The WWE has WrestleMania. The NFL has the Super Bowl. Ice skating had the Ice Capades. AAW has the Windy City Classic.
OK, one of those things is not like the other, but regardless, this remains AAW’s biggest show of the year, and the card sure is reflective of that. Eight matches are signed, including two for championships, with the possibility for more to be added later.
Same as it ever was, I will break down the competition, offering a little background as well as my own personal take on the proceedings. Agree? Disagree? Shoot me a line at @deathinkosovo on Twitter, as I would love to hear your opinions on this company and the match-ups themselves.
The Match: Sean Waltman and Paco Gonzalez vs. Connor Braxton and Jake Something
The Skinny: I’d always thought it would be neat seeing more former-WWE or WCW guys in AAW, and Syxx Pac himself, Sean Waltman, is a good start. And a much better choice than, say, Ken Shamrock or Honky Tonk Man. Pause. The team of “X-Paco” goes up against Braxton and Something, two dudes with bad attitudes and size to spare who have yet to really come into their own. Waltman serves the most purpose competing in this match beyond any other, as his veteran leadership will only stand to benefit the other three. Can Connor and Jake turn nothing into Something? Or has Paco finally found his X-Factor in Sean Waltman?
My Take: Yes, I am excited to see buzzcut X-Pac do his thing in late-2017, and yes, I will pop for the Bronco Buster when he does it. If he does it? Why do you ask? Seriously, though, I’m hoping this is the beginning of big things for Paco, who remains one of the most popular, and cared about, wrestlers to ever compete for AAW. He’s not a “super indie” guy, he’s not a bring-in or a big name, but there is no substitute for crowd reaction, and Paco by far has that covered. Unfortunately, I see Braxton and Something as fodder for the bring-in guy here, meaning Waltman and Paco get the decisive victory, keeping the fans happy.
The Match: Scarlet & Graves (Dezmond Xavier and Zachary Wentz) vs. Shane Strickland and Keith Lee
My Take: While I don’t think there is a bad match on this card, this is one I think will be a cut above the rest due to who is involved. The team of Lee and Strickland just clicks, and they have some real funkadelic ToeJam & Earl-like chemistry going on, if you feel me. And Wentz and Xavier are two of the most cohesive tag workers going right now. I expect a lot of double team maneuvers you won’t see anywhere else, and some good teamwork in general. Honestly, this is a match I don’t want to sit around and talk about, I just want to see it happen. Swerve and Lee win again, earning themselves a future title shot. I hope.
The Match: Teddy Hart vs. Penta El Zero M vs. AR Fox vs. Joey Janela
My Take: In a match that seems to have been forged from the fires of GCW and The Crash comes this spectacle of a contest, sure to wow the audience and horrify them all at the same time. And for the same reasons. Look, all these guys are known for their wild and crazy antics inside the ring as well as out, and in all likelihood, somebody is going to die while trying to do something stupid for my entertainment. Expect plenty of flips, apron spots, piledrivers, and whatever Teddy Hart has up his sleeve (though he’s usually shirtless). This will be a show-stealer. Penta wins.
The Match: David Starr vs. Eddie Kingston, Bourbon Street Fight, Loser Must Be Winner’s Manager for a Year
The Skinny: Eddie quit. Just in case Starr himself hasn’t reminded you of his most personal accomplishment of 2017, perhaps it bears repeating: Eddie quit. That was back in July at “United We Stand,” where “The Product” slapped a chin lock on Kingston for the victory, but the story didn’t end there. Far from, in fact, leading to this Bourbon Street Fight to cap the feud, but with one interesting qualifier: Loser has to be the winner’s manager for a calendar year. Can Eddie finally find vengeance and embarrass the brash “Jewish Cannon”? Or does WRSTLING truly have Kingston’s number?
My Take: It bugs me when people who don’t follow AAW call it “just a super indie,” as it ignores completely the well-built and engaging storylines the company does offer, including this one. David Starr has absolutely killed it in hyping up every one of the matches between the two, and you can see the hate in both of their eyes every time they’re in the ring. This match will be one to watch on tape, as I expect a lot of brawling in the crowd. While a win would cement Starr as a top guy in AAW, I’d actually like to see the feud continue and include some of Kingston’s running mates, maybe Homicide and Low-Ki. Imagine a six-man war between those teams? Starr gets the win here. But does Eddie again quit?
The Match: The Killer Kult (Dave Crist, Sami Callihan, and Jake Crist) vs. Stephen Wolf, Myron Reed and Trey Miguel
The Skinny: For over two years, The Killer Kult (or Ohio is 4 Killers, if you prefer) has been tearing up the AAW landscape, staking claim to multiple Heavyweight and Tag Team Championship reigns during that time. Their opponents are significantly less-experienced and have essentially been tabbed by many of their peers — and fans alike — as the next break out stars in the Midwest. It’s right now versus what’s to come, present versus future. Knowing Callihan as AAW fans know him, do you think he’s going to go easy on the youngsters? Or will Reed and company rise up and prove their worth here?
My Take: When this match was announced, I jumped for joy, although not literally; that would be weird! But just imagining all that could happen, all the combinations of maneuvers and high spots, it’s a lot to take in and consider. I appreciate the dynamic of this match, as well, as you’ve got one team comprised of rude dudes who gets off on spitting on people, crashing with a team of white meat good guys who wouldn’t dare break the rules. It’s the kind of match that is made for the live audience, and I’ll say right now that the crowd is going to be on fire for it. That in mind, I don’t see Callihan losing before his match with Naito in February. Killer Kult wins.
The Match: Matt Riddle vs. ACH, to determine #1 Contender to the AAW Heavyweight Championship
My Take: These two have incredible chemistry, from everything I have seen, and I am excited AAW is giving the Chicago fans a chance to witness this rematch. ACH deserves bigger and better things from AAW, as he always puts on his work boots for this company, he’s loyal, and he’s consistently been there over the last five or six years. Riddle might be the more popular pick to win this match, but a win Saturday would boost ACH to the moon and set him up for a huge run in 2018, where he should finally win the Big F’n Belt. ACH wins, and with the Buster Call, just to throw it back to San Antonio where it all began.
The Match: Besties in the World (Davey Vega and Mat Fitchett) (c) vs. Curt Stallion and Nick Brubaker, AAW Tag Team Championships
The Skinny: It’s a good time to be a Bestie. Despite having some obvious issues between the two of them, Davey Vega and Mat Fitchett have found common interest in being the AAW Tag Team Champions. Since putting their differences aside, the pair has remained successful in tag competition, having defeated Scarlet & Graves, Team EatClipz and the team of Keith Lee and Shane Strickland. The Besties now put their gold on the line against two junior members of AAW’s roster, Stallion and Brubaker, both of whom are itching to make their mark and solidify their names.
My Take: I really like this match-up. It gives two relative newcomers to AAW an opportunity to prove themselves in a match with high stakes. Stallion and Brubaker are a couple of guys who’ve been relegated to scrambles and multi-man tags, all of no real consequence, so seeing them vie for a championship will be special. Meanwhile, the Besties are one of the Midwest’s best, most interactive acts going, and I can’t wait to see how the crowd reacts to them (and their opponents). If Vega typically gets booed out of the building, what happens when he’s in there with two dudes who are even bigger sleaze balls? This will be a lot of fun, and a nice showcase for all involved, with Vega and Fitchett holding onto the gold.
The Skinny: Jeff Cobb was runner-up of this year’s outstanding Jim Lynam Memorial Tournament, which usually isn’t worth anything, but Elgin gonna Elgin and now it’s Cobb vs. Fenix for the strap. Probably for the better, as Cobb is a fresher face who hasn’t already had the title reigns Elgin has, so we could potentially see a new champion and a new main event talent come from all this. Rey Fenix, meanwhile, has had himself a quietly good run on top of the card, and it’ll be fun seeing Fenix vs. Matanza in the flesh. W-we still watch Lucha Underground around here, right? Right?!
My Take: This should be a solid match, but interest-wise, it definitely took a hit upon the Elgin controversy, as was expected. Cobb’s been running with WRSTLING the last few months, more or less avoiding the title picture, yet here he is. A win here would boost his stable’s profile and everything, but I personally feel Fenix’s title run has a leg or two left in it. It seems clear Elgin was due to take the title, but will AAW now give the honors to his replacement? That remains to be seen, but I feel a title switch is incoming, if only to create some much-needed buzz.
- Tickets for the Sean Waltman Meet & Greet happening before the show are on sale now, and will be available at the door.
- Tickets to “The Art of War” on January 20 at Logan Square Auditorium in Chicago, featuring the return of NJPW star Juice Robinson, are on sale now. Great reserved seats still are available.
- Tickets to the February 17 show at Logan Square Auditorium featuring NJPW star Tetsuya Naito go on sale soon.
- Season tickets to the LaSalle, IL shows are still on sale. Front row and front row stage is available for purchase. Pick your seat!
- DJZ, the current AAW Heritage Champion, has been injured with three ruptured discs in his neck. The future of the championship remains up in the air at this time. Stay tuned to @AAWPro for the most up-to-date information.