365 Wrestling, Day 59: Prince Nana vs. Ace Darling (ECWA, 2/28/04)

365 Wrestling, Day 59: Prince Nana vs. Ace Darling (ECWA, 2/28/04)

365 matches in 365 days, each from that specific date on the calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.

Since the heyday of Bobby Heenan in the WWF, I’ve always enjoyed a heel manager who is good at what he does. Even as a kid, I would root for Heenan (though maybe not the people he managed). It made sense to 10-year-old me, OK?

These days, managers appear to be making a comeback in major televised wrestling, but for most of the 2000s, a good manager was hard to find anywhere on the scene. That’s what helped Prince Nana shine so brightly. The real-life descendant of a royal bloodline in the Ashanti tribe in Ghana, Nana amplified this into a gimmick as an arrogant royal who used his family’s wealth to bankroll The Embassy in Ring Of Honor. He got so much heat at some of these ROH shows. The combination of his word choice and the cadence and sound of his voice really got the fans going. The roster of the Embassy stable ebbed and flowed, but the peak Embassy for me was Jimmy Rave, Alex Shelley, Abyss, in 2005 or so.

Nana wasn’t just a manager, though; he also was a trained wrestler. In fact, he competed regularly on the very first run of ROH shows including the promotion’s debut event in 2002.

We take a look at Nana’s in-ring career, but in ECWA, for this match against Ace Darling from February 28, 2004.

You can watch this match on IWTV.

The Context

Nana is the ECWA Mid-Atlantic Champion here, and that’s the secondary title in this promotion. It’s now known as the ECWA Legacy Title. At the time of this match, Nana has been champion for 300 days, and he’s wrestling in the main event of the card against an opponent chosen by a vote of the fans in attendance.

The fans’ choice is Darling, who is completely unfamiliar to me. Some research informed me he was a mainstay in ECWA, that his trainers included Iron Mike Sharpe, and that he wrestled on the independent circuit in the Northeast U.S.

The Match

We’ve become conditioned here in the 2020s to see main events go long. This is not that type of match. Nana jumps Ace as he slides into the ring, and they maintain a fairly fast pace for the duration, which is less than 10 minutes from bell to bell.

The setup of the match reminded me of the very first Summerslam, when Ultimate Warrior hit the ring as a surprise opponent and trucked The Honkytonk Man in seconds to win another secondary title. We see a similar result here, but take a different path to get there. Nana isn’t happy about Darling winning the vote and he shows it with some physical offense. He lays in some chops that have Darling’s left pec turning a bright shade of red by the end of the bout. He levels Darling with a charging clothesline. Later, he delivers a charging body smash in the corner, then immediately follows up with a hip attack.

At one point, Prince Nana just blatantly stomps Darling in the balls but even that won’t put him down for the three count. Ace tries to mount a comeback, and Nana cuts him off by slapping him right in the mouth. He’s more of an imposing figure here than he ever was in ROH. For all the beatings, Nana ends up losing the match and the title when Darling counters a modified Cobra Clutch into a pinning predicament. Nana shows the requisite amount of shock at the sudden defeat, and Darling is still flat on his back as he receives the belt and has his hand raised.

Darling’s selling really helps make this match. Even when he’s on offense, such as a flying cross body on Nana, he sells the effects of the move and past punishment and is unable to cover for the pin. He sells the low blow spectacularly, curling up on the mat and throwing in some retching coughs for emphasis. Bravo.

Random Thoughts

–Check out Straw Hat Guy from ECW in the front row!

–Nana gets on the microphone before his opponent is announced and riles up the crowd, mocking some of the possible choices for his foe. Threatening to pick someone out of the audience and thrash them instead was a nice touch.

Final Rating: 6.1

I really liked this match. Nana plays an effective heel champion and his offense looks good — especially the chops and his combination attack in the corner. Ace meanwhile does a fantastic job selling to further elevate what’s happening. These two don’t try to reinvent the wheel; they just go out and have a damn solid wrestling match that is worth watching. This is definitely worth checking out, especially if you primarily know Nana as a manager and mouthpiece and haven’t seen him wrestle.

Here’s the complete, ongoing list of matches in this project.

Up Next

We recap the February list, then move on to another Guest Selection from a guy who really getz wrestling.

Got any feedback about the 365 Wrestling project? If so, contact me on Twitter or fill out the contact form on the site.

365 Wrestling, Day 49: Slim J vs. Andrew Alexander (NWA Chattanooga, 2/18/11)

365 Wrestling, Day 49: Slim J vs. Andrew Alexander (NWA Chattanooga, 2/18/11)

365 matches in 365 days, each from that specific date on the calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.

Making it big in any type of performance art included isn’t easy, pro wrestling included. In wrestling, you have to stay healthy, sacrifice time with family and friends, make sure you’re being seen by the right people, avoid offending someone who could be deciding your professional future at some point. it’s partly about who you know and it’s also about timing. For example, I’ve maintained that Buddy Rose would have been a huge star in later eras of wrestling, given his gift of gab, size, and willingness to throw his body around in the ring.

Another guy who should have made big money in wrestling, and would have had he come along a few years later, is Slim J. Had Slim been on the rise in our current era of the gif, I have zero doubts he would be working for a major company today… and excelling. A superb high flyer, Slim also holds the distinction of being one of the youngest wrestlers — maybe the youngest — to wrestle on pay-per-view in America. He was still under 18 when he made an appearance on one of TNA’s weekly PPV events back in 2002. He also worked for Ring of Honor in that promotion’s early days, and has been a fixture on the scene in the Southeast U.S., including standout runs for Wildside and Anarchy in Georgia, as well as ACTION Wrestling, PWX in North Carolina, and many more.

I first watched Slim J on an episode of Wildside in the mid 2000s, where he had a cage match with Patrick Bentley. I saw more of him, later, in ROH and other promotions.

Slim also deserves credit for developing a strong all-around style in the ring and, in the mid 2010s, he even developed an entirely new gimmick as the Gladiator Jeremiah, with the Roman garb, a chiseled physique, and an entirely different wrestling style. If this tells you anything about the transformation, I watched him wrestle live in the gladiator gimmick in a dark match at an ROH show and had no idea it was the same person as Slim.

Slim J hasn’t wrestled in any persona since March of 2020, right before the COVID pandemic hit the U.S., in full force. He appears to be content away from the ring now, but we can still take a look back and enjoy matches like this one, against Andrew Alexander from February 18, 2011.

You can watch this match on the piercetapes YouTube channel (a real treasure trove of matches from the Southern independent scene). I’ve embedded it below, too:

The Context

There have been several promotions to run in the area of Chattanooga, TN, with varying levels of success. Right now, the Scenic City Invitational (which this site sponsors) and TWE on top of the scene in that region. Here, the promotion hosting is NWA Chattanooga.

Slim’s opponent is Andrew Alexander, a presence on the Southeast scene for nearly two decades himself. He spent several years tagging with Kyle Matthews (another incredibly underrated wrestler from the South) as The Hollywood Brunettes mostly for Anarchy. He was a regular for NWA Chattanooga, which ran shows for a few years.

Alexander was a regular for NWA Chattanooga, while this was just one of two appearances for the promotion by Slim, according to Cagematch.

The Match

The story told here is a variation on a theme that’s played out countless times in wrestling matches, with more modern moves providing an update on the tale. Slim J starts out getting the better of Alexander in straight-up, scientific, technical wrestling. When Alexander can’t gain the edge, as the heel, he starts to cheat, throwing fists until Slim comes firing back with a double-leg takedown and a frenzied barrage of punches that’s one of his calling cards.

Alexander stays on the defensive until Slim goes for a moonsault off the top and misses. At that point, Alexander focuses his offense on the midsection of Slim, which took damage in the spot that led to the momentum shift. None of this is rocket science or brain surgery, but it can be a difficult story to tell well, and tell with consistency, and both guys play their part in accomplishing just that. Watch as Alexander focuses the vast majority of his offense on Slim’s midsection, whether it be tossing him to the mat facefirst from a suplex position, applying a bodyscissors, or just stomping on his guts.

We build to the big moves and get several of them during the finishing stretch. After Slim hits a rana off the top rope to turn the tide, followed by a couple of creative pinning predicaments for two counts, Alexander connects on a leaping Russian legsweep (think of it as a reverse Paydirt) for a very believable near-fall. Not long thereafter, Alexander goes old-school, bringing a chair into the ring, which is merely a ploy to obtain a foreign object from his trunks. Just a few moments later, one shot with the foreign object fells Slim, letting Alexander score the pin.

The action isn’t over. Alexander tries to dole out more punishment after the bell but gets countered and caught in an STF by Slim J. Alexander quickly and repeatedly taps to the hole and goes scurrying to the back.

Random Thoughts

–God bless Southern wrestling fans, and their ability to make “Booo!” a multisyllabic word.

–SCI promoter Scott Hensley is the ring announcer for this one, which, when I noticed, led to this reaction (minus the cigarette):

That’s him! That’s Scott Hensley, all right!

–Speaking of the fans, the mic on the ringside camera picks up a couple of ladies who are a delight with their unabashed rooting for Slim and heckling of Alexander. Wrestling fans like to be able to cheer the good guys and boo the bad guys. Imagine that!

Final Rating: 6.2

Let’s say you have a friend who has never seen wrestling, has no idea what it’s about, or how it works. This would be an excellent example to help them understand the basics. It’s a solid 10 minutes or so from bell to bell, tells a good basic story, and establishes both the fan favorite and the heel without either having to say a single syllable on the mic. New and aspiring wrestlers should note how Slim always keeps moving, fighting, and showing some signs of life … until the finish, that is.

If you’re interested in looking up more Slim J matches, I highly recommend any of his bouts with Amazing Red, whether they be in TNA, ROH, or Wildside. He also had a very good match against TJ Boss in 2019 during Slim’s run as PWX Champion, especially if you’re a fan of the small guy vs. big guy matches… and I certainly am.

Here’s the complete, ongoing list of matches in this project.

Up Next

Finlay. Tajiri. One on one. Nuff said!

Send me any and all feedback on the 365 Wrestling project. Just reach out on Twitter or fill out the contact form on the site.

365 Wrestling, Day 46: I Quit, Jake Manning vs. John Skyler (PWX, 2/15/14)

365 Wrestling, Day 46: I Quit, Jake Manning vs. John Skyler (PWX, 2/15/14)

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.

The Context

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.

The Match

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.

Random Thoughts

–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.

Here’s the complete, ongoing list of matches in this project.

Up Next

A third straight gimmick match, this time the Monster’s Ball.

I love having feedback from readers. Send it to me — good or bad — along with any match recommendations you have! Just reach out on Twitter or fill out the contact form on the site.

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 matches in 365 days, each from that specific date on the calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.

Earlier this year, I was thinking of some ways to get the word out about the blog. And so I bought the URL you see today. I even bought the variant, inmorehousewrestling.com, since my name gets misspelled so often that way. I also spent a little money sponsoring some independent shows. One of those shows is ACTION Wrestling.

I chose to support ACTION with my wallet for a few reasons:

-Friends of mine spoke highly of them.
-When resuming running shows last year, they took COVID-19 seriously, restricting attendance and requiring masks, unlike so many other shows, especially elsewhere in the Southeast.
-They made it clear what i was paying for, and what I would get in return.

Not once in the process did I feel like I was getting worked or conned by a carnie.

I probably would be reviewing at least a couple of ACTION matches regardless of any sponsor involvement. I’m starting with a good one, though: Ben Carter against B-Boy from February 7 of last year.

You can watch this match, and the entire catalog of ACTION events, over at IWTV. You can also watch this match for free on Youtube:

The Context

Carter is just 22 years old and signed with WWE last year after making appearances during the pandemic for AEW and Impact. He’s currently part of the NXT UK brand, going by the name Nathan Frazer.

Before any of that happened, this import from the United Kingdom was primed for big things in ACTION, which joins with a few other promotions in the Southeast — Southern Underground Pro, Scenic City, and TWE in Chattanooga — to form a quasi-galaxy of shows in the same booking continuity.

The plan came together at the end of 2019, and Carter cut a brief promo challenging B-Boy:

A product of the wrestling school co-owned by Seth Rollins, Carter already was building a strong reputation wrestling for various promotions in the U.S.

B-Boy, meanwhile, should be a familiar name to anyone who has followed indie wrestling in the past two decades. He was a fixture for the highly influential Pro Wrestling Guerrilla promotion in southern California. He’s also enjoyed significant success for Combat Zone Wrestling and is in the CZW Hall of Fame. He’d made a few prior appearances in the ACTION/SUP/SCI/TWE sphere previously, highlighted by a pair of highly-regarded and highly-violent matches with Brett Ison. He also spent some time on Lucha Underground as Bael, who has the distinction of being the first character killed off that show.

The Match

The young star on the rise facing the wily veteran is a storyline we’ve seen play out across the sports world. Here, we have a contest that starts with a handshake of respect but 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, with the most stirring of these a death valley driver into the corner. B-Boy’s vaunted strikes also do damage, and Carter sells the punches in particular like death itself. My personal favorite spot? When B-Boy sets up Carter outside the ring, then does a full lap around the squared circle ending with… an eye poke.

The structure of the match seeks to elevate Carter, a young upstart who takes a beating but keeps coming back time and time again. It succeeds in telling that tale, in large part because Carter does an excellent job fighting from underneath. No matter what B-Boy does to him, Carter keeps stirring and struggling. After the second of B-Boy’s punches, which are meted out in sporadic doses to emphasize their lethal effect, the competitor known as the New Age Punisher screams for Carter to stay down. He does not, and it sets the theme for the entire match.

Carter makes his comeback not in one major series of moves, but in bursts. Not long after the eye poke, B-Boy rolls Carter back into the ring and the upstart explodes off the far ropes and launches with a dive with such depth and height that he almost overshoots. Carter hits that next gear as quickly as anyone I’ve seen, unleashing some 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 cutter delivered to an opponent flying in midair. 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.

When the result of the match comes, it does so seemingly out of nowhere, with Carter scoring after a lightning-quick victory roll. The entire crowd comes to their feet in a standing ovation and, despite the violence he just engaged in, B-Boy can’t resist a smile as he approaches Carter for an embrace. This match ends as it began, with a show of respect.

Random Thoughts

–As shared by Matt Griffin, the promoter of ACTION Wrestling, and Dylan Hales, the lead commentator, this win by Carter was supposed to be the start of a major push that never happened. COVID-19 shut down events for months, and Carter signed with WWE, never to return to ACTION.

Hales elaborated: “The following day Ben was going to win the Scenic City Rumble but that show ended up getting cancelled due to weather so a chunk of the weekend was designed around that. B-Boy was supposed to wrestle Brett Ison in the third match of their trilogy the next day but that was also cancelled obviously.”

Griffin noted he was “so happy for [Carter] when he got signed. We knew it was likely.”

–Hales, who was also lead commentator for the SUP match watched as part of the January entries, has a different sound and vibe here. He’s also got an extra year’s experience in the booth by the time this match happens and it shows.

–Kudos to the commentators as well for laying out entirely during the postmatch.

–I’ve written before about how a referee can make a match worse or even outright ruin it, but Aaron Noyes — the arbiter in the striped shirt for this one — does a fine job without getting in the way.

–This match happened about a month before the pandemic really started affecting the U.S., and was the last ACTION show before the pandemic. Seeing a packed building was both gratifying and off-putting, for me.

Final Rating: 7.6

This is a very good match and, according to Griffin, one of the best matches in ACTION history. 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.

Here’s the complete, ongoing list of matches in this project.

Up Next

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

Send feedback or recommend a match for one of the upcoming dates in 365 Wrestling! Just reach out on Twitter or fill out the contact form on the site.

365 Wrestling, Day 20: Allie Kat vs. Savanna Stone (SUP Graps, 1/20/19)

365 Wrestling, Day 20: Allie Kat vs. Savanna Stone (SUP Graps, 1/20/19)

365 matches in 365 days, each from that specific date on the calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.

Today I’m taking a look at a match from Southern Underground Pro (or, as they’re often referred to online, SUP Graps) and their I Am King event in 2019, where Allie Kat took on Savanna Stone. This is only the second or third time I’ve seen Allie Kat in action and my first time watching Savanna, so hooray for novelty and let’s get to the match.

By the way, you can watch this and all SUP events to date on Independent Wrestling TV. Introductions for this one start at the 33-minute mark.

The Context

Allie Kat is a SUP Graps regular and this is her sixth appearance for the promotion. She’s also got one of the more well-established characters on the independent scene today, as a cat who wrestles (No, really, it’s highly entertaining). Meanwhile, this is the SUP Graps debut for Stone, who’s about two years into her career at this point.

The Match

Allie Kat is not only the established presence for SUP Graps, but also the crowd favorite–to the point she draws huge “meow!” chants that begin during her entrance and continue intermittently throughout the match. The story they tell is a longstanding wrestling trope — the hometown favorite going against the latest invading villain — and both play their roles quite well.

Allie Kat has tons of charisma and brings a whimsy to her in-ring style that is infectious. She also can get physical when she needs to; case in point, a snug-looking hip attack and cannonball senton in succession during her comeback, and a wicked forearm smash to precede the finishing stretch. Stone, meanwhile, shows a solid savvy in a heel role that belies her relative inexperience. The heel heat focuses around Stone and trying to mangle Allie’s left arm by any means necessary, and she does a fine job changing it up, with the usual arm-related offense you’ve seen a billion times in matches intermingled with some casual savagery such as manipulating the fingers and outright biting the hand on a couple of occasions.

I found the finishing stretch compelling, even though it included one of my pet peeves — repeating the same spot or match after a miscue on the initial attempt. In the greater story, with Stone working Allie’s arm, it all works out, as it provided another of several incidents where Allie is unable to hit her finishing move (that would be the Pussy Piledriver). Ultimately, Allie is able to hit the piledriver and score a hard-fought victory.

I’ve talked before about my work in wrestling as a commentator from time to time, so naturally, I find myself focusing on the commentary when it’s there. Dylan Hales and Steven McCash are on the call for this match and do a very fine job, and I’m not just saying that because I’ve known Dylan online for years. They sneak in nuggets of greater context without taking away from the action happening in the ring. When Allie Kat goes to do a dive to the floor on Stone but doesn’t have the nerve, setting her up for an ambush that targets the left arm, the pair of commentators quickly and succinctly summarize Allie’s past hesitancy on dives. This also produces the line of the match from McCash, who encourages Allie to go for it because she’s got eight more lives if she misses. Top. Notch.

Random Thoughts

-This is my first time really checking out this promotion aside from a few clips on YouTube and the occasional gif, and that needs to change. The production values for the event are excellent, from the different camera views to the crystal-clear sound of the commentators to just the overall look of the video.

-To help with the “underground” feel, we’re in an intimate environment with a pretty low ceiling. There are no seats, so it’s literally standing room only for everyone. The ring announcer, Righteous Jesse, is especially intense… so intense that I kinda want to get the guy hooked up with a throat lozenge sponsorship or something.

-Speaking of the intimate environment, this event was filmed at The Basement East, a renowned venue in Nashville that unfortunately suffered catastrophic damage last March when a tornado hit the Nashville area. It’s since been rebuilt and looks to reopen in February according to their website.

Final Rating: 5.9

What is the goal of a wrestling match? Everyone has their own ideas. Is it to tell a story — whether as a standalone match, part of a greater ongoing tale, or both? Is it to give both competitors a chance to showcase their skills? Is it, simply, to engage the crowd? This match succeeds on any of those fronts, and I came away wanting to see more of both ladies going forward, as well as more of SUP Graps.

Here’s the complete, ongoing list of matches in this project.

What’s Next

It’s back to WCW in 1992 for another scrap featuring the Dangerous Alliance.

Got a match you’d like me to watch as part of this 365 Wrestling project? Agree or disagree with my take on this match? Let me know by using the contact form on this site, or reach me on Twitter.

365 Wrestling, Day 10: Joe Black vs. Will Huckaby, Dog Collar Match (Southern Honor Wrestling, 1/10/20)

365 Wrestling, Day 10: Joe Black vs. Will Huckaby, Dog Collar Match (Southern Honor Wrestling, 1/10/20)

365 matches in 365 days, each from that specific date on the calendar? Challenge accepted. Welcome to 365 Wrestling.

In addition to focusing this project on matches I haven’t seen, I’m also aiming 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 in 2019 in Southern Honor Wrestling that culminated a year ago today in a Dog Collar Match. You can watch this match on IWTV

Let’s dive in, shall we?

The Context

This match culminates a feud that lasted about six months. Black issued the throwback challenge for a dog collar match, and SHW held a special contract signing at a prior event, where Huckaby slices his arm and signs with his own blood. Gruesome, but compelling. An excellent video detailing the rivalry runs right before the match and does a better job explaining the issues between Black and Huckaby than I can in words, so I recommend you just go watch that before checking out the match. 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.” Oh my, that’s good stuff.

The Match

I’ve talked about a big-fight feel for several of the matches thus far in this project and it’s in full effect here as well. The video recapping the feud primes the pump and the entrances add extra sizzle, with Huckaby and Black both dressed as homages to famous Marvel characters (the Incredible Hulk and Wolverine, respectively).

What follows is nearly 30 minutes of one of the most physically intense matches I remember seeing in quite some time. Black and Huckaby start out at a slower pace than I expected given the “blood feud” build, but this merely allows more time for the violence to escalate.

There are two referees assigned to the match and Huckaby immediately sets a tone, delivering a KO punch to one of the officials when the bell sounds. Huck is in full heel mode for this match. 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 with the chain until the official agrees to unlock him. 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 and Stan Hansen run amok in All Japan.

Black more than holds up his end as the gutsy, undersized, fan favorite. He’s definitely got the crowd behind him and he summons the spirit of the character who inspired his gear for the match, taking a serious beating but rallying or “regenerating” each time. Along the way he busts out one of my favorite moves from Black’s arsenal, a suicide dive into a tornado DDT on the floor. 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 linking them, 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.

Random Thoughts

— I got chills twice before the match even began: once from the video chronicling their feud and once from Joe’s entrance.

— At one point in the build to this match, Black blasted Huckaby in the head with a glass bottle, leading to an 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.

— The production values on this match and the entire event video were excellent. The commentary? Not so much. Black and Huck are killing each other in the culmination of a long-running feud, but the commentators just seem detached, and lacking emotion on their call.

Final Rating: 7.0

As said for other matches in this ring, this is a very good match that is worth seeking out and watching. If you’re not familiar with the promotion or the story Black and Huckaby have told leading into the match, the video on this IWTV stream does an excellent job encapsulating their rivalry. Even as televised promotions continue to gobble up talent on contracts, there’s still a treasure trove of untapped, unsigned talent on the independent circuit. Black and Huckaby, and the match they have here, all serve as testaments to that.

Here’s the complete, ongoing list of matches in this project.

What’s Next

Things get Dangerous in 1992 for a six-man tag from a WCW B-show.

Got a match you’d like me to watch as part of this 365 Wrestling project? Agree or disagree with my take on this match? Let me know by using the contact form on this site, or reach me on Twitter.