Thursday, June 19, 2014

Inspire Pro's CLASH AT THE BASH Review

Thumbs down? No, this show is thumbs up!
Photo via Inspire Pro Facebook Page
With my wife away visiting family in Oregon, I was left to attend CLASH AT THE BASH all by my lonesome. She may have had fun, gotten gifts, and just generally enjoyed a relaxing vacation, but man, Sam sure did miss out on a great night of wrestling. When I arrived at the Marchesa Hall and Theatre, I was instantly greeted by Thomas Munos in a bathrobe holding a paddle ball and a clipboard. See, Munos was a referee. I say “was” because he was fired from Inspire Pro following NO ROOM TO DIE, after he tackled Sammy Guevera and wailed on his face (after having been spit in the face by the said “Best Ever”). Some say Munos was justified, but the officials felt otherwise, not wanting to set a bad precedent. His clipboard was a petition to get reinstated. Of course, I signed it. He looked so sad. Although, I’m not sure why he had to be in his robe for. They didn’t take away his clothes, unless all he owned were referee stripes. He also gave me a hug.

CLASH AT THE BASH was beach-themed, only without water (except for what Lance Hoyt had, but I’ll get to that later) and sand. Nearly everyone wore their finest beach wear, as well. (I did not.) They even moved their entrance from the left of the stage, to on the stage, and added a ramp/catwalk that connected the stage to the ring, which I was ALWAYS a fan of back in the day. I remember WCW used one (as did ECW, but I did not watch those until years later), and it was always my favorite set-up. On either side of the curtain, were inflatable palm trees, and in the ring, several beach balls. I’m hoping the new set-up with remain (no reason to think it won’t).

Our esteemed ring announcer, Brandon Stroud, welcomed us to the show and proceeded to toss the beach balls out into the crowd. I think he would come to regret that decision later in the evening, but as it were, we smacked the balls all around the building at various points through the show. Also, a swamp monster played The Star-Spangled Banner on guitar. Yeah, I don’t know, but it was pretty neat. Plus, they had a live band (I forget their name) during the two intermissions.

THOMAS SHIRE def. “The Bleeding Heart” DAVEY VEGA
The good thing so far in Inspire, is that for the most part, the fans have ignored whatever certain wrestlers did in other promotion (namely Anarchy Championship Wrestling). I feared that when Inspire first started, but most of the wrestlers are only vaguely similar to how they act in ACW (and that mostly just boils down to a lot of them playing extensions of themselves). This is most notable in the fact that Thomas Shire and Jojo Bravo are heralded as good guys in Inspire (well, they are faces now in ACW, too) and have absolutely no association with Chris Trew. The only “mention” of The Business in Inspire is the fact that Trew uses the same “Focus Up” theme music. But in Inspire, he has an entirely different stable, The New Movement.

So, it was interesting when a few fans (who do attend all the ACW shows), opted to shout to Davey Vega that he was “still trash” following his very competitive match with Thomas Shire. He did what he always did, he busted his ass and put on a good show. That’s why, in my opinion, he’s the best guy on the indies right now. Even before the match, I suppose to dispel whatever notions some people may have had about him, Vega shook Shire’s hand. SPORTSMANSHIP! He did so after the match as well.

You could say those fans reacted as they did, because Vega has mostly been a villain, but there was a time in ACW when he had earned the respect and adulation of the fans. That was before the Submission Squad reformed in full-force, which is why I believe it was carryover, instead of them just hating on Vega for disrespecting Chris Hero the last time he was in Inspire. At any rate, there wasn’t much at stake in this match, but you would be hard pressed to find a better opener anywhere, because as Stroud said during his introductions, this match could main event just about anywhere else, and I hope one day it does.

I could not tell you who the majority of the participants were. But two of the notable eliminations were “Jiggle-O” James Johnson eliminating himself as soon as the match started. He even flipped the bird to Trew on his way to the back. VERY RUDE, SIR! The other one being, Erik Shadows getting dumped over the top rope by Chris Trew himself. Not sure what that was about, but clearly Trew did not want him apart of The New Movement.

The winner of the match was a very large black man who I had never seen before. And he did not enter when everyone else had. Instead, the match had started, someone banged on the metal roll-up door, and from there he entered. I’m guessing he couldn’t fit through the entrance curtain (very broad shoulders). The match actually lasted longer than I figured, given Keith Lee’s entrance, but eventually he took care of business and became the newest member of The New Movement, joining Cherry Ramone and Delilah Doom. Chris Trew was overjoyed, to say the least. It’ll be interesting to see where things go and what exactly The New Movement have their sights on.

“That Guy” SCOTTY SANTIAGO def. “Chi-Town’s Finest” MR. B
It’s all about politics. Or that’s what Mr. B’s newest t-shirt would lead you to believe. I have no idea what that’s about, but he had a brand new shirt, plain white shirt, that said “WHY?” on the front in big, black letters, and “POLITICS” on the back. I’m assuming he felt as those he is gotten the short end of the stick thus far in Inspire? I haven’t the slightest. That said, I enjoyed the character shift from fun-loving, white-girl-craving guy, because we got ourselves a good little match. I knew Santiago would be up for the wrestling side of things. In the end, though, Santiago didn’t win with politics, but rather a good old-fashioned roll-up. Much like the opener, there wasn’t much at stake, and there wasn’t anything definitive decided, so I’m sure they will continue their story at the next show in July.

THE HOLLYWOOD KNIVES (Stevo Reno and Bradley Axel Dawson) def. THE NEW MOVEMENT (Cherry Ramone and Delilah Doom)
It was originally scheduled to be the team Red Dead Depression comprised of The Great Depression and The Red Scare, but apparently they had both been incarcerated the night before. I don’t recall for what (assaulted cops, perhaps?), but regardless, this was going to go into the win column as a forfeit victory, but the Hollywood Knives wanted no part of that. Their wish for a match was granted by The New Movement. Much like the first match The Hollywood Knives had, Bradley Axel Dawson found himself incapacitated outside the ring (this time at the hands of Keith Lee, which got him booted from ringside), leaving Reno to fight the match all by himself.

Remarkably, he was able to fight off the opposition, submitting Cherry Ramone by, well, basically just spreading his legs really far apart. It looked painful, I know that much. After the match, Dawson managed to crawl himself into the ring and celebrate a hard fought victory. So far, things have not been going well for The New Movement, though. Exactly zero victories so far. If Chris Trew wants to be the Professional Wrestling Manager of the Decade, he might want to get his team to “focus up.”

“The Texas Lion” CARSON KO’d “Cowboy” JAMES CLAXTON
Before the match, we had a moment of silence and ten bell salute for, what I could gather, was the recent passing of Carson’s father. If I’m wrong on that, please let me know, but it was a nice moment that showed the level of respect Inspire Pro has for their talent. James Claxton even respectfully gave the ring over to Carson before the start of the match. But when Carson held open the ropes to let him re-enter, Claxton kicked him right in the chest. The match was really nothing special. Underwhelming, actually. Not sure if that was because of the circumstances beyond the ring or what, but it was a quick match, and a well-placed superkick out of nowhere knocked Claxton out cold, and he failed to answer the referee’s ten count. It was strange and caught a lot of people off guard. But it wasn’t the last we would see of these two men.

I was really looking forward to this match, especially given Ricky’s attitude in Inspire Pro thus far. And it was a very good match, but Starks didn’t seem to have the same fire he had been showing. Maybe the last few months of essentially treading water affected him? I have no idea. Or maybe Scot Summer was just too much for him?

He put up a fight, don’t get me wrong, but the same violent, aggressive streak he’d been showing since THE BEGINNING was not on display. It was almost like he was just overwhelmed. Not so much because of the stakes or the stipulations, but just Scot Summers himself. He was relentless to the point of trying to take Ricky’s arm off and taking it home with him. All the while, there was a cloud hovering around ringside in the form of Chairman Greg Symonds and his buddy in the suit. I’m not sure who his friend were, but they showed a vested interest in the outcome of the match. They never got physically involved, but they were active cheerleaders for Ricky Starks, who before the match was asking why they were there and telling them to leave.

In the end, Ricky never did tap out or give him, instead he lost consciousness, just as he had made James Claxton do a few months back. I’m not exactly sure where Starks’ story goes moving forward, as while he didn’t quit, and put on a good showing, he was rather thoroughly cut down by Summers. Post-match, Symonds and his cronie attacked Summers, only to get chased away by Thomas Shire. My best guess would be that Symonds will be coming out of retirement. A tag team match would probably be the best bet for starters.

It feels kind of odd, because now Symonds is the instigator. Sure, Summers struck first, when he punched out the Chairman, but everything seemed to have been settled. I do know Symonds feels disrespected by Summers when he brought in his own title. But, if Thomas can be fired for attacking a wrestler WHO SPIT IN HIS FACE, shouldn’t those in charge of Inspire Pro at least THINK about reprimanding Greg Symonds?

“The Ultraviolent Beast” MASADA def. “Unholy” GREGORY JAMES
Exactly how does one start bleeding from the forehead while chain wrestling? I don’t know, but Masada sure found a way to make it happen. I wasn’t too into this match, but they pulled me into it by the end, which is the mark of some fine wrestling. These guys battled all over, with Masada living up to his “Ultraviolent Beast” moniker. It was Masada’s debut in Inspire Pro and Gregory James’ attempt to return to a winning form that netted him a Championship match not too long ago. It was not to be, however, as a couple super-violent powerbombs ended his night.

Post-match, the former Blasphemer aka Jeff Gant suddenly appeared with two other dudes and attacked James. Gant was a recent member of James’ group before being booted out, and is seeking revenge with his own group. A group of the skinniest guys I’ve ever seen, but they seemed tough. I know Gant can take a whooping pretty well, but he always gets up looking for more.

MATCH OF THE NIGHT. Ray Rowe was making his return to Inspire Pro as well and he definitely earned a shot at the Championship. It wasn’t easy, though, as Matthew Palmer is no pushover. Ray Rowe is one of the best wrestlers working today, no questions about it, but Matthew Palmer is one of the best I have seen at incorporating his characters into the matches as well.

As I’ve said, he is a revelation in Inspire Pro, not having to work hardcore matches. He is always on point, from the wrestling itself, and being “Centerfold.” He talks, makes jokes, and, simply, just has a personality inside the ring. Also, his elbow drops are picture perfect. Even just your standard elbow drop from the mat is beautiful. He gets good elevation and really drives home the point of his elbow. It might be one of my favorite simple moves to watch be performed.

He also has a sick suicide dive DDT on the concrete floor, too. If there was one strike against the match, that was it. It was a big time move and should have incapacitated Rowe, but the way the match was laid out (the finish arrived soon after said move), he almost had to no-sell it, if memory serves me correctly.

The match lost a bit after that happened, cause it was such a big moment, but they still had a tremendous match. I’m glad Ray Rowe won because he deserved a chance at the Championship. He has a victory over Mike Dell already, and his only defeat was a screwy one to Palmer’s Center of Perfection stablemate Robert Evans. I just hope the match, which will be happening at the August event, is a quick and decisive win for Rowe. Why? I don’t like Mike Dell, and also because he so thoroughly trounced Dell the last time they faced.

JOJO BRAVO and ACH def. NINE INCH MALES (“Dirty” Andy Dalton and Jordan Jensen) by DISQUALIFICATION
“Infamous” Shawn Vexx was supposed to be Jojo’s partner, but he had a family emergency to attend to. So, “The Heaviest Sumo in the Land” took it upon himself to face off against his adversaries on his own. And he held them off for a good bit, keeping them both at bay. But when he tried to activate his Tag Team Partner powers, no one stepped forward, and he was swarmed by Jensen and Dalton. But OHMYGOD ACH!! When his music hit, you should have seen the looks on people’s faces. No one could believe it. I thought my friend Brian (he who likes to dance emphatically to Ricky Starks’ entrance theme) was going to cry he was so shocked and overjoyed.

What followed was one hell of a tag team match, because, well, look at those names again. Say whatever you want about Dalton and Jensen (especially Dalton), but they are very good wrestlers. And when you add in Jojo and ACH? C’mon, it would be hard to have a bad match. At one point, I thought ACH was going to fly out of the building, with his dive to the outside. He sailed over his targets I’m pretty sure he destroyed some chairs. Things were going pretty well, otherwise, for the team, even neutralizing JT Lamotta on the outside. But with ACH down out the outside, it seemed as if the Nine Inch Males were going to finish off Jojo.

Until Davey MOTHERFUCKIN’ Vega appeared!!

And kicked Bravo right in the face.


That’s my sad face because, why, Davey? WHY? You said you did it for the children! Won’t someone PLEASE think of the children!? (To Davey’s credit, when Brian asked him about said children, Vega explained that that was exactly why he did what he did, because Jojo was going to hurt the children.) With that kick, Davey Vega joined up with Andy Dalton, Jordan Jensen, and JT Lamotta. They even posed for several photos while holding up an unconscious Jojo Bravo as if he was a buck they had just shot on a hunting trip.

(I still need to remember to bring money with me next time so I can buy a Davey shirt. IF I can get the courage to talk to him.)

I need to take a moment and explain something about a particular fan that attends these shows. I don’t know what his name is, but he’s a special needs kid who gets really into the shows (and rightfully so). His absolute favorite thing to do, as far as I can tell, is to start “THIS IS AWE-SOME!” chants. All the time. Even when they don’t make sense, like at the start matches. He’s just really into that chant. My wife and I always joke that we should just start singing, “Everything is AWESOME!” from The Lego Movie.

He even started a “Let’s Go, Scotty!” chant during Ray Rowe vs. Matthew Palmer. I am not sure which he thought was Scotty. At any rate, he seems like a good kid who just really loves his wrestling. Not a damn thing wrong with that at all. But it was in this match where I bet Brandon Stroud was having second thoughts about the beach balls.

This kid punched one through the air and it nailed Stroud right in the back of the head as he stood waiting to perform his match introductions. He turned his head to the side, as you do when you suddenly, from out of nowhere, get hit in the back of the head with something that doesn’t actually hurt, but really annoys you. He started to make an announcement, but then when he found out it was the kid, he gave him a high-five.

Everything was fine, until American Eagle decided to call the kid back over (since he ran away from giving him a high-five), and tired to do his eagle hand signal with him. You can picture what it is, you know how you make bird wings with your hands? Well, he does that with another person, too. Only, this kid could not figure that out, and he was just slightly confused by what he was being asked to do, and it looked like he was about to climb into the ring (he got one foot on the apron) before he dad pulled him away. Overzealous kid, man. But it’s all in good fun. No harm done. (But almost, and I’ll get to that after the match.)

Much like what I said about Matthew Palmer earlier, another person who is completely, 100% their character in matches is American Eagle. If you know who is under the mask, it makes complete sense, but I will not reveal that here. He plays a lot of characters and he is always committed to it. I’m hoping for big things from him in Inspire, ‘cause he’s so good.

A lot of the things he does, are like flapping his arms like wings when he’s spinning around (legs around his opponent’s neck, like he’s doing his own airplane spin), or even making his opponent to his eagle hand signal with him. He’s fun and charismatic and good at wrestling. He lost.

D'Angelo is a large man, and it only took one big power move to put an end to things. But at some point, I can’t remember if it was during the match or afterwards, but the action was outside the ring. And I’m not sure what was happening or was about to happened, but all I saw was Stroud and the father pull the “this is awesome” kid away from the action. Like, forcibly grabbed the back of the shirt and pulled him to safety, as it were.

“One Man” MIKE DELL def. “The American Psycho” LANCE HOYT to retain the INSPIRE PRO CHAMPIONSHIP
The last time Lance Hoyt appeared, Stroud messed up his nickname. Lance Hoyt did not forget. As soon as he entered the ring, he spit a mouth full of water into Stroud’s face. All we needed after that was sand, and it would have been truly beach themed. Hoyt also spit into the referee’s face, and then just randomly. Then he kinda shoved the bottle into Stroud’s face. So, clearly they are building to a big Lance Hoyt versus Brandon Stroud match, right? That’s gotta happen. Or Stroud has to become a manager and have a surrogate take on Hoyt. As it was, when announcing Dell, he told the Champ to kick Hoyt’s ass.

Problem was, Hoyt’s a large man, and he had friends outside in the form of Franco D’Angelo, Matthew Palmer, and Samantha Anne. Franco and Palmer were taken out of things, though, by James Claxton and Carson (I have a feeling they’re going to be best friends). So, it came down to Hoyt and Dell themselves.

And I have to say, legit, I mostly did not pay attention to the match. A small part of it could be chalked up to show fatigue. It happens with four hour shows. But had you put Vega v. Shire, ACH/Jojo v. Dalton/Jensen, Rowe v. Palmer, or Summers v. Starks, I would have paid complete attention.

It wasn’t a boredom thing, so much as I just don’t find Mike Dell interesting. There was almost no drama to the match, especially after Ray Rowe won earlier in the show. That’s the thing with Inspire, since things are so well-booked (for the most part), future matches will always makes sense (again, for the most part), and a Rowe/Dell rematch was in the planning way back when Rowe defeated Dell before Mike won the Championship.

Not to mention, as far as I know, Lance Hoyt is more of a guest to Inspire Pro. I’m not sure what the new relationship with NWA has to do with that, as in will he be more of a regular, or what the deal there is, but I would say I was 99.9% sure Mike Dell was walking away still the Champion of Inspire Pro.

And he did, in the most predictable of ways. The Mike Dell way. He may have invented halftime (he was in a Super Bowl commercial for Pepsi), but he hasn’t invented new ways to put away opponents. It seems, in the little bit I’ve seen of him, he has the same way of doing it. Which, yeah, most wrestlers do, but, I dunno. Not a fan, guys, can’t you tell? Also, while his flying elbow drop is better than CM Punk’s, he should hit up Matthew Palmer for some tips on improving it if it’s going to be his finish.

Funny sidenote: I spent the entire show sitting next to Dell’s girlfriend (I didn’t see a ring, so I’m assuming not his wife), and those of us that aren’t fans, spoke our negativities in whispers. After the match, Ray Rowe let Mike Dell know that he was coming for the belt in August and to remind him that he’s never beaten Rowe. Foreshadowing?

I really enjoyed this show, and it really is the best deal in wrestling, in my opinion. You can’t really beat $12 for something this well put together. Hell, you pay triple that for a nosebleed seat to watch WWE mostly disappoint you (or annoy you) on Monday’s. But there’s something for everyone, really, much like WWE. No one is going to like everything (see me with Mike Dell), but even the things you may not like aren’t awful. ‘Cause in August, I’m going to be AMPED for that Dell-Rowe match, if only because I want to see Ray Rowe pummel him and take the Title. I’m not sure what his schedule permits, so he may not win, but I’ll be invested all the same.

Only thing I know for sure is that I cannot wait until July 27th, for NO TURNING BACK, the very next XX Division show! If you want to see quality women’s wrestling, Inspire Pro is where it’s at. Even if you don’t like the matches, take comfort in the fact that they treat the women with respect and like the supreme athletes and entertainers that they are.

A small note about this review, this is just one way I'm trying it out. You have your Best and Worsts, your play-by-play with star ratings, and a million other ways to do reviews, so I'll be trying out several different ways.

  • Thomas Shire def. Davey Vega
  • Keith Lee won the Chris Star Search Battle Royal
  • "That Guy" Scotty Santiago def. Mr. B
  • The Hollywood Knives (Stevo Reno and Bradley Axel Dawson) def. The New Movement (Cherry Ramones and Delilah Doom)
  • "The Texas Lion" Carson def. "The Cowboy" James Claxton
  • Scot Summers def. "Absolute" Ricky Starks in a No Holds Barred/No Rope Breaks Match to retain his World Class Championship
  • "The Ultraviolent Beast" MASADA def. "Unholy" Gregory James
  • Ray "Death" Rowe def. "Centerfold" Matthew Palmer to become the Number One Contender to the Inspire Pro Championship
  • JoJo Bravo and ACH def. Nine Inch Males (Jordan Jensen and Andy Dalton) by disqualification
  • "The Bionic Beast" Franco D'Angelo def. The American Eagle
  • "One Man" Mike Dell def. "The American Psycho" Lance Hoyt to retain the Inspire Pro Championship