Written by: Jim
July 23, 2011
Kevin Steen vs PAC
Seeing as I don’t follow Dragon Gate or even Dragon Gate USA, I haven’t seen a PAC match since he was last in PWG. The guy has put on a lot of muscle weight. He’s to the point where he looks like a WWE Superstar. Despite this being PAC’s first match back in PWG since 2008, it’s Steen who steals the spotlight. Steen is full of witty one-liners that forces me to switch over the audio track so I won’t have Excalibur and Chris Hero interrupt Steen’s comedic lines. Such lines as “His pecs are hypnotizing” “Stop working out!” and “You’re amazing! *Right as PAC nails him with a kick*”. Steen manages to control most of the match by simply cheating. It’s effective and keeps PAC from looking bad due to being on the defense for the majority of the bout. Steen channels his inner WWE Superstar by hitting such moves as Cactus Jack’s elbow from the apron, Kennedy’s Green Bay Plunge, Lesnar’s F5 and of course Bret Hart’s Sharpshooter. If you’re into spots, PAC is just flat out amazing. What impressed me the most was the seemingly non-effort he gave to pull off such thrilling stunts. Great opener with Steen winning by taking advantage of PAC’s main weapon (His spots) and using it against him by getting his knees up and rolling PAC up for the pin. A hell of a way to begin year number nine. 3 3/4 Stars.
Brian Cage-Taylor vs Brandon Gatson
Mr. Breakout star of 2009 vs Mr. under appreciated by PWG bookers. This would be Gatson’s first PWG match since DDT4 where he lost in the first round while teaming with Willie Mack against The Young Bucks. With Gatson not wrestling since, this may also be his final match. Cage’s new tights with GMSI (Get my **** in) pretty much sums up this match. It was just a little exhibition with both guys hitting all of their moves to impress the crowd. I especially liked Cage’s counter to Gatson’s slingshot twisting Ace Crusher, with a simple German Suplex. The commentary from Excalibur and Chris Hero deals with such topics as Chris Benoit’s SoCal theme that included a line of killing babies and Randy Savage wanting to hurt a member of the Misfits. Near the end, they battle on the outside, but that just allows the finish of Cage’s Gory Special into a Flatliner to come off as…flat. Gatson wasn’t as bad as he was in 2010, but the match was hardly anything special. At least Cage finally picked up a win. This would mark Cage’s first win since The Curse of Guerrilla Island against a debuting Johnny Yuma. 2 Stars.
Generation Next vs El Generico and Ricochet
With Aries back in TNA, he’s done with the indies, so it’s the Roderick Strong/Alex Shelley tandem instead. The entire story of the match was build around El Generico and Ricochet’s not so great relationship. Instead of just bringing the lolz, Excalibur did a great job at explaining the backstory of all of this. In fact, I’d say that the story wouldn’t be very effective at all if it wasn’t for that masked man. So basically, Ricochet brings out the worst in Generico. Somehow, this happy go-lucky guy who loves to take care of orphans becomes an asshole when he’s teaming or facing Ricochet. So besides Generico upping his attitude, he and Ricochet had some major communication issues. Meanwhile, Gen Next are working as a well oiled machine. Maybe that’s a bit unrealistic since Strong and Shelley rarely ever teamed up while in ROH. Off of the top of my head, I can only think of Final Battle 2004, where they lost against CM Punk and Steve Corino. It’s fine though, Shelley and Strong are a great team against a team that has major issues. This plays into the ending where Generico has the match won, but Ricochet had blind tagged himself in. This results in Gen Next picking up the win over Ricochet. The actual quality of the action was just alright (You can see it in a million different ROH matches), but the story was great. 3 1/2 Stars.
After the match, the uneasy alliance between El Generico and Ricochet comes to an end with Generico shoving Ricochet and Ricochet spitting in Generico’s face. PWG, you have your Kurt RussellReunion III World Title match. Book it.
Ryan Taylor vs Peter Avalon
I like both of these talents, I really do. Avalon is amazing in squashes and multi-person matches where he can just bring the comedy. For Taylor, he’s solid when it comes to being involved in tag matches. However, when it comes to serious singles matches, they don’t entertain much. It doesn’t help matters that both are basically heels. To this day, Avalon still hasn’t been booked as anything other than a comedic lowcarder, so having Taylor take so much abuse from Avalon makes one third of the Fighting Taylor Boys look weak. Surprisingly, the fans were far more into this than I would have expected. Once the match went past the unnecessary ten minute mark, the crowd became really silent. While I love the ending (Avalon tries to use a chair, but Brian Cage-Taylor runs out and grabs the chair. Avalon shoves Ryan into the chair while Cage holds it), but it came off looking like utter **** due to Ryan Taylor taking forever to get up from the mat. If nothing else, this match created a possible feud between Ryan and Brian Cage. Otherwise, this was entirely skippable. 1 3/4 Stars.
RockNES Monsters vs The Dynasty
I’m not sure what the reason was, but these two teams treated this match as a grudge match. Before the bell, they’re fighting in the crowd as if they hate each others guts. Even when the match officially begins, we rarely see tags and the match feels like a Texas Tornado grudge match. Creating your own storyline, you can simply say this is all due to the tag titles. RockNES has lost every tag match since DDT4 despite winning that DDT4 qualifier at Kurt Russellreunion. So if they ever want another title shot, they need a win badly. For the Dynasty, they instantly made an impact by going 2-0 since they came back together. With them originally being scheduled to challenge the Bucks for the tag titles, they need this win to remain the #1 contenders. Suddenly, this brawl puts over the tag titles in a big way. The match wasn’t great or anything due to the lack of story, but anything that adds importance to titles is fine by me. The Dynasty has the match won, but the Young Bucks run out to break up the cover. The distraction allows RockNES to throw Scorpio out of the ring and pin Joey Ryan with their finisher (Goodtime DVD’s Yuma on Ryan) for the win. With that, this easily sets up their rematch, a Dynasty/Bucks bout and a potential three way. Awesome. 3 1/4 Stars.
The Young Bucks vs Kevin Steen and CIMA
This was created due to the Bucks’ attempt at ruining Tozawa’s farewell at the last show. Since Tozawa’s gone for now, Steen found a new partner in BOLA 2007 winner, CIMA. This would be CIMA’s first match back in PWG since Guerre Sans Frontières in 2009. Ironically, CIMA fought (And defeated) The Young Bucks in a six-man match. Despite a hot start with Bucks attacking CIMA and Steen during their entrance, things immediately break down into comedy with The Bucks being humiliated while Steen and CIMA take turn deciding who should body slam the other onto the Buck. It’s all well and good in an undercard match, but a match with such bad blood? This match never got out of second gear for me. Sometimes they tag, something they don’t. I could be mistaken, but I’m pretty sure the Bucks kept forgetting who was the legal man. So the illegal man would sometimes tag in the guy who was already legally in. This definitely wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t anything other than solid good. As far as Dragon Gate guys go, CIMA is a poor replacement for Tozawa. The important thing is that Steen forces Matt to give up to the Sharpshooter. 3 Stars.
After the match, there’s some confusion as to whether we have new champions. Nick Jackson gets on the mic to remind everyone that it was a non-title match. He insults Reseda and begs Dixie Carter to resign them. A few more verbal shots at Steen before they run off. Steen and CIMA has a few chances to talk. The big news is that CIMA promises that Tozawa will return. In some ways, this post-match events was better than the match. It built up the hate between Bucks and Steen, hyped up a couple of future matches and didn’t feel so forced.
Claudio Castagnoli (c) vs Chris Hero – PWG World Title
“You’re my young boy!” Four little words uttered by Chris Hero in their last match. It’s those four words that Hero would live to regret. Claudio’s sole mission for this bout is to destroy Hero. They may be tag partners and buddies, but Castagnoli has zero problem at ending Hero’s career if it means proving his dominance and retaining his title. For a good portion of the match, everything is built around Claudio working over Hero’s left knee. This isn’t just some simple submission holds, but rather body slams where Hero’s legs land on the bottom rope. Claudio’s new attitude makes him a dangerous man. While commentators Excalibur and Kevin Steen were joking around a lot during the first ten minutes, they did a great job at putting over Claudio’s change in attitude and how they’ve never seen Claudio this angry. For Hero, his only chance at survival – **** winning – is running away from Claudio and nailing him with some of his hardest strikes that he can muster. Claudio’s selling during all this was really sort of amazing. Some of the brutal strikes, Claudio would not even sell the slightest. He’s your classic unstoppable Universal monster. However, other times, Hero’s hardest strikes would temporarily affect Claudio. In the end, no matter how great Hero is as PWG‘s Ace, it wasn’t enough to stop the force that is the PWG World Champion. Tying everything together, Claudio forces Hero to tap out with his Neutralizer, while standing up. Much different than their ASW 8 match and somehow even better. It may be nearly forty minutes long, but God damn if they didn’t make every minute count. 4 1/4 Stars.
Kevin Steen leaves the commentators booth shaped like a table to inform Claudio that he was awarded a future PWG World Title shot. While he’s getting ready to challenge Claudio for the next show, the fans begin yelling for the match to happen now. Steen, having already fought twice, gives in and asks for the match immediately. Claudio refuses and leaves. With Steen’s back turned and talking with the crowd, Claudio runs back in the ring to Pearl Harbor Steen. Claudio calls for the bell, leading to…
Claudio Castagnoli (c) vs Kevin Steen – PWG World Title
A big time lariat only gets two for Claudio. Steen counters a Ricola Bomb into the Sharpshooter, but the Young Bucks run out to hit a double super kick on Steen. The Dynasty runs out to chase The Bucks to the back. Steen manages to kick out when Claudio covers. Claudio once again fails to hit the Ricola Bomb, leading to Steen nailing the Package Piledriver to win the match and the title. Too short of a match to rate, but after witnessing an amazing match, we’re treated to an amazing moment. This felt like a big deal and was the perfect way to cap off the annual anniversary show.
Blame PWG for having too many great shows, but this anniversary show failed to produce enough great quality that such an important show should have. However, give credit to PWG for having so many great shows lately that this “Disappointing” show still has a couple of great matches, a huge moment and a card filled with solid other matches. Despite being forced to have an unplanned rematch due to Davey Richards’ staph infection, the Kings of Wrestling tore the house down just as the main event should. I may have been disappointed with Steen’s tag match, but the guy proved why he has a legit claim to being PWG‘s MVP for 2011. The two locals matches didn’t feel important nor were too good, but they’re at least sandwiched between plenty of great matches. PWG may have not had Davey Richards, Akira Tozawa or even Willie Mack, but they still managed to produce a memorable anniversary show. It’s a touch under the quality of SEVEN and Threemendous II, but it’s a huge step-up from some of those early anniversary shows.
Worth Checking Out
Kevin Steen vs PAC
Generation Next vs Ricochet and El Generico (For the angle)
Claudio Castagnoli vs Chris Hero
Claudio Castagnoli vs Kevin Steen
Peter Avalon vs Ryan Taylor
31-year old currently living in Syracuse, New York. Longtime fan of the New York Mets, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Vikings. Avid fan of professional wrestling and write reviews/articles on the product. Usually focusing on the old school wrestling.