IWA-MS TPI - 09/23/05
by Joe Gagne
I always wanted to go to an IWA Mid-South show. I’ve been a big fan of the promotion since I got a copy of the 2001 King of the Death Matches off of Ebay in 2001 (garbage wrestling always held an odd fascination with me). As I got more and more tapes, I saw a hell of a lot of great wrestling, and a lot of names that would soon make a huge splash on independent wrestling: C.M. Punk, Colt Cabana, Austin Aries, Alex Shelley, Jimmy Jacobs, and so many more. But even among the lesser-known names, everyone on an IWA Mid-South card busted their ass to put forth the best show possible.
But going to an actual show? That was a fanciful daydream at best. The simple fact was, I lived in Massachusetts and IWA shows took place in Indiana. That’s quite a long ways, plus there was always the problem of lodging and finding your way around a strange locale.
I tucked that daydream aside until about a year ago, when I posted on ITVR.com about how good some recent IWA shows were and how I’d give several important body parts to see one. Ken Dreiling, who lives in the area and actually goes to shows, said that if I were ever in the area he’d be happy to help me out. I tucked that thought away for the moment.
Enter this year’s Ted Petty Invitational. I always love these shows, especially the 2002 and 2004 editions. Plus, I would get a chance to hang out with The Cubs Fan (Scott Christ would later pass on the show). I kept Ken’s offer in the back of my mind – if he could help, all I would really have to do would be to buy a plane ticket. I floated out the suggestion and Ken readily agreed. I said “why not,” got a good deal on tickets, and the next thing you know I’m Midwest bound.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 23RD
I get up at 5:00 so my parents can drive me to the airport to catch my plane. They’re also picking me up on Sunday, which happens to be (A) my dad’s only day off of the week, (B) right during the Patriots/Steelers game, and (C) their anniversary. So I’m pretty much the worst son ever.
We get to the airport and check in isn’t a problem, since I only brought one carry-on bag with me. I also notice my flight to O’Hare is continuing on to Osaka, Japan, and I toy with the idea of flying on and maybe seeing an All Japan show or something this weekend. I decide against it.
The flight is fine, thanks to my new iPod (how did I ever exist without it?). I land and get a message from Ken that he’s going to be a little late (he said something about caulking and I horribly misinterpret the message). I mill around a bit and check my messages until I see Ken’s blue/green Sentra driving away from the arrival area, which leads to the comical scene of me hauling ass down the outside of O’Hare frantically waving my arms. Ken looks back and sees a madman chasing him and thankfully does stop his car.
We introduce ourselves to each other and Ken asks me what I want to do, since we have some time to kill. Since I’ve never been to Chicago, I recommend seeing Wrigley Field, so we head in that direction. There’s an afternoon game, so there were a ton of Cubs fans milling about. I’m tempted to stick my head out of the window and yell “Red Sox rule!” just to see what would happen. Would I just get odd looks? Maybe some support? Or would I be beaten thoroughly around the head and upper body region (speaking to TCF later on, it’s probably the last one)?
We cruise around Chicago for a while and stop to buy some booze. I opt for some sissy lime beer and a pint of this India Ale called Racer 5 beer. I think there’s a horrible photo of me at some point holding up the bottle and giving a big thumbs up that will be excellent blackmail material in the future.
Chicago does look like a very nice city, by the way. We eat at Fast Track and I get a hot dog with everything, including these peppers that give me Godzilla breath.
We pick up Chris (a funny, funny man) and head to lovely Indiana. I noticed two things upon entering the Hooiser State: (a) the refineries and their lovely odors, and (b) low gas prices (about $2.50 a gallon, about 50 cents cheaper than back home).
While we wait for the rest of the party I call my folks and let them know I’m not in a ditch somewhere. They were actually concerned about me going to a strange city and meeting up with someone I not only had never met, but also could not prove actually existed. Go figure. Conversely, Ken’s significant other was also concerned that a total stranger would be camping out in their guest room for a night.
We kill some time watching IWA East Coast waiting for the rest of the crew to arrive. We see Ian Rotten beat Trik Nasty and put him over afterwards, saying he can use him as a reference in the future. I’m amused at the thought of indy guys filling out resumes. Then Nate Webb murders himself taking a top rope powerbomb from the Necro Butcher onto the back of a folding chair. I can only assume the Nate Webb who wrestled later that night was an imposter.
The rest of the crew arrives and we head to The Wheel for a pre-match supper. I order the Apple Waffles and completely demolish them. I was served last and was the first one finished. Oh yeah. Ken wears his homemade Tracy Smothers shirt, complete with Tracy in confederate regalia, and realizes he’s getting some funny looks.
We head to the show. I had originally wanted front row seats, but found they were all sold out, so I went with GA tickets that would be waiting for me at the door. Then I found a guy online who sold me front row seats at face value, so I figure I’d keep the GA tickets in case something went wrong with the front row seats (no sense in traveling halfway across the country without a “Plan B”). Since there was a run on tickets I told the Cubs Fan he could have my GA tickets. I call TCF (referred to as such in the rest of this article) and he tells me he’s right outside. I go outside and TCF and I have an awkward first meeting, as neither of us is sure the other guy is who we think they are, so we just kind of stare at each other for a second. I offer him the tickets at $1000. He gave me $40 and said he’d give me the rest later. I don’t think he ever did.
Several of the, er, special IWA fans are pointed out to me. I see Homemade Shirt Kid, Nise Homemade Shirt Kid, Fanny Pack Fury/Fire (who came through in a big way this weekend), the guy who dressed like a high school gym coach, and loud clapping guy. A newcomer on the scene was the Den Mother, who would yell “Move” or “Clear” if the action went outside the ring (like anyone couldn’t figure this out), even if it was on the opposite end of the building. Very annoying. In a gratifying moment, she won a raffle the second night and was vociferously booed. As for me, I sat between the guy who sold me my ticket (nice fellow) and Bowling Shoe Guy, named because he was wearing what appeared to be purple bowling shoes. Bowling Shoe Guy was way into Kevin Steen, yelling things like “Harder!” when he would chop someone. Maybe he wanted to be the one getting chopped?
Oh yeah, there was wrestling too.
We enter the armory and see that AJ Styles won’t be appearing because of a strep throat. Oops. Tracy Smothers is also a no-show, due to “personal problems,” which Ian says either means legitimate personal problems, or personally he didn’t feel like driving out with gas prices being what they are.
Ian gives an Ian Speech ™ about Ted Petty and introduces the 24 participants in the tournament. Err, make that 23, as he forgets about Rainman (racism!). Even with all the cancellations, I look at the ring and think “there’s a hell of a lot of talent there.” They take a big group photo and we’re underway.
“Spyder” Nate Webb vs. “Mr. Wrestling” Kevin Steen [TPI Opening Round Match]: I got to experience the Nate Webb Teenage Dirtbag Entrance, so the match was largely superfluous after that. This was largely comedy based, as the opening segment was based around giving the other guy a noogie. Steen took over and won with the Package Piledriver. Pretty good opener. Poor Nate, that’s three out of four years he couldn’t make it out of the first round.
Jamie Noble vs. Josh Abercrombie [TPI Opening Round Match]: Noble turned heel by insisting the ring announcer announce him as representing the WWE. I really don’t like Abercrombie, but Noble carried him pretty well, taking a lot of shortcuts and generally being a dick. Unfortunately, Jamie was booked for ROH the next night, so this one wasn’t really in doubt. Some schmucks made references to Noble being on steroids. Abercrombie reversed a Tiger Driver attempt into a ‘rana for the pin. Jamie thanked the fans afterwards, but twice said “IPW” instead of “IWA.” Oops.
Brad Bradley vs. Tank [TPI Opening Round Match]: Tank, a large, large man, made a curious entrant into the TPI, although he was a last second replacement for Tracy Smothers. That being said, this was great, because these two large men beat the holy crap out of each other for five minutes. Just an endless barrage of wince-inducing punches and not much in the way of actual wrestling. And because it was short, violent, and totally unlike anything else all weekend, it worked. Brad won after three brutal clotheslines.
"Lightning" Mike Quackenbush vs. Alex Shelley [TPI Opening Round Match]: Shelley came out to Reckless Youth's old music and wearing a Youth shirt to be a dick (RY and Quack used to be in the Black T-Shirt squad, fyi). By the way, I sat in a row with people who absolutely hated Mike Quackenbush, which is unfathomable to me.
Bowling Shoe Guy must have been run over by Quack when he was a kid, because he hates him with a passion (he said something about Quack ruining Best of the Best or some such nonsense). I was looking forward to this one, since Quack loves his lucha and Shelley rules on the mat, and I was not disappointed, because these two tore it up for the first 10 minutes. Crowd was going nuts for the end, with every normal human being rooting for Quack. Quack kicks out of the 2K Bomb and hits a Quackendriver for the pin, as the Quack Haters head outside for some group therapy. This was my favorite match of Night 1, because Quack is great, Shelley is a dick, I wanted to see Quack win so bad, and then he did. That's good pro wrestling.
“Anarchist" Arik Cannon vs. Joey Ryan [TPI Opening Round Match]: Joey Ryan came out in a Star Wars cloak (maybe he's using American Dragon's). He also had the DC Comics logo on his butt, but with "JR" instead of "DC." Not much heat for this one, since we were all coming down from the last match. Plus Cannon was one of the favorites to win the tournament, so there wasn't a lot of doubt who would win. Cannon suplexed (explodered?) Ryan into the corner and uses the Glimmering Warlock to win an OK match.
Skayde vs. Puma [TPI Opening Round Match]: This was a smart matchup, as both guys worked a lucha match and it was pretty sweet. Crowd got into it more and more as the match went on. They fubar' the ending, though – Skayde has Puma in a pinning position (like a bridged Tiger suplex) but not only does Puma kick out, he is in the ropes as well. Fans call bullshit on this one, but the decision stands. Would it have been so hard to restart the match and have them wrestle for another 3 minutes?
Chris Hero vs. Rainman [TPI Opening Round Match]: Rainman actually has a "frowny face" on the back of his gear. I remember not being into this match, but it definitely picked up and was pretty rocking by the end. It was interesting, because Rainman actually made it to the semi-finals last year, so some people actually thought he could pull off the upset. Not to be, however, as Hero picks up the win with two double stomps off the top. Good heavyweight style match.
Tyler Black vs. Vito Thomaselli (w/Sal Thomaselli) [TPI Opening Round Match]: Vito, being AJ Styles last second replacement, was announced as “The Phenomenal” Vito Thomaselli. Black has a wacky entrance where he shakes hands with fans, then runs off to a corner of the building and does a one man slam dance. Vito complained to the ref about Black's "gay-ass" music, but no action was taken. Sal was at ringside and interfered quite liberally for some good chuckles. Terrible ref bump at the end - Black lightly grazed the ref, who sold it like he was shot with a cannonball. Anyway, Sal tries to interfere but accidentally hits Vito with the belt, allowing Black to hit the small package driver for the win. Postmatch, Ian makes an Iron Saints vs. Tank and Rainman tag title match for Night 2.
At some point during the night, when the ref who’d screwed up earlier came out, Fanny Pack Fire stood up and went completely batshit on him. He screamed “If you fuck up this match, so help me God, I'll fucking kill you.” Amazing performance.
Chris Sabin vs. Marek Brave [TPI Opening Round Match]: It's hard for me to take Brave seriously, since he really looks like a girl. He wears tiny pants too, but I've seen Sexxxy Eddy wrestle live, so that didn't faze me much. I don't remember anything specific about any of Chris Sabin's matches all weekend. They were all fine, but the details escape me. Sorry. I do know he beat Brave with a Cradle Shock. Yeah.
Matt Sydal vs. El Generico [TPI Opening Round Match]: I will just say, if you love crazy batshit flippy high flying, you owe it to yourself to track down this match, because these two pulled out every trick in the book and invented a few along the way. Just off the top of my head, I remember Sydal hitting maybe the scariest reverse ‘rana off the top, and Generico responding by kicking Matt in the face as hard as humanly possible. Matt eventually wins with his moonsault top rope belly-to-belly suplex. Big props to both men, especially Generico, who I’ve seen live in three different feds (JAPW, ROH, and now IWA-MS) and he’s delivered the goods all three times.
Delirious vs. Brandon Thomaselli [TPI Opening Round Match]: Weird match. It looked like Thomaslli was out of position at one point, which caused Delirious to re-break his nose. Delirious then bit Thomaselli in the thigh and looked to draw blood, which looked real but I'm told was planned. They had a match and Delrious won with something or other, and both men did not appear pleased afterwards. They got into a brawl and it apparently looked pretty crazy for a few seconds (I didn't have a good view). It's worth noting Delirious stole my chair post match and threw it at Brandon. Don't fret, I eventually got my seat back.
“American Dragon” Brian Danielson vs. Claudio Castagnoli [TPI Opening Round Match]: Claudio took his shirt off, and he's actually pretty jacked. Dragon came out to "Turn, Turn, Turn" by the Byrds (maybe an airplane spin reference?), with the beard shaved and his hair grown in. Someone asked if he was turning into Bob Backlund, so he did a crazy Bob Backlund impression that I pray makes the tape. What you'd expect from these two - extended chain/mat wrestling with a little comedy thrown in. Claudio had an extended suplex, and Dragon responded with a 21-rotation Airplane spin. Dragon won with the Crossface Chickenwing (guess he is turning into Backlund).
Jimmy Jacobs [c] vs. Colt Cabana [IWA Mid-South Heavyweight Title Match]: Jimmy as heel champ just works so well. Largely a comedy match, and you can debate the merits of a comedy match for your top title, but both guys are just so funny I don’t see how you can bicker. They largely played off Colt’s size advantage – my favorite spot was when Jimmy went to give Colt a reverse atomic drop, but Colt’s so much bigger that Jimmy’s knee didn’t make any contact with Cabana’s body. So Colt just stood there and looked at him. Ending saw Jimmy bring about five chairs into the ring, and as the ref was tossing them all out, Jimmy hit Colt with the belt for the pin. Colt cut a pissed off promo afterwards so we sensed a rematch down the road.
Post show we mill around in the parking lot. I buy a Big Japan DVD from PuroresuDVDSource.com Guy. As we’re chatting, Alex Shelley casually walks up and picks up some DVD’s. It was like we were right in the middle of a commercial.
Some folks ended up going out for a bite, I headed to the hotel where we watched some wacky 80’s British wrestling and saw Steven/William Regal with a perm. My plan was to stay for 24 straight hours, but a 3 hour plane flight and a 5 hour wrestling show took a bit too much out of me, so I head to the adjoining room for sleep at 2 AM (which would be 3 Am ET, so I fell short by 2 hours). I sleep until about 5 AM, when Ken and everyone else come into the room to go to sleep. Only problem is, Ken snores like a beaver sawing wood with a chainsaw. Astoundingly, everyone else in the room fell asleep while I was ready to smother myself with my pillow. I finally had to go into the other room, where everyone had passed out watching a kung fu movie. I plop down in front of the bathroom and soon find sweet, precious sleep.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24TH
Amazingly, I don’t get curbstomped in the middle of the night by someone wanting to use the bathroom. We all wake up at some point and prepare to check out. I’m forced to pour out my Racer 5, which I only drank about half of. I’m tempted to go outside and pour it out for my dead homiez, but opt for the more dignified method of dumping it down the sink.
We all hangout and engage in douchebaggery before checkout time. Phil tries a senton off of one bed onto the other and cannonballs into the wall.
We check out and head to Buffalo Wild Wings for some lunch. Nate completely tries to pick up the waitress but denies it vehemently. They have a wacky trivia game you can play along with. Someone names our team “Team No Fear,” after the old Takayama/Omori team in Japan. We make a huge comeback on “Phil,” who was in the lead for most of the game, and emerge triumphant in the end by a scant 12 points. We do the No Fear taunt, which is basically pointing and yelling “NOOOO FEEEAAARRR.” I think this may have been the dorkiest moment of the weekend, which is really saying something. Chris cut a promo on “Phil” during the game that may have been the best mic work all weekend.
We stop at a gas station with a surly attendant and load up on drinks for the Q+A session. We get there a little late and have to sit in the back. The Q+A was totally lame. There were no mics so we couldn’t hear anything, and a lot of the questions weren’t interesting. Pass if this actually makes it to videotape. There were three good points:
1. American Dragon saying the Junkyard Dog influenced him to become a wrestler.
2. When asked what his least favorite match was, Nate Webb did a slow burn towards Kevin Steen, who was sitting right next to him
3. Jimmy Jacobs telling a story about the Sandman getting a hooker, which I won’t repeat here because this is a family website, and I’m sure I couldn’t do it justice.
We mill around for a bit outside. I plot with ring announcer Joey (who’s moving back to Massachusetts) to open IWA New England. I spot Matt Sydal and ask him for a picture. Since I had my Red Sox World Series cap, I ask him if I hold up my cap and give a thumbs up, would he give me a thumbs down (Matt is from St. Louis, who the Sox swept in the Series last year)? “With pleasure,” he replies.
Ian comes over and chats with us for a while. He talks about working Hardcore Homecoming with a fractured skull, and how it was “no big deal,” since it was mainly punching, kicking, bleeding, and walking. Even New Jack putting him through a table was no big deal. I’ll take his word for it.
Then we made a quick run for the border at Taco Bell. I haven’t eaten there in years, not since I learned they used meat that is listed as “Grade D, Yet Edible.” It was OK, and cheap (the latter much more than the former). Then it was back to the show.
Trik Davis vs. Marek Brave: Yes, 13 matches were not enough, so we had to add #14. At least Trik got to work this weekend. This was also for a shot at the Light Heavyweight title. Short, OK, but ultimately superfluous match sees Brave pick up the win with his pinning spear.
Kevin Steen vs. Brad Bradley [TPI Quarter-Final]: Bradley beat on Steen for a while, with Steen responding with the time honored defensive posture of running away (and almost falling on me at one point). Steen won with a quick rollup. Since there's nothing else to say, I will say that Steen tends to run hot/cold for me - when he tones it down, I think he's fine, but when he does too much I want to kick the television. He did end up having a pretty good weekend - his advancement set up a more traditional dynamic in the finals, but we'll get to that in a sec.
“Lightning” Mike Quackenbush vs. Skayde [TPI Quarter-Final]: Unfortunately TCF was late arriving because of a rain delay at the Cubs game, so I told him Skyade broke his leg in the first minute and they went right to the finish. Actually they had a very good lucha match, the only snag was when Quack (who's been watching his Mistico tapes) tried a twisting dive to the floor into an armdrag, but whiffed and crashed into the chairs. Skyade worked over the arm for the match, but Quack snuck out a win with a crazy lucha rollup.
Josh Abercrombie vs. Chris Sabin [TPI Quarter-Final]: Again, I draw a blank on Chris Sabin matches. I do remember one detail about this match - Josh tried a dive and ended up smacking his head on my chair. Sabin won, let's assume with the Cradle Shock. Josh had an OK weekend, but lucked out getting to work with Gibson and Sabin. He still needs a physique, tan, and tattoo removal.
Matt Sydal vs. Tyler Black [TPI Quarter-Final]: Most memorable part of this match was Black doing a moonsault off a fat guy's (actually the soundman for NWA Midwest) stomach on the floor. Yes, go back and re-read that, it really happened. Good match sees Sydal win with his beautiful standing moonsault.
“Anarchist” Arik Cannon vs. Delirious [TPI Quarter-Final]: Total comedy for the first ten minutes. They had the place going nuts for a waistlock spot. Then it turned into a regular match and it was fine. Delirious looked to have busted his nose again as he was bleeding under his mask pretty badly. Match went over twenty minutes, and really could have shaved a few minutes off of it. Cannon advances after the Glimmering Warlock. Delirious offers me a bloody high-five after the match, maybe to make amends for stealig my chair the previous night. I decline. Ian comes in and gives an Ian speech™ putting over Delirious and telling TNA to pull their craniums from their rectums and sign Delirious.
“American Dragon” Bryan Danielson vs. Chris Hero [TPI Quarter-Final]: Total chain/mat wrestling to start, with Hero getting the better of that end and working over Dragon's leg. Hero had the temerity to use an airplane spin on Dragon. Dragon hulked up and went for an airplane spin of his own, but his leg gave out and Hero was able to roll him up for the pin. Very good match. I wonder if Dragon is going to come back and defend the ROH title against Hero? Since Hero doesn’t work for ROH I don’t see why they couldn’t do it.
Jimmy Jacobs [c] vs. Mickie Knuckles [IWA Mid-South Heavyweight Title Match]: It dawned on me while I was on Bryan Alvarez’s show that if you don’t follow the promotion, a female wrestler named Mickie Knuckles challenging a heel Jimmy Jacobs for the heavyweight title might sound a little, well, odd. Crowd was super hot for this one. It wasn’t a great match by any stretch, but Jimmy’s schtick (including hitting a Stunner and teasing a Hulkster legdrop). They fired the overbooking torpedoes, which worked great because everything else all weekend had been relatively clean. There were not one but two ref bumps, Ian ran in with a ref’s shirt to count a nearfall, the Thomaselli’s ran out and were cut off by the whole locker room, and Jimmy used powder and a barrage of moves to escape the belt. Crowd was pretty bummed after that result. Ian came back and gave a blubbering Ian Speech™ putting over Mickey.
Intermission. I track down PuroresuDVDSource.com guy. The whole thing is like a drug deal. I saunter up and ask if he’s got anything. “What do you need?” he replies. “How about some DDT?” “Let me check my stash and get back to you.”
“Mr. Wrestling” Kevin Steen vs. “Lightning” Mike Quackenbush [TPI Semi-Final]: Steen jumped Quackenbush as he was coming to the ring and spent a lot of the match working over the arm. The Steen Lovers/Quack Haters were in full force during this match. Quack makes a valiant comeback but falls to the Package Piledriver as Bowling Shoe Guy has to go change his pants.
Chris Sabin vs. Matt Sydal [TPI Semi-Final]: Again, Chris Sabin remains a weird black hole of a live wrestling experience, where no memories can escape. I do remember thinking this was good, and was worried that Sabin was going on to the finals, since he is a TNA guy and Ian thinks very highly of him, but Sydal reversed the Cradle Shock into a rollup for the pin.
Chris Hero vs. “Anarchist” Arik Cannon [TPI Semi Final]: Hero and Cannon supposedly blew off their feud last month, but, well, here we are. These two men beat each other unmercifully for several minutes using punches, chops, or headbutts. The headbutts themselves were especially sickening, with these loud “whump” sounds, like hitting a hollow log with a bat. They beat each other in the floor and around all four sides of the ring. We had been talking about awkward crumples earlier that day, where a wrestler takes a hard shot and crumples to the mat/floor in such a manner that you know they aren’t acting. We had a nice awkward crumple from Cannon after a Hero headbutt. Then they both got back in the ring and just started dumping each other on their heads. It was around this point I said, “This may be the damndest thing I’ve ever seen.” Cannon finally eeks out a win with a backslide of all things to go to the finals.
Afterwards Hero and Cannon do the mutual respect handshake, then Hero snaps and levels Cannon with a clothesline. To say people were appalled at this would be an understatement. Trik Davis and Mickie Knuckles run out to calm Hero down, and Hero does the whole remorse bit, although he did not do the Backlund Hand Stare, which would have put this over the top. He tries to apologize to Cannon, who ain’t having none of it. So Hero snaps again and beats up Cannon some more, then assaults Trik and Mickie for good measure. He wraps a chair around Cannon’s shoulder and rams it into the post, then leaves to wallow in his own crapulence. Ian comes over and they pop Cannon’s shoulder into place. Let me tell you (and this took place about a foot away from me) either Cannon was really hurt or he’s a hell of an actor. And this ended up being a hell of an angle.
The Iron Saints vs. Tank & Rainman [IWA Mid-South Tag Title Match]: I wasn’t expecting a whole lot from this one – it had a real “throw guys out there to fill up the card” vibe about it. But it ended up being a lot better than I thought. Tank was a real star here, as he just through around both Thomasellis like sofa cushions (including a simultaneous Samoan Drop). Match was real chaotic for the last few minutes, until one of the Thomaselli’s rolled up Rainman and got the pin with an assist from his brother.
Ultra Generic Puma Spiders (Nate Webb, Puma, El Generico, & Brandon Thomaselli) vs. The Super Dragons (Super Dragon, Claudio Castagnoli, Joey Ryan & Alex Shelley) [Elimination Match]: Nate’s team all came out in masks (Puma and Generico wear them regularly, Nate used his El Drunko persona, and Brandon borrowed one of Puma’s masks) and DANCED. They even took a kid from the front row and danced in the ring, so this was already a ten star match. Then the opposing team all came out dressed as Super Dragon before they unmasked (except for Dragon, of course). Now, I’m no Green Lantern Fan, but we had been there nearly five hours, and I had a feeling this one was going to go long, so I pulled out my cell phone to time the match. And yep, it ended up going forty minutes. Don’t get me wrong, the match was awesome, but man, that takes balls. And the match was awesome – they just gave it time to breathe, and let everyone show their stuff. We didn’t get the first elimination until about 20 minutes in when Puma go bumped off. Details are foggy but I’ll jump right to the end as Generico is left against Super Dragon and Joey Ryan. He takes out Dragon with his top rope brainbuster (and I mean dropping him headfirst on the top turnbuckle, where Dragon promptly rolled to the floor and died in front of me). Generico eliminated Ryan with a half-nelson suplex and rolled Dragon back into the ring, but could only get a two count. Dragon comes back and murders Generico with a Gori Special turned into a piledriver. I’m sure this match will get lost in the shuffle of the weekend’s events, which is a damn shame, because this would get rave reviews on any other weekend.
They did the raffle and set up the main event. When “Ice Pic” Vic Capri, who was supposed to ref the finals, didn’t come out, we had this exchange (typed in all caps to designate shouting).
Fan: WHERE IS VIC CAPRI?
Ian: I JUST SAID, HE DIDN’T SHOW UP.
Fan: I DIDN’T HEAR YOU.
“Mr. Wrestling” Kevin Steen vs. Arik Cannon vs. Matt Sydal [TPI Finals]: Ian said Cannon was too injured to participate, so it would be just Sydal and Steen. So we kept expecting Steen to run down and demand to participate. And we kept waiting and waiting and he didn’t show, so we assumed he really wasn’t coming out. Then he did come out at the 6 minute mark and demanded to be in the match. Then he was pinned in a about 20 seconds with a Package Piledriver. Now, that’s likely a realistic ended, but if I wanted realism I’d be watching Pride. I would have preferred him to fight like a madman and just come up a bit short. I don’t think the way they did it helped anyone. So, we were back down to Sydal and Steen, and it was pretty good. Sydal, being an IWA guy and much smaller and less asshole-ish than Steen, was the clear favorite. Steen pulled out a 450 at one point (a gorgeous one at that), which I don’t recall him ever doing. Steen which for a Package Piledriver off the top rope, but Sydal saved his own life and fought him off, and hit the Shooting Star Press for the pin and the tournament.
Post-match Steen rants about the “bullshit” result and storms to the back. That’s a lot more refreshing than the usual indy handshake. Cannon comes back out and congratulates Sydal, but lets him know he wants a one-on-one match. Delirious comes out and gives a tentative Sydal a hug. Ian comes in for another Ian Speech™, inviting Daizee Haze into the ring and puts everyone over. We end the night clapping and chanting “IWA.”
More milling about afterwards. Ken takes a beating from a 10-year-old John Calvin. Ken may as well sign up for Pride, because the money has to be better and he can’t take much more punishment than he took here. TCF tries to officiate, but John Calvin shows an unnatural rage that can’t be controlled. I suspect performance enhancers – someone should make him pee in a cup.
TCF and I head off to the Steak N’ Shake. As soon as we get to the car TCF hands me a tape of lucha. Whatta guy. We cruise the mean streets of Hammond, Indiana, as I slowly unravel clues about the mystery of TCF. He remains largely an enigma. Our dinner party as Steak N’ Shake is myself, TCF, Adam Summers of the Puroresu Power Hour, The Girl Who Loves Claudio Castagnoli, and three other people who’s name I’ve forgotten (sorry).
--TCF randomly blurting out that he didn’t know Trik Davis was white. If that sounds funny in print, it was about a million times funnier when it happened.
--My asking Adam Summers that if Josh Barnett fought Bison Smith, would world peace break out (Adam was a good sport)?
--Our waitress revealing that she caught two youngsters en coitus in the rest room.
--TGWLCC proposing an IWA Fan Battle Royal, with all the special people in the ring at the same time. I think they could break four digits in attendance if they ran this match.
--Ken, whose mouth was full, pointing to napkins to indicate to the waitress that we needed more. I make the comparison between him and Ricky Steamboat when Randy Savage injured the Dragon’s throat, which sets off a chain of impersonations and reminisces.
--Every Illinois resident dumping on the surrounding states.
--One of the other guys asking TGWLCC if all wrestlers just have a key to her house, and realizing mid-sentence how horrible this sounded.
--My unveiling of the angle that will save the WWE: The Ministry of the Dead. Undertaker declares war on Vince McMahon for his sins, and resurrects all the deceased wrestlers (OVW guys under masks). Because they’re zombies, they can’t be hurt, which would make for some interesting psychology. It would all be blown off with a “Soul on a Pole” match at Wrestlemania. Best of all, if someone like Brock Lesnar won’t re-sign, just say he died and stick a mask on a jacked up guy. To say people were appalled and aghast would be an understatement.
Ken and I make the drive back to wherever the hell Ken lives and arrive around 4 AM. His pad is very nice – I even had my own guest room. I plop into bed and soon find sweet, sweet sleep.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25TH
I wake up about 9 AM. I don’t get a chance to meet Sara, as she had already departed. It’s for the best, as by this point I look like a homeless person and smell like a corpse.
Ken checks the ‘net and offers me any wrestling tapes for free. I can’t turn down any wrestling, so I so clean him out and make out like a (literal) bandit. We watch one of those IWA shows that drew like 26 people (the one where Mickie stuck Rain’s head in the toilet).
Ken drives me to the airport and I pay him for gas and thank him profusely. O’Hare is a nutty, nutty place. My flight gets delayed fifteen minutes, but beyond that there are no slip-ups. I arrive in beautiful Massachusetts and get picked up by my parents. We eat Chinese and watch the Patriots beat the Steelers. I drive home and thankfully my condo has not been ransacked. I let everyone know I’m alive and plop into bed.
Now, was it worth it? Definitely. Not only were the shows fantastic, not only did I see a bunch of wrestlers I never would have seen live otherwise, but also I met a bunch of really cool people.
With ROH shows, if you live in Massachusetts, or Connecticut, or Dayton, or Chicago, or Buffalo, or Long Island, or Cleveland, you can go to an ROH show and really get the whole ROH experience. With IWA Mid-South, you have to live in or travel to a remote part of the country to experience their live show. And if you can IWA Mid-South can really belong to you. And for one glorious weekend, IWA Mid-South belonged to me.