A Phenomenal Wrestling Event

For the past couple of weeks the East Coast has been getting slammed with horrible winter weather. It seems like every other day we are seeing snow fall and a mixture of nasty winter elements. These past few weeks felt like Mother Nature had us in a chokehold. The snow and winds have put New York City in submission. But, with the bad weather and bad wrestling move references true wrestling fans were still able to come out in droves to Ridgewood, New York to see another marquee event presented by House of Glory. Some fans came as far as Southern New Jersey to see some down-home independent wrestling. Kicking off the New Year, House of Glory presented Revenge is Phenomenal which was aimed at presenting the return to the indy scene of AJ Styles after his departure from TNA. I arrived at the House of Glory arena about an hour before the show started and I was surprised to see there was a sizeable amount of fans already in attendance. I made sure to hold down a row for my crew, The Regulars, but also was aware of seeing the usual fans who attend HOG shows such as CM Punk Kid, a fan known for his Chicago Native t-shirt and gloves which resemble taped up hands with “X’s” on them, and the other gallery of rouges who help to make the events fun and entertaining. A few minutes after The Regulars entered the building, AJ Styles was signing autographs and taking pictures with fans, and the building was getting packed with people by the minute. You would have never thought there was almost a foot of snow on the ground. Although it was cold outside, the action was going to heat up inside. Man, that line was cheesy…

The Calm Before the Storm

The night started off with some pre-show festivities. We first kicked off the night with a match with EJ Bones squaring off against Dante Draconis. Right off the bat, I could tell there were pre-fight jitters, especially when Dante stepped into the ring before the match and banged his noggin on a pole hanging over the ring. EJ was shaking in his bones, no pun intended, when he squared off as well. You could see it in his movement where he seemed to be getting comfortable with the new surroundings of a larger crowd and a loud venue. The match was pretty good from the start but you could tell this was these kids' first rodeo against each other or maybe in the ring. But still, the two put on a solid match with the perception that the masked Dante and the agile Bones will progress in the ring. EJ pulled off the win while Draconis left the ring scratching his head.
After the ring announcements, we were blessed with the presence of the House of Glory’s head trainer The Amazing Red who came into the ring and did what he is not known to do which is talk. After he welcomed the crowd and thanked us for coming to the show even through the horrible conditions he apologized because the main event tag team match against the HOG Tag Champs the Young Bucks needed to be changed due to an injury to Young Buck Matt. At this movement, the standing room only crowd saw the first appearance of AJ Styles in Ridgewood. After a brief banter and a few chants and crowd interaction, the two decide to face off against one another in the main event.

A Redneck and A Caveman Enter the Ring…

As I am writing this, it seems to me that the first match seemed like a premise to a joke. To be honest, the match was a joke, but in a good and entertaining way. First match of the night was The Radical Redneck Earl Cooter going toe to toe with, literally, the New York City Neanderthal the Caveman. Okay, this may sound like the epitome of gimmick matches. In fact, this might be the king of all gimmick matches with a possibility of a Gimmick Battle Royal, this match had the comedy and entertainment which is necessary for this type of matchup. With the heel heat coming from Cooter and the fan favorite Caveman. This match reminded me of the time when I was a kid and wrestling had a fun feel to it rather than this “get down to business’ format. Sort of like when the likes of George “The Animal” Steele, Kamala, or Doink the Clown would step into the ring. This match was a great start for the fans especially for the kids in the room and was a great start to getting a crowd coming in from the cold warmed up. Oh, and the Caveman won by big splash a pitfall.

The Heat is On with the Cold Hearted Player

Well if House of Glory needed a heel in the building they got more than they barged for with The Cold Hearted Player himself Danny Demanto. On this night, HOG was graced with the presence of the man who loved to be hated and he did not this disappoint. Demanto let it be known he was the top dog in the building and was sure to let everyone else know as well. After destroying the crowd with his verbal assault (one target in particular CM Punk Kid, who was annihilated as well as his mother who fortunately was not in the building), Demanto faced The Zebra Kid and don’t let the name fool you, this kid has skills. On first sight, these two looked like the classic David and Goliath model but the little guy packed a punch. Demanto was caught off guard by The Zebra Kid’s in-ring abilities and when business went outside it even got more intense. The Kid used whatever he could such as swinging from a climbing rope and leaping from a 10-foot pipe above the crowd onto Demanto. The crowd was electric and was focused on who will take the match. Just when it looked like the Zebra Kid was going to squeak out the victory, one slip up cost him and landed him in two spike powerbombs which lead to a Demanto victory. After the match the crowd stood on their feet and acknowledged both men with what I would label Match of the Night.

Save The Pandas

Next on the card was my favorite type of match which is tag team action. We had the resident bad boys of House of Glory who are the dirtiest in the HOG pen Hank Flanders and Alex Mason going up against the cutest and most adorable tag team in the lot Andy Lee Ray and Panda Man. I must say, for this showing the team of Flanders and Mason really stepped their game up from their last match. Even drawing heat from the fans at HOG and stirring up some verbal concoction of venom aimed at Amazing Red, these two came in on fire and displayed it in the ring. From the looks of these two you would think one has skipped a few meals and looks “rock star lean” and the other has the appearance of a man who sat up and played Call of Duty for too many hours, but in the ring these two guys actually stood strong against the two student vets from House of Glory. Flanders and Mason showed ring poise and dominated most of the match but at the end the resident Pokémon master and the black and white bundle of cuddle pulled off the win. After the match Flanders and Mason were not happy, once again being winless at HOG and took out their frustrations by attacking their opponents. This was when the masked Sangriento, who looked somewhat heavier these days, made the save with a suicide leap from the ring apron. After Flanders and Mason made their escape, the three remaining wrestlers entertained the crowd with a little dance number.

The Rogue Becomes Puzzled 

With the crowd still very much into this night, out came “The Rogue” Anthony Gangone to turn up the heat some more with dangerous antics and his rage against the machine know as House of Glory. Tonight, the reject misfit was going against an Indy veteran Jigsaw. Early on these two men looked evenly match until ol’ puzzle face was able to put the pieces together and outsmart Gangone and showed why he is well-known in the wrestling scene. With a flurry of chain-linked maneuvers and the ability to keep Gangone off his feet Jigsaw was able to keep the momentum on his side. But as always, The Rogue finds a way to deceive us all and was able to pull of the win. The match was good for the most part, but the events which lead after the match is what became to reach the boiling point to an ongoing rivalry…

The Mat Messiah Calls Out The Man of Faith

After Anthony Gangone’s sneaky win the HOG crowd got an impromptu speech. The Rogue spoke of his hatred of House of Glory’s head trainer Brian XL and all he believes in. Gangone even went as far as to threaten to degrade XL’s family. That was enough for Mr. Man of Faith to take as he ran down the aisle and chased Gangone to the back which lead to a beatdown by Eddie Kingston.  Kingston and Gangone have built a friendship and also a hatred for Brian XL so this was the opportune time for Kingston to bring the pain to XL. The match didn’t seem to start until the brutal assault was delivered outside of the ring when both men were finally in the ring. But the thought of these men having a square match in the ring was short-lived when Kingston began his demolition of XL outside by slamming him into the crowd and chairs. You could see in this matchup both of these men have gone down this road before and have scores that needed to be settled. After the smoke was cleared it was Brian XL who scored the win but he wasn’t through yet. After finally getting his hands on Gangone, Brain XL decided to bring a present to the party and that present was a table. Once Gangone was laid out, XL finished him off with an aerial destruction. XL was pumped and energized in the hope this was a finalization this rivalry which in my opinion looks far from over.

 Selfie Equals Smiley

After intermission, which was entertaining for the kids in the crowd who were able to interact with some of the wrestlers, we were presented with another tag team match. For the first time at HOG, we had “Too Hot” Steve Scott and Matt Macintosh going against House of Glory’s newest and up and coming tag team Marq Quen and Smiley Fairchild. Too Hot let the crowd know how much he loves himself by using his camera to take pictures of himself while Macintosh didn’t seem to like anyone including me. This tag team match had its fair share of high spots and great pacing. We also saw the element of pure heel tactics between Scott and Macintosh which makes for a great tag team match. Also, the banter between Macintosh and the crowd, preferably me, made for a great motivation for our HOG heroes to pull off the win. Once the hot tag was made was when the crowd grew with eagerness and in the Smiley and Quen pulled off a tremendous win. I hope to see these two teams down the line square off again and hope one of these teams in the HOG Tag Team title hunt.

Amazingly Phenomenal End of the Night

The main event was next and the crowd was still intense and focused on what was coming up. The night had been explosively entertaining and the fans who did not sit all night were still excited. For the main event we had two men who have wrestled all across the globe, wrestled with and against each other, broken bread on the same plate, and knew each others’ hardships and sacrifices. One came from the dark and dirty streets of Brooklyn and was doubted because of his size and background and the other was told he would never reach that brass ring because he was unable to cut it as a main event star. Both overcame the odds and tonight the fans saw them both square off. The match started off as everyone thought it would with the ceremonial hand shake. After the pleasantries were made was when we saw the fire within them burn. From AJ throwing Red to a metal gated wall and busting his head open to match his name, to Red giving Styles a Brooklyn beatdown in the middle of the crowd, the room felt as though we were in a middle of a pay-per-view style match and we were the lucky ones who were front and center.  The momentum of the match swung back and forth and once we thought Red had Styles set for a Super Hurricarana from the top, Styles caught The Amazing One for a Styles Clash. As the ref counted, one, two, Red kicked out with the crowd groaning in excitement. Red looked helpless in the corner and looked to be down for the count, when Styles made his way through the crowd for the chair the fans had been crying for through the whole match. Red’s cousin and former TNA Knockout Rosita was in the arena and begged AJ not use the chair, and as a woman is known to do, she was able to distract Styles for Red to come in and steal the match. Luckily for everyone, the match ended on a high note as both men embraced themselves for one hell of a match.

Take It Home Guys…

The hype behind this event did not seem to be what everyone expected, and I say this in a very good way because of how the event seemed lost in the snowstorm and there was not any matches truly publicized and promoted. With the injury to one of the Young Bucks and some late second posts on who will be on the card the night might have been a wash. But I can honestly say that a true wrestling fan will make it to an event regardless of the circumstances and this was proof of it. Also, House of Glory had a lot to live up to with their previous Tag Team Tournament and their Ring of Honor collaboration. But I have to say in my opinion this was one of their best events they have done in their years of existence; the reason being because each match had enough legs to stand alone and could have been a top contender for a “Match of the Night” on any other night or event. From Demanto and Zebra Kid nearly bringing down the house to Gangone getting his just desserts from Brian XL, the energy in the room and the reaction from the crowd was as though you were in a top promotion event at the Garden or any large arena. I feel House of Glory is hitting their stride and with the anticipation of a new venue and the coronation of a new HOG Championship, this promotion is destined to be around for some time. Trainers, students and fans of the school and the promotion should be proud and I expect and even larger turnout for the next event after everyone hears about what happened one snowy Saturday night in Ridgewood, Queens.

Photos by Evan Arnow

Photos by Eric Cooper