AAW: Take No Prisoners 2017 Review

May 6th, 2017

Opening Match:  Paco vs. Connor Braxton vs. Jason Cade vs. Aero Boy vs. Myron Reed vs. Space Monkey
When slotted into the card as the opening contest and given the how fired up the crowd was, this six-way freestyle was coherent and clean enough to make for an entertaining opener.  Reasonable minds could reach different conclusions about who stood out here, but in my opinion Cade’s offense looked fantastic and Reed impressed in his debut.  Thankfully, no one got cute with any extended comedy segments.  This was a harmless opener that did enough to fire up the crowd without overstaying its welcome.  Aero Boy won in 8:09 with a swantan on Cade.  **½

Match #2:  AAW Heavyweight Title: Sami Callihan © vs. ACH
They started off in the best way possible.  After the opener, Callihan came out to de-mask Aero Boy.  Fenix made the save and hit a destroyer on Callihan.  ACH then tried to take advantage of the situation by bringing a referee to the ring and starting the match.  The pre-bell shenanigans set the tone for an urgently-paced contest and the action played out in the same way.  Both men were trying to be more explosive than the other and it made for an enjoyable contest.  Callihan winning with JT Davidson interference followed by a blatant low blow was less enjoyable, but this being the second match on the show as opposed to the main event neutralizes that somewhat.  Callihan and ACH are well-versed in sprints and this was a good one.  Callihan retained his title in 11:24 with a stretch muffler.  ***

Match #3:  Bobby Fish vs. Trevor Lee
I’m not sure what happened here.  Everyone was psyched for Fish being in AAW, but these two did not have great chemistry together.  Fish began the match by leveling Lee with kicks in the corner.  Instead of the crowd getting fired up to see Lee beaten up, they just kind of politely watched on.  That response from the crowd persisted throughout the rest of the match.  Lee winning the match with a rollup while holding Fish’s tights could not have been more deflating.  This match probably should have been restructured to showcase Fish and to give any unfamiliar fans an idea of what Fish is all about.  Lee won in 8:29 with a rollup.  *½

Match #4:  Colt Cabana vs. Ethan Page
Having watched Cabana wrestle for over a decade, reviewing his matches has become difficult.  The crowd is obviously entertained, any prospective viewer may very well be entertained, but I can’t help but think that I’ve seen the match before.  Luckily, Cabana and Page worked well together and this one had some added comedy via Cabana’s parents being in attendance.  This match more than served its purpose but your mileage may vary.  Cabana won in 9:31 with the Billygoat’s Curse.  **

Match #5:  Michael Elgin vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
This was an incredible match and likely my favorite match of the year thus far.  Everything started out innocently enough.  Sabre attacked at the opening bell and showed interest in working over Elgin’s arm.  Elgin did a decent job of fending off these attacks, but Sabre was eventually able to settle in and do some work on the arm.  The middle portion of this match was essentially Sabre trying to gauge to what extent Elgin’s injured arm would restrict him.  The great thing about this story was that Elgin also wasn’t sure what offense he was capable of performing.  Often, Elgin would look to the crowd for reassurance before blasting Sabre with some power maneuver.  As you can imagine, the already enthusiastic crowd became unglued for the action.  The fans thought they were influencing Elgin’s success rate for crying out loud.  After these two had a somewhat underwhelming contest in EVOLVE earlier this year, watching them go at it here was a real treat.

To me, the best moment in this match came down the finishing stretch.  At this point, both of Elgin’s arms had been worked over.  He reluctantly hit a niagra bomb and Sabre kicked out at one with Elgin in disbelief.  Normally, kick-outs at one down the finishing stretch are used to pop the crowd and are often misplaced.  Here, you had a situation where the impact of Elgin’s offense had been deteriorated and Sabre kicking out at one made a ton of sense.  Elgin and Sabre were at their best on this night and an absolutely must-see war was the result.  Elgin won in 19:09 with a spinning powerbomb.  ****¼

Match #6:  Eddie Kingston vs. David Starr
Despite Starr running around the ring like a madman trying to make things interesting, this match was fairly lifeless and the crowd responded accordingly.  Starr delivered a strong performance, but Kingston received almost no offense and his selling certainly didn’t inspire any fans to get behind him.  In a lot of ways, this felt like an extended squash, as Kingston played almost no part in this one.  An odd match to say the least, but there could certainly have been storyline considerations or legitimate injuries playing a role.  Starr won in 10:19 with a german suplex.  *¾

Match #7:  Alex Daniels, Davey Vega, and Mat Fitchett vs. Chuck Taylor, Stephen Wolf, and Trey Miguel
This was a decent six-man tag team match that suffered from a dead crowd.  The sequences may have become too convoluted and thirteen minutes was a bit long, but the good news coming out of this one is that Miguel and Wolf looked great in their AAW debut outside of LaSalle.  Wolf and Miguel have the potential to add some fresh talent to AAW’s tag team division, which may allow Fitchett to inevitably start stealing shows in singles matches.  On some nights in front of certain crowds, I’m sure this contest could have over-delivered.  As it stands, this was just okay.  Taylor, Wolf, and Miguel won in 13:01 when Taylor hit the Awful Waffle on Daniels.  **½

Match #8:  AAW Heritage Title: Penta El Zero M © vs. Keith Lee
They wrestled a fun enough match even though I don’t think it was as spectacular as it could have been.  We have learned from his recent appearances in EVOLVE that Lee’s character often lets his cockiness prevent him from wrestling the smartest match possible.  Once Penta caught onto that fact, he changed his approach to the match and found an opening to hit two destroyers to retain his title.  The eight-minute duration was an interesting decision but I think Lee and Penta made great use of their time here.  Penta retained his title in 7:59 with a destroyer.  ***

Match #9:  AAW Tag Team Titles: The Killer Cult (Jake Crist and Sami Callihan) © vs. Team Fonix (AR Fox and Rey Fenix)
Callihan was filling in for the injured Dave Crist.  The match began with everyone hitting destroyers, which was kind of lame but also repetitive given the finish to the previous contest.  I cannot honestly say that the action became any more sensible as the action progressed.  There’s a moment where Fox placed a propped chair in front of Callihan in the corner, not so that he could jump OFF of it, but simply so that he could jump OVER it and onto Callihan.  At another point, Jake hit one of the scariest tombstones you’ll ever see on Fox through a chair.  I understand what they were going for here.  They were trying to make the action as chaotic as possible to reinvigorate a crowd that has witnessed a ton of professional wrestling on this night.  You may very well enjoy this match a lot.  I fully admit that this kind of stuff is not my cup of tea.  The title change was well-received at the very least.  Fox and Fenix became the NEW AAW Tag Team Champions at 17:34.  **¾

-Show Grade: B-
You Need to See: Elgin/Sabre
You’d Enjoy Watching: Callihan/ACH, Lee/Penta
You Should Avoid:

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