RD: Since this was the 6th anniversary show for JAPW and was built up originally to have Terry Funk on it, I convinced Los Lurkers Locos member Steve Pillmeier to head up for the show. Unfortunately, after he had taken the time out for it, Funk got double booked, but Steve made the trip up anyway. Pete some how forgets that I invited Steve up for the weekend. On Saturday afternoon, they did a fan fest thing, so the three of us head up. At the door they were handing out flyers for the show that night and Sabu’s name was removed with a “TBA”, so unfortunately, the original main event program of Sabu/Funk v. Homicide/Maff had lost it’s face side of the equation. I wasn’t really surprised though, as seeing Sabu work with one arm, I was sure he wouldn’t make this show, but it turns out it was because he double booked himself. Well, I guess Funk was right about him being an asshole after all. This was smaller than I expected merch wise, but there was a pretty fair sized line for the autographs from John Cena, Matt Hardy, Lawler and Snow. Also lurking around was Charlie Haas. I ended up picking up a fair share of tapes for the upcoming 500 since Highspots was nice enough to offer tapes without shipping since they were there and the guy cut us a deal too. Especially since when he was looking for the order I had to keep going “No, I’m sure it’s a bigger box” as he sorted through other people who had been put in orders for the convention. Mayfield ended up BS’ing with us, though he usually greets Pete and tells me to get my hands out of my pockets and buy something. It turns out some department in New Jersey called him up and told him to not even show up without some vendor’s license and told him he had to charge and record what he sold for sales purposes, which may have also kept the vendors down. We didn’t stay too long, opting to take our stuff and head back since autographs aren’t really any of our things, though supposedly we missed out on Cena doing rap battles with fans on the line. After carrying about 16 tapes and book back to my house, I decided to rope us a ride to the event rather than walking a mile again. Pre-show we tried to get into the Outback but with the hour wait to get in, we instead opted for Chi Chi’s, despite the fact dicing Mexican food prior to the event probably wasn’t the smartest idea in the world.
PP: I eventually hit Ray's place after grabbing breakfast at the local McDonalds and getting trapped behind the old blind guy from that WC Fields movie. "WHERE ARE MY KUMQUATS?" We wind our way over to the convention center after finding out that the main road leading there is getting repaved... Frank and Jeff couldn't have been happy with that bit of news after directing everyone to use that road. For some reason I was expecting this to not be a straight wrestling merch show but have other stuff too like the big show they held here before the 1998 Summerslam. Ray is hysterical with the Highspots guy (not Mike, who was a no-show). "Not that box, the BIG box!" We head back over to Ray's place with videos in tow and start a'dubbing. We watch the Toryumon PPV from June and marvel at how frigging awesome Genki Horiguchi is now... he has this THE STRIKER-like heel charisma and he's just a blast to watch. The M2K/DO-FIXER trios match from that show is off the hizzy with the hottest of hot finishing sequences evar. Note to anyone going to Japan in the near future: bring Ray a Genki "WHO HAS CALLED ME HAGE?" shirt in American XL and you will have a friend for life. Dinner is perfectly uneventful with no real repurcussions as the night progresses... in any case I'd have taken a case of the trots over Hepatitis like those folks in Pittsburgh. I can safely say we probably won't be doing pre-show meals at Chi-Chi's anytime soon...
RD: Most of the vendors stayed the night, they also had some food vendors which also might have been there during the day. I ended up getting a frozen pina colada, because nothing says pro-wrestling like drinking a non-alcohol pina colada with an umbrella straw in it. I opt not to get the fancy cup as it might take shelf space away from future NASCAR 7-Eleven slurpee cups. The show starts with a 10 bell salute for Mike “Crash Holly” Lockwood and for Road Warrior Hawk, though surprisingly they didn’t include it for Stu Hart.
1: CORVIS FEAR vs. “EXPLOSIVE” EDDIE THOMAS vs. RUSH
RD: Fear and Thomas are in the opening match, which means that someone is going to run in and kill them. Rush is a new guy I’ve never seen before but he hit some sharp looking stuff, so it was a pleasant surprise. I there was also some stuff with Fear throwing the guys into head locks, including catching both guys in a double head lock, but it was this point that “Big Balls” hit and Balls Mahoney ran in. I know Mahoney had been losing weight recently, but I was floored by how much weight he had actually dropped. He seriously looks to be in the best condition I’ve seen him in, dating back to seeing footage of him in SMW as Boo Bradley. Anyway, Balls, replete with new blue/purple hair, lays waste to the rookies. Throw away match for the run in, but fun while they were going at it.
PP: We figured the Skyscrapers would make the run-in here so Balls doing it instead made for a different but no less disappointing finish as the match was fine up to that point. The Balls Weight Renaissance continues as he has to have dropped at least 100 pounds, and with the blue hair we were actually at a loss as to who was making the run-in as we couldn't figure out why this skinny blue-haired guy was using Balls' music.
2: INSANE DRAGON vs. AZRAEL for the JAPW Light Heavyweight Title
RD: I think this is Dragon’s first match back in the promotion since like March or April. This was pretty good, but I think it had some rough spots in it. Please note that being the slacker I am, it’s been over a week since the show and I just started this report. The match was pretty good with some nice near falls. I’m pretty sure Dragon kicked out of Azrael’s electric chair driver. Azrael I think did a knees up block of Dragon’s springboard 450. The finish was Azrael hitting the springboard somersault stunner on Dragon. I’m hoping they’ll continue to give Azrael a push as he’s been one of the up and coming guys in the North East Indy scene and him going over Dragon is actually a pretty decent victory defense wise in JAPW.
3: THE RING CREW EXPRESS (Marcos & Dunn) vs. THE CHRISTOPHER ST. CONNECTION
(Mace Mendoza & Buff E) w/ Jailbait
RD: This was a fun little match. I’ve only seen Dunn and Marcos once, but their 80’s funny. Jailbait is I think Dana Dameson who worked the last Elk’s Lodge show (was in the Strikervision skit and then ended up managing the former Iceberg). Mace and Buff E argue over who gets to start as Buff E wants to start with the cute one, who is the shorter one who is I think is Dunn. Anyway, this was fun with a bunch of the usual CSC sexual harassment spots. Marcos and Dunn did some double team where one jumped on the other’s shoulders, did the air guitar and his partner dropped him onto one of the CSC as a senton I believe. At one point, Mace got crotched on the top rope and Marcos and Dunn did the 10 turnbuckle smashes with Buff E’s head into Mace’s groin, which Buff E continues to do after the RCE stop forcing him too. The CSC end up putting this away with the Gay Basher on Dunn.
PP: Dana Dameson becomes my new heroine once she gets announced as "Jailbait" as this was the gimmick I wanted Valentina to use back when she was managing Dixie. Best part of this match was the reactions of the father with his three children sitting behind us. The kids fell in love with the CSC; Dad, OTOH, was clearly non-plussed and was sporting the "WTF have I gotten myself into?" face as the match progressed.
4: ARIEL vs. SUMIE SAKAI
RD: This was a pretty good match, though it had the feel of the match I saw of Sakai v. Little Jeanie from the Kiryoku Pro show from last year, but that was a good match too. I’ve noticed that certain workers from Japan when they come over go hype animated when they work indy matches in the states. I think this is a good idea as it sort of makes up for the language barrier and plays up well, I noticed this in the Minoru Fujita, Sakai and Tajiri in their matches that they’ve worked over here. Ariel continues her streak of looking respectable. Sakai did the illegal choke then counting along with the referee and then switching hands so he has to restart the count. Sakai hit some great top rope drop kicks and took the win the moonsault. Post match, Johnny D and Church came out. With Mega working the ECWA show, I guess they’ve drafted Church now into the Johnny D faction. Johnny D laid the bad mouth on Ariel and she took a big full nelson slam from Church. They continue to build up the challenge from Ariel, and I guess Allison Danger, against Johnny D and his faction. Post show they teased that Ariel will be bringing in a team that’s not on JAPW’s current roster.
PP: Fun little match that got a much better crowd reaction than I would've expected considering that Sakai was going in ice-cold to most of the fans here. She no longer has the uber-perky Morning Musume theme ("The Peace") for her entrance and I'd like to figure out what she has now. Postmatch Ariel gets toasted by Church and I entertain the idea of Sakai making the save for Ariel before they just walk out.
5: JAY LETHAL vs. SKINHEAD IVAN w/ Flag Bearer FOR THE JAPW TV TITLE in
a WHIPPING MATCH
RD : Before the match, the referees tied 4 straps to each corner. Ivan’s flag guy doesn’t seem to add a whole lot to matches, he’s there to catch guys on dives and provide a distraction for the finish, but other than that, he doesn’t exactly add much to a match. I mean, he’s no Striker, he’s not even the Sheik. Jay Lethal is one of my favorite guys working the area’s indies and hopefully will start to get a bigger push. I was hoping they’d do that with the TV title and him, but he dropped it to Ivan. It was one of Ivan’s better matches that wasn’t him kicking the shit out of Pete from Tough Enough, but it’s still Ivan. Jay hit a bunch of dives again and his offense looked good. They did some whipping spots, but they were sort of hurt by the fact that Ivan’s wearing a t-shirt. They did a spot where both Jay and Ivan are fighting over a strap which was two tied together, as they’re pulling, they end up wrapping it around Ref Hanson’s neck, taking him out for the finish. Ivan’s second runs in and it gives Ivan a chance to get on offense and hit the rolling leg drop on Jay to retain the title. I’m pretty sure Jay recovered and whipped them both afterwards, with the second doing a pretty shitty job of selling it. When I’m longing for the Sheik to be brought back… I’m not sure if this program is going to continue with Ivan, but I get a feeling I’d rather be seeing Jay working against Dixie and Deranged who also seem to be lost in the shuffle and I figure I’d really like those matches.
PP: Said flag-bearer's name is Oi Boy, and he is the most useless guy in the NYC indies this side of Josh Deeley as he's there to carry Ivan's flag and take moves from people... which he can't or won't sell properly. Jay takes most of the match and Ivan hits a GEYSER of a bladejob from out of nowhere after getting posted while wearing a chair around his neck. Hanson's ref bump is one of the more creative ones I've seen as Jay and Ivan contrive to wrap the strap around his neck as they're dueling for possession of it, knocking him out in the process.
6: BEST OF THE LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHTS 6: GRIM REEFER vs. RUCKUS vs. RODERICK
STRONG vs. DANGERBOY DEREK WYLDE
RD: This was an invitational match where they had guys representing different areas of the country, Reefer was New York, Ruckus was Maryland, Strong was Florida and Wylde was Canada. This was sort of Royal Rumble style with Reefer and Ruckus starting, followed by Strong and then Wylde. Reefer and Ruckus’ section was pretty good even though Ruckus is one of those guys I really don’t care for, but during their one on one stuff he was bearable. Roderick Strong looked really good in this and has a bunch of really neat back breaker variations. Wylde hit the ring and threw some really shitty looking punches. This eventually has it’s breaking down moment as Ruckus goes out to the floor and starts doing his flippity stuff including the shooting star off the apron and a multiple backflip move. I’m pretty sure someone did a jump off the railings during this fight on the floor which I think followed up a dive sequence. Reefer was the first to go as Ruckus took him out with a split leg moonsault. Strong I think relatively quicking takes out Ruckus by hitting a stunner out of a Razor’s Edge set up. This really deflated the crowd as a bunch of CZW marks booed him getting eliminated and with fellow favorite Reefer gone too, it was pretty much two unknown guys, granted Strong had worked up here once or twice, leading to the finish. Wylde won with a really scary looking move. After talking with someone on the board, supposedly it was supposed to be a powerbomb where he flips the guy over so they land face first instead of on their back, only from the angle we were looking at, right towards us, it looked like Strong almost got Ganso Bombed. Strong walked always fine after the match, so I guess it looked a lot worse than it was. I’m not sure about putting Wylde over, I mean if they’re going to continue to use him it makes sense, but I think that it might have worked better if either Ruckus or Reefer would have been there in the end. Overall, I was more impressed by Strong’s work in the match, though he threw some bad “punch you and slap my leg at the same time” punches too. The back breakers were cool though.
PP: Ruckus was more tolerable than usual in this as he didn't break out the flippity floppoty until all four guys were entered. Strong has progressed alot and looked really good in this save for some bad punches towards the end... he was probably the best out of the four here. Wylde had some neat stuff but his punches looked really bad to us and we were all the way at the back of the staging area in the bleachers. I do appreciate the fact that they took the chance to elevate a new guy by having him go over since they're using him at least on the next show.
7 : THE DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELZ (EC Negro & KC Blade) vs. THE H EFFECT
(Dixie & Deranged) vs. SLYK WAGNER BROWN/APRIL HUNTER for the JAPW
TAG TEAM TITLES
RD: This match was kind of a disappointment and I really dig the DRS and Deranged and Dixie’s work. Something about the match just seemed really flat. The highlight of this was probably the fact that H Effect used “Edge of Seventeen” by Stevie Nicks as their theme music, which Steve said he didn’t know what was sadder, them using the song or him knowing it. I really think they just use random on their MP3 collection and whatever comes up is what they go with anyway. Oh yeah, the match… a lot of this was both heels beating up on Slyk and then on April a bit, but this match didn’t seem to get into gear at any point and just sort of dragged on. Since this was a one fall match, we eventually had problems between the DRS and H Effect which is what gave April/Slyk a chance to get back into this. The finish was Deranged going up top to hit something on Slyk as he was sitting on the ropes, but Slyk countered and hit his Rock Bottom out of a blockbuster suplex set up from the second rope for the win.
PP: I'm guessing someone at JAPW saw "School of Rock" right before the show considering the use of "Seventeen," which continues the promotion's streak of inspired music choices (American Dragon getting "Stranglehold" is still #1 and the best). Sadly, that was probably the best part of the match as these teams didn't seem to click as we would've liked. I dug the top-rope Slyk Bottom finish.
8 : DANNY MAFF/HOMICIDE vs. RAVEN & ???
RD : Pre-match, Raven comes out and tells everyone that he doesn’t have a partner, but he feels that he doesn’t need a partner leading to him attacking Maff and Homicide. Raven does ok for a few minutes and then gets overwhelmed. But wait, from the back…. He’s in a kilt and a Raven shirt… it’s PIERROTH JR! He’s joined the Flock! Oh wait, he whips off the mask and it’s Steve Corino, followed by two ringboys who run to ringside and kneel down in one of the corners. This was really at the point in the show were I felt it had lost it’s steam. Corino played face in peril even though he hit a bunch of stuff and he was in Kojima mode, hitting the elbow “IT’S OVA!” spot as well as the loosing the elbow pad lariat at one point. Then there’s the whole weirdness of Raven playing cheerleading baby face in the corner waiting for the hot tag. Eventually, we have a split brawl, with Homicide going at it with Corino and Raven and Maff fighting in the ring. Homicide and Corino fight back through the curtain, followed by the two seconds. While this is going on, Raven takes over on Maff and hits the DDT. At this point, someone runs through the curtain… it’s PIERROTH JR! Pierroth DDT’s Raven allowing Maff to get the pin. Pierroth unmasks as Shane Douglas. Who does his mic work, complete with cursing, though in Shane’s defense, it wasn’t his usually 40 minutes of cursing and putting himself over while burying Michaels and Flair promo, then again, he might not have the cardio to do that any more. Anyway, Douglas yells at Raven about starting shit in TNA and threatens to take care of Raven in Woodbridge.
PP: Maff's JAPW entrances have become a sight now as everyone whips out the Boricua flags/scarves/doorags for him, Homicide and the DRS. Raven goes it alone for a few minutes before someone in a Pierroth mask runs out and evens up the sides... I honestly thought it was Balls Mahoney for a second before he unmasked as Corino, which should be another indication WRT how much weight the man has lost. Corino is joined by two of his "ringboys" in a cute twist on the ROH gimmick. Eventually Corino and Homicide brawl to the back (continuity~!) while Raven and Maff go at it in-ring... "Pierroth" runs out a second time to attack Raven, at which point Ray distressingly notices how familiar the black/yellow pants are that he's wearing. Sure enough, Shane "Bane of Ray Duffy's Existence" Douglas unmasks and does the quickie version of his usual potty-mouth promo on Raven to presumably set something up for the next show in Rahway.
9: JERRY “THE KING” LAWLER vs. AL SNOW w/ Jonathan Coachman & Head
for the JAPW HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE w/ Special Referee MICK FOLEY
RD: Foley got a big pop. Pre-match, Mick gets on the mic and tells everyone he’s going to call it right down the middle, despite the fact that he and Jerry did a best selling children’s book together. Mick warns Al to give him a reason to do something against him. He also says he doesn’t need a reason to knock Coach’s “dick into the dirt”. Surprisingly, Foley didn’t work any Snow jokes into his mic work. This match was another that sort of dragged. Lawler’s had better indy matches against Corino, Kamala and Funk and Snow had a better match with a one-armed Sabu. This went along with Coachman stealing the ring mic and doing bad play by play, with Foley getting the mic away from him once and threatening to beat him up if he doesn’t shut up. But Coach somehow gets the mic back again and Foley doesn’t do it. At one point, Lawler did like a 30 punches in the corner, taking a break at about 25. Eventually, Lawler scores the pin and wins the belt. Post match, Coachman tries to attack both Mick and Lawler and ends up getting punched by both of them. After that, Maff hits the ring and says that he is calling for a shot at the title since he was supposed to get a rematch against Snow. They do a “We can do this right now” deal with Maff getting beat up by Lawler and taking the Socko claw from Foley to end the show.
RD: The first 4 matches of the show flowed well, sort of went down hill from there. Apparently they’re not running the Center Circle in Rahway anymore and have moved to a new Rec Center. This is both good and bad as the Center Circle was a big building, but being so vacuous, it was bad for crowd noise and wasn’t really good for heat/cold. The bad is that if the Shane Douglas match doesn’t go on last, meaning I’d get on the train early, I won’t have Last Action Hero pinball to play instead. Next show should be interesting, on the the plus side, it’s going to have AJ Styles v. Daniels, on the other hand it will have Douglas, who for those of you who have not been following my road reports dating back in ’95, I really can’t stand Shane Douglas, even when he wasn’t a shell himself. Lawler v. Maff will be weird, but I don’t have any doubt that Maff will bump like a fiend to put over Lawler’s punches, so that should be interesting at least.
PP: This was an OK show that was
handicapped by the problems with the road leading to the center plus half
of the main-eventers. Also, you can see where the stagnating WWE is starting
to effect the attendance at indy shows. As goes Titan, so goes the nation.
Next show in Rahway looks good with Daniels/Styles as JAPW compensates
for all of the regulars working the COD that night. I can already see Ray
running next door to play pinball during Douglas' match.