Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Monday, February 10, 2020

Monday AIW: Hell on Earth 15 11/29/19

40 Acres vs. Aeroform/Wheeler YUTA

PAS: 40 Acres are a really fun stable, three guys who wrestle pretty differently and meld it well together. Aeroform and YUTA are perfectly fine dance partners, but this was an Acres match. I really liked his Kingston match but Tre Lamar is perfect in this kind of match, he had some really good looking spots and great cocky taunts, and he can sprinkle them in amongst PB Smooth's power stuff and AJ Gray's potatoes. I also am really enjoying slightly past his prime Flip Kendrick, he still has great athleticism, but he always has a bit of a grimace on his face, like he is pissed he is still here after all these years.

Allie Cat vs. Veda Scott

PAS: This had a bunch of dipshitty "I'm a cat" comedy spots at the beginning, but that was better then their epic indy wrestling run at the end. Veda Scott has a lot of ideas, a very 2006 IWA-MS moveset, but all of it is executed at half speed and half impact. There was some timing issues with Allie Cat's offense, but at least it was really violent when it landed. I watched this so you don't have to.

Erick Stevens vs. Alex Shelley

PAS: This is exactly what it looks like on paper. These two guys doing a 2005 Indy nostalgia match. There is even a pre-match promo from both guys where they nostalgically look back and compliment each other, including Shelley talking about Stevens working town while being married with kids, Stevens responding "Well you know" and Shelley wistful saying "I'm divorced" (Shelley's current workrate run has a a very divorced energy).  This is a nostalgia match for a time I am not particularly nostalgic for, but I will admit this was better then I expected to be. Stevens has good intensity and there are moments where he is throwing really reckless violent moves, which is welcome in a match style that is often overly smooth. I especially loved him just throwing Shelley over his head into a powerbomb into the corner, it really looked like Stevens had no idea where Shelley was going to land, and didn't really give a fuck where he landed. Felt like Stevens should have won and the finish run by Shelley was a bit mechanical, but I enjoyed this and wasn't expecting to.

Big Twan Tucker vs. Dominic Garrini vs. VSK vs. CPA

PAS: Much like one would guess, the Twan and Dom parts of this match were great, and CPA and VSK were TFS (Total Fucking Shit). CPA actually looked like he might have been concussed as he didn't seem able to pull off any of his spots and seems confused. VSK isn't doing his lotion stuff anymore which I am happy about, but is a super boring workrate guy without it. He threw one of the daintiest topes I can remember seeing. Twan and Dom are great though, and there sections against each other ruled, Twan threw two incredible looking spears including smashing CPA into the guardrail. I would love to see a Dom vs. Twan singles match, they have really good chemistry (although maybe what we need is Dom/Twan vs. Fuck Its, a Twan Spear vs. T Money Pounce battle would be incredible)

To Infinity and Beyond vs. The Production (Derek Director/Eddy Only)

PAS: Sometimes when I am reviewing AIW tag I fell like one of those insane New Japan fanboys who rate Okada matches seven stars. I mean it seems insane to call TIAB the 21st century MX or Philly Marino the R+Rs, but it really feels true. Both Production guys are still really new to the business, but TIAB made them look amazing. Colin Delaney especially is just a master at heel tag wrestling. I loved the opening sections with Infinity being a little ahead of the game in the chain wrestling only to get their taunts cut off with big chops. Delaney doing assholish kip ups only to get ripped up and do a little pain dance was just perfect wrestling. We have some great clever and violent heat on Only, a big hot tag and a super fun finish run. This was great and it so cool they have so many fun teams to work different tag match variations.

ER: AIW tags just do it for me, and To Infinity is my favorite tag team in wrestling (Jollyville has a shot at regaining that crown once they come back and wreck things again). They are so good at setting up improbable moments and spots and double teams that should come off convoluted and rehearsed, but instead come off like they have a bottomless back of tricks at their wrestling disposal. They set up long chains of offense without getting crossed off, and seem to work in spots that play to their opponents' strengths, mixing the routine up from tag to tag without forcing guys through all of their regular moments. My favorite spots are their little moments of meanness, like Delaney kicking Only in the head and stomach after tagging out, or Cheech stomping on Only's head while turning him in a crab. Derek Director has added some pounds and lost none of the things that make him fun, throwing cool director's clapboard hand thrusts to the throat, and trying wild things like a guillotine legdrop off the apron, and I loved the dance that sets up him eventually sending the back of Delaney's head into the turnbuckle with a sunset flip. Only hits a great blindside tope through the bottom rope and takes some good punishment, and I thought he was really going to be crazy enough to go for a coast to coast dropkick ACROSS the ring (he later hit one down the length of the ring). To Infinity and Beyond are about as sure thing as it gets on AIW cards, I can't imagine there being a match I wouldn't want to see them in.

Eddie Kingston vs. KTB

PAS: This was slugfest Eddie, it doesn't really have the sort of layered selling and drama of his best matches, just two guys throwing bombs. KTB is a fine opponent for bomb throwing Eddie as he can both dish out and take a big beating. I love how Eddie winces his way through a fight, even when he is dishing out stuff it takes a toll on him too, a chop is going to hurt your hand, applying a suplex is still a concussive impact on your body. I do hate to criticize a US Indy match for not having a big ending, but Kingston winning on a side suplex did feel a little abrupt. I figure these two have a great match against each other in them, this was more of a tease then anything else.

ER: I liked this more than Phil, but he has a pretty high standard for Kingston matches, and that's a fair standard. If you don't hold the very best to a standard, then who will you hold? I liked the bomb throwing sprint approach, a tight 9 minute blast that had Kingston throwing some of the hardest shots I saw him throw last year. His chops where hitting with his full weight behind them, and no matter where it comes in a match I'll always be fine with two nasty backfists setting up a suplex finishing things. The announcers make me laugh talking about how this isn't shirt and shorts Kingston, this is *gear* Kingston. We get some little things, like the way Kingston kind of desperately gets some of his hands up during a KTB flurry, hoping to take the damage from 100 down to maybe 85. And we get big things, like KTB hitting a tope after smashing Kingston in the face on his attempt, and a top rope damn superplex from King. Top rope superplexes are special flowers. That's when you see guys out beyond, legs shaking in microburst. Kingston hits a top rope superplex and, as Phil mentioned, shows off how important it is to have a guy who can sell moves that he gives. I think Lawler and Finlay have the best understanding of how to sell specific moves, how to take specific moves, and Kingston isn't a far shout behind. Kingston's sell of performing and delivering the superplex is as satisfying as the classic move itself, another example of the kind of thorough performance he gives even in sprints.

Nick Gage vs. Mance Warner

PAS: I enjoyed the early part of this match with both guys brawling through the crowd and winging beer cans off each others heads. When it gets back into the ring we get a bunch of construction projects with chairs and tables, and I really start to lose interest. The Gage/Bishop/Warner sections of these AIW shows are tough hangs for me, all of those guys are better then Tommy Dreamer, but I am pretty tired of Tommy Dreamer style matches in 2020. This is a style that appeals to some people, and this was fine version of it, it wasn't my thing.

80. Zach Thomas vs. Matthew Justice

PAS: This was a similar style to the match right before it (they really need to spreads these weapon shot matches out a bit), but I enjoyed it a bunch more. Had a lot of energy, and Thomas is a really dynamic offensive wrestler. I thought the spirit bomb on the stood up garbage can was a nasty a bump as you are going to see in this kind of match. Fonzie really adds to Justice's shtick, it really helps having someone at ringside to do the prop set up, so the match can keep moving. The finish was pretty fun with Fonzie putting on a Myles Garrett jersey and breaking out a Steelers helmet for Justice to brain Thomas with. A babyface Myles Garrett spot really works in a garbage wrestling match in Cleveland.

ER: I thought this was great, and have a feeling that Phil may have been too numbed by Gage/Mancer  (I skipped that one and went straight here after the Kingston match). On a show and in a fed filled with guys who hit hard, I thought these two beat the shit out of each other. I don't know what the Intense Title is supposed to be, but I thought this stood out as a big asskicking from a fed where I already expect asskicking to be taking place. Thomas has really great meathead energy and Justice really projects as a champ to me. Justice always comes off with the relatability and confidence that Seth Rollins should have. I love the way he connects to the crowd, and the punishment he puts himself and opponent through really does make him feel like the highest ceiling Tommy Dreamer, as a good thing. His right elbows hit hard enough that it looked like they moved Thomas's whole body, and Justice threw a shoulderblock while Thomas leaned into that shoulderblock like neither wanted to have shoulders any longer. Everything they threw at each other lead to hard landings and tough meetings. I love how hard their stomach kicks or dropkicks land, or moments like Justice sitting on the top turnbuckle throwing a hard punch to the charging Thomas's head with the side of his fist. There were parts where I thought I accidentally had it on 1.5 speed, and something about hitting hard at high speeds can really put a match over the top for me.

Fonzie is a real nice story, a guy still putting in actual great manager work in his early 60s. So many ECW guys are gone, and who would have predicted Fonzie being one of the few still finding ways to contribute quality to matches this much later? The energy he brings to a match like this is big, and we get little moments like when he casually grabbed at Thomas's trunks on an Irish whip. I thought the weapon stuff was set up and pulled off impressively quick, Thomas wasting no time at grabbing doors to set up; and the props stuff came off violent and painful, not gimmicky. Justice flew off the top and just landed his weight through Thomas to put him through a door. No silly moment of Thomas getting into position and waiting, only Justice knowing that his weight would send him through. The powerbomb that Thomas gives Justice, on the bottom edge of a stood on end trash can, is one of the most brutal spots I saw in 2019. Justice's body goes through so much, and his selling gives you the sense he's going to be feeling that in his left hip and back of ribs for the next two weeks. I loved the human moment we got, and part of that connection I can feel between Justice and his crowd, when he couldn't put Thomas away and the fans all start pointing up to the very high second story of the venue, while Justice shakes them off with his hands. "No no, fans, no life shortening balcony spill from me tonight. I'm just going to brain him with a football helmet."

86. Bitcoin Boyz vs. PME

PAS: We have seen so many great PME vs. To Infinity and Beyond tags, I was looking forward to see how they matched up against a different tag team, and this was really impressive. Bitcoin Boyz are basically six months into their careers at this point, and this was a hell of a tag match. BB are a really fun cheapshot shtick heel tag team, kind of like a 2020s PG-13.  They built a couple of fun heat sections, one on Marino and one on Philly, and when it came time for the comebacks they bumped like maniacs. There is a point where Marino powerbombs Taylor right on the top of his head, it really felt like he wasn't going to make it to the one year mark of his career. Duke is fun as usual and eats a tope with the back of his head banging against the guardrail. PME has such a great total act, I just love watching them from Susudio to their great finish, just makes me smile.

ER: Also place me firmly into the PME fan club. They're a really great babyface act, a really fun regional act to root for. They feel like the kind of 80s territory team that had a specific connection to their town. Bitcoin Boyz are still really new but already showing a polished goofball banana heel act. There are a lot of slapstick moments here, but both teams have the confidence to do slapstick and not feel the need to wink into the camera. There are a lot of "Aren't I funny?" teams on the indies, and I hate the majority of them. But Bitcoin Boyz sometimes tap into that John Tatum level of flounce, and it slays me. Mikey Montgomery and Eric Taylor have good timing with cutoff spots (there was a superkick that was used to effectively as a mood changer to show an overused move can still be a highlight), and are good at things you wouldn't necessarily expect them to be good at, like stomps to the chest. PME are a nicely complementary team: Marino is small but comes off tough and unafraid, the small mouthy guy who can back it up, and Philly has charisma for days and knows how to use his size well. Taylor eats a crazy beating, and one match after Justice takes the craziest powerbomb of the year onto the edge of a trashcan, here's Eric Taylor taking the craziest powerbomb of the year getting dumped on his ear by a Philly Doctor Bomb. Mikey Montgomery has some good physical comedy instincts and I get the feeling that once he starts hitting harder he's going to get really good. He's already good enough to be one of the few guys who can actually do a funny and seamless version of the "bounce chair off ropes and back into my own face" spot. The Duke is the best, a total loud mouth pee wee league coach, and he always takes at least one Too Big bump in any match he's managing. Here he takes a cool dad spill off the apron and then eats an awesome dive from Marino. Great pairing, can't wait to see it more.

Joshua Bishop vs. Tom Lawlor

PAS: I really liked the first 3/4 of this match, great hard hitting heavyweight wrestling. I love Lawlor's jab and low kick combo, and Bishop throws good looking winding Windham like right hands. There was a couple of great big move near falls, including Lawlor dumping Bishop on his head with a Michinoku Driver type tombstone, and Bishop having to roll to the floor. If this match ended when Bishop reversed the knee strike into an awesome spinning sidewalk slam, this would have been really high on our MOTY list. They add a bunch of superfluous stuff after that with chairs and handcuffs and ref bumps and we just didn't need any of it. I also hate the Money in the Bank stip, and if they were going to run Bishop vs. Justice as the main event title match of the Mania show anyway, there was no reason to have a cheap title switch here.

ER: This one really didn't connect with me as a war in the same way that other matches on this show did, and I actually resented them going too far with gimmicks when they should know to just rely on their own violence by now. Both guys were showing wear and still slugging it out, still landing hard shots, that all the handcuff and distraction BS really took away from things for me. And the post match title match cash in from Justice is not how I view the Justice character, and seemed like a huge waste of what should have been a way bigger moment. I liked a lot of the Bishop/Lawlor exchanges, like the way these two fight, and it felt like we were really about to get to the good parts of that when we got waylaid by an entirely different match. Lawlor was throwing some really great clinch knees, and the throws from both were landing hard. A sensible ending with a 12 minute runtime would have been justified, as both men were working hard and sweating from go. Throwing in the extra gimmicks just undersold how hard hitting the first part of the match was.



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