Retro Review: ACW Wrestling’s Wildest Matches

I was cleaning out some stuff and came across an old DVD from ACW called Wrestling’s Wildest Matches. ACW stood for All-Star Championship Wrestling and they were a kind of interesting promotion that was around Southern California in the late 1990s to early 2000s. The promotion was owned by b-movie writer, director, producer, actor, etc. Fred Olen Ray, who also wrestled as Freddy Valentine. The promotion was unique at the time as they didn’t have their own school, and would use wrestlers from UIWA, EWF, IWC, and AWF among others, creating some interesting matchups you wouldn’t see elsewhere. The basic setup of the shows was to have some pretty exciting matches ending with a crazy main event. Hardcore type matches were seemingly on every show back in those days because of the ECW influence, and while ACW didn’t approach the violence in their matches that XPW did, they made up for it by bringing gimmicks such as alligator death matches to Southern California.

ACW ran their shows out of the American Legion Hall in Reseda. Yes, the same venue PWG runs out of now. If you are wondering if it looks any different; aside from not being as full, it looks exactly the same.

Oddly the DVD was still in its shrink-wrap when I found it. I have found memories of going to ACW shows, but I don’t remember the main events ever really being any good, and it looks like only the crazy main events are on the DVD. It’s a shame because I remember a really good match between Piloto Suicida and Super Boy on the same show that they had the rattlesnake match.

The DVD starts with a highlight video showing Piloto Suicida, the Ballards (with a really young Cheerleader Melissa), and Samoa Joe mixed in with some of the hardcore stuff. None of them make an appearance later in the DVD.

The first match is Freddy Valentine versus Mando Guerrero in a loser leaves town barbwire match. It is said this match happened on June 2, 2000. Aaron Hassan is the referee. Instead of the ropes being replaced with barbwire, the barbwire was just wrapped around the ropes. If you’ve seen a death match before, you know most start the same. Lots of teasing being thrown into the ropes. This match was no different. Lots of very weak looking punches in this. Doc Marlee is on commentary, but the commentary is not actually on the DVD, you can just hear him in the background doing his live commentary. At that time period Doc Marlee was seemingly everywhere doing live commentary and he really wasn’t that funny or good, so it is probably for the best. At one point Mando piledrives Freddy Valentine and you can hear Marlee in the background asking “who got it worse?” I assume the person who got piledrived. Doc Marlee is also known for pointing out XPW wrestlers and staff to ECW security at the infamous Heatwave incident. He is also the first person to get upset about a column on SCU, when someone called him a “poopface” and he wanted to fight that person. I digress. Valentine brings a board with barbwire into the ring and they tease getting thrown into that for awhile.Mando bladed and is pouring blood. I think I see Topgun Talwar, one of the six founders of PWG sitting ringside filming this too. Mando hits the ref and takes him out by accident. Mando slams Freddy Valentine through the barbwire covered board that is propped between two chairs. Unfortunately the ref is still out. Valentine hits a low blow on Mando and the ref happens to get up at that point. Valentine gets the pin on Mando. Post match Freddy Valentine cuts a promo and says they are renaming the area to the “San Fernando Valentine.” This wasn’t very good.
Rating: 1/4 *

Next is Freddy Valentine versus Crayz in a Japanese Suicide Match. I’m unsure why it’s called this. The date is listed as July 28, 2000. Aaron Hassan is the ref again, and he is wearing safety goggles so you know this is serious. Each corner has a plugged in and turned on light tube surrounded by barbwire. Crayz wrestled all over Southern California in the late 90s to early 2000s and was primarily known for hardcore stuff. At one point he teamed with Tech IX as the Naybah Hoodz and had a really fun feud against Kid Kaos (Kaos) and Supreme before they joined XPW. This started out like most deathmatches, lots of teasing being thrown into the barbwire. Crayz eventually gets tossed into it, but Valentine only gets a two-count. They have a fight where they each have chairs and hit the chairs against each other, followed by some really weak looking chair shots. The barbwire board made another appearance in this match, and Crayz goes face first into it. Eventually Crayz spears Valentine into one of the corners and the light explodes and sparks are everywhere. The board actually catches fire. This looked pretty cool. Crayz pins Valentine and he wins the ACW championship.
Rating: 3/4 *

Now we have a barbwire exploding tables match between Freddy Valentine (if you haven’t figured it out yet, Freddy Valentine is in every match) and Southern California hall of famer Cincinnati Red. This match is listed as happening on November 17, 2000. The brawling at the beginning was a lot better in this. Red was really good at selling and his offense looked pretty good. Valentine still had his weak strikes. Red tries to go up to the top rope but Valentine tosses him into one of the exploding tables. That doesn’t phase Red though. He easily kicks out. Some more brawling happened then Valentine got sent through the exploding table. That doesn’t finish him either. There were two exploding tables and neither wrestler were finished off by one. Valentine knocks out the ref. Another ref with a mask on and a noose around his neck comes in, counts to two, then starts barking. He then stuns Valentine and puts Red on top and wakes up the other ref. The ref counts the three and Red gets the win. This started out OK and went downhill fast.
Rating: 1/2 *

Freddy Valentine versus Shane 54 in a electrified fence match is up next. This is also listed as happening on November 17, 2000. I’m not sure which date is incorrect, this match or the previous, but I don’t believe they happened on the same night. There was chain link fence wrapped around the ring. The DVD had fake electric noise on it. I know it was over 16 years ago but I don’t recall that noise live. It is obviously fake watching it, and it makes the whole thing even more ridiculous. There is also fake crowd noise in this match. Shane 54 was a pretty good wrestler who wrestled primarily at Ric Drasin’s AWF (he is also Ric Drasin’s son). Shane 54 had some nice offense, and did the only Huracanrana that I noticed on the DVD. The camera kept going out of focus in this. Shane uses the fence to light a torch on fire and then sets Valentine on fire for a couple seconds. Once again there is a ref bump, when Valentine his the ref with a trashcan lid. Valentine throws Shane into the fence, it explodes. He then hits him with some move, it’s botched so I’m sure what they were going for. The ref gets up, but then Valentine takes him out again. He then pins Shane 54 and uses the unconscious ref’s hand to count the three. This was bad, but it was the best match on the DVD.
Rating: *

Freddy Valentine is going to try and win back his title from Crayz in a rattlesnake match next. There was no date listed on this, but I believe it was early 2001. In this match the title is placed in a cage with rattle snakes and the key is hung from the ceiling and the object is to get the key, unlock the cage, stick your hand in, and get the table. They put a mic in the cage as well so everyone can hear them rattle. The match started with a bunch of basic brawling. There was some teasing of being thrown into the snake cage. That would likely only hurt the snakes. Valentine gets a table at one point, even though a ladder was next to the table, and tries to reach the key from the table. That of course leads to him getting put through the table. Crayz sets up the ladder, but he gets tossed from it and through a table on the outside. Valentine gets the key and opens the cage. He uses a stick to move the snakes off the belt and pulls it out to win his title back.
Rating: 3/4*

The final match on the DVD was from March 24, 2000 and was the team of Freddy Valentine and Terry Funk taking on the team of Mando Guerrero and Cincinnati Red. This match was a lot of brawling. I should say it was a lot of bad looking brawling. At one point Funk tosses Red out the door into the parking lot. What I believe is a much younger Legion Larry didn’t seem to like that. Some really weird editing in this and the match just cuts at weird places. Valentine throws fire in Mando’s eyes and gets the pin. They beat up Red after the match and celebrated on the stage area. This was bad, and the editing probably mercifully saved it from being worse, because at least it was short.
Rating: Dud

This DVD is pretty bad. I really wish this had some of the ACW undercard matches featuring early matches with Samoa Joe, B-Boy, and Rocky Romero among others, plus some really good matches with Super Boy and Piloto Suicida. At least they saved me from sitting through the alligator death match again by not including it on the DVD. I checked Amazon and it is currently available for $1.98 if anyone is interested in checking it out for some reason.

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3 Responses to Retro Review: ACW Wrestling’s Wildest Matches

  1. Benjamin Tomas 12/26/2016 at 11:42 PM #

    I have a copy pf this masterpiece somewhere in my garage. It was a gift from someone, but I can’t remember who I should blame. It’s really unfortunate that the Aligator Death Match isn’t on here, as it was so fucking terrible that it was fun for all the wrong reasons. The dvd could be so much better if Valentine wasn’t such a mark for himself, and there wer good matches on these shows.

    • Steve Bryant 12/27/2016 at 12:57 PM #

      I remember people thinking the alligator was going to be a vicious blood hungry beast and ended up not doing anything. I’m sure it was sedated somehow. One fun thing about the video is looking through the crowd and seeing some familiar faces. Along side you, and myself the crowds were a who’s who of early 2000s SoCal wrestling fandom.

  2. Andrew 12/28/2016 at 12:41 PM #

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMfFlS-IJRw Here’s a link to the alligator death match.