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"All We Are" was our third and final show as part of The Wrestival. We did all of the shows which were the first of three throughout the day and then went back home. Which was nice in a way because if we had gone to the middle shows we would've been home much later. I somehow only slept for like four hours before this show though and it's catching up with me now. I realize if fans were up late for Prestige the night before, they'd be less likely to make the noon start time here.
There was a good crowd for such an early show on the last day of 2022 and I think GRIND really delivered one of their best shows. I'm always concerned when I see new fans at GRIND or when something like this happens- going outside of Pulaski- because the GRIND fan base has always been about respect and then you have a team like Mane Event coming in who are overall just booed in Worcester for the things they've done. Yes, I was concerned that the Mane Event would get booed but they didn't.
I will say this in this review, as it is my third and final review for The Wrestival, and just hope that everyone else reads it. I feel like the three shows Quentin and I went to (and Jess was with us at GRIND) made the most sense in terms of variety. Pizza Party Pro had a bit of comedy mixed with wrestlers from NJ and aside from the Beyond show you wouldn't see LuFisto anywhere else on The Wrestival. A lot of the wrestlers at Pizza Party Pro though were only at Pizza Party Pro.
Blitzkrieg! Pro had that mix of comedy, straight up wrestling, blood and high flying. Perhaps the best all around mix and, again, filled with wrestlers who might not be on other shows or just under the same circumstances. Pizza Party and Blitzkrieg! were such different shows and in such a great way though. And then you add GRIND into the equation and GRIND was that one show of the weekend where everyone came out hitting hard and no other promotion is like GRIND. I've said this after The Wrestival but the only show we could've gone to which might have felt like variety would've been ICWNHB.
But there were just so many wrestlers on "All We Are" that you could only see on that show and then other wrestlers like JD Drake weren't going to have the same matches at Heavy Lies The Crown as in GRIND. So when I think about what makes GRIND special and why I go to Pulaski nearly every month to see them, this show I felt was a good representation of that. This wasn't a "Hey, come out to Pulaski because this is what we're like" as a showcase type of event. This show was canon.
"All We Are" opened up with Gary Jay and Rip Byson. Seeing Rip Byson in GRIND is closer to how he is in Limitless than at Wrestling Open, but it's still not quite the same. Rip Byson has this side of him- this violent side- that seems to only come out in GRIND. And when you bring in someone like Gary Jay to face him you know it's going to be this crazy battle to see who can nearly kill the other one. Be fair, this was a death match without all of the weapons. And I absolutely love Gary Jay and just wish he was on more shows in this area, but GRIND has been doing fantastic in bringing him in.
After this, we went into Perry Von Vicious vs WARHORSE. Now, the thing about this match is fairly similar to the one before it in the sense that Perry Von Vicious is not the same wrestler outside of GRIND and while WARHORSE was appearing on the IWTV show you're still not seeing the same WARHORSE on the other shows that you are at GRIND. WARHORSE at GRIND is a different animal. One of my favorite parts of this match was how neither wrestler would stay down but it was for good reason.
In professional wrestling (especially the larger tv stuff) there is this idea of having to hit someone with your finisher ten times before you finally beat them and I've never liked that. But the story told in this match with WARHORSE thinking he was in control but becoming visibly frustrated that he couldn't get the three count, Perry Von Vicious hanging on and trying for the Perry-Go-Round but unable to hit it the first few times-- it just showed how a back and forth battle should be in wrestling.
Fun Fact: On New Year's Eve in 2019, prior to there being The Wrestival, I was also at the White Eagle to see WARHORSE, who oddly enough fought Manders, and throughout all of the WARHORSE matches I've seen (and it's been a few) I think this was not only my favorite WARHORSE match but also my favorite Perry Von Vicious match. WARHORSE went into that gauntlet for the Independent Wrestling World Championship and I think this match proves that Perry Von Vicious should be at that same level.
My favorite match of the entire Wrestival was Emi Sakura vs Delmi Exo, which is saying a lot because there were so many great matches at The Wrestival. This was the only match across nine shows where you could see Emi Sakura and the fact that more people didn't seem hyped about that made me feel like I was living in an alternate reality. I realize that Emi Sakura wrestles in the US because of AEW and even DEADLOCK Pro, but that's in North Carolina, so even for someone like me who will drive six hours to a wrestling show, this is the closest Emi Sakura has been.
Everything about watching Emi Sakura wrestle just seems so surreal. It's this experience where you know you're watching something great happen and something memorable which will be talked about for years to come. And this match was the best Delmi Exo match I've ever seen. This really brought the best out in Delmi Exo, but was just so much fun and such a competitive match with Emi Sakura as well. As soon as I saw GRIND announce Emi Sakura I said "That's it, they've won The Wrestival" and this match proved exactly why that was true.
This shifted us into a tag team match in which Mane Event took on Violence Is Forever. Kevin Ku is probably sick of me asking him every time I see him in GRIND "Where's Dom?" but now the tag team has made it to GRIND and it feels like the whole tag team scene has been put on notice. I'm not sure when the Saito Bros are coming back from Japan, but putting them against VIF just seems like pure destruction and I'm here for it.
In a match that was supposed to happen a little while back, Anthony Henry faced Rabid Ryan Mooney in what could also be a match to steal the entire Wrestival. The thing about this match was that Anthony Henry felt very much in control. but there were times when he'd go for a pin or a submission and Mooney would get out of it. It took a lot to keep Mooney down and this match just went to show the toughness of both wrestlers.
I'm not happy that Mike Skyros stole a win over JD Drake and it feels like a lot of times when we saw JD Drake in 2022 he was getting the short end of the stick by being robbed of one thing or another. Maybe Skyros needs to go into a Street Fight with JD Drake now or even Skyros/Huckabee vs Work Horsemen. At least then putting your feet on the ropes for leverage to get the pin would be allowed.
GRIND also had their first ever Street Fight between Logan Black and Manders. This match really upped the ante for violence. I knew some weapons would be involved because of who was in the match, but even I didn't think it would go this far. The chairs, the thumbtacks- I figured on that happening. But I didn't think Manders would find a barbed wire chair. I also didn't expect Logan Black to get duct taped to the ring ropes, but it truly was something that went above and beyond and yet also somehow still feels like it is not resolved between these two. Perhaps Manders needs to join up with Huckabee and Skyros for some sort of War Games.
The main event saw Jay Freddie defeat O'Shay Edwards in a match where it felt like at times O'Shay Edwards could have won. These, again, are two wrestlers who if you want to see them on The Wrestival, this show was your only way and it was just such a hard-hitting match where you thought one of the two was going to get hurt but they both survived.
I truly believe that, pound for pound, Jay Freddie is the best Champion out there today and anyone else who thinks otherwise should put their Champion up against him. And while I've enjoyed every GRIND show this year a little bit more, I think this show might be my favorite because of the way the stories built up in matches and the wrestlers who came from outside of GRIND to be a part of this show as well. Everyone is having their best matches and 2023 just feels like it's onto bigger and better things also!