IWL on Roku Review: Sicko Sircus
With online streaming becoming more and more popular when it comes to home entertainment, many wrestling promotions are flocking to this new platform to distribute their content out to more fans than they were able to reach with DVD (and VHS for those of us old enough to remember the days of tape trading.) These days, Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV and Roku many other products help connect TV’s to online streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, WWE Network, UFC Fight Pass and many providing content to people without the need of cable or satellite TV. One company utilizing the technology of the popular Roku’s popular platform is the Insane Wrestling League, who, for those who don’t know, haven’t always been to fond of myself or this wonderful little website.
If you’re unfamiliar with the history of the relationship between the Insane Wrestling League and SoCalUncensored.com, it’s really not a pretty one, nor is it simple to explain.
The IWL started as a backyard company that wanted to advertise on SCU as a legitimate promotion, and then changed their act after former IWL performer Dimesac broke his leg trying to do a stupid, dangerous spot off a cage during a show at the Anaheim Marketplace.
Criticisms of IWL came from many on SCU, and it wasn’t received very well by the members of the IWL and their supporters. It even got to the point where the owner of the IWL Vic Luna, got upset to make a Youtube video complaining about SCU and insulting people for not praising them. This led to him not wanting to associate with SCU. To say IWL came off as petty, unprofessional, and immature was an understatement.
So now here we are in 2015 and things have changed. One thing that’s changed is the IWL becoming one of (if not) the first promotions in SoCal to embrace the online streaming revolution that WWE and other promotions have started to utilize. I decided to give IWL a fair chance and review a few shows to see if they’re worth checking out. I came into this with an open mind with no real expectations. If anything, i had a curiosity about what I was going to see and what this little backyard company has grown into.
With IWL’s Roku channel, you get two sections for content; the first being “IWL Free” where you can get free videos and events with a few ads, and the second being “IWL Plus” which gives access to everything IWL has to offer for $5 a month. I decided to check out Sicko Sircus first and see what the modern IWL has to offer.
Preshow Match: Blake Grayson vs. Douglas James
I reviewed this match in a previous article. I won’t repeat myself or spend too much time on it other than saying this was a good opener. Both Douglas James and Blake Grayson have so much potential to become top stars in SoCal.
The show starts with a painfully unfunny introduction by ring announcer Tony Graziano. He’s got the talent of a first time amateur open mic comic trying way too hard to be “edgy” like Jim Norton type comedian. B-Boy comes out and asks for a title shot, and for some reason he gets it, which leads to our first match.
IWL Championship Match: Peter Avalon (c) vs. B-Boy
Solid match between these two. B-Boy hit some big moves onto Peter Avalon and controlled most of the match, while Avalon would counter and fight back from time-to-time. They tried to get the crowd into it, but outside of a few kids, the rest of the crowd wasn’t that hot. B-Boy applied a triangle choke that looked solid, but he could’ve used a better set up and made a minor technique mistake by grabbing his toes (safety thing that’s hard to explain on paper, but trust me I know what I’m saying here). Still a better worked-triangle choke (much like Douglas James’) than what most indy workers do. The choke was countered by Avalon for a rollup to get the win. This would’ve been better in front of a lively and bigger crowd, but this was a good match either way. Honestly, both guys deserved a better audience for this match.
Post match shenanigans: Ray Rosas acted like he was going to attack Peter, but hugged him instead. Cut a promo saying he wasn’t cashing in his rematch clause cause he wants to fight Eric Cross and wanted to enter the main event battle royal to get his hands on him. He asks Vic Luna to be entered. There’s a scuffle involved, and Vic enters Ray under the condition he forfeits his rematch clause if he enters. This is terrible booking. B-Boy walked out, demanded a title shot from the ring announcer, and got it. Why couldn’t Ray Rosas just said “fuck it, I’m fighting Eric Cross right now” or something? This angle sucked, the booking so far was terrible, and nobody came out of this looking smart. As if things couldn’t get worse, Tony Graziano tried to do some comedy and bombed terribly.
IWL Anarchy Championship Match: Justin Ryke (c) vs. Seville The Thrill vs. Che Cabrera
I was annoyed by Seville The Thrill before the match began. Not because he’s a “good” heel or anything, but because he’s comes off as phony that’s trying too hard. He’s also terrible in the ring. I like the Che Guervara inspired gimmick that Che Cabrera is using, but inside the ring he’s lacking a few things and seemed bored in this match. Justin Ryke looked unathletic, jiggly and out of shape. This match sucked. I don’t really have much else to say about it.
Post match shenanigans: Justin Ryke gets on the mic and cut a terrible promo that tries to be inspiring or something. He’s got a job and a kid. Blah blah blah. Dusty Rhodes. More bad comedy from Graziano.
IWL Breakout Championship Match: Joseph Knox (c) vs. The American Oni w/ Pris
This show is going downhill now. This match is one of the few matches I’ve seen in my life where I said to myself “I could put on a better in-ring performance than this shit.” Joseph Knox is a fat guy with a beard doing a monster grizzly man gimmick, but just looks like a fat guy in a singlet. American Oni is a chubby guy with a shit haircut and is wearing panties that are too small for him. Their in ring skills are worse than their shitty looks. Everything looked like shit. American Oni might be the worst wrestler in SoCal not named Mr. California. Fuck, everything about this was terrible. Sloppy action, botched spots, shitty strikes, awful grappling, the annoying valet with Oni, the stupid ref bump, and Joseph Knox trying to do SPINNING SHIT!!!!!!! This match is the definition of MINUS FIVE STARS!!!!!
Post match shenanigans: A bunch of terrible bullshit.
Tag Game Strong (Leo Blaze & Cedric King) vs. The Mixtape Kings (Jacob Diez & LTP)
Because of technical difficulties, the whole match isn’t shown. So there’s nothing to review here.
20 Person Sicko Sircus Rumble: Ray Rosas, Eric Cross, Azriel, Biagio Crescenzo, Blake Greyson, Cedric King, Che Cabrera, Chris Evans, D’Marco Wilson, Damien Storm, Damon Divine, Eric Watts, Jimbo, Johnny Saovi, Kahmora, Pinky, Riki De La Paz, Ruben Iglesias, Simon Lotto, and Steven Andrews
So this is pretty much a Royal Rumble type battle royal. At this point, every match after B-Boy/Avalon has been terrible up to this point. Kahmora was the best worker in the match, and she didn’t last very long. That fucking sucked. Who the fuck is booking this show? Jimbo the cameraman was the second best part of the match. Shenanigans broke out. They do some type of angle where Rosas is going to face Cross in a Career vs. Title Shot match. The show thankfully ends.
Thoughts on the show: Blake Grayson vs. Douglas James and B-Boy vs. Peter Avalon were really the only two good matches on this version of the show. I can’t say anything about the Tag Game Strong/Mixtape Kings match without having really seen it. Everything else was just really fucking bad. The booking sucked, the matches were bad, and the angles weren’t good. The commentary was really awful. They were like a typical radio Morning Zoo crew that would get featured on Opie & Anthony’s Jocktober series. The ring announcer Tony Graziano wasn’t funny. I’m not sure if his gimmick is supposed to be someone that’s unfunny and bombs all the time, but either way his schtick is terrible. I’m not even going to talk about American Oni vs. Joseph Knox because I’d rather forget that shit happened.
Thoughts on the Roku presentation: I don’t know if it’s exclusive to this show, or others, but there were lots of technical difficulties, as well as really bad video quality from one of the cameras. I watched the event on a 1080p 43inch TV felt the picture quality looked way below that for the free version. maybe the version on IWL Plus is in better quality, but the quality on the free version is pretty bad. The audio was also poorly mixed and sounded bad on my TV at times. Again, this is just one show, so I’m not sure if this is consistent, but for this event, the presentation was that good.
Final Thoughts: I’ve never seen an IWL show before, and this is my first taste of what they (sorta) fully have to offer. I’m gonna be honest, I came in with an open mind with no real intention of trying to shit on this show, and was sorta hoping to be surprised. Instead, I saw a subpar indy wrestling show. I’m sure IWL owner Vic Luna will hate me (again, in case he hasn’t let that hatred go yet) for this, but I’m being completely honest when I say that this show was utter shit. If his aspirations are to run indy shows where his buddies get to be booked as stars and nothing more, kudos to him for living that dream. But if he’s got any real desire to put on good shows, this just didn’t do him any favors. I won’t completely shit on IWL and write them off, I’ll give them a few more viewings, but for now this show was bad. There’s some unintentional comedy value here, but still. Real bad show.
I’ll give Vic credit for one thing, he’s got his product out there. It sucks, it’s terrible, it’s corny, but fuck, he’s doing more than most people. Kudos to him and IWL for being smart on this one.