Tuesday, June 7, 2011

PWG Kurt Russellreunion 2: The Reunioning

PWG Kurt Russellreunion 2: The Reunioning
January 29th, 2011
LAX Hilton, Los Angeles, California
Attendance: ???

Every year the biggest wrestling fan festival in the United States takes place under the WrestleReunion banner. Several indy companies have tried to capitalize on this convention by promoting shows in the same area and have done good business doing so, which PWG took note of and got in on over a year ago. Looks like another standard great PWG card, featuring, Low Ki vs. Davey Richards among other matches. Let's not muck around and get right to it.

Your hosts are Excalibur and Colt Cabana

Excalibur starts off the show in the ring as he always does, welcoming the fans to the show and cracking a few jokes.

Brandon Gatson/Willie Mack/Cedric Alexander/Candice LeRae vs. Peter Avalon/Caleb Konley/Jake Manning/ODB

Quite the odd 8 person tag match to start things off. ODB is a last minute replacement for Christina Von Eerie, who apparently was held up by border officials because of her spiked and studded punk accessories and couldn't make it on time. Cedric and Manning do a nice leapfrog and armdrag sequence to start and the crowd chants for Willie Mack, so Mack tags in to oblige them. He quickly takes down Avalon with a shouler-block and scoop slams him. ODB tags in so Mack tags the lovely Candice in as well. ODB puts her in a side head-lock and pummels away on the smaller woman. ODB continues to overpower her until the slimy Avalon tags back in. Candice gives him a back body drop though and lays in some big elbows and chops in the corner. Cedric tags in and hits a spin kick for a two count to break up some of the comedy. Manning tags in and gets some offense of his own in for a near fall before tagging ODB back in. She misses a splash in the corner and everyone hits the ring for a stacked-in-the-corner spot. Everyone piles out to the floor and they do your typical generic indy dive sequence, capped off by the Sasuke Special from Gatson. Mack hits a huge frog splash off the top and bodies are just flying in and out of the ring. Gatson locks on an armbar onto Avalon and he taps out at 14:22. This was mostly comedy stuff but they fit in some nice high-flying action as well. Just your average PWG opener, but it accomplished it's goal of getting the crowd fired up for the rest of the show. **

Mr. Aguila vs. Rey Bucanero

Both men are from CMLL in Mexico, and you may remember Aguila for his stint in the WWF as both Aguila and later Essa Rios. Bucanero has worked in TNA as well during the World X Cup, so both men should be somewhat familiar to hardcore fans. Standard lucha feeling out process to start and Bucanero gets sent to the floor quickly where Aguila follows him out with a big tope con hilo. Well they certainly aren't wasting any time, getting right to the high spots. Bucanero hits a tope con hilo of his own and sends Aguila into the guard rail before clotheslining him over and into the front row. They briefly hit the ring again before Aguila sends Bucanero to the floor again and then flies over the top turnbuckle with an enormous tope con hilo that nearly sends him into the front row! Holy shit he got some absolutely insane hang time on that one. Aguila follows it with yet another con hilo, this time over the guard rail and into the crowd. Back in the ring both men collide as they attempt simultaneous cross-bodies. Bucanero tries an STF but Aguila counters with a rollup for two. Aguila nearly botches a springboard, but then hits a big moonsault to finish Bucanero off at 7:40. Short, ultra-fast, and a lot of fun. Just not much substance underneath the style. **½

Joey Ryan vs. Shane Helms

Before the match Ryan gets on the mic and brings up Helms war of words on Twitter with Shawn Michaels. Helms comes out and grabs the mic to talk some trash back to Ryan, but this crowd is all over his case, chanting for him to "Shut the F*** Up". Helms keeps yapping, insulting HBK in the process and practically establishing himself as the heel here. Which is stupid, since Ryan is the biggest heel in PWG and Helms should be playing the babyface here if anything. Finally the talking stops and they s l o w l y lock up before resorting to stall tactics. Are they purposely trying to piss this crowd off? Back in the ring Ryan teases and hits the Sweet Chin Music, but Helms completely no sells it and flips off the crowd. It's hard to believe this guy was once a flat out phenomenal worker, and now he's just a bloated shadow of his former self, trying to fit into too tight costumes from his OMEGA days and embarrassing himself across the indy circuit. I'm not going to comment much further on this match, simply because it's utter crap. You won't often hear a PWG crowd rally behind Joey Ryan these days, but their hatred for Helms is practically palpable here. They do some sloppy matwork and each try working a limb. Ryan grabs a mic to tell the crowd to shut up and enjoy the "technical masterpiece" he's putting on right now. This would be the part where the crowd would begin to rally behind Helms, but he's done nothing but piss them off so instead we're left with this boring, heat-less match between two guys who have seen better days. Ryan fights off a choke-slam attempt with a pumphandle exploder suplex and then applies a kimura submission that forces Helms to tap out at 14:07. This was just a disaster from bell to bell that managed to only piss off the crowd and give babyface heat to PWG's number one heel. I don't expect to see Helms returning to PWG anytime soon. *

After the match Helms gets on the mic to put the fans over...and then he goes right back to insulting them. The fans chant "Don't come back!" at him. I don't expect he will.

Low Ki vs. Davey Richards

These two met before in the 2006 Ted Petty Invitational tournament in IWA-MS, but Davey was still very green at the time and has improved tremendously since, so this should be good. Fun fact: both of these men won the PWG World title at one point and both of them never lost the title as they each were forced to vacate the title due to booking/contractual stipulations. Both men start off cautious, feeling each other out with some basic holds and submission attempts. On commentary Cabana mentions that Bryan Danielson considers Davey the best in the world now. They do a slick wristlock exchange sequence and the crowd is split in support here. A dropkick sends Low Ki to the floor and Davey tries for a tope suicida, but Ki kicks him right in the face to prevent it. Davey gets sent into the steel guardrail and Ki gets a two count off it back inside the ring. Ki tries for a series of forearms in the corner but Davey just dumps him to the floor and then plants a stiff running kick into Low Ki's chest from the apron. Davey heels it up a bit by teasing to take the fight into the crowd and then just shrugging the fans off and applying a legscissors to Ki back inside. Davey goes to work on Ki's back now, wrenching away on a Boston crab before delivering a backbreaker and a modified camel clutch. Ki fights back with a rolling Liger kick and a series of elbows. He lays a series of kicks into Davey's chest but Richards fights back with some kicks of his own, playing to the crowd as he does it. This gives Ki a window to counter with a double-stomp for a close two count. Big German suplex gets Davey a near fall of his own and he tries for an ankle lock, but Ki fights it off and double-stomps Davey's knee! Well that was certainly creative. Handspring spin-kick gets Ki another close two. Davey avoids another double-stomp and applies the ankle lock briefly until Ki rolls through into a dragon sleeper. Richards counters with another German and a stiff kick to Ki's temple, but again the veteran kicks out. Low Ki tries for the tree of woe double stomp off the top, but Davey tosses him off and hits the shooting star press but Ki gets the knees up and then finishes Davey off with the double stomp off the top rope at 22:40. Not quite the match of the year candidate some were expecting, but this was still an incredibly fun, well worked battle between two men with complimentary wrestling styles. Davey even showed some personality for once here, playing to the crowd and having a blast doing it. ***¾

Jake Roberts vs. Sinn Bodhi

This is being touted as Jake's "retirement match", but this is hardly the first time he's made that claim before, so we'll have to wait and see if it really sticks. Bodhi was chosen here because he's trained under Jake as his protege for several years, though honestly I have no idea what Jake sees in the guy. You may better remember him for his brief stint in the WWE on Smackdown as "Kizarny". Jake goes for a handshake to start but Bodhi sucker punches him a few times. Jake counters with some rights of his own and Bodhi bails to the floor to regroup. Back inside Jake nearly hits the DDT and Bodhi bails again to regroup. They lock up back in the ring and Bodhi hits a leg drop for a two count. Jake works some big rights in and follows it with the short-arm clothesline before nailing Bodhi with the DDT for a huge pop and the win at 5:42. Not much of a match obviously, but this was a nice moment and a fitting goodbye for the legendary Jake that the crowd loved. After the match Roberts even sticks his famous snake down Bodhi's trunks before departing to chants of "Thank You Jake!". *

20 Man Legends Battle Royale
(Featuring Danny Davis, Mike Graham, Jimmy Hart, Tito Santana, Barry Orton, The Barbarian, Rock Riddle, Shane Douglas, The Warlord, Chavo Guerrero, Shane Helms, Cowboy Bob Orton, Cruel Connection, Mando Guerrero, Terry Funk, Savio Vega, Roddy Piper, Vampiro, Sean Morley, and Tatanka)

Before the match begins Bill Apter introduces none other than Mean Gene Okerlund to do the ring introductions for the battle royale! This Battle Royale is under "Royal Rumble" like rules, starting with two men and introducing a new participant every 30 seconds. Paul Orndorff, the Iron Sheik, Harley Race, and Masa Saito are all introduced at ringside as well. Unfortunately the crowd reactions are a bit muted here because they had to replace all of the original entrance music with the generic PWG theme music instead, which is pretty disappointing but understandable from a legal standpoint. Dangerous Danny Davis and Mike Graham start the match off with a lock-up and side headlock. Graham should probably be wearing a shirt but bless him he's not ashamed of his wrinkly old body. Next in is Jimmy Hart, who gangs up on Graham with his old ally Danny Davis. Tito Santana is out next and he breaks up the double-teaming by Hart and Davis. Barry Orton is next and he looks like he just came from a concert in the 80s. The Barbarian is the next participant and he quickly eliminates Graham as Rock Riddle comes out. Next out is Shane Douglas, which prompts an "ECW!" chant from the crowd. The Warlord enters at #9 and Jimmy Hart eliminates himself before the Warlord can. Douglas eliminates the Barbarian and Chavo Guerrero senior is the next out as Davis gets eliminated by Riddle. Shane Helms makes his second appearance of the night and nearly gets booed out of the building again. Douglas destroys him in the corner to a big pop and Cowboy Bob Orton is out next, sporting his infamous cast. Damn that's one hell of an arm injury Bob. "Cruel Connection", a fat guy in a neon green body-suit is out next and I have no idea if this guy is an actual wrestler or not. Mando Guerrero is out next and he and Cruel Connection nearly eliminate Douglas. Terry FUCKING Funk is out next and the crowd goes wild. Helms eliminates Cruel Connection as Savio Vega makes his way out next. Helms and the Warlord are eliminated as Roddy Piper makes his way out. Vampiro hops into the ring out of nowhere suddenly, apparently being a surprise entrant. Riddle gets tossed by Piper, who then pokes his old partner Cowboy Bob right in the eyes as Sean Morley comes out next. Piper goes on an eye-poking streak as the final participant, Tatanka, enters the ring. Douglas dumps Mando Guerrero out next and Vega hits a nice spin kick on Vampiro, who counters with a superkick of his own that eliminates Vega. Terry Funk rips off Orton's cast and beats him with it before eliminating him next. Vampiro eliminates Morley and tries to eliminate Chavo, but he rolls through only to eat a right hand from Piper that eliminates him. Funk gets busted open from a right hand by Douglas as Tatanka finally enters the ring, having hidden at ringside since his entrance. He cleans house on everyone and tries a lariat on Vampiro, but Douglas moves him out of the way and Tatanka eliminates himself. We're down to the final four, but Piper and Funk quickly eliminate Douglas and Vampiro to bring it down to them as the final two. Funk grabs a microphone and thanks the fans for coming before trying to start a prayer for all of the great wrestlers who have passed away. Piper and Funk shake hands and bow heads, and half-way through the prayer Funk prays for a victory in this match and then nails Piper over the head with the microphone while his head is bowed! The crowd loves it and both men slide under the bottom rope and begin brawling into the crowd as Funk keeps nailing him with the microphone, telling Piper to say he's the better man. He trash talks the crowd while he's at it and eventually they battle back into the ring. Funk thinks he's eliminated Piper but Roddy hangs on and tosses Funk out over him to win the match at 35:27. This is going to be a love it or hate it kind of match for most people. If you can dig 30+ minutes of nostalgia this is the match for you, but otherwise, this might drag for some. The ending sequence with Funk and Piper was pure GOLD though and this was a lot of fun, regardless of the rating I'm about to give it. **½

Chris Hero vs. Kevin Steen

Here's one of the matches I was most looking forward to checking out on this DVD after the tremendous 2010 that both of these men had. Hero tries working an armbar to start and Steen counters with a side headlock. You know, once you've seen this wristlock sequence a million times, it stops being impressive. Both men start trading big chops. Steen is sent to the floor by a roaring elbow to regroup and Hero comes out after him. They take turns throwing each other into the guardrail and then Hero nails Steen with a huge big boot as the action spills out further into the crowd. Steen climbs halfway up a lighting rig and splashes Hero off of it before taking him back to ringside and power-bombing him on the ring apron. Back in the ring a moonsault off the second rope gets Steen a two. The crowd is really into Steen here, chanting his name every few minutes. Steen begins to dominate here, beating Hero down and jawing with the fans while he does it. Dropkick from Hero gives him some time to regroup and he takes Steen back out to the floor with a running kick. Back inside a cravat neckbreaker from the second rope gets Hero a two count as well. Steen absolutely plants Hero with a DDT and both men are really starting to gel with the back-and-forth action. Steen counters a boot into a TKO but again Hero kicks out. Steen applies the sharpshooter but Hero quickly gets to the ropes before it can do much damage. Both men attempt (and miss) moonsaults and Steen eggs Hero on, who then absolutely destroys Steen's face with one of the stiffest sounding big boots I've ever seen. Steen, being batshit crazy, eats the boot with a smile and gets right back up to superkick Hero and deliver a half-nelson sleeper suplex for another close near fall. Steen continues to egg Hero on and Hero obliges him with another gigantic boot to the face, which is enough to get Hero the pin at 19:13. Just the stiff, hard-hitting match you would expect from these two. Steen came off like a total badass even in the loss here, eating some of the sickest boots that I've ever seen in wrestling with a big fat smile on his face the entire time. Here's to hoping Steen continues to work PWG shows in the future. ***½

Johnny Yuma/Johnny Goodtime vs. Matt Jackson/Nick Jackson vs. Brandon Cutler/Dustin Cutler vs. Ryan Taylor/Brian Cage-Taylor

Whoever wins this match earns the first spot in the upcoming DDT4 tag team tournament. The Bucks and Cutlers start off as all the other teams brawl to the floor. The Cutlers win this confrontation and Yuma and Goodtime hop in to clear the Cutlers next as we go through a sequence of one team fighting off another only to be sent to the floor themselves by the next. This settle down a bit finally as Yuma fights off the Taylor boys. Stereo senton splashes from the RockNES Monsters (Yuma & Goodtime) earns them an early near fall. It's nearly impossible to call the action in this match as bodies are really just flying all over the place in and out of the ring, with the recurring theme of the Bucks dominating and taunting the crowd. Matt Jackson gets punched around like a pinball and even the ref gets in on it with a right hand of his own! They go into a pretty silly "human centipede" spot where all 8 men lock on submissions on one another in a human chain in the ring from here, but the crowd digs it. The crowd rallies behind Yuma as Matt Jackson and Dustin Cutler work him over. Matt hits the sweet back handspring back-rake of doom but the Taylors hit the ring and take him out with stereo kicks. Yuma takes a huge stalling superplex from Brian Cage-Taylor but the pin gets broken up at two. Finally Yuma gets the hot tag to Goodtime who cleans house on the Bucks and Taylors. Matt gets sent to the floor with a release German and Goodtime takes him and his brother out on the floor with a tope con hilo! Tope suicida from Ryan Taylor takes them all out again and things have totally broken down into chaos here. Tandem tombstone nearly ends it for the Cutlers but the pin gets broken up.The Taylor's hit a Go 2 Sleep followed by a discus lariat on Matt that nearly kills the guy but he kicks out somehow. Goodtime powerbombs Taylor onto Cage from the top rope and then launches his partner Yuma onto both men with a TKO for the win at 15:26! This was pure and total chaos, and that's just what you want out of matches like these. Just shut off your brain and watch the bodies fly everywhere. ***¼

After the match Kevin Steen hits the ring and just destroys the RockNES Monsters after their victory. He grabs a mic and says that he's entering the DDT4 tag tournament whether he has a partner or not.

PWG World Title Match
Claudio Castagnoli © vs. El Generico

This is Claudio's first title defense since winning the belt back in October after Davey Richards was forced to vacate the belt due to booking conflicts. Claudio quickly avoids a Yakuza kick from Generico and then tries working on Generico's leg. Generico delivers a trio of big armdrags to his larger foe and tries working on Claudio's arm. Claudio tries a powerbomb out of the corner but Generico slips out of his grasp and delivers a nifty tilt-a-whirl headscissors. He hits another headscissors off the top rope that sends Claudio to the floor and tries for a pescado to follow it up, but Claudio catches him and slams him on the side of the ring apron. Back inside Claudio goes back to work on Generico's leg and then just tosses him face-first onto the top turnbuckle, taunting Generico and the crowd all the while. Claudio rips at his mask while applying a chinlock and the crowd doesn't like that at all. The fans keep trying to rally behind Generico with chants of Ole, but Claudio keeps overpowering Generico, planting him on the mat with an enormous chokeslam for a two count. Claudio gets sent to the floor and Generico tries for a springboard, but his leg gives out from under him because of Claudio's earlier working-over of the limb. Not to be denied of his high-flying ways however Generico comes off the top turnbuckle with a somersault senton to the floor anyways. A huge cross-body off the top back in the ring gets Generico a two count. Claudio counters a brainbuster attempt into a huge boot and a dead-lift German suplex gets a two count. Claudio lays in a series of trademark European uppercuts, but Generico fights right back with a Yakuza kick. He tries for the Ricola Bomb but Generico counters with a rollup for two. Both men jockey for position on the top rope, trying to hit their signature move on one another. Claudio nearly delivers the Ricola Bomb off the top but Generico counters with a huge frankensteiner! He follows it with the brainbuster, which he delivers on one leg but somehow Claudio kicks out! Crowd really bought into that near fall. Castagnoli performs the always amazing UFO but Generico is fired up and kicks right out at the count of one so Claudio delivers another Ricola bomb but again Generico kicks out! Claudio transitions from a one-legged big swing into the Stretch Muffler submission and Generico nearly gets to the ropes only for Claudio to swing him around like in the air (all while locked in the submission) and drag him back into the middle of the ring where he really synches the submission on and Generico has no choice but to tap out at 20:20! Just a stellar main event here as they managed to make the crowd totally forget about the huge size difference between the two and seriously buy into the possibility that Generico was going to win the title here. Claudio focused his attacks on Generico's leg, a recurring theme through-out the match that eventually played into the finish in a way that makes both men come out of this contest looking even better. Great selling from Generico, and a great way to cap off the show. ****

After the main event Joey Ryan hits the ring and locks a key-lock on Claudio until Chris Hero hits the ring to make the save for his partner. He grabs a microphone and claims to be the next PWG World champion. He claims to have friends of his own and teases entering the DDT4 tag tournament coming up. He says he'll make one of the Kings tap out and goes to leave, but Claudio grabs a mic and calls him out on having any friends left. He promises to kick Joey's ass every time he sees him from now on. He puts over Generico and thanks the fans as we close out the show.

Bottom Line: What a fun show, and I can only imagine the weekend of festivities was even more fun. You've got a lot of great nostalgia here, some interesting cameos, and a few excellent match ups from some of the PWG regulars. It runs a bit long at a little over 3 hours, but there's a ton of good stuff packed into that time so this is an easy recommendation and Thumbs Up.

Score: 8/10

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