Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Wrestling Preview //
Pro Wrestling GRIND
"All We Are"
December 31st, 2022
The Wrestival / Worcester MA

Pro Wrestling GRIND tends to spend their time at the Pulaski Club in Easthampton, MA but for this special occasion they bring their special brand of hard-hitting violence to Worcester.   As seems to be the theme of The Wrestival, fans in Worcester may have seen some of these wrestlers before but it is likely that they haven't seen them like this!  "All We Are" is an entire card designed to steal the weekend and it just may!

Mike Skyros vs JD Drake

Since debuting in GRIND, Mike Skyros has been someone who seems to have found his winning ways but that's partly due to the help of Travis Huckabee.  As of yet, Travis Huckabee has not been announced for The Wrestival at all, so Mike Skyros might be on his own in this match against JD Drake.   JD Drake is one of the toughest, biggest and strongest wrestlers out there today.  What's truly interesting about this match is how these two wrestlers are perceived.  

JD Drake has made somewhat of a name for himself, not just on the independent scene but as part of AEW as well.  You have to imgaine that in some respect of it all, JD Drake beating Mike Skyros is just another day at the office for him.  In ways, it's what people expect to happen and makes this match feel like it could be cut and dry.  But what if Mike Skyros wins this match?  That has to be weighing heavily on Skyros' mind.

Mike Skyros certainly has more to gain by winning this match than JD Drake does.  Imagine Mike Skyros going into 2023 with a win over JD Drake.  I think if Skyros had one or two more big wins after that he could even be in line for a title shot.  And Skyros has to know this.  Skyros is as calculated in his mind as he is in his body.  This might feel like an upset if Mike Skyros wins, but it also might just feel like making the most of an opportunity and Skyros might do just that.

Logan Black vs Manders (Street Fight)

You know things get serious when GRIND brings out their first ever Street Fight.   Before we get into why this is, I feel I need to point out that both Logan Black and Manders are not the type of wrestlers you want to be on the other side of the ring from during a Street Fight.  Logan Black really has that hardcore style to him while Manders has been making the rounds in H2O, ICWNHB and even had a stand out Anything Goes match against Slade at Limitless back in May.

Which is funny because this all started back in May between Logan Black and Manders, at GRIND "Come And Get It", when these two were originally scheduled for a match against each other.  Manders was only in his second match in GRIND and it looked like he was going to show respect, but he ended up disrespecting Logan Black and in this match definitively turned heel on the GRIND crowd.

While Logan Black has his own issues with Travis Huckabee and Mike Skyros, which lead to a tag team match at Sinister Urge, Manders got involved there and it looked as if we were headed into a three vs three match with Joseph Alexander and Angelo Carter on the side of Black, but now it looks like GRIND might have to somehow construct War Games.  

This match will be one of the most brutal matches of the entire Wrestival and it won't even have the use of light tubes and other weapons that ICWNHB will.   This match might even go so far as to make some people uncomfortable, but plain and simple, this one has become a blood feud.  

The Mane Event vs Violence Is Forever

No tag team has been more dominant in Pro Wrestling GRIND than The Mane Event.  The only loss The Mane Event has in GRIND is at Celebration Day at the hands of Shook Crew because they ripped off Lyon's mask.    And ever since Kevin Ku was on the very first show against Matt Makowski, GRIND has been building better and better tag team matches which felt like the debut of Violence Is Forever was only a matter of time.

The Mane Event are fast, they are high flying and they utilize tag team moves perfectly.  But there aren't many tag teams out there right now like Violence Is Forever, who will look for more of a ground and pound approach to winning this match.  VIF has to have a strategy to isolate each member of the other team and pick apart the legs to both slow them down and keep them grounded.   But The Mane Event also has to be aware of that and ready for it.   Yeah, this is going to be *that* tag team match of The Wrestival.

Rip Byson vs Gary Jay

Gary Jay has only had two matches in Pro Wrestling GRIND but each time he nearly killed his opponent in Ryan Mooney and Jay Freddie.   Gary Jay is pound for pound one of the toughest wrestlers alive today and though when he came this way for GRIND he also appeared at Wrestling Open, it was in a scramble and as part of a match that lasted less than four minutes.  This match will last more than four minutes and the amount of punishment these two will inflict upon each other will feel infinite.

Rip Byson is coming off of a loss in GRIND- to Jay Freddie- and that kind of puts Byson in this weird position heading into 2023.  A loss here, this close to the New Year, could see a losing streak in '23 whereas a win over Gary Jay could put Rip Byson back on track for a title shot again some time down the line.  Either way, this match is going to be destruction personified.  Only once have I seen a match in Worcester that was so brutal and hardcore but without the use of weapons and this match is going to be along those same lines only somehow more unhinged.  

WARHORSE vs Perry Von Vicious

WARHORSE was the first talent announced for this show and as soon as this match was announced I knew that GRIND were onto something big.  WARHORSE just feels like one of those talents that is too big to come to Worcester these days, as his only other Wrestival appearance will come in a gauntlet match to crown a new Independent Wrestling World Champion the day before this.   Yes, if WARHORSE does run the gauntlet, Perry Von Vicious could be going into the ring with the IWTV Champion- title match or not.

And let's talk about the year that Perry Von Vicious has had in GRIND.  Let's talk about how some of the best matches of this year have seen PVV vs the likes of BEEF and Travis Huckabee.  I'm not sure if you'd call it a career resurgence or a "finding yourself" type of journey, but whatever it is, everything PVV has been doing in GRIND has just been clicking and bringing out that star quality in each and every of his matches.

But on New Year's Eve, Perry Von Vicious is going to face a bonified star in WARHORSE.  There are a few pillars on independent wrestling and who you think they are can be debated, but if WARHORSE isn't in your Top 5 then I can't take you seriously because people can book entire shows around WARHORSE (Trust me, I've been there!)  This will certainly be a test for both wrestlers and in the end, I truly do believe many fans will see Perry Von Vicious in a new, shining light.  

Anthony Henry vs Ryan Mooney

For The Wrestival, Anthony Henry seems to be getting haunted by ghosts of matches past.  This match was originally to happen a few months back but what a way for both of these wrestlers to close out the year!  (Though Anthony Henry will go on to face Kevin Blackwood for Limitless after this)  If you're looking for wrestlers who have just been at the top of their game in GRIND this past year, few stand out more than Ryan Mooney.   The GRIND fanbase (who I hope make the trip to this show) are fully behind him and as such, this is just going to be an intense match based on the crowd.

But Anthony Henry has been having the best year of anyone and as such this is going to be an important match for him as well.  There are few wrestlers who can take what Anthony Henry dishes out and not only win but just survive.  Ryan Mooney truly feels like someone who can do just that.  Mooney recently picked up a hard fought victory over Kevin Blackwood, who is also facing Anthony Henry on this day so it's going to be a real even match here where it feels like either competitor can win but it will be a true fight.  

Jay Freddie (c) vs O'Shay Edwards (GRIND Grand Championship Match)

After being crowned the first ever GRIND Grand Champion, Jay Freddie had one title defense against Rip Byson- who had a prior win over Freddie, so that match felt like a lot of tying up loose ends for the Champ.  O'Shay Edwards was originally a part of the Emerald 12 but left the tournament and questions of "What if" remained.

On New Year's Eve, all of those questions will hopefully be answered as O'Shay Edwards goes one on one with the Champion Jay Freddie.  Few challengers have been as big and powerful as O'Shay Edwards but few wrestlers are as big and powerful as O'Shay Edwards in general.  Jay Freddie seems to be lined up for the toughest fights of his career as soon as becoming Champion, but I'm sure he wouldn't have it any other way.  This match will blow the roof off of the White Eagle.

Emi Sakura vs Delmi Exo

What can be said about Emi Sakura that hasn't been said before?  In the darkest days of my fandom of professional wrestling, I still watched one form of pro wrestling: joshi.  I watched Stardom and Ice Ribbon on YouTube before discovering so much more.   Though Emi Sakura spends time in AEW, she also is the mind behind Gatoh Move Pro Wrestling, who also have free shows on YouTube that you should really go out of your way to see.

Words just cannot seem to describe how important this feels to me and I hope other wrestling fans share the same importance.   But then you have to realize that this all comes to a head with Emi Sakura going up against Delmi Exo.   This may not quite be the Pulaski Club, but it is still close enough to being Delmi Exo's home that she could be at an advantage here.   Also, outside of one loss in the Emerald 12 to Travis Huckabee, Delmi Exo is still undefeated in GRIND.

This is going to be one of those matches that just feels like even if you don't watch any other match on The Wrestival, you should go out of your way as a wrestling fan to watch at least this one.  This isn't just about The Wrestival or even GRIND, this is about wrestling on the whole and you have to appreciate that.  

Tickets and more information on "All We Are" can be found here :::

Wrestling Preview //
Blitzkrieg! Pro
"Always The Hard Way"
December 30th, 2022
The Wrestival / Worcester MA

Blitzkrieg! Pro is coming to The Wrestival and they are bringing a card the likes of which wrestling fans have not seen before.   With known favorites combined with bigger names that don't always come to Worcester, Blitzkrieg! Pro also offers up the most variety in their choice of wrestling matches for this show.


Alec Price vs Alex Shelley

It has already been stated that Alec Price vs Alex Shelley will open this show and what a way to bring people in who might have thought of tuning in later on.   Alex Shelley for quite some time was such a huge influence and integral part of ROH and TNA and now he's even got a shot on the show after this one to win the Independent Wrestling World Championship again in a gauntlet match.  But Alec Price is one of those wrestlers who is coming up and winning championships, making a name for himself.   Truly a match of the past vs the future, but in a way which their two styles and levels of experience will make for the perfect match.

Bobby Orlando vs Alan Angels

Get well soon, Bryce.   This match came about because it was originally scheduled to be Shook Crew vs BUSSY and then the card got shuffled around a bit.  Alan Angels had been preparing to face Anthony Greene, which looked to be a rather solid wrestling match, but not with Bobby Orlando in the mix you can never really know what to expect.   Bobby Orlando (aka your mom) is always down for some sick tricks but can get the job done in the ring just as well.   This is going to be an interesting match for the clash of styles and how much the B!P Faithful will be behind Bobby Orlando.

BUSSY vs Anthony Greene/Ava Everett

Even though Effy and Allie Katch are not a couple, per se, they still feel like a power couple.  This match feels like a strong battle of power couples and even though this was not the original match it still intrigues me because of the four people involved in it.   I feel like AG/AVA are a bit of Northern New England (like MA) while BUSSY are more Southern New England (like NJ) and this isn't a type of match that Beyond or GCW would book, so it's quite interesting to see it in that way as well.  I'd love to see any of these four wrestlers face off in singles competition as well.  But this is going to still be a tag team match to steal the weekend and your only chance to see BUSSY at The Wrestival!

TJ Crawford vs Ichiban vs Dante Drago

    The thing about Blitzkrieg! Pro is that they cater to all styles of wrestling and this match might seem like a clash of styles on the surface, but all three of these three athletes can go.  TJ Crawford is back from injury and seems to be on a run which involves him wanting to obtain as much gold as possible, but both Ichiban and Dante Drago could also just as easily secure a win here and be in line for a title shot.  This is also, as far as I know of this writing right now, your only chance to see both TJ Crawford and Dante Drago at The Wrestival.  They should be all over every show, but this is one of those crucial reasons why you should go out of your way to catch this Blitzkrieg! Pro show.

CPA vs Matt Tremont

    People may look at CPA and assume he is not built for a hardcore/death match style of wrestling, but once upon a time in Blitzkrieg! Pro, CPA did compete in a match against both Jeff Cannonball and Nick Gage.   So CPA is likely more ready for this match than most people think.   At the same time, Matt Tremont has been on an absolute run of his life this past year, only looking to make it better, and as he has a shot at the Independent Wrestling World Championship after this show, he could very easily hope to just plow through CPA on his way to getting the gold.  

    In all fairness, Krule (who was stripped of the title) last defended it against Matt Tremont, so it feels like Tremont should have just won that match and the title if Krule can't continue, right?  And what if Tremont does win the title in the gauntlet and CPA gets a win over Tremont in this match?  This match is certainly going to be fun and not because it's going to be a comedy match but because I love violence.  Many implications may come out after The Wrestival, and some of them might even come from this match!

MSP (Champions) vs Locked & Loaded vs The CDC vs Miracle Generation (Blitzkrieg! Pro Tag Team Championship Ladder Hell Match)

    MSP just had one of the biggest matches of their career at "Mercy Me", successfully defending these very Tag Team Titles against BUSSY in a rather historic match.  Now, MSP is looking to go into 2023 with these titles but has to do so by putting them on the line against three other teams in Ladder Hell.  On one hand, Dustin Waller lost his BST Championship to Lucas Chase in a Ladder Match, so Miracle Generation might seem like high flyers that like ladders but they also might not have the best record with them either.

    The CDC seem to be having some problems within after their last match and Juba definitely tweeted that everyone in this match was going to get hurt, which we could assume includes Devantes and as tag team partners, Devantes isn't going to like that.   (But I do really want to see Devantes turn on The CDC and go on a huge babyface run eventually)  And then we have Locked & Loaded, who seem maybe like they don't have the ladder match experience together but still could be the best option to defeat MSP with Dan Barry guiding .50 Cal.  

    This match will be a lot of people flying in different directions and just all around chaos.  Somehow, MSP could manage to get the win in one of those situations where everyone else cancels each other out.  But I also fully believe that MSP might be able to win this one simply because of their talent.  MSP could survive Ladder Hell simply because they are just that damn good.

VSK (Champion) vs Andy Brown (Blitzkrieg! Pro Bedlam Championship Match)

    The stories leading up to this match should be enough for anyone who has ever attended a Blitzkrieg! Pro show in 2022 make the trip up to Worcester for this Title Match.  VSK has had successful title defenses this year, most recently against CPA but also over names such as Travis Huckabee.  Yet, Andy Brown came into this match by defeating Travis Huckabee in a Number One Contender's Match.   Brown has also held his own in Blitzkrieg! Pro this past year in matches with the likes of Anthony Greene.  

    Andy Brown is everything you could want to see in a professional wrestler.  He has the size to deliver moves with the power that you don't want to be on the receiving end of.  He has speed and is agile as all hell.   He's entertaining and he doesn't really seem to give a fuck what you think about him, but if you continue to boo him and piss him off he will get in your face.  Andy Brown is unpredictable, both in his attitude and wrestling style.  VSK has never wrestled someone like him before and that is going to be a huge factor in this match.

    There are a number of wrestlers out there who just feel like they're on this path to gold in the near future and Andy Brown seems like he's on the top of that list.  His time, it feels like now.  This feels like his match and this feels like his Championship to win.  As a fan of B!P, you are not going to want to miss this.

Tickets and more information for "Always The Hard Way" can be found here ::: 

Wrestling Preview //
Pizza Party Pro
"Pop! Pop!"
December 29th, 2022
The Wrestival / Worcester MA

Much like they did last year, Pizza Party Pro will kick off The Wrestival in Worcester, MA on Thursday, December 29th at 3pm.   It always feels like such a treat to see Pizza Party Pro because they don't run every month but they have this mix of wrestlers I really enjoy.  Living in CT, you find out that New England is very much divided in wrestling as there are "MA wrestlers" and "NJ wrestlers".   

If you want to see EFFY or Darius Carter you get on 15 South and go to NJ.   If you want to see Ted Goodz or Channing Thomas you get on the Mass Pike and head up near Boston somewhere.   But Pizza Party Pro, to their credit, seems to care not about this idea of divide and instead just puts wrestlers together in matches that make you feel like you've reached some sort of middle ground, even if it doesn't feel like a MA vs NJ show.  

To kick off something as big as The Wrestival, you must do so with matches that are going to not only stand out but just make an impression right away.   The advantage to going on first is that you can then sit back and say "Top that" to everyone else.  And while this might not be the show full of "big names as seen on AEW Dark", it is the wrestling show that has perhaps the best matches that might truly impress you if you give it a shot.  

Big Game Leroy vs Shea McCoy vs King Crab vs Kidd Magic vs Big Dan Champion vs Pancakes vs Bobby Orlando (Floor Is Lava Match)

Some of my favorite wrestlers are in this match and then there is also Big Dan.   In terms of Floor Is Lava being a game, the advantage here might go to Big Game Leroy, who is most familiar with them.  I'd think Big Dan Champion does have an advantage though because he is the biggest and should be able to eliminate his smaller opponents.  However, if everyone got on the same page, Big Dan might be the first one out into the lava.

This really feels like it could be anyone's match but all I know is Crabs don't like lava, Quentin has vowed to help keep Pancakes in this match and I'm not leaving until Shea McCoy does "two for flinching" on someone.

Karen Bam Bam vs Austin Luke

Before this match was announced, I was thinking about the wrestlers who Pizza Party Pro usually books that weren't yet on the card.  Karen Bam Bam and Austin Luke are two of my favorite wrestlers, so these two names did come to mind I just never imagined they'd be facing each other.  This is that type of match that I never knew I needed to see it until it was announced and it could quite possibly end up being the single best match of all of The Wrestival, which is really saying a lot when you look over the whole card.

Karen Bam Bam and Austin Luke have different styles, but that technical/striking side of Austin Luke it what it's going to take to try and wear Karen Bam Bam down and get the win.  Karen Bam Bam, however, is just going to look to do what she does best and that's shine like the star that she is.   This feels like a somewhat important match- as a lot of matches on The Wrestival do- because it can just set your tone for 2023.  And both of these wrestlers should be looking to go into the New Year on a win.

Marcus Mathers vs Jordan Blade

Every time I see Marcus Mathers in a match I feel like I'm thinking in my head "C'mon, kid, make me a fan".   Mathers is undoubtedly one of the hottest rising stars coming out of H2O and he seems to be all some people can talk about.  But I just haven't seen that match yet that makes me buy into all of the hype.  

And you know?  Being complete honest and transparent: I don't think this is going to be the match that does it either.   Because I don't see this match being very competitive.  I see Marcus Mathers as being in way over his head here with Jordan Blade and it's not a matter of if Jordan Blade can snap that ankle but rather a matter of when.

This is going to be a fun match for me because I haven't seen Jordan Blade in a little while.  But all of those fans out there with IWTV who watch H2O and watch even Wrestling Open when Marcus Mathers is on it and see him as this young prodigy... Well, you're about to be introduced (or re-introduced) to Jordan Blade and this match is going to make a strong fucking statement.

Brother Greatness vs Eel O'Neal

One of the biggest things I keep thinking about so many matches on The Wrestival is that "Worcester hasn't seen anything like this before".   And while Brother Greatness is a part of Wrestling Open nearly every week, the Brother Greatness who is going to be in this wrestling match against Eel O'Neal is not the same person.  Well, okay, he is the same person but he's going to be allowed to go places which Wrestling Open won't let him.  If you're watching this show as a regular viewer of Wrestling Open, you're going to think "I didn't know Brother Greatness could do that!"

And then you have Eel O'Neal on the other side of that ring.  Eel O'Neal is undoubtedly one of the most improved wrestlers of 2022 (which is saying a lot because he was pretty great before that) and he is just looking to go on an absolute tear in 2023.  If you're looking for a list of wrestlers that are up now, Eel O'Neal best be on it.

This is that type of match people are going to talk about long after it happens.   Both of these wrestlers just compliment each other so well.  They have similar, mat based wrestling skills and also just feel like they have something to prove.   This is going to be a great match.

Boar + Dan Barry w/ Erica Leigh vs The Goons w/ Big Dust

I'm going to chalk this up to being part of The Mandela Effect (or me just not being able to read properly) because I thought this match was Boar/Dan Barry/Erica Leigh vs Killian McMurphy/Robb Radke/Myles Millenium and as it turns out that is just not the case and Myles has never been a part of this match.   To be fair though, there is always a lot of wrestling going on so I'm often confused about the cards and adding all of the various Wrestival matches into the mix just makes it that much more confusing.

Even though Dan Barry makes the roads, I feel like this is a solid NJ match.  But if you watch IWTV, YouTube, etc you can follow along even without having to drive to NJ and see how this whole feud has played out across several promotions down there, some of which are having their own little weekend party at the Ridgefield Park KOC.    And I will never understand why it's like "You're a NJ wrestler!" and so someone such as Killian McMurphy doesn't make their way up here (to MA/CT) as often as they should, but such is wrestling right?

Erica Leigh is currently under the guise of Officer Leigh.  Dan Barry used to be a cop (don't ask him about it)  And Boar, well, to make a cop joke there seems like low hanging fruit, right?  Together, this tag team will try to stop the team of Killian McMurphy and Robb Radke, who both love the devil's lettuce.  While I know that marijuana is legal in MA, a quick Google search shows it is also legal in NJ so I'm not sure what's happening here within the law but I expect at least one Judge Dredd reference for someone to say "I am the law" and a lot of other shenanigans.

Tony Deppen vs Weber Hatfield

In that genre of matches I love to see but never knew I needed, we have Tony Deppen and Weber Hatfield colliding.   Both of these wrestlers are quick, but use their whole body as a weapon so them colliding here is going to look like a car crash.    Ever since The Wrestival last year, it feels like Weber Hatfield really has something to prove now.  At the same time, Tony Deppen has seemed like that his entire career.

Much of this show "Pop! Pop!" is matches where two of the best at what they do meet inside the ring and this is no exception.   It's somewhat cheesy to say that this is a card full of dream matches, but considering how many of these matches feel like dream matches to me it's still pretty accurate.   This is going to be, as the kids say, a banger.

LuFisto vs Kennedi Copeland

What I love about this match is that LuFisto is wrestling royalty while Kennedi Copeland feels like someone out to prove they belong here still.   Kennedi Copeland has many accolades to celebrate, don't get me wrong, but it just feels like a win over LuFisto would push her to that next level of wrestling where she goes from opening the show against unknown wrestlers to main eventing the whole damn thing.

But let's not forget that the wrestling world was taking off around the time of the pandemic in 2020 and as such LuFisto really felt like she was watching a lot of it from Canada, not able to partake because of border restrictions.   Now it feels like every time LuFisto comes to the states for a match it's with such intent that you don't want to get in her way.  

Very few matches throughout The Wrestival will be as important to women's wrestling as this match will be, but also very few matches will be as important to all of professional wrestling.  

Tickets and more infomation for "Pop! Pop!" can be found here :::

Friday, December 23, 2022

Music Review //
Leah James
"Auld Lang Syne"


This time of year can be sentimental to many different people for many different reasons.  Regardless of what holidays you celebrate, one thing most cultures seem to embrace is the idea of New Years.  Many people like that idea of creating a New Years resolution and quickly abandoning it- gyms have made a living off of it- but I really see the idea of turning from one year into another as something different.

"Auld Lang Syne" has always been a song associated with the New Year in the sense that we leave the past behind- we don't forget it, but we move forward.  We keep going.  And as such, it feels like these coming days could be a great time for a season of reflection, as we remember both the good and bad times not just of the last year but really from our entire lives if you want to get right down to it.

Leah James has a voice so powerful it carries this song as the music itself is minimal.  There is a stretch in here where there is nothing but calming music and that just seems to really set that mood for meditation where one can do some self reflection.  This song, in that sense, is the perfect accompaniment to looking at the past so that we can move forward.

Within these ambient sounds though also comes a sense of being somewhat haunted.  Perhaps this is a reminder that unless we accept our past, learn from our mistakes, we shall be doomed to repeat them.   When I was younger, I didn't really embrace the full concept of New Year's, but now I've seen that it is important to have that general guide by a calendar to let us see how far we've come.   Let this version of "Auld Lang Syne" by Leah James guide you there as well.  - 

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Wrestling Review //
December 17, 2022
@ Heartland Ballroom, Newark NJ

Photos can be found in a Facebook album located here :::

  To truly understand what this show meant to me, we have to go back in time to the early 2000's- nearly twenty years ago- to when I was collecting wrestling DVDs and even VHS tapes from eBay because the way we stream things now was just non-existent.   I ended up buying a DVD from someone and it turned out to be this match where all of these death match wrestlers fought inside of a house that was built specifically for the match.   This was my introduction to BJW and this was my introduction to Abdullah Kobayashi.  If you told the me back then that I'd be seeing Kobayashi wrestle live one day I'd never believe you.

Before the last ICWNHB show in NJ, it had been a while since we had been to NJ.  I forgot just how terrible the traffic getting out of Connecticut is, so while we planned on a 2-2.5 hour drive getting there, it actually took much longer (and felt even longer)  Luckily for ICWNHB 40 we'll be in a hotel again so we'll likely plan on getting there by 4pm.   But trying to plan to get to a show when doors open coming from CT to NJ is not fun.   And then when we got there it was all street parking and none to be found.  We made it to the venue at 7:15-ish but didn't park until after 7:30!  What do people do??

Once we got in (We parked near a taco place!) we found spots and then were ready for the show to start.  One of the things I love about ICWNHB versus going to other wrestling shows is that they always seem to start on time and have it planned out to where they know they have that start time on IWTV so you never expect doors to be late or the show to start late.   We once again opened the show with AKIRA and this time he took on Bobby Beverly.   It's not that I don't like The Bev, it's just that I don't like him.  

Comparing this show to the one before it we attended live was something I constantly felt myself doing in my head and I just enjoyed the AKIRA-Bam Sullivan match so much more, but again, I'm not against Bobby Beverly being on a show but he's not someone I'm going out of my way to see either.   On the other hand, Dr Redacted was one of those names we drove to this show to see and though he ended up fighting Orin Veidt I wasn't too disappointed because I just wanted to see Redacted kill someone.

I feel the same way about Orin Veidt that I do Bobby Beverly.  I was happy though that on the last show fans seemed to not really know what to expect from Dr Redacted and seemed to be a pro-Hoodfoot crowd, but by the end of the match I think he sort of won them over and this time the crowd was very much behind him.   This match was a lot of fun and credit to Orin Veidt for taking the death.

Next up Jimmy Lloyd took on Danny Demanto and the fans tried to turn this into a GCW vs ICWNHB type of match and I'm just not feeling it.  Danny Demanto actually said during this show that he didn't have beef with any other promotion and he wanted to work together and that's what's best for all of wrestling.   And it's true.  Jimmy Lloyd was on GCW the night before this and to pretend like he's not just seems weird.  Cross-promoting shows in that sense just seems to benefit everyone and I'm glad that someone said it.

Abdullah Kobayashi was the fourth match on this show when he rightfully could've gone on sixth or even seventh, but this is why I don't make the calls such as where to put matches on the card.   Hoodfoot is just a beast and watching him in this match... I'd really like to see Hoodfoot win the Independent Wrestling World Championship at The Wrestival because everything with the Death Match Championship is flipped upside down now.

Matt Tremont and Tommy Vendetta had a very solid match but I just felt like they had some time before the match started where they were just waiting and I don't know why.  I really do enjoy Tommy Vendetta though- I was excited to see him- and I hope he's back in the chains sooner rather than later.  Matt Tremont, of course, just always leaves a bit of himself in that ring and him calling out Sami Callihan is huge news and we're currently planning on going to that Mania Weekend show!

This was when things got weird for me.  John Wayne Murdoch took on Eric Ryan and it turned into this match where it felt like for twenty minutes it didn't start.   JWM did the heel thing and just kind of kept ducking out of the ring.  Now, on the show the night before this JWM was booed because he worked for a different promotion (I'm not really sure, but again, see Jimmy Lloyd) and I just feel like the idea of having someone be a heel like this- a chickenshit heel- is not needed in death match wrestling in 2022.   RSP pretty much played that one out.

The thing is, and I don't speak for everyone here, I go to death match shows to watch people beat the fuck out of each other.  I'm not there to choose sides in a "I'm going to boo you because blah blah blah".   No.  I just want to see two of the best death match wrestlers in the world- which JWM and Eric Ryan are- try and kill each other.  And, again, I'm not sure what this idea of booing JWM was about but whatever it is, it also just feels like a bad gimmick as well.  JWM doesn't need this gimmick.  Being a death match wrestler is the only gimmick this match needed.

This brought us to the main event, which was Kasey Catal defending the ICW American Deathmatch World Title vs Brandon Kirk.   Now, these two are married and everything that has gone on with them and even Krule in the mix was definitely a story in wrestling but it was one that was fun to see play out.  Everything leading up to JWM vs Eric Ryan being a dog collar match could've just been skipped and it could've been announced as such from the beginning, but I digress.

Brandon vs Kasey was everything you could possibly want it to be and so much more.  Now, with Brandon Kirk as the Champion, Hoodfoot no longer gets that title shot at The Wrestival and AKIRA is also asking for a tite shot so it will be interesting to see how this all plays out in the coming months as we head into 2023.   I love that Kasey Kirk was the ICW American Deathmatch World Champion.  Kasey really just had one of the best years of any wrestler in the world and on any stage.   But if she was going to lose that title, I'm also glad she lost it to Brandon.  It just feels so fitting.  

        One thing I will always remember about this show, from a live perspective, is that at some point after his match, Abdullah Kobayashi was just wandering around.   We were in the corner near a random, unguarded door to get outside and Kobayashi just kind of went out there in his trunks still.  I saw someone I knew who worked with ICWNHB and kind of gestured towards the open door like "Kobayashi is lost!" and they got it all worked out, but that is something I'll never forget.

        In January, we've already got our tickets to return to Westville for ICWNHB 40 and it will be a good way to start the new year for sure.  Even if I just feel indifferent to a wrestler, I'm at least happy to see them do what they do out there because death match wrestling is just such a different thing.  As someone who goes to way too many wrestling shows, none of them give that feeling that death match wrestling does- that ICWNHB does- and that's why this is going to become a monthly thing for us in 2023.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Music Review //
Tedd Hazard
"Destructive Criticism"

Tedd Hazard is back with his tenth full length album to close out 2022.  Right away, I like the fact that this album is titled "Destructive Criticism" because I've dealt with people far too long who can't take constructive criticism (or criticism of any kind really) and so I'm wondering if such a thing even exists.   It's something worth thinking about for sure and possibly just plays a larger role in the lives of people unable to listen to any sort of advice.

With the chaos of the acoustic guitar and those vocals which you know can only come from Tedd Hazard, this has that feeling of being one of the most complete albums that Tedd Hazard has done because it also just feels as if it has this theme which resonates throughout the songs.   The songs definitely feel more connected to each other than in the past, but it also just seems to take those strides musically where it's a lot of the harmonica and banjo sound and just overall more musical.

The titular track, for example, really has some strong music parts to it.  "Shitty" and "Anarchist Hotel" seem to highlight the banjo side of things while the songs "Nihilistic Northeast Pennsylvania" and "2 AM" bring out the most of that harmonica.   And then you have a song like "Miserable Young Man" which feels more upbeat, despite the title, and seems to blend the acoustics with the harmonica perfectly.  "2022" has a sad ballad feel to it and as this year comes to a close it does feel like it's just good to be over.

While this album is released in December and that brings the year to a close, I do think there are a lot of qualities in this album to listen to it and think back about the year as it finishes.  The lyrics can be somewhat bleak, but yet they somehow leave you with the hope that next year might be better.  At the same time, taken out context, I do feel that this album will become much more appreciated as it is looked back upon in the coming years and not seen as just the end to a few bad years.  

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Top 10 Matches I'm Looking Most Forward To At The Wrestival 2022

Regardless of whether you're attending live in person or watching on IWTV, I think one thing we can all agree on is that there is A LOT of wrestling happening at The Wrestival New Year's weekend in Worcester, MA.   And a lot of the matches are going to be so good that you're not going to want to miss them.   Some of the shows have already built up cards where it just feels like the entire show is can't miss.  

But alas, I have taken it down to a list of the ten matches I am most excited to see.  There were a lot (and I can't stress that enough) of matches I left off of this list because otherwise it would've just gotten out of hand.  I had to limit myself at ten and I'd say I did a pretty good job.  And yes, they are going to be in a Top 10 order as well, where number one means number one!

10 ::: Jody Threat vs Trish Adora (Beyond Wrestling, Heavy Lies The Crown)

What would The Wrestival be without Trish Adora?  A staple in Beyond and Worcester for such a long time and then seemingly looked over when Wrestling Open started.  As this show is the very last show on The Wrestival, by this point, Trish Adora could (and should) be the new Independent Wrestling World Champion.   This is also a first time match up, so to think of that care-free, unpredictable style of Jody Threat going up against the more precise and tactical Trish Adora really makes me wonder why this hasn't happened before.

9 ::: JD Drake vs Andy Brown (Limitless Wrestling, High Strung)

Two big hosses doing hoss things.   Andy Brown may very well come out of this weekend with the most to talk about, as his name is a part of many key matches.  But JD Drake is not to be taken lightly either.  This is really a battle of two of the best, two of the biggest and just overall two of the type of wrestlers you just want to see beat the hell out of each other without a single weapon.  They are the weapons!

8 ::: Kasey Kirk vs Hoodfoot (ICWNHB Pit Fighter 14)

This match has many implications for many different reasons.  Hoodfoot is one crazy ass wrestler, and yet even he may not be able to defeat Kasey Kirk who has just had arguably one of the best years of any wrestler out there in 2022.   I'm not sure why, but death match wrestling seems to sort of stop in NJ and not want to come up to CT and MA, so having this show in Worcester is kind of a big deal as well when you think about the matches The White Eagle is used to hosting versus how this whole card will be.   This is an 11pm start time, but I'm really hoping a lot of death match fans show up. 

7 ::: Anthony Henry vs Kevin Blackwood (Limitless Wrestling, High Strung)

When you talk about two of the best wrestlers in the world today and a match that was supposed to happen at The Wrestival last year, you need look no further than Anthony Henry vs Kevin Blackwood.   In some ways, I feel a lot like the only peer either of these wrestlers has that is on that same level as them is each other.   This will really help everyone to see what I've been saying all year and that is most everyone else is playing checkers while these two are playing chess.

6 ::: WARHORSE vs Perry Von Vicious (Pro Wrestling GRIND, All We Are)

In another first time match up, it's kind of special to me because the first time I went to Worcester for New Year's Eve I saw WARHORSE and now seeing him again just feels sentimental.  Perry Von Vicious has had this on again/off again relationship with Wrestling Open, so the Worcester fans somewhat know him, but he's also just been such a strong presence in GRIND that this match is going to turn a lot of heads.  WARHORSE is also up for the Independent Wrestling World Championship, which win or lose might also start having people seeing Perry Von Vicious in that similar light.

5 ::: Casanova Valentine vs Dr Redacted (ICWNHB Pit Fighter 14)

If you're looking for blood, look no further.  A little while back, Dr Redacted was to face The Carver and then The Carver ended up getting injured so I had that idea of Redacted vs Casanova Valentine put into my head.  This match is just going to be straight up brutal and I'm going to love every second of it.  I just hope the Wrestling Open fans stay up to watch this one, just to give something they're not used to seeing a try.

4 ::: Andy Brown vs VSK (Blitzkrieg! Pro, Always The Hard Way)

This is it.  This is the big one.  Andy Brown came into Blitzkrieg! Pro and made a statement.  I'll admit, the first time I saw him wrestle live I was hooked.  He just has that way about him.  After defeating Travis Huckabee in a Number One Contender's Match, Andy Brown now gets his title shot against current Blitzkrieg! Pro Bedlam Champion VSK.  VSK has defeated a lot of names recently who were in a similar situation to Andy Brown, but I just feel like VSK hasn't faced anyone quite like Andy Brown before and this is his time.  I'm thinking we're going into 2023 with a new Bedlam Champion and I get goosebumps just thinking about it.

3 ::: Karen Bam Bam vs Austin Luke (Pizza Party Pro, Pop! Pop!)

When you want to talk about matches that people might look at and dismiss but I know are going to be talked about long after they happen, you might be talking about this match.  Pizza Party Pro has put together such a solid card and so to pick this match off of that show really says a lot about it.   But I still feel like this clash of styles, the clash of wrestlers is just going to make this match so special.  Prior to it being announced, I knew that Pizza Party liked to book both of these wrestlers and was hoping they'd be on this show but I never imagined they'd be facing each other.  Two wrestlers with only the sky as their limit.  This might low key be the match that steals the entire Wrestival.  

2 ::: BUSSY vs Shook Crew (Blitzkrieg! Pro, Always The Hard Way)

Back at "Mercy Me", the idea for this match was put into my head and somehow it then became a reality a short while later without me even really mentioning it to anyone outside of Effy.  So holy shit on the booking of this match.  If you're looking for two more popular tag teams, you might not find them.   If you're looking for a match that is going to hit hard, while also being fun and perhaps a little bit provocative, then this is also that match.   Worcester loves Shook Crew but we all know Effy is only allowed there as a guest.   With a card full of instant classics, this match alone is worth the ticket price to see this one live if you're able.

1 ::: Delmi Exo vs Emi Sakura (Pro Wrestling GRIND, All We Are)

If The Wrestival was a competition where every show was competing against each other (and in some ways they are), then I truly do believe that Pro Wrestling GRIND wins the whole three day event just by booking Emi Sakura.  If you don't understand how huge this is, then I feel like I can't use other words to explain it to you but: THIS IS A REALLY BIG DEAL.   On top of this, you have Emi Sakura facing off against a wrestler who is undefeated in GRIND (minus the Emerald 12) and has just been having the year of her life and that's Delmi Exo.   This match is going to be Delmi Exo looking to make a statement and that's going to be a statement made at the expense of Emi Sakura, which just seems so surreal to say still.  

Tickets and more information for The Wrestival can be found at :::

Music Review //
Robert Jon & The Wreck
"Who Can You Love"

As soon as you see Robert Jon in this video- the hat, the beard, the sunglasses- you have an idea of what type of sound you're in for, but it doesn't paint a complete picture.  There is an aspect of driving to this song, like Steppenwolf, and at its core there is that ZZ Top feeling as well- where rock n roll meets country- but also it just feels a bit like Americana, folk-ish like The Wallflowers.   

With a decent amount of acoustics, "Who Can You Love" isn't afraid to branch off into an electric guitar solo either.  The video mostly shows Robert Jon at first, but eventually the whole band is shown playing and then we see small videos of couples together doing couple things.  And that idea of being a couple is what this song is all about.

Sometimes people wonder when looking for a partner "What can this person do for me?", but Robert Jon & The Wreck remind us that it shouldn't be about those things and rather the feelings that you get-- how that other person makes you feel.  All too often I think a lot of people forget that and if you're not emotionally invested it isn't going to work.

One of the things I enjoy most about this song is just how mellow it is.  There is a message to it, but it feels like it's being delivered in such a matter of fact way that you can't disagree with it.  The song itself and the lyrics behind it are so chill but at the same time you can't ignore it and can only choose to accept it.   The true underlying power of a song and its message at full potential is right here.  

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Wrestling Review //
Pro Wrestling GRIND
Sinister Urge
December 2nd, 2022
Pulaski Club Easthampton, MA

Images from this event can be found in a Facebook album here :::

For the final show of 2022 at Pulaski, GRIND really seemed to pull out all the stops with this card.  Every match felt important but it also just had that feeling of something we hadn't seen before combined with the debut of Kevin Blackwood, the return of Myung-Jae Lee and some other points of interest as well.

While I don't go backstage, I do stay among the people and so I will offer up this piece of fan friendly news.  Waiting to go in, fans were talking and someone asked if there was a women's match.  It was determined that even though there wasn't, Delmi Exo would still likely be there.  Then all of the fans waiting to get in basically agreed that we wished Delmi Exo was wrestling.  That is, from a fan perspective, very important and breaking news.

Sinister Urge opened with Perry Von Vicious vs Andy Brown and this was just a fantastic match.  Andy Brown has all of the tools to be a star and perhaps one of my favorite things about him is how unpredictable he can be.   When a fan is booing or heckling him, he isn't afraid to yell back and I wouldn't be surprised one day to see him try and fight a fan.  It just feels like you never know with him and that makes it more exciting.

Inside of that ring, Andy Brown and Perry Von Vicious are both very evenly matched.  They are both hosses moving well and doing things certain hosses can't do.  In that sense, this match did seem to bring out the best in both of these wrestlers and this is definitely a match to go out of your way to see because it was really about endurance I'd say.

Next up we had the returning Myung-Jae Lee taking on Ryan Clancy.  At one point, both wrestlers were running the ropes when Clancy just kind of tried to a cross body and landed on the mat to no avail.  He also then did this awkward headscissors where it looked more like he was getting taken down than doing the taking down, but it is what it is.  The crowd was very much behind Myung-Jae Lee, but sort of seemed to not know (or perhaps care) about Clancy.

I know other wrestlers do it as well, but there's this one move where a wrestler stands with their feet over a downed opponent and just sort of twists like it's supposed to have an effect of trying to twist their neck but it just looks like nothing happened to me.  Clancy had a small bit of offense- a sequence which was somewhat impressive- but with Myung-Jae Lee feeding off the crowd this was just his match.  Myung-Jae Lee should truly be everywhere and at least on every GRIND show because the matches I want to see seem endless.

Manders and Joseph Alexander were out third and when Manders first came out I was just so excited to see him I kind of forgot he was a heel.  He still did heel things in this match and the crowd seems to taking more and more to Joseph Alexander with every show, so that's a step in the right direction.  I really liked that there was a technical side to this match until Manders went low, but Joseph Alexander is just one of those talents that has come so far in such a short time that the future is almost scary.

Before intermission was a somewhat important tag team match as MSP took on Miracle Generation.  These teams have met thrice before but MirGen has never been able to defeat MSP.  So this was a bit of a fun match.  I really like how MSP have evolved since I first saw them and I feel like it's been a while now since I've seen a lot of Miracle Generation matches as well and I just wish they'd show me something new.

My "among the fans" bit of news coming from intermission is that Myung-Jae Lee seemed to have the longest line at the merch tables which also might have been because I didn't realize it was forming behind me so I had to stop talking about Canadian money and let other fans have their turn.  

Following intermission we went right into Kevin Blackwood vs Ryan Mooney.  The GRIND crowd seemed rather receptive of Kevin Blackwood and rightfully so because he just has that style of striking and being technical while hitting hard which just seems to fit with GRIND.  But wow is Ryan Mooney popular with the fans and rightfully so.  Someone who has really just come up in the past year and made a name for himself simply by doing what he loves and the fans getting behind him in a truly organic way.  

The tag team grudge match between Logan Black & Angelo Carter vs Travis Huckabee & Mike Skyros was next.  It started off in chaos and it ended up in chaos.  I really think there needs to be some kind of stipulation match between Angelo Carter and Mike Skyros, which can then lead to a match between Logan Black and Travis Huckabee.  Something where everyone is banned from ringside but whoever wins between Angelo Carter and Mike Skyros can pick the stipulation for the Logan Black-Travis Huckabee match.

Jay Freddie defended the GRIND Grand Championship for the first time against Rip Byson in the main event.  This was one of my favorite matches of 2022 and it's interesting to think now who Jay Freddie will defend this title against next.   There are several different wrestlers who have convincing cases to be made and so what comes about and how it comes about will be interesting to see unfold as well.

Before the year is over (like right before) GRIND will close out their 2022 as part of The Wrestival in Worcester, MA with "All We Are".  So far, Perry Von Vicious vs WARHORSE, The Mane Event vs Violence Is Forever and, oh yeah, Emi Sakura will be here and that's a pretty big deal if you're into professional wrestling at all.   I'm not going to shame any fans because there are a lot of wrestlers who are the "it wrestlers" that I just don't care about, but yeah, Emi Sakura is one of those talents you should go out of your way to see if you can.  

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Music Review //
Niamh McKinney
"The Price"

"The Price" begins with those slick, blues-like rock guitars I'd expect to hear in a Tracey Chapman song.   It's fairly mellow in its delivery and can remind me of that Metallica song "Until It Sleeps", even though on a grand scale it isn't really metal.    But it is also a level above rock n roll because of the intensity of it, for how solemn it feels.

Lyrically, Niamh McKinney sings about "The price is always changing / I'll never get it paid" and if you've ever been in this situation you will immediately understand how this can be taken.  It doesn't even have to be about money directly, but you can just think about never being good enough for something or someone.

If you're out there looking for a job, they'll tell you that you need a degree.  When you have a degree, they'll tell you that you need three to five years experience as well.   It just feels like life sometimes has that way of setting up your goal for you but then moving the goal posts and making it where you have more steps to accomplish before the end.

On some level, this might seem like a good thing because it keeps you moving and going.  Once you become stagnant you might get bored.   But at the same time, eventually you just begin feeling like you're playing a game you are never going to win and that makes you want to stop playing.  Hopefully, this soft and sweet song by Niamh McKinney can help you see that light.