Cheap Wrestling For Cheap People 10.06.05: AWA Hotwire
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to Cheap Wrestling for Cheap People. This edition of the column is a little bit special, as it marks the beginning of Cheap Wrestling’s sixth month here on 411. It’s been a fun trip for me so far, and I hope all of you out there have enjoyed it as well. In fact, I’ve got a bit of a special feature to mark this little milestone in the column’s history. Let’s head to that:
The World’s Cheapest Worker
I have a bit of an unhealthy obsession with useless statistics. As a result, I have started keeping a running list of the star ratings for every match that I have reviewed in this column. Then, taking things a step further, I decided to figure out how individual wrestlers were doing in my reviews. To determine that, I’ve tracked the mean star rating for every wrestler that appears on these pages. For example, let’s say I’ve reviewed three of Joe Blow’s matches, and they were rated at *, **, and ***, respectively. Adding those numbers up and dividing by three (the number of matches), I’d get Joe’s mean star rating of **.
Does this make me lame? Yes. Does it qualify me as legally insane? Possibly. However, here is a list of the top ten mean star ratings for wrestlers appearing in this column. I’ve only included wrestlers who have had three matches or more reviewed in order to get a more representative sample of their work.
Let’s just think of this as my way of determining who has given me the most bang for my buck:
10.) Coming in at number ten is everybody’s favorite wrestler, Rob Van Dam. Having looked at both RVD’s indy and WWE work, I’ve reviewed four of his matches, and he’s come out of them with a 1.19 average.
9.) Grab ‘dem cakes! The Junkyard Dog is number nine, having been reviewed in three matches and scoring an average of 1.38 stars. Terry Funk carried him to most of those.
8.) Here’s an odd entry: Gary Young. Gorgeous Gary served as the tag partner of Cactus Jack in World Class and earned himself a 1.41 average in four matches along the way.
7.) Egads! Is that glass shattering? I believe it is, because here’s Steve Austin. Stone Cold has an average of 1.59 stars across eight bouts reviewed. However, the vast majority of those came before his epic WWF run.
6.) Scoot Andrews often gets overlooked in discussions of quality indy wrestlers, though we’re not overlooking him here. He’s racked up an average score of 1.63 across three bouts.
5.) Mick Foley occupies the middle of the list. He has a 2.35 rating in a whopping twelve matches. Why the large number? Because my first review was Cactus Jack: The Early Years.
4.) Do you smell it? The Rock does, and he barely edges out his former tag partner. Rokcy’s average rating of 2.36 in six matches was earned mainly on the strength of his Just Bring It DVD.
3.) Indy powerhouse Low Ki is number three, and that rhymes. His mean score is 2.63, and he’s established that over a three match span. Had one of those not been a quick squash against Chris Divine, Ki could be a notch or two higher.
2.) Barely missing the top spot is Kurt Angle, who has earned a mean rating of 3.38 in four bouts. Will Kurt be able to claw his way to the top spot? If I’m crazy enough to bring this feature back, we may find out a few months down the road.
1.) Not surprisingly, Chris Benoit tops the list, with a mean rating of 3.82 spread out across three matches. Other IWC members have already compared Benoit to Jesus, and now he’s officially the Patron Saint of Cheap Wrestling . . . at least for the time being.
Now, with that special feature out of the way, let’s take a look at our standard fare.
Cheap Wrestling Tip #21: AWA Hotwired
No, ladies and gentlemen, we’re not talking about the old Minneapolis AWA. We’re talking about a little indy group out of New Jersey that, from what I can tell, has been in business for at least two years now. Obviously the East Coast is already crammed with indy wrestling, but very few of those promotions have done anything unique to gain national recognition. As we’ve seen in previous columns, one of the new, hip ways to get such recognition is to broadcast some form of wrestling program on the internet.
The AWA, despite being a company that I’d never heard of before, has apparently managed to get a pretty good little web show going for themselves. The production values are very good for a company of its size, especially the editing and graphics used for the program. Not only that, but the file format used provides an incredibly high quality picture despite the file being relatively small. So, the show looks pretty . . . but how will the wrestling be?
To find out, I’m taking a look at the three most recent episodes of AWA Hotwired.
Title: AWA Hotwired (Episodes 8, 9, & 10)
Released By: AWA (New Jersey)
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 45 Minutes Each
Found At: AWANJ1.com
Match Numero Uno: Damian Dragon vs. Kronic
Kronic appears to be doing an islander gimmick, though, from looking at him, it’s pretty clear that he’s nothing more than a fat white guy with fizzy hair. The two men brawl on the outside to start, and then they head to the squared circle, where Dragon gets a dropkick and stomps away. Another one of those leads to a series of nearfalls, and Dragon follows it up with a kneedrop before applying the good ole’ reverse chinlock. He eventually breaks just for the hell of it, which was a mistake, as Kronic fires off some left hands . . . only to be caught with a NICE jumping clothesline from Damian. Dragon then places his man on the top rope and spikes him with a DDT. Oddly, Kronic doesn’t sell it and applies a Tongan death grip. Dragon kicks his way out of it quickly and then attempts to throw a punch, but Kronic kicks his arm and lands a Blue Thunder Bomb to win a very quick one.
Match Thoughts: Like I said, it was a quick one. There was nothing actively bad here, and, in fact, the series of reversals leading up to the finish was fairly entertaining. It was decent for a short indy match. 3/4*
Up next is a Piper’s Pit-esque segment named Adolfo’s Alley, in which a gentleman named Adolfo literally interviews people in an alley. Well, that’s one way to save on production costs. Adolfo is speaking with the AWA Tag Team Champions, Jay Lethal and Rob Vegas. Vegas is also the holder of the company’s World Heavyweight Championship, carrying around a belt that looks like a manhole cover on a leather strap. The duo gives a rather reserved interview before teasing dissension thanks to Lethal’s lust for the World Title.
Match Numero Dos: Bobby Vee vs. Shawn Walker
Bobby Vee’s gimmick is that he looks like Kurt Angle. The problem with that is he looks nothing like Angle aside from the fact that both men have shaved heads. Oh well, he still makes for a better look-alike than Rick Bogner. Things start with the collar and elbow tie-up, and the men trade hammerlocks. Vee then gets a leg trip, but Walker goes back to the hammerlock. It’s reversed in to a headlock, but Bobby decides that he’d rather work a keylock and then an armbar. Walker then gets a trifecta of hiptosses off of an Irish whip, and he cranks on the arm a little bit as well. Vee reverses, and then the men exchange forearms. Vee gets the best of it and chops away at his man before taking him down with a back elbow for two. A backdrop suplex is next for the Angle impersonator, and then Vee applies a weak variant of the camel clutch. Sean makes it to the ropes, however, and the hold is broken cleanly. Vee then unloads with some forearms, but he’s caught offguard with a back body drop and a couple of clotheslines. Vee begs off at this point, but Walker pays no attention to his request and dropkicks him in the back of the head. An enzuguri gets two for Walker, but then he charges blindly and is caught in a Vee German suplex. Bobby’s bridge is beautiful, but he still can’t put his man away. Some chops are exchanged after the kick out, and then both men run the ropes. Then, when Walker tries to leapfrog over Vee, Bobby puts on the breaks. Sean lands facing away from him, and Vee slaps on the kata hajime. Walker is quickly choked out.
Match Thoughts: Vee showed some real potential here, hitting snug yet safe strikes throughout the match and executing his other moves with a high levels of accuracy. Walker, however, looked as though he could still use a little bit of work, as the various kicks he attempted were all noticeably off target. So, the individual performances of the two wrestlers essentially balance each other out. In that case, we look to the overall flow of the match, which was competent but ultimately nothing to write home about. We’ll call it slightly better than the first bout, though that’s primarily because it was given more time with which to develop. *
Match Numero Tres: Corvis Fear (c) vs. Ozzy Envy for the AWA WebTV Championship
The two men are running the ropes when we join them, and they both keep missing moves until they do a double kip up and get some applause from the small crowd on hand. A handshake is next, but Envy turns it in to a rollup for two. Both men then exchange pinning combinations, culminating with Envy landing a stiff dropkick to his opponent’s face. Ozzy then kicks his man in the back of the head, and there’s another kick, this one in the corner. An STO is next for Ozzy, but Fear reverses an Irish whip and gets a big clothesline to come back. A package piledriver follows for the champion, but Envy gets his feet on the ropes at two. Fear then locks on a unique submission hold, looking like a cross between a figure four and a reverse full nelson. Yeah, that’s the best description I can come up with. Deal with it. Corvis lets the hold go rather quickly and then hits a brainbuster, but Envy responds with a couple of dropkicks and a unique slam/legdrop combination. Fear blocks Ozzy’s next move, however, and he hits a variation on the pumphandle slam for two. The duo fight over a German suplex at this point, with neither of them getting it. Fear then hits his next wacky move, setting up Ozzy as though he was going to hit a Rude Awakening. However, instead of doing that move, Corvis flips Oz up over his shoulder and lands a reverse Diamond Cutter. It looked pretty good, though my description leaves a bit to be desired. That one ends the match, allowing the champion to retain his title.
Match Thoughts: Again, as you would expect from quick indy matches, there wasn’t a lot in the way of psychology or character development. However, both guys busted out some pretty inventive moves that I have never seen before, so the match may be worth checking out just for those spots. Not only were said spots innovative, but they were innovative without being convoluted spots that toss in tons of twists and turns just for the sake of having tons of twists and turns. It’s refreshing to see something like that in modern indy wrestling. *1/2
Match Numero Cuatro: Pinkie Sanchez vs. Dan Maff
This is a special “archive match,” which actually means it’s been edited in to a music video. They’ve chosen Green Day to provide said music, probably violating all sorts of copyright law in the process. The match, though edited, looks fairly stiff, as you would expect anything involving Maff to be. The two guys repeatedly suplex each other down on their heads, and there are periodically some chops and kicks thrown in for good measure. Sanchez is press slammed in to a brick wall and then eats the Burning Hammer, giving the win to Mr. Maff. I’d work in a joke about molesting Homicide’s relatives, but I don’t want ‘Cide to hunt me down and kill me.
And that’s the last match for episode eight. I’ll hold off on my final thoughts until all three episodes are reviewed. Thus, we’ll head straight in to episode nine, which begins with . . .
Match Numero Uno: Lucious Lilly (c) vs. Jenna for the AWA Women’s Championship
Jenna moves Lilly back in to the corner to start, but that just gets her bitch slapped. Then Jenna’s dumb enough to do the same thing, and it even leads to the same result. Lilly then gets a bad armdrag and applies a rather . . . umm . . . unique cross arm breaker. That’s unique in the “it sucks” sense, not unique in the Corvis Fear sense. A couple of shoulders in the corner are next for the Luscious one, but Jenna reverses an Irish whip and gets a decent corner lariat before choking her opponent mercilessly. Jenna then cartwheels in to a splash, though it winds up looking like her intent was to gently place her abdomen on to Lilly’s as opposed to inflicting any real pain. After some more Irish whippery, Lillyhorribly botches the ole’ Jack Brisco sunset flip out of the corner spot before landing a vertical suplex for two. A small package also gets two for the champ . . . and then a masked woman runs in to the ring and whacks Lilly with the championship belt to draw a DQ. Whoever the mystery woman is, she manages to throw a couple of good forearms before DDTing Lilly on the belt. Corvis Fear runs in for the save.
Match Thoughts: This was fairly atrocious. Let’s just say that, if you can’t land a decent splash, you shouldn’t be vying for the championship of anything, even if it is a tiny indy in Jersey. Then again, Warrior’s splash always looked lame, and he was one of the hottest acts in he WWF for a brief period. Guess that shows what I know. -*
Now it’s time to go back to Adolfo’s Alley. Adolfo talks to Pinkie Sanchez, who wears a tie around his head. Sanchez makes some nasty comments to his current rival, who apparently put him on the shelf for three months. He closes by noting that he is, in fact, a tough guy. A tough guy who wears a tie around his head.
Match Numero Dos: Arcadia (c) vs. Joe Hardway for the AWA Lightheavyweight Championship
Hardway flings Arcadia back first in to the turnbuckles off of the initial lockup, though the champ comes back with a monkey flip. Hardway responds with a kneelift and a European uppercut. The two trade slaps, after which Arcadia gets in a hiptoss and a pair of high dropkicks. Hardway gets the momentum back in his favor rather quickly, though, jumping on to the second rope off of an Irish whip and landing a flying clothesline. A kneelift is next for Joey, followed up by a vertical suplex and yet another dropkick, which gets two. The challenger then applies a bow and arrow submission hold, accidentally losing his grip but then reapplying the hold . . . only to intentionally drop it seconds later. Hardway then hoists Arcadia up in to a fireman’s carry and drops the champ down on to his knee.
Arcadia barely sells it, rallying with some forearms and coming in to the ring with a slingshot sunset flip for two. Joe cuts him off with a clothesline, though, and Arcadia takes the big 360 bump. Up next, the champ finds himself dumped stomach first over the top rope, and Hardway runs in to him, knocking Arcadia in to the brick wall that buts up against one side of the ring. Hardway then retrieves his opponent and rolls him back in to the ring, but Arcadia fires back and lands a Rocker Dropper. The two trade forearms at this point, with Arcadia turning one of them in to a backslide for two. A schoolboy and a crucifix also get nearfalls for the champion, but Hardway kills his momentum with a fist to the gut and a Blue Thunder Bomb. A (weak) sit-out DVD follows, but Hardway picks his man up at two. That winds up being his dowfall, though, as Arcadia catches him with a small package seconds later. That allows ‘Cade to retain his championship.
Match Thoughts: Though it wasn’t perfect, this was the best match so far from AWA Hotwired. Both guys, particularly Hardway, moved around the ring as though they were seasoned veterans. Hardway even showed some decent heel charisma, which is something that has been severely lacking up to this point. As with the other bouts, it was fairly spotty, though I’m beginning to accept the fact that spottiness is just a byproduct of the company’s style. However, the execution of the spots here keeps the match from breaking that vaunted two star mark, as we did have the botching of the bow and arrow followed up by the poorly executed DVD. Arcadia looked like a real bump machine in this one, though, and his willingness to kill his body for a match with a total audience of around fifty saved the bout. *3/4
After that, we go to another “archive match,” this one featuring Neeno Capone vs. The Idol. This time the spots are fairly pedestrian, and they’re being set to Tom Petty and/or the Heartbreakers. (Not to be confused, of course, with Romeo and Antonio.) There’s really no effort made to indicate which man is which. That makes things a bit difficult to recap, as do the twenty or so run-ins that occurred throughout the match. Eventually, the brunette guy frog splashes the blonde guy for the pinfall.
Once the video wraps up, our announce team and the generic heel owner of the group run down the card for the promotion’s next live show. That’s a wrap on episode nine, and here comes number ten.
Match Numero Uno: Brian Brass vs. The Idol
There’s no truth to the rumors that Brian Brass will soon be teaming up with Steve Steel and Barry Bronze to form a stable called the Alloy Army. (I’ll wait for your groans to stop before I continue with the play-by-play.)
Anyway, Brass beals Idol out of the corner to start but gets caught with a couple of armdrags on the rebound. Idol then busts out an interesting move in which he somersaults in to a satellite headscissors. A monkey flip is next for the I-Man, but Brass changes the momentum by landing a sidewalk slam and a bridging Northern lights suplex. Double B then lands a vertical suplex and slaps on a headlock, but Idol punches his way out of that with some pretty decent worked shots. Idol can’t keep the advantage, however, as he runs in to a spinebuster. Brass goes for the same move, but Idol unleashes an interesting counter, shifting his weight so that he pulls Brass down, essentially rolling through the spinebuster. Idol then gets an awkward spear that connects more with Brass’ legs than it did his midsection. An Idol frog splash later, and he has taken home the victory.
Match Thoughts: If you haven’t noticed, there’s a running theme through this matches. All of the guys have the ability to hit moves that I have not seen anywhere else. However, because they seem to have spent so much time coming up with these innovative moves, their grasp on the basics winds up being a little bit shaky. That was exactly the case here, as I loved Idol’s headscissors and his spinebuster counter, but just cringed when he executed that spear. It all evens out to 3/4*.
Let’s now go to one more installment of Adolfo’s Alley. AWA Champion Rob Vegas is his guest tonight, and he’s got some words for Jay Lethal. It’s weird watching these shows from small indies and hearing them talk about Lethal as though he’s a big deal, whereas I’m used to thinking of the guy as nothing more than Low Ki’s job boy.
Match Numero Dos: Corvis Fear (c) vs. Damian Dragon vs. Dan Dynasty for the AWA WebTV Championship in a Gauntlet Match
Dragon and Fear start off, with Damien headbutting his man off of a handshake. Fear comes back with a back body drop and a dropkick, however. The two then spill to the outside, where the champ is leveled by a gentleman named Manslaughter. Slaughter then rolls him back in to the ring, where Dragon hits the Rude Awakening and his jumping clothesline for two. Damien then drops the knee, but Corvis comes back with a sloppy looking jawbreaker and a variation on the gutwrench suplex for a nearfall. The champ then sets up for a tornado DDT, but Dragon shoves him off and brings the championship belt in to the ring. He looks to DDT Fear on to it, but Corvis reverses and falls on top of him for a three count.
Up next for Fear is Dan Dynasty, and they do an awkward sequence off the ropes. Fear then turns a hiptoss in to an X-Factor-esque facejam and then a unique snap mare. Fear then runs full on and slams his upper body in to the back of Dynasty’s neck and reverses a Dynasty cross body block with a blockbuster slam. A regular bodyslam is next for Fear, and then he does a front flip in to a senton splash. This guy can’t do anything conventionally, can he? Fear then goes up for the ten punch spot in the corner, but Dynasty drops him face first on to the turnbuckles and then chops the champ’s back. At this point, we clip ahead to a point at which both men are down. They’re up at the same time, and fear takes the advantage with a big shotei. Dynasty recovers quickly, though, landing a Northern lights suplex and then rolling through for a fisherman’s suplex. Dynasty then looks to whip his man off of the ropes, but Fear blocks it and lands some weird over the shoulder piledriver. At this point, a random heel valet pops up on the apron and tosses some handcuffs in to Dynasty, who quickly gets them to Fear. A Dan DDT follows, and the announcers put over the fact that Corvis couldn’t protect himself with his hands restrained. Fear’s not out, though, as he hits a dropkick. We clip again, and now Dynasty lands a Diamond Dust. (Referred to as the heel announcer as a “Dustin Dimaond.” Ha.)
That looks like it should finish, but Mike Donovan runs in to the ring and pulls Dynasty off, as he wants the title for himself. Donovan and Dynasty then brawl, culminating in Dynasty dropkicking the interloper out of the ring. Dynasty then turns around for an exploder suplex on Fear, and we’ve got ourselves a title change.
Match Thoughts: The Fear/Dragon portion of the match was nothing to write home about, and Fear Dynasty started off a little bit rocky. However, once they got going, Corvis and Dan put together what was a pretty darn good indy match. Fear continued to bring the innovative offense, and there were no poorly executed moves as there were in his earlier match against Ozzy Envy. Dynasty, meanwhile, wasn’t nearly as inventive as his opponent but was athletic enough to adapt to the odd moves being thrown at him and take the appropriate bumps in a convincing manner. Additionally, though we’ve seen handcuffs used in wrestling matches before, I thought that they were used in an original way here, with the restraint being used to execute traditional wrestling moves as opposed to setting up shots form weapons. All in all, this was a fun one to watch, and I’d say that it makes this episode worth downloading if you’ve got forty minutes or so to kill.
The show ends with a very bizarre interview segment featuring Jay Lethal, Joe Hardway, Bobby Vee, and some gentleman whose name I didn’t catch. There’s a lot of bizarre humor in here . . . for example, Hardway keeps mentioning how various portions of the interview are sponsored by his barbeque sauce. Additionally, every time somebody touches a potted plant that’s been set up in the ring, a clip of Hardway being slammed gets aired. Then, to top it all off, there’s a sequence in which Vee keeps beating up Hardway behind Lethal’s back while Kurt Angle’s music plays at full blast. I don’t use drugs, but, after viewing this segment, I’m going to go take a urine test to make sure that I wasn’t slipped some mild hallucinogens.
That ends the show, as the AWA follows an old television addage: If you can’t go out on a good note, make sure you go out on a surreal note.
Number of Matches: 9
Highest Star Rating: *3/4
Lowest Star Rating: -*
Average Star Rating: * (ratable matches only)
After realizing that this company was utilizing some of the same talent as Jersey All Pro Wrestling Worldwide, I was a bit concerned about its quality. However, despite the fact that this show came from a less reputable company, it actually wound up being much more entertaining. Whereas JAPWW primarily consisted of squash matches that closely mirrored “WWE style” with a couple of more high impact moves thrown in, the AWA took a different approach with Hotwired.
Granted, the matches were still quick and still held between competitors who are relatively inexperienced. However, the wrestlers were allowed to go all out in the limited time periods that they had. As a result, they wound up going back and forth with several quick reversal sequences and pulling out one of a kind moves that you won’t be able to see in other wrestling promotions. This made the show in to a breath of fresh air. Though I wouldn’t chose to watch it over a big pay per view event or even an episode of WWE Smackdown, it was at least as entertaining as the average episode of Heat or Velocity. So, if you ever find yourself with some free time and want to check out an inoffensive but not spectacular little wrestling show, I would say it’s worth your time to head over to the AWA website and click around.