The Rust Belt Report: Absolute Intense Wrestling in Cleveland, Ohio (April 26, 2013)

This is the second report of what will hopefully be a series on live events in the Northern Ohio and Central Pennsylvania region. Absolute Intense Wrestling runs shows every month on the west side of Cleveland, and films them for release through Smart Mark Video. The show was held at Turner’s Hall and entitled “Damn It Feels Good to be a Gangster.” Every match on the card was fans bring the weapons, with no disqualifications and no count outs.

A word on match ratings, I’m a really easy grader. I rate matches on a B average curve. If it entertains me enough to not regret going to the show it gets a B, if I really like it, it gets an A. If I give it a grade lower than a C, it was actively terrible. I don’t rate on objective match quality, I rate on entertainment value. (For example, I would rate the Hart/Michaels Iron Man match a C+ at best.) I just want to be entertained, nothing more, nothing less. In addition, I’m an unabashed AIW fan boy so I make no claims at being completely objective.

I have to go on one minor rant before I get into the show review. Who the hell brings their young kids to these shows? AIW is not a family friendly show but every month there’s a handful of kids (generally the same ones) in the audience. The wrestlers and the fans are generally profane and there’s at least one garbage match every show, generally with a wrestler blading. I’m not a parent but there’s no way in hell that I would bring my five or six year old to one of these shows. I know Hoodslam puts a disclaimer like “don’t bring your fucking kids” on their posters, and I wish AIW would do the same.

Anyway… the show started 23 minutes later than scheduled which is really not too bad for an indie show. The entrance-way was set-up with two tables full of weapons that the fans had brought in.  

Match #1: The Submission Squad (Pierre Abernathy & Evan Gelistico) defeated The Jolly-ville Fuck Its (Russ Meyers & T-Money) in approximately six minutes. 

Abernathy and Gelistico has worked a lot of different indies across the country. Meyers has been wrestling in the Ohio area independents for years. T-Money is a ten year veteran. There was some solid brawling in this match. Abernathy grabbed a mic in the middle of the match to “rap.” Gelistico was in a walking cast so the Fuck-Its targeted the injured foot. The best spot of the match was an atomic drop onto one of those plastic yard geese.  Solid, high energy opener. Grade: B+

Match #2: Louis Lyndon defeated “Spitfire” Davey Vega, Gary Jay and ACH in a Scramble Match in approximately fifteen minutes.

Lyndon is Flip Kendrick’s brother and also works across town in Prime Wrestling.  Vega was trained by Mike Quackenbush and largely looks like a guy that would work in a comic book store. Gary Jay is a very skinny man who has worked in Beyond Wrestling. ACH has quite a bit of buzz surrounding him right now and has been working in RoH. All four are talented workers.

This was a really entertaining match that started with some Memphis style stalling, progressed into a bit of a comedy match, and ended as a spot fest. Some really cool spots, like a back body drop onto the ring apron. At one point, ACH took a couple foam pool noodles from the fan-provided weapons area and ran in and cleared the ring with them. ACH also hit a corkscrew plancha onto the three and got some serious airtime on it. Later on, Lyndon took a hurricanrana and landed on his feet, which was something I had never seen before. Lyndon ended up getting the win with a low blow, and a handful of tights both of which were legal under the rules of the night. Grade: A


Match #3: Hope and Change (Gregory Iron & Veda Scott) defeated The Batiri (Obariyon & Kodama) in approximately seven minutes to retain the AIW Tag Team Championship.

Gregory Iron is the “Handicapped Hero” and overcame cerebral palsy to become a wrestler. He’s one of my favorite performers in the indie wrestling scene. He was given a shout-out by CM Punk last year, and ran with it. His t-shirt is a take-off of Punk’s “Best in the World” shirt and says “Best Disabled Wrestler in the World.”

Veda Scott has only been wrestling a couple of years but you couldn’t tell from her performances. She is a graduate of the Drexel School of Law, and was PWI’s Rookie of the Year last year. She’s been working in SHIMMER and is a ringside interviewer for RoH.  

The Batiri are an active tag team in CHIKARA and do a satanic gimmick. The Batiri are also super short as are both members of Hope and Change. I think I may have had four or five inches on everyone in the match, and I’m only 6’1”.  

Hope and Change are the heels here, and it’s really a testament to their talent that a handicap man and a petite woman are over as heels. The two teams have been feuding for a few months. Part of their schtick is that Veda sued AIW on behalf of Iron for workplace discrimination and as a result it takes a four count to beat him rather than a three count.

During the match, the Batiri poured bacon bits all over the ring and slammed Veda headfirst into them as she was screaming about being a vegan. One of the Batiri ended up getting a three count on Gregory Iron, but since he gets a four count, Veda was able to roll-up the Batiri from the pinning predicament and get the three count for a relatively clean victory.

After the match, Iron ran to the back with his title, which allowed the Batiri to hit a painful looking double-team maneuver on Veda. So faces being sore losers is something that is not limited to the WWE. Veda ended up getting carried to the back by a ringside official.  Grade: A-   

Match #4: Addy Star defeated “The Work of Art” Jody D’Milo in approximately nine minutes.

Addy Star’s gimmick is that she’s the “All-American Canadian” and gets people to chant USA during her matches. I don’t really get it but she’s fairly over and a good worker. She’s also worked in Beyond Wrestling and Women Superstars Uncensored. Jody D’Milo seems to mainly work shows in Canada.

Lots of slapping in this match, and a few botches. D’Milo was trying hard but the crowd was not being kind to her, so she adapted well and began working a heel style. D’Milo does a lot of power offense and seems a bit green, but I think she has a lot of potential. She was also falling out of her top, so I’m probably going to grade her a little easier than I otherwise would. Addy Star got the pinfall and the two embraced after the match, effectively turning D’Milo back into a face. AIW has a nice women’s division and I’d like to see both of them again. Grade: B

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Match #5: Colin Delaney, Matt Cross, and Josh Prohibition defeated #NIXON (Rickey Shane Page, Bobby Beverly, and Eric Ryan) in approximately twenty minutes in a Six Man Riot Match with Special Guest Referee The Duke

Colin Delaney is best known for his time in the WWE relaunched ECW. He is the current number one contender to the AIW Absolute Division Championship after winning a 30-man Royal Rumble style match last month. His gimmick is essentially that he’s a recovering alcoholic. Matt Cross was on MTV’s Tough Enough and is rocking a Daniel Bryan style beard. Josh Prohibition looks and dresses like Justin Credible. He worked a lot in XPW and CZW about ten years ago.

#NIXON is the dominant heel stable in AIW. Rickey Shane Page is the same stoned, dishwasher looking guy from the Prime Wrestling main event last week. He’s a solid worker who moves around well for a man of his size.  Bobby Beverly also wrestled last week in Prime Wrestling. (As did all three of them, come to think of it.) He has worked in CZW, RoH, and Evolve. Eric Ryan is the AIW Absolute Division champion and has been a CZW Tag Team Champion.

Special Guest Referee The Duke is the storyline half owner of AIW and is affiliated with #NIXON. Eric Ryan comes to the ring with a half-drank bottle of Colt 45 to taunt Colin Delaney. The match begins as a standard six man tag match, with lots of guest referee shenanigans like fast counts for the heels and slow counts for the faces. Matt Cross hit a “single axe handle” off the top and loudly announces it to the crowd in a funny spot.

The match quickly devolved into a pier-six brawl. Lots of the weapons that were brought by the fans came into play. Light bulb tubes, tables, thumb tacks, and more creative things like a bowling ball and jump rope were used. I really couldn’t take notes because the match moved so fast. Just brutal spots all over the place. Rickey Shane Page took the brunt of the damage and did a massive blade job as well. Delaney ended up getting the win after spitting some of the Colt 45 into one of the heels’ face. Grade: A

The next match was one of two “Pick Your Poison” matches. Essentially, BJ Whitmer and Chris Dickinson have been feuding for months and were allowed to pick each other’s opponents. Dickinson come out and cut a solid promo and brought out Michael Elgin to face Whitmer.  

Match #6: BJ Whitmer defeated “Unbreakable” Michael Elgin in approximately eighteen minutes.

BJ Whitmer looks a lot older than his 35 years of age. He’s a longtime veteran of Ring of Honor and is a four-time RoH Tag champion. He’s also worked in CZW, IWA:MS, and did a couple matches in TNA during their early days. Whitmer retired in 2008, but returned in 2011. He is the AIW Intense Division Champion. (I don’t actually know what the difference is between the two divisions). Michael Elgin is a regular with Ring of Honor and has also worked in PWG.

I’m not going to lie, this match was a disappointment. The pacing of the match was really slow, and nearly killed the crowd. I don’t understand why such a slow, deliberate match was after such a wild brawl. At one point Elgin held Whitmer up in vertical suplex position for a 45 count before finishing the move. Sure it was a neat bit, but the entire match seemed to be in slow motion. Finally they picked up the pace a little bit, and there was some cool spots like a German into the turnbuckle. Whitmer won the match with an awesome top rope, T-bone suplex. After the match, Whitmer and Elgin did the “mutual respect” thing and Whitmer cut a really masturbatory promo. Grade: C+


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Match #7: “The Walking Weapon” Josh Alexander defeated “All Ego” Ethan Page in approximately twenty-four minutes.

If you haven’t heard of Josh Alexander, you will soon. He’s worked in CHIKARA and Evolve, and is incredibly talented and works real stiff. Alexander has yet to be pinned in AIW. Ethan Page has also worked in CHIKARA. Last month, Page attacked Alexander and complained about being lost in the “mid-card scuffle.” Both are from Canada. This is a rematch from their match at National Pro Wrestling Day that saw Alexander get the win.

Page was accompanied to the ring by his girlfriend Seleziya Sparx. An ongoing storyline in AIW is that’s he’s awful and abusive to her.  She would get chased to the back by Alexander about half through the match.

This match stole the show. Page got some cool offense in, like a flying Ace Crusher, but was on the receiving end of most of the big spots. Alexander delivered a TKO to Page that saw Page land on an upright guardrail. Alexander followed this up by hitting an insane moonsault from the top rope onto Page who was out of the ring in the crowd. Crazy spot.  Later in the match, Alexander pile drove Page from the top rope into a table. Everything looked stiff as hell. The story of the match was no matter what Alexander did, Page kept coming back.

The finish saw Seleziya Sparx run from the back to the get the match stopped. She didn’t have a towel to throw in so she took off her panties and threw those in instead. The referee then stopped the match at her request.

After the match, Page berates Sparx for having the match ended. He asks her why, and she says she did it because she loves him. Simple, effective story telling. Page then starts choking her and Rock Bottoms her into the mat. He grabs the mic and breaks up with her. Grade: A+  

The main event was the second “Pick Your Poison” match. Whitmer came out and cut another masturbatory promo, about how when Dickinson disrespected him, he disrespected all of wrestling. He introduces Masada as Dickinson’s opponent. 



Match #8: “Death Machine” Chris Dickinson defeated “The Ultraviolent Beast” Masada in approximately fifteen minutes.

Dickinson has also worked in Beyond Wrestling and Full Impact Pro. Masada is the CZW Heavyweight Champion and has toured in Japan. I had no idea how these guys were going to top the last match, and really they couldn’t. No one could. But this was a hard hitting brawl filled with dueling chair shots and cool table spots. I was a bit burnt out by this point, but it was still a good, entertaining match. Grade: A-

Final Verdict

This was the best Absolute Intense Wrestling show I’ve seen and one of the best wrestling shows I’ve ever attended. I’m pretty sure Rickey Shane Page bleed, and died tonight for my pro wrestling sins… When BJ Whitmer vs. Michael Elgin put on a solid match and that’s somehow the least entertaining part of the night, you know the company is doing something right. Elgin vs. Whitmer should have occurred in the first half of the night, and Page vs. Alexander should have closed. But other than match order, I have no real complaints. Buy the DVD, you won’t regret it.  

(All photos courtesy of the author.)


When I'm not watching professional wrestling, I'm a second year law student at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. I previously studied at the University of Southern Indiana, the Universidad de Belgrano in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the Heidelberg Center for Latin America in Santiago, Chile.

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