Beyond Wrestling “Looking California” Review

It had been nearly six years since Beyond Wrestling ran an event in Connecticut, but thanks to their friends at Blitzkreig Pro, Beyond returned to the Constitution State (Enfield, to be exact) to present “Looking California.”

David Starr and Jay Freddie had a hot and fast opening match. With Freddie heading back to Japan after this weekend and Starr not having competed for Beyond in New England since January, neither man wanted to be served up a loss. Freddie attacked right away and devastated Starr on a folding powerbomb. Although Starr got in a string of offense to counter, you could tell that powerbomb really messed him up. The two were trying to get the better of one another with strikes, but Starr found a clear trajectory when he ducked Freddie’s Shining Wizard and then kicked out his leg. Quickly, Starr attacked the leg, and not long after submitted Freddie to the a move akin to the Lightning Lock Omega which he calls the Best Leg Move. I really enjoy matches like these. There’s no wasted time and the crowd is hot throughout the whole thing. It’s been a nice change to Beyond’s cards in 2017 and a tactic other companies could stand to learn from.

Jordynne Grace vs. Deonna Purrazzo took a somewhat similar path. The two women were trading offense, with the larger Grace enjoying a moderate advantage, until her shoulder came crashing into a ring post. Purrazzo used that to her advantage and attacked Grace’s shoulder, both in an attempt to set her up for submission, and to weaken Grace’s power advantage. Grace counteracted this by using her strong lower body (as expertly pointed out by her tag partner, LuFisto, on commentary). It was because of this she was able to lift up Purrazzo for back to back slams, but her weak shoulder made the slams not as effective as they would have been otherwise. Grace decided to use her lower body strength to submit Purrazzo in a Bear Hug, which took her several tries. In the end, Grace looked very strong withstanding Purrazzo’s offense, and Purrazzo came across as smart, calculated, and effective, maybe her most effective Beyond outing to date.

Michael Elgin and Jonathan Gresham met on a Beyond “Sleeper Cell” taping years ago, but wasn’t filmed in the best quality, and is largely forgotten. A few years later, with both men at the top of their game, Beyond hosted a rematch here in Enfield. This was very match size vs. speed. Gresham was more than capable to hang with Big Mike, but had to pick up the pace or outmaneuver him to do so. Even with Elgin catching him with hard lariats, or tossing him around, Gresham would g after Elgin’s arm or quickly slip away from him. Gresham would use a variety of pinning combinations on Elgin, and it took one that was a bit unorthodox to pin Elgin. He got Elgin in a small package of sorts, cradling Elgin while also keeping his leg trapped. Gresham was so overjoyed to have outwrestled the big man, that he leapt into the referee’s arms with joy after the three count. With two such beloved wrestlers, it was easy for the crowd to get into the match, but it was the s hard hitting, exciting wrestling kept them engaged for the entirety of the bout. These two delivered the great match you’d expect.

Since relocating to the West Coast, it’s not often at all that former Beyond regular Jarek 1:20 gets to make his way back to the company. Aside from participating in a Sleeper Cell at the CZW Academy in 2014, Jarek hadn’t been on a “regular” Beyond show since 2012. Jarek would return to New England for this weekend, and found himself across the ring from Dick Justice on this event. Justice was blown away by a card trick Jarek did with an audience member before the contest. This involved Justice’s fake gun (being taken by Jarek), Dick Justice eating a Dunkin Donuts munchkin and finding a playing card inside, and Jarek’s invisible chokeslam. It was fun, it was goofy, and honestly played better than many comedy matches. Ultimately Justice pinned Jarek with a Boss Man Slam. This was a good palette cleanser, and I’m always happy to see Jarek.

The quartets of Team Pazuzu and JML tore down the building with a crazy, action packed match. Pretty much what you envision when you hear these two teams squared off is what you got: tons of dives and crazy offense. It’s not worth recapping everything what went on, but birthday boy Zachary Wentz took not only Jaka and EYFBO’s double stomp/powerbomb/neckbreaker combo, but the Pazuzu Bomb right after to score Team Pazuzu their second 4 v 4 win of the month (previously defeating Team Tremendous and The Gentleman’s Club at “Caffeine.”) There were a couple moments where things didn’t come together as cleanly as they needed to, but otherwise this a whole mess of fun.

Team PAWG went 2-0 in singles matches with LuFisto besting Penelope Ford with a Burning Hammer. To Ford’s credit, she’s looked better and better in her Beyond outings, most notably when teaming with Joey Janela, but here she matched LuFisto in toughness which few thought was a possibility. Tragically, her miscalculated back handspring led to her own demise, as that opening was what allowed LuFisto to get her into the Hammer and put her away. I don’t think the result was ever in question, but I was pleasantly surprised to see Ford shine. I don’t think her and Janela necessarily need to be disassociated, but it’s nice to see that she could have the spotlight on her own in WWR if that was a direction Beyond chose to take. Alpha Sigma Sigma attacked LuFisto after the match, setting up their match with LuFisto and Jordynne Grace tomorrow night.

Speaking of tag partners going on their own, Ace Romero found himself without Brian Milonas on this evening, squaring off against “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams. Ace replaces Davey Richards who couldn’t make the event due to a family emergency. While Romero doesn’t seem like a 1 for 1 swap, he REALLY stepped up his game in this contest. Essentially, this was about two men who could dish out and take one another’s strikes, but one had a technical wrestling acumen, while the other had size. You knew that it would come down to one of the competitors using their biggest strength to win. Williams couldn’t knock Romero off his feet. When he’d attack, Romero would take him down with a slam of sorts. The crowd went nuts when he finally did take Romero down with a top rope dropkick. Williams got greedy and tried another top rope attack (a flying lariat), but this time Romero caught him in mid-air with a Black Hole Slam. Williams kicked out, which Romero couldn’t believe. His moment of disbelief and hesitation gave Williams the perfect moment to strike and he immediately put on a crossface. Romero had no choice but to tap out. It’s always disappointing when an advertised match can’t be delivered, but surprise outings like this one I find to be a great solution. Romero’s stock in Beyond instantly rises with such a great performance and Williams deserves credit for assisting. This might seem like a match you’d skip over, but I very much encourage watching it FREE on Beyond’s YouTube channel above.

Kyle O’Reilly made his Beyond Wrestling return on this night, last seen in singles action at “Back in Flesh” in 2011 where he lost to Mark Angel, but wrestled in 2014 with Bobby Fish in a losing effort to Team Tremendous. Angel at the time was on top of Beyond, and in his return, O’Reilly was put against arguably THE top guy of Beyond today: John Silver. This was a match that turned from two guys feeling each other on the mat, to turning up the volume when strikes came into play, and eventually becoming an all out fight. It was Silver who struck first, and O’Reilly who built the intensity with his hard kicks and leg work. Silver had no choice but to match him if he wanted to survive. It was impressive to see certain counters or responses to one another’s moves, specifically I think of O’Reilly countering Silver’s catapult Canadian Destroyer with a knee strike to the face. After exhausting one another with tit-for-tat strikes and submissions with Silver getting O’Reilly in his single-arm straightjacket choke twice. When it became apparent O’Reilly wouldn’t submit, but Silver had him near the verge of passing out, Silver finished the job by releasing the hold and delivering a hard punt to the head to pin O’Reilly. This was a really interesting and engaging fight, and felt different from Silver’s other Beyond matches. O’Reilly’s style helped accentuate Silver’s and the entire time it felt like Silver was fighting an equal, which speaks volumes to how much Silver has progressed in the past year or so. I really enjoyed this, and it was nice to see O’Reilly in a different environment.

The main event saw Donovan Dijak, coming off his second singles loss to Matt Riddle, facing “The Bad Boy” Joey Janela in a first time match-up. Dijak has been possessed and angered by these losses, which was made apparent right away when before the bell he tosses Janela outside and blasted his manager/girlfriend Penelope Ford with Feast Your Eyes. This made the contest all the more personal, with Janela walloping Dijak with strikes and recklessly diving onto or after him. Dijak was just as reckless, and there was a legitimately terrifying moment when he gave Janela a chokeslam onto the apron, but Janela kept going after the impact and crashed to the floor. Commentary momentarily vacated to make sure he was ok (and thankfully he was), but Dijak demolished him with a top rope twisting dive. Somehow Janela survived, which only made Dijak more emotional. Janela accomplished something few have done: kicking out of Feast Your Eyes. Penelope was able to interject with a swinging headscissors at one point to help Janela. Janela would often tease his fellow wrestlers by referring to himself as “Grapplefuck Joe”, which makes it all the more clever that it was the LeBell Lock that got Janela the victory. The first time Dijak was able to escape, but the second time he passed out in the hold. After the match, Dijak stated he saw something in Janela that made him believe Janela could be the one to defeat Matt Riddle, and Janela challenged Riddle to a match at Americanrana. Dijak reached a point of recklessness and frustration in this match that we had not seen in previous battles. Unfortunately, he was going up with somebody known for getting reckless, and put his hands on his significant others beforehand, and it backfired. It served as a wake up call for Dijak, as well as setting up Janela the next stage of his Beyond career. The match was awesome, scary, and a lot of fun, all at once, and a great way to cap off the company’s return to Connecticut.

Overall: Beyond’s owner Denver Colorado has gone on record to say that he feels this is the best show Beyond has put on in 2017, and I’d agree with that statement. The wrestling was great, there were a number of matches that over delivered, and with “Caffeine” out of the way the company has pivoted all their stories to “Americanrana.” This is an easy recommendation.

Check out the bulk of Beyond Wrestling’s entire catalogue, including this event, at BeyonDemand. $9.99 a month unlocks tons of past and current shows to stream, including raw footage of the latest events, as well as BeyonDemand exclusives such as “Greatest Rivals Round Robin 2”, a clinic with Zack Sabre, Jr., never before seen Eddie Edwards matches, and shoot interviews.

For more information, visit Beyond Wrestling’s official website. For a bunch of free matches, clips, and other fun stuff, check out Beyond’s YouTube page. You can also follow them on Twitter and through their Facebook page.

Quick Results/Match Times/Star Ratings

1. David Starr submits Jay Freddie to the Best Leg Move in 4:38. **¾

2. Women’s Wrestling Revolution Showcase: Jordynne Grace submits Deonna Purrazzo in a Bearhug in 7:34. **¾

3. Jonathan Gresham pins Michael Elgin in 11:48 with a leg capture small package. ***½

4. Supercop Dick Justice pins Jarek 1:20 with a Boss Man Slam in 6:16. **

5. Team Pazuzu (Chris Dickinson, Jaka, Mike Draztik & Angel Ortiz) defeated JML (Jake Crist, Dave Crist, Zachary Wentz & Dezmond Xavier) in 12:12 with a Pazuzu Bomb from Dickinson to Wentz. ***½

6. Women’s Wrestling Revolution Showcase: LuFisto pins Penelope Ford with a Burning Hammer in 8:27. **½

7. “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams tapped out Ace Romero in a crossface in 11:30. ***¼

8. John Silver pins Kyle O’Reilly with a running punt to the head in 19:53. ***¾

9. Joey Janela made Donovan Dijak pass out in the LeBell Lock in 12:21. ***½

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