Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Wrestling Review //
Pro Wrestling GRIND
Who Made Who
10/22/21
@ Pulaski Club, Easthampton, MA


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At some point when finding out about this show I knew that we had to go because of the matches and it was also the debut show.  What I didn't realize until the week of is that Easthampton is only about an hour away (I was thinking it'd be about a two hour drive) and it is a neighbor to Holyoke, so Jess, Quentin and I went across the border early on to visit the mall in Holyoke for dinner before this show.  Did you know that Holyoke is the birthplace of volleyball?  I've known that for maybe five years and it still needs to be shared whenever I have the opportunity.

I had another one of those "Hey! I've been here before!" moments when we arrived at the Pulaski Club, though I didn't realize it until we got into the parking lot.  The last time (and only other time) I was at the Pulaski Club was for a Pioneer Valley Pro show (in the before times) and that also had Davienne and Logan Black on the card.  Not to side track, but that was a really fun show and I hope Pioneer Valley Pro comes back soon.

I'm not really a behind-the-scenes guy so I'm never clued in as to what's going on, but the way that Pro Wrestling GRIND was pushing ticket sales on Twitter I thought that the attendance was going to be lower than it was.   When we got our seats and saw other people coming in, the place was packed and I was pleasantly surprised because it was a debut show on a Friday night and I'm fairly certain other wrestling was out there in the area.  I also came to learn later on that the show was in fact sold out and that made me happy.

My impression of Pro Wrestling GRIND was that it was going to be a strong style promotion, one with more fighting- mat based wrestling but also knockouts and submissions.   At two different times during the night I heard a fan in front of the bar yell "This isn't UFC!" and even though technically it is not the UFC, the style in which they were wrestling was similar and I think the kickpads in the corner really gave away the idea that, hey, if this kind of looks like UFC (or MMA) then there is a reason for that.



The show opened with Kevin Ku vs Matt Makowski and while any match on this card could make their case to be a main event, I thought that this one had a pretty strong case to be just that.   Kevin Ku and Matt Makowski had their first match at the IWTV100 show so if they do a third we'll have to be there live as well.   It's always great to see Kevin Ku and as soon as "Zombie" opened the show, I just knew that he was coming out and it set the tone for the entire evening.  Matt Makowski is someone that I respect and enjoy watching the in ring work of- as his style can be very innovative- but I'm just not part of the "omg he's the best" because he hasn't had that match for me yet.

While the opening match was a lot of back and forth and went on long, it set the mood for the show.  There weren't a lot of cheap victories where one person got an easy three count or the matches didn't have that "I'm a big guy and you're little so let me hit you with a power move and pin you in under a minute".   I appreciated that about the show, and about GRIND.  It truly feels like a competition and as we try to classify and identify GRIND perhaps a large part of it is just seeing professional wrestling as a sport.



The second match was special to me (and the crowd I think) because it was the first match to have a set good guy vs bad guy idea.   When Brandon Watts first came out with Randy Summers, he got mostly cheered.  I've only ever seen Milk Chocolate in action live once (at Invictus) and every time I told Brandon Watts not to tag in because Jordan Blade would kill him he told me to shut up- basically playing the heel.  It didn't take long for the crowd to turn on Milk Chocolate though and though this was billed as a singles match I still think that Perry Von Vicious defeated both members of Milk Chocolate on this night.

As someone who has seen quite a bit of Perry Von Vicious over the years (and mostly in tag team matches) I have to say that this was my favorite Perry Von Vicious match to date.  There were more than one occasions in this match where it felt like PVV just wouldn't be able to overcome the two on one advantage that Milk Chocolate had.   In some ways, too, had PVV taken the loss I don't think he would've looked bad because he was at that disadvantage as Milk Chocolate kept cheating and doing the double team thing with the not-actually-hurt Randy Summers.   This is most definitely a match that you should go out of your way to watch.



The third match of the evening saw Davienne vs Becca, two friends who sometimes fight.   This was such a great match up because Davienne is a staple in this scene and Becca just has all this momentum behind her right now.  I realize that for me, personally, it was that idea of "But they're friends!" and I didn't know who to boo, but these are two of the best wrestlers in this area right now and so this match just felt so perfect.   Post match, after her loss, Becca sort of shook Davienne's hand but not really so perhaps that heel turn is now happening everywhere and not just in Beyond Wrestling.



Another possible main event saw Rip Byson take on Travis Huckabee.   Rip Byson just has this style where you want to see him brawl and just rip people in half.   He doesn't seem like someone you want to take a chop from.   But at the same time, Travis Huckabee is one of the best grapplers out there today (if not the best, he is certainly one of the most overlooked) so this really had that type of feel where you had someone trying to contain this unpredictable strength but if anyone could do it you'd want Travis Huckabee to try.   Another great match that I think fully embodied what the idea of GRIND is all about.



Intermission was a lot of fun and we came right back into the action with Alec Price taking on Cabana Man Dan.  Before the match started, Alec Price was talking a lot of shit (to the fans and CMD alike) and I just noticed how CMD was standing near his corner, quiet and just giving Alec Price that death stare.   This is that type of match that should have sold you on going to this show live (if you were in the area) and if not, it's the type of match that if you see it listed on the card on IWTV or DVD (or VHS?) then you would definitely have to watch it.  And it delivered in every aspect that you could possibly want.





Prior to the main event, Logan Black and Merc went to war and I damn near thought that the match wouldn't end until one of them was dead.   They set up a chair in front of us and bent the hell out of it.  This wasn't your typical Walmart folding chair either- it was a solid chair that wasn't meant to bend the way in which they bent it beyond repair.  I could watch Logan Black and Merc fight forever.  If they were to form a tag team, they'd be damn near unstoppable.  But the "Please Come Back" chants for Merc made me a happy fan because I also want to see Merc more in this New England area.





In the main event we had The Mane Event vs MSP.   One thing that has always bothered me about tag team wrestling is that many promotions have always just kind of thrown two wrestlers together and called them a tag team.   There aren't a lot of tag teams out there- or there weren't for a while- where you really felt like they were a team.  Not only are The Mane Event and MSP two of the best tag teams out there right now, they are also two of the best just based on the fact that they act as tag teams, having moves which they do together.  I'm not saying any four of these competitors couldn't make a solid run at a singles championship, but I do feel like they are better when they are together.   For my money, MSP is also the best tag team out there right now, in all of professional wrestling.

Professional wrestling is such a weird and cool thing and I really came to appreciate that more during this debut show from GRIND.   While I enjoy going to see wrestling and finding new wrestlers I've never seen or heard of before, I knew who everyone was on this card and had seen most of them wrestle live before.   The only wrestler on this card I had actually never seen wrestle live before was Cabana Man Dan but I've watched his matches all over IWTV so I feel like I still am familiar with him.

Pro Wrestling GRIND has already announced their second show on November 20th and it will feature Culture Inc., MSP, Myung Jae Lee and Jordan Blade.   I'd really like to see Jordan Blade vs Bonesaw Brooks, someone I think would do really well in GRIND, but also if they are available there are names such as Janai Kai and Yoya, who fans know, that could come into GRIND.   When I saw the set up with the ring and kickpads in the corner though it felt like it was custom built for Mike Skyros, who I would love to see in GRIND.   And I honestly hope that as much as GRIND works with established wrestlers, they do help the future as they are with Myung Jae Lee.   With Pro Wrestling GRIND in the picture now, the future looks bright.  


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