Wednesday, September 9, 2015

WWNLive in China: Night 4 Review

Johnny Gargano challenges Ricochet for the Open The Freedom Gate Title!!

WWNLive in China: Night 4
Beijing, China 11/16/14

1.) FIP World Heavyweight Title – Rich Swann vs. AR Fox: ***1/2

Originally, this wasn’t a FIP World Heavyweight Title Match, but since Rich Swann now holds it after winning it from Trent Baretta on Night 3, and with the other three titles on the line on this show, I guess they decided on making this a title match. It was a pretty solid opener, as you would expect. Like I said in my Night 3 Review, AR Fox seems to be at his best when he’s in there with other high-flyers. While this match was not as good as the match he had with Ricochet on Night 3, this was still a very solid outing. Swann would eventually get the win in his 1st successful title defense.

The Bravado Brothers attacked AR Fox & Rich Swann after the match, but Johnny Gargano came out and ran them off. He then cut a promo saying he’s going to win the Open The Freedom Gate Title and the Citic Guoan Cup in the Main Event.

2.) Allysin Kay vs. Su Yung: **1/4

After the miscommunications on Night 3, we have Valkyrie stable mates going at it. This was a relatively short and basic match, which ended when Allysin Kay uses the “fake injury” trope to get the rollup on Su Yung for the win. This was probably another case of using a well known finish in wrestling in front of a crowd that isn’t very familiar with wrestling, to get it over as something that could happen.

3.) Chuck Taylor vs. Jody Kristofferson (with Larry Dallas & Earl Cooter): **1/4

This was pretty much the same match that Kristofferson had with Biff Busick on Night 3, with a few changes. We saw a little bit more of comedy, as Chuck Taylor was in this match. The match ended on a 10 Count instead of a 20 Count (weird that they would do that, as all of the shows prior uses the traditional 20 Count that most independent promotions like Evolve use), with Taylor getting the win. Kristofferson, once again, chased off the referee, and once again, Earl Cooter got taken out, this time with an Awful Waffle from Chuck Taylor.

4.) Biff Busick vs. Timothy Thatcher: ***3/4

These two faced off on Night 2, and in that encounter, Busick got the win. This was another really good match between these two. It was better than their match from Night 2, and close to being on the same level as their Evolve 32 match (I’d give a slight edge to the Evolve 32 Match but it’s close). Really great action from these two, especially in the closing stretch. Timothy Thatcher would get the win via submission, and much like Night 2, the two competitors shook hands afterwords.

5.) SHINE Title – Ivelisse vs. Mia Yim: ***3/4

Now we’re getting to the meat of the show, as the three remaining matches are all titles matches. First up is Ivelisse defending the SHINE Title against Mia Yim. This was a really good women’s title. It was easily the best women’s match on the entire tour, in my opinion. Both women are quality wrestlers, so it should be no surprise that they delivered in this environment. After a hard-fought match, Mia Yim would eventually put Ivelisse away to capture the SHINE Title. Yim had a very emotional post match interview with Lacey afterwords. Ivelisse shook hands with Yim, but was still visibly frustrated.

6.) Open The United Gate Titles – Three-Way Elimination Match – The Premiere Athlete Brand (Caleb Konley & Trent Baretta) vs. The Colony (Fire Ant & Silver Ant) vs. The Bravado Brothers: ***1/2

Up next we have our final Open The United Gate Title Match of the tour, and this time, it’s a three-way elimination match. The Colony ended up being eliminated first, and the P.A.B. would eventually go on to put away The Bravado Brothers to retain the Open The United Gate Titles. It was a pretty solid three-way title match. The only complaint I have is that The Colony wasn’t in the match for very long, as they were eliminated around five minutes in, and the match went on for another ten minutes. I would have either switched it, and had The Colony vs. The P.A.B. finish the match, or had the eliminations occur in quick succession. I wasn’t a fan of The Bravados vs. The P.A.B. again (though the action was fine).

7.) Open The Freedom Gate Title – Ricochet vs. Johnny Gargano: ****1/4

The final match of the night, and of the tour, sees Ricochet do battle with Johnny Gargano, not only for the Open The Freedom Gate Title, but the Citic Guoan Cup as well (since both men come into this match undefeated on the tour). As you would expect, these two put on a fantastic match to finish off the tour. While it wasn’t as epic as their title match in New Orleans from earlier in the year, it was still a great match (if it had been in North America, it might be closer to that New Orleans match). After a really hard fought contest, Johnny Gargano put Ricochet away with the Lawn Dart to capture the Open The Freedom Gate Title for the 2nd Time!! My only real complaint about the match is that it ended with the Lawn Dart. It would have been ok had that been built up a bit during the tour, and while Gargano used it in his other matches, he didn’t win any of them with that move. I’m sure why it ended like that, but other than that one complaint, this was fantastic.

Gargano celebrates after the match. He’s given the Open The Freedom Gate Title, The Citic Guoan Cup, and a large yellow & red wreath. He cuts a promo saying that he & WWNLive love Beijing and China, and that they would be back (though that has yet to happen as of this post).

Overall: 8.0/10

WWNLive closed out their tour of China in a big way, with four big title matches. I would say this was about on par with Night 3 in terms of the match quality as a whole. Part of that is because there were a few short matches on the undercard. Still, those show have several really good matches, a fantastic main event, and two really cool moments with Johnny Gargano & Mia Yim walking away with championship gold.

Looking back on the tour as a whole, I thought that all of the shows were good to really good. There weren’t any Show of the Year Contenders on this tour, but you shouldn’t have been expecting any, given the environment they were in. It was certainly a unique experiment for the WWNLive brand, and it produced crowds larger than anything they’ve had in North America. While a return to China is in doubt (they had originally announced that they would be back in the Spring of 2015, but obviously that hasn’t happened, and no mentions have been made of it since), this should still be looked on as a very unique and entertaining set of shows for the WWNLive brand.

WWNLive in China: Night 3 Review

Rich Swann challenges Trent Baretta for the FIP World Heavyweight Title!!

WWNLive in China: Night 3
Emeishan City, Sichuan Province, China 11/14/14

1.) Johnny Gargano vs. Chuck Taylor: ***3/4

This 3rd show on the WWNLive Tour of China is a clash between former stable mates, as Johnny Gargano (in the opening match for the 2nd show in a row) taking on Chuck Taylor. Obviously these two have a lot of history together, both as partners and heated rivals. These two put on a really good opening match, as you would expect. When you get guys like Gargano & Taylor together in a match, it’s almost impossible for it to not be entertaining. Gargano would end up getting the win here, as he looks toward Night 4, where he looks to win both the Open The Freedom Gate Title and the Citic Guoan Cup.

2.) Biff Busick vs. Jody Kristofferson (with Larry Dallas & Earl Cooter): **1/2

Jody Kristofferson is in action once again, as he’s taking on Biff Busick. This was very similar to the match Kristofferson had with Timothy Thatcher on Night 1. They brawled around a bit (actually had a pretty decent brawl), but this time, Busick got the win via count out. Again, the point of this is that they’re trying to establish that things like count outs and DQ’s are possible. Much like on Night 1, Kristofferson chases away the referee, while Earl Cooter got beat up by Biff Busick.

3.) Valkyrie (Allysin Kay & Su Yung) vs. SHINE Champion Ivelisse & Mia Yim: ***

Here, we have the first (and only) women’s tag team match of the tour, as Allysin Kay & Su Yung team up as Valkyrie (their SHINE stable) to take on Ivelisse & Mia Yim, who are facing off for the SHINE Title on Night 4. A pretty solid tag team match. Not the best women’s match on the tour up to this point, but far from the worst. Towards the ends of the match, miscommunication occurred on both sides, but it would affect Ivelisse & Mia Yim the most, as Allysin Kay & Su Yung would get the win. Those miscommunications would help to set up the two women’s matches on Night 4 (Allysin Kay vs. Su Yung & Ivelisse vs. Mia Yim for the SHINE Title). Ivelisse & Mia Yim argued after the match.

4.) Open The United Gate Champion Caleb Konley (with The Premiere Athlete Brand) vs. Timothy Thatcher: ***1/4

For the firs time on this tour, The Premiere Athlete Brand is split up into singles matches. First up is Caleb Konley, who is taking on Timothy Thatcher. In an interesting note, Su Yung is out with Trent Baretta in Konley’s corner, as she wearing a mix of her wrestling gear, and the business attire she usually wears when she’s at ringside during P.A.B. matches (guess she didn’t have time to change). As far as the match goes, it was good match. It was a perfectly acceptable mid-card match. Konley would end up getting the win here (I believe with help from the P.A.B.)

5.) The Bravado Brothers vs. The Colony (Fire Ant & Silver Ant): ***1/4

These two teams both unsuccessfully challenged for the Open The United Gate Titles on Nights 1 & 2. They’re both getting another shot in a Three-Way Match on Night 4, but before that, they’re facing off here on Night 3. This was a solid tag team match. I have to say that it’s definitely a step up from some of the matches these teams have had in Evolve itself (away from storylines). The Colony would get the win, but then they would be attacked by The Bravado Brothers after the match.

6.) Open The Freedom Gate Title – Ricochet vs. AR Fox: ****

The first of two title matches of the night sees Ricochet facing off against AR Fox, with the former’s Open The Freedom Gate Title on the line. This was a pretty great match. I know AR Fox had started to fall out of favor with most people (in terms of his Evolve & PWG work around this time), but when he’s in there with other high flyers, he tends to produce great matches, as was the case here. These two also have a long history, and they added on that with this outing. Eventually, Ricochet would get the win, retaining his Open The Freedom Gate Title, and setting up a showing down with Johnny Gargano in the Main Event of Night 4.

7.) FIP World Heavyweight Title – Trent Baretta (with The Premiere Athlete Brand) vs. Rich Swann: ****

The Main Event sees the FIP World Heavyweight Title up for graps, as Trent Baretta defends against Rich Swann. These two have always had great matches with each other, and this was no exception. A really entertaining match from these two. Caleb Konley & Su Yung got involved early, but were ejected. They tried to interfere later on, but it didn’t pay off. In the end, Rich Swann would overcome the odds, and defeated Trent Baretta to win the FIP World Heavyweight Title!!

Following his celebratings, Swann would pose for pictures with the other singles title holds, Open The Freedom Gate Champion Ricochet, & SHINE Champion Ivelisse, to close the show.

Overall: 8.0/10

Another solid show from WWNLive on this tour of China. I have to say that I think this was the best show of the tour up to this point. You have two great titles match on top (Baretta vs. Swann & Ricochet vs. AR Fox), while you also had a very good opening match with Johnny Gargano vs. Chuck Taylor. The rest of the undercard was pretty solid, with nothing really bad to speak up. Now the WWNLive crew gears up for the final show of the tour in Beijing!

WWNLive in China: Night 2 Review

Night 2 of the WWNLive Tour of China sees a big Six-Man Tag Team Main Event!

WWNLive in China: Night 2
Chengdu City, Sichuan Province, China 11/12/14

1.) Johnny Gargano vs. Jody Kristofferson (with Larry Dallas): ***

The show starts off with Johnny Gargano taking on a former WWE Developmental Talent. A pretty solid opener here. I think I can safely say this is the best singles match I’ve ever seen from Jody Kristofferson, and it’s no surprise that it came against Johnny Gargano. Good action from both guys in this one. Gargano would end up getting the win over Kristofferson.

2.) Tracy Williams vs. Earl Cooter (with Larry Dallas): **1/4

Now this is an….interesting match, to say the least. It was pretty short, from my recollection. Tracy Williams would get the win, but Earl Cooter would lay him out after the match. I didn’t like what they did after the match, as Earl Cooter is basically a jobber in the context of Evolve. Also, I know that this show is in China, but with hindsight, it probably wasn’t a good idea for Tracy Williams to get taken out by Earl Cooter (Williams would become an active member of Evolve in 2015).

3.) Mia Yim vs. Su Yung: ***1/4

Su Yung is coming off losing a SHINE Title Match to Ivelisse on Night 1 (in a disappointing match), while Mia Yim is looking to build momentum towards her SHINE Title Match on Night 4. This was a pretty good match. The best women’s match on the tour up to this point. There was good back & forth action throughout, and both women played their roles well. Mia Yim would get the win in this match.

4.) Biff Busick vs. Timothy Thatcher: ***1/2

These two have two scheduled matches against each other on this tour, and this is the first of those. A very good match. The crowd seemed to be into the style of match Busick & Thatcher tend to work, which involves trading holds, submissions and hard strikes (especially in the latter stages). I’d say that their match from Evolve 32 a few months prior was better, but this was still pretty good. Busick would get the submission victory over Thatcher, and the two shook hands after the match.

5.) Open The United Gate Titles - The Premiere Athlete Brand (Caleb Konley & Trent Baretta) vs. The Bravado Brothers: ***1/4

The Bravado Brothers attacked Caleb Konley & Trent Baretta after the latter’s match on Night 1. I thought this was a fine match. It wasn’t as good as The P.A.B. vs. The Colony from the night before, but it was by no means bad. It was a weird match in the sense that both teams are heel in Evolve (and Evolve’s Tag Team Division has been bad for around a year, as of this show), and The P.A.B. worked as the default babyfaces in this one. Eventually, Baretta & Konley would get the win for the 2nd successful title defense of the tour.

6.) SHINE Title – Ivelisse vs. Allysin Kay: ***1/4

Also defending a title for the 2nd time on this tour is Ivelisse, who’s defending the SHINE Title against Allysin Kay. This was another solid women’s match on this show. A much better showing from Ivelisse compared to Night 1. Good back & forth action throughout this one. In the end, Ivelisse would get the win, and successfully retained the SHINE Title.

7.) Six-Man Tag – AR Fox & The Inner City Machine Guns (Open The Freedom Gate Champion Ricochet & Rich Swann) vs. Chuck Taylor & The Colony (Fire Ant & Silver Ant): ****

The Main Event features the only Six-Man Tag Team Match on this tour of China. As would expect, given the participants involved, this was a great match. I would say it’s the best match on the tour up to this point. It was really entertaining and action-packed from start to finish, and all six guys got the chance to showcase themselves. Eventually, AR Fox would end up scoring the win for his team, which makes sense, since he is challenging his partner Ricochet from the Open The Freedom Gate Title on Night 3.

Overall: 7.5/10

The second show of the WWNLive Tour of China is in the books, and we have another solid show. While I think Night 1 was a little more consistent as a whole, this show had the best match on the tour thus far with the Six-Man Tag Team Main Event. There was really only one thing on this show that I didn’t like, but other than that, everything was pretty good. A very enjoyable show from start to finish.

WWNLive in China: Night 1 Review

WWNLive makes its debut in China!!

When it was announced that WWNLive would be running four shows in China of all places, I was both incredibly surprised and genuinely curious. 2014 had been an up & down year for the WWNLive Promotions for a number of reasons, and it looked like this China Tour could help them end the year on a high note. Let’s see how they turned out!

WWNLive in China: Night 1
Grand Epoch City, Xianghe Province, China 11/10/14

I should note that Lacey (who you may remember from her time with ROH), is working with WWNLive on this tour of China. Apparently, she’s been doing work in China for quite some time since leaving the wrestling business. She basically serves as the MC/English Ring Announcer for all of these shows.

Also, none of these shows have any commentary.

1.) AR Fox & Rich Swann vs. The Bravado Brothers: ***1/4

The show kicks off with tag team action. A pretty solid opener here. Good stuff for everyone involved. The Bravado Brothers would end up getting the win, which makes sense, since they have an Open The United Gate Title Match on Night 2.

2.) Timothy Thatcher vs. Jody Kristofferson (with Larry Dallas & Earl Cooter): **1/2

I believe Jody Kristofferson is a former WWE Developmental Talent. Here, he’s managed by Larry Dallas & Earl Cooter (yes, these two are on this tour), and is going against Timothy Thatcher. This was an ok match. They brawled around for a little bit, under Kristofferson got disqualified for failing to answer to a five count when he was beating up Thatcher in the corner. Weird finish, but with a crowd that’s probably unfamiliar with pro-wrestling, it’s a good move to show that DQ’s can happen.

After the match, Kristofferson yells at the referee for calling for the DQ, and chases him off. Earl Cooter then attempts to beat up Timothy Thatcher by himself, but Thatcher ends up getting the better of him and sends him packing (this will be a reoccurring theme on these shows).

3.) Allysin Kay vs. Mia Yim: ***

In addition to the male wrestlers, we have four female wrestlers from SHINE participating in this tour. In this case, it’s Allysin Kay vs. Mia Yim. Both have shots at the SHINE Title on upcoming shows (the former on Night 2, the latter on Night 4). A pretty solid match here. It wasn’t anything spectacular, but these two put on a very solid performance. Mia Yim would get the win and, in an interview after the match, said she’s coming for the SHINE Title.

4.) Johnny Gargano vs. Biff Busick: ***3/4

These two had a match at Evolve 29 in May of 2014, and Gargano broke his jaw during that match, so these two do have a history. This was a really good match. They haven’t met often, but every time they do, you’ll always get a quality match. Very much enjoyed this. In the end, Gargano would get the win.

After the match, he says he’s going to win the Open The Freedom Gate Title (he challenges Ricochet on Night 4), as well as the CITIC Guoan Cup. I’m not sure if it was ever explained, but from what I was able to gather, I’m assuming it would be rewarded to whoever won the most matches over the course of the weekend.

5.) SHINE Title – Ivelisse vs. Su Yung: **1/2

Our second women’s match of the night sees Su Yung challenge Ivelisse for the SHINE Title. This was a little disappointing. Most of the match saw Su Yung in control, with Ivelisse only getting a few moves in. Then, Ivelisse wins with a sunset flip out of the corner, which was very weird. Most of the action was fine, but it didn’t work for me.

6.) Open The United Gate Title Match – The Premiere Athlete Brand (Caleb Konley & Trent Baretta) vs. The Colony (Fire Ant & Silver Ant): ***1/2

Seeing Trent Baretta on this tour was a major surprise. Back in July of 2014, in a match for Beyond Wrestling, Trent Baretta suffered a serious knee injury. He was scheduled to be sidelined for several months, and I had assumed he’d be out until 2015, but here he is. He’s teaming with his Premiere Athlete Brand partner Caleb Konley, and they’ve evoked The Freebird Rule, as Anthony Nese isn’t on this tour. They successfully retain their titles against The Colony in a really good match. As a fan of The Colony, it’s nice to see Fire Ant & Silver Ant on this tour. I’m happy to see them get this opportunity.

After the match, The Bravado Brothers attacked The Premiere Athlete Brand, setting up their title match for the next show.

7.) Open The Freedom Gate Title – Ricochet vs. Chuck Taylor: ***3/4

The Main Event of Night 1 sees Chuck Taylor challenging Ricochet for the Open The Freedom Gate Title. These two do have a bit of a history (as both are from Kentucky and have faced off against one another many times). This was a really good Main Event. Ricochet always delivers in these big matches, and Taylor looked good even in defeat.

After the match, Ricochet is cutting a promo, when he is interrupted by Johnny Gargano. He says that he’s going to beat Ricochet for the Open The Freedom Gate Title on Night 4 (which is in Beijing), and that he’ll also win the Citic Guoan Cup.

Overall: 7.5/10

If it seemed like I didn’t have a lot to say, it’s because that these shows are very bare bones, in terms of what’s being presented. There aren’t any real storyline advancements (as it relates to Evolve) going on, and these shows are mainly focused on the wrestling matches, which is actually a nice change. As far as this show goes, it was a pretty solid one. Given that they’re doing shows in a country that (I assume) is relatively unfamiliar with pro-wrestling (especially the kind you see on the US Independent Scene), they didn’t really need to put on an amazing show. All they needed was a show with quality matches (for the most part), and that’s exactly what we got here.