IWC: Super Indy 16 Review

June 10th, 2017

Opening Match:  First Round: Adam Cole vs. Zema Ion
When you think of a singles match between these two, you will probably think of something more extravagant than this match.  However, this was the first round of a one-night tournament and Ion at this point was returning from an incredibly serious injury.  Nevertheless, this was a pleasant eight-minute opener filled with fluid exchanges.  You could tell that they have solid chemistry with each other in the ring.  Cole had a sense of the patterns to Ion’s offense and he was able to catch Ion with a shining wizard as a result that lead to the finish.  I hate to see Ion absent from any of IWC’s premier shows and I’m glad that he was able to compete in this year’s Super Indy.  Cole won in 7:08 with a brainbuster.  **½

Match #2:  First Round: Colt Cabana vs. Joey Janela
Cabana spent the opening portion of this match scolding Janela for being a “bad boy.”  But while there were obviously traces of Cabana’s usual antics throughout the contest, they also managed to deliver some really entertaining back and forth exchanges.  Janela’s ability to throw himself around the ring bumping like a madman certainly went a long way here.  This match could have played out in any number of ways.  They kept things pretty serious and it worked out well for them.  Janela won in 10:21 with a flying double stomp.  ***

Match #3:  First Round: Jonathan Gresham vs. Jay White
This was an incredibly smart pairing, as Gresham and White had unreal chemistry together.  After a few minutes of setup, they dug their heels in and the human game of chess started.  The sequences were so fluid and made so much sense that you really did not want them to stop.  These kinds of matches come together so effortlessly for Gresham and I think he is vastly underrated right now despite being signed by Ring of Honor.  Speaking of ROH, keep an eye out for this match happening there.  They accomplished in nine minutes here what many would fail to do in fifteen.  Gresham won in 9:18 with a bridging pinning combination.  ***¼

Match #4:  First Round: Chris LeRusso (w/ BC Steele) vs. Mike Orlando
The crowd was most unfamiliar with Orlando coming into this show, so pairing him against the reigning heel champion made a lot of sense.  This was my first time seeing Orlando wrestle.  In the past year, I’ve seen an increasing number of larger professional wrestlers needlessly go out of their way to do flashy, athletic spots.  Seriously, watch any of Bull James’ matches in Ring of Honor.  It just does not need to happen.  Orlando was not nearly as guilty of this as Bull James, but I enjoyed him much more in this match when he was hitting uranagis onto the apron than when he was going for japanese armdrags.  Then, there was an incredibly scary moment when Orlando tried a kick-flip dive to the floor and landed neck-first onto the apron.  This contest was positioned to succeed, but I couldn’t really get into Orlando’s shtick.  LeRusso won in 11:51 with a pumphandle suplex.  **

Match #5:  Semifinal Round: Adam Cole vs. Joey Janela
As you would expect, this match was very good.  But it was especially good in the context of a one-night tournament.  There was really no feeling-out process.  Janela found an opening to hit a neckbreaker across the guardrail and then decided to slow the match down.  The crowd was 100% behind Cole during his defiant comeback and from there, they went full speed down the stretch.  These two seem like similar wrestlers with completely different personalities.  Not only was this an interesting pairing, but the extent to which they adapted to the circumstances was astounding.  Cole won in 12:06 with a brainbuster.  ***¼

Match #6:  Semifinal Round: Chris LeRusso (w/ BC Steele) vs. Jonathan Gresham
Independent wrestling tournaments fascinate me.  It’s always interesting to see how promotions balance making their homegrown talent look good against the interests of everyone wanting to see the outside talent advance.  In general, I find that promotions strongly favor their homegrown talent in these situations.  I’m certainly not blaming them.  I have no idea how the finances of these shows work and I don’t really want to know.  Everyone wanted to see Gresham win this match but I don’t think anyone really thought that he would.  I think we all just assumed LeRusso would advance to the finals and then cheat Adam Cole out of the title.

And that’s fine.  LeRusso is not a bad wrestler and we can’t expect Cole or Gresham to come to IWC every month to defend a title.  But it also would have been a bit underwhelming.  When you have this much high-quality outside talent in a tournament, the crowd is going to want to see them advance.  Anyway, my point is that something wild happened here.  Gresham won.  Gresham and LeRusso did an excellent job of building to that moment and LeRusso tapping out received a huge ovation.  Watching the crowd realize that they were getting Cole vs. Gresham in the finals was a lot of fun.  Gresham won in 14:43 with an octopus stretch.  ***

Match #7:  Wardlow and Jack Pollock vs. Andrew Palace and Jimmy Vegas
Given that the Super Indy tournament is designed to showcase, well, the Super Indy Title, this was a fun showcase for the heavyweight title division.  Palace and Pollock hate each other while Wardlow seems to be actively afraid of Vegas.  Yet, after this match, Pollock was named the #1 contender to Wardlow’s IWC World Heavyweight Title.  This match wasn’t designed to steal the show but it effectively showcased the hatred that was present between everyone.  Most importantly, I think anyone watching IWC for the first time to see the tournament would come away with a good impression.  Wardlow and Pollock won in 10:17.  **¾

Match #8:  IWC Women’s Title: Britt Baker © vs. Penelope Ford
Coincidentally, their significant others wrestled each other in the semifinal round.  IWC has been bringing in talent from outside of the promotion to challenge Baker because there isn’t much depth to the IWC women’s division at the moment.  So while I don’t think anyone believes Baker is losing the title anytime soon, no one has trouble getting invested in her matches.  There’s honestly not much to complain about.  Sure, the outcomes might be predictable.  But Baker is getting better in the ring and the crowd loves her.  This match was fine and a reasonable showcase of the women’s title.  Baker retained her title at 9:28 with a rings of saturn.  **½

Match #9:  Final Round: IWC Super Indy Title: Adam Cole vs. Jonathan Gresham
In his semifinal match against Joey Janela, Cole visibly tweaked his left arm and held it as he walked to the back.  The first twelve minutes of this contest saw Cole trying his best to divert Gresham’s attention away from his injured arm.  Cole hung onto a wristlock and battled over hip tosses.  Cole defeated Ion and Janela by finding openings to hit a flurry of offense.  Gresham was not giving him an opening.  But although Cole wasn’t finding any good openings, he was at least keeping Gresham away from his arm.  That, of course, didn’t last.  Gresham started hitting armdrags, turning usual transition moves into substantial offense.  Joe Dombrowski was on commentary really selling that concept.  In my opinion, the story they told was a lot of fun to watch play out.

This was a lengthy match, but I never got the impression that they were wasting time.  Cole came into this match with a bad arm and Gresham knew it.  Gresham was trying to avoid losing in the finals of Super Indy two years in a row, but Cole would not die.  The story lent itself to a longer match.  The crowd hung with them for the entire duration and the Super Indy Title never looked better.  This was a tremendous effort by both men.  Cole won the Super Indy 16 tournament in 25:52 and became the NEW Super Indy Champion.  ****

-Show Grade: A-
You Need to See: Cole/Gresham
You’d Enjoy Watching: Cole/Janela, Gresham/White, LeRusso/Gresham, Janela/Cabana
You Should Avoid:

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