wrestling / Columns

Hamilton’s Collective Grab-Bag Reviews: GCW, AIW, Glory Pro, Paradigm, Freelance

October 19, 2020 | Posted by Ian Hamilton
GCW The Collective

With all due respect to the six shows I’ve not seen, by the time I’d be able to get around and write up full reviews, The Collective will be a distant memory. So, here’s a quick dip into the other shows I couldn’t cover in time – with one eye on actually planning this better next time around! (read: please don’t book one head to head with a big New Japan tour!)

GCW Jimmy Lloyd’s D-Generation F
Just the one match jumped off the page for me here from the first show of the weekend. That’s the semi-main event…

Blake Christian vs. Starboy Charlie
The start of a pretty busy weekend for Blake, who started by taking Charlie into the corner before ruffling the hair on the break.

Charlie returns the favour, before the pair battled for a wristlock as Blake cartwheeled free… and came back with a side headlock. A hammerlock gets Charlie free, forcing Blake into the ropes as a monkey flip took them both down for pinning attempts. Some headscissors from Charlie have Blake in trouble, but he headstands his way free before the pair traded armdrags.

Blake’s taken into the ropes, but switches around to flip past Charlie… leading to Charlie doing the same before Christian came back with an armdrag into an armbar. A dropkick from Christian looked to catch Charlie off guard, sending him outside before Charlie ran in to stop a dive, but the tease of a belly-to-belly outside was not to be.

A dropkick from Charlie has Blake in the corner, before they hit the ropes as a kitchen sink knee to the gut spun Blake to the mat. Some headscissors take Christian outside as we get our dives – first a tope con giro, before they went back inside, with a neck crank keeping Charlie down. He manages to get free and almost nicks a win with a Gedo clutch, but Christian kicks out, only to find himself taken down with Charlie twisting his arm between his legs.

Blake responds with a chop to knock down the kid, slowing down the pace a little as he proceeded to put his foot through him with a mid kick. Charlie responds with a double leg as he wheeled away with strikes from the mount, switching to a cross armbreaker as Christian just lifted his way free before he got caught with a Slingblade off the ropes.

A Mistica from Charlie leads him into a seatbelt pin, but Christian’s up at two and comes back with a single-arm DDT off the middle rope, before he torqued Charlie’s arm with a double armbar. The focus remains on that left arm, until Charlie hit a rebound German suplex off the ropes.

Charlie keeps going with some clotheslines, before flying headscissors off the top and a running Yakuza kick in the corner left Christian down again. A 450 splash lands perfectly for a near-fall, but Christian’s able to fight back, flipping out of a suplex before taking Charlie into the bottom rope for a 619… following up with a springboard 450 for a near-fall. A running forearm from Charlie led to him taking Christian down with a Dragon screw… before a shotgun dropkick took him into the corner for a hesitation dropkick. All that leaves him in place for a springboard corkscrew moonsault off the middle rope that gets a near-fall.

A small package from Christian nearly gets the win from there, as things broke down into back and forth strikes. Charlie’s roundhouse enziguiri wasn’t built on as Christian went for a Spanish fly, before missing a Quebrada. Similarly, a Quebrada from Charlie lands in the knees as duelling kicks knocked both men down… they recover as they fight by the ropes, with Christian going for an outside-in superplex, before he spun Charlie inside-out with a dropkick for another near-fall.

Blake goes back to the arm from there, but Charlie got free and hit a tornado DDT before a Fisherman suplex landed for another two-count. A running PK blasts Blake to keep the two-counts going, ahead of a shooting star press as Charlie went back to the ground and pound, throwing some desperation headbutts from the mount.

A rolling death valley driver gets Christian back in as a standing shooting star press almost got the win, only for Blake to go back to the arm, dragging Charlie away from the ropes only to get rolled up. Charlie’s head kick has Blake back in the ropes, before a flying bulldog and a wacky grounded head and arm scissors forced the submission. This was a much different Blake Christian than we’re used to seeing – one that had a plan that, while he deviated from, ended up getting him the win. No way this needed to, nor ought to have gone nearly 25 minutes though…

Result: Blake Christian submitted Starboy Charlie in 23:40 (***½)

Elsewhere, Brayden Lee won a scramble match… Workin’ On Dyin’ won a four-way tag… Manders beat Logan Stunt, Tre Lamar beat JJ Garrett, Calvin Tankman beat Cole Radrick, Jordan Oliver overcame Ace Austin, AJ Gray defeated Jimmy Lloyd, and Atticus Cogar beat Colby Corino in a death match.

AIW Thunder in Indianapolis

Dominick Garrini vs. Erick Stevens
On what turned out to be Stevens’ last weekend in wrestling, he had this match with a fellow member of MLW’s Team Filthy…

Garrini looked for a takedown at the bell, and got it as he ended up on the mat looking to get Stevens’ back. We end up with Stevens rolling back to his feet, before landing an elbow as the pair swung for each other. Garrini busts out the Shingo combination of an elbow, a jab and a clothesline to drop Stevens, who got back up for a German suplex. A diving lariat from Stevens gets a near-fall, as he then leaps into a cross armbar… it’s broken up as Garrini came right back with a short piledriver, and then the feed dropped. Seriously! The spinning wheel from Fite comes up briefly, and we’re back with the pair trading strikes again. A back elbow from Stevens led to a leaping knee from Garrino, then a half-and-half suplex for the hell of it.

Stevens is back up with a pair of discus punches, then a headbutt before a Fisherman buster dumped Garrini… with a diving forearm to the back of the head being enough for the win. An almighty sprint, with them throwing a LOT out there in under five minutes – and I’d dare say that Stevens coming in with a knee injury perhaps altered what plans they had.

Result: Erick Stevens pinned Dominic Garrini in 4:39 (***)

Tre Lamar vs. Lee Moriarty vs. Alex Shelley
A continuation from that excellent Shelley/Moriarty trilogy in AIW – with Lamar being added to the mix since he’d beaten Shelley on an AIW card just before everything shut down.

We get going with Shelley throwing Moriarty outside, so he could concentrate on Lamar early on. Some chops led to an exchange of kicks, but Shelley edges out with a leaping back kick as Moriarty comes in for some World of Sport-inspired sequences that led to a belly-to-back suplex from Shelley. Lamar tries to get involved, but he’s knocked back out… only to return as Moriarty took Shelley outside, leading to an exchange between those two with a folding pin from Moriarty getting a near-fall. As did a cradle pin, before Lamar took Moriarty into the ropes, only to miss a kick after rolling him back. Tre’s double leapfrog dropkick has Moriarty packing, as Shelley returned… only to get sent into the ropes as Lamar landed that roll-back low dropkick combo.

Moriarty’s back for a springboard armdrag, following up with a dropkick for a two-count. Shelley’s back with a flying crossbody into the pair of them off the top rope, before he went for a DDT/Flatliner combo that was elbowed away by Moriarty. They gang up on Shelley with chops in the corner, before Shelley just threw Moriarty into Lamar on the top rope, following up by setting them up for a sunset flip just so he could kick them both in the head.

A snap suplex drops Lamar, before Moriarty met the same fate, as Shelley proceeded to drop Moriarty with a Dragon screw. Shelley keeps going with a half crab that Lamar hobbled in to break up, which allowed Moriarty to go in for a sleeperhold… Lamar adds one himself, so Shelley just drops into a stunner to break it all up. Shelley’s sent outside, as Lamar dives on him first, then went after Moriarty with a springboard crossbody off the top rope… following that up with a tope con giro onto the pair of them outside. Back inside, Lamar rolls Moriarty into a twisting suplex for a two-count, but he gets caught up top by both men as Lamar ended up taking an armdrag off the top after Moriarty leapt up top.

Mid-kicks from Moriarty and a diverted low dropkick from Shelley keep Tre down as Moriarty tries to nick a pin on Shelley. A flying stomp to Shelley’s arm allowed Moriarty to go for a Mistica, but Shelley blocked that as he proceeded to land the DDT/Flatliner combo with Lamar leaping in to complete the set.

Shelley hangs up Lamar in a Tree of Woe before working over Moriarty – Lamar can’t free himself before Shelley belly-to-belly’d Moriarty into him though, before double Sliced Bread out of the corner almost got Shelley the win. A roll-up from Moriarty allowed him to trap Shelley in a Border City Stretch, but it’s escaped before a bridging suplex forces Lamar to dive in off the top to break it up… and from there, Lamar lands a frog splash elbow to get the win, with Shelley arriving just too late to break up the pin. An energetic three-way, with Moriarty and Lamar looking good again against the veteran.

Result: Tre Lamar pinned Lee Moriarty and Alex Shelley in 14:42 (***¾)

Elsewhere on the AIW show, Dr. Daniel C Rockingham won a four-way over Derek Dillinger, PB Smooth and Zach Thomas… Danhausen beat Mordecai in a match that was exactly what you would think it would be… the Bitcoin Boyz beat the mashed-up team of Allie Kat and Levi Everett… Mance Warner defeated Mr. Brickster… Tom Lawlor beat the Karate Man (Ethan Page)… Philly Collins & Marino Tenaglia (the Philly Marino Experience) won back the AIW tag titles in a best of three falls match over Cheech and Colin Delaney… while Joshua Bishop won both the AIW Intense and Absolute Championships from Matthew Justice in a no-rope barbed wire main event.

GCW Effy’s Big Gay Brunch

Saturday got underway with what some tried to dismiss as a “gimmick show,” but let’s be realistic here. As a straight white guy, I’m not exactly the target audience for this show, but just like For The Culture, this was more a show about representation, to show that no matter what your sexuality is, you’re accepted. Somehow that still needs to be a message in 2020…

Sonny Kiss vs. Cassandro
The main event opens with a lock-up, as Cassandro took Kiss into the corner… before another lock-up saw the pair spill outside.

Back inside, Kiss sweeps Cassandro’s leg for a quick pin attempt, before she went up for a springboard backflip armdrag. A dropkick takes Cassandro outside, but we reset as Kiss gets taken down with an armdrag… then a springboard headscissors takedown after a spot of rope walking. Cassandro follows Kiss outside with a huge tope… then hit the ring again for a second dive, which Kiss cuts off with a kick. A spinning kick in the ring keeps Cassandro outside as Sonny hits a tope of her own, before they rolled back inside, where Kiss lands a lariat and began to stretch Cassando with a sitting abdominal stretch.

Cassando rolls out, then lands a clothesline for a near-fall as body scissors from Cassandro led to Kiss getting rolled up for a two-count. Sonny’s in with a leg lariat to knock Cassandro to the ropes, before she put Cassandro in a Tree of Woe for a handspring back elbow. Kiss throws Cassandro back outside, but Sonny just gets thrown into someone’s front row seat before posting Kiss. The pair brawl around ringside, with Sonny getting hurled into some chairs as Cassando looked to use a chair, but Sonny gets free and whacks Cassandro in the back before they went into the side of the ring. Back inside, Cassandro nails a crossbody off the top, but somehow ended up getting pinned for a near-fall as Cassandro looked to get winded on that landing.

Kiss keeps it grounded with a straitjacket hold, but Cassandro gets free and nearly snatched the win with a wheelbarrow roll-up. From the kick-out, Sonny keeps going with a whip into the corner, before draping Cassando across the buckles for a goddamn cartwheel front legdrop for a two-count. A flying scissors kick misses as Sonny takes a dropkick, before a whip into the corner saw Cassandro float over for a missile dropkick. Cassandro keeps the momentum up with a wheelbarrow driver off the top… and that’s enough to win! This was okay, but there was more than a little hesitance at times. A good spectacle to close out a unique show.

Result: Cassando pinned Sonny Kiss in 11:23 (**¾)

Before all that, Ashley Vox and Delmi Exo beat AC Mack and Ashton Starr… Still Life With Apricots and Pears beat the Dark Sheik… in eight-man tag team action, Levi Everett and the Second Gear Crew of Manders, Mance Warner and Matthew Justice beat out Billy Dixon, Joshua Wavra, MV Young and O’Shay Edwards, while Jamie Senegal beat Allie Kat. In the Twink Gauntlet, Devon Monroe won out, before Marko Stunt – replacing Priscilla Kelly – beat Effy in the semi-main event.

Freelance I Don’t Think We’re In Chicago Anymore

Running right after Joey Janela’s Spring Break, Freelance were in the proverbial Blackcraft spot this year… which meant they needed to trim down to a two hour show for their first show outside of Illinois.

Lee Moriarty vs. Isaias Velazquez
Moriarty’s big weekend continued here, starting with some posturing as he locked up with Velazquez, opting to work on a wristlock, but it’s Velazquez who takes Moriarty down before grapevining the legs.

Moriarty counters with a grounded Octopus, but he’s rolled up as Velazquez breaks, before we’re back on the mat, switching waistlocks before Velazquez tripped Moriarty to the mat for some quick pinning exchanges. Velazquez fakes out a head kick and instead comes in with a headlock takeover. Some tijeras from Moriarty has Velazquez down, before Moriarty went to the ropes for a springboard headscissors out of the corner. Checked kicks led to Velazquez coming in with a tiltawhirl backbreaker off the ropes, before Velazquez began to stretch Moriarty on the mat.

Velazquez is rolled through, but he sidesteps charge in the corner as he began to targeted the taped-up lower back of Moriarty. A back suplex has Moriarty down for just a one-count, with Velazquez following in with some body scissors. It’s countered as Moriarty rolled back for some two-counts, before an enziguiri from Moriarty in the ropes led to him floating over for a second gamengiri in the corner. A baseball slide takes Moriarty in for a double stomp and a springboard Flatliner that almost gets the win. Velazquez looks for a piledriver, but Moriarty gets free with some leaping kicks, before a missed charge into the corner allowed Velazquez to come back with his version of Destino for a near-fall.

Velazquez heads up top looking for a stomp, but Moriarty rolls away and returns with a spin-out suplex for a near-fall. The pace quickens as Moriarty tries to win with a small package, before Velazquez caught him with a backside… then a thrust kick as a Praying Mantis bomb gets the win. An enjoyable sprint of a match, but I do wonder how much better this would have been going 10-12 minutes rather than the rushed 9 they got.

Result: Isaias Velazquez pinned Lee Moriarty in 8:47 (***¼)

Freelance World Championship: Josh Alexander vs. Kylie Rae (c)
From one end of the show to the other, as Kylie Rae defended her Freelance title against Josh Alexander…

Kylie’s got some doughnut holes for Alexander before the match, but he swats them away as a sign of intent. Kylie circles Alexander more out of panic to start, but the Canadian comes in working the wrist before he dropped Kylie with a slam. Kylie composes herself, only to get thrown back outside as she reached into her backpack and found some wrestling headgear – a la Josh Alexander. That’ll work! She goes nose to nose with Alexander, but Alexander just throws her into the corner… then missed a charge as Kylie came back with a German suplex.

Alexander gets back on top as he ripped off that head gear, only to get met with headscissors that took him outside for an attempted apron PK. It’s blocked and turned into an electric chair drop onto the side of the ring, but Kylie’s able to retaliate, countering out of an apron powerbomb to hit a thrust kick off the apron as the fight stayed out on the floor. Clubbing forearms wear down Alexander, who rolls into the ring for cover, where he caught a diving Kylie and dumped her with a backbreaker.

A second backbreaker gets Alexander a near-fall, as he proceeded to stomp on Kylie’s hands as another slam continued to wear her down. Alexander keeps up the focus on the back and arms with a Gory special, stretching Kylie, before dropping her back to the mat for an eventual two-count. Alexander keeps going with a Finlay roll, squishing Kylie… who countered back with a crucifix for a near-fall before surprising Alexander with a crossface, but another backbreaker breaks the hold. An eye rake with the boots keeps Kylie on the mat ahead of a chinlock, but she gets free and avoids a charge in the corner before pushing Alexander away, allowing her back in with some headscissors off the ropes.

Kylie keeps going with a European uppercut and a cannonball in the corner for a near-fall, before she tried her luck with a roll-up out of another slam attempt. An elbow takes Alexander into the corner, but Josh comes right back in, ragdolling Kylie with a German suplex. Alexander busts out a Giant Swing, which pops me along with the release as Rae spun to the mat, dizzying her as she tried to go after Josh in the corner.

A boot from Alexander knocks Rae down, but she’s back to catch Alexander up top with some eye rakes ahead of a superplex. She gets a near-fall out of it, then went for a crossface that Alexander countered with a roll-up, forcing her to break the hold or get pinned. Kylie keeps going with a superkick and a Code Red for another near-fall.

Alexander uses strikes to get back in, knocking down Rae for a two-count, before a double-underhook piledriver almost led to the title change. An ankle lock follows, but Kylie’s able to drag herself to the ropes before one final flurry of strikes seemed to wear down the Canadian. Her leg buckles as she went to deliver a thrust kick, but she’s able to escape a tombstone and drag Alexander down to the mat with one last burst of strength, locking in a crossface, rolling Alexander away from the ropes before the submission. That WrestleMania 20 “push off the ropes to keep the hold on” finish is cool, but starting to get overused – but here it helped Kyle pick up a win over a much larger opponent and drag a reaction from a tired crowd to close out the second day of the Collective.

Result: Kylie Rae submitted Josh Alexander in 19:55 to retain the Freelance World Championship (***½)

Elsewhere on this show, Danhausen and WARHORSE defeated Ruffo the Clown and Yabo the Clown by DQ – so they didn’t win the Freelance Underground tag titles… Robert Anthony won the Freelance Legacy championship from Effy… Blake Christian won a scramble… Laynie Luck retained the Freelance Underground Independent championship against Faye Jackson… and Shane Mercer won a three-way against Ethan Page and Colby Corino.

Glory Pro Are You Wrestling, Son?
In the spot between Effy’s show and Joey Janela’s Spring Break, this show saw the only defence of the IWTV title across the weekend, with WARHORSE successfully defending it against Zachary Wentz on Glory Pro’s first show since March.

Bullrope Match: Jake Something vs. Manders
Time for a good ol’ fashioned hoss fight!

Manders gets charged with a forearm before Something would allow himself to get tied to the bullrope – and he takes full advantage, choking Manders with the rope before a lariat left the cowboy down. That rope’s used to restrain Manders in the corner for a running spear, all before the bell. Manders begins to fight back with chops, but Something hit back before he went outside for a chair, which he cracked over Manders’ head. Something ties the rope to himself to start the match, and levels Manders with another chair shot, but Manders gets up and lands a series of back elbows before he lit him up with chops in the ropes.

A reversed Irish whip allows Something to hit a body attack as the rope came off his wrist… but Manders is right back with another lariat and a Doctor bomb for a near-fall. Manders forcibly ties the rope back to Something, and holds him at close quarters for some chops before the three point stance into a lariat drew a near-fall.

Something ducks a lariat and clobbers Manders in the back, then hit another one to the back of the head for a near-fall. He heads back outside for another chair, throwing it at Manders before piledriving him on a stack of chairs. Again, the rope comes off of something, and Manders capitalises by hog-tying him with it. Hey, if it works, it works.

A hog-tied Oklahoma Stampede drops Something for a near-fall… but Something unties himself and chokes out Manders with a rope-assisted Million Dollar Dream, picking him up off his feet… but Manders breaks it, only to get picked up to the top rope… but Manders breaks it up and slams Something off the top rope through four opened chairs for a near-fall. CHRIST.

Both men get back up and whale away on each other, as Manders chops down Something before he grabbed the bell… but Something jabs him with a chair before he punched the bell off the rope. One Black Hole Slam later, and that’s all for Manders, who was beaten at his own game. A nice little scrap with some extra-curricular activity – although those chairshots to the head will undoubtedly annoy some!

Result: Jake Something pinned Manders in 8:42 (***¼)

Crown of Glory Championship: ACH vs. AJ Gray (c)
Two years ago, ACH beat Gray in a singles match at Glory Pro – this time, there’s gold at stake… and ACH started out on top, grabbing a headlock and taking Gray down before a switcharound ended in the ropes.

Another takedown from Gray, going for the leg, led to a roll through for a pin as the feeling-out process continued in earnest. ACH grabs a headlock, which Gray can’t push out of at first… before he bounced off of ACH’s shoulder tackle. A chop block flips ACH to the mat though, as they then went to the corner with Gray throwing chops. ACH backflips out of an Irish whip and catches Gray with a dropkick, following up with a neat plancha before stopping to give a shout out to Ethan Page on commentary. I miss the Troll Boys…

More chops on the outside see the pair go back and forth, but it’s ACH who pulls ahead, chopping Gray into a chair. Back inside, a roll-up from ACH gets a near-fall as he keeps up on Gray with more chops in the corner, only for Gray to come back with a splash in the corner and a spinning powerslam for a near-fall!

Gray keeps going with a suplex, before a half crab had ACH in the ropes to force a break. A spinebuster dumps ACH, but AJ takes too long to follow up and gets caught climbing the ropes as ACH tried to throw back. He responds by decking ACH with an elbow before crashing and burning on a moonsault off the top rope. ACH musters a comeback, chopping Gray into the corner before a slide took out the knee, with a low dropkick then taking Gray outside for an apron PK. Gray’s rolled back inside as ACH prepped for a slingshot cutter back inside that almost gets him the win. Gray back body drops out of something from ACH, whose back continued to take a beating, before Gray grazed ACH with a lariat… then dumped him with a death valley driver.

A swandive headbutt from Gray finds its mark for a two-count, as we then go to back-and-forth elbows with both men seemingly looking for a knockout. Chops from Gray dump ACH, but he ends up running into a boot as ACH almost snatched the title with a Tiger Driver. Gray returns with a Koppo kick to trap ACH in the corner ahead of a superplex, which had ACH up in anger after the impact… but it’s still not enough.

Gray goes for a powerbomb, but ACH clings on… then flopped free before a leg sweep and a stomp to the upper back winded the champion. Another trip up top for ACH is aborted, but he’s caught with another spinebuster and a powerbomb as Gray came even closer. Elbows knock ACH into the corner as Gray set up for something else off the top rope, but ACH tries to counter with a sunset bomb, eventually getting it off the ropes for a delayed near-fall.

Frustrated, ACH looks for a Buster Call brainbuster, but Gray gets free… and runs into a pair of superkicks before he waffled ACH with a lariat. A second one spins the challenger to the mat, and it’s still not enough… so Gray picks up ACH for a sit-out side slam that finally gets the win. This was absolutely fantastic stuff that played off the history of the prior match before it descended into just “who was the better man?” There’s a train of thought out there saying that ACH is the best all-round worker on the indies – on this form, I cannot even begin to disagree…

Result: AJ Gray pinned ACH to retain the Crown of Glory Championship in 19:17 (***¾)

Lee Moriarty took another L, this time to Mike Outlaw… the North of Ethan Page and Josh Alexander beat Alex Zayne and Blake Chrstian… Hakim Zane defeated Kylie Rae to retain the Midwest Territory championship… Blair Onyx and Elayna Black beat Hyan and Laynie Luck… Devon Monroe won a four-way over Kody Lane, Jody Threat and Stephen Wolf… Top Flight won the vacated United Glory tag titles overcoming the teams of Allie Kat and Dan the Dad, and Danhausen and Effy.

Paradigm Pro Wrestling Trapsoul
Closing out the weekend was Paradigm Pro’s Trapsoul – a show packed with a real variety of matches. You had your scramble, a bunch of UWFi rules matches – something that Paradigm is really leaning into as a style – and a death match to wrap off the entire weekend. We’re going to take a look at two of the UWFi rules matches…

Suge D vs. O’Shay Edwards
This was O’Shay’s second outing in Paradigm pro, and he started out instantly on the defensive as Suge jumped him at the bell.

A backfist gets Edwards back in though ahead of a series of German suplexes, as he looked to put his size advantage to good use. Edwards lands a pair of sit-out F5s before he pushed Suge to the floor. Suge needs a free chair to help him get back inside, but O’Shay just stands over him menacingly. Suge avoids a torture rack and managed to land a headbutt to O’Shay, who just overwhelms him with a Vader-style body attack. Some stomps keep Suge down as O’Shay went for a Fire Thunder driver, only for Suge to get free and lock in a rear-naked choke instead, which Edwards manages to throw off.

A rebound German suplex out of the corner came as Edwards missed a lariat, as Suge went back to the rear naked choke. That looked to be Suge’s gameplan – wearing out Edwards, before some biting helped take O’Shay to his knees. Suge rolls him into headscissors on the mat, before he moved into an armbar, snapping the arm back as O’Shay was left writhing on the mat.

Suge tries to charge at O’Shay, but the referee threatens to call the mat… O’Shay won’t let him, and comes back with a spinebuster to Suge, then a German suplex for the heck of it. O’Shay goes for a powerbomb, and just about gets Suge up for a near-fall… because Suge countered into a triangle armbar on the kick-out, eventually forcing the referee to wave off the match as O’Shay kept on screaming. A good outing as Suge looks to re-establish himself in Paradigm Pro, forcing a stoppage over a much larger foe.

Result: Suge D defeated O’Shay Edwards via referee stoppage in 9:00 (***¼)

UWFi Rules: Kevin Ku vs. Dominic Garrini
Violence is Forever explodes here – having started the weekend successfully defending the SUP tag team titles, they end it by turning their sights on each other. UWFi rules are a little complex, with both men starting on 15 points, losing them for rope breaks, being suplexed, knocked down or for breaking rules…

The opening lock-up sees Ku go for the arm of Garrini, who takes him down for a cross armbar that Ku tries to counter in kind, before some scrambling on the mat led to a guillotine from Ku getting pushed out of. Garrini’s taken back down for a leg lock, but they get free and start on their feet again. Kicks from Garrini sting Ku, who kicks back only for Garrini to take his back. Ku rolls out and grabs a hold, but Garrini breaks via the ropes as he loses a point. Garrini’s in with knees and a throw that starts a ten-count, which Ku beats, before he stuffed a leg lock attempt and rolled Garrini into a grapevine armbar.

Garrini powers out and grabs a leglock, but Ku quickly breaks via the rope and comes back in with a flurry of kicks to take Garrini off his feet. Palm strikes from Garrini knock Ku into the ropes for another standing ten-count, but he beats the count, before knocking Garrini down with a pair of head kicks. Beating the ten-count, Garrini comes back in with a choke, but gets dropped with a Saito suplex before he pulled an on-rushing Ku into a triangle armbar, tweaking the wrist for the submission. The interpretation of the UWFi rules made this a little more stop-start than you’d perhaps want, but this was a tidy five-minute outing for both lads.

Result: Dominic Garrini submitted Kevin Ku in 5:10 (**½)

UWFi Rules: Mo Atlas vs. Erick Stevens
In what turned out to be Stevens’ retirement match, he took on “Hoodfoot” Mo Atlas in a UWFi rules match… which might not have been the best idea on a bad knee.

Stevens charges at Atlas at the bell as the pair threw palm strikes, but some cravat knees from Stevens forced Atlas to back into the corner before he threw Stevens aside. From the restart, Stevens tries to roll back to pick Atlas’ leg, but “Hoodfoot” Mo stops him with punches before he was caught with an armbar.

Atlas gets rolled to the mat as he tried to block it, but ends up grabbing the rope to force the break, before he went after Stevens in the mount… only for a triangle armbar from Erick to quickly end in the ropes. Knees from Stevens takes him out of the corner, before he got caught with an elbow shot… then some palm strikes as Stevens had to double-leg his way out of the corner.

Yet another rope break gets Atlas a breather, as a Test of Strength led to Stevens getting caught with a back suplex. Stevens tries to shake it off, and rolls Atlas back to the mat… but Hoodfoot’s on top briefly before Stevens went back to an armbar, again ending in the ropes. From the reset, Atlas throws some haymakers to take Stevens into the corner, then threw him into the middle of the ring for another standing ten-count attempt. Atlas keeps going with strikes, before he hit a Saito suplex that dropped Stevens again… he beats the ten-count, but another right hand knocks him down, before the pair swung fists. Stevens tries to close the distance, but gets swatted down with a right hand, then again after another exchange as he looked to be running on empty.

Another lariat to the back of the head has Stevens down before shots to the back of the head forced the stoppage. Stevens had a game plan, but in the end the size difference was too much, as Atlas struck his way to victory. After the match, Stevens unlaced his boots and left them in the ring, as the fans who stayed late for this show chanted his name as he called time on his career.

Result: Mo Atlas defeated Erick Stevens via referee stoppage in 7:16 (**½)

Elsewhere, Chase Holliday retained MidwestTerritory.com championship over Sonico… Billie Starkz won a scramble that started out all kinds of scary for her, landing badly on a dive in the opening minute before rejoining the match. Flash Thompson overcame Cole Radrick in the other UWFi rules match of the night, while Bobby Beverly retained his Heavy Hitters title in a street fight over Alex Colon… The Rejects retained their PPW tag team titles in a trios match as Akira, John Wayne Murdoch and Reed Bentley beat Hardway Heeter, Juicy Jimmy & Nolan Edward, while Bradley Prescott IV ended the weekend, winning a Clockwork Orange House of Fun match, beating Matthew Justice in the main event.

So… twelve shows in three days. It’s a LOT. Even with having days booked off work to watch this after G1 shows, it took me virtually a full week to watch in full, as I now have that hard camera view of the concrete and wood bleachers with the yellow staircases burned into my mind. Usually over WrestleMania weekends, we’re jumping across multiple venues, so you’re not getting as snowblind as this. However, there already were murmurs of discontent from fans about the event happening in the middle of a pandemic. It turns out those murmurs may well have had a point – with news of several positive Covid-19 tests from wrestlers who took part in the weekend, before claims were made about the protocols around the weekend (or lack thereof) as far as wrestlers needing to have had a negative test before taking part.

As for the future of the Collective and shows of its ilk? Well, in pandemic times, I get the feeling that the fall-out from this year’s event will mean that the potential audience may well reduce until the world situation improved. That aside, while the headline events – Bloodsport and Spring Break – sold well, it was clear that the fringe events perhaps didn’t perform as well, with the shows that started in the wee hours understandably seeing lower crowds.

Some have suggested that The Collective was “more for the wrestlers than the fans” – which is harsh given that there were more shows scheduled for ‘Mania weekend. However, I do feel that the number of shows isn’t the issue, more the overall length. Quality, over quantity. Less is more. Whichever maxim you go for – especially on a weekend with over a hundred matches on twelve shows – this current format is perhaps proving insurmountable for all but the more ardent of fans.

Sure, a fair amount of people would have plunked down the $140 to watch it all on FITE, but I dare wonder how many of those a) watched it all live and b) recalled much of it. Of course, the number of folks buying these shows and being acutely familiar with all of the promotions involved is likely minute, but that’s where the format of these shows perhaps need to change. Granted, 2020 has robbed a lot of promotions of a lot of their “big annual shows”, but while the Collective perhaps gets these promotions some new eyeballs, it probably shouldn’t be used as a tentpole show where title changes are built up to.

Depending on how the world – and the wrestling landscape – looks like in 2021 and beyond, there is absolutely a place for the Collective – under whatever name – but perhaps a little variety may be needed to keep things fresh, whether it be in terms of giving exposure to more names, more storylines or more promotions.

article topics :

The Collective, Ian Hamilton