On Saturday night, the Alternative Wrestling Show and Quintessential Pro Wrestling held their second joint show at the American Legion Hall Post #335 in South Gate, CA featuring a rare U.S. appearance by MMA star Josh Barnett as he went up against Jeff Cobb, Davey Boy Smith Jr. vs. Ray Rosas, Shayna Baszler, and more. Click for thoughts and reviews.
The original main event for this event was supposed to be a match for the QPW Heavyweight Championship between the champion Adam Thornstowe defending against the challenger Jeff Cobb. Thornstowe ended up dropping out, and Josh Barnett replaced him. On top of that, Davey Boy Smith Jr. was added to the event right before the event, making for two huge additions to the card. I met up with SoCal wrestling legend Johnny Nightmare at his house located in an upscale gated community in the hills. We drove over South Gate where we passed by the legendary Allen Theater, home of the infamous Revolution Pro offshoot promotion, Revolution X n the mid 2000’s. Those were great times, back when Cyanide was the Hulk Hogan of South Gate.
QPW Women’s Rumble Match: Heather Monroe vs. Christina Von Eerie vs. Sloan vs. Sage Sin Supreme vs. Laura James vs. Buggy Nova vs. Shayna Baszler
The first two entrants were Heather Monroe and Christina Von Eerie. Von Eerie eliminated herself, got on the mix and said she didn’t want to face Hudson Envy since they’re tag team partners, and instead challenged B-Boy to a rematch of their Sabotage match. He came out and accepted her challenge. When this happened, I thought to myself “this is gonna be a long show.” since there were eight advertised matches left on the show. After that angle, Heather Monroe was alone in the ring for a bit until Sloan came out. Sloan sorta looked like Taylor Swift. Heather Monroe was really entertaining in this. She has natural charisma and actual personality. I feel like she could make it in WWE. Her and Laura James did their spot where one of them twerks on the ropes while the other does an Irish Whip into a drop toe hold on their opponent and into their partner’s ass. Shayna Baszler was the last entrant. The Killer Baes tried doing the spot on Shayna, but she countered it and ended up eliminating them, as well as everyone else in the match to earn a shot at Hudson Envy later. After the match, the two had a stare down, which was a good way to build the match for the crowd.
Rating: N/A (I couldn’t really rate this match as it was just a basic Battle Royal/Rumble match. It wasn’t bad or good, but I didn’t feel like it justified a real rating. It did a good job at setting up a match and building up Shayna, but at the same time it felt like it would’ve been better to just straight up have Shayna vs. Hudson.)
J.R. Kratos vs. Brody King
Time and time again, Brody King continues to impress. Both guys had a really good heavyweight style match with lots of stiff strikes. Brody was able to bust out some really cool big man-style lucha moves on Kratos. Kratos hit a nice head scissors on Brody, and Brody followed it up with a running standing rana on Kratos. It was a pretty awesome visual from where I was sitting. There was one spot in the match where Kratos was outside of the ring, and Brody went for a slingshot plancha, but Kratos just did a shoulder check on Brody as he came down, resulting in Brody falling to the floor. I didn’t see the fall, but I could hear it from where I was. Kratos got the win after hitting a Jumping Knee/Headbutt combo in a really good match with both guys putting ons really good performances. Post match, both guys showed each other respect.
Hania The Howling Huntress vs. Sage Sin Supreme
I had never seen Hania The Howling Huntress, but goddamn I have to say that she was very impressive. I’ve seen Sage several times before, and always felt like she was hit or miss depending on who she was working with, but her and Hania had a really fun match. Hania had a great performance and really stood out on the show. She busted out some cool spinning kicks, and a nice springboard dropkick from the ring apron that got a really good great from the crowd. Sage got the win with a Code Red. This was probably the best women’s match I’ve seen in the last two AWS events, and one of the best I’ve seen in SoCal in the past year or so. When Hania was announced, Bart mentioned that this was a rare appearance for her, as she rarely does wrestling shows these days. After this performance, I really hope she works more shows, as she could go far in a place like NXT.
AWS Tag Team Championship Match: B-Boy & Cholo (c) vs. Mariachi Loco & SoCal Crazy
There were shenanigans too before the match started. Once it started there was a fun blend of lucha stuff, modern American-style high spots, and tons of crazy tag team spots. Mariachi Looc took a beating, with B-Boy laying in some vicious chops on him. There was a spot where B-Boy and Cholo hit a bunch of Ace Crushers on Crazy and Loco, which looked pretty cool. SoCal Crazy and Mariachi Loco were really solid as a team. B-Boy and Cholo got into it with Rick Knox, and that resulted in a Double Stone Cold Stunner on B-Boy and Cholo from Knox, which got a huge reaction from the crowd. Crazy and Loco got the win over B-Boy and Cholo to become the new tag team champions. After the match, B-Boy and Cholo got on the mic and gave their respect to their opponents. This was another solid match, and at this point the show was on a roll.
Davey Boy Smith Jr. vs. Ray Rosas (w/ Damien Arsenick)
After the last match, I went to the bathroom and then went to the parking lot to borrow a lighter from SCU contributor J.R. Richardson and socialize with some people. At this point I honestly thought it was intermission. Then I heard Nas’ “Hate Me Now” playing, so I quickly finished smoking my joint and went back inside. Before the match, Mondo Vega got on the mic and tried to be funny. At that point I started to regret my decision to go back in. The match itself was pretty good. Davey Boy Smith Jr. was massive, and he had a pretty good performance here. Ray Rosas also had a good performance in this. Damien Arsenick was really good in his role as manager. He has a good balance of working the crowd and adding to the match without taking too much away. Davey Boy Jr. and Damien went at it ringside, and he laid him out with a kick to the head that Damien sold like a champ. Damien is the Black Bobby Heenan of SoCal. At one point in the match there was a pretty sick spot that saw Davey Boy Jr. do vertical suplex on Ray while outside of the ring and onto the floor. I honestly don’t understand why Ray would take that bump, but I appreciate him sacrificing his spine for my entertainment. Davey Boy Smith Jr. got the win with a Crossface submission after hitting a Piledriver on Ray. Good stuff here. It would be grew to see these guys in PWG.
AWS Heavyweight Championship Match: Tyler Bateman (c) vs. Tito Escondido (w/ Damien Arsencik)
This was a continuation of the angle between Tyler Bateman and his former H.A.T.E stablemates where last month he was kicked out of the group and beaten up after Tito declared his desire to be champion. Damien Arsenick was still selling the kick he got from Davey Boy Smith Jr. in the previous match, which might’ve been the second best thing of the night. Little shit like that makes things better in wrestling. The match itself was pretty good. Tito had a good performance in this, and he’s really starting to come through as a top performer in the scene. There was a cool spot where Tito hit a powerbomb into the turnbuckles on Bateman, and then followed it up with an exploder into the corner. The match ended when Damien Arsencik got involved, and eventually Mondo Vega and Justin borden got involved resulting in a DQ finish. The match was going good up until the end. I really hope this leads up to a rematch between the two. I feel like Tito and Tyler could do way more together than what they did here.
Post match shenanigans: H.A.T.E started beating up Bateman. Mondo Vega got on the mic and told Justin Borden to stomp Bateman. They probably want me to talk about how terrible Justin Borden’s stomps were again, but instead I’m just going to say that Justin Borden and Mondo Vega are the worst members of H.A.T.E and bring it down as a stable. They just flat-out suck despite what their Facebook friends tell them. Damien is good though, but that’s because he knows how to play his role well and can deliver a good promo. He actually brings some value to the stable as a manager/second. H.A.T.E beat up Bateman, then they beat up Brody King before J.R. Kratos made the save. When H.A.T.E was retreating, AWS owner/promoter Bart Kapitzke got on the mic and said that there’s gonna be a six man tag in July between J.R. Kratos, Brody King, and Tyler Bateman facing the team of H.A.T.E.
QPW Women’s Championship Match: Hudson Envy vs. Shayna Baszler
The best performer on this event was easily Shayna Baszler. She had a good performance in the Women’s Rumble, and she followed that up with this match. Shayna hit Hudson with some pretty stiff kicks. It didn’t go long, and it was the only match on the show that went under 10 minutes. Shayna kicked Justin Borden in the head after being frustrated with him. Shayna would work over Hudston’s arm with what looked to be a Kimura, but it was hard to tell as Chad of the Chaos Column was blocking my view. There was a “Dusty Finish” when it was believed that Shayna won the title after another referee awarded her the victory, but the decision was reversed by Borden.
Rating: **1/4 (Mostly because of Shayna’s performance. She brings believability to professional wrestling, something that a lot of pro wrestlers, male and female, don’t bring to the table.)
Post match shenanigans: Shayna continued to attack the arm of Hudson Envy, even after Christina Von Eerie came out to help. Eventually Shayna went backstage. I’m guessing this will set up a match between Hudson and Shayna if QPW runs again.
Thunder Rosa vs. Leva Bates
Do you like Star Wars? Well, you’d probably like this shit. I’ve never seen a Star Wars movie in full. The most I’ve ever watched was seeing a few minutes of one of the 70’s films as a kid and thinking it was lame. Then I found out about how one dude made out with his sister or something, and I checked out on the whole Star Wars thing. There was a Nintendo 64 game about Star Wars that was sorta entertaining, but that’s because N64 was the best video game console EVER. So anyways, when Leva Bates (who was known as “Blue Pants” in NXT) came out dressed like some animal thing from Star Wars (I think it might’ve been a bear or dog or something) and Thunder Rosa as some black/red thing, I was instantly out of this match. This wasn’t because of the Star Wars thing, but because the show was running really long at this point as we were seven matches deep so far going on eight, and I really wanted to see Barnett vs. Cobb really badly at this point in the show. The match itself was ok at best. Even though she gets a lot of praise from people, I think Thunder Rosa is really hit or miss in the ring when I see her. Like, she markets herself very well, can hit spots really well, and can perform moves very well, but a lot of times her matches don’t have great structor or psychology. Her matches sometimes have really bad flow too when she’s on offense. This match wasn’t all that great, but it wasn’t bad either. It was just ok. Thunder Rosa got the win after hitting a nice looking Emerald Flowsion looking move on Leva Bates. Couldn’t really tell because Chad of the Chaos Column was in the front row and I was in the back, and he blocked my view. If this were a message board of social media comment, I’d insert a sad face emoji here. Again, the match was ok at best.
B-Boy vs. Christina Von Eerie
As mentioned above, this was set up in the opening match and plays off their Sabotage match. To be honest, I thought this match was sorta pointless, as there were eight matches before, and the show was going pretty long. This was still an enjoyable match, but it didn’t seem much different from their Sabotage match. B-Boy beat the shit out of Von Eerie, Von Eerie hit some spots with B-Boy basing for her, and B-Boy making Von Eerie look like a threat to him. Von Eerie hit a Canadian Destroyer that looked as if it was going to finish the match, but it was a near fall instead. I made a joke to longtime friend of the site Julio Paz that Von Eerie is gonna pick him up and B-Boy will roll her up to win. My prediction nearly came true when B-Boy did a small package for a believable near fall. B-Boy got the win with a Tiger Driver ’98. Post match, B-Boy showed her respect and they hugged. Again, this was a good match, but at this point I just wanted the main event to start.
Josh Barnett (w/ Shayna Baszler) vs. Jeff Cobb (/w J.R. Kratos)
This was the match I came to see. Former Olympian Jeff Cobb vs. former UFC and Strikeforce champion Josh Barnett, and it was taking place in an American Legion Hall in South Gate. I just couldn’t pass this up. There seemed like a few fans who didn’t really get into this, as the match was mostly a shoot-style based match with lots of grappling sequences and exchanges. Still, most of the crowd was able to enjoy this match. Barnett isn’t a full time worker, so this was a very special treat. Both guys did a traditional “Strong Style” type match. Both guys did an amazing job at putting on a very believable performance that saw some stiff strikes from Barnett, several submission attempts, both guys working hard for single leg takedowns, and several awesome suplexes that were built up really well after some heavy grappling exchanges. This was the most realistic pro wrestling match I had ever seen. Anyone who wants to try to do “Shoot Style” or “Strong Style” in pro wrestling should watch and study this match closely if it ever ends up on DVD. As Steve said on Twitter, what a time we live in. Again, this match won’t be something a lot of people will understand, appreciate, or get because of the heavy amount of grappling there was in this. There were even instances were I felt like both guys were legitimately grappling with each other as if they were in a gym of competition, which made this match even better to me. I’d really love to see Barnett have more of these matches. Him vs. Matthew Riddle would be awesome. Barnett also came into this match in really good shape. I think Barnett could carve a niche for himself in the indy wrestling scene with his style of pro wrestling in places like PWG, Evolve, ROH, or throughout the European scene. I think those sort of fans would love his style of wrestling. Great stuff here.
Rating: ****1/4 (Yeah, I’m giving this a high rating because it deserved it. It was awesome.)
AWS and QPW put on a very solid event. The crowd looked to have been around 200ish. My only complaint was the length of the event. I really don’t have a problem with being out late, but the show’s length hurt the quality overall. The late start didn’t help matters either. With that said, the matches all ranged from decent to really good. Barnett/Cobb was hands down the best match of the show. Shayna Baszler and Hania The Howling Huntress were the best performers of the show too. The weakest match of the show, Thunder Rosa vs. Leva Bates, wasn’t even bad either. It was fun to hang out with some of the guys who have been around the site for years and interacting with some people who were sitting around us. It was also fun to mess with the head of Grant from Championship Wrestling From Hollywood for the amusement of my wonderful, sociopathic friends. I’ll let him figure out whether or not I’m really crazy like that though. The vibe at these AWS shows in South Gate remind me a lot of PWG’s early shows too. I think if they keep it up, they’ll do very well in the Promotion of the Year rankings. PWG will probably win again since they’re everyone’s favorite promotion and are seen by way more people than anyone else in SoCal, but they’ll give other promotions a tough fight for the #2 spot. The next AWS event is the women’s show in May, and then they have a show on July 29th with Timothy Thatcher on it. No word on whether QPW is running anytime soon, but it’d be nice to see them run again as they would bring a different flavor to the SoCal area if they did.