Wrestling DVD Review: AAW Point Of No Return




AAW


Reviewed by Joe Babinsack ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )


In many ways, watching AAW from last year is a great preview for watching ROH and the top of the indie scene in 2013. Three of the top stars of AAW are now being featured – and are poised for much bigger things – all of whom showed impressive potential on this DVD. Along the way, the Point of No Return DVD from April 2012 offers much more.

AAW labels itself “Pro Wrestling Redefined”, but while the redefinition is often doing things right, there is a sense of, well, doing things right. As an exception to the rule of follow the leader, pretend that bad is good and shoveling out product in the hopes that something, something, something of the heaps of crap sticks, that isn’t a fair assessment of AAW.

Out of the box, AAW features one of the best announcing crews around. Even with Derek St. Holmes replaced by the awesome Dave Prazak, Phil Colvin controls the tone and presents the typically irreverent, informed and instructional level of commentary I expect from the promotion. St. Holmes is over-the-top entertaining at his worst, but Prazak is Prazak – presenting an often dour and droll but always insightful level of commentary.

Hitting the high spots is the focus of this review, and I want to touch base on four subjects: factions, main event, atmosphere, and breakout stars.

The fascinating thing about AAW is that the factions are intriguing, dynamic and all the while mere fodder than overwhelming adversaries. It’s an interesting twist, diametrically opposed to the notions of the top names banding together, the existence of the Four Horsemen, Evolution or Main Event Mafia. Factions here aren’t the NWO, they’re more like the J.O.B. Squad...but not exactly portrayed as such.

Whether it’s the Awesome Threesome or the Clash, these factions are struggling and on losing streaks. In the case of the Threesome, they’ve brought on board a Chief Entertainment Officer, and even that isn’t turning around their prospects. The Clash is one of the coolest looking groups around, sort of a combination of Cyrus the Virus and The Matrix, headed by Cameron Skyy, with Tommy Treznick, Mr. Miller and Austin Maddox.

There’s something about the black suits and white ties that are striking. There’s something about the losing streak that turns the tables on expectations. That’s something that definitely makes AAW different. Redefined.

Speaking of different, there’s a definite atmosphere with AAW that also makes it difference. Most notable on this DVD is Davey Richards' passionate appeal to the fans. As he says, he’s not in the promotion all too often, but there’s a level of pride, and a level of mid-West boisterousness that hypes up the promotion in a way in which most similar organizations seem to fail.

There are times when guests and special attractions seem so indifferent, but not here. Even in a match that seems odd and offputting in many ways, Danny Daniels vs. MsChif, there’s that sense that AAW makes its own rules, makes sure its internal logic supersedes mainstream assumptions, and in the end, it definitely works. Redefined, as the label goes -- not just the old/modern kind of wrestling, but one that is self-aware, respectful on all levels, and distinctly interesting because of it.

One definite way it shows is with the talent on display. Michael Elgin challenging for the AAW Heavyweight Championship; Silas Young establishing himself for a long stretch, as one of the best regional champions in ages, still holding that championship; fresh faces with unlimited potential, in the names of ACH and Scarlet.

And then there’s a supporting cast of many, including the best mismatched tag team around (Arik Cannon and Jimmy Jacobs), the best guy who’s fulfilling that Lex Luger slot of being the sidekick to the champ (all the while being held back) in Mason Beck, and one of the most intriguing storylines/character combinations and marketable angles in Shane Hollister and Scarlet. (Not to mention Dan Lawrence, TD Thomas, the inexplicable Marion Fontaine, and the absent Gregory Iron).

ACH is exploding on the ROH scene these days, but his potential (which I first saw in Beyond Wrestling, and predictions of his greatness touted by Drew Cordeiro) is immense and even overmatched against Beck, he not only wins the crowd over, but establishes himself as someone who’s only scratching the surface of his athleticism and artistry. But Scarlet?!? Quite frankly, I saw more of her on this weekend’s ROH show, and quite a bit on the recent DVD I watched, and reports of her on the last iPPV were tantalizing.

But Scarlet’s role as the dominating girlfriend who’s taking a midcarder to main event level is something that no one has really tried. And if I’ve forgotten, that’s because this story is so packed with potential it makes me forget. Shane Hollister has an early 1980’s Roddy Piper physique, and a bit of his
attitude, but backed by a vixen of Scarlet’s level, this is a packaged that puts Maria & Bennett to shame. Seriously. Maybe the Hoopla Hottie will break out, but she needs a spotlight, not a sidekick role.

Speaking of moving to the main event, the feud between Elgin and Young is the most heated, most interesting and most watchable feud you’ve likely not heard of. Most modern fans scoff at any whiff of non-finishes, but then again, most modern fans wouldn’t know classic booking if they watched a dozen blow-off matches on YouTube because most modern fans haven’t seen proper buildup of matches in generations of product.

Young epitomizes the champions of yesteryear. He builds up his challenger, he battles at a level that makes his matches meaningful, he backs up his promos, and he works…. works, like few others. Elgin has proved his worth in ROH, but he’s well earning his keep in AAW, and … well, those who know know, and those who don’t, should buy some DVDs and follow the product the right way. Elgin battling Young is what professional wrestling is all about. Redefined.

Maybe one day soon, Elgin will take his role to the next, deserving level in that other promotion. Maybe it would have been better if Elgin had taken some time off, learned how to be a champion somewhere else, and came back to launch that portion of his career. But far too many indies are short-sighted and incapable of doing the ‘trades’ and exchanges that would keep their rosters fresh. Far too many don’t seem to be thinking of providing real careers for their talent, or letting them work enough dates. Far too many aren’t giving guys room to develop at the top.

AAW….that’s another story. A redefined one. A promotion well worth watching for more than a few reasons, and many more I’ve barely scratched the surface of. But definitely take time to watch the best of three falls between two guys who take championship matches more seriously than far too many on the mainstream level. I’ve seen enough to say that.

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