AAW Preview: EPIC: The 13-Year Anniversary Event, 4/8/17

AAW’s already massive 2017 just got a little bigger. After debuting in LaSalle, Illinois in January, the company makes a debut of a different sort at Joe’s Live in Rosemont this Saturday, April 8. The new venue looks sharp, ideal for pro-wrestling and live entertainment, and boasts outstanding sight lines from every angle of the building, as well as delicious food and a bar around every corner. Five matches have been signed as of this writing, with additional talent scheduled to appear. But with those names currently in limbo, let’s run down what we know is going to happen.

The match: Trevor Lee vs. Chuck Taylor

The skinny: We saw a whole other side of Trevor at last month’s Homecoming — a much meaner, darker side that cut down on the goofiness that fans knew so well of him. This Lee is a dick first and a wrestler second, and he’ll do everything in his power to let you know it. Want to chant negativity toward Impact Wrestling? Lee will pull down his trunks and moon you, so look out. Despite a loss at last month’s event alongside best friend Trent, Chuck Taylor is picking up steam in AAW, and gathering fan support along the way. Can the underrated Taylor rebound against newly minted baddie Trevor Lee?

My take: The Trevor Lee we see here and now is what I have always wanted. While mid-match dance contests have their place and time, I’d always felt Lee’s potential was being squandered, so when he cut off his music (Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”) last month I knew we were in for a treat. I think the newly heel Lee will match up well with Taylor, a crowd favorite and all around swell guy. Chuck’s comedy is pretty central to his character, so it will be interesting to see if Lee continues down the path of the rudo or if he succumbs to Chuck’s comedic wills and shakes it one more time. But let’s hope he doesn’t do that. Lee wins, most likely by doing something mean-spirited.

The match: John Morrison vs. Rey Fenix

The skinny: Rey Fenix defeated Trevor Lee at March’s Homecoming, while this is Morrison’s return to the company (his last match being a losing effort against Sami Callihan in January). Morrison and Fenix both compete on Lucha Underground, which I assure you, has nothing to do with why these two are booked. Just kidding, it has everything to do with it, as that show is really popular, and these two guys are really good performers. Despite being on the same TV show for three seasons, the two haven’t worked with each other too much beyond a run-in or two on the indies. That alone makes this worth tuning into.

My take: Personally, I’m not a huge fan of Morrison’s work, though I certainly respect what he is capable of inside a ring. And outside of one, for that matter. Rey Fenix brings the noise every time, and I feel he will match up well with Morrison here in what should be a solid athletic contest. Fenix is AAW’s boy and a future Heavyweight Champion, so he wins this one.

The match: ACH vs. Shane Strickland

The skinny: Both men are coming off losses at last month’s show. ACH dropped his Heritage Championship to Penta El Zero M, while the debuting Strickland fell to AR Fox. ACH showed a more devious side in his match against Penta, resorting to dirty tactics like the low blow, and Strickland is simply looking to make a name for himself in a new market. The two have faced off previously, in 2013, though this matchup still feels fresh.

My take: I am all for a heel ACH, as it would give him a much needed edge and it would stand out among the other companies that use him as a cheery, anime-loving babyface. He’s earned every right to be a dick to newcomers, and his title loss on St. Patrick’s Day should be fuel for this fire. Strickland impressed in his first-ever AAW match, warranting “please come back” chants from the crowd, and this time he’s got a higher ceiling to work with, so this should be fun. ACH wins with the 450 Splash.

The match: Angelico and Jack Evans vs. OI4K (Dave and Jake Crist) (c), AAW Tag Team Championship Match

The skinny: This is Angelico’s AAW debut. Together with partner Jack Evans, the pair is known as Los Gueros del Cielo and has competed together in promotions like AAA and PWG. The duo also works for Lucha Underground as separate performers. The Crist Brothers, meanwhile, won tag gold in March and look to notch their first successful defense of the championships. This match actually took place in Orlando last weekend, with Angelico and Evans coming out on top. Now with AAW gold on the line, can Los Gueros make it two for two? Or will Dave and Jake again prove why they are the best of the best?

My take: Angelico is a fun dude to watch, and if the layout of the venue is any indication, he will have plenty of high places from which to jump. I’m a huge fan of Jack Evans and his banter, and the Crists are good people, so my hopes for this one are a bit higher than average. I imagine the trash talk between these two teams will be significant. In fact, the match may be exclusively trash talk, and part of me would down with that. I don’t think that will happen, but this should be an enjoyable contest nonetheless. OI4K successfully defends here.

The match: Penta El Zero M (c) vs. AR Fox, AAW Heritage Championship Match

The skinny: Both men are coming off victories from last month’s show — Fox over Strickland, Penta over ACH. Penta’s newly won Heritage Championship is on the line, and it’s a title familiar to Fox, who had previously held it for the better part of a year in 2016. Can the old champ reclaim his throne against the new champ? Or will the former Pentagon Junior once again come up victorious against Fox?

My take: This match should deliver big time if all goes right. Fox and Penta tore the house down for AAW in LaSalle back on February 4, putting on an athletic display that featured a number of dangerous-looking spots, and I expect more of the same here. With the title on the line this time, I actually expect even more brutality, and I have higher expectations for this match than any other to be announced. I don’t expect much in the way of selling or psychology, but with these two, you don’t need it. Spots on spots on spots here, and Penta is your winner.

Additional news and notes:

*Also signed to appear are: AAW Heavyweight Champion Sami Callihan, “Big Mike” Elgin, Low-Ki, Matt Riddle, Eddie Kingston, Davey Vega, Mat Fitchett, Abyss.

*Newcomer Stephen Wolf, who has appeared for AAW’s production in LaSalle, Illinois, will be making his Chicago debut at Joe’s Live on April 8. AAW said Wolf impressed company officials enough to make the jump.

*Jason Kincaid, who was supposed to make his return to the company, will not be appearing due to injury. Kincaid suffered a stinger over WrestleMania weekend and will be out approximately four weeks.

*General Admission tickets for Take No Prisoners, AAW’s return to the Logan Square Auditorium in Chicago on Saturday, May 6, are on sale now at Reckless Records in the Wicker Park neighborhood. Cash only. Ringside seats will be available for purchase for those in attendance on Saturday before going online at www.aawrestling.com on Monday, April 10. NOTE: Front row usually sells out prior to the online sale date, so if you want a premium seat, I suggest buying one Saturday.

*AAW is back at the Berwyn Eagles Club on Thursday, May 25. Tickets also go on sale at intermission during EPIC.

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