IWA Mid-South: “Ted Petty Invitational 2017, Night 2” Review

September 15th, 2017

Opening Match:  Quarterfinal Round: Shane Strickland vs. Jake Crist
The VOD of this show is twenty minutes shy of five hours.  A big challenge for every match tonight is going to be how deliver in the context of such a massive card.  These two unsurprisingly delivered in the opener.  They packed a ton of action into nine minutes.  Strickland worked over Jake’s arm to try to neutralize the tombstone.  Jake defeated his brother last night with a backslide and employed the tactic again to put away Strickland.  The small touches of storytelling among clean, fast-paced action made for a fun opener.  Crist won in 9:29 with a backslide.  ***

Match #2:  Quarterfinal Round: Zodiak vs. Eddie Kingston
Zodiak utilizes a heart punch, which he apparently has built up to be quite deadly.  I enjoy watching Kingston wrestle because he is quirky.  His promos from five years or so ago remain some of my favorite because the man is just passionate about pro wrestling.  This entire match was Kingston selling an early heart punch and it was beautiful.  It’s not even clear to me whether the match was actually good.  But watching Kingston fight from behind while on the verge of puking was a sight to behold.  Kingston has these performances from time to time which remind us that there is no one else quite like him in professional wrestling.  Kingston won in 13:08 with the Backfist to the Future.  **¼

Match #3:  Quarterfinal Round: Jonathan Gresham vs. Devon Moore
I was hoping they would take the route of Gresham withstanding Moore’s reckless offense until he could catch Moore with a submission.  Instead, this was very one-sided in Gresham’s favor, as he schooled Moore on the mat for most of the match.  While the one-sidedness was believable given how the action played out, I don’t think it made for an interesting contest.  Funnily enough, the crowd heavily disagreed with me and they came alive for Gresham and Moore.  I could certainly be missing something here, but I thought this was one of the weaker matches of the tournament thus far.  Gresham won in 10:52 with an octopus stretch.  *½

Match #4:  Quarterfinal Round: Mance Warner vs. Larry D
I get the sense that since these two are IWA-MS regulars and not outside talent, they felt the need to make a statement.  I dislike how they went about trying to make a statement and I may be in the minority.  Unprotected headbutts will never be up my alley and I completely understand that reasonable minds can disagree.  However, unprotected headbutts to zero crowd reaction should not be up anyone’s alley.  As the nearfalls started down the stretch, the crowd eventually became invested in the action.  However, I think they ran the risk of burning the crowd out on such a massive card.  This just didn’t work for me.  Larry D won in 12:17 with a backbreaker.  ½*

Match #5:  Quarterfinal Round: Su Yung vs. Homicide
The idea here was that Homicide did not take Yung as a serious threat and that came back to bite him.  It was a predictable route to go and I could have done without some of Homicide’s pre-match comments, but the crowd popped huge for Yung’s eventual win.  At the end of the day, Yung winning will be a  memorable moment from the tournament.  However, I really hope that she’s able to show what she can do in the semifinals against Jake Crist.  Yung won in 12:34 with a flying crossbody.  **

Match #6:  Quarterfinal Round: IWA-MS Heavyweight Title: Aaron Williams © vs. David Starr
This was a strong title defense for Williams as he proved that he can more than hang with Starr.  They injected some personality into the action and kept trying to top each other with the intensity of their striking.  I don’t know if there is a more consistent wrestler right now than Starr.  In a tournament setting, this match was so grueling that it legitimately casted doubt on whether Williams was going to walk out of the tournament with his title reign intact.  That is especially true given that his semifinals opponent is Eddie Kingston.  This was a very good match in its own right but it also worked well in the broader context of the TPI.  Williams retained his title in 14:22 with a roundhouse kick.  ***¼

Match #7:  Nate Webb vs. Space Monkey
As you might expect, there was a lot of attempted comedy here between Webb, Monkey, the referee, and commentary.  None of it really worked for me, but again I understand that reasonable minds could disagree about this sort of thing.  However, I hope we can all agree that thirteen minutes was a bit much given how massive the night two card ended up being.  Webb won in 12:42 with a DDT.  ½*

Match #8:  Semifinal Round: Jonathan Gresham vs. Larry D
This was the case of my favorite wrestler in the tournament squaring off against my least favorite wrestler in the tournament.  I promise that you’ll enjoy Gresham’s tournament matches a great amount if you view his strategy as withstanding the brunt of his opponent’s offense to find an opening to put the match away.  To Larry D’s credit, he did a great job of beating the shit out of Gresham.  Commentary promised me that after this TPI, Larry D would be on the same level as Keith Lee.  I don’t think that’s true, but I’m glad that he put in at least one strong performance.  I suspect that some people will watch this match and actually find my rating too low.  I will say that I certainly wasn’t expecting this much of a war and both men worked incredibly hard.  Gresham won in 18:53 with a sleeper hold.  ***¼

Match #9:  Semifinal Round: IWA-MS Heavyweight Title: Aaron Williams © vs. Eddie Kingston
About two minutes into this match, Williams powerbombs Kingston onto the concrete floor.  The whole place went silent as Kingston lay on the floor.  It was one of the most unexpected, crazy spots I’ve seen in quite some time.  Kingston decided to keep fighting, but the result was pretty inevitable at that point.  I have absolutely no idea how much according to plan that powerbomb spot went.  This was more of a spectacle than anything else.  Williams retained his title in 7:02 with a roundhouse kick.  **½

Match #10:  Semifinal Round: Jake Crist vs. Su Yung
This felt unexpectedly similar to Yung’s quarterfinal match in that Jake set out to inflict some serious punishment.  A superplex through twelve chairs implies that things are pretty serious.  The two other semifinal matches went for an epic vibe, so I wish this one would have been more contained.  I don’t think every spot came off as well as they would have liked, but there’s no denying that this was a difficult night for Yung and she took a lot of punishment.  Jake continues finding success with the backslide.  Crist won in 10:36 with a backslide.  **¾

Match #11:  Anthony Henry and Shane Sabre vs. Gary Jay and Ludark Shaitan
The random nature of the pairings as well as this match taking place at midnight made for a showcase that was just there.  I anticipate that the eight-man tag happening next will captivate the crowd more simply due to there being more personalities involved.  Everyone worked hard but they never were able to settle into a rhythm.  Jay and Shaitan won in 10:23.  **

Match #12:  Arik Cannon, Calvin Tankman, Jonathan Wolf, and Shane Mercer vs. Kongo Kong, Dave Crist, Cole Radrick, and Ace Perry
This was campy in the right kind of way.  The match itself was long (as expected to give the finalists time to rest) but never boring.  The action never drifted too far from reality and everyone looked good.  Cannon and Crist were the angry veterans.  Kong and Tankman were the monsters that everyone generally tried to avoid.  Radrick and Perry impressed with clean offense and a few visually impressive exchanges.  The multi-man tag match on the final night of a tournament is a staple at this point.  While this one was about what you’d expect, I think the execution was good enough to deliver a fun twenty-four minute ride.  Plus, Eddie Kingston on commentary freaking out is always a treat.  Kong, Crist, Radrick, and Perry won in 24:10.  ***

Match #13:  Final Round: IWA-MS Heavyweight Title: Aaron Williams © vs. Jonathan Gresham vs. Jake Crist
Everyone was tired.  The crowd was tired.  These three wrestlers had to have been tired.  While I don’t believe that twenty-seven minutes was the right call, it’s certainly impressive that they were physically able to keep things going.  Gresham was eliminated from the match after about six minutes, rendering him somewhat of an afterthought unfortunately.  Williams and Crist had some decent exchanges, but the crowd understandably came and went in waves with their reactions.  The best part of this match by far was Crist trying a backslide at the twenty-six minute mark and EVERYONE biting on the nearfall.

While I thought this match was too long, there is some nostalgia in night two of the TPI being a near five-hour show.  The Ted Petty Invitational was a huge deal back when I first started watching independent professional wrestling twelve years ago.  This year’s edition of the tournament brought back memories from all those years ago.  If there is one independent professional wrestling show per year that I’d be willing to devote five hours to watching, it’s the Ted Petty Invitational.  Williams won the 2017 Ted Petty Invitational and retained his title at 27:09.  **½

Match #14:  IWA-MS Heavyweight Title: Aaron Williams © vs. Devon Moore
After winning the tournament, Shane Mercer attacked Williams with a metal spike, busting him open.  Moore then cashed in his “opportunity in a box” to challenge a battered Williams for his title.  Williams was then able to put away Moore somewhat easily.  Alrighty then.  Williams retained his title at 1:04 with a short-arm lariat.

-Show Grade: C+
You Need to See:
You’d Enjoy Watching: Gresham/Larry, Williams/Starr, Strickland/Crist, eight-man tag
You Should Avoid: Warner/Larry, Monkey/Webb

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