AAW continues its scorching 2017 with another sizzlin’ card that, as of this writing, features nine can’t-miss match ups and plenty of talent left to be inserted into competition. You know your card is stacked when guys like Davey Vega and Jeff Cobb don’t have matches announced yet. 115 Bourbon Street in Merrionette Park, IL will be heating up on Saturday, July 15, and I mean that as literally as possible. On paper, with a potential 10 or even 11 bouts, this is one of the company’s deepest cards to date, and anybody who has followed AAW in 2017 knows more or less what to expect. But for those of you who don’t, allow me to run down the matches and clue you in on the goings-on of the Midwest’s top independent wrestling promotion.
The Match: Samantha Heights vs. Scarlett Bordeuax
The Skinny: Scarlett has legacy in AAW, having helped Shane Hollister win and retain his AAW Heavyweight Championship on numerous occasions. She’s also made appearances in companies like Ring of Honor as both a valet and competitor for Women of Honor. She is very popular, especially with the male contingent of the audience. Samantha Heights, meanwhile, wrestles out of Ohio and was trained by Dave Crist. Heights has wrestled for AAW before, but only in LaSalle, so this will be her Chicago debut.
My Take: I’m not going to lie: I’ve seen a combined one match between these two, and it was that squash match of Scarlett’s on Raw against Nia Jax. So I’m not exactly the best guy to ask about what these two are capable of, or how this match is going to play out. But it’s interesting that AAW can get pretty much any name on the American market right now and this is the pairing they go with. I just think if you’re going to have a single women’s match on the card, you’ve got to go with top names. Scarlett wins.
The Match: John Morrison vs. Chuck Taylor
The Skinny: After an… interesting showing against Brian Cage in June, Morrison gets another crack at it against newly crowned Pro Wrestling Guerrilla World Champion Chuck Taylor — yes, you read that correctly. It still looks a little funny, doesn’t it? Well, what if I told you Chuck Taylor as a singles performer when he cuts the comedy is — *adjusting glasses* — actually good? Taylor has a lot of upside, and he will do well in a match with Morrison, who comes to AAW to work the crowd. This match could have some of the loudest, wildest reactions of the night.
My Take: Despite the fact that he turned in one of the worst performances of the year last month, I am excited to see what John Morrison is able to do against Chuck Taylor, himself an underrated singles property. And, if I’m being real, I’m also excited to see Chuck in a spot where he can shine. No more multi-man or six-man tags for ol’ Charles lad. I don’t expect dynamite between these two, as the stakes aren’t there and Morrison has some rebuilding to do, but for what it’s worth, this could surprise a lot of people. Morrison wins probably.
The Match: David Starr vs. Eddie Kingston, I Quit Match
The Skinny: Well, this escalated quickly. These two first squared off at May’s “Take No Prisoners,” which saw Starr pin an ailing Kingston with a straight jacket German suplex. Throughout the match up, King’s neck was the target of Starr, which in Kingston’s mind was a cheap move for a newcomer to make. First impressions aside, Starr was the winner, but now Eddie is out for redemption. Calling out Starr in a recent backstage interview, King demanded another match — and it was recently announced it would be an I Quit Match. Kingston is known for his love of spiky things and brawling, ideal for a match that caliber, which leaves the question: Can Starr hang?
My Take: While I think Eddie’s days as an in-ring technician are nearing a close, the man is still one heck of a storyteller, and he’s got a real gem on his hands here. The beaten down old vet versus the up-and-coming young gun has been done before, but King is so good with his words that he’s able to put his own spin on it and make it fresh and interesting. This is the type of match that keeps Kingston in his comfort zone, which is a good thing, and takes Starr out of his, which is a good thing. The story being told is positioning Starr for a huge victory on his way to, ahem, stardom in AAW, so The Product makes the War King say “those words.”
The Match: Myron Reed vs. ACH
The Skinny: Reed is one of AAW’s best and brightest young talents, and at age of 20 years old, the world is his proverbial oyster. For ACH, this must be like looking in a mirror in some ways. Reed is just coming up in the Midwest, similar to a younger ACH down in Texas in the early 2010s, and Reed’s frenetic style almost emulates a previous version of ACH. But this is 2017, and ACH is far smarter and less inclined to flips — and less inclined to mistakes — so Reed will have to bring his A-game if he hopes to pull off a win here. Can “Hot Fiya” upset the man who dubs himself “Super”? Or will ACH brain-bust his way to yet another victory?
My Take: I called for this match a month ago, and I am happy to see it on this month’s card. I’ve always said AAW is in prime position to make a name for a younger or lesser known talent, and lately, they’ve been doing just that by handing out killer matches to the likes of Xavier, Wentz, Fitchett and now Reed. If ACH brings the business and puts on his working boots, this will be a contender for match of the night and one you look back at fondly while reading the back of the DVD in a handful of years. If not, it will still be pretty good. ACH wins.
The Match: Matt Riddle vs. Mat Fitchett
The Skinny: After a solid showing in singles competition against Zack Sabre Jr. at “Killers Among Us,” Mat Fitchett is poised to break out, and he will have his greatest test to date in Matt Riddle. The “King of Bros” is making his first appearance at an AAW event since tasting defeat at the hands of Michael Elgin at April’s “EPIC: The 13th Anniversary Show.” Fitchett by far has the experience edge, but Riddle is perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime performer. In this battle of the mat — see what I did there — who will prove himself the king, and who will prove himself the rook?
My Take: I was bummed after Riddle had to pull out of last month’s show, whatever the reason ended up being, but this is as good a make-good match as I can imagine. I enjoy watching Riddle throw guys around like they’re sacks of cornmeal, and who better to fill that role than Fitchett — who should more than hold his own here. This is a huge spot for Fitchett against one of the world’s best, and if he delivers here, there should be more big-time match ups in his future. Riddle wins but Fitchett shows.
The Match: Penta El Zero M and Shane Strickland vs. Trevor Lee and Garza Jr.
The Skinny: On the surface, this match is pretty straightforward: Two Lucha Underground stars running up against two stars of whatever Impact Wrestling likes to call itself this week (I’m sure even the wrestlers are confused about this). It appears Penta and Trevor are working their way toward a feud, possibly building toward a second singles match for the AAW Heritage Championship somewhere down the line. If Lee and Garza Jr. are victorious here, I’d bet that match happens on the 8/31 show — though that would leave Trevor short of his goal of winning the big prize, the Heavyweight Title.
My Take: I like all four guys in this match but for different reasons, so there’s no real way I won’t come away from this entertained and satisfied, though I think I would have preferred it to be a four-way match. In AAW lore, Lee and Garza Jr. have no established relationship, nor do Penta and Strickland, so neither team makes a whole lot of sense to me. Regardless, this will be fun, and Trevor should be able to get a pinfall over Penta to set up the next title match, whenever that will be. Lee and Garza Jr. win here.
The Match: War Machine (Ray Rowe and Hanson) vs. OI4K (Dave and Jake Crist)
The Skinny: This is OI4K’s first proper match back in AAW since Dave took some time off due to injury two months ago. Jake has been tearing it up in singles competition, most recently winning a pair of four-way matches. War Machine successfully defeated the team of reDRagon at June’s “Take No Prisoners,” impressing AAW officials enough to get a return date out of it. And thank the almighty, for War Machine is perhaps the hottest free agent tag team on the planet right now, recently having recaptured the IWGP Tag Team Championships at NJPW’s shows in Long Beach. Will the War Machine roll on, or will Ohio’s favorite sons show Rowe and Hanson that home (away from home) is where the heart is?
My Take: All right, so I dig War Machine and I dig OI4K, but I don’t yet know how they will mesh together. For me, War Machine is hit or miss, usually depending upon their opponents, and the Crist Brothers are as good as they come, so for all intents and purposes, this should be a good contest. However, I do think Dave coming back from injury could be a wildcard — at the least, his sore spots will be targeted and exploited by the much larger, much hairier lads of War Machine. I think either team can win this one, realistically, but since AAW is OI4K’s home base, of sorts, they will take take it.
The Match: AR Fonix (AR Fox and Rey Fenix) (c) vs. Scarlet & Graves (Zachary Wentz and Dezmond Xavier), AAW Tag Team Championship Match
The Skinny: After a number of impressive, show-stealing performances, including a W in a six-man tag at “Killers Among Us” in which Wentz got the pinfall, Scarlet & Graves has finally earned itself another Tag Team Championship opportunity. At March’s “Homecoming,” Xavier and Wentz were goaded into a championship match with OI4K before they were ready, so this will be their first proper shot. Fox and Fenix have been on a roll, most recently having defeated Shane Strickland and Lio Rush at “Thursday Night Special,” and they look to continue their reign as champions here against the two young guns. Which high-flying tandem will come out victorious?
My Take: Some of these tag matches over the past three months or so have been, in a word, bonkers. And this is another one of them. Finally, Scarlet & Graves getting its first true shot on the big stage of Bourbon Street, in front of over 600 fans. And they deserve it, Xavier and Wentz, the former of whom is entered into the 2017 Pro Wrestling Guerrilla Battle of Los Angeles. Wentz is incredible in his own right. With the titles on the line, this match is huge for all four guys, so they will want to bring it. All I can say is, just watch. Just watch. AR Fonix picks up the victory.
The Match: Keith Lee vs. Sami Callihan (c), AAW Heavyweight Championship Match
The Skinny: Sami Callihan eked out a win against Michael Elgin at “Killers Among Us,” smartly working on Big Mike’s hamstring for the duration of the contest before hooking his bad leg with a quick cover. It was a smart move, and a move he is poised to employ again against the likes of an even bigger man in the form of “Limitless” Keith Lee, who last defeated Donovan Dijak in a Berwyn classic at “Thursday Night Special.” Can AAW’s new man of the hour Spirit Bomb Callihan and put the “heavyweight” in Heavyweight Champion? Or will the “Worldwide Desperado” chop him down yet another one?
My Take: With how good Sami has been in his main events, and how the AAW crowds have responded to Keith Lee in his first two appearances, I can tell you a few things. 1) This will be a spectacle, much like Lee’s other two matches. Pomp, circumstance, elation from the crowd. 2) Lee will need to be on the ball to match Sami’s intensity, as AAW is Callihan’s house, and he comes to play. And 3) I think it surpass the hype it has been given, which isn’t much, at least in comparison to previous months’ main events. That considered, I think Sami takes it home, as he has a date with one Rey Fenix down the line, one would presume, for the championship. Or we could only hope.
That’s a wrap!
Are you attending AAW on the 15th? Give me a shout on Twitter at @deathinkosovo to let me know what you are most excited to see!