wrestling / Video Reviews

Beyond Wrestling – Americanrana ’19 Review

August 3, 2019 | Posted by Jake Chambers
Beyond Wrestling Americanrana '19

We are in Foxwoods Resort and Casino for the biggest event in the history of Beyond Wrestling- Americanrana ’19!

Match Results

Alex Reynolds defeated Jon Silver by pinfall @13:06
– The Beaver Boys ERUPT, as the always fun tag-team break up angle brought us a nice piece of John Silver-style top-this intensity wrestling, that was unfortunately marred by outside interference in the end.

Bear Country defeated EYFBO by pinfall @ 15:15
– a more methodical match than you generally see from the chaotic Bears, but EYFBO played it smart and tried to grind it out… to no avail.

Chuck O’Neal defeated Wheeler Yuta by TKO @ 4:08
– Yuta made the MMA mistake of bringing his emotions to the ring, while the veteran combatant O’Neal picked his spot and knocked Yuta out cold.

Feast Championship Ladder Match: Solo Darling won @ 17:19 over Cheeseburger, Puf, Anthony Greene, Johnny Cockstrong, Swoggle, Kikutaro, Marko Stunt, Alex Zayne, Christian Casanova and Kenn Doane
– A bit like a Money in the Bank Match meets Joey Janela’s Spring Break Clusterfuck that eventually morphed into an emotional win for Darling.

Johnny Foxwoods defeated Josh Briggs by pinfall @ 12:40
– a match that never slowed down, as the polished John Morrison proved he can hang with the next generation of stars like Briggs.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express defeated The Butcher and The Blade by pinfall @ 4:45
– incredibly, the RnR Express still look pretty lively and got the win (somewhat) believably against their hulking, ruffians opponents.

IWTV Independent Championship Match – Title vs Career: Orange Cassidy defeated RD Evans by pinfall @ 2:51
– I mean… it’s an Orange Cassidy match!

IWTV Independent Championship Re-Match – Title vs Career: Orange Cassidy defeated RD Evans by pinfall @ 8:13
– I mean… it’s ANOTHER Orange Cassidy match!

Thomas Santell and Nick Gage defeated Bryan Alvarez and Tom Lawlor by pinfall @ ~ 10 mins.
– pretty action packed with the audience dying to see Gage get his hands on internet wrestling journalist Alvarez, and when he finally did it certainly paid off!

Chris Dickinson defeated Daisuke Sekimoto by pinfall @ 15:54
– a match that lived up to the hype and months long build up… and those final moments – ooh wee – were as legitimately badass as anything you’ll ever see in pro-wrestling.

Steel Cage Match: Kris Statlaner defeated Kimber Lee by pinfall @ 8:29
– everything a cage match is supposed to be, two heated and hated rivals just slugging it out with bloody brutality.

60-minute No DQ Ironman Match: Joey Janela defeated David Starr @ 60:00 (5-4)
– one of (if not THE) best Ironman matches of all time as they used the gimmick to put an end to a personal and professional rivalry in an often stunning and ultimately exhaustingly satisfying piece of dramatic art.

Episode Summary

Americanrana ’19 was a marathon show, well over 5 hours long, and quite frankly a undeniable triumph for Beyond Wrestling in three ways:

1) Paid off the “signature PPV” event that all major wrestling companies design their year around – this time Americanrana was in a bigger venue, with the largest crowd in history, and provided a more epic card than anything they’ve attempted before.

2) As a culmination of the 17 episodes of the live streaming, serialized weekly, pro-wrestling TV show Uncharted Territory – since none of those episodes were taped, it made for an organic and climatic build to one marque event while also providing stacked weekly shows that guided storylines through fantastic wrestling matches, comparable only to the best of what was being done in WWF and WCW during the Monday Night Wars.

3) Setting the stage for the future – Beyond mastermind Drew Cordeiro made a stunning set of announcements about the future of Beyond moving to their own studio complex to continue Uncharted Territory in perpetuity. After an event this big, there is no going backwards for Beyond or the determined and charismatic Cordeiro.

While 5+ hours is a lot of wrestling, if you watch WWE events regularly this is kind of the industry norm. Filling those five hours with the proper pacing has been a code WWE has yet to crack; however, Americanrana ’19 was a showcase for Beyond’s signature variety and ring-focused entertainment. You’ve seen the results and match feedback above, so I’m going to break the show down now into blocks to further analyze what worked so well.

Part 1 – Uncharted Territory Follow-Up

The three matches that comprised the one-hour “pre-show” featured bookings that came directly out of running storylines on Uncharted Territory. This was a great strategy because that kicked off what was going to be a long show with matches that were guaranteed to have an emotional component to go along with the in-ring familiarity. For example, the opening match was a real indie-thriller of moves and toughness between two guys who dominated the early episodes of UT as a tag team. Speaking of tag teams, Beyond legends EYFBO really tested new UT stand-outs Bear Country in another heavy match. And then Chuck O’Neal who emerged a key villain on UT by vowing to “Make Beyond Legit Again”, exploded with a very MMA knee and strikes against his most recent rival and Beyond technical wizard Wheeler Yuta. All three were good, pure wrestling matches that could draw in a casual fan with content of substance to a grander narrative.

Part 2 – Very Special Guests

The main card started off with a wacky ladder match that featured just a list of UT regulars like Darling and Greene, performers from Beyond’s past like Cockstrong and Swoggle, and special attractions like Kikutaru and Marko Stunt. This was a long match with a lot of wrestlers needing to squeeze in, but it was a good switch up from the strong style first hour. The addition of legendary Japanese prankster Kikutaru was a pleasant surprise, and his interactions with Solo Darling were never going to pass a #MeToo peer review, but goofy fun nonetheless. Next up was the Beyond debut of a personal favourite of mine: John Morrison. Johnny “Foxwoods”, as he was dubbed here, was a great get for this show even if it’s just for a one night special attraction.

Unlike some previous one-night guests on Uncharted Territory (ahem… a not-so-perfect 10 wrestler, let’s just say), Morrison is a polished TV performer and big match competitor, who also has reshaped himself into being able to hanging with the super-indie workrate of the younger generation. This made the match up against Briggs such an inspired choice, and it paid off right from the beginning as the experience of Morrison pushed Briggs to be better, and the size and athleticism of Briggs pushed Morrison to bring his A game. And to round out this part of the show, the Rock ‘N’ Roll Express had a legit match with the vicious team of Butcher and The Blade. Morton and Gibson have got to be in their 60s, right… but I mean, they’ve looked pretty good in their 2019 mini-comeback tour, and although getting the win here seemed slightly far-fetched, the crowd certainly loved it, and so did their opponents.

Part 3 – Wacky Wrestling

Whenever Orange Cassidy is in the building, it’s a permanent smile on my face. Beyond seems to be the place where he shines the brightest, and up against another former CHIKARA standout you know there were plenty of shenanigans in store. Cassidy was on fire here, just popping the crowd with one sluggish, lethargic move after another, while the outraged expressions by Evans were priceless as he fell into the trap like so many before him. After a flash pin, Evans goaded the notoriously slow Cassidy into an instant rematch by insulting his beloved Fast & Furious movie franchise (including blaspheming that BEST one, Fast Five, is the worst!). The second match was a bit more involved, and I think hit the Cassidy sweet spot of dipping in and out of “serious” wrestling moves on the way to another victory, and apparently the last match ever for the former WWE writer Evans, who got a pair of Cassidy shades as his retirement gift watch.

Figure Four Newsletter “dirt sheet” writer Bryan Alvarez brought his surprisingly fun 2019 march of interesting wrestling matches through Beyond with the surprisingly generally wacky MMA-vet Tom Lawlor as his partner to face UT hero and uber-nerd Thomas Santell alongside the dangerously snarling consta-angry Nick Gage for a tag team mis-match potpourri. Alvarez played the “chickenshit” heel routine like he was born to, making the crowd hate him and thus loving any chance Santell got to stretch him, or Gage would get to potentially send him to the hospital.

Unlike the Ladder Match earlier in the show, this duo of wacky matches were not randomly chaotic but rather opportunity for really polished characters to do something you’re not going to see on any mainstream wrestling show. And thus putting them in the middle of this long card sustained the momentum of the show without burning out the crowd on finisher spamming or move-fests that overstay their welcome as you might see on other super-indies at this point in a show.

Part 4 – Ruhtless Aggression

And then the show kicks it into sprint mode. First up was the one that’s been building up for months, as Dickinson spent the season warming himself up for Sekimoto with grueling matches every week on UT. And Sekimoto played the role of “big boss” with testosterone pumping verve. He is so powerful that he makes a body slam and vertical suplex look as devastating as a crash through a table or punch in the face. The closing segment was absolutely breathtaking, as Sekimoto chopped the life out of Dickinson in the corner, spraying sweat mist into the air like he was watering a lawn. In response, Dickinson amazingly returned fire and took it to another level of second-wind ferocity. Seikmoto looked legit shaken by the barrage of strikes and Dickinson hoisted the solid 250+ onto his shoulders and tossed him with an atomic level Pazuzu Bomb fist-pumping win!

Then we get a cage match that should bring back memories of old school MSG cage matches, where the gimmick was used to settle scores between two opponents that hate each other. There was not a lot of the cool moves and submissions you’d expect from a Lee and Statlander match, instead making way for just an quick, intense, realistic, bloody-head slugfest.

07/29/2019 - Beyond Wresling's 'Americanrana'

The one-two punch (yes, I said punch) of these two ultra-intense, yet shorter matches, sandwiched between the fun and personality of Part 3 and the epic-ness that was to come in Part 5, kept up a consistent and unpredictable wave vibe to the pacing of the show that had you ready for the start of a 60-minute Ironman match with a fresh and hyped mindset.

Part 5 – Epic Main Event

A great Ironman match – a transcendent Ironman match – is like the Holy Grail of pro-wrestling. When you have great wrestlers in their prime, you want to give them to best and most opportunity to tell their stories in the ring. What’s more elusive is finding the perfect combination of two wrestlers in their prime that can do this together, and when that does happen we often get the treat of a 60-minute draw. Flair/Steamboat, Kobashi/Misawa, Joe/Punk, KENTA/Marufuji, Bryan/Nigel, Okada/Omega. However, getting an Ironman Match is trickier because you need mini-matches inside the time limit, it takes more thought and planning than just possibly stretching the ebb and flow of a regular match to one-hour. That’s why the Bret/Shawn Wrestlemania XII modern classic is more of a draw than a true Ironman match. The Rock/HHH got close in the WWE, so did Cena/Orton, and while the Johnny Mundo/Prince Puma Lucha Underground All Night Long match was amazing it wasn’t a full-hour, and some WWE TV Ironman matches either had commercial breaks or were only 30 minutes. To be honest, only Beyond might have come closest to crafting the best 60-minute Ironman match with Eddie Edwards and Biff Busick back in 2013, but I think they’ve gotten even closer to perfection with this match between the bitterest of rivals, Joey Janela and David Starr.

The hatred with such viscosity might be the element that is missing from all those other matches, while Janela and Starr use their status as indie provocateurs in 2019 to really communicate their philosophies of wrestling and life to the audience in a personal way maybe impossible in eras past. While they are bold and colourful, neither feels like a caricature: Janela the good time-having, cool-ass, risk-taker that we all get to live vicariously through as he meets up with cult wrestling legends and breaks all the cliche rules, contrasting to the conscious and brash Starr, a unionizing socialist who is not only a master of his creative craft, but one who frustratingly gets away with breaking the rules he imposes on the audience psyche. Whether or not they’re really like this, I buy into it more than I ever would Ric Flair’s styling and profiling or Okada’s anime gamer athlete aesthetic. I believe Starr and Janela would really want to beat each other up at a field party because they’re like two guys you would have met at one last week.

07/29/2019 - Beyond Wresling's 'Americanrana'

And they’ve been going at it in Beyond for a few years now, with an escalating level of violence in some really fantastic outings, including the No Rope Barbed Wire match that headlined this event one year earlier. So by making this a No DQ match as well, I was worried going in that there was going to be too much, like when Cena/Orton tried the same. In the WWE though it really can’t get as brutal looking as it can in a place like Beyond, and Cena and Orton weren’t pushing it to a new extreme like how Janela and Starr had to do here. In the end, the plunder was just one factor that elevated this match into classic territory, because it was the pacing that told the story. Again, that word pacing. The macro-event was paced as well as the micro-event that was this epic main event. What I mean by pacing is that in an indie environment, especially at the tail end of a 5-hour show, rest holds are not going to be a device that can be relied upon to communicate advantage and exhaustion (ROH, take notes).

07/29/2019 - Beyond Wresling's 'Americanrana'

Janela and Starr used the hour-long canvas to paint a thick, layered impasto rather than a just a wavy fading line. When they were tired in the end, it was earned through moves that were set up to be scary looking and dangerous, brought about by strategy that paid off or left an opening for the opponent to capitalize. All of these decisions are heightened to the educated viewer of an Ironman match, who is expecting this one to be tied at the end of the hour and go into sudden death overtime, especially as the score was tied down the closing stretch. By them literally ending it with a three-count at the bell it had the effect of a buzzer beater in basketball, and one that might only be truly appreciated upon a second viewing when its not subverting your in-the-moment expectations, which is even harder to produce in pro-wrestling than a big pop.

I would recommend to anyone who hasn’t seen this match but has read this far into the article, to check it out. Before you do, do yourself a favour and go on to Independent Wrestling TV and watch their fantastic series of vignettes that explain the rivalry between the opponents.

After the match, there was a strong coda as the two gifted talkers got a chance to speechify, Janela with his “goddamn, that was awesome” charm, and Starr with his usual rallying crescendo. They literally left the ring together holding hands, an oddly beautiful image of friendship and collaboration rippingly birthed from violent passion. Bravo.

07/29/2019 - Beyond Wresling's 'Americanrana'