Thursday, June 24, 2021

Music Review //
Delyn Grey
"Daddy's Love"

 


Right away, I love the sound of Delyn Grey.  When you have this largely guitar-based rock sound that I can't quite put my finger on, odds are I'm going to play it loudly and thoroughly enjoy it.   Artists like Evanescence, The Courtesans and PJ Harvey come to mind right away but it's just the way these distorted melodies rock which create a sound I feel is unique to Delyn Grey.  This is a definite case of the artist combining their own influences (including some which I can't place) and adding their own twist to it.

The music video provides an interesting angle for this song.  We see Delyn Grey tied to a chair, bag over head and it feels like she is about to be tortured.  And yet, with her face looking beaten up, her hands bloody, there are still scenes where she is playing the guitar and singing her song.  This paints that picture of someone being held down, silenced and yet they still got back up, found a way to overcome the odds and do what they felt was right and made them happy.  We should all have such a strong will after listening to this song.

Lyrically, the idea in this song (hence the title) is: "Drain me of all / It ain't gonna replace the love that your daddy never gave you"  While this may seem like something that one can overlook as "Well, I have a good relationship with my dad", within the context of the verses it can be revealed as something more than a literal take.  That idea of "daddy's love" can be any number of things, whatever is missing in your life that makes it so you feel the need to cut other people down instead of trying to help build them up.

There are a lot of layers to this song.  Whether you have been bullied online (and we all know that online trolls are everywhere) or somehow scarred in real life, I think you can find a way to listen to this song and come to the realization that you are not broken- the person who did this to you is broken.  Hearing that over the sounds of these dark guitars is perhaps the best way which I can think of to go about it.  

Music Review //
Blueanimal
"Figment That Was Me"




The sound of Blueanimal can be described as dark rock, which at times can bring about comparisons to a band such as Metallica, but I find that throughout these songs Blueanimal just seems to be forging their own path.  With whispering-like vocals starting us off, there are melodies and during the chorus it just really kicks in.   "Only A Man" has starts and stops which remind me of Stone Temple Pilots and then "This Side of Me" has a more upbeat chorus, so there isn't really one artist you can accurately compare this with.

As I listen to this album more and more, I begin to realize that it fits perfectly within this genre of rock music which became more present in the early '00s.   Between the year 2000 and 2010 was such an awkward time for rock music because it was really when MTV had almost officially stopped playing videos (I still remember some from that time though) and it felt like rock was looking for that next big thing to create the same type of buzz that Nirvana did.  A lot of what was so popular and mainstream in the 1990's was fading and it felt like it might never be replaced.  

Bands from that time which I feel like Blueanimal would have fit in perfectly with as a part of a radio festival include but are not limited to Cold, Evans Blue, Chevelle and Seether.  I feel like at some point this sound was either abandoned or just not as present and that always struck me as a sad thing.  The less I heard these bands on the radio, the more I began to miss them and so I am glad that Blueanimal has found this genre of rock I once thought to be forgotten.

During the song "Rock Bottom" the mood really picks up, though it can still have those Metallica undertones, while "Because of You" feels like the softer, sort of acoustic ballad.  "Searching" has this rhythm and with the lighter percussion feel I'm reminded of Godsmack and just miss that whole era of rock which came and went too soon.   After "Better Than This" ends the album (which is both live and acoustic) there is this little outro that I also find to be delightful and think more bands should do.

There are two specific lyrics I have pulled from this album to discuss.  The first is: "The voices are angry / they sound just like you" and it's worth thinking about how you can be happy, sad, any range of emotions really, but when you get angry, whether you yell or break things- however you handle it- that just seems to be the most serious and intense time for some people so for others it can become how they most remember them.  Those memories of someone else being angry can really be what sticks with you above all else.

I also enjoy the line "Money won't make you happy / This too shall pass" because many times we feel as if having any amount of money could make our problems disappear.  This might be true in a literal sense since you could pay your bills, and since if someone gave me a million dollars I could use it to travel the world and that would make me happy, but still, that travel is what would make me happy, right?  And thus far I've lived my life without being a millionaire and I'm doing fine so I don't think money is the answer as much as just finding your own happiness.  Hopefully by listening to this album Blueanimal can help you find yours.  


Baseball Review //
Record-Journal Expos 10, Vernon Orioles 1
6/18/21
@ Ceppa Field, Meriden, CT
(GHTBL)



https://www.ghtbl.org/ 


Additional photos can be found on Facebook here :::


https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?vanity=raisedbycassettes&set=a.5768391646535695


As the Record-Journal Expos began to find their groove, they were faced with their toughest opponents of the season: the undefeated Vernon Orioles.  The Orioles have long been a team who have had a modest record but don't always finish in first place and yet still go on to win the championship in the playoffs.  The Orioles are also the one team in the league everyone other than Orioles' fans seems to dislike, perhaps because of their attitude.

This was my first time seeing the Orioles this season but on paper (the GHTBL website) their roster looked fairly similar to what it has in years past, so I expected them to be that same championship level team here.   I will say though that Mike Matthews was the starting pitcher for the Orioles and I'm not sure if he was on their team last year or not but he definitely isn't one of their pitchers who I recognize by name.

After an inning and a half there was no score and with Charlie Hesseltine on the mound for the Expos this seemed like it could become a tough game for either team to score in.  Then, in the bottom of the second inning, Owen Papciak hits a double to drive in the first run of the game.  The third inning is where things fell apart for the Orioles.  A HBP and two BBs loaded up the bases and then on a pitch that went by the catcher, Jonanthan Walter (who was HBP) scored.  

Following yet another BB, Sebby Grignano would walk over homeplate.  With bases loaded, Kameron Hartenstein would single to drive in two more runs.  Will Kszywanos would hit into a double play, but another run would score putting the Expos up 6-0 after just three innings.  The defense and pitching of the Expos seemed to shut the Orioles down offensively.   The top of the fourth saw two batters strike out at the pitching of Charlie Hesseltine.

During the bottom of the fourth inning, there were two BBs and then a double by Kyle Hartenstein drove in a run.  Jay Sullivan hit a single to bring in Sebby Grignano (who seems to walk more often than not this season) and a sac fly by Jack Rich would ultimately score Kyle Hartenstein to give the Expos a 9-0 lead after four innings.   Mike Matthews would somehow give up nine runs with six walks and two HBPs.  This felt like a matter of the Orioles loading up the bases for the Expos and then the Expos just driving them home, but again, runs were walked in.

In the fifth inning each team would plate just one run and that would keep the score at 10-1 when the game came to its end.   One of the reasons, perhaps, why the Orioles are so unlikeable is because after a called third strike to Ian Halpin in the sixth inning he began loudly arguing with the umpire.   The Orioles manager also then began arguing from the dugout.  

I get it.  You're down nine runs.  You're frustrated.  But you're down to your last handful of outs and it isn't likely that within the time given to you that you will be able to make up for what you've already lost.   You know you're going down, go down with some dignity.  If it was a tie game, sure, argue and yell.   If it was a close game maybe vent your frustrations as well.  But what would this really change when you're already losing so badly?  If the manager gets thrown out with only an inning left to play, you still lose.

Fun Fact: I have only ever seen two people thrown out of games in the GHTBL and one of them was the Orioles manager.  

What bothered me about this game for the Orioles is that it made it seem as if they didn't care if they won or lost.  At some point (maybe when they were down six runs) they just seemed to give up and accept defeat.  I wondered why the starting pitcher was allowed to give up so many runs (with walks and HBPs) and not be pulled.  They had other players there available to pitch.  I thought maybe they wanted him to pitch enough innings to be able to qualify for the playoffs, but if this is how he's going to pitch in the playoffs what good will it do?

The whole game felt surreal as well, as I knew going into it that the Orioles were undefeated and this seemed like such a strange way for them to take their first loss: they weren't just losing, they were going down hard.   I believe that the season games should be taken seriously though and not as practice for the playoffs.  I would have liked to see the Orioles put up more of a fight, but perhaps they just couldn't.  


Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Wrestling Review //
WWR+ / Beyond Wrestling
To Wrestle, Shoot Straight And Speak The Truth
6/20/21
@ White Eagle, Worcester, MA



http://beyondwrestlingonline.com/ 


As soon as this show was announced I was eager to buy tickets and the fact that it was on Father's Day also played a big role in that.   Some sons take their fathers out for lunch or even to a baseball game for Father's Day.  This year, for what feels like the first time ever, Quentin and I went out and celebrated in a style which I never have before: doing something that we both like.

There were six matches set going into this show as well as the Little Mean Open Challenge and I was excited for all of them.  In some ways this felt like the same roster as the previous show with the matchings shifted around but at the same time, we have Masha Slamovich in and Jody Threat out, for example.   It was a nice combination of sticking with the formula which worked on the first show, but slightly adjusting it so that it didn't feel like the exact same show.

When we got to and then inside the White Eagle we saw Love, Doug and bought merch from Veda Scott.  I will continue to plug this every chance I get but Veda Scott (and they admit this) has merch which is very much cat-themed and, well, Quentin likes cats so this works perfectly when buying him a shirt.   We also saw Little Mean Kathleen just wandering around and she was one of the first people to greet us, which was neat.  I told her Quentin was going to answer her open challenge.

I was thinking about this show a lot because the two main matches would be Trish Adora vs. Davienne and Willow Nightingale vs. Masha Slamovich.  I thought, for some reason, that one of these matches would open the show and the other would close it out.  Davienne opened the previous show, so I thought she might get that headlining spot (which she did) and then that could mean Willow-Masha would open, which I was literally on the edge of my seat for just thinking about it.

Realizing that Megan Bayne vs. Riley Shepard was opening the show was a nice surprise because it was set to be the hot opener.   Riley Shepard got a lot of cheers and I heard people other than me yell out "Let's go Riley!"  Megan Bayne is... something else.  Partly she gets cheered and partly she gets booed.  I think she has a great look as a character and gets the job done inside the ring.  She's on the taller side, so she's intimidating: she really executes those power moves.  But I think the crowd just needs to decide whether or not to cheer her.   While I don't feel like we need the "face vs heel" aspect of wrestling any more, I think either having the crowd fully behind her or against her would just elevate her so much.

In the second match of the night we saw Ashley D'Amboise pull off the victory over Tina San Antonio.   Tina San Antonio goes to 0-2, while Ashley D'Amboise goes to 1-1.  Interestingly enough, since these first two matches just switched opponents from the last show, why not have Riley Shepard (who is also now 1-1) vs. Ashley D'Amboise at the next show?  It would be fun and could tell the story, but at the same time I'm starting to like Ashley D'Amboise because she told me that she liked my t-shirt so maybe she should be up against someone I will boo.  This match with Tina San Antonio really brought out the side of Ashley D'Amboise which is to be cheered though and I enjoyed that.

Both of these opening matches were really well fought.  There were moments where I thought Riley Shepard would win, but then there were also moments when I thought Megan Bayne might win and she kicked out.  Neither Riley Shepard nor Tina San Antonio looks bad in defeat as they both fought really hard.  I also yelled "Go back to The Alamo" at Tina San Antonio when it was quiet and I'm not sure what she did in response because the ref was in the way but the fans near her laughed.  I hope the replay caught it.

While this was the second show in the WWR+ reboot, it perhaps already has the record for loudest boos heard during a match and they were directed towards Alisha Edwards.  The crowd was really behind Kennedi Copeland during this match and they were heavily booing Alisha Edwards.   Always the professional though, Alisha Edwards played into it and seemed to elicit even more boos by taunting the crowd.  The fact that this ended in a DQ makes me hope for a rematch where there are no rules and Kennedi Copeland can get some revenge.

The Little Mean Open Challenge was answered by Kaia McKenna, which brought about the rematch from the previous show.  With Kaia McKenna getting the win, this made the rivalry 1-1 so I'm only assuming they have to do the rubber match, right?  I feel like at the last show people didn't know what to make of Kaia McKenna or Little Mean Kathleen- maybe it was their first time seeing either of them.   Kaia McKenna was getting a lot of cheers and chants, but so was Little Mean Kathleen.  During the opening match, it felt weird to have both women cheered but during this match it just worked. I think it would be different if the crowd was 100% behind Megan Bayne but sometimes she did heel things and got booed.

I distinctly remember at the last show when Little Mean Kathleen came out I tried to start an "LMK" chant by myself and no one else was sure what I was doing.  This time though, I didn't even have to start the "LMK" chants.  They were already there.  People were on board and knew what was up.  I love that since the last show the fans have just embraced Little Mean Kathleen and she is just on her way to becoming such a huge star.  And Kaia McKenna is right there with her, so it feels only appropriate that they're taking this ride together.

I remember when I was growing up I used to go to every WWE show in Connecticut (and sometimes MA) and then there would be these local shows that I would go to as well.  Most of the time the show would be sold on "Featuring this former WWE superstar and a bunch of names you never heard of before".   Not to date myself, but we did go to at least one show where Doink the Clown was the main attraction.    I feel like wrestling has evolved in this way now though where it's no longer just one person who has you buying a ticket but the entire roster and this couldn't be more true than in the tag team match of Kings Of The District vs. Scrunchie Pals.   

How do I cheer against Jordan Blade? How do I cheer against Becca? How do I cheer against Erica Leigh?  It's something my mind can't comprehend.  When The Higher Society came out, I was hoping they would be put into the match as a triple threat so I would have someone to boo.  But this was one of those matches where you knew it was going to be good going into it, but after seeing it you just realized it was more than you ever expected it to be.  The Kings Of The District are legit and one of the best tag teams out there today.  Erica Leigh is the Pro Wrestling Magic Champion for a reason and Becca has been on a hot streak recently, the likes of which we haven't seen for quite some time.

I also really enjoyed how this told the story of The Higher Society attacking after the match but then being attacked by Sea Stars to set up the next match.  Either The Kings Of The District or Scrunchie Pals could return to vs The Higher Society and yet at the same time both of those teams could also vs Sea Stars.  Sea Stars perhaps received the most applause of the night and I think it just worked so well because they are so loved and Higher Society is so hated.  I wouldn't even mind a fourway tag match with all the teams, though that can sometimes be a bit of a mess.

Through all of this, you have to also remember The Outfielders- Boomer Hatfield and Molly McCoy- who were on the first show and victorious.  There are also any number of other tag teams which exist out there that can seemingly come into WWR+ at a moments notice.   So for having only three tag team matches over the two different shows, the WWR+ tag team division is already miles ahead of many other promotions and I love it.  Some mixed teams we could see come in include Bussy, Petty In Pink and the team of ABBS/Abby Jane, but there are also tag teams of women I'd enjoy seeing such as Allysin Kay & Marti Belle.

The first of the two main events saw Willow Nightingale vs. Masha Slamovich.  As soon as Masha Slamovich's music hit I said- rather loudly- "Oh shit!" and Quentin turned at me and asked "What did you just say?"  Sometimes at wrestling you are allowed the swear pass.  I didn't know how I was going to handle this match going into it, but I knew Willow Nightingale was tough and this match just showed that side of her so well.   Both of these wrestlers just went out there and left it all in that ring.   Even in defeat, Masha Slamovich still looks like a star and that's not easy to say these days.

While other fans were chanting "Here we go Willow here we go" I was part of the fans countering it with "MA-SHA!" but I think that is also part of what made this match so special.  I realized as soon as Masha Slamovich came out and some fans were cheering while others were booing that I was not alone.  The internal conflict I felt during this match was not solely on me and others felt the same way.   It is impossible not to love Willow Nightingale.  If you boo Willow Nightingale you just shouldn't be around live wrestling because it's not even one of those ~cool~ things to do (like the way some fans cheer for RSP)

Masha Slamovich tends to play the role of the heel, but in this specific match too it should have been clear cut to cheer Willow and boo Masha.  Willow Nightingale didn't get booed at all, but Masha Slamovich did get some cheers (not just by me) and I think that's one of the many reasons why this was just such a huge match and is going on my MOTY list.  It's one thing when you expect a mixed reaction or a certain amount of cheers or boos, but I felt like this could have and should have been an easy cheer-boo scenario and it wasn't.  What other two wrestlers could generate such a scene?  I struggle to find their names.

We weren't even at the main event yet and out comes Davienne to vs. Trish Adora.  I respect Davienne, but when you're up against Trish Adora, I'm going to cheer for Trish.   I first heard about Trish Adora on Twitter and the first match where I really saw her and thought "That's the future right there!" was the Iron Match against Tony Deppen.  Since then I feel like Trish Adora has just become one of the fastest rising stars in all of wrestling and the crowd just loves her.  Davienne almost hit DaviEND Your Life right in front of me but Trish Adora moved out of the way at the last second.

The ramifications of this match were quite interesting as well.  With this loss, Davienne goes to 1-1 (which could put her against Riley Shepard or Ashley D'Amboise) and with this win Trish Adora goes to 2-0.  Trish Adora has had two huge wins over Willow Nightingale and now Davienne, but do you know who else is 2-0 since WWR+ came back?  Megan Bayne.  I'm going to have to watch the replay to see if commentary mentioned this, but Megan Bayne came out and confronted Trish Adora and apparently we're going to get the match of the undefeated at the next show as well as Willow Nightingale vs. Tina San Antonio and I'm already prepared for both of them.  New faces, same faces, the next show is going to somehow find a way to be bigger and better than this one and I can't wait.

After the show went off the air (I didn't find out until later this wasn't on IWTV) Willow Nightingale came out and challenged Wheeler Yuta for the Independent Wrestling Championship.   I love WWR+ because they are (mostly) women only but the fact that we have names like Willow Nightingale, Trish Adora and Masha Slamovich vs. Jody Threat on the next Beyond Wrestling show, "Masterclass", just makes me excited for that as well.  I realize continuity and storytelling in wrestling may go against the norm, but Beyond Wrestling and WWR+ do it and I am here for it.

As always I must point out that Beyond Wrestling shows are fan-friendly to the point that after the show everyone comes out to sell merch and take photos so if there is a particular wrestler on a Beyond show you want to meet you are 97% guaranteed that it will happen. I will end this review the only way I see appropriate and that is by saying that when I went up to Masha Slamovich at the merch table she said "Buy my merch or I'll hurt your favorite wrestler" to which I replied "But you're my favorite wrestler".  

Music Review //
Chris Ianuzzi
"Infinite Prize & Setagaya"


https://chrisianuzzi.bandcamp.com/track/infinite-prize //

https://chrisianuzzi.bandcamp.com/track/setagaya //


These two singles from Chris Ianuzzi could be the modern version of a cassingle (or a 7" record or CD single, depending upon your age)  I remember such a time as when I was going to record stores, seeking out CD singles by Pearl Jam because they had a radio song on them first but then the second song was one which was only available on that particular CD release.  I feel like something to that effect could return one day but it would have to be in a way which someone like Chris Ianuzzi would release "Infinite Prize" digitally and as the A side of a cassingle but then make it so you have to buy the physical music to hear "Setagaya" on the B side.  Still, I think it could be done.

Through minimal electronics, some dark strings and vocals which have as much singing in them as they do speaking, Chris Ianuzzi brings out a somewhat trippy, somewhat threatening chorus when singing "I don't need your mercy / You're my infinite prize".   This song comes from a dark place and I feel like it is as close to being a traditional electronic song as it is to being a traditional rock song.  Because of that and the overall vibe I get from this song, I feel like if I had first heard it in the 1990's it would have been on the soundtrack to "The Crow", somewhere between Violent Femmes and My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult.

On the other side of this digital cassingle is the song "Setagaya" which is largely instrumental but not too much unlike "Infinite Prize" in the qualities which is possesses.   Electronics come beeping in with these oooh's and ahhh's but not actual words.  This goes to a darker place, much like the song before it, and it can feel like the soundtrack to a television series such as "Twin Peaks".   In contrast to "Infinite Prize" it is interesting how much of a different mood this one can set simply by not having words to guide it but rather being lead by electronics which drive you to your own influence.

While these two songs share components- they feel as if they are made of the same substance- they are also different enough and not just because one has lyrics and the other is largely instrumental.  I could imagine them being on the same soundtrack but they would have to be at different parts of the movie, where different emotions were concerned because each song takes me to a different place.  "Infinite Prize" could be more about love while "Setagaya" could be more about escape.  Whether you want to experience the love or the escape first is up to you and how you listen to these two singles but I would find that love and then run away with it.  

Music Review //
Les Techno
"In The Sunshine"
(Solid Bass Records)


https://les-techno.com/


Music can often be about the mood as much as it is about the genre in which you might place it.   While listening to "In The Sunshine" I can feel like there is a definite mood to this song- which the lyrics also suggest- but the sound which goes with it might not be along those same lines.  I am generally a fan of music which has a happy sound to it but feels the opposite (such as Poppy) but this doesn't even have that type of contrast-- it's something new to me.

On one hand, the sound of music being played by Les Techno is guitar driven.  You can really hear the guitar more than anything throughout this entire song.  There is this genre I want to put it in somewhere between shoegaze, post punk and new wave.  But the sound really feels more like an attitude.  It's from the time of the 1980's when music was still on MTV.  I imagine shorter hair with the sunglasses and leather jacket look.   It's not mod but it has these rock underscores which you must hear to believe.

At the same time, as the title suggest, this song is about sunshine.  There is a line I particularly like that says: "I'm dreaming of a hayfield in the sunshine / where I'm gazing at the flowers in your hair"  This has an overall sunny, summer type of feeling to it.  Lyrically, it could be a song by the Beach Boys, for example, or just a band who wants to have that party hit of the summer where you're at the beach.  

This summer so far has been filled with quite a bit of rain.  There has been some days of a heatwave as well, so it's kind of funny because the weather makes me think about this song.  On one hand, the music kind of makes you want to stay indoors on those rainy summer days.  But then the lyrics make you want to go out and keep cool during the heatwave.  When you combine them, well, that's what summer has been like so far here and it just feels like such a smooth contrast that everyone should be singing along.  

Monday, June 21, 2021

Live Wrestling Review //
Test of Strength Wrestling
Undeniable
2 6/19/21
@ Columbia Club, Torrington, CT


https://www.facebook.com/toswrestling1

https://twitter.com/toswrestling1


One of the certainties within professional wrestling is that the show will rarely start on time.  Unless it's a live broadcast, the time for doors and show to start are generally wrong but even sometimes when it is live on FITE TV, for example, fans still aren't let in on time.  The Facebook page for this Test Of Strength Wrestling event said show time was 5pm so I figured we would get there a little bit before 5, with the doors likely opening at 4/4:30 and then we could go right in.  As we drove by the venue we saw a sign that said the show was at 6 and there wasn't a lot of easy parking (we ended up parking a few blocks away)  

By the time we parked and walked to the line to get in it didn't feel like we were waiting outside in the heat for that long as the fans were brought in around 5:30.   This was the first time Jess had been to a live wrestling show in years so I was excited to not only see Test of Strength for the first time myself but also for her to see it and what she thought about it all.  I knew going into this match who a handful of the wrestlers were and others- even in complete match form- I didn't know and hadn't even heard of before.  But sometimes that can make wrestling a bit more exciting, having that unknown factor.

Once inside and after buying waters we found our seats as they had my name on them.  I really like that Test of Strength gave us actual bracelets that we can keep forever as opposed to the typical ones which are sticky and you have to cut them off after the show.  As we waited in our seats, a man with another man approached us and said we were in his seats.  I showed him the papers taped to the chairs and asked him if he was "Joshua M".  He said he was.  I informed him that I was also Joshua M and so these were my seats.  Had the roles been reversed- had he been sitting in the seats when we got there- I would have gone to the woman in the white dress who checked us in and asked for clarity.  He didn't do that though and eventually found other seats which makes me doubt he is also Joshua M and just made the whole situation weird.

I might not remember all of the matches in exact order, but I still feel like I need to go out of my way to say a little bit about each of them.   We opened with Cold Cash vs. The Stepdads and on one side of the ring (not our sides) there was a group of fans with shirts and signs supporting The Stepdads while on the other side of the ring was a group of fans with shirts and signs supporting Cold Cash.  Talk about a how opener.  There were step ladders in this match as well and I thought on more than one occasion that someone was going to get seriously injured because they just threw them around the ring.  It was all of the violence and destruction you could've wanted in an opener and the crowd loved/hated both teams.

In a six man tag match I saw everyone in that match for the first time, I'm not even sure I've heard any of their names before.  Jordyn Rowe seemed to be most over on the heel side, taking his time putting the straps of his singlet on, and everyone on the face side was hot with the crowd.  Dicky Moon (who is a hippie and got "Peace" chants) came out with a backpack and the heels questioned at one point what was in it.  After the match I asked Jordyn Rowe to show us what was in the backpack but he just took it and left.  

I've seen Jiggie Sosa once before and he competed in a triple threat here where no one chanted for him and he got upset.   We were also sitting next to a father and son who traveled four hours to see Garrett Holiday so that was pretty cool.  Garrett Holiday is what would happen if James Storm and AJ Styles became one wrestler and that isn't a bad thing.   The crowd was hot for this match but really the crowd was hot the entire night and I feel like that really helped make the show.  If this was a show with less fans in attendance or if they were just sitting on their hands all night, this could have been a different vibe.  But everyone was so into it that if you didn't know someone it was hard not to get into it because the crowd was just infectious.

Richard E Stone and Dan DeMan teamed up to take on Ichiban, who was to have Gabby Ortiz as his tag team partner but she wasn't there so Ichiban worked most of this match alone before Dicky Moon came out to help.   This was a fun match and Ichiban is way over with this crowd as well.   I've also seen Dan DeMan once before (same show Jiggie Sosa was on) and this time he was full on dressed like Cruella and I'm going to need him to sell me an 8x10 in that gear because it was so good.

I was looking forward to Mike Skyros taking on Steve Pena because I had seen Steve Pena wrestle the week prior (no spoilers) and I had seen Mike Skyros online but never live before so he was one of the people I came here to see.   This was a hard hitting match where they just beat each other up until they couldn't anymore and Steve Pena had to tap.  I'm not sure how to describe Mike Skyros to someone who hasn't seen him yet.  He's a little bit MMA, he's a little bit Tommy End, but he's a lot of something else and that just makes him a standout because he brings something so unique to him to his matches.

Test of Strength made the interesting choice to take an intermission prior to the final two matches- I thought after three or four matches they'd do intermission to sort of split the show in half as best as they could- but I'm always happy to have an intermission because I usually drink a lot of water.  

The co-main event saw two of the best at what they do face off in the ring together.  Alec Prize- who I see every weekend- came in to take on Karen Bam Bam for the TOS Championship.  This was such a contrast in style but it made for such an amazing match.  I love Alec Prize and he will yell at me for cheering him but on this night I had to boo him because I was on the side of Karen Bam Bam.   You need to go out of your way to see this match when it's made available to the viewers at home because it was that damn good.

What can I say about Karen Bam Bam?  I feel like I'm living in the future.  Karen Bam Bam is a star.  The rest of the world might not realize it yet because maybe they just aren't aware of her, but she is a star and she will be for as long as she wants to be in professional wrestling.  Years from now, someone will look back at these words, at the stardom that Karen Bam Bam has created for herself, and they will think that I am a time traveler.  

The main event was a fourway for the tag team championships and with eight men involved it was a long match because there was seemingly always someone there to break up the pin.  I'm not going to give my New Age Outlaws take on this match though because it was just too good.   Seeing Sean Maluta live for the first time was a great experience.  Seeing TJ Crawford for the second Saturday in a row (no spoilers) was also an experience I want to get used to.  But man the tag champions are just on another level.   Slyck Wagner Brown and Jay Freddie are just two old school wrestlers who look like they will beat the respect out of you (hence why they are Kowalski Guys)

This match- with all eight people- had such a different vibe depending upon who was in the ring.  But TJ Crawford vs. Jay Freddie was something else.  I want to see those two wrestle one on one and there's money in it for whoever books it.   They have a certain chemistry and mindset for wrestling.  I love it.   I also felt like The Firm spent a lot of the match not participating, which eventually lead to them getting the win.  I wouldn't mind seeing the first title defense for The Firm be against The Stepdads but I'm not really sure what the future holds for the tag team division.  Perhaps an even better question is could The Firm defeat Kowalski Guys two on two? Maybe we need to settle that in a sort of rematch first.

This was my first time at a Test of Strength show and it was Jess' first time at a wrestling event in some odd years but we both left the show feeling like it couldn't have been better.  Test of Strength has their next show also in Connecticut- on July 11th- and we will definitely be in attendance for that.  It's funny because I seem to always drive two or more hours to wrestling shows in NJ and MA.  I feel like if the quality is there the drive is worth it.  Torrington is about an hour from me, so even if you're two or three hours away from Naugatuck (which is where the next show is) you should definitely make the trip.  Seeing Karen Bam Bam defend that title is worth the price of admission itself.