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Jack’s Pro Wrestling Adventures: AAW Homecoming 2017

September 1, 2017 | Posted by Jack Stevenson
AAW AAW Homecoming Image Credit: AAW
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Jack’s Pro Wrestling Adventures: AAW Homecoming 2017  

AAW returned to the Berwyn Eagles Club in March of this year, with a typically stacked card on offer. Low Ki and Sami Callihan were to face off in a proper dream main event, with Kyle O’Reilly, Zack Sabre Jr., Penta El Zero M, Rey Fenix and Drew Galloway among the other notables on the card. AAW is pretty great, possibly the best indy in America, and a good time seemed almost certain!

1- Best Friends vs. OI4K
Andrew Everett and Trevor Lee had to forfeit the AAW Tag Team Championships due to injury, so we’ve got a four team tournament to crown new champions, with the winners of the semi finals on this show going on to the final at the Anniversary show.

This was a nice little opener. I think Best Friends are really good at nice little openers, they’re both solid wrestlers with good senses of humour that obviously enjoy teaming with each other a lot. There was this running gag they started in the early stages about hitting moonsaults that was pretty funny. Once OI4K triggered the heat segment the match got more serious and a bit more mundane, but it all came together in the end for a really frenetic and exciting finishing stretch! Almost perfect as an opening match. OI4K put Beretta at 12:23 with the Double Stomp/Tombstone combination. ***.

2- Homicide vs. Abyss
This began with a pretty tedious brawl around ringside, but improved markedly when it got in the ring. Abyss poured some thumbtacks on the canvas, but Homicide caught him off guard with fork based violence, and then dropped him into the tacks with an ace crusher! It wasn’t enough for the win though, and after copious interference from his manager JT Davidson, Abyss caught Homicide off guard with the Black Hole Slam for the win at 7:47. By the end, this had become very watchable, but the dull opening section made it waaaay too hit and miss for a relatively short match. * 3/4.

3- DJ Z vs. Drew Galloway
DJ Z has had very fun matches on the other AAW shows I’ve watched this year, and Drew Galloway was one of the independent scene’s leading lights before heading over to NXT, but, holy fuck, you do not expect a match third on the card to be this outrageously good. Drew tore into this bout (and DJ Z) like a man possessed. He delivered a sustain, thrilling, wild beatdown, culminating in him just HURLING poor old Zema Ion into a WALL. Having been flashy as anything in his last couple of AAW matches, on this occasion Ion’s role was just to get the heck beaten out of him, but he performed that role with great aplomb, which I don’t mean as damning with faint praise. This wouldn’t have been half as exciting if Ion hadn’t thrown himself into every Galloway strike and slam and gleefully come back asking for more. Down the finishing stretch, I would have liked to see Ion becoming a little more competitive, and there was a spot where he kicked out of a top rope Air Raid Crash that stretched the bounds of credibility, but this was the best one sided match you’ll see this year and an underrated little gem from the U.S. indies. Definitely make time for this one. Drew polished off Ion with the Spinning Future Shock at 11:06. **** 1/4.

4- A.R. Fox vs. Shane Strickland
OH HECK. This was really great as well! It was much slower than I thought it would be, which is usually my way of saying “it was much more shit than I thought it would be,” but actually on this occasion all the excellent high flying and innovative sequences felt all the more satisfying because of the pacing. It was like they had a bit of build to them, rather than just being spammed out, and even though I’m usually an enthusiastic supporter of move spamming, on this occasion I just liked the way Fox and Strickland worked it. There were numerous highlights in this, but perhaps my favourite was Fox draping Strickland between the apron and barricade and then hitting that ringpost assisted moonsault he does. It could so easily have looked ugly as sin but instead was sexy as fuck. Perhaps this lacked the thrilling relentlessness of the previous match, but it was a super effort in its own right. Fox beat Strickland with a 450 Splash at 13:38. ****.

5- AAW Heritage Championship- A.C.H vs. Penta El Zero M
Jesus, for a good while I thought this was gonna break hit ****+ as well. This was two guys throwing bombs; the match began with Penta hacking away at ACH’s legs until ACH decided to try and beat him at his own game. He also bent the rules a little (if you can do such a thing in a promotion with no disqualifications), faking Penta out on a strike and then jabbing him in the groin. It was a little odd to watch ACH take the heel role in this, but he can play a cocky little punk very well. Down the stretch, the match transitioned into an exciting exchange of big moves, but lost a bit of mojo after ACH dropped Penta with two consecutive Canadian Destroyers and still couldn’t get the three. I know that move is rapidly becoming the new superkick in Western super indies, but it’s still odd to see people kick out of two in a row, and it’s hard to build on it and make the remainder of the match seem as impressive. This was still very very good, intense and exciting, but that little drift of purpose in the final few moments hurt it. Penta got ACH with the Package Piledriver, and there’s a NEEEEEWWWW AAW Heritage Champion! *** 1/2. Post match, Penta and ACH shook hands, but then Penta wrestled him to the ground and tried to break his arm!!! Oh no! ACH scrambled to safety before serious damage could be done. Don’t think someone took kindly to some of ACH’s tactics in that match…

6- Scarlet & Graves vs. The Besties in the World
I think one of the commentators mentioned this was the first match back after intermission. It certainly felt like it, a nice little way to ease the crowd back into the show. Fitchett and Vega’s control segment was competent but the best moments of the match involved the high flying of Scarlet and Graves, who are one of my favourite teams in the world at the moment. I loved The Besties in the World’s Sunset Flip Powerbomb Doomsday Device thing on Dezmond Xavier, but Scarlet and Graves’ winning move was pretty neat as well- Xavier draped Vega across the middle rope, Wentz came crashing onto him with a Swanton, and simultaneously Xavier flattened him with a Pedigree at 10:19! *** 1/4.

Post match, OI4K’s grizzled cheerleader JT Davidson came out and goaded Scarlet & Graves into bringing the tournament final forward… to… well…

7- Scarlet & Graves vs. OI4K
OI4K attacked before the bell, and once it rang immediately dumped Xavier with the Double Stomp/Tombstone for the win! I don’t think there’s a single promotion in the world I follow for the storylines over the wrestling, and it would have been more satisfying to get a full length tag championship match between these two. It wasn’t a bad angle as such, but it felt quite unnecessary.

8- Rey Fenix vs. Trevor Lee
Trevor Lee’s matches have been the low point of the last two AAW shows I’d watched; I’ve always enjoyed the guy’s caveman look and oddball vibe, but his in ring work is often waaaaaay slow for my tastes. On this occasion, though, he wasn’t quite as glacial as on previous events (I mean, the first move he hit was a fucking top rope German suplex), and his restrained approach was more welcome anyway because the last four matches had all been crammed with high flying and head dropping and brutality and it was starting to get slightly monotonous. Of course, it also helped that Lee’s opponent was the dazzling Rey Fenix, who timed his high flying spots perfectly in this. He’s such a graceful flyer as well, and his crossbody into the crowd was absolutely incredible and worthy of the ovation it got from the Berwyn Eagles Club (the crowd, incidentally, had been super all evening, enthusiastic for absolutely everything). All told, this was another peach of a match; the fact that it was a little slow in places held it back from ****+ status, but conversely made it particularly satisfying within the context of this show. Fenix dumped Lee with the Mexican Destroyer for the win at 11:29. *** 3/4.

9- Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Kyle O’Reilly
I am going for a N/R on this. I just don’t enjoy this style of wrestling and as such I have no idea how to rate it. And, it’s not like other typical matches I don’t enjoy, like tag matches with really long heat segments, because I have seen great tag matches with great long heat segments, but I have never seen a grappling and submissions and strikes style bout like this that I’ve found engaging. Give me flips! Give me danger! Give me huge booming near falls sequences with kick outs at 2.99999! I don’t mean to disparage this style as a whole because it clearly does something for a niche in the fanbase, and I respect any wrestlers who go out and do something really gutsy and different and find an audience for it. Also, Zack Sabre Jr. seems the best guy on Twitter and I’ve met him briefly twice and he was super nice on both occasions. So, props to him and O’Reilly for having the crowd in the palms of their hand for the duration of this one, but I couldn’t stop my attention from drifting elsewhere. Zack won with Hurrah! Another Year. Surely This One Will be Better Than the Last; The Inexorable March of Progress Will Lead Us All To Happiness.

10- AAW Championship- Sami Callihan vs. Low Ki
I mean, to be honest, I’m just not a big fan of the “main events matches that take themselves too seriously and strain to be considered an epic” style either, but I feel more comfortable having a go at them. I found this to be a pretty bland and frustrating 20 minutes. I wanted to like this so bad because Low Ki and Callihan are both really super at times, and I’d heard such good things about the match from writers I respect, and the show had been absolutely magnificent up to this point and deserved an appropriately magnificent main event. At times, you could see evidence of a good match in here trying to get out, in the nastiness of some of the strikes and Callihan’s genuinely wild tope that sent him ricocheting off Low Ki and into like the third row of the crowd. Ultimately, though, it was hard to get past the tiresome, half speed pacing, and the repetitiveness of the strike exchanges, and the presence of what appeared to be actual, honest to god rest holds. And all of this was leading to a finish in which Abyss ran in, Callihan threw powder in Low Ki’s face, and Abyss chokeslammed him off the top rope, allowing Sami to steal the win. Not for me, Clive. **.

The final score: review Good
The 411
Before the double main event I thought this was possibly the best show I'd seen all year, but both Sabre-O'Reilly and Low Ki-Callihan were very much not my cup of tea. Two not great but still OK matches don't detract too much from an otherwise fantastic show, but their position at the top of the card makes them very hard to ignore. Still, the undercard had great, high flying, high impact wrestling strewn all across it, and goodness, you really do need to take in DJ Z and Drew Galloway. This show gets a solid recommendation from me.

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AAW: Homecoming, Jack Stevenson