AAW Thursday Night Special Preview, 5/25/2017

After a busy couple days of wrestling around the Chicagoland area that featured five shows (maybe more, but who’s counting?), AAW is back at the Berwyn Eagles Club to kick-start another weekend of fun, excitement and certain shenanigans. Seven matches are signed for Thursday’s big event, with two championships on the line and a handful of debuts, including that of FKA Jack Swagger. The Eagles Club has been home to some of the biggest moments in company history — from Jimmy Jacobs throwing the IWA: Mid-South Championship in the trash, to CM Punk giving his endorsement to Gregory Iron, to the Tyler Black/Marek Brave barbed wire brawl, to the Silas Young/Michael Elgin wars, to Tommaso Ciampa’s heartfelt farewell. And that, really, is just scratching the surface. What history will be made in Berwyn at “Thursday Night Special”?

Enough chatter, let’s break down the matches:

The Match: Trey Miguel and Stephen Wolf vs. Team Tremendous (Dan Barry and Bill Carr) vs. Davey Vega and Alex Daniels
The Skinny: Miguel and Wolf are quickly becoming one of the hottest duos in AAW’s tag division. Team Tremendous last appeared in AAW at “Showdown” in August 2016, where they were defeated by Trevor Lee and Andrew Everett in about six minutes. Vega and Daniels teamed at the last show along with Fitchett against the team of Chuck Taylor, Miguel and Wolf. A win here for any of these teams might as well put them in line for a future Tag Team Championship opportunity.
My Take: My first thought upon seeing this match was, “Where’s Fitchett?” My second thought had to do with whether Alex Daniels is now a full-time member of Besties in the World, or if he’s just a one-off like that time Mike Tyson quote-unquote joined D-Generation X. After impressing me in a straight up tag match and a six-man tag, I am interested in seeing what Miguel and Wolf are able to do in the context of a match like this. I will admit I haven’t seen enough of Team Tremendous to really make a comment, but from what I’ve seen of them, they are fun-loving boys who know how to work a crowd. I think Wolf and Miguel get the win here and pick up some momentum going forward.

The Match: Laredo Kid vs. Jake Crist vs. Myron Reed vs. Joey Janela
The Skinny: Laredo Kid — who’s made a name for himself in promotions like AAA and, most recently, Impact Wrestling — is making his AAW debut in this match, while Janela and Reed are making their returns. Janela is one of the hottest acts on the independents right now, having increased his stock in the eyes of many following a solid WrestleMania weekend, in which he both competed on shows and booked one of his own: Joey Janela’s Spring Break. You might have heard of it. Jake Crist, meanwhile, goes it alone in this four-way contest sans-brother Dave, who is still on the shelf nursing an injury. Which of these four high-impact superstars will emerge victorious?
My Take: On the surface, this match seems thrown together at the last minute, and I’ve read some complaints on the Twitter box that a match like this is a waste of somebody as up-and-coming as Janela. However, I disagree, and I think all four of these men have a car crash kind style that will mesh together appropriately and make for an exciting, fast-paced match. Janela isn’t challenging for a championship, but he’s in a spot where he can draw eyes and do his thing, same for the other three men who will be sharing a ring with him. Plus, it’s the Eagles Club; who knows what will go down? Will Myron Reed get caught up in the lights? Will Joey hang from the ceiling and fall onto his three opponents haphazardly? Does Laredo Kid have to be mindful of his mask, knowing a certain AAW Heavyweight Champion is in the building? Plenty of questions to be asked. I think Janela wins this one.

The Match: Colt Cabana vs. Trevor Lee
The Skinny: Of all the wrestlers selling merchandise at “Take No Prisoners” May 6 at Logan Square, Colt Cabana was by far the most popular and had the longest lines. Colt always has the crowds behind him, which is a stark contrast to Trevor Lee, who has been working overtime to piss off the fans and his competition alike. He accomplishes this by cheating and generally being a vile person from bell to bell. Cabana will need the crowd’s support to take down Lee, who as always has something to prove. This is a first-time match up, so what kind of nefarious acts go down is anybody’s guess.
My Take: I’m not the biggest Cabana fan in the world, I will admit, but I do think he adds a lot to a show, and at least around these parts, he’s a draw. He has a place and so does this match with Trevor Lee, but I still hope Lee treats him like a speed bump on his path to the AAW Heavyweight Championship — which he claims he will win by his 24th birthday on September 30. A couple weeks ago I was a little bummed that Lee’s match with Bobby Fish had only gone maybe eight minutes. While it’d be easy to joke about how I hope this match goes even shorter, because laughs, I actually want to see what Colt brings to the table here, so I hope they get their full time. When he wants to, Cabana can hang with anybody; hopefully we get that Cabana here. Despite Colt’s best efforts, I still see Trevor Lee winning by being a meanie.

The Match: Keith Lee vs. Donovan Dijak
The Skinny: This is far from a first-ever match up, as Lee and Dijak have faced off six times before, including twice the past two months for EVOLVE. Lee holds the series edge at four wins to Dijak’s two. This pairing feels similar to the Chris Hero/Zack Sabre Jr. series that took both men all across the country delivering hit after hit, including a classic in the finals of last year’s Jim Lynam Memorial Tournament. Like that match, this Lee/Dijak contest will be have the magic of the Berwyn Eagles Club working in its favor. There’s something about that building and those people that adds something extra to matches like these, giving them a unique aura. Given these guys’ track records, and ability to outdo themselves, this one should be special.
My Take: I’m a huge fan of Keith Lee, and Dijak’s work has been growing on me lately, so I am happy to see both men in an AAW ring for this, their second appearance each. To be perfectly honest, I don’t know what to expect out of this match — strange considering this is the umpteenth time these two have competed against each other. I guess I’m just curious to see what they do with the time they’re given. Do they structure their match similar to the classic they had over WrestleMania weekend or the recent banger in Summit, IL? Or will it be something completely different but just as good? Either way, I expect a top contender for match of the night. I think Dijak wins this one in a closely contested match, most likely after doing something a man his size shouldn’t have done.
The Match: FKA Jack Swagger vs. Michael Elgin
The Skinny: FKA Jack Swagger, who insists upon being called by that name specifically, is also making his AAW debut at this event. In his first match on the indies, the former Real American will run up against AAW’s company gatekeeper, “Big Mike” Elgin, who is coming off one of the best matches in his career against Zack Sabre Jr. With a win over ZSJ, Elgin now claims to be number one contender for Sami Callihan’s Big F’N Belt, but a loss to FKA Swags here would set him back. It’s Swagger Bomb vs. Elgin Bomb on Thursday, whose will reign superior?
My Take: There is risk in booking Swagger, and there are plenty of questions to be asked. What are his capabilities outside the WWE’s restraints? Is he motivated? Will he be worth the price the company, presumably, paid for him? But there is upside, as well. All the eyes on AAW at the moment, and this is Jack’s first major match on the independents, so who wouldn’t be curious about this booking? Or this match, more specifically? That considered, I don’t know what to expect from Swagger, but I think Elgin will get a good enough match out of him. I see some fancy exchanges and some good grappling. I trust Michael Elgin to deliver no matter who he’s in the ring with, but Swagger’s still going over, kids. Sorry.

The Match: Fenix and AR Fox (c) vs. Shane Strickland and Lio Rush, AAW Tag Team Championship Match
The Skinny: This will be Lio Rush’s AAW debut. Strickland, who two months ago also made his debut at the Berwyn Eagles Club, has put together an impressive couple of matches his first go-around in the company and looks to secure his first win in tag team action. These two have worked together as opponents and as a team, and the chemistry between them is off the charts, so it makes sense for AAW to give them a shot at the newly crowned tag team champions. This match was originally scheduled to be Rush vs. Strickland straight up, but plans changed and now the tag titles are on the line. Which team will fly higher on its way to the top of AAW’s burgeoning tag division? And, I feel like I have to ask this bi-monthly: Will AR Fox survive?
My Take: This is the match I am looking forward to the most because it combines four talented performers with high stakes. After the NXT Tag Titles main evented last weekend at TakeOver — still bitter about the Ciampa thing, don’t even talk to me — I wouldn’t be surprised if the same occurred here. With the titles on the line, I see all both teams doing whatever needs to be done to stake their claim as the top team in AAW. However, Fenix and Fox are such a fresh act that I don’t see them dropping the belts for a long time, certainly not in their first defense. Watch the ceiling and hold your breath, because this one will be fast and fierce, with Fenix and Fox picking up the W.

The Match: Sami Callihan (c) vs. Juventud Guerrera, AAW Heavyweight Championship Open Challenge Match
The Skinny: Callihan laid down the challenge to any masked wrestler — or wrestler wearing a mask (big difference, you see) — and the call was answered by Juventud Guerrera. Yes, you read that correctly, that Juventud Guerrera. From WCW! The Juice! He’s now back under the hood and, apparently, still competing at a high level at the crisp young age of 42. Can he still throw a Juvi Driver? Will his body hold up for Air Juvi? Will he drop a 450 splash like he used to? All of that remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: Callihan is coming for the mask of Juventud, and he seems prepared to go extreme lengths to take it.
My Take: I am as curious as anybody to find out what Juventud still has to offer, and in a main event slot, no less. If there is one thing that has remained consistent about AAW in its extensive history, it’s that its main events are certain to deliver. Juvi has been good for a couple dozen matches per year, so he doesn’t work as often as he used to, but he does make his matches count. Callihan always brings his best to an AAW ring, and his matches with masked men always carry a special dynamic, so let’s see how this one goes. Sami will win this one, but will not swipe the mask.

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