscout" Jake Manning & White Mike vs. Ugly Ducklings (Lance Lude & Rob Killjoy)
Killjoy and Manning to start, feeling out on the mat and into some action off the ropes, a back body drop puts Rob to the apron, he slingshots back in, headscissors takeover connects but the hip toss is denied and Jake gets a butterfly suplex in for a stalemate. Tags made, Lude with a dropkick and slaps, headscissors takeover but Mike lands on his feet! Swinging headscissors, the Manscout runs in and takes one of his own in turn.
Ducks fly together, or try to rather, but both get tripped up and Manning puts Killjoy in the Paradise Lock on the ropes! The same for Lance, on the count of three.. hesitation dropkicks! Thinking double planchas but the Ducks get in there and stop 'em short... STEREO DIVES AHOY! White isolated in the ring, the Ducks run roughshod on him, culminating with a diving... spank. On the butt.
Rob throwing chops, Russian legsweep into a double stomp, boot, a scoop slam, tag to Lude and he comes in for the rolling assisted splash > standing moonsault > falling splash combo but Jake breaks it up! Mike gets a back body drop off, some separation, tag made, Manning in hot, DDT / reverse STO combo is good for a nearfall and he calls for White and tags back.
Double whip, sunset flip buckle bomb into a Codebreaker... KILLJOY KICKS OUT AT THE LAST SECOND! Mike chopping away, a quebrada comes up empty but he stays on Rob and hits a Falcon Arrow for another nearfall! Manscout legal, atomic drop into a jumping reverse STO and Lance breaks it up! Punching away, setting Killjoy up top, butterfly superplex and Mike tags in and bravely climbs up top... JUST SHORT ON THE DIVE!
Tag to Lude, an enzuigiri connects, Manning takes a diving crossbody for his partner, Lance uses him as a step on a shiranui... NOT ENOUGH! Mounted punches, Killjoy wipes Jake out with a dropkick, double knees, Launchpad McQuack... MANSCOUT MAKES THE SAVE! Slugging it out with Rob, going punch for punch, hip toss to the apron, thinking about the piledriver, he can't get it so he clotheslines Killjoy outside.
Blocking the shiranui, deadlift piledriver, tossing him over to White Mike, the Can Opener... ROB MAKES THE SAVE WITH A DIVING DOUBLE STOMP! The Syndicate jawing at Jake Manning at ringside, Killjoy climbs up top... DIVING SPLASH INTO THE CRUSH! Back in the ring, O'Connor roll gets Mike up on Rob's shoulders...
Ugly Ducklings win by pinfall with the Ducksday Device on White Mike.
This was wild, through and through, start to finish. Mike and Manning are starting to gel as a team, the Ducks are some of the best going, and my only quibble is that they played SO fast and loose with the legal man that maybe this should have been a tornado tag or lucha rules or something to cover that up. Really minor in the end, though.
I'd like to especially shout out the commentary here, with an increasingly agitated and hoarse Tommy Thomas absolutely losing his mind in indignation about the Ducks doing Duck things as Brett Wolverton tried fruitlessly to calm him down. I'd be lying if I said I didn't miss Brad Stutts and his usual informative commentary on this show, but these guys have done really well in the meantime, with an easy-and-hilarious chemistry between them.
The tag champs try to get in the ring after the match but security get in their way, seeing as they're just paying customers tonight and not allowed to actually get in the ring. The police show up and arrest the Syndicate! Security escorts Tommy Thomas and Montana Black out as well, but Coach Mikey comes up from behind... TOMMY THOMAS HAS BEEN TARRED AND FEATHERED!
Anthony Henry (c) vs. James Drake (PWX World Heavyweight Championship)
Drake offers a handshake and Henry takes it with a slap of the hand. Struggle in a lockup and then a test of strength gives way to mat grappling, Anthony trying to take James' back at first before trying the kitchen sink and heading outside to admire the title belt with Amber Young for a moment. Back inside, the New Age Enforcer on him immediately, suffocating him with grounded underhooks and bieling him across the ring.
Henry sidesteps a chop and starts chipping away with strikes but Drake is able to wipe him out with a chop! Anthony rises to his feet and they go head-to-head before trading chops. This does not go well for the champion. James blocks a kick and throws a knockout roundhouse of his own! Charging chop in the corner, following it up with a forearm, a headbutt, and an overhead belly-to-belly suplex before the Penalty Kick to the back!
Overhead gutwrench suplex gets a nearfall and Henry has to roll outside for a breather. He dumps a bottle of water over his head and smashes the bottle across the New Age Enforcer's face, which leads to a headbutt exchange. Just throwing wicked hard shots at each other, and the champ sets Drake down in a chair in the front row, around the ring and he slows down and flips the crowd the bird rather than attack his opponent, and this also does not go well.
Pop-up haymaker on the apron, Drake's feeling it! Boot to the face, breaking the count, back suplex on the apron! Back outside, more chops but Henry gets a chair up and throws James' arm into the post after! Smashing into the post a second time for good measure, staying on the challenger, stomping and kicking at his back here. Back inside, kicking at the hand, the champ stands firm in the face of a chop and Drake's hand buckles against his chest, such is the damage done.
Stomps to the hand now, thinking about a suplex but the New Age Enforcer doesn't need two working hands to block a suplex. He does, however, need two hands to finish taking the champion over and Henry uses the leverage off the counter to finis the suplex! Abdominal stretch applied, working the arm, bending and tearing, but James gets the ropes and forces the break.
Kick to the head into a cover for two and Henry decides to toy with his tag partner, disdainful kicks and chops, begging for retaliation. Drake gives him his best shot back and it works, but it hurts him just as bad! Switching it up, left-handed chops don't have the same power but they work, James cold cocks him in the face with the bad hand to finish!
Clutching his hand, he gets an elbow up on a chart, hammerlock ripcord into a backfist, a saito suplex sets it up.... CANNONBALL! NO GOOD! Underhooks but he can't lock his hands, champion throws a forearm and gets a German suplex off the rebound, Drake nails him in the back of the head with an elbow, Shining Wizard... again only two! Setting Anthony up top, big dropkick, James climbs after. struggling in the turnbuckles... HENRY WISHBONES THE FINGERS ON THE BAD HAND!
Sunset flip powerbomb nearfally, big roundhouse kick... NOT ENOUGH! Champion headed to the high rent district agaion, nobody home on the double stomp and Drake lands the Sick Kick for a nearfall! Powerbomb into a lungblower follows... ANTHONY HENRY LIVES! The New Age Enforcer heads up top but the champion knows what's coming and takes his legs out from under him... KUDO DRIVER! JAMES DRAKE KICKS OUT AT ONE! WHAT IS HAPPENING?!
Crescent kick staggers Drake, diving double stomp to his back, Henry climbs again and throws another... JAMES DRAKE WILL NOT BE DEFEATED IN HIS HOME TOWN! Abdominal stretch applied, wrenching the fingers in it... DRAKE REVERSES TO DRILL BIT SOMEHOW! HENRY'S STILL IN IT! Anthony ducks a charging chop, lands a superkick, sets James up top and climbs, thinking avalanche Frankensteiner but Drake holds on in the corner and the champion eats it!
AVALANCHE DRILL BIT?! STILL ANTHONY HENRY GETS HIS SHOULDER UP! Amber Young yanked referee Kevin Pierce out of the ring for good measure! Drake jawing at the distaff half of the Lethal Lovers before deciding to go for the moonsault, at which point Young grabs his foot to block. Getting in her face again, Henry from behind but James turns him around and bumps him into her.
A chop makes Henry accidentally backfist Young, James goes for Drill Bit but the champ pokes his eyes and goes to check on Amber. Drake protests that he didn't do it... ELIJAH EVANS IV ATTACKS FROM BEHIND WITH A SLEDGEHAMMER! Henry slides back in...
Anthony Henry wins by pinfall with a lateral press, retaining the PWX World Heavyweight Championship.
This was a masterpiece on multiple levels.
From the basic storyline of these two men as equals, neither able to do enough to put the other away but increasingly escalating their attempts to do so, to the major thread of Henry destroying Drake's hand to try and take away his one obvious advantage in those devastating cast iron chops, and just the balancing act of presenting a story that works both within PWX continuity (where Henry and Drake are mainly rivals) and Evolve continuity (where Henry and Drake were, when this was taped, tag team champions and continue to be part of the beating heart of that promotion's tag division) and beyond. All that winds together with the overarching stories both men have been telling of late, Henry's fall to the dark side and Drake's long-standing feud with Evans and the Syndicate to make an excellent match that should find a spot on anyone's match of the year candidate list.
This show took rather longer to hit the Highspots Wrestling Network than most PWX shows, so I'm going to ask the question of whether it was worth the wait, and the answer is yes, unequivocably so. Day/Starr, Stone/Skyler, and X/Gresham were all really good matches and worth going out of your way to watch, and the main event is about as good as it gets.
Storyline-wise, the most exciting development is obviously Skyler finally coming to blows with Corey Hollis, admitting after all this time that it was less concern over Hollis' mental state and more about the physical state he'll leave him in if he lets the violence out. And boy, how did he let the violence out! Cannot wait to catch the match. But also Chip Day has continued to establish his presence as a guy who could take any of the titles at any time, Ethan Case came THIS close to taking his spot in the X16 and that has to weight on him, and Henry took his cheapest win yet with the assistance of Elijah Evans IV. And last but not least, the Syndicate/Ducklings feud went up another notch with the live arrest of Retton and Boss and the tarring and feathering of Tommy Thomas.
Check it out on the Highspots Wrestling Network, folks, it's worth the two hours and change.