PWG’s annual tag team tournament returns and for the first time 6 years it is guaranteed the Young Bucks will not win… because they were booked in New Japan instead. But with teams like the Unbreakable F’n Machines, Best Friends, African American Wolves, Cole Steen Cole and Inner City Machineguns ready to fill the void, who needs ’em?
Best Friends vs. RockNES Monsters
Recap: Chucky and Trent? advanced to the semi-finals after a Chokeslam of giagantic proportions, literally. With Trent wearing an XXXL trench coat and sitting on Chuck’s shoulders, he proceeded to deliver a Chokeslam off the top rope for the win. The Best Friends dominated early, but Johnny Yuma of all people became the first man to see Chuck Taylor’s sloooow mooootion tope atomico coming and managed to get his knees up. The Monsters used their usual unusual barrage of double team moves to isolate Chucky, but he managed a hot tag to Trent? who cleaned house. Some insanity and a Dudley Boys tribute of all things later, and it was time for the Secret Weapon.
Review: I LOVE the Best Friends. A relatively short match, which is to be expected when one team is wrestling multiple times in one night, and the other is a regular fixture and not a special attraction needing to get their stuff in. Still fun though, due to the shenanigans. Trent? covered his Bill Murray knee pad with a Chuck Taylor knee pad and I’m not sure how I feel about that.
Excalibur’s Line of the Match: “In your everyday life, do you ever call your stomach the breadbasket?”
PPRay vs. Unbreakable Fuckin’ Machines
Recap: The Unbreakable Fuckin’ Machines booked a ticket to the semis by flattening Peter Avalon with a wheelbarrow neckbreaker/Elgin Bomb combo. There were maybe 37 seconds where the Machines weren’t in total control. Delayed vertical suplexes, lifting two men at once, catching suicide dives in mid-air, you name a feat of strength, they performed it. PPRay tried their best, but ultimately could never fully overcome the ridiculous power advantage.
Review: It was inevitable that Peter Avalon would end up the play-thing of the Machines, and it was genuinely amusing how easily these two utter behemoths could lift, catch and throw him around like a child, with a couple of moments eliciting real life LOLs from me, particularly when Elgin squished Avalon by powerbombing Rosas onto him. During my All-Star Weekend reviews I said I was willing to give Rosas and PPRay a chance, but aside from their selling, this was not a strong showing.
Chris Hero’s Line of the Match: “I’ve been to Japan a lot so I’m familiar with fucking machines.”
Wrestling’s Cutest Tag Team vs. Cole Steen Cole
Recap: Mount Rushmore claimed the penultimate spot in the semi-finals by defeating Candice LeRae and Joey Ryan when Joey ate a Package Piledriver and two Superkicks. The result was only really in doubt for a couple of minutes, with Candice executing a big headscissors off the top to the outside, but the combined might of Steen and Cole was just far too much for the plucky Californians.
Review: Candice got roughed UP in this one. Steen in particular seems to enjoy delivering massive amounts of cruel and unusual punishment to her, and I feel a singles match is in their future… though he may legit kill her. I also learned during this match that Adam Cole has become the longest reigning PWG Champion ever, which is crazy to me as it seems not all that long ago he beat Steen for said title. We are really racing through these opening round matches because reasons, but I’m repeating myself here.
Chris Hero: “She said ‘I don’t want your dick in my face, Adam Cole! Take that!'”
African American Wolves
Martin Luther Kings of Wrestling Malcolm D-Generation-X Inner City Machineguns
Recap: Ricochet and Rich Swann claim the final semi-final spot with a victory over their frequent ally AR Fox and ACH, when ACH avoided the Firebird only to immediately eat a Springboard 450 Splash. The two teams took turns to execute otherworldly exhibitions of athleticism until Ricochet hit an avalanche Death Valley Driver on the apron on AR Fox, taking him out of the match and leaving ACH to fight valiantly, but ultimately fall short.
Review: Boy, AR Fox really likes to deliver that Twister in the first two minutes of a match, doesn’t he? ACH sells like a demon and hit the mother of all dives to the outside. Rich Swann pulled off the smoothest dive fake-out of all time. Ricochet tagged ACH at one point because he’s a racist. There ya go, assessments of all four wrestlers. There was a somewhat awkward stretch of the match where AR Fox started to relentlessly botch his timings, but then Ricochet got in the ring and everything was okay again as we headed full speed down the spot-monkey highway. Bananas. The best of the opening round matches by far, with the tweaked team names schtick before the bell making it a must see all by itself. Ricochet, for my money, has been the best wrestler of 2014, while I kinda want AR Fox to just go away.
Chris Hero’s Line of the Match: “Who better than these four? Certainly not Kanyon.”
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Adam Thornstowe
Recap: Ciampa continued his path of destruction, defeating the debuting Adam Thornstowe with a huge knee strike out of nowhere in a hardhitting contest. Neither man enjoyed much of a sustained advantage, standing still and hitting each other pretty damn hard in the face.
Review: PWG booked a wrestler I have never heard of; it’s been a while since that happened. He put in a pretty impressive showing, having the look of somebody that would wrestle like Ciampa, but then using huge kicks and flying around the ring like a madman, leaping out of the ring and slingshotting over the ropes like a smaller man. He botched a standing shooting star quite badly, but was otherwise fairly impressive and will likely get used again. This was slow and stiff, a pallet-cleanser after the previous match, and more of the same for Ciampa, but as you probably know by now, I like that.
Excalibur’s Line of the Match: “Ciampa actually using the hard stubble in his armpit to rake the eyes, rake the forehead of Adam Thornstowe.”
Best Friends vs. Cole Steen Cole
Recap: The Best Friends scored another huge victory, this time over the PWG Champion and Kevin Steen after Candice LeRae distracted Cole, leaving Steen victim to a jackknife pin from Trent? for the upset win. Adam Cole, made uncomfortable by the Best Friends holding hands, bailed to the back and then returned wearing one of Steen’s singlets and matching Young Buck tasseled boots. After brawling all around the ring and by the commentary table for a few minutes, the Best Friends hit double cannonball dives off the stage and then embraced. Steen then decided to bring the noise with an avalanche fisherman buster, but Trent? fired right back by reversing the Panama Sunrise into the Fade to Black, with only Steen preventing Trent? from directly pinning the world champion. He instead settled for a flash pin on Mr. Wrestling to get his team to the finals.
Review: I LOVE the Best Friends. They’re wearing each other’s shirts for god’s sakes. A surprisingly short affair, with only a couple of minutes of it taking place inside the ring. Instead, it was driven entirely by the massive personalities of everyone involved, and they even teased a little dissension in Mount Rushmore post-match. Short and sweet, but the pre-match hijinks, big dives off the stage and ending sequence need to be seen.
Excalibur’s Line of the Match: “This guy on the hard cam has a bit of a bald spot, though a nice gold chain.”
Unbreakable Fuckin’ Machines vs. Inner City Machineguns
Recap: Chuck Taylor and Ricochet will face off one more time in PWG thanks to the Inner City Machineguns knocking off the far larger team of Cage and Elgin in what some would consider an upset, with both men stacking up Cage after Ricochet countered Weapon X into a Yoshi Tonic. Both teams led a merciless chant war before the bell rang that legit lasted over three minutes. Stunning that the crowd had the endurance for it. The Machines dominated early, with Ricochet and Swann struggling to find methods to knock either man off their feet, but they eventually got to just kicking Elgin repeatedly in the head, which worked for a little while. Then everybody took turns to hit a big move to even things up. Ricochet flew around like a madman, and then the Guns hit the 1,080 (450, followed by 630) on Elgin, taking him out of the match, leading to the finish.
Review: Strength vs Speed in a tag team format. Both teams did all the things you’d expect, but honestly, after seeing the Machines throw around much smaller people, and the Guns fly higher earlier in the show, it took a little bit of the sting out of it for me. Still really good though. Elgin and Cage were booked to look borderline unbeatable in this tournament, and the crowd responded appropriately when the smaller team managed the win, setting up what I assume is going to be a beast of a finals.
Excalibur’s Line of the Match: “I like how Angelo went deep for the ‘Fuckin’ earlier on in the night, but right now he has to censor himself, because this is more important.”
Number One Contenders Match
Chris Hero vs. Drake Younger vs. Kyle O’Reilly vs. Johnny Gargano
Recap: Drake Younger pulled off another upset victory, pinning Kyle O’Reilly after Drake’s Landing after surviving two sheer brainbusters and the Cross Armbreaker. After spending several minutes chain wrestling and feeling each other out on a fairly even playing field, things started to break down, with each man dropping bombs, only to have a bomb dropped on them in return. They ended up back where they started, with Kyle, Gargano and Hero all applying submissions at the same time. A few more crazy move exchanges later, and Drake managed to crush all three of his opponents in the corner and nearly win the match. Gargano and O’Reilly traded near wins, before Hero cleaned house and knocked Gargano out, but unfortunately knocked him all the way out of the ring. Drake then shoved him off the top rope to the outside, and with nobody left to interfere, managed to pick up the scrappy victory.
Review: By far the most engaging and entertaining multi-man match I’ve seen in years. Clearly a great deal of pre-planning went into this, as it was far too intricate to have been called in the ring, but that’s fine, because it was delicious. They found a way to keep all four men in the ring for the vast majority of the match, rather than having two men either play dead or brawl on the outside while the other two wrestled for a couple of minutes and then switching places. There were a lot of spots that directly involved all four, and some fantastic ducks, dodges and switches to transition between all of them. It probably went a little longer than it needed to, but I honestly don’t know what I’d take out to trim it. Just great, great, great.
Kevin Steen’s Line of the Match: “Tyler Black’s backyard wrestling name used to be ‘God'”
Inner City Machine Guns vs. Best Friends
Recap: The Best Friends’ win-streak stays alive when it matters most, knocking off the Inner City Machineguns to win the tournament after Chuck countered a back handspring cutter into the Awful Waffle out of nowhere to score the win. After shaking hands out of respect, the match was immediately put into high gear and never slowed down, with both teams going for the win early. Ricochet missed a 630 and then ate an awful lot of superkick from Chuck and a Splash Mountain Bomb. Swann tried to come back, but Trent? HURLED him off the top rope onto his face, and he barely kicked out of the Double Chokeslam. Ricochet got tricky, but ended up eating a half nelson suplex on the apron, rendering him unable to prevent the final pin.
Review: I LOVE the best Friends. I find it funny that Chuck Taylor mentioned how few matches he had won in PWG a few months ago, and he was then placed into a team that is thus far undefeated, has won DDT4 and in all honesty should beat the Young Bucks for the titles. It was another short match, the shortest match of the whole show in fact, but they packed an awful lot in by skipping to the end portion of a typical tag match. Chuck and Ric did their usual thang, while Trent? and Rich got spectacularly involved where they could.
Kevin Steen’s Line of the Match: “Little known fact about Generico is, he always wrote English perfectly, he just can’t speak it.”
– After the match Chuck Taylor delivers his first show-ending promo since he and Kenny Omega turned the Young Bucks heel at Against the Grain, declaring everybody in the crowd is his best friend and then including Ricochet and Swann in their post match celebration.
Did anybody kick out of the Falcon Arrow?: Yes, Rich Swann.
Is AR Fox dead yet?: Maybe, after a flying body press to the outside, an imploding springboard cannonball to the outside, a crucifix driver that looked like it hurt him more than his opponent, a kickflip moonsault off the ring post, and an avalanche Death Valley Driver on the apron.
Why You Should Buy This DVD: The four-way match. Say what you want about PWG and the repetitive nature of indie wrestling, but that match was different and needs to be viewed by anyone and everyone with any interest in indie wrestling. The other matches were all good, but none were really great, with this show instead being more of a series of huge individual moments stitched together into one nebulous… thing. Some PWG shows you can go back to for specific matches, but if you remove the 4-way, I’m not really sure any of them were worth viewing by themselves, and instead this should be enjoyed in a single sitting, but given this is a one-night tournament, maybe that’s for the best.