NOVA Pro Wrestling: NOVA Project 3 Review

September 22nd, 2017

Preshow Match:  Isaiah Frazier vs. AC Hawkes vs. Ken Dixon vs. The Juggernaut
Any combination of these four in a singles match would probably have been better than this four-way.  There were a lot of potential alliances, which effectively translated to mini heat segments in a six-minute match.  I think the match would have benefitted from throwing structure out the window and just being a sprint from bell to bell.  Dixon has not really had a chance to spread his wings in NOVA Pro yet, but he always struck me as a talented wrestler.  Dixon won in 6:12 with a flapjack on Juggernaut.  ¾*

Preshow Match #2:  Donovan Danhausen vs. Sage Philips
Philips, as the babyface, actually took the time to go around ringside and slap everyone’s hand.  It’s a small thing, but I always think giving fans some level of interaction to begin a show is important to keeping them invested for the night.  This functioned much better as a preshow match in that they kept the action flowing and played up the heel/face dynamic.  I wouldn’t mind seeing what they could do with more time.  Philips won in 5:04 with a butterfly suplex.  *½

Opening Match:  Faye Jackson vs. Sahara Seven
This was a rematch from American Slang in July, which was essentially a squash match for Jackson.  Sahara ended up being much more competitive here, relying on her striking to keep Jackson off-balance.  The crowd was engaged because they love Faye Jackson.  There was a painfully awkward moment where Sahara presumably forgot about a double knockout spot and then randomly fell to the canvas.  They put together a contest that felt like the natural progression from their July encounter and it functioned just fine as the opener.  Jackson won in 6:26 with a michinoku driver.  *½

Match #2:  Dominic Garrini vs. Chip Day
Garrini and Day wrestled an entertaining, compact match that made Garrini look like a real threat.  The match started with Garrini goading Day into keeping things on the mat.  They then had a disingenuous fist bump and Day tried to throw an unsuspecting kick, but Garrini ducked and hit a huge german suplex.  Day then became unhinged, throwing wild strikes to some success.  Garrini picked his spot and then finished Day with a quick piledriver.  This contest is worth watching as a character study on Garrini, to be honest.  Garrini had a run-in with John Kermon after the match, which was icing on the cake as I’ve been hoping for Kermon to feud with someone.  Garrini is a fine choice.  Garrini won in 7:43 with a piledriver.  ***

Match #3:  John Kermon vs. Tim Donst
Donst made his entrance as a “safety first” construction worker and the crowd just ate it up.  These two played to the crowd more than I expected and it didn’t translate incredibly well to tape.  Commentary noted that neither of these two had lost a singles match in the past year and I’m not sure that the intensity of this match reflected their undefeated streaks.  That doesn’t mean the route they went was wrong.  More likely, this match should have been saved for a less packed card where they could have had more time to deliver something substantial.  They had good chemistry together, but I wasn’t tracing a story like in the previous match.  Donst won in 9:45 with the Praying Mantis Bomb.  **½

Match #4:  The Carnies (Kerry Awful and Nick Iggy) vs. The Ugly Ducklings (Lance Lude and Rob Killjoy)
Kevin Ford on commentary said exactly what I was thinking while watching the opening portion of this match – I bet these two teams would be friends outside of the ring even if they weren’t tag team partners.  The Ugly Ducklings and Carnies seem like a lifestyle and that’s refreshing as the tag team wrestling world has been increasingly about two talented singles wrestlers without anything else to do being thrown together.  This was the best match on the show thus far due to their willingness to throw structure out the window and establish a chaotic atmosphere.  Both teams have reckless offense and they had solid enough chemistry together to deliver a great finishing stretch.  I sincerely hope that the Ducklings winning signifies a continued presence in NOVA Pro.  The Ugly Ducklings won in 10:40 with Launchpad McQuack on Awful.  ***¼

Match #5:  Sonjay Dutt vs. Curt Stallion
You could tell from Stallion’s entrance that no one in the crowd really knew who he was.  Dutt’s matches in NOVA Pro outside of his feud against Logan Easton LaRoux have been against known outside talent.  Stallion was easily able to hang with Dutt, but a combination of the inevitable result and the crowd’s unfamiliarity with Stallion hurt the match.  For instance, when Stallion caught Dutt with his signature headbutt down the stretch, there was almost no reaction.  When Dutt kicked out of Stallion’s finisher, the crowd barely popped.  It may have been worthwhile to have Stallion wrestle on one or two NOVA Pro shows prior to wrestling Dutt to accustom the crowds to his character and offense.  Still, this wasn’t a bad match by any means and Dutt busting out the moonsault double stomp is always cool.  Dutt won in 10:14 with a moonsault double stomp.  **½

Match #6:  Chet Sterling and “The Progressive Liberal” Daniel Richards vs. Bobby Shields and Alexander James
Shields and James like to go around calling themselves the 1%, so they had an exchange with Richards about that before the match.  My feelings on Richards range from “let’s keep politics out of professional wrestling” to enjoying the absurdity of it all.  For instance, “the 1% attack the Progressive Liberal before the bell” is not a sentence I thought I’d ever type in a pro wrestling review.  Sterling brought great energy to the contest as always and this was fine for what it was.  Sometimes, Shields and James come off as too much like goofballs for my liking, as they both have a lot to offer in the ring.  Them picking up the win here was a nice surprise, though.  Shields and James won in 5:54 when James rolled up Richards.  **

Match #7:  Jordynne Grace vs. Allie Kat
This was a Making Towns Classic tournament qualifier.  Allie Kat brought a great energy to this one that we haven’t seen from her before in NOVA Pro.  I hate to sound like a broken record, but the normalcy of multiple women’s outings per card is starting to pay dividends with respect to the crowd’s reaction to the matches.  They kept a fast pace, worked well together, and ended the match at the right time after Grace delivered a brutal powerbomb out of the corner.  This was a fun showcase and I wouldn’t mind seeing a rematch.  Allie Kat getting her win back somewhere down the line would be a good way to establish herself.  Look at me fantasy booking over here.  Grace won in 8:03 with a powerbomb.  **¾

Match #8:  Last Man Standing: Innocent Isaiah vs. Beau Crockett
There were a lot of things to like about this match from a booking perspective.  NOVA Pro has never done a last man standing match before and there were no signs of weapon use in the previous seven matches.  Those two facts alone set Isaiah and Crockett up for success.  Crockett sending the Carnies to the back because he didn’t need their help said a lot about Crockett’s view of Isaiah these days.  Finally, Crockett picking up the somewhat ominous win and injuring Isaiah after the match gave hope that someday Isaiah may finally get his revenge.

Given the booking, you have to view this match as the bridge to an eventual blowoff between these two.  The wrestling and brawling were largely unadventurous for a last man standing match, but again you have to consider that these two likely have another war in them.  At this point, the most important thing is that the fans REALLY care about the storyline.  Watching the crowd’s reaction to Crockett’s post-match attack and hearing the silence as staff members attended to Isaiah is great evidence that this was a success from a storyline perspective.  Crockett won in 19:45 when Isaiah could not answer the ten count.  ***

Match #9:  Angelus Layne vs. Mia Yim
Much like the last match, this was successful from a storyline perspective but the action itself was less than what I expected from these two.  Again, though, it’s a packed card tonight and not every contest is going to be positioned to steal the show.  You could tell they were wrestling towards a shorter outing but they had strong chemistry together.  The finish came when Brittany Blake’s music played, distracting Layne and allowing Yim to capitalize.  The booking is intriguing because you wonder if Layne is going to reach a breaking point and do something drastic again.  After the promotion brought in Keith Lee to face her and presumably played Blake’s music to distract her here, Layne may not be in the best mood in the months to come.  Yim won in 6:50 with Eat Defeat.  **½

Match #10:  Arik Royal vs. Logan Easton LaRoux
This was a rematch of the Commonwealth Cup finals, where LaRoux handed Royal his first loss in NOVA Pro.  Royal began the match firmly in control.  LaRoux found openings and eventually took over.  If you view this match as a synthesis of their time in NOVA Pro thus far, it’s important that LaRoux spent some amount of the contest in control.  For all of the help he’s received over the past two years, LaRoux is a very good wrestler and he didn’t end up in the main event of all three Nova Project shows by accident.  Royal then got a temper and started hurling LaRoux into rows of chairs.  At this point, the entire crowd was standing and they never sat back down.

Royal went into primal mode to avenge his only loss in two years and it was fascinating to watch.  It seemed like Royal’s night.  But NOVA Project 2 seemed like Sonjay Dutt’s night.  The Commonwealth Cup seemed like Royal’s night.  American Slang seemed like Chet Sterling’s night.  LaRoux proved us wrong on all three occasions.  As fate would have it, NOVA Project 3 was in fact Royal’s night and the crowd was celebrating when LaRoux finally tapped out.  This match was special because you can’t just book it on a whim or even months in advance.  This encounter has been effectively building for two years.  NOVA Pro, Royal, and LaRoux should all be proud of what they accomplished here.  Royal won in 24:55 with a kondo clutch.  ****

You can check out this show on Powerbomb.TV, and if you use the code ‘novapro’, you get a free 20 day trial.

-Show Grade: B+
You Need to See: Royal/LaRoux
You’d Enjoy Watching: Carnies/Ducklings, Isaiah/Crockett, Garrini/Day
You Should Avoid:

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