AAW “Killers Among Us 2017” Preview – 6/17/2017

After four months away from home, AAW returns to 115 Bourbon Street for a heart-stopping evening filled with international attractions, rising stars and some of the best tag teams on the planet today. Tickets for “Killers Among Us” have sold well in advance of the 10-match supercard, which features world-renowned names like John Morrison, Low-Ki, Penta El 0M, and Zack Sabre Jr., as well as AAW fan favorites like Michael Elgin, ACH, Rey Fenix, Davey Vega and Mat Fitchett. If you have read my last handful of reviews on Pro Wrestling Ponderings, you would know that AAW has hit a stride, producing a solid stretch of shows, and this one appears to be of similar quality, at least on paper. What do the matches have in store for you? Read below to find out.

The Match: Stephen Wolf, Trey Miguel and Myron Reed vs. Scarlet & Graves (Dezmond Xavier and Zachary Wentz) and DJZ
The Skinny: Every AAW card as of late has featured one, maybe two, matches featuring young, up-and-coming talent put in a position where they can make a name for themselves. The team of Wolf, Miguel and Reed is loaded with three of the Midwest’s best high-flyers, each with the capability to do impressive things. Meanwhile, Scarlet & Graves is returning to AAW for the first time since March’s “Homecoming,” where they lost their bid for the AAW Tag Team Championships against OI4K, and this time around they’ve added DJZ to the mix. The vet known also known as Zema Ion has been out with a major injury, but thankfully has recovered and has vowed to be better than ever.
My Take: One big reason I am high on AAW right now is because they are letting these young talents showcase themselves early on in the cards, usually in a position where they are helping fire up the crowd for the rest of the evening. For where these guys are in their individual careers, that isn’t a terrible position to be in, especially on shows as stacked as these. His tremendous performance at “Homecoming” against Drew Galloway seemingly helped earn DJZ this booking, and hopefully more down the line — this guy can go. Overall, I expect the usual nuttiness six men of these caliber can bring, with Wolf, Miguel and Reed getting the W.

The Skinny: Whether these names were at the bottom of the bag when it came to putting the matches together, I do not know for sure, but it’s hard to wrap my head around this one. I don’t think it will be bad — if it wasn’t for Keith Lee and Donovan Dijak going ape, last month’s four-way would have stolen the show — but to me, there’s something missing here. I like the individual competitors involved, and it gives guys like Jake and Davey something to do while their partners are occupied with singles competition. I just hope it doesn’t devolve into a spam-fest of various crowd-pleasing maneuvers: Destroyer, Super Kick, dive, etcetera. Honestly, it should be good for what it’s worth and it will serve its function, so no complaints.
My Take: This should be plenty mindless and out of control, if the four-way match from “Thursday Night Special,” also featuring Crist, was any indication. But you know what? I want these four to surprise me Saturday night. Instead of resting on their laurels and hitting a ton of flips to the outside, how about they tell a story? Pick a story, any story, and play it up during the match. Give the audience something different, something unexpected but all the while good. I’ll take a Jake Crist victory here in about eight minutes as he keeps his momentum going sans-brother Dave.

The Match: John Morrison vs. Brian Cage
The Skinny: With Lucha Underground still making waves on Netflix, and with a new half-season having recently premiered, this match up should have plenty of eyes on it. On TV, Cage has a new power glove, akin to the Nintendo days of yore, but he likely won’t be punching anybody’s face off Saturday night. Morrison, on the other hand, just got real-life engaged to fellow Lucha Underground star Taya Valkyrie. Congratulations to both Cage and Morrison on their newfound loves. These two have faced off numerous times before, producing above average results almost every time, but it will be interesting to see how they fare together in the context of an AAW ring. Neither man is a stranger to AAW, each having made several appearances previously, delivering better than standard results. Which El Rey star will come out The King?
My Take: Cage and Morrison are two impressive performers who have never struck a major chord with me, though I certainly have always respected what they are capable of between the ropes. Stylistically, these two mesh considerably well together — Morrison’s high-flying and parkour abilities compared to Cage’s immense strength. Cage will look to throw Morrison about the squared circle as only he can, but Morrison is a fantastic counter wrestler who can slip out of any hold or throw he likes. I will take John Morrison in this one.

The Match: Eddie Kingston vs. Jeff Cobb
The Skinny: This match was originally supposed to be a tag contest between War Machine and Cobb and Matt Riddle, but plans changed and Riddle was taken off the show, so this is what we were given. Both men are known for their wicked throws and suplexes, but as we saw at May’s “Take No Prisoners,” Kingston’s health is starting to dwindle, which leaves him vulnerable for the much stronger Cobb, who has far fewer miles on his body. If Kingston wants to win, he will have to throw everything he has at Cobb. Can the vet from Yonkers stick it to the former Olympian? Or will Cobb’s strength play too much a factor, handing the War King another tough loss?
My Take: While this isn’t the match I am most excited for on the show — I really wanted that tag match, if I’m gonna shoot straight with you — I am interested to see what each man brings out of the other. Plus there is the continuing narrative of the downfall of Eddie Kingston, which at most recent check saw him in bad shape following a strong contest against David Starr. Will King’s body hold up enough for him to be a factor, I wonder? That could be the story of this match. Because his neck is a shaker cup full of marbles at this point, I am choosing Cobb for the win.

The Match: Garza Jr. vs. ACH
The Skinny: One of the neat things about modern day AAW is just how many names they are able to load onto one card, which means there are at least one or two guys I haven’t heard of or had the opportunity to check out. Such is the case here with Garza Jr., a 24-year-old luchador from Mexico who is currently signed to IMPACT Wrestling stateside. Based on that short profile alone, I am already interested; AAW does well in bringing in Spanish-speaking talent that gives its shows a foreign flavor, and with a surefire opponent like ACH, this will be one to check out.
The Match: I first discovered ACH at an Eagles Club show maybe five years ago, not knowing who he was or even how to properly pronounce his name. I lightly heckled him, calling him “Otch.” “That’s ‘achoo’ to you,'” he responded, memorably. The young man’s attitude and swagger were too much for me to deny, and on that day, he became an instant favorite. This match is a terrific opportunity to learn a new name and perhaps meet a new favorite in Garza Jr. There’s something alluring about seeing a guy for the first time in a live context, so I will not be familiarizing myself with any of Garza’s work beforehand. Will he impress me the same way ACH did in his debut? Time will tell, but he still is a newcomer, so ACH scoops up the win here.

The Match: Abyss vs. Low-Ki
The Skinny: These two, perhaps one more than the other, have beef. Dating back months now, Abyss has had it out for indie wrestling’s foremost Hitman enthusiast, going as far as costing him the AAW Heavyweight Championship at March’s “Homecoming” live event (which you really need to check out, by the way). Low-Ki failed in his attempt at revenge in a tag match against Abyss and Sami Callihan at April’s “EPIC: The 13-Year Anniversary Show,” but he’ll have another chance on Saturday in a singles contest. Will Low-Ki finally take out his frustrations on “The Monster”? Or is he just another speed bump on Abyss’s road to domination?
My Take: It’s no secret the AAW faithful do not like Abyss, myself included, which makes one wonder… isn’t that just him doing a good job? Cue thinking face emoji. Whether his heat is legitimate or more of the X-Pac variety, Abyss draws a reaction, and it is up to Low-Ki to silence that reaction by doing what he does best: whoopin’ that ass. Low-Ki has looked solid in his AAW matches, and I am actually excited to see what he does here with a much bigger opponent. I don’t expect match of the night by any stretch, but at worst, this should be a fun match that polarizes the crowd and works them into a frenzy. Low-Ki wins.

The Match: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Mat Fitchett
The Skinny: The Besties in the World have gained a new member in Alex Daniels and Mat Fitchett has been left out in the cold. They even let Daniels wear Fitchett’s letterman jacket! Now Fitchett is on his own and he is ready for a test against perhaps the best in the world, Zack Sabre Jr. Fitchett tends to scale up when given top-tier opponents, and he appears hungry as ever, so expect technical brilliance out of this one and not much less. Can the underdog, and underrated, Fitchett pull off the upset against the top of the crop? Or will he be just another victim to Sabre’s many submission holds?
My Take: I have been clamoring for a Fitchett singles run, and I am not alone in that line of thinking — and a match with Zack is exactly what he needs to get the ball rolling. Go back and watch his matches with the likes of ACH, Drew Gulak and Chris Hero, all under the AAW umbrella, and your eyes will open quickly to just how good Fitchett can be when given time and place. ZSJ is ZSJ and will deliver regardless of who he’s in the ring with, all the better if it’s somebody as passionate and talented as Mat. I’m expecting this to be the low key match of the night (but not the Low-Ki match of the night, which is something else entirely). ZSJ wins but Fitchett earns respect.

The Match: War Machine (Hanson and Raymond Rowe) vs. reDRagon (Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish)
The Skinny: This match has happened before, but it isn’t one that has been ran a whole bunch of times, so it feels fresh enough to run here and now. And, honestly, for a replacement match — originally scheduled to be Riddle and Cobb challenging War Machine — it isn’t bad. Both teams bring the noise and have impressive resumes, and War Machine is larger than life in person, so this will be a lot of fun. There will be a lot of some great double team maneuvers on display here, with both teams absorbing a lot of punishment. Given each of these teams’ strong style leanings, however, that might be to their liking.
My Take: All right, here we go! This will likely go down as the most intense and hard-hitting contest of the evening, between two teams that first conquered Ring of Honor, and then New Japan Pro Wrestling. Now they’ve landed at 115 Bourbon Street in Merrionette Park and will duke it out not for championships or anything of true stake, but pride and respect, and that’s good enough for me. Sometimes you just want to watch a handful of dudes lay into one another while you snack on popcorn and drink beer, and that’s all I really expect. I think this match goes either way, and I won’t be miffed if either team pulls it off, so give me, oh, reDRagon.

The Match: Penta El 0M (c) vs. Trevor Lee, AAW Heritage Championship Match
The Skinny: With successful title defenses in the books against the likes of AR Fox and Keith Lee, Penta is quickly but not so quietly putting together a killer run with the gold, and a solid match with Trevor Lee would cement that. Trevor, meanwhile, is on a quest for the Heavyweight Championship, which he intends to win by his 24th birthday on September 30, though the snide little guy he is, he does not seem opposed to winning all the belts.  Both men are capable of great things inside the squared circle, and both men know how to captivate a crowd. Simply put, this match would be a main event anywhere else in the country. Can Penta shake off Trevor’s antics and pull off the win? Or will Trevor’s quest for gold begin with the Heritage Championship?
My Take: As a huge fan of Trevor Lee’s work, the thought of this match really excites me, though I do have questions. Penta works best at 10 minutes or under and Trevor works best at 15 minutes or over, so this one can go any number of ways depending on the amount of time they are given. If they keep this to a sprint or a little beyond that, I think that will be the sweet spot needed to create the necessary magic between these guys. Whatever we get, though, will surely be quality. I am most interested in the Trevor Lee angle — seeing where his heel character takes him. Trevor will a little short here, giving Penta the win. I am interested to see how he deals with the loss three months before he plans on winning the Heavyweight Championship.

The Match: Sami Callihan (c) vs. Michael Elgin, AAW Heavyweight Championship Match
The Skinny: These two haven’t shared an AAW ring since “One Twisted Christmas 2012.” Nowadays, every Michael Elgin title match in AAW feels more important than any other match on the card, and the hype for this one is already swelling. Things got heated at a backstage press conference between the two men after “Thursday Night Special,” with Mike staking his claim to the throne currently occupied by Callihan. Sami claims he is the reason AAW blew up when it did, for it was his return at November 2015’s “Windy City Classic XI” that got the ball rolling. Both men have a lot of pent-up frustration, and this match already has a big fight feel going into it. Who will walk away wearing AAW’s crown?
My Take: Two staples of the AAW fabric going at it in one of the most talked about main events in a long time? OK, sign me up. Elgin has been on a tear as of late, putting in classic match after classic match, and Callihan’s been killing it no matter what town he is in, so I don’t doubt this one will be fantastic. I also don’t doubt that Callihan will do everything he can do to win, including using his buddies in OI4K for assistance, but will it be enough to topple Big Mike? Personally, I think Sami will cheat to win this one, opening the door for a long-awaited blow off between he and Rey Fenix somewhere down the road. But that doesn’t mean Mike will go quietly into the night.

NEWS AND NOTES:

  • Tickets for AAW’s “United We Stand 2017” (July 15 at Bourbon Street) go on sale as soon as doors open Saturday night. They will also be available online at a later date. Preferred ringside seating in the first couple rows goes quick, especially for the summer shows, so I recommend you buy in advance.
  • Tickets for AAW’s “Jawbreaker 2017” (August 5 at LaSalle’s Knights of Columbus Hall) are on sale now by clicking here.
  • Tickets for “Defining Moment 2017” (August 31 at the Berwyn Eagles Club) will go on sale soon. Already scheduled to appear is Cody Rhodes. Stay tuned to @AAWPro on Twitter for the latest on when tickets go on sale.
  • Dave Crist, who was originally scheduled to appear on this event, was scratched the week of the event due to injury.
  • Get out your planners and keep October open because AAW is bringing two nights of action to the Berwyn Eagles Club on October 13 and 14. “The Jim Lynam Memorial Tournament 2017” will see 16 of independent wrestling’s top names competing for a trophy and a championship opportunity of his or her choosing. Last year’s finals featured a must-see match up between Zack Sabre Jr. and Chris Hero, along with a ton of other good stuff. Night two of the tournament was my favorite AAW offering last year, and I expect an even stronger outing this time around.

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