NOVA Pro Wrestling: American Slang 2017 Review

July 14th, 2017

Preshow Match:  AC Hawkes and Sage Phillips vs. Ethan Alexander Sharpe and Isaiah Frasier
This wasn’t my favorite preshow match because a heat segment took up most of the duration and the hot tag didn’t lead to anything too interesting.  Frasier didn’t receive much of a chance to showcase his offense down the stretch after impressing the NOVA Pro crowd last month.  Seven minutes was a lot to ask of the crowd for THAT finish.  Sharpe and Frasier won in 7:14 when Sharpe rolled up Phillips while holding his tights.  ½*

Opening Match:  The Gymnasty Boyz (Timmy Lou Retton and White Mike) vs. The Ugly Ducklings (Lance Lude and Rob Killjoy)
I’m fairly unfamiliar with both of these teams but they were certainly impressive in this opener.  The Ugly Ducklings in particular stood out, as they did in their EVOLVE debut, as an unorthodox team that can connect with any crowd.  The crowd connection combined with unique offense made for an enjoyable opener that didn’t try to do too much.  With Cutie and the Beast leaving the tag team division, I think either team would be welcomed back.  The Ugly Ducklings won in 9:16 with the Ducksday Device.  ***

Match #2:  John Kermon vs. Rory Gulak
This was the type of match that we’ve come to expect from Kermon, but it lacked the intensity that most of his other matches have had this year.  Usually with Kermon’s matches I am able to point to a moment in the match where the intensity escalated and the finishing stretch usually reflects that.  Here, the closing minutes weren’t discernable from the rest of the action.  Fortunately, the crowd hung with them and fans of the style will find this enjoyable for what it was.  Kermon won in 8:40 with an arm submission.  **½

Match #3:  Faye Jackson vs. Sahara Seven
Seven was making her NOVA Pro debut and Jackson ran through her pretty quickly.  It seems like Jackson is being setup as a threat to challenge Angelus Layne moving forward.  Even though this was largely a squash match for Jackson, there is certainly value in having wrestlers appear on shows nearly every month to maintain consistency in the women’s division.  Jackson won in 4:03 with a corner cannonball.  *

Match #4:  wXw Shotgun Title and AIW Absolute Title: David Starr © vs. Tim Donst ©
Given that two titles were on the line from different promotions, I would not blame you for being skeptical about there being a clean finish.  Interestingly enough, they decided to play off of that skepticism.  Four minutes into the match, both men got counted out.  The match was then restarted with no countouts.  Then, five minutes later, both men shoved the referee and got disqualified.  The match was then restarted with no disqualifications.  Everything eventually ended in a draw when both men’s shoulders were down during a pin attempt.  The shenanigans undoubtedly affected the match quality.  At the end of the day, not having a decisive winner was all too predictable and underwhelming.  However, restarting the match twice gave the fans the illusion that we were going to get a clear winner.  The match was a fun ride in that sense and the action in between restarts was very good.  Rating this one is difficult.  The match ended in a draw at 14:49.  **¾

Match #5:  Reed Bentley and Mance Warner vs. The Sandwich Squad (Aaron Biggs and Mecha Mercenary)
This felt like a typical post-intermission match to get the crowd back into the show.  Bentley and Warner weren’t treated like serious threats and the Sandwich Squad won rather convincingly.  The crowd was vocal for the Sandwich Squad as usual, so this match served its purpose.  The Sandwich Squad won in 10:13 after splashing Warner.  **

Match #6:  Sonjay Dutt vs. Matt Cross
As expected, this was a solid exhibition between two wrestlers with great chemistry together.  I don’t know what anyone is supposed to do about it, but Cross is certainly under-appreciated.  They spent the beginning portion of the match highlighting Cross’ power advantage before delivering a fun finishing stretch which progressed in unexpected and unique ways.  Dutt wrestling outside talent on NOVA Pro shows is almost always a winning recipe and that holds true here.  This match could easily open next year’s Slammiversary or whatever it’s going to be called.  Dutt won in 13:46 with a rollup.  ***¼

Match #7:  Arik Royal vs. Bobby Shields, Alexander James, and Tripp Cassidy
The idea here was that Royal agreed to wrestle three opponents under the stipulation that if he won, he would get a rematch against Logan Easton LaRoux.  I was a bit worried about how Shields, James, and Cassidy would come off if they couldn’t defeat Royal in a handicapped match, but luckily the booking had that covered.  Cassidy quit the match by punching out James after Shields’ ego got in his way.  Royal was able to capitalize from that point.  Having Royal defeat those responsible for his first NOVA Pro loss en route to his rematch with LaRoux was smart booking and the match was enjoyable for what it was.  Royal won in 10:06 with the Kondo Clutch on James.  **¼

Match #8:  Angelus Layne vs. Brittany Blake
As with a lot of the matches previously on the card, it was quite obvious who this match was designed to showcase.  They wrestled a solid six-minute match.  Layne’s offense effectively neutralized Blake’s agility and they did a great job of making the action seem competitive within a short duration.  The post-match angle was more memorable, with Layne throwing a fireball into NOVA Pro’s creator’s face.  Layne has been booked quite well in that she claims she wants to destroy the promotion but she also takes actual steps to do so.  NOVA Pro keeping any sort of authority figure off the shows made this angle even more impactful.  I’m excited to see how Layne progresses moving forward.  Layne won in 6:20 with the Gravedigger.  ***

Match #9:  Innocent Isaiah vs. Beau Crockett
It was obvious that one match alone was not going to be enough to end this feud, but this was an excellent first chapter.  Isaiah came into this match impassioned while Crockett was able to keep his cool.  That allowed Crockett to work over Isaiah’s leg and generally control the action.  Over time, Crockett became frustrated at his inability to put Isaiah away.  Once Isaiah figured out that the best way to embarrass Crockett was to beat him at his own game, a low blow followed by a rollup won him the match.  The right atmosphere combined with smart storytelling made for an enjoyable contest.  I think they set the groundwork for a really interesting feud.  Isaiah won in 11:38 with a rollup.  ***

Match #10:  PWI Ultra J Title: Ladder Match: Chet Sterling © vs. Logan Easton LaRoux
As far as ladder matches are concerned, this checked a lot of the right boxes.  They made good use of the ladders and both men generally took advantage of opportunities to grab the title.  The PWI Ultra J Title sort of became the defacto title in NOVA Pro but I certainly didn’t think it would change hands here.  In that sense, NOVA Pro has really established LaRoux as the king of the promotion.  He won his feud against Sonjay Dutt in a cage, won the first ever Commonwealth Cup, and gave Arik Royal his first loss in NOVA Pro.  Now, he defeated his longtime rival to win NOVA Pro’s recognized championship.  Next month, LaRoux wrestles Arik Royal and I legitimately have no idea who is going to win, which makes following a promotion fun.  Absent something extraordinary, ladder matches have a ceiling to them, but this one was well-executed.  LaRoux won in 18:37 to become the NEW PWI Ultra J Champion.  ***½

-Show Grade: B
You Need to See:
You’d Enjoy Watching: Sterling/LaRoux, Dutt/Cross, Isaiah/Crockett, Layne/Blake, opener
You Should Avoid:

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