OWE’s “Road to Double or Nothing” and Open Call for Talent

The Road to Double or Nothing 

Recently, on their official WeChat page, Oriental Wrestling Entertainment published some details of their upcoming plans for their Spring season. The core of the storyline drive will be a series of matches designed to select the four OWE talents who will travel with CIMA to participate in All Elite Wrestling’s sold out debut event in Las Vegas on May 25th 2019. These “trials” started on OWE’s March 3rd event at the Yangtze River Theatre.

Yes, you read that right: 4.

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How great is this poster?

The number of candidates to be selected was listed as four in two separate articles published by OWE recently. I cannot confirm any names, as can be understood when you consider the fact that the next two months of story content, give or take, will revolve around determining who these four men will be. That being said, from what I have heard I suspect that it will be two Japanese performers and two Chinese performers who make the cut.

With Matt Jackson having previously indicated that AEW intends for #STRONGHEARTS  to play a pivotal role from the very beginning, and the hype reel played for the SCU vs. OWE announcement at the Ticket Announcement Party having featured exclusively Chinese talent, this 2 and 2 formulation makes sense.

This also means that, unless someone lets the cat out of the bag early on, we should only be finding out who will be appearing at Double or Nothing much closer to the event date than any other announcement is likely to come.

 

Cross-Promotion with NTW

The date and the card for OWE’s cross-promoted event with New Taiwan Entertainment Wrestling (NTW) have been set. The date we have known for a while now is March 30th 2019.  In this article we also see some key matches advertised. The #STRONGHEARTS team of El Lindaman and T-Hawk will face off against TAJIRI and KAZUYA, a 6-Man tag featuring teams representing Taiwan and OWE, and a tag team match featuring CIMA and Fan Hewei teaming against Taiwanese veteran A-YONG-GO and The Joker have all been advertised.

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Keep an eye on SAKA, the man is a literal one-armed wrestler. Very entertaining performer.

Also of note, the official #STRONGHEARTS twitter account has been promoting a tour for fans in Japan to visit Taiwan, attend the show, and then do some sightseeing in Taiwan. It’s an idea that shows just how much CIMA and his crew want to stay engaged with their Japanese fanbase and I think it is something I would go on, were I there.

 

OWE International Talent Recruitment

In one of OWE’s articles detailing their upcoming Road to Double or Nothing plans there was also a section which translated intriguingly as “Hero Recruitment,” which indicated OWE’s interest in bringing in new international talent. The details were unclear, as I was using Google Translate, so I reached out to OWE COO Michael Nee for clarification.

Our conversation brought much to light. OWE are, indeed, currently seeking new applicants from abroad to help flesh out their roster and provide the Chinese audience with different kinds of looks and athletes from what are currently available.

OWE are looking for talent willing to relocate to China for minimum two months at a time to work with them, as Chinese business visas allow for businessmen to stay in the country for up to 60 consecutive days at a time. At the end of two months, if both parties wish to continue the arrangement, it would be as simple as leaving the mainland for nearby Hong Kong, Macau or Japan for a day or two and re-entering China to get a new stamp in your passport for another two months. Michael Nee has said that applicants for these visas will need to have a letter of invitation to be able to apply which, of course, would be supplied for chosen candidates who do not already have the visa.

OWE will provide talent with monthly pay, food, and lodging during their time in China. Additionally, performers brought in to the company will be training alongside OWE’s  roster in their facility ― which regularly has world class talent scout and trainer CIMA on hand, and has brought in trainers as reputable and diverse as Jorge “Skayde” Rivera and Yan Chao, a Chinese member of Cirque du Soleil (which is why acrobatics are so well handled and represented in OWE from the very beginning.) Most importantly, there are a planned two weekly shows.

OWE have a very active presence on Chinese media platforms and an expanding presence on western services as well, with one show per week typically serving as their big show in a more traditional venue and the second being held in their training facility with a small and intimate audience. All of which typically makes film and sees release at the least on their QQ video page and potentially internationally via their new deal with NEO-TV or on platforms such as YouTube and Twitch. They intend for their new international recruits to get a good deal of video time.

While all applicants will be considered, they’re looking to bring in international talent that meet certain requirements, with an emphasis being placed on both their look and their career level. Preferences in look are towards physically larger athletes of non-Asian backgrounds to draw the eyes of China’s typical wrestling fans, whose major exposure to the art is through the WWE’s heavy push to get their product broadcast in the emerging market.

Preferences in regards to career status are towards those who have yet to break out into the big time, the so called next big things, looking to get noticed but who may not have cut through  the static in the crowded North American or European marketplaces. As I mentioned above, Michael Nee made a key point of how easy it is to renew your 60-day legal work cycle, and, as such, this is something which could be an opportunity for long term work with the company, should both parties see it as worthwhile.

For those who wish to apply, send an e-mail to Pearl, at Pearl6689@163.com. Provide a written profile of yourself,  as well as a link to something like a Facebook page, where photos, video, and contact information can all be found in one place.

 

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Early 2019 Chinese Pro Wrestling news round-up

Early  2019 has seen an explosion of newsworthy events and information come to light about the expanding Chinese Pro Wrestling scene. In fact there’s been so much news that this time period may be looked back on as a crucial launching point in the next step of the scene’s development, with 2018’s big company debuts serving as a foundation. But enough speculation about the future impact, let’s get to the news!

Oriental Wrestling Entertainment

OWE had, by far, the biggest, most bombastic news out of early 2019 as they headed towards their 1 year anniversary. Spinning out of their very successful second half of 2018,  they made huge moves  that will shape the future of not only their roster but the whole of the scene, bringing a plethora of international eyes onto the brand.

– Partnerships between OWE and The Crash Lucha Libre and All Elite Wrestling were made official (for more AEW partnership details please see comments provided to me by OWE COO Michael Nee, and by AEW Executive VP Matt Jackson.) OWE management are expected to be in Las Vegas today to join Cody, Matt and Nick for meetings and press conferences.

– Famous trainer Jorge “Skayde” Rivera did a stint in China training all members of the roster, regardless of experience level.

NothingElseOn.TV will be broadcasting OWE content on their service, and I learned in discussions with them that they are working on translations to provide English localization for OWE shows and Chinese localization for at least one of their other shows. No dates have been confirmed for when this will be available.

– OWE will be running international dates in Taipei, Taiwan on Marc 30th 2019 and in Osaka and Tokyo, Japan between April 18th and 20th 2019.

– “Scorpio XX” Liu Xinxi will be making his return to international competition February 13th with #STRONGHEARTS at Wrestle-1.

– American talent brought in to China by OWE have recently worked on Gao Yuan’s most recent WLW show, adding further fuel to the rumors that OWE will be more actively working with other promotions in the Chinese Pro Wrestling scene.

 

Ho Ho Lun’s expanding network

– Extreme Wrestling Entertainment (EWE) ran their first show on January 22nd 2019 with very high production values. The promotion is owned and operated by Cai Liangchan, a famous man in Macau who has a background in international sporting events representing Macau and in MMA. Ho Ho Lun has been appointed as the “head producer” for the brand, making this the 3rd company he has a creative controlling stake in (EWE in Macau, HKWF in Hong Kong, and KOPW in mainland China.) Further shows are anticipated to take place in March and May.

– Ho Ho Lun via HKWF will also be helping to run further upcoming Dragon Gate shows in Hong Kong in May, with a “whole Dragon Gate run in Autumn and Spring” planned.

– KOPW and HKWF both ran successful shows in January, with video footage hopefully forthcoming soon.

 

We Love Wrestling

– Gao Yuan, WLW’s owner, has said that while nothing is certain yet he is working on a plan for an OWE vs. WLW event off of the back of their recent inter-promotional friendliness.

– 2019 will see more big shows from WLW, with at least one being in Anshan (Dongbei.)

 

Middle Kingdom Wrestling

– MKW plan on running four to five shows in 2019 in China, with their first being in March.

– MKW have plans for a spring show taking place in Nepal to fall under their newly established “Belt and Road” show banner. Likely this will be headlined by a Belt and Road championship match, to continue their successful and government supported “Belt and Road” promotion efforts.

 

#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.

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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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#DiscoveringWrestling #024 – Powerbomb.TV are breaking down barriers for Indie Wrestling

On June 11th 2017 the independent Pro-Wrestling world will once again be breaking the barrier between content and audience, as Powerbomb.TV will be hosting a veritable who’s-who of indie stars in Old Forge, Pennsylvania to promote their streaming service, and help spread awareness of the many brands and star talents available on it.

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Look at how crisp that design is!

In 1999 the founders of scoopswrestling.com arranged the original Break the Barrier, an indie wrestling super-card featuring the likes of Mike Quackenbush, Headbanger Mosh, and Stevie Richards. The card featured participants from thirteen indie promotions and had many different titles on the line. This event from a bygone era completely flew under my radar until Powerbomb.TV announced that they were holding their own event, referencing this past crowning achievement in cross-promotion indie super-card booking. In referencing this event they draw stark comparisons to their own, highlighting that they are bringing together a startling number of promotions under their banner, and also forcing people to become aware of this long dead event. This confrontation seems to be to highlight the fact that had an infrastructure, like their own, been in place back in 1999 to distribute this event it may be more talked about and remembered today.

The card for Break the Barrier is stacked. Seriously, click on that link. Maybe you’re familiar with these guys, maybe this is the first time you’ve ever seen these names. Nevertheless, trust me, this card is great. How great? Let me tell you just about few of the reasons I’m excited for this show:

1: The Olde Wrestling showcase match featuring Dasher Hatfield vs. Jeff King. This promotion puts on a time-travel period piece spin on Pro-Wrestling. They turn back the clock, wear simpler, period appropriate attire, pare down the move sets, pick-up the dialects of, and transports the audience to the roaring 20s. They lean heavily on novelty and comedy, with fanciful storytelling and endearing costuming and characterization. Dasher Hatfield is already an old-fashioned baseball playing hero, so he’ll fit right in, but more importantly he is a storied, exciting veteran over in Chikara Pro. This match promises to show you something you, most likely, have never seen before… and if you like what they’re doing, Powerbomb.TV has two whole events for you to dig your teeth into.

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Old-Timey wrestling for modern eyes!

2: Desean Pratt vs. Ophidian is going to be phenomenal. These two former tag-team partners have battled before, back in Chikara Pro, and each man has gotten more experienced, and better, over the last several years. They know each other intimately, and can tell a phenomenal story with each other in the ring. This will be a solid match, even if they each worked at 50% capability… but I have never seen them put on a match that wasn’t 100%. I’ve been a fan of these guys for near a decade, and distinctly one shirt size ago. If you’ve agreed with my opinions before, or like what I have professed to liking, give this show a chance for this match alone (and stick around for the other exciting matches as well!)

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The men who could travel through time…

3: C*4 bring to the event a match featuring Buxx Belmar, one of the weirdest, most exciting performers to come out of Montreal. Called Dirty and Filthy, Buxx Belmar moves around the ring in a way literally unique to him, that is discomforting and forces you to pay attention to him, and performs bizarre hardcore stunts and gross-out spectacles. That videos pretty gnarly, maybe you don’t wanna click on that link. Now, he’s not always that disgusting, and his weirdness is usually more entrancing. He is unlike anything you have seen before, and is constantly amazing me in how he puts new spins on Pro-Wrestling.

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The weird just oozes out of him!

That’s three great reasons to watch any show and I haven’t even mentioned the insane fact that a legend like Skayde is in a huge lucha libre match or that the main event is jam packed with talent. If you sign up for Powerbomb.TV’s free trial today you will get to see this indie super-card entirely for free, and once you’re pumped up by that free spectacular you’ll want to stick around and dig deep into what the service has to offer.

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Skayde was integral in training many of the men on this card via his association with Chikara pro.

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It’s almost a shame that this isn’t a full time promotion with a main event this exciting and international!

 Service Overview:

Their streaming service itself has a fair number of “pros” to list here. My favourite part of the service is that it has a striking number of companies signed up under its banner. At the time I was crunching my numbers it came to a total of thirty-three promotions with a combined total of One-Hundred-and-Seventy-Three shows spread across them. Each company’s landing page provides the subscriber with links to the various social media, video, and web platforms that company has. This provides people like me with a desire to discover wrestling (see what I did there?) something to really sink their teeth into. Powerbomb.TV, therefore, make themselves an indispensible asset to someone who is looking to scout new talent from around the world, or someone who simply wants to find something completely fresh to engage with. One moment I am watching Italian wrestling, the next hardcore Lucha Libre, the next a bizarre glimpse into history with the retro-chic Olde Wrestling. All for $10.00 a month. Your mileage may vary.

Sign-Up for the service is stupid easy, requiring only an e-mail address, and their billing options are diverse. Having PayPal as an option to counter-balance accruing needless credit card debt is absolutely phenomenal. It puts them on the level of big name players in the streaming service market. Once you have signed up and logged in the landing pages are well designed and easy to navigate, and video playback is generally a simple and clean experience.

Before I start listing the “Cons” of the service, I’ll admit that many of them seem nitpicky. I bring them up herein to point out things that, if improved, would likely guarantee people stay signed up to the service for longer periods of time.

While, strictly mathematically, the average number of shows per promotion is 5.25, it doesn’t really play out in such a balanced way. The vast bulk of these shows, 93 to be specific, can be attributed to just four of the promotions signed up to the service, while eleven of the promotions on the service have a paltry one show a piece. This uneven spread is problematic if what excites you on the service is on the scantier side of content volume, well, then you might not stick around for too long. Furthermore, only seven out of the thirty-three promotions available on the service have content from 2017 actively available. This means that a scant 21% of promotions have content that can be considered moderately current, and the numbers grow more stark when you look at how many videos out of the total are from this calendar year: 6.35%, or 11 videos out of 173. While this scarcity of up-to-date content has no impact on one’s ability to enjoy exploring new promotions and good wrestling, it does, however, mean that Powerbomb.TV is not going to be the place for those who have a need to keep absolutely up to date with the promotions they enjoy.

While I have praised above the ease of use of the service, and the quality of their landing pages, Powerbomb.TV does lack a feature that would greatly improve my enjoyment, and the general ease, of using the service: a search function. So, let’s say that you watched some videos and you really liked one specific guy, and let’s also say that it was one of the few promotions that has double digits worth of shows. In the current set up you have to go through every video the company has one-by-one to tray and find more content featuring that exciting individual. Certainly, some of the videos are one-off matches that list their participants in the titles, but others are full events and a basic set of built-in search functions would greatly improve the experience. A search feature would also allow you to find work that the performers have done in other brands that may be on the service as well. It seems almost too simple a concept to be lacking, and yet it does lack this feature.

Interview:

To get a better feeling for what Powerbomb.TV is, and aims to be, I reached out to Gerard Durling, co-founder of the service for a short interview.

NC: For those unaware, who are you and what is your background?

GD: My name is Gerard Durling and I’m the founder of Coal Creative internet marketing, co-founder of Powerbomb.tv independent wrestling video on demand service. I guess you can say that, in a previous life, I was an independent wrestler by the name of “Vin Gerard” and “Equinox” in CHIKARA.

NC: What made you transition from being an in-ring performer to a partner in a streaming service?

GD: Well, the in-ring performer stuff has been behind me now for about 5-years. Personally, I didn’t feel like I was advancing myself enough to continue performing the amount I was. In my last year of wrestling, I was also creating my first start-up business that was gaining some attention from investors. I ended up taking a deal and it required me to be available a lot on weekend evenings. That is of course, when most independent wrestling shows were. It felt like a natural progression and break to see what else I could do outside of it.

In the last year or two, my company Coal Creative, has really expanded ourselves into video marketing. That’s how this all started with Powerbomb.TV – I was approached by Adam Lash to see if I’d be interested in getting involved in the project with him.

NC: With all the recent waves being made in the streaming service market concerning Pro-Wrestling (WWE Network, NJPW World, Lucha Underground on Netflix, multitudinous indie promotions having their own dedicated streaming options etc.) what is your vision to make Powerbomb.tv stand out from the crowd?

GD: Adam and I both share a passion for wanting to help independent wrestling be more successful and to help however we can. We’re not millionaires, that’s for sure. We can’t compete with some of these services in dollars. We thought that by creating this service, we could reinvest into the companies that work with us. We’re not in this to make money from the subscription service. We want to help make a difference on the independent level and to expose fans to new talent and promotions.

NC: What do you offer to Promoters and Fans that sets you apart as a business partner and as a service to invest in?

GD: I think we offer promoters a lot of opportunity. If someone asks us for help with anything, we’re always open to trying to figure out a way to make it work. As for fans, we have a very diverse catalog of content already, over 30 promotions, and a lot are from partners in Mexico. We want to try to involve the promotions we work with as much as we can in creating out of the box ideas that will garner more attention for everyone.

NC: Who on Powerbomb.tv are you most excited to watch? Who should people be keeping their eyes on?

GD: A lot of the independent lucha libre has me excited. We have some opportunities there to create some interesting content that could help educate American wrestling fans to some of the new faces of Lucha Libre. We’re looking into providing alternate commentary for some of those promotions. C*4 in Ottawa Canada deserves a lot more attention for some of the shows they’ve put together over the last few years.

In Conclusion:

Powerbomb.TV is positioning itself in the independent pro-wrestling scene as an exciting alternative to the standard distribution models of DVD and VOD sales, whose scope offers people like me, and hopefully people like you, something fresh and exciting. While there are some concerns I have raised about the content and the platform’s functionality, this is a living service that is routinely being updated. Since I crunched my numbers at least six new videos across a minimum of three different promotions have been added. I think that they have all the potential in the world to become an exciting, vibrant hub for fans of independent and international pro-wrestling to find what they are craving. I look forward to seeing their offerings expand, and to seeing them take more interesting marketing initiatives like Break the Barrier 2017. Don’t forget to sign up for your free trial today and watch Break the Barrier on June 11th, then dig into the offerings the participating promotions have on the service!

Do you have any feedback or questions? Please leave a comment here.

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