Pro Wrestling Ponderings takes its first foray into indy wrestling in the Great White North with this review of the Prairie Wrestling Alliance’s 10th Anniversary Show. I would imagine that most of you aren’t particularly familiar with the PWA, which can be remedied with the help of our friends over at Slam! Wrestling. Particularly noteworthy is the list of PWA wrestlers who have gone on to be signed by the WWE in the last few years.
20 MAN INVITATIONAL BATTLE ROYAL
The winner of this one earns a shot at a PWA title of their choosing during 2011. There was an odd quasi-Royal Rumble element to it which saw the first ten men enter at the beginning of the match and the next ten enter five minutes later. That was kind of weird, but otherwise this was pretty much a standard battle royal. Superfly Dan Myers, who I haven’t seen much of since his former tag team partner Matthias Wild was signed by WWE (he’s currently in FCW wrestling under the name Mike Dalton), won the match at around the 12 minute mark, shortly after the ring announcer erroneously announced him as having been eliminated. Myers had been knocked through the ropes, then returned to eliminate the final man in the ring as he celebrated his apparent victory. The roster for the battle royal featured some regular PWA wrestlers, including Myers, King Dusty Adonis, Deryck Crosse, Stryfe, and Nightmare #2, as well several guys I didn’t recognize. I’m pretty sure Big Jess Youngblood and I played peewee football together. That has nothing to do with the match, other than the fact that he was in it.
PWA Canadian Tag Team Championship Match
Bobby Sharp & Scotley Crue (c) w/ Dr. Kyoto vs Eclipse & Evan Adams
Pete Williams was originally billed to be Evan Adams’ partner for this match; not really sure what necessitated the change. I hadn’t seen Adams before, but after watching this match I’m definitely looking forward to see him in action again. Sharp and Crue came out first and got some cheap heat by tearing up an Edmonton Oilers flag, then humping the shreds. Unfortunately, Dr. Kyoto didn’t get a promo this time. In the past year, Dr. Kyoto has gone from being nearly pointless to absolutely hilarious, all because he got on the mic and started yelling animatedly in Japanese (or Japanese-sounding gibberish).
Eclipse got a pretty good reaction, although I find him a bit disappointing. If he insists on dressing like a luchador, I expect him to do some luchador shit. Y’know, ten thousand arm drags per match, lots of stuff utilizing the ropes, and a dive to the floor or two. Based on what I’ve seen from Adams and Eclipse, Adams – the one who doesn’t dress like he came straight from a CMLL show – is the far superior flyer, whereas Eclipse wrestles what is essentially a North American style.
The match started off as a back-and-forth affair with the heel team of Sharp and Crue gaining brief advantages before being countered. The roof in the PWA’s usual venue, the Century Casino Showroom, is pretty low, so a lot of high flyers are limited in what they can pull off without splattering their brains on a support beam. This wasn’t the case in the NAIT gym, and we got an early look at some aerial skills when Evan Adams hit a moonsault from the top rope to the floor on the champs. Eclipse would later climb the turnbuckle, raising my hopes that he would do something awe-inspiring… then he proceeded to pretty much just step off the ropes into a “flying” body press instead of jumping. After several minutes of the heels isolating and working over Eclipse, Evan Adams crotched both of the champs as they attempted to set up some sort of double superplex. Eclipse got the hot tag to Adams and they hit some big double team moves. Eventually Scotley Crue got tossed out of the ring, which allowed Evan Adams to hit a breathtaking corkscrew elbow drop from the top rope on Bobby Sharp. Eclipse blocked Scotley from re-entering the ring as the referee counted to three.
Winners and new PWA Canadian Tag Team Champions, Eclipse and Evan Adams at around 14 minutes. There wasn’t really any build-up to the title change, but the match was exciting enough and the finish impressive enough that I’m okay with that.
PWA Cruiserweight Championship Match
Cam-ikaze (c) vs. Andrew Hawkes
I mentioned earlier that the low ceiling in the Century Casino handicaps some of the flyers from performing at their best. This match is proof of that, as these two guys put on the best match I’ve seen out of either of them.
Andrew Hawkes’ gimmick is that he’s from Newfoundland, which to Canadians is self-explanatory. For the majority of you non-Canadians, Newfies are stereotyped as friendly, hard-drinking, and their dialect of English is almost completely incomprehensible to non-Newfies. Cam-ikaze used to wear a Japanese-style mask, but he lost it to Alex Plexis in a mask vs. Cruiserweight Championship match a few months ago. Now he dyes his tongue green, which makes him look like he sucked off a goblin just before he came out to wrestle. He needs his mask back is my point.
The bout started off with an extended Roman knuckle lock spot that featured some really nice bridge-work and some smooth transitions, eventually resulting in a standoff. A botched springboard toward the end of the sequence killed some of its steam, but Cam and Hawkes didn’t let it get to them and went into a sequence of various styles of arm drags before another standoff. After a while, Cam-ikaze countered a whip to the corner with a headstand. Hawkes, in the first of several actions hinting at a heel turn, shoved Cam out to the floor, then ripped off the top turnbuckle cover (which wouldn’t actually matter for several more minutes). He then took advantage of the much higher ceiling clearance to hit a corkscrew to the floor. A little bit later Cam-ikaze hit a moonsault to the floor, which nearly caused some harm to a very stupid fan who decided that he should take that opportunity to bolt from where he was kneeling at ringside to take pictures. Now, had he been right next to where Cam was going to land, that would have made sense… but he bolted TOWARDS the obvious impact point. And that’s why there should have been guard rails.
After several spots in which Hawkes seemed tempted to cheat to gain the advantage, including being about to ram Cam’s head into the exposed turnbuckle but choosing instead to throw him into another corner, we arrived at the finishing sequence. With Hawkes down, Cam mounted the top turnbuckle and got some great air on a shooting star press, only to be met with a faceful of canvas. Hawkes ascended the ropes for a shooting star of his own but was met with a similar result. After a few punches, both grapplers founds themselves standing on the top rope with Hawkes going for what seemed like a Rock Bottom from the top… until Cam swatted Hawkes’ arm away and hit a standing hurricanrana off the top rope. The impact sounded like a bomb going off. Cam got the three count just shy of the 15 minute mark.
After the match, Cam shook Hawkes’ hand and prompted the crowd to cheer for his effort, but got a double axe-handle to the back for his trouble. Hawkes hit the champ with a brainbuster to a shower of boos, completing the heel turn that he’d been hinting throughout the match.
K.C. Spinelli & Valkyrie vs. Veronika Vice & Tenille Tayla
Prior to this match, I headed over to the concession stand to grab some water and snacks, which is normally not worth noting. In this case, however, a situation unique to indy wrestling occurred when I realized that Superfly Dan Myers, changed into street clothes, was waiting in line behind me.
On to the match. I didn’t have high hopes for this one, especially since half of the participants in this bout (K.C. Spinelli and Tenille Tayla) were involved in a stinker back in November at Regeneration. I was very pleasantly surprised, as this turned out to be the best women’s match I’ve ever seen in PWA, and the best women’s match I’ve seen anywhere that isn’t SHIMMER in quite a while. Things started off with the heel team of Veronika Vice and Tenille Tayla being frustrated by Spinelli and Valkyrie, including a spot in which Valkyrie executed what can only be described as a crotch-drop to the arm. Once the heel team managed to isolate K.C. Spinelli they dominated the match, but their frustration at not being able to keep Spinelli down for the three count allowed Spinelli to tag out. Spinelli and Veronika Vice started brawling on the floor while Tayla tried to hit a cross body block on Valkyrie, which was countered into a swinging Rock Bottom for the victory at about the 12 minute mark.
Ross Hart comes out and the crowd goes apeshit. I’m not sure people quite understand how big of a deal the Hart family is in Alberta, but Stampede Wrestling was that important to both wrestling in Alberta and wrestling in general. Before Stu Hart sold the promotion to Vince McMahon in the late 1980s, Stampede Wrestling was the premiere destination for talent that wanted to make it big. Seriously, look at the WWF roster in the late ‘80s. Most of those guys went through Stampede at some point before that. Oh, right, Ross Hart. Yeah, he pretty much just said that the fans were awesome and keeping wrestling alive in Alberta, then left after about 30 seconds. The Harts have never been known for their mic skills.
PWA Mayhem Championship Ladder Match
Ravenous Randy (c) vs. T-Bone Jack Sloan
A few months ago, T-Bone lost a match in Calgary that stipulated that he had to wear a clown suit until he won a match. While the set-up for his ladder match was T-Bone’s rage over his humiliating attire, he apparently won his match in Calgary last weekend and got to take off the suit, which was a little disappointing. Ravenous Randy came out to his usual obnoxiously over-mixed theme song, a mash-up of the Two and a Half Men theme song, Steven Regal’s old “Real Man’s Man” theme, Salt ‘n’ Pepa’s “Mighty Good Man,” and another song about manliness that I don’t know the name of.
My common knock on Ravenous Randy has been that I’ve never really seen him get in any significant offence. Well I can’t make that complaint anymore, because this time he actually got to do stuff in addition to his usual crowd-interaction antics.
I’d never seen a live ladder match before, and man are they more brutal in person. The wet meat sound of a body hitting the metal ladder is slightly disturbing, and there was plenty of that sound in this one. None of the ladder spots were particularly innovative, but they were well-incorporated into the psychology of the match and cringe-inducing (in a good way). T-Bone worked on Randy’s knee quite a bit, including ramming it into the ladder and eliciting either an amazing sell-job or some legitimate and fairly serious pain. Randy was still limping pretty heavily an hour or so later when he snuck up to the bleachers to visit with some friends, so I’m thinking it was the latter. It didn’t stop him from doing a flip off the top rope onto T-Bone, who was laid out on a ladder supported by the ropes and a chair, though.
After battering each other for over 15 minutes, T-Bone grabbed a rope from under the ring and mugged Randy from behind as he attempted to climb the ladder. Randy’s leg got stuck in the rungs of the ladder, which T-Bone proceeded to take advantage of by tying Randy’s ankle to the bottom rung on the opposite side of the ladder. Once Randy was immobilized, T-Bone was free to scale the ladder and capture the Mayhem Title at around the 17 minute mark.
10 Man Tag Team Match – Past, Present, and Future
Gama Singh Jr., Tex Gaines, M, Chucky Blaze & Jason Anderson
Dirty Duke Durango, Crazy Dean Durango, Brandon Van Danielson, Brady Roberts & Alex Plexis
The “future” part of the billing of this match led me to believe there’d be a wrestling fetus or something. This was a good way to showcase the breadth of the PWAs roster, though, as it featured several veterans from the early days of the PWA, such as the Durango brothers, Tex Gaines, M (formerly Marky Mark) and Jason Anderson (the first PWA Heavyweight Champion). This match was the 10th Anniversary Show’s nod to PWA stipulations that don’t make until after the match is over. In this case, the referee had the power to disqualify any wrestler without the match ending, which most of the audience (or at least the ones within my earshot) interpreted as it being an elimination match. As it turned out, it actually meant that the referee could just kick guys out if they gave him a hassle so he could keep things under control, but it was only a one fall match.
10 man tag team matches without elimination rules are a little odd, because they lack the escalation of tension as the eliminations start to pile up. This one was more like a traditional tag team match with lots of guys in it. Most of the wrestling was solid but unspectacular. Brady Roberts and Gama Singh Jr recycled a spot from their match at Evolution in February which featured Singh responding to Brady Roberts’ gyrating with a smack upside the head. It was funnier the first time. Singh’s face team controlled much of the bout, including a spot where Chucky Blaze wiped out the entire heel team with a corkscrew plancha from the top rope to the floor after the heels had been chased out of the ring. Shortly after that, Dirty Duke Durango caught a front kick from Blaze, then used Blaze’s leg to low blow himself, causing Blaze to be disqualified. While reading that sentence makes it sound stupid, it came off live as Durango being incredibly clever. Tex Gaines, incensed by the referee’s call, barged into the ring and clobbered everybody within arms’ reach, including shoving the referee when he tried to pull him off of somebody. Tex is disqualified. After the heels control things a little bit more, Brady Roberts grabbed the life preserver he came out with (he has a beach bully gimmick) and used it as a weapon for basically no reason and was promptly disqualified. Shortly afterwards, everyone got into a giant brawl which left only Jason Anderson Gama Singh Jr and Alex Plexis in the ring. Anderson and Singh hit Plexis with a Hart Attack for the win just past the 10 minute mark.
Kurt Sorochan and Don “Sergeant Hazard” Ferguson come out and thank the fans for their support in a short promo segment.
PWA Heavyweight Championship Match
Chris Steele (c) vs. Scotty Mac w/ Drew Dalby
While Scotty Mac, the NWA Canadian Heavyweight Champion up until the night before this show, was in the role of challenger, the real opponent for Chris Steele in this one was Drew Dalby. Dalby used to be an announcer and manager in PWA prior to moving out to BC. Relevant information: he used to be Chris Steele’s manager, at a point when Chris Steele didn’t do a whole lot of winning. Now Steele is the Heavyweight Champ, and Dalby is using Scotty Mac to get his revenge.
The match began with Drew Dalby cutting a promo on Chris Steele. I figured they would have Steele constantly go after Dalby but not be able to get to him until the end of the match, but they went the other direction and Steele decked Dalby immediately. Scotty Mac’s involvement wasn’t so much as Steele’s opponent but as the guy who was preventing him from spending the whole time stomping the shit out of Drew Dalby, a job which he didn’t do especially well, since Steele attacked Dalby on several occasions throughout the match. Dalby gave as good as he got, though, cheap-shotting Steele at every opportunity while Scotty Mac distracted the official. As Chris Steele started to get some momentum going late in the match the referee got caught in the corner and was squashed between Scotty Mac and the buckle when Steele hit Scotty with an avalanche. Drew Dalby immediately sucker punched Steele, then entered the ring to hold him so Scotty Mac could nail him with a super kick. Steele ducked out of the way and Dalby got his head taken off by Scotty’s chin music. While Scotty was distraught over putting his boot through his manager’s face, Steele got the distance he needed to hit a spear. The referee woke up, counted three, and Chris Steele retained the PWA Heavyweight Championship.
Bully Ray & Dylan Knight vs. D’Von & Lance Storm
I haven’t been watching TNA enough to be familiar with the Bully Ray/D’Von angle, but this match showed me just how good of a heel Bully Ray really is. The level of heat he was getting without even getting on the mic was reminiscent of the kind of heat the Dudley Boyz used to get as heels in ECW. In the forty feet or so between the curtain and the timekeeper’s table Ray managed to enrage the crowd to the point where a guy had to be physically restrained from taking a swing at him. Dylan Knight used his usual trick, shouting “Aussie Aussie Aussie!” to which the crowd responded “sucks sucks sucks” as they do. Lance Storm and D’Von got big pops.
D’Von and Ray started the match, with Ray teasing engagement a few times before tagging out to Knight with a sneer on his face and an avalanche of boos ringing in his ears. Knight didn’t get much done against his far more experienced opponents, who threw him around at will. This portion of the match was fairly basic, with lots of chain wrestling highlighted by a variety of flashy arm drags executed by Storm. Ray’s attempts to coach Knight from the corner were loud enough to be audible from the bleachers, and were actually pretty funny. After a while Ray gave up trying to give Knight tips and just admonished him by yelling “Oh come on, you’re makin’ me look bad!” Eventually Knight tagged in Ray, who then turned to face his own corner and explain to Knight to watch him and learn. By the time Ray turned around, Storm had tagged in D’Von and Ray begged off immediately. After some brief offence from D’Von, Ray bailed out and stormed around the gym, flipping a merchandise table and kicking a garbage can halfway up the wall.
Upon returning to the ring, Ray and Knight managed to get back into things and isolate Storm for several minutes. Eventually Storm managed to tag D’Von back in, who laid into both heels. Storm came back in to hold Bully Ray in position for D’Von to hit the Whassup, which is a move I completely forgot about until seeing the set-up for it. Lance Storm shoves D’Von and the crowd fills in the blanks, yelling “D’Von, get the tables!” The crowd reaction was good enough that they repeated the sequence, then D’Von went and got a table. This wasn’t a piece-of-crap chipboard table, though. There were really visible metal braces on the underside of the table, which makes perfect sense for the intended purpose of the table. For the “slamming a 250 pound man through it” purpose, though, the metal braces weren’t great. As Bully Ray was out on the floor following the Whassup, D’Von and Storm hit 3D on Dylan Knight through the table, resulting in the not-overly-surprising but satisfying conclusion to the bout just past the 20 minute mark. The table didn’t really break like a normal table, instead cracking and folding in half but remaining in one piece. Knight and Ray proceeded to slink out of the arena while D’Von and Lance Storm cut promos, then stuck around to sign autographs and take pictures with fans.
Spot of the Night: The finish to the Cruiserweight Championship match, featuring two missed shooting star presses and a standing top rope hurricanrana.
Match of the Night: Bully Ray & Dylan Knight vs. D’Von & Lance Storm. While there weren’t any mind-blowing moves or spots, the entire match was performed at a consistently high level and the crowd was in a frenzy the entire time.
Overall: The best PWA show I’ve ever personally witnessed.
For more photos from the event, check out my Flickr gallery.