365 matches in 365 days, each from that specific date on the calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.
As Gordon Solie so eloquently put it… “Five letters. Two words. I Quit.”
An I Quit match is one of my favorite gimmick matches in wrestling… when it is done right. Magnum TA vs. Tully Blanchard is the best and most famous example of this type of match, as it should be. John Cena and JBL had a very good one during Cena’s initial run as WWE champion. To me, an I Quit match is the blowoff, the final chapter, best suited for the culmination of a long-running rivalry.
And that’s what we have here… in this match from February 15, 2014, with Jake Manning facing John Skyler in an I Quit Match at PWX Rise of a Champion, Night 1.
This match is available on the Highspots Wrestling Network or through PWX’s own on-demand streaming service.
There was a preview of the entire Rose of a Champion card over at PW Ponderings that served as a great resource in my research for this match. PWX also put together a video package chronicling their feud that ran right before the match.
These two started feuding in May of 2013, when they were thrown together as a team through a random draw for a tag title tournament. Manning and Skyler ended up winning the tournament, only to see Skyler immediately turn on Manning and go on an overseas tour, leaving Manning to defend the tag titles in handicap matches. Their feud continued, mostly in tag matches with a variety of partners that included Kevin Steen teaming with each man at some point. In the last singles match between these two, Skyler won by countout then got to dole out 10 lashes with Manning’s leather belt across the back of the Manscout.
Skyler has about 5 1/2 years of experience at the time of this match. He’s gone on to wrestle all over the Southeast, also making appearances as a job guy on WWE programming as well as AEW Dark.
Manning, who you also may have seen on recent episodes of AEW Dark, started wrestling in 2004. He’s also a stand-up comic and, in more recent years, added some schtick to his wrestling as well when he incorporated a pop-up tent into his act. Manning also has had a hand in training an assortment of quality wrestlers to come on the Carolina scene in recent years.
This is also the first time in the project I’m writing about wrestlers where I’ve commentated their matches previously: Skyler against Chase Owens in Tennessee in 2016, and Manning against Lucky Ali in West Virginia in 2019.
Based in Charlotte, N.C., the PWX promotion has seen a who’s who of independent stars in the 2010s who went on to major promotions. Cedric Alexander, Caleb Konley, Cameron Grimes (then known as Trevor Lee), Andrew Everett, Adam Page and Anthony Henry were regulars. Guys like Roderick Strong, Eddie Edwards, Adam Cole, Rhett Titus and Moose worked there regularly while also working with Ring of Honor. Other names like Samoa Joe and Steen (aka Kevin Owens) made guest appearances.
When you watch wrestling you have to have at least some suspension of disbelief. That said, it makes no sense to me when you see a heated grudge match — especially one with a big stipulation — and they start out with hold-for-hold exchanges.
If an I Quit Match is booked, I expect to see violence, and violence is what you get here. The fists start flying from the second Manning hits the ring and these two keep going at one another for a full 20 minutes. The closest thing you get to “traditional” wrestling, aside from an Indian Deathlock by Manning in the very early going, are moves that all involve some extra-curricular element to make them more painful such as suplexes, except on the floor.
The match hits another level of intensity when the blood starts to flow, and let me tell you, it flows. The total amount of bloodshed in this one even rivals the one death match I’ve watched as part of the project. Skyler waylays Manning with a chair out on the floor and the Manscout comes up a bloody mess. A few minutes later, Manning throws a chair up into an attempted suicide dive by Skyler and both men end up bleeding profusely.
Down the home stretch, we see two impressive spots: Manning delivers a jumping piledriver off the apron through a table. Later, Skyler hits Manning with Sliced Bread #2, but across the seats of two chairs facing one another. The former just looked cool. The second was spectacular and also spectacularly dangerous, with an especially nasty-looking landing for Skyler.
The conclusion has two callbacks. Skyler breaks out handcuffs and commentator Chris Shore does some good work identifying this as a previous tactic of Skyler’s in I Quit matches. The handcuff plan backfire on Skyler, leaving him at the mercy, or lack thereof, of Manning and his leather belt. A solid flogging ensues until Skyler finally surrenders.
–I’ve written before about how the periphery of a match, like referees and commentary, can add to a match or subtract from it. Shore’s note about Skyler’s previous use of the handcuffs is literally the only good thing I have to say about the commentary here. It distracts from what’s happening in and around the ring. I honestly would have preferred a live feed with no commentary track.
–The production team doesn’t do this match many favors. The cameras catch Manning getting color on the floor after the chairshot, then tip off Manning’s retaliation as he’s clearly seen lying in wait with the chair before Skyler’s suicide dive. Still better than watching a match with camera cuts every 2 seconds (I’m looking at you, WWE …)
Final Rating: 6.6
This is a violent, satisfying culmination to the nine-month feud between Manning and Skyler. The pre-match video does a fine job summarizing their issues. I felt like I jumped right in and immediately had a good grasp of their rivalry despite no prior context. Both Manning and Skyler are among the best of an excellent crop of wrestlers in the Carolinas in the last 15 or so years. Manning is especially underrated. I watched him have a very good technical match against Lucky in West Virginia so it was a treat to see the Manscout show his range in a more brutal match here. A good match that honestly would have ranked even more highly with me if the commentary had been better.
A third straight gimmick match, this time the Monster’s Ball.