Thursday, February 12, 2015

Preview: Inspire Pro's "Undeniable"

Poster via
We have a big weekend coming up, as Valentine’s Day lands on Saturday. Now, a lot of people hate the holiday (hell, it’s not even a real holiday). I, for one, don’t care about it one way or another because I show my wife love and appreciation (or at least try to) every day of the year, not just this one randomly chosen date. It’s really kind of dumb and stressful for a lot of people and it should probably go away.

Heck, we’re spending our V-Day at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz for the seventh season premiere of Air Sex. Honestly, if you want to do something different than dinner and a movie (or whatever else people do on V-Day), head to downtown Austin, drop by the Ritz, watch people make love to the air in front of them, then go home with your significant other and maybe, I dunno, take some of what you saw and put it to real use with each other. You’re both consenting adults, you can do whatever you want.

But the real treat this weekend happens on Sunday, February 15th as Inspire Pro Wrestling presents… UNDENIABLE!

The event takes place, as it always does, at the Marchesa Hall and Theater located at 6226 Middle Fiskville Rd in Austin, TX (situated between Highland Mall and I-35) at 6 PM. Doors open at 5:15, earlier than usually, as last month there were so many folks trying to get in that they had to start the show late (for the first time ever). At ECSTACY OF GOLD II they had to find extra seats just for people to sit in as all the regular seats were filled, plus the walls were lined with people standing. People had to be turned away. Don’t be one of those people. Head over to their website and purchase your tickets now. You don’t want to wait in line for such a length, that by the time you get to the ticket table, they tell you that they are sorry, but you can’t join in on the fun. That’ll be such a bummer! So, grab those tickets now to reserve yourself a spot, because this is a show you definitely do not want to miss.

Typically in these previews I would break down the show match-by-match, but this card is a little different. There are so many people making their debuts with Inspire Pro (Mr. Touchdown, Nicole Savoy, Angelus Layne, Vanessa Kraven), that there aren’t too many stories behind the matches. But a couple of them stand out, so I will go into a bit of depth on those.

The first of those is the six man tag team main event pitting Inspire Pro Champion “Dirty” Andy Dalton, “Bleeding Heart” Davey Vega (I am SO buying his shirt), and NWA North American Champion Tim Storm against “Centerfold” Matthew Palmer, Ray “Death” Rowe, and “The Bionic Beast” Franco D’Angelo. First and foremost, this match is going to be bonkers, but even more than that, there are a lot of moving parts.

Andy Dalton is still the Inspire Pro Champion thanks to his ability to gently kick a referee in the stomach and get disqualified at ECSTACY OF GOLD II. Otherwise, we’d be looking at Matthew Palmer wearing the strap once again (or for the first time, as he didn’t have it long enough to wear the first time). So, Palmer definitely deserves another shot at the title.

But he’s not the only one, as Ray Rowe, having recovered from his motorcycle, accident, returned last month to save Palmer and Franco D’Angelo from a beatdown. If you’ll recall, Rowe won a Number One Contendership match against Palmer at CLASH AT THE BASH, but was unable to cash in on that opportunity. One thing led to another and Dalton ended up with the gold. So, Rowe, too, deserves the Championship match he never got.

And their other partner, Franco D’Angelo, has an unsuccessful title challenge on his record, having failed to defeat Mike Dell at LIGHT THE FUSE in Dell’s first defense. But “the Bionic Beast” stated last month that he wanted gold and no one was going to stand in his way of obtaining some, not even his friend Palmer. So, while perhaps he hasn’t earned a title shot yet, he has put his hat in the ring.

That doesn’t even factor in that either Takaaki Watanabe or ACH will be the new number one contender following this show, so that gives you four guys taking aim at Dalton’s Championship, and I, for one, LOVE IT. The more people shooting for the title the more important it feels. When Mike Dell held it, there didn’t seem to be much going on around it, not after he dispatched Franco, no other title match had any real meat behind it. The Rowe match would have, but it never happened. So, now, with Dalton as the Champ, and the fact that EVERYONE hates him and wants to see him lose it, it’s great to have so many people lining up to do the honors.

It just makes things more exciting. Now, for Dalton’s partners, he has Davey Vega and Tim Storm. I’m sure they will try every underhanded tactic to help the team win, but otherwise they don’t have any stories going on. Perhaps, D’Angelo will get a NWA NA Championship match out of this match? He wants gold, and there are just too many people ahead of him in the Inspire Pro Championship line, so he could potentially do that (I suppose that’s up to the NWA brass, though). As for Vega, not sure how frequently he’s going to be coming to Inspire Pro, but I’d love for him to be at every show. As it is, not much going on for him storyline-wise. Although setting up a one-on-one match with Palmer at the next show would be pretty choice, even though I’m sure they’ve battled many times before. But you can never go wrong with two of the best on the indies going head-to-head!

Whatever happens in this match will surely have impact on the Inspire Pro Championship scene, as I do expect the team of Palmer, Rowe, and D’Angelo to pick up the win. Now, whether that will be a direct pinfall on Dalton or not, who knows? I lean towards not having him eat the fall, since he’s already been defeated once as Champion (to Icarus at BATTLE WARS), and the less that that happens, the better. I could see Franco pinning Storm to set up a match, although the most likely scenario is Vega taking the loss for his team. No matter what, though, it’s going to be an excellent capper to the night.

At the end of the night, Andy Dalton will be leaving with the Inspire Pro Championship, and we’ll also know who the next challenger for that title will be. New Japan rookie, Takaaki Watanabe, goes on-on-one with the supremely talented, ACH. Everyone knows ACH, he’s been on the Texas scene for years and now competes regularly all over the country (mostly with Ring of Honor). You know he’s the real deal, I know he’s the real deal, and ACH himself knows he’s the real deal. This is going to be a great contest, without a doubt. My only issues with the matchup (and they are very minor issues), is that we will be naming a number one contender that is essentially a guest star. Someone who isn’t with Inspire Pro with any regularity.

That said, ACH was on the very first show, THE BEGINNING, losing to Chuck Taylor and Davey Vega in an Inspire Pro Championship Qualifying Match, and returned several more times to take on Sammy Guevara in a PHENOMENAL match at LIGHT THE FUSE (it’s on YouTube for FREE!), then he teamed with Jojo Bravo against Andy Dalton and Jordan Jensen at CLASH AT THE BASH (which was a HUGE surprise and nearly blew the roof off the building), and then again teaming with Bravo at BATTLE WARS against The Colony (Silver Ant and Fire Ant) to close out that amazing card (BUY IT NOW!).

Watanabe, himself, has also appeared on a few shows, most notably getting a win over Andy Dalton at NO ROOM TO DIE (along with a loss to Gregory James at ECSTACY OF GOLD I). So, they aren’t regular in the strictest sense, but they have been on multiple shows, and that’s good enough for me. The victory on Dalton is reason enough for Watanabe to get this opportunity, and I think he will make the most of it.

Yes, I am picking Watanabe to get the win and become the Number One Contender. I just feel there’s more drama in a rematch between him and Dalton, rather than against ACH. I could even see Inspire Pro putting their Championship on Watanabe, but I don’t think it will get that far. Not when there’s so many meaty stories involving other talent, and Dalton really needs to hold that belt for awhile.

Speaking of someone who held their title for awhile, Barbi Hayden was the NWA World Women’s Championship for 378 days. WAS being the operative word. See, this past weekend, Hayden went into Florida and defended her gold against Santana Garrett. But, as everyone knows, Florida sucks and shitty things happen there, so Hayden ended up losing. (You can see that here.) So, that means her match with the returning Leva Bates will be a simple matchup against two incredibly talented women.

(I am going on the assumption that the match will remain the same and not that Santana Garrett will replace Hayden, keeping it a title match.)

It sucks, as UNDENIABLE is being billed as the latest XX Division show, and there are four wonderful XX matches booked (and four men’s matches, or XY Division matches, as I call them), but it’s missing a little extra oomph that a NWA Women’s title defense would have brought, especially given the story that was being told with Hayden. Her last two defenses (versus Athena at RELENTLESS and Veda Scott at ECSTACY OF GOLD II), the finishes have been a little on the sketchy side, but that’s all out the window now. Sure, they could continue the trend, but without the belt on the line, it’s rather pointless. So, that’s a big bummer, but it will still be an excellent matchup.

I know the NWA makes these decisions, but it felt as though Inspire Pro was the home of the Women’s title, you know? There were beginning to tell a story with it, and it would mean something when Hayden finally lost it instead of just here’s a match we booked and now she loses. Oh well, nothing can be done for it now. All that really does is bring the XX Division Championship back into focus.

Yup, as we discovered on the Inspire Pro Hotline (512-270-WRES), Inspire Pro Wrestling and Veda Scott have come to terms on her injunction with the XX Division Championship Tournament, which means they will be able to forge ahead with crowning their first Champion.

I think this is what they settled on as compensation:

You can buy those awesome shirts at the show or here. DO IT! Support women’s wrestling from a company that does it right!

Back to what I was talking about, the XX Division Championship Tournament: Athena and Jessica James are already in the finals, and joining them will be one of the following: Delilah Doom, Angelus Layne, or Paige Turner as they compete in a Triple Threat Match.

It’s funny because it was actually Angelus Layne’s absence from her match with Athena and Veda Scott (thanks to a double wrist injury) that led to Inspire Pro having to put the tournament on hold. But she is back now, set to make her debut against a member of The New Movement, Doom, who has been a fixture with Inspire Pro, and someone who was the very first member of the XX Division, Paige Turner, whom we have not seen in quite some time. I don’t know who will make it through, but they will have a tough go of it trying to defeat either James or Athena whenever the Championship match takes place (hopefully at the next show!).

Speaking of those two ladies, they each have their own matches, both against women making their Inspire Pro debuts. Athena will be taking on Nicole Savoy, while James does battle with “The Mountain” Vanessa Kraven. Athena-Savoy should be an athletic bout, as well as hard-hitting (Athena does not pull many punches, and does not back down from a fight), while James-Kraven will be a very interesting clash of styles. James is smaller and quicker, while Kraven is just a beast. She will rip her head off. Honestly, I just hope she doesn’t crush James’ skull like The Mountain did to the Red Viper on Games of Thrones (FUCK SPOILERS!). Both are already in the Finals, so you would think they’d want to remain strong and grab the victories, but I could see these matches going either way.

The only other Championship match scheduled, sees Steve’o Reno making his first defense of the J*Crown Championship that he won last month by surviving the entirety of the gauntlet for the crown. His opponent will be none other than former Chikara Young Lions Cup Champion and Campeon de Parejas, Mr. Touchdown! That’s right, another Chikara star to join Dasher Hatfield, Icarus, and The Colony as having competed on an Inspire Pro show.

Speaking of Hatfield, when he made the journey to Texas for BATTLE WARS, he fought Reno (along with Tadasuke) in what was probably the best opening match of any show (Inspire Pro or otherwise) in 2014. Seriously, check that shit out. In the end, Reno got the W over Hatfield, and now his tag team partner, Mr. Touchdown, is, well, not seeking revenge, but taking up the challenge. And it should be an incredible match.

Reno has been on straight FIRE for months and, while I don’t think that changes here, it will be a hard fought battle and could potentially steal the show (really, a lot of matches on this should has that distinction). What I really hope, after getting these huge opportunity to faces big names on the indy circuit, that more eyes get a chance to watch Reno and, hopefully, potentially, book him in other places. He would be perfect for Chikara, that’s for sure. That was one thing, when I saw the National Pro Wrestling Day card, I was hoping they could get some Inspire Pro guys on there, since they do seem to have a bit of a working relationship going. Hopefully one day.

That is, of course, if he can manage to take care of a little problem. That problem being the Hollywood Strangler, who attacked Reno last month and choked him out. Hopefully, he doesn’t poke his nose into the match itself and saves whatever he’s doing for post-match, which I’m sure he will. One thing I will praise Inspire Pro for (among the millions of other things I praise them for), they don’t have a whole lot of shenanigans. Only a handful of times have matches being completely ruined by outside interference, so I doubt that changes here. We can’t deprive these fans of this awesome contest!

When I said earlier that they are opening doors sooner and that you want to be there before the show starts? Well, I couldn’t be more serious about that statement, because Reno vs. Touchdown will be the opening bout. If there’s one thing Inspire Pro does well (again, there are SO many things they do well), it’s opening matches. A large amount of their “curtain jerkers” are better than most companies’ main events. DO NOT BE LATE!

Rounding out the show are two other matches, one that isn’t for a Championship but will featuring someone with a title. That being Mr. B, who ran off with Thomas Shire’s Pure Prestige Championship after failing to win it last month. But he’s got it for the time being, and will be taking on Jojo Bravo. Bravo was a hot property when Inspire Pro starting and that hasn’t really diminished, it’s just that following his story ending with Jordan Jensen, he hasn’t found himself in another one. He did, after all, headline BATTLE WARS with ACH against The Colony. And while he failed to capture the J*Crown last month, he’s not out of the hunt for gold yet. And, sure, while Mr. B isn’t technically the Pure Prestige Championship, if Bravo could pick up a win over him, well, that could put him in line for a chance. The bigger question is, while Shire make his presence known and attempt to get his title back?

The final match will see Barrett Brown, who returned last month as the newest member of The World Class Syndicate, taking on a Mystery Opponent. It was a match that the Mystery Person asked for, so who could it be? Brown hasn’t had a whole lot of issues in Inspire Pro (the main one was Sammy Guevara, but we all know it’s HIGHLY unlikely to be him), and he’s only just returned, so who wanted a match with Brown, but did not want to reveal his identity?

It’s a clever move, as Brown will have no way to prepare for the match, putting him at a great disadvantage. It would seem that it would be someone who has a history with Brown (maybe not with Inspire Pro, but perhaps elsewhere). It could even be Alex Reigns, a former member of the WCS. Maybe he’s upset that he wasn’t asked to return as a member of the team and is going to take it out on Brown? Really, the possibilities are endless. I just really hope it’s someone new, like new to the Austin wrestling scene in general, but I won’t be upset if it’s someone we’ve seen a million times (well, within reason).

The only other big news for the show is that Lance Hoyt may make an appearance. Sure, he’s been tearing it up in Japan recently (having just captured the GHC Tag Team Championship with Davey Boy Smith Jr. in NOAH), but that doesn’t mean he’s forgotten a certain someone by the name of Brandon Stroud. And according to the Hotline (again, that’s 512-270-WRES), Stroud may or may not have been meeting with people who could potentially help out with his Hoyt problem. For his sake, I hope it’s true, ‘cause one of these days, Stroud is likely to die in the ring and that would be a sad day. Let’s just hope Hoyt hasn’t listened to the Hotline (or read this) and decided to bring his own backup, because then things could get a tad messy. And by messy, I mean Stroud’s innards covering the ring.

So, how does that sound for a show? Pretty awesome, right? You know it is. It’s a scary thought to think that it’s only February and Inspire Pro could already have two shows to be considered for Show of the Year on any number of year-end awards. They have certainly hit a stride that’s damn near impossible to match, and if they keep it going? Goodness.

So, Sunday, February 15, get your asses to Austin and the Marchesa Theater by 5:15 (you don’t wanna miss the opening match) because this is a show you will be kicking yourself for missing if there was anyway at all you could have attended! GO! Just do it, it’ll be totally worth it. Buy a plane ticket, because, like I said, there are other cool things happening this weekend, too! It’ll be the greatest Valentine’s Day of your or anyone else’s life!