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DVD Review: IWA-MS, "A Phenomenal Invasion 2" (5-12-07) w/Styles-Tiger Mask, Mercury-Black

Jul 11, 2007 - 9:18:00 AM

By Chris Vetter, Torch Contributor

IWA Mid-South returned to Joliet, Ill., on May 12, 2007. This show is named, “The Phenomenal Invasion 2,” as this weekend marked the return of A.J. Styles, who had not in IWA Mid South since the end of 2004. (He was a last-minute cancellation at the TPI in September 2005).

This is a big basketball court, so ceiling height isn’t an issue. The crowd is perhaps 130 to 170 strong. On commentary is usual play-by-play man Ben Jordan, and he is now joined by Jimmy Jacobs on color commentary. Jacobs is out of action after knee surgery, so this role is a perfect way to keep him involved while recovering.

Smart Mark Video records the IWA shows, with multiple cameras, solid lighting, and on-screen graphics. However, SMV has gotten into a new, annoying habit of showing replays DURING the match, in place of live action. I prefer replay packages at the end of the match. No backstage segments at all on this disc. To the ring!

(1) Joker defeats Gran Akuma at 9:30.
Sharp opener between two up-and-comers. Joker is much thicker than Akuma. They had an intense lockup, then they quickly ran the ropes and traded armdrags, and had a double kip-up and standoff, and the crowd popped. Jordan said this was a first-time-ever match. Akuma worked the left arm. Jacobs repeated the same cliché in a matter of seconds. UGH. Joker hit a loud chop, so Akuma came back with a spin kick to the thigh. Joker hit a kick to the hamstring at 3:30 as Akuma was in the ropes. Joker fired back with a spine kick and a back suplex for a nearfall. Akuma hit a Field Goal kick to the chin, and he worked the left leg, and kicked Joker repeatedly.

Joker hit a Dragonscrew Legwhip, and he twisted Akuma’s left leg. Joker hit a basement dropkick on the knee, and he applied a leglock, but Akuma reached the ropes at 6:30. Joker hit some stiff forearms that leveled Akuma, then he hit a modified uranage and an exploder for a nearfall. Akuma hit a series of right & left kicks to the thighs, then one to the ear for a nearfall. Akuma hit s spin kick to the forehead for a nearfall. Joker applied a cross-armbreaker, then he got a rollup for the pin! A very good, hard-hitting match; Jacobs on commentary said that it could have gone either way. Good way to start this show.

(2) Michael Elgin & Ash (Pretty Unreal) (w/Joey Eastman) defeat Diehard Dustin Lee & OMG (the Naptown Dragons) at 10:16.
Good match. Eastman wore an ugly blue jacket & yellow pants. OMG is short, thin, with stars on his rib cage, and a green mask. Dustin has long, wet brown hair. I’ve seen lots of Elgin & Ash lately; Elgin is thick and looks a lot like Rhino. Ash started against Lee, and Ash hit some chops. Jacobs put over Elgin, calling him “a beast.” Lee hit some quick armdrags, and a running knee in the corner. The Dragons hit a double bulldog. OMG hit a sloppy flip legdrop, and he landed awkwardly on Ash’s head. Pretty Unreal hit a double shoulder tackle at 2:30.

Elgin hit a gutbuster on OMG, then he lifted OMG up and slammed him to the mat. Ash hit a catapult senton for a nearfall. Elgin & Ash made some quick tags. Ash stomped OMG’s face down into the mat! OUCH! Elgin hit some elbow shots to the head. Lee made the hot tag at 5:00, and he hit a leg lariat that had little effect on Elgin. Elgin hit some blows on Lee’s taped-up injured right arm. Jacobs repeatedly said he was surprised Pretty Unreal wasn’t in the upcoming tag tournament. (Someone should have told Jacobs that they lost a qualifying match to Joker & Sabian.) Ash & Elgin continued to work over Lee’s injured right arm. Lee hit an overhead belly-to-belly suplex on Ash and he made the hot tag.

OMG hit dropkicks on both Ash & Elgin. OMG & Lee hit a double dropkick on Elgin, then they pushed Ash to the floor onto Elgin. Lee & OMG hit simultaneous top-rope dives to the floor on Pretty Unreal. (A replay of the dives aired immediately.) OMG hit a Michinoku Driver for a believable nearfall on Ash, but Elgin made the save at 9:30. Elgin hit a clothesline on OMG for a believable nearfall, but Lee made the save. Lee hit a Tornado DDT on Elgin. Ash hit a Superkick on Lee. Ash & Elgin hit their team overhead powerbomb & neckbreaker combo on OMG, and Elgin scored the pin on OMG. Good tag match; it was a bit sloppy early, but it picked up as it moved along.

(3) Jimmy Shalwin defeats Z-Barr at 5:32.
Shalwin wore a blue singlet, and he has a beard and a bit of a belly. Z-Barr is a heel, coming out to “Dress You Up,” by Madonna, and he has curly, floppy hair. Z-Barr got on the mic and talked about how he’s been in the business for 9 years, and he’s upset he doesn’t get any respect. This was a LONG, dull promo, as he professed that he’s a clean wrestler that never cheats. However, Z-Barr tried to sucker punch Shalwin to start the match, and they traded blows. Shalwin hit a powerslam for a believable nearfall, and Z-Barr bailed to the floor.

Shalwin hit some clotheslines and a kick to the head, so Z-Barr bailed again. Jacobs said he started training with Shalwin back in 1999! Z-Barr hit a sloppy missile dropkick at 1:30, then a DDT for a nearfall. Ben Jordan joked that Ian Rotten books Z-Barr because “concession sales spike when Z-Barr is wrestling.” Funny. Z-Barr hit some blows to the back and stomps. He brought a chair in the ring, but rather than swing it, he sat down on it and applied a chinlock. Shalwin hit a drop-toe-hold onto a chair at 4:00, then he hit some jabs and a big splash for a nearfall. Z-Barr couldn’t get Shalwin up for a suplex. Shalwin was fired up, and he hit a chokeslam, then a top-rope moonsault for the pin.

(4) Josh Abercrombie defeats Human Tornado and Billy Roc and Ricochet and CJ Otis (w/Joey Eastman) and Zach McGuire and Jack Thriller in a 7-man elimination match at 15:16.
Messy, chaotic fun. This match started with just Otis vs. Thriller, and Thriller hit a kick to the head. Otis hit an overhead belly-to-belly suplex for a nearfall. They traded chops. Eastman choked Thriller. The announcers admitted they didn’t know the rules of this match. Otis applied a Boston Crab. Ricochet joined the match at 3:00, and at the same time, so did Zach McGuire! (I don’t think I’ve ever seen two simultaneous entrants into a match.) Ricochet hit a missile dropkick.

Zach McGuire hit a doublestomp on Ricochet’s face! Three guys in the ring joined forces to beat up on Ricochet. Thriller screamed at the (legit deaf) Zach McGuire. Lots of sloppy spots in these early minutes. Human Tornado came out to a HUGE pop at 5:30, and he wore his dapper baby blue suit. Tornado hit some stiff forearms, then a Tornado Clothesline in the corner on Zach. Tornado hit his dance kicks on Zach in the corner. Ricochet nailed a low blow kick on Human Tornado, but as normal, Tornado no-sold the low blow (it’s part of his gimmick.) Tornado hit a leg lariat for a nearfall on Ricochet, then he traded forearm shots with Thriller. Ricochet nailed a rolling tumbleweed on Thriller for a nearfall; for whatever reason, Zach made the save. (Which of course, makes no sense in an elimination match.)

Josh Abercrombie joined the match at 7:30, and he immediately traded blows with Tornado. Tornado hit a flip dive to the floor, so Abercrombie also hit a dive, and Jordan squealed in excitement, which apparently annoyed Jacobs. “You really like to yell, don’t you?” Jacobs said to Jordan. FUNNY because it’s TRUE! Ricochet hit a top-rope corkscrew moonsault dive. On the other side of the ring, Zach hit an Asai Moonsault, and fans chanted, “IWA!” Billy Roc was the final man to enter the match, at 9:30, and he hit a top-rope crossbody block. (In an unintentionally funny scene, he seemed to have difficult scaling the turnbuckles before diving.)

They did a big submission spot in the middle of the ring, with Human Tornado applying two separate submission holds! Cool visual. Tornado nailed a spinning enziguri. Ricochet hit a back heel kick. Thriller hit a clothesline on Roc. Human Tornado hit a stomach-first suplex on Thriller to pin him at 12:20. This is where the match became absurd, with many rapid-fire pinfalls. Otis hit a German Suplex to pin Zach McGuire at 12:39. Roc hit a Backflip Driver on Ricochet to pin him at 12:53. Tornado hit a top-rope doublestomp on Roc, as CJ Otis was hitting a Burning Hammer on Roc, and Tornado pinned Roc at 13:23. However, Abercrombie immediately rolled up Otis to pin him at 13:29. YEP, that is five – count them, five – pinfalls in a 69-second span, after no pinfalls in the first 12 minutes of the match. Like I said, absurd.

SO, it was down to just Abercrombie vs. Human Tornado! Josh hit a back suplex for a nearfall. Human Tornado hit a Tornado DDT for a nearfall, and he went for a Swanton Bomb, but Josh got his knees up to block it! Abercrombie then hit the Taliban Backpack/second-rope Lungblower for the pin! This was messy but fun. “Your really like to yell, don’t you?” Jacobs again said to Ben Jordan. Abercrombie and Tornado shook hands, and fans gave this wild, crazy spotfest a standing ovation. While I noted many problems with this match, it was a fun spectacle.

(5) Tiger Mask IV defeats A.J. Styles at 9:56.
A bit surprising that the marquee matchup is in the middle of the show. Tiger Mask IV came to the ring to “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor, and he wore a yellow tiger mask and blue pants. Styles got on the mic and cut down the fans, saying he didn’t need their cheers. Styles tied up the right arm. Tiger Mask IV hit a nice mule kick to the chest, and Styles bailed. Jacobs on commentary put over what a big deal it is to be chosen to be the next Tiger Mask. In the ring, Styles hit a flying kneedrop to the face for a nearfall. Styles hit a dropkick, then a plancha to the floor at 3:00.

Back in the ring, Styles hit a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, then a NICE delayed vertical suplex for a nearfall, and he was in charge. Tiger Mask IV came back with a spin kick to the chest and some right & left kicks at 7:00, then a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and a back suplex. Styles hit the Phenomenon/backflip-into-an-inverted DDT, and the crowd was hot. Styles missed a 450 Splash! Tiger Mask IV hit a top-rope splash, and they were both down. Styles hit a Pele Kick that staggered Tiger Mask; however, Tiger Mask then hit a Pele Kick, and they were both down! Tiger Mask got a Crucifix Takedown for the pin out of nowhere! Good but way too short. The fans gave Tiger Mask a standing ovation.

(6) Joey Mercury defeats Tyler Black at 10:25.
Good match. Black did some heelish posing, and some fans booed him. (Black had always been a face in IWA until losing a loser-leave-town-for-six months match. Mercury came out to the MNM music, wearing his big coat, but as I noted in another recent review, he is entirely BALD. They opened with an intense tie-up and standing reversals. Mercury applied a front chinlock, and Black bailed and was frustrated. Black hit a shoulder tackle, and he mocked the hand single for the Snapshot. Mercury hit a European Uppercut that leveled Black at 3:00.

Mercury hit two short-arm clotheslines. Black hit some blows to the back. They went to the floor, and Black hit some chops outside the ring. In the ring, Black hit a snap suplex for a nearfall, then a basement dropkick to the back for a nearfall at 6:00. Black tied Mercury up in a pretzel on the mat. Mercury came back with a second-rope superplex and some stiff, clubbing forerms! Mercury hit a nice swinging neckbreaker and a nice Northern Lights suplex for a nearfall. Black hit a Mafia Kick and a frogsplash for a believable nearfall at 9:00. Mercury made a jackknife cover for a believable nearfall. Black went for a springboard move, but Mercury caught him with a dropkick! Mercury then hit a butterfly DDT for the pin! Fans chanted, “Joey!” Good match.

* Joey Mercury got on the mic and admitted he has some “personal demons.” He announced he has now been sober for 26 days, and that got a nice applause. Mercury said he was fortunate to perform in front of some real fans. Promoter Ian Rotten came to the ring, and he said that Mercury is always welcome back in IWA Mid-South. Ian then pushed IWA’s upcoming “Candido Cup” tag tournament.

DVD 1 ends at 1 hour, 42 minutes.

(7) Brandon Thomaselli defeats Jigsaw at 17:19 to retain the Light-Heavyweight Title.
Good match, and I’ll give this best of the show. Thomaselli wore a baseball cap and trucker glasses, and today, he has a blue Mohawk and he wore a red & blue (Spiderman colors) singlet. Jacobs & Jordan talked about what a bully Thomaselli has become and how he injures other wrestlers. Thomaselli stalled at the bell, but they finally tied up and traded quick mat reversals. Jigsaw tied up Brandon’s arms and he applied a cravate at 3:30. Jigsaw tied up the left arm, and he got a rollup. Thomaselli begged off. Brandon missed a clothesline, and he crashed to the mat at 6:00, and he stalled again.

Jigsaw nailed a swan dive over the top rope to the floor! Jigsaw hit some chops on the floor, and he even held Thomaselli and allowed a fan to chop Brandon. Fun spot. They got in the ring, and Brandon was visibly angry about being embarrassed by the fan, and he hit some stiff forearms, a clothesline, and he planted his knee in Jigsaw’s back and he bit Jigsaw’s head! They traded chops, and Branton hit a shoulder block to Jigsaw’s stomach in the corner, and Jigsaw was in pain. Brandon missed a top-rope flying headbutt, but he hit a bootscrape in the corner. They traded more punches on the mat and some stiff forearms. Jigsaw avoided a slingshot suplex, and he hit a standing neckbreaker, and they were both down at 13:00.

Jigsaw hit some clotheslines and a leg lariat for a nearfall, then a running knee in the corner. Jigsaw hit an Iconoclasm/flip slam off the top rope, then a top-rope crossbody block for a nearfall, but he missed a Superkick. Brandon hit a fisherman’s buster for a nearfall. Jigsaw avoided “The Deal”/SAT Bomb across the knees, and Jigsaw got a rollup for a nearfall. Jigsaw nailed the Superkick for a believable nearfall! Brandon fired back with an inverted DDT for a nearfall at 16:00. Jigsaw set up for a Burning Hammer, but he slammed Brandon to the mat. However, Jigsaw missed a top-rope legdrop. Brandon nailed The Deal/SAT bomb, but he picked Jigsaw up at the two-count! Brandon then nailed a butterfly-arm Lungblower to the chest for the pin! Good match.

(8) Chuck Taylor defeats Devon Moore at 10:47 to retain the IWA Mid-South Heavyweight Title.
Good match that topped my expectations. Moore is really thin, and he wore his shiny black & white pants, and he was chewing gum (which just annoys me – it doesn’t look like he’s taking a title match seriously.) Jordan noted that Moore is the PWU champion in Philadelphia, and has earned the title shot based on reputation out East. Moore hit a shoulder tackle, a quick armdrag, and Taylor bailed. Moore hit a headscissors takedown in the ring. In an absurd spot, Moore hit a Stunner while he was trapped in the Tree of Woe. Wow, that spot looked fake.

Taylor hit a stunner, then he nailed an overhead belly-to-belly suplex at 3:30, a nice dropkick, and he kipped up and celebrated. Taylor applied a headscissorslock on the mat, but Moore reached the ropes. Moore hit a spin kick to the face at 6:00, and they were both down. Moore got a nice inside cradle for a nearfall, then he hit an STO uranage for a nearfall. Taylor went for “Sole Food”/falling backward boot to the chin, but Moore blocked it. Moore hit a back suplex for a nearfall.

Taylor hit a missile dropkick and a standing powerbomb for a believable nearfall at 8:30. Moore hit an enziguri, but Taylor bailed. Moore dove to the floor, and they both crashed to the ground, as the move hurt both of them. In the ring, Taylor missed a second-rope moonsault, but he landed on his feet. Moore missed a top-rope Shooting Star Press. Taylor nailed the Sole Food, then an Omega Driver/tilt-a-whirl piledriver to score the pin! Taylor is slowing improving. “I’ve never seen Chuck Taylor before, but I’m damn impressed,” Jacobs said on commentary.

(9) Axl Rotten defeats Tank at 6:19 in an anything-goes match.
Tank is a legit 350 pounds or so, and he’s bald, thick, and has a goatee. Tank attacked Rotten from behind, and they traded some big blows. Tank had a sharp object in his hand, and he jabbed Axl in the forehead with it, and Axl was immediately bleeding. Jordan talked about the new, growing feud between IWA Mid-South and the wrestlers in the sister promotion, IWA Deep South from Alabama (where Tank is from.) Axl got the weapon, and he jabbed Tank with it. They fought to the floor, and they brawled all over the building. Axl hit Tank with the ring bell at 3:30.

The crowd was fairly quiet as these two big men brawled over to the concession stands. Axl tossed Tank into a goal in the corner of the gym. They brawled outside and onto the streets, but they went back inside just seconds later. They eventually made it back into the ring, and Axl nailed a chairshot to the head to pin Tank. A below-average brawl.

(10) Hotstuff Hernandez defeats Eddie Kingston (w/Joker) at 11:02.
Good match. Hotstuff wore an LAX sweatshirt. Kingston sent Joker to the back before the match began! Kingston’s right shoulder was taped up. Hernandez is MUCH bigger than Kingston. Eddie hit some stiff forearms; Hotstuff hit a chop that leveled Kingston. Kingston tried some clotheslines, but they had no effect, so Eddie hit some more stiff forearm shots and some kneelifts in the ropes. Hernandez nailed a catapult shoulder tackle off the apron into the ring at 2:30! WOW, that’s some amazing agility for a guy as big as Hernandez!

Hernandez hit a belly-to-belly in the corner, then the “Crackerjack”/overhead suplex by the neck, for a nearfall, and Hernandez peeled off his shirt. Hernandez wrapped the shirt around Kingston’s neck, and he whipped him across the ring. Hernandez applied a Bearhug, then he hit an overhead belly-to-belly suplex at 5:00! “I’ve never seen Eddie Kingston get thrown around like this,” Jordan said. Hernandez applied a Camel Clutch, then he hit a German Release Suplex, dumping Kingston on his head & neck for a nearfall! Hernandez went for a springboard splash, but Kingston got his knees up, and they were both down.

Kingston hit a roaring forearm, then a spinning uranage for a nearfall at 8:00. Kingston hit a jump-up enziguri in the corner for a nearfall! Hernandez hit a sitdown powerbomb for a believable nearfall, and he yelled at ref Bryce Remsburg. Kingston hit a step-up flying boot to the chest for a nearfall. Hernandez couldn’t hit the Border Toss/Razor’s Edge/Splash Mountain powerbomb. Kingston hit a Northern Clothesline to the back of the neck. Hernandez picked up Eddie and hit the Border Toss for the pin! Good, hard-hitting brawl.

* Jordan on commentary put over Hernandez’ size and dominance. “IWA, you’ve just been put on notice!” Jordan exclaimed. The crowd applauded Kingston as he slowly got to his feet.

DVD 2 ends at 1 hour, 2 minutes.

Final thoughts:

This was a good show, but not a great one. I enjoyed the Texas show from April 22 more than this one, and I expected to like this one more. There were many good matches here, but many were just shorter than I would prefer.

I gave best match to Jigsaw-Thomaselli, as that unfolded at a nice pace, and those two definitely click in the ring. I’m a big fan of both men. I wish this hadn’t been for the title, as it told me that Jigsaw was going to lose!

Second best goes to the Styles-Tiger Mask IV match. Yes, it was shorter than I hoped, but all of Tiger Mask’s matches in the U.S. have been shorter than a typical main event-style match.

Third-best goes to the hard-hitting main event. Kingston-Hernandez is a great example of an “IWA-style” match. They hit each other hard and had a good stiff exchange. Hernandez definitely looks like a beast in an IWA ring.

I’ll give fourth-best to the Mercury-Black match, just ahead of the Taylor-Moore match. Mercury had a far better match here than he did a day earlier with Arik Cannon in FSM. I wish this match signaled a full-time return for Tyler Black to IWA, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. While I’m still not sold on Taylor as the champion (and the fact he rarely is in the main event means Ian Rotten isn’t really sold on him either!), Taylor is slowly improving. I just feel his title win came too early on for him.

The seven-man cruiserweight match had its problems. A wrestler broke up a pinfall in an elimination match. There were some blown spots. The rapid-fire eliminations were absurd. All that said, it was great to wind up with Abercrombie vs. Human Tornado, and that’s the matchup fans wanted to see anyway. The match was what it was – a wild spotfest.

Jimmy Jacobs was ok in parts on color commentary, but he was woefully unprepared. He acknowledged he’d never seen the IWA Mid-South champion wrestle before! He didn’t know why Ash & Elgin weren’t in the tag tournament (although they were later added because of cancellations), and he repeated clichés. I anticipate he’ll get better once he familiarizes himself with the storylines and the wrestlers.

This show earns a mild thumbs up, but there are better IWA shows out there from this year. This DVD is available at for $20.

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