Written by: Bob Colling
IWA-MS presents Battleground In Bloomington
From: Bloomington, IN
Opening Contest: Ace Steel vs. Austin Aries: Steel backs Aries into a corner, but cleanly backs away. Steel controls Aries on the mat with wrist control for a few moments. Steel continues to work over the left arm with a standing top wrist lock. Aries yanks Steel down by his hair, but Steel quickly gets to his feet and complains about it. Steel shoulder blocks Aries and leg sweeps Aries to the mat, but Aries kicks Steel away. Steel continues to wrench on the leg of Aries for the advantage, but Aries reaches the ropes. Aries hits a springboard back elbow to knock Steel down. Steel atomic drops Aries followed by a clothesline for a two count. Steel headbutts Aries on the lower midsection and claims it wasn’t a low blow. Steel rams Aries into the top turnbuckle followed by a few strikes. Steel forearms Aries in the corner followed by strikes. Aries avoids a strike in the corner and forearms Steel several times and puts a submission on Steel, but doesn’t get a submission. Steel counters despite a few kicks to the head. Steel puts a bow and arrow on Aries, but doesn’t get a submission. Steel shoulder rams Aries in the corner a few times and wrenches on Aries knee over the middle rope. Aries kicks Steel in the head and chokes Steel over the bottom rope. Aries elbows Steel and connects with an elbow drop. They trade strikes in the middle of the ring until Aries delivers a knee strike. Aries tries for a brainbuster, but Steel counters and drives Aries into the corner.
Steel dropkicks Aries in the corner, but Aries comes back with a dropkick of his own two times. Steel dropkicks Aries in the corner followed by a running knee strike. Steel drives his knee into Aries chest off the middle rope for a near fall. Aries gets out of a neckbreaker and delivers a gut buster followed by an STO and elbow drop for a two count. Aries tries for a piledriver, but Steel blocks it and blocks a brainbuster. Aries tries for a springboard back elbow, but Steel counters with a suplex in midair for a two count. Steel tries for the Twisted Cain, but Aries bites free. Aries tries for a piledriver, but Steel catapults Aries into the corner. Steel stops Aries on the middle rope with a few strikes to the back, but Aries holds the ring post with his legs. Aries spikes Steel with a brainbuster and leaps off the top to hit the 450 splash for the win. (***. An enjoyable start to the show and liked the counters that Aries used here. I don’t think I’ve ever seen somebody wrap their feet around the post in the corner to counter a suplex before. That was nicely done. This was competitive and both men displayed some quality offense throughout.)
Second Contest: Matt Turner vs. Shane Hagadorn: These men are ROH students getting an opportunity to showcase their skills here. Turner controls Hagadorn on the mat for a brief time until Hagadorn gets to the ropes. Hagadorn eye rakes Turner in the corner and follows up with strikes in the corner. Turner boots Hagadorn in the corner, but Hagadorn hits a neckbreaker for a two count. Hagadorn dropkicks Turner for a two count. Hagadorn tries for a suplex, but Turner drops down and counters with a rollup for a two count. Hagadorn rolls through and uses the tights for leverage to win the match. (1/2*. I mean, they did basically nothing here and not enough happened to gauge whether or not they have potential.)
Third Contest: Tracy Brooks vs. Mercedes Martinez: Martinez takes Brooks down to the mat to start the contest, but Brooks counters with a front face lock. They exchange hammerlocks until Martinez takes Brooks down to the mat with arm control. Brooks gets a head scissors on the mat, but Martinez fights through quickly. Martinez puts an awkward arm bar on Brooks, but Brooks counters with an arm drag. Martinez arm drags Brooks and keeps wrist control. Brooks tosses Martinez with an overhead suplex and keeps a top wrist lock on Martinez. Martinez counters with an arm bar on Brooks. They trade chops against the ropes until Martinez hit an overhead suplex for a two count. Martinez locks in a butterfly choke, but Brooks doesn’t give in. Brooks manages to reach the ropes after rolling onto her side. Brooks decks Martinez with a clothesline for a two count. Brooks tries for a slam, but Martinez counters with a fisherman buster attempt for a two count. Brooks knee lifts Martinez and hits a gut wrench suplex for a two count. Brooks tries for a Death Valley Driver, but Martinez counters with a brainbuster for the win. (*. They really didn’t do too much, but Martinez shined here and really makes you wonder how it took her so long to get signed by a national company.)
Fourth Contest: Danny Daniels vs. Chad Collyer: Collyer takes Daniels down to the mat and keeps a hammerlock on Daniels to maintain control, but Daniels rolls through to break free. Daniels arm drags Collyer out of the corner and they have a standoff. Collyer tries for a rollup managing a two count. Daniels almost wins with a rollup of his own and they have another standoff. Collyer leg sweeps Daniels to get out of a test of strength and follows up with an arm drag and a dropkick. Daniels backdrops Collyer, but Collyer held on only for Daniels to deliver a kick to the midsection. Daniels drives Collyer down with a gut buster. Daniels double stomps Collyer followed by a senton splash for another two count. Daniels connects with another gut buster for a near fall. Daniels and Collyer begin to trade strikes in the corner. Collyer gets an inside cradle on Daniels for a near fall. Collyer has a backslide on Daniels for a near fall. Collyer nails Daniels with a dropkick coming off the ropes and continues with chops. Collyer nearly wins following a powerslam. Collyer hits a vertical suplex for a near fall. Collyer elbows and boots Daniels in the corner. Collyer tries for a crossbody, but Daniels hits a gut buster. Daniels almost wins following a dropkick. Collyer attempts a dragon suplex, but Daniels counters with a suplex for a near fall. Daniels heads to the top rope, but Collyer stops Daniels on the top. Collyer is knocked off the middle rope, but Collyer dragon screw leg whips Daniels off the middle rope. Collyer locks in the Texas Cloverleaf and wins by submission. (**. A lot more of a mat based match as you’d expect with Collyer. They told some kind of story with the constant gut busters by Daniels. It’s an average match and a decent one for the undercard. I was honestly surprised that Collyer won clean here.)
Fifth Contest: Claudio Castagnoli vs. Brandon Thomaselli: Thomaselli arm drags Castagnoli to start, but misses a splash in the corner. Castagnoli works over Thomaselli’s arm in the corner hitting an arm breaker for a two count. Castagnoli yanks Thomaselli down by the arm and keeps control of the arm. Castagnoli hip tosses Thomaselli off the ropes and taunts the crowd before getting a two count. Castagnoli keeps a submission on Thomaselli, but Thomaselli breaks free with an monkey flip. Castagnoli decks Thomaselli with an uppercut. Castagnoli has Thomaselli over the shoulder to deliver a shoulder breaker, but Thomaselli comes back with a jawbreaker. Thomaselli ducks a clothesline to dropkick Claudio followed by a standing shooting star press for a near fall. Castagnoli works over Thomaselli with several strikes and comes off the ropes to deliver a swinging neckbreaker for a two count. Thomaselli hits the Air Raid Crash to win the match. (*1/2. That’s got to be a major upset since Thomaselli has only just recently started with the company and cleanly pins Claudio. The match felt like it mostly dominated by Claudio. They didn’t get a bunch of time and it just felt like a filler match on a show that has twelve other matches booked.)
Sixth Contest: CM Punk vs. Super Dragon: Early on, they counter each others arm control with Dragon getting the advantage on the mat delivering a knee drop to the back. Punk keeps a sleeper on Dragon and manages a two count. Punk keeps a front face lock on Dragon, but Dragon counters with a leg sweep on the mat and an elbow drop to the knee. Dragon keeps Punk on the mat, but Punk knees himself free. About three fans in the crowd chant “Super Dragon”, which is probably 40% of the people in attendance. Dragon cheap shots Punk in the corner as the referee was out of position. They trade chops in the corner until Dragon eye rakes Punk to stop his momentum. Dragon takes Punk over with a snap suplex for a two count and puts a head scissors on the mat. Punk controls Dragon on the mat with a front face lock and almost wins with a few rollup attempts. Punk sunset flips Dragon for a two count and connects with a heel kick. Punk chops Dragon in the corner a few times followed by a running high knee and a double under hook backbreaker for a two count. Dragon counters a DDT attempt and hits the Curb Stomp for a near fall. Dragon forearms Punk in the corner and connects with a tornado DDT for a near fall. Dragon tries for the Psycho Driver, but Punk breaks free. Dragon knee lifts Punk a few times. Punk plants Dragon with the hammerlock DDT and locks in a submission to force a submission. (*1/2. Certainly not the kind of match that I was expecting. There was a few decent spots in there, but it just felt flat to me. I mean, if there were a few hundred people in the crowd it’s probably different, but they weren’t about to have a classic here. A disappointing match, but understandable considering the situation.)
Seventh Contest: Ian Rotten vs. Davey Andrews: Rotten starts off with some mat wrestling control on Andrews. Andrews delivers several strikes to the back leading to a standoff. They begin to trade forearm strikes with Andrews not backing down from Rotten. Rotten headbutts Andrews to gain control. Rotten nails Andrews with palm strikes to get out of a submission. Andrews delivers a knee drop and chokes Rotten on the mat. Andrews avoids an arm bar by reaching the ropes. Rotten palm strikes Andrews several times in the corner. Andrews tackles Rotten to the mat and keeps Rotten on the mat to deliver several strikes. Andrews dropkicks a kneeling Rotten for a two count. Rotten bites his way out of a headlock and uppercuts Andrews in the corner. Rotten headbutts Andrews into the corner. Rotten tosses Andrews with a belly to belly suplex for a two count. Rotten kicks Andrews in the face followed by a double knee strike. Rotten hits a dragon suplex but here comes Steve Stone to distract Rotten. Chris Candido comes in from behind to hit Rotten with something and hits a diving headbutt off the top rope. Andrews covers Rotten to win the match. (*1/4. Nobody is paying to see Rotten wrestle mat based stuff and use zero weapons. I mean, I’m not paying to see Rotten to do anything, but for sure not a straight wrestling match. So, this was disappointing in many ways.) After the match, Candido cuts a promo about AJ Styles but the microphone is bad and I can’t really tell what he’s saying. Ian Rotten cuts a promo as well, but again, I can’t tell what he’s saying.
Eighth Contest: IWA-MS Tag Team Champions The Wild Cards (Kingston & Blackjack) vs. Anthony Franco & Evan Starsmore in a non-title match: Franco and Starsmore are ROH students. Franco is hip tossed and arm dragged by Kingston. Franco comes back with arm drags on Kingston and a head scissors. Kingston regroups in the corner with Blackjack checking on him. Blackjack is met with a double hip toss and Starsmore delivers a shoulder block. Starsmore arm drags Blackjack followed by a dropkick for a two count. Kingston delivers an elbow drop onto Starsmore to gain the advantage. Kingston lifts Starsmore up and connects with a vertical suplex for a two count. Starsmore is double teamed, but refuses to stay down. Kingston hits a belly to belly suplex on Starsmore. Blackjack tries for a suplex, but Starsmore counters with a suplex of his own. Franco cleans house with slams to the champs. Franco almost pins Kingston with a northern lights suplex. Franco boots Blackjack in the corner, but the champs hit the Gory Special/bulldog combo for the win, I’m assuming. The camera cut out during the pin. (*1/2. The students got some time to shine, but the champs prevail. This was mostly harmless stuff.)
Ninth Contest: NWA X-Division Champion Petey Williams vs. Alex Shelley: Shelley takes Williams down to the mat, but Williams controls Shelley with a head scissors. Shelley keeps Petey on the mat with a wrist lock, but Williams counters. Shelley puts a leg lock on Williams, but Williams reaches the ropes. Shelley continues to focus on mat wrestling and arm drags Williams. Shelley arm drags Williams followed by a springboard back elbow. Shelley drives Williams down to the mat and locks in the Border City Stretch, but Williams reaches the ropes. Shelley dumps Williams onto the apron, but Williams drops Shelley throat first over the middle rope. Williams dropkicks Shelley on the back for a two count. Williams elbows Shelley several times in the corner and puts Shelley in a tree of woe. Williams steps on Shelley’s groin for a moment. Williams slams Shelley and delivers a knee drop for a two count. They begin to trade strikes in the middle of the ring. Williams tries for a neckbreaker, but Shelley counters. Williams tries for a Destroyer, but Shelley counters with the Shell Shock and both men are down.
Shelley dragon screw leg whips and heel kicks Williams. Shelley plants Williams with a side suplex. Shelley superkicks Williams for a two count. Shelley tries for a 2K1 Bomb, but Williams counters with a neckbreaker for a near fall. Williams sits Shelley on the top rope and Shelley connects with a middle rope atomic drop. Shelley plants Williams with a reverse DDT for a near fall. Williams drop toe holds Shelley over the ropes and hits a tornado DDT for a near fall. Williams heads to the top rope, but Shelley crotches Williams on the top. Shelley hits a middle rope cutter and heads to the top rope. Shelley connects with a frog splash off the top for a two count. Williams blocks a hurricanrana with the Styles Clash to win the match. (***. A solid match and they kept a really good pace. This was much needed as the matches since the opener had been rather boring. I really liked that they played into the Petey/Styles feud that’s going on in TNA, as well. It’s the little things.) After the match, Styles slides into the ring and Williams bails to the floor. Styles taunts Williams with the X-Division Championship in the ring. Styles poses with the belt, too.
Tenth Contest: Chris Sabin vs. Christopher Daniels: Sabin hip tosses Daniels followed by a dropkick. Sabin keeps Daniels on the mat with a hammerlock. Daniels counters with a wrist lock and switches to a hammerlock. Sabin almost wins with a rollup leading to a standoff. Daniels takes Sabin down with a leg sweep and controls Sabin with a headlock. Sabin keeps a head scissors on Daniels as they switch out a tape. CM Punk lets us know that we essentially missed just mat work and a forearm strike by Sabin. Daniels plants Sabin with a back suplex and an elbow strike several times to the neck. Daniels chokes Sabin over the middle rope and hits a neckbreaker for a two count. Daniels delivers a rolling neck snap for a two count. Daniels knee lifts Sabin to maintain control followed by a knee drop. Daniels drives Sabin down with a back suplex for a near fall. Daniels wrenches on the chin, but Sabin quickly gets to his feet and elbows free. Daniels boots Sabin followed by a vertical suplex. Daniels hits a springboard moonsault and locks in a Crossface but Sabin reaches the ropes. Sabin avoids a back suplex and they begin to trade chops. Daniels hits Sabin over the back, but Sabin avoids a powerbomb. They trade a series of forearm strikes. Sabin nails Daniels with a kick to the head and both men are down.
Sabin clotheslines Daniels followed by a neckbreaker. Sabin plants Daniels with a springboard tornado DDT for a two count. Daniels attempts a suplex, but Sabin counters with a German suplex for a near fall. Daniels slams Sabin coming off the ropes and hits the BME for a near fall. Daniels signals for the Last Rites, but Sabin breaks free and kicks Daniels in the corner. Sabin plants Daniels with a powerbomb for a two count. Sabin has Daniels on his shoulders, but Daniels breaks free. Sabin misses a clothesline and Daniels spikes Sabin with the Angels Wings for the clean win. (***1/4. Another solid match on the card as these two worked well and held my interest. I enjoy these two guys and they delivered a fun undercard match while also giving some storytelling with the neck work by Daniels. Sabin has found a groove and comes across really crisp in the ring at this point.)
Eleventh Contest: ROH World Champion Samoa Joe vs. Ryan Boz: Joe tries to deliver a few kicks, but Boz sidesteps. Boz takes Joe down to the mat and they trade some mat wrestling. Joe gets the advantage with wrist control. Boz eye rakes Joe and keeps control on the mat. Joe works over Boz with strikes, but Boz nails Joe with a strike to the throat. Boz kicks Joe and Joe battles back with a kick to the chest. Boz stops Joe with a strike to the lower midsection. Boz gets a two count following a side Russian leg sweep. Boz clotheslines Joe in the corner. Boz chokes Joe over the middle rope to keep the advantage. Joe chops Boz in the corner followed by an STO. Joe chops Boz over the back and delivers a knee drop for a two count. Joe beats on Boz with strikes and chops before delivering a running boot to the head. Joe takes Boz over with a snap suplex for a near fall. Boz sends Joe to the floor and tries for a suicide dive, but Joe nails Boz with a palm strike for a two count. Joe slaps Boz several times and connects with a snap powerslam for a two count. Boz ducks a clothesline to big boot Joe for a near fall. Boz under hook tosses Joe for a near fall. Joe takes Boz down and delivers a few stiff knee shots. Joe locks in a chokehold and forces Boz to submit. (*1/2. I wish I could say I was surprised by the domination here by Joe. I was hoping for a more competitive match, but people wanted to see Joe destroy Boz.) After the match, Austin Aries comes out to cut a promo. The microphone is awful and I have no idea what he’s saying. Aries hypes up the strong style tournament coming up. Aries thinks that he could win the tournament. Joe wants to shake hands, but Aries isn’t interested in that.
Twelfth Contest: AJ Styles vs. Chris Candido: They trade wrist locks in the opening moments of the contest. Candido backs Styles into a corner and is met with a slap to the face. Candido runs the ropes and is met with a dropkick. Candido bails to the floor to regroup. Styles arm drags and hip tosses Candido. Styles keeps a headlock on Candido to maintain control on the mat. Styles shoulder blocks Candido and is met with a hip toss. Styles kicks Candido away and keeps a headlock on Candido. Styles backdrops Candido and goes back to a headlock. Candido drives Styles down with a back suplex. Candido works over Styles with right hands in the corner and a chop to the chest. Candido eye rakes Styles, but is backdropped to the floor. Styles takes Candido out with a slingshot crossbody to the floor. Steve Stone tries to get involved by Styles punches Stone. Candido drops Styles with a right hand and connects with a snap powerslam. Candido tries for a cover, but Styles kicks out at two. Candido dumps Styles to the floor where Stone beats on Styles briefly before rolling Styles back into the ring. Candido keeps a chin lock on Styles before switching to a headlock. Styles nearly wins with a rollup. Styles almost wins with a backslide. Candido kicks Styles on the side of the head. Candido drives Styles down with a delayed vertical suplex for a near fall. Candido and Styles trade chops in the corner.
Candido stops Styles with an eye poke. Candido gets out of a rollup and Styles delivers a back elbow. Candido tosses Styles off the middle rope with a German suplex where Styles lands on his face. Candido slams Styles and heads to the top rope missing a diving headbutt. Styles drops Candido with clotheslines and a kick for a near fall. Styles plants Candido with a springboard reverse DDT for a near fall. Styles has Candido over the shoulder before hitting a DDT for a two count. Styles is on the top rope when Candido sends the referee into the ropes causing Styles to crash to the floor after hitting the top rope throat first. Candido tries for a cover, but Styles kicks out. Candido has Styles on the top rope looking for a hurricanrana, but Styles blocks it looking for the Styles Clash. The referee is distracted allowing Petey Williams to hit Styles with the X-Division Championship. Candido spikes Styles with a sit out piledriver for the win. (**1/4. Even with the interference, I was not expecting Candido to win here. Styles took a nasty looking fall late in the match and I was surprised to see him continue the match. The match was okay, but Styles wasn’t given many chances to shine and Candido isn’t the kind of worker that he once was.) After the match, Williams tries for the Destroyer, but decides against it. Steve Stone attacks Styles with forearms. Ian Rotten comes out and sends Candido to the floor. Rotten beats on Stone with a headbutt and strikes in the corner. Rotten and Candido brawl on the floor. Styles plants Stone with the Styles Clash. Stone landed directly on his head and as it turned out, legit broke his neck. Candido continues to brawl with Rotten on the floor. Rotten tosses Candido outside the venue. Rotten and Candido continue to brawl towards the backstage area.
Main Event: IWA-MS Heavyweight Champion Arik Cannon vs. Roderick Strong: Strong has control with a wrist lock to keep the champ on the mat for a brief time. Cannon counters with one of his own until Strong reaches the ropes. Strong keeps a headlock on Cannon until Cannon counters with a head scissors on the mat. Strong takes Cannon down to the mat as they are locked up, but they begin to chop each other. Strong sends Cannon through the ropes to the floor. Strong leaps off the apron to forearm Cannon. Cannon drops Strong throat first over the top rope and beats on Strong around ringside. Cannon fakes the crowd into thinking Strong was going into the chairs and they return to the ring instead. Cannon drives Strong down with a neckbreaker and puts a neck vice on Strong. They trade chops until Strong hits a Codebreaker and a Backstabber for a two count. Strong continues to beat on Cannon with strikes. Cannon plants Strong with an elevated swinging neckbreaker for a two count. Cannon delivers a rolling neck snap for a two count. Cannon drives Strong over his knee and locks in a submission on the mat, but Strong doesn’t give in. Cannon connects with a back suplex. Strong chops Cannon several times followed by a standing dropkick and an under hook suplex. Strong heads to the top rope hitting an elbow drop for a near fall.
Strong ducks a strike and drops Cannon on his head for a two count. Cannon hits an exploder suplex for a near fall. Cannon chops Strong against the ropes and avoids a big boot to hit a side suple for a one count. Cannon spikes Strong with a brainbuster and waits for Strong to get up. Strong delivers a backbreaker to Cannon for a two count. Cannon avoids a gut buster and kicks Strong on the back of the head to win the match. (*1/2. Well, that was a lackluster main event. Cannon is not a main event wrestler to me failing to do much of anything here that was entertaining. Strong shined with some good offense, but the crowd didn’t care for this and that hurt the match quite a bit. They also didn’t get a bunch of time, which is surprising since I feel like main events in IWA-MS tend to have a lot of time.)
On paper, I was thinking this would be a great IWA-MS show, but that was not the case. There are a couple of good matches on the show, but then there’s quite a few lackluster ones and disappointing action. It’s not a terrible overall show, but didn’t meet my expectations. I’ll give this one an average overall rating.
Thanks for reading.
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.