Super Indy XII
Right. First off, I had an excellent time. I got my wife to go, somewhat begrudgingly (she's not big on violence), and she had a blast two. Now, my impressions (fair warning, as those who have read before, I will make mistakes. I'm writing of events that were hours ago):
I had bought the tickets months ago, so I had front row seats. Unfortunately, when Jamie and I tried to sit, we found that some idgits had decided to grab chairs and rearrange them, requiring us to appeal to security to get our seats back. I must give them credit for the quick resolution of the matter. Now, on to the event. First, Chuck Roberts came out and did a brief summation of the history of IWC's Super Indy championship and the annual competition (in which he did acknowledge and give credit to Norm Connors and his history with the promotion). Each of the scheduled competitors in the tournament were called out one by one (except Gory). Yea, verily, the ring did groan under the weight of so many muscled men, and they posted for a group photograph (Facade was, as usual, a bit of a class clown in the background). Shortly thereafter, Gory made an appearance on the catwalk. It was a nice introduction.
Facade vs Rave
I have to say, this one was disappointing. Facade was his usual entertaining self. Rave was... well, I understand that he's had a lot of ups and downs in his life and has apparently wrestled with many demons to get to this point. Sadly, he seems to be going a bit to seed. His physique was not up to the same standards as the other competitors and he seemed to need a lot of breathers during the match. I wish him luck in his career, but he was, sadly, the low point of the night. This may have also been part of the reason that he was the one guest star who was eliminated in the first round of matches. On a side note, Facade got first blood of the night. After an aerial attack from inside the ring to the outside, Rave had a bit of blood around his mouth and at one point spat a bloody gob to one side of the ring. Facade won and advanced.
Bobby Fish vs Extreme Tiger
This one was very entertaining. One of the frequent complaints about cruiserweights is that it's unbelievable when they defeat larger opponents. Here, it was rendered believable. Fish obviously overpowered Extreme Tiger from the start, and it was only through a combination of extreme determination and some well-planned comebacks that Extreme Tiger pulled out the win. I like Bobby Fish. He's an ass, but he's an entertaining ass, particular in his adherence to complete following of the rules. There was a bit of race jokes involved in this match, but not much past Bobby Fish mangling Spanish phrases and indicating that the referee would have to talk slowly and loudly when explaining the rules to Extreme Tiger (also, a fun bit where Fish complained at length about how Extreme Tiger needed to avoid giving Fish a wedgie when grabbing the trunks). Extreme Tiger won and advanced. Oh, and Fish ostensibly extended the hand of friendship, mocking Extreme Tiger for being unsociable when at first he was hesitant. Of course, Fish used the handshake as a chance to kick Extreme Tiger in the gut. Oh, Fish, you marvelous heel, you...
A.C.H. versus Shane Strickland
This, in my opinion, was the crowning gem of the night. From the dance-off between Strickland and A.C.H. to the high-flying maneuvers, this match had it all. Additionally, this match is one of the few where I watched it and felt like the strikes were actually hitting people. As I've said in prior reviews, one of the areas where IWC (and probably, by extension, the Iron City Wrestling Academy) falls down is in striking. Kicks aren't that bad, and everyone knows how to throw a chest chop, but any other sort of striking tends to degenerate to a sort of noiseless flailing that just looks fake. Here, they even got into a knowck-down-drag-out trading of punches and it all looked real. Ultimately, A.C.H. won and advanced, but he and Strickland ended the match as friends.
Gory vs. Kyle Matthews
True to form, Gory appeared from darkness. The actual match was entertaining. I think that Matthews is trying for a sort of "Hulk Hogan" image, with clean and uncomplicated moves, a weird finger-waggle when indicating that he didn't plan to stay down, and attempts to "pump himself up" during the fight. Mild drawback in the match is the striking, again. Gory occasionally looked like he was trying to flail Matthew with his fingertips, particularly when going to the ground. In the end, Gory prevailed, but Matthews made a good showing of himself. On a side note, the photograph they use for Matthews is unintentionally hilarious. I feel like he's stopping a passer-by to inquire after the Grey Poupon. Gory won and advanced.
HD vs Hollis vs Rayne vs Mr. 450
Honestly, my memories of this match are somewhat fragmented. I remember that, as with many matches involving multiple people, it generally moved among various iterations of two people fighting while the other two lay injured or catching their breath outside the right. Hollis was obviously being played as the butt monkey of the match, with people ganging up on him and largely no-selling his attacks (there was a funny bit where Mr. 450 actually started yawning as Hollis laid chest chop after chest chop into him). Rayne and HD spend much of the match being the odd men out, with Cannon seeming to have genuinely injured his knee at some point, requiring him to convalesce throughout much of the match and to loosen his kneepad at the end so that he could walk. Memorable bits included the four person chained suplex (I suspect they were trying to outdo the 3 person one back in Night of the Superstars) and Cannon struggling to lift his opponent on his shoulders after his injury (he eventually succeeded). Ultimately, Mr. 450 won and advanced to fight Anthony Nese.
Anthony Nese versus Mr. 450
Regrettably, this match was a bit of a foregone conclusion. While Mr. 450 did admirably against his opponent, dramatic tension required Nese to make it to the end, so he ultimately defeated 450. I don't really remember the details, but I do remember that it was a good match with a lot of good spots and transferal of the momentum. After his loss, 450 received applause from the audience and an invitation to come back.
Facade vs. Extreme Tiger
Another very entertaining match between two high-flyers. Again, the details are a bit scarce now, but I remember finding it very good. And, at the end, there was a genuine hand of friendship as they shook on the end. While it was a close match, likely for reasons of storyline, Facade won and advanced. Honestly, I suspect that I would probably have had more to say about this match if the prior two hadn't been so good, leaving me a bit jaded.
Gory vs. A.C.H.
Good match. Gory was suitably creepy as he entered the ring (for once, not doing so under the cover of darkness). And I continue to be amazed at his sheer athleticism given his slender frame. You look at all of the other wrestlers and they're suitably beefy, even Facade with his lean physique, but Gory seems practically skeletal in comparison. Despite that, he pulled off his maneuvers with great gusto. Again, the striking was a bit of a drawback, but the grappling was excellent. Gory won, thereby guaranteeing that Flippin' Ain't Easy would be in the ring together once more. Oh, and it's a good thing that the FCC doesn't broadcast these shows, because Gory's pin of A.C.H. gave the audience a bit of southern exposure due to the way his trunks were grabbed.
There were a couple of odd little interludes during the night to give us a bit of a breather. Norm Connors came out with Team Big League to make an announcement about their impending victory. He was his usual amusing Cloud Cuckoo Lander self. Some guy from a show named Chair Shot Reality claimed he'd be doing an interview with Dalton Castle, but got booed to silence by the audience (is he some sort of notorious figure in the business?) before Marshal Gambino and his new valet/backer (I forget her name, but she got a lot of attention from the crowd for how she was nearly escaping out of her suit-coat) made a huge ruckus and drove him out to proclaim an upcoming match against Blue Collar Slaughterhouse. There were several interviews including Team Big League being obnoxious to Plummer, Dalton and Logan showing some friction over their upcoming match (Dalton claimed he'd get the pin because he had just a little bit more hate for Team Big League than Logan) with Chuck trying to convince them to not divide their house and thereby fall, and Justin Idol indicating that he's just there as an interested spectator (which, funnily enough, turned out to be the truth. The closest he got to interfering involved being ringside for his protegee, HD Cannon, and later taunting Super-Hentai). Oh, and Team Flexor came out to once more issue a challenge on the behalf of Andrew Palace. Super-Hentai answered it.
Andrew Palace vs. Super-Hentai
You've got to love Team Flexor. They're such colorful figures, and they just try so hard but almost inevitably fail. Super-Hentai delivered a nice speech about how he's been a part of Super Indy since the beginning, but that he wasn't pissed about not being in this one because he knows he has to work his way up, something that he feels Team Flexor just doesn't get in their attempts to get matches by these open challenges. The mechanics of the match were good. Both Palace and Super-Hentai showed off some impressive moves. Team Flexor, as usual, did their best to work as a team, but, as usual, largely got in each other's ways. Palace attempted his high-flying schtick (is that his "Aviation!!!" move listed on his bio?), but didn't even get the chance to miss, because he lost his goggles on the way up. Ultimately, Super-Hentai won, although he acknowledged that Andrew Palace gave him a good fight and might be going places. Afterwards, there was a backstage scene with him and Justin Idol wherein Idol taunted Super-Hentai for his recent losing streak (Hentai countered by reminding Idol that he has the more impressive losing streak) and set up a match next event with Idol, Cannon, and some new protege of Idol (the name might have been mentioned, but I didn't catch it) versus the Founding Fathers. Should be interesting. Hopefully, Cannon is in good enough shape. My wife pointed out that something seemed to be sticking out funny on his knee when he hobbled out after the Four-Way.
Logan & Dalton vs. Team Big League
This was the big handicap match arranged in the aftermath of Logan and Facade's loss last event. Three on two, and if Logan and Dalton lost, they'd be barred from challenging for titles for a year. Team Big League were their usual selves, tearing up fan signs and in general seeking heat. There was a mildly funny bit for me and my wife when Norm went from berating an argumentative fan madly to turning and, upon seeing me, calmly extending his hand and saying, "Hey, nice to see you again." That was a nice touch from a nice guy. Don't ever change, Norm. There were some pre-match shenanigans involving jackets being stolen (and McChesney's getting stuffed down the back of Dalton's trunks). The actual match was pretty much the usual. Team Big League cheated. Dalton protested the cheating at the right times to distract the referee so that Logan could be beat up more by the whole team. Early in the match, Logan and Dalton intelligently tagged out in their corner to maintain proper pressure (in a handicap match, you have to take every advantage you can), but as the match wore on, their competitiveness started to pull them apart, which Logan occasionally deciding to go it alone rather than turn things over to the Party Peacock. There was a tense bit where Logan had Brooks pinned, but Dalton yanked him off (aforementioned conflict over who'd get the pin), which led to Team Big League getting a second wind including Logan refusing to tag Dalton in when it was logical, instead going for his big spots. Ultimately, of course, they pulled together and got the win. I think Logan wound up getting the pin, although I may misremember. On a side note, I remain impressed at the ability of the members of Team Big League to take tremendous bumps. It takes a really good worker to make your opponent seem a titan who slings wrestlers all the way across the ring. McChesney is one of those people who can sell it well night after night. Also, points to Norm for selling getting missile-kicked in the face from inside the ring.
One thing that stood out to me on this match is the sad state of tag team rule enforcement on both sides. I know that it's all part of the game, and that it makes little sense for people to stand back while their teammate is getting pummeled or pinned, but so often, it degenerates to a free-for-all with the referee making no effort to clear people, or to determine who the legit team member in the ring is. It's understandable when the heels do it because, hey, they're heels, but when the faces do it, it always feels like a sell-out to me. I suspect that I'm just old-fashioned, like the people who complain about NBA players getting some free steps without dribbling in preparation for a dunk, but it's my feeling on the matter.
Gory vs. Facade vs. Nese
This was, of course, the main event of the night, the fight for the Super Indy Championship, and it was impressive. All three wrestlers were smart about letting their two opponents wear themselves out before stepping in. All three executed their moves very well, although Gory seemed to get sidelined more often. Near the end, Facade forced Gory into reprising their Buddy Moonsault move against Nese to great effect. Shortly thereafter, Gory tried to ninja mist Facade, but hit the referee instead. Gory was disqualified (something which will no doubt result in a continuing arc where he tries to sabotage Facade) and the match continued with a new referee. In the end, Facade got the pin and was crowned the champion. It was the end of the night, so I'm afraid I'd reached that point of fatigue where I remember little but the highlights of the match. Overall, though, excellent job from all three of the wrestlers. Oh, and Nese was surprisingly gracious about his loss. At first, it looked like he'd run with the belt, and he wouldn't initially let go when Facade went for it, but it seemed like the harshly whispered conversation was more or less a case of "You'd better take good care of it until I come to take it back from you".
Plummer told me that this was going to be one of the biggest nights of the year for IWC and it certainly paid off for the wrestlers and the fans (I hope it paid off for Chuck as well. Attendance was good, but it didn't seem larger than their usual house, to be honest). There were some minor glitches involving wrestlers being late for their entrances, or the music apparently not cueing up at the right place, and there was one funny bit where the lights flickered and everyone looked around for Gory before they came back on with nothing happening. I particularly enjoyed watching the kids at ringside. Several of them wound up involved in the action, including the kid whose signs kept getting torn up and the one who got into a yelling match with Nese (I never know how many of these are plants, but the latter kid seemed pretty genuine right up to him seeming genuinely spooked at first, and later having this goofy grin of "I just stood up to him. Huh" on his face). There were some really impressive spots like the aforementioned four-man suplex and Extreme Tiger bending Facade over the security fence and flipping out to strike him (I thought the lady fan behind that section of fence was going to plotz when she saw 70 kilos of wrestler apparently falling right toward her). A lot of rope acrobatics, including a funny bit where Palace tried to follow suit, awkwardly hopping up one rope at a time. Also, more blood than usual between Rave's mouth, Palace apparently getting gashed a way by his goggles, and Gory spitting the stuff all over the place. I definitely enjoyed the show. Jamie did too (although, much to her chagrin, every time she started yelling, the place would go quiet, which resulted in her twice having a wrestler yell back at her). I don't know if I'll be able to attend the next two shows, but I'm hoping to be able to attend.