Match of the Week Club: Allie vs. Rosemary (SMASH Wrestling 10-22-16)

Every week on Place to Be Nation, a combination of correspondents review one match from the world of wrestling that YOU as the viewer should seek out!


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The storyline:

18 months ago this started off as a normal feud. Throughout that time, Cherry Bomb (Allie) created a monster. She cut Courtney Rush’s (Rosemary) hair, covered her in blood and constantly got the one up on her with various weapons and attacks. It really was a fascinating way to explain why Rush has become a demon character in TNA. During this period, Allie took on the role of the Demon Slayer (even carrying a cross dagger), showing her love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. A vicious No DQ match the month prior led to this blow-off in a cage.

Also, note, this is the final match of the night where it was a USA-Canada Women’s tournament with both teams tied at three wins a piece.

Chad Campbell:

This cage is huge. I am familiar with Cherry Bomb and Rosemary but was unsure with the angle that had been transpiring within SMASH for the past 18 months. Rosemary starts off strong and is really utilizing the cage grinding Allie’s face into it. There is a lot of supernatural elements to this feud and that is played off with the cross being used by Rosemary. Rosemary’s character work is well done here as she really portrays the demonic character well. Allie is able to find an opening and send Rosemary into the cage. I am surprised to hear some dueling chants as this match seems to have a fairly clear face/heel structure. Allie is able to gain some salt on the outside and has here first big advantage of the match. The choke Allie does here is vicious with Rosemary’s head outside of the cage.

Veda Scott is Allie’s second and is able to slide in a chair. Allie is able to horse collar the chair to Rosemary and send her into the corner. Rosemary snaps off of that and fires up a comeback. That gets stunted as the rest of Team USA comes out. They are able to slide a table into the cage. This sort of defeats the purpose for me if people are easily able to throw in weapons. Allie locks in cattle mutilation. I liked the bit here where you saw Rosemary power out of the compromising submission instead of Allie just giving it up. A spear from Rosemary gives her some breathing room. Rosemary is able to rile the crowd up here with chants of “cut her hair”. This was the atmosphere I was hoping for crowd wise with the entire match. Sunset flip powerbomb from Allie but the table accidently breaks with Allie’s feet. The announcers cover by saying that is actually more dangerous. Team USA has zipties and they are able to handcuff Rosemary to this cage. Where is the Canada team? They finally come out after 10 minutes and we get a big brawl on the outside. They are able to free Rosemary as Allie is preoccupied with spreading tacks in the ring. Rosemary is able to spew the mist and chokeslam Allie onto the tacks. Allie is narrowly able to kick out. I don’t like the announcers talking about the heart of Allie with the kickout. Stay true to the heel/face narrative. Allie gets a desperation spear and that gains her a nearfall. Allie is looking for her superkick finisher but Rosemary is able to hit a superkick of her own for the win. A fairly anticlimactic finish for me. After the match, Rosemary teases cutting Allie’s hair and also teases putting the stake through Allie but they crawl away as both Team Canada and USA enters the ring. We get the medal ceremony to end things which I really despise. You either have a hate feud that ends in a manner of respect or you have a friendly, Olympic style tournament for country superiority. As a promotion, you can’t have both. This left the ending feeling really unresolved in a weird way even though Rosemary got her big win. She didn’t get to cut Allie’s hair and she still has resentment and tension during the medal ceremony. I found this utterly bizarre and almost rendering the gravity of the cage and everything else involving the match to be pointless.

The match overall also had some tropes that I am not fond of involving the cage. The work was fine within the confines of the match but I don’t think Allie has that vicious side to really play off the evilness she was trying to convey. At many points of the match, it felt like Rosemary was just biding time to the inevitable finish. I may have missed some nuances of the feud parachuting in on this one match but it felt like a cluttered, confused mess and not a satisfactory blowoff that can really transcend professional wrestling.

Steven Graham:

Smash Wrestling is my home promotion, which I’ve seen live many times. In fact I was live for this match. Seeing this feud develop for 18 months and knowing the blow off was coming got me to push for this match to be looked at in this club.

This match was everything I wanted in a blow off to this epic feud. The cage kept Allie from running away and it certainly upped their intensity. The stiffness early on was intense as both girl’s brought it. Allie tried to end this early by impaling her with a cross, but it got countered.

Team USA, being the dastardly team they are, came out and slid weapon’s to Allie to help her gain the advantage. This was a great face in peril section as it was essentially 7 on 1. Lots of weapons were used by Allie to try to keep the Demon Rosemary down.

Team Canada did run in to make the save, cutting her free from the ropes she was zip-tied too. This re-introduced the scissors which helped to start this whole feud. Being their in the building, the chants for Rosemary to return the favour were strong.

The intensity never fell off and these two girls killed each other with weapons like a table and thumbtacks. In the end Rosemary finally got her revenge and won the night for Canada. However, Allie seemed transformed from the violence and may never be the same. Rosemary has obviously been transformed from her Courtney Rush days, so this feud had impact.

Re-watching this on tape and it felt like something was lost, but I still think this was the perfect blow off for this feud that I’ve been watching for the last year and a half. (**** 1/2)

Brad Woodling:

We recently published a show on the art of storytelling in a wrestling match, so it’s timely that we look at the purposed blow-off to an 18-month saga between Allie and Rosemary. The stipulation of being the first cage match ever in SMASH added gravity to things going in, as did a solid recap package. The package left me confused though and this is a theme that was with me through almost the entire match. Allie is the demon killer, cosplaying as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Rosemary is the demon Allie created by cutting her hair. Also in the recap package is Allie being assisted by two (male) wrestlers in holding Rosemary so Allie could super kick her. Allie comes off like a Mean Girls-inspired heel who just happens to carry a cross-shaped dagger around because she’s also somehow a hero who must vanquish Rosemary.

In actuality, as your common wrestling sense tingling is telling you, Rosemary is the real babyface here, which makes this match even happening weird since she tapped out Allie in the previous encounter (a No DQ match that looked better than what we got here), so there isn’t even the element of “she finally won!”. Rosemary, the first performer to technically appear in the Match Club twice, has a good act and definitely wrestles and plays to the crowd like a demon/heel. Adding to this, the over-arching theme of the show is Canada vs. USA, and Allie is definitely a team USA heel as she defected to that side – and her friends consistently show up at ringside to give her weapons or help cheat (the salt) to give her an advantage. So this is really heel vs. heel, although the announcers half-way in talk about how the crowd is behind Rosemary and want to see Allie get her comeuppance. They also compliment Allie at one point for how she bumped for Rosemary’s spear (taking a regular bump and then flipping over), which is so fourth-wall breaking it nearly made me sick. They had a job to get over the history and what was going on in the ring, and while their excitement was understandable, this was a perplexing match at times and commentary did not enhance it whatsoever.

The cage itself isn’t used much at all, it just blocks the camera mainly, which is disappointing. At one point Allie is holding the door while Rosemary rocks the door back and forth, but its not even touching her face – I mean you or I could cosplay that right now and probably have it look better. Maybe the most dramatic use is when Rosemary’s head goes out under the bottom of the loose fencing while Allie kicks away. Rosemary is actually holding the fencing herself to her own neck here. The announcers feign danger, but its pure hyperbole. To the actual work, a lot of this comes off meandering. Random submissions transition into walking to the ropes for another submission. I don’t know if it was the unfamiliarity of the cage, or nerves, or what, but the work never connects.

Going back to the that loose fencing around the mat, Team USA cheats a bunch to help Allie get control – just passing in objects to escalate the match accordingly. They take turns with these objects, with no particular selling.They try a sunset flip powerbomb through a table that is set-up in slow motion and still botched (although the announcers playing off this and explaining the table fragments on the mat would hurt more than going through the table flush was probably their strongest sequence in the match). We get thumb tacks – a weapon used in their previous match – and it’s a shame it wasn’t saved for here as both competitors take them; first Rosemary choke-slammed Allie on the tacks, with Allie kicking out – well raising her arms in the air at least. Then Allie’s spear looked so bad Rosemary essentially speared herself onto the tacks. Not a good night for her in-ring.

I do want to note that both brought intensity – a lot of screaming and hate, which plays into the backstory. A big piece missing here is the showing of any fatigue or selling the war they are going through. A lot of taking turns with weapons and spots, shaking off anything that happened before. The ending is abrupt, but on paper isn’t bad. Allie has tacks in her boot and sets up for her “Best super kick ever”, but Rosemary hits her own, and that’s that. Even the announcers are surprised, which feels fumbled because in design it isn’t a bad sequence. Rosemary gets the scissors although she only fakes going to cut the hair before going to get the dagger to presumably murder Allie but the ref stops her. Then they get face to face and go their separate ways with no further altercation. [end scene]

Timothy Beuchner

Hatred, revenge, violence, rage, and disappointment; these are the base emotions for a heated feud in professional wrestling. Allie & Rosemary display everything in the lead to this – over the course of nearly three years – cage match. Allie & Rosemary don’t seem to be proud to have the honor of being locked in the steel together, there is some joy – a demented joy based on just what they are going to be able to do to each other. Pride is on the line as both women are representing their team and while Allie is not representing her country, she is representing her disdain for the country she feels let her down.

The nuts and bolts of this match are not things of a five-star workrate classic but the emotion comes through in everything they do. Rosemary is demonic yet valiant; she is been driven to the brink of sanity but is harnessing that torment back upon her tormenter. Rosemary will not be stopped by anything be it chairs, tables, or even thumb tacks. Allie comes across almost entitled; yes she’s here to fight, but it seems to her victory is a forgone conclusion. They aren’t the most crisp and even have a pretty big blunder on a sunset flip powerbomb through a table. They make up for it with drama and physicality. I’m not a huge fan of over booked, gimmick on top of gimmick matches and here that does become an issue as members of Team USA seem to be around the cage throughout the entire match interfering and introducing weapons to the cage. Team Can comes out to end the sides this would have worked a lot better for me if it had come more quickly. The match as a whole could have probably been trimmed down to be improved.

At the end of the match I came away with a feeling of having just watched something between a Memphis blow off cagematch and an early 2000s ECW knock off fed trying to run a cage match they just didn’t have the production values to support. It had great fire and commitment from both girls, but just wasn’t quite as good as it could have been. A bigger takeaway from this match and others I’ve seen on the indies recently that I see as actually a huge positive is that this match had good and bad that were both common for an indie men’s match. Women’s wrestling is getting to the point where it can and should just be seen as wrestling. 3 ½*

Glenn Butler

The video package establishes not only that Allie’s abuse has broken Rosemary and driven her to the facepaint and the mist and the Smashing Pumpkins — driven her indeed to all of the trappings of her TNA character — but also that these two women have been tearing through each other with all sorts of weapons, so it’s time to bring things to a head inside the unforgiving steel cage.

Both Allie and Rosemary do a good job of bringing the hate, with the traditional brawl to start the match and the requisite weapon spots later on, but also through some vicious-looking submission holds applied by Rosemary. She uses her legs to stretch and choke Allie in neat and inventive ways. Allie fights back and eventually gets her own choke in, taking advantage of the indy cage’s shoddy construction to shove Rosemary’s head under the bottom of the fencing. This cheap cage allows Allie’s entire comeback, from the moment she shoves her hand outside to receive Veda Scott’s Mr. Fuji memorial fistful of salt to the chair and table that Team USA shove through the cage. Clearly a match that’s been built up for a promotion’s first cage match because it needs to prevent interference is going to have a ton of interference, but to have such an easily-permeable cage defeats the purpose.

One interference spot is very smartly crafted, though. At one point Team USA uses zip ties to tie Rosemary to the fencing (the American way, surely) and Team Canada finally comes out to even the odds, bringing a pair of scissors to free Rosemary. This is so breezily done and passes by so quickly, unremarked upon by the announcers, that one doesn’t have time to remember how important hair-cutting and therefore scissors have been to this feud…until, of course, Rosemary grabs those same scissors after the match is over, threatening to victimize Allie further. One wishes she had.

I’m intrigued by the implication that for all that Rosemary has been transformed during this feud, Allie has as well. “What have you become,” Rosemary screams to her when she rises Kane-like from a spear: “Just like us.” Sometimes you cannot hunt a monster without becoming one — if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee, or some such. What we hunt says something about who we are. These matters are left underdeveloped and unresolved.

For now, though, the demon has defeated the slayer. Congratulations, Canada.