CZW What About Lobo? (7/28/2001)- Sewell, NJ
Welcome back to BRM’s Monthly “This Day in Wrestling History” Review Series! Last month I promised you weapons, and what better way to get some weapons than by taking our first trip to Combat Zone Wrestling... and it’s going to be early CZW, too! Unfortunately, this means I actually have very little idea what’s going on story-wise, but hopefully the announcers will be able to help get the best possible experience out of CZW What About Lobo?
RECKLESS YOUTH PROMO- meh
He had challenged Minoru Fujita to match tonight, but now he has changed the contract (without Fujita’s consent) and has made it a Gauntlet match instead. It was never explained how he had the power to do this… but the announcers made sure to note that when Reckless returned to CZW, Zandig made him wrestle a Gauntlet Match to earn his spot back. In booking- as in many other artistic endeavors- the only thing worse than someone who sucks at it is someone who sucks at it but thinks that they’re a genius, and so they are patting themselves on the back for a barely-passable use of a more advanced artistic technique, not even realize that they have failed at the basics (in this case, making sure sh*t makes sense).
FIVE-MAN GAUNTLET MATCH: Minoru Fujita vs. “Towel Boy” Eric Tuttle vs. Hurricane Kid vs. Nick Gage (w/Dewey Donovan) vs. Reckless Youth- 2/10
Reckless was at ringside while the others wrestled Fujita. Eric Gargiulo was complaining about this, saying that Reckless should be ejected from ringside because he didn’t have a manager’s license… here in this promotion that doesn’t even have disqualifications.
Towel Boy was better than I expected. Fujita didn’t even have the submission locked on when the music for the next guy played. The ref was still asking Towel Boy if he gave up when Hurricane Kid slid into the ring. Then Towel Boy started getting involved again. Then Nick Gage’s music played and he just ran out and was an entrant, so I guess in this case “Gauntlet” match means some kind of battle royale. I would normally chock this mistake up to my own ignorance of CZW, but in this case I’m not going to do that, because one of the announcers was equally confused, and told me (before Towel Boy had started getting involved again) that Fujita must have made Towel Boy tap out.
Nick Gage beat up the small heels, then had a nice little segment against Fujita. He eventually got the best of Fujita and went to the top rope, but Reckless Youth shook the ropes to knock Gage off balance. Reckless then hit Fujita with a running knee to the face and locked in a submission to make him tap, so Reckless finally gets his win over Fujita here in his last chance (because Fujita was flying back to Japan the next day). I guess the idea here was to get heat on Reckless with a quick win, but none of this went anywhere because Reckless was gone after the next show (he came back for one more in 2003, but that was it).
Oh. And apparently the match is over now. Yes, this “Gauntlet” match is apparently a match with staggered entrances… but it’s one fall to a finish.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- okay
Reckless celebrated with a goofy dance. Nick Gage was angry at him and started to push him, but eventually controlled his temper. Gage turned his back on Reckless, so Reckless blindsided him, then attacked his manager as well. Gage recovered, so Reckless ran away. Gage chased him to the back.
BRIAN XL & CHRIS DIVINE vs. THE S.A.T.- 7.75/10
This was a GREAT athletic match, worked at a perfect pace. The Maxino’s did a wonderful job of being the subtle heels, and everyone got to really show what they could do. The Maximos had been petitioning management for a tag title shot, and they got the win here to help their cause.
This is also one of those matches that I’m really glad I saw because it gave me an appreciation for some guys who I had never really fully appreciated before. These four guys were all expected to be decent-sized parts of ROH when it started, but it became clear pretty quickly that they weren’t close to the league of the guys who were that first crop of top stars (Dragon, Daniels, Low Ki, AJ, Da Hit Squad, Spanky, Amazing Red) and really weren’t even at the level of the guys who started to make their names in ROH early on (Paul London, Doug Williams), and given the style that was prevalent at the time, it was easy for me to dismiss these guys as just spotty Special-K types. After watching this match, I understand why there was some hype there. They really could go. It just didn’t work out in ROH for whatever reason.
SOFTCORE CONNECTION SEGMENT- bad
Jeff Rocker has finally found a tag team partner after many people turned him down: former CZW World Heavyweight Champion Nick Berk. Berk comes out and thanks Rocker for the complements, but says he isn’t going to team with him. He then brings out his real partner, Z-Barr, as well as valet Natasha, and Rocker’s wife. From the way the announcers were talking, I figured the wife (Cindy) was going to be upset with Rocker for something, but she seemed to take his side. I say “seemed to” to because after she was done talking, Natasha said something to her in a catty manner, and because she and Rocker left together, but I couldn’t actually hear anything she said because the miccing wasn’t good in the first place, and when she started talking, some fans started to loudly chant “SHE’S GOT HERPES!”
It might not be totally on the fans, though, as I couldn’t hear when Natasha spoke, either, and they weren’t chanting then. Rocker snatched the mic back and cut a promo challenging Berk to a match next week in Smyrna to prove that he is “the real candidate of the Softcore Connection.” “Really candidate?” What the f*ck does that mean?
Rocker and Cindy left, at which point Berk picked up the mic and said something, but I couldn’t understand him, either. I had totally forgotten that indy DVDS used to have this issue. I’m so happy for the modern age.
I had never even heard of Natasha before, so I put “CZW” “Natasha” into Google… and the top result was her website… on Angelfire. Oh, 2001.
THREE-WAY DANCE: The Rachies (Adam Flash & Danny Rose) vs. VD (Eddie Valentine & Jon Dahmer) (w/Max Smack) vs. SOFTCORE CONNECTION (Z-Barr & Nick Berk) (w/Natasha)- 5.75/10
After the above promo segment ended, VD came out, and the Softcore Connection jumped them. The bell then rang to get this match underway, despite the fact that one of the teams hadn’t even made it to ringside yet, never mind gotten into the ring.
Eddie Valentine had quite a few kickouts that were painfully lazy. I actually felt bad for the referee for having to stop counting when this goof pretty clearly didn’t actually get his shoulder up. Off-camera, Z-Barr apparently sat on a fan’s lap, and the chair broke.
Other than those things, this was decent. There were one or two little stories and some cool stuff, but no one felt like anyone I was supposed to be rooting for. We also got our first chair use in this match, a whole fifty minutes into the show (almost half way through). I was expecting it a lot sooner from 2001 CZW.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- whatever
Natasha and Max got into an argument at ringside. This seemed to happen just so Max could toss her to his guys so we could have a woman get beaten up. It’s 2001 indy wrestling in the Northeast.
THREE-WAY DANCE: Quiet Storm vs. Ruckus vs. Red- 6.25/10
Ruckus hasn’t been pinned in several months. “Red” apparently wasn’t amazing yet. There was some good action here. Ruckus won, continuing his streak.
JUSTICE PAIN PROMO- decent
I’m trying not to hold the ridiculousness of the situation against him. Basically, this next match was advertised as the Briscoes vs. the Backseat Boyz, but Trent Acid was in Japan (Pain said he was “defending the CZW Light Heavyweight Title,” even though that’s not the name of the belt, he didn’t defend it, and, in fact, wasn’t even the champion), so Justice Pain appointed himself as Johnny Kashmere’s partner. Also, John Zandig is in Japan, so he can’t do anything to stop it. Do they really expect us to believe that Zandig would leave the country and have a show go on, but not put someone in charge while he was gone? Actually… that sounds pretty believable. It makes the boss and the company look stupid, but… well… Zandig.
Anyway, out of kayfabe, I guess CZW thought it was a good idea to blatantly false advertise Briscoes vs. Backseat Boyz. Again… Zandig. Apparently we all have no choice but to accept this ruling.
CZW TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: Briscoe Brothers(c) vs. Trent Acid & Justice Pain- 8.25/10
This was one hell of a brawl. It was our first real weapons match of the night, but they built to things a lot better than I was expecting, and the match wasn’t even that hardcore in the violence sense so much as in the “wild and crazy” sense. And- to my untrained eyes, at least- Justice Pain seemed perfectly fine here, and not out of place with the other three. This show is definitely challenging my conceptions about early CZW (well…some of them, anyway. The announcing was just as intolerable as I expected).
The heels won the belts here, but the finish definitely seemed to design to set up Jay Briscoe chasing Justice Pain’s CZW World Heavyweight Title… and they managed to do this without any interference or ref bumps or any of the other usual tricks. They essentially gave us a phantom pinfall, but in an extremely clever way that I have never seen before or since. Jay gave Pain a Jay-Driller through a table, and they landed in a situation that was a borderline pin and left it there for long enough to get the point across… except that the wrestlers involved just didn’t happen to be the legal competitors (and the table gave them a reason to land in and then stay in this pinning situation, so you didn’t have to have Jay actively apply a pin, which would have required him to be conscious enough that it wouldn’t make sense for him to give it up when the referee wouldn’t count and explained to him why). Mark went to check on Jay, but Kashmere snuck in behind him hit him with an Exploder Suplex, and got the pin.
LOBO’S PROMO IS INTERRUPTED BY NICK GAGE- good
Lobo came out on crutches. Gage interrupted him almost as soon as he started to talk. Lobo just let him have the ring, which made sense in the situation. I don’t think it made Lobo look weak or cowardly at all.
CZW IRONMAN TITLE MATCH: Nick Mondo(c) vs. Nick Gage (w/Dewey Donovan)- 7/10
Lobo joined the commentary team for this match. It was nice to be able to listen to someone who was capable of opening his mouth without shouting.
They started off with some decent wrestling, then it turned into a pretty darn good weapons match. It was one of those matches that had a feeling of realism to it because to little went perfectly smoothly. After watching this match, I’m not at all surprised that Mondo’s career ended the way it did.
Anyway, the match was going along great until Lobo decided to leave the commentary table. I knew nothing about this period of CZW and this was the first time I had ever seen Lobo, but I immediately saw the Russo-Swerve™ coming. So he turned on Mondo.
LOBO PROMO- fine
He explains that he is sick of busting his ass for the uncaring fans, and he’s also upset that the babyfaces didn’t call him when he was in the hospital. Justice Pain came out and Lobo yelled at him. The younger wrestlers came out onto the ramp, and Lobo yelled at them as well, saying they would be nothing if it wasn’t for him. Then Lobo, Gage, and Dewey Donovan left the building.
This was a decent show from CZW. The wrestling was a lot better than I expected, and there was some interesting stuff on the show, booking-wise. There was some lame booking, too, and the production values were quite bad, and the announcing was downright insufferable, but this show has definitely changed my perception of this era of CZW, and it’s definitely an era I might try to check out more of, if the right names are on the card.
Next month, we’re going to look at another one of those shows that I have been putting off for close to a decade. I’d be lying if I said I was looking forward to it, but I spent the money on the DVD, so I’m going to watch it, dammit.
STUPID ANNOUNCER QUOTES:
1. Eric Gargiulo claimed that when one of the Maximo’s did Twisting Brainbuster, and twist was for “added leverage.”
If I were running this company, he would have been fired on the spot (which, in CZW, I believe involves getting thrown down a flight of stairs).
PWG, MLW, AAW, WWN, etc
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