There were lots of people at the show. People were standing around the seating area and the balcony looked like it had quite a few people up there. I can't count but if I were to hazard a guess it would be somewhere between 350 and 50,348. That's just a rough estimation that I came to using the Bayesian Method, so take it with a grain of salt. But y'all don't care about that. Let's hop to it.
DUSTIN RAYZ & REMY WILKINS vs. CHRIS CASTRO & MATT KNICKS
Castro is a lot less intense and more happy-go-lucky-fun guy. It kind of works and I think it can go even further. There was a fun moment where he got super excited and body slammed Knicks on top their opponent. Knicks popped up and was like "What the hell?" It was a funny moment and it created an interesting relationship between the two, where Castro just gets carried away as Mr. Excitement and Knicks, the more reserved of the two, gets swept up in it.
The match itself was a little mixed, Castro was a little too leg slappy. Sometimes I didn't even see the contact on his opponent I just saw the leg slapping, which hasn't been an issue before. Rayz and Wilkins worked okay together and are fine from a technical standpoint but don't stand out personality-wise. Actually I think I've seen Remy Wilkins wrestle before and I still can't remember much about him. Castro and Knicks picked up the win, which I'm excited about because I like those guys. Wouldn't mind seeing them on the main show wrestling Jocephus Brody and Sheik. We already know they can take a beating as Wayne and Garth.
DA COBRA vs. DANGEROUS AXL
Axl is just a masked jobber. A modern-day Conquistador or Executionor, if you will. Da Cobra has a cool physical charisma, but he needs something more. I can't tell what he his relationship is to us. He's from Chicago so that crowd was with him, but he just goes in the ring and does his thing and leaves. I can't tell if he's really with us or not, so I'm not sure if I should cheer him or boo him. Made me think of Tajiri(my lord and master) back in ECW and he'd be working crowds like mad with just his body, no words. I'm not saying Da Cobra is half as good as that, just that he could stand to move further in that direction become an even cooler attraction. He had some fun sequences that got the crowd excited including spiffy 630(that's after a 450 right?) Splash to finish Axel off, so there's definitely potential for something more.
Shit now I'm thinking about Da Cobra vs. Mr. 450 in a Tajiri/Super Crazy feud. BRING ME THAT.
The owners, Jacques and Gabriel Baron were introduced. They came out and thanked everyone for supporting them over the last year. One of them said that tonight was "Their Wrestlemania" a line that would haunt me for the rest of the night.
They introduced Billy Corgan, he said some "thank yous" and introduced the NEW Heavyweight Champion "The Ego"Robert Anthony. Anthony won the title in a three with Jay Bradley and Bobby Lashley a month ago after Harry Smith had to vacate the title due to being on tour with New Japan. Ego's a cool guy. They tell him that he gets to pick his first opponent to defend his title against. I'm trying to think of the last time WWE had a Wrestlemania where the champ came in with no opponent, and the match for the title was made in the first 15 minutes of the show. What if Vince was like, "Come see my Wrestlemania, no clue what the main event will be, I'll let John Cena figure it out when we get there. FUCK YOU."
Ego says he's going to give someone a chance just like he was given a chance, but first he wants to clear the air with Jay Bradley. Bradley came out looking not happy. These two don't like each other and they did a good job of going over their history, and how Bradley was the guy who got Ego his first gig in R-Pro. Anthony decided that he was going to give Jay a chance to finally prove all the doubters wrong and let him be his first defense. This exchange was solid, and tried to build some kind of drama that was literally non-existent for the weeks leading up to it.
They tell the crowd it's time to stop talking and start wrestling. They all leave and we go to...
JESSE CORGAN LEADING A REVOLUTION
Jesse comes out in an army get up and a riding crop, Sgt. Slaughter style. He's got Chris Hall with him. He says he's starting a revolution against his brother. He told people to "Shut the fuck up." I feel like if you're going to tell people it's a family show, you probably shouldn't have people yelling "fuck" at people. Just a thought, maybe I'm crazy. He starts picking on Chris Nowinski who's sitting in the front row calling him a "cripple" this goes on...forever. I mean it got downright uncomfortable. It was just a really awful exchange, and it followed an long talking segment. Just a bad decision.
Anyway we ended up getting a match where Ruff Crossing came out and said it was time to wrestle and challenged Hall to a match. Ruff tried to confuse me again because he had the word "Rawbone" on his tights. And honestly I didn't recognize him and they didn't announce him so I was spend half the match thinking, "I'm not going to make the mistake I made last time, I'm calling this guy "Rawbone Guy". But then two guys chanted "Ruff" and I realized he'd tricked me again. For those who don't know what I'm talking about, check out my R-Pro review HERE, in which I have no idea who Ruff Crossing is and get chastised about it in the comments section by presumably a close friend or family member of his.
RUFF CROSSING vs. CHRIS HALL
Shenanigans out of the way, Ruff Crossing is totally fun. He takes awesome bumps, which makes Chris Hall look even more dangerous. So there you go, I'm a Ruff fan now. Nowinski was in Ruff's corner and Jesse was jawing at him during the match.
At one point Jesse snuck in a weak shot at Ruff with his riding crop, and Nowinski took off after him. Nowinski took away the riding crop and slapped him on the ass with it, chasing him out of the building. Somehow RUFF CROSSING was able to make the comeback to win the match. At which point they actually announced his NAME! Good for him! It's too bad they didn't do that before the match, so people who don't know who he is could actually get behind him. Not everyone knows who he is, and like the last time people wanted to cheer for him, but we need a name or something to latch on too. I think that and the opening awkardness hurt this match.
D'ARCY DIXON vs. THUNDERKITTY
|Have I made this joke already?|
The story of the match was Thunderkitty going for the sleeper and D'arcy kept getting out of it. When Kitty went for it the third time, Dixon had a reversal planned that gave her the clean win. I liked the concept, but I don't think many people understood it was happening as it was happening. The idea of the sleeper being the big finish could have been played up a little more. I knew it was her finish, but that didn't mean all the people in the arena did. It all just fell really flat.
After the match Dixon got on the mic, and was her annoying self again. She's genuinely an entertaining talker, and her delivery is really good. She said she'd be competing from now on, instead of focusing on her Dynasty. She thought tonight's match was too easy and that she wanted another match. Dixon issued an open challenge which lead to...
D'ARCY DIXON vs. AWESOME KONG
Kong came out to a huge reception and proceeded to murder D'Arcy Dixon. It was fun in a Kong squash kind of way. She just has a magnetic personality, it's like watching a female Goldberg but better because she dresses like a cast member of Xena: Warrior Princess. This picked the crowd up a bit, so I was hoping things would start picking up.
4 WAY TAG MATCH TO CROWN THE FIRST R-PRO TAG CHAMPIONS
P-DAWG MILLIONAIRES vs. LOCK UP vs. JOCEPHUS BRODY & STEVEN WALTERS vs. LINCE DORADO & EMPORADO AZTECA
This was actually the only match I wanted to see, so of course it got all messed up with a crap stipulation. The idea is that you have to eliminate BOTH partners, which sounds interesting on paper, but in execution it lead to less drama and meaningful interactions in the first half. There's no time to build interest in guys because they're getting eliminated. Shit, I can't even remember what happened to Lince and Azteca. They just disappeared. It was just plain boring with guys getting pinned with top rope splashes. And holy hell were there a lot of top rope splashes. Too many.
Anyway Sugar Dunkerton, who you've heard me rave about a million times was really good in this. Took some nasty bumps from Jocephus on the apron, and sold his back through out the match like he was a broken man. Up until this point he may have been the only guy who engaged the audience with his selling and actually tried to garner sympathy and support for his come back.
There were some missed opportunities in this type of match. For one, it got down to Shawn Daivari and Sugar D vs. Walters and Brody. But instead of looking at each other and realizing they're at a disadvantage they choose to beat each other up. Even a guy in the crowd yelled "YOU SHOULD WORK TOGETHER." and I swear it wasn't me.
Eventually it got down to Sugar D vs. Walters and Brody. Walters hasn't been around in a while, and it looks like he found a really sweet gym while touring in Europe. I think he may have slapped on a little too much muscle, because he couldn't move has fluidly as he did before, but he was still pretty good in this match. Somehow Sugar D got it down to just him and Brody. Dunkerton didn't back down though and fought passionately.
During an exchange that lead to the ref getting distracted, The Warden decked Brody with a chain. Sugar didn't want to win that way, but reluctantly went for the cover anyway. Brody kicked out and they wrestled kept at it. Finally Sugar D was able to capitalize with a middle rope elbow drop for the win.
With the exception of the ending stuff between Sugar and Jocephus this wasn't a good match and not a good way to showcase the tag team division usually put on some of the better matches on past cards.
POST MATCH WITH LOCK UP
After the match Epic hit the ring and hugged the dog tired Sugar Dunkerton. It felt like a real moment between the two, and makes me smile thinking about it. Epic's reaction Dunkerton getting the win felt like he was celebrating more than just Sugar overcoming the odds of the match. These two were given a crazy gimmick but have continually made it work out of commitment to entertaining the fans, they don't just deserve this - they earned it.
The Warden came in and asked for his belts. Sugar grabbed a mic and sat in the middle of the ring Punk-style. He then gave an amazing speech about how much he and Epic have lost over the last year because they made a stupid mistake. On the surface you'd think he's just playing into the role, but there was some kind of truth that it felt like he was pulling from. They're not just prisoners to the warden but prisoners to what they do and love. I imagine it is hard to see friends and family when you spend your days traversing the world trying to make a living doing what you love the most. I don't know if Dunkerton was pulling from this when he gave this speech, but I wouldn't be surprised because that's how emotionally real it felt.
He even managed to fit in some socio-politcal commentary on prisoners not having rights to vote, which is probably more subversive than any wrestling promo you'll probably hear ever.
In the end he told the Warden that it doesn't matter who takes the titles from them, that the record books will show that he and Epic were first forever. Great great promo that should be checked out by EVERYONE.
JAKE "THE SNAKE" ROBERTS AND RAVEN TALK
Funaki hit the ring and fulfilled his #1 Announcer duties by introducing JAKE ROBERTS.
I don't know if it's because he's sober or what, but when Jake Roberts came out from behind that curtain, for one amazing moment he was THE MAN. You could see it in his eyes. I'm not just talking about the crowd cheering or whatever, I'm talking about "The Aura". You could see it on his face that he wasn't just infront of a few hundred people at the Teamster Auditorium, he was in the Pontiac Silverdome. He was in the Skydome. He was the fucking Snake Man. I swear for ten seconds it was like slow motion, and not because he's old.He got in the ring and talked about being sober and thanked the fans for all their support. Roberts is still a tremendous talker and you couldn't help but hang on to every word.
|Like this but with a snake on top.|
Raven came out and was a dick, talking about Roberts being a washed-up addict. The jawed for a few minutes, and Jake pretty much verbally jacked him at every turn. It was really fun to be honest. Out came Ashton Vutton and Eric St. Vaughn. Ashton got crazy heat, with people chanting "Please Don't Speak." He played it up really well. Eventually he told the old timers that no one wanted to see them, that he was the brightest star with the brightest future and for them to get out. After some more back n' forth Roberts saved Raven with by DDTíng Vutton. Yes, it still looks good. Afterwords they put in St. Vaughn and Vutton in a 69 position and put the snake on 'em. Good times. I was really glad to see Jake Roberts live, and even more glad that it was a great memory. One of my all time favorites.
BJ HANCOCK vs. MARSHE ROCKET vs. MR. 450
The first chunk of this was your general three way stuff that was pretty forgettable. Mr. 450 was over as hell with the crowd though, so that helped. The build to the first dive was pretty good too. The real story was 450 losing his mind and jumping from the balcony which was about 12 up. It was a crazy stunt that actually felt out of place in nothing match. And what's worse is that when he took Marshe into the ring, Marshe took over on him. I hate it when that stuff happens. You just got splashed by a guy falling 12 feet, why are you making a comeback? Made the moment even less special. 450 eventually won with his signature splash on BJ Hancock.
After the match he grabbed a mask and said that he was going to wear this mask until he won the Heavyweight title. It was a symbol of his promise to the fans that he'd win the title. That's kind of a cool idea, and is a neat reminder to the fans that this guy needs a title shot. The mak is pretty nifty too looking like a mix between Sin Cara's and Hayabusa's masks.
I QUIT MATCH FOR THE WOMEN'S TITLE
MELANIE CRUISE vs. NIKKI ST. JOHN
They started off the match battling outside near the merch tables. Half the crowd couldn't see. Then they went into concessions area and even less of the crowd could see. It was like a radio show with the ref coming on every once in a while to say "Do you quit?" and someone saying "nooooo". It's hard to do that sutff without a big TV showing the people missing out the action. Takes them out of the match right away and it went on for a long time.
Actually the whole thing went on for a long time. A long long long long long long long time. Melanie bled early on. When she would make her comeback she'd slap on a chinlock or a sleeper and sit on it. This happened more than once and waaaaay late into the match. It was awful. Nikki was kind of cool trying out some a submission or two and just generally trying to beat Melanie's ass with a chain and a chair. She looked like she got the concept a little more than Cruise.
She got a table out at some point and the crowd started chanting "This is Awesome." Just for her getting the table out. She hadn't even done anything yet, which makes what happens funnier. So she goes to set Nikki on the table and Lou D'Angeli comes out with a mop/broom handle. He goes to nail Melanie with it, but she blocks it and puts him on the table. Then she puts Nikki on top of him, which may be the greatest moment of his life coz Nikki was looking fine last night y'all. I'm a man.
Anyway, Melanie goes up top and delivers a devastating leg drop that just tips the table over. Didn't break or anything. The people who chanted "This is Awesome" earlier looked like they'd been farted on. It was great and I laughed really loud. Sorry, I'm also a bad person.
Melanie then freaked out and got an extension cord and hung Nikki over the top rope with it. Nikki gurgled "I quiiiiiiit" and Melanie retained. Hugely disappointing match that last eons and took a lot of the crowd out of it big time. I like both Nikki and Melanie, but they really needed less time and a better concept for their match. Thankfully this happened...
AWESOME KONG GETS IN MELANIE'S FACE
Awesome Kong got in Melanie's face.
I imagine this will be the match we'll see at Bourbon Street in January. Bourbon Street being that place that AAW runs for their big shows. Good idea
The Almighty Sheik came out and said he's been screwed by Billy Corgan and that he wants a title shot. Sheik was really fun on the mic, especially when he asked if people wanted to see the title match, and then saying "I think I'll talk a little longer." This ended with him and Brody just kind of meandering around the ring. I don't know what was supposed to happen, but they just kind of stood there for a little bit before leaving. Oh well.
RESISTANCE PRO HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH
JAY BRADLEY vs. ROBERT ANTHONY (c)
Thank goodness for these two. Most of the wrestling up until this point has been pretty weak and uninteresting. Or downright bad. They did some nice mat work and hold exchanges early on and the crowd was totally into it. No boring chants or anything. They also knew when to pick it up and get going and when to cool it back down. Great pacing. Bradley was a beast working on Robert Anthony's leg and working the crowd back up. Jay Bradley is legit my favorite guy in the company now that Harry Smith is gone. He wrestle with a purpose, trying to win a fight with an actual game plan.
Anthony did a solid job selling the leg, making everything he did with it look painful. I really like him desperately hitting a back cracker and rolling around in agony. He needed to hit it, but the leg was too missed up for him to take advantage of it.
Down the stretch, Jay nailed the Boom Stick Lariat out of nowhere, but Anthony ended up rolling to the outside to the floor. He was knocked out so Bradley had to waste time dragging his ass back into the ring. By the time he got him to the center, Anthony had enough to kick out.
The finishing bit was creative with Jay getting flung into a corner and doing that leap frog counter, but Anthony did run through. When Jay hit the ground he saw that Anthony hadn't followed him into the corner and exclaimed "Oh shit!" When he turned around Ego hit him with his crazy DVD move and nailed a sick moonsault for the win. Great finish. I definitely recommend you watch this match. These two are better than a lot of guys on the indies right now.
This show wasn't the worst. It had one great match and a couple of feel good moments, which is better than several of their other shows. But nearly every time I watch them I leave frustrated at sloppy booking or lack thereof, or poor execution. This show was no different. The highlights would be Lock Up winning and Dunkerton's speech(not the match itself though), Jake Roberts being really cool, and the main event. Not a lot of good on the wrestling front. Really the only performances that stand out besides the main event were Da Cobra and Ruff Crossings of all people. How'd that happen?
R-Pro is so frustrating because I feel like they just take for granted that their fans will show. That wrestling fans are so starved for wrestling that they'll just go to a show no matter what. They're right for the most part, which is sad, but it doesn't make them not building stories very well any less annoying. Look at the tag tournament for example. I think only five of the guys in the match were actually in the tournament proper. And teams like the Rock N Roll Express and The Briscoes weren't even in the match. And this tournament started A YEAR AGO. At one point, I don't think they even remembered there was a tournament.
And then there's the weird shit with not advertising Bradley/Anthony before hand. Anthony wasn't even advertised to wrestle. Honestly, the only reason I came to this show was because Dunkerton and Epic were in the tag title match and Jake Roberts was going to be there. That's it. I guess that's enough for them because they got their money anyway, but I don't know if I can bother going back again.. The only story with any real drama going into it was the Melanie Cruise/ Nikki St. John one, and that was kind of mucked up with the weird heel/face reversal that happened mid-way and the really bad match they had.
When I talk about the bad stuff that goes on at these shows, it's not because I like to or I've got some goofy internet nerd axe to grind. I'm a pretty positive guy. I don't have anything against the Barons or anything, I don't even know them. I spoke to Jacques on the phone a year ago and he seemed like a really nice guy with that same fanboy passion for wrestling that we all have. And I've met their friends and families at these shows and they all seem like really warm and polite people. They've brought some great shit(and some terrible) to the city of Chicago (greatest city ever) over the last year and for that I'm grateful. But I guess I need a little more thought and care when it comes to the wrestling products I support.