AAW: Windy City Classic XIII Review

December 30th, 2017

Opening Match:  Dezmond Xavier and Zachary Wentz vs. Keith Lee and Shane Strickland
Xavier starts off the match by slapping Lee across the face.  Not a great move.  They exchange hurricanranas and the crowd goes crazy for Lee.  Wentz and Strickland have a fast-paced sequence ending with Wentz landing a springboard crossbody.  Lee pulls Xavier and Wentz into a double flatliner by Strickland.  Lee and Strickland work over Wentz until he catches Strickland with a knee strike and makes the tag.  Xavier cleans house with a series of kicks.  He connects with a tiger feint kick on Strickland around the ringpost.  Wentz and Xavier land stereo standing moonsaults for a nearfall.  They are able to powerbomb Lee out of the corner for a two count.  Everyone trades strikes.  Xavier spikes Strickland with a standing dragon rana for a nearfall.  Strickland elevates Xavier into a pounce from Lee.  Wentz tries to fight off both of his opponents but falls victim to a series of strikes.  Lee and Strickland hit a double stomp-powerbomb combination on Wentz for the win at 15:36.  You probably want to make a statement with the opener of your biggest show of the year and this match succeeded in doing just that.  The opening minutes featured just enough antics and the finishing stretch featured some really innovative sequences from these four.  Also, to AAW’s credit, this felt like a contest that I could only see in AAW.  ***½

Match #2:  Matt Riddle vs. ACH
The last time these two wrestled in AAW, they wrestled to a fifteen-minute time limit draw.  The action quickly goes to the floor and Riddle gets irish whipped into the stage.  They continue to trade strikes around ringside.  Back in, they keep throwing some wild strikes at each other.  Riddle hits an exploder and a senton.  He takes control until ACH fights back with a series of dropkicks.  ACH lands a frog splash but finds himself in a triangle choke.  They reset and begin trading chops.  Riddle wins the exchange and hits a powerbomb.  He follows with a vicious knee strike to the face for a nearfall.  ACH connects with a punt from the apron and adds a brainbuster for a two count.  They battle up top and ACH knocks Riddle to the canvas.  ACH lands a 450 splash for an extremely close two count.  Riddle recovers with a triangle choke.  He adds elbows but ACH is able to power out of the hold.  The time limit then expires at 20:00.  Them throwing bombs at each other didn’t exactly lend itself to a twenty-minute draw, but they worked so hard that the crowd almost had to start going crazy for their exchanges.  I may take issue with the structure of this contest given the finish, but these two made the match ultimately work through sheer tyranny of will.  I’m certain that others will enjoy this one more than I did.  ***

Match #3:  AAW Tag Team Titles: Besties in the World (Davey Vega and Mat Fitchett) © vs. Brubaker and Curt Stallion
Brubaker and Stallion attack Vega before the opening bell.  Fitchett bails out his partner and connects with a double pele kick.  Brubaker and Stallion regain control with a series of strikes as Vega and Fitchett argue.  They isolate Fitchett until he catches Stallion with a jumping knee strike and makes the tag.  Vega uses Fitchett as a battering ram against Brubaker and then lands a dive to the floor.  Fitchett follows with a corkscrew plancha.  In the ring, Brubaker hits the Overdriver on Vega for a nearfall.  Stallion uppercuts Vega into a german suplex from Brubaker but the champions persist.  The Besties in the World hit a powerbomb-tombstone combination to retain their titles at 8:24.  The crowd certainly didn’t think that the titles were in jeopardy so while this was a fairly harmless eight minutes, I don’t think it really helped anyone involved.  The mileage that people get from Vega and Fitchett’s tension seems to vary wildly from show to show.  **¼

Match #4:  Street Fight: David Starr vs. Eddie Kingston
They exchange punches and Kingston hits an STO.  He hits Starr with a chair and adds an overhead suplex.  Kingston lays in repeated garbage can shots to the head.  He dumps thumbtacks across the canvas.  Kingston sends Starr into the thumbtacks with a full nelson slam.  He puts thumbtacks into Starr’s mouth and connects with a Backfist to the Future.  This street fight has been all Kingston so far.  He busts open Starr’s forehead with a fork.  Starr finally finds an opening to attack Kingston’s hands after he misses a baseball bat shot and collides with the ringpost.  Starr takes control, returning the favor with a variety of weapons.  When Kingston is about to fight back, Jeff Cobb comes out to slow him down.  Starr sends Kingston through a pyramid of chairs with a piledriver from the middle rope for a nearfall.  Cobb hits a german suplex and an overhead suplex on Kingston.  Starr adds a series of chair shots.  Starr hits a brainbuster through a chair.  He ties Kingston’s hands behind his back with duct tape.  Cobb holds back Kingston as Starr talks trash.  Starr hits Kingston in the face with a baseball bat for the victory at 18:16.  This ended up being more about angle advancement than delivering a drama-filled street fight.  If the plan was for Cobb to interfere anyway, I wonder why he stayed in the back as Kingston was decimating Starr during the first five minutes.  As an extended segment, I think it went a bit too long to keep the crowd’s interest.  I honestly do not know how to rate this one.  **

Match #5:  Joey Janela vs. AR Fox vs. Penta El Zero M vs. Teddy Hart
Everyone trades strikes to start.  Janela lands a dive to the floor onto Penta.  Hart adds a top-rope moonsault to the floor.  Fox finishes with Lo Mein Rain.  In the ring, Penta catches Fox with a few sling blades.  Hart hits a beautiful code red on Janela.  Fox catches Hart with a backcracker out of the corner.  He connects with a coast-to-coast dropkick on Penta.  Hart hits a huge backcracker on Janela.  Hart is single-handedly bringing the crowd into this match.  Penta hits a gory slam-package piledriver combination on Janela and Hart for a nearfall.  Janela lays out Fox with a death valley driver onto the apron from the middle rope.  Just insane.  Janela lands a dive off the balcony onto all three of his opponents.  In the ring, Janela connects with a flying double stomp on Fox for a two count.  Fox answers with Lo Mein Pain through a chair for the win at 9:48.  Fox and Janela showing no regard for their well-being combined with Hart busting out the most absurd offense possible sounds a lot more fun than it ended up being, unfortunately.  Despite everyone obviously working hard, this four-way lacked flow and build.  Although it was a spectacle, these kinds of matches seem to be happening on every show.  **¼

Match #6:  Sami Callihan, Jake Crist, and Dave Crist vs. Myron Reed, Stephen Wolf, and Trey Miguel
Reed, Wolf, and Miguel eschew their entrance and ambush Callihan and OI4K.  Miguel and Dave have a pretty awkward exchange.  Wolf connects with a hesitation dropkick on Jake in the corner.  Callihan catches Reed with a bicycle kick.  Reed, Wolf, and Miguel land stereo dives to the floor twice.  Back in, Jake hits a flying ace crusher on Reed for a nearfall.  Wolf connects with a coast-to-coast dropkick on Jake.  Reed hits a top-rope spanish fly on Dave for a two count.  Everyone trades strikes and signature offense.  Reed hits a standing spanish fly on Callihan to end the exchange.  All six men are down.  Callihan and OI4K hit stereo tombstones for nearfalls.  Reed, Wolf, and Miguel respond with stereo top-rope dives.  Callihan resorts to throwing a chair at Miguel.  Callihan hits a double underhook backbreaker on Miguel for the victory at 10:41.  Whereas the previous match felt too chaotic and disorganized, this six-man tag felt overly choreographed at times.  More importantly, the crowd just seemed to be desensitized to the frenetic action and it really makes you appreciate what the opener accomplished in terms of injecting personality into the action.  **½

Match #7:  Sean Waltman and PACO vs. Connor Braxton and Jake Something
PACO snaps off a satellite headscissors on Something.  PACO adds an enzuigiri and a sliding D.  Braxton manages to narrowly avoid a bronco buster from Waltman.  Something clotheslines Waltman from the apron but misses a senton.  PACO runs into a big boot and gets worked over.  He is able to cause some miscommunication between Braxton and Something and makes the tag.  Waltman cleans house with a series of strikes.  He’s finally able to hit the bronco buster on Braxton.  Waltman plants Something with the X-Factor for a nearfall.  Waltman gets sent to the floor.  Something catches PACO with a black hole slam for the win at 8:41.  A fun experiment in Waltman trying to help PACO fight off two bullies and that’s really all it needed to be.  **

Match #8:  AAW Heavyweight Title: Rey Fenix © vs. Jeff Cobb
Fenix tries to leverage his agility early on to no avail.  Cobb drives him into the turnbuckles and hits a powerslam.  He follows with a delayed vertical superplex.  Cobb takes over until Fenix lands a springboard dive from the stage into the ring.  Fenix lands three consecutive dives to the floor.  Cobb catches him on the third one but Fenix sends him into the ringpost.  Fenix runs around the ring and dives onto Cobb from the top rope.  In the ring, Cobb hits a spinning back suplex for a nearfall.  Fenix responds with a missile dropkick and a tornado kick in the corner.  Fenix plants Cobb with an ace crusher for a two count.  Cobb creates some space with an overhead suplex but falls victim to a desperation german suplex from Fenix.  Both men are down.  David Starr blatantly interferes by grabbing Fenix’s foot as he ascends the top rope.  Cobb hits a spike piledriver and a saito suplex for a nearfall.  Sami Callihan and OI4K prevent Starr from interfering further.  Cobb is distracted by Callihan and friends, so Fenix hits a destroyer to retain his title at 13:43.  Watching Fenix run around the ring like a madman to take out Cobb was unsurprisingly entertaining to watch.  These two had great chemistry together and delivered a concise and focused main event.  Ending the year with Callihan coming to Fenix’s aid was actually pretty intriguing if you’ve been following AAW over the past two years.  ***¼

-Show Grade: C+
You Need to See:
You’d Enjoy Watching: opener, Fenix/Cobb, Riddle/ACH
You Should Avoid:

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