So we begin with Pedro announcing the first participants.
1. Arik Cannon vs. Rickey Shane Page
How is this my first Arik Cannon match? This was a different look for Rickey. I’ve only seen him in the kind of emo former Christian Faith guy. This was smooth babyface Rickey. I like a wrestler who can do different characters. This started out as a nice calm chain wrestling match. The commentary struck out as an immediate strength. (As the night went on they had play-by-play guy be joined by a different member of the roster. BJ Whitmer did the commentary for this match. I definitely feel Whitmer could have a good career doing color commentary.) The crowd took a while to warm up. Once the crowd figured out they could like and enjoy this match, they did. It started out slow and then crescendoed. There were some really great combinations from both men. Rickey doing a swanton is a pretty impressive sight. Rickey and Arik did a really good job with their match. Rickey won. Probably the #2 match of the night for me.
2. Jason Gory vs. Aiden Vaile
My wife saw Jason Gory and said gross. I think mission is accomplished. I like Vaile’s gimmick. He also has good hang time. Vaile has that kind of Shawn Michaels bumping style. He looks very flashy in the ring. I wonder what it would be like for him to learn to save the athleticism. I like Gory’s persona and attitude. It makes for a good heel. I think more than one biting is excessive. Gory took the win and came out looking impressive. Vaile looked really good in this match too.
3. The Cut Throat Crew vs. Derek Cornell & Brian Gott
Cornell & Gott got a nice crowd reaction. The CTC are good for the kids. And at first they look incredibly cheesy, but the more the wrestle, the more you forget they have the cheesy pirate gimmick. I saw some cool innovative moves here. The kids loved it, and you could tell. I found myself being quite impressed with the Cut Throat Crew. Cornell & Gott are bland in their chemistry and personas. I’d like to see them show off their personality, especially being given the chance to show off. While their work is very solid, I don’t have a reason to care about them yet.
4. Bobby Beverly vs. Facade vs. Shane Hollister
Beverly is a natural heel so it was my first time to see him as a face. This is my first chance to see Hollister. They told an interesting story where Hollister wanted to do all the work on Facade but Beverly wanted to be involved in it. Again I say this every time I see Facade: he is so committed to his moves. There is no hesitation in what he does. The more I see of Beverly, the more I like him. First Facade was eliminated then followed by Beverly getting a quick win. It looks like they are setting up a Hollister-Beverly feud.
5. Gregory Iron vs. Matt Justice
Justice has a nice look. Reminds me a lot of a more-appealing-to-females Khris Kanyun. He also looks huge next to Greg. And Greg did what he does best-bumped his rear off like crazy and kick out of everything. This was a pretty good match. Justice put him over well. Iron looked credible beating somebody so big. Justice lost nothing by losing this match. If Justice can parlay his size into wrestling talent, I see good things ahead for him.
6. Justin Mane vs. Ryan Burke
Mane began by cutting a heel promo. You wanna be a super-heel? Go after Pedro DeLuca. I liked his promo he started cutting. The only thing is that I wonder what would have happened if he hadn’t yelled it. I was quite impressed with Mane’s persona and look. Burke is very focused, but the commentators said he’s a local guy. Why couldn’t he take the mic and say “This is my hometown. You talk all you want out here. I’m going to do my talking in the ring.” Inside the ring, Mane is a good heel. Burke is very solid in the ring. These two guys really tore the house down in this match. Burke is rather bland but in his persona, but I’m ok with a guy who does his talking in the ring. This was a pretty good match. I didn’t know who either were before this match, but I know who they are now. This was also for me, the match of the night.
7. Aaron Epic vs. BJ Whitmer
Epic has a nice look. He looks almost like an MMA fighter. Whitmer has become the elder statesman of the indies. There is no security? There were kids getting way too close to the action. We already know that BJ is flawless in what he does. The two had a very nice match. Epic has yet to blow me away. But a good magician always has several tricks under his sleeves. I’m intrigued to see where he could go. Whitmer walked away with the Submission after the Peruvian Necktie. Epic beat on him after the match being joined by Arik Cannon. Rickey Shane Page was doing commentary and went in for the save setting up Page/Whitmer vs. Cannon/Epic. On his way to the back, BJ Whitmer started giving fives to one kid and then the next and eventually they all mobbed him. I love that visual.
All in all… When you watch a show’s pilot, you are seeing a raw product with lots of potential. I really like the direction they are going here. They have lots of energy in that crowd. They have a lot of kids show up so the kids have this enthusiasm where they aren’t a bunch of jaded wrestling fans that haven’t made it through Katie Vick, David Arquette or a midget beating off in a trash can. And, at the end of the day, it IS all about the kids.
I am a little concerned about the lack of security in the crowd, especially with all the kids around. The match of the night for me was Burke-Mane. I’m intrigued to see how this company evolves.