This past week, I decided to grab a friend and some liquid courage and took a ride out of my usual sector to visit a land of Indy wrestling which I had not seen in a long time. Indy wrestling has been a staple in the Elk’s Lodge on Queens Boulevard for many years. ECW would often make an appearance to the area and put on monstrous cards with a long list of classic matches. More locally, Impact Championship Wrestling has been a gateway promotion for wrestlers to show off their skills and also test the water for up and coming ventures. Wrestlers such as Amazing Red, Sami Callahan, Jon Moxly, Homicide, Low Ki and tons more have at one point graced ICW and blessed the crowd with their presence. For a period of time, ICW had shut down and wrestlers were seen bouncing around to other promotions or starting up their own federations. This past year, ICW opened it's doors once again and the fans couldn’t be more grateful for the return of their home-grown promotion.
Card Subject to Change
Upon arriving and approaching the bar for a few cups of gold brew, my Regulars running mate and I found our seats and poised and positioned ourselves for the night's card. I must say, the seating was tighter than Miley Cyrus' outfit at the Video Music Awards. Don’t get me wrong, ICW is usually a packed house; but on this night the empty seats were a bit excessive, with the crowd not as big possibly due to the card being booked the same night as a huge boxing event. But true wrestling fans are loyal and will show up to a wrestling event on New Year’s night. The night opened up with Mr. Price is Right himself, ring announcer Larry Legend introducing ICW Champion Tommy Dreamer who explained to the crowd that unfortunately he would not be able to defend his title against Dan Maff, but had a suitable replacement for the spot. The music dropped and out cames the Notorious 187 himself, Homicide, to fill in and become the number one contender for the spot. This looked to be very interesting.
A Cuban and A Sicilian Walk Into a Ring…
The match cards started with The Cuban Crippler Ricky Reyes squaring off against Tommaso Ciampa. I wasn’t sure at first what to make of the match because I really didn’t know who was the face and who was the heel. But sometimes a match is just a match. These two men are veterans and each have touched the higher ground of wrestling promotions and were now putting on a match at ICW. The back and forth match, highlighted by a mix of chain wrestling and grapples, was a fun opening to a building night. Close as this match was, Ricky Reyes was able to pull off the win and both men were equally appreciated and applauded for such a solid match.
Why Did the Chicken Cross the Boulevard?
Look, I’m not going to bore you with typical cliché and cheeky one-liners such as “I had a clucking good time watching this match” or “the chicken’s opponent really laid an egg on this night”. The ICW Chicken wins over J-Reid in a quick manner. This match was a “yolk” (joke)….
Along Came Nana and Friends…
Finally! Tag team action was upon us. We had VSK and EJ Risk go against Prince Nana’s Ring of Honor World Television Champion Matt Taven and former S.C.U.M. member Rhett Titus. Both these teams balanced each other off and have a fair of talent to go around. Taven is as sleazy as they come, but his in-ring work is off the chart. Titus is a well-rounded talent but I prefer him as a face rather than a heel. As for the match, the two teams were exposing both high spots and extensive move sets. VSK and EJ Risk together is easily a heart-throb combo, but also a team who can hold their own with the best of them. But tonight the win was pulled by the ROH vets. Although I was given an unwelcome splash of Taven’s pubic sweat (don’t ask) these two were welcomed in the ICW arena. On a quick note, Prince Nana is a performer who should be recognized on a larger scale than in the Indy circuit. It is fair to say he is a big fish in a small bowl and his talents need to be recognized in major promotions. His gifts on the mic are easily fitted into the WWE and should be an automatic addition in TNA. All though ROH is a great promotion, in my opinion Nana’s time has come for him to be recognized by the next level of promotions.
A Stryker in Pink Sheep’s Clothing
Next up, ICW was graced by the presence of a member the F.B.I. No, we weren’t being raided, ICW Arena was blessed with the Full Blooded Italian himself Little Guido. His opponent was his longtime rival The Sex Symbol Maximus Sex Power. Draped with his usual pink robe, Sex Power made his way to the ring only to remove his towel cowl and reveal he was actually former WWE star Matt Stryker. Stryker, a former school teacher, had a lesson to serve and this one seemed to be in Human Lifestyles and Anatomy. First off, Stryker was in full flamboyant mode when he squared off – so much Goldust would have been proud. His interaction with the freaked out Guido made for hilarity and entertaining ring work. His banter and connection with the fans was, pardon the phrase, fabulous so much so he entered the crowd and made a male crowd member’s night. Also, although many of us may not have seen Matt Stryker in the ring for some time, the man did not show any ring rust on this night. After a bump outside the ring, the real Maximus Sex Power ran into the ring and pinned Guido to retain his Towel Championship with all his gelatinous glory.
When A Fish Battled a Greek God…
Just moments out of watching Sex Power and his rotund frame, the crowd was happy to see current Ring of Honor Tag Team Champion Bobby Fish go up against The Greek God Papadon. When you talk about a genuine prototype of what a prime time wrestler looks like, these two have the look and persona to pull it off. It doesn’t hurt they are awesome in the ring as well. Bobby Fish has been around the world and wrestled top-notch wrestlers and Greek God Papadon has Indy straps across the board. These two men know the ring, are aware of how to use the ring, and make the arena a battle ground as though we were watching a battle in Ancient Roman times. The usage of power and technique was a major factor in this match and in the end, Papadon was able to squeak out a win. This match was up to par in becoming a Match of the Night winner.
Then An Elimination Scramble Broke Out….
After the intermission, which by the way gave me the opportunity to catch up on some beer drinking I was missing during the night, an Elimination Scramble was up and it had it's fair share of Indy stars. Blade, Jorge Santi, Eddie Frankin, Brian XL, Steve “Too Hot” Scott, Sam Shields and Earl Cooter were in the bout and it sure enough had its fair share of high spots. Of course in a match like this there is so many things going on at one time you would need ADD to catch everything. Even The Caveman made an appearance and of course was entertaining as hell. And for the second time, I have seen Kai Katana in a specialty match and this time rather than clear house and lose he was able to get the win. I thought the match was going to be lame but the guys in the match were really good. The crowd was really into it and seemed to be connected to what was going on,. Usually matches like this are thrown together to showcase talent but this night seemed a great night for a spot on match.
A Jobber Sighting in the Indys
Who is a jobber in the Indys? I mean really? Early in the night we had the ICW Chicken get put over by J-Reid but this match was ridiculous. I didn't even get to finish my double-handed beer hold before this match was over. The big bully Apollyon took out Brandon Watts and I could have sworn I was watching classic 1980’s episode of WWE Superstars and not in a good way.
A Mixture of Smoke and Oil
After the disaster and a run to the refreshment bar, we had the OG of ICW Grim Reefer go against former TNA star Joey Ryan. Ryan has the goods. He’s sleazy, he’s obnoxious, and he makes you want to take a shower. The total package of a heel with the ability to wrestle ties this hairy package together with a disgusting bow. As for Reefer, he must have been the reason I was getting a contact high when I went to the bathroom. Even so, Reefer is well known in the Indy scene and has earned the respect of the pros with his blue-collar nature and his admiration of the [4:20] lifestyle. To be honest, this match was pretty mediocre at best but was still entertaining. I wish there was a bit more chemistry between the two for this match to work. Grim Reefer won this bout, but I do hope to see these two do battle again in the future.
Enemies with Benefits
The ICW Tag Team belts were on the line and if you don’t know who the champs are, let’s just say it would be like if Batman joined forces with The Joker and conquered all. The Amazing Red, everyone’s local hero, and his tag team partner Danny Demanto, the Devil’s bully, are the tag team champs (bear in mind they are mortal enemies). Red’s motto is “Expect the Unexpected”, but for this it should have been “Believe the Unbelievable”. These two have been ICW icons and have torn down venues against each other. Tonight, they faced the original Dudebusters Trent Baretta and Anthony Nese. After the entrance and a lavish introduction of Demanto, who wore a Dallas Cowboys jersey which drew a round of boos, Demanto continued to work his hateful magic and DESTROY a member of the crowd. Once the match started, you could feel the tension between the Tag Team Champions but in an odd way they made it work. Although Red doesn't say much, his facial expressions and body language towards Demanto spoke volumes as if he read an angry Gettysburg Address. The anger rippled through the match so much Red delivered a Super Kick to his own partner for good measure. The funniest part of the match was when Demanto called for Red to set up The Spanish Fly, a finisher Red used in his early days with S.A.T. The look on Red’s face was of priceless disgust. Barreta and Nese are a polished tag duo who can take as well as give. Finesse and technical wrestling is only a drop in the bucket for these two, but tonight was not their night. The unhappy Tag Team Champs got the win, and Demanto was eager to announce they would be defending their titles in a triple threat at the next ICW event. In my opinion, this was the Match of the Night and I highly anticipate the next match from these teams.
A Match in the Making…
The Main Event was a fill-in match for the champ. ICW Title holder Tommy Dreamer was put in a match with the last-minute replacement Homicide. At the sound of the bell, we knew this was going to be a bout because of both these men's backgrounds, which included numerous championships and countless matches. This match slowly developed from a normal wrestling match to an all-out brawl. Both men have a mean streak and proceeded to show why “hardcore” is in their respective resumes. Back and forth the men battled using everything from their hands to chairs to ring bells and hammers. There was no wear and tear from these guys and the two showed the crowd what it took to be a champion. As the cliché goes, when the smoked cleared, there was one who stood as the champ, and a new champ at that. Homicide was crowned the ICW Champion and as a gentleman, Dreamer placed the strap on the new champ and raised his hand.
My return the ICW Arena was not only fun but also a walk down memory lane. The company continues to have a strong following and it's wrestlers appreciate every emotion exhibited by the men and women sitting or standing on in the room. I am going to become more of an avid attendee to the arena as well as for other promotions, but to this day Impact Championship Wrestling has a certain mystique about it. All hail the return of ICW…