AWS held its first show of the year on January 28th, titled “Don’t Bring Your Replica Belt To Our Show.” I can confirm right off the bat that at least one person did bring a replica belt to the show. This was the second night of back-to-back wrestling at the venue with RISE making its Southern California debut the night before. With nine matches on the show scheduled, I was a little worried that there was just going to be too much stuff and would get burnt out by the end of the show. That didn’t happen. The show was put together almost perfectly where there was enough variation between matches and the pacing was great, that the crowd was hot the entire night. Eliminating the intermission helped as well.
The venue was packed and it was standing room only.
Angel Dust over Britt Baker to retain the Phoenix of RISE title [9’00]
First up was a match for the Phoenix of RISE championship. This was setup the night before on the RISE show. I thought both wrestlers had really good matches both nights and I really enjoyed this. I had never seen either of them before the RISE show but came away hoping they get brought out to SoCal more often. Angel Dust turned heel the night before, and did a really good job in the heel role here and really was able to get the crowd behind Baker. Despite being noticeably smaller than Britt, Angel Dust really came across believable in her offense as well. Britt Baker’s offense looked really polished as well. There was a lot of great back and forth action in this. Rosemary came out to the ring and spit poison mist in Baker’s face allowing Angel Dust to get the pin. This was good.
Rating: *** 1/4
Shotzi Blackheart & Delilah Doom over Jewels Malone & Katarina Leigh [9’33]
Both Delilah Doom and Shotzi Blackheart have a ton of charisma and energy. I thought both Malone and Leigh looked good in this too. It’s also nice to see Leigh getting more bookings locally. There were a few miscues in this, but nothing too bad. Shotzi got the pin after a Senton from the top rope on Malone. This was a fun match.
Rating: ** 3/4
JR Kratos over Tito Escondido [14’39]
This was JR Kratos’ debut in AWS. Both guys really went all out in this match. Tito hit a really nice Huracanrana on Kratos that sent him outside and went right into a dive. They had a really nice sequence where they were trading release German suplexes then went into hitting really stiff chops on each other. Kratos reminded me a lot of indy scene Samoa Joe in this, which is a good thing. Kratos eventually hit a piledriver for the win. This was a great match. One of the best pure heavyweight matches I’ve seen in SoCal in awhile. Fantastic stuff.
Rating: **** 1/4
Brody King over Mariachi Loco [8’38]
It’s really hard to follow the previous match so these guys came out and did more of a spot heavy match. Early on Brody was on the outside and catches a diving Mariachi Loco and just tosses Loco into the chairs. It looked really crazy. Mariachi Loco had a lot of nice spots in this and Brody King’s offense looked devastating. Brody won with a jumping sit-down piledriver. This was good.
B-Boy over Suede Thompson, Andy Brown, and Jake Atlas [22’18]
Most of the crowd wasn’t familiar with Jake Atlas before the match so he got little reaction on his entrance. He was a late replacement for Douglas James who was out due to an injury at last week’s PCW show. Before the match B-Boy came out and shook everyone’s hand but Jake’s, and flipped him off. This match was pretty much an all-out sprint from start to finish. They mixed in some comedy but nothing over the top or out of place. Suede Thompson does a good job of blending it into his work. There were a ton of great spots in this and it was really fun. Mid-way through the match Atlas had really won over the crowd with his acrobatics. B-Boy won with a package piledriver on Atlas. After the show a lot of people were telling me it was their favorite match on the show, though I thought Kratos and Escondido was a little better. Still, a great match.
Hudson Envy, Christina Von Eerie, & Saraya Knight over Ruby Raze, Sage Sin, & Rosemary [12’47]
This had a sort of a weird setup. The team of Hudson, Christina, and Saraya were clearly working as the heels, but Rosemary had been established as a heel all weekend. The start of the match saw the heel team isolating Sage Sin and taking turns beating her down. Sage was fantastic here. She really sold everything well and played the face in peril role perfectly. Saraya Knight was crazy intense again and her offense on Sage looked really stiff. Of course someone yelled something about Paige. Cool. Sage eventually got the hot tag to Raze and Raze cleaned house on Von Eerie and Envy but we never got to see her match up with Saraya which was disappointing. Rosemary and Saraya was also teased, but nothing happened there. Rosemary spit poison mist and hit Raze with it. From my angle I couldn’t tell if they were playing it as an accident or if it was on purpose. Rosemary then left the ring and left Raze and Sage to fend for themselves. Envy hit a quick Air Raid Crash on Sage and got the pin. I thought overall the match could have been a lot better and I wasn’t a fan of the ending unless Rosemary is being brought back to follow up on it (she’s not listed on the announced lineups for the next 3 AWS shows). Sage did great, but I thought the match fell apart after Raze cleaned house.
Joey Ryan & Colt Cabana over H.A.T.E (Ray Rosas & Che Cabrera) [13’05]
Before the match started Joey did his normal routine where he gave his lollipop to someone in the audience. Actually someone paid $20 for Joey to give it to their wife or girlfriend. Joey is such a polarizing figure online with a lot of people hating his act and a lot loving it. Every time I see him live the majority of the crowd loves it. A wise man once said “if you go see Scotty Too Hotty on a show, you’d be disappointed if he doesn’t do the worm.” In this match they got all of the comedy based around Joey’s dick out of the way early and actually had a pretty good wrestling match. He did the YP Plex on Ray and since Che was trying to pull Ray off him at the time, he got flipped too. Colt seemed to get some kind of injury early, and Joey worked a lot of the match while Colt was able to walk it off. When Colt got in he looked really good and even did a Lionsault off the 2nd rope and sold it that he was even surprised. Joey won with a rollup on Ray. This was good.
Mercedes Martinez over Chelsea Green to retain the Shimmer championship [10’07]
This match had a weird heel versus heel setup with Chelsea as the cowardly heel and Mercedes having Nicole Savoy as her second talking trash (and doing a great job, Nicole was awesome). Both showed a lot of good offense, but there was a little too much stalling in the match that I thought hurt the pacing, plus the crowd really didn’t know who to get behind. I thought both had better matches the night before, but overall this was still well above average. Like Britt Baker and Angel Dust, hopefully we’ll see more of both of them in Southern California in the future.
Rating: ** 1/2
Tyler Bateman over Scorpio Sky and Lil’ Cholo to retain the AWS Heavyweight title [9’13]
This started out pretty good, and despite it being the 9th match on the show, the crowd was still really hot for this. There were some nice dives by Sky and Cholo. When the match was really starting to develop, Bateman hit a spinning piledriver on Sky seemingly out of nowhere and the match ended. I’m not sure if someone was hurt, time was an issue, or if that was the plan, but it seemed to be an abrupt ending to a match that seemingly was just entering its second act. Everything was good up to that point, and I wish there was more to it.
Rating: ** 1/2
Overall this was a really strong show without a single bad match on it. It’s worth going out of your way to see the Tito Escondido versus JR Kratos and the four way match when the show gets releases on DVD. AWS really started the year strong with this show, which really is going to set a high standard for the rest of the year.