Written by: Mike Campbell
CONTINUING THE TRADITION 2008
June 28, 2008
This show is from the NWA Upstate promotion in Rochester, the rival company of 2CW. And I don’t mean a WWF and WCW sort of rivalry. It’s more like ROH and CZW. There’s a small section of the crowd set aside for the raucous 2CW contingent, but, being the 2CW faithful, it sounds like a lot more than just a small section.
“Fabulous” John McChesney . . . has a suitable nickname, if by ‘fabulous’ you mean ‘very underwhelming’ as a worker.
Platinum . . . gets the short end of the stick in his match, but he was the most impressive by a decent margin.
Danny Doring . . . has gone from being Roadkill’s sidekick to a destitute man’s (not even a poor man’s) Larry Zybyzsko.
STEVE McKENZIE/STEVE KRUZ vs. TRIPLE X/SUPER ASSASSIN
The story here is that the Steves put out an open challenge for any tag team in Upstate, which the masked team accepted. The first couple of minutes were pretty good, with them brawling on the floor, but they went into the ring and the ref never restored any type of order. So this is more or less a five minute match that looks like the last five of a twenty minute southern tag with all four going at it. The only real highlight is the mandatory spot of Kruz getting caught with his pants down (I’ve seen his ass way more times than can be healthy). There’s nothing distinguishing about the masked team aside from Triple X wearing an NWA Upstate T-shirt. There’s no control segment for either team, no blind tags, no switches behind the refs back, no illegal double teams, you know, all that stuff that makes tag team wrestling fun. There’s some creativity in the ending, with Kruz getting busted for having his feet on the ropes while pinning Assassin, and then ten seconds later Triple X does the same thing and winds up pinning McKenzie. It’s nice to give Upstate the win (even underhandedly) by outdoing the rivals, but it’d have been more effective had it been built up to.
BUDDY DELMAR/FRANK THE TANK/SWEET LOU vs. MAXIMO SUAVE/LUIS WHITESHOES/MARC KREIGER
If nothing else, this winds up being better than the last match, by virtue of at least looking like an actual match, but it’s still not very good. Lou, Frank, and Buddy spend a decent amount of time working over Kreiger, but they don’t really do much of anything, it’s a lot of punching, kicking, stomping, with a few bodyslams and vertical suplexes, and Lou shoving Krieger’s face in his chest hair. Also, they tag in and out very frequently, so none of them get to stand out too much. Krieger’s hot tag to Maximo was a nice moment, and a decent pop, but Maximo wound up killing that by slipping off the top rope. To his credit, it didn’t deter him and he kept on fighting, and looked the best out of all of them. Lou’s spear to Maximo while he was in midair would have been the highlight of the match, if not for the triple spike piledriver right afterwards that finished him off. The last match was hampered by a lack of time. This was hampered by them not using their time very well.
Kyle and Evan McCloud attack the winning trio, and then they get attacked by Brodie Lee and Cloudy, and in Original ECW fashion, they ring the bell and the next match is underway!
BRODIE LEE/CLOUDY vs. EVAN McCLOUD/KYLE McCLOUD
And the third time’s the charm! They’re given enough time and it’s mostly used well, and a fairly fun match is the result. Brodie and Cloudy have two nice control segments, and the McCloud Bros do a decent enough job taking the abuse, of course, considering how much of a beast Brodie is, they didn’t have much choice anyway. Cloudy adds a few nice touches, with cocky pins, with one foot or one knee, and a real cool spot where Cloudy hip tosses Brodie into Evan while he’s in the corner. Cloudy even builds up to the finish a bit by wearing down Kyle’s back, it seems like mandatory stuff at first, the chinlock, and dropping down onto Kyle’s back. But when they whip out the powerbomb/back cracker combo, it has a whole new meaning.
The only thing missing here is notable offense from the McClouds, in a way, it makes sense. Cloudy and Brodie jumped them from behind, spent most of the match working them over, and then won in the end, so they didn’t have ample opportunity to show their stuff, but they really didn’t do much with the few chances they were given. The only real offensive moments came when Kyle got the hot tag, and sprung off Evan’s back into Brodie (sort of like the old Air Juvie), and the McClouds also pull out a Kai En Tai Camel Clutch/dropkick, but that’s about it, and compared with the onslaught that Brodie and Cloudy pull out, they may as well have gotten squashed. Having never seen the McClouds before, I’m not going to say they’re good or bad based on seeing a whole one match, but their opposition more or less left them in the dust on this night.
RICKY REYES vs. JOHN McCHESNEY
This is supposed to be a grudge match, although you wouldn’t know it from McChesney’s performance. Reyes apparently put him on the shelf from internal bleeding and McChesney wants revenge, and he does this at the opening bell with a series of . . . wait for it . . . arm drags! Yes, he’s getting his revenge on the man who injured him by doing arm drags! At least when Reyes takes over, he does stuff that makes sense, namely targeting the injury. Reyes pelts him in the ribs and gut with kicks, he drops him into the guardrail, he rams him into the apron, throws McChesney with various suplexes and he uses submissions like the abdominal stretch and body scissors, which are usually filler holds, but have a clear purpose here. Aside from the aforementioned armdrags, there isn’t much else here to see from McChesney, he throws a good superkick, which sets up Reyes to be finished off with his big frog splash. You’d think after having your ribs and body worked over for a god ten or so minutes, that a frog splash would merit at least a little bit of selling, but McChesney didn’t agree. When you’re outperformed by Ricky Reyes, you’re in trouble.
Hellcat, the former owner of NWA Upstate introduces the new owner of NWA Upstate, his best friend, Chip Stetson. Stetson announces that Hellcat is back on the wrestling roster, and there’s a vacancy in the main event, Hellcat wants the spot but Stetson already gave it to Jimmy Olsen a couple of days ago (why did he say they had an opening if he’d already filled it?). Hellcat doesn’t look pleased, and a bit of research shows that the Stetson/Hellcat friendship is much like Flair/Sting with Stetson playing Sting.
CHEECH vs. PLATINUM vs. RIP IMPACT
Aside from the seemingly-mandatory bit of silliness in the beginning, in the form of the three-way knuckle lock, and the ridiculous spot where they all reversed waist locks, this doesn’t look like a three-way match at all. It looks far more like a Rip/Platinum singles match. It makes sense because they’ve got an issue going on, they were stablemates and after Rip lost a match he was told to get lost, and if this is any indication, it was a good idea. Platinum brings out all kinds of good, and innovative spots, this isn’t much more than a spotfest, but the sheer amount of stuff that Platinum showed off was impressive by itself, and he’s someone I’d like to see more of.
While it’s normally a good thing that the match didn’t feel like your normal three-way (read: look entirely scripted and predictable), the problem here is that Cheech is the one going over, so Platinum and Rip look like a couple of suckers for going out there and trying to put on a show, while Cheech takes a couple of naps on the floor before picking up the win with a powerbomb into knee to Platinum’s face (something of a modified Go 2 Sleep, which even the announcers acknowledge, although they credit the move to Kenta Kobashi and not KENTA), it looks a WWE battle royal, where the guy who does nothing sneaks in and wins. It’s fine that Cheech wins since he’s a former champion in Upstate and he’d ‘been around’ so to speak with working ROH and other places, but it’d have been nice if he was involved in the match a bit more to show that he somehow earned the win.
AARON DRAVEN vs. ZACH ATTICUS
On the surface, this looks like a fairly competitive match between two young up-and-comers, however, once you look beneath the surface the match gets exposed rather quickly. It’s clear that Aaron and Zach have potential and have things they can do, look for further than Zach’s tope or Aaron’s boot rake escape from the sunset flip and the Spanish Fly that he uses to finish off Zach to see proof of that, but for every good moment or cool spot like that, there are two when something doesn’t go right.
The execution is probably their biggest failing of the match, a good bulk of the first half is Zach working a headlock, and when they’re not doing that, they’re showing why they had been, because they’re stuff keeps going wrong. The biggest example is Zach’s attempt at a Chris Jericho style dropkick to Draven on the apron, but Zach slips and only catches him with one foot, there’s also Zach’s headlock takedown, where Aaron doesn’t go along quite right, and winds up walking around him before going to the mat, but there are several others. When they’re not screwing up stuff, they’re not doing much of interest, but they make it look like they are by constantly swinging the pendulum back and forth with who has the advantage, and the ending boils down to Star Rider’s interference rather than anything Aaron did or Zach didn’t do.
DANNY DORING © vs. ERIC YOUNG (NWA Upstate Heavyweight Title)
They may not like each other, but at least the Upstate fans and 2CW fans found something in common, they don’t like Danny Doring very much. The exchanges between Doring and the fans are far more entertaining than the match is. Doring looks like he’s trying his best to be like Bubba Ray Dudley with getting the fans riled up, but Bubba always backed it up, while Doring just runs his mouth and does nothing. The wrestling itself is all right for what it is, Young and Doring each pull out a couple nice things culminating in Doring reversing a cradle and grabbing the ropes for the win, but the match winds up taking a backseat to Doring trying to rile up the fans and the fans riling up Doring. Plus, Doring also does his best Larry Zybyzsko impression with all his stalling. So yeah, there are a few nice moves between all the downtime. It seems like Doring wasn’t expecting to be booed by everyone, and he thought either the Upstate fans would cheer since he’s an Upstate wrestler or the 2CW crowd would cheer him because he’s a heel in Upstate. This wasn’t too long to begin with, and with so much downtime, it’s hard to appreciate the few minutes good work that it contained.
War Games: ZAQUARY SPRINGATE III/ISYS EPHEX/JASON AXE/DIZZIE/J.D. LOVE vs. GABE SAINT/SAMMY DUNN/DAVE MARCOS/JIMMY OLSEN/PEPPER PARKS
This is more like a combo of a War Games and an Elimination Chamber match than it is the original concept of War Games, it’s got the rotating entry of various wrestlers, but has elimination rules, and they can be eliminated at any time. 2CW has also hijacked the production truck, and turned off the commentary (thankfully) and also, they scroll text across the screen to gloat about every time someone from Upstate is eliminated. It’s fitting that everyone on 2CW’s side has experience as a dirty heel, since this is an Upstate show and (if one ignores the extremely loud and vocal 2CW supporting section) they’re supposed to be playing the bad guys.
Much like three-way matches, matches like this can run the risk of falling into a rotation that exposes the match for being scripted and cooperative, but that doesn’t happen here. Springate and Saint start the match off, and Isys makes it two on one, Dunn is supposed to even the odds, but the refs won’t him enter the cage for some reason, they keep arguing and Isys sneaks up behind him and throws him into the cage. Dunn is busted open Isys rolls him into the ring, slams him into the cage again, and pins him in short order, thereby quickly making it so 2CW will always have, at least, a one man advantage. That’s the only elimination before everyone enters, but there’s no shortage of action going on. As I’ve said about other matches like this, you don’t necessarily look for straight up wrestling, this is supposed to something full of hatred, and the fun mostly lies in the booking, they certainly don’t hold back the hatred and the booking of the elimination and the ending is very good. None of the wrestlers are shy about taking some utterly sick bumps. When Marcos enters, he’s quickly launched, back first, into the cage by Dizzie, and Olsen allows Isys and Dizzie to grab his arms and legs and swing him head first into the cage, unprotected. If you’re of the mind set that any War Games match without blood isn’t a real War Games match, then you’ll think this is a real War Games match.
After Parks, the final member of Team Upstate, enters, the eliminations start coming in short order, but they’re all fairly smartly worked. Parks, the freshest member of Upstate, eliminates Springate (the most worn out member of the team, in theory) with some kind of cradle (it was mostly off camera) to even the odds. Saint soars off the top of the cage onto just about everyone to eliminate J.D. (the biggest and freshest member of Team 2CW), but the dive also took a lot out of Saint, and Isys pins him in short order after an Air Raid Crash to retain 2CW’s lead. The most fresh wrestler, Parks, is eliminated thanks to a handful of tights from Dizzie, while the ones who’d been in the cage for a while, Marcos, and Axe, are eliminated cleanly after big moves. Eventually it’s down to two, Olsen and Isys, the ref goes down, and Hellcat hits the ring, takes off his NWA Upstate shirt to reveal a 2CW one and DDT’s Olsen to give 2CW the win. The crowd pop is enormous, and you’d think it was a lot more than one section of the crowd made up of 2CW fans. While the match being a backdrop for Hellcat to turn on Stetson (yet again) takes a bit away from 2CW’s win, the aftermath with the wrestlers celebrating with the 2CW section is simply great and ends the match on a great high note. ***1/2
Conclusion: I’m not going to tear apart the whole Upstate promotion over one show because (A. I’ll be accused of doing it simply because I’m a 2CW fan, and (B. I’ve seen shows before with horrible undercards because most of the good talent was in the main event, so I’ll give Upstate the benefit of the doubt here. It’s not a good show by any stretch of the imagination, but the War Games match more than merits being checked out.
34-year-old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Long-time fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls, and Minnesota Vikings. An avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on old-school wrestling.