Saturday, May 23, 2015


There are a million paths to wrestling, such as the $9.99 one that leads to a network.  Or the one that leads to merchandise tables, where you can shake the hands of sweaty wrestlers if you buy a DVD or a picture.  But you can find a ton of stuff from smaller promotions on YouTube for free (opportunity costs don't count) and so I did.  Like so:

This is Booker T's promotion and the production values alone make it stand out a little more.  The computer graphics and pro hardware all aim to impress.  We begin with a recap of champion Mysterious Q fighting a Yokozuna-esque person whose name I could not parse.  As not-Yoko is about to drop the death blow, the announcer shrieks, "You've gotta come back next week to find out!"  And now we find out: Yoko walks away and Q is still the champion.  There's a brief mention of Harlem Heat versus The Heavenly Bodies, which sounds absolutely crazy.  And then we go into promos, as Abel Andrew Jackson says many things, most of which failed to connect with me.  I did enjoy the inclusion of "intentious" and also was happy that ROW is pronounced "row".  Hopefully, Booker T will bring in Wade Barrett to fight the entire roster and they will name it ROW versus Wade.  

The Rockstar vs. Rob Barnes
The second match in a series of five.  The Rockstar looks like a Dingo Warrior cosplayer, but Rob Barnes is from the land of dingoes.  He carries a flag and has a kangaroo on his tights to really drive the point home.  "He's not gonna waste any time in there," the announcer states as Barnes stands there idly and watches his opponent.  This was not so great.  Most of it was basic and there were times when they were blatantly halting so the other guy could catch up.  I did dig Rockstar catching Barnes on the ropes with a punch, but the match ended almost immediately after that, so no points for sticking the landing.

Alex Reigns vs. Shawn Hendrix (w/Legion)
Shawn Hendrix and crew have the most laudable entrance I've seen lately—five guys jump up on the apron sequentially.  It's effective without getting into OCD gymnastics as sometimes happens (in NXT).  This starts off appealingly physical and heated with a lot of brawling in the corners, followed by a nice standing dropkick from Hendrix.  They go outside to fight, but re-enter the ring to trade near-finishes and Reigns tries to beautifully murder Hendrix with a sweet dropkick of his own.  Reigns pretty much +1's the Go 2 Sleep with a weird variation that would make this worth seeing even if it weren't generally good.  But it is generally good!  Lots of fun.

Promo time.  The new Heavenly Bodies have New York accents?  They threaten Harlem Heat to
build up the big match.  "Dese belts are stayin' in Jersey, my friend!"  This is not what I expected.  A second promo follows, as Rob Barnes is salty about losing earlier.  "He put his hand in my crotch!" has been said by oh so many Australians throughout history.  He's consoled by a bearded man with visibly erect nipples who mostly stands there mutely throughout the entire scene.  This is another weird wrestling trope.  The bearded guy looks like a saturnine version of Mark from The Room!  Be careful, Rob Barnes, he will sleep with your future wife!!!

THEN!!!  There is a third promo, which would ordinarily get on my nerves.  But this is a promo for GUSTAVO MENDOZA!!!  Which will mean nothing to you because you didn't grow up watching the UWF in the 80s.  Hence, you did not see Gustavo Mendoza come to ringside in a splendid jacket with NUCLEAR WEAPONS written on the back, only to die at the hands of Steve Williams or Savannah Jack and others.  I really don't think this is the same dude, but bless ROW for using this name.  Apparently, they've also used a guy named Chris Adams before, so maybe Booker T grew up loving the same territories that I did?

Abel Andrew Jackson vs. Mysterious Q
Your main event!  Jackson is "assistant general manager to the general manager" and that makes me want to murder myself, but at least the announcers mock how preposterous it is.  The ref's hipster mustache is distracting.  There's a pin exchange to begin, but things settle down into a likeable middle section, with Q going for as many pins as possible and Jackson displaying as many pained faces as he can.  Jackson didn't do much for me as a talker, but it's easy to see his physical charisma in a match.  I also like how mean and basic his offense is, such as ramming a guy's head into a mat repeatedly.  There are some rough patches, as when Q sorta stumbles into Jackson while trying to attack and Jackson must take the wheel to save things.  A mixture of dodgy stuff and ace stuff, but overall worthwhile.

Another wrestler-owned promotion, Bellatrix is Saraya Knight's all-lady company based in Norwich, England.  You might have heard about Saraya lately from her appearance on Colt Cabana's podcast.  She's also wrestled stateside in Shimmer and a few other places.  The hosts of Bellatrix this time are Saraya's family, husband "Rowdy" Ricky and son Zak.  They work on a very Tim & Eric-esque virtual reality stage, of which I could not approve harder.

Destiny vs. Penelope
This fight appears to occur in a very classy banquet hall or something.  There are portraits hung everywhere, so occasionally you get an art gallery sort of feeling.  But the grimy production shears off any pretentious edge.  This is actually what I mean when I say stuff like, "Darkthrone wrestling"—it looks murky and raw.  Not like Lucha Underground, which, while great, spends tons of money to achieve that 70s grindhouse look.  Anyway!  Destiny is pretty angsty for a portly person.  She shouts a lot, punctuating every blow and thump with more yelling.  And she's mostly in charge during this match, as hometown heroine Penelope spends much of the time getting smacked around.  The first single-leg crab of the night happens here and offers a good representation of Destiny's olde-tymey heel tactics, as she repeatedly grabs the ropes for leverage.  This eventually leads to the referee issuing cards.  When he's had enough, he finally shows everyone a red card and that means Destiny loses, despite dominating the match.  Oh, England!

Chanel vs. Lady Lory
The production values get jarringly better here.   The prim ring announcer asks everyone to "be
upstanding for the national anthem", which I guess everyone expects to be a song about America beating England up or a song of German grunting or something?  Because she then says, "the British national anthem!" and Lady Lory gets mad about it.  But at least she gets to beat the hell out of Chanel for practically this entire match.  It seems like a possible mistake to have two one-sided squashy affairs in a row, but this is what happens.  Lory voraciously targets Chanel's knee, leading inexorably to the second crab of the show.  SINGLE LEG BOSTON CRAB CITY, BITCH.  They tease another disqualification ending before a surprise shift in momentum and shocking finale.  This was really one-sided until the abrupt ending.  A rematch might be interesting, though.

Sammi Baynz vs. Liberty
Sammi Baynz has the most xtreme 90s name I've ever heard.  There's a nice fierce collar and elbow
to begin.  And then there's a hair whip reversal, which was a first for me!  This opening threatens greatness, but things get shaky as the match progresses.  There's a lot of back and forth in terms of control, and some exciting moments—my fave was probably the blocked tope, which drew an all-little girl chant of "This is awesome!" (aww-some).  In general, though, I don't feel like this clicked as tightly as I would've liked and never really capitalized on the intensity presaged by the early moments.  Again, I'd be down to watch a rematch, though.

Bellatrix on Facebook (with insane people's comments)           Bellatrix Season One

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