IWA Mid-South “Ted Petty Invitational 2017, Night 1” Review

September 14th, 2017

All of the matches on Night 1 are first round matches in the Ted Petty Invitational tournament.

Opening Match:  Mance Warner vs. Space Monkey
I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Monkey in a serious match, so it was nice to see what he could do in a competitive setting.  His gimmick seems to work quite well and Warner skillfully played along.  A monkey flip through two chairs at ringside and a vicious headbutt down the stretch were two moments that stood out to me.  I ended up enjoying this opener a lot more than I thought I would and it’s actually a match that I would rewatch.  Monkey’s shenanigans were entertaining without overwhelming the match, allowing Warner to be impressive as well.  Warner won in 11:56 with a lariat.  ***

Match #2:  Calvin Tankman vs. Zodiak
Zodiak used to be a member of the faction that Tankman is now in.  Unfortunately, I’m missing a nuanced understanding of their history together.  They spent the first three minutes of this contest chopping each other and then collided on a sick, simultaneous headbutt.  Once the action settled down, the intensity decreased and they lost their momentum from the hot start.  I wish they would have shortened the match but maintained their frantic pacing, because those were the moments when I could tell they hated each other.  Zodiak won in 13:53 with a heart punch.  **

Match #3:  Ludark Shaitan vs. Su Yung
I was never really able to get into this match.  Shaitan tried to make the action more about brawling, which was a nice touch, but a lot of the ringside brawling didn’t feel natural.  They were missing the intensity that made the opening minutes of Tankman/Zodiak successful.  I haven’t seen Yung wrestle since she left the WWN universe so I’m looking forward to what she can do with her opponent next round.  Yung won in 8:21 with the Panic Switch.  *½

Match #4:  Gary Jay vs. Homicide
This was a more compact match that kept the action flowing, which is a good space for Homicide to occupy in 2017.  Homicide even targeted Jay’s arm in beginning of the match and ended up winning with an arm submission.  I want to say that the match could have used a few extra minutes but again, Homicide seems to fare better in shorter outings.  I would have liked to see what Jay could do throughout the rest of the tournament, but Homicide appears to be motivated this weekend.  Homicide won in 8:50 with a keylock.  **½

Match #5:  Anthony Henry vs. Jonathan Gresham
Having watched Gresham make it to the finals of two Super Indy tournaments, his strategy has always been to withstand flurries of offense from his opponents until he can trap them with submissions and limb work.  That’s very much how this contest played out and it was fascinating.  Henry was on point and came off as the perfect contrast to Gresham’s style.  There’s a terrific moment down the stretch where Henry has to transition between four submissions to prevent Gresham from reaching the bottom rope.  Not only was the action clean, but as a viewer you never had a firm grasp on where things were headed.  They made everything count and Henry’s excellent selling made the finish satisfying.  As far as ten-minute exhibitions go, this was textbook.  Gresham won in 11:50 by repeatedly slamming Henry’s knee into the canvas.  ***½

Match #6:  Ace Perry vs. Shane Strickland
Remember when Chris Hero destroyed Jonathan Wolf at last year’s TPI?  This was similar in that Strickland increased his aggression to make an example out of a someone who could be fairly called a younger version of Strickland.  I really enjoyed the direction they took this match, as they very easily could have settled for a 50/50 battle with Perry looking strong in defeat.  I think highlighting the difference in pro wrestling experience was smart.  Strickland played the role of angry veteran quite well and this was a unique match that will stand out on a crowded card.  Strickland won in 13:30 with a cross armbreaker.  ***¼

Match #7:  IWA-MS Heavyweight Title: Aaron Williams © vs. Arik Cannon
Williams decided to defend his title throughout the tournament this year.  We had reached a point in the show where the crowd was starting to drift off a bit.  However, they were able to get everyone to bite on a few nearfalls down the stretch through sheer tyranny of will.  They had some impressive big man exchanges and showed solid chemistry together.  Cannon is extremely reliable and him returning to a tournament he nearly won to dethrone the current IWA-MS champion in the first round was intriguing.  The crowd buying that Williams could lose the title here is a good sign for them being engaged as Williams continues to defend his title throughout the tournament.  They didn’t steal the show or anything but they delivered a strong match given their spot on the card.  Williams retained his title in 12:32 with a roundhouse kick.  ***

Match #8:  Kongo Kong vs. Larry D
Oh, man.  This match fell into the trap of two big men going out of their way to perform needlessly athletic spots with commentary preemptively freaking out.  Keith Lee and Donovan Dijak have found a way to make this style seem realistic and genuine.  This contest did not check those boxes.  There’s no doubt that they worked hard, but the execution was off at times and they went overkill on nearfalls for a twelve-match card.  Larry D won in 13:20 with a sunset flip.  *

Match #9:  David Starr vs. Shane Mercer
Much like Williams and Cannon, they worked incredibly hard to deliver a quality match that made the crowd take notice.  There were hints of interference throughout the contest which dare I say added to the action because the previous eight matches featured zero interference.  I remember not caring for Mercer while watching last year’s TPI but he was impressive here.  I’m also finding that Starr can pretty much do no wrong in 2017.  Good for them.  Starr won in 13:17 with a straightjacket german suplex.  ***

Match #10:  Devon Moore vs. Jonathan Wolf
Moore was filling in for Davey Richards, who no-showed this event due to alleged mandatory paramedic duties.  A recurring theme that you’ll find on this show is that everyone is working really hard.  The crowd is getting burnt out, but you can’t blame them given the show length.  I don’t think that they succeeded as much as previous matches in winning the crowd over despite Moore flying around the ring like a madman.  I have to admit, Davey Richards beating up Jonathan Wolf a la Chris Hero last year would have been fun.  Moore won in 9:48 with a flying elbow drop.  **

Match #11:  Eddie Kingston vs. Nate Webb
This was the shortest match on the show but they managed to keep the action predominantly back and forth, incorporating some strong style elements.  There were a few very painful visuals down the stretch.  Again, given a twelve-match card and a burnt-out crowd, I think this match served its purpose.  For some fans, there also may be value in watching two TPI veterans duking it out.  Kingston won in 7:27 with a spinning backfist.  **½

Match #12:  Dave Crist vs. Jake Crist
This match was a big reason why I was interested in this year’s TPI.  They delivered a strong match which would have been elevated had it taken place in front of a hotter crowd.  The brothers took the expected approach of just throwing bombs at each other and it ended up working pretty well.  I actually expected more nearfalls and a longer match, but I certainly will not fault them for ending at fourteen minutes.  I’ve never been a fan of twenty-five minute matches, but I think these two have a classic in them that’s waiting to come out.  This wasn’t a classic, but it was a very solid main event and a nice way to close out night one.  Jake won in 14:20 with a backslide.  ***¼

-Show Grade: B
You Need to See:
You’d Enjoy Watching: Henry/Gresham, Crist/Crist, Strickland/Perry, Starr/Mercer, Williams/Cannon, Warner/Monkey
You Should Avoid: Kong/Larry D

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