AAW: The Art of War Review

January 20th, 2018

Opening Match:  Zero Gravity (Brett Gakiya and CJ Esparza) vs. Curt Stallion and Jake Something
Gakiya snaps off a series of armdrags on Stallion and connects with a springboard back elbow.  Zero Gravity land stereo dives to the floor.  Back in, Gakiya hits a rolling neckbreaker on Stallion, who responds with a double stomp.  Stallion and Something isolate Gakiya until he hits a dropkick-crossbody combination and makes the tag.  Esparza connects with a springboard lariat on Stallion and lands a standing corkscrew press on Something.  He hurricanranas Something into the turnbuckles.  Zero Gravity catch Something with stereo hesitation dropkicks in the corner.  They hit a backbreaker-leg drop combination on Stallion for a nearfall.  Something fights back with a double fallaway slam.  He hits a black hole slam on Esparza for a two count.  Esparza connects with a shooting star elbow drop on Stallion.  Something lawn darts Gakiya into Esparza.  Stallion connects with a charging headbutt on Esparza for the win at 11:56.  The first five minutes or so of this match were a bit awkward with some exchanges that didn’t go as planned.  Once they hit the finishing stretch and Zero Gravity got a chance to reacquaint the AAW crowd with their offense, this became an entertaining opener.  Everyone seemed thrilled to have Zero Gravity back in the promotion.  **½

Match #2:  Eddie Kingston vs. Kevin Lee Davidson
This is playing up the fact that David Starr now manages Kingston’s AAW career.  Starr makes Kingston come out to his music and wear a shirt that reads “Eddie quit.”  Davidson attacks before the opening bell.  He connects with a kappou kick and hits a senton.  Davidson takes control with some impressive offense.  Kingston starts fighting back with slaps and hits a saito suplex.  Kingston connects with the Backfist to the Future three times for the victory at 5:57.  Kingston’s only offense came in the last thirty seconds, so I imagine it was to show how dangerous Kingston can be when angry.  The Starr/Kingston stuff is expectedly entertaining and Davidson turned out to be fairly impressive.  The structure of the match still felt weird, though.  *¾

Match #3:  Maxwell Jacob Friedman vs. Juice Robinson
Robinson frustrates MJF early on by not falling for his antics.  MJF pulls the referee in front of him and connects with a cheap shot.  He throws Robinson shoulder-first into the ringpost.  MJF takes over, working over the left shoulder.  Robinson comes back with a flying crossbody and a spinebuster.  He follows with a corner cannonball and a full nelson slam.  MJF sneaks in an eye poke but runs into a lariat.  Robinson hits a powerbomb for a nearfall.  MJF goes low and rolls up Robinson for the win at 8:20.  Both of these men are undoubtedly talented, but this match was not their best work.  The shoulder work largely went nowhere and that finish was hot garbage.  Fortunately, the shorter duration made that finish easier to swallow and the crowd at least seemed to be invested in both of their personalities.  *½

Match #4:  ACH vs. PACO
If caps lock was ever going to be useful in reviewing wrestling, now is the time.  The opening minutes reveal that we’re headed down a path here where ACH refuses to take PACO seriously and eventually regrets it.  PACO snaps off a headscissors and connects with a dropkick.  He follows with a springboard crossbody.  ACH responds with a few chops and hits a back suplex.  He takes control until PACO comes back with a missile dropkick.  PACO hits a tornado DDT and a code red for a nearfall.  ACH lures him into a punt from the apron.  ACH lands a frog splash but picks up PACO’s shoulders before the referee can count to three.  ACH slaps PACO a few times, but that only fires him up.  They exchange slaps as the crowd comes alive.  PACO connects with a superkick and a lariat.  He hits a cradle shock for a nearfall.  ACH rolls to the floor but PACO takes him out with a dive.  Back in, PACO misses a splash and ACH connects with a lariat.  ACH follows with a brainbuster for the victory at 14:53.  Others will likely enjoy this contest more than me.  The story they were telling was predictable, which is fine, but it just took a very long time.  ACH toyed around with PACO for about ten minutes before PACO showed enough fire to change ACH’s attitude.  When you consider that ACH has an upcoming title shot, his inevitable win here took some of the fun out of PACO’s comeback.  The good news is that PACO looked great.  **½

Match #5:  WRSTLING (David Starr, Jeff Cobb, and Trevor Lee) vs. The Killer Cult (Sami Callihan, Jake Crist, and Dave Crist)
The Cult connect with stereo yakuza kicks and start brawling with WRSTLING around ringside.  Jake back drops Lee onto the apron.  Callihan crotches Starr on the guardrail and connects with a few chops.  Once the action settles down in the ring, WRSTLING isolate Jake until he lands a flying crossbody onto Lee and makes the tag.  Callihan superkicks Starr and lands a dive to the floor.  He adds a death valley driver back in the ring.  Starr lands a dive of his own.  Lee and Starr take turns kicking Jake while Cobb dead-lifts him into a suplex.  The Cult respond with a double stomp-tombstone combination on Starr.  Cobb takes out the referee to save his partner.  The Cult respond with stereo kicks to the face.  They elevate Starr into an ace crusher but there’s no referee to count.  Eddie Kingston comes out on Starr’s orders to attack JT Davidson.  WRSTLING low blows the Cult.  Starr forces Kingston to backfist Dave.  Starr covers Dave for the win at 14:03.  The contrast in ideologies of these groups is fun to watch play out and I’m glad this wasn’t the end of their feud.  The finish was a good example of furthering a storyline without it completely negating the action that came before it.  Everyone worked well together as expected and they delivered a consistently entertaining six-man tag.  ***¼

Match #6:  AAW Women’s Title: Elimination: Jessicka Havok © vs. Kylie Rae vs. Scarlett Bordeaux
Havok easily beats both of her challengers in a test of strength and then hits a double samoan drop.  Bordeaux lands a dive from the top rope to the floor.  Back in, Rae and Bordeaux trade offense.  Rae hits a russian leg sweep and transitions into a crossface.  Havok breaks up the hold.  Havok spikes Bordeaux with a tombstone to eliminate her at 4:00.  Rae snaps off a satellite headscissors and connects with a superkick.  Havok answers with a knockout kick as well as a facewash kick in the corner.  Rae applies a crossface out of nowhere.  Havok powers out into a tombstone to retain her title at 6:41.  Given that no one really believed Havok was losing the title, I appreciated the awareness to just let the champion have a dominant performance to begin her reign.  This was fun for what it was.  **¼

Match #7:  Myron Reed vs. Teddy Hart
Hart asserts his dominance on the mat to start.  He even finds an opportunity to work over Reed’s left shoulder.  In the most Teddy Hart move ever, he applies an armbar, releases the hold to land a standing moonsault, and then reapplies the armbar.  The action goes to the floor where Hart hits a suplex in the entrance aisle.  He throws Reed into the front row and then lands an asai moonsault into the crowd.  Hart tries to hit a destroyer onto a group of chairs but it doesn’t really go well.  Either that or Reed countered with a back drop.  I have no idea.  Reed lands a dive of his own into the crowd.  In the ring, Hart hits a spike piledriver followed by a dragon suplex.  He synchs in a bearhug and transitions into a DDT.  Reed blocks a moonsault with knees and hits a sunset bomb for a two count.  He follows with a springboard reverse hurricanrana but Hart won’t stay down.  Hart comes off the top rope with a destroyer.  Hart hits another destroyer from the middle rope for the win at 13:38.  This was a very charming Teddy Hart match.  That doesn’t mean that this was a good match.  However, I can’t say that I was bored during these fourteen minutes.  **

Match #8:  AAW Tag Team Titles: Besties in the World (Davey Vega and Mat Fitchett) © vs. Keith Lee and Shane Strickland
Lee tosses Vega around the ring to start.  Strickland snaps off a headscissors on Vega and connects with a dropkick.  Fitchett ends up on the receiving end of Lee’s chops.  Strickland and Lee land stereo slingshot crossbodies on the champions.  Vega catches Strickland with a timely kick and the champions isolate him.  Strickland hits an ace crusher on Vega and makes the tag.  Lee cleans house with a series of clotheslines and biels his opponents across the ring.  The challengers connect with an enzuigiri-roaring elbow combination on Fitchett.  They follow with a high-low for a nearfall.  Fitchett finds life with a reverse hurricanrana on Lee and a kappou kick on Strickland.  Vega seems to have tweaked his left leg when Lee tossed him over the top rope.  Vega hits Lee with a chair, allowing Fitchett to hurricanrana him off the middle rope.  Strickland throws the chair at Vega but Fitchett catches him with a superkick.  The challengers hit a Swerve Stomp-Spirit Bomb combination on Fitchett but Vega pulls the referee out of the ring.  Lee pounces Vega into the guardrail.  Fitchett spikes Strickland with a destroyer and the Besties in the World retain their titles at 21:45.  Vega muscling through the second half of this match was pretty incredible, as he couldn’t walk out on his own after the match.  These two teams really made the best of the circumstances and delivered a great tag team match.  Vega’s underhanded tactics gave his team some key advantages at important moments, and it’s a real question of whether or not the champions would have escaped with their titles without his cheating.  I think that this match worked well on multiple levels.  ***½

Match #9:  AAW Heavyweight Title: Rey Fenix © vs. Matt Riddle
They trade control on the mat and Fenix holds his own.  They avoid each other’s strikes and find themselves at a stalemate.  Riddle blocks a handspring and hits a gutwrench suplex.  He lays in a series of knee strikes and takes control.  Fenix fights back with a tornado kick in the corner and hits a cannonball.  Fenix lands a springboard swantan but Riddle responds with an exploder into the turnbuckles.  Riddle connects with a knee strike and hits a fisherman buster.  Riddle wins a strike exchange with a superman punch.  Fenix answers with a roaring elbow and hits a muscle buster.  Fenix follows with a spike piledriver for a nearfall.  Riddle catches him on a moonsault attempt and hits a tombstone for a two count.  Fenix counters the Bro 2 Sleep into a small package to retain his title at 11:12.  I’m not sure a longer title match would have worked as well with the previous contest going 20+ minutes, but they probably needed a little more time here to make this feel like a big-time title match.  They still delivered a solid exhibition.  Although this was a reasonable sampling of what they can do together, I think they have a better match in them.  ***

-Show Grade: C+
You Need to See:
You’d Enjoy Watching: Besties/Strickland+Lee, WRSTLING/Cult, Fenix/Riddle
You Should Avoid:

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