Recently, I began doing something amazing. I decided to step out of my comfort zone and attend a live wrestling show in January. This wasn’t the first show I’ve been to, far from it, but it was the first I went to alone in years. I struggle with a bit of social anxiety when I am in large crowds by myself. My wife usually attends shows with me if I go, but when the show was on a Sunday afternoon, it’s not easy to get someone to watch your two kids. There had been plenty of shows in my area before, but this one was different. Matt Riddle, a wrestler who is quickly becoming one of the hottest wrestlers on the indy scene, was going to be wrestling Brian Cage. There were other wrestlers advertised, but it didn’t matter. Matt Riddle was wrestling Brian Cage 15 minutes from my house. I had to go
That is how I was introduced to Beyond Wrestling.
This past Sunday, Beyond Wrestling returned to Electric Haze in Worcester MA for “Seven Years of Bad Luck.” This is the last show on the road to Caffeine, Beyond’s Wrestlemania weekend show. That show will air live on Flo Slam and be main evented by the tremendously well-built Matt Riddle vs. Donovan Dijak match. The final build for that match took place thanks to a “Pick Your Poison” match where Riddle and Dijak picked one another’s opponents. Those weren’t the only matches with Caffeine implications, as a four way between four of the hottest competitors in Beyond (well, three and Jay Freddie) competed for a spot on the card.
A quick note about this review. I was live at the show, so this won’t be my usual super detailed move by move review but more of a general overview of all the matches and the feel of the show. The raw footage of the show, including an AWESOME version with no commentary where you will probably hear me yell many rude things, will be available later this week on Beyond’s subscription streaming service, Beyondemand. This You Tube channel is available for $9.99 a month and you can sign up for a free 14-day trial. With the shows up within a week of completion, and a full library of old shows, it’s a great value.
Now, if there are no more questions, let’s go Beyond your usual pro wrestling show!!
The show kicked off with a tag match between XXXL of Ace Romero and Brian Milonas taking on EYFBO, who you might know better as the new LAX in TNA. EYFBO is the “Funky Monkey” Angel Ortiz and “The Nasty Assassin” Mike Draztik. They are an amazingly charismatic team that can also have great matches in the ring. They talk constantly during their matches and always manage to work to the strength of their opponents. That meant bumping around like madmen for XXXL. As the name indicates, Ace and Brian are huge men, but they can actually move around quite a bit and this was a very good opener that told a great “Davids vs. Goliaths” story. Milonas and Romero have started teaming recently and are still getting their footing as a team, but I could really see them becoming a good team if they keep at it and find their footing as a team. Matches like this will help. They could be in control for a long period of time and worked on some double team spots. EYFBO used their experience and speed to win at the end, but all four guys looked good coming out of the match, which is perfect for a new team just starting out and an experienced team that looks like they may be making the next step forward in their careers.
On the last Worcester show, Dave Cole lost a hard-fought match to JT Dunn. He wasn’t on the last show in Providence, so he made his return here to make an open challenge to the rest of the Beyond roster. Unfortunately, “Cold Steel” Chuck O’Neil answered the challenge. Chuck is actually Matt Riddle’s partner here in Beyond, thanks to his MMA background. The difference is that Matt Riddle has taken to being a pro wrestler like no one else since Kurt Angle while Chuck O’Neil has done slightly… worse. To be polite. However, what he lacks in in ring skill and ability he makes up for in…um…he…he takes getting booed ok. He also deals with having very rude things yelled at him very well. He has a very similar heat to X-Pac in the sense that people don’t want to see him lose, they just don’t want to see him at all. Unlike X-Pac, he can’t wrestle very well. And he is probably still better than Dave Cole. These two just didn’t click at all for some reason. O’Neil has a place on the show, standing in Riddle’s corner, but doing a one on one match isn’t a good place for him. This was the worst match I’ve seen in any of the three shows I’ve attended.
The next match wasn’t great, but it did move a very good storyline forward. Jordynne Grace and Lufisto are Team P.A.W.G. and they were supposed to take on Alpha Sigma Sigma here tonight. Unfortunately, Lufisto has a pretty bad concussion and needed to rest up for Mania weekend, so it became a handicap match with Grace taking on the two men. Towards the end, Chris Dickinson ran out to be Grace’s partner and eventually got a hot tag and helped her pick up the win. In Providence, Dickinson loss to Jonathan Gresham. After the match, Grace ran out to save Gresham. After this match, Dickinson attacked Grace and this led to an ENRAGED Gresham making his way out to save “his family.” Jaka, Dickinson’s partner, came out to break up the fight and caught a bloody mouth in the process. The Dickinson vs. Gresham feud could become one of the hottest in Beyond in the coming months, and if the match they had in Providence was any indication, could culminate in a potential MOTYC.
As Jaka was trying to make peace, his opponent Brandon Watts made his way out to jump Jaka and start their match. Watts just returned last month from a broken neck, but you wouldn’t know that watching this match. He went all out against the more experienced and larger Jaka. This match was in a tough spot, following the hot angle between Dickinson and Gresham, but they told a great story of the underdog Watts putting up a hell of a fight before falling to Jaka. Jaka is a guy some of you might be familiar with from Evolve, but he comes across a lot better here in Beyond because he is allowed to show some personality and really connect with the crowd. This was a good match and I think if it didn’t follow the angle it did, it would have been better received by the crowd.
The match I came to see was next as the King of Bros Matt Riddle took on the King of the Deathmatch Matt Tremont in a Deathmatch. This was the match that Dijak picked for Riddle, and it really allowed Riddle to show a new side of himself. When I walked in the building I saw Tremont building some kind of barbed wire contraption as well as wrapping a steel chair in barbed wire. Riddle obviously doesn’t usually wrestle this type of match, but he told such an amazing story based around this fact. When he threw Tremont into the chair with the wire, he looked shocked and amazed that this happened. When he got a stick wrapped in barbed wire, he took a moment to look at it and grasp what it was that he was doing. Riddle wrestles barefoot, so when Tremont tossed out a bag full of thumbtacks to cut him off, it was a great moment. Riddle looked down and called Tremont a mother fucker before Tremont slammed him into the tacks. Riddle took some barbed wire to the head and even took a slam through a door covered in barbed wire. Tremont tried to splash Riddle through his barbed wire contraption, but Riddle climbed up to the top and delivered a great fisherman’s buster off the top through the barbed wire for the win. This was just an insane match with both guys putting in a hell of an effort and telling a good story in a type of match I usually hate. I have never seen another Matt Tremont match, and I might never see another one, but he delivered here and came across as more than a deathmatch guy. He used deathmatch gimmicks to tell a great story. Riddle just added another weapon to his arsenal and showed that he has all the tools to become a huge star in the business. After the match, Donovan Dijak ran out to attack Riddle before Chuck O’Neil and Mikey Webb, Dijak’s partner here, ran in to break up the fight.
After a brief intermission, the show took off. JT Dunn took on Rex Lawless in the first match back. Lawless is a huge guy who is in pretty good shape and if he keeps improving will probably end up in WWE at some point in the next few years. JT Dunn is a super talented guy whose lack of size might be the only thing that keeps him from making a huge mark in the wrestling industry. Dunn carries himself really well and comes across as a killer in the ring despite his lack of size. His match here with Lawless was fun. Lawless has been around for a while now, but he seems to be coming into his own over the past few months. I’ve seen him against Hanson, Sami Callahan and now JT Dunn and walked away impressed each time. This match was really hard hitting and Dunn walked away with the victory at the end with his Death by Elbow finish. With guys like Hero leaving the indies, there is a need for talented guys to step up and deliver and Dunn might be on his way to doing just that.
I really don’t have words to describe the next match. Massage NV (yes, a tag team doing a masseuse gimmick) teamed up with Johnny Cockstrong to take on Colt Cabana, Kikutaro and Officer Dick Justice. You had “let’s go Dick, let’s go Cock” dueling chants, Kikutaro talking about how hard Japanese cock was, Colt Cabana’s usual wackiness, and a standoff with an imaginary gun. I’m not sure how well this will translate on tape, but this was one of the funniest things I have ever seen in a ring. It doesn’t hurt that Massage NV and Colt can obviously go in the ring and Kikutaro is a legend. I recommend watching it, but if there is one match that I think shows why you need to get out to an indy wrestling show, it was this. You won’t ever see anything like this in WWE, and it was an amazing spectacle best viewed with 200 other people who get it.
Following something like that six man can be tough, but Beyond was smart here and brought out the four way for the spot on the Caffeine show. Tracy Williams, Jay Freddie, Jonathan Grisham and John Silver faced off in an elimination match for the shot, and three of the four guys were on a roll in Beyond leading into this match. Gresham and Williams had defeated Freddie on the last two shows leading to this one, and Jon Silver had beaten Chris Dickinson in Worcester and in one of the bigger upsets on recent indy shows beat Zack Sabre Jr the day after he won the Evolve title in Providence in one of my favorite matches of the year. These four guys were smart and had Williams and Gresham start off with some amazing chain wrestling that took the crowd out of the silly mood from the last match and got the crowd into the high stakes of this match. Freddie and Silver meanwhile just wanted to fight one another and got into crazy brawls whenever the two of them were in the ring together. The first elimination occurred when Chris Dickinson distracted Gresham and led to him getting pinned. Williams was out next, and that left Freddie and Silver. Freddie delivered in a big way here in my opinion and showed a lot that he hadn’t shown in the previous two shows I had seen him on. Silver is amazingly talented and built like a brick shithouse, but he is incredibly short as well. I say that because that is literally the only thing that can stop him from being a really big deal in the wrestling business. He has a tremendous motor and when it comes time to turn up intensity he does it better than almost anyone on the indies.
The last few minutes with just Silver and Freddie was on another level and is well worth paying for the Beyondemand service this month once the show is released. Silver wins with some absolute violence and cuts an intense promo calling out AR Fox for Caffeine, which has potential to be a show stealer for the whole weekend. Between the match with Zack Sabre Jr last show and this match, John Silver has become a huge favorite of mine and I can’t wait to see what he does next.
The semi-main event was Donovan Dijak taking on his hand-picked opponent, Mikey Webb. Riddle picked Dijak’s own partner for his opponent, and this has been building for a few months with Dijak desperate to get his hands-on Riddle and even costing his team a match last month in Providence. Mikey Webb is a local guy who many of you won’t know, but he’s really starting to come into his own thanks to being a part of this feud with Dijak and Riddle. Dijak is great, I think that’s pretty much a universally known fact right now. I wouldn’t be surprised if we don’t see him in New Japan or WWE by the end of this year. He is that talented. This match was insane, and if you didn’t know they were tag team partners you would have thought this was some sort of incredibly violent rivalry. Both guys unloaded their arsenal to try and pick up the win, and Webb even hit the Feast Your Eyes on Dijak for a super close two count. Since Dijak is going on to the big match in Orlando, he rightfully won here, but Webb came out looking like a big part of Beyond’s future here. I would recommend going out of your way to watch this match. Live I had it around **** and it could be even better on a second viewing.
Intergender matches are not my cup of tea. However, and I cannot explain it, I freaking love the team of Joey Janela and Penelope Ford, or team Janelope as they are known. Joey Janela is a guy that has done some super insane things in the wrestling industry, including getting thrown off a building at a CZW show. He is everything I should hate in pro wrestling. Add to that fact that he is wrestling in intergender matches and this is a recipe for disaster. However, he is incredibly charismatic and comes across as someone who loves the wrestling business and wants to entertain people in his own way and that passion comes through when he is in the ring. He tweeted out earlier this week that wrestling is about creating moments, and he has done that every time I have seen him live. He has done that in his videos promoting his Mania weekend show, and he has done it at a completely grassroots level.
And he wasn’t even the most spectacular part of this match.
Janelope teamed up to take on Da Hit Squad. Old school ROH fans will remember Da Hit Squad as two big bad ass dudes who beat the shit out of people. Thankfully, that hasn’t changed. They are still big bad ass mofos who go out every show and bust their asses to have the best match they can. They are hard hitting and charismatic and I have been so happy to be seeing them again since I started watching Beyond Wrestling.
And they weren’t the most spectacular part of the match.
Penelope Ford is Joey Janela’s girlfriend and she has been wrestling for a few years at this point. She is about 100 pounds soaking wet and is pretty green and very pretty. She is also willing to do some of the most amazing things I have ever seen with regards to taking bumps and putting herself at risk to get herself over and the match over. The first time I saw her was in Joey’s corner against David Starr and she took skewers to the head. The next time I saw her was in a tag match with Joey and she was press slammed from the ring to the floor and dove from the top onto a pile outside. In this match, she took two amazing bumps. Electric Haze is a hookah bar in an old warehouse, and there are huge steel beams on the ceiling. Mack and Mafia pressed Penelope up over their head and threw her straight into the air within 4 inches of the bar, and she crashed straight down to the canvas face first. Towards the end of the match, Penelope fired up on Mack and had him in the corner. She went for her handspring elbow smash and Mafia speared her, mid cartwheel, right out of her body and out of the ring. This was the third time in three shows she ended up crumpled in a heap on the floor directly in front of me. She is putting on amazing performances with seemingly no concern for her own well-being and I hope she can last long enough to get the credit she deserves, because at this pace she is either going to be one of the biggest stars on the indy scene or she is going to end up in a wheelchair. She is insane and tough as shit. The rest of the match was an incredible fight that was a great way to cap off the show. Janelope picked up the upset win and as usual Janela thanked all us crazy mother fuckers. Mafia and Mack deserve HUGE credit for going out and having this match with two people that are a hell of a lot smaller, especially the level of selling they did for Penelope. There are not a lot of teams with their level of experience that would do that, and they did it to a degree that made this an entertaining match and a fitting main event.
All in all, this was a super enjoyable show, but the last four matches were off the chart and worth seeing. They were all different. You had the great comedy of the six man, the great wrestling and action of the four way, the amazing fight of the semi-main event, and the insanity of the main event. I can’t recommend this show enough. There is something for everyone on this show. I’ve already mentioned where you can find it, beyondemand on You Tube, but more importantly, you can probably find similar shows in your area. The independent scene in the states, and all over the world, is booming right now. While wrestling in the mainstream might seem down, the under current is strong with very talented wrestlers on every level of the game. I never would have seen most these guys and girls if I hadn’t taken a chance on a show 15 minutes down the road from me. Next time you see a show taking place near you, even if you don’t know any of the names on the poster, check it out. Odds are you will have a good time, see some fun wrestling, and be introduced to a talent who could possibly be a big star someday.
And if you prefer me miserable, I am finishing up Wrestlemania15 for all of you! What a completely awful show. A man is hung, tag teams fight, swerves, more swerves, and Bart Gunn gets his clock cleaned! That will be up later this week. Until then, as always, hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org or @OMGlancy with any feedback.