Thursday 20 December 2012

AIW Hell on Earth 8 Review By Ben Ward

On 23rd November, Absolute Intense Wrestling presented their annual “Hell on Earth” show from the world famous (at least in the world of independent wrestling) Turner’s Hall in Cleveland, Ohio.

While some people may point to my slight bias, due to visiting Cleveland twice on my travels this year, AIW is one of my top US promotions right now, and with the ever-improving SmartMarkVideo seal of DVD/mp4 quality and quick turnaround, it can genuinely stand alongside the likes of Chikara, CZW etc.

The show begins with a guest match presented by Beyond Wrestling(one of several working relationships AIW have).Nothing much to report here, other than the fact that I would not like to piss Biff Busick off, because this dude is VERY intense. My buddy Pat Lucey also does a decent job on commentary after being given a chance alongside Denver Colorado (the man, not the place) for this match.

Jaka picked up the win with a triangle-choke type move named “The Jaws of the Jaguar” and as the blood trickled down his face from a Busick strike, you couldn’t help but wonder if there would be lots more blood spilt by the end of the night...

AIW often start their DVD’s with backstage segments, comments or interviews with wrestlers on the card. Not only does this set the scene for the oncoming show, but if you are new to the product, it acts as a gateway into some of the characters. For example, if this is your first time seeing wrestlers like Jock Samson, Ethan Page etc - within minutes you have a pretty good idea about their personalities.

Old School Express vs Submission Squad

Now, I’m not going to lie – I am not the biggest fan of The Submission Squad, who, outside of AIW, are probably best known for their work in ACW down in Texas.

However... Jock Samson is one hilarious, beer-drinking, confederate flag-wearing, son of a gun. Having previously teamed with a cowbell (yes, an actual cowbell...), he brings out Marion Fontaine as his partner for this tag match.
Submission Squad eventually picked up the win by using the ropes for leverage, which did a good job of setting up the match where all three members will take on Samson & Fontaine, aided by Colt Cabana, at the next AIW show.

Josh Alexander vs Davey Vega vs Louis Lyndon

This was a fun match, the juxtaposition of a powerhouse (Alexander), a high flyer (Lyndon) and somewhat of a hybrid wrestler (Vega) leant itself to lots of interesting spots here.

If Alexander showed a bit more personality, he could go really far as he shows some freakish strength. This match has super-powerbombs, dives to the floor and reverse ‘rana’s.

If you like your three ways hard and fast, you’ll like this. (Couldn’t resist continuing the Aaron Bauer three way pun)

Ethan Page vs Colin Delaney

I actually saw Ethan Page’s debut match at AIW at the pre-show for a Girls Night Out card. Since then, he has gone from strength to strength, and with the addition of Seleziya Sparx as a manager (or abused and underappreciated female companion, depending on how you see it.) he is rising through the ranks quickly.

Colin Delaney seems to be back to his best too – he looked like the Chikara Colin of old here, with suicide dive arm drags and monkey flips on the floor. I’m looking forward to seeing where he goes from here.

Page got the win after some help from Seleziya, who threw alcohol into the recovering alcoholic’s face. Maybe an intense division title shot is in his future?
In any case, I don’t think anyone will argue with him continuing to be featured in AIW, as every match he has, seems like a good one. (Plus, who wouldn’t want to see Seleziya once a month!?)

Veda Scott & Greg Iron Segment

I absolutely loved this whole segment and the resulting match. Veda Scott comes out, looking rather splendid (or as one member of the wonderful Cleveland crowd keeps informing her; “so fucking hot”) in new pin-stripe gear.

She introduces Greg Iron, who enters the ring to a certain AFI tune borrowed from his good friend “Phil” in his ROH days. (If I’ve lost you, just look up Greg and CM Punk on YouTube)

The two of them demand their respective AIW title shots, and out comes acting president Matt Wadsworth to inform them that there isn’t enough time for them to add two matches to the card (which ended up being true – its a long show!) but DOES have a title match for them...

Veda Scott & Greg Iron (Hope & Change) vs The Batiri (c)

Lead by Veronica (who, in heels, looks huge compared to the 4 participants in this match), Obaryion and Kodama make their way out to the ring while the crowd politely requests that they “fuck them [Veda and Greg] up.”

Nowhere else on the planet would you expect a guy with a genuine disability, to be a hated heel... But this is Cleveland. Granted, he does have a few fans at AIW, but Greg Iron gets some crazy heat.

The match gets underway after a round of rock, paper, scissors (which Greg wins with “claw...”).

When the match progresses and it looks like The Batiri have the match won (a 3-count does win most matches, after all), we’re reminded that due to Greg’s cerebral palsy, it requires a 4-count to beat him!

After some exchanges of near falls (including one following that sickening knee to the head move from the Batiri), Greg eventually takes Veronica’s baton and strikes Kodama in the head with it. One beautiful, bridging, Veda back-suplex later, and herself & Greg Iron are the new AIW tag champions.
Whether intentional or not, Paul Rodgers summed it up perfectly in the course of the match: “We don’t see gender. It’s 2012.”

KC Wharfield vs AK47 Allysin Kay (c)

Forgive me for stating the obvious, but Allysin Kay is a badass. Who really wants to face someone that enters the ring wearing a Hannibal Lecter mask and brandishing a machete!? Even the metal spike-clad top she wears is a borderline foreign object...

She’s been through cage matches, fans bring the weapons death matches, and even suffered broken bones for this belt in 2012, and with the greatest respect to KC, this would have been an absolutely huge upset if AK47 lost.

Allysin Kay proceeds to, for lack of a better term, beat the shit out of KC with an array of stiff kicks , and makes fairly short work of her, making her tap to the gogoplata submission hold.

Her next challenge will be an intergender (or would that be interspecies) affair against the goblin “Kobald” of The Batiri.

Irish Airborne (Dave & Jake Crist) vs Youthanazia (Josh Prohibition & Matt Cross)

The next match is a change of pace again: the high risk OI4K duo (one of my current favourite tag teams – 2013 will be their year), against the insanely underrated Prohibition and globe-trotting superstar M-Dogg. The winner receives a shot at Hope & Change’s AIW tag titles.

The four guys put on a display of hard hitting, quick action – no good or bad guys here, just handshakes and pro wrestling.

The finish comes when Dave Crist misses a dive, ending up on the other side of the guardrail, and Prohibition literally bounces Jake’s head off the mat with a piledriver variation known as “The Drunken Driver”

Just for the record, Matt Cross’ beard is DEFINITELY tough enough.

Johnny Gargano vs Michael Elgin

I’ve been lucky enough to see both these guys in 2012 (Gargano in England, Elgin in England AND America). Having watched Gargano for a few years now, I have been a fan for a while. I wasn’t sure about Elgin at first, but I am a total believer now after seeing him in some incredible matches this year. This one can be added to that list of incredible matches.

The match starts at a deliberately slow pace, Gargano plays the smaller guy, doing his best to damage the tank-like Elgin, while Elgin is brushing him off with power moves. They’re telling a story. It’s a good match. Then somewhere about 10mins in, something just clicks and it turns into an incredible match.

Counter after counter, ridiculous forearms from Elgin, devastating superkicks from Gargano. There is a lot of moments where I genuinely thought the match was about to end, and it just kept going, and getting even better. If you buy this DVD or MP4, I guarantee you will be rewinding moments from this match to watch again.
It’s such a good match, I’m not even going to give away the finish – you need to see it, and AIW need to give us round two in 2013.

Nixon & Necro Butcher vs Tim Donst, Eddie Kingston, BJ Whitmer & Chris Dickinson

Earlier in the review, I alluded to the fact there would probably be more blood. I just won “understatement of the year.”

By the end of the match – this is no exaggeration, there is literally several pools of blood on the floor of the venue.

The majority of it takes place outside of the ring, amongst the crowd, who have to part like the Red Sea (which is also a good way to describe the level of blood), and stay out of the way, or risk being seriously hurt themselves.

While there isn’t a single light tube or piece of barbed wire used, this match is about as violent as anything you’ll see in modern pro wrestling. Eight men, with no regard for safety, tearing each other apart.

If you are not familiar with AIW, the story told in this match could get extremely confusing, so I’m not even going to try and explain it. The ironic DQ finish (after horrendously violent chaos) annoyed me, but I guess that’s the point, and Duke owns 50% of the company so if he wants to bring in a referee – he can.

AR Fox vs ACH

Innovation, agility, athleticism and drama. This is what the people that left the venue after the previous match missed. For some crazy reason, dozens of people didn’t want to see the two guys who are at the forefront of pushing modern wrestling to the next level, tearing it up for 30mins.

ACH beat Fox 2-1 in the first match, so this would either even the score or confirm ACH’s dominance. Despite the smaller crowd, pools of blood on the floor and general wreckage everywhere, the people that stayed, got the match they were hoping for.

Within the first 10mins, ACH had took an early lead with a quick pin, and then doubled his advantage with a submission from a big swing cloverleaf, while Fox had used up some of his signatures (such as the breathtaking kickflip moonsault) to no avail.

Halfway through the 15mins, Fox finally managed to get a fall back, and the score was 2-1. Shortly after, following a series of high spots, Fox evened the score – game on again.

The two continued to battle, and at 27mins were incredibly still performing outlandish dives to the floor. Both men struggled to get back into the ring, with Fox narrowly making it before ACH, kicking him off the apron and gaining a countout, going 3-2 up in the process and winning the match with literally a couple of seconds to spare.

This now sets the score at one match each, and there seems to be only one way to end the argument: SIXTY MINUTES.

This is a very diverse show, with literally something for everyone. If you want to get into a new promotion, give Absolute Intense Wrestling a chance, and the intensity and unpredictability will probably hook you. They have a good online presence, including tons of backstage material and free matches, so check them out on Youtube & if you like what you see, grab a whole show.

Other AIW shows from this year that I’d recommend checking out include: JT Lightning Invitational, Point Break, Straight Outta Compton and of course, the Girls Night Out shows.

Cleveland – We might meet again in 2013.(Providing The Batiri don’t actually end the world)

Here is a DVD preview of the show:

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