An IWA Valentine
Welcome to the first of many holidays IWA-MS runs. Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas were usual nights on the IWA calendar. They even mixed in some fun quasi-holidays like having a show on Kentucky Derby day.
Harry Palmer vs. Todd Morton
Harry starts us off with a promo and looks to be on the verge of saying his goodbyes to the IWA faithful. Morton seizes the opportunity and attacks him from behind. Morton gets increasingly annoyed at the crowd chanting Harry on. Harry fires back for a bit and gets some added support with Mark Wolf coming from backstage. The flurry of offense is short lived as Morton goes back on the offensive and even has a moment to cut a promo on Harry mid match. This has been a squash match with Morton talking smack to the crowd between every shot and Harry writhing in pain. The crowd pops big when Harry gets a school boy as a result of Todd popping off too much. Some skinny black guy in the crowd gets so pissed off at Todd, he takes off his shirt and starts walking around the ringside area. Harry mounts his comeback and has the crowd behind him. Harry goes for a cover that has to be broken up by Hero. Wolf pounds on Morton outside a bit. Morton results to going into his trunks and retrieving a chain. He pops Palmer with that and picks up the escape victory. This was a good story driven opener match to start out tonight. The guys were given a lot of time to work with and the crowd was amped and behind Palmer throughout the match. **1/2
Paul E. Smooth vs. Chris Hero
I was intrigued by this match and was hoping with this being an unassuming show, they would get a chance to go long and try some new things. They did get about 15 minutes of time but only 7-8 involved a wrestling match. The rest involved Smooth bickering with someone in the crowd. This wasn’t even in the top 10 of IWA-MS crowd interactions I can think of offhand so I was disappointed to see it eat up so much of the match time. When they do get going, the action is solid. Hero takes a lot of the match and has an impressive barrage of offense he throws at Smooth. Smooth has a good shot to send Hero down in the corner and then he follows up with a bronco buster. A hurricanrana off the top earns Smooth a nearfall. Hero catches Smooth with a fallaway slam to take over. Hero has some unique offense he was still working out including a full nelson front slam. Smooth destracts the referee when someone comes out in a trench coat and chokeslams Hero. That gives Smooth the victory. I learned via Nick Maniwa that this individual is 411 playing off the 911 ECW gimmick, I would say he is the top to Smooth’s bottom. Match was disappointing given the potential it had.
Blaze vs. Suicide Kid – IWA Heavyweight Championship Match
Yikes, not looking forward to this one. Blaze defeated Cash Flo the week before to win the belt. We will see some nice, lengthy IWA-MS title reigns but it takes a while to get there. This starts off with a good shine spot sequence for Kid and he hits everything smoothly. Blaze takes over and has some high impact offense. He also does some cocky stuff like pinning Kid with one finger. This has been a lot more solid and exciting than I would have expected so far. Blaze takes Kid outside and he Irish whips him into the ring post. Blaze follows up with a middle rope legdrop for a nearfall. Kid gets a hope spot with a sunset flip but Blaze comes back and lands a stun gun. Kid makes his comeback and it is fiery. I really dislike the face using the diving headbutt to the nuts as a comeback spot but it is 2001. Split legged moonsault gets a nearfall followed by a rana from the top rope. Kid climbs up again but gets caught into a spinning powerbomb that earns Blaze the win. For an eight minute match involving these two, this was a hell of a lot better than I would have imagined. **1/2
B J Whitmer vs. Ian Rotten
This was the other match besides Hero vs. Smooth that caught my eye on this card. If this one under delivers we may be in for a pretty bad IWA-MS show. This feels like a nice hate-filled battle given these guys involvement in the previous shows. I expected Ian to really take B J to task with a brawl but this starts as a wrestling base. Ian does take B J down soon in a stiff choke and B J has to bail to the floor. Ian starts working over the arm and B J is doing a good job of selling the damage here. Ian takes Whitmer down with that choke again and he is dominating the match so far. The guys reverse front chanceries. This match may not read as engaging, but this is the type of IWA-MS stuff that I love. Phil Schneider coined it meth lab BattlARTS and I agree. Every submission looks like a struggle and the work is stiff as hell. Ian is able to tie Whitmer up and when it finally looks like he will escape, Ian punches him right in the face. A nasty forearm and chop show the diversity of Ian’s strikes. Whitmer is getting glimpses here and there, but Ian is dominant with his submission technique as he utilizes the choke hold again. Whitmer is able to gain his first sustained bit of offense and slams Ian down for a nearfall. Ian latches on an armbar that Ian is able to escape from with a chop. A huge forearm and one of the nastiest lariats I have ever seen follow that up. The crowd pops pretty huge for the lariat. Whitmer does a low blow on the cover attempt and takes over again with more pro style offense on top. The crowd starts rallying for Ian. B J with a leg lariat and suplex and he ascends to the top rope. An ugly looking splash from Whitmer misses after crowd members tell Ian to move. Ian does a kick and double arm DDT to pick up the win. On the mat, this was gritty and great. Whitmer on offense at the end wasn’t particularly inspiring, but the finish was abrupt and appropriate given the match layout beforehand. Ian appreciates B J for the match. ***
Rollin’ Hard vs. Too Tuff Tony
These are two guys that probably locked up quite a bit in an IWA arena. Dueling promos saying nothing of note start us off. The beginning of this match was worked like a 1980’s WWF opener. Lock ups and headlocks with no intensity applied whatsoever. Things open up a bit with Tony trying a DDT from the top rope that doesn’t come off well. Hard takes over on top and doesn’t do many things more interesting that what we had beforehand. He does a few crossbody presses and a cover. To say this match has a narrative would be kind. Double clothesline and both are out. Tony grabs Hard’s Kill Whitey sign and climbs the top rope for the corkscrew press. That picks up the win and I can erase this match from my memory as quickly as possible.
Mad Man Pondo & Mean Mitch Page vs Cash Flo & Corporal Robinson
Page has some flowers for Pondo. How touching. Pondo gives them to a girl in the crowd. That is pretty insincere. After a LONG stall, we start with Page vs. Corporal which will be a long running IWA feud for 2001 and maybe their biggest feud overall for the year. Page gives the referee a ball shot when his first count isn’t up to Page’s liking. Robinson gets worked over a good bit for the early going before he makes a tag to Cash. Cash comes in and begins to work over on Mitch. None of the action has really spilled out to the outside tonight which is shocking. Did these guys have big V-Day dates after the show or something? Right as I type that, out they go. Pondo actually leads Cash to the outside area of the House of Hardcore. Without a second camera, we see none of that action outside and instead hear a big verbal battle between Page and Corp. They go to the outside too and Corp goes through a row of chairs. Pondo and Cash come back on the exact opposite side of the building they left on in a neat spot. Pondo is busted open to the surprise of no one. Corp can give a brutal chairshot. Flo slams Pondo onto his stop sign but misses the Oh Shit leg drop. Pondo chokes him away as Page is working over Corp now with a chair. The pairs mix now. Flo and Page can’t run the ropes due to the stop sign in the middle of the ring. Flo goes for the frog splash and misses that. Quit going to the top rope dude. Flo neutralizes Page again and this time is able to hit the leg drop for the win. A real tame match for these four guys.
Overall, this is probably about as bad a show on this rewatch you will likely see. Everyone was taking things easy and only Ian vs. Whitmer is a highlight.