Peachstate Wrestling Alliance returned to the VFW Fairgrounds with their first event of 2016, featuring an 8 team tournament to fill the void created by the company’s vacated tag team championship. When the smoke cleared, Beautiful Bald Besties had the titles.
The Besties, Georgia’s Tag Team of the Year for 2015, have now garnered the PWA tag titles and the SFCW tag titles in the first 16 days of the new year.
Silly me to think Rick Michaels would book a tournament in straightforward manner. There was no semifinal round and they came within an eyelash of not having a championship match at all.
There was no shortage of surprises. Bill Behrens showed up completely out of the blue as PWA’s authority figure. The company had been without one since October when Commissioner Shane Noles resigned to return to inring competition. Behrens had the unenviable task of holding up the PWA Heritage Championship after the second consecutive no-winner finish in matches between former champion Jimmy Rave and Sal Rinauro.
The Rave/Rinauro match was a real treat. A fine match in its own right, their shared history going back to their formative years at NWA Wildside, and later at ROH and Rampage, provided an added layer of richness.
Generally speaking, the wrestling at PWA shows doesn’t wow me. Their strength lies in characters and stories. The wrestling has gotten a lot better over the last two years and is plenty good enough to get them where they want to go.
It’s been said before but it bears repeating. Peachstate has about the best locker room morale around. There’s a sense that individual egos take a backseat to putting on the best show possible.
Attendance at the VFW Fairgrounds was 250. Peachstate seems to draw better at the Fairgrounds than they do at Central Elementary. Crowd reactions were strong for every match.
PWA Tag Team Championship Tournament – Opening Round
(1)Beautiful Bald Besties (Michael Stevens & Zac Edwards) defeated Southside Trash (Rowdy & Razor) in 6:33. SST had their way with Edwards in the early going. Besties got heat on Rowdy, who had the presence of mind to kick out of a pin attempt before a count was made when referee Mason was slow getting in position. Why wait? The crowd got behind Rowdy. He made the hot tag and the match quickly broke down with all four involved. SST went for a double flapjack on Edwards, but Stevens pulled Razor out and posted him. As Rowdy turned to check on his partner, Edwards rolled him up. A passable opener. I wasn’t expecting the moon and the stars.
(2) Trending Now (Ace Haven & Charles Zanders with Amy Haven) defeated Aries Brothers (Scott & Andrew) in 8:15. Aries Brothers back jumped Trending Now before the bell. However, the Brothers (cough) messed up and quickly found themselves in the deep end of the pool. Nice teamwork by Trending Now here. Scott interfered to set up a bigtime uranage by Andrew. He really planted Zanders. Andrew has very limited experience but he’s got the physique and explosiveness in his power moves to go places. Aries isolated Zanders. Desperation diving tag. Ace on fire. He hit sliced bread on Scott. Andrew saved and decimated Zanders and Ace with power moves, but the good Brothers screwed up again. Trending Now hit crazy dives to the outside. The finish saw Andrew accidentally spear Scott, who was pinned by Zanders after a high/low combo. A surprisingly good match. The foreshadowing of the finish via Aries’ earlier ineptitude was a nice touch. It was all action and they kept it together during all the gaga.
(3) Tyson Dean & AJ Steele defeated Feature Attraction (Donnie Primetime III & Britt Jackson) in 7:35. Mason. Dean & Steele toyed with Feature Attraction, who looked appropriately intimidated. DP3’s blows had no effect. Steele’s chops sure as hell did. DP3 got his ass kicked but good. His chest was beet red. Jackson pulled DP3 out of harm’s way, causing Dean to ram into the turnbuckle. Feature Attraction got a few moments of offense before Steele took them to Suplex City. Steele pinned Jackson with the Steele City Bomb (Black Hole Slam). Match was just what the doctor ordered to immediately establish Dean and Steele as the PWA’s dominant babyface tag team. DP3’s buffoonish bumping and selling was entertaining. Jackson needs more personality. Nothing he can do about having short arms.
(4) NWA Georgia Champion Tommy Too Much (with Merica Strong) & Simon Sermon vs. Nigel Sherrod & Shane Noles (with Wicked Nemesis) was ruled a double count out in 3:40. Nothing but a brawl. Noles and Sherrod starting beating on T2M before Sermon got out there. They fought outside the ring for 5 minutes before the match officially got underway. More chaos ensued. Merica attacked Sherrod. T2M nailed Wicked. Noles went after T2M with a steel chair and chased him all the way into the bathroom. Referee Terry Hudgins had no choice but to count them out. Totally different than any of previous matches. A pure fight was the only thing that made sense given Noles’ past issues with T2M and Sermon.
Announcer Jason Boyd said Steele & Dean would receive a second round bye and automatically advance to the tournament final.
(5) Beautiful Bald Besties and Trending Now went to a 15 minute draw. It was back and forth with neither team being able to sustain any momentum in the opening minutes. Besties were finally able to get the advantage on Zanders and keep it. They did the deal where Ace tagged and Besties made sure referee Mason didn’t see it. Edwards did a cool move that started like a powerbomb and ended with him tossing Zanders over his head into the turnbuckles. Ace entered with a double missile dropkick. Edwards kicked out of Ace’s sliced bread. Ace kicked out of a Bestie’s double knee combo. Trending Now hit their finisher on Stevens, who rolled to the floor to avoid being pinned. Ace had Stevens beaten with a stunner when the time ran out at the count of two. An OK match. Kind of ragged looking in spots. Announcer Boyd was spot on with the timekeeping, but he forgot to the ring the bell when the final second ticked off, so Mason halted the pin count before the bell actually rang.
Behrens came to the ring to introduce himself as the designated decision maker. Behrens said he preferred for it not to be this way, but since Dean and Steele had no competitors to face them, he was awarding them the titles. They promptly handed the titles back to Behrens. Steele said they ain’t never been afraid to fight and they never had anything given to them, so how about they kick all four asses? Behrens asked the crowd what they thought as if he didn’t know…a three way for the titles was announced as the main event for the evening.
(5) The PWA Heritage Championship match between Champion Jimmy Rave and Sal Rinauro was ruled a no contest in 17:30 and the title being held up. Rinauro took a page out of Rave’s heel playbook, using mind games in an attempt to throw Rave off. Rave’s answer -- control the ground game and eat Rinauro up with chops. A Rave misstep sent him flying over the top. Rinauro capitalized. Rinauro pie-faced Rave. Not a smart move. Rave’s eyes lit up like Bruiser and Crusher to signal the comeback.
But Rinauro had Rave’s signature tricks scouted. He blocked Rave’s apron STO and kicked out when Rave tried to catch him off guard with the move that has won him so many matches - the smallest package in pro wrestling. Rave’s superplex left both men feeling the effects. Rinauro kicked out of Rave’s delayed cover. Rave speared referee Triston Michaels by mistake. Rinauro laid Rave out with an implant DDT and set up for a belt shot. Dean cut Rinauro off and went to town on him. T2M and Merica hit the ring to attack Rave. Steele hit the ring and tossed Merica out with authority. The PWA fans must be sick of her shit because that got one of the bigger pops of the night. Sermon joined the fray. It was bedlam with Steele and Dean going to war with Sermon and T2M. Triston came to his sense and threw the match out. No big revelation that this was the best match of the night. It’s been years since I saw that kind of babyface fire from Rave. Rinauro’s work was the best I’ve seen since he returned to the ring a year ago.
Postmatch - Rinauro kicked Rave low and was ready to crown him with the belt, not knowing Behrens had entered the ring behind him. Behrens grabbed the belt and announced that title was held up.
(6) Beautiful Bald Besties defeated Trending Now and Steele & Dean in 12 minutes to win the tournament and become the new PWA Tag Team Champions. Besties were getting nowhere fast against Dean and Steele. Zanders made an unsolicited tag, and Trending Now continued to befuddle the Besties until desperation proved to be the mother of invention. Besties got heat on Ace. Dean tagged himself in and Besties were in trouble again, but Stevens managed to tag Zanders. Dean and Steele obliterated Zanders with a double team version of Dean’s spinning neckbreaker. Sermon and T2M came to ringside. Steele and Dean went after them, and as they did, Stevens made a blind tag and stole the pin on Zanders. A decent match. It was the storytelling that carried the day. Besties were unscrupulous sleaze balls all night long which made the finish oh so apropos.