As Peachstate Wrestling Alliance starts 2018, the company finds itself in something of a rebuilding phase.
A number of the names most familiar to PWA fans, AJ Steele, Pandora and the Bill Behrens’ led Kingsmen, appeared to have concluded their runs at Thanksgiving Turmoil. Another mainstay of the PWA roster, Tommy Too Much canceled due to surgery.
It was evident that PWA has some good things to build upon. PWA Heritage Champion Kevin Blue, Sal Rinauro and Tyson Dean picked up where they left off at Turmoil. AC Mack is becoming the guy PWA fans love to hate. The crowd just plain hates Triston Michaels. No news there except they hate former golden boy Shane Noles just as much. New blood was injected into the mix on the babyface side in the form of Georgia Rookie of the Year candidate Ike Cross.
Two matches were set up for PWA’s return the VFW Fairgrounds on January 20.
This show was moved from the Fairgrounds to the Villa Rica Civic Center which was a hell of a lot more comfortable for everyone, given the lack of heat at the Fairgrounds. Attendance was 125. How much the venue change affected attendance is an open question, but certainly an inauspicious start to the new year at the box office.
(1) Sal Rinauro defeated Alan Angels in 10:18. Rinauro used Angels’ momentum to toss him over the top on three sides of the ring. Angels got the advantage but was unable to pin Rinauro’s shoulder for more than a one count. The frustration caused the mentally unbalanced Angels to become even more unhinged than usual. Angels ended up on the apron on the fourth side. Rinauro brought him back into with a ropes-mounted vertical suplex. Angels had sweet chin music scouted and finally got a solid near fall with an enzuigiri. Rinauro finished Angels with a torture rack dropped into a facebuster, a superkick and a short flatliner. This was an effective shine match with nifty ideas incorporated into the layout. Rinauro has added some new wrinkles to his moveset and Angels did a good job of enhancing.
New PWA commissioner Triston was decked out a suitcoat for occasion. Triston said Christmas came early because at Thanksgiving Turmoil he got the job he had wanted for a long, long time and he didn’t do it alone. Out came Noles wearing an airbrushed “Noles #1” t-shirt. Triston took off the suit jacket to reveal a bookend “New PWA Commissioner” t-shirt. They hugged. Triston had a list of things on his agenda...
A welcome interruption by Rick Michaels got a big pop. Rick said he expected it out of a piece of garbage like Triston but not Shane. However, it was all beginning to make sense to Rick. He said Shane had turned full ownership of the company over to his father knowing what he was going to do and knowing Rick couldn’t beat his ass and take the company back. How assaulting Shane could magically change ownership of the company I have no idea . Rick said he was there due to way Triston had screwed over former commissioner and referee Terry Hudgins and their common bond with the PWA fans- their love of pro wrestling. Rick ridiculed the airbrushed t-shirts and associated them with 80s and Simon Sermon in no particualr order.
Triston said Rick was not on his list.
Out came AC Mack wearing the NCW Heavyweight Championship. Rick dissed Mack and broke Triston’s clipboard in half. “Now I’m on your list.” Mack slugged Rick and bailed. Triston said that due to Tommy Too Much’s emergency surgery, he was putting Rick in a match. Rick though he was getting Shane but Triston said Mack was the guy. “Good luck old-timer. You’re going to need it.”
(2) Romeo defeated Johnny Nixx in 10:11. This was a see-saw battle. A kick from Romeo sent Nixx face first into a column at ringside. Rome took over, blocking Nixx’s attempts at a satellite headscissors. A jumping flatliner by Nixx left both men down. Nixx hit the satellite headscissors and followed with a top rope elbow for a close near fall. Nixx almost had Romeo again with a Yoshi Tonic before Romeo hit the snapmare driver for the pin. The wrestling was fine but not much enthusiasm from the crowd. The style was more suitable for Landmark Arena. The PWA fans didn’t know Nixx, and he didn’t work at getting them involved in the match. The cool moves meant little without an emotional connection.
(3) Beautiful Bald Besties (Michael Stevens & Zac Edwards) defeated The Approved (Adryan Hawkins & Bobby Moore) to retain the PWA Tag Team Championship in 14:42. I didn’t have any notes on this match because Beyond Ringside's Eddie Layne was invited me to do color commentary for the DVD. Boyd introduced the Besties as the six-time PWA Tag Team Champions. It was a heated, competitive match that saw each of the four men under severe pressure at various times. Confusion reigned when Edwards clearly had his hand on the ropes, but referee David Weakley didn’t see it and reacted like Edwards had been pinned. Approved played up the unintended controversy with appropriate outrage. The finish was strong. Besties hit their signature combo on Hawkins, and Edwards smoked Moore with a tope as Stevens covered Hawkins. The problem here is the lack of any real direction for the champions.
(4) Ike Cross defeated Ashton Starr via submission in 6:36. This was really good. Starr has improved by leaps and bounds over the last 6 months. For pure athletic ability, Cross is as good as it gets in Georgia wrestling. Starr has improved by leaps and bounds over the last 6 months. Cross’s look and high energy entrance made him an instant hit with the PWA fans. Starr got pissy and slapped him. Cross paid Starr back with interest via an explosive dropkick and tope. Starr cut off the aerial pyrotechnics with a well-placed kick that dropped Cross off the top rope onto his face. Starr used an inverted tarantula and a sharpshooter (Starrshooter?). Both down after a flying forearm from Cross, who nipped up and made Starr tap to a Liontamer.
Mack forced ring announcer Jason Boyd to hoist the belt over his head for the entire the world to see while he introduced himself. Rick came to ringside with Hudgins in tow. Rick borrowed a hat and scarf from a fan for a twisted rendition of Mack’s intro that was highly entertaining.
(5) AC Mack defeated Rick Michaels (with Terry Hudgins) in 5:22. Mack gets more heat every time out. Rick continued his mockery of Mack after the bell rang. Rick diverted the attention of referee Mason Pike so he could kick Mack in the nuts. Mack bailed and whined. Back inside, Mack unleashed a burst of offense and ran his mouth. Mack was clearly feeling it. Rick poked Mack in the eyes and was setting up the Double Shot when Romeo emerged from the back, intent on singing the French Anthem. Rick stopped what he was doing and Mack pinned him with the Mack 10. Setting aside the lame distraction finish, they did a good job of gaga-ing their way out of the situation created by Too Much’s absence.
Mack said he lost the PWA No Limits Championship under Hudgins’ regime and now that power had been transferred to Triston, he needed to get David Ali in the ring so he could take back his championship. “I have earned my shot. I took this old dog out to the shed and pulled the trigger.” The old dog up and superkicked Mack.
Shane and Triston rushed to the ring to check on Mack with the crowd changing “OC1”. Shane challenged Rick to his get his washed up ass back into the ring. Rick did. Shane retreated. Shane and Mack tried to corner Rick but he slid out on the unguarded side of the ring.
Rick told Shane to build his stable of cowards because on January 20 he was bringing some friends with him.
(6) Kevin Blue defeated Tyson Dean via DQ to retain the PWA Heritage Championship in 17:16. Match opened like an old style championship bout, as the competitors sized each other up and avoided major risks in the early going. Blue’s true color emerged with a cheap shot on the break. Blue took a timeout after taking a Saito suplex from Dean. Blue reversed a suplex and Dean took a TO. Blue followed Dean out. They brawled at ringside. Ring announcer Jason Boyd got knocked down. With the ref’s attention diverted, Blue jabbed Dean in the gut with a steel chair. Rinauro came to ringside to check on Boyd. Meanwhile, Blue continued to work over Dean’s solar plexus. The fans started chanting for a Tyson. Dean responded with a pair of side saltos that took the starch out of Blue. Blue tried to pin Dean with feet on the ropes but Rinauro shoved them off. Blue started talking smack to Sal. Blue’s ego the best of him as Dean hit a TKO. Blue got a foot on the bottom rope to save being pinned. The crowd rallied behind Dean. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Blue sent Dean into the chair he had earlier wedged between the ropes and leveled him with a Yakuza kick but Dean kicked out. Blue spit on Rinauro, who snapped and attacked Blue for the DQ. I liked this match a lot. It felt like a championship match and the plot development was a satisfying follow through on the issues these key players had leading into Turmoil.
Dean recovered to find Rinauro in the ring and his title shot down the drain. Dean decked Rinauro and pounded on him. Blue returned to the ring looking to build an alliance with Dean. It worked. They put the boots to Rinauro until Cross made the save.
Rinauro said Blue and Dean had a common interest in putting an end to him. “I don’t fear death or dying. I only fear never trying.” Spoken like a true babyface. Rinauro said he had stumbled upon the biggest, baddest friend he could find in Cross.
Rinauro challenged Blue and Dean to a tag match on January 20. Dean wasn’t all that thrilled with Blue and vice versa. My sense was the fans aren’t sure what to make of Dean at this point and he’s pretty confused himself. It was quite the first night in for Cross. He got over and was moved directly to the top of the card. It will be interesting to see how this shakes out.