AAW: Jim Lynam Memorial Tournament 2017: Night 2 Review

October 14th, 2017

Opening Match:  Quarterfinal Round: Zema Ion vs. ACH
I would have loved to see what they could have done with more time, but I completely understand the seven-minute duration in the context of the larger tournament.  For what it’s worth, this was a phenomenal seven minutes and you could not ask for much more.  ACH absolutely excels in these sprints and their exchanges were so nuanced that you would need a deep understanding of their offenses to understand everything that was going on.  It’s a testament to Ion’s performances thus far that the crowd wasn’t absolutely livid at ACH being eliminated.  A very strong opener.  Ion won in 6:42 with the Skayde Special.  ***

Match #2:  Quarterfinal Round: Myron Reed vs. Michael Elgin
This match succeeded where a lot of the David vs. Goliath outings on night one failed because Reed came in with a discernable plan to take down Elgin.  Reed wanted to leverage his height and speed advantage to pick away at Elgin’s leg to prevent Elgin’s power offense.  Reed essentially adjusted his strategy down the stretch to just outlasting Elgin but the action had a narrative to it.  These two are perfect opponents for each other and you could tell that they have experience working together.  The best part about the match is that they didn’t have to reach into the bag of tricks to get the crowd invested.  I am unfamiliar with Reed’s history in AAW, but he is certainly established in the promotion after this performance if he wasn’t before.  Elgin won in 13:29 with a spinning powerbomb.  ***½

Match #3:  Quarterfinal Round: Jeff Cobb vs. AR Fox
This match gave off the same vibe as Elgin/Reed but was much less compelling.  They started playing around with the idea of Cobb’s freaky strength putting him in a unique position to counter Fox’s offense, but they didn’t play around with that story enough in my opinion.  The action was not bad by any means but it seemed like the crowd was politely clapping along rather than becoming truly invested in the action.  It’s certainly possible that you may be inclined to enjoy this one way more than me.  Cobb won in 11:28 with the Tour of the Islands.  **½

Match #4:  Quarterfinal Round: Mark Haskins vs. Sami Callihan
This was an odd match.  I didn’t find the action overly engaging but the fluidity with which they were able to string together exchanges was at least visually impressive and the crowd loved the action.  There was also a fun personality clash, as Haskins was not afraid to spit and bite just like Callihan.  Ultimately, I think I’m describing what TJ Hawke calls a Sami Sprint but in a less eloquent way.  It should be noted that Haskins was an absolute joy to watch over his two appearances this weekend and AAW should strongly consider bringing him back for more singles matches.  The very favorable crowd response and sheer effort made this contest worthwhile.  Callihan won in 13:58 with a reverse piledriver.  ***

Match #5:  Andrew Everett vs. Brian Cage vs. Teddy Hart vs. Stephen Wolf
This match was less about Cage throwing three high-flyers around the ring and more about trying to showcase Hart.  To his credit, Hart brought the wacky offense early on before becoming a bit discombobulated down the stretch.  There wasn’t much glue holding the action together and the match had more than its fair share of miscommunication, but the idea of Hart even showing up is going to be cool to some amount of people.  At the end of the day, this was a fairly harmless non-tournament match that had some novelty value.  Hart won in 9:54 when he hit a middle-rope destroyer on Everett.  **

Match #6:  Semifinal Round: Zema Ion vs. Michael Elgin
This match fell into the lull of feeling like a collection of moves with the crowd politely watching along.  However, down the stretch, I think they were able to successfully create the atmosphere that anyone could advance to the finals.  The belief that Ion could pull this one out definitely helped things move along.  Again, these two certainly worked hard and the match was decent.  I just don’t think everything came together to make this contest stand out like it would if these two were having a fifteen-minute exhibition match on a regular AAW show.  Ion ended up having quite a nice weekend.  Elgin won in 10:52 with a spinning powerbomb.  **½

Match #7:  Semifinal Round: Jeff Cobb vs. Sami Callihan
Cobb attacked Callihan during his entrance, headbutted JT Davidson, and finished off Callihan in thirty-three seconds.  I imagine they were playing off of the fact that Callihan had the most difficult quarterfinal match of all four semifinalists.  This was essentially Cobb turning heel and it came off well.  Aside from the fact that I wasn’t necessarily excited for Cobb/Callihan, I like this booking because it adds to the realism of a tournament.  Some participants have a tougher road to the finals than others, and setting up Cobb as the fresh heel going into the finals gives you a story to work with in the match.  Cobb won in 0:33 with the Tour of the Islands.

Match #8:  The Besties in the World (Mat Fitchett and Davey Vega) vs. Eddie Kingston and PACO vs. Connor Braxton and Curt Stallion
As far as non-tournament matches are concerned, this felt like a pretty simple way to push the storyline that Fitchett can only find success recently when teaming with Vega.  The other teams in this match didn’t give much to be excited about, although Stallion and PACO had a few nice exchanges as both trained under Elgin.  Most importantly, the AAW fans seem to be conflicted about how to feel about Vega, which makes for an interesting storyline at the very least.  This was a perfectly fine multi-team tag match.  The Besties in the World won in 12:24 when Vega rolled up PACO.  **¼

Match #9:  Scarlet and Graves (Dezmond Xavier and Zachary Wentz) vs. Rey Fenix and Penta El Zero M
This felt like a breakout performance for Scarlet and Graves.  They set the tone from the opening bell by coming out with Fenix and Penta’s masks on.  The cockiness of the tag team champions combined with the Lucha Brothers’ determination to put them in their place made for an entertaining dynamic.  Add to that the fact that everyone’s offense was incredibly intricate but came off clean and you had a really enjoyable tag team showcase.  When you present a contest like this one featuring all of the promotion’s champions, you really want it to stand out and not get lost in the shuffle.  Fortunately, this ended up being one of the more memorable matches of the weekend.  Fenix and Penta won in 16:02 after Penta hit a package piledriver through chairs on Xavier.  ***½

Match #10:  Final Round: Michael Elgin vs. Jeff Cobb
Watching these two throw each other around the ring after wrestling three other times this weekend was a spectacle to me, and if you too can find that to be a spectacle you will enjoy this match for what it was.  Fortunately, the crowd really came alive for the second half of the match and you could tell how much they admired the energy it took for these two to go at it for twenty minutes.  The only puzzling part about this match was that they essentially forgot about Cobb’s behavior in the semifinals.  I thought Cobb was really going to heel it up here but there were no signs of that happening at all.  In the final minutes, Cobb tweaked his knee trying to lift Elgin, and Elgin was easily able to take advantage from that point.  I could see a lot of varied opinions on this contest, but I thought this was a strong way to end the weekend.  Elgin became the 2017 Jim Lynam Memorial Tournament winner at 20:01 after hitting a burning hammer.  ***¼

-Show Grade: B+
You Need to See:
You’d Enjoy Watching: Scarlet&Graves/Lucha Bros., Elgin/Reed, Elgin/Cobb, Haskins/Callihan, Ion/ACH
You Should Avoid:

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