|This is what it sounds like when HOSSES FLY|
Photo Credit: Kelly Kyle
- In an elimination three-way match that also featured Tadasuke, Steve O'Reno tapped Dasher Hatfield out with a leg lock to get the final victory.
- In an insane eight-man elimination tag that featured Keith Lee powerbombing Kat Green into Parts Unknown and Jiggle-O James Johnson cultivating open mutiny against his teammates, Team NWA Revolution defeated the New Movement when Erik Shadows pinned Johnson with a Death Valley Driver neckbreaker.
- The Orphans interrupted the Great Depression/Killer McKenzie match, and Depression joined the group.
- The Center of Perfection and Ricky Starks defeated The Orphans when Matthew Palmer hit the Centerfold Splash off Franco D'Angelo's shoulders as he sat on the top rope on Sky de Lacrimosa.
- In the Inaugural HOSS BOWL, "Big Daddy Yum Yum" Byron Wilcott bested Moonshine Mantell, Jake Dirden, and James Claxton with a ripcord lariat on Mantell.
- Icarus overcame getting womped by Lance Hoyt before the match and interference from JT LaMotta at the end to tap out Andy Dalton with the Chikara Special.
- Justin Bissonnette retired the World Class Championship and introduced the Inspire Pro Pure Prestige Championship.
- In the match to decide the aforementioned title, Thomas Shire defeated Teddy Hart and Scotty Santiago with a UFO style slam on Santiago.
- In the main event, Jojo Bravo and ACH defeated the Colony of Fire and Silver Ants as Bravo tapped out Fire Ant with the new submission hold called the Inspire Pro Special.
- Bryce Remsburg kicked off the show waving the Texas flag as a show of goodwill, more than likely. The flag would be waved a bunch of times during the show. Solidarity!
- Brandon Stroud tempted fate and called out Lance Hoyt to open the show, but he didn't show up.
- Remsburg had to pull out the infamous Chikara hat to get a third person for the Dasher Hatfield/Steve O'Reno three-way. After going through a few names, hey! Tadasuke came out, which held a bit of Chikara synergy since he won the Young Lions Cup in 2011 and absconded with it back to Osaka Pro.
- The match itself was a sprightly, whimsical opener, since none of the three wrestlers really had beefs with each other, although seeing Tadasuke work the opening forging and breaking alliances with both the other wrestlers was a fun visual.
- After the match, Bradley Axel Dawson came out of the crowd and attacked, only for O'Reno to beat him back. He proclaimed that he was the "only [Hollywood] Knife" before O'Reno chased him off and challenged him to a loser leaves town match at Fun Fun Fun Fest, which you can see here.
- As a sign of good faith, O'Reno called Hatfield and Tadasuke back out and gave University of Texas hats to the both of them, although with the way the football team's been playing the last couple of years, maybe it was a sign of aggression?
- Your Chris Trew-ism of the evening, as he came out to escort his New Movement for an eight-person tag match against the NWA Revolution All-Stars: "Every single one of you turkeys here is my intern. FOCUS UP!" Some managers, like JT LaMotta or Sidney Bakabella, prove their worth to their wrestlers by getting physically involved. Trew is a master rabble-rouser, and I'm not sure any single manager across the land right now is better than he is at inciting a crowd.
- "Jiggle-O" James Johnson, whom you might recall was tricked into his New Movement membership, started the match apologizing to his opponents in an open act of mutiny. If I were Trew, I would have ordered Keith Lee to consume him whole right on the spot.
- The NWA Revolution All-Stars - Erik Shadows, Matt Riot, Kat Green, and Tony Strong - were all unknown quantities to me before this match (even if I had seen Shadows and Green before at other Inspire shows, they didn't leave much of a mark on me), but each one of them, Strong and Green especially left me with a positive impression. Storm came out like a bolt of lightning working over Cherry Ramones. At one point, he impressively hit a dropsault on Ramones and landed right on his feet. Now that's hustle.
- Lee may have been the breakout star in the match though, not just for his random acts of HOSS, but for the sensual gyrations and how naturally they came across. This man is a whole lot of love, and he just wants to share it. I can respect that.
- I can also respect THE GIANT MOTHERFUCKING POWERBOMB he dropped on Green to eliminate her from the match. She showed good fire working against him before, which made the big bomb all the more jarring. I never in a million years would have taken that move, mainly because I'm an 84 year-old man in a 33 year-old's body, but holy shit.
- Green sold the carnage so bad that Johnson's mutiny went from passive to aggressive.
- The visual of Lee banging Shadows and Riot together like chalkboard erasers from grade school may have been my favorite singular thing from the entire show. Just a mammoth display of HOSS ESSENCE.
- The Great Depression/Killer McKenzie match wasn't so much a match as it was a setup for the Depression and his liege, The Red Scare, to join the Orphans. Depression's inclusion in the group makes sense since he's been used, abused, and outcasted since his debut.
- Of course, Franco D'Angelo, Ricky Starks, and Matthew Palmer had UNFINISHED BUSINESS with the ragamuffin group, so they came charging out the back.
- Seriously, the Taylor Bros. adhere to the aesthetic ethos of the Orphan gimmick well, but they can go in the ring. I expect them to be a top tag team in Texas before long if they keep progressing. Speaking of which, are Inspire Pro Tag Team Titles in the works?
- This match also saw D'Angelo's best performance yet. Maybe he felt compelled to up his game in the presence of such HOSS emergence in the match before and what he felt was coming in the match after?
- "Big Daddy Yum Yum" is the best nickname for a wrestler, and possibly the best total name for a wrestler outside of Flex Rumblecrunch ever. Whatever Byron Wilcott was on when he thought up that nickname, I want some.
- The HOSS BOWL was a surprisingly spry affair, but it wasn't an agile-big guy flippy-do fest either. It was like someone took the old slugfests, sped them up, and had guys who could land the moves and sell them without looking like they were moving in pudding.
- After the match, Wilcott got on the mic and and said his mission was to bring the heavyweights back. I think the HOSS BOWL itself spoke enough without needing the Davey Richards speech afterwards, but it's always good to see people recognize the HOSS way of life.
- Stroud got on the stick to announce the next match, but then Hoyt's music hit. Stroud bailed the ring, but Hoyt sneaked up behind him in order to continue playing his game. He offered a free hit again to Stroud, but again, he caught the chop and was going to do his worst until Icarus came out to make the save.
- Of course, Icarus' efforts were not all too successful, as Hoyt murked him in the face with a big boot. I thought it was a bit dodgy until Andy Dalton sprinted out and tried to get the cheap pin, which made the whole sequence brilliant.
- Dalton pretty much tried every trick in the book to get the upper hand, including licking his own boot before jamming it in Icarus' face. If a guy out there can do sleazy (and not cartoony sleazy like Joey Ryan) better than Dalton, I need to see him.
- LaMotta did his best to interfere when he could, but Palmer rushed out towards the end of the match and laid him out with a superkick because he had seen enough.
- Icarus wrestled an inspired match. His arm drags were crisper, his big moves felt more forceful, and his comebacks were all sorts of hot. It may have been the best singles match he's ever wrestled.
- After the match, Palmer got on the mic and literally threatened murder on Dalton if he didn't give him a title rematch. Like, he plainly stated he'd slit Dalton's throat. I knew Palmer had a dark side, but man...
- Justin Bissonnette came out to announce Scot Summers couldn't make the show, but that his World Class Championship was a thing of the past, so he was replacing it with the Inspire Pro Pure Prestige Title. Inspire has a bit of title saturation right now, especially factoring in the NWA Women's Championship (which was so rudely switched by a rogue promotion in Florida, thank you very much), but then again, it also has a pretty expansive roster.
- Honestly, I couldn't even with Teddy Hart, not just because of the unsavory stuff he's been accused of, but he doesn't add any value to a card for me at all. I know the live crowd was into him, and maybe I'd have been right along with them (especially since the allegations didn't drop until after this show had happened), but watching him just do MOVEZ on tape with no rhyme or reason was sad.
- Also, Scotty Santiago was pretty much in the match just to take huge bumps. I think I would have liked it better if it was a straight up singles match between Santiago and Thomas Shire, to be honest.
- However, Mr. Money II was still super on point.
- ACH and Jojo Bravo posed during ring introductions, but the Colony had to butt in front of them to get shine, which caused the Inspire tecnicos to ham it up behind the ants. It set an appropriate tone for the rest of the match.
- At one point near the beginning of the match, Bravo began a sequence where he'd leg sweep one of the ants, lateral press him, and then have them do the same to him. But then he did it with ACH and then Remsburg, which led to a Human Centipede-like (albeit a family friendly version of it) chain of rear waistlocks from everyone involved. Remsburg getting involved in matches is a total Chikara thing for mid-match comic relief, so it was only natural he'd break it out for the branded excursion into Texas.
- Bravo and ACH broke out the old Dudley Boyz WAZZUP spot, which led to them doing the "GET THE TABLES" thing, except no tables were to be found under the ring. It wasn't as overt a comedic spot as the ref stuff, but it was a great way to inject levity into the match without breaking up the flow in the action.
- Man, the crescendo in this tag match was full of patented indie tag insanity, and it nearly made me dizzy.
- Bravo locking in the Inspire Pro Special for the first time was actually pretty cool to see. Truth be told, I think that variant on the hold looks better than the original Chikara Special, but it'll take a bit to see if it ever gets the cache that the original hold has.
Match of the Night: Icarus vs. Andy Dalton - Right from the beginning, when Dalton scurried to the ring to pick the bones of the Chikara Grand Champion after Lance Hoyt booted his face halfway to Lubbock, this bout was worthy of its lofty Champion vs. Champion heading. Dalton used every trick in the book, and for the first time I can recall in a singles match, Icarus actually looked comfortable as the gutty, noble hero. On a night full of new and innovative wrestling, the classic match stole the show.
Then again, one could say that Dalton took sleaze to a new level. He really embraced the lowlife cheating scumbag from the minute he hit the ring until the end when he and JT LaMotta orchestrated the interference that drew out Matthew Palmer. He was a heel avatar, plumbing depths that I didn't even think were possible. He licked his own boot before shoving it in Icarus' face at one point, which I'm not sure adds to realistic efficacy as much as it drives the point home. But good wrestling is visual on all levels, and sometimes, you just have to drive a point home.
But whether it was Dalton bringing it out of him or if it was an inspired (heh, get it) performance, Icarus finally broke out a full top babyface performance. His comebacks had fire, his work underneath evoked pathos, and he got the most out of his environment. The combination of opponents and all the trappings worked together to make one of the highlight, marquee matches more than live up to its billing.
Overall Thoughts: Well, RELENTLESS was a high bar to clear, and with the stars of Chikara coming in, Inspire Pro at least had the ambition to keep topping itself. While RELENTLESS was the better show, BATTLEWARS was definitely a worthy follow-up. It was both undeniably an Inspire Pro show, but it also had a different feel to it. The large roster and monthly slate provides for an intriguing dynamic. Stories can and sometimes have to be told over large expanses of time out of necessity, but each show has a short term hook. In fact, BATTLEWARS had two distinct themes.
The first and most obvious hook was the invading Chikara presence. The show had a distinct Chikara flavor without the promotion overtaking the Inspire Pro spirit completely. It was the right mix of guest stars and native talent, and each of the three matches were exciting to say the least. I can't heap enough praise on the Champion vs. Champion match, especially since Icarus has been so underwhelming in singles matches during his current run otherwise. I understand why it wasn't the main event because having Inspire Pro dudes going over strong to end an Inspire Pro show is undoubtedly the better option, but it certainly played out like a hot, show-headlining contest.
But the other underlying theme was the rise of the HOSS, and it played right into my wheelhouse. Keith Lee debuted as a member of the New Movement at Clash at the Bash as an overbearing, massive mountain of a man, but here, he showed some funky-ass moves and kicked his road to superstardom into overdrive. Seriously, he shimmied his way into my heart without letting go of what brought him to the dance in the first place. As an aside, if I were Kat Green, I would not have agreed to take that powerbomb in a million years, so she is a far braver soul than I ever would be. But that's why she's a wrestler and I'm not. Additionally, Lance Hoyt continued to show how hossdom could be used in an evil capacity. His bullying of Brandon Stroud, albeit troublesome to see as a friend of B's in real life, continues to garner him nuclear heat in an age where indie heels find it hard to get that kind of response.
But the HOSS Bowl was the crowning jewel on this show. After the match, Byron Wilcott promised to bring the heavyweight back, and if the actual HOSS Bowl match was any indication, his goal will be successfully reached. While the athletic big guy has taken on a life of its own, it's rare to see a bunch of huge guys work the traditional CLUBBERIN' style only with a crispness and speed that resembled a junior heavyweight match. It was refreshing to see more than one big guy moving around the ring like that, and hopefully, this match leads to more of a presence and cultivation of the HOSS scene in Inspire Pro.
The company has hit a stride early on in its existence, and now that promotions like Chikara are lending a hand in addition to its NWA affiliation, it won't be long before Inspire Pro is in the forefront of everyone's minds when it comes to indie promotions. I certainly suggest picking up BATTLEWARS in some form.