I was watching the Table for 3 with Adam Cole, Ricochet, and Johnny Gargano, which included some footage of this show. I remember being desperate to watch some DGUSA back in the day. It didn't help that one of my best friends was high on Johnny's heel run. So I figured it would be fun to do a one off and see what DGUSA is like.
Opening logo: GREAT! Fire and shit set to a background of a moonlit sky. This is so Japanese and I love it.
Christina Von Eerie looks for ghosts: Never mind that I had to infer that was Christina (the mohawk gave it away) but this segment is so weird. She talks like some Tim Burton obsessed teenager about ghosts, she disappears into the complete dark, the camera man refuses to follow, and we get the logo. What was this segment even, and who decided this was a good way to open up a wrestling show?
Poor Lenny Leonard has to ring announce and do play-by-play. First we get
The Man Scout Jake Manning attempts to build a campfire while Chuck Taylor narrates: Okay, like, what? Chuck says "The Swan monster" (later research confirms he said "Swamp" but the mics are drive thru quality). Bless Chuck Taylor for making me laugh by suggesting they'll be at it for thirty minutes. Also funny is how Jake demands quiet for this next step online to have horrifying scratchy death metal hit for
"The Man Scout" Jake Manning w/ Chuck Taylor vs. Masada
This is like a Cheeseburger match, where the guy you'd expect to job gets an inordinate amount of offense, and the other guy just kills him with big moves and wins. I like Masada because he's like if Da Hit Squad actually worked out, but I never want to see the Man Scout again. Also Chuck Taylor just leaves his guy mid match.
No rating, bad squash
Ricochet and Rich Swann promo: Awesome. Ricochet plays the vanilla straight man to the comedic Swann
Zero Gravity (Brett Gakiya & CJ Esparza) vs. The Scene (Caleb Konley & Scott Reed with Larry Dallas & Courtney)
I love The Scene. They look like four guys who are douchebags at the club in 2012 should and their music is great too. The Scene plays the bigger, but doofus heel tag team, whereas Zero Gravity play the hot young babyfaces, hitting crazy highflying shit that I can't describe to you adequately. The heels take control working over Esparza. Esparza eventually gets the double down, and does a theatrical roll into the hot tag which I didn't know I hated until now. Esparza is immediately back in to take out the illegal man, and now Gakiya is selling.. Gakiya saves his partner from a turnbuckle powerbomb with an enzuguri which was cool, but this match is too spotty for me. They hit a wacky Tower of London/Diving Headbutt combo which might be the most absurd double team finish in existence, but it's broken up at two. I like The Scene's gimmick of "Holding someone in a powermove so someone else can chop their opponent before the big move happens" it's pretty cool. The Scene hit a super cool stacked wheelbarrow facebuster/German combo called "The O Face" for the finish The Scene are the goddamn best.
This was a fun little tag match, but I think the thing that's most glaring is that Zero Gravity never slowed down, but The Scene totally have psychology down and they rule.
Christina Von Eerie screams and is cryptic about having found ghosts: Again, what?
Samuray Del Sol vs. Shane Hollister
It's crazy to think of how little Samuray has altered his gimmick or attire. The story of the match is that Del Sol starts out hot, but Shane brings it down to his pace. Del Sol will have a hard-hitting, intense flourish only for Shane to fire right back. Del Sol is fucking great, taking a turnbuckle superkick to the head spot that made sense, and then selling dizziness as he flips out of a German suplex. Reverse Rana nets Samuray the duke.
This was a GREAT showcase of Del Sol for the time it got.
CIMA and AR Fox promo: Even though the content wasn't heelish, CIMA cuts a good heel promo. He just has a good face for it. AR just seems like a dopey young stringbean, and I'd be shocked if he didn't get double crossed at some point.
I guess now would be a fun time to mention the intermitent "Best of" clips from previous DGUSA shows. These all look important and impactful, but the fact that we don't get match details other than the event and date annoys me greatly.
Super Smash Bros. (Player Uno & Player Dos) vs. The Dirty Ugly Fucks (Arik Cannon & Pinkie Sanchez)
When I imagine any kind of association with Arik Cannon/Sami Callihan, I imagine dark clothes, metal t-shirts, unnecessary leather jackets. That said, why is Pinkie dressed like a Dude Love flunkie in tye dye? Furthermore, why is Player Uno masked, but not Dos?
This match starts out as a comedy match that would be better in Chikara. The match does get better, and Arik, Dos, and to a lesser extent Pinkie get to show off why they're good. Unfortunately, the match goes back to comedy literally any time Uno is in the ring. Eventually, they get to show off some cool double teams, and the Fatality is a cool finisher at least.
Tag team segment: Terrible. The Smash Bros challenge for the tag titles. This prompts Chuckie T and the Swamp Monster to come out. Ricochet comes out and says he's first contender (you're in the championship match tonight dude it's fine) and turns down every challenge. He leaves and The Scene come out. Aric takes the mic and makes gay jokes. They all leave. Chuckie calls out Johnny Gargano and this transitions to.
I Quit Match
Johnny Gargano vs Chuck Taylor
Johnny Gargano vs Chuck Taylor
Johnny is in the Swamp Monster suit. How did Chuck not notice this? Anyway, these two guys go hell for leather. Gargano in particular does a good job of selling out of control, dangerous hatred. Taylor plays a good chickenshit, but I get the vibe he's just a goober doing spots as opposed to someone who hates his opponent. These two have some fun innovative hardcore spots with great use of the very-unique Congress Theater in the crowd brawling segment. The ring girl even gets kicked in the face, creating an element of danger. Perplexingly, at one point Chuck takes the ref's belt, and we get a "suck his dick" chant, which was a chant I never thought I'd hear at a wrestling show. Johnny does a great job selling his lashes, and in general being the never say die babyface. Johnny gets backdropped through a guardrail and goes straight through, which looks gnarly. Johnny chucks the mic away during a "Do you quit?" spot while in a half crab which was awesome. Chuck threatens Johnny with thumbtacks but he still won't relent. Chuck takes a remarkably safe bump into thumb tacks. THUMBTACKS IN HIS MOUTH SUPERKICK OW! Johnny grabs the barbed wire, but Chuck gets on the mic and pleads for mercy. I LOVE THIS, it's Disney level villainy. Of course, this was all a sneak attack but it's thwarted. Gargano does a Gargano Escape with BARBED Wire and Chuck quits.
This was a WAR and despite Chuck not being the best hate-filled heel in the world, these guys made it a good one, especially in the finishing sequence.
Christina Von Eerie in pitch darkness: She says something about Tozawa and ghosts as the logo pops up. Again, WHAT?
YAMATO vs. Jon Davis
Jon Davis self imposes a "win or leave DGUSA" stip every match. This is also YAMATO's first match back since losing the championship to Gargano November of last year.
The guys go for some slow rest holds at first, and Davis eventually starts getting his "big strong brick wall" stuff in YAMATO similarly indicates he's the dirty heel by going underneath the ring and dropkicking Davis from behind while he's confused. YAMATO works the arm from here. Davis fires up, which the super smarky crowd hate, choosing to cheer the Japanese guy instead. Yamato just starts working on the arm again. Yamato applies chokes to throw back to their last encounter but Davis muscles out. Davis takes advantage of Yamato bitching to the referee and gets more power stuff in, Davis tries a clothesline but is still selling his arm, Davis fighting spirits up and hits a Stan Hansen level clothesline which YAMATO barely kicks out of .YAMATO gets a choke in and some Japanese as fuck moves, and when Davis kicks out, he synches a arm bar and then a choke. Davis powerbombs out and gets a 2 1/2 count. Buckle Bomb, Big Boot, and 3 Seconds Around the World nets Davis the win.
This was a match in a potential death spot that delivered. Props to both guys.
Jon Davis promo: Excellent. He (rightfully) shits on the people cheering for YAMATO. He says that because he beat the former champion, he has earned a title match, but he doesn't want Gargano's title, he wants the EVOLVE championship. Jon warns everyone he's taking a "more active approach"
El Generico vs Akira Tozawa w/ Christina von Eerie
Seeing El Generico in action reminds you how talented the performer had to be to pull that off and be a top babyface. Akira shows us he's a Japanese heel with the customary "Up yours" gesture.
Apparently there's some pre-established beef between these guys that the commentary team does a poor job explaining. We get a tease of Christina slapping Generico but Akira stops it and hugs her. We get some fun technical/lucha exchanges. Generico might have the best arm drag in the business. Tozawa is such a loud, expressive douchebag and Generico is so good at selling that they got the crowd into a test of strength. Fun lucha and armdrags has Tozawa reeling. I like how Generico being distracted by Von Eerie and shooing her away pisses her off, so that justifies her tripping Generico's leg. Tozawa gets some high flying in to get the heat. I like how Von Eerie interjects herself in a way that's like annoying little kid, and not something that Generico has to sell as painful. And as I say that, she interferes which allows Tozawa to get a two. I like how Tozawa always backs Generico into the corner that Von Eerie is in while heeling out, Okay NOW Von Eerie is interfering in a way that looks like it hurts, with knees and headbutts. Generico goes after Von Eerie again but this time Generico gets momentum in an over the top rope clothesline spot that looked a little too choreographed. Tozawa eventually cuts off Generico's comeback and gets a BRUTAL looking boot to the back of the head for the two. I like that Generico blocks a German attempt by sitting down, a wrestler that was less skilled at selling would've actively fought out of it. Generico also does a thing where he tries to get up after kicking out at two and just collapses. I wish we saw more of this. They tease a strong style strike exchange, but they don't pull the trigger immediately, indicating that Generico is lapsed in out and in of consciousness before they do. Amazing. They trade signatures, but respond with counters that feel like they're two fighters operating on instinct. They tease finshers Von Eerie gets in the ring with a chair, and Genericho teases hitting Von Eerie, but she dodges. He then has to wait entirely too long for Tozawa to hit his boot, Generico then hits a boot and gets a 2 1/2 count off the brain buster. This sequence was just a bit too "indy" for me. Generico teases the BRAINBUSTAH, and Tozawa teases a suplex, eventually Tozawa hits two Snap Germans for a 2 1/2 count. Generico does an expert job of fighting the Straight Jacket German that puts him away,
This might be a bit controversial, but I liked this just a fraction more than the I Quit Match. These two put on an entertaining match, but did so in a way in which face and heel were not only defined clearly, but played , and, until the closing few minutes, built in a way that didn't break the rules of professional wrestling storytelling. That's literally the only thing that keeps this from a perfect 10. Also special props to Christina Von Eerie. She rules.
Vacated Open the United Gate Tag Title Match
AR Fox & CIMA vs. Ricochet & Rich Swann ]
AR Fox & CIMA vs. Ricochet & Rich Swann ]
I don't like Ricochet's "Future of Flight" nickname. Unless his gimmick is that he's an actual futuristic airplane or spaceship, it's a dumb nickname.
Some fun lucha indicates that we're operating under Lucha Tag rules. More flips, and CIMA starts working on Ricochet. CIMA demands the ref check Swann, Swann audibly protests as he hasn't done anything, but the heels use that opportunity to double team Ricochet. Weird cris-cross leads to a cutter which leads to the dramatic roll hot tag to Swann. Swann blocks some double team and AR Fox gets to look like the doofus, inexperienced heel he is at this point. Swann and Ricochet work over AR for a while. CIMA blocks a two count by blocking the ref's hand, which should be a DQ. CIMA yanks Ricochet off of a pin, which makes the previous spot even more ridiculous. AR gets beat up, but avoids some double teams with cool counters, and hits cool moves. CIMA gets tagged in, but the high flying for some reason is left to Fox. CIMA finally gets in and does his palm strike/flipping turnbuckle slam combo, but Richochet flips out of it. It breaks down into a four way from here, with lots of crazy flips and double teams. CIMA hits a Meteora on Swann but Ricochet gets a Shooting Star, AR Fox does the fist pump along with the count thing, until he realizes it's Ricochet, not CIMA, who has the pin. This was a neat touch. Ricochet and AR do a strong style strike exchange in which Ricochet is the loud trash talker. Surfboard Stretch/ 450 Splash combo by CIMA/AR looks disgusting. AR hits Lo Mein Pain, which is fucking CRAZY, and is the finish! It catches the crowd off guard, because they just assumed people would kick out and start flipping again.
This is a GREAT match, but unlike all the other GREAT matches tonight, there were some story beats that didn't connect for me. Was was CIMA barely in the match? If it was meant to be a baptism by fire for AR Fox, this was a weird place to tell that story, but AR. Furthermore, it seemed that there was a double turn here, whee people started rooting for AR, but that wasn't caught by the commentators. All this aside, AR, Swann, and Ricochet brought it, I just wish CIMA had too.
Post match: CIMA gets the crowd to chant for AR. CIMA calls AR the best high-flyer in the world, which pisses of Ricochet. He channels his own critics (probably) and calls AR a geek who does stupid moves, and has no talent. Ricochet walks out and Swann meekly follows behind. AR challenges Ricochet for the September EVOLVE show, and CIMA asks that AR calm down, and that he and Ricochet respect each other. I wish we got more slow burns in which there's a voice of reason. CIMA does some carny pump up the crowd shit to cap off the 3 year anniversary show
Barring the comedy matches, this was a fun show with good wrestling. This is a good stand-alone show as well, so I can recommend it at any interest level in DGUSA.