NOVA Pro Commonwealth Cup 2018: Part 1 (6/8/2018)- Annandale, VA
MEN’S COMMONWEALTH CUP 2018 FIRST ROUND MATCH: Arik Royal vs. Logan Easton LaRoux- 7/10
LaRoux is doing the rich guy EC III gimmick, so the promotion has some planted fans wearing fancy clothes cheering for him, sitting in a taped off section for rich people only. And they all have big foam “#1” fingers to signify being part of the top 1%. Excellent!
These two had a pretty great opener, relying on basic babyface vs. heel psychology (but without too much cheating) and the history they have together in this promotion (which the announcers were very helpful in explaining to me). I’m coming into this all totally ignorant except for what the announcers tell me, but just from the crowd I could tell that this match-up between two guys I had barely heard of was a big deal to this audience.
MEN’S COMMONWEALTH CUP 2018 FIRST ROUND MATCH: Dominic Garrini vs. Jonathan Gresham- 7/10
Before the match started, Stokely Hathaway came out and expressed his frustration that two guys he manages are once again being booked against each other, noting that it often happens in EVOLVE and Beyond Wrestling as well. He says that everyone will just have to wait to find out whose side he is on.
The match was a wonderful combination of mat skills and striking, building up to a big finish that, surprisingly, didn’t involve Stokely in any way. He was certain to celebrate with the winner, though.
MEN’S COMMONWEALTH CUP 2018 FIRST ROUND MATCH: Fred Yehi vs. Tim Donst (w/the Safety Squad)- 6.75/10
Tim Donst is doing some sort of wacky, pro-safety gimmick and has a bunch of goofs on the outside like a guy wearing a motorcycle helmet and “School Crossing Kyle” and so forth. It’s completely ridiculous and goofy and Mike Quackenbush is probably really jealous that he didn’t think of it first. It’s certainly too goofy for my tastes, but I did laugh my ass off at the final guy in Donst’s entourage- who has long blonde hair and carries a garbage can with him- being introduced as “’Big Safety’ Kevin Trash” (too which the fans responded by chanting “TOO SAFE!”).
While this wasn’t the technical clinic I envision when I saw this match-up on paper, it was still quite good. Donst and his people got their comedy stuff out of the way early, and then Donst and Yehi had a very good match, with some very convincing false finishes. The actual finish saw Stokely Hathaway come down and knock Donst off the top rope, allowing Yehi to lock in the Koji Clutch and get the win.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT- very good
Everyone was wondering why Stokely Hathaway would help Fred Yehi, so Stokely provided us with an answer. He said that while and Yehi don’t like each other, he respects that Yehi quit Catchpoint after Stokely bought it because Yehi was “taking a chance on himself,” and that he doubly respects Yehi for doing the same thing by leaving EVOLVE earlier this year. He says that Yehi has been tearing it up all over the indies ever since… and he wants to help him, citing his success with (and, debatably, taking credit for the successes of) guys like Timothy Thatcher, TJ Perkins, and the Doom Patrol. He says that he can help Yehi make a lot of money, and tells Yehi that he is going to leave a contract for him in the back, and implores him to seriously consider the option.
ANGELUS LAYNE PROMO- fine stage-setting for the next match.
She tells us one of her original partners couldn’t make it because of prior commitments, but she has brought in “The Queen of Dinosaurs” Terra Calaway to be her replacement. Terra came out, followed closely by their other partner for tonight, Veda Scott. Angelus told Veda in no uncertain terms that she was only teaming with her tonight because she is being forced to. Veda engaged in some goofy dancing antics that were quite un-Veda-like, which made Angelus even more angry.
JORDYNNE GRACE, ALLIE KAT, & FAYE JACKSON vs. ANGELUS LAYNE, TERRA CALAWAY, & VEDA SCOTT- 1/10
In case you were wondering who the babyfaces and heels were, their graphics helpfully labelled Faye, Allie, and Jordynne as “The Good Team” and the others as “The Bad Team.” Then again, maybe that was just intended to be a description of how competent they are at being a team, because Angelus wouldn’t even let Veda stand on the apron on her side, ordering her to “stand on the floor!”
This match was very bad. There were a lot of points where the work could have been better. Veda threw one kick at Allie that was clearly supposed to hit but missed by quite a bit. The good news is that Allie’s vision was obstructed as part of the spot so she didn’t realize Veda had thrown the wide kick and thus she didn’t try to take sell it. Another blown spot saw Veda go for a dive and slip off the top rope- which is something that happens to everyone once in a while- but this resulted in the four women who were supposed to catch her staying huddled together in their “we’re ready to catch you pose” for WAY too long while Veda and Jordynne figured out what they were going to do to ensure that they could get their big spot for the match in (they would up having Jordynne just knocked Veda out of the ring, then have Jordynne be the one to do the big dive onto all of the others).
That stuff wasn’t good, but a good chunk of the problem was also the way the match was structured and how that played into the story with Veda’s teammates not liking her. This set-up makes us want to see the mean girls getting their butts kicked and Veda succeeding, but for the most part it was Veda in for her team and getting beaten on like she was the babyface in peril- and because it was the babyfaces who were beating on her, it was all totally clean, too, so it just made Veda look bad. At least she got to get the win in the end.
MEN’S COMMONWEALTH CUP 2018 FIRST ROUND MATCH: Jimmy Jacobs vs. Sage Phillips- 6.75/10
Good storytelling here with Jacobs as the veteran who doesn’t want to give Phillips any respect so Phillips feels like he needs to take it. Props to whoever came up with the finish, which was a creative way for Jacobs’ hubris to cost him the match.
MEN’S COMMONWEALTH CUP 2018 FIRST ROUND MATCH: Tracy Williams vs. Curt Stallion- 7/10
Williams redeems himself for his disappointing first round exit from last year’s tournament with a victory here.
MEN’S COMMONWEALTH CUP 2018 FIRST ROUND MATCH: Homicide vs. Beau Crockett (w/Jake Hollister)- 5.75/10
Homicide is a replacement for Gunner Miller, who Crockett injured at a previous show. The match was fine for a while, but then started to drag. Then there was a spot where Homicide went down after taking a move and he reached up and grabbed onto the referee even though he seemed to be completely legitimately okay and the ref pulled him around a bit. Things kind of fell apart after that, with some of their contact looking very week and the previously fluid work seeming slow. Thankfully they didn’t go too much longer after that, with Homicide picking up the surprising win (considering that he was a last-minute replacement).
MEN’S COMMONWEALTH CUP 2018 FIRST ROUND MATCH: Alexander James vs. Wheeler YUTA- 6.75/10
Another very good match. The heel James worked the arm but the babyface YUTA fought through the pain and got the win.
MEN’S COMMONWEALTH CUP 2018 FIRST ROUND MATCH: Nick Gage vs. PCO- 5.75/10
There are no DQs or count-outs in this one, apparently. Or maybe there are count-outs sometimes. This is stupid. It shouldn’t be that hard to get this right.
This was a random brawl. They hit each other hard and built up to their two high spots at the end well, but it felt like a step down from pretty much everything else we’d seen so far tonight, which is the opposite of what you want your main event to be.
This was a very solid night of wrestling from NOVA Pro. Nothing was too great, all of the tournament matches bar the main event were solid little showcases for everyone involved. Tomorrow’s first show has the women’s preliminary rounds, followed by another show later in the day with the rest of the men’s tournament plus the women’s finals.
PWG, EVOLVE, AAW, WWN, etc
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