After the series premiere drew big #numbers and unearthed some breathtaking information on whether or not AIW and AAW are different, Wrestling On Earth upped the budget of episode 2.
Unfortunately, our show’s administrative costs have coincidentally skyrocketed in the past week. As such, you may not see any difference in production quality, but rest assured that the scholars producing this programming are compensated much better now.
“AIW – Gauntlet for the Gold 2015″
We’re starting off with a four-way between Davey Vega (good) vs. Chris Sabin (good) vs. Candice LeRae (good) vs. Louis Lyndon (good) for Vega’s Intense Championship. The match did not have great flow or energy, the crowd did not respond to it much, and it went on way too long. There were some amusing moments here and there though. Sabin really is a natural heel, and his facials were the best part of the match to me. I expected a lot more from this one. In retrospect, they should have just done two singles matches. (*3/4)
Raymond Rowe vs. Johnny Gargano was next. Rowe is someone I hear a lot of good things about, and Gargano used to be one of my favorites (seems like he hasn’t had an above-average match in forever). They did a babyface vs. babyface match that was presumably designed to get Rowe over a bit more. Rowe then used the bell after a ref bump. So, I’m not sure why a babyface vs. babyface formula was worked the rest of the time. It felt like I was missing something. The match finished with a movez-trading sequence that at least kept in tone with the majority of the match. Rowe won with his presumed finisher. I never really got into this one, and I’m not sure what it accomplished. I couldn’t help but wonder how much better this match would be if Rowe just destroyed Gargano until the latter made a spirited comeback at the end. (**1/4)
Rickey Shane Page vs. 2 Cold Scorpio was the final match of hour two. I’m in the bag for RSP (too nice of a guy to dislike!), but he’s undoubtedly a good talent. Despite being in the worst match of 2013 (against John Morrison), most reports indicate that Scorpio can still really go. This was all a long way of saying that I am really looking forward to this one. It took a while to really get going, but they managed to keep me engaged throughout (the match ending with a moonsault double stomp from a 49-year-old was a great “exclamation point finish”). The match never got as wild as I was hoping, and the crowd was only slightly less tepid than they’ve been for the rest of the show so far. There’s no doubt the match worked though, and it made me interested in seeing 2 Cold in more places. (***1/4)
“AAW – Art of War 2015″
Hour two started with a TLC match between Zero Gravity and The Hooligans. I never got into this. It’s a tough gimmick to work because we’ve seen all the most dangerous spots and/or have seen similar stunts performed on far bigger stages before. As such, I really need to be invested in the story of why a match like this is happening or the action needs to be exciting/innovative. This did not really accomplish either of those goals (the former didn’t stand much of a chance though out of context to be fair). I can definitely see it being a match that AAW fans would enjoy more than I did though.
There was a Dick Justice video. I’m guessing some villain caused him to be blind recently, as this turned into an eighties montage about him living with blindness. It was all a misunderstanding though, as he only couldn’t see because he forgot to take off his eye bandages. I found this to be amusing. I’m all-in on Dick Justice.
Ethan Page vs. Jimmy Jacobs was next. The match was a mild brawl that lacked in intensity. Page controlled the majority of the match but had to use a low blow to win the match. This seemed like a middle chapter match in a larger feud. It did not make me interested in see future chapters. (**)
Eddie Kingston cut a promo on Davey. This was not on the level of his Chikara stuff, but he at least quoted Omar Little at the end. He then transitioned to a promo on Silas. That seems to telegraph the result of the title defense against Davey.
Justice Jones vs. Paco Gonzalez was next (and it basically finished hour two of the show). It seemed to be a rematch, and I’m guessing Jones won the first match based on the size difference and the fact that he has a posse (Knight Wagner and Angelus Layne). This was genuinely my second favorite match of the night so far. I’m not sure if either guy will become something bigger one day, but they worked the smartest match that I’ve seen throughout the course of this investigation. Paco showed great fire out of the gate to immediately grab everyone’s attention, and they never strayed too far from the (always reliable) big guy/little guy dynamic. (***) Annoyingly, the commentators (whom I normally really like) spent thirty seconds (of this compact match) talking about Layne’s rear end. Layne is on screen once for a short match, and that’s basically the only thing said about her. That just does not appeal to me as a fan. I would hope the company/commentators would reconsider doing anything like that in the future.
Thoughts After Hour #2
Despite both shows having some ups and downs in hour number two, I appreciated how different the approaches were to some of the matches (even if the matches were not entirely successful). The four singles matches that I saw felt unique in one form or another. The highlight of this whole “hour number two” experience was undoubtedly the Dick Justice music video. Justice is a character that manages to walk right up to the line of grating, but he always manages avoiding crossing over into it. That takes legitimate skill.
Conclusions after Hour #2: Despite oddly similar show structures (both shows in this hour featured two singles matches and a clusterfuck), I found that the companies managed to distinguish themselves a bit from each other in how they presented the singles matches. Let’s hope the series finale of this epic, once-in-a-lifetime mini-series reveals results that lead to similar conclusions…