As someone who attended No Holds Barred Volume 1 in person and has been watching all ICW shows since then, I feel like for some reason this show was the best of them so far. And that's not to say any of the shows have been bad and I know that the idea should always be that the newest show is the best show, but this one really just felt like a lot of things came together in some way. Maybe it was just the time that was needed to get further invested in characters and feuds. Maybe ICW NHB is finding its groove, something outside fans would appreciate more. But I think it has a lot to do with this card as well.
"Rollin' With The Punches" opened up with Eric Ryan vs. AKIRA and that's just a main event in other promotions. Eric Ryan is a dangerous man but so is AKIRA so this was a lot of fun to watch. This went into Tony Deppen vs. Joe Gacy in what was Gacy's final match before signing with WWE. Now, this show took place in September of 2020 and as I type this it is February 2021- almost a solid five months afterwards- and I have no idea where Joe Gacy is. He signed with WWE at the same time as others who are currently wrestling on NXT and 205 Live, but Joe Gacy seems to be waiting. Unless, of course, he's part of the segments on NXT which the Hulu replay cuts out. In that case, I'll never see him. But he needs to be on some sort of tv so he can get an action figures because, let's face it, that sweet sweet Mattel figure is the only reason to sign with WWE, right?
At this point, Alex Ocean comes out and says he can't fight tonight because he got hurt during his match with Danny Demanto. Brandon Kirk came out to address this and kind of poke fun at Alex Ocean, which lead to one of the two on commentary asking why Brandon Kirk is always allowed in the building and who keeps giving him a mic. Since Alex Ocean can't fight, Brandon Kirk is met by The Bone Collector Dominic Garrini and there is just something about Dom tearing someone apart limb from limb. I started watching professional wrestling in 1992 and I don't feel like I really fully got into it until 1994 when I started watching ECW. There's something about this Kirk-Garrini match which felt to me like Shane Douglas disrupting the show (or Steve Corino) only to then hear the music of Taz.
Casanova Valentine picked up a much needed win over Jeff Cannonball and the unintentional highlight of this match came when Jeff Cannonball went into the corner, Riley Madison hopped onto the apron and told Cannonball something I didn't hear and Jeff Cannonball simply responded with "No thank you I'm married". How do you get that laugh out of me in the midst of all the blood and violence is just... it's not something which is easy to do. I also realized recently that I tend to like movies with action but also comedy mixed in ("Deadpool" being the largest example of that) and I feel like perhaps the funny parts within deathmatch wrestling has helped me to feel that way. I want to laugh, but I also want to see Deadpool get ripped in half.
During intermission there was this thing called Hallowicked's Arcade of Terror. This was the first time IWTV showed something which wasn't ICW NHB related during one of their shows and it was... well, it wasn't bad but it was what it was. I honestly got up and made some food and walked around a bit, doing random things, during this segment so I didn't see it all but I caught the general idea of it. But that's the thing: it's intermission so it's not really meant to be watched, I suppose, on some level.
For the previous volumes one of the guys who comes out that you really just want to see get beat up is Eddy Only. It's hard to be a heel in wrestling these days because you have this section of fans who think it's cool to cheer the heels. But ICW NHB does a great job of making heels like Brandon Kirk and Eddy Only work where even the coolest of wrestling fans doesn't want to cheer them. And then you bring in SHLAK, who just kills people, and you want to see him destroy Eddy Only and it's beautiful. At one point during this match, Eddy Only ran away and then Larry Legend dragged him back out into the ring. SHLAK chokeslammed Only and then got the two count as Eddy Only kicked out. This was kind of funny to me because if Eddy Only wanted out of the match, why didn't he just stay down for the three and go home? (He's not smart)
People will waste all their time on the internet these days arguing "WWE vs. AEW" and I'm just over here like "The art of the deathmatch is that you try to come as close to dying as you can without actually dying". Oh man, Reed Bentley and Atticus Cogar set up all these ladders and it felt like a scaffolding match in some ways. When they came crashing down, Reed Bentley got the win and I thought that since he wasn't moving Atticus Cogar might be dead. Now, granted, I'm watching this well after it happened and I know going into it I'm not going to actually see someone die because I don't know if they'd keep that match in the replay, but even with that knowledge in the back of my mind, that was a scary spot for me.
Orin Veidt, who is easily one of the best wrestlers in the world today, does the main event against John Wayne Murdoch who is what I would refer to as the ICW NHB Champion. This was a match where you felt like... the previous match saw a guy almost die, how are they going to possibly top that? Oh, wait, John Wayne Murdoch is on fire!! He was literally on fire and this match was just bonkers. So we have all these matches just outdoing each other but then things are also happening like the Brandon Kirk-Alex Ocean feud is heating up. We're getting closer to those Ohio boys vs. The Rejects and I'd really like to see RSP in ICW NHB chains. And that doesn't even account for the fact that we could still see matches with all of these other wrestlers we've come to know and love and one day- always looming in the back of our minds- Nick Gage will also return to action.
I'm not sure how "Rollin' With The Punches" would play out for you if it was the only ICW NHB show you watched. I feel like a large part of the reason why it felt like such a big show to me was because of everything which came before it. But even if you didn't know the history of the previous shows, this would still be something fun to watch because there was literally a guy on fire. But I do think if you're considering watching ICW NHB, it's worth taking the time to start with Volume 1 and go in order until you get to hear. The payoff will be so much sweeter than just watching the events at random.