Beyond Wrestling “Americanrana ’17” Review

Americanrana 2013 was the turning point for Beyond Wrestling to cement themselves as the top independent wrestling promotion in New England. Each July since, Americanrana has been the biggest show of the year for Beyond, and the fifth installment looked to be no exception.

After months of heated interactions between Jordynne Grace and Chris Dickinson, Team PAWG and Doom Patrol would finally meet in tag action to open the show. Dickinson refused to start with Grace, but had no problem jumping in to help turn the match in his and Jaka’s favor. Jaka had troubles with Grace and LuFisto at the start, but the Dirty Daddy’s assistance helped them spend considerable time wearing down both opponents at separate times. The match turned into pure chaos with all four competitors tossing each other around the ring and a reliance on partners saving one another from being pinned. LuFisto and Grace solved that problem by taking out Dickinson with a tornado DDT and a modified Burning Hammer, leaving Jaka on his own to be wiped out by the Weapon of Ass Destruction. Team PAWG earned a big victory and can put their issue with Dickinson to rest. The crowd was fired up throughout the match and forgiving of some of the clunkier aspects. This contest was a lot of fun and a great way to capitalize on the energy of the sold out crowd.

Jonathan Gresham and Brian Cage were tasked with keeping the momentum going in a first time ever singles match. Cage had the obvious size and power advantage in the contest, but what I did not expect was how his speed would play a factor. We’ve seen Gresham be able to best larger opponents like Chris Hero and Michael Elgin, but Cage was so quick in attacking Gresham that it took Gresham off his guard. Gresham failed to drop toe hold the larger Cage, but that did give him the opportunity to pull back on the knee and create a point of weakness. Gresham also showed a bit of attitude in this match which was unexpected, if not unwise when going against someone the caliber of Cage. Cage would maul Gresham with hard clotheslines, throws, and powerbombs whenever we could, but Gresham persisted and kept kicking out. With Gresham constantly going after Cage’s knee as he attempted pins and submissions, these two did a really great job keeping the crowd guessing who would come out on top. One moment I loved was when Gresham had Cage in an ankle lock, but noticed Cage reaching for the ropes and transitioned into a crossface so he could pull Cage’s arms away. It was smart of him in that moment to abandon his strategy but it also gave Cage a moment to power Gresham up off the mat. After an unsuccessful pin attempt after a rolling lariat, Cage went for the Steiner Screwdriver. Gresham rolled that into a flat crab, then into a cradle, catching Cage in a surprise pin to earn the victory. The back and forth matches Gresham has had in Beyond are so much fun and Cage was a terrific opponent for him.

The man to beat in Beyond as of late, however, has undoubtedly been John Silver. The list of competitors he’s defeated over the past two years is a who’s who in the world of pro wrestling. After the first Americanrana, JT Dunn became one of the faces of Beyond, and at the fifth installment of Americanrana, Dunn looked to beat Silver and prove that moniker belongs to him. Like the prior match, this was very back and forth, but the styles were much similar. Silver’s domination threw Dunn off his game, causing him to retreat to the floor and even resort to cheating (low blow and holding the tights) when he could. To Dunn’s credit, he also withstood some of Silver’s biggest offense. Silver was able to take Dunn’s rolling elbows and keep going as well. Dunn took off his elbow pad for one last big rolling elbow, but Silver stopped the shot with a superkick. After a Canadian Destroyer and running punt to the end, Silver pinned Dunn and took the match. While they also did a good job of keeping the winner up in the air, it’s clear Silver is THE guy Beyond is getting behind these days and it’s smart to keep his hot streak going. The fans booing Dunn as he stood tall during one portion of the match was a strong visual of the company’s transition from one guy to the next. Dunn will always have his place, but right now it’s Silver’s time to shine. Great stuff.

After joking about it on Twitter, Beyond Wrestling made the TLC match between Chuck Taylor and Swoggle a reality. This isn’t a typical TLC match where you climb a ladder and retrieve a title or some other prize, but rather a hardcore match where tables, ladders, and chairs were the weapons of choice. Almost a dozen other characters interjected in this match: Orange Cassidy, The Swamp Monster, Massage NV, Johnny Cockstrong, Stan Stylez, Dick Justice, and Trent? all were involved and did most of the heavy lifting. It was silly, insane, funny, and genuinely dangerous all at once. Going into details would be futile, and I honestly think this is a match absolutely worth seeking. It was my favorite match of the first half and so much fun to watch.

If John Silver is the man to beat in singles competition, then no doubt EYFBO have become the pair to beat in tag team competition. For Americanrana, Beyond would present them with one of the biggest teams in the entire world: The Lucha Bros. of REY FENIX and PENTA EL ZERO M. FENIX did the craziest rope bouncing sequence before a wrist drag and pulled off some crazy dives. The match went from a Lucha spectacle into a fight. Neither time took the other lightly but the Lucha Bros. were on top of halting EYFBO’s big tandem offense and keeping one member of the team out of the equation when they could. The Lucha Bros. all but had the match won when they gave Draztik a Package Piledriver/Doublestomp combo, but Ortiz made it back into the ring just in the nick of time to stop the pin. A few moments later the Lucha Bros. attempted to give Ortiz a second one on the apron of the ring, but again Ortiz sprung into action and prevented it from happening. He crotched FENIX on the top rope and dropkicked PENTA to the floor, which allowed EYFBO to regroup and nail the Street Sweeper on FENIX for the victory. I had high hopes for this match and it still exceeded expectations. FENIX really was the MVP of this match and put in one of my favorite performances I’ve ever seen him be a part of. Another match worth going out of your way to see.

David Starr proclaims himself to be Mr. Americanrana. He main evented the first event, faced the Young Bucks in the semi-main event on the second, and defeated Johnny Gargano on back-to-back events the following two years. However, Donovan Dijak is Mr. Beyond Wrestling, and pitting him against Starr in a first time Beyond Wrestling match on the biggest stage of the year seemed all too fitting, especially when you remember Dijak defeated JT Dunn and Chris Dickinson at last year’s Americanrana to earn that distinction. For Dijak, defeating Mr. Americanrana could also but him back on the successful path he was on before losing to Matt Riddle at Tournament For Today last Fall. Knowing Dijak would inevitably try Feast Your Eyes, Starr attacked Dijak’s knee from the start. It worked, s even though Dijak hit Feast Your Eyes early, Starr was able to roll to the floor and the pain from the move didn’t allow Dijak to capitalize. There was desperation on each man’s countenance as the match progressed and either competitor kicked out of the others arsenal. Starr was so exasperated he even grabbed the microphone and ran down Dijak. All this allowed was for Dijak to sneak in another Feast Your Eyes, but it only got Dijak a nearfall. When he went for it again, Starr fought his way out, gave him the Pretty Pumped brainbuster, and then the Product Placement to finally pin the Ace of Beyond. Starr’s exasperation upon pinning him told the whole story. Starr defeating Dijak meant so much to him personally. Even though people knew Dijak was on his way out, he didn’t want to leave as a loser. With the match over, Starr gave Dijak props, and Dijak announced the next Beyond show would be his last and that he would be facing WALTER. Given these two competitors it should go without saying, but this was another great wrestling match on a card chock full of them.

In the early days of his career, Trent Baretta (aka Trent?) wrestled as Plazma in the Long Island area. An incident occurred in those formative days occurred where Monsta Mack tossed Plazma from the ring into a far off wall, putting him in the hospital. Now in the prime of his career, Trent recruited his partner Rocky Romero to help him gain a measure of revenge on Da Hit Squad. Romero and Dan Maff were trying to have a match, but Trent and Mack’s frustration caused them to come to blows. Several times during the match Da Hit Squad teased tossing Romero and Trent recklessly over the top rope and to the floor, but it did not come to pass. Roppongi Vice eventually got Mack in the Strong Zero for the win. This was okay, but was very weak compared to the rest of card, and the match had a story that would’ve been better off done in front of a New York crowd. If nothing else, it was cool seeing Roppongi Vice in Beyond.

The main event saw the undefeated Matthew Riddle taking on Joey Janela. Janela called out Riddle for this match in April, and came to blows with his partner Chuck O’Neil the previous two months, all leading to this moment. Penelope Ford is in Janela’s corner, but due to some broken bones, Chuck O’Neil is not with Riddle. Unlike everyone else Riddle has ever faced, Janela has something in his wiring that does not let him quit. Riddle gave him just about everything he had and Janela kept ticking. A kick to the face didn’t halt him, so Riddle gave him two or three. Janela missed a somersault senton off the top turnbuckle and crashed onto the apron. He didn’t get counted out, he came back into the match. The BroStone off the second rope couldn’t pin him, and Janela didn’t submit in the BroMission. This angered Riddle, and not knowing what to do, he went to the top rope. Once he missed a top rope senton, Janela was able to take over. After a top rope double stomp, Janela reapplied his Crossface submission that he attempted earlier. With Riddle more worn down and all the air just stomped out of his body, Janela became the first person in Beyond Wrestling history to beat Matt Riddle, making the submission specialist tap out. This was very well done but didn’t have the crowd behind. After a long day (remember there was a seven match matinee card before this show began) and everything they had seen, fans were starting to get fatigued. Many of them also seemed genuinely concerned for Janela’s well being after the fall he took on the apron. While that was a key moment in the narrative of the match, I think some fans checked out because they were worried. All that said, ending the show with Janela being crowned the new Ace of Beyond (although Starr would probably argue that) by being the first person to defeat Matt Riddle was a great moment.

Overall: This is easily Beyond’s best show ever and you’re an absolute fool if you don’t watch it. In fact, it is one of the best wrestling shows of 2017 in general. I can’t believe I haven’t heard more buzz for this event.

Check out the bulk of Beyond Wrestling’s entire catalogue at BeyonDemand. $9.99 a month unlocks tons of past and current shows to stream, including raw footage of the latest events, as well as BeyonDemand exclusives such as “Greatest Rivals Round Robin 2”, a clinic with Zack Sabre, Jr., never before seen Eddie Edwards matches, and interviews with Biff Busick, Donovan Dijak, Keith Lee, and others.

You can purchase the Blu-Ray or DVD from Smart Mark Video. For a reduced price, you can also download the show as an mp4 from Smart Mark Video or watch it On Demand through SMVOD.

For more information, visit Beyond Wrestling’s official website. For a bunch of free matches, clips, and other fun stuff, check out Beyond’s YouTube page. You can also follow them on Twitter and through their Facebook page.

Quick Results/Match Times/Star Ratings

1. Team PAWG (LuFisto & Jordynne Grace) defeated Doom Patrol (Chris Dickinson & Jaka) in 17:55 with the Weapon of Ass Destruction on Jaka. ***¼

2. Jonathan Gresham pins Brian Cage with a small package in 16:34. ***½

3. John Silver defeated JT Dunn with a punt kick to the head in 14:48. ***¼

4. Chuck Taylor defeated Swoggle in a TLC Match in 17:59. ***¾

5. EYFBO (Mike Draztik & Angel Ortiz) defeated The Lucha Brothers (REY FENIX & PENTA EL ZERO M) in 12:56 with the Street Sweeper on FENIX. ****

6. David Star pinned Donovan Dijak with the Product Placement in 17:39. ***½

7. Roppongi Vice (Trent? & Rocky Romero) defeated Da Hit Squad (Dan Maff & Monsta Mack) with Strong Zero on Mack in 16:40. **½

8. Joey Janela submits Matthew Riddle at 15:02 with a Crossface. ***¼

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