Who Walked Away with House of Glory’s First Heavyweight Championship?
I finally was able to get a Saturday evening where I could attend a House of Glory Wrestling show without battling the elements. I say this because on most occasions while waiting on line it is snowing, freezing, torrential rains, or a heatwave. Today was a great day…a great day for wrestling. I guess the powers that be and the hand of Mother Nature knew that HOG was looking to crown their first World Heavyweight Champion. The line outside was growing by the minute and the new faces I do not recognize prove to me that HOG is spreading the word and capturing an audience. On this night I was a bit skeptical being a long time House of Glory fan. I figured it was going to be a “business as usual, paint by numbers” night. Hell, the bell time was 8pm and that didn’t happen until about 20 minutes after, which is pretty routine when it comes to House of Glory. But for tonight’s card, although it seemed predictable, I can tell you there was still something special.
And at the Sound of the Bell…
Once everyone was seated and situated, the opening bell was ready to be sounded. There was already a buzz going around the room and everyone was talking about his or her favorites and who they felt was going to win. Still being skeptical I kept my ears open and wanted to seem like the smartest guy in the room but inside I was still excited about what was to come. Up first, in the opening match of the first round of the Championship Tournament was JT Dunn going up against the House of Glory’s head trainer and “Man of Faith” himself Brian XL. This match had paint-by-numbers written all over it, but I can say that I was quickly corrected. A current multi Tag Team Champion in other promotions, Dunn also has a strong reputation as a singles competitor and Brian XL has been one to go toe-to-toe with both current and legendary stars. Under the radar, XL has a strong resume and a long list of heavy-hitting completion. But still, I boo him nonetheless. The match seemed to be one-sided for the most part with Brian looking wounded. But when the action was taken outside the ring and then back inside, all momentum made a shift to XL. For an opening match, this seemed to be a good start to the card and having Brian score the win (although predictable with the inevitable attack by his longtime nemesis Anthony Gangone and his flunky Joey Janella), XL would have to dig deeper to try to pick up a win in the next round.
When a Newcomer Meets a Young Legend
The second match from the first round featured one of the rising stars of the House of Glory wrestling school and one of the fastest rising stars in the wrestling business. The high flying “Young Man of Mat Theatrics” Marq Quen stood in the ring with a man he should be looking up to in multi Singles Champion Ricochet. The current Dragons Gate USA Freedom Gate Champion though he might have a light night with a student but he didn’t expect who was coming to the table. Marq Quen has been dazzling the fans for some time now and was ready for the main stage. Both men stepped in the ring and were able to use their aerial and technical skills. I wished the venue was slightly bigger and the time dedicated to this match was longer because this had the beginnings of what could have been a Match of the Night contender. Quen was able to show why he looks to be a breakout star in HOG and the fans were behind him, but it was the experience of Ricochet and his signature Benadryller that gave him the close win. Although he wasn’t victorious, Marq Quen won over the fans and they showed it while they chanted “H.O.G” as he exited.
For the third bout of the first round we had Indy sensations Shane Strickland and Drew Gulak in the ring. To be perfectly honest, I really didn’t have any idea who these people were so after the show I did some research and watched some video on these two and I was impressed by what I saw. But what I had seen on this night was not quite as enjoyable as what I had seen after. Granted, both man have the experience and the skills but I guess on this night the magic didn’t seem to be working. Drew Gulak was able to score the submission win with his Gu-Lock but I was not that impressed with the match.
A Lethal Replacement
The final match was to be a battle between “The Rouge” Anthony Gangone and Ring of Honor’s World Heavyweight Champion Jay Lethal. What looked to be a great match did not happen. It seemed that the note on the promo flyer where it reads “card subject to change” came into play for this match. It seems Gangone and his minion Joey Janella “attacked” Lethal backstage and Jay was unable to participate. But the expectation from “The Mat Messiah” was he was going to get an easy pass into the second round. But that was not the case. Seems like HOG had other cards to play when out came the big man Dan Maff. The crowd leapt to its feet with the sight of Maff and Gangone and his goon seemed none too pleased. Maff seemed to have control for most of the match, even with attempts by Janella to disrupt the action. But that didn’t last too long because while Gangone had distracted the referee Janella was able to throw Maff into a metal beam and Gangone took the win by count out. Gangone was able to escape to the second round by the skin of his teeth, but at what cost?
From Pain Comes Faith
After the intermission, we kick off the second round of the tournament with Drew Gulak going against Brian XL. XL was still nursing his injury from earlier in the evening and struggled to make it to the ring. But with the pain and the visible discomfort Brian still was ready to go as the bell rang and hung in as long as he could. Gulak actually looked better than he did in his first round match and although this match ended in rapid fashion, there was sense this match was good quality and told a great story. In the end, between the pain and his being knocked unconscious when Gulak applied the Gu-Lock, XL was unresponsive. The referee raised XL’s arm three times and each time the arm hit the canvas. Courageous for his attempts “The Man of Faith” was applauded but was unable to advance to the finals.
Did the Student Make the Finals?
The last match in the second round presented Anthony Gangone against Ricochet and so far, Gangone had covered the tracks necessary to advance in the tournament. Now he has to go against the man many consider the best in the game – in this did not look well for the young star of HOG. The match was a back and forth contest which showed both men wanted the crown and were going to leave everything in the ring to get it. Even Gangone’s stooge Janella couldn’t shift the tides of this match and once the Ricochet Benadryller presented itself again, it was over for the young House of Glory scholar. On this night, Anthony Gangone fell short and Ricochet was looking to add another belt to his collection.
Does Anyone Want a Shot at the Champ?
Before the finals, we had a #1 Contenders Battle Royal. Now this was going to be fun! The winner would have a shot at the soon-to-be newly crowned House of Glory Champion. Believe me, there was a different assortment of characters and personalities all mashed up together in this match from the fan favorites Panda Man and Smiley Fairchild to the most hated Good Hank Flanders and Alex Mason. The ring was packed with HOG students as well as others.There was even a surprise entrant when House of Glory’s head trainer and recognized superstar Amazing Red joined the party. The fans were on their feet and trying to keep their head on a swivel with the participants being tossed over the top rope in many different directions. This match was fun, fan friendly and the crowd was highly into the action. With the winner being Smiley Fairchild, the crowd was electrified and pleased with the outcome. It was safe to say with the end result and the excitement this one had to be my “Match of the Night”. Congratulations to Smiley and good luck next month against…
The final match of the night was a battle of two men who had to go through some tough competitors. Although Drew Gulak seemed to have an easier night thus far, he was about to meet his biggest competition of the night in Ricochet. From the start of the bell, the match looked even and could have gone either way. Gulak tried on many occasions to take away the aerial attacks from Ricochet by attacking his lower body and applying his winning move of the night the Gu-Lock; but on different occasions, Ricochet was able to counter which seemed to be his fit for the night. Ricochet was like a counter-punching boxer waiting for his opportunity to strike – and when he did it cost Gulak the match. The previous match seemed to drain the crowd but once the wrestlers came from the back and ran to ringside, the crowd became revived with energy. In the end, it was Ricochet who became the newly anointed House of Glory Champion and was presented with the new shiny strap.
Take it Home….
Like I mentioned earlier, the matches was pretty paint-by-numbers but exciting. There was still that element that something different would happen and a surprise or swerve could shock the room. I did expect a Brain XL vs. Anthony Gangone final, but even so the angle for that particular storyline seems to be moving towards a climactic ending. I have been to better HOG events, but I can say this was possibly the most fun night of wrestling I have been to. The promotion seems to keep churning out new prospects and even better matches. With the next event coming in a month, there will be a small window of time to prepare for what’s coming.
Photo Gallery( Source: Evan Arnow):
Photo Gallery( Source: Eric Cooper):