If you’ve followed us for any length of time, you know that Joe and I are wrestling fans par excellence.
Last year, I got to go to Dallas for the biggest WrestleMania of all time – at the Jerruh Dome. There, I met with my good friends who I planned the trip with, met Dave Meltzer – one of the grand poo bah’s of wrestling journalism – and got to chill with my buddies from the Pro Wrestling Torch in person as opposed to texts or groupme chats. It was a great time and I recommend it to anyone that can do it, particularly the indy shows. These shows usually have some of the world’s best athletes you may not
Rather than go into the WWE side of things (other than the Hall of Fame) in crazy depth, I wanted to highlight the shows I attended and a few of the matches I most enjoyed on the cards.
This show was notable for a few reasons. First, I got to meet PROGRESS co-founder Jim Smallman, whose company is one of my favorites to watch in all of professional wrestling. If you get a chance in the UK, catch their shows. If you don’t, watch them on demand here. The promotion is focused on “British Strong Style” and while they bring it in terms of grappling, they also They If you’ve seen any of the WWE UK tournament, a lot of their talent were based and raised in PROGRESS to start. Getting to meet Jim – right off the bat – was by far a great sign. He was not only personable, but passionate and hopeful that fans would show up for their show Friday.
For the show itself, Keith Lee vs Ricochet was the match to watch on FloSlam. Lee, a six foot, 300+ pound behemoth moves like Ricochet with the weight advantage in his favor. So when you face a Ricochet, it becomes a match where you wonder how Ricochet didn’t become a splat on the mat. This match was probably my 3rd-favorite match all weekend, including WrestleMania and NXT Takeover. GO SEE IT!
GCW Joey Janela’s Spring Break
My buddy sold me this show solely on the main event, which I was happy to see: Joey Janela, indy darling in the world of CZW vs…Marty Jannetty.
Marty. Flipping. Jannetty.
This match featured Marty nailing a Canadian Destroyer.
What’s a Canadian Destroyer? THIS:
A close second for favorite match on this show for me was Dan Severn vs Matt Riddle, which was something right out of my WWE 2k17 create-a-wrestler Universe mode. Dan is still a scary dude.
My sole inspiration for coming this time to ‘Mania week did not disappoint. The best match for me and probably number 2 the whole weekend for me was the tag match pitting the South Pacific Power Trip vs Shane Strickland and Sami Callahan. For those that don’t know them, the South Pacific Power Trip is TK Cooper and Travis Banks from New Zealand, along with Dahlia Black from the UK. Outstanding wrestlers who went toe-to-toe with Sami Callahan – a noted brawler and all-around nice psychopath and Shane Strickland – a hilarious high flyer with a great sense of timing during matches. They stole the whole show.
As much as I enjoy British Strong Style
I think SPPT has emerged as one of my favorite groups in all of professional wrestling. Seek them out!
Evolve 81 had two matches of note that stood above the rest to me: Keith Lee vs Donovan Dijak and Ethan Page vs Darby Allin.
In the case of Lee and Dijak you had a hoss fight between two huge dudes, but they also could fly. Dijak and Lee did flips, dives and nearly everything you’d see on 205 live at 300. Dear Lord that was nuts.
Little did I know, the insanity of their match was nothing compared to Darby Allin and Ethan Page.
Before I get to that match, I have to talk about Ethan Page. First of all, he’s a heel’s heel – he doesn’t want cheers, he doesn’t want to be the cool guy, he wants you to hate him. Beating up on the smaller, more rail-thin Darby Allin is bad enough, but when you add in his super muscled up bodyguards the GateKeepers, you have a recipe for hatred.
With all that being said, you figure there’s nothing Ethan can do worse than what’s he’s done in their feud. Then, he throws Darby Allin. From the ring. To the third row:
Also, one of Ethan’s finishers is a uranage (Rock Bottom) he calls a spinning Dwayne. Dude is great. Seek the match out, but seeing it live it was definitely more blood than I’ve been comfortable with.
WWE Hall of Fame
I unfortunately missed most of the Hall of Fame, mainly because I was ill with the heat. Lifting and running without water is a bad combination in Orlando heat. I did enjoy hearing Kurt’s speech on replay – and seeing DDP’s live. Page has always been a favorite of mine because of his positive outlook and never-say-die attitude.
WWN Supershow Mercury Rising 2017: Evolve vs Progress
This show was great, primarily because of Keith Lee’s beatdown of Drew Galloway…leading to Drew McIntyre showing up at NXT. Since my phone was broken at this point, a buddy had to update me on the
Match of the show for me was Pete Dunne vs ACH. Dunne, fresh off the UK tournament shenanigans was an absolute pain in the butt during the match, opening with a Triple H like water mist and attempting a pedigree during the match! He even went so far as to use William Regal’s Regal Stretch to end the match, which is the sort of thing you’d say “you little -” to anyone in general, let alone the leader of British Strong Style. I’m definitely glad I saw this live, as fans chanted to him, “F— off back to Axxess” when he won the match.
WrestleMania was watched in the back of A Comic Shop, a great shop located across the street from Full Sail University – home of NXT. In the back of A Comic Shop is a great bar called The Geek Easy, where my friends and I enjoyed a great time watching with fellow fans, as well as the delightful So Cal Val. The Jay Lethal harlot skit is a top ten for me in terms of TNA, but saying that to a nice woman without sounding like a weirdo is nigh impossible, so I decided against it.
Seeing the Hardys return and screaming “Delete” til I lost my voice with the group there was an awesome experience.
23. That is the number of beach balls I counted throughout the entirety of the Neville-Mustafa Ali match. While those guys were killing each other, the fans were more interested in beach balls. I’m on my lawn, I’m telling you to get off it!
The Sheamus and Cesaro song has to remain here in the States. Kudos to my Euro fan friends who initiated the theme and persisted until the rest of us caught on.
After Raw, I headed home for Pittsburgh, so I’m calling it here. I had a great time and I’m already making plans for WrestleMania 34 Week: Keep Rich out of Carcosa.
If you went to Mania or I saw you during the week, hit me up on Twitter and let me know!