Additional photos courtesy Jason Wilkey Photography (2, 6,10, 14, Gallery 2)
After surviving a PAC moonsault to the head and Kevin Steen picking my coat pockets at Resistance Rise last January, I decided that I wanted even more wrestling. The next night I headed on down to Illinois’ other end for Main Event, the biggest show in the history of All American Pro Wrestling.
AAPW has been running in Southern Illinois since 2006, featuring an impressive group of local talent. When I was attending school in 2007, I caught one of their first events at the Sports Blast in Carbondale. While the event featured a heavy dose of TV draws, such as James Storm and Eric Young, it was the promotion’s regulars, in particular Edmund “Livewire” McGuire, and “Serial Thriller” Shane Rich, that captured my attention.
The great thing about AAPW is that they not only provide a great wrestling show for a region that has little but have also run several benefit shows over the years. AAPW has raised several thousand dollars for charities such as the American Cancer Society.
Things have been looking up for the company over the last year. A significant milestone was achieved in September when they got their own 1 hour TV show on the local ABC affiliate. AAPW Collision saw the return of Saturday Morning Wrestling to the region, something that this generation of children have been missing out on. And how many promotions can say their play by play commentator is also the region’s ABC Morning News Anchor?
All of AAPW’s recent shows have been held at the Black Diamond Harley Davidson Warehouse. This was my first time visiting the venue, and I have to say it’s one of the better buildings I’ve seen house wrestling. It’s very spacious and the emptied motorcycle display shelves gave a very impressive viewpoint, especially when they weren’t originally intended to be occupied (more on that later). The show happened to take place on the same night that another warehouse that held wrestling in Philadelphia for two decades was bidding farewell (per an agreement with the warehouse the ring was left in a corner for storage after the show).
I had the opportunity to check out the backstage area before the show. It had everything you would expect at a wrestling event. At the “Gorilla” Position, just behind the curtain, you had a large monitor, letting the wrestlers see what was going on so they knew when to make their appearance. In the production room, where promotion photos and videos were being shot of everyone in preparation for the TV show and future DVD release. As you can imagine, it’s quite chaotic in the hours leading up to the show.
I was also really impressed with the ringside production equipment. Commentary was being recorded live at ringside, straight to tape including the sponsor plugs. Three high quality video cameras were brought in from nearby Southern Illinois University, and the show was being filmed by students learning about video production.
But of course, no show gets through without some bumps in the road. The company knew they had their largest presale to date. However, the number of tickets sold by the various ticket agents was not properly communicated. The end result was that the building ran out of chairs. That began a mad scramble by the entire staff, along with a few volunteers, myself included, to find all remaining chairs in the building, and line them up. This lead to one of the more genuine moments of the evening, as PAC, upon hearing about the building selling out, congratulated the crew and gave them the chair he was using the locker room, and asked someone to bring it ringside because someone needs it more than he does. When all the seats were filled, the remaining walk up crowd had the option of buying discounted standing room only seats in the 2nd level of the motorcycle racks, which again, I thought was a pretty nice view. There were a couple upset fans, but ultimately, most of them were just happy to be there.
Speaking of PAC, I was shocked to find out that he didn’t bring any merchandise with him. It’s standard practice for wrestlers to have their own custom merchandise at shows as a way to earn some well-deserved money. The impression I got was that he wanted to give his matches on this US tour as much preparation as possible. You have to respect him for that.
But it was time to get the show underway. Commentary was handled by Kevin Hunsperger, AAPW Executive Producer Chris Hagstrom, and former AAPW Heavyweight Champion Shane Rich. Ring announcing was handled by Bob Fester and David Ade.
AAPW: Main Event
January 14th, 2012
Black Diamond Harley Davidson Warehouse – Marion, IL
1. Heath Hatton defeated “Golden Boy” Greg Anthony – Anthony came out first, proclaiming that he is the best in the business, and that everyone bought a ticket to see him. He claimed that he would end the career of Heath Hatton. Heath has been one of the top up and comers in the region recently. He’s even had some tryouts at OVW in recent months. After some back and forth, including a couple great dropkicks by Hatton, Anthony hit a chop block on Hatton’s left knee, and he spent the next several minutes focusing on that, including a textbook Figure Four. After the two inadvertently hit each other’s heads, Hatton worked around his injured knee to start a comeback. Shockingly, Hatton went to the top rope, but due to the injury was too slow in climbing the ropes, and was stopped by Anthony. After a counter by Hatton, he went for a huge missile dropkick, but missed. Instead of going for the cover, Anthony went for another Figure Four, which Hatton countered with a rollup for the win. A solid opener.
David is backstage with Stacy O’Brien. This is the return of women’s wrestling to AAPW. Stacy talks about her history with Rebecca Raze, in which Raze defeated her in a three way match. Stacy has been training with Harley Race, so she’s ready this time.
The undefeated Pokerface came out for his open challenge. Much to the surprise of everyone, “M-Dogg 20” Matt Cross accepted the invitation.
2. Pokerface defeated Matt Cross – The two alternated in posing with the crowd, trying to get the loudest cheers, which of course Cross received more of. The match began with lots of tieups and technical reversals. Cross began turning things up with some arm drags and dropkicks. Cross then began hitting his usual innovative offensive. Pokerface turned things around by using the referee as a shield, along with a poke of the eyes. After some submission attempts, Cross countered with a submission of his own, before Pokerface took over again. The best part of the match? A Mushroom Stomp by Cross. Da da da, da da DA, da! Anyway, after some more back and forth action, Pokerface hit the Ghetto Blaster for the very impressive win.
Chris is backstage with PAC and El Generico. Generico said PAC is a very good opponent, facing him in nine countries, and is the best high flyer in the world. However, Generico said he will win tonight. PAC brought up that they last fought two years ago, and he is now a completely different wrestler, and that Generico has no idea what he’s in for.
3. Bull Bronson defeated “Sin City Sensation” Jay Spade, “Farmer” Billy Hills, Justice, and “Playboy” Paul Rose – This was a five way free for all, one fall to a finish. Spade is one of the smaller wrestlers on the roster, while the other four are some of the bigger fighters. All five quickly fought outside of the ring, and early on Spade took out three of his opponents with a top rope senton to the floor, along with a hurricanrana on the concrete floor. From there, it was an even matchup, with no one looking more dominant than the other. Eventually, everyone else was knocked out, and Bronson hit Rose with a splash for the win. It was what you would expect from a free for all.
4. Money Makin’ Jam Boys (Mississippi Madman and KC Jackson) defeated Roscoe Dwayne Harris and Bull Bronson in a Number 1 contenders match – Harris of the Convoy needed a new partner, so after seeing Bronson’s victory, he selected him for the match. Madman is quite the character to see in person. The Jam Boys were in early control. The two have different styles, and yet they work well together. Once the opponents took over, Harris and Bronson alternated talking out Jackson. Jackson hit a very impressive cross body on Bronson, but only for two. Madman got the tag, and he just abused Harris. The Jam Boys hit a sequence stunner, followed by a jawbreaker for the win. It is expected that they’ll get the next tag team title shot.
Chris is backstage with Colt Cabana. Colt says he feels great, as that’s the vibe he brings. He’s been all over the world: Japan, Australia, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and even Schaumburg Illinois. He’s got friends in Southern Illinois in nearby Carbondale. He wants us to love the art and the sport of professional wrestling. He says Eric Wayne, his opponent, wants to ruin it. He takes offense that Wayne is proud that he’s a third generation wrestler, and acts like others should owe him something for it. Colt says he’s a first generation wrestler, coming from a history of hard working salesmen, and he made a career out of himself and the support of his fans. He says he’s going to slap some respect into Wayne. As Chris was sending it back to the ring, Colt apologized for being too hyped up.
5. PAC defeated El Generico – The #PACGenericoWorldTour has made its way to Marion. Lots of technical wrestling to start off. It started off with a friendly handshake, but as the competition started to heat up, the two quickly got frustrated with each other. PAC hit an Asai Moonsault to the floor, and Generico would follow up a short time later with a brutal backbreaker. After slowing things down back in the ring, Generico turned things back up with an amazing running senton of his own, followed by an extremely high top rope cross body. PAC would then catch Generico with a lighting quick hurricanrana for a two count, and a standing Shooting Star Press for another two count. The action just kept going from here. Stiff punches from both, a suplex right into the turnbuckles, and Generico’s signature Yakuza Kick in the corner. PAC finally finished things off with a corkscrew shooting star. Unbelievable move to see in person. Awesome match as you would expect from these two. Afterward, the two shook hands as the crowd chanted “Please Come Back!”
Intermission time. Kevin headed backstage to get ready for his match.
Bob is backstage with “Old School Warrior” Ax Allwardt and Gaylord Stevens. Allwardt says Edmund “Livewire” McGuire reminds him of Tebow, because that’s all he hears everyone talking about. Bob then mentioned that McGuire was hit by a car on that morning’s episode of Collision (ha, get it?), and witnesses claim that Allwardt and Stevens were driving. Allwardt says it’s bull. How many people even look like the two of them?
Following intermission, Stacy O’Brien was presented with the Missouri Wrestling Revival Female Wrestler of the Year Award. This was her second time winning, and previous winners include MsChif and Amy Hennig. However, prior to giving her speech, Rebecca Raze interrupted the ceremony, and gave O’Brien a knee to the gut. This led right to the next match.
6. Stacy O’Brien defeated Rebecca Raze – Lots of early aggression by Raze. O’Brien took over with a nice running splash in the corner, and a snap suplex. The crowd was very much into O’Brien. Lots of stiff knees to the back of Raze, as well as an impressive double under hook suplex. Raze would come back with her own brutal spinebuster. O’Brien fought back, and executed a nice bridging rollup for the win. Solid match.
David is backstage with Mike Masters. David started to say that he hadn’t won a match since Kevin Hunsperger hit him with a chair, but Masters quickly interrupted him saying he beat Jay Spade to get this match. He says after tonight, Hunsperger will be known as the Cheeseburger.
7. “3G” Eric Wayne defeated “Boom Boom” Colt Cabana – Wayne was furious when Davey Richards was pulled from a match against him last summer, so when he heard Cabana was coming in, he demanded that he get to face him. Crowd, as always, going nuts for Cabana. This time, I didn’t steal Colt’s jacket when he threw it out of the ring. There was an awkward moment where Wayne threw his T-shirt at Chris, and he threw it right back. Speaking of awkward, Colt just grabbed the referee’s ass. Anyway, some nice tieups to start, which saw Wayne slap Colt, so show that he means business. But Colt would get back at him, telling Wayne to lookup, and slap him as well. After some more shenanigans by Colt, Wayne took over. Colt would fight back with his usual array of elbows and flying assholes. Wayne with a huge flying headbutt all the way across the ring for a nearfall. Colt nearly got the win with the Chicago Crab, but Wayne got to the ropes. After catching Colt off guard, Wayne hit his Death Valley Driver for the shocking win.
Bob is backstage with AAPW Heavyweight Champion Edmund “Livewire” McGuire. McGuire says the time for talk is over. Despite everything he went through, he’s still standing, and after one superkick, he’s going to be walking out of Marion with the title.
We now get a video package looking at the history of Mike Masters and Kevin Hunsperger. On an episode of Collision, Kevin was interviewing Masters regarding his losing streak, and Mike blamed Kevin for it. You see, back in April on WSIL News 3 This Morning, Kevin was interviewing Heath Hatton to promote the inaugural AAPW TV Tapings, when Masters showed up to take out Heath out. Emotions were running, and in the end, Kevin hit Masters with a chair. Masters was on a losing streak ever since. Eventually, Jay Spade defended Kevin, telling Masters to Rise Above the Hate and leave Kevin alone. A match was made between Spade and Masters, in which if Masters won, which he did by using the ropes, he would get a match against Kevin at Main Event.
8. Kevin Hunsperger defeated “The Masterpiece” Mike Masters – There had been some great matches on the show, but this ended up being my favorite match of the evening. The crowd was all over Masters, as Kevin is a very popular personality in the region. Kevin came out with an “I can’t believe I’m doing this” look to his face, and pleaded with Chris to have the match ended to no avail. The early portions saw Kevin cowering in fear, while Masters would taunt him. Kevin eventually got the courage to slap him, but then ate a rough body slam, leg drop, and some brutal knife edge chops. When Masters would taunt for too long, Kevin would his quick shots in before reality set back in. Masters would also choke Kevin with his wrist tape, which sent Chris into a fury at the announce table. Demanding that Masters pin Kevin to end it. Crowd cheering like crazy for Kevin. After letting Masters crotch himself, Kevin hit a running clothesline, and a scoop slam! But Masters with a despicable move, hitting a low blow on Kevin. Masters grabbed a ringside seat, and Chris had enough, going to ringside to pled Masters to stop. This distracted the referee, and Jay Spade came out, and CREAMED Masters with a chair to the head, leaving him a bloody mess. This led to Kevin getting the 3 count, and the crowd goes crazy! This was an awesome experience in person. Great job all around.
9. Edmund “Livewire” McGuire d. “Old School Warrior” Ax Allwardt (w/ Garlord Stevens) in a No DQ match to retain the AAPW Heavyweight Championship – The challenger and his manager show the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows. Allwardt has a lovely mustache. Stevens has a Power Glove. McGuire is by far one of the most popular regulars of the roster, and I believe is a deserving champion. The two have a storied history, and weren’t allowed to touch each other in the weeks leading up to the epic showdown. Stevens went to interfere early on with an umbrella (sure, why not?), but that failed. With both Allwardt and Stevens on the floor, McGuire hit a breathtaking senton on them both. McGuire, still angry over what happened outside earlier, hit Allwardt with the title belt, and started choking him with his headgear. But following a distraction by Stevens, Allwardt took over again. Stevens took off his belt (and thankfully his pants stayed on), and began whipping McGuire with it. Likewise, McGuire was able to grab it and return the favor. Later on, McGuire got frustrated over not being able to put away McGuire, and began taking out referees. With all referees out of commission, Stevens and Allwardt showed no mercy to McGuire on the floor. After they got back in the ring, McGuire took over, and hit a top rope leg drop, but only for a two. After yet another distraction, Allwardt hit has patented piledriver, but McGuire kicked out, perhaps out of instinct. Wanting to finish things off, Stevens went to the announce table, and bullied Chris into giving him his chair. Allwardt went for a piledriver on the chair, but McGuire back dropped him on it. Two superkicks later, and three counts later, McGuire retained. A very good main event and a great way to close out the show.
Now, what you won’t see on the DVD is Pokerface, showing his admiration for Nicole Matthews by sneak attacking McGuire as he posed on the stage.
All in all, a fun night of live professional wrestling. A sellout, capacity crowd of 400, solid matches all around, and excellent production.
For more on All American Pro Wrestling, visit AAPWrestling.com