On Saturday, September 25th I attended the Prairie Wrestling Alliance’s Fall Fever show at the Century Casino Showroom in Edmonton, Alberta. My buddy Dan and I sat in the second row, which becomes relevant to the story later on. Review time? Review time.
PWA TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
THE NIGHTMARES (C) vs. BOBBY SHARP & SCOTLEY CRUE w/ Mr. Kyoto
This was a pretty solid show-starter. The Nightmares, consiting of Nightmare #2 and Nightmare #4, are huge fan favourites. While that’s somewhat counter-intuitive, considering that The Nightmares seems like a pretty typical heel name (and is, in fact, the name of a heel team in the manga series Ultimate Muscle), it’s also incredibly funny when you actually see the Nightmares in action. Clad in black body suits and masks with red lightning details, #2 and #4 may be the most delightfully goofy tag team I’ve seen in action in a long time. They don’t talk, and you can’t see their faces, so they express everything with broad body acting, their staple being an inexplicably entertaining wave. In something resembling John Cena’s “you can’t see me,” one of the Nightmares waved pleasantly at Sharp after body slamming him early in the bout. They also did great work keeping the crowd behind him, with the guy on the apron constantly reacting to what was going on in the ring and tryin to drum up support for his partner in the ring. The match itself was fairly standard tag team fare, with the heel team of Sharp and Crue keeping one of the Nightmares isolated from his partner and preventing him from tagging out at the last second to get some good heat from the crowd. Eventually Mr. Kyoto got involved by bringing the tag title belts into the ring, which resulted in him getting a smack in the chops from the legal Nightmare, who was subsequently KOed by a belt shot from Sharp. Scotley Crue kept the other Nightmare from breaking up the pinfall and the tag titles changed hands to a vigorous chorus of boos.
Bobby Sharp came out with water dripping from the bottom of his pecs, which made it look like he was lactating. Dan and I had a lot of fun with this. By the end of the match I was hollering at Sharp to use his breast milk to heal Mr. Kyoto (who was still selling the effects of the punch from the Nightmare).
After the match the referees came out to fix a lump in the mat. I think one of the boards came loose. On to the women’s match!
ILENA vs. DANYAH
I wanted to like this match, I really did. The WWE treats women’s wrestling as a beer break between matches that matter, and does anybody even watch TNA anymore? On those grounds, I want to support indie women’s wrestling. This match didn’t really do it any favours. Early on they botched an Irish whip spot, and things didn’t get all that much better after that. Ilena’s gimmick is essentially the same as Dylan Knight’s (more on him later); they make a bit deal about being Australian and the fans give them crap for it, since the bulk of the roster is from Alberta. Danyah’s hometown announcement (Toronto, Ontario) was quickly followed by “but now living right here in Alberta” to keep the babyface heat on her. This one was fairly bland, with nothing particularly notable until the finish. Unfortunately for the girls, the finish was notable because it sucked. Danyah hooked Ilena for her finisher, which was subsequently botched pretty badly. I’ve never seen Danyah before, so I don’t know what her move is supposed to be, but from the set-up it seems like something similar to CrossRhodes. When Danyah swung to execute the move, Ilena kind of just fell on her butt. Danyah got the pin from it anyway, mercifully ending the worst match of the night.
PWA MAYHEM CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
APOCALYPSE (C) vs. ANDREW HAWKS
Last time Dan and I went to a PWA show, we couldn’t remember Apoc’s name, so we called him Cowboy Jesus. Which is exactly what he looked like. This time he was looking a lot less Jesus-y, and at some point acquired the Mayhem title belt. Neither Dan nor I could figure out exactly why the belt had the moniker it did, since the bout seemed to use the same rules as the rest of the matches, but either way Apoc forced the ring announcer to point out that his new nickname was “The Lord of Mayhem.” Er, right. Andrew Hawks’ gimmick is pretty simple; he’s from Newfoundland. To Canadians, this gimmick pretty much explains itself. To others, it probably requires more explaining than I want to do. The psychology of the match was relatively simple, but both men worked it well. Apoc, the bigger guy, wanted to keep high-flyer Hawks on the mat with grinding holds and thunderous strikes (Apoc is, hands down, the best striker in the PWA, as far as I’m concerned). Hawks, conversely, wanted to keep Apoc at bay with his speed, kicks, and aerial offence. Hawks landed a very impressive swinging hurricanrana off the second turnbuckle (the ceiling in the casino is fairly low, so most aerial moves come from the second rope), as well as a springboard spinning front kick (kind of like that one John Morrison does) that got a big pop. Apoc eventually retained the title when he caught Hawks’ springboard moonsault attempt and countered it into a cradle tombstone piledriver, which elicited gasps and a general tone of “holy crap that was awesome” from the audience.
“HOT SHOT” JOHNNY DEVINE vs. DYLAN KNIGHT
Johnny Devine appears on PWA shows fairly regularly, and is pretty over. Probably because it’s nice to see wrestlers that you’ve heard of. I’ve seen Devine wrestle live a few times in dark matches or “squash the local guy” bouts at WWE shows, but this is the first time I’ve seen him in person where the outcome of the bout wasn’t a foregone conclusion. Dylan Knight seems to be the opponent of choice for guys the crowd has heard of, a role which he’s done fairly well in, by my estimation. Last time I saw Knight in action, he had a pretty solid match with Samoa Joe. Unfortunately for Mr. Knight, he has both a lower back tattoo and his tights sport an awful rendering of the continent of Australia, which gave both Dan and myself ample ammunition for our rinside heckling endeavours. Dan gleefully shouted out “OH! It’s Ass-Stain!” when he saw Knight’s trunks, because that poor rendering of Australia? Well, it looks like he crapped himself and it discoloured his trunks. Also, Johnny Devine had the Cobra logo from GI Joe on his jacket. Why? No idea. But man did I pop for that.
The match itself was easily the best one so far. It was a back-and-forth affair that went nearly 20 minutes, and featured quite a few impressive spots. Early on, Devine knocked Knight out of the ring then teased a springboard moonsault to the floor. Knight scrambled out of the way, but Devine charged along the apron and crashed onto Knight with a flying cross body block. Eventually Knight took control and removed one of the turnbuckle pads. Nothing happened with the bare buckle for a while, and when Johnny Devine got whipped into it the look on Knight’s face led me to believe that he forgot the pad was gone, because Devine did a Shawn-Michaels-esque upside-down bump into the corner that looked pretty painful. After Knight had been in control for a few minutes, Devine staged his big comeback which culminated in the new best spot of the night. Knight whipped Devine into the corner. Devine jumped up onto the second rope, then hopped backwards and landed in a sitting position on Knight’s shoulders before flipping backwards into a hurricanrana. When Devine applied the Sharpshooter, everyone thought it was over and were chanting for Knight to tap, but he eventually got to the ropes to break it up. Near falls were exchanged, then Knight hit what I assume to be his finishing move, a modified fisherman suplex where he hooks the opponent’s left leg on the outside with his right arm. It looked pretty cool, but Knight landed heavily on his arm/shoulder and looked like he was in pretty serious pain as the referee helped him to the back.
This match was followed by an intermission, which lasted about 15 minutes.
PWA CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH
ALEX PLEXIS (C) vs. M vs. CHUCKY BLAZE
Chucky Blaze and Kamikaze had an excellent match at Hysteria, so I was excited to see him in action again. Alex Plexis, who has abs you could cut diamonds with and wears an almost cartoonishly tiny t-shirt, captured both the Cruiserweight title and Kamikaze’s mask since I last saw him in action. He was pretty over as a heel and elicited a number of chants suggesting that he should eat a hot dog. I think this was a family-friendly variation of a “you suck dick” chant. Or implying that he needed to gain some weight, because if he stood behind the ring post the people on the other side of the ring probably wouldn’t be able to see him. Plexis spent most of the early match attempting to avoid engaging his opponents by sitting down in the front row. The first ten minutes were pretty fast-paced and an almost constant rotation of two-guys-in-one-guy-on-the-floor. Blaze landed a series of excellent kicks and knee strikes (while Apoc is the best striker overall striker in PWA, Blaze’s worked kicks are awe-inspiring) before eventually being eliminated by M with something resembling a Blockbuster. M flipped off the top turnbuckle and hooked Blaze’s neck, but instead of landing in a neckbreaker, Blaze was flipped backwards into a DDT. I was disappointed to see Blaze eliminated, but if he had to get pinned it might as well be from the best move of the night. Plexis retained his title shortly thereafter, rolling up M after he smashed his shoulder into the ring post. This probably would have been a four star match if M and Plexis had gone another 5-8 minutes at the same level of quality as the first ten minutes.
PWA HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP NO DISQUALIFICATION MATCH
“T-BONE” JACK SLOAN (C) vs. CHRIS STEELE
At Hysteria, T-Bone lost his Heavyweight belt to Booker T (yes, THAT Booker T. He was the PWA champ for a while) in a fairly lacklustre match. Chris Steele had an okay match with Brandon Van Danielson which was hampered by confusing rules. I didn’t have high expectations for this one, which turned out to be the best match of the night. The match started off in the ring, then quickly ended up on the floor. I was impressed with the brawling. Unlike the WWF in the late ’90s, when hardcore wrestling was an excuse to hit people with a series of increasingly strange objects, most of the brawling here had a clear purpose, and slowly ramped up in intensity as each man tried to find a way to keep his opponent down. Early on they brawled into the audience where a section of chairs was wiped out and T-Bone tried to choke out Steele with an office chair (most of the seating was comprised of VERY comfortable office-style chairs lined up like a normal arena). Later, T-Bone countered a suplex attempt by Steele into a front suplex onto two folding chairs, one of which was mangled. The highlight of the match, as far as I’m concerned, was a spot which saw Steele move the guard rail separating the section I was sitting in from the rinside area. We all hustled out of the way at his behest, after which he hurled T-Bone like a bowling ball through the chairs in our section, flattening the first five or six rows before ending up sprawled over several chairs that were left standing. The crowd went berserk.
The match-up ended at around the 20 minute mark. T-Bone had brought out a chain from underneath the ring (which, on further inspection, was actually attached to the ring post) and whipped Steele with it. Steele started to come back, resulting in a KO punch with the chain wrapped around his fist. The count was broken up at 2 when a masked man ran out from the back and clobbered the referee. Just as Steele was about to clean his clock with a chain punch, a second referee tried to get control of the situation, getting a chain punch for his troubles. At this point owner Kurt Sorochan and booker Lance Storm (yes, THAT Lance Storm) came out with a handful of wrestlers to break things up. Kurt cut a great promo, saying that if T-Bone and Steele wanted to act like animals, he would treat them like animals, but he didn’t want to put his referees in danger. He announced that at October’s Fright Night show the two would be chained together with the title belt suspended above the ring. The logistics of how exactly those rules work is unclear to me, but I don’t care because, based on this match, it should be fantastic.
Match of the Night: T-Bone vs. Chris Steele
This was a two-horse race between T-Bone/Steele and Devine/Knight, with T-Bone and Steele edging out Devine and Knight with superior storytelling and a finish that single-handedly moved tickets for the next show.
Top-to-bottom, Fall Fever was weaker than the other PWA show I’ve seen, Hysteria. That’s not really a fair comparison, though, as Hysteria is considered by many to be one of, if not the, best show the PWA has ever put on. In-and-of itself, Fall Fever was a solid show that ended with a strong hook for the next show.