365 match reviews, one for each date on the yearly calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.
With the free agent market in wrestling flooded in 2022, many promising talents run the risk of remaining relatively unknown or never getting the opportunities on a bigger stage. One goal of this project is, when possible, to spotlight wrestlers who I feel don’t get enough credit for their work. This match involves two of said wrestlers, Joe Black and Will Huckaby. I’ve worked as a commentator or “authority figure” at shows involving both, who put together a memorable feud that culminated in January of 2020 in Southern Honor Wrestling in a Dog Collar Match.
You can watch this match on IWTV.
An excellent video detailing their six-month rivalry runs right before the match. At one point in the build, Black blasted Huckaby in the head with a glass bottle, leading to a storyline eye injury that had Huckaby wearing an eyepatch, even on shows for other promotions or in different states. That type of storyline continuity is rare on the independent level, where two guys could be embroiled in a hated rivalry one night and then teaming together the next and it all ends up on YouTube by the following Wednesday.
SHW held a special contract signing at a prior event, where Huckaby slices his arm and signs with his own blood. Gruesome, but compelling. Both men are underrated talkers and Black especially shines through. This line stands out: “Your blood that you signed the contract with is gonna be the same blood I coat my hands with and wipe on my chest as war paint.” Yes. Sold.
A big-fight feel adds a lot to a match (as we’ve seen in offerings from New Japan and NOAH), and it’s in full effect here despite the more intimate atmosphere. The entrances add extra sizzle, with Huckaby and Black both dressed as homages to famous Marvel characters (the Incredible Hulk and Wolverine, respectively).
What ensues is nearly 30 minutes of one of the most physically intense matches I have seen. Black and Huckaby start out at a slower pace than I expected given the “blood feud” build, but this allows more time for the violence to escalate.
Huckaby is in full heel mode. He delivers a knockout punch to one of the two assigned referees at the opening bell. After Huckaby powerbombs Black twice through a table at ringside (watch the table explode on the second, and half land on Joe in what could have been nasty), he threatens the referee still standing to get unlocked from the chain linking them. Huckaby goes wild, dismantling the ring to expose the boards underneath the canvas. Then, when a package piledriver fails to produce the three count, Huck starts removing boards, flinging them across the ringside rail in a melee reminiscent of watching Bruiser Brody run amok.
Meanwhile, Black does great work as the gutsy, undersized, fan favorite. He’s got the crowd support and summons the spirit of the character who inspired his gear for the match, taking a serious beating but “regenerating” each time. His offense is just as physically punishing, if not moreso, than Huck’s. Once the boards are removed to reveal the metal substructure of the ring, Black dumps Huckaby on not one but two front suplexes into the abyss.
Both men end up getting released from the chain, which takes away from the hype surrounding the stipulation, but they compensate for any disappointment with–you guessed it–more violence. We see blood. We see weapons. We even see green mist. Things spill out of the ring and into the parking lot, where hostilities are capped by a protracted brawl around and on a car in the parking lot before Black finishes it with a Falcon Arrow onto the front windshield.
Final Rating: 7.0
I’ve always enjoyed the dog collar match as the way to settle a feud for good. This one delivers. The escalation of violence throughout keeps the fans invested. Although the stipulation gets cast aside, it allows for a spectacular final spot in the parking lot.
Things get Dangerous in 1992 for a six-man tag from a WCW B-show.