Scrub’s View #22 – CZW Best of the Best 2 (6.8.02) Review

This was all pretty nuts. Who in their right mind would fly out to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to watch an Indy wrestling show? WHO?! Well, not me. Because I went to Philadelphia Pennsylvania for one of thee best Philly cheese steaks I’ve ever had. Well, that’s at least what I told my folks.

I’d like to think that I sparked this whole trip from even happening. As soon as B-Boy and Super Dragon were locked in for Combat Zone Wrestling’s Best of the Best 2 junior tournament, I got on the horn and let Private Steve know that we should consider flying out for this show. The SCU crew hasn’t been on a vacation for wrestling since APW’s King of the Indies, so I figured, we were due for another wrestling road trip. It took a lot of convincing, but I managed to get Steve to go. And soon after that, we got Justin Crast and Jon Talwar to tag along as well.

I had been looking forward to this show for quite some time. I’ve been looking forward to this ever since the idea of us flying out to Philly was conceived. I was looking forward to seeing a lot of the talent in the tournament that I have never seen live, or even never seen at all. I was really stoked to see Jodie Fleisch live. I’ve heard great things about M-Dogg 20. I’ve always been a big fan of Tony Mamaluke. I’ve been a mark for Ruckus ever since the old SCU board days. And I looked forward to seeing a lot of the homegrown CZW talent that I haven’t seen before live. Oh yea, I couldn’t forget mentioning the ECW Arena. I don’t even know if I would have gone on this trip if it wasn’t at the ECW Arena. That was one of the main reasons why I wanted to fly out for this show. Before I pass in this world, I’ve always wanted to watch wrestling in two places: the ECW Arena and Korakuen Hall. Well, one down, one to go..

Everyone said South Philly was a dump. And yes, everyone was right. BUT~! I’ve seen worse, and to be honest, I kind of miss Philly. *cries*

I plan on sharing some of the highlights from both my trip and the show. Overall, both the trip and the show were so much fun. I met a lot of good people in Philly, and I look forward to meeting up with these guys again soon. I also got to meet for the first time, the “Live” guys, Dastardly, Hez & Nadia. Yep, I met these Californians in Philly! Pretty nuts if you axe me. Anyways, enough of this jibber jabber. On with the review!

Before we all headed to the airport, I got to eat some free Taco Bell from Steve & Justin. As we ate, me and Steve were thinking of things to do with our website. We planned on doing a roundtable type discussion on various shows, but we’ve already seen that done elsewhere. So, being the innovators that we are, we said that we’d take a step further with our trip reviews by recording and transcribing every single thing we said. EVERYTHING. Well, it seemed like a daunting task, but we were up for the challenge. The first lines of our wacky project:

Justin: What’s in a Baja Chalupa?
Me: I dunno
Justin: But you’re eating one.
Me: I am? Oh, I dunno!

After those first four lines, we ended up calling it quits on our “innovative” project. We then ate some free food. Correction: I ate some free food, watched some tapes, and then headed off to Pasadena to meet up with Goofy Jon Talwar. From there, we headed off to LAX.

Beforehand, I’ve heard from various sources that LAX security was very tight and very strict. Well, I’d like to say different. Sure, they did take extra precautions on searching people, but the guy that searched me was rather cordial. “Permission to touch your backside?” How can I say no to such a polite guy? There was also Internet access at LAX. Steve caved in and bought 20 minutes of Internet time for 5 bucks. We checked all the message boards that mattered, with plenty of extra Internet time to spare, so we ended up watching some streaming APW matches from NorCal. Cheerleader Melissa does the Doug Williams counter! WHOOOOOO!

The flight was cool for me, but it was even cooler for Pimpin Jon Talwar. Good ol’ Jon. Play on playa!

Once in Philly, we managed to rent a badass car complete with a Magellan Navigation System. Our Magellan System had the charisma of Johnny 5, but sounded like one of those girls from 1 (800) WE ARE 18. “She” was awesome.

The next day, with the help of our sexy navigator, we headed over to the Mecca of US Pro wrestling, the ECW Arena. Viking Hall. Double Deuce 22. The Bingo Hall. The marquee said it all. It was awesome, and of course, being the mark that I am, took plenty of pictures. I didn’t know that outside the building, that it was actually marked as the “ECW Arena”. I also noticed that the building was for sale. Since it was pretty frigging early, and we found out how to get there, we then headed out to go sightseeing in Souf Phillay and I made sure that I got myself a Philly cheese steak. Being the tourist that I am, I ordered a “Philly cheese steak” instead of just a plain old “cheese steak”. GODDAMN TOURIST!

I must also make note, that we did NOT vandalize the ECW Arena with “Support Indy Wrestling” stickers. I repeat. We did NOT! What customers do with our stickers after they buy them us none of our business!

We get to the ECW Arena a little early to set up our interview with CZW star, Ruckus. On a side note, this is my favorite Ruckus, not UPW’s Ruckus. I just wanted to clear that up. The first time I set foot in the ECW Arena, I felt the aura in that place. I felt the magic in that place. I felt the history in that place. I was pretty stoked to be in there. But what I didn’t plan on doing was walking through the curtain at the ECW Arena. Yes. The frigging curtain! God, I was in full-on mark mode. I’ve done what so many Indy wrestlers have done, but have yet to do, and I’m not even a wrestler! I walked through the same curtain as Eddy Guerrero, Dean Malenko, Chris Benoit, Taz, Yoshihiro Tajiri, Tommy Dreamer, Beulah, Great Sasuke, TAKA Michinoku, Dick Togo, etc. It was such an amazing experience to just walk through the curtain. Walking through the curtain just once wasn’t enough for me. Of course I had to do it TWICE! Wow, walking through the curtain was worth the trip already! Also, I’d walk around the place and say to myself, “This was where Tommy Dreamer got put through a stack of tables. This was where Taz and Shane Douglas brawled and knocked over some merchandise tables. This was where Tajiri did that crazy Asai Moonsault into the crowd. This was where Paul Heyman gave that incredible pep talk to his locker room before their ECW’s first pay per view, Barely Legal.” This was where history was made. I was even contemplating taking a picture of that infamous black pole that lingers in the aisle way. You know the pole that I’m talking about. I think I even took a picture of the stage too. The same stage that Sabu dove off a gazillion times. That whole time I was in the Arena was an amazing “mark out” experience that I will never ever forget.

I also had the pleasure of meeting CZW fan, Jeff Strauch. He’s the one that hooked it up with the great seats. He’s the epitome of “Southern Hospitality” even though we were in Philadelphia. He was really nice and went out of his way to make sure we “felt at home” in Philly. The CZW fans are some of the nicest fans I have ever come across (They can also be some of the rowdiest). It may like an oxymoron, but it’s true. A lot of the fans went the extra mile being nice to us SoCal outsiders. Thanks again to Jeff Strauch and the CZW crowd. You guys definitely made Best of the Best 2 a lot more fun.

After the show, I found myself doing the Trent Acid strut everywhere I went. From Denny’s, to the Philly airport, to LAX, to my own living room, I was strutting around like the Best of the Best Champ. I even strutted around humming the theme song. Must download immediately! Some lady at the airport was even making fun of me and my strut! But I could care less, because I just saw a fun wrestling show at the ECW Arena, and I was on top of the world! WHOOOOOOOOOOOO! *does the Acid strut*

The trip back was not very memorable. I had been up since 11am Eastern Time. The show ended at around 1am and we needed to find a way to kill some time till our 7am flight. There was no point in getting a hotel for just a couple hours. The time after BOTB2 and our flight wasn’t that great. In fact, I felt rather sluggish and a tad bit crappy. But, I tried to make the best of it by doing the Acid strut. Because the Acid strut can turn every day into a sunshine day. *does Acid strut*

On to the High’s and Low’s:


The Crowd: Not only were these fans nice as fuck, they were rowdy as fuck as well. Too bad the turnout for BOTB2 wasn’t as good as CZW’s Cage of Death 3. But all in all, really great crowd that was as nice as nice can be.

CZW Markout Moments: Not only was it awesome just to be in the ECW Arena, it was also really cool to see the CZW crew live. Eric Gargiulo looked a lot different that I pictured him to look. I have only heard his commentary. I haven’t seen him before. It was cool seeing the CZW home grown talent live. Justice Pain complete with his fanny pack. Nick Mondo in his regular day to day clothes. Whacks snapping pics at ringside. CZW Referee Brian Logan looking dumber in person! OH! JOKE! Not only was I marking out being at Viking Hall, I was marking out seeing these CZW guys live and in person.

Best of the Best Video Package: This video package was done really well. The video was set to P.O.D.’s “Set It Off” and it showcased the work of every guy in the tournament. The lights were off as the video package played. The video package added a sense of importance to this tourney, as I felt the aura in the air during the intro. Really well done video. I only wish that they didn’t show clips of B-Boy and Dragon at the Dojo Dos. It made Dragon and B-Boy look more ghetto that Ghetto Matt (or should I say Middle Class Matt). The intros by Doomsday Danny Rose were pretty cool as well.

Nick Berk vs. B-Boy vs. Super Dragon: The best first round three way of the tournament as far as I’m concerned. The rest of the three ways looked sloppy and like Steve said, had plenty of pins being broken up for no reason at all. The Berk/B-Boy/Dragon three way was rather smooth and it was cool to see the SoCal guys team up and put the boots to Berk. It was kind of like they were trying to “one-up” each other by trying to see who could put more of the hurt onto Berk. Really nasty looking Berkocet from Nick Berk onto B-Boy (Double Underhook but similar to Christopher Daniel’s Last Rites or Reno’s Roll of the Dice). Cool footstomps from Super Dragon. Dragon put away the CZW regular with his Supernatural Driver (Psycho Driver 2001). Easily the best three way of the first round.

CZW Battle Royal: This thing was not your average Battle Royal. This shit was all over the place! Non-stop action. Very hard to follow, but from what I did see, it was pretty brutal. In this Battle Royal were CZW stars Nick Gage and Nate Hatred (the H8 Club). This was the first time I got to see the H8 Club, but let me tell you something: These are some scary motherfuckers! Just absolutely brutal. As EPIC TV host, Larry Rivera would say, “Brutality at it’s most brutal!” What sold me on the H8 Club (mainly Nick Gage) is when Gage delivered one of the sickest running bootslides I have ever seen. This was absolutely sickening as he took off the jaw off of Chris Cash (I think, or was it GQ? Ahhh, who knows). Just another reason to buy the tape! BUY IT NOW! Which reminds me, I already have the tape! And it’s only Thursday! Smart Mark Video rules the school! CZW announcer, Eric Gargiulo even gave SCU a plug! Thanks! Looks like slipping Gargiulo that extra wad of cash paid off.

Super Dragon vs. B-Boy: One of the best matches of the night. The second best match in the Dragon/B-Boy feud (their MPW match coming first). I loved this match. The only match of the show that told a good story. The only match of the show with build up. Some fans would agree with me, but you wouldn’t have thought that if you were sitting in the crowd. It seemed to me that the CZW crowd wasn’t hyped for this match at all, considering the fact that it followed up a rather draining Battle Royal and a rather sucky Acid/M-Dogg second round match. After this match, the crowd gave these SoCal grapplers the ovation that they truly deserved. A lot of submissions in this match. Some mixed martial arts aspects in this match as well as Dragon hit the Sakuraba chops. This match was also the first time Dragon kicked out of the Cross Special. Brutal Shotei by B-Boy. Decapitating Spring Board Leg Lariat by Dragon. Both guys hit all their signature spots. The finish to the match was really cool, as B-Boy sold the Psycho Driver waaaaaaaaay better than he sold it at MPW. If you recall, at MPW, B-Boy was all up and about after the Psycho Driver and after he pinned Dragon for the 1st time. Not this time around folks. After Dragon hit the Psycho Driver on B-Boy, B-Boy rolled out of the ring to escape from being pinned, because B-Boy would have been pinned if Dragon followed up in time. B-Boy sold the Psycho Driver very well this time around. Once Dragon got B-Boy back in the ring, B-Boy would try his hardest to leave the ring again, through the other side. But Dragon wouldn’t have any of that as he cut the New Age Punisher off at the pass. B-Boy then hit TWO, count em’ TWO Backdrop Drivers ala Dr. Death Steve Williams. Dragon would then try to escape from being pinned by rolling out to the apron. But, B-Boy cut Super D off at the pass and gave Dragon yet another Backdrop Driver from the ring apron in to the ring, giving B-Boy the duke and his second IMPORTANT victory over SoCal’s 2001 Wrestler of the Year. Really awesome match. Like I said, one of the matches of the night. I’m sure the CZW crowd thought differently of our SoCal warriors at first, but in the end, they gave B-Boy and Dragon a well-deserved ovation, with some people even giving a standing ovation. It was a mark out moment not only for me, but also for everyone in Viking Hall. Dragon sold those THREE devastating Backdrop Drivers very well. I’m very proud of both SoCal participants as they gave South Philly another great match to remember. I feel that if the CZW crowd knew the Dragon/B-Boy feud like us Californians did, that they’d appreciate the match a lot more, due to the fact that their CZW match still played off their older bouts in SoCal. That was something the average CZW fan could not have understood nor appreciated. With that said, I got the tapes you want! I got the tapes you need! If interested, email me. I’m in your corner!

One-Armed Handspring!: Throughout Ruckus’s match against Tony Mamaluke, Mamaluke would work on Ruckus’s arm, slapping on arm breakers and arm bars. At one point, Ruckus went for his patented back handsprings. I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself, “If Mamaluke was working Ruckus’s arm, then how in the hell could Ruckus do a back handspring?” Good question. Here’s a good answer: Ruckus did the back handspring with ONE ARM! Wow. Ruckus never sold the arm injury in future matches in the tournament, but still, a one-armed back handspring is very impressive. Ruckus is really fun to watch, especially live. If you have no plans on checking out EPIC, you should try to rearrange those plans ASAP. Screw the WWE. Screw AAA. Screw your dads. Because watching Ruckus live will be a treat, and who knows when the next time us SoCal’ers will get to see him work again live.

Tony Mamaluke: Mamaluke rocks. I’ve been a fan of Mamaluke ever since his days in ECW teaming with Guido and Big Sal. Mamaluke is a bump machine. He has a great ground game and can mat wrestle with the best with them. Of course he can mat wrestle. He was trained by Dean Malenko! It looks like Mamaluke has been hitting the weight room pretty hard, and adding some much needed weight to his body. He looks a lot more cut and defined now. I remember in ECW, he was dragged through the slats in the guardrail after brawling in the crowd. That’s how skinny this guy was. SoCal can use a guy like Tony Mamaluke. He appears to be in top physical shape. He can work a good mat game. He can bump like no other. Let’s hope that this Full Blooded Italian can get some bookings here in SoCal.

Jonny Storm vs. Jody Fleisch: One of the best matches of the night in my opinion (along with Super Dragon vs. B-Boy). I’ve seen Fleisch work before but I haven’t seen Storm work. And when two guys are brought in from past rivalries, you can bet the farm that you’re going to get a really good match, and that’s exactly what the CZW fans got. These two moved as fast as lightning. They moved so fast with such fluidity and such crispness. I don’t even think they botched anything, at least, nothing I noticed. The pace of the match was probably the fastest of the night as well. Just non-stop action from these two. I won’t even go off and name the moves they did. I’d be here typing forever (GET THE TAPE ALREADY!) Before the match, Jonny Storm would cut on the fans in that great British accent of his. Him calling the fans a bunch of shitheads and faggots in that high-pitched voice were the lines of the night. How could you not love those accents? This match was really fun to watch. This match along with B-Boy/Dragon is definitely worth the tape alone. If these two match ups weren’t booked, who knows how the tournament would have turned out. Once again, really fun match from the Brits. SHUT IT!

SHINING WIZARD!: B-Boy busted out Keije Mutoh’s Shining Wizard on Trent Acid. This move is always awesome live. I’ve seen Excalibur hit the Shining Wizard rather well (January MPW show). He was the first SoCal guy to hit that move. And now, you can add B-Boy to the list. I’m already sick of seeing it in Japan, but it’s still a somewhat “fresh” move here in the States on the Indy scene. Really fun move. It got me and CZW fan, Jeff Strauch out of our seats marking out like little schoolgirls.

Me So Horny: That’s CZW Star, Adam Flash’s ring music. 2 Live Crew. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone come out to such a simple, yet captivating song. Why hasn’t anyone in SoCal ever come out to this? I was dancing in my seat when Flash came out. Adam Flash is my favorite wrestler, just because of his theme music. I guess you can say I have no class and that I’m the scum of society. Oh well, it’s 2 Live Crew! Adam Flash also pulled out one crazy ass leg drop from the top of a ladder in the ring onto Justice Pain laid out on a table on the arena floor (I’m blown just saying that). And Flash was just the Guest Ref! Really insane bump that looked like it killed both Pain and Flash. During this match, Sick Nick Mondo busted out a Ki Krusher on a table on SoCal’s own Messiah. Really cool spot. CZW just pulled out all the stops. I tip my hat to all four participants involved in that match.

Messiah is OVER!: Messiah is one of THEE MOST OVER GUYS IN CZW. Bar none. He was the last guy to be introduced in the three way. And right after Nick Mondo’s music finished, the Messiah chants were loud as nuts. One of the biggest pops of the night was for the Messiah. He got a really good steady chant for himself, even before his music hit! Even before he hit the curtain! I would look around the crowd, and a lot of people had the Messiah hand signal up. Really cool to see the “hometown boy” receive a ton of praise from the Philly locals. Leaving XPW was the best thing Messiah has done for his career. He’s actually going somewhere in this biz. Somewhere far. I’m hoping for a Messiah/Mondo rematch at EPIC. Since the 3rd CZW guy hasn’t been announced yet, it could happen, and the Messiah did say his opponent would be a credible opponent. Can’t get anymore credible than Sick Nick Mondo.

Finals Ceremony: A really nice ceremony at the end of the tournament as Acid’s partner, Johnny Kashmere brought out the Best of the Best trophy to his tag team partner. I noticed that the CZW talent helped up Acid as some of the outsiders helped up Jodie Fleisch. Good speeches from Acid and Jonny Storm that got the crowd going into a “CZW” chant. I wasn’t aware of the “Best Match” and the “MVP” awards they were going to give out, which was a pretty cool surprise for me. CZW gave those awards out to Jonny Storm vs. Jody Fleisch and Jody Fleisch respectively based on crowd reaction alone. The ceremony followed by the group picture at the end made the tournament feel special and capped off a night of fun wrestling action.


The No-Shows: No shows sure do suck, especially for a tournament. It throws a wrench into the all the battle plans. It sucked when the Messiah no showed the Revolution J and it sucked when Elix Skipper and Jason Cross no showed the Best of the Best 2. But, there are some exceptions to the rule. Messiah was injured and could not compete in the inaugural Rev J tournament. Elix Skipper could not make it due to commitments in Japan. Missing bookings not under your own control is totally acceptable. It sucks, but it’s acceptable. Jason Cross is no exception whatsoever. Supposedly, Cross was AWOL. Missing in action. NWA Wildside (Cross’s own promotion) didn’t even know where their own World Champ was. There are even rumors of Cross retiring. WTF?! Either way, Jason Cross was not very professional about the situation. But Cross’s fed (or should I say former fed) NWA Wildside was aware of the situation and sent a replacement for Cross in the tourney. Gabriel (one half of the Lost Boys) replaced Jason Cross while Montreal’s Heavy Max Fury replaced Elix Skipper. I wish I could have seen both Cross and Skipper, but their replacements held their own, sorta. Actually, not really. Their replacements weren’t at the same level, but they did their job as the weaker man in their respective three way dances.

Trent Acid vs. M-Dogg20: This match clocked in at about 20 minutes but was probably only 10 minutes. Acid stalled a TON in this match draining the life out of the crowd. It didn’t help that M-Dogg was injured either. I’ve seen M-Dogg’s previous work and he is really fun to watch. I guess June 8th wasn’t his night. Hopefully next time around, M-Dogg will get to redeem himself and produce one of his usual fun-to-watch matches. In my opinion, Acid is overrated. Maybe Acid wasn’t his usual self on June 8th. Maybe he had an off night. Who knows. I hope that’s the case, because I’ve only heard great things about the CZW/BJW Junior Heavyweight Champ. I will say this though. I love Trent Acid’s charisma. He can be such a primadonna. He can be such a dickish heel. He can do whatever he wants. He has a ton of charisma and that’s one of the best things Acid has going for him. I’ve heard that Acid and Ruckus can put on stellar bouts, so hopefully, they continue that trend at EPIC and hopefully Acid snaps out of this slump. *does the Acid strut*

An Overwhelming Long Ass Show: This show clocked in at about 5 hours. A five-hour show is pretty overwhelming for any fan to handle. There were tons of matches on this card and a handful of intermissions to go along with it. Along with the tournament, there was a Battle Royal, a “death match”, and a championship three way. I understand that there needs to be other matches in between the tournament to let the tourney guys get a breather. I dunno. So much went on in this show, that it became overwhelming at one point. All the stuff that did happen could have been saved for the upcoming shows and thus cutting down the time of the BOTB2. All the things that happened at BOTB2 could have spanned over an extra day. The title match angle could have unfolded at BOTB2 while the actual match could have taken place at the next show. Very overwhelming. On the bright side, there weren’t too many bad matches on this loaded show.

Screwy Booking: The first question I posed after witnessing this battle royal unfold, “Why would the number one contender for the World Title ‘no show’ in order to compete in a battle royal for CZW’s secondary title? Why would the CZW World Champ want to compete in the secondary title battle royal?” It was all pretty nutty. I’m guessing though, that the CZW Brass wanted the belt off the Messiah because the World Champ was to face John Zandig in Ireland the next week, and I’m guessing flying out the Messiah from California to Ireland wasn’t on the agenda. Also, I’m guessing that the CZW Brass also wanted the Iron Man title off of Sick Nick Mondo. They probably also wanted a program with Justice Pain and Adam Flash. So with all those things they want accomplished, that would explain this nutty booking. So, it could make sense, if you wanted it to. I guess they wanted all this to take place in the battle royal too, because battle royals are somewhat fun and serves as a good break within the tournament. The bookings were nutty, but it did accomplish what CZW wanted to do with their talent, I suppose.

Match of the Night Voting: It was pretty sad when the CZW announcer was listing off possible “Matches of the Night”. When the announcer named off “Trent and Jody”, the CZW crowd actually booed the match. I’m not making it up. It’s even on the tape. The tournament final got booed. Wow. One would think that the tournament final would usually be the best match of the tourney, but that wasn’t the case. It’s one thing to get no reaction for your vote (Acid/B-Boy), but it’s worse when your vote gets booed (Acid/Fleisch). It’s also sad when two of the best matches on the tournament came from outsiders. Supposedly, B-Boy and Dragon will be asked back, or perhaps, are already on their permanent roster. I doubt Jody Fleisch and Jonny Storm will be back in the Combat Zone. But hey, anything can happen.

You Can Smoke In the Arena!: WTF? You can?! Man, I would look around, and just see people lighting up cigarettes left and right, smoking indoors! It was nuts. Maybe me being the Californian that I am, am just used to the strict smoking laws with the Golden State. But it sure was weird as fuck seeing people smoke indoors at the ECW Arena. I think I got second hand lung cancer as well that night.

Overall, the trip and the show were well worth it. I was glad I went and would go again in a heartbeat if the card was just as good as Best of the Best 2. As far as “hardcore US Indy feds”, there’s no comparison. CZW is beyond better than XPW. CZW has XPW beat in every department. There’s no war, because as far as I’m concerned, CZW has already moved on from this alleged war. CZW’s got bigger fish to fry. Mmmmmmmm, fish.

Hopefully, CZW makes their presence felt at EPIC. The SoCal fans are in for a treat with Ruckus vs. Trent Acid. Hopefully, EPIC will be the “official CZW talent distributor” to the SoCal fans. If you guys are fans of the CZW style, and you aren’t as rich as me (JOKE!), EPIC will be the next best way to watch CZW talent live.

Really fun and memorable trip. The cheese steaks were off the meat rack! They were to die for! I knew I should have bought a dozen of those cheese steaks and smuggled them on the plane. Seriously though, at this rate, CZW will only get better and better. Who knows if I’ll be back for another live CZW show, but I do know this: CZW added another SoCal fan to their CZW fan base. =)

“How would you like to be B-Boy, and show the Best of the Best trophy to all your drug addict friends!?”