365 Wrestling, Day 41: PAC vs. Kzy (Dragon Gate Truth Gate, 2/10/19)

365 Wrestling, Day 41: PAC vs. Kzy (Dragon Gate Truth Gate, 2/10/19)

365 match reviews, one for each date on the yearly calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.

Pro wrestling is, above all, subjective. Still, if you asked even a diehard fan to list the best wrestlers in the world, would PAC even make the list? Because he should.

The man you also may know as Neville from WWE might be one of the more underrated wrestlers out there today. It’s not that people don’t recognize he’s good; they don’t recognize how good he is. Perhaps that’s a casualty of being signed with All Elite Wrestling and, as someone living in the UK, forced to take an extended hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic.

His early work on the independents as a clean-cut high flyer makes for a nice highlight reel or gif, but he really hit his stride as the bearded bully of the cruiserweight division in WWE — and then expanded on that with his Bastard PAC persona once he left WWE. Now that PAC is AEW’s first All Atlantic champion, it will be interesting to see what his future holds. For this entry in 365 Wrestling, we look at the recent past of Pac, in this match from 2019 against Kzy for Dragon Gate.

You can watch the match on Dragon Gate’s streaming site, the Dragongate Network. You may or may not be able to find this match online with some shrewd searching.

The Match

When PAC walked out of WWE in October of 2017, he spent a full calendar year on the sidelines. He made his return not in the U.S., or England — but in Japan for Dragon Gate, his home away from home while building his name. Two months later, PAC won the Open the Dream Gate Title, a belt we’re familiar with from a prior entry.

This is PAC’s first defense of the title and it comes against Kzy, a product of the Dragon Gate dojo who by this point has become one of his home promotion’s top fan favorites. Dragon Gate is all about factions, and each man is joined by his crew. PAC is with R.E.D., the top heel faction in the promotion at the time. Kzy is repping for Natural Vibes, and joins his mates in a goofy synchronized dance number during the introductions.

The setting here is Hakata Starlanes, a bowling alley in Fukuoka that hosted wrestling events for many years before it closed in early 2019. Dragon Gate ran this venue regularly, and this was that promotion’s final event there. The intimate environment adds to the atmosphere, boosting an already engaged and boisterous crowd. And both wrestlers seemingly graze the relatively low ceilings on some of the flying maneuvers, especially a pair of top-rope superplexes.

The Fukuoka fans appreciate PAC, but they’re rooting for the challenger and a title change here. The feeling-out process is brief. After some early bullying by PAC, Kzy reverses momentum with a spectacular suicide dive that launches both wrestlers into the crowd. PAC answers with the first of those superplexes, and all within the first five minutes.

The story boils down to whether or not Kzy can avoid PAC’s finisher, a spectacular corkscrew shooting star press he calls the Red Arrow. PAC teases the move several times, only to be cut off or have Kzy roll out of striking distance. Kzy has a top-rope finisher of his own — a frog splash — and the first time he leaps with it, PAC gets his knees up to block, eliciting a collective moan from the crowd that is one of my favorite moments of the match.

Toying with his foe early, PAC goes from arrogance to all business, reaching deep into his repertoire for a backslide spike and avoiding defeat after Kzy hits the frog splash on his second try. In a match full of big moves, the finish is the biggest — an avalanche tombstone by the champion, followed by the Red Arrow. PAC remains slumped across the challenger after the three count, a testament to the physical toll.

Final Rating: 8.5

I don’t watch as much Dragon Gate as I should, considering that I consistently enjoy their product. This match contains everything I like about Dragon Gate: tremendous athleticism, eye-popping highspots, a beloved fan favorite, a match with significant stakes, and a fully engaged crowd. It’s also a showcase for PAC. He’s a much more complete wrestler in this bully bad guy persona. Everything he does is crisp, connects well, and is delivered with intent. This is a great match well worth your time.

Check out the full list of 365 Wrestling entries.

Up Next

Ten pounds of gold and two out of three falls.

Follow In Moorehouse Wrestling on social media on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

“Job Hunt”

“Job Hunt”

Author’s note: I wrote this as part of my Flash Fiction Challenge.

*Recording submitted for evidence at Criminal Court, Case 21 3425-32448128*

“Another round, gents? On me…”

“Hey, thanks.”

“Yer all right, fella! What’d ya say yer name was?”

“Dex.”

“Marty, this is the guy I told you about.”

“Yeah, I heard this was a good spot for guys like us to find work.”

“Sure. As long as ya don’t mind the risk’a gettin’ beat into a coma… or breakin’ a few limbs. That reminds me, Pete, how’s the ole jaw?”

“Hrrts!”

“Cheers, gents… Ahh, that hits the spot.”

“So, where are you thinkin’ about looking? Cause it’s very important to make the right choice.”

“Wait… but they hire us…”

“I mean, technically, yes. But given the current sociopolitical climate, there tends to be a perpetual dearth of available labor.”

“Don’t mind Leonard. Mister college graduate over here… thinks he’s smarter than everybody. But he’s right. Lots of bosses and wannabe bosses in this town… and they all need help.”

“Dat’s why ya nevah wanna sign a long-term contract.”

“Oh… Wow… I never knew. So, where do you guys work?”

“Much like yourself, I currently find myself between employers.”

“I’ve been with Dr. Destruction for the past few months…”

“He still make everybody wear those get-ups?”

“What do you mean?”

“He still make everybody wear those get-ups?”

“I mean, most of the bosses have uniforms… Even the mafioso, before they all got killed or locked up, wanted you to wear coat and tie. What’s the difference?”

“Maybe cause the Doctah wants ya to wear a one-piece skintight silver bodysuit. Talk about ridin’ up in da crotch!”

“Fair point, Martin… and let’s not forget the risk of chafing during hot weather!”

“Look, the dress code’s not the best, but he’s also like the only villain in town who offers decent, affordable health insurance.”

“Wait… you guys get insurance?”

“Oh, you’re gonna want insurance, pal!”

“But make sure they also offer dental. Quite important, eh, Peter?”

“Fckr!”

“Yeah, thanks to You Know Who, if the bosses didn’t offer health insurance, nobody would stick around. And there’s lots of doctors in this town with decent copays who don’t ask questions.”

“Of course even with the health coverage, you do not have to worry about paying taxes.”

“Unless ya work fer The Accountant.”

“Oh yeah, avoid him.”

“OK… any other advice?”

“Mr. Tuxedo acts like he’s rich an’ well-to-do but bet yer ass you’ll be payin’ yer own dry-cleanin’!”

“Chef Pierre is a cannibal, so bring your own lunch each day.”

“I suggest avoiding El Chupacabra unless you want to find strange hairs all over your person every night.”

“And what about… You Know Who?”

“Haw haw. Part o’ the cost o doin’ business in this town, I’m afraid. That’s why the pay’s so good. Just watch your jaw.”

“And your nether region. A frequent target, to my experience.”

“Mrrrk!”

“We’re little fish to him and everybody knows it. You take a few lumps, do a little time, then get back at it.”

“Mrrrk!”

“Hang on, Pete, I’ll get you… another smoothie over here?”

“He never comes and hassles you guys, you know, off the clock? You know, for information?”

“Mrrrk!”

“I said, hang on… it’s never really come up.”

“Why so curious?”

“Because, well, I think he’s outside.”

“OH GOD LOOK! THE WINDOW! HE’S HERE!”

“HLLLLLP!”

*End of recording*

365 Wrestling, Day 40: Ricky Steamboat & Don Kernodle vs. Ivan & Nikita Koloff (NWA JCP, 2/9/85)

365 Wrestling, Day 40: Ricky Steamboat & Don Kernodle vs. Ivan & Nikita Koloff (NWA JCP, 2/9/85)

365 match reviews, one for each date on the yearly calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.

Look at just about any era of pro wrestling in North America, and you can find someone portraying the role of an evil foreigner.

The foreign heel is one of those tried-and-true tropes of wrestling, for better or worse. Evil German and Japanese wrestlers were commonplace in various territories after World War II. Then, during the Cold War, Russian bad guys were the du jour choice. Iron Sheik emerged as an America-hating Iranian in the 1980s; he also stands out as one of the few foreign heels who truly was from the place he portrayed, though he ironically spent time before wrestling as a bodyguard for the Shah of Iran, fighting against the type of extremist he portrayed in the squared circle. Sometimes, promotions in other countries would flip the script by bringing in evil Americans; Sam Adonis, the brother of WWE broadcaster Corey Graves, found great success as a heel in CMLL working an over-the-top, pro-Trump American gimmick.

Two of wrestling’s most famous foreign antagonists were Ivan and Nikita Koloff. Ivan carried the “Russian Bear” gimmick for more than 20 years. He’s also famously the man who ended Bruno Sammartino’s 10-year run as WWWF Champion, then went on to extended success in the National Wrestling Alliance. He was a fixture for years on wrestling on TBS, first for Georgia Championship Wrestling, then for Jim Crockett Promotions when Crockett took over the time slot after absorbing Ole Anderson‘s promotion.

In this entry of 365 Wrestling, the Koloffs face Ricky Steamboat and Don Kernodle from the February 9, 1985, episode of WorldWide Wrestling.

You can watch this match on YouTube:

The Match

In 1984, Ivan brought in his “nephew” Nikita to Crockett’s realm and they became top villains in the promotion. At the time of this match, they’re the tag champions for the second time. Kernodle played a role in that first tag reign ending. After returning to JCP in 1984, Kernodle became a “turncoat” and allied with the Russians, until they blamed him for losing the belts and “injured” Kernodle. Kernodle wrestles this match wearing a neck brace, a visual symbol of the damage wrought.

The pairing of opponents to the Koloffs is interesting. Kernodle and Steamboat were on opposite sides of The Final Conflict, the cage match for the Mid-Atlantic tag titles that is considered the genesis for Crockett deciding to hold the first Starrcade. David Crockett and Tony Schiavone don’t mention that history, unfortunately.

The ensuing match isn’t some astonishing display of athleticism. Any play-by-play is pointless, as the sum here is much greater than any individual part. An incredibly rabid audience elevates every aspect of the match, from the Koloffs working the crowd and heavily selling Steamboat and Kernodle’s early offense, to the extended segment of the match where Kernodle is isolated and the Russians focus upon his neck injury, to the frenzied finish. Nikita is incredibly green here — only about eight months into his career — but the three veterans in the match shroud his inexperience and keep this match rolling. It goes about 15 minutes from bell to bell, but time flies.

If you enjoy studying wrestling, or you’re a wrestler yourself, observe the way they tease Kernodle making the tag to Steamboat and then find different ways each time to block Kernodle from making the exchange. Eventually Steamboat loses his patience and comes charging into the ring, sparking a melee that leads to Kernodle getting some revenge on Ivan, and the pin. There’s no tag, and thankfully no one on commentary complaining about who is legal; the action and the broadcasting are on a more visceral level here.

This is billed as a Flag Match, which apparently just means the winning team gets to wave their nation’s flag after getting the fall. Steamboat and Kernodle get to do so for only a few seconds before the third Russian, Krusher Khruschev, storms the ring. Another brawl ensues, but Steamboat wields the Russian flagpole to send the Soviets scattering and the good guys are left standing tall.

Final Rating: 6.8

This is a great example of a throwback 1980s match, and what older wrestlers today grouse about when they say it was easier to work in front of crowds “back in the day.” Steamboat, Kernodle and the Koloffs wrestle a rather simple match but do it so well that the crowd eats up every second of it and remains fully engaged. Getting to chant “U-S-A” at the top of their lungs didn’t hurt.

While many “evil foreigner” characters tend to age poorly and come off as a display of ugly nationalism today, the Koloffs hold up. That’s because they are imposing and convincing heels who use more than just anti-American schtick to build their heat.

Up Next

We examine one of the wildest high-flying matches you’ll find, and one you probably have not seen.

Follow In Moorehouse Wrestling on social media on FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

“The Last of His Kind”

“The Last of His Kind”

Author’s note: I wrote this as part of my Flash Fiction Challenge.

He woke up and wondered where the sky had gone.

A pale light shone down upon him, brighter than even a full moon at midnight. He looked up and saw row after row of these lights, gleaming down… so strong they hurt his eyes. Strange music, playing from somewhere… up above?

What was he lying on? Not grass and earth… it was hard. Flat. Smooth. And strangely cool. He shivered uncontrollably in his linen waistcoat, which already had been damp with sweat from the heat of the summer night—that, the rush of the fight and the burning fires… that he had helped set.

He looked to his left and right, and found himself flanked by tall objects—taller than a man. Immediately, he leaned onto his elbows and started to move back, his scuffed boots sliding against the smooth surface. Were they towers? Siege machines? No. He squinted. They looked to be larders, though each of them was enormous—so tall and wide, and filled with boxes in garish colors with strange lettering upon them. What was that? Eggo? Some sort of savage dialect!

Each larder had a clear door… glass? Unsure, he reached out with a trembling hand and placed his palm against it. He repressed a yelp in surprise as his flesh made contact. It was cold! He whimpered. What witchcraft was this?

Witchcraft…

Witchcraft…

He started to remember.

He came to the colonies like most others—looking for a fresh start. He hadn’t been much for logging or construction. He couldn’t fish, couldn’t shoe a horse, couldn’t fix things with tools. The thing he was best at, the only thing he was good at, if he was honest, was killing. First, he hunted for the settlement. Then one day a man came to town, driving a wagon carrying a rough-looking bunch. The man was hiring help to clear out the wilderness, for 10 pounds a week. 10 British pounds.

And so he left and went to work, and learned clearing wilderness had a lot less to do with cutting down trees and a lot more to do with killing any savages they found. The last thing he remembered, they were in another village… he had no idea how many there’d been by now… they’d done like before, storming in at midnight and killing everything that moved. Men, women, children… it didn’t matter. Every scalp paid.

Near the end, as always, he and his mates started taking torches to huts. But this time, in the firelight, this old crone had stepped out of one of the huts, naked as her born day, her body twisted and gnarled like an old sickly tree. The way he figured, she was the last in the village left alive.

He leveled his flintlock in her direction, and she pointed a finger back at him.

He could remember even her words.

“Now you will know what it means to be the last!” the crone said.

And now he woke up…

Where was he?

He looked left and right and saw long rows of these huge larders. A voice boomed out of the air all around him. God? The Devil? It came from the air, and the man who killed and scalped with no remorse squealed and wet himself.

“ATTENTION FOOD-MART SHOPPERS, DON’T FORGET OUR THANKSGIVING SPECIAL… 10% OFF TURKEY BREASTS AND 20% OFF WHOLE BIRDS. THAT’S 10% OFF BREASTS AND 20% OFF WHOLE BIRDS, ONLY AT FOOD-MART!”

He covered his ears and began to scream, the last shreds of his sanity slipping away.

“Hey, What Happened To Your Eye?”

“Hey, What Happened To Your Eye?”

Author’s note: I wrote this as part of my Flash Fiction Challenge.

“We was all in the tavern, you see—oye, don’t gimme that look, you know I come here whenever I can! Anyway, ‘twas the usual collection of sellswords, cutpurses, scoundrels, thugs, an’ assassins… until the door swung open an’ in stepped this catfolk. He was wearin’ some bright yellow suit that was tight to the skin. All the chatter in the place stopped—not like catfolk is common ‘round these parts. Then the cat speaks… an’ he says,

“ ‘Scuse me, dahlins, I’m lookin’ for the Crimson Hand.’

“You and me both know the Crimson Hand’s rep and nobody goes lookin’ for those folks unless they’s either crazy or crazy tough. But that didn’t stop ol’ Steecs.

“You remember Steecs, yeah? Just goblins being goblins, ya know? Well, Steecs jumps on the bar an’ pipes up with,

“ ‘Hey kitty kitty, if ya want milk, head for the barn!’ And the whole place busts up laughin’, but that’s how it all started.

“The cat moved so fast, like a yellow blur. He grabs a pint glass offa the table closest an’ wings it at Steecs, catchin’ him right between the eyes, an’ ol’ Steecs keels over. That had some of the heavies who run with Steecs reachin’ for their guns. I’ll be damned if the catfolk whips out this massive revolver. It gleamed in the light, like it was made o’ pure silver.

“He was the fastest draw I ever seen. One second he’s empty handed, the next the shooter’s in his hand an’ he’s squeezin’ off rapid-fire, an’ not only is he fast he’s accurate, hittin’ those thugs in their gun hands.

“But now the rest o’ the place has come to on what’s happenin’, ‘cept the catfolk’s gone empty, see? No bother to him. He’s got this hat, this wide-brimmed green number with some outrageous yellow feather in it, an’ he spins it off his head on the hat rack by the door—you know the one—an’ turns an’ uncorks this flyin’ kick to that troll, Razi, the one what does muscle work sometimes for the syndicate? An’ there’s this crunch an’ big Razi just drops like a felled tree. Now the cat is all over the place, punchin’ kickin’ an’ head-buttin’ an’ leavin’ bodies sprawled all over the place. An’ nobody can match this furry fury, an’ finally I see my opening!

“There’s only a few fellas left standin’ by now even though maybe a minute’s passed since he came through the door, an’ I pick up my dagger an’ fling it at him while his back’s turned. An’ gettaloadathis, he reaches out without lookin’ and grabs my dagger outta midair. With one hand, he’s punchin’ the teeth outta one of them duergar that mess around town, and with the other he takes that dagger an’ wings it back at me, hilt first, an’ it catches me right in the eye! Next thing I know he’s right on top ‘o me an’ he uncorks this punch to the jaw that drops me. Imagine bein’ hit with somethin’ incredibly hard, but also soft from his fur, like a velvet brick.

“When I come to, the catfolk was gone, an’ everyone else in the bar had been laid low.”

The man behind the bar looked at the speaker, his eyes narrowing.

“I was just trying to be polite. … And I think you’ve had enough.”

“Big Game”

“Big Game”

Author’s note: I wrote this as part of my Flash Fiction Challenge

The hunter strode through the forest, a cloud of breath wisping from his mouth. His shadow stretched to his right under the unflinching light of the full moon, darting between the dormant and leafless trees.

What had brought him to such a bleak place?

Redemption.

“I assure you, sir, I am no stranger to the pursuit of dangerous prey, as my news coverage would attest,” he said three days prior on the edge of northern wilderness. “The White Rhino of Kampuchea? The man-eating Kodiak bear? Their skins hang in my den. Or the 93 buffalo kills to my name. There is no game too fearsome, too dangerous for me to conquer…”

“And yet, you need a guide,” the Indian continued to rock back and forth in his seat. Frankly, it was unsettling.

“Yes. You see, I am unfamiliar with this region. If one of your trackers might help me find the beast’s path…”

“The prey you seek is no beast. Nor is it man. It is wendigo. Forever hungry, forever hunting. Wendigo feels no fear or pain. You will find no tracker here to join you, hunter.”

And so Edmond ventured forth himself. He had never taken human life, but with every mishap since leaving that hunting lodge, he had pondered at each whether it would have been better to put a bullet into that old Indian. Had some savage curse been placed upon him? It rained for the first day solid. What gear survived the drenching, he had awoken the next day to find shredded into the tiniest of pieces. And now, after a sleepless night on frozen ground, Edmond found himself irrevocably lost in this skeletal landscape.

Edmond Shillingford, renowned hunter of big game, here to slay the mythical wendigo. That would scuttle the accusations of drugging his prey, claims that scuttled his clientele as a safari guide and cost him patronage in both New York and London. If only they knew the full truth…

The tainted bullets he fired into the white rhino, who wandered pain-blind for four days before he finally died.

The Kodiak had never eaten a man and was, in fact, female. Coaxed from her den when Edmond dealt one of her cubs a mortal wound with his knife, then tethered it so she could hear its cries.

And yes, those were group hunts for the buffalo, but Edmond always had been an excellent shot.

A noise drew Edmond out of his reverie. Nails, scrabbling on stone. The hunter whirled to his right… nothing. He squinted. There, in the moonlight. Edmond stepped forward and then saw it—a single, splayed footprint in the earth, a curved talon at the end of each toe.

An ear-splitting howl cut through the darkness, creating a knot of fear in his belly. Edmond spun in the direction of the howl and fired blind, the echoes of the shot rolling through the forest. Disoriented, Edmond never realized the wendigo was upon him until a single slash of a talon severed both Achilles tendons. As Edmond fell, another stabbing strike had warm blood spilling out on the rocky ground.

Another howl, now from much closer. Belly down, Edmond felt an incredible sharpness penetrate his jacket, his clothes, into his flesh. He began to scream.

His skin would hang in a den as well.

Flash Fiction Challenge

Flash Fiction Challenge

I’ve wanted to write fiction for as long as I can remember, and other things seem to get in the way. No longer. That’s why for the entire month of June I’m offering a Flash Fiction Challenge…

-Send me a prompt (also a genre if you want) and $20

-I will write you a 500 word short story.

You’ll receive the final product in a PDF. Each of these stories will be written and signed by me, but will be yours to keep and enjoy.

WHAT WILL I WRITE ABOUT?

Just about anything. The options are limitless. Maybe it’s a story you’ve always wanted to read, or you want to try and stump me with a difficult prompt. Bring it.

WHAT WON’T I WRITE ABOUT?

Since money is changing hands, I won’t be doing anything with copyrighted material or characters, such as fan fiction.

Payment options

Paypal: johnmoorehouse@gmail.com

Venmo: john-moorehouse-2

Cashapp: $JMoorehouse

Imperial Pro April 22 Preview

Imperial Pro April 22 Preview

Every spring, approximately 1.5 million Peeps get eaten.

Tomorrow night, in Bristol, it’s payback time. At least, that’s the inspiration for the show name for the next Imperial Pro Wrestling event, “Attack of the Peeps”. It happens Saturday, April 23, as Imperial Pro returns to its “home” venue, the community center of Realife Church, located at 1317 Weaver Pike in Bristol, TN.

Front row tickets are sold out, but general admission tickets remain available for $12 apiece. Kids 12 and under get in free.

Here is the current announced lineup:

Axton Ray defends the Imperial Championship against Hunter Drake. Axton is a local favorite who just returned from his first tour of the United Kingdom.

Kenzie Paige Henry defends the Imperial Women’s Title against Alice Crowley. Kenzie recently announced she had signed a contract with the National Wrestling Alliance.

Greg Rocker defends the Hickory Tree Hardcore Title against CJ Knight, Big Al and Toby Farley.

Jason Kincaid vs. AJ Cazana

Judi-Rae Hendrix vs. Michelle Green

The Golden Egg Battle Royal

Follow Imperial Pro on your social media platform of choice: Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

365 Wrestling, Day 39: Undertaker vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley (WWF Shotgun Saturday Night, 2/8/97)

365 Wrestling, Day 39: Undertaker vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley (WWF Shotgun Saturday Night, 2/8/97)

365 match reviews, one for each date on the yearly calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.

What makes a good match? And, when evaluating a match, how much does what happen before and after the bell influence things? How about the surrounding environment?

These questions prove relevant in this entry of 365 Wrestling: The Undertaker taking on Hunter Hearst Helmsley in this episode of Shotgun Saturday Night from February 8, 1997.

Lest we offend the copyright gods, I’ll just tell you you can find this match online through a little bit of shrewd searching.

The Match

Shotgun Saturday Night started at the beginning of 1997. and the initial run of episodes aimed to present an edgier product and wrestling matches from unlikely venues — such as Penn Station, the site of this match.

If you’re going to judge this match solely by what happens from bell to bell, you’re going to be disappointed. There are two commercial breaks — one right as Undertaker hits the ring. Much of the action unfolds in the punchy-kicky style that was more common than it should have been during the Attitude Era. Helmsley’s Intercontinental Title is on the line but he retains when Undertaker drills Helmsley in the head with the belt, right in front of the referee.

The setting — smackdab in the middle of Penn Station — adds so much to the presentation. Helmsley’s snob gimmick perfectly fits the environment. He arrives in a stretch limo that pulls up outside, says a few quick words about how he wouldn’t get caught dead riding one of the trains at the station, and then descends a staircase into the concourse. Undertaker’s entrance is even more surreal in the context of Penn Station, coming through the crowd.

Standard WWF/WWE programming carries a sameness from show to show and week to week… and has since the promotion truly “went national” in the late 1980s. Here, we get wide panning shots to take in the crowd and the limited space, unlike the glut of camera cuts that characterizes WWE shows today. The ring looks considerably smaller than the 20-by-20-foot squared circle WWE typically uses. It catches the eye and draws your interest.

The post-match is the best part of the entire endeavor. After taking a chokeslam, Helmsley tries to retreat and a chase ensues up the stairs, where the Deadman grabs Hunter and delivers a tombstone at the top of the escalator. Taker stands tall, soaking in the cheers of the crowd as Helmsley’s unconscious carcass heads down the escalator.

Final Rating: 6.1

The atmosphere, the entrances, and the post-match make this highly entertaining even if the in-ring action is nothing special. Given the status that both Undertaker and Triple H have achieved in WWE lore since then, it’s surprising to me that this match has flown under the radar. That tombstone on the escalator should have been fodder for so many video packages.

Up Next

Some good ole-fashioned geopolitical tag action.

Follow In Moorehouse Wrestling on social media: FacebookTwitter and Instagram!

365 Wrestling, Day 38: Ben Carter vs. B-Boy (ACTION Wrestling, 2/7/20)

365 Wrestling, Day 38: Ben Carter vs. B-Boy (ACTION Wrestling, 2/7/20)

365 match reviews, one for each date on the yearly calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.

Pro wrestling is just another storytelling medium. Like any established art form, you see the same themes play out, in different variations. One of my favorites is the young rising star facing the wily veteran, and we’ve got a fine example of that here: Ben Carter against B-Boy from ACTION Wrestling’s February 7, 2020 event.

You can check out the entire catalog of ACTION events, over at IWTV. However, you can watch this match for free on Youtube:

The Match

You may know Carter as Nathan Frazer, the name he adopted after joining WWE and NXT UK.

Before any of that happened, this import from the United Kingdom was turning heads on the independent circuit in the United States, including this quasi-galaxy of Southeastern promotions — which includes ACTION, Southern Underground Pro, TWE and the Scenic City Invitational — that shares the same booking continuity.

Carter set up this match with a brief challenge:

B-Boy, meanwhile, has been a fixture for the highly influential Pro Wrestling Guerrilla promotion in southern California since PWG began. He made a few prior appearances in the ACTION sphere previously, but you also might recognize him from Seasons 1 and 2 of Lucha Underground as Bael.

The Match

What begins with a handshake of respect quickly devolves into violence, in a good way. An early taunt by Carter, though it responds to one of B-Boy’s own, upsets the veteran and triggers a nasty forearm that Carter sells like a knockout blow. That’s just the start of what’s to come.

B-Boy chains a La Magistral into an ankle submission, then starts flinging his foe around the ring. The most stirring is either a death valley driver into the corner or a flat faceplant by Carter when he’s chucked to the floor. B-Boy’s vaunted strikes also do damage, and Carter sells the punches — which are delivered sparingly — like possible knockout blows. B-Boy’s more the grizzled veteran than the outright villain but he heels it up in one of my favorite moments: positioning Carter in a chair out on the floor, doing a full lap around the ring to gain momentum and … poking Carter in the eye.

Carter plays the young upstart who takes a beating but keeps coming back time and time again. If you’re a longtime wrestling fan like me you’ve seen this story told countless times, but here it works well because Carter does an excellent job fighting from underneath regardless of what B-Boy does to him. At one point, the New Age Punisher screams for Carter to stay down. Carter does not, and that brief snapshot encapsulates this entire story.

Early on, Dylan Hales mentions Carter’s pace advantage and Carter makes use of pace in his comeback. Carter hits that next gear very quickly, unleashing bursts of explosive offense in an attempt to narrow the gap and overwhelm B-Boy.

The action builds to a compelling and believable series of false finishes. We see powerslams. Tiger Drivers. A Canadian Destroyer. A midair cutter. A DDT on the floor. A brainbuster. After all that, Carter’s pin comes out of nowhere but after all that’s happened, it satisfies. The action is something that would be standard business in a PWG ring, but in this environment — a rec center in a small Georgia town on the periphery of Atlanta — it stands out, and it’s outstanding.

This match intended to propel Carter into a major push but this was ACTION’s last event before the pandemic. By the time shows resumed, Carter had signed with WWE.

Final Rating: 7.8

This is an excellent match and, according to ACTION CEO Matt Griffin, one of the best matches in ACTION history — although I think the IWTV Title Match from Southeast First surpasses it. It’s definitely worth seeking out and watching. Even if you’re seeing both wrestlers for the first time, the story is easy to grasp, well-told, and executed with barely a hitch.

Up Next

A snob turned wrestling champion and a zombie funeral director walk into Penn Station. Hijinks ensue.

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