Chaos Theory 2012
AAW: Professional Wrestling Redefined
Reviewed by Joe Babinsack
The more I see of AAW, the more I like it. This promotion has all the feel of a regional group of ages past, without the dated look, attitudes or style. What intrigues me is that AAW has a strong roster, and a sense of movement in its cards, that make matches meaningful.
What makes it better is the Champion – Silas Young – who has an inherent ability to present himself as a true Champ, a cadre of support (including manager Val Malone, tag champs Irish Airborne and ‘policeman’ of sorts Mason Beck), and a particularly interesting theme song.
There’s something about Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” that screams dated, hokey and not-exactly-wrestling, but there’s more to the song that the surface – from the “Detroit” reference to key words like “working” and “believing” to the sing-along aspect of it all. If you thought Europe’s “The Final Countdown” was the best in the world, take a listen to this one as Silas Young enters the building.
And those are just a few pieces of the puzzle.
What AAW presents is a promotion filled with puzzle pieces, not one of them overwhelming, and all of them fitting together in various ways. In the middle there are clashing factions and … well, there’s The Clash, which is yet another faction of interest.
The Clash does battle this event with a makeshift arrangement of Women’s Champ MsChif, Dan Lawrence and the tag team of Zero Gravity. Lawrence has potential, size and ability, and his character has a slant on the Jimmy Jacobs and Silas Young stuff here and in other promotions. Zero Gravity is an undersized, drug-culture reference, exceptionally creative pair. MsChif remains one of the best (women’s) wrestler’s around.
Yet The Clash, in terms of a “Cyrus” type leader in Cameron Skyy, an innovator in Tommy Treznik(the Bus Driver is one awesome finisher), and others (J Miller, Austin Mannox) has a peculiar look with the black suits and the understated while over-the-top heelishness is decidedly entertaining.
Multiple man (err, person) matches can become unwatchable, but the talent in this ring pulls it together and the storyline dynamics are enough to make it more interesting. An example that the factions in AAW aren’t the driving force of the card, just one more set of interesting sidebars and sub-stories of the big picture.
Another puzzle piece is Gregory Iron, who is a very inspiring mid-card babyface of note. In many ways, Iron is a throwback to the fire-y, vanilla, good-guy who the audience adores and the villains abhor, but the twist is that Iron has cerebral palsy and a withered arm, which is equal parts uncomfortable to watch and inspiring to see his effort.
Handicapped Hero, indeed.
Iron takes on Jordan McEntyre of The Awesome Threesome, a sort of mid-card heel faction that plays decidedly into the bully heel mentality, picking on Iron because, well, because they can.
What’s even more awesome than the match is the interplay between Iron and Shane Hollister, a heel on the rise. I’m not sure about the ceiling of the hot manager (Scarlett) doing almost a stereotypical controlling girlfriend, but this combination is poised to take Hollister up the card.
Hollister is fully on display in a match against Louis Lyndon.
If you ask me about redefining professional wrestling, I’d start with making real, true heels and establishing the underlying reasons why they cheat. In the Scarlett/Hollister pair, there’s a distinction that makes Hollister different.
Different, typically, is better.
It is here.
Jumping around a bit, I like that The Awesome Threesome’s Knight Wagner is pitted against Mr. Miller, or J. Miller, the rather taller, less intense version, decidedly more Zen-like version of Low Ki. Miller is on notice from Skyy and The Clash about stepping up. Wagner and his trio are decidedly on the down-swing. The combinations and matchups are made more interesting and less random and shows a booking level beyond most products today.
This comes into play with the opening acts involving the buildup of a manager vs manager battle between Truth Martini and Joey Eastman; where the buildup to a titanic cage match is set around what appears to be a once-dominant faction, and a faction of lower card faces. But the essence of professional wrestling (redefined or otherwise) revolves around emotion, notably anger, and especially with conflicts properly built up between the two sides in opposition.
That AAW attempts to pull this off all over the card is impressive enough.
That is works, well, sometimes all it takes is some common sense booking and letting the wrestlers do their thing in the ring and on the mike, and even with some untimely injuries, things can all work out.
By the way, is it just me or is Cody Rhodes a Marion Fontaine fan?
Gotta love the mustache!
The top of the card is well represented in AAW.
Dave and Jake Crist are The Irish Airborne, a journeymen tag team with runs in ROH and elsewhere, and they are the AAW Tag Team Title holders here, going into a match with the odd couple team of Arik Cannon and Jimmy Jacobs. Cannon is old school punk, and resembles more than a few punks I’ve called friends over the years. His beer-swigging, rough and tumble attitude and tattoo covered countenance are much of the same. Jacobs – in his very good ROH DVD and in other storylines, is playing up his recovery – and this avoidance of everything that Cannon stands for.
It’s the tag team partners hating each other ,albeit well before the more mainstream version(s) took hold.
But this assemblage of veteran indie talent is the kind of match I look for – not just spotfests, not just random acts of violence, not just playing out a big picture storyline crafted by the ignorant and the idiots. Here, we see how the spots play out, how the storyline makes sense and how four guys well experienced in the craft of professional wrestling can put on a performance.
There were spots and other spots, but more than a few spots that make me sit up and take notice
And then there’s the main event.
Decidedly an old school sense of play, with the rising force and the veteran babyface taking on the Champion and his top henchman, and all-around, the underlying storylines bubble up and simmer down while we see talent do what they do in the ring.
Ryan Boz is just a big guy, not exactly a muscle-head, but not Bruno Mars fat either. Michael Elgin was entering the year where he was the hottest star on the indie circuit. (Whatever that means this day and age). A powerful duo taking on the Champion (Silas Young) and his best ally, in that sort of Lex Lugar role of making the most dangerous opponent your best buddy, in Mason Beck.
We all know where that’s headed, but since when was knowing where something was headed a bad thing?
Just so it doesn’t go there in fifteen minutes!
We’ve got power on display by Boz & Elgin, a clever way of working this tag match by Young, and the twists and turns being hinted at by a very capable Beck playing the understudy to the Champ.
Which brings in one of the key parts of the AAW puzzle, which is the announce team of Phil Colvin and Derek St. Holmes. Colvin is solid, quick on his feet and like a Christopher Cruise before he went into mortgage stuff. St. Holmes is one of the best heels-as-color-man around, who is entirely unsubtle when he wants to be, but comes across like he’s getting paid to do the best job possible, and it feels like that’s what he’s going to do.
Which is so amazing in the face off modern professional wrestling!
From telling the stories of who Mason Beck beat, and who he lost to, to explaining the storylines of all the pieces involved, in their own fantastic way, the announce team does what so few can do these days, which is to make the product better, even if the product (AAW) is already better than most.
Entertaining is not a bad word to me with wrestling, but it must come across with a sense of knowing the business, and not making the audience feel like they are fools that are the punch line of the joke.
That’s a distinct problem that never seems to rear its head with AAW.
AAW – the best regional promotion going today.
(Please send blessings and prayers to my three sisters – one who lost her husband, one who had a baby, and one whose daughter is having a bone marrow transplant).