Rival Pro is one of the newer promotions in Southern California, having only run a couple of events. I hadn’t had a chance to make it to one of their shows yet, but their lineups had been intriguing. Since I was in the area for something else that day, I decided to stick around and check out the promotions January 20 show, Survival.
Before I get too far into the review, there was some controversy earlier in the week when Rival Pro live streamed a good portion of Bar Wrestling’s event on their Instagram to promote the Rival Pro event. That is obviously pretty bad form on Rival Pro’s part and really unprofessional. As Bar Wrestling makes revenue of their streaming service, this is stealing Bar Wrestling’s product to promote a show Bar Wrestling has nothing to do with. Sure, there were fans live streaming the show, but those were fans, not another promotion.
*Update: I was told that the two promotions talked afterwards, the streams were pulled, and they worked everything out.
Anyway, on to the show itself. The venue where Rival Pro runs is the patio area of bar. Last Saturday was unusually cold for Southern California, which made for a chilly show. Someone could have made a killing selling hot chocolate. The show started about 25 minutes after the scheduled bell time.
H.A.T.E (Pinky & Che Cabrera) over L.O.V.E (Donnie Suarez, Biagio Crescenzo, & Jacob Diez) [13’30]
This was an opening round match of the promotion’s tag-team tournament. The announcer, Mike Draven, announced this as being under Freebird Rules so it would be three-on-one. That really isn’t what the Freebird Rule is, but whatever. Diez actually didn’t get too involved in the match, and Donnie Suarez and Biagio Crescenzo did most of the work. Suarez hit a really nice tope con giro early on to the group outside. He is one of the more under rated wrestlers in the region. Biagio Crescenzo has really turned a corner over the last six to eight months, where you can see a lot more speed and fluidity in his moves. He has always been really good at selling his opponent’s offense and has great facial expressions. Che Cabrera looked great in this too. He doesn’t get some of the hype other members of H.A.T.E does, but he is really solid. Pinky played his role as the monster in this great. At one point he took out all three members of L.O.V.E by himself. H.A.T.E got the win with a double powerbomb on Crescenzo. This was a really good opener and a lot of fun.
Ruby Raze over Dirty Ron McDonald [15’33]
This was a no-DQ match. Before the match both wrestlers cut promos and Dirty Ron said he was going to do cocaine off Raze’s ass and almost called Raze “the c-word.” Raze then got on the mike and said the only c-word she knows is chingona. There was a ton of brawling in this and they took out all of the chairs, breaking a good number of them. Dirty Ron was busted open and was getting blood all over Raze’s white gear. They then brawled into the bar and fought all over, including on the pool table. Eventually they got back out to the ring and Raze hit the Souleater to get the pin. This was a lot of fun and it was like 20 degrees warmer inside the bar so that was nice too.
True Grit (Jesse James & Hoss Hogg) over Adrian Quest & Andy Brown [14’41]
This was another first round match in the tag-team tournament. Andy Brown has been on fire lately and seems poised to break out in a big way soon. Quest and Brown were the 2016 SoCal Tag-Team of the Year and True Grit is one of the front runners for the 2017 award. I thought this was the best match on the show. This was really good. Despite the size difference Quest and Brown matched up well with True Grit. They played up the power versus speed and agility. Andy Brown has really been on fire lately. Grit won with their finisher which is basically a powerbomb into a 2D.
Freakshow (Tyler Bateman & Brody King) over The Carnies (Nick Iggy & Kerry Awful) [18’05]
This was the third tag-team tournament match of the night. They played up the teams being similar and did a lot of comedy with the wrestlers doing mirror image spots. This was a lot of fun. Freakshow hit double knees to Kerry Awful to get the pin.
Willie Mack over Funnybone to retain the Rival Pro Undisputed title [17’30]
These guys matched up well and had a pretty good match, but it felt like it went maybe a few minutes longer than it should have. I’m glad to see Funnybone getting more Southern California bookings lately, as he is good and has a lot of impressive looking offense. Willie Mack is consistently great. They did a ref bump in this and during that time Funnybone got the pin but there was no ref to count. When the referee got up, Mack was able to hit a stunner to pick up the win. After the match Funnybone put out a challenge to get a rematch.
Despite the cold weather this was a really good show. With only five matches it didn’t go overly long and every match was good. The promotion is definitely bringing in the right talent and doing a nice job with their matchmaking. I’m not sure if this show was filmed, or just streamed on their social media, but it’s worth checking out if available.