wrestling / Video Reviews

Views from the Hawke’s Nest: AIW’s The Best of Tyler Black

March 5, 2012 | Posted by TJ Hawke
The 411 Rating
Community Grade
Your Grade
Views from the Hawke’s Nest: AIW’s The Best of Tyler Black  

Matthew Wadsworth does an introduction for every match for those (like me!) who are not as informed about the backstory of all these matches. This was very much appreciated.


Tyler Black vs. Nobutaka Moribe
Moribe is from the Japanese promotion, DDT. Black had debuted for AIW in late 2006, but this was considered his first big test.

They went back and forth on the mat to start. Once they got to their feet, Tyler was able to do more damage first until Moribe raked his eyes. Moribe started to get the heat on Tyler after that. They ended up on the outside and started trading chops, but Moribe was able to cut Tyler off and work him over some more. Tyler came back and hit his Pele kick to start his comeback. Tyler got a nearfall after a big running boot. Moribe cut him off with a STO and a running senton. Moribe hit a wheelbarrow suplex: 1…2…NO! Tyler escaped a suplex but ran into a powerbomb. Moribe went to the top rope, but Tyler avoided the frog splash. Tyler pounced and hit God’s Last Gift: 1…2…3

You can see here that Tyler Black already had all the tools at this point to be a top flight in-ring competitor. They both looked crisp, and almost everything they did seemed to have purpose. With only 7 minutes to work, they seemed to sacrifice crowd interaction for in-ring action. While that is understandable, I think they could have acknowledged the crowd a little bit more. That is just a nitpick though for what was a very enjoyable match.
Match Rating: ***

Extreme Is Dead

Tyler Black vs. “M-Dogg 20” Matt Cross
This is billed as a battle of two Wrestling Society X superstars. I’ve never been the biggest M-Dogg fan, but he definitely can add some excitement to a show. This match happened the night after the Moribe match.

Cross puts over how he is a legitimate MTV star. He says he is the #1 star and not Tyler Black. Cross got distracted early by the live commentary, and Black tried to take advantage. Cross recovered and the pace picked up considerably. Cross avoided a springboard crossbody and then started to work over Tyler. Tyler started to come back, but Cross immediately cut him off with a leg lariat. Tyler escaped a hold and hit the Pele kick, which started his comeback (where did I just see that…). Tyler hit his nice springboard clothesline for a nearfall. Cross avoided Paroxysm, and then hit a combination of moves that concluded with a springboard double stomp: 1…2…NO! Tyler went for a lariat, but Cross hit MADE IN JAPAN: 1…2…NO! Cross followed that with a split-legged moonsault, but Tyler blocked it. Cross then went for Shooting Star Press, but Tyler avoided it and pinned Cross with a small package!

Unsurprisingly, Tyler looked about exactly same as the match before. I know this DVD is about Tyler, but this match perfectly illustrates why M-Dogg has never broken out in my mind. His moveset is perfect babyface stuff, but he conveys so much more personality as a heel. When he acts heel, his exciting moves don’t get cheered, but he seems to get less heat as a result. Cross would go on to have a hot run with ROH during this time, where his most exciting matches happened when he was in a tag team. I still think that is where his future success lies.
Match Rating: **3/4

The Oncoming Storm

Tyler Black vs. Starless© vs. Shiima Xion [AIW Intense Division Championship]
Xion is now known as Zema Ion in TNA. I have never seen Starless before.

It was originally just supposed to be Black and Starless. Xion comes out and says that he is going to be in the match. That seems to be enough to get him in the match. Weird. I may be missing something. Xion got a nearfall early after a lariat on Starless. Xion and Black then both started to choke Starless. They worked over Starless after that. Starless managed to take down Xion, but Tyler cut him off with a springboard clothesline. Tyler and Xion started to bicker once they realized they both couldn’t win the match. Xion and Black started slugging it out and that allowed Starless to take them both down with a diving clothesline. Tyler hit a Pele and Paroxysm on Starless, but Xion made the save. Xion took down Tyler with a tornado DDT, but Starless made the save. Starless then gave Xion a top rope hurricanrana, where Xion landed on Tyler: 1…2…NO! Tyler then superkicked Xion and then Starless gave Tyler the Flying Chuck. All 3 men are down. Starless attacked Tyler on the outside, and Xion then took them both out with a plancha. Tyler and Xion then started brawling around the back of the building. Out of fucking nowhere, Starless jumped out of a second story window and wiped them out with a somersault dive. What the fuck. Starless dragged Tyler to the ring. Starless went for a 450 splash, but Tyler CAUGHT him: BUCKLE BOMB! FALCON ARROW (HE’S DONE THE DEAL!): 1…2…XION TAKES OUT THE REF! Tyler gets sent from the ring, and Starless promptly hits Xion with a reverse powerslam dealio: 1…2…3!

This was exactly the kind of match that AIW needs to show off. All three guys worked their asses off to deliver a smart and exciting match, and they managed to do just that. This match just felt incredibly fresh to me for some reason, and it was an absolute (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?) treat to watch.
Match Rating: ***3/4


Tyler Black vs. Starless© vs. Shiima Xion [AIW Intense Division Championship]
Tyler jumped Starless during the ring intros, but Starless quickly recovered. The fans were very pro-Starless. Tyler wiped out Starless with a suicide dive though. Back in the ring, Starless jumped off Tyler onto the top turnbuckle to give Xion a super hurricanrana. Tyler put Starless in the Doomsday position, but Xion gave Starless a super dropkick; Starless then gave Tyler a reverse hurricanrana on the way down. Tyler recovered and got a nearfall on Starless with a top-rope frogsplash. Xion dropkicked Tyler and then wiped out Starless with a plancha. Starless recovered and climbed to the top of a tall scaffold: MOONSAULT! That looked amazing. Starless dragged Xion in for the pin, but Tyler pulled out the referee. Tyler sent Starless to the outside after a springboard clotheslines and then pinned Xion with a pop up kick to the gut. Wow, that finish came out of nowhere.

This match was just about as much fun as the first one. It could have been great, but it only went 8 minutes. If this match had 5 more minutes, and with a less out-of-nowhere finish, this could have been truly special. Instead, it’s just very, very good. Whatever happened to Starless?
Match Rating: ***1/2

Tomorrow Never Dies

Tyler Black© (w/ Shane Hollister) vs. Chris Hero [AIW Intense Division Championship]
Wadsworth said that this was the first time these two ever met in a singles match. They definitely had some good ones in ROH later, so I’m curious to see how they looked together earlier in their career.

Hero almost got a cravat early, and the crowd popped HUGE. Hero did some of his 2007 shenanigans early much to the delight of the crowd (and me)! Tyler managed to cut him off after choking him with the ropes. Hero tried to come back, but Tyler sent him into the turnbuckle to immediately cut him off. Tyler worked him over some more, until Hero hit a big back suplex. Hero started his comeback after that. Hollister tried to help Tyler, but Hero easily sent him into the guardrail. Back in the ring, Tyler avoided a suplex but ran into a discus elbow and then Hero hit the release suplex. Tyler hit the Pele kick and springboard clothesline for a nearfall. Tyler hit a big boot, but Hero hit a cravat suplex and a big boot for a nearfall. Hero locked in a submission, but he let go when Hollister jumped up on the apron. Black rolled up Hero: 1…2…3! Tyler and Shane Hollister attacked Hero after the bell.

I have never seen these two wrestle with this babyface/heel dynamic and it was interesting to watch. They probably would have been better off in the short term if they switched rolls, but Hero was a good name to bring in for Tyler’s heel run. Good stuff.
Match Rating: ***1/2

Disc 2

Hell On Earth

Tyler Black© vs. Shane Hollister [AIW Intense Division Championship]
Starless was supposed to challenge Black for the title, but he never showed up. Black thought he would have the night off, but AIW decided that Black would defend the title against his best friend, Shane Hollister.

Tyler suggests to Shane that he lie down so that they can have an easy night. Hollister did not lie down. They were working for laughs early, which got the crowd behind Hollister. Tyler just powerslammed Hollister over the top rope and to the floor. Tyler then used a back rake. Hollister came back with a pec rake, but Tyler quickly cut him off. Back in the ring, Tyler got a nearfall with a Samoan Drop. Tyler got the heat for a while until Hollister came back with an enzugiri. Hollister then made a comeback and got a nearfall with a hurricanrana. Hollister hit an ace crusher and a kick to the head to get another nearfall. Tyler came back with a Buckle Bomb, a running boot, but he came up empty on a frog splash. Tyler hit another running boot and a springboard splash: 1…2…NO! Tyler hit a F-5 and a kneeling superkick: 1…2…3!

This match started slow, as they were doing shenanigans to get the crowd invested in Hollister, but that probably paid off as the crowd was definitely into the match at the end. These two turned it on after Hollister started his comeback, and it ended up being a really fun title defense. Not being an expert in AIW history, there were several nearfalls that made me believe that Hollister was taking the belt here.
Match Rating: ***1/4

Black and Hollister hugged it out after the match, which got some homophobic chants from the crowd. Yay. Tyler started chanting “Match of the Year” after the match, which made me laugh.

Nightmare Before X-mas

Tyler Black© (w/ Shane Hollister) vs. Josh Prohibition [AIW Intense Division Championship]
Prohibition had apparently just returned from international traveling.

Prohibition was in control to start the match. Josh tossed Tyler onto Hollister on the outside. Hollister tried to attack Josh, which allowed Tyler to cut Josh off. Tyler tossed Josh back in the ring to get the heat. Tyler got the heat for a while, with the occasional hope spot for Josh mixed in. Josh came back and hit a nice DDT: 1…2…NO! He followed that up with a neckbreaker in the ropes and then a slingshot neckbreaker for a nearfall. After another Hollister distraction, Tyler hit a springboard clothesline: 1…2…NO! Tyler avoided a Jaydriller and hit a F-5, followed by a kneeling superkick: 1…2…NO! Good nearfall. Josh avoided the frog splash and hit a Falcon Arrow neck breaker: 1…2…NO! Tyler came back with Paroxysm: 1…2…3

That is the first time I have ever seen Paroxysm finish a match for Tyler. Tyler would always use it as a nearfall in ROH, but it never seemed to be over. Anyway, this was another very strong title defense for Tyler. It’s really cool to see Tyler’s early heel work. If he becomes long time main eventer in the WWE, it’s going to be as a heel.
Match Rating: ***1/4

Destroy Everything

Tyler Black© vs. Johnny Gargano [AIW Intense Division Championship]

Tyler Black demands that the time limit be cut from 30 to 15. Gargano looks so minor league here compared to his current look (and his current look involves a faux hawk!).

You don’t need to read my recap of this match, because you can watch this full match right here!

Tyler immediately started stalling, walking around the ring, and then demanded that a commentator rub his shoulders. Tyler baited Gargano to chase after him, which initially allowed Tyler to get the advantage, but Gargano quickly evened things up. Gargano was able to get some momentum and got a nearfall with a back senton. Gargano was going for the 10 punches in the corner, but Tyler was able to send him to the mat to cut him off. Tyler got the heat for a while after that. Gargano got a nearfall with a small package, but Tyler cut him right off. Gargano made a comeback, hitting a Flying Chuck for a nearfall. Gargano then hit a Stunner: 1…2…NO! They traded some rollup attempts, some looking smoother than others. Then they did the dueling cross-bodies spot and both men are down with 1 minute left in the time limit. Tyler hit a Pele kick, but Gargano came back with the Hurt’s Donut: 1…2…TIME LIMIT EXPIRES!

Tyler was already having great matches in Ring of Honor at this point, but Gargano was still a couple of years away from becoming a top independent star. So, it’s not the great match you would hope for now, but this match still had a lot of good action. Normally, a 15 minute time limit finish is not a match you want on a “Best of” DVD, but it should play into the story of the next match nicely.
Match Rating: ***1/4

Gargano challenges Tyler Black to a rematch for the Absolute Title. Gargano wants it to be a 30 Minute Iron Man Match.


Tyler Black© (w/ Shane Hollister) vs. Johnny Gargano [AIW Intense Division Championship]
This is a 30 Minute Iron Man Match. Tyler comes out and announces that it’s the 1 year anniversary of his title reign. Thus, he sings “Happy Birthday” to his reign. Awesome.

Tyler is stalling a lot early. Tyler decided to leave the match and go home, but Gargano dragged him back to the ring. Gargano was in control early. Gargano got a nearfall with a slingshot press but Tyler recovered and cut Gargano off with an eye rake. Tyler worked him over after that. Gargano came back with a big tornado DDT with 20 minutes left. Gargano went to the top rope and Hollister crotched him. Tyler pinned him with his feet on the ropes: 1…2…3! Black: 1-0. Tyler was working him over more, and hit a big backbreaker for a nearfall. Tyler kicked Gargano out of the ring and then teased a big top rope dive to the floor, but he just went back to the mat and celebrated. 15 minutes remaining. Tyler then locked in a BEAR HUG. Tyler followed that with a seated ABDOMINAL STRETCH. Gargano finally came back with about 10 minutes left in the match. Gargano sent Tyler to the outside and then wiped him out with a slingshot body press. Gargano got distracted by Hollister again, and Tyler went for a F-5, but Gargano escaped and rolled up Tyler: 1…2…3! Tied: 1-1. Tyler is distressed as the match is tied and Hollister had to go to the back to tend to injuries. They started slugging it out. Gargano hit a Flying Chuck, but Tyler came back with a F-5 and a kneeling superkick: 1…2…NO! They then did the stereo running cross-bodies spot. They traded more pinning combinations and then both men went down again after a double clothesline spot. Tyler recovered and gave him a Buckle Bomb and a running boot. Tyler then hit a Frog Splash: 1…2…NO!!! Tyler went for the Phoenix Splash, but Gargano avoided it with 2 minutes to go. They avoided each other’s big signature moves. Gargano hit a superkick and Hurt’s Donut: 1…2…NO! Hurt’s Donut: 1…2…3! Gargano: 2-1 Tyler crawls off his back but time runs out! Gargano wins the belt!

Gargano was the not the performer here that he is today, but he showed flashes here of the greatness that would soon come. I enjoyed Tyler’s journey from Absolute challenger to Absolute champion, and this was a fitting end to the story. He put Gargano over well, and Gargano, till this day, is still a huge part of AIW. So, it’s an important match historically for AIW as well.
Match Rating: ***3/4

Die Another Day

Tyler Black vs. Mike Tolar
This was Black’s last match in AIW. Tolar had apparently spent some time in OVW. He looks like someone Jim Cornette would sign to ROH today.

Tyler gets on the microphone and complains that last night he was in a steel cage match, and that he got his pinky finger busted wide open. He says he will prove that he is better than Tolar tonight. Tolar went after Tyler’s injured pinky early. Tyler cut him off eventually and started to get the heat. Tyler got the heat for a while until Tolar hit a running knee to the face. Tolar made his comeback; he looked quite athletic, but he was lacking in charisma. Tyler cut him off with a running splash in the corner, followed by a springboard clothesline. Tolar came back with a big German Suplex: 1…2…NO! Tyler comes back with a kneeling superkick! God’s Last—NO, SMALL PACKAGE from Tolar: 1…2…3! Tyler attacks Tolar after the match, but Marion Fontaine made the save.

Tolar had a good look, but he was severely lacking in the charisma department. Naturally, the WWE took a couple of looks at him. In all seriousness, good on Tyler for finishing up in AIW by putting someone over. This was a solid match. Tolar was really athletic and kept up with Tyler in that department.
Match Rating: **3/4

For more information on Absolute Intense Wrestling, check out their:
DVD Selection at Smart Mark Video
Watch Zema Ion vs. Ricochet from AIW. The post includes thoughts from Ion and AIW’s co-owner, Chandler Biggins.
Vote on the next free match that AIW posts to Youtube. The options are Eddie Kingston vs. BJ Whitmer, Johnny Gargano vs. Akira Tozawa, The Young Studs vs. Faith in Nothing, Cherry Bomb vs. Veda Scott, or Tim Donst vs. Mad Man Pondo.


I am now the editor of a brand new wrestling website, FreeProWrestling.com . What is this site, you ask? It’s a website that posts a free wrestling match every single weekday. All matches are legally provided by the promotions that originally put them on. Occasionally, we are lucky enough to have the wrestlers of the matches exclusively discuss the matches retrospectively. So far, we’ve been lucky to have thoughts from Zema Ion, Eddie Kingston , Prince Devitt , Sugar Dunkerton , AR Fox , and more! If you like wrestling and you hate spending money, I think you will enjoy it!

The 411: This is a great look at some of the early marquee matchups in Tyler Black's independent wrestling career. Black is on the path to becoming a WWE Superstar and it was great to see some of his earlier work that I had never seen before. Obviously hindsight is 20/20, but it's clear from this DVD that Black had all the tools to one day become a big star, and I recommend that you check it out to see for yourself. You can buy it at the AIW Store or at Smart Mark Video.
Final Score:  7.5   [ Good ]  legend

article topics

TJ Hawke

Comments are closed.