Written by: @ThatDaveGuy
WWN’s third Chinese supershow once again kicked off with Johnny Gargano. Opposite him was Chuck Taylor, who had headlined the previous two shows. Yep, a battle of former Ronin teammates was considered a good way to kick off this show. In fairness it was. Both men are experienced enough to work an exciting opening match and big enough names (in regular wrestling circles, at least) to draw the crowd into the show early on.
While that logic was sound it didn’t lead to action-packed opener it could have. They had their moments but for the most part Gargano and Taylor put on an average match with nothing especially memorable about it. Gargano won with the Gargano Escape.
After the match Gargano said he was 3-0 on the China tour and stated that he’d win his match with Ricochet on the final show of the tour. That match, for the record, would not only be for Ricochet’s Open the Freedom Gate title but also a cup. Fancy, no?
Jody Kristofferson was accompanied by Earl Cooter and Larry ‘I’m Sporting a Topknot and No One’s Gonna Stop Me’ Dallas for his match against Biff Busick. It wasn’t a fancy match. They punched, chopped and kicked a lot and left the ring several times. It didn’t go for long. One of their ringside excursions resulted in Kristofferson getting counted out. He and Dallas chased the ref backstage. Cooter stayed to get thrown out of the ring by Busick. He clearly hadn’t learned from his mistakes in Grand Epoch City, where he stayed behind to give Timothy Thatcher a kicking.
Valkyrie members Allysin Kay and Su Yung teamed up to face Mia Yim and Shine champion Ivellise Velez in match number three. The heels isolated Yim after Yung kicked her from the apron, working her over before she made the inevitable tag out. Because all doubles matches have to follow this formula now. The same thing happened when Ivellise tagged in.
Allysin Kay stood out in this match. Firstly because she’s a very physical wrestler, which is a good thing. Secondly because of her comically bad verbal taunts. Surely she could do better than “Time to go night-night” over and over again? Yim and Velez were as good as they usually are. It was Su Yung who was the odd one out, being the least impressive in ring and barely trying to draw the crowd into the match.
The finish came when Kay accidentally kicked Yung, reversed out of package piledriver and hit a roaring lariat on Yim for the pin. After the match Kay and Yung had words, which led to Kay shoving Yung to the floor and Yung storming backstage. There was friction between Velez a Yim too, each blaming the other for the loss. After the match Kay said she’d dominate Shine. That could end up coming true but it probably won’t. Yim and Velez ended up going nose to nose with Velez telling Yim to try her best in their championship match.
Match four pitted Timothy Thatcher against Caleb Konley, a man being turned into an EVOLVE headliner. Konley had Baretta and quick change artist Su Yung with him. Thatcher had no one. But he did have his nice scarf with the skull motif.
There were an assortment of holds and counter holds to begin with Konley managing to best Thatcher several times. The first big move came from Thatcher, who gave Konley an uppercut as he came through the ropes with a suicide dive. The PAB member came back with a roundhouse kick and a sloppily applied camel clutch. Thatcher muscled out and slammed Konley into a corner, but Konley again managed to stay in the fight with kicks and elbows.
Thatcher hit a double underhook suplex. Konley applied an armbar. Thatcher stood up with it applied and connected with a modified power bomb. Konley got a standing senton for two before attempting his double jump moonsault. Thatcher rolled out of the way, hit a gut wrench and applied an armbar. Konley struggled across the ring and, with a assistance from Barreta grabbed the ropes to force a break. Thatcher went to grab Barreta, who shouted that he’d done nothing, before turning around into a small package from Konley, which was apparently such a surprise and so expertly applied that he was unable to kick out.
After the match Konley was asked if he’d have won the match without Barreta’s help. He ignored the question and declared that the Premier Athlete Brand were the best athletes in all of China. Barreta followed that by saying he’d beat Rich Swann in the main event. Konley told us, off mic, that we love it. He didn’t say what it is though. I suspect we don’t love it.
The Bravado brothers versus The Colony was a fun diversion but not essential viewing. It wasn’t as good as their match at EVOLVE 34. I think part of the reason I feel this way is that it stuck to the standard formula of the heels isolating a face and cheating for a bit before the face managed to tag back out. Seeing that in every tag match you watch gets tiresome. The Colony won after a superplex from Fire Ant to Harlem was followed up with a frog splash from Silver Ant.
AR Fox and his lack of crowd reaction came out next. Open the Freedom Gate champion Ricochet got a similar response when he entered. That made it odd when he claimed “they” loved him in China. Wrestlers really need to learn to judge the crowd noise people at home can here. If there’s silence it makes claims this depressing.
Highlights of the match included: Ricochet moonsaulting off the apron to avoid a Fox attack then following up with a tope; a Fox tope that was turned into a forward roll when Ricochet dodgedout of the way; an impressive twirling brainbuster from Fox; and Ricochet catching Fox as he came off the ropes and hitting him with a Regalplex.The finish saw Fox avoid a shooting star press and set up for Low Mein Pain (which, for the record, I think is one of the worst finishers in wrestling). Ricochet countered with elbows and got a second rope Regalplex before hitting a shooting star press of his own for the victory.
The match would have been improved had Lenny Leonard been available to help brush over the lax attitude to selling and match psychology. It was still very good though.
The Full Impact Pro “world” championship match went on last. Super popular rich Swann challenged The Premier Athlete Brand’s Trent Barreta. The first five minutes consisted entirely of various stalling tactics, mostly from uber-heel Barreta. When he finally got his hands on the champ Swann started firing off chops on him. Barreta did some world class selling and made Swann look amazing.
A walk out routine by the Brand led to a shoving match between Swann and Konley, which saw the Brand being banished backstage by the referee. Swann threw Barreta back into the ring but found himself super kicked off the apron as he made his own way back in. When he did finally get back in ‘The King of Swerve’ took a running knee and a clothesline.
Swann took a Death Valley Driver on the apron and slumped down to the ringside mats. Naturally he made it back into the ring just before the referee’s count reached twenty. Barreta booted him and fish-hooked his mouth before putting him up on the top rope. Swann escaped a superplex and got a cross body on the champ before firing up with punches and a swinging neck breaker. That earned him a two count, as did a Lethal Injection seconds later.
Barreta rolled out of the way of a frog splash. Swann immediately went to the top rope again, presumedly to give the move another go, but he was cut off and hit with a belly-to-belly by the champion. Barreta gave Swann his Bill Murray knee finisher, which Swann kicked out of just before the three. Barreta trash talked Swann, telling him he was in the ring with a champ, then spat in his face. This isn’t something I usually appreciate in wrestling but in a match that had the result this one did it can work on occasion. Swann psyched himself up and floored FIP’s top boy with haymakers.
At this point Konley returned to distract the referee, allowing Barreta to hit a low blow and get a schoolboy. Swann kicked out. Back on his feet he blasted Barreta with a tornado spin kick and a frog splash to end the best match of the night (and one of the best of the tour) and capture the FIP strap.
The showed closed with a ceremony that was little more than the WWN champs being presented with their title belts and posing for pictures. It was… something. Sadly it deprived Swann of the moment in the spotlight he’d have received on a more traditional show. Overall though this was probably better. How many other FIP champions can say they won the belt in China? And in such a great match too.
Johnny Gargano def Chuck Taylor
Biff Busick def Jody Kristofferson by count out
Valkyrie def Ivelisse Velez and Mia Yim
Caleb Konley def Timothy Thatcher
The Colony def The Bravado Brothers
Ricochet def AR Fox
Rich Swann def Trent Barreta to win the FIP championship