On Friday we made our way to Easthampton, MA for our first live wrestling show of 2022. Jess and I hadn't been to a live wrestling show since 12/9/21 and Quentin hadn't been to one with us since 12/4/21, but with the holidays and then the combination of weather and pandemic it just seemed to make sense. To put things into some sort of perspective: last year at this time, we hadn't gone to any live wrestling events because we didn't start that up again until April so we're already sort of ahead of last year.
I really like that the Pulaski Club is about 45 minutes from us but also it's in this weird part of MA where we don't have to take the Mass Pike to get there and we pass the Holyoke Mall. We didn't hit the mall this time but perhaps next time we will. While I realize things might change, I like that the next event is also scheduled for the Pulaski Club and if it becomes a sort of home base to GRIND I won't complain because not only is it close enough but there are things to do around it should you want to get into the area early.
This was only the third show from Pro Wrestling GRIND but it felt like such a big deal because the way the ring and entrance way look when you go in: there aren't really many wrestling promotions out there where you just walk in and know you're at that promotion. This all just makes it look as if GRIND has been doing this for years and that also comes out with the wrestling because every match on this show truly felt like it could have been in the main event.
When we got in and were saved seats near Tim, the first entrance music I heard was that of WARHORSE and it kind of took me back because I didn't know if WARHORSE would go on last or not- being one of the wrestlers on this show who traveled the farthest to be here- but I didn't think he'd go on first. Yet, at the same time, whoever was the first match I might be thinking the same thing. So it was fun in that sense of Rip Byson and WARHORSE just beating the hell out of each other and then setting the tone for the night, like "Follow that" and the way that the show did just kind of grow from there was crazy.
One of the things I really love about GRIND is that even with the technical aspects of the opening match there was also just this brutality through chops and clotheslines. Then, we can go into the second match- which was Matt Makowski vs Robert Martyr and it can be a somewhat different style but still that same vibe. You do feel like someone is going to get hurt, but instead there is more of a grappling side to this match and these are just two of the best who are currently doing it today. Every wrestling show should have a match like this on it, but then again every wrestling show should have either Matt Makowski or Robert Martyr on it.
Davienne vs Ava Everett was on third and it felt like they didn't get as much time as I'd like but that might also just be because they are two of my favorite wrestlers so I could watch them wrestle each other all night. Ava Everett is doing cool things right now with ARTE, but don't let that trick you into thinking she still can't get the job done inside that ring. But Davienne is also just one of the best wrestlers in the world today. I feel like Davienne has really proven that in the New England area, so hopefully with travel restrictions being lifted she can show the world this year.
Next up was one of those matches I just knew was going to be violent as JD Drake came out to take on Jay Freddie. If you've seen JD Drake before and wonder who could go toe to toe with him, Jay Freddie is your man. There is this fan who has been at the two previous GRIND shows and he got into an exchange of words with JD Drake, as fans often times do, but then went on to tell JD Drake that his godfather is Jay Freddie. That created this unique aspect to the match where it felt like Jay Freddie was fighting for the honor of his godson and that's just one of those little things which makes Pro Wrestling GRIND so special. That and how JD Drake threw Jay Freddie into the guardrail and everything around it broke.
During intermission we went to do the fan thing and that's another aspect of GRIND which I like. So far, it has been my experience that if you are going to a GRIND show and they say "Hey, we have WARHORSE on this show" and you want to meet WARHORSE, buy his merch and take a photo with him, then you are able to do exactly that. It might sound cliché but I used to think the theme of GRIND was going to be the in ring style, that idea of fighting, but now I think the best word to describe GRIND is respect. It's respect because the fans respect what the wrestlers do inside of that ring and the wrestlers respect that the fans are there loving it all.
The first match back after intermission was Alec Price vs Ryan Mooney. This match was fun because I will always cheer for Alec Price because if you do he will yell at you and tell you to stop because he doesn't need your applause. I also feel like it's weird that Ryan Mooney is "The Honey Badger" when Neil Diamond Cutter is still out there wrestling (I think). This match was strange because Alec Price was billed as being from MA while Ryan Mooney was billed from New Jersey. That all seems to check out, but at one point Ryan Mooney said "This is Honey Badger country!" or something and it was just weird because geographically speaking it was not.
Alec Price also yelled at me and told me something about my being from some yuppy part of MA when I am in fact not from MA but that was funny. At one point during this match, Alec Price went to the top turnbuckle and threw off both of his elbow pads at once. One of them landed just outside of the ring and the other came flying into my face. I still have it because I intended to give it back to him after the show but then... well, you'll see.
Logan Black just seems to bring violence with him wherever he goes and when you pair that up with Ryan Galeone you just feel as if a bomb is about to go off. This was a match where I feel like if they were inflicting this much damage on anyone else the match would have ended much sooner. Ryan Galeone went to the top rope, walked across the ropes and then flipped onto Logan Black and people in the crowd were just dumbfounded. I don't think a lot of the fans knew who Ryan Galeone was- or that he was capable of that- but holy shit did he get people talking after that.
I look at Ryan Galeone the way I look at baseball. This past season, MLB was shook because Shohei Ohtani came in and did what pitchers do and what hitters do and he did it just as well as anyone. So, statistically, when you think of wrestlers who can do these flippy moves you think of smaller wrestlers. One of my favorite examples would be Paul London. But then you just have that power of someone like Sid Vicious and- typically speaking in wrestling, you can either be Paul London or you can be Psycho Sid but you can't be both. It defies what I know about physics but Ryan Galeone does both and the rest of the wrestling world can now consider themselves as being put on notice.
I'm not sure why, but I like to look at things objectively a lot. I feel like I live in a wrestling bubble known as New England and even more so I feel like when it comes to wrestlers I like who I like regardless of whether or not the crowd cheers them. While MSP were the absolute crowd favorites in their match against Milk Chocolate (and Milk Chocolate played the heels) from an outside perspective, if you didn't know either team, it might seem like MSP were the heels because they did this introduction where they called them "Chocolate Milk" and if you didn't have context it might feel like Brandon Watts and Randy Summers were just standing up for themselves in this match. I just enjoy how this made that match- like life itself- so complex and layered.
In the main event, Travis Huckabee and Perry Von Vicious took the fight all over the building. They were outside of the ring a ways away from us, so I couldn't see as well what was happening (which is why I'll watch the replay) but then when they came back into the ring Travis Huckabee had a nasty gash near his eye and was bleeding. This match ended with a Travis Huckabee win and it was due to referee stoppage. Take nothing away from Travis Huckabee, but Perry Von Vicious didn't get pinned nor did he say he quit, so I think this match deserves some type of rematch.
After this show, Robert Martyr was on his phone with the IWTV app open and was watching as AC Mack had just become the Independent Wrestling Champion. This was a crazy moment for me because I was going to check Twitter to see if AC Mack won and now I just will always remember that I found out from Robert Martyr, then told Tim and just seeing the wrestlers, fans and everyone all gathered around and watching their phones was such a special moment. We couldn't be there in GA, but we shared in that moment nonetheless and it was something I'll never forget.
GRIND is back soon enough, with matches and talent announced and it just looks like it could be even better than the first three shows which feels like it might not be easy to accomplish but with the announced wrestlers and the ones I'm thinking are going to be on the card it should be wild. GRIND is just putting on the best shows in New England right now, whether you cheer or boo a wrestler elsewhere they all seem to get their applause inside of that GRIND ring because it really does seem to be all about that respect.