Reviews

AAW The Art of War 2016 Review

Show Date: 19/2/16

The show opens with Dave Prazak and Phil Colvin running down some of the big matches before we head to the first match.

Trevor Lee vs. Joey Janela

This is Joey’s AAW debut, while Lee is coming off of a big loss in the main event at the last show. Lee is super dominant against Janela early, throwing him all over the place and just kicking the shit out of him to huge cheers. Joey takes control, and is frankly pretty boring and green looking during this portion, luckily some hope spots from Trevor keep things interesting until the finish. Lee pins Janela with a Small Package Driver ***

Connor Braxton and Eddie Machete vs. Alex Daniels and Candice LeRae

Braxton and his dumb hoverboard schtick was the worst part of the last AAW show to me, and he came out with the board again here. I am all for people milking things that get over, but that gimmick does nothing for me. Luckily this was a pretty standard, if a little botchy at times, tag match with Braxton and Machete working heel on Candice. Candice pins Machete ** ½

Janela cuts a pretty good promo about how New York and New Jersey love him, but Chicago don’t and they don’t deserve to see him. He had a fine showing in the ring, but boy did Joey gain a lot from this promo. I am excited to see where he goes now.

AR Fox (c) vs. Matt Cage (w/Scarlett)(AAW Heritage Championship)

AR Fox took the scariest bump I’ve seen him take in a while during this match, and think about the ground that covered. He goes for a dive but the barrier is too close and he lands directly on his goddamn head. Luckily Fox seemed fine and do Cage’s credit he was able to get the match back on track. The match itself was the kind of flippy AR Fox performance that you’d expect, and that coupled with Cage’s more grounded style led to an exciting match with a good amount of drama down the stretch. Unfortunately that early terrifying spot hurt things a little bit for me. Fox pins Cage with a roll up *** ¼

We get a promo from Dr Louis J. Pinder on the Iron Curtain ahead of the big Monster’s Brawl tag match later.

Matt Fitchett and Davey Vega vs. Zero Gravity (CJ Esparza and Brett Gakiya)

Zero Gravity looked like the most indie team imaginable here, complete with trash bag pants. These four men had a perfectly serviceable little sprint, and at about five minutes there isn’t much to complain about. Fitchett and Vega’s story of being uneasy tag partners continued here. Fitchett pins Esparza ** ½

Eddie Kingston cuts a promo on Sami Callihan, putting him down for failing in the WWE and calling himself a fighter. Eddie continues to be one of the best promos in the world, he brings emotion and realness that you don’t get from other guys, even on the top level.

The Iron Curtain (Ryan Boz and Russ Jones w/Benjamin Boone) vs. Abyss and Kongo Kong (w/Dr Louis J. Pinder)(Monster’s Ball)

Oh god. This was a boring walk and brawl, with very little Actually Interesting stuff from anyone. As a new fan to AAW I don’t understand the Iron Curtain, nor do I care about anything they do. Hopefully this was the last of them. Abyss pins Boz **

The Hooligans (Devin and Mason Cutter) and Buck Nasty vs. Dave Crist, Markus Crane, and Shane Hollister

This was a perfectly fine chaotic six man tag match. Buck Nasty took some damn crazy bumps, while Crist and the Hooligans did a lot of really cool flips, with Crist coming off like the biggest star of the whole match. Crist pins Buck Nasty ***

Drew Gulak and Chris Hero vs. Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa

Gulak had a strong debut at the last show, while Hero had an amazing number one contender’s match with Sami Callihan. These two are teaming up to take on the NXT golden boys. Considering Gulak and Hero have never really teamed together and work very different styles, they were a surprisingly cohesive as a unit. Both men worked over Gargano, Hero just kicking the shit out of him while Gulak tied him up in knots. Great stuff. After that we move on to some exciting double team spots, including Hero again just beating the shit out of everyone in sight. Very good match that might have been a bit longer than it needed to be, which is a common criticism I have of Hero matches. Chris Hero pins Johnny Gargano *** ½

We get a video package highlighting Kingston and Sami’s recent history in AAW before the main event.

Eddie Kingston (c) vs. Sami Callihan (AAW Heavyweight Championship)

I have a real love/hate relationship with Sami Callihan. He’s a guy that can have really good matches, or he can rely on spit and dumb shit to have some absolutely god awful matches. This was somewhere in the middle, as Sami tried to brawl with Kingston to mixed results. I appreciate the match being built around Kingston’s knee, and I especially liked Kingston not selling it too much but also continually reminding the audience that it was hurt, which led to some good storytelling moments. Aside from that we got some good, hard hitting action. However I don’t think the quality of the action kept things interesting enough for me personally. We got some decent drama down the stretch with the interference of Dave Crist to presumably set up a little heel team for AAW. Callihan pins Kingston *** ¼

After the match Crist and Callihan go after Kingston, attempting to suffocate him with a plastic bag for a pretty cool visual. Ciampa eventually comes out wielding a baseball bat like a bald Sting to chase off the heels and demands a title match at Logan Square.

Overall: 5.5

Nothing on this show hit the highs of the last show, but it was a super easy watch and there was very little actively bad. AAW has a cool mix of local and super indie talent right now and I am excited for the future of the company.

 

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