A clash of new (to me) Wrestling On Fire superstars and the return of one of the greatest stars in the promotion’s history, Puerto Rican superstar, Apollo highlight this week’s episode.
We’re just two weeks away from Wrestling On Fire’s next big show at the Police Athletic Building in Parsippany, New Jersey—-and we haven’t really heard any hype for it on the TV show. Wrestling On Fire.com does an OK job of hyping the big matches (Wrestling On Fire Champ Brian Fury returning from a suspension for slapping AJ Savoldi, TV Champ Scotty Slade defending the belt against former ROH Tag Team Champ Ricky Reyes, and a clash of the hosses between The Giant Pharaoh and Samoan Warrior Makua). but we haven’t seen any of these guys on the TV show in at least six weeks. But maybe that will change with today’s show! Let’s go down to ringside!
The opening credits have added a few names but they flip by too fast for me to read them and speaking of new names, we get two new competitors in our debut match.
Hussein Ali (with Jose Chico) Vs Danny Inferno
Hussein Ali is a big bald black dude doing a Muslim gimmick presumably. Inferno is a middle aged dude wearing a too small singlet. A quick Google search shows he was NWA On Fire Champion back in the Fall of ’08/Winter of ’09. This was before I started watching but for the company’s sake, I hope he’s just let himself go since then. Ali stalls and jabbers with the fans. Inferno gets fed up with him and takes him down with some sloppy chops. This match moves at a glacial pace. Ali’s manager, who bears a passing resemblance to a younger Ozzie Guillen, wears those stupid pleather pants with flames on them that were popular in the early ’00s and a shirt that advertises Viagra on the front and says “Mae Young, Please Call Me” on the back Ali and Inferno slowly brawl into the crowd. Back in. Literally every move in this match is a punch, kick, a chop or a clothesline. Well, just as I type that, Ali hits a snapmare and a fat dude splash. We get a resthold spot. Great. Inferno slowly makes a comeback. Both guys are incredibly blown up. Ali misses a flying elbow drop and Inferno finishes him with a running knee to the side of the head. Yuck. D- Why they gave that match 10+ minutes, I will never know. Both of them got blown up three minutes in. The less said about this, the better.
And in a rare transition for Wrestling On Fire, we transition into our second match right after commercial.
Bill Carr (with Smith James) Vs El Leon Apollo
Carr and James are a pair of heel cowboys. Apollo is making his first appearance in Wrestling On Fire in at least a year and a half. Apollo’s lost a decent amount of weight and looks the best he has since his last TNA run. The announcers point out that Carr was in WWE Development for a few years. I’m not sure why they acknowledge his history in other promotions but not Apollo’s. There’s a female ref which even in this day and age still seems a bit odd. Apollo overpowers Carr and Carr stalls. Carr conspires with his tag team partner and sits in the crowd. Apollo throws Carr around some more and nails Carr with a German Suplex for two. Apollo’s working at half pace and the announcers subtly point out by saying stuff like “Apollo’s really measuring his moves and being methodical”. Heel tomfoolery leads to the heat segment. If Carr had stayed with WWE Development a few more years, he could have been in Bray Wyatt’s family instead of this show. Oh well. Apollo makes the fiery babyface comeback. James distracts the referee and Carr nails Apollo with his cowbell to get the win. A second referee comes out to tell the first ref of the heel chicanery. Pfft. Women. The match is restarted. Carr tries to hit Apollo with the cowbell again but accidentally nails his own partner and Apollo finishes him with a Fireman’s Carry Cutter. I’m not sure why they went with a Dusty Finish for Apollo’s big comeback match to reestablish him as the #1 babyface in the promotion. Certainly not how I would have booked it. After the match, a bunch of kids at ringside run up to Apollo for a hug. D’awww! C-. Apollo, despite the improved appearance, was clearly going through the motions as he has for pretty much every match I’ve seen him do for NWA/Wrestling On Fire. I can’t give much of an assessment for Carr and James as they weren’t given a whole hell of a lot to work with but I’m intrigued to see more of them. The reason I don’t give this match a lower rating was because outside of the finish, the match was decently laid out, which is something both guys must have learned in the big leagues (or developmental territory to the big leagues).
Final Rundown: Well, the best thing I can say about this week’s show is the focus was on the in-ring action, which is good. The bad part is both matches sucked. I’m not sure how I feel about the return of Apollo and him immediately being catapulted into Wrestling On Fire Championship on contention. On one hand, there is literally not one other viable contender that could feasibly challenge Brian Fury, a fact that Wrestling On Fire points out and kind of makes fun of themselves for that fact. And even though Apollo was never a great worker even in his prime, he has some semblance of star presence which is something a very, very small handful of workers in the company’s history have possessed. Another positive is that since the promotion almost runs exclusively in New Jersey these days (outside of a small handful of shows on the fair circuit in Maine later this summer), it’s probably a smart idea to have a Puerto Rican star as your #1 babyface.
On the other hand, Apollo was never a great worker even in his prime and this is ten years later. As I pointed out earlier, he’s clearly never been psyched to be there and I presume is only there out of some loyalty to the Savoldis (who had a controversial stint running IWA Puerto Rico in the mid ’00s). On the other hand, I can’t think of any other alternate options for top babyface. Julian Starr and Makua have jobbed too many times and Ricky Reyes seems like he’ll be tied up with the TV Title scene and everybody else is too green and/or not over/good enough. I’ll give credit to Apollo for getting into good shape for his comeback. I hope he gets the same motivation he had to get back in shape to have decent matches.
That’s it for this week’s show! Join me next week as we roll closer and closer to Wrestling On Fire’s next big super
shitshow on the 15th!