Rice and Beans Review of AWS Women’s Tournament #5

Gregg: Welcome to the first ever edition of Rice and Beans Review Wrestling. This past weekend, AWS returned with their women’s tournament. Bart and Co. did a great job as always of putting on a top-notch show and I feel like this has been Bart’s most successful run of shows with bigger crowds and names.

Julio: I was looking forward to this show all week. Gregg has always been in my ear about who are some of the great women wrestlers in the independent scene so this opportunity to see a tournament like this was an experience I was not going to pass up. I had a blast hanging out with Gregg at the show, as usual, even if we had to sit next to some dude from CWFH.

Gregg: I could swear he looked like that guy from Mav Pro, too.  

Qualifying Match #1: Renee Michelle vs. Shotzi Blackheart
Julio: This was my first time seeing Renee. She, obviously, for anyone who has seen her, has a great look. She is clearly athletic and has the potential for continued success. And Shotzi, well Shotzi is Shotzi and continues to shine in 2017. The strikes in this match a little to be desired, but these two had good chemistry. They put on a solid match. And as I was not aware of Renee’s strong showings in other promotions, her victory was a little shocking. Her springboard corner moonsault is pretty crisp for how short of a space she has to hit it.  I was disappointed we wouldn’t get to see more of Shotzi…or so I thought.

Gregg: That’s called “foreshadowing” kids. I’m not too familiar with Renee, but I DO know that she’s one of the bigger names on the scene today. It was a bit surprising to not see Shotzi advance to the next round, given her rising name, however. But her later appearance made up for it.

Qualifying Match #2: Lufisto vs. Solo Darling
Julio: Another couple of firsts for me here; Gregg filled me in on Lufisto’s body of work during this match. Solo I know nothing about right now. However, this was one heck of a match. Solo’s bee gimmick is entertaining and not exaggerated in any sense. The sugar rush spot was definitely a stand out to me on the night. Lufisto is on a whole other level though. Great look, athletic as hell and a f’n beast! Definitely made sense why Gregg had picked her as one his finalists in the prediction column. The Burning Hammer finish to this match, with Lufisto going over, was probably the spot of the night. Big pop from the crowd. Who’s got two thumbs and is a new Lufisto fan? This guy.

Gregg: This went pretty much how I expected it. Solo’s performance definitely impressed me and she’s improved a lot since the last time I saw a match of hers (which was a few years ago, admittedly). But I think that she fits in well in AWS and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw here again.

Qualifying Match #3: Ruby Raze vs. Jordynne Grace
Julio: Yet another first for me with Grace here. Raze came out in Michael Myers cosplay which she pulled off very well. One of my favorite moments of the night took place during the entrance with Gregg trying to fall back into favor with Ruby bringing a “Let’s Go Raze” sign; she gave him a half shade/half smile as she walked around the ring during her entrance. The many times I have seen Ruby Raze she has improved every time and impresses. This one was a hard-hitting affair. So much so in fact, that Ruby had a busted nose by the end of it; no word on whether or not she broke it but she was still in pain from it after the show. The most impressive thing was how athletic Grace was; favorite spot from this was Grace leaping frogging out of the corner when Raze charged her and then rushing her with the double knee attack into the corner. Raze going over her was not a surprise as she is one of, if not THE, top women in Southern California.

Gregg: After I wiped the tire treads off my back from where Steve threw me under the bus in our preview, I was able to enjoy this match. I’ve made no qualms about how big of a fan of Raze I am. I was happy Raze won.

Qualifying Match #4: Candice LaRae vs. Hudson Envy
Julio: Now, I’ve seen plenty of Candice matches over the years I’ve been watching SoCal wrestling. But this may have been the first time I’ve seen her face another woman. I was aware of the history between these two so I was expecting this match to steal the show. While it did not do that, it by no means disappointed. I figured this match would be both hard hitting and full of counters. I was not wrong. From the outside of the ring and inside these two women showed everyone there why there two of the most well-known wrestlers in not only SoCal but the country. Hudson popped me with a Violence Party-esque spot in the corner at one point. This match featured my favorite finish of the night as after a brutal Super Samoan Drop by Hudson, Candice went limp. Hudson tried her best to pick her up, but Candice was dead weight. Hudson looked to be trying to position her for a powerbomb, but was too busy being amused at Candice’s state to see what was coming; a small package roll up for the win. Straight out of Survivor Series ’95!

Gregg: Hudson later cut a promo how she would only slap hands with people wearing her glove. Nah, she didn’t. In hindsight, that was a genius way for Kevin Nash to sell more merch. I still have mine, by the way. I love watching Hudson wrestle and I’ve made no secret about how big of a fan of hers I am. Her taunts are part of her magic and “I’ve been to Japan, too. Before you!” Got a nice reaction from the crowd.

Non-Tournament Tag Team match: Sage Sin/Buggy Nova vs. Samara/ Violet Payne
Julio: Solid tag match here and good work by all four competitors. Some fun spots involving “outside interference” by Chuckie, the Good Guys Doll Buggy brought to the ring with her. Now Chuckie is no SpongeBob SquarePants but he got his shit in. Looking forward to seeing more of Samara and Payne. Sage Sin is always fun to watch and that continued here. Sage and Buggy with the win.

Gregg: Samara and Payne could do well continuing to tag. They’ve got a similar exotic look to them and definitely stand out. (Maybe a Killer Baes feud at some point?) In the end, the experience of Sage and Buggy was too much for them.

Semi #1 Renee Michelle vs. Lufisto
Julio: Another solid tournament match here. A couple great moments for both here as Renee hit a crisp German Suplex bridge that wowed me. But not to be outdone Lufisto hit a lariat that would make Stan Hansen cringe, yikes. Renee looked like she was gonna steal this one, but missed her moonsault this time, allowing Lufisto to capitalize and hit the Tiger Driver ’97 for the win to become the first finalist.

Gregg: I’m glad Lufisto made it to the finals (and my picks weren’t entirely a bust). I’m also glad that we’ll get to see her at least one more time before the end of the year.

Gregg: After intermission, Kevin Harvey came out to announce another Rise/AWS joint weekend scheduled for the first weekend in December. On Facebook the next day, he, Bart, and Lufisto announced what the first two matches signed were going to be. Shotzi vs. Mercedes Martinez in a Falls Count Anywhere match and Lufisto vs. Angel Dust in a Barbed Wire Baseball Bat match (marking Lufisto’s return to deathmatch wrestling). I can’t wait for that weekend.

Semi #2: Candice LaRae vs. Ruby Raze
Julio: LaRae got jumped during her entrance by Ruby, decked out in her Freddy Kruger cosplay gear. After a beat down on the outside Ruby rolled her in and made quick work of LaRae for the win. This match was a little short for my liking, but again, Ruby is a top woman so it’s not the biggest deal. * puts on fantasy booker hat * If it were me, I would have switched Renee and LaRae here. * takes off hat * Having said that, it does make sense to let Renee showcase her talents in a long match in front of a new crowd. LaRae’s rep is safe no matter what. And she may be on her way into WWE sooooo again, it’s not the biggest deal. LaRae got some well-deserved love from the crowd after the match.

Gregg: This match served its point. Candice didn’t need to go any further, and it made Raze look like even more of a threat than she is.

Pizza Cat aka Shotzi/Killer Baes (Laura James/Heather Monroe)/Ivy Quinn aka Buggy Nova/Kikyo vs. Ryan Taylor/Mike O’Shea/Chris Kadillak/Pinkie/Mondo Vega
Julio: Justin, of H.A.T.E, revealed himself to be the referee for the match and the women were not having it. They brought out AWS Champion Nicole Savoy to be the 2nd referee in this match. I wasn’t sure if I was at AWS or AAA anymore. Lots of comedy spots in this one and work on the mic. It’s amusing to see how uncomfortable people are at this No Ma’am/He Man Woman Haters Club gimmick that is always present at the Women’s Shows. Lots of stalling before the match even got underway with the women introducing their 5th partner and bringing out their own ref. Along with Mondo on the mic talking shit to the women, which brought out Hudson Envy to stick for the women, only to have Mondo back pedal. He got a dick shot for his troubles and the match finally got under way. Again, lots of comedy spots. The best was Ryan Taylor, rocking a “No Fat Chicks” homemade shirt, doing his best to take a vagplex from Laura James, only to find himself grabbing onto Kikyo. Which prompted him to run to the back, retrieve a surgical glove and try again. Only to get his “unprotected” hand right onto Kikyo again. Shotzi, as Pizza Cat, shined once again with some impressive lucha spots with Ryan Taylor. And while this is a review about a women’s show I got to take the opportunity here to talk about Chris Kadillak. This maybe the 3rd or 4th time I’ve seen him, but he has incredible ring presence. And the man can go in the ring too. Very charismatic and a natural heel. Definitely one of the local talents that people should go out of their way to check out. Pinkie had a nasty spot in this where he lifted up Kikyo for a chokeslam only to let her go and lift his knee in time for a vicious strike to the head. All in all, a fun match, but could have done a little less to keep it tight and crisp. All 10 people got involved for the finish with Laura James hitting a vag plex on all 5, with the assistance of her teammates.

Gregg: This was a fun match. I think the length of this match and the finals probably factored into how short Raze vs. Candice was, but that’s ok. I love how this match continues to entertain. I think in a weird way, it shows a little more acceptance of women’s wrestling. How the men are comedically portrayed as misogynistic a-holes and all. And in the end, with a little bit of girl power, the women came out on top.  

No DQ No Countout Finals/#1 Contenders Match: Ruby Raze vs. Lufisto
Julio: So for those that don’t know, I’m a bit of a streamers mark (Hi Scrap Iron!). So when Steve SCU let it be known he brought a bag of streamers to pass out I was excited to give the crowd a nice photo op and throw some streamers. Well that didn’t get to happen at the start of the match as one jumped the other to start the match. Ruby came out in Hannibal Lector cosplay, complete with a ward leading her out in chains only to be chased to the back after letting her loose. Props to Ruby for going all out tonight with her wardrobe. This match spent a lot of time on the outside which resulted in a nasty spot or two, most of which Raze was on the receiving end of. Raze went for her spear only to have Lu side step her and see Raze go crashing through some rows of chairs. Raze also missed a strike while Lu was up against the ring post causing her hand to hit the post hard. Solid strikes and strong running attacks by both women here. Raze hit the spot of the match here with a vicious Samoan Drop on Lufisto. Lufisto showed off her veteran skills throughout even kicking out of a spear by Raze. However, in the end Raze was too much for the more experience Lufisto. 

Gregg: It dawned on me at the beginning of this match that I should have seen this coming. It was a match-up that I didn’t realize I wanted to see, but as soon as it was presented in front of my face, I was excited. It lived up to everything that I hoped and gave the fans a taste of what they’re possibly going to see from Lufisto at Rise in December. Congratulations to Raze for the hard fought victory, though. You could see how genuinely touched she was by the victory and the streamers. And black was my suggestion (I have the DMs to prove it).

Julio: A great night of wrestling here in South Gate. AWS continues to grow their brand. If you have not been to a show in recent years, it is more than worth the price of admission. Overall, I was most impressed by Lufisto, I will definitely be seeking out her previous work and make sure to see her when she is back in town. Shotzi/Pizza Cat also continues to impress. Gregg is right when he says that she is going to have a helluva 2017.

Gregg: I had told Julio during the show about how Lufisto had suffered an injury after a missed top rope moonsault to the outside in Shimmer (her tag partner was Kana/Asuka against the Canadian NINJAS and 3G). She was telling us about it after the show and how she had actually exploded her kneecap. What I had forgotten was that she actually continued the match after. To say that Lufisto is double tough would be an understatement. I also completely forgot to talk heavy metal with her. Dammit.

The popularity of these shows just goes to show how much the scene has changed since I wrote my article on the state of women’s wrestling a few years back. It’s great to see AWS take an active role in Rise, also. There was a small smattering of “Who are you?” chants directed at Kevin Harvey, which killed my soul. Kevin’s a producer for Shimmer and was their ring announcer. (Do yourself a favor and check out his interactions with Nikki Storm/Nikki Cross…they’re gold.) But with the upcoming Mae Young Classic and WWE raiding the independent scene, the continued development of new talent is imperative. So I hope everyone comes out to support that, too.

And if I could continue put it out into the ethos, Jessicka Havok vs. Raze needs to happen.

Julio: I’ll be making sure to check out the next Women’s Tournament which will not happen soon enough. In the mean time, Rise, Sabotage, MavPro and whatever other promotions besides AWS that continue to book women will have to do. Its great to see how much the product has improved across all of SoCal. Lots of naturally charismatic workers, both men and women, and some incredible athletes. After a lull where most things non-PWG weren’t considered must see the territory is back on the rise and in a big way. Until next time, I’ll see you in The Promise Land.

Gregg: Continue to support SoCal indy wrestling. And book Joshua Shibata.