Cactus League Wrestling Is Ran By Carnies And Wrestling Fans Are STILL Sick Of It

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If you haven’t read the first part of this post you can find it here: https://thewrestlingpirate.wordpress.com/2019/12/03/cactus-league-wrestling-is-ran-by-carnies-and-wrestling-fans-are-sick-of-it/

We are moving on to the next part of the story momentarily, but first I do want to touch on some things.

  • Firstly, I want to cover some of the things that have been spread about me (particularly from CLW’s management). I am just a fan. Simple as that. If people want to paint me as a hater, go ahead. The one thing that I hate is fans getting shafted so that people can play wrestler and pretend like they are big shots. If you don’t think that happened or is currently happening with Cactus League Wrestling, then you are either delusional or lying to hide the narrative. The first post on here was nothing that couldn’t be found with a couple of hours of time and access to Twitter and Reddit. No claims that were presented can be construed as constructed because I made sure to cover my tracks as much as possible. I don’t like doing this stuff. It isn’t fun or productive, and it isn’t the reason I started this blog. I started it so that I could write about wrestling and express my thoughts on it. If you want to attack me for being honest, go ahead, but know that I get literally nothing out of it. No payments, no publicity, no nothing. One could argue that my readership has grown, but I call BS on that, because the only post I get any traffic for is the CLW one, and if people think that is expanding my readership, you are mistaken. Most of the people reading this could give a rat’s behind about my thoughts on Ice Ribbon.
  • There were wrestlers who defended Adam on a personal level. There weren’t many, but it would be disingenuous to say that every piece of info that came out about him was negative. But, and this is a huge but, none of these people could defend the way he ran his company. These people also stated that they didn’t want their comments released publicly, which I am honoring, as they didn’t want to “lose a booking”. I completely understand that, as much as it annoyed me because I don’t want wrestlers to go without getting bookings and I don’t want wrestlers to be painted as snitches. But at the same time, the reason that things have progressed to this point is because of people supporting CLW regardless of how they treat people. That’s really sad.
  • Roman Alexander has made it a point to bury me and call me a hater specifically after I went through great lengths to give him the benefit of the doubt. I know Roman didn’t read what I wrote, because if he did he would find a person who was a pretty big fan of his who was wondering how he could have gotten involved with Adam Dobres. Instead of owning up to their mistakes, CLW decided to control the narrative and paint me as someone who has an agenda. I honestly don’t. The only thing I want is for Adam to either change the way he promotes shows or just step aside and let adults actually participate in the wrestling scene here in AZ. Acting like adults isn’t attacking fans who feel slighted by your business practices.
  • I want to send a huge, HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who helped out with this part of the blog. This one is going to probably be substantially longer, as after I hit publish on part one, I had a huge outpouring of comments and statements from people who have interacted with CLW as fans and as employees. Even before that, there were people with enough guts to come forward and give me timelines, their thoughts, as well as their own reasonings for why this has gotten as bad as it has. It’s unfortunate, but those are the people who often get overlooked, and really, they are the ones that deserve a lot of the credit that people have given me.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s continue with where we left off.

Adam

From what I have gathered, Adam first showed up in Tucson around 2014. He approached High Impact Wrestling looking for work, and he informed the booking office there that he was trained out of Vegas. The only issue was that after seeing him work, the people there were unimpressed. They stated to me that Adam looked like a cartoon while working, didn’t know the basics of being a ref besides counting pinfalls, five counts, and ten counts, and also wanted to be a focal point in many of the matches he worked.

Another issue that keeps popping up around this time is that Adam didn’t seem to show any respect towards people he deemed beneath him. There are numerous stories I have gotten where Adam refuses to shake veterans’ hands when he meets them for the first time. He does this until he finds out their roles in the company, and then he will decide if he will be friendly or not. This happened back in 2014 with one of the wrestlers in the office of HIW, as Adam met with one of the newest members of the booking team at that time and ignored him until that same person ended up agenting the matches Dobres had that morning. How embarrassing that you would disrespect someone that badly only to have to take instructions from them a couple of hours later. But Adam didn’t seem to care, as from my understanding, this behavior has persisted to this day.

Adam ended up working for HIW one more time. This time Adam approached the HIW booker at the time, Lewis Feinman, and informed him that he was going to be leaving the show early. He asked Lewis if he “wanted to do something with it”, which Lewis found confusing. When Dobres stated that they could possibly turn it into an angle, Lewis scoffed, stating that there wasn’t much they could do with a program involving a ref. Adam stated this was okay and informed Lewis that he was fine with the decision.

After Dobres finished his last match for the evening, Lewis, who also helped with live commentary at the time, was on the mic using the buffer between matches as an opportunity to hype up the main event of the evening. While he was talking, Dobres began to scream and throw a tantrum while sitting on the ring apron. He grabbed his gear bag which he had packed before the match and then proceeded to stomp off, stating that he was quitting. Lewis, unaware at first what was transpiring, felt blindsided. It was then that it dawned on him that Adam was going into business for himself, pushing the angle that Lewis had struck down only a couple of hours before. Before Adam could leave the venue, Lewis got on the mic and stated that Adam was fired and that it was a shoot. This story was relayed to me through multiple individuals, and it was also confirmed that for the months after this show, Adam was the brunt of a rib in the locker room where people would bring up the time Feinman fired someone during a live show.

So already, in just a couple of months in Tucson, Adam had shown a disregard for superiors, a disregard for the shows he was working, and also, a lack of knowledge and common sense for the wrestling industry. I know that I have never stepped foot in a ring, and I know that I am probably being seen as a dumb fan who knows only what I have read about, but holy crap, one of the main things I always see is how unprofessional it is to go into business for yourself like that. I know everyone has their own opinion for roles in a company, but if you are a green ref who just got out of wrestling school, then you don’t need an angle. You just need to go in, work the match, and count the three. That’s how you get over as a referee.

The other point of contention is if Adam actually finished wrestling school. Numerous individuals have stated that Adam has no real knowledge of booking a card, staying in shape, ring psychology, locker room etiquette, or how a company office needs to be run. Many in Tucson consider him a wrestling school washout, which is a term that guys in the business use to refer to someone who maybe did a couple of days, even weeks, of training and then were told that they probably would never make it. Some workers, the strong ones, work through this and try to do their best to prove people wrong. Unfortunately, a fair amount leave where they train and then move across state lines to convince others that they know what they are doing because they can do some rolls and flat back bumps. This seems to be the case with Adam.

Another topic of discussion from 2014 is an infamous show that was run out of Palo Verde High School. This is one I actually considered going to because of the big names that were being advertised, but after reading about what happened before and during the event, I am glad I skipped it that week.

RWF, or Rowdy Wrestling Federation, has been running shows in Tucson since the early 2000s. They had entered into an agreement with Dobres about copromoting a show that would feature Brian Cage. They even went so far as to print out huge glossies of their posters to promote Cage being in town, but about a week before the show, Adam and RWF split ways.

There were two main rumors that came about why Adam split off from the RWF office. The first one states that Adam noticed how horribly ran the company was and also found out that they were running without being insured. Once Adam found this out, he left and didn’t want to have anything more to do with RWF, as he cared about the safety of the boys and the fans. But, the second rumor actually sounds a lot more realistic. The second rumor is that RWF found out that Brian Cage had never intended to work their show, and that Adam had promised him without being able to come through with the booking.

Now which one of these scenarios sounds truer to life, that Adam would quit a company because he cared about the fans, who he constantly works for his paychecks now, or that he promoted a wrestler who he never intended of actually getting to work for him? You be the judge of that one.

Adam didn’t find much work after that. He seemed to float around and ref where he could, but the boys in Tucson seemed to dismiss him as someone not worth their time. It was also told to me that Adam was only about eight-teen or nine-teen at the time when he first came around, so I think a lot of his behavior was brushed off as him being young and ignorant.

Adam was spotted here and there for the next couple of years. At the same time, Roman would grow frustrated with his role in High Impact Wrestling. While he was able to get bookings in other promotions and grow his own brand, he was flustered with his home promotion’s lack of vision. Sure, HIW was doing pretty well compared to years before, but it wasn’t enough for Roman at that time. He wanted something bigger to call home.

This is around the time where Rebellion Pro first was formed. Rebellion was formed by HIW send offs as well as other guys from Arizona who wanted to have a different product than what HIW offered. Adam also took note of this new company and decided to show up looking for work as a ref again. He ended up working one show, and he used the time to try to get into the ear of management while he was there. Adam had a plan, this time. He would start his own company, and it would feature a mix of Vegas and Tucson talent, as well as a who’s who of nationally recognized stars. Lewis, who had also joined the new company, distinctly remembers this conversation. He stated that he informed Adam that they weren’t bad ideas, but that they as a company weren’t ready for them. Lewis was more interested in establishing themselves as a different product and brand than anyone else in Arizona at the time, and he planned on doing that with the roster they had. One thing you can notice, though, is that the image that Adam had formed back then was very close to what CLW had attempted to turn into later on.

Roman Alexander

Roman was between a rock and a hard place in Rebellion. After feeling slighted and looked past in High Impact Wrestling, he was starting to feel the same way in his own company, Rebellion. I recieved differring accounts as to what happened here again, but it appears that Roman had decided to quit and go back to working for the promoter he had been employed by previously. He was let go officially from Rebellion Pro after missing a meeting regarding the company’s future. Understandably, the Rebellion boys were pretty upset that they were left high and dry. Roman wasn’t only an office member, but he was considered to be one of their biggest draws. While Alexander could still work pretty much anywhere he wanted, Rebellion was left trying to figure out how to replace the fans that may have left when Roman quit.

But Roman wasn’t done with being in management. It appears that in 2018, Roman was interested in starting yet another promotion. Learning from the mistakes that he made before, he decided that this time he had found the perfect partner who shared the same vision he had for his promotion, Adam Dobres. Roman also was able to convince his long-time friend and another local wrestling star, Chris Evans, that entering a partnership would be for the best. Adam had come in with new financial backing, a very impressive ability to upsell their product, and a hunger to be involved in the wrestling business. The years away from Tucson appeared to put a drive in Adam that Roman nor Chris had seen before in Tucson. They even decided to throw HIW a bone, and in May of that year, they made a Facebook post commemorating the new start. The post specifically tags HIW Owner Ricky Flash, Chris Evans, Adam Dobres, and himself, and it also speaks of new beginnings. They booked the Marcana, an indoor soccer stadium close to the downtown district, and began getting backing for their company. One of the initial men who was sold on Cactus League Wrestling was Chris Click.

The Chavo Show

It was pretty clear that the boys were not ready to run at the level that they had intended to right off the bat. Growing pains happen with every company, but CLW’s came fast and hard.

The first show was announced in June. At the time, Ricky Flash and HIW seemed like they would be onboard to help out with the show. HIW had agreements with almost every person who worked in Tucson. No one I spoke with was able to elaborate on the exact specifics of what happened one month after that show was announced, but on July 28th, HIW posted an update on their Facebook page stating that they would not be affiliated with Cactus League. They stated that their talent would work the show, but it would not be a co-branded show, and their HIW Title would not be defended.

Flash and HIW were ahead of the curve on this one. My assumption is that what happened with RWF also happened with HIW, and Flash didn’t want his company looking like RWF years before. Once Adam had left that show, it turned into a nightmare. The ring was broken to the point where the locker room was told not to bumb in it, the bigger stars were upset at the working conditions, and RWF was never able to bounce back after it. HIW probably saw the writing on the wall and cut their losses before the bleeding got really bad. The bloodletting really was only beginning then too.

One week before the show, Chavo Jr. sent off the infamous tweet that I wrote about previously. Luckily, the other big names had been sewn up, but Cactus League was already starting to lose face in the Arizona wrestling scene.

At this moment, Adam, Roman, and others could have been honest. They could have owned up to their shortcomings and I feel like people would have been forgiving. The first show for a new company, of course there are going to be big problems. But, it seems like Adam was more concerned with the perception of CLW, rather than the truth about it. When fans and wrestlers arrived that day of the show, Adam and the staff informed anyone inquiring that Chavo had been held up in the hurricane that had been plastered all over the news cycle that week. People bought it, as well. They trusted guys like Roman and Evans. They knew that they had a relationship with both from years of independent shows as well as interactions on social media. There was no way that CLW would lie to their fans knowingly, right? So the fans and everyone else involved took the hurricane story at face value.

The other thing about the first show is that as soon as the first bell rang, all the problems and stresses seemed to melt away with the lights above the ring. From all accounts, this show was really fun and everyone who did come out did their best to get the crowd their money’s worth. I think all in all, even the Chavo mishap, Adam, Roman, and Evans could consider this a win.

Cracks In The Armor

Chris Click had been duped, and he wasn’t happy about it.

Early in the CLW run, they had approached him for a partnership that seemed like a no brainer. Cactus League was ran by younger guys, but they also came across like they knew what they were talking about. Not just that, but they were able to get some really big names for their first show. Clearly they had something different than what the previous companies in Tucson had before.

That was before he started getting calls. Chris was well known in the local scene. Click is a lifelong wrestling fan, and back in the late 90s, he hosted a show on public access where he discussed everything about wrestling, from the dirt sheet rumors to the local wrestling scene. When he got older, he worked with wrestlers from all over to come to do meet and greets in Tucson. He worked hard over the many years he had done this to build a reputation among the boys who would travel through Arizona that he could be relied upon for legit bookings and good money, so when he started hearing rumblings about the CLW crew, he was understandably upset.

False advertising was the main concern from most who contacted him. The Chavo Jr. stunt left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths. It was one thing to have something come up that would prevent talent from coming in, but to outright lie to paying customers was something that made Chris pause before wanting to continue his partnership.

The only problem was that Chris had already supplied Adam and Co. with merchandise. They had worked out an agreement where CLW would sell Click’s merchandise and split the profits, but this was also coming up as a hassle more than anything else. The biggest issue came when Chris went to terminate their partnership, as Adam and CLW did not return the merchandise that was given to them. Click has already gone through legal avenues to fix this issue, and the amount that Cactus League owes him is $40,000 worth!

Click wasn’t the only one who had seen the problems early.

After the first show, multiple fans contacted me regarding CLW completely botching their second show.

CLW did such a good job that many fans contacted me stating they bought tickets early for the next show. The only issue was the venue. Fans showed up to the venue and found out that CLW had forgotten to inform the owner of the builing they were running. That’s right, CLW advertised a show in a building where they actually hadn’t booked the venue! The other ceveat of this show was that his was the show to make up for the Chavo debacle. If fans showed their original tickets they would be supplied with new GA tickets to make up for the booking error. I can’t even imagine how a company would do this. You would almost have to try to be this amateurish. I can honestly say that I have never heard of a show before or after where the company forgot to inform the owner of the building of a show taking place.

The other HUGE issue with this show was it had John Morrison, PJ Black, Matt Cross, and Luchasaurus all booked to appear. When fans had dug a bit deeper, they found that CLW never even paid a deposit for the building. When they were contacted for refunds, they told the fans that the card was subject to change, so no refunds would be issued…

Full stop right here. Let’s look at this objectively. CLW advertises a show where they don’t even book a building that is going to have nationally recognized talent. When the fans ask for refunds, they say that the card is subject to change… They, unfortunately, they didn’t tell the fans that building rentals are also subject to change.

This fan who sent me a DM about the show in detail actually had to go through their bank in order to get refunded the cash they spent on Cactus League tickets. You can see how frustrating it must be for a fan to go through this kind of trouble, especially one who is excited to attend a second show after being impressed with the first one.

I think if we take a step back and look closely, we can see that Adam and Co tried. They really did. It wasn’t as bad as RWF before. It was a genuine attempt at starting something great. But when those missteps took the forefront and it was time to be the adult in the room, Adam just pretended like it wasn’t on him. Well, let me tell you something: when you are the face and owner of a company, and you make mistakes this big, then you do have to make it right. I’ve worked in customer service jobs. I know the customer always being right isn’t always the case, but when you mess up this badly then you gotta own up to it. Chavo being lied about is only part of the problem. The bigger issue is that fans who want to spend their hard-earned money for a product that they enjoy are footing the bill for a vanity project above all else.

The Money

Numerous people have claimed that Dobres either comes from money or received a huge inheritance that allows him to afford these wrestlers on the top of the card. I guess the most confusing thing about this is that if it is someone who comes from money, why is paying out wrestlers a fair wage such a huge obstacle.

Okay, so going back to show number one, Roman and Evans did their best to recruit the bottom of the card. In fact, they did such a good job that almost the entire group of guys who wrestle in Tucson regularly came out for the show. In order to separate the wheat from the chaff, the office for CLW decided to have an “open tryout” for the local guys. They made them all get in the ring before the show and do bump drills and run the ropes. Many who contacted me thought this was a slap in the face. They had already worked with people like Roman and Evans. They had already “paid their dues” for years upon years in Tucson and Phoenix, and now they had to prove their worth again? The other thing that disturbed some was that there wasn’t even a cut for the weaker talent. Everyone who showed up and bumped for Adam that day got a spot in an opening match battle royal. The match wasn’t even taped, as it was considered a dark match. This is the show that Cody Baker tweeted about that I included last time. From my understanding, Cody was one of the lucky ones. When some of the boys asked for a payout, they were told that they just got to work a show with nationally recognized stars on it. They were also told to accept the hotdog and a handshake and let things lie. Most did exactly that. I know that working for free is seen as a badge of honor in the wrestling business, but this group included people who had been working and traveling to shows for years. Cody Baker has been working shows for at least 10 years now. I saw him at RDPW eons ago. For Adam and Co. to try to shaft him for a $20 payday that they didn’t even have in their pockets is kind of pathetic, especially when Cody had been working shows alongside Roman for so long. I know not everyone is going to agree with my sentiment, but I don’t care. It’s a slap in the face to those who helped get you where you are. Roman would have never got to where he is without the Tucson boys helping him out. It’s really disturbing that he allowed his “friends” to be treated like livestock at a county fair rather than treat them like humans and tell them that he wasn’t interested in paying them for the night.

If you think that the big stars are not subject to being jerked around, then you have another thing coming. Going back to the November show that wasn’t actually booked, Matt Cross insisted on being paid for that show. Which he should be, in all honesty. They used his name, his likeness, and it is very common for wrestlers of his caliber to be compensated even if a show doesn’t materialize. Cactus League barely paid Cross this past November for that booking. He had to wait almost an entire year for his pay. Imagine having to chase down an employer for an entire twelve months.

The Wake Up Call

Chris Evans was starting to realize that he had made a huge mistake. Although CLW struggled through the first half year they had, the second half of the year picked up like crazy. Adam had an eye for big-picture production, and his set and lighting made everything sparkle once the opening bell rang. I do have to give it to the guy. The CLW shows you see, especially compared to RWA and HIW shows in Tucson, look really amazing. The clean presentation and the bigger names on the card were enough to entice a lot of wrestling fans. There were so many nights where people would text me or call me and say they had gone to a Cactus League show and that I would love them. I would get videos from The Rock (a local concert venue in Tucson) and it looked so cool to see the stuff CLW was doing, but at the back of my mind, I couldn’t shake the Chavo situation.

But it is pretty clear that even with the big crowds and the positive buzz, CLW was struggling. If they weren’t, then they probably wouldn’t still be advertising wrestlers that weren’t going to ever show up. This pattern was shown in the last post, and I don’t want to have to cover old ground, so from now on I am going to cover some of the few other things that have been talked about.

Evans Has Enough

Evans wasn’t happy with how things had gone. Chris, unfortunately, suffered an injury on an HIW show last year that put him out of commission for a long time, a broken leg. It appears that once that happened, Chris decided to use his time outside of the ring to focus on Cactus League. The problem was that things seemed like they were going in the wrong direction.

I had very little correspondence from Chris. He seemed like he had moved past everything and only stated that most of the information that I heard was probably true. He did verify one thing that I heard, and that will be included soon enough. But most of the boys that I talked to put Chris over as the guy who was trying to hold things together while Adam ran amuck. For one, Adam would constantly push back on Evan’s efforts to get some of the local talent time with the bigger names. Chris understood that if they could get local guys over, then they wouldn’t have to always shell out big money for big names, but Adam and the rest of the office thought it was a waste. The Tucson, Yuma, and Phoenix guys were lost causes. Roman and Chris were and would always be the cream of the crop locally. Why put in that much work?

The other issue seemed to come around Cactus League Wrestling’s championship scene. Adam didn’t understand that a champion of a company was supposed to be the draw. He had spent so much time buying bigger talent that he didn’t realize that he needed a centerpiece for the entire company. When the decision came down to who would be the first monster heel of the company, the locker room let out a collective groan, even if it was under their breath. Adam chose himself for the role. You can even see this sight if you look up early Cactus League shows on YouTube. You have to remember that Adam possibly didn’t even finish wrestling school. The only reason that he would be where he was coming down to who was paying out the money. This didn’t sit right with Evans, and he started making his issues known.

It wasn’t long until Evan’s words got back to Adam. The firing of Chris came shortly after, but the details of the matter are what are the most troubling.

Chris was reportedly voicing his concerns with Adam to some of the other wrestlers in Arizona. Chris clearly had some viable gripes. Even if we were to ignore the issues with the advertisements, Chris Click being defrauded, and the debacle with the renting of a building for a show, just looking at Adam’s decision to put himself on the top of the card alone is a reason to bring some critiques to the table. Apparently, Chris had thought that his conversation was between two parties, but this wasn’t the case. One individual there decided to record what Chris was saying on their cell phone, and then take it to the Dobres family.

Let’s think about this for a second. One party records another party without their consent and then presents it to the person’s employer. This just sounds scummy on so many levels. I know people will probably mention that Evans shouldn’t have been talking behind his boss’s back, but come on. This isn’t how the real world works. If people get frustrated with their place of employment, they are allowed to vent about it. Another possibility is that Chris had already said these things to Adam and they went ignored. Many wrestlers who pointed me to Evans spoke very highly of him as a person and as a wrestler. He doesn’t come across like someone who would hide his opinion either, as the younger wrestlers who pointed me to Evans stated that he wasn’t shy about his opinions on people’s work, and he always seemed like he was trying to make shows better. No one, and I mean no one, had one negative remark about Chris Evans. That is saying something considering the level of seediness that has already been found out here.

So what did Adam do with this information? Did he pull Chris to the side and talk about the issues? Did he make some compromises in order to keep all parties happy?

No. Adam Dobres waited until the start of the next show. When Chris showed up and as fans were taking their seats, Dobres fired Evans in front of everyone. Chris described it as embarrassing, to say the least. Here was a man who paid his dues, worked his butt off, traveled all over the southwest United States, helped Adam and Roman start the company, and here he was now, being let go in front of his own fans for speaking his opinion about the company that he was helping to run.

Once Evans left, things just seemed to get worse.

Ellsworth, Teddy, and Yuma, Oh My!

James Ellsworth was in a bad spot. He had recently been involved in a huge scandal that was eating into his ability to get bookings. Sure, he had been a really big character on television recently. He was able to wrestle AJ Styles and be involved with Carmella in a pretty popular program. But now that he was out of the big leagues, he saw his places to work narrowing down pretty significantly.

That was until he was contacted by Cactus League. Since his first booking, Ellsworth has been one of the mainstays in the company. He has even had title runs while there. The only problem is that people have never really gotten over the allegations of him sending nudes to an underage teenager.

Many of the boys have said that James is nice, funny, and approachable. He makes jokes about his time in WWE, and he has a charm about him that people genuinely like. But, the boys still wonder about those allegations. The other concerning thing is that CLW advertises themselves for children’s birthday parties. For a fee, you can have an accused pedophile to come to your house and hang out with your children while he sips punch and has a piece of cake. The level of ignorance here is not surprising at this point, but it is still worth mentioning.

From my understanding, when there are few of the boys around and it is mostly the office guys alone, they will make jokes about the accusations about Ellsworth and try their best to make light of the situation.

Ellsworth isn’t the only person who is seen in a questionable light as well. Teddy Hart was only released from MLW yesterday, and people are speculating that it has to do with a Samantha Fiddler case that he and Chasyn Rance both seem to be involved with. The issue that I see with this is that Teddy has changed his story numerous times already and while most companies are distancing themselves while the facts get straightened out, Adam and Co. seem to be doubling down. They even posted pictures to social media of their office with Teddy while Hart has a chokehold on his new girlfriend. Not exactly tasteful while someone is involved in a scandal of this sort.

It comes across to me after looking at the advertising, the people he keeps around, and the way that he treats his friends and coworkers that Adam just has a very small moral compass and that he will do anything for his own image.

The Workers

One sad thing about the wrestlers that contacted me is that none of them wanted to have their names released. Not all, but many said that they didn’t want to be seen as a snitch and lose bookings. Some were new to the wrestling business, but most had been around for some time and had established names. Almost all told the same story.

Adam doesn’t pay the workers directly. In fact, who paid the wrestlers varied by who I spoke with. Sometimes it was the bookers. Sometimes it was someone random. Payments had to almost always be tracked down unless your name is Darren Young or Chris Masters. People from Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Tucson all said they had to hound Adam for their paychecks. One stated that it was easier to get Adam to do something for you if you were aggressive, and it came down to him shouting at Adam to not only pay him but the other wrestlers, to which Adam immediately caved and got him his pay for the night. One common theme I kept running into was that Adam only moved quickly if he was scared, so a lot of the boys would just resort to punking Adam in order to not miss any more payouts. This led to Adam booking them for shows and then not following up with them when it came time to travel or confirming call time.

Adam just doesn’t seem to care about wrestlers after he gets what he needs out of them. You hear many stories of promoters treating their wrestlers like they are made for the meat grinder, allowing their rosters to kill themselves while they reap the profits. This seems to accurately sum up Adam to a T. Out of all the wrestlers that I spoke to, even the ones that spoke well about Adam’s character, all stated that Adam was a horrible promoter and the rest of the office was no better. Reportedly at one of the recent shows, CLW’s new booker buried each and every person from Yuma who drove down to the show to work by saying that they were all the shits. He did so while he thought none of them could hear him. When confronted about the statement later that night, he piped down and refused to answer, giving the wrestlers the quiet treatment rather than fess up to his opinion. It’s fine if the Cactus League office feels that way, but it isn’t right to let these guys drive halfway across a state before expressing the opinion, only to backpedal when the same group puts your feet to the fire later on.

If you are a young wrestler who is looking to make a name in Arizona, stay as far away from Cactus League as possible.

The Fans, and One Fan’s Final Rant

I met so many cool wrestling fans while doing this piece. You don’t know how passionate fans are until you share stories with them. I talked to people who wanted desperately to support Cactus League. I talked to fans like myself who drove all over the state to see different wrestlers. I talked to people who saw the same workers I did and had the same level of enjoyment. I met fans of Chris Evans, Roman Alexander, High Impact Wrestling, and Rockstar Wrestling. We all had similar stories. We all had bought tickets way too early for events where the card was changed. We all had met big stars who treated us like we were best friends as well as ones who could have cared less. Most importantly, I met countless people who saw Cactus League and thought, hey, there is some wrestling in my hometown, and I want to support them so that they keep having shows.

Here is an account of the San Antonio show:

This was this person’s first show ever. Imagine if your first show was Cactus League. Imagine paying out a ton of money to meet your favorite tag team and then to have to jump through hoops in order to get a parital refund. Imagine going to a venue and finding out the company didn’t even care enough to pay a deposit.

While researching this blog, I also was contacted by a guy named Ed Knight. Ed “The American” Knight was a guy I used to see all the time as kid. He came up in the business when I was going to wrestling shows in the late 90s. He came out of retirement years ago and wrestled Roman Alexander in HIW at a reunion show of sorts. That was one of the most fun shows I had ever been to. When I told him how I had seen him that night, he thanked me for coming out and it made my whole week. How could someone that I had gotten so much from thank me? All I did was buy a ticket and enjoy a show. It was years ago. But Knight cared enough to thank me.

Guys like Ed Knight and others in Arizona know that fans make the business run. It isn’t just who you book. It is who you book that gets the fans in the door. It isn’t the style of wrestling, it is the style that makes different fans feel different emotions. Guys like CLW don’t get it because they don’t think of the fan. They only think of themselves. They are only worried about how they are perceived, not how they actually treat us as fans.

I don’t judge the bigger names that go to these shows. People have to eat. Wrestling is shady, clearly, and if we picked and chose who worked where because of past issues, there woudn’t be a wrestling business. Jimmy Snuka killed a woman, for God’s sake, yet we still celebrate his life. In the grand scheme of things, Adam isn’t an anomaly as much as a common symptom of the wrestling industry.

But still… YOU, the wrestling fan do NOT HAVE TO! You don’t have to approve of any of this. You don’t have to be nickel and dimed. You don’t have to pay top dollar for VIP tickets and not get who you wanted to show. You don’t have to do any of it. You can just stay home and wait for another show. You can drive to California or Phoenix or New Mexico.

Just please, whatever you do, DON’T GIVE YOUR MONEY TO SELFISH CARNIES!!!!

Now that this is all said, I likely won’t speak on the matter again. Please consider all the things you have read here this week when deciding who you will support locally, and thank you for your time.

Free COVID-19 With Your Wrestling Show

A side of COVID-19 with your wrestling?

I made a point when I finished my last CLW post that I would not be writing about them again unless I felt the reason was warranted. This would be, to me, one of those reasons.

While Arizona as a state is suffering through one of the worst pandemics to ever hit stateside, several independent wrestling leagues have chosen to put their “monetary gains” above the health and safety of their fans and wrestlers.

As recently as this past weekend, when our death toll numbers had finally started to dip down, Cactus League Wrestling, owned and operated by Adam Dobres (more information can be found here and here), decided it would be a good idea to run a wrestling show in the middle of Arizona, one of the hardest-hit states right now by the virus. This was done with what looks to be little social distancing, few masks, and an alarming amount of kids in attendance. While the show was outdoors, which probably would help to dampen the chances of people getting infected, I still fail to see the importance of having unregulated wrestling over keeping as many people as safe as possible.

It has also been revealed to me that EWE, another Arizona company, was running shows back in May. This happened in the most embarrassing fashion possible. Allie Kat revealed on her Twitter account that a person was emailing her from a burner account and harassing her over the Joey Ryan allegations that were published during the #SpeakingOut movement. EWE had tried to book her back then and she refused, citing the pandemic as her reasoning. She went as far as to say that no reputable company would be running during that time, which probably left a sour taste in the promoter’s mouth. This company had a joint show with High Impact Wrestling out of Tucson. I can’t speak on the environment of this show, as I have not found any pictures of it, but I think the only shows that were running back then were the smallest of promotions that wouldn’t make a splash or get any negativity for doing these events with COVID still looming.

These repeated offenses are sad and disgusting, and they really speak pretty clearly about companies that are running in the state of Arizona right now. At first, what I thought was a Cactus League Wrestling problem has really revealed the issue as a whole in AZ. We just have too many people running shows and not knowing what they are doing.

There are a couple of things I will address because we all know how these conversations go. No, I don’t think being responsible with your audience is “propaganda”. No, I don’t think these companies need to be running to keep the lights on or make a difference on their bottom line. I am almost certain that these companies running shows are either breaking even or money losers. If the case isn’t needing to make money, then it comes down to vanity projects. Should we really be risking our lives, as fans and as wrestlers, so that someone can just say that they are running shows just for the sake of running shows?

Again, let’s point out some of the positives for these shows. They are held outdoors. That does actually help with lowering the chance of getting sick from the virus. It does take some pretty hardcore grouping to be able to contract it outdoors and in a place as hot and sunny as Arizona. But after looking at the videos that were posted online of multiple shows, you can see groups of people, without masks of face coverings, drinking beer, and congregating together. Wrestlers circle the ring and talk and heckle the fans. There are even some fist bumps with kids. There is no barrier between fans and workers besides a simple guardrail at most. The amount of sweat and spit flying out of mouths at times with no protections given to the fans at all is pretty telling by itself how much regard to safety is really given.

Let’s compare these efforts to huge professional sports leagues, like Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association. These folks are spending tons of money on tests and procedures that are needed to hamper any sort of infection. WWE, itself a multi-billion dollar company, has had issues with outbreaks. These are people who can throw a massive amount of money to fight against COVID-19, and these local promotions think that they are smart enough, well off enough, or exceptional enough to have shows and do better than these people? What planet did these people wake up on to believe that?

It isn’t just the promoters I question. I honestly question the smarts of the performers in these shows too. COVID-19 seems to have a lasting impact on cardiovascular and respiratory systems, even those in athletes and former athletes. That is incredibly surprising. There are even reports of some people not able to recover from the virus for months, not just weeks, and some feel like they are not the same afterward. I can’t imagine that anyone is being paid for these shows. None of them are big named talent, and most of them likely are prelim workers and guys just looking to cut their teeth. If this is how you want to start a career, by possibly contracting something that may limit your worth in the near to distant future, I guess people can’t stop you, but the reward does not seem worth the risk.

Really, what can people hope for coming from these shows? You aren’t getting top-flight talent. You aren’t getting your health and well being looked after. You aren’t really even supporting a local business in a worthwhile way. All that is happening is people are wrestling shows and most likely getting people sick. I can’t confirm that anyone has gotten sick, but I also have heard that infections were documented after at least one of these shows.

Not just that, but Mac Havok (found on this video and time stamp), who was also documented as a woman abuser during the #SpeakingOut movement, is rumored to not only be working for Cactus League Wrestling and other companies operating out of Tucson but also assisting with training the new batch of trainees that are coming out of Tucson.

Please, people. Take care of yourself. It is obvious that we have way too many people in Arizona that aren’t going to care about your health over their ability to run sows. The other troubling thing about this affair is that no one seems to care, and these companies will definitely keep running shows uninterrupted, no matter how many times I write about them.

Working The Loop (12/09/2019)

New Japan Pro Wrestling World Tag League Final

NJPWs finished up their Tag League this past weekend, with Juice Robinson and David Finlay defeating Evil and SANADA to win their first-ever World Tag League. Juice has finished up a tremendous year of growth that should lead to a more high profile 2020. His partner, Finlay, clearly has put in a lot more time in the gym and has shown that he is someone to keep an eye on as well going forward. With the Tokyo Dome shows coming up shortly, it doesn’t just mean ending out an amazing year for New Japan but also starting fresh with new matches and opportunities.

As far as match quality is concerned, there wasn’t much that stood out other than the main event. I wouldn’t go as far as to call that match must-see either, but there were some fun angles and surprises that are worth mentioning.

  • Chris Jericho returned with his Painmaker character onscreen to taunt Tanahashi before their big match in January. It was a group of people dressed like Jericho all looking at the camera while he stated that he would make this Tanahashi’s last match.
  • Dragon Lee (now known as Ryu Lee) also appeared on screen and challenged Jushin Thunder Liger to his last match at the Tokyo Dome. Liger’s January 4th match had already been announced, but there has been a lot of speculation about his final match the next night, as that has been kept under wraps so far. Lee called out Liger, but Jushin got on the mic and mentioned wrestling someone who just came back from neck surgery that night. The actual match announced this morning is Liger & Naoki Sano will team together against Hiromu Takahashi & Ryu Lee.
  • Jon Moxley made his return to Japan to challenge Lance Archer to a Texas Deathmatch for his US Title in the Tokyo Dome. In case you don’t remember, Mox had gotten a bad staph infection that had forced him to miss his last title defense, which caused Archer to come in and win it in his absence. Now that Moxley needs an opponent for the Tokyo Dome, this match makes so much sense on paper. Not to mention that Lance has looked amazing since his summer run where he placed himself at the forefront of the company. The other cool spot from this was Suzuki taking Moxley’s Death Rider before Archer and Moxley brawled all over the arena. Both of these guys together in the Tokyo Dome could be enough to steal the show.

Matches that I am looking forward to the most have to be Ibushi taking on Okada as well as the Jericho and Tanahashi match. Not to mention the return of Hiromu from his awful injury. New Japan and Bushiroad, in general, are looking at a phenomenal new year where they could grow the company even further than they already have, which is shocking considering the ground they have already covered so far. While they are still well behind WWE as a business, it is clear that they should still be considered a strong number two globally for now, even with the hot start of AEW.

Will this pattern hold? That is hard to say. AEW has weekly television, which puts them in front of more eyeballs on a consistent basis, but AEW’s booking has been hit or miss, which I will touch on further into this post. But New Japan has been doing so well for so long that you expect them to have some sort of hiccup along the line, but it just never happens. Though I didn’t think this year’s G1 stacked up against 2018, most considered it a step up from last year. Consider also that these guys lost people like AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, The Young Bucks, Cody, and Kenny Omega. Now think of how well they have done with putting on shows that could hold up to those previous years of superstar talent. Jay White, Okada, Will Ospreay, and Ibushi all deserve a huge pat on the back for stepping up and taking the reins. Things are going to be interesting going forward for a long time with these guys because they have everything it takes, especially in the office, to keep on evolving and stay ahead of everyone else talent and booking wise.

Marvelous

Chigusa Nagayo finished up an almost 50-year career this past weekend, facing off against Takumi Iroha, her top protege, in what I am told was a decent bout. This was a pretty stacked card, as it also featured AEW talent Nyla Rose, Mikoto Shindo, KAORU, DASH Chisako, and Dump Matsumoto.

One-half of the infamous Crush Gals, Nagayo is often considered the workhorse to the most famous female tag team to ever wrestle in Japan, maybe even the world. Not only that, but she was able to continue to evolve over her entire career to adapt to the changing landscape of women’s pro wrestling. Once the importance of match quality started moving towards the front of people’s minds in AJW when women like Minami Toyota came about, Chigusa was able to adapt her style to a more flashy and physical one that made her not get forgotten in the shuffle of new talent rising in the women’s divisions.

This isn’t the first time Nagayo has stepped away from the ring, but it is considered to be her final. From 2007 to 2014 she only wrestled once, and she has been also helping run the day to day of Marvelous for a long time, which has relegated her to mostly working to get her younger wrestlers ready for bigger things. She has trained the likes of Meiko Satomura, Rin Kadokura, and Mikoto Shindo, so her impact outside of the ring isn’t just limited to her own wrestling office.

One interesting thing to note is that after her match finished up, she mentioned that she will be passing on her role of CEO to Takumi Iroha and have her lead the company going forward. Her hope is that Iroha is able to let Marvelous compete with Bushiroad and prevent them from keeping the number one spot to themselves. She also put over Bushiroad’s interest in Joshi wrestling and thanked them for putting Stardom on a much larger pedestal.

The Joshi scene right now is vastly different from what it was even a couple of months ago. When I first started covering these promotions in my blog, there was a sizeable following, sure, but now it seems like everything Joshi is looked at more closely. Stardom’s acquisition of Giulia, the sale to Bushiroad, and the rise of Riho in AEW have all done a lot towards getting more western fans interested in Japanese women’s wrestling, and that is awesome to see. I just hope that people do keep open minds about some of the stuff that is seen or shown now because there does seem to be a lot of negativity surrounding women like Riho.

But it also does allow for these companies to strike while the iron is hot and make a name for themselves on a larger scale that may not have been possible before. It was interesting to see the spike in readers around the Giulia situation, as people wanted to be able to read up on her background, so I got traffic from shows that I did months back when that story happened. People definitely want to see more wrestling now with the ease of streaming and the ease that it brings. My hope is that some of these companies figure out how to elevate themselves moving forward.

AEW Thoughts So Far

AEW has been on for around ten weeks now, so I figured that it was high time to look back on the run they have had so far and give some of my thoughts on how things have run.

First, let’s start with the positives.MJF, The Inner Circle, and Cody have all done extremely well so far. MJF has taken to the national stage like a fish to water, which was expected if you had seen him work before. MJF is one of those guys you see and immediately think back to old school heels from the 80s and before. Guys like that who can captivate an entire audience and let you hang on their every word are rare nowadays, at least compared to older generations of wrestlers. Cody and most of the Inner Circle, save for Guevara, have already been on a nationally televised show and know how to take advantage of the time given to them, so the fact that these are their strongest acts is not at all a surprise.

Cody has turned everything he has touched to gold so far, so I wonder how this new development with the Butcher, the Blade, and the Bunny will turn out. He alone has me feeling optimistic about it, but the debut of the Butcher, Blade, and Bunny was really out there for me.

Things like the rise of Darby Allen and the story of Jon Moxley could also be considered wins for AEW so far, as I don’t expect many people thought that AEW would be able to develop wrestlers as fast as they have. Riho’s popularity with younger crowds is also telling of the sort of things that people are willing to tune in and stay on the channel for.

But this stuff isn’t too hard. A lot of what Cody, the Inner Circle, and Riho provide aren’t reinventing the wheel here. They tell really basic pro wrestling stories and they do it well. They are simple tales that are enough to get you invested into wanting to see the next development and then the next one after that.

The problem that AEW has is the convoluted ways of telling some of their stories. Look, I know it is hard to develop new ideas that feel original, but some of the stuff here is just missing the mark.

Brandi Rhodes is possibly the worst pro wrestling heel ever. I love Brandi. She is and always has been a wonderful person. The way that she is burying this story so badly is just not enjoyable. That means that because she is paired up with Awesome Kong, I haven’t found much enjoyment with her either, which is really disappointing. The most recent segment from Dynamite is enough to watch where you can see that Brandi is just doing too much. If they went out there and Brandi said a couple of things to make this all seem real, rather than the overproduced segments of her laughing at fake crystal balls, then this would be so much better.

There still is time to turn this around. The haircutting gimmick can work if done right, and you can get a lot of heat by shaving some of these women’s heads, but if the whole thing comes off corny, then people are going to lose interest.

The Dark Order has been a really big let down as well. Everything from the beginning has been not handled great, and it’s a shame because these two are so talented. But if you do think back to their debut, people didn’t at first know who they were and having a cult-like stable, while having a lot of potentials, has just kind of meandered while other segments have stolen the show.

Take the most recent segment that was pre-taped for last Wednesday’s show. While it does get the message across that these guys are a group that is evil, couldn’t we have done that with a beat down or a sneak attack? Instead we got this really silly video of people fake clawing at someone’s face.

The things that wrestling fans are used to are not being utilized as much as I thought they would. Sure, there is a lot of old school booking that is making AEW like a million bucks at times, but there are still too many WWE-like stories that bog down television. I do need to mention that AEW is supposed to be the alternative to WWE, and these angles aren’t doing great of separating the two companies.

Site News

After a long hiatus from show reviews, you can expect the ending of the ICExInfinity Championship Tournament, as well as the Sendai Girls UK, coming very shortly. After that, I will be trying one show from Ice Ribbon, Sendai Girls, and Stardom at least once a month. Also, I will be doing more Talkin’ Tapes columns to probably cover the matches that I really like from Wrestle Kingdom.

Until next time, wrestling fans!

Cactus League Wrestling Is Ran By Carnies And Wrestling Fans Are Sick Of It

Please understand that I never intended to write something like this before. I really don’t like making waves. I don’t like drama. But, unfortunately, I love professional wrestling, and the industry is filled with it. You read about it constantly online and in the dirt sheets. You see it on social media and on shoot interviews. You would think that a business that is predicated on a faux reality would make it so that people would be able to leave some of the BS behind them, but that isn’t always the case.

I hate the negativity that comes with wrestling due to that. Colin Cowherd has recently changed his stance on wrestling, as he works for Fox Sports and there is no way they are going to let him get away with some of the stuff he used to say, but back when the Benoit scandal had gripped the twenty-four-hour news cycle, he had a different stance. I remember listening to his radio show in my apartment before heading to class and him referring to wrestling fans as “booger eaters and the Hot Pocket crowd”.

It made me really mad to have someone trash an entire group of people based solely on their entertainment preferences. Wrestling fans weren’t stupid. We just liked wrestling. There were fans from all over that watched it. Doctors, laborers, kids, and even teachers have all told me about their love of professional wrestling. If anything, you could find that pro wrestling is one of the most diverse audiences when it comes to entertainment.

But people do think that we are stupid. They do take us for suckers because we watch scripted content. It has always baffled me, but it is just a reality that I have to accept and a defense that I have to take when I have people in real life tell me that wrestling is corny or phony. Oh, like Game of Thrones really happened? Maybe we should wish it did, because the ending may have been better. At least in pro wrestling, we get payoffs for our storylines (from the good companies).

The really sad thing about it is people inside of the industry that is fueled by wrestling fans actually do think that we are stupid. Some of them do think that we are the Hot Pocket crowd that will slurp up anything that they spit out and is thankful for it. Why do they feel this way? I can’t say. I know that as a person who spends a substantial amount of his paycheck on wrestling it does make me sick. Why am I a dumb mark for paying for your new gear or your post beer after the show? Why am I a dumb mark for paying your rent or donating to your GoFundMe for your hospital bills?

What is a dumb mark anyway?

I say all this to preface because in my own hometown of Tucson, Arizona there has popped up an independent wrestling company that constantly takes its fanbase for a bunch of mouth breathing idiots, and it makes me feel disgusted when I see it happen boldly in front of me. The company I am referring to is Cactus League Wrestling.

Let me get his clear, Tucson isn’t the best city for pro wrestling. When I was a kid, we had some really amazing stuff going on. We had shows out at our Greyhound Park, and we also had shows at a restaurant off Broadway that took place inside of a steel cage. When I was in middle school I would try my best to make my grades shine so that my mom would take me to these shows. They fueled a huge amount of my passion for wrestling because it was like I had my own WWF that only myself and the City of Tucson could enjoy. I know other independent wrestling fans can agree. It is so cool to see wrestling that is tailor made just for your liking and see stories unfold that you are privy to and few other people are. It’s about as punk rock as you can get.

Once that wrestling dried up there were slim pickings. I know people trash the Tucson scene, as I spent a lot of time on Twitter in preparation for this post, and I have to say that things haven’t always seemed that bad. Companies like Rockstar Wrestling Alliance and High Impact Wrestling, although not the cleanest presentation, have done an okay job in supplying the local crowds with decent shows and sometimes really incredible talent. I personally go to many RWA shows and have on occasion have taken in a HIW show, and though not all of it is my cup of tea, it is fun to take some friends out for drinks and a night of wrestling.

But I have never, and will never, attended a Cactus League Wrestling show. The reasons are many and the list is long, and those reasons were there before I did a bit more digging. After sending out a call on Twitter for some action to be taken due to their shady business tactics, I got a HUGE amount of feedback concerning them. The kind of stuff I read really made me feel sick to my stomach.

Adam Dobres is the owner of Cactus League Wrestling. When I snooped around and tried to find some background on this guy and his experience in the wrestling business, I was surprised to learn that his main accomplishments before CLW were being a referee for some shows as well as a DJ. From my understanding, the main reason that people would book him was his ability to supply the local wrestling companies with a sound system. While some of my readers will probably scoff at this low budget approach for filling out a roster, the reality is that not every company working shows is flush with cash, especially the smaller ones.

Digging a bit deeper, I seem to have found that Adam also doesn’t appear to have any sort of actual training when it comes to the wrestling industry. With all the people I chatted with, none of them were able to tell me where he was trained or who broke him into the business. He just seemed to pony up with some of the boys from Tucson and they got him in. While this may also surprise some of my readers, this is actually sadly common when it comes to Tucson. Most of the boys who broke in here started as backyard wrestlers. While some of them got actual training, it also caused a mass influx of pretenders that have muddied the waters of the Arizona wrestling scene.

From what I have gathered, Dobres had a tough time selling his merits to the local workers. Even with the unorthodox origin of most of the fellas, they still had some reluctance to let him into their inner circle. That was until Adam met Roman Alexander.

Roman Alexander is probably one of the best talents to come out of Tucson. I’ve seen him work countless shows in Phoenix and he has always struck me as a guy who knew what he was doing. But, from my understanding, Roman seemed frustrated with the way the wrestling scene was shaping up in Tucson. He had left his home promotion, High Impact Wrestling, years ago and tried to start his own company with some of the other sendoffs from the city. From what I can tell, this didn’t work out and Roman ended up going back to HIW.

That was until Adam entered the picture. Adam seemed to form a partnership with Roman over his frustration with the local scene. From the conversations I have had, very few people have buried Roman. He seems like a good guy who was sort of caught in the crossfire here. But, there were a couple of sources that seemed to paint Roman as part of the problem, as they say that he may have just been unknowingly, or willfully, enabling Adam in this whole debacle. The only thing that does make me pause is that Roman has seemed to be with Cactus League since the beginning, and I would imagine that someone around this long would have tried to stop some of the stuff that was done by the company if they had any decency. So really, let’s just say that the jury is still out on Roman right now.

Roman wasn’t the only wrestler who looked to be involved with the inception of CLW. The other name I came across was Chris Evans.

Evans is a professional wrestler from Tucson who was trained in California and wrestled there for a fair amount of his career. I am actually a pretty big fan of his work, and I have seen him work for Arizona Wrestling Federation years ago and I loved him. From what I have gathered, Evans is a guy who seems to want to help the local talent get over as much as possible. I can only assume that he was intending to help out Adam when he came aboard and joined the CLW office. That story is where things get really strange, but I am going to save those tidbits for the next post. But, from what I have heard, Chris Evans is no longer working for CLW and will likely never work for them again.

False Advertising

Problems started for the company right off the bat. Their first show had advertised Chavo Guerrero Jr., a legend on the wrestling scene and possibly one of the biggest names that would have worked in Tucson. Adam told the talent and the fans that had shown up that Chavo had got caught in a hurricane and couldn’t make it. That became evident to me after seeing this: https://twitter.com/peebssnes/status/1199937291633885186?s=21

First show they had was fun. No problems other than hurrican(sic) delaying travel for Chavo.

2nds show they literrally told no one they were cancelling, we only found up when we showed up to the venue and the landord explained the situation. No refunds given to anyone.

Here is the Chavo response to being booked on the CLW show. Notice there is no mention of the weather being the issue for not making the show. According to him, CLW never actually had him booked.  https://twitter.com/mexwarrior/status/1038497907333316609?s=21

To anyone That(sic) was expecting to see me in Tucson next weekend for Cactus League Wrestling, I will not be appearing. The promoter used my name & image to sell tickets with NO intention of using me. I had Nothing to do with the cancellation. Sorry fans. Ask for a refund.

Okay, so let’s play Devil’s Advocate for a bit. Maybe Adam was new to running a company and made a mistake. We all make mistakes. I have friends who run businesses and it is easy to forget to pay something or other and that causes problems. I guess we could assume at this point that Adam maybe had made arrangements to get Chavo Jr. and then maybe couldn’t get enough cash and didn’t get in touch with him to cancel. I know that is a stretch considering what Chavo has stated, but again, we all are entitled to mess-ups every now and then. The reason that it is a stretch is that Chavo specifically states “next weekend” and tries his best to get the fans the opportunity to get a refund. The other point I would like to make is that it would have been easy to just inform the locker room and the fans that Chavo Jr. was not showing due to Adam making a mistake, but instead, he just decided to work the fans so he didn’t look like the bad guy.

This wouldn’t be the only time this would happen.

It happened here, here, and also here. I could definitely understand making this mistake once, but on FOUR different occasions? I am not sure that plausible deniability would be sufficient for that many instances of false advertisement.

Are all of these instances exactly the same? No. But each time, there is someone who needs to clarify a point that was made by Cactus League as a company, and each time it has to do with what is being advertised and how the talent is treated.

Let me be clear again, cards are always subject to change. I understand that. I have been to enough shows to know that workers get hurt, get held up at airports, and also have personal issues that prevent them from showing. None of the cases here are that. In fact, the cases presented here paint an obvious picture of fan deception.

The crazy thing is that a local businessman from Tucson has reached out to me and stated that they are currently in litigation with CLW due to these instances of false advertisement. Apparently, Cactus League has entered into partnerships with local businesses and had shafted them as well on splitting profits for merchandise being sold. This also will be covered more extensively in the next post.

Not to beat a dead horse on this subject, but this is clearly having a negative impact on fans as well. I found this Reddit post weeks ago that stated that CLW was advertising the LUCHA BROS. on the night of an AEW PAY PER VIEW!!!! Here is the reaction of a fan who attended that show in hopes of seeing one of the hottest tag teams on the planet.

I made the mistake of purchasing tickets weeks in advance for the show in San Antonio this Friday. Blinded by my excitement for the Lucha Bros I hastily bought front row VIP which included meet and greet and autograph with the bros.
One week before the show CLW announced that Lucha Bros wont (sic) be in attendance and dont appear to be offering any compensation(no parital) for the $75 that I was only willing to pay because of the chance to meet the talent.

The Lucha Bros were reached out ot on the matter and said they (itallics and bold included by the author for emphasis) notified the promotion weeks in advance they would not be attending. Yet, they still advertised them up until a week before the show.

WTF? This is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen done by a promoter. Not only does this poor guy lose out on his money, but he also could possibly have a distrust of going to ANY local shows now. Look at this comment from the same thread. The fan automatically assumes that the Lucha Bros double-booked themselves when that is clearly not the case. Even in the original post, it states that the Lucha Bros INFORMED ADAM WELL IN ADVANCE OF CANCELLING. He was the one who decided to advertise them up until a week before the show. Can you blame fans for having this thought process towards independent wrestling after seeing this happen?

Local Talent

I know that not every single wrestler on the independent scene will make a living working as a pro wrestler. But, with the danger and the damage that they put their bodies through, I believe that everyone on a show needs to be paid. Apparently, CLW doesn’t carry enough money in their bankroll to pay the local boys at the venue. According to this tweet from Cody Baker, a local Tucson and Phoenix worker, he had to be paid by check weeks after the show. I assume Cody is one of the boys who would chase down a promoter for a payout, but that isn’t always the case. For a lot of newer guys, they likely feel a bit out of place asking a promoter for pay, or even worse, they work for free with the promise of exposure or networking. Now I am not so dense to believe that Cactus League is the only company in Arizona that doesn’t pay the talent on the bottom of the card, but come on. This is a no brainer. When I go into work and punch my time card, I do it for money, not for exposure and networking.

Paying big money to nationally recognized talent while also shafting the local workers is as scummy as it gets. Whatever happened to building a roster? Whatever happened to giving the local guys a shot at getting booked elsewhere. When other guys see this kind of stuff, they just assume that these boys don’t know the business and probably don’t belong in it. That sucks. Plain and simple, there is no way that you can spin that.

This post is already over 2000 words long and I have only just scratched the surface. I had assumed that this would be a one-part post and be done with it, but I got such a strong reaction online that I am splitting this into two parts. This one is just the stuff that is readily available. The next part will go deeper with information that was given to me from multiple wrestlers and fans regarding CLW. Please keep your eyes peeled for that one, as I couldn’t believe some of the stuff that came out when I started digging a bit deeper into this company.

Also, I would like to add that I did in fact reach out to Adam before publishing this post. As of this writing, no contact has been initiated by CLW. I am hoping to get a response before the next post.

Until next time.

Working The Loop (11/27/2019)

WWE

Wait, was Survivor Series this past weekend really that good?

Why yes it was. Not to say that it was perfect, or that it was on par with the New Japan booking, but it did deliver and it made for an entertaining night of wrestling where I thought it was going to be disappointing.

I really have never liked the way that WWE and Vince have handled “invasion” angles in the past, and this build was no exception. Sure, the card on paper looked really great, but I didn’t really feel invested in SS this year. I don’t know if it was AEW being around, the Saudi Arabia show putting a damper on my fall excitement, or a mix of a busy life and really crappy wrestling developments taking place outside the ring (I’m looking at you, Ring of Honor), but I just couldn’t get up for this event.

But it was Survivor Series, one of the big four, and I always feel the need to watch those PPVs. Maybe it is just years of habit, but I feel strange if I wait a couple of days to see an event like Survivor Series.

This event was really good. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it is great, because while the work in the ring was top-notch, some of the booking made me scratch my head. I know multi-man matches like that are probably really hard to put together, but some of the things I saw were just downright frustrating.

For as much as WWE is getting praise for elevating Keith Lee in that elimination match, which they should, as Lee is amazing, I think we should also hold WWE’s feet to the fire regarding how they handled guys like Matt Riddle and Walter. Walter gets in and he only lasted about two minutes before jobbing out to Drew? Matt Riddle gets a pin on Randy Orton, probably the biggest pinfall of his career thus far, and he gets eliminated immediately after? I know there are only so many people that can shine in these environments, and most of this was done pretty late in the game compared to other shows that have been booked well in advanced but come on. If management didn’t realize that Walter was going to be in there and be as over as he was in front of that crowd, then something is missing between the crowd reactions and how the booking team perceives the talent.

But things like that were few and far between. It was cool to see WWE do sensible booking and be able to place NXT on the same level as Raw and Smackdown. Leaving them as a “developmental” brand is not going to cut it anymore. People have shown they have a deep love for what Hunter has built in Florida, and to hold that back at this point when you have legit competition on another channel would be really silly, so I am glad they are going out on a limb.

The other side of that WWE coin is the entire Corey Graves and Mauro Ranallo situation. I have seen countless fans on Twitter and Reddit bashing Mauro for not having “thick enough skin” and stating that people are overreacting, but I call BS on that. For one, WWE is supposed to be a corporate environment. Do you know what would happen if I buried a coworker of mine on Twitter without going to management first and discussing my issue with all parties? Even afterward, that is just something that you don’t do in a professional environment. Second, I have seen many people say, this is entertainment, and people should be able to be criticized in a public setting. I am all for that too, but not from other people in the industry going onto social media and blasting people. I don’t see that kind of thing in Hollywood. Sure, I see interviews and rumors, but when I see individuals bashing others on social media I always tend to think that it is trashy and unprofessional.

What Corey should have done is approach Mauro one on one and pull him aside to let him know that his commentary isn’t the focal point of the show. Sure, I think that is a fair critique, and even though I don’t agree with Mauro overshadowing the rest of the commentary team, I could understand wanting Beth and Nigel getting more attention for their merits. But what Graves did was turn one of the most exciting nights of the year, WarGames, into a black eye for no reason other than he had an issue that he felt couldn’t stay private.

That, my friends, is childish. I don’t see any way you cut it and it being different. Corey made it about himself and he deserves all the flack that he is receiving online about it.

AEW

AEW has been red hot for the past couple of weeks. The build to Full Gear as well as the fallout after has made for some really captivating television, which is something that other wrestling promotions before have messed up with. I think before now, TNA, ROH, and other companies that had television deals tried to put their wrestling on and sell it like a TV show, where I see AEW coming off as a television show that features wrestling. I don’t know if that makes any sense to you readers, but hear me out on this.

AEW features: week to week builds and payoffs from the builds, underlying storylines that stay towards the back until it’s time to move on (MJF is a prime example of this), factions that have a real impact on what is going on inside and outside of the ring, and actual character development where you see the highs and lows of the characters happening from week to week.

None of this is rocket science either. Most of these angles and gimmicks can be seen coming from a mile away, but it is just classic storytelling that is really selling the product even better than the wrestlers that they have there.

Don’t get me wrong. Not everything in AEW is perfect right now. The women’s division is lacking some consistency, as they do have great matches and angles, but not at the level of WWE or Japan. It’s hard to compete with those companies because they have been establishing their female rosters for years, but AEW’s main focus for the longest time has been just getting off the ground and laying the foundation. The foundation is definitely strong, I just think there need to be some changes but management has been pretty good at adapting and going with the flow of their fans.

AEW’s approach is amazing compared to other companies that have had the same spotlight, and I love the way that everything flows together and mixes in a way where you feel like you get everything you want in one show. While NXT has been incredible this past couple of weeks, I still think that AEW is winning the Wednesday Night War so far.

Ice Ribbon

Maya Yukihi successfully defended her IceXInfinity Title this past weekend on 11/23 against Suzu Suzuki in what I was told was a decent bout. Ice Ribbon has held strong since the departure of Giulia, and even though there was a lot of drama in the online Joshi scene for a while, things have seemed to calm down and get back on track. RibbonMania is only a few weeks away, and I expect the roster to really come out and have a special card to show the fans that they still consider themselves a top tier promotion even with the missing talent from earlier this year. I’ll be sure to keep updating as matches are announced and I will also make sure to finish up the tournament recap that I was working on earlier this year as well.

Site News

Things got really hectic over the past few months that made wrestling not as big of a priority and that has made a negative impact on the blog. I do appreciate the support and readership that I have had so far, especially the readers that I have gotten from Japan who like reading my takes on Joshi/New Japan.

I don’t know if I can say that I can consistently write out show reviews, as they are a lot of work. I know people really enjoy them, probably more so than my takes on the happenings in the wrestling industry, but watching and taking notes, rewinding spots that may get missed, and then also writing out said notes and editing it all down to a presentable post is really hard. After finishing up Ice Ribbon, I may just take a break and wait until the new year to review any more Joshi shows. But, I do want to make sure that I still get some matches reviewed, so I will be doing more Talkin’ Tapes posts so that you can still get an idea of matches that you may want to check out.

I do appreciate people respecting my opinions on wrestling. I first thought that people would be negative to my posts when I first started this blog, but people seem to take everything pretty well. Given, I am not as big as other wrestling bloggers by a long shot, but it still is cool for me that everyone has thus far made me feel really welcome. You guys are the reason that I keep on doing this even with a pretty low readership right now.

Take care and enjoy your Thanksgiving.

Working The Loop (10/18/2019)

AEW

I have been pretty impressed with how well AEW has been over the first few weeks. They have provided a lot of really amazing matches and angles so far, and I have not found much in the first few weeks that I would consider weak. Sure, there have been some problems, and not everyone is performing up to the standard where you would expect when AEW was first formed, but there have been some amazing new developments already.

The Darby Allin vs. Chris Jericho match from this week’s show was really amazing. I was impressed with the story that they told, where Allin was doing everything he could to survive and the only way Jericho could win was because of outside help from the Inner Circle. You also had the coming-out party for Marko Stunt, who had an amazing match that I would probably rate as high as 8/10. To think about it the day after, there really wasn’t much that I thought was subpar. Even the Cody promo, while odd at points, still did the job where it told the real story of Cody rather than some gimmicky storyline, and I think that is a major difference right now with AEW vs. WWE. The WWE Draft and Hell in the Cell back to back and both being so corny makes AEW look like the cooler, slicker, and more hip product right now.

That’s not to say that NXT has been horrible. NXT is still a solid show, but that is only one show in the WWE lexicon right now, and it is telling when the developmental guys are outperforming the main roster guys, and that has been the case for a long time now. I would also say that AEW has been outperforming NXT right now, but not by much, and that could change due to the talent that NXT has, and the main roster moves that they are willing to make to bolster the Wednesday night show now.

Bushiroad/Stardom/Giulia/Ice Ribbon

Well well, there was a lot of noise all week about some developments going on behind the scenes with the top Joshi promotion in Japan, Stardom, and how they “poached” the top talent of Ice Ribbon. Now, we have even more news as Bushiroad, the owners of New Japan Pro Wrestling, have come in and purchased the company from Rossy Ogawa. This is a huge development in the Japanese wrestling scene. It ensures that NXT Japan is going to have an even tougher time getting a decent foothold in the scene, as now there is a home corporation that is funding local wrestling, so if locals want to make decent money and stay in Japan, they can do that now. That won’t change the fact that WWE can still throw life-changing money your way, but if you want to make a good living and stay in Japan, that is guaranteed now.

Things all seem to be trending towards the big money companies stacking up as much talent as they can, and that also seems to be happening soon. Giulia would probably be a prime example of that. If there is more unhappy talent, then they are going to be able to weigh their options if they are good enough. Bushiroad has done some great things with New Japan, and I am thinking they can do the same with Stardom if they do things right. There isn’t much downside here, but there are a lot of things up in the air right now, and we won’t really see what will happen at this point.

UFC

UFC on ESPN 6 is tonight, and it is looking to be a pretty good card if you are home on a Friday night. The main event features Chris Weidman taking on Dominick Reyes at 205 lbs., and the co-main event is Yair Rodriguez vs. Jeremy Stephens at 145 lbs. Those are two really good fights to round out a pretty decent card. While there isn’t much as far as star power, these smaller cards tend to have some really good matchups when you compare them to some of the ESPN+ shows that we have seen lately.

The Stephens and Rodriguez fight is insane because they fought a couple of weeks back and they had to stop the fight due to an eye poke in the opening seconds that made Stephen’s eyelids begin to spasm and he was unable to continue. That caused Rodriguez to question his heart and there was a big to-do about it for weeks now leading up to the show Friday. It’s going to be a good fight when you mix up talent like this and also give them an extra incentive, not to mention the possible rating spike from the drama that has been surrounding this. Definitely, hardcore fans should go out of their way to see this show, even with Smackdown on tonight as well.

That’s it for the Loop this time around. Enjoy your Friday and be safe out there.

Working The Loop (10/16/2019) / The Giulia Situation

Giulia/Ice Ribbon/Stardom

I have been taking the last four weeks off from wrestling blogging to work on some other writing projects that have popped up over the past couple of weeks, but some news came across my feed recently where I feel like I have to come back a few days early and unpack some things for you all here on the blog.

This story really started about a month ago. After Azure Revolution defeated Burning Raw for the International Ice Ribbon Tag Team Championship on the 09/23 show from Yokohama, Japan, Tequila Saya announced that she would be leaving not just Ice Ribbon, but professional wrestling altogether. In order to make sure that she got the right send-off, she was booked for the 10/12 at Korakuen Hall for her retirement show. The only problem was Typhoon Hagibis decided to wreak havoc on Japan over the weekend. Due to the weather, Ice Ribbon decided that the only safe alternative would be to cancel the show and put off Saya’s retirement.

This is where things get interesting. According to reports it looks as if Giulia asked for her release the following morning, and she was adamant about it being immediate. From my understanding, the company tried to get her into a farewell show, as well as have her fulfill her dates for other promotions as well as the remainder of Ice Ribbon dates they had set up for her. Unfortunately, this solution did not seem to be one that Giulia was willing to undertake. and the company was left in the dark while the rest of this story plays out.

The next thing that happened was Giulia going on social media. She took to Twitter and tweeted out her resignation, essentially letting the company and the rest of the locker room know that she was done with Ice Ribbon. Here is the tweet link along with a loose Google Translation: https://twitter.com/giulia0221g/status/1183530967027179520

It was a sudden announcement, but I left the ice ribbon on October 13th. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the players, staff and fans for their warm guidance and support. I will continue to move forward toward a new future!

This really blindsided everyone, including Ice Ribbon management. They began tweeting out responses almost as soon as the tweet dropped. Reportedly, this was also when the rest of the roster was made aware of the decision.

This was when I was made aware of the situation as well. At first, the only thing that was being reported was that Giulia was asking for her release. Also, the way that it was being reported made it sound like she was going through personal issues. I don’t think there were many of us in the Joshi community that didn’t think that she would end up working for a different promotion, but typically when something like this happens, the talent will wait about a month, and then announce the new company that they will be working for.

But that isn’t what happened here.

Stardom had their event after they ended up having to cancel their weekend show due to the typhoon. The main event was a pretty solid bout between Bea Priestly and Hana Kimura where Priestly retained her World Of Stardom Title after a Brazilian Kick. After the match, Rossy Ogawa came out to announce that Stardom had a new addition to the roster, and that was Giulia. This was pretty shocking seeing as only a couple of hours before she had announced her departure from Ice Ribbon.

Needless to say, everything since has been a tornado. Since Japanese culture is different than American culture in so many ways, there may never be a full story to come out of this, as it seems both parties involved are keeping the lid on the most intimate happenings from backstage close to the chest, but the company did release a statement on their webpage, which has been translated by Yappy and you can read here: https://twitter.com/Yapi/status/1183793276916137985?s=19

We would like to address Giulia’s announcement on her personal Twitter this morning regarding her departure from Ice Ribbon.

Yesterday, on October 13th, Giulia made a request to leave Ice Ribbon and to be immediately released from Ice Ribbon on October 13th.

Since she showed a strong desire to leave the promotion, we then tried to discuss setting up a departure schedule. However, Giulia insisted on leaving on October 13th.

We cannot release a wrestler prior to notifying the other wrestlers and setting up transfer procedures, as well as giving notice to wrestlers with whom they already have cards decided (which includes wrestlers from other promotions). This is the stance of the promotion, and since she is also an employee of Neoplus Co., Ltd., we were reluctant to proceed with the exit process.

At the time of discussion on the 13th, no schedule was agreed upon regarding leaving the promotion. However we were given the feeling that she was not willing to postpone leaving for at least a few days.

Soon after, she left the promotion through a Twitter post this morning. She then left a message to the other wrestlers through the promotion’s in-house LINE chat messaging group. The other wrestlers had only found out about her departure through her Twitter post and her farewell message.

At the moment, Giulia has not turned in any formal resignation papers or returned her health insurance card. Also regarding this situation, We(sic) so far have not received any communication from the promotion she has transferred to.

As for future countermeasures, we are currently still recovering from the confusion caused by this one-sided action; However(sic) we will review this incident and will consider countermeasures for such incidents in the future.

In addition, regarding her announced bookings that have been made through the promotion, we will respond in good faith and will announce the changes as soon as possible. We deeply apologize to the fans and everyone in the industry.

This has been a very complicated situation since it first started unraveling before our eyes, and everyone seems to have a differing opinion on it as well. I think it really depends on how you look at it to see where you probably fall on where your view on the matter lies, as it really isn’t as cut and dried as some fans are making it out to be.

Wrestling is inherently a cutthroat business. There is rarely a right or a wrong way to do something, regardless of what people say and how things were done before. The nature of wrestling has always been based on a throwaway worker who needs to eventually be replaced by the next one. Giulia not being “loyal” to Ice Ribbon is unfortunate for the average Ice Ribbon fan, but it also what was probably in her best interests. I can’t speak too freely on it because I don’t know the details, but when wrestlers make decisions that may seem unpopular to fans, I try to give them the benefit of the doubt, Wrestling is hard to make a living at. There are shady promoters, injuries to deal with, and also a short window to accomplish goals as well.

I definitely understand seeing this as shady on Stardom’s part. There is a lot of speculation as to why they have lured away Gatoh Move’s big star in Riho and then to go after one Ice Ribbon’s biggest stars just a few weeks later. I think that is overthinking things. The fact is that once Io Shirai and Kairi Sane left for the US, they have had to make sure they have a viable talent pool, and I think the feeling from Ogawa is that she needs to have as much insurance as possible if the WWE comes knocking to fill up their locker room. Signing a woman like Giulia is smart, as she has a lot of upsides, is relatively young, and also it creates fresh matchups with the rest of her roster.

I do think it’s okay to look at this and question if it was the right thing to do or not, but the reality of the wrestling business is that it’s a business, and people need to make sure that their product can stack up against the rest. While I am hoping this doesn’t turn into a normal thing, it wouldn’t and won’t surprise me if this becomes a common tactic in Japan. I definitely wish the best of luck to Giulia and Ice Ribbon as they both move forward.

On another interesting note, Tequila Saya’s retirement has been pushed back to the 12/31 show, which is the company’s RibbonMania event, so that should be an amazing send-off.

WWE

This was probably the worst draft I have ever seen on WWE television.

The biggest issue that I have seen with the new season is the way that WWE perceives the way their sports storylines should be seen, rather than how they actually look. While creative did try to make this draft look different from ones done in the past, and it looked like they were trying to have things taken serious, it just made everything look boring and flat.

I know that for people who don’t watch or follow sports, watching a draft can probably be boring. People sitting around, talking about hypothetical scenarios where things could or should be better isn’t the most compelling television to the average person. But there is a lot of drama thrown in there. You have people who expect to be taken early in the draft who may get passed over. You have people who have their lives changed with a phone call. None of the drafts that the WWE presented on Friday or Monday had any of those elements. What we had was someone reading names off a list.

I think the issue I have is that I got my hopes up when I saw that Smackdown was moving to FOX on Friday nights under the FOX Sports banner. I honestly thought that things would be taken a bit more serious, but it’s pretty clear that isn’t the goal at this point. Things could change, but the way that things have been presented since the season opener point to things being the same practice of not taking the fans with dignity.

I don’t think Hell in the Cell will be the norm going forward, as it really can’t be with the money that FOX is throwing at Vince, but we have been getting pretty bad here lately. I thought that after having a low point to start out the fall would have been a wake-up call, but that doesn’t seem to be the case at all. With the ratings they were able to get for the first few weeks of TV on network broadcast television it is pretty telling that a sizeable amount of mainstream America isn’t that curious about what is going on in the WWE right now, and we can’t really blame them.

Ice Ribbon 08/24/2019

Ice Ribbon from Korakuen Hall! Ice Ribbon #986 ~ Ice Ribbon in Wonderland!

If you watch Japanese wrestling enough, you have seen some shows from Korakuen Hall. This legendary venue has been home to some of the greatest matches that anyone in Japan, or the world for that matter, has seen. Smaller companies in Japan take this to heart and see Korakuen as a way to showcase their best talent and work on a larger stage, and Ice Ribbon is no exception to this practice.

Since I started covering Ice Ribbon this summer, and Joshi wrestling in general, you probably noticed that the majority of the shows tend to be a bit smaller than say a New Japan crowd, with a more intimate setting and presentation. While those shows are fun to watch, nothing beats a big presentation like the one these gals gave on 08/24 in Tokyo, Japan. For the people who read this blog regularly and are aware of how much I can gush over the talent and presentation of Ice Ribbon, this review won’t come as a surprise, but this was the best show I have seen from this company to date, and the line up that gets announced at the end of this one is looking like it will probably top this one too!

Don’t you dare sleep in Ice Ribbon! As far as in-ring work, these women are hard to top. Let’s get on with the review of New Ice Ribbon #986 ~ Ice In Wonderland!!

Match #1: (ICExInfinity Title Tournament Match) Maya Yukihi vs. Ram Kaicho

I was impressed that this was put as the opener. Maya is the last Champion and Ram is a woman who is being set up for big things later on down the road. There was a lot of forward-thinking to this match.

Some other things to note is that this show is produced by Samurai! TV. That means no Ai Hara on commentary, but we did get the Samurai! TV team. We also got an amazing opening video package that sets the table for the tournament.

Ram came to the ring with her 666 lackeys, and she was so over with this crowd. Maya even got a couple of boos, which I thought was pretty funny. They started with a lock-up attempt, but Ram ducks under and flipped off Maya. They went for another lock up, and Ram did it again, and the crowd ate it up. Maya got mad right here. She grabbed Ram’s middle finger and then she started to work it over. That was pretty funny. Maya then grabbed a hold of Ram’s hair and start to twist it and flipped off Ram while holding her still.

Ram used a pretty funny counter to escape. She dropped down to her knees and crawled under Maya. Once she is out of Yukihi’s grasp, she is also able to roll up Maya for a near fall.

Yukihi wasn’t finished though. She grabbed ahold of Ram’s hair again and this time she tangles her up in the ropes towards the hard camera and she flipped off Kaicho one more time. As Ram is trapped, Yukihi came off the opposite side and connected with a knee to Ram’s back. Yukihi went to the top to try for a plancha, but Ram crawled under the canvas and hid, so Maya couldn’t connect.

Maya had some trouble finding Ram after this, and Ram took advantage with some offense, which included a 619 that was countered into a backbreaker from Yukihi. Maya is then able to get Ram down in a Boston Crab. Ram almost makes the rope when Maya pulls her back to the center and goes for a Scorpion Death Lock. Ram took this opportunity to kick Yukihi in the face and broke the hold. Ram tried to gain some momentum here, but Maya counters her running attack by popcorning her once she hits the rope, and when she dropped down to the canvas, Yukihi hits a stalling knee while Ram is draped on the bottom rope, similar to Sareee’s dropkick.

Maya went for a Blackout, but Ram reversed it with a Rear Naked Choke. Yukihi uses the turnbuckle to break the hold, but Kaicho stayed on Maya, getting her in a nerve hold. Ram signaled for her Ram-Maker, but after she hit her pose, Yukihi was able to duck the clothesline and attempt her attack on Ram. When she came off the rope, Ram was able to get a schoolboy in for a near fall. When Maya stands up she gets rolled up with a small package, and when she kicked out of that, Ram went for a backslide. Both of those were near falls.

Ram hit her 619 and followed it up with her Rainmaker/Ram-Maker, but Maya wasn’t out yet. She kicked out, and Ram started getting heated up more. She attempted a chokeslam, but Maya countered with an STO followed by her sliding kick, but Ram kicked out when the pin came. Maya placed Ram near the ropes for her Snowton Bomb, but Ram rolled underneath it when Yukihi came down. Ram goes for a Gedo-clutch, or more appropriately, a Miyacoco Clutch, due to her feud with Miyako Matsumoto, but Maya kicked out. Ran got fired up and tried for another running attack, but Maya rolled her up and ended up on top in an Oklahoma Roll for the pin.

Amazing storytelling even though the action wasn’t incredible. but the booking was so well done. We got a former champion who almost got pinned by an upstart who has a big following. Although Yukihi wasn’t really in serious peril, she did almost get caught in some pins, and she was also in control through most of the match, so it is a good way to get both women over. After the match, Maya went to shake Ram’s hand, and at first, the 666 guys were worried, but after Ram got up, she took Maya’s hand and thanked her for the match.

6/10

Match #2: (ICExInfinity Title Tournament Match) Tsukushi vs. Rina Yamashita

My favorite wrestler in Ice Ribbon, and maybe wrestling in general, right now is Tsukushi. You can look through older posts to see me gushing over her, but I don’t think that appreciation is unfounded. When I first started reading up on this card, this match kept on coming up as the best one, and it even was a suggested match to watch from Cagematch.net, which is pretty picky when it comes to Joshi wrestling.

But let’s not get too bogged down with Tsukushi. It takes two to tango, and Rina has been the perfect partner all summer. These two have been beating the tar out of one another every time they meet up in the middle of the ring, and this one was no exception.

The two met in the middle and shook hands, but as soon as the bell rang they started hammering one another, hitting each other at the same time with forearms. Surprisingly, Tsukushi got the upper hand here, with Rina falling to one knee as Tsukushi kept raining down strikes.

Rina got her bearings and then grabbed Tsukushi with a double leg, and after she got her smaller opponent up, she took her to the corner and gave her an Irish Whip into the opposite buckle. Rina ran after her, hoping to get in one of her lariats to start softening up Tsukushi, but as soon as Tsukushi hit the corner, she turned and had a big boot waiting for Rina. Rina stopped short, showing that she has Tsukushi figured out somewhat after their earlier meetings. The crowd loved that spot, and Tsukushi looked a bit concerned, which is slightly out of character for her. It was a great spot and the selling from both women made this. Already, this match was very impressive.

Rina was able to get Tsukushi with a hair biel, but surprisingly, Tsukushi got right back up and got a hair biel of her own on Yamashita. Then both women started fighting over one another’s hair. It really painted a picture of both hating one another, and not just wanting to win for a chance at the belt, but also not wanting to lose to the other person. Rina was able to hit a scoop slam after some struggling, but when she went to hit the rope, the faster Tsukushi was already behind her, hitting the same rope right after she did. Rina turns and then gets rolled up in a victory roll, but Tsukushi doesn’t even go for the pin. She starts doing double stomps on Rina’s body.

Tsukushi attempted a cross body but Rina was able to catch her and then hit a fallaway slam. Then, Rina finally got Tsukushi in the turnbuckle and started hitting her lariats. They looked vicious here too. She went for a pin after, but it’s only a near fall. Rina worked over Tsukushi quite a bit here, and it was probably the only heat in the match, as most of the action was back and forth throughout. Rina gets in a Scorpion Death Lock (as a side note, people need more submissions here, as everyone can’t be doing the same Scorpion Death Lock all the time) but Tsukushi was able to make the ropes. Rina stepped on Tsukushi’s hands and taunted her, and after a huge vertical suplex and another near fall, Rina started pelting Tsukushi in the head with kicks.

Out of nowhere, and I mean that no one seemed to expect it, Tsukushi hopped to her feet, did a go behind on Yamashita, and then hit an awesome German Suplex. To see a little tiny person like Tsukushi hitting a perfect German on a woman so much bigger than she is was just incredible. I can’t even describe how cool this spot was. Rina rolled to the rope, and that was a mistake because it set up perfectly for Tsukushi’s stalling dropkick. Tsukushi wasn’t done either, as she got right back to her feet and hit not only a second but a third, back to back to back. Tsukushi started getting pumped here, and the crowd and the seconds around the ring are all buzzing and yelling.

Tsukushi went to pick up Rina, and as soon as Rina gets her vertical base back, she hits an amazing lariat. But Tsukushi started hitting back, and then they both were exchanging again. This time both were spent, and it was a double down. The crowd was really loud then.

They fought up to the top rope and Rina got hit so hard while sitting on the top that she fell into the ring, but her legs were still hooked on the top rope, and she powered herself back up and started hitting Tsukushi again. Tsukushi was able to get her down again in a Tree of Woe after some headbutts and the hardest forearms of the night before coming down with another double stomp. That was only enough for another near fall.

Tsukushi started trying to hit her Tiger Suplex, but Rina countered with a Northern Lariat, followed by another lariat that looked like it almost took Tsukushi’s head off. But Tsukushi got behind Rina and hit her Tiger Suplex, and Rina kicked out. She was barely able to answer the three count, and she barely rolled her shoulder off the mat. Tsukushi goes for her Hazukaze, but Rina was able to pull off a Cazadora German Suplex to counter that. Rina went for another lariat, but Tsukushi ducked under and hit the opposite rope again. This time Rina was waiting with a forearm. Rina then hit two lariats in a row, but Tsukushi was still able to kick out. Yamashita then called for a Splash Mountain Powerbomb, hit it in the middle of the ring, and got the three count for the win. Amazing match.

The only reason this match wasn’t perfect was due to it being so short. It also was only second on the card, which is bananas. The placement didn’t hurt it, but it could have used even just two to three more minutes.

8/10

Match #3: (ICExInfinity Title Tournament Match) Risa Sera vs. Giulia

Two amazing competitors in one match, but they do have to follow Tsukushi and Rina Yamashita, so let’s see how they fared.

Giulia started hot, throwing a running Yakuza Kick as soon as her feet touch the canvas. The ribbons from the entrances were still in the ring and she started working on Risa Sera. Sera rolled outside to avoid further attacks, and when Giulia followed after, Risa threw her into a corner post before attacking her with a chair from ringside. Sera came off like she was taking this very seriously and was having to go to a dark place to get herself through. Sera gave Giulia a big swing into some chairs.

They got back in the ring and Sera was able to sink in a Campana before Giulia tried her own submission, an Octopus Stretch, but Sera turned it into a rasha hasami, but she doesn’t get all of it and Giulia got back up and they exchanged strikes.

Giulia hit the rope but was met with a knee by Sera, but when Sera went for her attack off the ropes, Giulia was able to connect with her Yakuza Kick again. When Guilia came off the rope again, Sera was able to lift her into the Ayers Rock, but after she hit it was only able to get a near fall.

Sera went for double knees but Giulia moves out of the way. Giulia went for her Glorious Buster, but Sera slipped out. They exchanged blows before Sera went for another rasha hasami. followed by double knees off the second rope, almost like a Vader Bomb. Giulia was able to get back to her feet and hit her Glorious Buster here, seemingly out of nowhere. That was only enough for a near fall.

Giulia attempted another one but Sera was able to escape, hit another rasha hasami for the victory. Amazing match.

5/10

Match #4: (ICExInfinity Title Tournament Match) Hiragi Kurumi vs. Tsukasa Fujimoto

The opening of this match was Tsukasa trying to roll up Kurumi and Kurumi using her power to try to put her opponent away. One thing that stood out was a scoop slam followed by a double stomp where she stood on Tsukasa’s chest while looking down at her. Cool spot.

Tsukasa used her speed to her advantage by hitting a wheelbarrow victory roll followed by a corner dropkick, which was then followed by a stalling dropkick. The last dropkick was a missile dropkick. Tsukasa looked in great form for the tournament. She is amazing.

Tsukasa got Kurumi down for another series of kicks, but when Fujimoto went for her PK, Kurumi was able to move and roll up Fujimoto for a near fall. Tsukasa went for a lariat, but Kurumi was able to get in a Bossman Slam. Kurumi hit an amazing back suplex but it is only a near fall.

Tsukasa got out of a Nut Driver attempt but Kurumi followed it up with a superkick, but Tsukasa hit an enzuigiri to counter. Tsukasa started rolling away to get back to her feet and Kurumi hit a double stomp, and it looked really good.

Fujimoto hit her Tsukadora for a near fall, followed by Infinity, but that was a near fall as well. Fujimoto hit a spin kick, and then followed that up with the Tsukka-Chan☆Bomb for the win.

6/10

Match #5: Miyako Matsumoto & Hideki Suzuki vs. Jiro Kuroshiro & Matsuya Uno

It’s time for the comedy match, and this one features Ice Ribbon’s resident comedy wrestler, and now DDT mainstay, Miyako Matsumoto. She is teaming up with Hideki Suzuki, which made for an interesting pairing. Suzuki is a no-nonsense type wrestler who came up in the Inoki Genome Federation in 2008, which is a work/shoot promotion that Antonio Inoki himself ran. The other team, Jiro Kuroshio and Matsuya Uno, make a lot more sense because Jiro and Uno are both comedy wrestlers. Jiro has been around since 2011, and he has had some really good matches mixed in with his comedy stuff. If you have ever seen the Japanese wrestler who wears a blazer through his matches, that’s the guy. Again, this made for an interesting match, but it was probably the weakest one on the card.

The men start and whenever Suzuki grabbed a hold of Jiro for a headlock, Jiro started crying out loud. I thought that was pretty funny. Suzuki sent him off the ropes and hit two shoulder tackles, but Jiro did a kip-up and posed with his blazer. Suzuki threw Jiro into the ropes for a third tackle, but Kuroshio reversed it, hit an amazing dropkick, and then followed that with a front handspring into his pose. Jiro then hit an amazing Asahi Moonsault.

The action spilled out into the crowd, and it wasn’t too bad. Matsumoto grabbed the ice spray they use on the wrestlers after their matches, and she began to spray Uno with it. Jiro started laughing at Miyako, taunting her while she was attacking Uno. Hideki walked up behind Jiro and held him still, and Miyako came off one of the top of the tunnels in the arena, but Jiro moved and Suzuki ended up getting the brunt of the plancha. Matsumoto got mad too, hitting Suzuki, her partner. Uno and Kunoshio get Matsumoto in the ring and both begin stomping her.

Miyako and Kuroshio had a strike exchange, and Jiro ended up taking the advantage. Suzuki eventually got back in, and Uno got a Rear Naked Choke in on him, but it wasn’t anything to be worried about for the submission specialist. Suzuki was able to break the hold using the corner buckle and then put Uno on his shoulders. Jiro came in to break it up but he got scared of Suzuki and fell flat on his back in front of him. Then, Hideki grabbed Jiro’s legs and began to spin him around in a big swing, with Uno still on his shoulders. Everyone fell except for Miyako.

Miyako is able to get enough offense in to try her pose and kick from the top rope, and she has Suzuki help her, but Kuroshio started shaking the top rope, and Suzuki gets scared that Matsuya Uno is going to get up, so he just threw Miyako off the top onto Uno, and Uno wasn’t there. Holy crap, that was funny. So Miyako gets up and slaps Suzuki before hitting him with a Shining Wizard.

Jiro and Suzuki eventually got cleared out and it left Matsumoto and Uno in alone. Miyako was able to hit her Shining Wizard on Uno, but can only get a near fall. She then hit a butterfly suplex, but that also is only a near fall. Uno comes back and counters with her double under hook facebuster, and that is enough to put Miyako away for the three.

After the match, Miyako pretty much blamed Suzuki for the loss, even though she got pinned and she hit him with a plancha and a Shining Wizard. Suzuki got so mad he threw her leg across the ring apron and then stomped her out in the ring. Uno started cutting a post-match promo, and Miyako couldn’t answer her due to Suzuki’s attacks.

Suddenly, Ram came out, being carried on the shoulders of her supporters. I am not even lying. Suzuki asks her if she will replace Miyako. This is funny, because over the past couple of weeks since Ram showed up, she has been a thorn in Matsumoto’s side, and this was just insult to injury. Ram accepts, and next month we have a match set up where the three women will have their male partners, and whoever gets the pins, that woman from the team becomes the new Triangle Ribbon Champion.

4/10

Match #6: Banny Oikawa, Hamuko Hoshi, Satsuki Totoro, Suzu Suzuki & Tequila Saya vs. Asahi, Ibuki Hoshi, Kyuri, Maika Ozaki & Thekla

This was another buffer match so that the women in the tournament could get a break, and it wasn’t half bad.

Ibuki went right for Hamuko and everyone else started brawling too. The first part of this match was a mess, but one of those fun messes where everyone is beating the tar out of one another. Everyone cleared out of the ring except for Suzu Suzuki and Asahi, who were exchanging dropkicks back and forth. Asahi hit a really big one and she got a near fall on Suzuki.

Ibuki and Hamuko both got in and started brawling, pulling one another’s hair while throwing strikes at one another. Ibuki got in a good shot, to which Hamuko put her arms behind her back and let little Ibuki throw another strike. When she does, it does nothing to Hamuko. Ibuki started laying in more strikes but Hamuko cut her off with a big lariat.

Hamuko Hoshi went for another lariat here, but Ibuki hit a great Rolling Elbow, and when Hamuko turned her back, she then grabbed her and hit a lung blower while Ozaki came off the top with a senton. Both Hoshis kept at each other until Hamuko was able to hit her rolling pin and then tag in Saya. Saya tried to get in some offense right away, but after she hit a back elbow, Ibuki came back with a lariat that put her down. Ibuki had an amazing showing this night.

The next part of the match was mostly just the women hitting their moves on one another. Thekla got in her spear on Saya, which looked good, before Asahi was able to follow up with a cross body off the top. Saya is also hit with an inverted powerbomb and facebuster/Codebreaker combo before Ibuki hit a TKO for a near fall. Saya’s partners had to make the save there.

The tables turned on Ibuki there, as she was hit with Banny’s top rope crossbody, Suzu hit a spear, and then Hoshi was able to hit her Sumo Lariat. Saya held Ibuki for a second Sumo Lariat, but Ibuki moved and Hamuko hits her partner and Ibuki went to roll up the other Hoshi, but it got broken up.

Ibuki tries to escape through Saya’s leg, but Saya reached down and got in her facebuster for a two count. Saya called for the Tequila Shot, but Ibuki ended up rolling her up they exchanged near falls, with Saya going for her Gran Maestro De Tequila and Ibuki doing her own La Magistral. Finally, Ibuki Hoshi hit Tequila Saya with Hamuko Hoshi’s rolling pin to get the three count.

After the match, Ibuki grabbed the mic and started cutting a very heated promo at Hamuko Hoshi. She looked pretty close to tears, and the passion in her voice sounded real, even though I wasn’t able to understand the gist of the promo. Hamuko opened up her arms and Ibuki jumped into them, and they both started crying. It was really sweet and it was the best thing about this match. Burning Raw, which is the team consisting of Giulia and Tequila Sera, had their belts on and they offer to give a shot to Ibuki and Hamuko at the next event. Hamuko and Ibuki both accept.

While I loved the promo at the end and I also liked the match, it was too short and I don’t understand the habit of champions offering their belts up to contenders themselves so easily. But, it does create fun matches, and the last time it happened was Jayla Dark and Satsuki Totoro, and that match was decent. It was a fun match, and it also served it’s purpose.

6/10

Match #7: (ICExInfinity Title Tournament Match Semi-Final) Maya Yukihi vs. Rina Yamashita

There was a lot of hype surrounding Tsukushi and Yamashita when I first watched this card, and I wondered after why this one didn’t get a lot of hype as well. Of the two main events, this one was the “better” one of the two. Not to say that the match after this sucked, it was just that this was super competitive and told a completely different story. But I can also see the reasoning behind that now, so it isn’t that big of a deal, to be honest. Just something to note while or before watching.

The opening of this match was Maya trying to get in a boot, and Rina trying to hit her lariats. They went back and forth a lot during this match. I would say the entire bout was as seesaw as you can get. They both continued with their strikes until Maya rolled up Rina for a near fall, and then Yamashita did the same, and they both retreated to their corners for the crowd to applaud.

They both kept on hitting one another as hard as they could, and everything from the beginning of this match was them taking a hit, and then the other woman taking a hit. Eventually, Yukihi did a snap mare and then did her kicks while Rina was sitting, but Yamashita just taunts Maya and asks her if that’s all she can do. Maya hit a sliding kick that hit square, but Yamashita wasn’t out, so Maya hit another even harder one. Yamashita blocked a kick and then went for a forearm, but Yukihi was able to snatch onto her arm and sink in an armbar. It was an amazing spot.

Rina used the corner to break the armbar and then started doing her kicks while Maya sat there. She hit her sliding kick, and then she put Yukihi in the corner and hit two of her lariats before attempting a pin. It was only enough to get a near fall.

Rina attempted a Scorpion Death Lock, but Maya wouldn’t turn over, so the bigger woman stepped on her face and then was able to get Yukihi over. Once Maya made it to the ropes for the break, Rina hit her with a really hard chop that echoed through the arena. Rina went for a lariat off the rope, but Maya hit her while she hit the rope and then was able to hit her stalling knee while Rina laid on the bottom rope. This is only enough for a near fall and a one count at that!

Rina was up then, and she was pissed. She gets to her verticle base and hit Maya hard, and Yukihi came back with another hard strike, and it’s another exchange. They both threw strikes at one another at the same time, and Maya was able to kick Yamashita’s arm while she is throwing her lariat. Then Maya hit a high kick, followed by a superkick, followed by a buzzsaw kick, but she was only able to get a near fall here! Insane!

Rina’s face is busted up, and it looked a bit swollen. Maya went for another attack, but Rina hit her lariat and they both were down on the mat for the ten count. Both answered it by five. Rina hit a lariat, followed by a sliding one while Maya was sitting, followed by an hammerlock lariat. But none of these could finish off Maya. There was a Splash Mountain attempt from Rina, and Maya was able to get in a Manami Roll, but Rina was able to roll Maya up for her pin for a near fall. Maya got to her feet but was met with an insane lariat, the hardest of the night, and that is saying something.

Rina called for one more Splash Mountain, and when she went to throw Maya, Yukihi was able to wrap her legs around Rina’s head and get in a hurricanrana for the three count and the win.

7/10

Match#8: (ICExInfinity Title Tournament Match Semi-Final) Tsukasa Fujimoto vs. Risa Sera

Risa came out looking like she was in a completely different mindset than usual. She came out in her all-black gear, and she looked pumped from the get-go.

They got some chain in to start things off before Risa Sera starts with the advantage. Then, Fujimoto went for her counter, getting in a wheelbarrow victory roll for a near fall. Fujimoto attempted an enzuigiri next, but Sera was able to duck and grab Tsukasa’s legs afterward, getting her in a big swing with a bunch of rotations.

Sera threw Tsukasa outside and began beating on her at ringside, throwing her into the ring post before going on the apron and attempting her double knees, but Fujimoto moved and she came down knee first on the arena floor. Fujimoto followed this up with an amazing plancha off the top.

Fujimoto tried her Infinity but Sera was able to block it, and they both began to jockey for position. Sera got Tsukasa up for a fireman’s’ carry, but Fujimoto turned it into her Octopus Stretch. Sera was able to counter this and get in her rasha hashami followed up by double knees out of the corner, but it’s only enough for a near fall.

Fujimoto went for a hurricanrana, but Sera was able to sit down on it and turn it into a Boston Crab. Fujimoto didn’t tap, so Sera picked her opponent up and hit a corner powerbomb. But Tsukasa turned it around here, hitting Risa Sera with a corner dropkick followed by a stalling dropkick on Sera. They started exchanging strikes before Sera hit her Ayers Rock, and then Tsukasa hit her Infinity finish and there was the double down.

Tsukasa was able to hit her PK, but Sera wasn’t done yet, and she came back and hit some stalling double knees while Tsukasa is in the corner. She then followed it up with a Falcon Arrow, but it isn’t enough to finish off Fujimoto.

Sera got some more offense in, and then Tsukasa was able to hit her Tsukadora followed by her Inifinity, but she wasn’t able to get the pin with either. She then sets up for her Tsukka-Chan Bomb, but Sera was able to escape, so Tsukasa hit an ezuigiri that connected and then was able to hit the Tsukka-Chan☆Bomb, but it’s only for two.

Tsukasa went for her Venus Shoot, but Sera was able to catch her at the top, hitting her and exchanging strikes before she can hit her move. She then grabbed Fujimoto and hit an Avalanche rasha hasami, but Fujimoto kicked out again. Sera went up top, hit her double knee from the top, hit another one immediately after, and she finally got the pin. That was an amazing tournament, and it set up for the biggest match, in my opinion, Maya Yukihi vs. Risa Sera. Both members of the Azure Revolution go to battle for the ICExInfinity Championship!

 

7/10

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FINAL SCORE: 6/10

Due to it taking me a while to get this one done, the next Ice Ribbon review should be up soon, so keep your eyes peeled for another one! This was the biggest Ice Ribbon show to date, and while it was a bit more taxing than usual, I enjoyed it, and I would watch this card if you have the opportunity. It was one of the most fun shows of the year.

BONUS Ice Ribbon 08/14/2019

Today we have some BONUS Ice Ribbon to enjoy. I was able to get my hands on some footage from two of their shows from 08/14 which consisted of their qualifying matches for the ICExInfinity Championship Tournament. It also gave a glimpse into Ice Ribbon shows that aren’t as big as the ones that are typically featured on their television shows. As a matter of fact, I kind of liked these shows a lot due to them being different, as I like seeing different aesthetics for different shows. WWE has kind of got everyone to recognize a one set to fit all mindset, but back when I was a kid, different wrestling shows had different looks to them.

These matches come from New Ice Ribbon #676 – #677, also known as Ueno Ribbon #1 – #2, and they were held in Tokyo, Japan at the Ueno Park Mizudori. Ueno Park is a public park in Japan, and there was a lot of baseball themed antics, such as a baseball match that wasn’t featured on the video I saw. Ice Ribbon isn’t the only promotion that has run at the park either. Big Japan also had ran shows there, so it seems to be a good venue for summer wrestling in Tokyo.

This will be reviewing different shows as one, so it will technically be a bonus write up and not as descriptive as other reviews that I do. Keep your eyes peeled for the fallout from this show, the one that took place on 08/24, to see what happens next.

#676

Joining Ai Hara on commentary for this show was Tsukushi, my favorite wrestler from this promotion. She had on an awesome shirt that I must find a way of buying. If you have watched this show and know how to order those shirts, please let me know.

All of the matches listed are ICExInfinity Championship Tournament Matches.

Match #4: Ram Kaicho vs. Miyako Matsumoto

This match has been brewing for a couple of shows now, and I really like that Ice Ribbon has the attention to detail to this tournament, as it really does include a lot of stories and feuds that have been developing over the past couple of months. Ram does not like Miyako, and she doesn’t seem to take her very serious, but Matsumoto is someone that you really shouldn’t underestimate, as even though she is a comedy wrestler, she is still very skilled.

The first thing that happened is both women posed. Miyako did her signature pose where she holds up one of her legs, while Ram just flipped her off. Yeah, that is how Ram Kaicho gets down. They got some more chain in before doing another pose-off, and this seemed to set Matsumoto off.

Matsumoto started grabbing Ram’s hair, and the crowd started booing loudly. She started egging on the people here too, putting her hand to her ear and continuing to work on Ram’s hair. She then was able to tangle Ram’s upper body in the ropes. Then, Matsumoto started calling for a towel from the seconds at ringside. She then started saying that she was going to wipe the paint off Ram’s face, and the crowd started going crazy and Ram looked really frightened. Ram was able to escape before the towel touches her, and then she got Matsumoto in the ropes. After a couple of bites to the head, she got the towel and asked the crowd if they want her to wipe Miyako’s face. The crowd chanted for it, and you gotta give the fans what they want. She started wiping Miyako’s face and the crowd loved it. Miyako escaped but Ram got her in a Camel’s Clutch, wiping her face again, before finishing the sequence with sitting on Miyako’s chest and continuing to wipe her face with the towel.

They ran into some issues here, as they started botching some of the moves, but they were able to come back to where they were, Ram eventually hit a 619 that looked really clean, and then she hit the Rainmaker pose, or as I like to call it, the Ram-maker pose. But Miyako doesn’t let her hit it. She did a go-behind and then hit her own Rainmaker pose. I hope these people pay Okada royalty fees. Miyako then grabbed Ram’s arm, but when they went for the spot, they botch again. It looked like Ram was supposed to duck and then hit her lariat on Miyako, similar to how Okada does sometimes, but they both just froze and it ended up looking weird. Ram did hit the Ram-maker but it’s only for a near fall.

Ram went for a Chokeslam next, but Miyako is able to break out of it. Miyako then rushed Ram, but Kaicho is able to get in a schoolboy, a small package, and a backslide all in a row. Miyako is able to counter all of this and get Ram into her Miyacoco Clutch, but Ram is able to kick out, and then she rolled up Miayko with her own pin. When they both reset, Miyako tried another running attack on Ram, but Kaicho is able to use the ropes for a counter by throwing Matsumoto into them. She then grabbed the rag again, puts Miyako in her own Miyacoco Clutch, and threw the rag on her face while she pins her for the three count and the win.

4/10

Match #5: Rina Yamashita vs. Tequila Saya

Rina took control early and hit Saya with some hard chops to open things up. Rina looked really impressive in this match. She didn’t do anything too fancy, but she used her size to her advantage, and she hit Tequila really hard.

Things got interesting once Rina was able to lock on a Scorpion Death Lock. Saya pulled Yamashita to the ropes, breaking the hold, but Rina kept on her opponent, putting her in the corner to get in a lariat. But Saya countered her attack by throwing a big boot when Rina rushed in. Saya then followed the boot with a Sunset Flip off the second turnbuckle, but Yamashita kicks out for a near fall. Saya smartly started working over Rina’s arm here, preventing her from using her lariat later on.

Saya goes for her body press while Rina is in the corner, but when she goes to the opposite side, she is met with a lariat by Rina. They exchanged some strikes before Rina hit her Superkick and Saya hit an Ace Crusher/RKO for a double down.

They stayed even with one another until Saya bodyslammed Rina and went to the top for her moonsault. Saya has one of the best in wrestling, in m opinion, but she can’t hit it this time, as Rina lifted her knees and caught Saya on the way down. She followed the counter up with another lariat, and this one looked painful, but Saya kicked out at the last second.

Rina set up for a powerbomb, but when she goes to hit it, Saya turns it into a head scissors and then was able to sink in a small package. Rina popped to her feet after the near fall, but Saya was waiting, and she tries for her Tequila Shot, but she can’t get it all, and it was a near fall. She went for another roll-up, and Rina tried to hit Saya with another lariat, but Saya was too quick and she was able to hit her body press attack, but it only resulted in another near fall.

Saya calls for the Tequila Shot, and she as she went to hit it, Rina decapitates her with another lariat. It was only a near fall. She followed this one up with two more lariats, but even after those two, Saya still wasn’t done. Rina then hit a Splash Mountain Powerbomb on Saya, and this time Tequila is unable to kick out. Rina advanced via pinfall.

Afterward, due to this being the end of the first show, Yamashita leads the Ice Ribbon cheer. Those were two pretty good matches. My only regret is not being able to see the Baseball Match from this card.

6/10

 

#677

Match #3: Banny Oikawa vs. Maya Yukihi

Banny is so green in some aspects, but she has a lot of heart and you can tell she is hard working. I could kind of see her getting nervous at times during this match, but she held herself together and did a great job. Maya also was a pro, as she was able to hide all of those weaknesses to the point where the average fan would probably look at this match and not be able to tell. I see a promising future for Banny as long as she keeps at it.

Banny started on offense, and she hit four, yes FOUR, dropkicks in a row. She did them off each side of the ring, and each one got better than the last, but I also would like to see some varied offense. She went for a scoop slam, but she couldn’t get Maya up and Yukihi was able to snatch away the momentum. Yukihi hit some stiff chops before a snap mare followed by some kicks to the back.

Banny hit nothing but dropkicks. She did one and Yukihi kicked her in midair. But I think it may have been a botch because Banny looked kind of lost and she just stands up and hits another dropkick like nothing happened. Maya also took control right after this, and it seemed like she was bringing Banny back down after losing the match momentarily.

Banny hit a cross body, but Maya was able to catch her and hit a backbreaker and followed it with a Boston Crab. Banny was able to make the ropes to break it, and she sold it really well. There were moments where Banny looked really good. She was able to counter here and got a rollup, but it was followed by another dropkick series and I felt like it was getting old with those. She also got a bit nervous on the top rope for the next spot and Maya covered it well, driving at her and letting her opponent kick her off so she could at least make it look good. Yukihi is such a solid all-around wrestler. Banny hit a cross body off the top and it looked really good. The seconds were cheering loud too.

Banny and Maya began striking one another, and Maya got the better of it. She started to pull ahead here. Banny went for a scoop slam but Maya turned it into a small package. Banny countered with a backslide followed by a La Magistral pin, but both were near falls. Banny goes for one more dropkick off the ropes but Maya hits a high kick followed by a sliding kick to the chest. Yukihi then sinks in a Boston Crab, and before Banny could make it to the ropes, she pulled in Banny to the middle, turned it into a Scorpion Death Lock, and Banny had nothing to do but tap. This was probably the best Banny outing I have seen. Really great work by her and Yukihi.

5/10

Match #4: Maika Ozaki vs. Tsukushi

Well, here comes the time of the blog where yours truly gets to mark out over Tsukushi again. She is only 21 and is one of the best women here, and that is saying something with women like Yukihi and Fujimoto around. Maika is definitely underrated too, and the only thing that held this match back was that it was really short.

Ozaki went in for a handshake, and Tsukushi kicked at her hand. They started with some chain and Ozaki took control with some sentons and a Boston Crab. They did their chain really well, as Tsukushi used her speed for counters and Ozaki used her power. Ozaki also has this kick that she does when turning people over for her Boston Crab and it really is a small detail that comes across so well.

Ozaki went for her backbreaker right away, and Tsukushi countered the first attempt with a head scissors followed by a low dropkick. Then Tsukushi hit a missile dropkick. Tsukushi started going for her Tiger Suplex, but she couldn’t hit it. So both of them were going for their big moves right off the bat.

Ozaki grabbed Tsukushi for her backbreaker once again, and this time Tsuhushi hit a Sky Tree but it’s a near fall. She hit her Denden Mushi, but almost immediately, Ozaki rolls Tsukushi up. They each are able to get some near falls in but then Ozaki stood up and lifted Tsukushi up like nothing. Then she was finally able to sink in her backbreaker and dropped Tsukushi over her knee.

Ozaki tried to follow up with a lariat and Tsukushi hit one of her own. Ozaki came back with her own lariat that hits this time, and she then hit her Artenginian Back Breaker but she only got a near fall. She tried to follow all of this with a Senton off the top, but Tsukushi rolled under and no one was home.

Hurricanrana from Tsukushi and Ozaki kicked out. Tsukushi was able to follow up with a German Suplex and Ozaki looked dead. She went to the top and hit a double stomp for a near fall, followed by her Tiger Suplex for the win. Tsukushi advances. This was a great match bur really short. That is the only reason I couldn’t rate it higher.

6/10

Match #5: Kyuri vs. Tsukasa Fujimoto

Main Event number two for the evening is young Kyuri and Tsukasa Fujimoto. This was an amazing outing from both women, and for it to be the match to end the day, I would say that the fans definitely got their money’s worth.

As soon as the bell rang Kyuri was looking for a win. She came out of the corner and rolled up Tsukasa with three small packages. Tsukasa kicked out of the third, and then she went for a forearm strike on Kyuri, but she couldn’t pull it off, as Kyuri is able to get in another small package. Great start to the match by Kyuri. I feel like this was the best showing I have seen by her as well. These women keep growing in leaps and bounds this summer.

The two flowed into some chain wrestling, and Tsukasa is the one who took control after that. She put Kyuri in the ropes and did her dropkick and plancha combo, but Kyuri was able to meet her on the apron and get her before she could jump off. They struggled for a bit before Fujimoto was thrown off the top to the apron.

Kyuri stayed on her for a while, dragging her around the crowd while she beat on her. The great thing was there was not just a hard camera, which is usually a pain when watching Ice Ribbon. So we get to see some of the action while the two were outside, but it wasn’t too impressive. You do see a lot of the other women running around.

Tsukasa took advantage before they got back to the ring. But, as soon as Tsukasa entered the square circle, Kyuri began putting her through a gauntlet of submissions that ended with a Figure Eight. Fujimoto was able to get to the ropes, but Kyuri followed up with a cross body off the top.

They both started exchanging holds, and this looked like the winner would be the one who could sink in the right one at the right time. Tsukasa got in her Gokuraku-Gatame but Kyuri was able to make the ropes. Tsukasa followed up with a corner dropkick followed by a stalling corner dropkick, but when she tried to get Kyuri up for her Japanese Ocean Cyclone, she received a Lung Blower as a counter.

Kyuri began to hit a Fisherman Knee Breaker, which I have never seen before. I haven’t watched much Kyuri, and I couldn’t find the name of this move on the web, but it was a cool thing she did to work over Tsukasa’s already sore knee. She even rolled Tsukasa outside and hit it on the stage around the ring, and I felt like she was doing everything she could to take that leg out.

Kyuri is able to roll Tsukasa in the ring and hit a Fisherman Buster for a near fall. But when Kyuri went for a lariat, she is hit with Fujimoto’s Infinity. Such a cool spot. Tsukasa can’t hit it all because of her leg being hurt too. Holy moly do I live little details like that. Kyuri did a kip-up here and the crowd went nuts. They both exchange wheelbarrow victory rolls and Kyuri hits her pose before she hit a fallaway slam with a bridge for a near fall.

Step Up Enzugiri by Tsukasa, followed by hurricanrana by Kyuri for a near fall, but then Tsukasa hit a modified wheelbarrow victory roll where she grabs the ankle and twists it as she rolled up Kyuri, and the younger woman can’t kick out. What a main event. Tsukasa advanced.

7/10

Stay tuned for the quarter-finals and the semi-finals in my next Ice Ribbon post! No final rating due to not having the entire card to grade this time.

AEW and Booking

I think most people would agree that having the WWE be the only powerhouse over the past two decades hasn’t been the best time for wrestling fans. While they have delivered on some really great moments, I think there has been a pretty sizable amount of people who would like to see some alternatives out there. It doesn’t mean that I hate watching the WWE, it just means that some weeks I would rather tune in to something else. Variety can be good.

That is why it is sometimes confusing when I see a lot of hardcore wrestling fans stick their nose up at AEW. Like them or hate them, you have to give them a lot of credit for being able to get this amount of buzz behind them without having a television deal in place, and then also being able to secure one with a channel as big as TNT.

But, it would be dishonest for me to claim that I have also enjoyed their recent product as much as other companies. Sure, AEW has good wrestling, but the way that their product is booked at times can be really lackluster. That isn’t me saying that I think it is a failure or that it won’t get better with time and experience, but I just don’t see many home runs coming from the company as much as they did while building up the hype surrounding them.

When I watched their previous Pay Per View before the one that took place this weekend, Double or Nothing, I felt afterward that they did a great job of setting up their future shows and product at a level that is rarely achieved by Vince and Co. nowadays. But after this past weekend, some of the storytelling has taken a couple of steps back and has put a bit of a damper on my expectations for their television show.

AEW can’t just be “the alternative” yet. Even though we as fans see that there is a clear distinction between All Elite and WWE, most “sports” fans don’t see any distinction between professional wrestling and the WWE at all. The people who haven’t followed the product since the mid-2000s, or even worse, the late 90s, don’t know who Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks are. The best way to introduce these people isn’t by showing what kind of matches they can have, it’s going to be what kind of stories they tell, and what emphasis is put on the stories.

The biggest problem that I had with this past Sunday was the placement of the matches. It felt like a roller coaster rather than a steep climb. Those ups and downs can be jarring while watching at home, as you really want to be able to get a show that is easy to follow. The talent did great, and everyone did their jobs to get themselves over, but when the booking isn’t maximizing that effort, then you have problems. The show also ran WAY too long. If you want to be the alternative, you don’t want to have the same runtime, in my opinion, as the WWE.

The flow of the card is important. The reason that I love Japanese wrestling is that even though some aspects can seem formulaic, they know how to adjust just enough to make it seem fresh and new. The way their cards are structured through the entire country is meant for everyone to build towards the main event and make sure that it delivers. That doesn’t mean that you make the undercard dial back all the time, and it doesn’t mean that you try to stifle other wrestlers abilities. It means that you know what your guys and gals are capable of and make sure that you position them where they need to be.

Getting back to this past weekend, I felt like the Cody and Shawn Spears match set up perfectly for the two main events. It wasn’t too flashy, and it told a good story. Some of Cody’s work seems over-booked at times, but this was a pretty good match with a great finish. I guess my only question after this is what happens with Spears? This was the biggest he has been in his career, and he does the job and then… What?

The way that the crowd ate up the tag match with the Young Bucks and the Lucha Brothers is pretty telling that this match could have gone on last and it probably would have improved the show greatly. Jericho and Page were good, but the Bucks have a great ability to get the insane spots they do over like nobody else right now, and the booking team thinking that anybody at all could follow that match was sadly mistaken.

I think that these issues will be solved in future shows, as there will be a lot of practice going forward with producing live wrestling every week, and then Pay Per Views sprinkled in there as well, and these things will provide a lot of examples of what was done right and what was done wrong, but I think that AEW’s biggest issue right now is not having a unified vision for their shows, and it just seems like a bunch of cool stuff happening and fans reacting. This may be good for the short term, and it definitely has helped sell tickets and create buzz for the product, but it also has made things a bit muddled and confusing too.

We’ll just have to wait and see how the rest of this unfolds.