The night began with Gregory Iron vs. John Kermon. I love Iron’s theme music because it takes me back to Ghostbusters II all over again every time. I do think that Gregory Iron is perhaps THE best babyface in indy wrestling. I blinked and it was over. Kermon and Iron put together a very nice match. Sonjay Dutt did the commentary for the first match. I liked his mic skills as a commentator.
The Duke took on AERO! next. I like Duke. He has a long history in AIW and gets well-respected by the crowd. Colt Cabana did commentary. Usually I’m not an AERO! fan, but he did a really good job here. The two fought a really good match. Duke did a tombstone from the second rope. I gasped. Total “Holy s***” moment and the crowd agreed with a chant.
RBI took on Sterling James Keenan (now wrestling for WWE as Corey Graves, I believe). Keenan is so good on the mic. I could live without the latex pants. RBI reminds me a lot of a heftier Ruckus (one of my all time favorites). Tim Donst joined them for commentary. Keenan just did what he does best-be a heel. RBI is still a little green, but he had only been out of school for a short time. RBI won out of nowhere to steal a victory. This is what you call smart booking.
Then was Sonjay Dutt & Bobby Beverly. Sonjay cut a great, enthusiastic promo. If I sound a little one-sided here, Sonjay is another one of my favorites. Sonjay has so much personality and is so fun to watch. The crowd loved the match and the crowd interaction. Beverly has always been really solid, but I have yet to see him be elite. I wonder what he can do on the mic. He has a nice impressive look, but I don’t know if he can stand on his own. There were a few botches, but I couldn’t tell who was responsible. Sonjay had some great athletic moves. It was well-booked. Beverly got the win while Sonjay lost because of interference.
Next was Mena Libra & Mickie Knuckles. This crowd loves everything Mickie does. Chest Flexor announced her opponent as being Libra and the crowd had no reaction whatsoever. Mickie is really good with a live crowd. This was a pretty good match. There was lot of crowd interaction, and they were hot the whole match. This was a HARD-hitting match. I’m sure both ladies were sufficiently bruised the next day. There was a really weird botch but it gave Mickie the win.
Dave Crist took on Rickey Shane Page next. Dave is the one with the mohawk. One of the biggest moves was the back body drop followed by the kick to the back. The match went a little short. Later RSP was doing commentary and he said he was a little concussed.
Facade fought Sugar Dunkerton. I think Facade has one of the best entrances in wrestling. It took them a while to get started. It is rare that kind of combination of personality and in-ring ability that Dunkerton has. They got a rather tongue-in-cheek “Match of the Year” chant. This was definitely the comedy match of the night. If personality were everything, Dunkerton would be main-eventing Wrestlemania. Facade reminds me a lot of the fearlessness of Jeff Hardy. There is no hesitation or tentativeness. He goes 100%. It was a pretty good match. The crowd loved them both.
Dalton Castle is a guy with a large personality that can make the fans hate him. The Olsen Twins are guys who just like to go out there and have fun. You can tell they have lots of enthusiasm and love doing this. This was a pretty decent match with a weird finish.
The two members of Aeroform versus each other. Yes, please. This was everything you could have wanted. I think this was probably the best match I had seen up to this point. Both guys definitely brought it. They got a “This is awesome” chant. This match has to be seen to be believed.
Jonathan Gresham was next against Jake Crist. I liked the way AIW used the small mini-promos to their advantages. Not everybody needs to do a 20-minute Rock promo. This started out as a really technical ground match that turned into a brawl. I think this was very easily the match of the first night. I was definitely a fan of Gresham after this match. You know it’s great when the fans chant “That was awesome” AND “Rematch” after your match. I would definitely put this up there with anything I have seen in AIW for their best match ever.
Then we had Marion Fontaine against Colt Cabana. This is one of the matches I most wanted to see on paper. This was a really fun match to watch. They did their comedy spots really well and then it crescendo-ed into serious territory. Well-done match.
Up to this point my wife had been cleaning and missed all these athletic matches. She sat down just in time to watch Mad Man Pondo walk to the ring.
Her comment to me was: It looks like he’s had a few strokes.
My response: If Terry Funk calls HIM a f***ing psychopath, that’s saying something.
I mean nothing negative against Pondo. He’s one of my favorites in the hardcore genre. He’s simply not who you expect to have that 5-star technical match. Tim Donst was next against Mad Man Pando. Pondo wanted to make it a hardcore match. And boy did they. I put this up there with Benoit-Sullivan at Great American Bash. This was such a wild, brutal match. Finding highlights were impossible. Donst took shots at the bar. They went into the bathroom. Donst won with, of all things, a small package roll-up. This rarely ever happens, but I want to see this match again.
Akira Tozawa got to have a special exhibition match against Johnny Gargano. Both guys got streamers. Tozawa had some brutal chops. There was lots of head-dropping suplexes. And there was some nice drama built up in the match and the near-falls. Both guys had some really stiff kicks and did not hold anything back. Gargano made him tap out in a really nice match. The crowd gave a That was awesome chant. Well-deserved.
BJ Whitmer vs. Jimmy Jacobs. Holy s***. I love this revival of the BJ Whitmer era. Jimmy Jacobs was a great heel and they pretty much tore the house down. I loved the Dragon Sleeper drama. These two guys went out there and simply had a great match. The crowd loved it and appreciated them.
Paul London took on Shiima Xion (Zima Ion for those who like their TNA). You would think this would be 5-Star athletic high-flyer match. Nope. This was a wild brawl. There was a rana onto the floor in the bar, of all places. Paul let a fan chop Xion. This had the wild crowd brawl plus the high-flying you would expect. The ending was so well-booked, London lost nothing when he lost. This is how you bring in outside guys.
The first bonus match was Gary Jay vs. ACH. There are some people for whom gravity does not apply: PAC, Paul London, Evan Bourne. Add ACH into that list. Let’s be honest. In many ways, Gary Jay was to be the Washington Generals to ACH’s Harlem Globetrotters. However, I think he transcended beyond that level. ACH really brought it. He had one opportunity to show off for the AIW crowd and he had fans telling him “Please come back” DURING the match followed by a “Please come back” from the crowd.
The other match was the Submission Squad vs. the Sex Ba-Bombs. I have seen these guys wrestle before live. I liked the SBB but really wasn’t too impressed by the look of the Submission Squad. However, to be fair, when they started wrestling, I was more and more impressed by them. I saw them as faces and they are MUCH better heels. VERY good match and well-received.