WWN Live in Chengdu
Written by: @ThatDaveGuy
WWN’s second Chinese supershow kicked off with the ring announcer introducing Johnny Gargano to the ring with a series of yips. More wrestling shows should start in this way. For that matter more EVOLVE shows should feature the talents of Jody Kristofferson, Gargano’s opening match opponent on this show. His Stan Hansen tribute act is just the right level of bad to be entertaining.
The match was relatively short. Gargano was a gent and gave Kristofferson plenty of offence before he got the inevitable victory with a small package. Kristofferson was left looking strong in defeat thanks to Gargano’s generosity and a finish that made it clear that he was getting desperate against the modern day Stan Hansen.
Match two saw newcomer Tracy Williams face Earl Cooter, Larry Dallas’s other client. Williams took it to Cooter straight away, drop kicking him into a corner before striking him with elbows and slapping on a cravat. Luckily for Cooter he had Dallas at ringside to cause a distraction that allowed him to take control. Because that’s what heel managers do.
Colter made the villainous decision to lower his knee pad, exposing his bare knee for extra damage on knee drops. Then he went one further and pulled a chain from his trunks and used it to choke Williams as Dallas did more distracting. Williams made a comeback from nowhere with an elevated DDT and then applied a crossface for the victory.
After the match Cooter attacked Williams from behind and gave him a pair of piledrivers. It was an odd development. Williams seems like the sort of wrestler Gabe Sapolsky wants to feature prominently in EVOLVE and Cooter’s look and ability scream lower card jobber heel. The post-match assault protected the wrong guy.
Match three was Su Yung v Mia Yim. They shook hands at the start but Su, being a massive heel, turned it into a sneaky attack. That put her in control and she stayed there for most of the match. The early going saw her using such tried and tested tactics as pulling hair, taking cheap shots, standing on Yim’s hands, and doing the one foot on the chest pin attempt. More substantially she hit a drop kick to Yim as she was hung in a tree of woe, used the Billy Goat’s Curse, and struck Yim with a solid-looking palm strike.
Towards the end of the match Yim made her winning comeback. After some drop kicks she floored Yung with a stalling suplexi and got a match-winning 450 splash. After the match Yim declared that she was one step closer to the SHINE championship. Her title shot against Velez was rumbling closer.
The Biff Busick v Timothy Thatcher match was surprisingly short, considering the standing of both men within EVOLVE and the fact that it was a grudge match from the Style Battle tournament. Busick won a gritty, mat-based match via tapout with a side headlock. After the match the ring announcer chanted “Strong!” at Busick. It was a bit odd. Busick was asked for a comment. He said his rivalry had come to China and he’d win. It was an entirely accurate statement.
Beverly Hills Cop hit the speakers, signalling the arrival of the Bravado brothers. They were getting a tag title shot at Caleb Konley and Trent Barreta, who did an Impact Players pose in the entranceway because that’s totes their deal now. That and wearing a knee pad with Bill Murray on it. Just deal with it, you square.
Being an all heels affair one of the teams had to switch things up and play face for the night. Barreta and Konley did the honours. That was a smart considering Barreta had the experience edge, was the most over, and was the most confident working as a face and playing to the crowd. After a slow start things picked up when the Bravados did the classic “we’re taking the belts that aren’t even ours and leaving” routine, igniting a brief ringside skirmish and a lengthy stretch where the brothers worked over Barreta in the ring.
When Konley eventually tagged in he steamed through both Bravados. Harlem took a Death Valley bomb. An attempted top rope move went wrong when the brothers grabbed hold of him and gave him a double suplex (although it wasn’t all bad for Team PAB, Barreta snuck in and power bombed the Bravados as they hit the suplex). Harlem connected with a lariat on Barreta and then got a near fall off a German suplex on Konley. The finish came from nowhere, Konley hitting the double jump moonsault on Harlem to retain.
The match was good but it wasn’t the spectacle it would have been with a little more work. After the match the Bravados again jumped champs and Konley again took a Gentlemen’s Agreement. Because heels, am I right?
Allysin Kay v Ivellise Velez for the Shine championship took the semi-main event spot. Kay attacked Velez before the bell. It didn’t help her though. Velez ducked a big boot and hit a drop kick then reversed a double handed choke bomb into a hurricanrana. A super kick from the corner staggered Kay but she fired back with a choke bomb, some mounted punches and a lariat. She was then trapped in a strait jacket sleeper, impressively escaping by working her way to a crouching position and hitting a Pele kick.
The pair exchanged chops before Kay put the champ down with a lariat. Kay continued her onslaught with a running Samoan drop and a Gory Special into a Dominator type move. Velez got a tornado DDT and an enziguri on the challenger. Her attempt at a wheel kick was less successful, Kay side-stepping it and flooring her with a bicycle kick.
Kay tried her Gory Special again but Velez rolled through and got a three count to win. It was a good match, no more and no less.
In the evening’s main event utility player Chuck Taylor teamed with Silver Ant and Fire Ant to face Rich Swann, AR Fox and Open the Freedom Gate champion Ricochet. Swann again received his extra-long entrance. This crowd seemed more into it than the crowd in Grand Epoch had two nights prior.
Taylor again went heel. The Colony joined in. It was weird to see them playing the antagonists as they’re such natural, and perennial, faces. There was plenty of comedy at the start, mostly from Taylor and the supremely over Swann. Things got more serious once Fire Ant and Ricochet tagged in and had a good fast exchange based around counters and counters to counters.
This was a far more satisfying main event than Ricochet versus Taylor had been for the first show. It went a lot longer and was structured and treated more like a main event by everyone involved. That said it still wasn’t the best thing on the card. That honour went to Busick v Thatcher. Fox and The Inner City Machine Guns won after the Guns both got enziguris on Fire Ant and Fox polished him off with a Lo Mein Pain. After the match Fox and Ricochet made belt motions at one another to remind everyone that they had a title match coming two days later.
This show wasn’t as good as the first had been. The main event and both title matches felt like they could have been better than they were had just a little more effort gone into their planning. Busick v Thatcher and Gargano v Kristofferson were well both very good bits of wrestling, but that wasn’t quite enough. Thankfully things would get back on track with the tour’s third show…
Johnny Gargano def Jody Kristofferson
Tracy Williams def Earl Cooter
Mia Yim def Su Yung
Biff Busick def Timothy Thatcher
The Premier Athlete Brand def The Bravado Brothers
Ivelisse Velez def Allysin Kay
The Inner City Machine Guns and AR Fox def The Colony and Chuck Taylor