#DiscoveringWrestling #027 – Review of Powerbomb.TV’s #BreakTheBarrier2017

This review is based upon the version of the show that you can watch now by signing up for a free 10-Day trial of Powerbomb.TV. Partway through the unfortunate stop-and-go nature of doing this review the crew behind the event updated it from a rough-cut with low-tier lower thirds and spelling errors to a much more polished version, so I had to throw a bunch of criticism out the window. This is good. It looks like they went out of their way to make it as top-notch as they could. My only criticism of the lower thirds that remains is that the individual names in one of the tag team matches would have been nice to have on screen along with the team name, so that I didn’t have to rely on the commentators to tell me who is in the match. A super minor nitpick.

17904214_420068395039290_4818486536051301910_n

It’s a great looking logo.

Having Joe Spostos, f.k.a. Leonard F. Chikarason, on commentary immediately made me feel more at home with the show, bringing a sense of the familiar to performers I had never seen before and promotions I have never watched.  Your mileage may vary, as not everyone is familiar with what I adore. Much like a Chikara show, they would rotate out partners for Spostos. For most of this show it was fine, but there were moments it excelled and failed.

Match 1: Stevie Shields vs. Brute Van Slyke (c) – GSW Adrenaline Championship Match

“The Cinema” is Stevie Shields nickname, which does absolutely nothing to make me feel excited to watch him. What is that supposed to mean? Is it supposed to be a B or C-rate version of “The Human Highlight Reel” moniker? Does he just like going to the cinema a lot? I don’t think they really thought that one through enough.

Brute Van Slyke is surprisingly agile for his size. Even so, the opening technical exchange seems oddly slow. Shields tries to do a speedy strike based offense but it doesn’t feel like there’s enough oompf to them. It’s like he’s trying to look like he’s trying to knock Brute out. It  just doesn’t have the snap or speed behind it to really sell me on it. They do a spot where Brute is supposed to catch Shields out of a springboard handspring, but Shields is seriously lacking the requisite springiness to generate the speed to make it look good and the spacing is all kinds of off. The quality of Shields’ performance in this match just takes me out of the illusion of Pro-Wrestling.

Brute, on the other hand, does brute force very well (who’d have guessed!). His powerbombs, all four throughout the match, look great. He controls, for the majority of it, the second half of the match and gets in a series of nice big man offensive manoeuvres. Around this time the commentary draws too much attention to the fact that the bigger man is wasting time and not going for the pin when he has clearly downed Shields. This makes the match feel  oddly paced and drawn out, particularly because Shields’ offense looks too unbelievable for him to actually win the match. Even Shields’ finisher, a top rope elbow drop, felt impactless, whereas Brute’s suplexes looked tight and brutal.

Brute gets in his Greetings from Oneida, New York finisher for the win. It’s a nice tribute to the late, great Bam Bam Bigelow and feels very appropriate as Brute is like Bigelow in many ways. Overall this match did successfully make me want to see more of GSW to see how Brute fares as a champion, and to see him compete against other people who hopefully would deliver a match that captivates me more.

Grade: C
Match 2: John Silver vs. Tracy Williams

Since I’m ragging on people for their nicknames, these two men are known as “Raw Dog” and “Hot Sauce” respectively. Neither name excites, and if I think about it for a moment too long I begin to imagine condiments fighting the food they are put on. Nevertheless, unlike Stevie Shields in the previous match, these two did manage to get me into their match.

They open with matwork back-and-forth with good transitions as both men flow from lock to lock. Williams reminds me a bit of Zack Sabre Jr. There’s a nice dropkick from Silver to try and take the advantage, but Williams reverses momentum with a great suplex out of an attempted powerbomb. Like ZSJ, Williams uses a series of kicks and submissions to try and control the flow of the match. That is until Silver turns the momentum in his favour with a series of kicks and running forearms.

Silver’s momentum is cut short, however, when Williams catches him out of his moves and hits his own. Silver escapes a piledriver attempt and hits a sick sounding kick to the back of Williams’ head and German for a two count. The two men rock each other  with huge strikes and throws back-and-forth, with neither man looking to have the edge over the other. Silver hits a Gorilla Press into a cutter, a variation I have never seen before . It is always cool to see people twist a classic with a new spin. He then finishes Williams off with a running knee and, literally, a Batista Bomb for an almost outta nowhere three count.

It felt like they could have done a bit more in this match. It was, however, nice to have a match surprise me with its finish. not only in regards to who would win but the timing of it as well. I honestly had thought it would go the other way.

Grade: B
Match 3: Buxx Belmar vs. Joey Janella

Outside of the action between the two participants in this match there is a particular problem I felt it necessary to address. The Commentary team  keep talking about how the match is being contested under “C*4 rules,” and while I could infer from their conversation and action what that means, they never bother to actually tell me what the rules are. I shouldn’t have to guess at what your rules are, particularly with a card like this where rules change on the fly between fights from different promotions. Just say it directly, don’t make me work to understand the limitations of the confrontation.

Buxx Belmar, as usual, goes for some gross-out hijinks immediately. He hasn’t lost a step from his extended time off due to injury, and continues to look remarkably weird  in his movements and daredevil in his offense. He gets a good elbow drop during a rope running sequence, and Janella answers with a Tope Suicida.

Janella looks good with his running European uppercut. They go back-and-forth with some strikes and it spills, remarkably quickly, out to the ringside area where they brawl. Buxx’s mannerisms are dialed up to eleven, as I’ve come to love and expect of him. He’s so different from your prototypical indie superstar. Janella, however, looks to have the heavier hands in their exchange.

Buxx starts climbing a support beam in the middle of the venue’s crowd area, and Janella follows him up. Buxx knocks him down and you expect him to jump off of it onto Janella but he doesn’t. He gets down off of the beam and takes his belt off and starts to whip Janella with it. Shortly thereafter, chairs are introduced to the match and are brought into the ring. They do an insane monkey flip spot that sees Buxx toss Janella, who is seated on a chair, in such a manner as to have the chair fly along with him and land in a seated position, hurting his ass in the process. Absolutely bonkers stuff here. Nevertheless, Buxx only gets a two count on Janella for all his hard work.

Janella hits a rolling Death Valley Driver and maintains his grasp on Belmar, carries him to the far side of the ring, through the ropes, and drops him with another Death Valley Driver on the apron. What a crazy idea! I’ve seen a tonne of DVDs on the apron, but never a sequence quite like this. Unfortunately, Buxx returns the brutality by DDT-ing Janela on a chair, and getting himself a near fall in the process. Buxx dives from the top but misses his leg drop and gets caught by Janela with an interesting looking slam to give Joey his own near fall. Janela sets up a chair and tries to abuse Belmar, but Buxx reverses out of it and tosses Janela into the chair and follows it up with a gutbuster for two. They exchange strikes back-and-forth and both men go down.

Buxx gets a nice Michinoku Driver but can’t secure the pinfall. Buxx then grabs Janela by the penis, but Janela escapes unfazed and locks Belmar in a Boston Crab. Buxx escapes but gets chaired a lot, netting Janela another two count. Janela then double stomps on chairs on Buxx and gets another two count. Buxx then gets a flippy facebuster on Janela on the chairs and picks up the win, but the referee caused some consternation and confusion, botching the count a bit.

This was a very different kind of match from the stuff I usually watch, but was quite fun nevertheless.

Grade: B
Match 4: Renee Michelle vs. Penelope Ford

They start off with some standing chain wrestling, presenting some pretty standard back-and-forth action with some knock downs and grapples but nothing stellar. There’s a nice crossbody by Penelope in the early parts of the match. They play a out a spot where they chase each other in-and-out of the ring over and over. Renee Michelle hangs Penelope’s neck on the ropes eventually to cap off the sequence.

Renee stomps on Penelope and stands on her fingers a bunch. She then misses a moonsault. Nevertheless, she continues to be the cruel heel towards Penelope. Penelope makes her comeback with some nice flips and gets a springboard cutter for the win.

Overall, this match wasn’t bad to watch but also didn’t do much.

Grade: C+
pratt_vs_ophidian

Two phenomenal stars who I don’t think have been given the recognition they deserve yet.

Match 5: Ophidian vs. Desean Pratt – Grudge Match

They tie-up and struggle against each other, creating the sense that they are evenly matched in terms of strength. They slap each other and go into a nice dodge spot filled sequence. Desean Pratt is the winner, as he comes out of it by catching Ophidian with a bunch of kicks and a nice back suplex. Pratt just wails on Ophidian and it transitions into a strike exchange. Pratt is in control until Ophidian him with a move in the ropes.

Ophidian ties up Pratt in between a reversal filled back-and-forth series, but Pratt gets knees on Ophidian. Ophidian, likewise, gets the opportunity for his own strong reversals, and keeps tying up Pratt. Pratt fights out of Ophidian’s grasp and makes his comeback attempt by hitting a slingshot Falcon Arrow for two. Cool innovation there, as I’ve never seen that specific variation before. Pratt is in full control as he put pressure on Ophidian while dodging his strikes. He capitalizes on the pressure by wailing on Ophidian with a spinebuster and superkick. Then Ophidian tries to make a comeback, dodging some kicks in the process, but Pratt manages to catch him with a truly hard kick.

Outta nowhere Ophidian locks in a crossface and won’t let go. Pratt struggles against him, eventually powering through and countering with a DDT. He tries to capitalize on his newfound upper hand by climbing to the top, looking for his 450 Splash, but Ophidian stumbles into the ropes, dropping him crotch first onto the unforgiving steel. Suddenly finding himself with an opening, Ophidian murders  Pratt with a series of double knees and meteora, but doesn’t go for the pin. He decides to add additional punishment onto the pile and hits the Egyptian Destroyer for a tasty two count. Pratt still has fight left in him! Ophidian next locks on his Death Grip, but Pratt escapes.

Frustrated and enraged, Ophidian uses his snake powers to hypnotize the referee into making an official announcement that, henceforth, the match will be a No DQ match. Emboldened by his devious wit, and in full heel-mode, Ophidian just straight out wallops Pratt’s penis. This sends Desean Pratt to the mat, shrieking in pain. Ophidian pulls a steel bar out from under the ring and ties Pratt up, adding the steel bar to the hold to create additional pressure and leverage, The match takes a full-on hardcore turn as they pull random stuff out from under the ring and beat on each other with chairs and street signs as they build towards the climax. Ophidian pulls out a super thick table and sets it up in the ring, and hits an avalanche Egyptian Destroyer onto the table. I say onto because they certainly don’t go through it. They bounce off in a moment that made me wince. Ophidian doesn’t even try to pin Pratt, setting the table up again flat on the ground. This turns out to be his undoing as Pratt hits Ophidian with a DDT onto the table and then the 450 Splash to get the win.

Overall this match was pretty cool. I liked the sudden addition of the No DQ element as  it increased the tension and stakes and worked the usually comedic hypnosis spot in in such a way as to make it dangerous. Unfortunately, the hardcore spots were often too telegraphed, and towards the end it felt like the match was dragging on too long.

Grade: B

hatfield_vs_king

So how did the Old-Timey King of Swing vs. The Old Timer go?

Match 6: Jeff King vs. Dasher Hatfield

To truly convey the feel of Olde Wrestling as a period piece-wrestling hybrid, they change the filters to be grainy and in black and white. They also have the referee dress up, sticking a pillow in his shirt to look tubby and wearing suspenders. They go over the rules, presenting such familiar antiques as no closed fists, no piledrivers, and not throwing your opponent over the top rope to the outside. Hay bales adorn the corners of the ring.

They start with a test of strength and King decides to be a dirty, rotten heel by kicking Dasher in the gut. Dasher takes it in stride and returns the antics by doing a Dasher classic gag, wherein he ties up King’s legs and uses his own attires straps to keep the hold in place. It’s a great gag as Dasher stands in front of King and the realization that he has become his own enemy crosses King’s face. They go into a nice string of moves that sees them execute an abdominal stretch, a backslide, and a body slam. Truly at the cutting edge of Olde Wrestling’s technique repertoire! King acts truly villainous, of course, ever the scoundrel he cheats to garner himself any advantage he can grasp. The action constantly calls to mind images of older wrestlers, and the commentary tries to keep the old timey feel going, but I felt that they were being a bit more modern here than in other Olde Wrestling content I’ve seen, in terms of move selection. Most likely this is because they are in front of a crowd expecting modern indie style action, and the tonal shift may have been too jarring. It’s not a big step outside of Olde Wrestling’s time-travel illusion, but it was there.

However, they certainly do not eschew the retro techniques in any way. King spends a good amount of time working over Dasher with claws. Leg claws, stomach claws, insert your favourite body part here. The claw is a move that has fallen by the wayside in wrestling, as the exposed nature of the product renders it wholly unbelievable. It’s tremendously outdated feel renders it a brilliant choice for this product, where my suspension of disbelief is already in overdrive, working to put me in a different era.

As the match moves on King takes a great bump in the corner, with perfect comedic timing he hits all three turnbuckles on the way down. A certain amount of levity is required when you are presenting wrestling as a period piece, as the art has evolved now to such a state that much of what used to be dead serious business seems silly, inconsequential, and incomprehensible.  King tries to hit Dasher with a piledriver but the referee prevents it, as it is in plain sight and, the dastardly villain, is an illegal hold!  Dasher capitalizes on this with a great whirlwind slam but cannot get the three count. King manages to get the referee distracted by the audience and behind his back he hits Dasher Hatfield with a closed fist, a piledriver, and tosses him over the top rope to crash on the floor outside! The scoundrel!

Jeff King, who has broken all of the rules the referee laid out at the start of the match, waits in the ring as the referee counts Dasher out. Mustering good, old-fashioned intestinal fortitude, Dasher is back in before the ten count. Back in the ring the ref gets distracted again and Dasher Hatfield goes about giving Jeff King some turnabout with closed fists and a piledriver of his own. The commentary do a good job to help build the structure of this olde match. Dasher goes to throw King off the top rope, to complete the trilogy of turnabout but King reverses it into a roll-up with a handful of tights and secures himself the victory.

This match was fun, but a bit off in how it felt on this show. Perhaps I found it too silly?

Grade: B
Match 7: The Carnies (Kerry Awful + Nick Iggy) vs. The Monarchy (Prince Apollo + The Black Baron)

Iggy and Apollo start of this tag team affair, giving the audience some good spots while running the ropes and shows a vicious side to Iggy when he fishhooks his opponent. The Black Baron and Kerry Awful switch in for their teams and Awful lays his lips on the Baron, showing absolutely zero respect for the obvious threat the champion should be. The Carnies, true to their name, are a strange breed, and marvellously entertaining. As the two big men of their teams, Awful and the Baron exchange hoss shoulder tackles and Awful scores a cool roll up in the process.

The Carnies use good team tactics to work over the Baron, but the Monarchy come back with teamwork of their own, and the players switch again. Apollo and Iggy back in against each other. Unfortunately for Iggy, it turns out that the Monarchy are really good at suplexing people two-on-one. The monarchy follow this up with a nice combo bow-and-arrow and slingshot senton. The monarchy keep Iggy isolated, and the Baron has some nice suplexes but can only get the two count. Nevertheless, the Black Baron grinds on Nick Iggy, using the ring ropes to his nefarious advantage.

Nick Iggy hits a desperation cutter and tags in Kerry Awful. Awful then overpowers the Black Baron and gets a huge John Tenta-esque seated senton. Prince Apollo is in to break up the ensuing pinning predicament. Awful is in, all alone, against both members of the Monarchy and powers through the numbers game to take down both men, getting a clever spot in where he uses them to trip each other. He then powerbombs and piledrives Apollo for good measure. The might Black Baron tries to battle both Carnies, but gets caught with double team knees and a cool slam and dropkick combo from Iggy and Awful. Unfortunately for the Carnies, Prince Apollo is in again to break the fall.

Again the Monarchy swing things to their advantage, isolating and double teaming Kerry Awful. They hit him with a wheelbarrow DDT and Brainbuster combo and keep double teaming him when he kicks out. It’s two-on-one but Kerry Awful keeps fighting and will not go down. There are unique combo moves aplenty as the match unfolds and eventually all four men are in the ring for a four-man strike exchange. The Carnies take the upper hand and set up and make the Baron give a Canadian destroyer to Prince Apollo. Nifty shit being invented by these Carnies. The Black Baron tries to fight back and spills out of the ring with Nick Iggy, leaving Awful and Apollo alone together. Awful gets Apollo into a Boston Crab and Iggy comes in outta nowhere with a Diving Knee to knock-out Apollo and the Carnies win.

This was a very fun match that left me wanting to see more of The Carnies and The Monarchy, which really works to Powerbomb.TV’s strengths in that New South is available to watch on their service, unlike the prior Beyond Wrestling show case towards the beginning of the card.

Grade: B+
puma_tiger_vs_mayajr_skayde

Look how menacing Puma King looks!

Match 8: El Felino + Puma King vs. El Guerrero de Maya Jr. + Skayde

The two elder statesmen of the match, El Felino and Skayde, start us off. They do some grappling exchanges and Skayde ties up Felino with some crazy submissions. El Felino reverses these himself into his own fanciful submissions. The living legends are too evenly matched so Puma King and Maya Jr. tag in. The younger stars display their great lucha libre matwork and tonnes of flippy reversals. They are also dead even.

El Felino and Puma King, father and son, work together and double team the opponents in turn as they move in and out of the ring. Puma and Felino heel it up against Maya Jr. but the action kicks into high gear as all four are in and doing cool things. Maya Jr. hits both Felino and Puma King with tilt-a-whirl backbreakers. They even inject a funny handshake spot for levity. Maya keeps up the pressure with a gorgeous series of arm drags on both opponents. Skayde follows this up with some gorgeous twirly lucha libre throws. Skayde does beautiful work with arm drags of his own and then he and Maya Jr. fly with tope suicidas.

Felino and Maya Jr. then mix it up, exchanging high speed spots, and Maya Jr. comes out looking dominant. Puma King makes his presence known and breaks up the pinfall attempt, he superkicks Maya Jr. but doesn’t put him down. Puma King twists him into a cool submission. Maya Jr. escapes the hold and flees the ring, allowing for Skayde to come in. He mixes it up with Puma King and they exchange pin attempts before El Felino is back in the ring. Skayde is still dominant and chops him a bunch but gets taken down by a powerbomb.

Maya Jr. impresses as he hits a fancy looking neckbreaker on Puma King. Unfortunately as the match heads into its final moments, some segments seem to be  in awkward slow motion. Puma King hits a series of powerbombs in sequence and rolls Maya Jr. up with a majistral to pick up the win.

It was a fun match but I found myself mentally wandering off at times. Unfortunately, as such, it can’t go any higher than this. The final pairing of Spostos and Hatfield on commentary didn’t help the match much either, and they stick together for another two matches at that.

Grade: B+
Match 9: Colt Cabana vs. Orange Cassidy

Orange’s drunk/lazy gimmick is really hit or miss, in my opinion. This match sort of put that on display in a big way. I had previously only seen Orange in multi-man tags over in Chikara, and I totally get what he does, but in a single’s competition it takes up too much time and I lost interest in how the match would go. Colt Cabana plays the straight man, which is funny in and of itself. They mostly fool around, avoiding any wrestling moves, but both men are remarkably talented as wrestlers. Cassidy shows wonderful smoothness when he executes picture perfect arm drags and rolls through moves without taking his hands out of his pockets. The entire match functions because they are both brilliant technical wrestlers, but the lack of impactful action felt a detriment to this position on the card. After an annoyingly long corner gag Colt drops Cassidy on the top rope and then gets a pinfall on him. Sadly this match never felt like it got going. I wonder what Orange Cassidy would be like if he went more serious in a match of this nature, this high on a card?

Grade: B-
jigsaw_vs_flywarrior_vs_chuck_taylor_vs_kenbai

The main event, folks!

Match 10: Jigsaw vs. Fly Warrior vs. Chuck Taylor vs. Kenbai

Jigsaw and Chuck Taylor both elicited great reactions from the crowd in attendance. Fly Warrior and Kenbai had some excited reactions, in smaller numbers, from part of the audience. I wonder how many had seen them before, and how many were excited simply because they were imports?

Chuck Taylor is the first to take control of the match, as he dumps both Jigsaw and Kenbai out of the ring and focuses his attention on Fly Warrior. The two have an athletic exchange before they’re both out of the ring and Kenbai and Jigsaw are given their moment in the ring. They go for a bit and then the players shake up and everyone is in and out and it transitions to Jigsaw and Fly Warrior. Fly Warrior wrecks jigsaw with strikes and a German suplex. Kenbai is then in and he and Fly Warrior mirror each other in a sequence that leads to both men diving, in sequence, outside to take out everyone else. Immediately it has a very North American Indie feel to it, which is what I was expecting to come from this match.

Chuck Taylor is the first to recover. He takes Kenbai in to the ring and beats on the smaller man, suplexing him and trying to pin him several times to no avail. Chuck is working smart here, and conveys his domination of the ring by working preventing Fly Warrior and Jigsaw from getting back into the ring into the narrative of him hunting down Kenbai. Kenbai recovers from the onslaught and catches Taylor with an exciting Tornado DDT. Chuck responds by bailing from the ring and Fly Warrior is the first in to face Kenbai. Unfortunately, I found myself actively noticing around this time that I felt the commentary was dragging the match down.

Fly Warrior hits cool moves on Kenbai, but Jigsaw breaks up the pin. Lucha Libre really has a great propensity to astonish and Fly Warrior looks here to be the cream of the crop in his field. Jigsaw and Fly Warrior exchange strikes and a cool sequence leads to a near-fall off of a brainbuster by Jigsaw. All four men are in the ring and they set up a cool variation of the standard Tower of Doom spot, with a reverse suplex in the mix instead of a vertical suplex. Everyone is in the ring and they do the mandatory everyone gets a chance to look good, hitting big moves in sequence, given their chance to look good. Kenbai comes out of the fracas by hitting Chuck Taylor with a killer double stomp. He goes for the pinfall but Jigsaw breaks it up with a double stomp of his own, crushing Kenbai’s spine on top of Taylor. The sequence looked really cool. Jigsaw, however, cannot capitalize as Fly Warrior comes in and gets the win with a radical package driver preceded by a cool sequence with some innovative spots while running the ropes.

There were a couple of little awkward moments that can most likely be chalked up to unfamiliarity or language issues. These slowed some parts down and created a sort of stutter in the action. The match did, however, make everyone in it look good. Kenbai and Fly Warrior really came out as the shining stars here. Hopefully this will see them getting booked in North America some more. I’d love to see them up in Toronto.

Grade: B+

This certainly did a good job to get me interested in some of the talents and promotions associated with Powerbomb.TV’s platform. They had their new Independent Wrestling Championship on display throughout the show and several men made gesticulations and declarations about their interest in the title. With their first showcase under their belt, filled with mostly solid matches and a post-show run in from Johnathan Gresham, Powerbomb.TV have set up a storyline that makes them not just a service but an overarching entity that asks the question: How much influence will they, and their new championship, have on the companies they are working with, and the indie wrestling scene as a whole?

Do you have any feedback or questions? Leave a comment here!

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