Don’t get my message twisted: most of episode 14 of Beyond Wrestling’s Uncharted Territory was flat-out excellent. This show continues to be the best weekly wrestling show out there (let me know if I’m missing another streaming-only show, as I’ve already considered those on TV), but one little thing stuck with me to the point where I felt compelled to write it up.
This sucks. For months, I wanted to write a purely glowing review of Beyond’s shows, but those articles never came to be for reasons I’ll attribute to time and energy - and Claire already doing a great job writing it up here at Cageside whenever her circumstances allowed. So instead of just focusing on what I despised about this week’s Uncharted Territory, I’m going to spread the good word about the seven best parts (or, well, my favorite segments) of the episode first.
After all that positivity, though, I will explain the moments what left a bad taste in my mouth about the show.
Leyla Hirsch is one to watch for
When you want to give great wrestlers a chance to look their best, you put them in the ring with other great wrestlers. It’s a tried and true practice that Beyond has done time and time again, including with current NXT talent Keith Lee and Donovan “Dominick Dijakovic” Dijak. This time though, Beyond favorite Solo Darling brought out the best in Leyla Hirsch, an up-and-comer who’s going to be a force to be reckoned with in no time.
You know how WWE wanted to sell us on Ronda Rousey’s dangerous arm throws when it already had gold in Shayna Baszler? Well, Hirsch, who comes to us from CZW, (according to most folks, and her Cage Match profile), is the next great MMA-style wrestler, bringing a background in amateur wrestling to the ring in an intensity you’ll love if you don’t already.
In his review at The Wrestling Blog, my friend TH references names like Chad Gable, Timothy Thatcher and Drew Gulak when saluting Hirsch’s performance, and he’s not wrong. And Hirsch has only been wrestling for a short time (somewhere in the 2-3 year range). Here, she had a barn burner of a match with Solo where she demonstrated solid catch wrestling and strikes.
For me, going forward, Hirsch will be a great reason to buy a ticket, especially as we see her progress.
Bear Country vs The Stunt Doubles was far from a car crash
Bear Country — another act getting more exposure as Bears Beefcake and Bronson win over the Beyond faithful — were supposed to wrestle a recently-turned-evil Team Tremendous, but Dan Barry’s appendix decided to re-write the card. So, Beyond made the particularly clever move of putting BC — a pair of hosses who hit very hard — up against the smallest tag team out there: Marko Stunt and his brother Logan Stunt.
Reading that, you’re probably thinking that Bear Country terrorized their smaller opponents, being a couple of bullies. Nope. Instead, Marko went in way too confident and cocky, and eventually, he and his brother would work the promotion’s lax rule book to their advantage, with double-team efforts on Bear Beefcake.
Bear Bronson then waited and waited for the hot tag, and the crowd popped when he got it. After it was all over, the Stunts’ returned to the role of lovable underdogs, when Bill Carr (the healthy half of Team Tremendous) ran into the ring to bludgeon Marko and Logan.
Effective usage of all involved, and a great way to make do with a last second adjustment.
Cam Zagami continues to be a great dbag
One of the most fun to hate performers on the independents, Cam Zagami (rhymes with Ham Salami) has been walking around Beyond in outfits that make me think he’s the love child of Brother Love and a creamsicle. And at Uncharted Territory #14, where he continued to manage Christian Casanova, he added skintight shiny leather pants to the mix.
Beyond did a very smart thing when it introduced Casanova and paired him with Zagami: using the pair to end the winning streak of fan favorite Thomas Santell, the retro wrestler also known as the Ovaltine Dream, who the Beyond fans chant “NERD!” at, lovingly.
Zagami and Casanova are a good pairing because the latter is so good that he could win and be a face if he tried, but he still employs Zagami’s trickery and nonsense to get by. Here, Casanova won again, and after his win, Zagami spent so much time hearing himself talk he barely let his client get a word in on the mic. The pair (joined by the equally smarmy Richard Holliday) later terrorized Santell again, but the Nerd was saved by Nick Gage (returning the favor from episode 13).
Yes, Beyond’s paired a nerd with Mr. Murder Death Kill, and it’s the combo meal you never knew you wanted and now desperately need. The two will take on “Filthy” Tom Lawlor and one of the most hate-able wrestling podcasters, Wrestling Observer’s Bryan Alvarez, at Americanrana in July. Lord knows what Zagami will be doing at that show.
AG is doing it and doing it and doing it well (even as a baddie)
Remember how I said I’ll always be interested in shows that Solo or Leyla are on? Same can be said for Anthony Greene, who’s showing real promise as a villain, which he demonstrated against The Patriot.
Yes, even though Beyond’s audience loves to salute Greene with the complimentary chant “AG F**KS!”, the Retrosexual worked on the other side of the good/evil dynamic because it was the third of July, and he was fighting the star-spangled Patriot, who looked awfully fit for a 52 year old.
Much like how the Stunts bent the rules, Greene fit what was needed of him with help from his associates The Platinum Hunnies (Angel Sinclair & Ava Everett). What made it all work was how AG was so proud of his assisted offense, and would start to show off when the crowd did the “AG F**KS!” chant.
Distractions abounded, but The Patriot won and a handshake sealed a happy end for all after the match.
Wheeler Yuta returns to the states a winner
You love to see an underdog find their edge. Yes, now that Yuta’s back, having spent some time in wXw (included a bout where WALTER laid into him pretty hard at the Superstars of Wrestling show), he’s even better than before, which we saw in a match against The Handsome Devil, Alex Reynolds.
While his last Beyond bouts were wins where he spent the match taking a lot of damage, this match included a lot of good offense, including a particularly pretty bridging German suplex.
One little adjustment I’ve noticed from Yuta is that he’s not smiling all the time like he used to. Yes, his nice lil smile showed up a bit, but now his look is clearly more focused. I’d say more, but I’d like to leave something to the imagination. Watch the show on IWTV or FITE.
Chikara brilliance on a Wednesday
Chikara, the Philadelphia-based promotion that gave us many of our current favorites, hasn’t been live streaming many shows lately (maybe because it keeps running events at minor league baseball stadiums where it doesn’t have the infrastructure for such streaming).
4/6 - @CHIKARApro's invasion continues! @razerhawk2000 & @_GreenAnt_ & @_ThiefAnt_ & @MikeQuackenbush v. @DatCajunCrawdad & @HermitCrabWalk & @CCrummels & @SonnyDefarge - @beyondwrestling #UnchartedTerritory— Jon Washer (@JWasherBeyond) July 5, 2019
Full gallery - https://t.co/ShB8kmkesK pic.twitter.com/RVuXlbyV4T
And while this 4-on-4 match — Green Ant, Thief Ant, Mike Quackenbush and Razerhawk vs Cajun Crawdad, Hermit Crab, Cornelius Crummels and Sonny Defarge — wasn’t exactly easy to follow it had all the right kinds of fun. On the goofy side, Cajun Crawdad wore Defarge’s old timey bowler hat, and color commentator Sidney Bakabella kept referring to Defarge as Sunny D.
On the Wrestling! side, Green Ant and Thief Ant represented The Colony well with fun acrobatics, and I guess I buried the lede because a Mike Quackenbush match is still the great rare moment (very much like what WWE wants (and fails) to do with its legends), with his signature arm drag, still-strong strikes and a neat, inventive finish.
Janela and Briggs had a great main event.
These two are at that level where they have expectations to meet, and so they did. But the real news is what Joey did earlier in the night.
And that thing that sucked: Joey Janela calling Sonny Kiss a ‘trap’
OK, some context: the entire show was centered around the 30th birthday of Joey Janela. The Bad Boy is a headliner for Beyond, will main event Americanrana, and has been in a beloved Beyond tag team with Chris Dickinson, where they’re collectively known as Slither.
Dickinson started the show by inviting Janela to the ring for some birthday festivities, which included a very heavy giant present that the Dirty Daddy wheeled out by hand, and was supposed to seem like it would contain a stripper for the lonely Janela (who isn’t accompanied by Penelope Ford anymore, and jokingly said he wished a certain someone was here ... before insincerely saying that someone was CZW promoter DJ Hyde).
But off popped the lid of the box to reveal a wiggling butt, which turned out to belong to Sonny Kiss, who then wrestled Dickinson as the first match of the show. That moment alone could have been a sour note — one that could be overlooked — for the show, with its gay panic, but Janela just decided to make it obvious.
Janela then ran to the commentary table to yell “IT’S A TRAP!” over and over again, and finding every way he could to insert the phrase into commentary. And that’s when I felt kinda bad that I hadn’t written about Uncharted Territory yet, as I’d have to start with a piece that had a bone to pick with the events.
Urban Dictionary defines a Trap as a phrase “used usually towards people that would at first appear to be cute girls, but are actually boys who have more of a feminine side whether being a homosexual or not. This links to the meme “traps are gay” where men argue whether being intimate or liking a “trap” is gay.
Still wondering why this is offensive? A friend and colleague pointed me in the direction of the ContraPoints video “Are Traps Gay?” (explicit content warning) to help explain more. Watching it, I learned that the term Trap is often used as a slur, targeting male cross-dressers and trans women, and other feminine non-binary folks. I don’t know if Janela knows that history, but I’d expect someone about to be exposed to a national audience on TNT isn’t knowingly throwing slurs around on a live mic. That’d be dumb.
I’m not saying that Beyond is responsible for the moment or the story, I have no sources to that regard. Hell, for all I know, Sonny could have come up with the angle. I just know that what Joey Janela said was tasteless to a point that it could alienate him from audiences that don’t know him well.
I don’t know Joey Janela, the human being, so I can’t act like I know him. I’ve only followed Beyond for a little over a year and a half, but I’ve gotten the feeling during that time that this isn’t the kind of thing they’d set up.
I’m going to keep watching Beyond, but this definitely took some of the shine off their 13-week winning streak. I hope we don’t see or hear anything like it again.
Update: Following are tweets from Beyond addressing the criticism of the Janela/Kiss segment...
Thank you for educating us on the matter. We will make sure to do our homework to avoid similar situations in the future.— Beyond Wrestling (@beyondwrestling) July 6, 2019
The last thing we want to do is alienate anyone from watching #UnchartedTerritory given how hard we all work on it.
Again, I am sorry.