Thursday, June 12, 2014

Inspire Pro: CLASH AT THE BASH Preview

Will the Red Dead Depression continue their march towards Inspire Pro domination?
Photo Credit: Kelly Kyle/Texas Anarchy
It’s fitting that the newest addition to the National Wrestling Alliance would name their signature event “CLASH AT THE BASH”. As someone who did not watch NWA/WCW-pre-Hogan, except for Saturday Night and Clash of the Champions, growing up and have been catching up through the WWE Network, I must say that Inspire Pro is the perfect fit for the NWA.

ELEVEN big matches have been announced and nearly every single match has a story behind it (there are a couple exceptions), which is what I love about Inspire Pro. Typically, all the matches booked have something behind it, tying it to previous events. They don't just throw two (or three or four) teams or wrestlers out there all willy-nilly, no rhyme or reason. There's a purpose for everything happening from show to show, which makes following the company so fun and interesting. There are stakes, no matter how minor they may be sometimes, giving you a reason to want to watch and follow along. Everything has a consequence, and I love it.

For the show this Sunday (see the end of the preview for all the important info), this is what they have going down:


The last time we saw the incomparable Davey Vega, at THE ECSTACY OF GOLD in January, he was firstly showing disrespect to Chris Hero and then falling short of becoming the inaugural Inspire Pro Champion in the main event to “One Man” Mike Dell. I hope we can get Hero back to Austin to see the two men face off. I know it happened in St. Louis Anarchy, but I don't live in Kentucky anymore, so I couldn't make the trip to see that one. Sigh. At any rate, I can't think objectively when it comes to Vega, because he is, without a doubt, my absolute favorite wrestler. Although, is there a difference between my subjective opinion and an objective view of Davey Vega? I don't think there are too many people out there who don't realize how amazing he is at this wrestling thing.

Thomas Shire is coming off a tremendous couple of months, in my book, across multiple promotions. But what he does elsewhere really has no bearing on what he's done in Inspire. He's come a long way since losing to The Great Depression at WIRED FOR WAR in September of last year. At April's NO ROOM TO DIE, Shire met Scot Summers in a battle for the World Class Championship. A pure wrestling title, for pure wrestlers. It was a beautiful display by the two men, and while Thomas came up a hair short, I think he caught the attention of a lot of people.

There may not really be anything at stake in this matchup beyond pride and each man wanting to show their abilities, but it has me exceptionally excited, and there is virtually no way this could disappoint.

RED DEAD DEPRESSION (The Great Depression and The Red Scare) vs THE HOLLYWOOD KNIVES (Stevo Reno and Bradley Axel Dawson)

Last month's IN THEIR BLOOD saw the debut of Stevo Reno and Bradley Axel Dawson's team, The Hollywood Knives. They were victorious over the arguing team of Jodon and Erik Shadows (why they were even a team is a discussion for another time), despite Dawson spending 90% of the match lying unconscious on the ring apron. Still, Stevo was able to keep things together 2-on-1 and they came out on top. Since that was their debut, they have not crossed paths with The Great Depression and The Red Scare.

Red Dead Depression have only competed in one tag team match thus far, losing to Frankie Fisher and Steve Kirby at NO ROOM TO DIE in April, but that was only because The Red Scare decided to Ace Crush The Great Depression. So… yeah, to say I have absolutely no idea what they were doing with this team is an understatement. The Great Depression began his career in Inspire Pro as this lumbering giant who would sit in any empty seat he could find and peruse Paige Turner's book table. He was an odd bird to be sure, but since the inclusion of The Red Scare, I can't say I follow what's happening. (Not to mention the on-again, off-again appearances of Penny Arcade.)

The match should, at the least, be interesting, because seldom is something dull in Inspire Pro, but I would like to see something further from Red Dead Depression to get a better understanding of what they're doing and where they're going. While I enjoy reading the pieces they put on the website, I shouldn't need to find answers on anything but the show.

Sidenote: Every time I type their tag team name, I have to delete "Redemption". Such a good game, though. Where's the sequel, Rockstar!?

Sidenote, Part II: Electric Boogaloo: It's surprising to me that Inspire went with the J-Crown as a secondary title (only with a crown instead of a belt) before they created a Tag Team Championship. Will there ever be one? Does their new alliance with the NWA mean we'll be seeing some NWA Tag Team Titles defended? So many questions!

"Chi-Town's Finest" MR. B vs "That Guy" SCOTTY SANTIAGO

"That Guy" Scotty Santiago has been a huge fan favorite since THE BEGINNING, scoring an upset victory over Carson. He went on to have a feud with the World Class Syndicate, never getting to have his name announced, but always managing to pull out the victories, until Carson downed him in a six-man tag at LIGHT THE FUSE in January. The last time we saw Scotty, he was a contestant in the J-Crown Gauntlet Match, looking mighty impressive, but falling short. During the match, however, he crossed paths with Mr. B, and eliminated him. "Chi-Town's Finest" was less than pleased with that result, and busted Scotty open with a chair.

Scotty will be looking to exact some revenge as both men attempt to put on a good showing and impress the Inspire Pro decision makers. I'll admit that this isn't too high on my list of things I'm looking forward to, but as long as Mr. B keeps the "I like white girls" in ACW (or get rid of it completely), this should be decent enough. He isn't incompetent in the ring, and Scotty has grown exponentially in this last year I've seen him here and ACW. He just needs to show a bit more personality (doesn't have Steve to carry that load here), but he's very talented otherwise.



I am an unabashed Chris Trew fan, from when The Business were heels in ACW to his Air Sex Championship to here, at Inspire Pro with his New Movement. Plus, I've been to so many shows now, he always says "hi", even at the Meet Me There world premiere in New Orleans during Wrestlemania weekend.

Humblebrag: I watched a movie with Dusty and Dustin Rhodes.

As for this match, Chris Trew is looking to add a third member to the New Movement after having added Cherry Ramone at NO ROOM TO DIE and the delightful Delilah Doom at IN THEIR BLOOD. They haven't had much success yet, Ramone losing in the J-Crown Gauntlet and Doom falling to the just-returned-from-Japan Jessica James.

No participants have been announced yet, so there's no way to know how this will go. I'm looking forward to it all the same. Chris Trew might be down now, but the "Pro Wrestling Manager of the Decade" won't stay there for long. This could be the piece he's missing, he just needs to #focusup and make it happen.

THE AMERICAN EAGLE vs “The Bionic Beast” "The Bionic Beast" FRANCO D’ANGELO

If you took away all the muscles, Franco D'Angelo would look exactly like my sister-in-law's boyfriend. It's uncanny.

As for the match, this will be Franco's first match since his failure to capture the Inspire Pro Championship from Mike Dell at LIGHT THE FUSE in January. I believe he also suffered an injury at ACW's show that month keeping him out of action.

That didn't stop him from making his presence felt, however, accompanying Matthew Palmer to the ring last month against "Jiggle-O" James Johnson. Before any more real damage could be inflicted upon Jiggle-O post-match, The American Eagle put a stop to it, running the two members of Center of Perfection off.

The American Eagle made his debut at NO ROOM TO DIE in the J-Crown Gauntlet, where he was eliminated by Cherry Ramone. But now he has something to fight for and against, that being the unseemly post-match beat down.

The Eagle will be up for the task, despite his distinct size disadvantage. The guy under the mask was instantly one of my favorites and I've been waiting for a breakout moment from him. Maybe this will be it?

“The Texas Lion” "The Texas Lion" CARSON vs "Cowboy" JAMES CLAXTON

Since disposing of That Guy nuisance, Carson has seemingly been edging his way towards the Inspire Pro Championship. Which is where these two men's paths in Inspire have crossed.

At NO ROOM TO DIE, James Claxton (friend of Mike Dell), attempted to even the odds as Dell defended his title against Gregory James, who was getting assistance from Morbidus. He got black most in his eyes for his trouble.

With "The Cowboy" incapacitated, Carson made his presence known, super kicking James' lackey, giving Dell the breathing room he needed to put down Gregory and retain.

After the match, Carson went to congratulate Dell, but Claxton rebuffed him. Carson is/was a member of the World Class Syndicate, so who knows what his intentions were. Claxton, at least, did not believe them to be pure.

This is a big match for both men and could inch either of them closer to a possible title challenge. For his role in the Dell-James match, Carson got a one-on-one match against the previously undefeated "Unholy One" at IN THEIR BLOOD, emerging victorious.

"The Cowboy," meanwhile, has been impressive, winning the Pump Patrol Invitational Battle Royal at LIGHT THE FUSE. (He also had a HELLACIOUS match against Ricky Starks that resulted in him passing out in a submission. He lost in the record books, but won evenso.) At NO ROOM TO DIE, he picked up a win in a brutally stuff war with Jake Dirden.

This will be a hard-hitting affair that could go either way.

"The Ultraviolent Beast" MASADA vs “Unholy” "Unholy" GREGORY JAMES

"Unholy" Gregory James began his Inspire Pro career undefeated, earning himself a shot at Mike Dell and the Inspire Pro Championship at NO ROOM TO DIE. He lost, but showed he deserved the opportunity. He followed that up at IN THEIR BLOOD with another loss, that one to Carson.

He's in a bit of a downward spiral. Picking up a win over the debuting Masada would put James back on track for another title shot.

Easier said than done. All I know of Masada has been his matches the last few months in ACW. He is not to be taken lightly, and I would advise any fan to relinquish their seat if the action spills outside. That's true of anyone, but especially so Masada.

Things don't get TOO chaotic in Inspire Pro, so I'm interested to see how this plays out.


This match had been in the making since THE BEGINNING, but had to be cancelled at LIGHT THE FUSE due to an injury Scot Summers suffered.

The wait will have been worth it once the bell rings on this No Holds Barred/No Rope Breaks Match for the World Class Championship.

From the very start, it felt as though Ricky Starks was being positioned as, maybe not the face of Inspire Pro (but what a handsome face it would be), but as one of the top stars. Whatever it is that you need to have "it", Ricky has it. I noticed that at my very first ACW show over a year ago. (Sadly, he isn't as featured there as he should have been.)

He has gotten the most mic time, been absolutely ruthless in his matches, losing a couple just because he refused to let go of his submissions (hence the stop for this match).

The added bonus is that Starks eliminated Summers' chances of fighting for the Inspire Pro Championship, pinning him in a triple threat qualifier.

Since, Summers has introduced the World Class Championship amid his beef with Chairman Greg Symonds, retaining it against Thomas Shire at NO ROOM TO DIE. Scot also has an impressive win over Ray Rowe before his injury.

Since the aborted match in February, Ricky Starks has been impressive, but seemingly treading water. In place of Scot, Starks faced off with James Claxton, forcing him into unconsciousness for the victory. It was a brutal affair, to be sure. At NO ROOM TO DIE, Starks won the J-Crown Gauntlet, pinning Sammy Guevara (who I am sad will likely not be on this show) and Barrett Brown simultaneously.

He would promptly lose it in a words-cannot-describe Triple Threat Ladder Match to the aforementioned Guevara. While it was SO GOOD, YOU GUYS, it felt like it was just something for him to do until he could get back to Summers and ultimately the main event.

I have high hopes for this one, and no doubt they will not disappoint.

NINE INCH MALES (“Dirty” "Dirty" Andy Dalton and Jordan Jensen) vs JOJO BRAVO and “Infamous” "Infamous" SHAWN VEXX

I know nothing of the pasts of Jojo Bravo and Jordan Jensen, just their mentions of being former friends and tag team partners. So, when Jensen attacked Jojo after his match at THE BEGINNING, it did not mean much to me. But I love Jojo, and I don't like him getting attacked, so I wanted Jensen to die. He has yet to do so.

After his attack on Jojo, Jordan was given the chance to earn a roster spot. Not only did e manage to do so, he found himself in the main event of THE ECSTACY OF GOLD, battling to become the inaugural Inspire Pro Champion.

Instead, he was fired.

Per the stips of the match, if Andy Dalton appeared within a certain number of feet to the ring, he would lose his job. Ricky Starks carried an unconscious Dalton out, getting Jensen eliminated both from the match and his job.

Some viewed it as unfair, a loophole in the terminology, and Jordan was given the opportunity to be reinstated if he went to sensitivity training. See, because Jordan used some racial slurs that were not well received, as you might imagine.

He returned at NO ROOM TO DIE making amends with those he hurt. Buuuuut it was all a ruse. He had not changed, even enlisting the help of one JT Lamotta, whom had been retired by Andy Dalton in a crazy street fight at THE QUICK AND THE DEAD.

Quick tangent: If Jordan's reinstatement was predicated on him going to "Jensentivity" training, and he shows he has not changed or learned, couldn't he just been fired on the spot? Unless it's a semantics debate like when he was previously fired. He just had to go, not grow. Just something that has irked me, because it stands out from Inspire's usually flawless storytelling.

Whilst that was happening, Jojo was growing into a but of an under the radar ace. Baller matches with Robert Evans, Matthew Palmer, and Tadasuke could be put on a tape, sent to Titan Towers, and get Jojo a one-way flight to Orlando to begin his NXT career. They were that good.

His partner, meanwhile, "Infamous" Shawn Vexx took umbrage of Jordan's use of the dreaded n-word, jumping out of his seat in the second row (beside me!), and charging into the ring to put a stop to the Bravo beat down at NO ROOM TO DIE. He also encourage the crowd to say that word, but thankfully the 94% white crowd opted to respectfully decline participation.

And what of "Dirty" Andy Dalton? Well, he is truly one of the few true heels in Inspire (Jensen and Sammy Guevara being the others). You just want to punch him in the face. Thing is, Daltin can bring it in the ring. The Street Fight with Lamotta was brutal and he had a great tremendous match with Takaaki Watanabe.

This is going to be an intense fight, that's for sure.


The funny thing about Matthew Palmer demanding a title shot last month, because he IS undefeated, is that he had the opportunity to earn one at THE ECSTACY OF GOLD when he was under the mask of Void.

Instead, he clocked Jojo Bravo with the ring beel, disqualifying himself, and gifting the contendership to Franco D'Angelo, with whom he formed The Center of Perfection (along with Robert Evans).

So, he really only has himself to blame.

But watching Palmer in Inspire has been a revelation. I had only seen him previously in ACW, where he reigned as Hardcore Champ for something like two years, and featured in mostly those kinds of contests. He was really good at them, but, scarily, he's been even better with Inspire Pro.

His match with Jojo Bravo is one of my favs from the first seven shows. As it is, he does deserve a chance at a title shot.

His opponent is the very guy who deserves to be a big star somewhere. All the way to the top if they'll have him. (Not that Palmer doesn't also deserve that, cause he does.) Ray "Death" Rowe is legit. Size, strength, skill. He's got it all.

And he has proven that in Inspire. He lost a close battle with Scot Summers, defeated eventual Champion Mike Dell (handily I might add, making Dell's eventual crowning all the more strange to me), bested Chris Hero in a Match of the Year candidate (SO GOOD!) at THE ECSTACY OF GOLD, and followed it up with a loss (via shenanigans) to Robert Evans.

He is finally back and I am eagerly awaiting this match. And it could really go either way.


Let's just get this out of the way at the jump, OK? I am not a Mike Dell fan. It's nothing personal, I don't think he's a BAD wrestler, it's just... he gets winded walking to the ring for a promo. That's a legit thing that happened.

I expect better cardio from my champions. Also, his match against Ray Rowe was an absolute drubbing. He looked out of it, sucking for air, and just being thoroughly dismantled. He just looked overmatched. Ricky Starks was right to question his inclusion in the Triple Threat for the Title after that match.

I know he was a big deal before, as he was given a big ovation when he won his match as the first Void to earn a place in the Championship Match and unmasked. Being new to the Texas wrestling scene left me to just stare at him and go "who?"

He also reminds me of Buff Bagwell. I can't see how that's a good thing.

It hasn't helped that each time he's headlined a show, there have been one or two other matches that have completely overshadowed his. It was like his matches were apart of a completely different show.

Not having a strong story hasn't helped. His first defense against Franco D'Angelo had a solid story, but felt rushed. It had a long history behind it, but it was over after one show to set it up and one to have the match. Seemed it could have spanned more shows. His second was against Gregory James, which really had no story beyond James being undefeated and earning a shot. That match helped set more things up in the future than anything, which probably should have put it in the mid card and not the main event.

And this match, headlining the signature event, does technically have a build from an early show when Franco named off his best friends (Palmer, Hoyt, Claxton; the first two sides with Franco, the latter Dell), but makes the story less between Franco and Dell (as it was set up to be) and more all of them against "One Man" (since Palmer is going after a shot, too).

This will also mark the first title match where someone hasn't earned a shot. Lance Hoyt (who legit kinda scares me), debuted at NO ROOM TO DIE, and teamed with Palmer to defeat Jojo and Tadasuke. Hoyt is a large man, making a lot of the Inspire guys look tiny in comparison.

I think this could be good, but it's going to have to follow ten other matches. A near five hour show, likely (most shows last about three, give it take a little bit over), if it runs until 10pm. Will the crowd be burned out. It's not like sitting through a show to see Daniel Bryan overcome the odds and have that glorious Mania Moment.

It feels underwhelming and I don't want it to be. ACW has the issue sometimes where the main event just leaves you meh. I don't want that for either place, but especially not Inspire on their signature event.

I hope Dell and Hoyt can bring something special to the table. If not, put the belt on Sammy Guevara, let him dick it up like only he can, and let Ricky Starks give chase.

For those that did not want to read all that:



2. RED DEAD DEPRESSION (The Great Depression and The Red Scare) versus THE HOLLYWOOD KNIVES (Stevo Reno and Bradley Axel Dawson)

3. “Chi-Town’s Finest” MR. B versus “That Guy” SCOTTY SANTIAGO


5. “The Texas Lion” CARSON versus “The Cowboy” JAMES CLAXTON


7. “The Ultraviolent Beast” MASADA versus “Unholy” GREGORY JAMES


9. NINE-INCH MALES (“Dirty” Andy Dalton and Jordan Jensen) versus “The Heaviest Sumo In The Land” JOJO BRAVO and “The Infamous” SHAWN VEXX



Doors to the Marchesa Hall in Austin, TX will open promptly at 5PM (an hour earlier than usual) and the action will begin at 5:30PM. Tickets are a steal, at only $12 for General Admission (which can be purchased online or at the door), and if you want reserved front row (only 50 seats available), it’s only $15. If you’re in Dallas or Houston or anywhere that’s less than a four hour drive from Austin, there is absolutely no reason for you to miss this show. Plus, it’ll make a great Father’s Day gift for the man who brought you into this world!

Check for more details!