Taking a look at Santino Bros. Wrestling’s Can’t Knock The Hustle from March 15th, 2019 in Bell Gardens, CA. Featuring Jake Atlas vs. Slice Boogie for the Santino Bros. Wrestling Championship.
I wrote a review last week of a recent OCCW show. It was really bad and a big example of many things that are wrong with certain parts of the SoCal scene. While this Santino Bros. show wasn’t without its faults, its worst aspects were still way better than OCCW’s best. It also really showcases how they’re doing things right and what type of standard other schools should have for their students. Their students are performing well, the storylines are easy to follow, and the matches are solid.
The show started off with Tim Fairplay and Adnan Kureishy going over the card. Jake cut a promo about the Bomb Squad and their recent association with Slice Boogie. While I understand what the promo was trying to accomplish, Jake sorta buried these guys and made them sound like jokes. I’ll talk about this later on in the review.
The Bomb Squad and Slice Boogie walked out to the ring and ripped into Jake and his “feel good story.” Cameron Gates implied that Jake wasn’t sincere about who he was, and Slice Boogie called him “Fake Atlas.” Then they hyped up Slice Boogie’s match with Jake for the Santino Bros. Championship. After the promo, it looked like there was going to be a 3-on-1 attack before DoomFly ran out to even things up. This turned into a 3-on-3 brawl that saw DoomFly and Atlas fight off the heels. Eli and Delilah got on the mic and challenged the Bomb Squad to a match. This would lead to a singles match between DKC and Delilah.
Dylan Kyle Cox w/ Cameron Gates vs. Delilah Doom w/ Eli Everfly
This started off with Delilah getting some early momentum before Cameron Gates pulled DKC out of the ring. DKC used this to mount a comeback and started working over Delilah for heat. Cameron Gates also got invoked in the match at times. After a few hope spots, Delilah mounted a comeback. The finishing stretch saw the match go back-and-forth. Cameron Gates distracted referee Izyk Haze, leading to Eli Everfly hitting him with a standing Shiranui on the ring apron. Delilah went to go to check on Eli but was rolled up by DKC for a pinfall victory.
This was a pretty good opener. It did have one or two sloppy moments, but nothing that diminished the overall quality of the match. The story was pretty solid, and the structure of the match was good. It didn’t go long, it didn’t drag, and the action was good.
Hyde vs. RJ Santos
The story going into this was that Hyde has begun stalking Viva Van. RJ Santos has been one of my favorite prospects from this recent batch of Santino Bros. Wrestling Academy graduates. He’s able to perform more advanced moves than a lot of workers with more experience than him. Hyde is still very new, and this match kinda showed it. Most of the stuff he did was basic, which wasn’t bad. He’s also more about character work, which I’m not into. At the same time, there were moments where he came off like he was telegraphing too much or noticeably waiting for a move from Santos.
The finish saw Santos hit Flight 138 (Senton Bomb Splash) for the win. While this match won’t set the world on fire, it still was pretty solid for a match between two rookies. R.J. Santos shows tons of promise and is developing very well as a performer.
After the match, B.C. Killer made his return and destroyed Hyde and RJ Santos.
Hustle and Muscle (Alonzo Alvarez & Vinny Wasco) vs. True Grit (Jesse James & Hoss Hogg)
Hustle and Muscle are a newer team comprised of extremely cocky rookies. The story of the match was the rookies were overly arrogant and showed disrespect to the more experienced True Grit. True Grit outsmarted their opponents during the opening portion of the match before Alonzo mounted a comeback on Jesse James. Hustle and Muscle worked over Jesse James for several moments before he tagged in Hoss Hogg. The match continued for several moments before True Grit got the win after hitting High Noon on Alonzo Alvarez. While the volume of spots wasn’t very high, it was a good tag team match with a basic formula.
#1 Contender Match: Lucas Riley vs. Dom Kubrick w/ Halston Boddy vs. Ruby Raze
Before the next match started, Santino Bros. co-owner Sylvia Munoz made her way to the ring. She got on the mic and put over each worker. After putting them over, she announced the winner of the match would become the #1 contender. This was a great way to establish the eventual winner as a credible contender. Once again, Sylvia proved she is better on the mic than the majority (like 95%) of workers in SoCal.
I’ll be upfront, I hate triple threat/three-way matches. They always follow the same stagnant formula and suck 90% of the time.
Anyways, this match was your typical match with three competitors facing each other. There would be something involving all three to start. Then one person would go out, leading to the other having a 1-on-1 sequence. Wash, rinse, repeat until the finish. The quality of the action wasn’t bad though. There were some rough points during the match, but overall the spots were good. Lucas Riley had the best performance in this. He’s gotten really good inside the ring in recent months and will be a great performer once he adds more moves to his arsenal. The highlight of the match was Ruby Raze’s cartwheel powerbomb spot on Dom Kubrick. It was so random and weird, but also pretty cool.
During the match, Halston Boddy received a phone call. This caused Dom to be distracted at one point. The finish saw Ruby Raze counter a sunset flip attempt from Dom with an Axe Guillotine Driver to get the win. Again, this match had some rough moments, but it was still good overall for a triple threat match. The spots were very ambitious, and despite it getting trapped in a generic formula, it was still structured well.
After the match, Halston and Dom got into an argument. Most of it couldn’t be heard because of the overdubbed music playing in the background. I can understand why this was done though. Record labels are greedy assholes. The music faded away and we heard Halston trying to plead with Dom. I guess Dom is mute now, as he didn’t say anything. Dom would shove Halston and walked away from him.
Santino Bros. Wrestling Submission Championship Match: Robby Phoenix (c) vs. Douglas James
Back in November, Douglas James relinquished the Santino Bros. Submission title due to an injury. Then he was involved in an angle involving Robby Phoenix and Dom Kubrick. Now, Douglas is challenging for the title he never got beat for.
The match itself wasn’t very good. It had its moments but felt pretty disjointed and sloppy overall. There were also moments where the match completely dragged. A lot of Robby Phoenix’s submission work looked pretty bad at times. Some of the holds didn’t even look like they were applied with the correct technique. That really took me out of this seeing as this was a match where winning by submission was the objective. There was some good psychology involving Robby going after Douglas’ injured hip towards the end of the match. This allowed Robby to capitalize and make Douglas James pass out from a modified Bow-and-Arrow hold. Both guys are capable of putting on much better performances, but the storytelling was good.
After the match, Douglas James got on the mic and cut a promo about his injury and how nobody was messaging him after returning from injury because there are a lot of envious people in wrestling. The tone of this promo made his character sound really unlikable. I couldn’t tell if he’s trying to be a “badass loner” or an obnoxious heel. Who knows where this character development will go.
Santino Bros. Heavyweight Championship Match: Jake Atlas (c) vs. Slice Boogie
Before the match could start, Slice Boogie kept talking shit in Jake’s face and mocking at him. Slice hassled the referee as he was shown the title and said it was his. A fan in the audience said he has to win it first. Slice replied “the same way I won your mother’s heart? That was easy!” This guy Slice Boogie is quick with the comebacks. After that, Slice said he’d make Jake cry “more than Stephanie McMahon did, bitch.” This led to Jake slapping the soul out of Slice to start the match. Slice Boogie’s trash talking is so great, and I’m glad to see he’s using it more and more.
Shortly after the match started, Jake got a quick flurry of offense. The early portion of the match went back-and-forth with some pretty solid pacing. Slice Boogie strung together a series of moves at various points, while Jake mounted several comebacks throughout. Jake got the win with the LGBDDT. The only real criticism I had of this match and most of Jake’s matches is that his finisher takes way too long to set up. I mean, it is an impressive and nearly impossible move to perform, and it is visually cool once he executes it. But the people who take it often times just stand around too long in position waiting for it. If that aspect of the move were improved upon, it’d be the perfect finishing move.
Aside from that, this was a really good match. Both guys worked very well together and their individual performances were really good. It had a really good structure and lots of fun action. Slice Boogie is the man to watch in SoCal right now.
After the match, the Bomb Squad ran out to attack Jake. DoomFly ran out after to make the save. Then it boiled down to Slice attacking Jake for a few moments before Lucas Riley made the save. The Bomb Squad ran back in to try to help Boogie before Ruby Raze came out. After Ruby took out the Bomb Squad, Slice got in the ring and looked at Ruby as she was holding up the Santino Bros. Championship. Slice would go on to say “who told this sloppy whore to get in my ring?” He would then charge at Ruby Raze and got hit with a spear. This was just perfect in so many ways. Ruby then handed Jake the title and left the ring as he celebrated. The show closes with Tim and Adnan in the ring plugging the next show.
This show had its ups and downs…
Douglas James vs. Robby Phoenix wasn’t very good. Despite it not being good, it was still better than anything I saw on that OCCW show. In fact, if this were on that show, it’d easily be the match of the night there. It had good physiology and a simple story behind it that even a new fan of the product could pick up on. While the other matches on the card were solid, Hyde was probably the weakest performer on the show. There were moments where his inexperience was noticeable. Still, he still showed more upsides and looked more polished than most of the workers OCCW has produced.
Once again, I really don’t like the commentary stylings of Adnan Kureishy. I don’t know the dude, so I can’t trash him as a person. For all I know, he probably builds homes for orphans when he’s not teaching blind kids to read. He could be the greatest person humanity has ever known, but he really makes watching these shows hard. I don’t find his comedy very good, so he gets annoying quickly. It also gets annoying when he starts talking about himself on commentary rather than the match.
He also screams way too much when it’s not called for, and that is bad for several reasons. The first is it damages my earbuds, even when the volume is low (you owe me a new pair, Adnan). The second reason is it hurts the effect of big moves when they’re delivered and makes bigger moments seem less special. Tim Fairplay has gotten better though, so that’s a positive.
Jake Atlas’ promo was very problematic. The problems with it reminded me of something Bryan Alvarez once said during a TNA review on one of his shows (although it has also been said by many other) about cutting promos on opponents. His point was if a worker cuts a promo that degrades other workers, nobody will benefit from it. Usually, it ends up hurting the credibility of the performers in the eyes of viewing audience. It hurts Jake if he wins or loses to the Bomb Squad, and it makes the Bomb Squad look like chumps. I can understand the nature of Jake’s promo and his character having an issue with his former students, but there were better ways he could’ve done this.
With that said…
This show, even with its flaws, was a great example of how the Santino Bros. is producing the best overall talent in Southern California right now. Even when there are students who aren’t as seasoned as other students, there are still some upsides to them.
You can tell that unlike students from a place such as OCCW, Santino Bros. students look like they’ve put in a lot of time and work to get better. Maybe it’s because they don’t waste time doing lame podcasts, or maybe it’s because they’re a school owned and ran by people who know what they’re doing. Whatever the reason is, they’ve set the bar in SoCal for schools when it comes to producing talent. They’re creating a path to success in SoCal. Everyone coming up in the SoCal should look at them as an example of how to do things.
One thing I really liked about this show was how it had an ongoing story with a subplot. I’m a guy who values workrate over storytelling, but I can appreciate anything as long as it is down well. Aside from his promo, Jake’s beef with the Bomb Squad and Slice Boogie was a good story and had a good supporting cast of characters. The only downside was that Sylvia didn’t come out to make the match between DKC and Delilah Doom official. This was a moment she would’ve been perfect for. Her involvement before the triple threat match was good though, and her promo did a great job at establishing whoever wins as a credible contender.
What stood out to me on this show was seeing how good the latest batch of Santino Bros. graduates are. Slice Boogie has shown that he’s a main event caliber guy early in his career. R.J. Santos continues to grow and evolve as a performer. The Bomb Squad are quickly becoming one of my favorite teams in SoCal. The quality of their matches has been getting better and better. Lucas Riley is evolving as he gains more experience while putting on good matches. The performances they put on this show and others is a testament to how vital the Santino Bros. Wrestling Academy is to the SoCal scene. They’re grooming the best prospects in the area right now, and their alumni such as Brody King, Eli Everfly, and Jake Atlas are starting to become stars on a national level.
Overall, Can’t Knock The Hustle was a good show. It wasn’t “must see” stuff, but Slice Boogie vs. Jake Atlas is worth checking out.