Tuesday, February 24, 2015

AAPW The Stars Are Born Review

Graphics via AAPW Facebook Page
For those that do not know, America’s Academy of Pro Wrestling (or AAPW) is a wrestling school based out of the Austin, Texas area (technically located in Pflugerville, TX) that have produced some of Texas’ biggest rising stars such as Barbi Hayden (former NWA World Women’s Champion) and Carson (multiple title holder in a variety of companies) run by Ray Campos and George de la Isla. If you or anyone you know is interested (aged 14 and up) in becoming a professional wrestler, I can’t think of a better place to begin that path than with AAPW. For more information, you can call (512) 448-5858 or visit them on Facebook. They have training from 7pm-11pm Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, then on select Saturdays it’s 1pm-4pm. Give them a call!

Now, as for this show, it is their first since sometime in 2014 (I don’t know exactly when), but it’s basically their first show with these batch of students, in as far as you or I know. It should be noted that my wife is a student of this school and there may or may not be about 5000 words just gushing about her participation, because I could not be more proud of someone as I am of Sam. I’m kidding of course (about the 5000 words), as I’m planning to be as impartial and fair as possible when writing about AAPW.

I also have not attended a single training session, so I did not know what to expect. The only thing I ever hear about are what Samantha tells me, which does not really give you a super clear indication of everyone’s abilities. So, I went in blind and that was the perfect way to do it, I think. To be honest, because the majority of the matches were put on by people with not a whole lot of experience, I set my expectations lower than I would say, Inspire Pro, for obvious reasons.

What we have are a lot more gimmicks, like cowboys, Russians, Irishmen, Iraqis, pirates, and the like, which is different than what you’re typically used to seeing these days. It’s usually a lot of people with just regular names who are just men and women wrestling (and slapping their thighs a lot). So, with that out of the way, let’s talk about the show itself, shall we?

Quinten Lynch vs. Kody Krash

The crowd was much bigger than I would have thought, with quite a few guests just being people who happened to pass by and see the “Wrestling Tonight” sign. (I’m not sure what the sign said exactly, but it was along those lines.) They were an energetic bunch as well, which is what happens when it’s BYOB. After a few words from our ring announcer, Robert Slack, we were introduced to the new principal owner of AAPW, Ray Campos (who also served as the official for all but one of the matches). He welcomed us to the show, explained what that we were about to see his students in action, and while he was talking, he was interrupted by Quinten Lynch.

Lynch wears a kilt and is from Ireland. He said he liked the looks of the place, so he wanted it, is what I heard. Dunno if he was already trying to take control of the place from Ray, but whatever the case, Campos said if Lynch wanted a match, he could have one. We were then introduced to a real cowboy, Kody Krash.

I could not tell you the experience levels of the two men, but they worked quite well. There wasn’t anything too fancy, as is usually the case with students, but nearly everything they hit was crisp and with purpose. The thing you can usually notice from people who are just starting out, is that they will occasionally hesitate between moves, but I didn’t notice any of that during this match.

The key was getting their characters over, and they both did that very well. Everyone was behind Krash (except for a few of the ladies that wanted to see what Lynch had under his kilt (trunks, he had trunks)), and were elated when he picked up the win after a big diving headbutt off the top rope. Now, some would say maybe the diving headbutt isn’t the best type of move for anyone to be doing, giving how prevalent concussions and neck injuries are in wrestling (Daniel Bryan being the most recent example of this; Chris Benoit being the worst case scenario, of course). But, he executed it well.

After the match, Lynch offered his hand to Krash, who showed the tell-tale signs of being a great face by ignoring all the fans pleas to NOT shake his hand and shaking it. You can imagine how well that went. He was left flat on his face.

Winner: Kody Krash

Amir Assad vs. Bubba Trucker

Our next match saw the Iraqi, Amir Assad, complete with Iraqi flag, taking on Bubba Trucker. Assad did the usual Muslim-praying-to-Meeca thing and thankfully it didn’t seem like anyone gave him too much crap for it. Progress! Of course, Trucker got the crowd to chant “U-S-A! U-S-A!” because if there’s one thing ‘Muricans will chant, it’s that, even if both guys are from the United States (as we would see later).

This match… well, this match happened. Out of all the contests, this one was the most disjointed. Assad attacked right from the jump, but it wasn't long before Trucker gained the upper hand, and more or less kept it for the entire match. Assad got a few hope spots, but the whole thing seemed backwards. Regardless, at the end, Assad went to the outside, and while Campos was trying to get Trucker out of the corner so he could begin counting out Assad, the Iraqi blasted Trucker in the head with the flag, and picked up the 1-2-3.

I could get super critical, but what purpose would that serve? They’re students and they worked hard. It just didn’t come together, which happens all the time. Have you see some WWE shows? I mean, that’s a company that for some reason thinks an impending Kane-Big Show feud is a good idea. Heck, sometimes even supremely talented performers just not click. It happens. Just gotta get back in there and keep putting the work in. By next month, it’ll be better. That’s the beauty of practice, practice, practice (despite what Allen Iverson says), it’s important, and you will do nothing but improve, even if you don’t notice it right away.

Winner: Amir Assad

Johnny Walker vs. Zac Taylor

Zac Taylor is someone that the wrestling fans of Austin have seen a lot of lately, as a member of The Orphans with his brother DG in places like Inspire Pro and ACW. I’m not sure if he’s worked elsewhere, but I would imagine he has. Either way, between him and his brother, Zac has that little something extra. I like that he’s a little surly in the ring. Sure, maybe he’s too young to be grumpy old man in the ring, but then again, maybe not?

So, Taylor has the most experience out of everyone (excepting American Eagle and Mr. B, of course), to the best of my knowledge, and he was given an opponent who was more than capable of keeping up with him in Johnny Walker. The two put on a very good match, even doing a few things more than advanced than a lot of the people did on the night. Probably a given because of Taylor’s bit more of experience, but everything was executed very well.

There was only one moment of missing a cue, but no one harped on it outside of an immediate shout from the crowd, and then everyone just got right back into the match. Of all the matches, my biased opinion aside for a certain other one, this was probably the best overall worked match of the night. I know I was pleasantly surprised by how well Walker kept up with Taylor. As for Taylor, well, I’ve been a big fan for a bit now, and I think he has a very bright future ahead of him.

At the end of the day, Taylor picked up the win, but there’s nothing to be ashamed of on Walker’s part. My only nitpick, man, let’s not wear swimmer’s trunks. I know it’s wrestling and everyone’s in their underwear, but there’s a limit. I’m kidding, of course. They were fine, just a touch small (and I realize they were made last minute, so it’s understandable).

Winner: Zac Taylor

We are now entering the section of the show where I will write 5000 words on my, and soon to be your, new favorite wrestler:

Don Rodrigo.

Victorious Mansour vs. Don Rodrigo

You did not read that wrong. Yeah, you thought it would be my wife. Ha! No, you would be gravely mistaken. No, instead, the person everyone should take note of is Don Rodrigo. Everything about the guy his amazing, from his look, to his wrestling style, to… everything. My two favorite things from this match are this:

When he pranced away from the corner, sent a kiss out to the crowd, and then pranced right back into the corner. It was stellar. But even better was this:

I have no earthly idea what it’s called, but it’s the greatest thing I’ve ever seen. Legit. I could watch it all day. What’s great about this is that it should TOTALLY be a move that Fandango does, right? I know Rodrigo is supposed to be more of a pirate-esque character (I’m assuming he’s still going that route), but this came off less pirate and more just like a lothario. Basically, he’s what Fandango should be if he had personality, charm, and just, you know, didn’t suck.

Based on character, he could slide right onto an Inspire Pro show (or even Chikara) and fit right in. Now, if his overall wrestling is there yet? I don’t know. But he was solid in this match-up and he was going against a sixteen year old! Yep, that’s right, his opponent, Victorious Mansour, is the youngest of young lions. And he was good! He took a beating like a champ and then gave the fight right back.

In the end, Rodrigo picked up the win, but there was no shame to be had for Mansour, at least from our perspective.

Winner: Don Rodrigo

Laynie Luck vs. Don Rodrigo

During that match, Mansour was accompanied to the ring by Laynie Luck (straight up, this is my wife, and I love her and she’s great and perfect and the best and other words), who handed out flowers to some fans and then supported Mansour during his match. After that was over, she crawled into the ring to check on Mansour and his face (which is what Rodrigo’s finisher attacks, as it’s that move where you hold your opponent’s arm, then fall back with your foot outstretched, pulling their face into your boot, whatever that is called).

Rodrigo took the opportunity to get on the microphone and tell Luck that she needed to ditch Mansour and get with him. Luck wasn’t having any of that, so Rodrigo instead wanted to shake her hand on Mansour’s behalf for a good fight. But when she went to shake his hand (silly faces, always trusting people for some reason, learn your lessons from “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Don’t Trust Anybody!), Rodrigo used his opposite hand to slap her across the face!

Luck was staggered by the blow, but as soon as she recovered, she did this:

And proceeded to put a hurting on him. You remember Nikki Bella’s forearm to Brie at SummerSlam? Yeah, that was vicious, right? It ain’t got shit on Lanyie Luck’s!

After blocking Rodrigo’s attempted finisher, Luck floored him with that forearm, and then hoisted him up onto her shoulders…


I’m not even sure if this was supposed to be an official match, but she went for the cover and Campos counted the fall, so I’m assuming it goes into the record books as Laynie Luck’s very first victory in her very first match. So, that’s totally awesome!

After the match, Luck immediately went out to check on Mansour, who had stood at ringside holding his face the hold time, but he immediately shrugged her off and told Luck to leave him alone. She was only trying to help, man!

Winner: Laynie Luck

American Eagle vs. Mr. B

We are now ready for the two veterans to show all those youngsters how to do it. In fact, they do virtually every practice as they are two of the trainers (I don't think they are still considered students, but then again, aren't we all still students in this thing called life?).

These two just had fun out there, guys. I'm not sure there's a better comedic wrestler in Austin than American Eagle (and the man beneath the mask), and Mr. B was right there with him. At one point, Mr. B and Eagle were in a collar and elbow tie-up on the outside, and Mr. B was backed into a child's lap. He turned and asked, "Did you touch my booty?" That of course meant Eagle had to do the same, and it happened to be me! Oh, lucky day! I do apologized for the stiff object that poked you in the butt, Eagle, but I assure you, it was merely my camera lens.

Things went on in that nature much to the delight of the audience, and when the dust settled, Eagle was the winner. There really isn't much to say about these two (under these guises or any other) that I don't say elsewhere, so there’s no need to go on and on and on about them. Their both good, they know how to entertain the fans, and they leave us happy.

Winner: American Eagle

Comrade Silovik vs. Donnie Giovanni

It was now time for the main event, that would pit the 250lb Russian, Comrade Silovik, against the 300lb Italian, Donnie Giovanni. Two mountain-sized men doing battle. I even timidly held up a sign that said “USA! USA! Russian sucks!” even though I don’t like the attention being on me (and that made ALL the attention be on me ‘cause I was the only one with a sign) that Silovik ripped up into pieces. I WORKED ALL DAY ON THAT!!

As for the match, it was two big dudes slugging each other. Not a whole lot of style involved, just bruising blows. They did, though, really enjoy irish whips into the corners. I think they did four or five in a row at one point. That’s the only major flaw with the match, otherwise, it was just a hoss fight. But after a big splash off the second rope by Giovanni, Quinten Lynch hit the ring and broke up the pinfall, giving Giovanni the disqualification win. The two men proceeded the beatdown until Kody Krash made the save.

Krash was a house afire on the foreign heels until they were dispatched out of the ring. As the four men faced off with each other, Ray Campos took the microphone again and announced that on March 14th, the next AAPW show would be headlined by a tag team match between the team of Kody Krash and Donnie Giovanni and the team of Comrad Silovik and Quinten Lynch.

I’m not sure what sort of relationship the Irish and Russians have had, but they seem to be on the same side here.

Winner: Donnie Giovanni

Final Thoughts: Overall, this was a really fun show. I thought I was going to be more nervous than I was, but once it all began, I didn’t give it a second thought. All the students performed really well and it seemed as if all the fans had a good time. I say Ray and George should be really proud of what they have put together, I don’t think even they could have imagine the show would have gone as well as it did. As I mentioned, the next show will be on March 14th, at the same place (401 FM 685, Ste 302, Pflugerville, TX) and assumedly at the same 7pm bell time. If this show was any indication, expect a full house, so get there early if you want a chair.