Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Branded Outlaw Wrestling's Annihilation Review

Poster via BOW Facebook
When we saw the poster for Branded Outlaw Wrestling's Annihilation one match stuck out from the rest: ACH versus Ray "Death" Rowe. That is a match I would pay a lot more than $10 for. Unfortunately, as reported by earlier right here, Rowe suffered a multitude of injuries following his motorcycle crashing into a car that pulled out in front of him, the biggest of which was a broken left arm.

There was a small moment where my wife and I weren't going to make the hour-plus trek to San Antonio, but we thought better of it. I'm glad we did. I'm going to preface what's to come as this will only be the second NWA-BOW show I've ever seen. The other was last year when New Japan sent over Jushin Thunder Liger and several others. So, I am not well-versed in the on-going storylines and feuds (and there were a couple guys I don't remember the names of and couldn't find the info online).

Opening Match: Dick Dallas vs. Farat

Farat is the first guy I'm not sure what his full name was, just his last. He's a Syrian wrestler who comes out with the flag and even has one fan in the crowd who had a "I'm A Farat Guy" t-shirt. His opponent was a Hawaiian in a Ric Flair-esque robe names Dick Dallas. He had swagger, that much was certain. The match, yeah, not the best. It meandered and at various points it felt like they weren't on the same page.

One thing BOW does is announce how long the matches have been going on in five minute increments. So, you'll hear something like, "This match has passed five minutes. Five minutes have elapsed," to which the fans would shout, "Thank you!" This match went over ten if I'm not mistaken. It was more than they required. It didn't feel like a match that was continuing a grudge or had any real purpose, so they may not have been needed carry such a lengthy match. Definitely did not need a ref bump in the opener just so they could use the old "foreigner uses his flag as a weapon" spot.

Also, I bet you would never have guessed that the Middle Eastern wrestler used a camel clutch. Totally unexpected, right? Has there ever been a wrestler who uses that particular gimmick that hasn't also used the camel clutch. Iron Shiek, The Sultan, Mohammed Hussain, and even Rusev, who is Bulgarian, but it's the same type of gimmick. Mix it up, guys!

Ten-Man Battle Royal for the BOW Cruiserweight Championship: "Dirty" Andy Dalton defeated Weezy Woo

The rules were these: over-the-top elimination until four men remained then it became an elimination match. The Champion, Weezy Woo, was at a decided disadvantage. The other competitors included Scotty Santiago, Cherry Ramone, The American Eagle, Rudy Russo, Barrett Brown, "Unholy" Gregory James, Erik Ortiz (I think, his last name was Ortiz), and either Zac or DG Taylor (not sure which one it was).

I almost felt like I was at an Inspire Pro show with that list of wrestlers. Even Santiago and American Eagle were wearing matching USA flag tights. I think they may even have had some ACW flashbacks as they began teaming up although it ultimately led to their simultaneous eliminations.

The action was fast-paced and it would be hard enough to follow some of these guys in regular competition, much less ten at once. But it eventually got down to Weezy Woo, Andy Dalton, Barrett Brown, and Cherry Ramone. Once Brown was out away with a piledriver, Dalton and Ramone teamed up to try and get rid of the defending Champ.

Weezy Woo put up a fight, to be sure. And that dude, man, he is athletic. After getting rid of Ramone, though, Dalton and his manager "Mad Dog" Ken Johnson, were too much, and we had ourselves a new BOW Cruiserweight Champion.

I am super-okay with that outcome, because if I'm going to be attending BOW shows more often, I want people chasing this asshole. Andy Dalton is disgusting (like, literally, as he likes to lick his hand and rub it in his opponent's faces) and a piece of shit, but he is SO GOOD at it (and at the actual wrestling) that I want to see him eventually get what's coming to him. Just line 'em all up to chase him. The American Eagle, Barrett Brown, Scotty Santiago, and Weezy Woo would all provide amazing challenges for Dalton.

NWA World Women's Championship: Barbi Hayden (c) defeated Jessica James

It was a little strange seeing Hayden not headlining a show to be honest, but these two ladies, as you might expect, put on a really good show. And thankfully Jessica James didn't almost kill herself like at Inspire Pro, although any time she got onto the turnbuckles, I got a little nervous.

There was some solid mat work in the early going, leading to Hayden injuring her left arm (she's a southpaw) that she would actually sell all throughout the match even until the end when she had trouble lifting her title belt. Also, the match had a good deal of comedy, which was nice. James lay on the mat, holding her back, but when Hayden went to drop an elbow, James moved and then immediately rolled back into place, holding her back. They went through that sequence a few times much to my own personal delight.

They were just having a lot of fun in there, which is always good to see. Some people can just be too serious. You need some light-heartedness from time to time. That's not to say these top-notch women didn't bring it when they had to, because they did. Hayden continues to impress with her intelligence in the ring, as during a serious of roll-ups and pin attempts, she was able to counter and retain her title. That has been her method of victory in the last few matches that I have personally seen.

In my review do Inspire Pro's last event, I let my wife comment on Hayden's title defense against Mia Yim. Well, she finally got up the courage to talk to her. (Hayden even called her “sassy” when my wife told her she was hot.) Here is the proof:

Photo Credit: Michael Dupin
I bring this up because in the next couple of months my wife will begin wrestling training and Hayden is the reason why. I can't tell you how proud I am of her. As someone who has never chased any of my own dreams because of laziness, a fear of failure, and just the nagging insecurity of not thinking I'm any good at any of the things I enjoy, Sam actually pursuing this is an inspiration even to myself, which is why I will be documenting the whole experience (video and print).

Also, let's be real, it's going to be fucking amazing to be married to a wrestler.

Intermission: Ray Rowe Speaks

Before intermission, Samantha Anne (the general manager of BOW) brought out Ray Rowe. He honestly didn't look too bad for someone who crashed his motorcycle, especially for someone who used his face to smash a car window. His arm, of course, was in a cast and sling, and you could see the deep purple his upper arm was.

But, as he said, wrestlers are a different breed, which is how he was able to walk to the ambulance under his own power. The man's a badass and I hope he has a relatively simple and speedy recovery for my own purely selfish reasons. I want to see the man back in the ring and suplexing some fools!

I wish I would have had some money to buy some merch from him, because I know his medical bills are going to be insane and Indy wrestlers can use all the help they can get. (It should be noted, that no one mentioned his needing help with medical expenses. There was no pandering or panhandling.)

When we came back from intermission, Rowe announced his replacement against ACH and that man was:

Photo Credit: Michael Dupin
ACH defeated "Centerfold" Matthew Palmer

I don't think anything needs to be said about this match. It was clearly the Match of the Night. I mean, it features two of the very best in the business, and it allowed me to get off a very corny joke, "Palmer has thrown down the gauntlet," when he literally took off his gauntlets before a test of strength. So, instead of going on and on about the match which will do it no justice whatsoever, I'll leave you with this video:

NWA-BOW Tag Team Championship: Killer Shine (Killer McKenzie and Moonshine Mantell) defeated Rule of Two (Keith Lee and... His Partner)

I feel bad that I do not know the name of Keith Lee's partner and I couldn't find it anywhere. I apologize if you read this.

Killer Shine was accompanied to the ring by "Mad Dog" Ken Johnson, as he now controls all the titles in Branded Outlaw. It did feel a bit weird that he wears an old Civil War hat with a rebel flag on the back and his first three charges (Dalton, Killer Shine) battled black men, even screaming at Lee, "Tap out, boy!" was a bit uncomfortable.

The main two things I want to note about the match are this:

1) It was booked weird. After the initial flurry of offense from Rule of Two, things settled into the simple formula of a face in peril. The problem was that Lee, the big muscle-bound Adonis, was the one taking the punishment. Nothing against his partner, but he is less believable as the hot tag. It's not NXT making Kalisto, the guy with all the cool moves, get beat down all match long and not just get to do his fancy shit that will get crowds excited.

2) Keith Lee is a beast. I said it about him in Inspire Pro and it holds true here. He is someone I could see in WWE in a few years. He already has the personality in spades, and he has the power as he was even able to hit Moonshine Mantell (who is also very good) with a Spirit Bomb somehow, but he can also fly! Yes, after his partner jumped off Lee's back (on all fours) and barely cleared the rope on a dive to the floor, Lee executed a very well-done slingshot corkscrew plancha. After which, Rule of Two shouted, "Daaaaamn!"

In the end, cheating ruled the day and gave Johnson and Killer Shine the vacant Tag Team Titles. After the match, several fans in the front row got into shouting match with the team.

NWA-BOW Heavyweight Championship: "Cowboy" James Claxton(c) defeated "One Man" Mike Dell and "The Texas Lion" Carson

Anyone who has read my Inspire Pro reviews knows that I am not a fan of Mike Dell. I also don’t have a lot to say about this match other than asking myself what Samantha Anne was doing at ringside if she wasn’t going to do anything about the cheating from Ken Johnson. She made the rest of the group - Dalton, Mantell, and McKenzie - all go to the back but since Johnson was the actual manager he got to stay. He cheated once and was just given a warning from Samantha, then she “didn’t see” the next time, even though she was sitting right there and the fans were telling her about it. Eventually, the only reason Claxton won was because of the assistance he got.

But if you’re the General Manager and you purposely place yourself at ringside (which made complete sense just from the standpoint of what had transpired on this show) why are you not paying attention? Nothing happened to distract her. In all reality, the ONLY thing she should have been paying attention to was the actions of Johnson. That was seemingly her only purpose.

After the match (which was decent, but was going to be hard to top ACH-Palmer or even Hayden-James), Jax Dane came out and challenged Claxton to a match for the Championship at their next show in October. While they were talking, Claxton’s buddies returned to ringside and encircled it. So, naturally, Dane went all Roman Reigns on everyone, taking them out one at a time until Claxton was able to come back in and waylay him.

So, at the next show, it will be Jax Dane versus James Claxton in a Street Fight. Good luck keeping everyone away, Samantha Anne.

Final Thoughts:

Although I don’t know any of the stories on-going in BOW, I enjoyed myself quite a bit, and it was a much smaller card than I am used to. Usually we get around ten matches, but this one only featured six, which is good, because when shows are going on four hours, you get a bit drained. Smaller cards with more focus, I am not opposed to those. Only issue for myself personally is that the shows are in San Antonio, about an hour and a half drive from Austin, and this particularly show did not get started until 8pm. So, while it was only a two and a half hour show, we didn’t get back home until after midnight. Thankfully, the shows are on Saturday though, and I don’t work Sundays, so that’s not too bad.

I suppose we will be returning on a more regular basis, which I’m down for, especially since both BOW and Inspire Pro are apart of the NWA, so there could be some cross-promotional work going down. Afterall, it was Killer McKenzie and Ken Johnson that attacked The Great Depression and The Red Scare. I half thought maybe they would show up during the Tag Title Match (given that pretty much everyone that turns Inspire Pro was there), but it didn’t happen.

The next show will be at the Woodlawn Gym, as well, which is a very nice facility in a very nice area of San Antonio (or it seemed to be when we were there for the Liger show). And they pimped that fact hard. Like, $9.99 hard.

Only other thing I really have to say is that the crowd was a bit more subdued than I am used to. In Austin, you have VERY vocal fans. Almost too vocal, as they try to be too much a part of the show. There really wasn’t much of that here. Just one guy who would shout random things and then look around to see what the reaction was from the people around him. (It was always nothing. No reaction. Except from ACH who asked him if the fan worked there or did ACH?) It was actually kind of nice. Everyone was respectful and got riled up when they needed to (especially when confronting the shenanigans of Ken Johnson and his crew).

I may not do previews for the shows, not for awhile, but I’ll definitely continue doing reviews of them.