Welcome everybody to the first Wrestling On Fire recap of 2014! I hope everybody had a blessed holiday season and hope everyone’s year is off to a great start. And after a year where this promotion changed its name three times in six months, it’s not too much of a surprise that WOF starts off 2014 by switching up its credits a tiny bit. Visually, it’s similar enough but they’ve added ECPW names (Dan De Man, Jumbo Joe Gunns, Bandido and Frankie Flow, Matt MacIntosh) and subtracted the old, now departed NWA On Fire dudes (Brian Fury, Apollo, Da House Party). This is a long overdue revision. Though the new Rob Zombie knockoff they’re now using for a theme almost negates whatever goodwill I’ve built up towards the company with the new credits.
To start off 2014, we get a 2013 Year in a Review. We start off with a look back at a battle last fall between two of WOF’s wackos, Buzz Bloodsaw and Kai Katana. In addition to being a battle of eccentrics, this was a battle between probably two of the biggest stars to emerge from NWA/Wrestling On Fire’s showcase matches. IE guys that we saw in Wrestling On Fire more than once or twice.
Kai Katana Vs Buzz Bloodsaw
Both of these guys are products of Wrestling On Fire Showcase matches they have occasionally on this show. In case you’ve forgotten (which I sort of have), Katana has an evil Asian dude gimmick and Bloodsaw is crazy but lovably so. More Ultimate Warrior than Bruiser Brody. Bloodsaw does a comedy spot where he inspects the referee. I’ve got to say the crowds at the Parsippany PAL aren’t huge (and have gotten smaller since they’ve started taping there regular) but they really, really love their Wrestling On Fire rasslin. The kids in the crowd react to Bloodsaw like he’s a combination of John Cena and Batman. Bloodsaw high fives the middle aged dudes in the front row who always chant things at the Parsippany shows and Reedy mentions one of them is Bloodsaw’s dad. Maybe that’s why he’s so over. This is a clash of two unorthodox wrestlers…which the announcers point out every three seconds. Katana goes over with a moonsault. Both guys are green as hell but definitely showed some flashes of potential and it definitely helps that the hometown crowd was willing to overlook any shortcomings (and the fact that the match was a touch too long). Back Then…I have the match a C. Watching it a second time, I enjoyed the match a little bit more. I obviously grade these on somewhat of a curve and this match is definitely not a WOF C. Yeah, it’s sloppy as hell but it’s got some energy and a few neat spots. I’ll bump it up to a B- This match made me miss the relatively competent commentary team of Ray Ray Marz and Babyface Ken Reedy. I get a chuckle out of them putting over Kai Katana as a great wrestler “despite him looking like the dummy in the Saw series”
For some reason, we get an outdated “Book WOF for your Local Fair” ad. A lot of the guys in the ad are not only not in the company but haven’t been in the company for well over a year. And it’s not even the “Book WOF for your local fair” ad that’s set to “Firework”
Next we go back to this summer with a triple threat match for the ECPW TV Title.
ECPW TV Title Match: Crazy Ivan (c) Vs Bandido Jr Vs Matt McIntosh
We’re in New Jersey again this week. Ken Reedy is “on vacation” so Charlie Savoldi is filling in. Man, how many Savoldis are there? Crazy Ivan is a guy in a prison jumpsuit who is “wacky” while Matt McIntosh is Irish. They actually have graphics with the guys’ name this week which makes my life a lot easier. They do what I think is kind of an “indy wrestling” faux pas by showing a closeup of the chintzy looking title. Hey, we’re only halfway through the show and we’ve seen the Wrestling On Fire On Tour ads three times so my prediction might be on the money. The ad prominently features the high pitched squeal of a handicapped Wrestling On Fire superfan that we’ve seen before which is not too fun to hear over and over again after a beer and whiskey fueled night. Don’t drink alcohol, kiddos.
This match is alright. McIntosh is kind of sloppy but Bandido (who we saw a month or so back) is promising and Crazy Ivan does a pretty good job with a sort of cliched gimmick. Pretty rote, meat and potatoes formula with Ivan throwing around the smaller guys and McIntosh and Bandio trying to comeback with double teams but being conflicted over who gets the pin. Crazy Ivan whacks Bandido in the cojones and rolls him up for the win. McIntosh dropkicks Ivan out of the ring but Ivan no-sells it and yells at some kids at ringside. The security guards for this show are wearing BWO shirts for some reason, which rules. As I said, this match was perfectly fine. I got a kick out of Ivan’s frantic mugging and as I noted, they didn’t try to do anything too crazy and kept it fairly basic. Back then I gave it a B- and right now I’d say probably the same. Maybe slightly less but I’ve really grown to appreciate Crazy Ivan’s gimmick. He makes a fairly rote gimmick interesting.
We close out the show with a match that was skipped over on the Maine version of the show, a Wrestling On Fire TV Title match between Scotty Slade and Ricky Reyes.
WOF TV Championship Match: Scotty Slade (c) Vs Ricky Reyes
We’re joined in progress, seemingly towards the end of the match as Reyes is laying down a beating on Scotty Slade. Reyes is a former ROH Tag Team Champion and Slade’s done a few jobs for WWE in the past year or two. Most notably appearing as Willard Fillmore in a handicap match with his partner Rutherford B. Hayes in a handicap match against Ryback in one of the ‘back’s early matches . A moment I’m sure you’ll never forget. Probably two of the more capable workers in the company at the time. Reyes wins with a funky looking Crossface attempt into a Cradle. From the four or five minutes, we saw this match looked pretty damn good. Slade pouts and refuses to give up the belt for a bit before he hands over the belt and raises Reyes’ hand in victory. Reyes responds by pummeling Slade and sending him out of the ring. This was I’m 99.9% sure Slade’s last appearance in the company and what a weird one. I guess this was Reyes’ revenge for Slade weaseling his way to victory in earlier matches. The post-match beatdown seems wildly unnecessary especially since Slade ostensibly turned babyface. Just a really weird way to send a guy out that seemed designed to send Slade (have him get pinned in flukey fashion, have him pout but ultimately be conciliatory towards the new guy then he gets beat up anyway) out on an awkward note. Anyway, backassward booking of the post match, the match itself from the few minutes we saw looked to be one of the best if not the best of the year in the company. Ultimately, I didn’t see enough of it to definitively make that claim but what I saw was really good for this show. B+
So ends WOF’s look back on ’13! It was an interesting year for the company and this look back reinvigorated me and now has me looking forward to just what the hell might happen to the company in 2014! We’ll back next week with the first, all new edition of Wrestling On Fire of 2014! I hope you enjoyed having me back! Have a safe, happy healthy week and remember to never feed your dogs chocolate.