Review: Beyond Wrestling – All Dude Review and High Five Academy

Featuring: Corvis Fear, Chris Dickinson, Chris Dickinson, Hailey Hatred, Christian Faith, Vincent Nothing, Jonny Mangue, Sean Maluta, Chase Burnett, Zane Silver, Eric Ryan, Bobby Beverly, Louis Lyndon, Flip Kendrick, Luis Diamante, Joey The Snake, Denver Colorado

DVD available from SmartMarkVideo.com – $15.00

One of the benefits of being a forward looking company is that even your older material can appear timely and relevant. That is the case with Beyond Wrestling‘s latest release, a double disc set of All Dude Review and High Five Academy. Taped over a year and a half ago, the DVD features several matches that were not only good, but significant to the history of Beyond and precursors to some trends seen throughout today.

Although the company has begun producing traditional live wrestling events, Beyond’s initial concept was to present a show by wrestlers for wrestlers. There were no fans in the audience and grapplers fought how they wanted for as long as they wanted. Wrestlers were given full creative freedom to express themselves in the ring, to be judged only by their peers in attendance. This lead to some great performances, but left the company light on narratives. That changed with these tapings. Here we see exactly what began the Clark Kent/Lex Luthor-like eternal, company consuming feud between Chris Dickinson and Corvis Fear. It is essential viewing for Beyond fans, but what makes this release relevant on a wrestling wide scale though, are the three matches with Hailey Hatred.

Since these shows occurred, Hailey has ascended to the top of the Joshi Puroresu scene. She’s captured numerous titles, most notably the JWP Open-Weight Championship, the most prestigious women’s title in Japan. Seeing a Japanese star in a still growing US promotion is pretty interesting in its own right, but the matches themselves were spectacular. Hailey appears in three bouts: against Chris Dickinson, Louis Lyndon and Corvis Fear. Yes, all men and including the two top guys in Beyond. In the past year companies like RCW, ACW, and CHIKARA in the US, as well as companies like SMASH and FREEDOMS in Japan, have put on big matches featuring some of the top women in the country against their top male athletes. Beyond Wrestling got in on the ground floor of  this movement, with some of the grittiest inter-gender matches you’ll see.

Hailey Hatred vs Chris Dickinson is the first match on All Dude Review, and the best bout on either show. It was brilliant to put Hailey and Dickinson against one another. Dickinson is a hard-hitting, hard-kicking, hard-chopping no-nonsense striker. Hailey was the first woman in Beyond, and she prides herself on being a pretty big badass as well (in fact she outsized Dickinson). There was a lot of tension at the start of this match. Some of the wrestlers surrounding ringside weren’t very fond of Hailey and, frankly, wanted to see Dickinson kick the shit out of her. In the early going both focused on mat wrestling and Dickinson actually held back on delivering strikes. This was met with taunts from the crowd, and Hailey who wanted to be treated like any other wrestler. That’s when things got nuts.

Dickinson “snapped” and wailed on Hailey with sick chops and kicks, causing the crowd of wrestlers to leave their seats, screaming and pounding on the mat. Hailey was no pushover though. She took everything Dickinson had and gave it back to him in the form of her signature head-kicks and brain scrambling suplexes. The match seemed to just get more brutal over time, with Hailey’s Cut Throat Backdrop driver being answered with a deadlift Lyger Bomb. The reactions of the audience made what happened in the ring seem even more insane. While gender was a factor going on, eventually the match turned into just two brutal wrestlers giving their all against one another. It was fantastic. You will rarely ever see a match like this anywhere, and it alone is probably worth the price of the DVD.

Besides unique match ups like Hailey and Dickinson, Beyond also gives opportunities for a lot of younger wrestlers to perform without the pressure of a live wrestling crowd or limitations on their matches. At times, this environment drives them them to put on matches well avove their experience level. We have an example of that in the Team Beyond (Chase Burnett and Zane Silver) vs Young Studs (Eric Ryan and Bobby Beverly) tag match from All Dude Review. While the Young Studs were the then AIW champions, Chase and Zane were two relative unknowns put together because of the potential seen in their early Beyond appearances. The match was an exciting, innovative, fast paced bout. It comes across as all the more fresh since even dedicated US wrestling fans probably have not seen a lot from any of these wrestlers. It is a testament to the effectiveness of the Beyond formula that with less experienced athletes, you still see matches that meet the standards set by all-star companies.

Another great match was Chris Dickinson against his childhood best friend Johnny Mangue. As Dickinson puts it, these guys have been wrestling since they were nine, and it shows. The match is fluid, but gritty, and just drags you in as it goes along. It starts off pure wrestling, then breaks down with Mangue getting sent into a guardrail, before diving over a huge wooden desk and burying Dickinson under it (for some reason a framed autographed picture of Kevin Nash came into play).  While Dickinson is a breakout star in the making, Mangue showed that he has just as much raw potential here. Great showing!

High Five Academy featured an eight man tournament, as that was about the number of wrestlers who were able to brave the blizzard that day and make it to the show. Those wrestlers included Flip Kendrick and Louis Lyndon, so it wasn’t all bad. The tournament format also aided in building towards the first Corvis Fear and Chris Dickinson encounter, which closed out the show.

Again, Hailey Hatred found herself in the opening match. This time against Saturday-afternoon-movie-kung-fu specialist Louis Lyndon. We’re informed on commentary that this match had the most single day hits on youtube for Beyond, a demonstration of the novelty of a serious inter-gender match between two quality wrestlers. It was also just really good. Lyndon’s Wu Tang Fu plus Hailey in lucha mode produced several rewind worthy moments. Again, Hailey defied the gender stereotype with her strength, at one point catching Lyndon coming off the ropes in mid-air and bringing him down with a Northern Lights Suplex. Beastly!

Corvis Fear’s match with Lyndon’s tag partner, Flip Kendrick, was equally impressive. Corvis is one of the most innovative people wrestling today. He comes up with things no one’s ever done before, only to use them once. Of course, Flip can fly with the best of them and has top tier athletic ability. The two complemented each other extremely well. Later, Corvis faced Hailey and it nearly matched the Dickinson bout.

Corvis, in a bout of temporary insanity, began the match by copping a feel and stealing a kiss from Hailey, and was then promptly dropped on his head for the trangression. If that wasn’t enough to get him to respect her, Hailey dropping a senton on his head surely was. Frankly, Hailey brutalized Corvis for much of the match and he had to dig deep in order to get the win. Corvis being one of the faces of Beyond being pushed to the limit by Hailey was great to see. At no point in this, or any, of her matches was her gender a detriment or distraction. With female wrestlers as strong as Hailey, Sara Del Rey, Cheerleader Melissa, and Rachel Summerlyn, it’s no wonder more and more companies are using them in high profile roles like this. Beyond’s forward thinking on this is commendable.

Eric Ryan vs Chris Dickinson was another methodical performance by the “Dickster.” Ryan’s sleaze-rocker demeanor belies a confident and capable foil for Dickinson. Again we see Dickinson snap and actually bring a chair into the ring, before being stopped by ref Dave Dawson (pre-sparkly shirt). The match was technically sound with Dickinson focusing on the arm the entire time, even with his strikes. It ended with a slick submission finish, and nods to yet another member of the Wolfpack.

The tournament finals finally brought Corvis Fear and Chris Dickinson together. The match was good purely from a wrestling aspect, but what makes it such a significant part of Beyond history was the ending. Dickinson and Corvis walked into this match as friends and traveling buddies, but walked out the most bitter of enemies. It began as you’d expect with Dickinson focusing on strikes and holds and Corvis using crazy moves that may or may not have come from Tekken. At the end though, Dickinson crosses the line from a guy with a few anger issues to someone truly despicable. He fakes an injury to lure Corvis in, and takes advantage to steal the win and the tournament. Understand, this marked a sea change for the company: Beyond went from a place where everyone was there for the wrestling and competition for it’s own sake, to a place where some simply put winning above everything else. It was a really cool moment that was built up over both shows, and it was a key change that helped clarify the direction of the company.

There’s several this shows worth seeing, and the audio options provide incentive to watch them more than once. First there’s the well done one-man-booth commentary of Denver Colorado (the man, not the place). Then each disc has a raw audio, no commentary option which, given how vocal the wrestlers in the audience are, is worth visiting at least for the big matches. What makes this release really special though, is a fantastic director’s commentary feature. Beyond Wrestling promoter Drew Cordeiro teams with Chris Dickinson to provide insight not only into the matches on the show, but the history and concept of Beyond itself. Given that Beyond is so different from every other wrestling company, hearing Cordeiro talk about the creative process behind it is quite eye-opening. Likewise, it’s nice to get to know the laid back, humorous guy behind the deranged sociopath that is Chris Dickinson. As he appears in 5 of the 11 included matches, you get an in depth look into his personal history, how he approaches his craft, and what it means for him personally to be “the guy” for Beyond Wrestling. He even takes the time to address criticism of his wrestling style, and the rumors that he stuffs his tights. DC and CD cover all of that, and much more in an informative and, at times, hilarious session.

When you take the quality of the matches, their significance to Beyond history, and their relevance to the next stage of evolution for women’s wrestling, you’d be hard pressed not to find some value in this DVD. There are a couple of  less than stellar matches, an odd lack of entrance music (which some wrestlers actually use to their advantage), and the drain of the tournament is sometimes visible on the competitors, but all of that is completely overshadowed by what’s good here. The Hailey Hatred matches are all phenomenal, and Dickinson and Fear put on a great showings as well. The director’s commentary is much like getting a full “shoot” interview as a bonus on this release, and it really puts it over the top as a great DVD and worthwhile purchase.

This is a must have for any Hailey Hatred, Chris Dickinson, or Beyond Wrestling fans. Everyone else should seriously consider purchasing it as well. Check the video preview below!

Score: 7.5

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyySJOSGmxg

Links:

Beyond Wrestling – http://www.lookmanofans.com

Hailey Hatred The Dirty Dirty Sheets Interview

Contest:

Beyond provided a review copy of the DVD, and we’ll also be giving one copy away on Twitter. If you see us make a tweet wtih the #BeyondDVD tag, retweet it, once and only once, for a chance to win. We’ll make several tweets over the next week, each giving you a chance to enter our random drawing, but please don’t retweet the same thing multiple times.

Prize is one (1) copy of the All Dude Review/High Five Academy DVD. Winner must follow @BeyondWrestling and @DirtyDirtyTweet to be eligible, and provide address for shipping of DVD. Contest ends Friday, August 19th, 2011 12:00AM. Any form of spamming is prohibited and will result in disqualification. Void where inter-gender chop battles are prohibited.

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