227 Lounge (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
27-year old New Japan wrestler Takaaki Watanabe has been floating around US Indies since last October as part of his learning excursion. He hasn’t done much during his eight month stay here. Originally assigned to Pro Wrestling Syndicate in New Jersey (despite the fact that PWS runs one show per month at most), Watanabe has only recently begun to get more regular work with Texas-area independent promotions, Smash Wrestling in Toronto, and Ring of Honor. This is the fourth or fifth time I have seen him and it is the best he has looked during his stay in the US.
Watanabe is such a prick in this match and a natural one at that. The story to set this match up was that Watanabe fouled Hero to elimination him from Smash’s 5-way championship decision match last month. Watanabe looks to still be satisfied with himself for his prior month’s actions. He has a very natural, subtle smirking-heel charisma about him.
Hero is less chipper of a mood and attacks Watanabe as soon as the bell sounds. After praising Hero (along with A.J. Styles) earlier in the year for bringing some much-needed slow build to the US Indie matches they are involved in, Hero has largely eschewed that in recent matches of his I have watched in favor of a more explosive start. In general, it is not a step up but it worked here given the backstory and the fact that Watanabe bailed at the first opportunity. That drew some nice heat and allowed the match to restart after Hero’s fiery start.
Watanabe showed very good heel instincts like that throughout the match. He posted for the crowd when he had the advantage, casually kicking Hero’s head to toy with him. At one point when the two wrestlers ended up outside the ring, he threw a chair in the ring that former WWE referee Jimmy Korderas quickly retrieved. As Korderas did so, Watanabe took advantage of the decoy by grabbing another chair which he walloped Hero with. The best of the lot was probably when he went up top for a move and Hero retreated to the opposite corner to avoid the move. Watanabe jumped off the rope and made the universal signs for indicating that someone is scared. Of course Hero made him pay for that and Watanabe bailed right after, immediately paying off the taunt.
Hero can overdo the big strikes from time to time but that wasn’t the case here. He hit a lot of them but it didn’t feel like the overkill that it sometimes become. The ending stretch was really fun with Watanabe fouling Hero yet again, but this time only getting a 2-count. Each guy kicked out of a signature move from the other (Hero’s roaring elbow and Watanabe’s back drop suplex) before a second roaring elbow put Watanabe down for good.
This was a fun match and it was nice to see both guys working with a solid in-ring backstory. Watanabe faces Christopher Daniels next month in Smash and it would be surprising to me if it was as good as this match. This one made me want to see a rubber match somewhere down the road between these two.
US Indies | Common | Quality & Performance (Watanabe)
Real Canadian Wrestling
Glengarry Community Center (Edmonton, Alberta)
RCW Heavyweight Championship (vacant)
A clipped version of this match is on You Tube. Chris Masters has been talked up the past couple of years, first for turning himself into a good wrestler in the WWE and then continuing to have good matches on the Indies. It could be argued that this as made Masters a tad overrated. He is a perfectly fine wrestler but the fact that he went from pretty bad to good AFTER the WWE halted his big push as possibly colored perceptions. It doesn’t really matter though. Masters is a good wrestler these days and deserving of a higher profile.
The match here is pretty basic. Masters’ selling of the leg was really good early on to the point where it would have been cool to see it stretch throughout the entire match. Wavell is just a guy. Masters teases the Master Lock late in the match, before finally hooking it. This allows Wavell to sell the move by running in place and flailing is arms like a little kid that really has to pee, which was easily his highlight of the match. He gave up about two seconds later.
This match would not be out of place on Main Event but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is a match worth tracking down unless you are looking for a quick Chris Masters fix.
House Show Match | Skippable | Individual Performance (Masters)
Elite Canadian Championship Wrestling
Russian Community Centre (Vancouver, British Columbia)
The Bollywood Boys are a great southern-style baby face tag team that wrestles – so it seems – exclusively in ECCW in British Columbia, Canada. Go figure that one of the better under the radar American southern-style baby face tag teams are a brother duo of Indian descent working exclusively in the Canadian northwest. A good baby face tag team should have energy, a likeable gimmick, be able to sell their backsides off, and have enough credible offense for comebacks and hope spots. The Bollywood Boyz have all of that which has helped make them a very over act in their home promotion.
The match here is rather short and is simply a continuation of the Guns/Bollywood feud. The Guns are a flag waiving, gun carrying American heel tag team – a very good gimmick in Canada or anywhere outside the US for that matter. They are a perfectly fine team as well, even if the Bollywood Boyz are the stars. The match starts off with a short brawl before the Bollywood Boyz get their licks in. The Guns cheat to take over and isolate one of the Bollywood members for the body of the match before the hot tag. That description can fit any tens-of-thousands of tag team matches over the years but that’s the point – the formula works, especially when competent teams are utilizing it.
The finish is also well-worked in a classical sense. One of the Guns blindsides a Bollywood member with his own tag team championship belt with the referee occupied elsewhere. The other Bollywood member grabs the belt just as the official is turning around and gives one of the Guns a taste of his own medicine, drawing the disqualification – a sure sign that this feud must continue. In this particular case, that appears to be a good thing.
Southern Tag | Watchable | Individual Performance (Bollywood)