LA Fights vs. JCW
April 1, 2022
We’re in Dallas, Texas at Fair Park. Home of the Collective shows. I’ve finally made into Friday! This is show #7 of the weekend, so we’re roughly a third of the way there? I get the feeling nobody watched this as it started at 11am but it clashed with nothing and would have aired about 5pm in the UK. I would have been all over this live. If I’d remembered to book the weekend off, which I clearly did not.
Team JCW vs. Team LA Fights
This is 9 on 9 and there are more dudes in the ring than the audience. This is a barrage of spots but there are too many guys involved. We don’t get to learn much about anyone. They do dumb stuff with everyone waiting around for a big spot. They have an angle where SLADE and Sullivan brawl to the back leaving JCW down two guys but it makes no difference at all. The finish is bizarrely shit with Yoya just grabbing the win. Some of this landed…but a lot didn’t. **¼
Cole Radrick vs. Kevin Blackwood
Radrick has to be fired up after that great death match yesterday. I like that he sells back bumps as extra painful because of the damage in that death match. He also gets busted open almost immediately because he didn’t protect his head wounds. Radrick does a wonderful job of showing his pain. The camera stays on the hardcam when he mugs to the ringside cam the director (or whoever) just ignores the money shot.
I don’t want to undersell Blackwood’s work in this. His timely strikes work well and his movement around the ring is solid. He looks extremely capable and doesn’t have the same weird appearance of his opponent. His pink hair and tattoos is a cool look. Cole manages to pick up the win in a back and forth match, where he fought as the underdog due to his blood loss. Cole doesn’t have the look of a big star but his work is surprisingly great. That’s two shows in a row he’s stolen. ***½
Jack Cartwheel vs. Alec Price
Price and Cartwheel both broke out during the pandemic. Price is a little skinny and hyperactive. Every time Cartwheel does a cartwheel I’m fired up. Live the gimmick. I also like how he uses the ropes, and his core strength is brilliant. Price’s biggest downfall is his look. He needs to gain some bulk to make all his moves look more realistic. As it is, I don’t find him convincing. That said, Tony Mamaluke had no mass, and he was fun. If Price can figure out how to pull out realistic looking offence despite his size, he could go places. Let’s face it there are a lot of wrestlers who would love to work him just to get their shit in on a small dude. Cartwheel even misjudges throwing him a few times because he’s so light. Cartwheel makes flippy shit like the Sasuke Special look easy. Corkscrew SSP finishes for Cartwheel. I’ll come away from this weekend having really enjoyed his work. ***
Juicy Finau vs. Big Vin
JUICY! He’s 450lbs. He is a big, big dude.
He debuted at the start of the pandemic, so I’ve never seen him. I was really hoping Big Vin was like 5’ 2” or something but he’s a hoss. There’s serious beef in the ring. Juicy’s wobbly stomach is hypnotic. Like Homer Simpson getting his fat checked.
Once I’ve gotten past the visual feast of Samoan stomach the match is a plodding affair. Vin upsets me by repeatedly going after headbutts and not selling the inevitable failure to get a Samoan to suffer from a head shot. In wrestling Samoans have super thick skulls. I don’t make the rules but Big Vin should know this. Big Vin tries for a rana after doing the Undertaker rope walking and Juicy has no idea how to bump it. Juicy tries for the corner punches deal and gets powerbombed for the finish. I appreciate this being a freakshow spectacle but at less than 7 minutes it struggled. *¾
Marcus Mathers vs. Nick Wayne
Wayne is Buddy Wayne’s son. Being second generation can be a both a blessing and a curse. You’ll always get compared to your dad. Luckily for him Buddy Wayne was mostly a jobber. I remember him taking L’s on WCW Saturday Night. Nick has recently signed for AEW so he’s one to watch. Hopefully for him he’s not just on to do jobs.
Mathers is also a young gun I’ve not seen work. The match is fairly basic with a few ideas scattered around with greater ambition. The kids nowadays seem very adept at creating exciting sequences and high spots. Where the match doesn’t work is in the transitions. There’s one where Mathers goes to whip Wayne into the ropes and it’s so pedestrian. You need to keep that intensity in every aspect of the work. Not just the stuff that’s going to make the highlight reel. I also hate that they’re both wearing chains around their necks in this match. For starters, you’re asking for trouble wearing a chain because it can get caught on stuff and secondly, your opponent should 100% be using that against you and choking you out. The work is solid in their defence and they get 15 minutes because both of them only have one singles match this weekend. They want to show off in it. Showing off unfortunately leads to a lot of dumb spots. Including fucked up Irish whips, fucked up Canadian Destroyers and overreaching. By the time the match is over its outlasted its welcome by around five minutes. Too many head shots, too many thigh slaps, too much Indierific bullshit. The crowd seem to like it and I appreciate them trying to put themselves in the spotlight, but they try too hard and needed a veteran to remove spots for them. Huge potential from both kids though. I’m sure they’ll both have bright futures. I can only apologise for hating this. Points for effort **½
Sandra Moone vs. Billie Starkz
These two shoot for epic right from the start and I can tell from their initial exchanges, with ‘near miss’ spots that are big misses, that I’m probably going to hate this too. As with the last match there’s nothing wrong with wanting to steal the show and pushing your limits but these kids need to learn to walk before they try and run. Comms talk about wanting to make this “an annual event”. Hmm.
Sandra tries to do sensible things like forearms, which she’s good at, and keeping the match basic. However when she tries a knee lift it whiffs by miles and Billie has no idea what to do with it. They try for a double big boot but they have different length legs so that obviously doesn’t work. The match isn’t a total disaster but so many spots don’t land that I couldn’t in good conscience recommend it. Not only that, there are a few spots that are borderline dangerous. The Gory Special could have blown Sandra’s knee out and the javelin into the buckles looked downright frightening. Billie finishes with a dragon suplex and that looked good. This didn’t feel as dumb as the last match but it had more flaws. **
Grim Reefer vs. B-Boy
I honestly cannot believe Grim Reefer is still wrestling. He was on an early ROH show and it was one and out. That usually speaks volumes. B-Boy got injured right when the pandemic started and has not wrestled much since. I think B-Boy took one look at this crowd and thought ‘fuck it’. He does a bunch of cheap stuff and half asses the whole match. Grim Reefer looks horrible. He probably shouldn’t have smoked a J pre-match.
The production on this show has been poor. Shots out of focus, camera not noticing someone had moved, missing money shots and assorted other failings. It reflects the dirt level Indies we’re watching. Grim Reefer lights up another spliff and I’m impressed he’s able to continue smoking it through a series of spots. The hardcam went out of focus about halfway through this match and no one has fixed it but they keep cutting back to it. Nobody gives a fuck here, we might as well just leave. They throw in a door spot and B-Boy wins with a brainbuster. There was no need for this to go over 10 minutes as it was abundantly clear nobody cared. *½
Charles Mason vs. Dark Sheik
Charles Mason is “the route of all evil”. Oh, he’s a lawyer? He looks like a lawyer. This is an improvement. Dark Sheik’s movement around the ring is solid, especially in and out of the ropes. Mason doesn’t convince me that he’s “the route of all evil”. Although doing Intergender puts him one step closer to Joey Ryan, so I guess he’s getting there.
The match slowly gets good with Sheik playing a good babyface with plucky offence and gutsy comebacks. Mason makes for a decent heel, at one point using a plastic bag to try and murder his opponent. I guess murder is evil. He tries to lynch her from the rafters, which is one hell of a finish but LA Fights entire roster jumps in there and kills him. JCW’s roster, also out here, and are like “yeah, that’s probably fair”. Sheik wins with a pumphandle driver and that’s your main event. Some very cool ideas at play here and Mason is an intriguing character that needs a bit of polish. **¾
This wasn’t the best of shows and felt like a C Level show. There were some decent performances though. Cole Radrick was again good. Jack Cartwheel has won me over this weekend. There are so many guys in these two promotions with big potential. Nick Wayne, Billie Starkz, Juicy Finau, Marcus Mathers, Charles Mason, Alec Price and especially Kevin Blackwood. There’s varying degrees of promise there where you might see them explode onto the scene at some point. A variety of different performers too, so the show was never boring but some glaring production problems did hinder the overall vibe. Also, the concept was limiting with only wrestlers from two promotions on show. Neither promotion being a big ticket seller. This isn’t Progress or DDT coming over and putting on authentic product. It’s just two low level US Indies going head-to-head. Not really WrestleMania weekend standard.