wrestling / Columns

Into the Indies 12.06.11: It’s Sforcina!

December 6, 2011 | Posted by Ryan Byers

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to Into the Indies, the column that drains in the opposite direction.

This week, we’re doing something a little bit different. I first wrote a column for 411mania in 2004. A few months later, a guy named Mathew Sforcina showed up and started writing a column referred to as the Evolution Schematic. I don’t recall how long it took after Sforcina started writing for the site, but, before long, it came out that he was an independent wrestler in his native Australia. Specifically, it came out that he performed for the Australasian Wrestling Federation (AWF), a company which has been promoting an old school, family friendly stripe of professional wrestling in Australia since the late 1990’s. Though he’s not hidden the fact that he’s a professional wrestler when writing for the site, Sforcina hasn’t gone over the top with promoting that fact, either. As such, it surprised me a little bit when he wrote me the following e-mail a couple of weeks ago:

My company’s actually put the last dojo show we did online at:

http://www.youtube.com/user/AWFwrestling

So if you wanna make fat jokes about me, now’s the time… 😉

Come on, Matt. You should know that I’ve above fat jokes. That’s just too easy for me.

I will, however, proceed to make jokes about everything else associated with the show. So, let’s take a look at the Australasian Wrestling Federation’s “Rock-Tober Wrestling” card from the company’s Minto Dojo on October 15, 2011.


Match Numero Uno: The Illusionist vs. Anubis in a first round AWF tournament match

And our first bout on the show is part of some sort of tournament. I’ll be honest here; the audio quality on this show is not the greatest, so I can’t quite make out what the purpose of the tournament is. Our first competitor is Anubis, who is announced as being from Egypt even though he has an Australian accent and doesn’t do anything particularly Egyptian aside from carrying around an ankh. The Osirian Portal he is not. Fortunately, the Illusionist does not disappoint when it comes to playing his gimmick up to the hilt:

“Hey, Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit outta my hat!”

It’s a lockup to start, followed by the wrestlers trading arm wringers. We clip ahead to a headlock by the Illusionist, and they do a pretty standard tackle/leapfrog/hiptoss bit, though the Illusionist mixes it up a little bit by ending with a monkey flip. We fast forward again, and Anubis, from the floor, snaps the Illusionist’s neck over the top rope and throws him back into the ring for an overhead throw. BLATANT HEEL CHOKING by Anubis is what we get after another clip, and then we jump forward again to the Illusionist’s comeback with elbows and clotheslines and whatnot. The two wrestlers take turns running off the ropes and countering various maneuvers, culminating in in the Illusionist hitting a version of Paydirt for the victory. The match was edited pretty heavily, so I can’t say that much about it in terms of critique, though everything we saw appeared to be fairly well executed.

After the match, a man whose name I can’t make out, who claims to be the promotion’s senior official, comes out and chastises the officiating of the ref in the Anubis/Illusionist match.

Jumping ahead, we get a promo from an unidentified man whose gimmick is apparently that he is really awkward at gesturing while he speaks. Seriously, I get that they tell you to talk with your hands when you’re taking a public speaking course, but there are some people who do it so unnaturally that they should just keep it in their pockets. Here are a few highlights:


Anyway, from what I can gather, he’s part of a stable and one of his partners lost the AWF Commonwealth Title last week, only for his other stablemate to win it. He introduces the stablemate who holds the title, Powerhouse Theo. He cuts a heel promo expecting a celebration for his title win, ultimately cuing the above-ring cameraman to “release the balloons.” The cameraman, knowing there is no such plan, gives the only reaction that he can.

It turns out that Awkward Gesturing Man has a balloon and a noisemaker, but Theo isn’t appreciative and breaks the noisemaker. AwkGM goes on to tell Theo that none of their crew respects him anymore because he’s been a jerk as of late, but he will still back Theo heading into his match this evening. In exchange, Theo promises he won’t attack Ben Coles, who I gather is the aforementioned stablemate with whom Theo has had problems. This prompts Coles, who looks like a miniature Chris Hero, to come out and cut a promo on Theo. He is accompanied by an unnamed man.

Then, holy crap, it’s Matt Sforcina! He’s accompanied by a guy in a yellow jacket who I originally thought was a wayward member of the audience but turns out to be his tag team partner.

They declare themselves to be the best tag team in the AWF and challenge Coles and his anonymous companion to a match later this evening.


Match Numero Dos: Shane Saw vs. Dean Draven in a first round AWF tournament match

There’s an obnoxious kid at ringside who point blank demands that Dean Draven take him into the ring. Fortunately, Dean ignores the entitled little bastard. When I heard the name “Shane Saw” the first thing that I think of is the tag team of Jigsaw and Shane Storm that used to run roughshod over CHIKARA, but it turns out that, in this case, it’s just a skinny guy who looks sort of like Kid Rock . . . but with a chainshaw.

Mr. Saw attacks Draven as he comes in through the ropes and hits a clothesline to take his opponent off of his feet. A Saw snap mare sets up a big kick to the back, but it’s not long before Shane runs straight into a shoulderblock from the much larger Draven. Dean follows up with some forearms and a snap suplex for two, after which we clip ahead to him hitting some chops in the corner. Saw avoids a German suplex and connects with a bulldog for a nearfall. Saw stays on his opponent with a Rude Awakening, also for two, and he heads to the top rope. Shane leaps off for a flying . . . well . . . flying move that results in him doing nothing more than jumping into the waiting arms of Dean Draven. Draven lands a suplex of sorts, and that’s enough to get him the victory.

I was perversely entertained by this match, as it became apparent pretty quickly that Draven’s gimmick is that he is the world’s pudgiest Chris Benoit impersonator, and I was intrigued to see just how closely he could mimic the Crippler’s mannerisms and execution of moves. If that was his goal, he actually did pretty well . . . perhaps he could land the lead role in that new biopic that has been reported about around the internet?


Match Numero Tres: Jack Tasman vs. DJ Fusion in a first round AWF tournament match

Tasman, whose entire gimmick is that he is from Tasmania, comes out to the ring to the old NBA on NBC intro song. That’s not a bad choice for ring music, actually. DJ Fusion is harassed by the same kid who wanted Dean Draven to take him into the ring and responds with a quick, “I can’t.” Hopefully this kid will become an AWF wrestler in ten years and take part in an angle in which he wages war on the promotion for the wrestlers not fulfilling his simple childhood request.

Jack jumps Fusion as Fusion is posing on the ring ropes, which leads into a couple of kneelifts. Tasman misses a clothesline, though, and he’s socked in the jaw by the DJ. Rather than staying in the ring, he bails and keeps yelling, “He slapped me!” as he seeks comfort in the arms of a middle aged woman in the audience.

DJ Fusion eventually runs into the crowd and gives chase to Tasman, which leads to some wacky comedy in which Jack hides behind a punching bag that is at ringside and winds up whipping it into his own face. Tasman doesn’t feel much in the way of ill effects, though, as he gets back into the ring quickly and cuts off Fusion as he tries to slip between the ropes. We clip ahead to Tasman connecting with a shoulderbreaker for two, followed by a cut to Fusion connecting with a single-leg dropkick for another nearfall. After some reversals, DJ Fusion winds up on the apron, where he runs and catches Jack in the side of the head with a Yakuza kick. There’s no water in the pool when Fusion goes up for a frog splash, though. Jack rips the padding off of one of the turnbuckles and throws it to the floor, which turns out to be a distraction play, as he grabs another weapon while the referee is going after the pad. However, Fusion intercepts the weapon, nails Jack in the gut with it, and hits his frog splash for a three count.

However, before DJ Fusion can celebrate his victory too much, the senior referee from the first match appears again and announces that he’s overturning the decision due to the foreign object. Finishes like that always annoy me a little bit, but I will say that I enjoyed the match up to that point, as Tasman had a pretty damn fun semi-comedic heel schtick and got pretty solid reactions from the crowd. He didn’t have that much of a look but would probably be one of the better guys in most indies on this level.


Match Numero Cuatro: El Technico vs. Powerhouse Theo in a first round AWF tournament match

El Technico is much like our friend Anubis in that, despite being billed as a Mexican, his yelling “Ole!” has a decidedly curious Australian flavor to it. When Theo makes his way out to the ring, he’s still got his balloon with him from earlier in the evening.

There’s a protracted bit of comedy up front with Theo claiming that Technico is actually his rival Ben Coles under a mask and going as far as making the referee check under the hood to make sure that Coles isn’t lurking. Ultimately, Awkward Gesturing Man, who I still don’t think that anybody has given a proper name for, comes out to convince Powerhouse Theo to get into the ring.

Theo goes to work on El Technico right at the bell, kicking away at him in the corners and running through him with a shoulderblock. Theo looks for a hiptoss, but Techie is able to reverse by bouncing his legs off the ropes, after which he hits a basement dropkick. When we clip ahead, the luchador is still on top thanks to a facebuster and a German supelx, but it’s not quite enough to put the champ away. Techie hits a side Russian leg sweep to set up a superfly splash, but that also does not get the job done. El T sets up for a suplex but has Theo shove him off and land a spinebuster to reverse the tide of the match. From there, Theo attempts a powerbomb, but Technico reverses it into a sunset flip for two. Theo tries to come back with snake eyes, but Techie shoots out of the corner with a spinning heel kick and places the champ on to the top rope for a rana. Theo blocks it and turns it into a powerbomb, though, and that’s enough for him to get the three count. This was perfectly acceptable professional wrestling and, in a way, was the most exciting match on the card up to this point because they are the wrestlers who were doing the most “advanced” moves.


Match Numero Cinco: Jack Tasman vs. The Illusionist in a second round AWF tournament match

Tasman attacks the Illusionist before he even has a chance to get in the ring, which is a spot they’re really starting to overdo on this show. Jack applies a chinlock as soon as he tosses the Illusionist into the ring, but the magic man makes a stereotypical babyface comeback and elbows his way out of it. Unfortunately for him, he runs into Tasman’s boot off of the ropes and eats a facebuster for two. Tasman follows up with a swinging neckbreaker of sorts and a superkick, but he still can’t put the Illusionist away. We clip ahead to the Illusionist in control, hitting an enzuguiri. Then, out of nowhere, the heel senior official from earlier in the card pulls the original ref out of the ring just as Illusionist has gotten a two count. Some other guy gets on the apron and taps Jack Tasman with a hammer, resulting in the crooked official calling for a DQ and declaring Jack Tasman the winner. After the bell, the hammer man and the heel ref attack the Illusionist, but the original ref and DJ Fusion run in for a save. I’ll admit that, wacky, sports entertainment-inspired finish aside, the face ref’s victory pose is pretty damn funny.

Match Numero Seis: Con Robinson vs. Muhammad Bombay

Memo to the AWF production crew: If you’ve got a female ring announcer who you are apparently attempting to market as a sex symbol (as evidenced by her skin-tight top), you should not take a camera shot that makes a role of back fat her most prominent feature.

(And, before I get any hate mail, I should note that is NOT a knock on the young lady herself. She looks fine and is probably in a lot better shape than I am. The crew is the issue here. Accentuate the strengths; hide the weaknesses, that sort of thing.)

In any event, our announcer tells us that this is the debut pro wrestling match for both men, which explains the lack of pictures up above. We’ve got a lockup at the bell, and I note that Con has made the odd choice of wrestling with a flannel shirt tied around his waist. The larger Muhammad shoves his opponent back into the corner and doesn’t give a clean break, opting instead to slap him across the face. This angers Robinson, but he doesn’t get too far and instead winds up engaging Mr. Bombay in some standing switches and other basic reversals. Muhammad winds up the winner off of that exchange and looks for a clothesline, but Con ducks under and returns the slap before connecting with a flying forearm. After a clip, Con looks for a pump kick and misses, getting caught with a spinebuster for a nearfall. Muhammad puts the boots to his opponent and drops a double sledge for two. After more editing, Bombay nails a sidewalk slam and slaps on a reverse bear hug. Robinson manages to elbow his way out of it and connects with a sleeper drop. The ref calls it a two count, and Bombay definitely moved his leg, but I think he forgot to lift his shoulder. Robinson’s next trick is a CM Punk-esque leaping knee strike in the corner, and he makes the smart move of catching himself on the wall that the ring is pressed up against so that he doesn’t accidentally tumble out over the top rope. Coming off of that move, Con misses his pump kick again but connects with it on the third and final attempt, picking up the victory in his debut match. If this really was the duo’s first match in front of a crowd, I have to say that they did a very good job all things considered, though there were a couple of (understandable) rough patches.


Match Numero Siete: Dean Draven vs. Jack Tasman in an AWF tournament match

This was originally supposed to be Powerhouse Theo going up against Dean Draven, but Theo makes his way out (balloon still in tow) and cuts a promo in which he tells us fans that we have already seen enough of him this evening and he won’t give anymore.

So, Jack Tasman runs in out of nowhere, presumably to take Powerhouse Theo’s place in the match, and cradles Draven for a two count, but Dean is quick to return to his feet after kicking out and goes to town with shoulderblock, forearms, chops, and his snap suplex. After clipping forward, we see Dean apply a Texas cloverleaf, though Tasman quickly makes the ropes. Draven jaws with the referee a little bit off the break, so Jack has an opening to catch him with a superkick. That leads into a suplex attempt, but Dean reverses it and hits the same throw he used to win his first match in order to pick up the three count. There really wasn’t enough shown here to offer any comment about.



Match Numero Ocho: Ben Coles & Gladiator Apollo vs. Mass Transit (Massive Q & Traffic)

And here we go with the bout that was set up earlier on the show. Ben Coles and Gladiator Apollo are the duo that we saw earlier facing off against Powerhouse Theo, while Massive Q is our very own Matt Sforcina, clocking in at well above 6′ tall and 300 pounds, while Traffic is a big turtle of a man who I know virtually nothing about. Gladiator and Q start the match, and Apollo slaps him right across the face. Q dares him to do that again, so he not only does it once but instead does it repeatedly, with Coles getting in on the action as well. “Stop slapping me!” he yells at the top of his lungs, so Traffic suggests that perhaps he should wear Apollo’s gladiator helmet in order to fend off the attack.

Apollo sees the helmet is there and switches to body blows, causing Q to proclaim, “That was a stupid idea.” As soon as he takes the helmet off, he walks right into another slap, and here is a tag to Cole. Cole dropkicks Sforcina in the knee and gets him to run into the turnbuckles, at which point Apollo tags in and he and Coles take turns with corner attacks on the Massive one. It appears Q may be softened up, so Traffic provides a distraction from the apron, allowing Sforcina to sneak in a lariat on Apollo. That gives us our first tag of the evening from Mass Transit, with Traffic coming in to slam the Gladiator. After an edit, Apollo tries to return the favor, only to collapse under Traffic’s weight. Apollo quickly finds himself isolated in the heel corner while Traffic distracts the referee, allowing Q to first choke Apollo with his wrist tape and then make a phantom tag to come back to the ring. Q works the Nash choke for a little bit and then a bow-and-arrow-esque submission, though Apollo elbows out. The Gladiator starts a bit of a comeback, but Q cuts him off with a blockbuster slam and gets a two count. Traffic checks back into the match and hits a double clothesline with Q on Apollo. Traffic sandwiches Apollo in the corner and places him on the top rope, where he hits some chops. That wasn’t the brightest move, as it gives Apollo the opportunity to leap off the ropes with a Patriot Missile that sets up our hot tag.

Q is in the ring as well, and Coles works to take him off of his feet with various clotheslines and whatnot. He never actually gets the job done, though he does knock Traffic down when he lands a double clothesline on Mass Transit. The good guys perform stereo “ten punch spots” in opposite corners and whip the bad guys into each other, but, again, Q doesn’t go down. Coles and Apollo slam him into the corner, which also takes out the referee. The faces turn their attention to Traffic, but Powerhouse Theo appears, and he’s still got his balloon with him.

He’s also got a chair, which he uses to go after Apollo and Coles. Coles immediately charges Theo and begins working him over, allowing Mass Transit to isolate Apollo in the ring and hit him with a variation on the Smoke Gunns’ old Sidewinder maneuver to win the match after a dogpile pin.

The Theo/Coles brawl continues long after the bell, with the real star of the show, Awkward Gesture Guy, trying to play peacemaker and close out the show in the only way he can . . . by pointing in a way that no real human being would ever point.

As far as the match is concerned, I have to say that it was a deserving main event in that the quality of the wrestling shot up significantly. There wasn’t a lot of groundbreaking stuff from an athletic standpoint, but I thought that the match was very smartly laid out in terms of storytelling and working around the apparent limitations of a guy like Traffic, who brings size to the table and, near as I can tell, not a heck of a lot else. I also have to give a fair amount of credit to Mr. Sforcina here (and I’m not just stroking his ego to get another Ask 411 guest shot), because based on his schtick at the opening bell, he’s not just somebody who gets by on how big he is but somebody who has a good solid handle on how to work a crowd and get the most mileage out of relatively simple acts, which is what professional wrestling is all about at the end of the day.

Overall

The AWF show presented by our friends at YouTube was good, solid, inoffensive professional wrestling. Are you going to see much on this card that you haven’t seen if you’ve been watching wrestling for more than a year? No, you’re not. However, wrestling isn’t always about giving you something new, innovative, or different. Sometimes professional wrestling is just about returning to the comfortable, fun formula that we all knew and loved when we were growing up, and that’s exactly what this AWF show reminded me of. If you’re interested in seeing a simple, straightforward professional wrestling show that will make you smile several times over the course of ninety minutes, go give the AWF a spin.


Looking forward to the next installment of Into the Indies? Keep an eye on 411’s Twitter accounts, and you just might see it pop up!

RYAN BYERS ON TWITTER~!

http://www.twitter.com/411mania
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See you all next week!

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Ryan Byers
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