Tuesday, 22 September 2009 05:43
Reviewed by Joe Babinsack
*** Thats right as a special to all the fans of FIRESTORM PRO WRESTLING if you purchase the War Games 2009 DVD online you get a FREE THIS IS AWSOME T-SHIRT (Seen Below). A $25 Dollar value for only $20!!!
Firestorm Pro is one of many promotions in the growing hotbed of professional wrestling in Ohio, and notably the Cleveland area. War Games, which promoter JC Koszewski calls “the best show from top to bottom that I have ever been involved with” is the latest of a growing number of awesome DVDs from the area.
This event took place on July 10th of this year, and is the culmination of a feud in the company between the Big League faction, headed by Fabulous John McChesney, and the home brand, Team Firestorm, with the big names and a seemingly temporary alliance with Raymond Rowe, one of the biggest names in the Ohio/Pennsylvania indy scene.
War Games is of course, an homage to the always spectacular spectacle of a cage match with bloodthirsty combatants and the blow off match of all blow off matches.
At least, if you’re paying attention to details.
And details are what Firestorm brings to the table.
I loved Awesome Intense Wrestling, and JC Koszewski was one of the partners in that group, and is now taking his vision to his own promotion. While there’s always going to be points of contention when you’re a cutting edge visionary, I find Firestorm Pro a little more mainstream, but at the same time much more creative. Instead of some of the overblown trappings and ongoing darkness to the matches of AIW, Firestorm Pro keeps it pretty focused on the ring.
Somewhat annoying is the announcing to the crowd, but if that’s the only bother on a DVD, then the promotions doing way more things correct than not.
Firestorm tries to maintain a view coming at an angle over the ring post (instead of looking in at the match over the middle of the ropes) and it’s sort of strange seeing a guy on a ladder behind the ring while the match is going on. Of course, with the War Games setup also domineering around the ring, you’re not likely to get that distracted.
But enough nitpicking.
What I love about Firestorm Pro is that they are using the ring as a canvas, in terms of creativity and pushing the envelope, not just rehashing the old things. Well, you can argue War Games is ancient, and the concept of two factions fighting for the control of a promotion rather passé, but who has done that storyline successfully and entertainingly since WCW/NWO?
What’s nice about the War Games DVD is that it isn’t dominated by the gimmicked main event.
The card itself plays up to that finale, but not every match, and there’s clearly some momentum and storylines making their own waves along the way.
Opening up the DVD is a match between Kenny Hendrix and Nickie Valentino. Hendrix is a big black guy who comes to the ring carrying a smaller chick. It’s somewhat cringe-worthy, and somewhat pushing the envelope, but when it comes down to it, it’s professional wrestling doing what it does best – making fans think, creating dynamics and changing things up.
Three things that the WWE seems incapable of doing, and TNA couldn’t do if they had to do so.
Which got me into the promotion from the start. Point is, TNA has this no man/woman violence, and I do give that a half-hearted applause, but really, any pro wrestling promoter with half a brain wouldn’t just walk up to that line, but would jump around it like a freak on a pogo stick.
Firestorm Pro and Kenny Hendrix … man, they do things that make me worry, but it’s all good in the end.
And, before you start thinking things out, Nickie Valentino ain’t a chick. He’s a rather vanilla babyface who does the right things in the match, and outside of it, and puts on a good showing for himself.
Next up is Big League Stephanie against Vicky.
What I appreciate with Firestorm is that they aren’t doing Playboy bunnies or pillow fights or funny business. They are far more like WSU than the WWE, more in line with SHIMMER than TNA. These gals are putting on a wrestling match, and while the pace and spots weren’t all there at times, I was more impressed at the passion and the workrate than I would ever be dismissive of them as athletes.
There’s some more threatened and not so threatened man on women violence here, and a stand off that really comes across well, even though you knew it had to happen. There’s something about the image of Raymond Rowe and his posse that I cannot understand hasn’t been stolen yet by the less-than-Creative types.
So much the better.
War Games contains the first two rounds of a Firestorm Pro Tag Team Championship tournament.
First match was The Irish Airborn, Dave and Jake Crist are well known in national indy circles. The Dayton Ohio brothers can run with the Briscoes, and are thus at the top of the heap of tag teams in the indy circuit. Surprisingly, they aren’t put over in this match, instead we get this team purported to be bouncers (or was it just dance kids?) from Pittsburgh.
It’s fun when you play off that Cleveland/Pittsburgh rivalry, or any sort of big picture rivalry that can get the fans into the action from different psychological levels. Then again, I’m probably speaking over the heads of certain wrestling figures.
So a couple of skinny kids from Pittsburgh get to look good in a match against an established team. Nice use of visiting talent.
Next up is the next Tournament match, with the more established Cut Throat Crew – Hey, Pirates! Against “The Dead Nation” – hey, is that a goth gimmick, a 1960’s hippie gimmick or what? I didn’t think these guys could follow the Crists, but they certainly impressed me.
Firestorm Pro is setting up a nice division of tag teams, and well, any promotion willing to do tag teams the right way is one to watch.
M- Dogg 20 shows up next, admitting to an injury that keeps him out of a match with Lou Marconi. (That match will be taking place soon.) Instead, Matt Cross brings out Mathew Justice to take his place, against Lou Marconi, who’s done some time in Western Pennsylvania promotions like the IWC.
Marconi’s looking big, but not in a Kenny Hendrix sort of fashion.
But he has a reputation as a solid worker, and the playing up of Justice as a protégé and the dynamics of such play out, setting up the eventual collision between a couple of more than capable grapplers.
Now, we reach the Main Event, and some excellent use of dynamics, psychology and expectations.
“This is Awesome” is a chant that doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny, and I’m hesitant to comment on using it here, except for the reality that when a company builds up a match, establishes the feud and brings the fans into a frenzy, then that company is doing all the right moves.
What impressed me was that the match was much more important, much more impressive and much more entertaining than the sum of the parts.
That’s because we know how War Games works, we know where the direction of the storyline is going, and instead of a big swerve, a big gimmick or some craziness that would blow up the promotion or leave everything hanging, they just play out the match and the storyline with a lot of no-nonsense booking.
You know, the kind of simplicity that builds fans up and makes them want to come back for more, and makes them know that they’ve seen something important play out.
Thus, watching it play out with the hard hitting, the pairing off and the relative lack of bloodletting, despite the inclusion of JC Koszewski in some spots, and with enough high spots to make sense, it plays out nicely. Well, more than just nicely.
Team Big League is John McChesney and J-Rocc, Shane Tayor and Bill Collier. One guy (McChesney) who looked like John Morrison before that M became involved with the WWE. One guy who’s a more than solid second fiddle wherever he shows up (J-Rocc) and a couple of good looking backup muscle.
Team Firestorm is Aftermath, Patrick Hayes and high-flyer Starless, plus the difference maker in Raymond Rowe.
Rowe has one of the most impressive gimmicks on the indy scene, this sense of a white gangster with an entourage, but in the ring, he’s the second coming of Tazz, albeit taller and meaner looking. Earlier when the stand-off took place, the visuals of heels on one side, faces on the other, and then Rowe’s crew coming in to overwhelm things for the promotion’s side.
But again, it’s the dynamics and the playing out of the match itself that make this work. Not that the match itself is anything to overlook. It’s just that I’m not the kind of reviewer that ruins the match by spelling out the spoilers.
If you want to see an indy promotion doing pro wrestling at levels the big show seems to ignore, buy this DVD and get the T-shirt free!
Firestorm Pro is now established as a promotion to watch. With soon to be determined tag champs, with a top indy guy in Rowe to headline, and with multiple storylines coming out of the War Games DVD, there’s a sense of direction.