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DVD Review: AAW, "Windy City Classic II" (11-25-06): Black vs. Brave, no-rope barbed wire

Apr 25, 2007 - 1:26:00 PM

By Chris Vetter, Torch Contributor

AAW in suburban Chicago has really picked up steam in the past year, and they can certain boast about being one of the top wrestling companies in the Midwest. The promotion runs in a bar in Berwyn, Ill., (the same venue as Shimmer Women’s Athletes) that seats about 200 people, and in recent months, AAW has repeatedly packed the place for its shows.

This is a review of “Windy City Classic II,” held on Nov. 25, 2006. The crowd is large and HOT. Like the Shimmer DVDs, the lighting is good in the ring, but too dark when wrestlers brawl to the floor. The red canvas looks sharp and new. Multiple cameras were used to record this show. Two men provide commentary during the show – one is “Billy Whack,” the other never introduces himself, which I found a bit unprofessional.

I have attended one AAW show live, in August 2006. What really strikes me about this promotion is that the shows have a “Monday Night Raw” vibe to them. A screen (titantron!) above the ramp to the back plays clips of video shot earlier in the day. This promotion does a very good job with stressing storylines. What they lack in top-notch wrestling, they make up for in angles.

* The DVD opened with a highlight package of action from previous AAW shows.

* CEO Billy Whack (one of the commentators) opened the show in the ring, telling fans that Tracy Smothers and Eric Priest were unable to attend the show. Wow, this building looks great with a legit 200 fans crammed in it! Danny Daniels came to the ring and he demanded that Egotistico Fantastico face him, RIGHT NOW!

(1) Egotistico Fantastico defeats Danny Daniels at 10:22.
Very good match, and a great way to start the show. Ego, at about 6’3” and a great physique, is really over, and this was his final AAW match before heading to OVW. He wears a goofy mask, and he has a similar gimmick to El Generico’s “generic luchador.” Daniels is bald really short, at perhaps 5’6,” but they matched up well. Daniels had a short stint in ROH in 2004. The match began with Daniels attacking Ego and hitting a back suplex. Ego came back with a clothesline and a dropkick, and Daniels bailed. Ego followed him to the floor, and he flipped Daniels into the crowd, but it was a bit darker and hard to see.

Ego leapt over the guardrail, nailing a crossbody block on Daniels! Back in the ring, Ego hit some punches. Daniels hit a sitdown powerbomb at 3:00, then he hit a doublestomp & senton combo. Fans rallied for Ego. As Daniels dominated with stiff forearm shots, the announcers talked about Jimmy Jacobs appearing here a year ago and throwing the IWA Mid-South title in the trashcan. Ego hit an Angle Slam, and they were both down. Ego hit a nice springboard dropkick for a nearfall at 6:00. Daniels hit a neckbreaker across the top rope! OUCH!

Ego fired back with a jump-up Rana for a nearfall, but he missed a moonsault. Daniels nailed a spike piledriver for a believable nearfall! Ego hit the “Ego Driver”/reverse Tombstone Piledriver for a believable nearfall at 8:30. They fought in the corner, and Daniels hit a top-rope flip piledriver/Canadian Destroyer! Fans chanted, “Holy sh!t!” Both men were down. Ego somehow got a small package rollup for the pin, and the crowd popped for the finish.

* Danny Daniels got on the mic and wished Ego good luck in the WWE. They shook hands. Daniels left. Out of nowhere, Chandler McClure & Machine (w/heel manager Jim Jesus) jumped Ego and beat him up.

* In a backstage promo, interviewer Russell Stanley asked Darryck St. Holmes who would be the fifth member of his team. Jason Dukes walked up and interrupted the interview. Dukes said he wasn’t booked on the show, and he needed to borrow some gas money to get home. St. Holmes told Dukes to join his team. Silly promo, but I like the effort.

* In another quick promo, Jayson Reign went into the “face” locker room to search for a fifth member, but the only person there was a skinny kid named “Krotch.” Reign grabbed him anyway.

(2) Trik Davis (w/Dave Prazak) defeats Chad Collyer at 10:02.
Solid match. Dave Prazak is in full heel manager mode, and he said he had confidence in Trik, and he found a handpicked opponent for him. The commentary team assumed that it would be a pushover, so they were surprised when Collyer came out! Collyer has traveled quite a bit, had a long run in ROH, and he is much, much thicker and better built than Trik. Collyer tied up Trik’s left arm early, as the announcers talked about how confused they were with this pick for a “handpicked opponent.” Collyer whipped Trik across the ring by his arm.

Collyer hit some loud chops, a shoulder tackle, and a dropkick that sent Trik to the floor. Trik grabbed Collyer’s arm and yanked it hard over the top rope. Collyer kicked out Trik’s left leg, and he began to work over the limb. Trik shoved Collyer shoulder-first into the ring post at 4:30. They traded chops, and Trik slammed Collyer’s left hand on the mat. Prazak cheated and attacked Collyer’s left arm. The announcers boasted that AAW is “the fastest growing company in the Midwest,” and that’s what brought a wrestler of Collyer’s caliber here.

Collyer hit a flapjack at 8:00, then a leg lariat, some chops and European Uppercuts. Collyer hit a powerslam for a nearfall, but he really sold his left arm injury. Collyer got a backslide for another nearfall. Collyer went for a sunset flip, but Trik blocked it, sat down, grabbed Prazak’s hands for leverage, and Trik scored the cheap pin. Solid match, but nothing flashy either, which is usually my opinion of Collyer’s stuff.

* Bryce Benjamin, a short black wrestler, walked up to ring announcer & heel manager Joey Eastman backstage. (In AAW, Eastman also plays a gay character named Lucas). Bryce addressed Eastman as “Lucas.” Eastman seemed confused by Bryce calling him that. It appears they are setting up Eastman as having a split personality, in which he doesn’t realize he also is Lucas. This could be fun…

(3) Chandler McClure & Darryk St. Holmes & Jason Dukes & Zero & Michael “the Machine” Prater (w/Jim Jesus) defeat Jayson Reign & Havok & Tyme Paige & Charlie Manson Jr. & Krotch in a 10-man elimination tag match at 17:23.
This is the “everyone here needs to get on the show” match, as there are some guys in this match that just aren’t all that good. Wow, Krotch is REALLY skinny, and the announcers joked that he’s “built like Kate Moss.”

Havok, a blonde kid in a black singlet, started against Jason Dukes, who is a chunky heel, and Dukes usually draws great heat, especially when he starts to play with his man-boobs. Zero, a tall bald guy (I’ve seen him wrestle as Cowboy Jay Ryan in Green Bay), nailed a clothesline on Havok to pin him at 2:24! Wow, that was quick! Manson entered and hit some quick armdrags and a hurricanrana on St. Holmes. St. Holmes came back with some European Uppercuts. Prater – who must be a legit 350 pounds or more, nailed a splash on the diminutive Manson to pin him at 3:54. Two of the faces are already gone!

Paige, who wore silver pants, entered and tried to move the big Prater, but Prater wouldn’t budge. Prater nailed a Spinebuster on Paige at 6:00. Dukes entered and he hit an Earthquake splash on Paige, then he hit a Lungblower out of the corner. Dukes pulled down the top of his singlet so he could play with his man-boobs, and he hit some punches, and he strutted around the ring. Out of nowhere, Paige was able to hit a 450 Splash to pin Dukes at 9:00 even! Dukes was livid, and he tripped Paige, allowing St. Holmes to roll up Paige and pin him at 9:29!

Zero faced off against Krotch, and Zero easily tossed Krotch around. Krotch somehow got a rollup to pin Zero at 12:48! Zero jumped to his feet, and he nailed a decapitating clothesline on Krotch! Chandler McClure tagged in, and he pinned Krotch at 13:00 even! It was now three heels vs. one face, Jayson Reign, who hadn’t even been in the match yet! St. Holmes hit a bulldog for a nearfall. Reign is in decent shape, and he’s bald with blue trunks. Reign hit his “Reigndrop”/spinning neckbreaker to pin St. Holmes at 14:24!

Machine Prater hit a back suplex on Reign. However, Reign hit the Reigndrop on Prater to pin him at 15:57! Now it was down to just Reign vs. McClure! McClure wore ugly yellow trunks today. Chandler hit a brainbuster for a believable nearfall, and the crowd rallied for Reign. Reign again hit his Reigndrop, but McClure was in the ropes. McClure hit a low blow, then the “Touchdown”/inverted Bubba Bomb for the pin. Solid, but a bit messy, and my least favorite match of the show.

* Jim Jesus boasted that McClure “wrestled 17 minutes without breaking a sweat.” The commentary team quickly pointed out that McClure was barely in the match! Jim Jesus made an open challenge. Out of the back came… Jerry Lynn! Lynn noted that he has a title shot coming up, and he was willing to put his title shot on the line against McClure!

(4) Jerry Lynn defeats Chandler McClure (w/Jim Jesus) at 8:07.
Lynn wore his blue pants, and he got a great pop. They traded solid mat holds and armbars, and Lynn hit some kneedrops on the arm, then he hit a deep armdrag. The crowd was all over McClure! Lynn hit a crossbody block and he snapped McClure’s arm over Lynn’s shoulder, and Chandler bailed to the floor, clutching his arm in pain. Chandler hit a baseball slide dropkick, and Lynn crashed into the guardrail at 4:00. In the ring, Lynn hit a Crucifix Takedown, then he hit a Divorce Court armbreaker!

McClure came back with a swinging neckbreaker, and he tossed Lynn to the floor. Jesus kicked Lynn outside the ring. McClure slammed Lynn’s back into the guardrail. Jesus choked Lynn in the ropes. Basic stuff, but it drew good heat. In the ring, Lynn hit a basement dropkick on the leg, and McClure crashed in the corner at 7:00. Lynn hit a backbody drop, and he went for a Tornado DDT, but McClure blocked it. Lynn hit an enziguri, but McClure accidentally struck the referee, and the ref went down! Chandler accidentally collided with Jesus, and Jesus crashed to the floor. This allowed Lynn to hit the Cradle Piledriver to score the pin. Solid match, aided by a hot crowd.

* Jimmy Jacobs cut a backstage promo, saying he just got back from spending two weeks in Los Angeles (he was taping the Wrestling Society X shows), and he has the night off to kick back and relax. I’m genuinely surprised we didn’t see him later on in the show.

* In another vignette, Billy Whack was at his desk backstage, and he congratulated “Venom” Keith Walker and Egotistico Fantastico for getting WWE contracts. Whack said he has a problem with wrestlers hitting referees, particularly Skullkrusher, who was left off this show. Kevin Harvey appeared, and he asked to be a referee. In a humorous moment, Harvey pulled out his resume to show to Whack, but the sheet of paper is CLEARLY the flyer for the show. Whack agrees to allow Harvey to ref the next match.

(5) Ace Steel vs. Silas Young went to a 15-minute draw at 14:19.
Harvey wore a blue shirt & bowtie, and the announcers joked that he looked like a referee from an earlier era. Silas has long blonde hair and a great physique, and he’s had matches with everyone from Matt Sydal, AJ Styles, Samoa Joe and Chris Sabin to TNA squash matches with Monty Brown and Lance Hoyt. Needless to say, I’m a Silas fan. Ace ran to the ring, acting absolutely crazy! “Every time I see him, it’s like he loses more and more marbles,” a commentator said.

Ace hit a shoulder tackle, but he couldn’t hit the Widow’s Peak neckbreaker. Silas hit a Finlay Roll, but he couldn’t hit the Arabian Press. Ace went for a Tornado DDT, but Silas blocked it. Silas also avoided a senton splash, and they had a standoff at 3:30. I really liked how they avoided each other’s big spots early on! Silas hit a second-rope twisting crossbody block for a nearfall. Ace hit a loud chop that leveled Silas, and he bit Young’s forehead at 6:30! Silas fired back with his own chops, and he hit a kick to the chest for a nearfall. Silas applied a chinlock, and the crowd rallied for Ace. Wow, the crowd was loud and split. Ace nailed a decapitating clothesline for a nearfall at 8:30.

The announcers questioned where Harvey came from, and why he’s here in AAW. Ace hit some stomps and he was in charge. Ace slammed Silas’ head repeatedly in the corner, so Silas did the same back. Silas hit a nice dropkick and a clothesline, and he was fired up, and he hit a powerslam for a nearfall at 11:00. Silas hit a German Suplex for a nearfall. Ace came back with a running dropkick to the face as Silas went for a headstand in the corner! Ace hit a second-rope superplex, and they were both down. It was announced that only one minute was remaining in the match! Ace hit a short-arm clothesline for a nearfall and a swinging neckbreaker for a nearfall, then a sitdown piledriver for another nearfall. Silas got a rollup for a nearfall as the bell sounded, and we had a draw. Good match.

* Ace Steel was upset at referee Harvey, and he grabbed the ref by the shirt! Kevin bailed and RAN to the back, looking absolutely terrified of Ace!

* Tyler Black (w/Jim Jesus) cut a promo, saying he would destroy Marek Brave later. “Tonight is the end of the feud, and the end of your life, Black said. Black walked away. Marek Brave jumped out of nowhere and hit Jim Jesus with a chair!

* DVD 1 ends at 1 hour, 31 minutes.

(6) Zach Gowen & Ryan Boz & Dan Lawrence defeat Eddie Venom & Truth Martini & N8 Mattson (the Michigan Invasion) in a street fight at 16:50.
All six men came to the ring wearing bluejeans, stressing this was a “street fight” and not a match, but it made it somewhat hard for me to keep all six men apart! Gowen’s team are the faces, and the Michigan Invasion are the heels. Zach used his prosthetic leg to hit Eddie Venom! All six fought on the floor, and the crowd was enjoying this brawling. Zach slammed a chair on Eddie’s head. “This is just insanity,” one commentator said. In the ring, Truth Martini hit a hard clothesline on the smaller Lawrence at 3:30. The announcers noted that Lawrence, in his bluejeans & outfit, looked like ECW-era Spike Dudley tonight.

Someone gave Zach Gowen a suplex on the floor! The crowd was hot. Zach hit a dropkick on N8 Mattson in the ring at 6:00, and he tossed a chair at Mattson’s face, then he hit a NICE catapult basement dropkick to Mattson’s chest in the corner! Martini grabbed the ring bell, and he rang it over someone’s face! A stop sign was being used in the ring to beat up an opponent. Boz choked out Eddie Venom. Zach hit a plancha on Martini! Mattson took his belt off, and he whipped Boz with it in the ring at 8:00! Lawrence hit a dropkick on Eddie Venom, sending Eddie into a ladder in the corner of the ring.

Martini hit a hurricanrana, sending Boz into the ladder, for a nearfall, but Lawrence made the save. The faces dropped the ladder on Martini’s groin! Mattson tied Zach up on the guardrail at 12:00. In the ring, Eddie Venom gave Lawrence a chokeslam across two open chairs! “Dan Lawrence is dead!,” one commentator screamed. Boz made the save. Mattson hit a Doomsday Clothesline on Boz for a nearfall, but Gowen made the save! Martini accidentally hit Mattson. Zach nailed a Stunner on Martini. Venom gave Zach a chokeslam powerbomb at 15:00.

A table was brought into the ring. Eddie Venom set Zach on the table, and Venom went for a senton, but Gowen moved, and Eddie crashed through the table. Gowen then hit his top-rope moonsault onto a ladder, which was lying on Venom’s chest, and Gowen pinned Venom. Good, above-average brawl. “What a war!,” a commentator said. The faces drank beer and celebrated with the crowd.

* Joey Eastman walked to the ring, wearing a pink suit coat. He talked about Jimmy Jacobs appearing at the first “Windy City Classic” a year ago, and what it meant to AAW. Eastman proclaimed he would bring Bryce Benjamin to the top of AAW.

* A video aired of Tyler Black pinning Eric Priest to win the AAW title. (I wish the clip had stated when this happened. I found out later it occurred in March 2006). Black celebrated the win, and his partner, Marek Brave hopped in the ring. Black said now that he has the belt, “I don’t need you anymore,” and he attacked Marek Brave!

* Many, MANY clips and promos of the feud between Black and Brave aired, showing fans – like me – who haven’t watched this feud develop see how it has played out. I can’t say enough about how AWESOME and well done this video package was done. “Champions don’t bleed their own blood,” Black said in one promo. In other footage, Black ran barbed wire through Marek’s mouth in the ring.

(7) Marek Brave defeats Tyler Black in a no-rope barbed wire match at 30:39.
Very good match, and while I usually don’t like “death matches,” this one was perfectly acceptable to me, as it was the end of the feud. Both men wore bluejeans, with Marek in a white T-shirt, and Marek in a black T-shirt. They had an intense staredown as fans chanted, “Please don’t die!” NO COMMENTARY for this final match, as they let the action “speak for itself.” They immediately started trading punches, first on their feet, then as they rolled around on the mat. Both men tried to push their opponent into the barbed wire. Marek hit a dropkick, and Tyler bailed. Marek dove OVER the barbed-wire ropes and crashed onto Black at 2:00!

They brawled on the floor. In the ring, Tyler hit a low blow uppercut at 4:00, and the crowd booed him. Marek hit a drop-toe-hold, and Tyler crashed into the barbed wire! Tyler was quickly bleeding. Marek hit a back suplex at 7:00 and a low blow elbow drop. Marek’s white T-shirt had some blood stains already. Marek went to the back, and he got a barbed-wire board!! They fought on the floor away from the cameras. In the ring, Tyler hit a flying boot, sending Marek into the barbed-wire ropes, and Marek went over them and crashed HARD on the floor at 11:00! Fans chanted, “Holy sh!t!,” as the referee checked Marek to make sure he was ok.

Black beat up Marek on the floor as he jawed with fans. In the ring, Tyler hit a short-arm clothesline. Wow, the fans were HOT and SPLIT between these two! Tyler Black got the wire cutters, and he jabbed Marek’s forehead with it at 15:00! That’s just SICK! Tyler cut pieces of wire from the ropes and made a crown of thorns to put on Marek’s head, and to run through his mouth! Tyler ripped Marek’s T-shirt off and whipped his back with the wire at 17:00 to get a nearfall. Tyler grabbed the barbed-wire board, and he made a bridge with it between the ring apron and the guardrail.

Marek fired up and hit some punches, as fans chanted, “AAW!” Tyler tried to toss Marek on the barbed-wire board, but Marek avoided it. Marek hit a Northern Lights Suplex for a nearfall at 21:00, and he got the wire cutters, and he jabbed Tyler with them. Fans chanted, “One more time!” Marek now ripped off Tyler’s T-shirt, and he whipped Tyler’s back with the wire. Marek nailed a chairshot to the head for a nearfall at 25:00. Tyler fired back by hitting a suplex onto an open chair for a believable nearfall! Fans chanted, “Holy sh!t!” then they changed to “You can’t win!”

Marek hit a superkick for a nearfall. Black hit a Small Package Driver for a believable nearfall. Marek hit a powerbomb onto the barbed-wire board outside the ring!!! OUCH! The referee had to grab the wire cutters to cut the wires out of Black’s hair! Tyler’s back was quite bloody from the wires. Marek rolled Tyler into the ring, covered him, and scored the pin to win the AAW title! Fans chanted, “Marek!,” and he celebrated with the belt.

* Backstage, Marek cut a promo, with blood still visible on is body. He said he lost his girlfriend, job and apartment, because he was so obsessed with getting revenge on Black for turning on him in March.

* Tyler Black also cut a promo, saying he will get his title back. “I left my heart and blood out there in the ring,” Black said.

* DVD 2 runs 1 hour, 7 minutes.

Final thoughts:

The main event was hands-down the best of the show. Black and Brave worked some great spots in, and they had a good wrestling match within the hardcore match. I generally don’t like ‘death matches,’ particularly ones where there is “no issue” between the two men. (In a recent IWA Mid-South DVD review, I saw Brandon Prophet vs. Corp. Robinson in a death match. This wasn’t even the scheduled match a few weeks earlier! Why were these guys in a death match against each other to START a feud?) Here, on this show, the no-rope barbed wire match made perfect sense, because it was the buildup, the culmination, of an 8-month feud. Thus, I have no problem with this violence.

Silas vs. Ace Steel was a sharp, sharp mat battle, and despite the no-finish, it stood out as second-best match here. The very good opener between Danny Daniels and Egotistico Fantastico earned third best. I really think Ego could turn heads in WWE if given a chance. The six-man street fight topped all expectations, as a hot crowd made a fairly standard brawl seem even better than it was.

Going back to commentary – the two guys they had to commentary were adequate, but they have Dave Prazak in the building and don’t put him on commentary? Why not? Prazak is one of the best play-by-play men out there, and he could really help get over the action and storylines. To me, this is a wasted opportunity.

The 10-man tag allowed a bunch of guys on the show, but I could have skipped seeing Havok, Krotch, Dukes and Paige. Zero is tall and muscular, and he was underused in that match.

This DVD gets a thumbs up, and it can be purchased at or for $15.

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