AWS held their first shows of the year on January 27th, with a day show as part of a kind-of heavy metal swap meet, and then with Metal Night in the evening. AWS has been on a really strong run as of late, finishing second behind PWG in the 2017 Southern California promotion of the Year award. For Metal Night the lineup didn’t have the star power of some recent shows from the promotion, but did have some really interesting matchups none-the-less.
I wasn’t able to make it out to the early show, though I heard there was a really good match between Ruby Raze and Shotzi Blackheart. Before the doors opened people were watching NXT Takeover in line and going crazy for the main event. Fittingly Candice LeRae, who is a big part of AWS history, played a part in that match.
Desi DeRata over Barbi Hayden [8’11]
Desi DeRata was the heel in this, saying things like “LA sucks.” She hit a pretty nice spinning heel kick on Barbi Hayden early and dominated the early part of the match. DeRata hit a Samoan Drop and started to go for the pin, but pulled Hayden up herself and decided she didn’t get enough punishment. She went for a flip off the top rope but Hayden dodged it and was then able to take control. Hayden had a pretty nice sequence where she hit a running knee followed by a headscissors then a drop kick. DeRata eventually won with a tilt-a-whirl slam. I thought this worked well as an opener and they did a good job keeping the action up. There were times when the transitioning between sequences was off, but it was overall good.
Rating: ** 1/2
B-Boy over Steven Tresario [15’24]
B-Boy really dominated this early. There were a lot of strikes, elbows, and really loud chops. When Tresario started to mount a comeback, he went for an elbow from the ropes and B-Boy popped up with a headbutt that looked crazy. Both wrestlers looked really solid. B-Boy hit a chicken win piledriver to get the pin. This was good.
Rating: *** 1/4
Lil’ Cholo over Andy Brown [13’00]
The match started with a test of strength that referee Rick Knox got involved in, and actually won. When the match started, early on Cholo took the lead. After a few minutes it switched up to more of a give and take with the wrestlers trading offense. Andy Brown has really been on fire recently. This was solid, but seemed to drag in some parts. Still, it was pretty good. The finish saw Cholo hit a cutter to the outside then a springboard cutter off the ropes to get the pin.
Rating: ** 3/4
Ruby Raze wins a four-corners elimination match over Dynamite DiDi, Delilah Doom, and Notorious Nadi. [17’57]
The match started with Delilah Doom trying to convince Raze to team up, saying they both are “from SoCal.” Take that Texas! Raze agrees and they team to face the other two. This worked well for a time, but then Doom accidently hit Raze, which lead to Raze taking her out. Doom has so much charisma and energy in the ring. She is so much fun to watch. DiDi went for a pin on Doom, and Nadi broke it up for some reason. Since it was an elimination match there was no reason to break up pins. Nadi was the clear heel, and the 3 other wrestlers teamed to submit her at 10:35 into the match. DiDi did what looked like a modified Diamond Cutter to Doom out of the ropes then pinned her at 14:27. Raze hit a hanging neckbreaker on DiDi and got a two count. DiDi went for a clothesline, Raze ducked it and hit the Souleater for the pin. It felt like the pacing was off at times, but it was still good.
PPRay (Peter Avalon & Ray Rosas) over Eli Everfly & Dom Kubrick to retain the AWS Tag-team titles [8’26]
Vegan Superman Jacob Diez was supposed to be Eli Everfly’s partner, but he apparently passed out while on a jog and was hospitalized. Dom Kubrick was a good replacement. This was really good. Avalon and Rosas have always worked well together, but they have really turned it up a notch lately. Kubrick went for a Shooting Star, but since the roof was too low he did it from the second rope and it looked kind of ugly. Other than that he was really solid and had some nice offense. Eli Everfly looked great in this. It really feels like he is on another level right now and is starting to really separate from the pack. Some of the punishment he puts himself through is crazy. I can’t imagine how nuts a singles match with him and Joey Janela would be. PPRay hit their double team finisher on Kubrick for the pin. This was really good.
Rating: *** 3/4
Dicky Mayer over Suede Thompson [9’29]
Before the match starts Suede Thompson says he isn’t wrestling until he sells two shirts. He then walked around the ring trying to sell the shirts and it seemingly went on forever. He never sold the shirts either. Once the match started it was pretty good, though even though the shirt selling shtick fell flat before the match, he tried it again during the match. Once again no shirts were sold and time was wasted with no action. Dicky Mayer looked great. Everything he does looks so crisp. Suede Thompson is a good wrestler, but his comedy can be hit and miss, and the shirt stuff was a miss that caused part of the match to really drag. Mayer hit a low blow when the ref wasn’t looking to get the pin.
Rating: ** 1/2
H.A.T.E (Tito Escondido & Rico Dynamite) over JR Kratos & Super Beast [12’38]
Tito Escondido and Kratos had a great match against each other in AWS about a year earlier, and here they were matching up again. They had some really good sequences here as well. Their feud should never end. Rico Dynamite and Super Beast also looked good. Super Beast is sort of a hidden gem. He doesn’t get much hype but is really solid and has worked well with everyone in AWS. This was really well structured for the most part and came across really intense. This was good. Escondido hit a Fade to Black on Kratos for the pin.
Rating: *** 1/2
Post match H.A.T.E cut a promo claiming they are the best wrestlers in the region, that Tito Escondido is the real wrestler of the year, and called out Eli Everfly. However Eli never came to the ring.
Shotzi Blackheart over Ivelisse [13’44]
Despite being the bigger star, Ivelisse was the clear heel here. I’m not sure if this was their first match, or if they had wrestled before, but they matched up really well. Shotzi Blackheart has a ton of in-ring charisma. They played this even, with both wrestlers trading off on offense. Blackheart got the win with a surprise rollup. This was really good as well.
Rating: *** 1/2
Tyler Bateman over Jake Atlas to retain the AWS Heavyweight title [20’57]
Jake Atlas came out with his Bomb Squad and was playing up the arrogant heel. He does a great job in the role and the crowd really turned on him right off the bat. He was announced as the 2017 Southern California Rookie of the Year and throughout the match the crowd was chanting “he’s a rookie” at him. Technically the Rookie of the Year award honors the previous year’s top rookie, meaning he is no longer a rookie, but whatever. Instead of trying to limit Atlas’ flying and athleticism, Bateman channeled his inner high flyer and went after Atlas at his own game early on. Eventually Bateman went back to his normal arsenal and both guys were giving lots of stiff shots. The crowd was really hot for the entire match. Bateman hit two Death from Aboves followed by a spinning piledriver to get the pin. This was great and easily the match of the night on a fairly strong show.
Rating: **** 1/4
Overall I thought this was a pretty strong show, with the last few matches really picking up the pace. It seemed like the show did a lot to build for the future, as H.A.T.E seemed to be re-energized and Jake Atlas continued his rise to being a legit main eventer. I felt that 2017, in terms of show quality, was probably the best year in AWS’s history. This was a really good start to 2018.
AWS will be back on March 24 with their 16th anniversary show featuring Jeff Cobb challenging Tyler Bateman for the AWS Heavyweight title.