This show was originally scheduled for January 22, but due to a huge snowstorm in the area was postponed until tonight. To make up for the show being delayed, IWA added two matches to the card: Samoa Joe v. Brad Bradley (Joe's first IWA match since October) and an IWA title match between CM Punk and former champion Danny Daniels.
The long-advertised attractions were Delirious defending the IWA Mid-South light heavyweight title against Jimmy Jacobs in a cage to blow off their feud, plus an 8-man NWA Indiana State title tournament, and as far as I know this is the first NWA Indiana State championship in history, so that was nice.
Sadly, Ian Rotten's father passed away the morning of the day prior to the show. Ian promised to make the weekend's double shot in Valpo and Muscatine, IA, because his "dad would have wanted it that way." Ian came to ringside for the usual speaking before the show and received an extended standing ovation before talking about his dad, sharing some funny stories and telling us what a huge wrestling fan he was. It was really a touching and genuine moment. There was a ten-bell salute for Ian's father before things got underway.
NWA INDIANA STATE TITLE TOURNAMENT FIRST ROUND TRIK DAVIS v. ERIC PRIEST
Decent opener but nothing to write home about. Both of these guys are entertaining and can keep a crowd into a match; Trik has developed into a fantastic underdog babyface because he's gotten to the point where it's perfectly reasonable that he can win a match, and Priest is a nice midcard heel that I think could be a ton more without the Underwear Model gimmick that I can't take seriously and a lot of the goof-off comedy work he does. But I'm not really arguing with it, wrestling needs guys like Eric Priest, and shows like this definitely benefit from him being on the card. Jim Fannin and Chandler McClure attempted to run interference, with Fannin distracting first-time referee Big Sweaty Mike and Chandler overthrowing a chain that was meant to go to Trik, but it hit the mat and slid back out, so they had to redo that. It worked the second time and Davis advanced on a chain punch. Priest yelled at Fannin and McClure afterward. Fannin blamed McClure.
NWA INDIANA STATE TITLE TOURNAMENT FIRST ROUND JOSH ABERCROMBIE v. IAN ROTTEN
Their 1/8 match from Muscatine was my favorite Josh Abercrombie match. I might've liked this one even more. This was a good, hard-hitting match and these guys have some really odd chemistry together. Ian was just lighting him up and again Abercrombie hung in there with him, throwing back the headbutts and chops and palm strikes. Ian leveled him with a clothesline on the floor again, which I could see every match between them and never get sick of. I love a lariat. There was also some really solid mat wrestling in here, especially in the early part of the match before it got more strike-heavy. Abercrombie would really do well to stick with the style he works against Ian and less of the highspot stuff, because honest to God, he's good at mat wrestling and brawling. The finish came on a nasty looking fisherman's buster, and Ian advanced to the semifinals.
NWA INDIANA STATE TITLE TOURNAMENT FIRST ROUND PETEY WILLIAMS v. ALEX SHELLEY
I've seen these guys live twice, on 6/19 and 7/31 of last year. The 6/19 match was a turd and the 7/31 2/3 falls match was pretty good. I wasn't into this one, but it certainly wasn't that they didn't try or didn't work their asses off or didn't put on a match most people would like, and the live crowd was into it. This one is all my bias, I'm really against matches with tons of near-falls and big moves right now. Sometimes I am into those, but lately I'm just not feeling them at all. This was a lot like Shelley/B-Boy from 12/18, really. Tons of finisher-type moves used and blown past. They went fairly long, around 20 minutes or so. Another reason I wasn't into this is I just don't like Petey Williams. Some of the chain wrestling stuff in here felt really slow, especially for Shelley who normally can go like crazy with that shit. This one just didn't click for me. Shelley won with the Shellshock, and they made up afterward because they're friends and bad guys, although sometimes Petey decides to not be one.
NWA INDIANA STATE TITLE TOURNAMENT FIRST ROUND BRANDON THOMASELLI v. MATT SYDAL
Really, really good match. This is another match that was done on the 1/8 Muscatine show and I was super disappointed in that one. It fit into the mold of big moves + near-falls = great live reaction but little substance. This one, in my opinion, was just as exciting and about 10,000 times more focused, making for the match I thought they could have. Thomaselli is just such a natural and Sydal is a great cruiser. Sydal destroyed Thomaselli's leg in this matchup, attempting to ground him and take away the speed, which was cool as it allowed him the chance to run circles around Thomaselli. Thomaselli sold like a champ. I don't remember lots of specifics about this match, it happened many hours ago. But it was quite good. Thomaselli won.
Intermission was here. We talked to Phil about the 1/22 lucha show that weather prevented us from making it out to, my shameful Chris Hero t-shirt, my dislike of Shelley/Williams and like of Thomaselli/Sydal, and probably some other stuff. Oh, yes, we all agreed that Samoa Joe is a big dude.
IWA MID-SOUTH LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE CAGE MATCH JIMMY JACOBS v. DELIRIOUS (champion)
On the entrances, Jimmy was playing face and Delirious the heel, but Jacobs started getting lots of heel heat from his recent heel run in Rensselaer (which has been awesome, by the way). They actually decided to, you know, go with the flow there. Jacobs became a total asshole and Delirious was on defense most of the match. Another tremendous match. I think Jacobs is the best cage worker on the indies right now. Frankly I think Jacobs is one of the best workers period right now. They did a spot where both fell off the cage as they sat on top of it trading blows, but they don't do first out of the cage rules here, which I really love because I never understood the concept of a violent match that usually ends a bitter feud coming down to who can run away first. They brawled on the floor some, including Delirious taking a wicked dive into some chairs and nearly killing some poor girl. Thankfully she narrowly avoided him and was totally OK. Jacobs brought a table into the cage when the two went back on, and they teased the table spot for about five minutes until finally Jacobs climbed up for the back senton through it, which Delirious rolled away from. Jacobs just fucking exploded through the table, it was sick. Delirious then climbed up and hit the shadows over hell from the top of the cage for the pin, retaining the title and winning the feud. Great match. Jacobs does a post-match injury angle and yelled at Ian Rotten about how it'll really sell tapes. Jacobs' heel persona is based around Ian not respecting him and putting him high enough on the card, and he's really good at it, one reason being if you think about it, you might go, "Yeah, that guy's right, but what a dick." The injury thing was done well enough that they got people to hurry to the ring (myself included) to take the cage down quickly. If that was part of the reason for it, WELL-PLAYED.
BRAD BRADLEY v. SAMOA JOE
I guess these two were building to a match for NJPW USA but it never went down. Joe seemed a little off tonight, but guess what, he was still pretty fucking good. The more I think about this match, the more I realize I really liked it. Bradley should honestly be a singles star here and elsewhere. He's huge and has become a good worker. This match really put Bradley over, which is something Joe is a bit underrated at doing, because he does it very well and rather frequently, even in winning. The early mat segments were not awe-inspiring, but were solid, and then they just beat the hell out of each other. Joe chopped the shit out of Bradley, maybe the loudest chop I've ever heard live. There were a few airball kicks in here from both guys, and both had the sense to sell them as glancing blows. A couple of really sick-looking headdrops were traded, and Joe won on a death valley driver in around 15 minutes or so, which is about the perfect amount of time for a match like this. They were just killing each other, both are big, heavy-hitters, and it seems only right that neither could withstand much more abuse.
NWA INDIANA STATE TITLE TOURNAMENT SEMIFINALS TRIK DAVIS v. IAN ROTTEN
More Ian abuse for all the Ian fans to enjoy. Trik takes a hell of a beating here. The amount of head-thuddery in the two Ian matches tonight was amazing. Not a lot to say about this one; Ian kicks his ass, Trik takes it like a man and fires back occasionally. Ian did wrap him up into a pretzel a few times which looked suitably painful. Ian made both guys he worked with tonight look as good as I've seen them look. Trik won this one with a flying sunset flip, probably about 10 minutes or so. Fun match.
NWA INDIANA STATE TITLE TOURNAMENT SEMIFINALS ALEX SHELLEY v. BRANDON THOMASELLI
Now this is more my speed for an Alex Shelley match. Thomaselli comes in with the weak knee from the first round match and Shelley exploits it greatly. Almost all of Shelley's offense focuses on Thomaselli's injury, and he dominates much of the match with Brandon getting some flurries in here and there. The chain stuff here worked much better than in Petey/Shelley, I thought, even with Thomaselli working slow with the bum wheel. The finish was excellent as Shelley drops him with a top-rope ace crusher, and instead of pinning, goes up top again, hits a frog splash on the knee, hesitates, and gets rolled up for the three count, making for Thomaselli-Trik in the tournament finals. Shelley sells disbelief well as Thomaselli stumbles back to the locker room. Shelley then tells us that Indiana smells like piss. Well I can't disagree.
IWA MID-SOUTH TITLE MATCH DANNY DANIELS v. CM PUNK (champion)
Kind of had a feeling we'd get a title change tonight. This was the latest addition to the card and seemed suspicious because of it. I wasn't that into this match for the first 10 minutes or so. It was fine wrestling, but it was Punk and Daniels and something about it was just feeling rather pedestrian. They really turned it up after that and made the first ten minutes pay off as they quietly built the match. This was the best Danny Daniels match in a long time. Punk broke out a swank new move, a Finlay roll from the second rope that was positively devastating. This match again made me appreciate what a damn good all-around worker Punk really is. After fighting off the Pepsi Plunge, Daniels hit a piledriver that got two, and then a double-arm piledriver, which Punk got a foot on the ropes for. The difference between this and Shelley/Williams or Shelley/B-Boy or Thomaselli/Sydal from 1/8 was that this match built up to all of this, whereas the other ones just were all of that. This wasn't a classic or anything, but it exceeded my expectations and by the end of the match I was really into it. Punk nearly got a submission, but Daniels rolled him over for the flash pin to become a two-time IWA Mid-South champion. Punk was gracious in defeat, Ian thanked Punk publically for helping make the promotion what it is today, and then congratulated Daniels on his win.
NWA INDIANA STATE TITLE TOURNAMENT FINALS TRIK DAVIS v. BRANDON THOMASELLI
A couple of rising stars to close the show. Trik decides to announce to Brandon that he wants it to be a clean match, and as such, Trik never goes after the injured knee because he's a fair and noble competitor. Brandon doesn't punch Trik in the forehead or whatever else of Trik's that was hurting in return. What a couple of great guys. Another good match to cap off a night where there wasn't a single bad one. Instead of the knee, Davis focuses on Thomaselli's arm, which does seem smart enough. The knee is already weak, why not go after another body part to give him two bad limbs? Thomaselli basically seems like he's trying to fight Trik off here as Trik is coming in with a distinct advantage. Thomaselli got the air raid crash for the pin after a hard-fought match to become the NWA Indiana champion.
Really good show that was worth the horrendous fog we encountered on the drive home, plus the awful shame of having to eat at a Denny's in Michigan City. When I really sat down and thought about this show, there wasn't a single match here that was a stinker. I wasn't into Shelley/Petey but again, I think that was more me than the match, because it's not like it was bad wrestling or anything. Far from it really. The card was entirely devoid of filler which was a nice change from many shows, and the whole thing came off like a really well-planned effort.
(edited by ScottChrist on 5.2.05 0501) "Tomko! Give me a beat!" "No."
Good column, and you've certainly hit the nail on the head of a few points as to why this has quickly become underwhelming television. Hopefully, the WWF gets it's act together on this before it's too late.