(Absolute Intense Wrestling – Our Lady of Mt. Carmel – Cleveland, OH – July 21, 2017)
All photos courtesy of Wayne Palmer
Before the show begins, Arn Anderson is out to sign autographs. He has been on my bucket list of “wrestlers to meet” since I was a young boy. It was a real treat to finally get to do so. He was polite and generous with his time to every fan he met. (FYI: Stan Hansen is next on my list.)
There is a ten-bell salute for AIW co-owner Chandler Biggins. After an unexpected battle with illness months earlier, Biggins passed on. From a personal standpoint, I always enjoyed chatting with Chandler. He was funny and sarcastic and loved wrestling as much as anyone I’ve ever known. He also had a crazy memory for the business. Sometimes when I’d be working on a show review and couldn’t remember a bit of information about the company, I’d email him. Within a few minutes, he’d answer my question and throw in some cool tidbits or a backstage story that only an insider would have. Chandler Biggins was a larger-than-life character who won’t soon be forgotten by the wrestling community. I’m going to miss him.
The Duke v. Dominic Garrini
Audience: “Fuck ’em up, Dom!”
The Duke has his arm locked and straightened against a post outside the ring when Garrini headbutts it. Damn.
Garrini hits a sit-out piledriver on the Duke.
The Duke goes for a Vaderbomb, but Garrini turns it into a wristlock submission
Winner: Dominic Garrini
PB Smooth v. Frankie Flynn
Flynn upset Smooth after cracking him behind the knee with Smooth’s trophy. Before Smooth could recuperate, he was attacked by Derek Direction.
Winner: Frankie Flynn
Fans Bring the Weapons
Swoggle (w/ Daniel Rockingham & Brian Carson) v. Britt Baker (w/ Space Monkey & Dick Justice)
(Lumberjacks: Mance Warner, Big Mo, Jock Samson, Philly Collins, Worldwide, Weird Body, Kaplan, and others.)
Swoggle got toilet paper streamers from the audience.
Weapons used: high heels, pincers, Lucky Charms cereal, Silly String, a thumb tack-covered wiffleball bat, a tack-covered toilet plunger, a cookie pan and carpet strips.
Rockingham attacks Baker. Justice saves her by pulling a “finger gun” on DCR.
Monkey moonsaults onto the lumberjacks.
Rockingham and Carson have Baker in their clutches.
A masked guy enters the ring. He unmasks to reveal that he is…ADAM COLE!! He wrecks them both to save the damsel in distress.
Swoggle submits when Baker puts a loop of barbed wire around his head and torques back on it.
The enemies hug after the bell.
Audience: “That was awesome!”
And it actually was.
This was my least anticipated match on the card, and it turned out to be terrific. It was weird and unhinged and everything that AIW tends to do best.
Winner: Britt Baker
While the ring is being cleaned up, Steve Guy hosts a beer-chugging contest between Kaplan and two fans. The fans beat him.
“Filthy” Tom Lawlor v. Eddie Kingston
This one quickly gets physical.
Kingston catches Lawlor in a wrist-clutch exploder. Then Lawlor returns the favor. Kingston responds with a second. Lawlor answers with another. Both men crumble.
The fight continues. More exploders, kicks and gnarly backfists.
Lawlor catches Kingston in a guillotine and he passes out.
This was badass. Another weird pairing that clicked because both guys can give and take major amounts of punishment. Lawlor is my guy.
Texas Bullrope Match
Shawn Shultz v. Ethan Page
Page eats a ROUGH backdrop on the apron.
The two fight into the crowd. Despite both men laying into each other, it doesn’t feel like the audience is feeling the match.
Page hog-ties Shultz and taps all four corners for the win.
Page cuts an “unauthorized” promo paying tribute to Chandler Biggins, the beloved deceased co-founder of the company. He is obviously speaking from the heart about his fallen friend.
I don’t know why the crowd wasn’t 100% for this one, but they weren’t. Both guys are scrappy and very good at what they do. This match should have been a slam dunk. It’s one of those things that if they attempted it at another show it’d have been over like gangbusters. Wrestling is weird like that sometimes.
Winner: Ethan Page
Jollyville Fuck-Its (Nasty Russ & T-Money)/Young Studs (Eric Ryan & Bobby Beverly)/Matthew Justice v. Garrison King/AJ Gray/Tre Lamar/Chase Oliver/Josh Bishop
Ryan and Justice hit double-coast-to-coast dropkicks to the students.
Russ unloads with punches on the youngsters.
The students are getting demolished.
Gray executed a sloppy move off the top on Ryan.
King pins Ryan after he is powerbombed by Gray. Gray and Oliver give him standing presses.
While I do like King’s faction, I get super nervous watching them. They are attempting some fairly complex and risky maneuvers very early in their careers. I feel like there is a segment of the audience that eggs on the recklessness without any regard for the experience of the wrestlers in question. I don’t want to see any of them (or their opponents) get injured because they are attempting to progress too quickly. If King and company ratchet it down a notch or two, I think they will be where they need to be.
I do like that, since it is a faction composed of young guys, they will, by default, be working with veterans. This is only going to benefit their growth.
Winners: Garrison King/AJ Gray/Tre Lamar/Chase Oliver/Josh Bishop
AIW Women’s Championship
Mia Yim v. Shayna Baszler (c)
It must be noted that it is an extraordinarily hot evening in Cleveland, Ohio. That being said, Baszler demands that the pools of sweat left on the mat after the previous bout be mopped up.
Yim and Baszler have shown up to work.
Yim challenges Baszler to kick her harder. I don’ t know if that is wise. LOL.
Yim: Package piledriver that neeeeearly earned her the championship.
Baszler retains via submission with a heel hook.
With the upcoming Mae Young Classic tournament in the WWE just weeks away, this may be one of the final times that AIW fans will be graced by the presence of these two talented women. Both are tough, creative, and are flush with star quality. I’ve said this before, I’d love to see Baszler get a run with the Absolute title. I think she’d wreak havoc.
Winner: Shayna Baszler
AIW Intense Championship
Alex Daniels (c) (w/ Gregory Iron) v. Joey Janella
Iron comes out dressed in a black tank top and black shorts, both of which are covered with colored fuzzy balls. No one can ever accuse Iron of not having cojones.
Janella beats the shit out of Iron, essentially neutralizing him.
Janella has Daniels in a crossface. Iron rings the bell, tricking Janella into thinking he’d won the match.
Daniels hits his finisher but Janella kicks out.
Daniels roughly lands a 630 senton.
Janella locks Daniels and Iron in a crossface. Daniels submits.
Joey Janella is the NEW AIW Intense Champion.
Janella dedicates this victory to Chandler Biggins.
Daniels shoves Iron. Ut-oh.
Alex Daniels has grown by leaps and bounds since winning the Intense title at the “Forget About Dre” event in 2016. His 469-day title reign established him as one of the company’s top villains, as well as one of their stronger workers. From the early days of “No Strings Attached” with Marti Belle and Ray Lyn, Daniels has strived to grow and improve. I remember when Johnny Gargano went to Japan for the first time. He was a new performer when he returned. Hopefully, travel is in Daniels’ future as well.
And a feud with Iron should prove interesting.
Next stop: the Absolute Championship?
And this is Janella’s time. A friend commented that he is the hottest talent in the country not affiliated with a major super indy (though it has since been announced that he will be working for PWG). 2017 is Joey Janella’s year.
AIW Tag Team Championship
To Infinity & Beyond (Cheech & Colin Delaney) (c) v. Facade & Flip Kendrick v. Crazy Pain (Gringo Loko & Steve Pain) v. Laredo Kid & DJZ
DJZ comes out in this dope light-up outfit.
Well-known wrestling fan Pat Lucey: “That needs to be on TV ASAP.”
Loko and DJZ start the match with some rad lucha.
Pain and Kid continue to stun the audience.
This is a really awesome stuntfest.
DJZ and Kid dive into the crowd.
Facade performs “Old School” into a Canadian Destroy on Pain. Good Lord.
The match makes its way to the entrance ramp. Facade climbs atop the giant “AIW” set decoration and flips on to his opponents far below.
Kendrick has a bad crash on the floor. Though he landed out of my line of sight, I could hear that he didn’t hit correctly because of the sickening thud his body made. He opened a nasty cut on his head and was immediately rushed from the match and to the emergency room.
Back in the ring, Gringo Loko is clutching his chest. This is terrifying because at the beginning of the year Loko suffered a heart attack during a match in Chicago. It turns out this was a swerve by Loko. He pulls out a stun gun and shocks Delaney in the groin.
Referee Jake Clemons runs back to the ring to count the fall. He slips at ringside, presumably on Kendrick’s blood.
Cheech rolls up Loko for the pin to retain the tag team championships.
This was an exciting match. Between the spill that Kendrick took, and the swerve by Loko, this match kept the fans on their toes. The heart attack seems like a weird area to go to, but if Loko was ok with it, so am I.
Winners: To Infinity & Beyond
Tim Donst (c) v. Louis Lyndon v. Josh Prohibition v. Tracy Williams
The match begins with all four competitors brawling into the crowd.
Lyndon first flips into the audience, then gives Donst a hurricanrana off one of the merchandise tables.
The brawling continues around the building.
Once back in the ring, Williams gives an Olympic Slam to the champion.
Prohibition handcuffs Donst.
Prohibition lines up four chairs.
Referee Tom Dunn unlocks Donst.
Donst is angry and gobs on the fans.
Prohibition hits the Drunken Driver on the chairs to the titleholder. Donst kicks out.
Williams piledrives Prohibition on the chairs.
Lyndon DDTs Williams on the chairs.
Donst hits the Donstitution to Prohibition to pin him and retain his championship.
Nick Gage’s music begins to play.
Gage piledrives Donst on the pile of chairs.
He announces that he “will kill Donst since cancer didn’t.”
Winner: Tim Donst
AIW delivered a solid night of action to celebrate their biggest yearly event.
Baker/Swoggle: The Baker-Swoggle match is easily the surprise of the night. The two clicked and put on a fun, wacky match that the audience ate up.
Tom Lawlor: Tom Lawlor is quickly turning into one of my favorite wrestlers on the indies. I’m so glad to see that he is booked by AIW for the rest of the calendar year. He is headed for big things.
Flip Kendrick: I am happy to report that Flip Kendrick was released from the hospital later in the evening. It was an unfortunate accident that can happen to even the most experienced talent. I guess incidents like this are what make me worry for Garrison King and his faction.
Gregory Iron: So it appears that Iron turned babyface after his altercation with Daniels. I’m assuming that a match (or matches) with Daniels will follow. But what’s next in AIW for Gregory Iron. What is left for him to achieve?
Nick Gage: Man, I don’t know how I feel about this. Nothing against him as a performer, but it certainly is an interesting choice to place him in such a high-profile spot in the company. Is Gage a good candidate to be the Absolute champion? Where do death match performers fit into the current landscape of wrestling? Only time will tell.
Visit AIWrestling.com for more information.