2001: An IWA Odyssey
January 6, 2001
Deciding which show to start this journey was a challenge. The beginning of IWA-MS in 1996 rarely feels like what it would become in the 2000’s with it featuring mostly territory guys from the early 90’s. I contemplated starting with Hero and Punk’s debut or the Sweet Science 2000 but I ended up landing on this show for a few reasons. First, it is the first major show of 2001 and that is really when people to some degree started to pay attention to IWA-MS. Two, this gives us a chance to see Punk, Hero, Cabana and gang after their debuts but where they are still fresh in the business and figuring things out to a certain degree. Third, the show is called an IWA Odyssey and this re-watch is an odyssey. Fate! Huzzah!
Hy-Zaya vs. Shadow Kid
Hy-Zaya came in from time to time when I watched in 2003-2004 and actually still is an IWA-MS mainstay to this day. I don’t have much of an opinion on him however. Shadow Kid is a generic guy wearing all black and a black and white mask. I have no idea who is under the hood. Rico is still your ring announcer here and we will be tracking his blood alcohol content on all these shows. One of my favorite things about IWA-MS is their distinctive signature venues and the House of Hardcore is no exception. We have IWA-MS patron regulars throughout including Donna, the blonde haired older lady that hugs every wrestler that comes out. Some basic junior style wrestling starts us off revolving around hiptoss reversals and execution. Shadow Kid does a good low blow spot but follows that up with an awkward looking tornado DDT sending Hy-Zaya to the floor. Kid also has this odd gesture he keeps doing to the crowd wildly swinging his arms and screaming “come on.” Shadow Kid on top doesn’t have much rhyme or reason to his offense and nearly kills himself botching a moonsault from the top rope. He is greeted with a barrage of “You Fucked Up” chants from the IWA faithful. Ha-Zaya does a dive to the outside onto Kid that ended awkwardly and they brawl through the crowd before Suicide Kid dives onto Shadow Kid from the crow’s nest in a crazy spot. This creates all sorts of mayhem with Jim Fannin leading the brigade of heels to beatdown Ha-Zaya and Suicide Kid until Uncle Honkey makes the save. Uncle Honkey would make Uncle Elmer look in shape. He embraces Ha-Zaya as Fannin and Suicide Kid square off on the microphone with Kid saying fuck 10 times in his one minute rebuttal. Certainly nothing to write home about from a match quality standpoint here but some of the facets here sum up IWA-MS to a tee.
Alister Fear vs. Mean Mitch Page
Mean Mitch is one I have my eye on during this re-watch. He was a guy that could have some violent matches, but also seemed poised to have some really good straight but stiff wrestling matches when provided the opportunity. This is a #1 contender match for the heavyweight title. Page’s tag team partner Rollin’ Hard is the guest referee and this results into a handicap match almost immediately. Mitch is still fairly large here but not near as robust as he would get in 2003 sporting merely a wifebeater and jorts. Some of the comedy that Rollin’ and Mitch do here pop the crowd including switching out on an abdominal stretch, but I thought it was too hokey and unreasonable for Alister for this to take place in a #1 contenders match. We also get the traditional heel ref staples like the slow count and ignoring the added leverage Page applies to some submissions. This is all played for comedy with the crowd popping for the Page/Hard duo, but it still doesn’t make it entertaining in my eyes in retrospect and I don’t have any context as to why Fear received this unjust treatment. We get the first weapons shot of the night as barbed wire is briefly used on Page. Page blades which it may be interesting to track how many matches he doesn’t blade in. Fear does a dive into the crowd on top of Page. A staple of Mean & Hard is stapling a dollar to the cheek and that is the comeback spot for Page here. This match has really outstayed its welcome. Page finally puts the match away with a splash. Afterwards in a weird spot, Page turns on Hard and starts attacking him along with Mad Man Pondo. This for the second time tonight results in a locker room emptying out to chase Pondo and Page away. Pondo gets on the microphone and delivers a profanity laced promo that would make Suicide Kid blush.
Cash Flo ( C ) vs. Harry Palmer – IWA-MS Heavyweight Championship
Palmer comes out accompanied by Chris Hero. Palmer is someone I haven’t seen much of at all. He was pushed pretty heavily and made it to the finals of the inaugural Sweet Science Tournament in 2000 where he was defeated by Chris Hero in the finals. Cash Flo is someone that will again be interesting to chronicle as much like Hy-Zaya, Flo has many stints of being in and out of IWA-MS and we can track his interactions between the different eras. Flo was also someone that mixed up hardcore and straight matches frequently. A crazy moment happens before the bell as Palmer is on the outside and large woman empties her water bottle on him. Palmer responds by calling her a fat bitch and hurling a chair at her. Flo tempts Palmer with a bag of chips and they lock up. Palmer bails and starts jawing with the crowd. After what feels like an eternity, we finally get the match starting proper with Flo winning an early test of strength. He stomps on the hands, and Palmer bails again. This is getting absurd. Flo is completely dominating the match as he shoulder blocks Palmer who bails again to regroup with Hero. We are now eight minutes into the match and haven’t had more than five actual wrestling exchanges. Flo hits an ugly headscissors to send Palmer out again. This time Flo has had enough of the stalling and dives onto Palmer and Hero on the outside. Palmer is able to get a twisting neckbreaker when Flo puts his head down and he finally takes over on offense. Palmer stomps a mudhole in Flo’s ass and asks Hero to retrieve a chair. A good looking brainbuster earns Palmer a two count. Flo makes his comeback after not being in much of a perilous situation and looks to put Palmer away with the big splash assisted by a chair. Hero intervenes and Palmer takes over by giving Flo a hurricanrana through two chairs in the ring. Mark Wolf comes out to cheer on his stable mates in Hero and Palmer. Flo gets dumped and pounded on by Wolf on the outside. It is weird for me to see consistent babyface of 2002-2003, Mark Wolf in this heel role. Flo regains control but again misses his big dive off the top rope. Palmer runs face first into a chair that was set up in the corner. Flo seizes the opportunity to neutralize Hero and Wolf and is able to hit the big leg drop for the win. Nice finish to something that has been teased earlier in the match, but overall Palmer looked really weak as a challenger and the constant stalling gave the match a disjointed flow.
The Resistance (Chris Hero, Mark Wolf, Todd Morton) vs. The Gold Bond Mafia (Paul E. Smooth, CM Punk, Colt Cabana)
You probably know some of these guys but let’s talk about the three lesser known competitors. I touched on Wolf a little earlier but he was always a great complimentary piece in the promotion that could be relied on in big feuds as we will see vs. Morton and especially Mitch Ryder down the road. Speaking of Morton, he is one of the top five people I am most interested in watching throughout this whole process. A person personifying qualities from Doug Gilbert and Bill Dundee, Morton is an undersized loud mouth that earns the moniker “the biggest little man in professional wrestling” by bringing legit heat and intensity to numerous feuds. Paul E. Smooth (later renamed Chuck) is the #6 guy in this match IMO but he has a lengthy run in IWA throughout the next few years. Cabana and Punk look much younger here than Hero does by comparison. Punk has just started the process of letting his hair grow out a bit. Cabana is sporting frosted tips hanging on to that trend of the late 90’s. Dave Prazak is the manager of the Gold Bond Mafia. Punk is on the mic beforehand and calls Hero a monkey, Wolf a referee and Morton a midget in a funny moment. Wolf is wearing a Disturbed shirt to prove to us this is indeed 2001. Morton starts a fight with a Brian Knobbs doppelganger as the bell rings. The opening exchange between Morton and Punk has some comedy stuff but unlike the previous two matches, they don’t let it wear out its welcome and intersperse those moments with some good wrestling exchanges. That is a key difference in making a match drag and in this case feel like an homage to a M-Pro six man from the 1990’s. Cabana and Hero come in and also have a good sequence with everything worked at a faster pace and smoother than what we have seen so far tonight. I liked the trope of tagging in Smooth and Wolf and they just bump heads instead of having an escalating sparring showdown like the previous competitors. This results in all six entering the ring and the match breaks down. Hero and Punk are now paired off on the outside. After a few minutes of this, a traditional six-man results with Morton and Smooth in the ring. The Resistance takes over on Smooth and does a good job of cutting the ring off and making frequent tags. Hero is able to hit a big time tilt a whirl suplex and the pin attempt is broken up by Punk. Todd Morton goes for one of his own but Smooth gets a hope spot by hitting a dropkick. Morton regains his bearings and takes over with a suplex as Punk rallies the crowd to start a “Hero’s a bitch” chant. Smooth hits a hurricanrana off the top rope and should have tagged out but he instead goes for the early 2000’s staple, the Bronco Buster. Wolf gets a boot up right into the testicle region of Smooth and hits a bridging back suplex. The referee counts the pin and informs the Resistance that both Wolf and Smooth are eliminated from the match due to Wolf having his shoulders down as well. Cabana and Morton start off what has now become a tag match. Hero hits a really good clothesline on Cabana and I am impressed with the fluidly these guys have shown in this match. I will reveal that I have seen some 2001 stuff so far most notably the 8/11/01 eight man tag and this has been much more cohesive and smooth than that match on last viewing. Hero mixes in some nice suplexes and the Resistance is once again in control working over Cabana. Cabana mounts a comeback by hitting an awesome piledriver on Morton that was made by him popping his head right off the mat. Cabana is able to tag in Punk and him and Hero square off. All four men enter the match with the Gold Bond Mafia firing away. Morton is able to send Cabana out and seizing the opportunity, Hero and Morton hit a backdrop/neckbreaker combo on Punk to put him away. Refreshing elimination off a nice double team move without excessive kickouts. Cabana is out there alone now and to add insult to injury, Harry Palmer returns to offer assistance to the Resistance. Hero locks on a Rings of Saturn variation submission onto Cabana but he is able to break free. A jawbreaker allows Cabana a moment of rest but Hero is able to make the tag to Morton. This doesn’t slow down Cabana who makes his comeback and hits an underhook suplex move that forces Hero to break up the pin attempt. Morton stunts the comeback with a backbreaker and double stomp to the knees. Both Morton and Hero are in the ring but Cabana pushes Hero into Morton sending Morton to the outside and allowing himself to hit a schoolboy on Hero to pin him. Morton immediately drags Cabana outside and posts him. Morton with an atomic drop onto a chair in a nasty spot. He follows that up with an elbow smash from the apron and some steel chair shots on the floor. Cabana does a good job firing back and this is not an easy role for him to be the face in considering the size advantage he has over Morton. Morton hits a splash but Cabana is able to float over and pick up the pinfall in around 23 minutes. Resistance jumps Cabana and it’s an attack until the Gold Bond Mafia makes the save with Smooth doing a wild dive onto Wolf and Hero on the outside. This match may have been a tad long and the crowd heat dwindled but it showed a lot of promise and range and was clearly the best thing on the show tonight so far by miles. ***
Ian Rotten vs. Sabu vs. Tracy Smothers
One of those “only in IWA” three way dances. Smothers is classic in his entrance flicking off everyone and riling up the crowd to the extreme while dancing a bit. Ian has the weight that Mean Mitch Page gains in the next year. Smothers jumps him when he enters the ring and before Sabu can come out. This is really clever as it gets the crowd to chant for Sabu. They tumble to the outside and here is Sabu beating on both men and throwing chairs at Smother’s head. Smothers dancing to the crowd chants never gets old. Smothers and Ian are again on the outside and Smothers gets Irish whipped into the chairs. Ian follows him allowing Sabu to hit a triple jump dive onto both of them. Sabu does look like he is on his game so far. Smothers gives some nasty rabbit punches to Rotten on his knees on the outside. Smothers smacks Rotten with some sort of weapon and Ian is busted open. A light tube shot follows for good measure. Tracy turns his attention to Sabu and lays him on a table at ringside. Tracy goes up to the top but gets crotched allowing Sabu to give him a jumping leg sweep where Tracy hits his jaw on the chair on the way down. Ian’s eye looks nasty and Tracy starts working it over by punching it. The crowd informs Tracy that he does in fact suck dick. Tracy does a jig along with the chant. Ian has a fan and busts it right over Tracy’s head. Tracy is not phased and returns with a chairshot and him and Sabu take turns trying to pin Ian. Tracy pounding on that eye is sick. Tracy gives Sabu a DDT onto a chair and he has really been a force of nature in this match being the main antagonist for both Ian and Sabu throughout. The pace has been relentless and this has failed into many three way tropes of one guy standing around. Ian is pissed and hurls Tracy into the wooden scaffold that holds the stage where the camera is set up. Tracy takes out another row of chairs and the House of Hardcore is in disarray. Sabu and Ian square off for a second before Tracy fires back and smashes a huge light tube cluster over Ian. He then responds by peppering that injured eye. What a dick. Tracy grabs some Mustard! And squirts that on Ian and we pretty much are in Tupelo now. Ian hits a brutal chairshot on Tracy and gives him another to his back for good measure. Tracy is finally knocked out for a bit and we have some Ian and Sabu interaction. Sabu hits a legdrop inside the ring for a nearfall. Here comes that bastard Tracy though who won’t stay down. Triple jump moonsault is hit to perfection by Sabu who has really impressed and not overshadowed this match at all while still being a key component. Tracy gives Sabu some back heel kicks in succession and Ian goes for a chair shot but can’t see Tracy due to the blurred vision from the injured eye. That is awesome. He swings again and knocks out referee Brent Blades. Sabu leg drops Ian through the table on the outside and Tracy baseball slides Sabu out and then football charges him into the crowd. Seizing the opportunity, Tracy rolls Ian in and hits a back forearm off the top and a Van Dominator type spot to pick up the win and end twelve minutes of action. “You still Suck!” the crowd chants with the other half shouting “dick”. The only spot of the match that I didn’t like was the finish but this was exactly what you want of a big star coming in, delivering an impressive performance where he hits his spots cleanly, but also doesn’t take away from the main storyline going on in the promotion between the two guys that will still be there next week. This was a complete blast to watch. Ian grabs the microphone and challenges Tracy to a falls count anywhere match Wednesday night which I am so sad we don’t have on tape. They give spirited semi-shooty promos to each other. Tracy gets in the last word spouting some Tennessee proud. Ian says some things about Tracy stint in Memphis and ends with the battle cry, “if you aint hardcore, you aint shit”. ***1/2
Corporal Robinson vs. Trent Baker – Boot Camp Match
This isn’t exactly Sarge and Sheik out there but we will see what these guys can deliver. Rules here is essentially an I Quit match with the competitor having to say I Quit Sir. Corp takes the early advantage and does a nice plancha onto Baker on the outside. Light tube time afterwards with a pool cue shot for good measure. Corp then gets a thumb tacked Lacrosse stick and pastes that across Baker’s head. The fan Ian used in the last match is brought back as Baker takes over. I have got to admit that I was hopeful this would take a different route than weapon shots being tossed around considering the last match and a Fans Bring the Weapons match that is upcoming. A thumbtacked kids basketball goal set breaks before impact and Corp has to improvise. He sets up two chairs on the outside and piles up light tubes. Baker gets a low blow and suplexes Corp through the contraption. You have to hand it to the IWA crowd, they sure to find unique ways to weaponize a bat with some gluing thumbtacks to them and others attaching round light bulbs. Back in the ring, Rugby Thug utilizes a slingshot backbreaker and locks in a dragon sleeper to see if he can get Corp to submit. The IWA faithful starts up with a “go Corp go” chant. Robinson fires back with a superkick and a slingshot splash and legdrop. Corp then locks on the crossface for a bit. Flying lariat and the action inside the ring has been more condensed and intense than the walk and plunder affair on the outside. Corp does bring a chair from the outside and piledrives Baker on it in a bump that looked significantly less impressive than when Morton was piledrove earlier in the night. Corp goes for a running bulldog onto a chair but Baker is able to reverse and Corp’s knee goes flying into the chair. Baker pounces on the injured leg and locks on a half crab. He gives that up to start a spinning toe hold. This work from Rugby has been solid and focused on the leg as he locks on a dragon screw leg whip. We get our third hurricanrana from the top rope tonight and that is becoming a tired spot in the IWA universe already. Corp also hits a DDT and the selling of the leg has subsided almost entirely. Some jockeying for position continues and Corp locks in the cobra clutch when Shadow Kid comes in and whacks Corporal with some weapon. Baker regains himself and chokes out Robinson to gain the victory. This has been a good night for the heels. Match was fine in spots but could have been worked as a nice intense battle focused around Corporal’s injured leg and instead it veered into too much of a generic deathstyle variety.
Mad Man Pondo vs. 2 Tuff Tony – Fans Bring the Weapons Match
Here we go with our main event. Pondo is no doubt a crazy mofo that hasn’t seen a bump or weapon shot he won’t take. On the other hand, he is fairly low on my death match workrate totem poll as his matches mostly result in a lot of down time setting up the next crazy contraption for both guys to go through. Tony is a fun worker but we will see how this match develops overall. A light tube chair gets brought into the ring and all of a sudden, Pondo is weary of starting the match. The crowd refers to him as a pussy for his troubles. After a few minutes of punching, Tony ends up crashing through the light tube chair. Pondo then gets a golf club and tee’s off on the nutsack region of Tony. Tony is able to change the tide by sending Pondo face first into a cluster of light tubes that looked really painful. Tony goes out to the masses and finds numerous patrons willing to give up their light tube creations for the pain of Mad Man Pondo. Tony is barely able to scoop slam Pondo onto a cluster of light tubes. In comes another and those get a suplexed Pondo barreling into them. Rico calls that 10 minutes are gone in the match which is not true. Tony punts what I guess was a weighted medicine ball at Pondo. The favorite thumbtack orange bat is used to turn the tide back to Pondo’s favor. He grabs a guitar and smashes that Jeff Jarrett style over Tony’s head. Take that SlapNutz. Just as I had predicted, this has quickly turned into you turn, my turn weapon shots without any sense of violence or hatred being conveyed. We do get our fourth hurricanrana of the night but this time its Pondo going through a huge cluster of light tubes. Tony goes for the pin but Mean Mitch puts Pondo’s foot on the rope. Glad the rules are prevailing here. Another cluster gets set up and this time Tony gets powerbombed through them allowing Pondo to pick up the win. A disappointing end to the show overall as this felt lifeless and by the numbers.
This ends our first foray into IWA-MS and we get a show that is distinctively IWA-MS. A crowd that still somewhat believes and goes with the face/heel structure with some genuine reactions instead of just spouting off fun chants, we got some hungry young wrestlers having a good showcase match featuring smartly worked wrestling, comedy and some brawling mixed in. Sabu impressed and delivered in a fun showcase match. We also had a glut of indy movez de jour including a Bronco Buster attempt and tons of hurricanranas. Some good, some bad, some ugly. Welcome to IWA-MS.