By Patrick Brandmeyer
Now, as promised, special comments about Saturday’s Southern Illinois Championship Wrestling event at the Community Center in East Carondelet, Illinois and Tuesday’s Dynamo Pro Wrestling at Off Broadway in Saint Louis, Missouri.
It was another packed house at SICW with a well-hyped title match. Ken Kasa had passed the one-year mark of his championship reign and manager Travis Cook had a bottle of champagne all ready to celebrate the milestone. For his part, Heath Hatton was riding a wave of momentum that included an endorsement from Jim Cornette, a battle royal win, and a tapout victory over the champ in last month’s tag team main event.
Your ring announcer was Drew Abbenhaus, your referees were Jay King and Keith Smith Jr.
The start of the card featured an oddly-extended segment…it began with a replaying of Larry Matysik’s over-the-phone acceptance speech for the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Iowa this past week. The audio wasn’t the best and they finally faded it out. After that, promoter Herb Simmons talked up the new sponsors for SICW Wrestling Explosion as well as the upcoming events (Paul Orndorff will be the special guest for August).
Joker vs. “Dead Sexy” Daniel Gunner: This was Gunner’s SICW debut; according to his Twitter bio, he had previously wrestled in the southeastern part of the country. Thought the match was solid for what it was; Joker won after a superkick in 3:49.
Outtkast vs. JJ Garrett: Another SICW debut; I had previously seen Garrett at PWCS and he mostly competes in Iowa. This was Outtkast’s second appearance for SICW as he debuted last month in a loss to Ax Allwardt. Kast has shown a bit more of his technical skill at these shows; his matches elsewhere are usually brawls and hardcore-style bouts. Outtkast picked up the victory after the Case Study (modified fireman’s carry into a bulldog-ish drop) in 4:00.
Big Jim Hoffarth vs. Frankie “The Thumper” Wyatt & Waco: Waco had apparently been griping about Hoffarth being a lousy tag partner, so Hoffarth told him to find a new partner and he’d face both of them…thus this Very Special Handicap Match™. I’m not too fond of handicap matches in general, mostly since authority figures tend to overuse them in other promotions. If nothing else, it’s refreshing to see the loaded side actually winning as opposed to the outnumbered side taking advantage of a contrived set of circumstances to OVERCOM TEH ODDZ. A cheapshot by Waco set up a big clothesline by Wyatt, then Waco tagged in to hit a Macho Elbow for the win in 5:58. This feud…MUST CONTINUE~!
“Night Train/Gorgeous/Great One” Gary Jackson & “Dirdey” Jake Dirden vs. Flash Flanagan & Ax (Allwardt): Dirden and Flanagan had a few clashes in the recent past. This seemed fairly short for some reason…Flanagan took out Dirden with his kendo stick behind the ref’s back, but Gary rolled up Flanagan for the pin in 7:33. Don’t see Flash lose too often…
Before the first intermission, Herb interviews visiting legend Ox Baker. The guy’s as old-school as it gets and has a unique look with the giant mustache. He was infamous for his trademark heart punch (or “Hurt Punch”) and the move was even blamed for killing two opponents! He said that in his day, when he told fans to “SIT DOWN AND SHUT UP”…they did. I noticed the fans quiet down when he raised his voice to say that quote…bwahahaha.
Bobby D vs. “The Money” Matt Cage: Hadn’t seen Bobby D in a little while. Cage has made two prior appearances for SICW: A loss to Heath Hatton and a time-limit draw with Shorty Biggs. He competes pretty regularly for central Illinois promotions but appears in this area every once in a while. Cage got the win out of nowhere after a jumping leg lariat in 5:17.
Red River Jack(w/ Big Daddy) vs. Mallaki Matthews: Yes, I had a theory as to the identity of Red River Jack…from my observation on Saturday, my guess was incorrect. I don’t know if the masked man is an experienced competitor or someone totally new, but he’s definitely a big boy. For reference: “Red River Jack” was an alias previously used by King Kong/Bruiser Brody when he competed under a mask. Jack made short work of Matthews, finishing with his version of the Diamond Cutter/RKO in 2:38.
“The Man Of Tomorrow” Daniel Eads vs. “The King Of Chaos” Ricky Cruz: Ricky kindly informed Drew of his accolades so that he could repeat them in his ring introduction. These two were the other half of last month’s tag match; Eads played a crucial role in holding off Cruz so that Hatton could get the win over Kasa. This was a proving ground of sorts with the upstart Eads taking on the experienced former champion…Eads had a fine showing and it took not one but two superkicks to keep him down for the count at 12:29. There will be another day for The Man of Tomorrow, to be sure…but Ricky’s gunning for another title shot.
“Ironman” Ken Kasa (w/ Travis Cook) vs. Heath Hatton for the Classic Title: I already covered the history here…Hatton had a close call against Kasa in Caseyville earlier this year, but Travis BELTed him and cost him the match via countout. Travis got more and more involved as the situation grew desperate…Heath speared Kasa and went for the cover, but Cook put Kasa’s foot on the bottom rope. That brought out Big Daddy with Red River Jack in tow…but Kasa got the opening to hook the Iron Maiden Torture Lock. Kasa had won the title with that hold and no one had escaped it, but Heath kept fighting and attempting to roll out of the hold. He was finally able to counterwrestle his way into the Crippler Crossface and Red River Jack held off Travis when he tried to interfere with a steel chair. With no more shortcuts to take, Kasa finally tapped out at 19:12 and his thirteen-month reign as champion came to an end! Hatton celebrated his title win with several young fans to close the show…good for him. WOO~!
Onward to Dynamo at Off Broadway….
The audience is slowly growing at Dynamo’s new venues…Tuesday night is a tough slot for a wrestling event but the fan enthusiasm comes off well in the intimate venue. It’s the polar opposite of the Sports Academy in Glen Carbon where the crowd noise doesn’t come off as well in such a huge building.
Your ring announcer was Chris Roedel (with Luke Roberts handling extra announcements); your referees were Jay King and Patrick Hook. Your sponsors were Stag Beer and Strange Donuts (providing free gooey butter cake and Butterfinger donuts for the night).
Mike Outlaw vs. Danny Adams: Both men are newcomers to the wrestling scene; Adams is a trainee of ROH Champion Michael Elgin and Outlaw is a recent graduate of the Dynamo training school. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen almost all of their matches at this point…they got about ten minutes and had a solid opener. Outlaw gave out a bandanna to a ringside fan…yay for fan interaction. Outlaw became established as the crowd favorite. Outlaw got the win (his first?) after a Macho Elbow in 9:07.
Brandon Aarons vs. Paco Gonzalez vs. Rocket Mapache vs. “The Bosnian Warchild” Spi-Ral vs. Jackal vs. “The Alternative” Brandon Gallagher: This was an elimination-style six-way, though only two wrestlers were legally in the ring at one time. Gallagher ate an early superkick from Spi-Ral and then decided to bide his time on the arena floor. I noticed very few actual tags (if any), but it made sense in the bigger picture: Let the other guys wear each other out and then pick up the pieces. Gallagher’s had previous encounters with Aarons, Mapache, and Jackal, so it was in his best interests to stay out of the line of fire…he tripped Jackal to set up Paco’s Oklahoma roll for the first elimination. After that, Gallagher quickly rolled up Gonzalez with a handful of tights for fall number two. They didn’t announce elimination times, but those took place in the first five minutes…things settled down after that as Gallagher locked up with Mapache. Yes, there WAS a “Rabies” chant.
Mapache and Gallagher tangled for a few minutes; that ended when Gallagher blocked a sunset flip for his second elimination of the match. That brought in Aarons as Gallagher was feeling confident, but it didn’t last as Aarons eliminated him with a half-nelson pumphandle suplex. That meant a finale between Aarons and Spi-Ral…Spi-Ral has a unique arsenal with mat wrestling ability, aerial moves, and some martial-arts kicks. He got some good airtime on the top-rope splash that earned him his first Dynamo victory in 14:47.
“Dirdey” Jake Dirden vs. Brandon Espinosa: Despite both being mainstays in the area wrestling scene for the past few years, this was their first one-on-one encounter. Espy had trouble dealing with Dirden’s size advantage in the early going, but a timely distraction by the arriving Lucy Mendez allowed Espinosa to clip the knee. Espy focused his attack on the leg to keep the bigger man down…Dirden made the comeback but that brought out Dynamo Pro Champion Ricky Cruz to personally get involved. Lucy distracted the ref as Cruz got up on the ring apron with the title belt…but he accidentally hit Espinosa with the gold when Dirden avoided the shot. Dirden knocked Cruz off the apron and got the victory with the Asiatic Spike in 10:27…looks like the Cruz-Dirden issue is far from over.
The Black Hand Warriors (Michael Magnuson & David DeLorean) (w/ Travis Cook) vs. The Bumrush Brothers (“The Don Mega” Shorty Biggs & Outtkast) for the Tag Team Titles: These teams have traded the belts a few times in this calendar year…the Warriors’ Dynamo appearances have been scarce in this title reign as they’re also WLW Tag Champs. Travis made an extended pre-match speech, noting the absence of Executive Director Mark Bland and suggesting that he and his crew could get away with whatever they wanted to do. I suspected another title change could happen…while there were several close falls in the finishing stretch, it didn’t quite work out that way. Shorty got his hands on Travis and picked him up on his shoulders, but the referee’s attention was on Outtkast and DeLorean brawling on the floor. That allowed Magnuson to stun Shorty with a low blow and roll him up for the pin. This feud…MUST CONTINUE~!
“The King Of Chaos” Ricky Cruz (w/ Lucy Mendez) vs. “Night Train/Gorgeous/Great One” Gary Jackson for the Dynamo Pro Title: Gary wrestled a handful of times for GCW and MRW before that, but he hadn’t competed for Dynamo until an Off Broadway show a few months ago when he defeated Brandon Gallagher. Ricky and Gary had faced each other a couple of times in SICW when Ricky was the Classic Champion, but both were fan favorites at the time and Cruz is decidedly NOT a good guy any more. Lucy got involved a few times, of course. Jackson had Cruz set up for the Texas Cloverleaf but Lucy distracted the ref…in the ensuing chaos, Ricky mulekicked Jackson in the Universal Weak Point™ and got the pin with feet on the ropes. (Two low-blow finishes in a row, I note.) Didn’t get a match time for this one. After Gary recovered, he challenged Ricky to face him again in a street fight-style matchup…hmm.
So, that ends my run this week. August is looking like a busy month.