Path of Redemption
Reviewed by Joe Babinsack
The more I see of AAW, the more interesting it gets.
AAW calls itself Pro Wrestling Redefined, and in an industry where redefinition is a must, they are definitely addressing several problematic avenues. With AAW, there is a sense of building up challengers, a sense of establishing a strong Champion, a sense of framing matches and a definitively superior announce crew.
Speaking of announcers, Phil Colvin and Derek St. Holmes are rocketing up my list of all time greats. These two bring a lot to the table, including an intelligent approach to what is going on in the ring, an ability to complement what is going on in the ring, all with an entertaining tone – respectful to the fans, respectful to the talent, and seemingly always in the mode of making the event more enjoyable.
And, they have a smarminess that is all-around funny, without ruining the experience.
What I appreciate is how these guys are subtle heel, but not overtly. They are quick with the wit, quick with the reference and always on their game. They know what to say, and when, to make sure the fans can suspend their disbelief. They banter without being antagonistic, and they don’t trash the talent, the promotion or the fans.
It’s amazingly enjoyable to realized that the AAW Announce crew is actually into the product, well aware of how to sell the product, and exceedingly capable of handling whatever they see in the ring.
Such praise for an announce crew?
And above it all, that’s a distinct selling point. Dragon Gate with Lenny Leonard and CHIKARASON have been at the top of my list, and remain there because DG USA is impressively fast and harder to keep up with, but Colvin/St. Holmes are riding up fast. ROH has Nigel McGuinness, but that other guy? Yeah. Right. CHIKARA is always entertaining, but there’s a transition period necessary with the characters involved.
But AAW’s crew allows new fans to jump right in and enjoy the words along with the action.
Dare I take away from reviewing Path of Redemption this much? Yes, I dare.
By the way, the depth of AAW shines in their merchandising and their venue. There’s an association with 115 Bourbon Street as their venue which puts them above a lot of other promotions, because of the slicker look, the obvious home base/regional feel, and probably for the numbers we’ll never seen that go on behind the scene.
But AAW’s attitude towards combat sports mentality in 2011 is best seen in their T-Shirts. One shirt says it all: “MMA IS FOR PEOPLE WHO CAN’T SPELL WRESTLING”.
Yeah, and MMA is also for fans who are tired of wrestling promoters who refuse to use the word wrestling, who insult anyone who wants to see wrestling, and who no longer want to pay for PPVS not worth that amount of your typical indy DVD, let alone costing three times as much.
The lineup of Path of Redemption is as follows:
The Clash vs Samuray del Sol & Shima Xion
Keith Walker vs Darrin Corbin
AAW Tag Team Title : Zero Gravity vs Juice Robinson & Kyle O’Reily
Truth Martini vs Joey Eastman
AAW Heritage Title: Shane Hollister vs Davey Richards
Mason Beck vs Jesse Emerson
MsChif, Krotch & Marion Fontaine vs Dustin Diamond & Awesome Threesome
Steel Cage Match: Irish Airbourne vs Jimmy Jacobs & Dan Lawrence
AAW Heavyweight Title: Silas Young vs Raven
Just wanted to take a fresh approach at a fresh promotion for a lot of fans.
We open with an interesting bout. One on side is The CLASH, with Tommy Treznik, a diabolical Midwest indy star with an intriguing character that isn’t fully on display here. He teams with Skyy elsewhere, and there’s a faction here of note for the future. They are managed/valeted by Mena Libre.
Shiima Xion is a great worker getting a look in TNA, and he teams with Luchador Samuray Del Sol, the sort of generic masked guy type. High flyers against solid workers, fast baby faces against the dastardly heels. Lots of good dynamics here, and I’d rather see ground/air clashes than indy style spot-fests most days.
Then, we get a glimpse at what makes AAW tick a lot stronger than most. There’s a promo from Joey Eastman, who’s fired up about heel manager Truth Martini, and says he’s bringing it. He says he’s not there to wrestle, he’s there to fight.
Ok, there’s a Hogan joke in there, but I don’t like speaking ill of senior citizens.
Awesome, however, in terms of setting up expectations….
Keith Walker is a hulking figure, more like the green skinned guy than the real definition of the word, and he’s green in the other figure of speech, but has an aura that would be awesome in Old School booking mentality.
Fortunately for us, AAW draws on that mentality.
Darrin Corbin by look is a low to mid-card babyface, and it’s an interesting match. Maybe I’d like to see more of a squash, but the concept of the smaller guy doing bumps and making the big guy look like a powerhouse is not lost on AAW.
There were a few bumps that made me cringe, but that big lariat at the end was spectacular.
Well, well, well…. here comes a mark out segment of epic proportions.
The man? Joel Gertner, and no, I’m not putting to words the epic flow that spews forth from Mr. Gertner’s mouth, because that stuff should be trademarked and I’m not that into trademark infringement.
Then we get Dustin Diamond – Screech to those who care – who is an annoying heel of regularity in AAW. They bark off about that spiffy fur coat of Gertner’s adornment. They talk trash. They talk like guys who should be on national TV, but then again, if they did, they’d talk words put in their mouths by guys who couldn’t script gems like these with week of fine-tuning.
The confrontation gets physical, and when MsChif arrives, we get the set up and the build up and a matchmaking delivery that makes me want to repeat the above paragraph, replacing a few choice words to make it sound like national promotions can’t book a decent match if they had a week to do so.
Because they can’t.
So we’ve got the heels of The Awesome Threesome (Jordan McEntyre & Knight Wagner & Eryn), taking out MsChif, until Krotch and Marion Fontaine make the save. And if you’re unfamiliar with those two, there’s something especially ironic about it all.
But this is what setting the stage is all about. It’s about stoking emotions and making the fans want to see someone get their comeuppance. Of course there are other ways, other twists, other avenues to exploit, but the simple scenario of having bad guys be bad guys, having good guys want to get revenge, and then setting up a match where that should happen, really shouldn’t be that difficult to deliver.
And that is where AAW delivers.
The rest of the Card is heavier on names, and strong on talent. There is a sense that AAW isn’t afraid to use former WWE or former ECW guys, but there’s nothing wrong with that when the local talent is booked strong around that use, and booked stronger when in conflict with them.
For AAW, and this card, we see Keith Walker (the Human Massacre!) built up and aligned with Truth Martini, making those earlier promos meaningful. We see how Silas Young, the AAW Heavyweight Champion, has been established as a real Champion, and how he handles a challenge from the one and only Raven (and how the promos fly with abundant ire). We see a strong AAW Tag Title match where Zero Gravity (Brett Gakiya & CJ Esparz) take all they can from Kyle O’Reily & Juice Robinson, before the Champs in their matching outfits and high-flying aptitude pull out the win.
I’m not for spoiling things, and I invite the reader to buy Path of Redemption and see how the rest of the matches unfold.
One particularly intriguing match was between Davey Richards and Shane Hollister for the AAW Heritage Title.
Hollister is the local guy with loads of talent but a crappy pair of pants.
He’s trained with Tyler Black, and is the resident babyface with loads of potential. He shines in the match with Richards, with a rather surprising finish, but one that shows that AAW delivers and knows the scene.
But AAW does blood, does Cage Matches and does particularly compelling Main Events, and does it all well. Path of Redemption is a great introduction to the Chicago based promotion, and I look forward to seeing a lot more of what they have to offer.
Joe Babinsack can be reached at
. Dragon Gate, Ring of Honor, Women Wrestling and a whole lot more to come….