Monday, April 18, 2016

An "Epic" night in Wallcott with SCW!

Last April I went to my first SCW show, the 2015 edition of Epic. One year later, I returned for the 2016 edition and it offered the best night of Iowa-based wrestling action I have seen. In front of a packed crowd of 224, the night was wild, crazy and well worth the price of admission from beginning to end.

Image credit: SCW.
The show kicked off with the fifth graduating class of The Black & Brave Academy in a battle royal. Gyasi D'Wayne, Ript Studwell, Dante Leon, JT Energy and Mike Heights were all making their in ring debut and I saw some good stuff here. But the battle royal format wasn't a good showcase for these five young men and probably never could have been. It is hard to even get the names of the young stars when they're all in the ring at once. In the future a short tag match might be a better idea, even if it means inserting a more established star to even the odds. Someone like Zicky Dice or Raveboy would fit in that slot well. Only D'Wayne really intrigued me in his thirty seconds of offense, but I hope all five men get more chances to shine.

A new team debuted in the second match of the night as Latin Thunder made his return to the promotion to team with the other masked superstar of SCW, Sentai. The lucha-resu team looked good in their first outing as a unit as they took on Jay Iglesias and Kourtesy. I was not particularly kind to the two young Black & Brave graduates last month, but the Pop Idols looked far more crisp tonight. Still the masked men took the win in what would have been a far stronger opener.

King Steven Youngblood came to the ring again, his squire in tow. The King of Scot County got booed from the arena, which made him a hot opponent for Bobbi Dahl. After former a makeshift tandem with Raveboy last month, Dahl seems to have taken the young star under his wing this month, as he served as his second. This was one of two battle of the big men on the show and was certainly the more entertaining of the two. The two units looked great and Raveboy seems to have picked up the comedic aspects of Dahl's gimmick. If SCW is wise, they will keep these two units working against each other for the next few months and build a feud here. I suspect itt will be great for the young stars working under the veterans here.

One thing SCW needs to work on with their undercard is a bit more intelligent booking. Johnny Wisdom defended the Quad City Cup in the next match, but against men that seemed to have no reason to be there. Chris Davies wasn't familiar to me at all, while Alex Taylor has taken two straight losses in his two matches. Either Tank Roberts or Shane Hollister would have made more sense here as challengers.

None the less, Wisdom defended against both men. Taylor looked so much better than he did in last month's botch fest that served to make me just feel bad for Tank Roberts. He still hasn't quite mastered the high flying style he's trying to use, but he's growing and that's important for a guy with only a few matches under his belt. Wisdom though was the real star of the show as he worked his gimmick ("No flips, just fists") with some powerful strikes and some crisp transitions as he helped carry the two youngsters to a solid match. Seriously, SCW is worth checking out just for the hidden gem that is Johnny Wisdom.

The final match before intermission was a battle set up at last month's show, but strangely didn't get announced until a few days before the show. Shane Hollister and Krotch are both long time SCW competitors. Krotch took exception to Shane's new attitude last month, setting up a showdown this month. That showdown stole the show as the two men put on a hard hitting match with near fall after near fall. Hollister is one of the best American wrestlers working a puro-inspired style while Krotch is a man that has perfectly mastered his odd gimmick. He worked as an amazing babyface to the brutality of Shane, as both hit big moves in an attempt to take down the other. Shane whipped out a Rainmaker clothesline that would have done Okada proud and a rather nice shining wizard. Still keeping Krotch down proved a challenge. Ultimately, strike after strike proved too much. Even Krotch knew it, but he remained defiant to the end.

SCW spent eight months building to their main event at Epic. If they are smart, they make this match the first in a long running feud between both men. This could be a great story to anchor the company through the end of the year.

After intermission, things kicked off with Tank Roberts and a repackaged young star. The former T-Buck has dropped his party boy gimmick in favor of the new name Ross "The Hoss" Reznik. After intermission, it left fans flat. SCW really loved T-Buck and I think the company was ill advised to make the identity change without Reznik even giving a promo to explain his change after the brutal beating by Mason Beck two months ago. He looked solid in his victory over Tank, but this was a let down after the previous big man battle earlier in the night.

Also, one tip to Ross "The Hoss". If you're going to use that nickname, it is time you master a lariat, my friend.

The tag team titles were on the line next. Zero Gravity was supposed to be in to challenge Adrian Alexander and Bodie Van Zandt, but a medical emergency kept Brent Gakiya away. CJ Esparza brought in a different partner, the beloved Zicky Dice. Dice has an absolute charm in the ring and unlike several of the young recruits in SCW, wears proper wrestling gear. Tatted up and a bit crazy, he has everything he needs to get over if he can get more bookings. Anyone familiar with Zero-G knows what Esparza can do. The high flyer worked really well with Zicky in a crazed battle, but ultimately Alexander and Van Zandt's dirty tricks allowed them to get the victory in a match that opened their second year in the business.

The first of the double main event put the SCW title on the line as Marek Brave defended against Mason Beck. This match was built to be a fairly obvious title change, with Beck running roughshod over the roster over the last several months. But it was really about just how good Brave is at selling an injury. A bump early on aggravated his well known back problems and he hobbled through much of the match as referee Brett Hadley and commissioner Sean Morrow both checked on his health. But he refused to forfeit the title and kept fighting back against Beck's offense. But the selling all set up a great spot as Brave took a massive powerbomb off the top rope to lose the match and pass the title to Mason Beck.

That left one match: a Walcott Street Fight between the first two students of the Black and Brave Academy. Connor Braxton and Eddie Machete have evolved amazingly in just under a year and a half as wrestlers. They showed at Epic why they deserved their main event spot with a brutal battle.

That battle was almost derailed early on during a lightsaber style duel with a pair of chairs. One of the first strikes caught Braxton's hand. His hand was clearly bleeding after that and he didn't move them much at all after that. But Braxton showed why he has a future in the business as he continued to work the match even with clearly broken fingers.

He brought out a shopping cart filled with weapons and implements from a golf club to baking sheets to a bowling pin. And of course, the mighty kendo stick. All were involved in the rest of the match as both men brutally struck each other again and again. They both took brutal moves onto chairs and the baking sheets.

But ultimately this proved to be Braxton's moment as he finally got a clean 1-2-3 over his turncoat partner. But even in defeat, Machete looked amazing. Both men can be incredibly proud of themselves for an amazing main event.

Little was announced for next month's Revival outside of one big debut. The Black in the Black & Brave Academy is one Tyler Black, better known now as Seth Rollins. His (ex-?)girlfriend and former NXT talent Zahra Schreiber has been working a lot in the Midwest, but it looks like she will stay close to home as she makes her debut in SCW next month. She is certainly a controversial figure in wrestling as the reason for her release and her celebrity before that were not exactly golden moments. But she is committed to the building and I'm curious to see what she does in the promotion. She certainly should prove a foil for SCW's single sidelined female talent, Violet Parker.

Image credit: SCW.
I can make some predictions though. I suspect if Braxton is well enough to compete, he'll start a feud with Beck sooner than later. He cleary has been groomed for the SCW main event and he looked good last month against the new champion. Hopefully, the company is wise enough to keep a few feuds going in the form of Youngblood vs. Dahl and Krotch vs. Hollister. More with Latin Thunder and Sentai as a team seems smart as well, perhaps a tag title feud with the current champions. And of course, the company has up to five new stars to place up and down the card as well.

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