RADICAN'S TAKE RADICAN'S AIW REVIEW SERIES: J.T. Lightning Invitational Tourney 2013 Day One - Busick-Elgin, Cole-Donst, Gargano
Aug 3, 2013 - 10:37:05 AM
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By Sean Radican, Torch columnist
RADICAN’S AIW REVIEW SERIES
THE J.T. LIGHTNING INVITATIONAL TOURNAMENT 2013: DAY ONE
MAY 24, 2013
Aaron Bauer tried to Ethan Page some questions backstage. Page was busy texting on his phone. Page kept yelling at people to shut up while he cut his promo. He asked Page about Sparx and Page said he would win the tournament for himself.
Ricky Shane Page told Colin Delaney he didn’t care if he won. He said he wanted to put an end to Delaney’s Cinderella story. He called Delaney a drunk and said he would hurt him and he wouldn’t make it to Absolution.
Josh Prohibition cut a promo talking about how he and his wife took his daughter to the doctor and they were told she’s a gifted child. He said he and his wife wanted to put their daughter in a school where she wouldn’t be with average kids. Prohibition then realized they wanted him to talk about wrestling. Prohibition then went into promo mode and said they were here to celebrate J.T. Lightning. He said Lightning built the foundation for AIW. He said Lightning loved the sport of wrestling and they would try to put on the best wrestling show they could. Prohibition talked about facing Whitmer tonight. He said the doctor told him not to wrestle tonight because he had an injured leg. Prohibition said he had thrown his boot off and tonight he and Whitmer would put on the best match possible for one of the best men he ever knew.
Tim Donst cut a promo and said for some reason he had never wrestled Adam Cole. He said finally two guys from Pennsylvania would give their all in AIW. Donst said he had an opportunity how he’s going to win this thing.
They did an opening ceremony where all of the wrestlers in the tournament came out and surrounded the JLIT Trophy inside the ring.
(1) Bobby Beverly (w/The Duke) vs. Kimber Lee in an Opening Round JLIT 2013 Tournament match. The announcers said Lee was no stranger to intergender competition. Beverly and Lee went at it exchanging some big forearms. Lee took down Beverly with a leg sweep and then nailed him with a big kick to the head. She went for a dive through the ropes, but Beverly nailed her with a kick. Beverly then connected with a running knee from the apron and Lee collapsed to the floor. They ende3d up trading hard chops on the floor. Lee eventually whipped Beverly into the apron. She went to charge at him, but Beverly caught her with a big kick to the head. They ended up back inside the ring and Beverly connected with a belly to back suplex for a 2 count. The Duke tried to choke Lee against the ropes, but the ref caught him. The crowd tried to rally behind Lee as Beverly worked her over, but Beverly connected with a gut wrench suplex. Lee finally blocked a chop and fired back with some chops of her own, but Beverly cut her off with a big lariat. Lee fired back again and took down Beverly with a series of lariats. Lee followed up with a bulldog, but Beverly kicked out at 2.
Lee ducked a charge in the corner and tied up Beverly in a submission using the ropes for leverage. Lee hit a missile dropkick to Beverly’s head a short time later, but she only got a 2 count. Lee hit an enzuguri and a German a short time later for a 2 count. The fans fired up with Lee in control. Lee nailed Beverly with a series of forearms in the corner, but Beverly caught her by surprise with an arm drag into the corner for a 2 count. They exchanged counters and Beverly ended up hitting a Saito suplex. Lee ducked a thrust kick and rolled up Beverly for the win.
Winner: Kimber Lee
Star rating: (**3/4) – This was a fun way to start the show. Lee and Beverly had some good hard-hitting exchanges, but in the end Beverly’s arrogance cost him, as he stalled forever setting up for a big thrust kick for the finish.
(2) Gary Jay vs. Davey Vega in an Opening Round JLIT 2013 Tournament match. Vega got a big pop coming out for the match. Jay tried to take Vega over the top with a clothesline, but the spot didn’t come off very smoothly. Both men ended up on the outside. Jay hit a running chop and went for another, but ended up chopping the ringpost. Vega then powerbombed Jay into the ringpost and the fans fired up. Vega hit a Yokuza kick in the corner back inside the ring, but Jay kicked out. Jay fired back and sent Vega off the apron with a chop. He followed up with a rolling senton to the floor. Both men ended up brawling on the apron. Jay eventually grabbed Vega by the head and drove him face-first into the apron. Jay hit an elbow off the top to Vega’s back inside the ring a short time later for a 2 count.
Jay went up top, but Vega crotched him. They went back and forth and eventually Vega nailed Jay with a huge lariat for a 2 count. The fans fired up as Jay struggled to get to his feet. Vega bounced off the ropes, but Jay caught him with a Michinoku driver for a 2 count. The fans clapped with both men down on the mat. Both men began exchanging blows from their knees. Both men hit forearms. Jay spit in Vega’s face and that made Vega very angry. Vega took Jay down and nailed him with a series of strikes. He then lifted Jay up in the suplex position before dropping him down on his knees for the win.
The fans chanted “J.T. Lightning” after the match, which was a nice show of appreciation.
Winner: Davey Vega
Star rating: (***) – This was a good back and forth contest. They engaged in some good hard-hitting action and the crowd provided some good heat for the match. I liked the finish with Jay making Vega very angry by spitting in his face only to feel Vega’s wrath.
(3) Louis Lyndon vs. Tadarius Thomas in an Opening Round JLIT 2013 Tournament match. Ethan Page came into the commentary booth. He said he was going to enjoy some pro wrestling before his first round match. Page said he had the night off and the other announcer questioned him and said Sparx could be a formidable opponent. Page told the other announcer to do his job. Lyndon went for a hurricanrana out of the corner during the early stages of the match, but Thomas landed on his feet. Thomas hit some of his signature kicks on Lyndon. They went back and forth and Thomas caught Lyndon with a crazy kick to the head and the fans applauded. Thomas went for another signature kick and Lyndon kneed him right in the face. He then flipped him off his back from the mat and kicked Thomas right in the face. The fans tried to rally behind Thomas as Lyndon worked a submission. Both men began trading slaps to the face. Lyndon ended up tossing Thomas to the floor. He then hit a moonsault off the second turnbuckle to the outside. Thomas fired back, but Lyndon caught him with a knee lift to the chin. Page talked about how easy his match was going to be tonight and said Lyndon and Thomas were having a much tougher time than he would later tonight.
Lyndon took Thomas to his knees and applied a dragon sleeper. Thomas used the ropes to flip over Lyndon to escape the hold. Thomas fired back and nailed Lyndon with a series of kicks and both men were down. Thomas ended a big exchange off the ropes with a modified bulldog on Lyndon. Lyndon went for a moonsault out of the corner a short time later and applied a dragon sleeper, but Thomas got the ropes. Thomas fired back and hit a German with a bridge for a 2 count. The fans fired up with Thomas on the attack. Thomas missed a big roundhouse kick to the head and Lyndon hit a dragon suplex for a nearfall. Lyndon missed a moonsault and Thomas nailed him with a series of forearms. Lyndon fired back and went for a running kick to the head, but Thomas got out of the way and rolled him up for a 2 count. Thomas tried to bridge over Lyndon a short time later, but Lyndon caught him in the dragon sleeper and Thomas tapped out.
The crowd chanted for Thomas to come back to AIW after the match.
Winner: Louis Lyndon
Star rating: (**3/4) – This was a solid match, but the crowd was a little flat for it. Thomas’s kicks are fun to watch, but he seems one dimensional at this stage of his career and better suited for tag team action. Lyndon caught Thomas with some stiff looking knees during the match, but the commentators didn’t focus on it and the fans didn’t treat them like they were a big deal either. Strikes like those should have some impact for viewers at home and watching live.
(4) Chris Dickinson vs. Russ Myers in an Opening Round JLIT 2013 Tournament match. Dickinson overpowered Myers during the early stages of the match. Myers fired back and hit a running double knee strike on Dickinson. Myers mounted Dickinson in the corner and nailed him with ten punches. Dickinson fired back and spring boarded over Myers and dead-lifted him into a powerbomb for a 2 count. Dickinson began working over Myers before choking him with his boot in the corner. The action spilled to the outside and Dickinson nailed Myers with a big chop. Myers ducked a clothesline and hit a rolling DVD for a 2 count. Myers hit a big kick to the head, but Dickinson popped right up and nailed him with a clothesline. The fans chanted for Dickinson and he put Myers on the top turnbuckle. Both men went back and forth up top. Myers sent Dickinson down to the mat with a series of forearms and hit a cannonball splash. Myers was slow to make the cover and only got a 2 count.
The fans fired up as Myers went back up top. Dickinson got up to his feet and ran into the ropes to crotch Myers. Myers landed on his feet out of a German attempt and rolled him up for a two count. Dickinson fire back and hit the brain eater for the win.
Winner: Chris Dickinson
Star rating: (**3/4) – This was a mostly one-sided match with Dickinson controlling much of the action. Myers made a nice comeback, but Dickinson looked good here finishing him off in the end.
Gregory Iron got on the mic after coming down to the ring with Veda Scott. He said he’s not on the show this year. He said last year he lost in the first round and it woke him up. He said aligning with Veda Scott made him realize that they are better than all of the fans. The fans chanted “You’re a whore” at Scott.
Scott asked Fontaine to be a gentleman before the match and the crowd chanted “You suck d---“ at her.
(5) Marion Fontaine vs. Veda Scott (w/Gregory Iron) in an Opening Round JLIT 2013 Tournament match. Scott wanted Fontaine to do a test of strength. They locked up and Fontaine drove her down to the mat over his knee. Fontaine then began dancing with Scott. He then dipped her over his knee before dumping her to the mat. The fans went nuts as Fontaine signaled that this was the end of round 1 in the match. The announcers said Scott should just attack him while he sat in the corner. Scott bailed to the outside and yelled at the fans. The bell rang to start round 2. Fontaine held the ropes for Scott to get back into the ring. Scott then attacked Fontaine as he tried to get into the ring. Scott hit a running boot on Fontaine in the corner. She went for another running boot, but Fontaine caught her and swung her around the ring. He put Scott down and she promptly nailed him with a big kick. Scott went for a tornado DDT, but Fontaine turned it into a very lewd pinning combination for a 2 count. Scott locked in a choke and Fontaine put her on the top rope. She followed up with a tornado DDT for a 2 count.
Fontaine got Scott up on his shoulders. Iron tried to run into the ring, but Fontaine swung Scott into him. Fontaine leaped over Iron and came down on Scott. Fontaine clotheslined Iron to the floor. He offered Scott a handshake, but Scott nailed him with the mind trip. Scott mounted Fontaine in the corner and grinded on top of him. Fontaine lifted Scott up and hit a powerbomb for the win.
The fans heckled Scott and Iron after the match. The Batiri’s music played and Veronica Ticklefeather came out with a candle. She blew out the candle and made a cut throat motion at Scott and Iron before leaving. Iron and Scott raised their hands to the crowd and the fans booed.
Winner: Marion Fontaine
Star rating: (*1/2) – This was just a comedy match. There were some funny moments here, but there wasn’t much to the match.
(6) Colin Delaney vs. Ricky Shane Page (w/The Duke & AIW Absolute Champion Eric Ryan) in an Opening Round JLIT 2013 Tournament match. Delaney is in the best shape of his career. Both men charged at each other and began exchanging punches. Eric Ryan came into the commentary booth and said he was out there to scout. Delaney hit a big dive through the ropes and the fans fired up. Page tried to surprise Delaney when he went for another dive, but Delaney pulled the ropes on him and nailed him with another big dive. Whoever is in on commentary on Ryan sounds like he’s about to fall asleep. Ryan isn’t exactly Mr. High Energy on commentary either. Page caught Delaney with a big boot and went on the attack. The announcers put over that Page didn’t care about winning, but instead wanted to hurt Delaney before he faced Ryan for the title at “Absolution VIII.” The fans tried to rally behind Delaney, who eventually hit a pop-up kick to the head on Page.
Delaney fired up and hit a series of elbows on Page. Page countered a suplex, but Delaney fired back with a knee to the face. Delaney took off the wrap around his hand and went up top. Delaney dropped an elbow off the top, but Page rolled to the outside. Page caught Delaney coming through the ropes and he dumped him onto the apron. Delaney fired back with a kick to the head from the apron. Delaney tried to skin the cat, but he couldn’t do it. Delaney then surprised Page with a series of pinning combinations. Page and Delaney began trading forearms. Page finally caught Delaney with a discus forearm for a nearfall. Page put Delaney on the top turnbuckle and hit a backwards powerbomb off the top, but of course Delaney kicked out The fans went nuts, but spots like that drive me crazy. Page dragged Delaney up top, but Delaney caught him with a hurricanrana. Ryan said he had to leave the commentary booth. The Duke got up on the apron and Ryan ran into and kicked Delaney right in his injured arm. Page then hit a modified air raid crash for the pin.
Winner: Ricky Shane Page
Star rating: (**1/2) – There was some good action in this match, but some of the spots they tried to put together were clunky and disrupted the flow of the match. I also can’t believe that Delaney kicked out of a sit out powerbomb off the top rope. I think a move that spectacular should be protected, especially during an opening round match in a wrestling tournament. Page appears to be much improved from the last time I saw him on a wrestling card in 2012.
The ring announcer said several members of J.T. Lightning’s family were in attendance. He brought out J.T. Lightning’s children J.T. and Hannah Lightning. Mikey got on the mic and put over the match between Delaney and Page. He thanked all of the fans for coming out for the shows. He thanked the wrestlers in the back and said there’s nothing better than this night. He thanked his family, who were sitting at ringside. He talked about how much it sucks that Lightning is no longer here. The fans chanted “J.T. Lightning.” Mikey said he wanted to thank his girlfriend and he called her into the ring. He said they met at a benefit show for his father. He talked about how much he loved his girlfriend and he pulled out a ring and asked her to marry him. The fans chanted, “Please say yes.” She took the ring and the fans chanted “Yes, yes, yes.” That was a really touching segment.
(7) Josh Prohibition vs. B.J. Whitmer in an Opening Round JLIT 2013 Tournament match. Whitmer took Prohibition down and worked a headlock. Prohibition countered and grabbed Whitmer in a headlock. They continued to trade holds on the mat until Prohibition got the ropes. Prohibition fired up and took Whitmer down with a pair of arm drags before applying an arm submission. Prohibition got a STF a short time later, but Whitmer got the ropes. Prohibition clotheslined himself and Whitmer to the floor and both men were slow to get up. They ended up on the apron and Prohibition hit a neck breaker on Whitmer over the middle rope. He then went for a slingshot senton, but Whitmer got out of the way and nailed him with a running kick to the head. Whitmer grabbed a chin lock on the mat. The crowd tried to rally behind Prohibition. Prohibition eventually fired back and hit a dropkick off the second turnbuckle.
The fans fired back with Prohibition. Prohibition got a nearfall after a suplex into a neck breaker over his knee. Prohibition hit a Saito suplex only got a 2 count. Whitmer fired back and hit a gut wrench suplex with a bridge for a 2 count. They went back and forth and Prohibition ended a big exchange with a clothesline for a 2 count. Whitmer blocked Prohibition’s finish and hit a modified DDT. He then locked in the Peruvian necktie for the win.
Winner: B.J. Whitmer
Star rating: (*1/2) – This was a hard match to get into. They wrestled at a methodical pace and it was clear that Prohibition wasn’t at 100%.
Dickinson came out and told Whitmer that he’s going to kick his a--. Whitmer got on the mic and called Dickinson a punk. He promised to whip Dickinson’s a—tomorrow. Whitmer then thanked Prohibition for the match and shook his hand. Both men then posed for the fans, who applauded them.
Before the Page-Sparx match, one fan shouted, “Why are you out of the kitchen” at Sparx. Page went to the outside and hugged the fan. Page got on the mic and told Sparx they had been through a lot. He said their seven months together was the biggest waste of his life. He said Sparx had slept around to get herself over. He said he should be facing Addy Starr, but now he has to embarrass a slut he banged for seven months. Page told Sparx to take the night off. Page continued to insult Sparx. He told her to forfeit the match. Sparx got on the mic and said she wasn’t going to give up the opportunity to whip his a--. She called Page a little b---- and the fans chanted, “little b----.”
(8) Ethan Page vs. Seleziya Sparx in an Opening Round JLIT 2013 Tournament match. Sparx hit a big slap to Page’s face and got a backslide for a 2 count. Page lifted Sparx up and hit a big chop to the face. Sparx fired back with a big series of forearms. She then took him down with a spinning DDT for a nearfall. Page caught Sparx with a big right hand and she went down. Page began working over Sparx. Page climbed the turnbuckles and forced her head into his crotch, but Sparx fired back and lifted Page onto her shoulders. She did a squat with Page on her back before hitting a running Samoan drop on him in the corner for a nearfall. The fans went crazy for that spot and chanted for Sparx. Page fired up and hit the spinning blade. He covered Sparx, but lifted her head before the ref could count to three. Page yelled at Sparx, who kicked him right in the face. Sparx then got a small package for a nearfall. Sparx fired up and hit a German and the fans went nuts. She tried to charge at Page in the corner, but Page caught her with a kick. Page lifted Sparx up and hit another spinning blade for the win.
After the match, several officials came to the ring to check on Sparx. Sparx waved them off and the fans applauded.
Winner: Ethan Page – This was a good way to get some heat on Page hitting into the rest of the tournament. Sparx looked good getting in some brief flurries of offense on Page. Her running Samoan drop into the turnbuckles was really impressive.
Both Elgin and Busick got good pops coming out for their match.
(9) Michael Elgin vs. Biff Busick in an Opening Round JLIT 2013 Tournament match. Elgin and Busick shook hands and went face-to-face. Busick tried to trade forearms with Elgin, but Elgin shook his head at him. They went to a big exchange that ended with Busick flipping right into a big shoulder tackle from Elgin. Both men went face-to-face. They began exchanging chops in the middle of the ring. Elgin began hitting forearms and he sent Busick into the corner. Elgin went for a charge into the corner, but Busick got out of the way. Busick went for a charge into the corner a short time later, but Elgin got out of the way and Busick flew over the top turnbuckle to the outside nearly killing the ring announcer. Denver Colorado mentioned that Busick was looking for his first AIW win. Elgin hit some big chops on the outside, but Busick caught him with a shoulder tackle through the ropes. They both ended up on the apron and began exchanging strikes. Elgin blocked a suplex attempt on the apron. He then lifted Busick up on his shoulders and hit an air raid crash on the apron. The fans went nuts and Busick appeared to be dead on the floor. Elgin went after Busick quickly and hit an air raid crash on the floor. The fans went nuts as Elgin rolled Busick into the ring for a 2 count. The fans chanted for Busick after he kicked out.
Elgin lifted up Busick and nailed him with a spinning forearm for a 2 count. Elgin paused and went for a stalling vertical suplex. He lifted up Busick as the fans counted the time. Elgin dropped Busick down after the crowd counted to 60 and the fans applauded, but Elgin only got a 2 count. Elgin signaled for the buckle bomb, but Busick blocked it. Busick hit a backdrop and went for a charging elbow in the corner, but Elgin caught him and slammed him down to the mat. Elgin went for the twisting senton, but Busick got out of the way. Busick hit Elgin with several clotheslines, but Elgin wouldn’t go down. Busick hit some big forearm, but Elgin wouldn’t go down. Busick finally jumped over Elgin and hit a sick blockbuster for a nearfall and the fans went nuts. Elgin blocked a half and half suplex and drove Busick into the corner. Elgin went for a charge in the corner, but Busick grabbed his head and drove it into the middle turnbuckle. Busick then went up top. Elgin tried to crotch him, but Busick jumped over him. Elgin caught Busick charging at him with an elbow. He then hit a German into the turnbuckles for a 2 count.
The fans fired up as Elgin went back on the attack. Busick countered Elgin, but Elgin caught him and drove him into the corner before hitting an STO. Elgin hit a superkick to Busick, who was on his knees. Elgin then hit a dead-lift hellavator for a nearfall and the fans applauded. Elgin signaled for the finish, but Busick countered him. Elgin caught Busick charging at him with a pump kick to the head, but Busick ducked a clothesline and hit a half and half suplex for a nearfall. The fans fired up and chanted for Busick. Busick lifted Elgin and placed him on the top turnbuckle. Busick went for a half and half suplex off the top, but Elgin fought him off and Busick fell gut-first over the top rope. Elgin then stood on the turnbuckles and deadlifted Busick into a superplex off the apron. Elgin covered Busick, but he kicked out at the last second. The fans fired up and chanted for Busick. Elgin hit a buckle bomb, but Busick no-sold it and hit a big kick to Elgin’s face. Elgin fired back with a superkick. They began exchanging blows in the middle of the ring a short time later. Elgin hit a series of forearms. Elgin hit a series of clothesline against the ropes a short time later. Busick fired back, but Elgin hit a rolling forearm to the back of Busick’s head and a ripcord lariat. Elgin then hit a buckle bomb and the Elgin bomb for the win.
The fans chanted, “Thank you both” after the match. Elgin left the ring and the fans chanted for Busick.
Winner: Michael Elgin
Star rating: (****) – This was a really good match. It took a while for the crowd to invest, but once they did, they provided a good atmosphere for this match. They told a good story here with Elgin dominating most of the action and Busick making a bunch of spirited comebacks. Elgin’s power was on full display during this match, but Busick won over the crowd with his selling and explosive comebacks. This is a match well-worth checking out.
(10) Josh Alexander vs. ACH in an Opening Round JLIT 2013 Tournament match. ACH sent Alexander to the outside and went for a dive, but Alexander nailed him with a big forearm on the apron. ACH went for a cross-body as he came off the ropes only for Alexander to catch him and slam him to the mat. Alexander continued to dominate ACH with his power before grounding him with a chin lock. Alexander locked ACH in a surfboard, but ACH did a crazy counter into a pinning combination for a 2 count. Alexander got up and grounded ACH right away before nailing him with some big chops in the corner. ACH fired back and hit a superkick to the back of Alexander’s head for a 2 count. ACH said he was going to show the fans some powers and he lifted up Alexander and slammed him to the mat for a 2 count. The fans tried to rally behind Alexander, but ACH took him down with a dropkick as he came off the ropes before covering him for a 2 count. They went to a big exchange and ACH hit a big forearm, but Alexander fired back with a forearm of his own that sent ACH crumpling to the mat.
The fans fired up with Alexander working over ACH in the corner. They ended up battling near the apron. Alexander lifted ACH into the suplex position and then bounced ACH off the ropes. ACH took a crazy bump for that spot. They went to a big exchange of strikes that ended with Alexander hitting a pop-up powerbomb and both men were down on the mat. Both men hit forearms at the same time. ACH hit a stunner that sent Alexander into the corner and eventually hitting a diving clothesline. ACH pulled the ropes down on Alexander and he spilled to the floor. ACH then hit a step-up twisting dive over the top onto Alexander and the fans chanted his name. ACH went up top, but Alexander nailed him with a palm strike. ACH nailed Alexander with a kick to the head and followed up with a springboard ace crusher for a 2 count. They battled up top and Alexander hit a top rope inverted piledriver off the top, but ACH kicked out at the last second. How is that not the finish?
The fans applauded with both men down on the mat. ACH countered Alexander and hit a unique looking hurricanrana variation. ACH then went up top and hit the 450, but Alexander kicked out at one. ACH went right back on the attack and hit a sloppy spirit bomb, but Alexander kicked out right away. ACH went up top again. Alexander got out of the way of a 450 and nailed ACH with pair of big forearms. Alexander then finished ACH with a spinning tombstone for the win.
Alexander favored his ear after the match. It looked like it had a lot of inflammation. Both men shook hands after the match and the fans chanted for Alexander. Alexander had a heck of a knot on his ear when they showed it from another angle.
Winner: Josh Alexander.
Star rating: (***1/2) – This was a good match. The crowd was into it, but they aren’t a high-energy crowd it seems. ACH tried to match power with Alexander, which lead to mixed results for him throughout the match. They had some good nearfalls towards the end, but the fighting spirit spots Alexander went to work better in front of crowds that are red hot.
Tim Donst came out to face Adam Cole and the fans chanted Tim F----- Donst. Cole then came out to a good pop from the crowd. The announcer did the formal ring introductions. Cole got an Adam F------ Cole chant. One fan started a suck his d---- chant and Cole did his dance towards Donst to the “We Will Rock You” beat and told Donst to suck his d---.
(11) Tim Donst vs. Adam Cole in an Opening Round JLIT 2013 Tournament match. Cole sent Donst to the outside during the early stages of the match and nailed him with a dive through the ropes. Cole tossed Donst into the ring and began working him over. Cole went for a springboard to the outside, but Donst caught him and drove him back-first over the apron. Donst tied up Cole with a nice submission tying up his legs and stretching his arms with his feet. Donst taunted Cole before nailing him with a big chop in the corner. Cole told Donst to bring it and they began exchanging forearms. They exchanged moves at a rapid pace and Donst ended the exchange with a STO that left both men slow to recover on the mat. They went at it again and Cole caught Donst with a neck breaker over his knee. Cole followed up with a shining wizard for a 2 count. Cole locked in the figure 4. Donst struggled, but finally got the ropes to break the hold. Donst ducked another shining wizard attempt and rolled him up for a 2 count. Donst then caught Cole by surprise with a big lariat for a 2 count.
The fans tried to rally behind Cole, who fired back with an enzuguri and a shining wizard, but Donst got his hand on the bottom rope to break up the pin. Cole hit a big splash off the top a short time later, but Donst kicked out. The fans fired up behind Donst, who punched himself in the face to fire himself up. Donst ended up hitting a belly-to-belly into the turnbuckles, but Cole grabbed the bottom rope at one to break up the pin. Donst climbed the turnbuckles with Cole on his back, but Cole slipped out and nailed him with a bicycle kick. Cole went for a superplex, but Donst countered it into a brainbuster. He covered Cole, but he kicked out at the last second. Donst dragged Cole to the middle of the ring and applied from dust till Donst, but Cole turned it into a pinning combination for a nearfall. Donst immediately hit a sick looking twisting neck breaker for a 2 count.
Cole fired up and Donst covered up when he went for a superkick, so Cole faked him out and superkicked him in the knee. Cole then applied the figure 4 and screamed at Donst to tap. Donst struggled, but eventually got the ropes. The crowd fired up as both men were slumped in opposite corners. They crawled towards each other and began exchanging forearms. They got to their feet and continued to trade forearms. Cole caught Donst with a neck breaker over his knee, but Donst kicked out at 2. Cole countered an ace crusher attempt and hit a superkick to the back of Donst’s head. Cole went for the Florida Keys German, but Donst slipped out and nailed him with a diving forearm. Donst then hit another twisting neck breaker for a 2 count. Donst spit on Cole and went for another diving forearm, but Cole ducked and rolled him up for a 2 count. They went to a big exchange. Cole ended up hitting a superkick to the back of Donst’s head followed by the Florida Keys German for the win.
Winner: Adam Cole
Star rating: (***1/2) – This was a very good match with some good exchanges between both men throughout the match. They seemed to tell an incomplete story, as both men worked on submissions at times during the match, but never made them a central focus of the match. The crowd was into the match most of the time, but only got really into it a couple of times. From what I can tell Donst is having a good run in AIW this year. Donst could break out if he ditched the tank top, which gives the appearance of being out of shape and trying to hide a lack of conditioning.
Matt Cross got a good pop coming out for his match against Johnny Gargano. Gargano also came out to a good ovation.
(12) Matt Cross vs. Johnny Gargano in an Opening Round JLIT 2013 Tournament match. The crowd chanted J.T. Lightning after the opening bell. Gargano and Cross shook hands before going at it in the ring. They went to a fast paced exchange during the early stages of the match before coming to a stalemate and the fans applauded. They went to another exchange and Cross tripped Gargano before hitting a standing moonsault for a 2 count. Cross hit a backbreaker on Gargano and began working him over. Donst countered a charge into the corner by back dropping Cross to the floor. Gargano went for a dive, but Cross ran into the ring and nailed him with an elbow that sent Gargano to the floor. Cross went for a dive, but Cross cut him off. They went to a big exchange on the outside that ended with Cross hitting an arm drag off the apron that sent Gargano into the guardrail. Cross then hung himself horizontally on the ringpost and dropped down to the floor on top of Gargano.
Gargano fired back and hit a series of dive through the ropes on Cross. Gargano hit a fourth dive through the ropes, but the crowd didn’t give him much of an ovation. Gargano hit some big chops on the outside against the guardrail on Cross. Gargano began working over Cross inside the ring before tying him up in a leg submission, but Cross got the ropes. Cross fired back and hit a nice handspring elbow in the corner followed by a springboard splash for a 2 count. They went to another nice exchange. Gargano ducked a kick through the ropes, but Cross held onto the ropes and caught him the second time around. Gargano eventually hit a slingshot DDT, but only got a 2 count. The action has been really good, but the fans aren’t providing the atmosphere. They went to a big exchange with Gargano going for a pair of clothesline off the ropes, but Cross ducked them both and hit a back breaker that left both men down on the mat.
They went at it again and Gargano eventually caught cross with a rolling kick to the head for a 2 count. The crowd tried to fire up with both men down on the mat. Both men began exchanging blows in the middle of the ring. They continued to go at it and both men hit clotheslines, but neither man would go down. Cross finally sent Gargano down to the mat and hit a standing SSP for a nearfall. Both men were slow to get to their feet after that big exchange. The fans chanted for Cross. They went at it again and Gargano caught Cross with a roundhouse kick to the head. He then hit the lawn dart into the turnbuckles for a 2 count. The crowd fired up after Cross kicked out. Gargano hit two running dropkicks into the corner. He went for a third, but Cross caught him and climbed the turnbuckles with Gargano on his back. Gargano tried to fight out, but Cross hit a top rope brainbuster for a nearfall. Holy crap! The crowd fired up after that sequence and chanted “This is awesome.” Cross went up top, but Gargano popped up and cut him off. They battled up top and Cross punched Gargano to the mat. He went for the SSP, but Gargano got out of the way. Cross landed on his feet and hit a reverse hurricanrana. He then nailed Gargano with a running kick, but he kicked out at the last second.
The fans fired up and chanted “J.T. Lightning.” Cross pointed up to the sky and climbed the ropes again. Cross went for the SSP, but Gargano got out of the way and hit hurts don’t it. Cross kicked out, so Gargano hit two more hurts don’t it, but Cross kicked out and the fans applauded. Gargano went for it again, but Cross rolled him up for a nearfall. Gargano got up and hit hurts don’t it for the win.
The fans booed at the end. The announcers tried to cover it up, but it seemed like they wanted Cross to win. The fans chanted, “That was awesome” after the match. Gargano got on the mic. He said when he heard he and Matt would main event, he was a little nervous because of all the talent in the locker room. The fans applauded. Gargano said he realized he was getting in the ring with one of the finest athletes on the planet. Gargano helped Cross to his feet and said he admired him. Gargano said J.T. Lightning trained them both and he would like to think they did him proud tonight. Gargano told Cross it was an honor to get in the ring with him. Gargano said Cross is the best unsigned talent in the world today. Gargano said Cross is what Cleveland, Ohio is all about and their match was what professional wrestling is about. Gargano said if there’s any justice in the world Cross will be on their television screen making a lot of money. Cross then got on the turnbuckles and posed for the fans after Gargano left the ring.
Winner: Johnny Gargano
Star rating: (***3/4) – I really enjoyed this match and I would have enjoyed it even more if the crowd had provided more heat. These guys worked really hard and had some fantastic exchanges. I really enjoy fast-paced wrestling when it’s done well and these two put together some really nice sequences built around counters throughout the match. I thought the finish was a bit much with Gargano having to hit four of his finishers to put Cross away, but other than that, this was really enjoyable. Cross is the real deal and I don’t understand why he’s not getting higher profile bookings on the independents. He’s an amazing athlete and he’s in tremendous shape.
Overall thoughts: (7.5) – There was a lot of good wrestling on this card. The card hit a lull for a stretch of matches that weren’t all that exciting, but the show finished strong with four really good matches highlighted by an excellent first round contest between Michael Elgin and Biff Busick.
The first half of the show was thin with the crowd not really into most of the action. Vega-Jay had a good first round match with some nice hard-hitting exchanges. The rest of the matches didn’t bring much of the tables during the first half of the show, but a couple of the shorter matches were fun.
Dickinson-Meyers was short, but it was fun to watch Dickinson murder Myers. Sparx-Page was also short with Page doing some lewd things to his former lover, but Sparx made some awesome comebacks against him and her running DVD into the turnbuckles on Page was awesome.
Busick-Elgin had an awesome match and if they had wrestled in front of a better crowd, it likely would have made the match even better than it was. Busick seems set to blow up on the independents and I don’t need to tell you how good Elgin is right now if you pay attention to independent wrestling. Elgin dominated a lot of the action and showcased his power moves, but Busick was great making some fiery comebacks before losing to Elgin.
Alexander-ACH had a good match that showcased Alexander’s power. ACH’s strategy of trying to match power with Alexander backfired most for most of the match. ACH also appeared to catch Alexander with a kick flush to his ear that caused it to puff up. Donst-Cole was also very good and showcased one of the things AIW does well, which is they put on cards with unique matches that you don’t see elsewhere. Donst seems to be having a good run in AIW and his match with Cole is another notch in his belt in 2013. If he improves his look, he could be a player on the independent scene.
The main event was really good, but once again the crowd was slow to invest in the Gargano-Cross match. They had some really good fast-paced exchanges based around counters throughout the match. It wasn’t until the end that they got the crowd fully invested into the action. Cross is someone who deserves a full-time spot on higher profile independent shows. He’s an amazing athlete and is in tremendous shape right now.
I really enjoyed the manner in which AIW paid tribute to J.T. Lightning and it was touching that the crowd chanted his name after the Gargano-Cross match. It was also a great moment when Lightning’s son proposed to his girlfriend during the show after giving an emotional speech about losing his father.
This show is definitely worth watching because of the strong action during the second half of the show. AIW is a company putting on strong cards with unique matches in 2013. If they can find a way to get a more vocal crowd that really gets into the action, they could have something special on their hands.
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