Monday 4 July 2011

PWG DDT4 DVD Review By Ken Drabek

Contrary to popular belief, tag team wrestling still exists. If you are simply a WWE fan, this notion may come as a bit of a surprise to you.

The focus has clearly shifted away from tag team competition in wrestling’s mainstream. These days, tag team matches are simply booked to further storylines involving singles wrestlers, usually pairing two faces together to face their respective rival heels.

Thankfully, promotions like Pro Wrestling Guerrilla exist and offer up some of the best tag team wrestling in the world today. Their annual DDT4 (Dynamite Duumvirate Tag Team Title Tournament) event showcases the most exciting and scintillating duos in the business today.

The 2011 edition was the first DDT4 tournament to not feature the tag team champions in competition. Instead, this year’s tournament would determine which team would become the number one contenders for the belts, held at the time by the team of El Generico and Paul London.

DDT4 2011 kicked off with the makeshift team of Brandon Gatson and Willie Mack taking on perhaps the most legendary team in PWG’s history, The Young Bucks, who TNA fans may know as Generation Me.

GenMe built their reputation as one of the most dynamic and exciting teams in wrestling today while competing in PWG. They held the PWG World Tag Team Championships for nearly two years during their first reign and have gone on to become players in both the tag team and X division in TNA wrestling.

Willie Mack is awesome. At first glance, you wouldn’t think that this pudgy, rotund dude would be very athletic but Mack moves with incredible speed for a man of his size and his aerial ability is very impressive. Gatson is a powerful kid with a hard hitting style who has a ton of potential.

This was a good way to start the show, pitting one of the most well known teams in PWG against a makeshift duo of up and comers. After a spirited back and forth affair, the teamwork and experience of the Young Bucks proved to be too much for Gatson and Mack and advanced to round two when Mack ate a sick super kick from Nick Jackson.

Johnny Yuma and Johnny Goodtime, the RockNES Monsters, against Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards, the American Wolves, was up next.

This match served as an example of one of Southern California’s top rising teams proving that they had the chops to hang with one of the most highly regarded tag teams in all of professional wrestling over the past few years. Yuma and Goodtime were able to match Edwards and Richards for the majority of the contest, showing exactly why they are one of the most buzz worthy teams on the independent scene today.

Even though the RockNES Monsters proved a whole lot, they still fell short. Richards and Edwards nailed Goodtime with a nasty power bomb/lungblower combo. Edwards then slapped on the Achilles lock and Goodtime was left with no other choice but to tap out, allowing the Wolves to move into the second round.

The third first round match featured The Cutler Brothers against one of the tournament favorites, Chris Hero and the PWG World Heavyweight Champion, Claudio Castagnoli, collectively known as the Kings of Wrestling.

Unlike the previous match, which was a fast paced battle, this one started off at a much slower pace. The teams spent a good chunk of the first few minutes feeling each other out before the pace began to pick up. Much like the last match though, the younger team proved that they could hang with the more well established names.

The Cutlers stock has risen steadily over the year but they are nowhere near the level of the Kings of Wrestling, who at the time of this event were still in the midst of their nearly year long reign as the ROH World Tag Team Champions.

In the end, Hero and Castagnoli isolated Dustin Cutler and nearly knocked him out with a giant swing/dropkick combination followed by a roaring elbow and a big boot. That was enough for the 1-2-3 and the Kings of Wrestling were on to the semi-finals.

The final match of round one turned out to be perhaps the most entertaining bout of the entire event. Kevin Steen and Akira Tozawa, who have been called the Nightmare Violence Connection, squared off against The Briscoes in another battle featuring a rather makeshift team against modern day tag team legends.

Tozawa is beyond over with the PWG faithful in Resada. Anything he does, they eat up and ask for more. The charisma and excitement that Tozawa brings is always entertaining but for some reason it is always especially so when he steps into a PWG ring.

The teams did a great job of mixing in some humor with the hard hitting action and both teams appeared to have victory within their grasp several times. The highlight of the match was a hilarious spot between Tozawa and Mark Briscoe, involving some redneck kung fu and a whole lot of shouting.

Tozawa was able to reverse a Doomsday attempt by the Briscoes, escaping to the top rope while Steen reversed the roles and set Jay up in the Doomsday position. A flying leg lariat from Tozawa brought Jay down to the mat and spelled the end for the Briscoes in DDT4 2011.

Second round action kicked off with The American Wolves taking on the Young Bucks.

The Bucks have really kicked it up a notch as cocky, arrogant heels in PWG since achieving a degree of success with TNA. They really played up their extremely confident personalities against the fan favorite team of Richards and Edwards.

I’m probably starting to sound like a broken record here, but this was another really good match. There was a hilarious nut shot spot that was easily one of the comedic highlights of the entire night.

This one was easily on par with their previous clash in ROH, if not just slightly above it. The Bucks were able to sneak out the win and advance to the finals when Max/Matt countered Edwards’ Achilles lock with a roll-up for the pinfall.

The second semi-final match pitted the Kings of Wrestling against Kevin Steen and Akira Tozawa.

This turned out to be one of the most anticipated meetings of the entire tournament, as it marked the first time that Tozawa and Hero had been in the same ring with each other since their critically acclaimed war during the 2010 Battle of Los Angeles, PWG’s annual singles tournament.

Unfortunately for Tozawa, he winds up on the brunt end of a ton of punishment from both Hero and Castagnoli during this one. Much like the BOLA classic, Tozawa shows his incredible fighting spirit and the fans’ support helps him rally back.

The Nightmare Violence Connection are a hell of a team and they gained a ton of credibility by picking up the victory over the then ROH World Tag Team Champions and advancing to the finals of DDT4 2011. Tozawa scored the pin when he caught Hero in the magistral cradle.

Before the tournament final, Joey Ryan hit the ring and announced that he was holding the first ever Joey Ryan Invitational Gauntlet. Whoever survived a series of matches would have to then go up against Ryan, who was the current number one contender for the PWG World Heavyweight Title at the time.

Ryan Taylor picked up a win over fellow Fightin’ Taylor Boy, Brian Cage Taylor, to kick off the gauntlet. “Pretty” Peter Avalon wasted no time jumping Ryan Taylor from behind, giving him no time to rest after a decent little back and forth match.

Avalon ended up with the win after a roll-up with a handful of tights. He was then confronted by one of PWG’s best female talents, Candace LaRae. She was ready to fight him one-on-one but Joey Ryan chose the opportunity to take advantage of the situation. He leveled Avalon with a super kick and told LaRae to make the pin.

I’m not too sure what pitting Ryan against LaRae does but it was a noble attempt to further Ryan’s sleazy persona by showing how opportunistic he can be, and of course by showing that he has no issues with putting the boots to anyone who steps into the ring, man or woman.

Ryan gets the win, even though LaRae did put up a fight. This didn’t exactly give Ryan a huge boost of momentum heading into his upcoming Championship match at the next PWG show, but it was an entertaining segment before the tournament finals nonetheless.

The Young Bucks and The Nightmare Violence Connection both made it through two difficult matches to reach the DDT4 2011 final. Just more win away from a shot at the PWG World Tag Team Championships.

The match was a total brawl at the start as they paired off and battled their way through the crowd. Tozawa ended up injured after the Bucks nailed him with a DDT from the apron to the floor, much like what they did to Alex Shelley in TNA.

Tozawa had to be taken to the back, leaving Steen at a serious disadvantage against the determined Bucks.

Max and Jeremy, or Matt and Nick, worked over Steen and busted him open. After several minutes, Tozawa triumphantly returned and the Legion Hall in Reseda went nuts. Madness ensued from that point on, there were tons of near falls and close calls.

The Young Bucks eventually hit their trademark More Bang For Your Back on both men at once, picking up what a lot of fans considered a shocking victory. They were the new number one contenders for the PWG World Tag Team Championships, the very belts that they held longer than anyone else ever has.

After the much, they cut a great heel promo as the crowd chanted “This is Bullshit” and “This is Awesome” back and forth. The Bucks closed out the show by dedicating their win to Dixie Carter, which drew the ire of the PWG faithful.

DDT4 2011 showcased some of the best tag team matches I’ve seen all year. It is definitely worth checking out if you are a WWE fan who misses quality, meaningful tag team wrestling. While they may not be getting as much love in the mainstream, PWG proves that tag teams are alive and well.

Follow Ken on twitter @alieneight

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