This past weekend, I traveled to Lakewood to participate in Beyond Wrestling’s Back In Flesh. I wasn’t sure what to expect, never having been to an independent show before, but I will tell you: I saw some of the best wrestling matches I have ever seen in my entire life.
The venue was in the gymnasium of the Puritas Lutheran Church. I’m terrible at guessing numbers, but I could comfortably put less than a hundred people in attendance. The small crowd gave the event a really intimate and friendly atmosphere. Also in the crowd were various other Beyond wrestlers, adding their own particular brand of participation and insanity. There was a grand total of 11 matches and the show ran for about three hours.
1. Six Man Melee: #KOA (Sugar Dunkerton, Pinkie Sanchez and Aaron Epic)defeated The Submission Squad (Gary Jay, Pierre Abernathy and Evan Gelistico.)
This was a really nice opener. The Submission Squad, known bad guys, went all out in getting the crowd riled up and involved in the show. There was a lot of solid back and forth between varying members of both sides, including a series of very hard chops, which pretty much hurt even me.
Sugar Dunkerton had an amazing moment when out of nowhere “I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly started to play and everyone in the ring went into slow-motion, giving him a chance to use his basketball in a bid to gain the upper hand over the Submission Squad.
The match came to a satisfying end when Aaron made the pin for the win, but the moment was short lived as afterwards Submission Squad cohorts Davey Vega and Mat Fitchett ran in and cleared the ring, bringing us to…
2. Aeroform (Flip Kendrick and Louis Lyndon) defeated The Sex Bob-ombs (Davey Vega and Mat Fitchett)
This match, in my opinion, was one of the best of the night. While the opener focused a lot on brute force and heavy physicality, this one was all finesse, and submissions, and high-flying, and acrobatics, which I utterly loved watching. Flip Kendrick and Louis Lyndon were an absolute privilege to watch. Both teams worked together beautifully, and traded a series of truly awesome holds.
Flip Kendrick took home the win for Aeroform with a gorgeous spinning rope jump, leaving Davey and Fitchett limping backstage.
The crowd was totally on board the entire time, with more than a few “This is awesome!” and “Holy shit!” chants.
3. Dave Cole defeated Jack Verville
The pace for this one was a little slower and the crowd wasn’t quite as into it, but it was still very good. No acrobatics, just a solid physical matchup.
Dave Cole won via submission.
Match Four, Winner Takes All Four-Way Tag: Team TREMENDOUS (Dan Barry and Ken Scampi) defeated Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous (Darius Carter and TJ Marconi), The Jollyville Fuck-Its (Russ Meyers and T-Money), and WWA4 All Stars (Stitch SyphEr and Uhaa Nation)
This was another phenomenal match. Everyone was leaping over the top rope and pulling suicide dives onto the floor which, by the way, was not in any way padded. Tons of huge aerial moves that put the crowd ridiculously over. It was the kind of match where you were half-afraid someone was going to land wrong and break something, which was terrifying but also get-on-your-feet exciting. Like the series of four suicide dives in a row done by four different guys, or Russ Myers doing a cannonball onto Uhaa Nation from the top rope.
Team Tremendous took home the win and Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous had some dissent after losing. A very strong performance from all teams involved.
5. Round Robin Tournament Match 1: Jonny Mangue defeated Johnny Gargano
I was very excited to see Johnny Gargano wrestle, since I’ve always heard the best things about him but had yet to see his skills in person. He was superb and I am hugely impressed. His control and presence in the ring is absolutely sublime. Complete precision.
Gargano got a huge ovation when he came out and held near complete control over Mangue for most of the match, until Mangue got in a headshot and took over for a while. Johnny responded with a huge powerbomb for a pin, but it was to no avail.
Due to some ringside interference from Pitboss, which involved him getting forcibly ejected from the venue, Mangue got Gargano for the win.
There was a quick intermission to allow everyone to catch their collective breath, and then right on to…
6. Four-Way Elimination Match: Jarek 1:20 defeated Chase Burnett, Mazarati Rick and KJ Crush
Jarek started out by hypnotizing everyone in the ring, including the ref (with the exception of KJ), which was quite hilarious. After that, it was a good match with a lot of really excellent physicality. KJ and Jarek stood out the most, KJ being clearly a jerk and Jarek the crowd favorite.
KJ owned the ring with a lot of Kevin Steen-esque moves. Lots of really huge body slams and powerbombs and things of that nature. He even looks a little like Steen.
The first elimination was Chase Burnett, taken out by KJ after a giant slam. Second out was Rick Mazerati by Jarek, leaving Jarek and KJ to beat the heck out of each other for a while before Jarek was able to pick up the win after a top-rope throw.
Jarek then took the mic for a moment to say he would be moving to California in January to further pursue his wrestling career, but he would always go with Beyond when they were around, as Beyond is and always would be his home. It was a sweet little moment.
7. Round Robin Tournament Match 2: Davey Richards defeated Johnny Gargano via submission
I do not even have the words. I really wish I could paint everyone a picture of how fantastic, how mind-blowingly, jaw-droppingly spectacular this match was, but I can’t. Johnny and Davey both put it on the line, so much that Davey was bleeding by the end of it. They were two fantastically matched competitors, with Davey’s intensity and Johnny’s precision bringing everybody to their feet and to ringside if there was enough space.
It was just absolute glorious perfection. Buy the DVD when it comes out. Do it for this match alone and you will not be disappointed. I promise.
Davey ended up winning the match via submission.
The crowd was so emotionally into this match that everyone was drained and fairly silent for the next two matchups.
8. Tony Kozina defeated Nick Talent via Submission
This was probably the weakest match of the night, not to say it was bad, because it wasn’t. There were just a few missed opportunities the crowd was still trying to get over Davey and Johnny from a few moments before. Both guys did definitely give it their all, and I’m sure any match taking place immediately after Davey and Johnny would have had trouble winning us over.
9. Mark Angel defeated Kyle O’Reilly
This match brought the crowd back from our Davey/Johnny induced awe. It had a strong start and kept a fast pace throughout, and the rest of the matchup was solid enough to keep the crowd interested and involved. Mark Angel pulled out the win, to the delight of most of the crowd.
10. No Disqualification: RD Evans defeated AR Fox.
One of the best matches of the night. I wasn’t sure what it was going to be like, considering that Evans came out to Journey music in bright pink and white gear, and seemed almost afraid of Fox.
Fox flew right out of the box, in his Beyond debut, with flying moves that defy description. He was off the top ropes, running up the ringpost, flying leaps, backflips… he completely owned the crowd.
However, Evans slammed him to the floor, which you will recall was not padded, and then gave him two chairshots to the back. RD received some negative chants afterwards, including a very rousing rendition of “You’re an asshole!”
Evans took out a huge table to tease us with for a while when Davey Vega took it on himself to interfere and put Fox through the table.
RD Evans pulled off the win, but the clear crowd favorite was AR Fox. Keep an eye on this guy, he was utterly phenomenal, even when he was getting the absolute crap beat out of him.
11. Round Robin Tournament Match 3: Davey Richards defeated Jonny Mangue
Again, I do not have the words. Davey Richards in any match basically defies description. The only words are words like “intense” and “raw.” While Davey and Gargano’s match was all about precision, Davey and Mangue was all about raw brute force. There were tons of jaw-dropping moments (I think I spent the majority of the match with my mouth agape, when I wasn’t screaming at the top of my lungs, that is) including some amazing suicide dives from Davey. Mangue and Davey were excellently matched and both of them really went all out. Though Mangue put up a really good fight, Davey came out with the win.
I honestly feel so honored and so blessed just to have been in the same room as Davey Richards, much less been able to watch him wrestle two separate and amazing matches.
That being said, I am beyond impressed with the Beyond roster (pun not really intended, I promise.) These guys really lay it all out there in the ring, and I admire that so much. I also really loved how the roster just hung out at ringside. They interacted with the fans, with the guys wrestling in the ring, shouting encouragement and the like.
It was altogether a great experience. Get the DVD when it comes out. Let me know if you see a girl in a red shirt and a cool hat, because I totally name-dropped this website on camera. And if they come to your area, for the love of everything… just go. There is no better way to spend $15. Support your local wrestling promotions.