Friday, September 4, 2015

Global Force Wrestling's Grand Slam Tour comes to Iowa!

While I missed the GFW event Thursday night in Cedar Rapids, my eldest daughter and I made the hour drive to Waterloo on Friday to take in the action for Global Force's second stop on their Iowa tour before heading to the town of Clinton for a Saturday show. The cards for all the nights of action are the same though, so I can safely say fans saw similar action on all three nights.

Image credit: Global Force wrestling.
I'll run down the card match by match with a few thoughts on the talent as I go. But before I do, I just wanted to say that the show really had a great independent feel as the talent were available to meet and greet even to the non-VIP fans. My daughter got pictures with Mickie James and DJ Z, and I got to say hello to Tommaso Ciampa (a man I've wanted to see live for quite some time and who will make his NXT debut next week), Magnus and many of the other talents. It was a great chance to get to know some great talents before they went on that night.

DJ Z vs. Colt Cabana: I think Colt Cabana might have been the second most over star at the show (after Hacksaw Jim Duggan.) DJ Z set up the comedy spots of the match ahead of time with warnings to not touch his hair or his headphones. This of course set up a lot of spots where hair and headphones were used by Cabana to irritate DJ Z. But when the action got going, both men worked really well against each other. I know the former Shiima Xion certainly has faced Colt before, but I was surprised how well they worked together to put on a competitive match with some fun comedic moments. Colt came out on top as did most of the babyfaces of the night (with one notable exception.)

Ariya Daivari vs. Tommaso Ciampa: The younger Daivari brother went full Iranian heel at the event, cutting Farsi promos and screaming at the fans. This caused a man with the most Italian name ever to have USA cheered for him all night. The two men had a competitive match even giving the fans the Daivari signature Magic Carpet Ride. But Ciampa came back with a Project Ciampa for the win.

ODB vs. Mickie James: While both women are supreme talents, they worked a face-face match in Waterloo that didn't quite work. A comedy spot with the referee pulling the women apart with comic chest-touching antics (which caused an angry Mickie and an excited ODB) was probably the match's highlight as much of it was just a bit too sloppy. I suspect they had better matches the other nights. ODB hit the ref with her alcohol spit before her finish, which allowed Mickie to kick out as the ref covered. Mickie won with a deep roll up just seconds later.

"Too Cocky" Kevin Matthews vs. Sonjay Dutt: Matthews used his status as a New York native to instantly turn heel on the Iowa crowd, which gave him a hardy "we don't know you" chant in return. But Matthews got his heel status over hard with the crowd and won a few new fans in the process I suspect. But though he controlled much of the match, Dutt kept coming back from his beatdowns. Ultimately, he hit a Tornado DDT from the top to get the win.

After a brief intermission, where photos with ODB cost money but all the other wrestlers feet away would take them for free, came the final two matches of the night. I personally found the semi-main event strangely placed though as it featured four talents not really familiar to the Waterloo crowd.

The New Heavenly Bodies vs. Zero Gravity: Desirable Dustin and Gigolo Justin cut a promo to make their heel status known before the Illinois native team of Brent Gakiya and CJ Esparza took the ring. The action got off at a fast and furious pace as Zero Gravity gut one up on the Heavenly Bodies with some high flying acrobatics. But the far smaller Gakiya and Esparza were kept grounded for quite some time by the heel team. Zero G hit their finish twice in the match, but both times left the pinfall unguarded for unfathomable reasons so the other Heavenly Body could break it up. Dustin and Justin would later hit their own double team move to pick up the only heel win of the night.

Hacksaw Jim Duggan appears: Every Grand Slam Tour show had a guest legend and the Iowa leg got Hacksaw. Duggan came out to cut a typical pro-American, pro-military promo, which brought Daivari back to the ring. After Daivari delivered a promo, he was quickly disposed of by a running clothesline and a brandished 2 by 4.

Chris "The Adonis" Mordetzky vs. "Magnus" Nick Aldis: Sadly by this time in the match, the lead heel heckler in the arena had pretty much burned out everyone's last nerve. Raining stupid WWE-oriented chants and curse words on Mordetzky, he distracted from the two men trying to have a fairly technical battle. Aldis worked hard babyface here as he fought off the Masterlock twice. (In a poor booking move, Mordetzky went for headlocks and other rear submissions instead of the Masterlock more than once early on, instead of his famous move. Much like when Randy Orton hits a simple neckbreaker, it just doesn't make sense as part of the former Chris Masters's repertoire. Ultimately, Mordetzky decided he was done with the match and started to leave the 6 sided ring. 2 by 4 in hand, Duggan cut him off. Mordetzky retreated to the ring only to get Nick's finisher (a move I'm not sure I've seen Magnus use.) Jeff Jarrett then joined both men to raise their thumbs and put on a hardy "HOOOOOO" for the fans in attendance.

While none of the matches were particular earth-shattering, the card was pretty solid even if it would have perhaps been stronger with some of the lower card matches on top instead of Mordetzky and Aldis. The two men's name value didn't get fans nearly as excited as they did for Cabana or for the patriotic angle of the Ciampa / Daivari match. Of course, after two and a half hours in 90 degree heat, we might all have been a bit drained, but I do blame the one heckler for draining a lot of the fan enthusiasm. Sometimes it's better to talk to the one guy than just let him go, which is a lesson for future GFW shows, especially if they choose to return next year (which all implications made by both Jeff Jarrett and the show hosts was they would.)

Overall, I think GFW has a core roster they can succeed with should they get a TV deal, but their booking will make or break the promotion when those Amped TV tapings go live. While we may never see the veteran independent stars Ciampa and Cabana on that show, the rest of the talent impressed me. The New Heavenly Bodies especially proved themselves to be a great heel team and they worked surprisingly well with the far smaller Zero Gravity. And while the Grand Slam Tour closes out tomorrow night in Clinton, I have to recommend to anyone that gets the chance to go check out GFW live if it comes to your area. They put on a fun show and do everything they can to send the fans home happy.

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