Thursday, May 28, 2015

Inspire Pro Wrestling Presents In Their Blood 2, A Preview

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It's time once again to have your damn minds blown out the back of your skull by the beat wrestling company in the known universe. And, no, I am not talking about WWE's Elimination Chamber. If you thought that, you clearly did not read the header before you clicked on this link. I am, of course, talking about Inspire Pro Wrestling. This time they go head-to-head with the World Wide Leader in Sports Entertainment when they present In Their Blood II! It's times like these I wish Internet pay-per-view was a viable option, so that everyone could witness what we in Austin get on a near monthly basis.

It would be a chance for everyone to, not only, see all the top tier talent that Inspire is able to bring in, such as King Ricochet and World's Cutest Tag Team of Candice LeRae and Joey Ryan, but also the best collection of relatively unknown-to-the-rest-of-the-country talent you could imagine. People like Ricky Starks, Steve-O Reno, Keith Lee, Jessica James, Jojo Bravo, and Andy Dalton. Not to mention talent like ACH and Ray Rowe, who a lot more folks are seeing, that will be major stars before you know it. Unfortunately, iPPV isn't currently an option, so you will need to drive or fly your ass to the Capital of the Lone Star State or wait to buy it on DVD. Trust me, as I've said many times before, it's worth the trip.

Before we begin, you may have noticed that I did not review the last show in March, Phenomenon. Oops. My bad. Just one of those things that happened (or, in this case, did not happen). With that in mind, I'll give a quick mention of what transpired, as a lot of the events of that show factor into this one.

There are, kinda unusually for Inspire Pro, a few matches that aren’t steeped in some mythos or are of super great consequence going forward. That isn’t to say they aren’t important or that they won’t be good or that winning them won’t be a huge boost, they are simply matches that don’t require big write-ups about them. One of those actually involves the hottest tag team on the independent circuit not named The Young Bucks. That’s right, it’s the World’s Cutest Tag Team comprised, as you all know, of Candice LeRae and Joey Ryan. They will be taking on the team of Angelus Layne and Tim Storm.

The former Pro Wrestling Guerrilla Tag Team Champions (they only just lost them at this past weekend’s DDT4 event, losing them to Monster Mafia, who then promptly lost them to The Beaver Boys, who would wind up dropping them to Trevor Lee and Andrew Everett in the Finals) will be looking to get back on the winning track against a team that has ever tagged before to my knowledge. Not in Inspire Pro anyway. Storm and Layne are associates of Inspire Pro Champion “Dirty” Andy Dalton, and much like him, they are not afraid to play a little dirty.

Layne is embroiled in a blood feud with Delilah Doom (Koji Clutch with a boot on her broken foot was pretty choice), so that’s where her story lies. Storm has only competed in one six-man tag team match, so he doesn’t currently have any sort of on-going story. It’s going to be an interesting match, even though I was mildly disappointed when I heard who had been chosen to face WCTT. That had nothing to do with the abilities of Storm or Layne (her especially, as she was hot fire during her Inspire debut, and she’s a legit heel), I just had something else in mind. I don’t know what that something else was, but it wasn’t this. That said, I’m going to enjoy the hell out of it, because I’m a big Candice LeRae fan (I did vote her #1 in my TWB 100 after all) and I’m hoping I can get one of Ryan’s Blow-Pops (not actually, that’s super unsanitary).

The other tag team match on the show pits Pump Patrol team of Jared Wayne and Curt Matthews, who returned at Phenomenon in the Tag Team Battle Royal. Also in that match were their opponents, Matt Riot and Erik Shadows. It would seem this is simply just a match happening, although perhaps it will have Tag Team Tournament implications? The battle royal did, which granted the winner (James Claxton and Killer McKenzie) a first round bye.

It’s possible that I missed something in the battle royal (those things are chaotic), but it appears this is mostly just a showcase for two teams that will be competing in the Tag Team Tournament and, subsequently, the division going forward.

The next match I want to talk about actually does have some backstory to it, it’s just fairly straight forward and simple. The World Class Syndicate of Carson, Moonshine Mantell, and Alex Reigns were a force when Inspire Pro was in it’s infancy. They disappeared for a while and one day Carson decided to bring it back. Unfortunately for Reigns, he wasn’t invited. In fact, he was replaced by Barrett Brown. So far, no one has explained why Carson opted to leave Reigns out, but he wouldn’t stay quiet for long. Although it was through actions and not words, Reigns answered Brown’s open challenge and defeated him.

That was at Undeniable. At Phenomenon, Carson and Brown challenged Reigns to find a partner for a tag team match. He chose former (and inaugural) Inspire Pro Champion, “One Man” Mike Dell. Finally, we could boo him on purpose. Reigns and Dell picked up the win. So, now Brown wants a match with Dell, and that’s what is happening. When do you suppose we’ll get Reigns vs. Carson? That has to be in the cards, right? Does he have to go through Mantell first? I dunno, if I was Reigns, I would try and lure everyone away from Carson, since the “Texas Lion” did basically put each member of his group on a lower level than him, claiming Mantell could go for the Pure Prestige Title and Brown was J*Crown material, never once giving thought that maybe they want what he wants, the Inspire Pro Championship.

Our next match features ”The Ultimo Sex Symbol” Thomas Munos, who accepted the challenge laid out by Jojo Bravo. Well, he did, but it was through his lovely ladies, who came out and announced Munos’ acceptance. See, Bravo is a little upset at the Inspire Pro fans for heaping all their hopes and expectations onto him. They wanted him to be the hero, the savior, but it was too much. A crushing weight on his shoulders. He wasn’t Atlas, and he couldn’t hold up the entire world up over his head. He tried, he really did, but did we appreciate it? No, we just took it for granted that he would be able to do it. That he would be who we wanted him to be. And, of course, when something flashier came by, in this case the raw sexual machismo that is Thomas Munos, we would cast aside Bravo like he was an old pair of socks with holes in them. So, you know, you can’t blame Bravo for having a change of attitude.

I like the story being told by Bravo, I just don’t know if it makes sense? Like, did we ever stop cheering him? Did we cheer Munos more? I believe there were some boos for the former referee. They were small, but I don’t think his grand entrance with the beautiful ladies really grabbed the fans like they had hoped. Munos was a referee who stood up to Sammy Guevara, was unceremoniously fired for doing so, then saved the life of Justin Bissonnette when Guevara attacked him, and was given his job back. He refused the stripes and wanted to be a wrestler instead. And he debuts as the Ultimo Sex Symbol. I think the character can work, I just think it was an odd fit for Munos at that time. He was a referee who finally had enough and wanted to try his hand in actual competition. If anything, he should have continued to come to the ring as a referee, then rip the shirt off Hogan-style. Or, better yet, maybe be a heel that uses his vast knowledge of referee’s inadequacies and how to take advantage of the system. Alas, he’s something vastly different.

All that said, I like where Bravo is headed and I hope the crowd lets him get there. If all we do is cheer the whole time, and root for him, it kind of negates what he’s going for, you know? Sometimes a crowd just needs to go along with the story that’s being told. Granted, cheer and boo who you want, like I will always cheer for Davey Vega no matter how big of a scumbag he is, or exactly for how big of a scumbag he is. So, yeah, cheer Bravo, but know that it hurts his story. If you want to support Bravo, boo louder than you’ve ever booed before. Help get him over as this disenfranchised heel who wipes his ass with your applause (this makes no sense).

The rest of the show is all about Championships. Either they are on the line, or shots at them are up for grabs. Every belt (or crown) is being defended in matches that could absolutely steal the show. I almost feel sorry for whatever match ends up as the main event. They are going to have a lot of work cut out for them.

As it is, the first Championship I would like to discuss is the J*Crown Championship currently held by Steve-O Reno. It will be defended in a Fatal Four Way, but Reno is no stranger to multi-person matches. He defeated Dasher Hatfield and Tadasuke in a Triple Threat match (that was pre-Crown) and he won the J*Crown in a Gauntlet Match where he was the first person entered. So, he ain’t scared. But, this will be his toughest test to date, as he takes on “Jiggle-O” James Johnson, Donovan Danhausen, and King Ricochet.

Johnson actually challenge for the crown at Phenomenon, but thanks to his New Movement stablemate, Cherry Ramons being a giant dick and not following their new code of ethics (ie not cheating), he came up short. Thus, he was given a rematch. By the way, when that DVD hits the market, pick it up just for the Reno-Johnson match. It’s brilliant, and a nice demo tape to send to Chikara to book both guys (perhaps for King of Trios, and they can take Keith Lee with them, that’d be a hell of a team).

Amidst all the talk of the World’s Cutest Tag Team and Ricochet’s Inspire Pro debuts, one person has not been much publicized, and that’s Danhausen. With that said… who? I honestly do not know who Danhausen is, but they are bringing him in and placing him into a high-profile contest, so that’s gotta account for something, right? I’ve watched a couple of matches on YouTube and they weren’t too bad, so we’ll see what he has against a couple of the best in Texas and, well, one of the best in the world currently:

King Ricochet is good. That’s an amazing understatement. The 2014 New Japan Best of Super Juniors winner, the 2014 PWG Battle of Los Angeles winner, and he’s done other things you may know about. I honestly feel under-qualified to even write this paragraph. So, let’s move on.

Here’s what you need to know about this match: it’ll probably be the best one on the show. It may very well open the show (Reno does that a lot), but either way, it’s going to be superb. The question is, can Reno continue his unprecedented hot streak and hold onto the crown? Or will three other men just be too much to overcome? My guess, he escapes with the crown by the skin of his teeth. My question is, when does he get a shot at the Inspire Pro Championship? If anyone deserves, it’s the J*Crown Champion. Since splitting from the Hollywood Knives, he has not lost, and he’s defeated some impressive foes like Dasher Hatfield and Mr. Touchdown (heck, I think he only lost once when he was single-handedly carrying that team). Let’s not forget, Ricochet has competed in Chikara, so, if anything, Reno has the advantage in this match. Chikara Fears Reno, if you didn’t know.

While the J*Crown has been in the steady hands of Reno, the Pure Prestige Championship can’t seem to stay around anyone’s waist, and there have only been two Champs, the first being Thomas Shire, who won the belt in a Triple Threat match against Scotty Santiago and Teddy Hart, then successfully defended it against Mr. B, who, despite the loss and show of respect from Shire, punched Shire in the balls and absconded with the belt. in his next defense, Shire lost the Championship to Keith Lee, but Lee never got his mitts on the actual Title, because Nigel Rabid stole it from Mr. B and hightailed it out of the building. And how dare you take a Champion’s moment with the belt away!

The Title has since been returned, but not to it’s actual owner, but rather to the man Rabid thinks it belongs to, Shire. That’s what brings us to this point, a Triple Threat match for the Pure Prestige Title between the three men who have been battling for it for months. Who will emerge victorious? Hopefully Lee, ‘cause he’s a beast, but if Shire has Rabid in his corner (what other reason would he have to give Shire the belt back), he could have the upper hand, especially now that The New Movement doesn’t subscribed to shenanigans any longer. Number One Contendership to the Inspire Pro Championship is up for grabs between Ray "Death" Rowe and "Absolute" Ricky Starks and that should be a doozy. It's about time Starks has gotten this opportunity, since it seemed like his destiny when Inspire was starting up. He kind of slid into the background for awhile, but now with victories over Lance Hoyt and Chuck Taylor, he looks to be back on track.

As for Rowe, well, he now has to win back a shot at the Title that he lost simply because he almost died. He probably shouldn't be in this match (in fact, we was scheduled to face Ethan Carter III, but, that wasn't to be), given he never got his Title shot. In fact, Matthew Palmer took his place against Mike Dell, won the belt and then immediately agreed to a match with Andy Dalton in which he lost. So, yeah, perhaps Rowe should just automatically get a Title shot, but this is a big opportunity for Starks, and I hope he can pull it off.

If you’ll remember, it was Starks who beat up Dalton backstage and carried him out to the ring, causing Jordan Jensen to be fired (only momentarily, as it was kind of stretching the stipulations, and after some sensitivity training Jensen returned), and there wasn’t much to it beyond that. Jensen went on to finish his rivalry with Jojo Bravo and Dalton went on, as you know, to be the Champ. So, if Starks wins, I kind of comes full circle on that end. If Rowe wins, well, we may just see Dalton get murdered.

You’ll notice I’m not mentioning them facing ACH, that’s because I just don’t see him defeated Andy Dalton for the Inspire Pro Championship. The man just has too much on his plate. No, if Palmer can’t unseat Dalton, I just don’t see ACH being able to do it. Speaking of Palmer, he’s gone. His career is over in Inspire Pro thanks to Dalton and Palmer’s friend, Franco D’Angelo, throwing in the towel on his behalf.

That was an epic, brutal match at Phenomenon, and it was sad to see Palmer go. He’s an amazing talent and I hope there are big things for him ahead. That said, I have a feeling the door is open just a tad bit given how the ending played out. It was strange to see D’Angelo throw in the towel because it wasn’t like Palmer was dead. It really felt like he was about to begin a comeback, but, it was not to be.

D’Angelo will be speaking on this very issue as well Hopefully he has a good reason for doing what he did.

Sidebar: the towel thing was strange because Palmer came to the ring with it during D’Angelo’s match with Rowe. Palmer told D’Angelo to stop toying around and finish Rowe, but he wouldn’t listen, which ended up costing him the match. Why would Palmer have a towel when he never brought a towel to the ring before? Obviously, it was foreshadowing, but, I mean, really? I dunno, it’s things like that that kind of make it seem too fake. That may only be me, but it’s like when something is introduced that had never ever been apart of anything before for the express purpose of this one thing. That was a bad sentence, but I think you get my meaning. It was almost too on the nose. So, when D’Angelo came out, with the towel, to support Palmer, you could see the ending coming from a mile away. Just a little disappointing.

I actually don’t understand why managers (or anyone who accompanies someone to the ring) isn’t required to bring a towel. Just in case, you know? It would add a small, but significant level of psychology to each match. Would you want someone coming to the ring with you, ‘cause what if some shenanigans went down and the towel got tossed in unwillingly? Remember, referees are kind of dumb, so they would be unlikely reverse the decision. Then again, would you want to go without one? What if you’re one of those people that has to be killed in order to be defeated? What if you never give up? What if you’re John Cena against Brock Lesnar (or maybe Roman Reigns at Wrestlemania) and you’re just incapable of quitting no matter the damage you take? Wouldn’t it behoove the future of your career to have someone stop the match in that situation? Things to think about.

As it is, Dalton is walking out the Inspire Pro Champion and my hope is that his next challenger will by Starks. The only thing I don’t want to see happen is for Palmer to be at this show. Don’t be Cena where you get fired but continue to show up anyway. I mean, if you wanna sit in the crowd, fine. But in that scenario, you do not get to be a physical part of the show. You can’t enter the ring, you can’t attack a wrestler, you just have to be a member of the audience. Still, um, don’t do that either. Give it some time. Hire Veda Scott as your lawyer and see if there’s a way to get reinstated due to D’Angelo’s decision. Just chill for a bit.

Now, the show is billed with a double Main Event. The Inspire Pro Championship is one and the other is the crowning of the first ever XX Champion. My hope, given that In Their Blood (first headlined by Barbi Hayden and Portia Perez) is basically the XX Division’s main show, that it will headline. The last show billed as a XX Division show was headlined by men and that’s not cool. So, let the women go on last, they’ve earned it.

The participants, if you are unaware are Jessica James, Delilah Doom, and Athena. All three women earned their places in the finals by defeating some very tough competition. Doom may actually have the most momentum at the moment, with advancing to this point with a win over Paige Turner and Angelus Layne and then defeated former NWA Women’s Champion, Barbi Hayden. She is currently marked for death by Layne, so she could play a factor into the match. I don’t see Doom winning, although she’s a big fan favorite. She’s still a bit too green in the ring to be the leader of the XX Division in my opinion. All the spunk and character in the world, but for a company who prides itself on having the best women’s action in the world, I think it would be a mistake for Doom to be their first Champion. Maybe I’m wrong, but I just don’t think her time is now, even though she would have a ready made feud with Layne for the Title.

Speaking of Hayden though, she is the Number One Contender to the Title, so I’m sure she’ll be keenly interested to see who wins. What if it’s Athena? If you’ll recall, those two women had a hell of a battle at Relentless (which was shown on the RAWternative #2 YouTube show) for the NWA Women’s Championship and Hayden retained under suspicious circumstances. She has had a string of those matches, but they all came to a head in her match with Doom, as it was discovered that she was paying off the referee. It was a different referee for the Athena match, but perhaps he was on the take, but couldn’t take the pressure and had to leave? I have no idea if we’ve seen him since that show, but we haven’t seen him in awhile regardless. Whatever the case, it would be an interesting rematch for two of the best women’s wrestlers in the country, and I have no doubt that Athena would welcome it.

Of course, we’re forgetting James, and that’s just not something you should do. She’s a formidable foe, as Cherry Ramons found out at FunFunFunFest last year and at Phenomenon, where James defeated him in a rare intergender match. (If James does lose, I hope she is able to go into the J*Crown division and challenge Reno for the crown. That would be lots of fun.) And we know she is one tough cookie, ‘cause she fell from the top rope to the unforgiven tile, concrete (whatever it is) floor, flat on her back. It was a scary moment, but she continued the fight and won the match.

In fact, most of these women have pretty spotless records. James has only lost to Vanessa Kraven (which would make for a nice rematch if James were to win), Athena has lost to Hayden (she also lost in the J*Crown gauntlet match, but we won’t hold that against her), and Doom has… has she lost? I honestly can’t remember. I feel like she did early on, but even so, she’s been on a hot streak of late. It’s going to be a fun battle to say the least and whoever reigns victorious will have definitely earned it.

FINAL THOUGHTS: So, that’s the show. Nine matches in total. I would like to see them trim it to about seven, but they still always tend to keep the shows under four hours. Anything over three is almost too much, no matter how good the show is (and these are always good). As long as they pace the show correctly, and put all the show stealing matches in the right spots, we shouldn’t be worn out by the end. There’s nothing worse than a good match being ruined by an awful crowd just because they are tired.

There’s a possibility we could see some additional Lance Hoyt vs. Brandon Stroud strife, although I kind of hope they lay off for a month or so. It’s kind of one-note at the moment. Sure, Stroud showed the first hints of really fighting back when he interfered in the match with Hoyt and Starks, but, they either gotta really move it forward with Hoyt killing Stroud, fucking him (you know it’s a possibility), or having management for real step in and put an end to it (getting a different announcer for Hoyt’s matches is really not addressing the situation). Perhaps when Palmer is talking with Veda Scott about his legal possibilities, Stroud could talk to her about work place harassment? Or, if Hoyt wants to continue the line of thinking that Stroud is bullying HIM, he should do it. Somebody do something is all I’m saying.

Other than that, things are pretty straight forward as he we head towards the big show of Inspie Pro’s calendar, Clash at the Bash II. Oh, yeah, that’s happening and it’s already been announced for June 21st, at the Marchesa Hall & Theater, as always. So, if you can only go to one Inspire Pro show a year, make it that one. It’s the biggest party of the summer!

But before then, May 31st, join us all for In Their Blood 2. You’ll regret nothing!