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Arena Reports
5/25 IWA-MS in Midlothian, Ill.: Low Ki & Homicide vs. Sydal & Abercrombie, Whitmer & Richards vs. BLK OUT

May 29, 2007 - 10:03:00 AM
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By Chris Vetter, Torch Contributor

IWA Mid-South returned to Midlothian, Ill., on Friday, May 25, 2007, for night 1 of its “Chris Candido Memorial Cup,” a 16-team, two-day, tag tournament. Unfortunately, the crowd is only about 130 paid, which has to be considered a disappointment, as there are many marquee indy wrestlers on this show.

The show got under way at 7:40 p.m.

(1) Brandon Thomaselli defeats Metal Master at 11:43 to retain the light-heavyweight title.
Metal Master, better known as Chad Collyer, is now under a mask, with a metallic blue & silver outfit. Thomaselli wore an ugly teal singlet. They did some basic standing switches, and it was slow early, as they had some intense lockups. Metal Mater finally sped it up with an armdrag and he slammed Thomaselli’s face into the mat at 4:30. Metal Master hit a nice gutwrench suplex and a butterfly suplex, but he missed a frogsplash. Thomaselli took over, and he slowed the action down again on the mat. Metal Master hit some chops.

Brandon hit a nice powerslam for a nearfall at 8:00, and he tied up Metal Master’s arms. Metal Master hit a back suplex and a spin kick to the face, and he took charge of the action, hitting a top-rope crossbody block for a nearfall. Brandon fired back with a fisherman’s buster for a nearfall, as the pace of the match picked up. Brandon Thomaselli went for his SAT Bomb over his knees, but Metal Master blocked it and got a rollup for a nearfall. Brandon won it with a rollup and a handful of tights for the pin. Basic and average; with the talent in the ring, this should have been better.

(2) Chuck Taylor defeats Devon Moore at 7:25 to retain the IWA Mid-South Heavyweight Title.
Taylor’s hair is now much shorter than when I last saw him, and he jawed at the ref and at the crowd as he did some basic arm holds with Moore. I’ve seen Moore just a few times; he’s one of the top guys in PWU in Philadelphia. He has very short black hair, and he’s pretty small. Moore hit some armdrags and a nice hurricanrana, then a dive to the floor through the ropes, and both wrestlers rolled into the crowd. In the ring, Taylor hit a blatant low blow, and he took control. Taylor hit a nice standing dropkick at 3:00, and he was really animated tonight!

Moore hit a back suplex and Taylor let out a funny shrill scream as he landed, and they were both down. Moore hit a spin heel kick, and he hit (Taylor’s move!) a falling-backward boot to the chin! Moore hit a uranage for a nearfall, and the crowd was solidly behind Moore. Taylor came back with a second-rope Northern Lights suplex for a nearfall at 6:30. Taylor hit a Michinoku-style sitdown piledriver for the pin! After the match, Taylor got on the mic and ripped into Tank, his opponent on night 2. Solid match that could have used a few more minutes.

* Promoter Ian Rotten walked to ringside, and he talked about Chris Candido, and what a great performer he was. “Chris was one of the best tagteam wrestlers I’ve seen in my life,” Rotten said. He talked about how Candido loved to literally expose his butt in the ring, and how he tried to do it in a match with Ian. Ian urged fans to chant “Candido” any time they saw a spot over the weekend that impressed them.

(3) Round 1: Michael Elgin & Ash (w/Joey Eastman) defeat Drake Younger & Vortekz at 10:39.
A very good match, and a mild upset. Elgin is the Rhino lookalike who wrestled in ROH in St. Paul last month; he’s cut his hair shorter now so he doesn’t look as much like Rhino – but he still wears similar singlets with a similar body size. Ash is thinner but also impressive. Vortekz wore red tonight, and he seems in better physical shape then when I last saw him. Joey Eastman wore his awful pink/peach jacket and yellow pants, and he was ON tonight as the heel manager, getting under the skin of the crowd.

Elgin easily shoved Vortekz to the mat. Vortekz came back with some armdrags. Elgin hit a gutbuster over his knee on Vortekz. Vortekz hit a spin heel kick to Ash’s face. Younger entered and he slammed Ash onto Vortekz. Younger hit a top-rope dive to the floor on Elgin at 3:00, then he hit some chops. Joey Eastman tripped Younger, allowing Elgin to hit a backbody drop on Younger on the floor! The heels beat up Vortekz in the ring, hitting double guillotine legdrops for a nearfall. Ash hit a doublestomp on the back of Vortekz’ head. Elgin hit a clothesline on Vortekz off the top rope, sending Vortekz to the mat for a nearfall at 6:30. Vortekz’ and Ash’s heads collided, and they were both down.

Younger made the hot tag, and he hit a series of clotheslines, then a DDT on Elgin. Younger hit a Michinoku Driver on Ash for a nearfall. Younger and Elgin traded a prolonged series of stiff forearms! Younger hit a back suplex. Elgin hopped up and hit a back suplex. They traded Mafia Kicks, and they were both down at 9:00, and the crowd popped, chanting, “Candido!” Vortekz hit a flying double knees shot in the corner, launching off of Younger’s back (think Jeff Hardy’s Whisper in the Wind.) He tried it again, but Elgin slammed Vortekz onto Younger. Younger nailed a Drake’s Landing (Homicide’s Copkillah) on Ash. However, Elgin hit a basement dropkick on Younger’s knee, and Younger fell to the floor in pain, clutching his knee. In the ring, Vortekz went for a moonsault press, but Elgin caught him, and Elgin then hit a sitdown piledriver on Vortekz for the pin. Good match.

(4) Round 1: Basham & Damaja (formerly Danny & Doug Basham) defeat Silas Young & Dysfunction at 10:01.
Good match. Silas & Dysfunction were faces tonight, which is a bit weird, as I’ve become so used to seeing them as heels. Silas has long hair that is a bit darker, almost red tonight (he’s usually blonde), and he has REALLY improved his physique! The crowd popped for Basham & Damaja; however, the ring announcer introduced them as “the Basham brothers,” and Damaja ripped the announcer for not knowing his ‘correct’ name, and they instantly turned into heels. Damaja (formerly Danny Basham) proved to be quite good on the mic, showing more charisma in two days here than he ever did in WWE. WWE really dropped the ball on both of these guys.

The match began with Basham vs. Silas with some intense lockups and they traded armholds. (Silas is quite muscular now, but Basham just towers over him.) Damaja and Silas also traded some intense mat holds, Silas hit a nice Giant Swing into a headscissors takedown at 3:00. Basham hit a shoulder tackle on Dysfunction. Dysfunction hit a kick in a sloppy spot on Basham. Damaja hit a decapitating clothesline on Dysfunction! OUCH! The heels worked over Dysfunction. Basham hit a snap suplex at 8:00, but he missed a top-rope Benoit flying headbutt. Silas made the hot tag, and he hit a clothesline and a nice dropkick on Damaja. Silas hit a hurricanrana. Damaja hit a standing neckbreaker for a nearfall on Silas, but Dys made the save. Damaja hit a chokeslam powerbomb on Silas for the pin!

* After the match, Dysfunction turned on the crowd and yelled at them.

(5) Round 1: Jagged & Shane Matthews (2.0) defeat Ryan Cruz & Darin Corbin (the North Star Express) (w/Joey Eastman) at 10:16.
Jagged & Matthews came out to Michael Jackson’s “Beat it.” They are goofy guys from IWS in Canada; I’ve seen them before in Chikara Pro, and they wore black & red outfits, with Matthews going shirtless. The NSE wore identical green pants with a white stripe. Cruz started with Matthews, and Matthews claimed that Cruz pulled his hair. Darin entered and hit some armdrags on Jagged, but Corbin couldn’t kip up to his feet in a humor spot. Lots of silliness early here. Jagged hit a kneedrop on Darin’s head at 4:30. Team 2.0 hit a team Russian Legsweep on Darin. Cruz entered and hit a neckbreaker on the top rope on Jagged, and the heels took over.

The North Star Express hit team elbow drops on Jagged for a nearfall. Cruz hit a snap suplex for a nearfall, then he applied a Figure Four Leglock at 7:00, and the wrestlers did some gay spot humor. Matthews made the hot tag and hit some clotheslines and a nice dropkick on Cruz. Darin airballed a top-rope crossbody block, and he crashed to the mat. Team 2.0 hit a team DDT on Cruz for a nearfall. Cruz crashed into Matthews’ groin, and all five men in the ring (including the ref) wound up taking shots to the groin at 9:30. Silliness abound everywhere. Ryan went for the Cruz Control/team Alabama Slam, but 2.0 hit a team Lungblower move on Ryan for the pin! Fun match with plenty of comedy.

(6) Round 1: B.J. Whitmer & Davey Richards (team ROH) defeat Sabian & Joker (BLK OUT) at 13:07.
Very good match! Joker is in really good shape, and he had an impressive showing here. My first time seeing Sabian live; he is short, dark black, but in tremendously good shape. Whitmer and Joker started, and they hit some shoulder tackles with neither man budging; this is intense! Joker hit a nice dropkick. Sabian hit a dropkick to Richards’ groin, then a hurricanrana on Richards and a nice running flip dive to the floor on Whitmer & Richards! In the ring, Joker and Whitmer traded some HARD chops at 3:00, and Whitmer hit a nice snap suplex. Sabian hit a hurricanrana on Richards for a nearfall. Richards hit a gutbuster over his knee, then a top-rope crossbody block on Sabian.

Joker hit a butterfly suplex for a nearfall on Whitmer. Sabian hit a dropkick, sending Whitmer’s head into the ring post at 7:00! Richards hit a snap suplex for a nearfall on Joker, and he hit his hard spin kicks to the chest. Richards hit a high back suplex on Joker for a nearfall! OUCH! Whitmer missed a frogsplash, and Sabian made the hot tag, and he hit a basement dropkick to Whitmer’s face. Sabian hit a Flatliner on Richards at 9:30. Joker hit a Lungblower on Richards’ chest, and Sabian hit a senton on Richards’ back! Nice team spot. Whitmer hit an Exploder suplex, sending Sabian into the corner. Richards hit a stunner and a Tajiri-style spin kick on Sabian’s head!

Whitmer and Joker traded stiff, clubbing forearms, then they took turns hitting exploder suplexes; the crowd popped as each man hopped to their feet after each exploder! Joker hit a fisherman’s back suplex, dumping Whitmer on his head. Richards hit his handspring-back-enziguri on Joker. Sabian hit a DDT on Richards. Richards hit a sitdown piledriver on Sabian for a believable nearfall! Richards applied a leglock on Sabian, and Sabian tapped out! Very good match, and the crowd was hot for this entire match.

(7) Round 1: Vito & Sal Thomaselli (the Iron Saints) defeat Rocky Romero & Ricky Reyes (the Havana Pitbulls) at 12:30.
Good match. Vito & Sal are now full-fledged faces, and they wore blue trunks. Sal and Reyes started and traded quick reversals, then they traded slaps to the face! Vito entered, and he traded slaps with Reyes! It appears Sal has added more tattoos since I was here last. Vito applied a bodyscissors lock on Rocky. Sal hit a back suplex on Rocky at 3:30, and the Iron Saints took turns chopping Rocky’s front & back. Vito hit a nice underhook suplex on Rocky. Reyes entered and hit a hard spine kick on Sal, and he applied a headscissorslock, then a basement dropkick to Sal’s head in the corner.

Rocky got the tag, and he hit a series of right & left kicks and some LOUD chops. Reyes hit a field goal kick to the gut. Sal hit a kick to the face and a plancha to the floor on Reyes. Rocky dove through the ropes on Sal. Vito hit a top-rope dive to the floor on the Pitbulls at 7:00! In the ring, Reyes and Sal traded forearms, and Sal hit a fisherman’s spinning suplex. Romero entered and hit some LOUD chops and a flying knee on Sal, then a second-rope DDT for a nearfall. Sal came back with a swinging neckbreaker, and he made the tag to Vito. Vito hit a backbreaker across his shoulder on Romero and a Spinebuster on Reyes. Reyes hit a jumping knee, and all four men were down at 10:00.

The crowd was hot! Romero hit a top-rope elevated kneedrop on Vito for a nearfall, but Sal made the save. Romero got a Victory Roll on Vito, and he turned it into an anklelock! Reyes applied a Dragon Sleeper on Sal, and I thought the Pitbulls were about to win, but Vito reached the ropes. Vito got a headscissors takedown on Romero. The Saints then hit their team DDT move, and Vito pinned Rocky, as Reyes wasn’t able to make the save. Sharp match.

Intermission.

(8) Round 1: Axl Rotten & Mickie Knuckles defeat Z-Barr & Ricky Morton at 9:25.
Z-Barr replaced the perpetually absent Tracey Smothers, and he took the mic and said that women don’t belong in wrestling. Morton got a nice face pop, as fans chanted “Rock n’ Roll!” It was immediately clear that Morton & Z-Barr is a rare face & heel team. Axl got on the mic, where he prettymuch ripped on most of the matches earlier on the show, and he broke kayfabe in his comments. He urged fans to treat this match as “old school” and cheer the faces and boo the heels. The IWA fans actually complied!

The match began with Mickie and Z-Barr trading basic standing switches. Axl called himself “the Dream,” and he mimicked Dusty Rhodes’ strut as he tied up with Z-Barr. Morton tagged in at 3:30, getting a nice pop, and Morton tied up wit Axl, and he hit a shoulder tackle. Mickie tagged in, and Morton refused to tie up with a woman. Mickie got upset, and she shoved Morton. Morton went to tag out, but Mickie hit a snap suplex for a nearfall. Morton went to tag out, but Z-Barr hopped off the ring apron to tie his shoe at 7:00, ignoring his partner!

Axl worked over Morton. Morton hit some punches. Z-Barr did some jumping jacks on the floor, again not being in the corner for the tag. Morton got angry and punched Z-Barr! Morton ran the ropes, and Z-Barr intentionally tripped Morton, allowing Axl to hit a DDT for the pin. Dull match with little moves, but a hot crowd made this fun.

* Z-Barr jawed at Morton after the match, calling him an “old, geriatric fossil,” and he proclaimed that Robert Gibson carried Morton for years. Morton told Z-Barr that “I’ve got nothing to do tomorrow,” challenging him to a match. Ian Rotten came out and added two stipulations: the loser must wear a dress (which didn’t happen, as Ian forgot to buy one), and the loser must eat dog food.

(9) Round 1: Cloudy & Cheech (Up in Smoke) defeat Super Dragon & El Generico (team PWG) at 16:25.
A major upset in my eyes. But, Generico and Super Dragon appeared to not be getting along on their way to the ring. Super Dragon’s gut has noticeably grown since I last saw him wrestle live in Dec. 2005. Cheech & Cloudy jumped Team PWG, crashing down on them on the flor. In the ring, Up in Smoke hit team Japanese armdrags on Generico. Cheech hit a dropkick on Generico. Super Dragon entered and hit chops on both Cloudy & Cheech. Super Dragon hit a high back suplex on Cloudy at 2:00, and he twisted his left leg. Cloudy hit an overhead flipping neckbreaker on Super Dragon.

Super Dragon hit a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker on Cheech. Generico hit a spin heel kick on Cheech. Super Dragon nailed a hard spine kick on Cheech. Generico hit a bodyslam, and team PWG was in charge. At 7:30, Super Dragon hit a top-rope doublestomp on Cheech’s chest, as Cheech was lying across Generico’s knees! OUCH! Super Dragon tied Cheech in a pretzel. Generico hit a backbreaker over his knee for a nearfall. This action was fairly methodical. Super Dragon hit a powerbomb into the corner, and he applied a Crippler Crossface, but Cheech reached the ropes at 11:00. Generico accidentally clotheslined Super Dragon.

Cloudy got the tag, and he hit a hurricanrana on Super Dragon, then another hurricanrana on the floor on Super Dragon. In the ring, Cloudy hit a team DDT on Generico for a nearfall. Cheech hit a catapult senton for a nearfall on Generico. Super Dragon hit a decapitating clothesline on Cheech for a nearfall. Super Dragon nailed his Curbstomp on Cheech for a nearfall, but Cloudy made the save. Cheech missed a top-rope move, as Super Dragon rolled out. Generico nailed his running Mafia Kick in the corner, but he couldn’t hit the brainbuster in the corner.

Cloudy hit a powerbomb. Cheech hit a snap top-rope hurricanrana for a believable nearfall on Generico. Generico came back with a mid-ring brainbuster on Cheech. Super Dragon chopped Cheech, and Generico hit a Mafia Kick, then a half-nelson suplex! Super Dragon immediately hit the Psycho Driver on Cheech! Super Dragon went to cover Cheech, BUT, Cloudy – the legal man, snuck in the ring, got a schoolboy rollup on Generico, and scored the pin! Fans chanted, “bullsh!t!” Solid match; I expected a lot more.

* After the match, Super Dragon attacked El Generico! He hit a modified Psycho Driver, dropping Generico on his head! Super Dragon then stole Generico’s mask, but ring announcer Ben Jordan handed Generico a towel to hide his face.

(10) Round 1: Homicide & Low Ki (the Strong Style Thugs) defeat Matt Sydal & Josh Abercrombie at 22:03.
Very good match, and I’ll give it match of the night. However, neither team was a heel team, and the fans sat and enjoyed the match without really booing anyone. Homicide and Sydal started, and the crowd was HOT, as they traded intense reversals and armbars, and Homicide turned and spit at Abercrombie on the apron! Sydal hit some deep armdrags, so Homicide countered with his own. Ki entered at 4:00, and he is slightly larger than Sydal. Ki hit a LOUD chop on Sydal in the corner. Abercrombie entered and faced Low Ki, and they had some intense reversals that ended in a standoff.

Ki went for a Triangle Choke, but Abercrombie escaped it at 8:00. Josh leaned Ki into the ropes and chopped him, so Low Ki did the same. On the floor, Homicide tossed a chair at Josh. In the ring, Homicide hit a spine kick. Low Ki applied a bodyscissors lock on Abercrombie in the ring. Ki & Homicide hit simultaneous Mafia Kicks in the corner! Abercrombie came back with a powerslam on Homicide for a nearfall at 12:00. Sydal entered, and he twisted Homicide’s left leg, and he hit the cannonball guillotine legdrop. Abercrombie hit a nice back suplex for a nearfall on Homicide, as they continued to work over Homicide. Homicide fired back with the Eddie rolling suplexes, and he made the hot tag to Low Ki at 15:00.

Ki hit several Kobashi-style rapid-fire chops on Sydal, then a nice butterfly suplex with a bridge on Sydal for a nearfall! Nice! Sydal hit a fisherman’s suplex on Ki for a nearfall. Homicide hit a flying-back-elbow on Sydal and a brainbuster for a nearfall. Homicide hit a series of headbutts on Abercrombie and a belly-to-belly overhead suplex on Abercrombie for a nearfall at 19:30. Ki hit his running boot on Abercrombie, sending Josh FLYING into the corner. Josh went for the Taliban Backpack/second-rope Lungblower, but Ki avoided it, and Ki immediately hit a doublestomp on Josh’s chest!

Ki & Homicide set up for the top-rope doublestomp & Copkillah combo on Sydal, but Matt was able to escape, and Matt hit a DDT on Homicide. Ki was still on the top turnbuckle, and Matt hit a jump-up rana on Ki, tossing Low Ki onto Homicide! Cool! Abercrombie then hit the Taliban Backpack on Homicide! Sydal went to the top rope, but he couldn’t hit the one-man Spanish Fly on Homicide. Instead, Homicide hit a Doomsday Ace Crusher on Sydal for the pin. Excellent match.

Final thoughts:
The show ended at 11:30 p.m., so nearly four hours of action, which was expected for a tournament.

I gave best match to the main event as it was intense and sharp. Sydal really held his own in the battle with strikers. Abercrombie is easily on a top 10 list of best indy wrestlers today who has never appeared on an ROH main show. Considering how many matches this crowd had already seen, the fact they were so hot at the beginning of this match shows how good these four are.

I really enjoyed the action in the Whitmer/Richards-Sabian/Joker match, and that earned second-best. The crowd was hot for this intense action. However, not everyone was pleased that Whitmer and Joker didn’t sell for each other’s exploder suplexes. My friend thought the whole spot was pretty absurd, as it makes other wrestlers – who sell the move as quite painful – look weak by comparison. I think that is a lot of the point Axl was trying to make later in the show when he took the mic.

Pitbulls vs. Iron Saints earned third best; my friend thought it was best overall. Both Saints have put on a bit of size, and they matched up quite well with the Pitbulls. It was weird to see such a pro-Thomaselli crowd, as these guys have always been heels at shows I’ve attended!

Other guys that really deserve mentioning include Cheech, who is such an improved performer over his early ROH days, and Silas Young, who is vastly underrated. Basham & Damaja were fun here, too.

I am a big fan of El Generico. But, what he does best is take a beating from bigger guys and sell it like he’s getting KILLED out there. So, this match – with the smaller Cheech and diminutive Cloudy – just didn’t accentuate Generico’s best ring skills. Super Dragon just was a bit sluggish tonight; he had a much better showing the next day.


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