Wrestlecon USA vs. The World
April 2, 2022
We’re in Dallas, Texas at the Fairmont Hotel. The gimmick on this show is every match pits an American wrestler versus a wrestler from elsewhere in the world. Due to ongoing COVID restrictions there’s a lot of Canadians, Mexicans and dudes who happen to be based in the USA. It’s not ideal. Hosts are Ian Riccaboni and Veda Scott.
Warrior Wrestling Lucha Championship
Sam Adonis (c) vs. Golden Dragon vs. La Hiedra vs. Mr Iguana
Mr Iguana wowed me the last time I saw him. The gimmick work with Jessica (his iguana) is outstanding. It’s fully realised and polished. It’s as good an off-the-wall comedy gimmick I’ve seen in a long time.
Adonis has three belts. The Warrior strap (which is shaped like the company logo, which is cool) and the AAA trios belt. Plus, one other. Not sure what that is. Maybe the GALLI belt? The work here is decent with all four cycling in and out and having distinct styles within the lucha-libre umbrella. Adonis retains via underhanded methods and a 450 Splash on Golden Dragon. Solid opener. Needed more iguana. **¾
Jessica Troy vs. Rachael Ellering
Troy is Australian representing “The World”. I’ve seen her wrestle but it was a few years ago and I’m told she’s improved. Her gimmick is the “arm-collector” so she’s going to focus on the body part. They do some rock solid mat work in this. Troy going after the arm and Ellering employing defensive wrestling to counter that but also go after other holds to keep Troy at bay. They get a “this is awesome” chant and immediately make a mess of two spots. Troy, while decent on the mat, cannot compete on strikes. They’re very poor. She goes through a spell of completely missing on them.
When Jess is going after the arm you can see her technical strengths but she’s not an all-rounder and if she’s going to go for strikes, that needs work. Ellering has a good match. Her selling is good, her power technique is good. However, the match is too long and the longer it goes the more exposed Troy is for having limited repertoire. It gets worse and ruins what could have been a good match. Her hesitation on a satellite completely exposes the business. It’s a shame because two thirds of this match is good but one third of it is bad. You can’t have a good match if some of it sucks. Points for effort here but Troy needs to iron those kinks out to hit the next level. **½
Mike Bailey vs. Davey Richards
This is potentially awesome. Richards doesn’t really have bad matches and Bailey has had an incredible weekend.
This isn’t even his last match this weekend. He’s working on the Black Label Pro show AND Unsanctioned Pro. He even worked that Zicky Dice show. 9 matches in 3 days. Davey goes for the legs to try and eliminate some of that flippy business.
Veda claims this is Bailey’s sixth match of the weekend. It’s actually his seventh. It’s at this point that I realise Zicky Dice’s show made tape and was on Twitch. Oh no. Back in the match Davey continues to work the legs to keep Bailey grounded. Bailey doesn’t sell the leg though, in spite of the work on it. That renders a chunk of the match useless. Despite this it’s a good time at the graps. Bailey’s kicky offence constantly being countered by Davey into leg holds. Some tidy strike sequences. It’s all very neat and well executed but I’m not convinced that a ‘leg match’ was the right choice. Bailey even finishes with double knees for fuck’s sake. Choices were certainly made here. ***¼
Arez, Aramis & Aeroboy vs. Gringo Loco, Flip Gordon & Caleb Konley
Flip Gordon’s stock has certainly dropped in the past two years huh? I seem to remember him saying his “character” was a flat earther rather than himself after he said some dumb shit on Twitter.
Flip does a bunch of flips and stands there tapping his head so someone roundhouses him. He 100% deserved that. There are a lot of moving parts in this match and while the luchadores are used to that there are some clunky moments from the Yanks. Konley is particularly out of sorts. He sucks so bad they make him re-do his chop. There’s a top rope spot where Arez has to help him onto the ropes. He does hit one twisting dive off the ropes that looks cool but he’s inconsistent. The Mexicans hit a triple finisher, which involves two sets of people awkwardly waiting for Konley to get into position. Flip Gordon reminded me how good he is here. He may be dumb as a bag of rocks but he can do the flips. All the luchadores had a solid showing. ***
The WorkHorsemen vs. Bandido & Extreme Tiger
Anthony Henry signed for WWE and worked there a bit during 2021 before getting released. He’s back where he belongs, tagging with big man JD Drake. Rey Horus is missing and Extreme Tiger, who you might know as Tigre Uno, is a substitute.
Henry has a nice time doing the lucha but JD tags in and says he doesn’t do none of that “lucha shit”. JD complaining about lucha hand holding business in the middle of a sequence is funny stuff.
JD then starts busting out lucha while Bandido, who’s having to take the moves, encourages him. JD resorts to swatting luchadores with his big paws. He’s been fantastic value in this match. When you get a wrestler who feels out of place in a match you can either try and shoehorn him in there (see Caleb Konley) or you can lean into the differences. This is how you do it right. JD Drake is so good in this match. He throws in little bits of lucha, just to prove he can do it, but he also ensures the match doesn’t expose him as a worker. The first time I saw Drake, I didn’t know what to make of him but he’s such a versatile performer. They do a few things here that feel a bit too cutesy (like ET DDTing Bandido accidentally). It’s not a full on comedy match and a lot of the stretch is nicely put together.
This is sick. 21 suplex puts JD away and I really enjoyed the set up of this match and the execution was excellent. It’s possible to have a nice light-hearted contest and step it up as it goes along. Good stuff. ***½
Big Damo vs. Calvin Tankman
Add Big Damo to the list of guys who I didn’t realise had been released by WWE until this weekend.
There is some BEEF in the ring here. Grade A. There is some Big Lads wrestling in this one. Meat collisions. There’s a slam in this match that’s so big it knocks the feed offline. After nine meat filled minutes, Tankman takes it with the Greetings from Asbury Park. **½
Rev Pro British Cruiserweight Championship
Michael Oku (c) vs. Rich Swann
Oku won the belt just before the pandemic started and is closing in on 800 days with the strap. He has managed 11 title defences too.
Oku, beloved by all ages. They quickly establish parity in this one by mirroring offence.
As they settle in for the long run, we get a methodical pace. This allows Oku to fatigue sell, which he’s very good at. It’s part of his ability to be a great babyface. You feel he’s the underdog based on his size but also on the way he struggles through matches but retains that great heart. I enjoy the structure and how they build to big spots and make them mean more. I’m not convinced Mania weekend is the best time to do that but they’ve not lost all of the crowd in the process. Just some of them who are sat on their phones at ringside. I SEE YOU. Swann tries to come off the top but gets caught in the half crab and that’s a tap out. Oku retains. This was a good match but a lot of the early going was filler to create fatigue selling during the last five minutes. They could have done this a lot quicker, made it more exciting and still got all their stuff in. ***¾
Post-Match: Oku tells a story about how he once got confused with Rich Swann and the crowd were singing “all night long” at him. I remember that. “From that day on I made sure everyone was going to know my name”. Oku shoots from the heart here. He does deserve his success. I remember seeing him at shows he wasn’t booked on for years. Driving other guys to shows, helping people set up, working the merch tables, checking tickets, doing whatever needed doing. I saw it, first hand. I’m so proud of Michael Oku and seeing him stand in an American ring having his name chanted by the entire crowd is a moment that makes reviewing every single show this weekend worthwhile.
There was some great wrestling on this show. Nothing really hit that higher level to make it onto the reccs sheet, but I had a nice time watching this. Nothing was bad. There was a nice mixture of stuff on the undercard and the main event had an epic feel to it that a lot of main events this weekend simply haven’t had. It also left me reflecting on the career of Michael Oku to date. I felt more personal investment here than during any show so far.
The USA vs. The World gimmick doesn’t mean anything to me and didn’t do anything for the crowd. That’s probably the only real criticism. If you’re doing to do a gimmick like that then make the show mean something overall maybe? The whole “we all won” as preached by commentary is the result. Does that mean the show was pointless? Or just we all won because we got to see some wrestling and had a nice time?