Friday, March 20, 2015

Inspire Pro's Phenomenon Preview

Graphics via
Typically, when I do these reports, I’ll do a write-up of each individual match. That tends to get a bit out of hand and a lot of words get written. Too many. So, this go around, I’m going to change things up a bit. So, instead of upwards of 1000 words-per-match, I’m just going to focus on the major overall storylines, which will incorporate talk of the matches.

But, to get this out of the way, the show, as you can see in the graphic is this Sunday, March 22nd. It, as it always does, takes place at the Marchesa Hall and Theater in Austin, TX. Tickets are $12 for general admission and $15 for front row IF any are available. You can check that here. For those that are in town for SXSW, you should totally come. It’ll the perfect capper to your stay (and probably be better than anything else you did), and may be the real reason you decide to move here. I mean, everyone already is moving here, so might as well have this awesome thing you can go to when you do, right?


Championship vs. Career Street Fight: “Dirty” Andy Dalton © vs. “Centerfold” Matthew Palmer

Number One Contendership for the Inspire Pro Championship: “The Bionic Beast” Franco D’Angelo vs. Ray “Death” Rowe

J*Crown Championship: Steve O'Reno © vs. “Jiggle-O” James Johnson

Pure Prestige Championship: Thomas Shire © vs. Keith Lee

Tag Team Rumble Match: featuring Sorrow and Extinction (Gregory James and Kyle Hawk), The Orphans (Zac and DG Taylor), Matt Riot and Erik Shadows, the mysterious “The Horde,” and more!

FunFunFunFest Rematch: Jessica James vs. Cherry Ramons

”THE American Psycho” Lance Hoyt vs. “Absolute” Ricky Starks

”The Ultimo Sex Symbol” Thomas Munos vs. Sky De Lacrimosa

Barbi Hayden vs. Delilah Doom

World Class Syndicate (“The Pride of Professional Wrestling” Barrett Brown and “The Texas Lion” Carson) vs. “Untouchable” Alex Reigns and Mystery Partner


INSPIRE PRO CHAMPIONSHIP: Our current Inspire Pro Champion is “Dirty” Andy Dalton. He has held the Title since Relentless in September, so six months. In that time, however, he’s only defended it one time, against his Phenomenon opponent, Matthew Palmer. He retained by DQ. His other matches (vs. Icarus at BattleWars; six-man tag at Undeniable} have ended with Dalton being directly defeated. Not a dominating Champion to say the least, and yet his reign has been far more interesting and engaging than Mike Dell’s (who had numerous successful Title defenses). That said, is it too early for him to lose the gold?

Palmer would say so. He’s been hunting Dalton ever since “The Dirty Mind of Wrestling” coaxed him into defended the belt mere minutes after winning it from Dell (all happening at Relentless). He’s threatened to stick a butcher’s knife into Dalton’s chest, been cheated out of his rematch, and successfully pinned Dalton in a six-man tag team match (the aforementioned Undeniable main event). He wanted one final match with Dalton, one that wouldn’t end in a shitty DQ, so he suggested a Street Fight. Dalton agreed on the condition that Palmer put his Inspire Pro career on the line. Would we really be without Palmer going forward?

Standing in the wings are current Number One Contender ACH (by virtue of his victory over Lance Hoyt and Ricky Starks at Undeniable) and the winner of another Number One Contender match between Ray Rowe and Franco D’Angelo. It is odd that Rowe even has to fight for another Title shot, since he never got his after earning it with a victory over Palmer way back at Clash at the Bash. But then he had a motorcycle accident, Dell picked Palmer as a replacement opponent, and the rest is history. But does suffering an ill-timed injury void what you’ve won? After all, Daniel Bryan was stripped of the WWE Championship after his injury and has had to compete in two matches to even get another shot at a belt he never lost, but this is neither the time or place to get into the sad state of affairs that is WWE. So, should Rowe even be in this match?

And if he should, is D’Angelo the man he should be facing? D’Angelo arrived in Inspire Pro having return from a very serious injury and his stated goal then was the same as it is now: gold. He wanted the Inspire Pro Championship and quickly won a the right to challenge Dell for it. He lost that Title opportunity. What exactly has he done since returning from this more recent injury? What claim does he have to be in the Title hunt over say, well, anyone, really? None, beyond the fact that he has a strong relationship with Palmer.

At end of it all, if Dalton were to retain, sure the matches with Rowe and D’Angelo would be fantastic, but they wouldn’t be hugely intriguing matches. You would think perhaps Rowe would, but it didn’t make the greatest of sense for him to return and target Dalton on any sort of personal level. From a purely professional standpoint it does, since Dalton is the Champion and Rowe wants the belt. But if you think about it, who benefitted the most for Rowe’s accident? Sure, you can make the case for Dalton, but if Rowe never gets hurt and defeats Dell for the belt, does Dalton try the same tactic he did on Palmer? I don’t think so. I don’t see Rowe succumbing to that challenge. Palmer is a lot more emotional than Rowe, as evidenced by him putting his career on the line. So, while, yeah, Dalton came out the ultimate winner of the Rowe injury, it was really Palmer who was the greatest benefactor. He lost to Rowe in that Number One Contender match at Clash at the Bash and only got the Title shot against Dell because of 1) Rowe’s injury, and 2) Dell choosing him. Dell could have chosen anyone and, luckily for Palmer, he chose the “Centerfold.”

So, if I’m Ray Rowe? I want Palmer to win the Title. He’s the guy Rowe should really be after. While Palmer didn’t steal Rowe’s spot, he was the one who benefitted from what happened. And it’s not Rowe’s fault Palmer was fool-headed enough to immediately accept a challenge after winning a hard-fought battle for the Inspire Pro Championship. If anything, Rowe should slap Palmer in the mouth for being so foolish.

The same goes for D’Angelo. He’s stated that he didn’t care who he had to fight for the gold, he just wanted it. If that meant facing his best friend Palmer, then so be it. So, facing Dalton? Sure, Dalton’s a scumbag and he could face some random in the crowd and people would be into it, but there’s a far more interesting story sitting there with D’Angelo challenging Palmer. It doesn’t get much more personal than two best friends fighting for glory.

What about ACH, you say? Well, he’ll get his Title shot in due time, but overall it’s irrelevant to the story of Inspire Pro, if you ask me. He’ll have a badass match with whomever is Champion when he comes calling, but ultimately will lose. He’s a bit too busy to be the face of Inspire Pro, I think. I mean, maybe not, I don’t know his life, but it doesn’t seem like he would be in line to actually hold the Title. Then again, it is ACH, and he’s awesome, and it’s not like the Champion has to be there for every show. Almost anything could headline an Inspire Pro show, so that wouldn’t be a deal-breaker. Just from a narrative standpoint, it doesn’t seem like the right move.

So, when the dust settles, I think it’s Palmer walking out with the Inspire Pro Championship. Dalton was a great Champion and gave the Title some focus following Dell’s lackluster run with the gold, and he was a necessary fulcrum to get it to this point. While I’m not overly joyed with him not really ever defending the belt in six months (might as well not count a match that ends in DQ), but it feels like the logical moment for his reign to end. He’ll always have a slot near the Title scene with his scumbaggery, so he won’t get lost in the shuffle. As for who the Number One Contender will be? My gut says D’Angelo.

THE NEW MOVEMENT: Very quickly: The Manager of the Decade (2010s), Chris Trew, formed his stable The New Movement with Cherry Ramons. He quickly added Delilah Doom and the monster-from-the-moon Keith Lee. He then tricked “Jiggle-O” James Johnson into joining the group when the prize for a battle royal was a contract within the group. Johnson did not fit in with the team at all and did just about everything he could to cost his team matches and just generally be a pain in Trew’s ass. Then, last month, Trew announced that contracts were coming to an end.

Johnson, surprisingly, said he would re-sign if Trew would operate a little differently. Instead of taking short cuts and trying to cheat his way to victory, would Trew let the talent he had assembled (some very good talent, at that) just do their thing and not interfere, he would maybe see their results improve. Trew agreed, and in a sign of good faith, got Johnson a shot at Steve O'Reno’s J*Crown.

The first trial run of this new and improved New Movement was immediately following that discussion at Undeniable when, without any outside help, Doom was able to defeat Paige Turner and Angelus Layne and advance to the finals of the XX Division Championship against Jessica James and Athena. So, it worked. The question is, will it continue? We’ll have a number of opportunities to find out this month.

I already mentioned Johnson’s match with Reno in a battle of the O’s, which should be incredibly good (don’t be surprised if it steals the show, to be honest), and Doom has a big match booked as well as she takes on former NWA World Women’s Champion and Number One Contender to the XX Championship, Barbi Hayden. It’s fitting that Doom and the New Movement would be cleaning up their act while Hayden is getting more and more shady as things progress. Will Trew be able to resist cheating when he sees that Hayden may be stretching the boundaries of the rules?

Keith Lee also has a big opportunity, when he challenges Thomas Shire for the Pure Prestige Championship. While Lee was not present last month, Trew let it be known that Lee was signed to a long-term, very lucrative contract. That’s the smartest thing Trew has ever done. See, all the cheating and short cuts never made sense when you had a man like Lee, who’s from the literal moon, on your team. He’s big and powerful and just a mountain of a man. The only thing he’s ever needed is focus. Ironic given Trew is always telling people to, “Focus Up!” Lee sometimes takes his opponents for granted, but even so is a hard man to pin down for a three count. Will he and Trew be more focused with gold on the line or will the pull of the a Championship being so close to their grasp send them back into their old ways?

And what of Cherry Ramons? He, too, was absent last month, and of all the people in the group, he’s the one who seems more slimy (I mean that as a 100% compliment). He’s a very talented dude and just seems to get better each time you see him. But he will try to take shortcuts. When the New Movement first formed, he was the ideal first member. As the other pieces were added, he actually seemed like the wrong piece moreso than even Johnson did. When you see Doom and Lee, you just want to cheer. Doom because of her personality and Lee because of his everything. Johnson, too, is someone you want to cheer, but Ramons? Nah, he could almost give Dalton a run for his scumbag money. He has a rematch from FunFunFunFest against Jessica James, in what will be only the second one-on-one intergender match in Inspire Pro (they had the other one, obviously). Battle Royals, mult-person tags, and gauntlets have been the only times men and women have faced off. But, more need to happen if the J*Crown is meant to be an intergender Title (as I’m sure the Tag Titles will be, too). I actually have a thought on this, but I’ll get to it in a moment.

So, the big question is, does Ramons remain with the team, or does he say adios and strike out on his own? My money is on the latter. Not everyone can remain with The New Movement, right? Everyone thought it would be Johnson that defects, but Ramons is the one that should. Where he fits in after that, I dunno. You can slot him anywhere, but doing battle against his old team would do for now. Make us really hate you, Cherry!

TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP: It’s been speculated since the inception of Inspire Pro that there would be Tag Team Titles, as I, for one, was certain we would get them when the Pump Patrol was on the scene, but then teams started to disappear. Then the Hollywood Knives started making waves, but they were really the only team, and that was just one person at that. But now, with the announcement of the Tag Team Rumble Match, looks like it’s finally going to happen. Now, what this match is, I’m assuming is an over-the-top-rope Battle Royal, but that hasn’t been stated for certain anywhere that I’ve seen.

Four teams have been announced, though, with Sorrow and Extinction (Kyle Hawk and Gregory James), The Orphans (Zac and DG Taylor), Erik Shadows and Matt Riot, and the mysterious team only known as “The Horde.” I would like to think we would settle in around ten teams or so. Hopefully one of those teams will be a returning Pump Patrol. We could possibly also see a second Orphans team of The Great Depression and The Red Scare. We could see any number of teams, but as long as we have a viable division, that’s all that matters. Perhaps even Carson and Barrett Brown will pull double duty? Same could be said for Alex Reigns and his mystery opponent (what if it’s Moonshine Mantell??? INTRIGUE!). My hope is for a female team, though.

Which brings me back to what I was saying earlier. Currently, we have the following Championships: Inspire Pro (although it should really be called the XY Championship), J*Crown, Pure Prestige, and the upcoming XX and Tag Team Titles. In a perfect world we would probably eliminate the Pure Prestige as it’s kind of a lot of belts for one company. But the revolving door of talent from around the country keeps things fresh, as it feels like the Inspire Pro roster is a lot bigger than it is (and it already is kinda big).

If it were me, I would have the two main Titles be the XY and XX belts, one strictly for men and one strictly for women. The other two belts would be intergender, those being the J*Crown (which already is) and the Tag Titles. As long as the XY and XX are given equal time headlining shows and having interesting storylines, both will be thought of on the same level, so it won’t seem like every other company that has their main belt above everyone else (usually meaning that only men compete for it). This way, well, you have two belts. The great thing about Inspire Pro is that this will not be difficult. Women have already headlined several shows and will continue to in the future. And with the other two Titles, it lets the roster mix together even more. When you have people like Kimber Lee and Candice LeRae (to just name two) who regularly take on men, in high-profile situations, it makes sense to have the belts aligned with that, I think.

I think I got a bit rambly there, but you get the point. Of course, we can’t get rid of the Pure Prestige, it’s too nice of a belt. So, do what you will with that. My point is, Inspire Pro is kinda really cool and I’m looking forward to how things progress going forward.