Photos courtesy Wayne Palmer
Hell on Earth. An apt name for a show that takes place on Black Friday. Whether you woke up at midnight to fight with the throngs of early shoppers, slept off a turkey coma, or, like some of us, actually had to work, I think we can all agree that there is no better way to end the day than with some fantastic wrestling. AIW certainly delivered on that account.
The seventh annual Hell on Earth show featured 12 matches, plus two pre-show matches. One was a four way scramble, which AERO! won, and the second was a Beyond Wrestling offer match featuring “The Human Hand-Grenade” dany only and Nick Talent.
Unfortunately, as I came to this show almost immediately after work, I missed both of these pre-show matches. I’m sure they were both great.
Earlier in the week, AIW announced that the company had been sold to an unnamed person. This person turned out to be Matt Wadsworth, who took the mic to start off the show proper. It seemed like he had the mic for a while when I came in. Of course, being the new owner and acting president, I’m sure it was very important for Wadsworth to lay down a baseline for what his ownership would entail, but blah blah blah whatever I just want to see some wrestling.
Eric Ryan defeated Façade and Samuray Del Sol – Ryan and Façade started the action off strong. Façade had a ton of breathtaking flips and leaps throughout, not to mention a great Huracanrana. Ryan was trying everything to keep Façade out of the air, including several cracking arm drags.
At one point the brawl ended up out of the ring and all way backstage. Façade came out with a chair and was followed by Samaray Del Sol, turning this match into a three-way contest. Del Sol added an additional level of awesomeness and danger with his own top rope leaping antics, much to the delight of the crowd, who broke into a rousing, “Holy Shit!” chant.
Eric Ryan was able to secure the win after taking down Del Sol with a massive powerbomb.
This was an epic, amazing opener and set the bar high for the rest of the show.
Da Latin Crime Syndicate defeated The Olsen Twins – This match didn’t even make it to the ring at first. It broke into two separate fights on opposite sides of the arena, one of which happened to be right in front of me (I saw a member of LCS get hit with a trashcan from about two feet away).
Eventually the separate fights made it into the ring and congealed into an actual wrestling match. Two other members of LCS came out to observe, participate, and cheat, making it something of a handicap match.
The Syndicate had most of the control during the match, naturally, though Jimmy Olsen managed to turn the tides once he finally got tagged in. Between him and Colin, they managed to slam and otherwise maneuver the whole of LCS into various compromising sexual positions, namely faces in crotches.
However, after a series of double team moves culminating in a big powerbomb, LCS came out entirely on top.
LCS went backstage while the Olsen twins called for beers in the ring. They toasted, drank… and then Jimmy smacked Colin in the head with his beer, and then spat on him. The crowd was stunned.
Great, albeit crazy match, with a shocking (and depressing) tag team split.
Josh Prohibition defeated Gregory Iron – This was a really good, fast-paced bout. Greg Iron was all over the ring with tons of huge moves and out of the ring with a nice suicide leap. Despite Iron’s efforts, Prohibition had most of the control in the match and eventually won.
Oddly enough, the crowd seemed almost entirely behind Prohibition. On one hand, I could see how they could feel that way with Greg Iron’s campaign to leave the loyal AIW fans and join another promotion for their next big event – but on the other hand… how can you root against Greg Iron?!
The Chad defeated The Duke by DQ – Unfortunately, the bulk of this match took place on the floor and in the audience on the exact opposite side of the ring from which I was sitting. Judging from what I could see and the reactions of that side of the crowd, it sounded like a pretty decent brawl going on.
Jock Sampson (whose entrance was greeted with chants of “Galifianakis!”) ran out from the back and attacked the Duke, causing the ref to call for the bell.
Jock Sampson does bear a passing resemblance to the one man wolf pack.
Intense Title Match – Bobby Beverly (c) defeated Izeah Bonds to retain
This match also featured a ringside brawl that I couldn’t see, but fortunately it didn’t last too long and they brought it all into the ring for some good action.
Izeah Bonds was all around impressive and brought out some incredible moves including an enormous off the rope leap, a back handspring, a backflip and a giant top rope moonsault.
And if he had landed that moonsault, he might have won the title. As it was, Bobby Beverly moved out of the way in time and took advantage of Bonds’ rough landing to get the pin and keep his belt.
AIW Tag Team Title Match: Aeroform [Louis Lyndon and Flip Kendrick] defeats The Irish Airborne (c) [Dave and Jake Crist] to win the titles
Aeroform is always a treat to watch and I was especially excited to see them against the Irish Airborne. You can’t go wrong with two teams that have versions of “air” in their name.
It was also interesting to see Aeroform use more under-handed tactics, since previously I had only seen them behave in a squeaky clean manner. They cheated often and enlisted ringside help from their associate Chest Flexor.
As expected, the match was full of amazing high-flying and everybody had at least one stand-out moment. Dave Crist leapt off the top rope and managed to land on his feet at ringside. Flip Kendrick had a beautiful hurricanrana, and Jake Crist got incredible air with a Frog Splash.
However, it was ringside interference from Chest Flexor which allowed Aeroform to get the win for the Tag Team titles. Jake Crist got on the mic and demanded a rematch right then and there, but Aeroform said no. To which the crowd responded with a very loud “PUSSY!” chant. Wadsworth then came out, walked over to the ring… and then right past it, disappearing into the back. He returned moments later, took the mic and said that the Irish Airborne would have to work back up the ranks for their rematch. The Airborne then chased Aeroform out of the ring and into the back.
Definitely a great match, though I think it might have been just a hair better if Aeroform had spent more time being awesome and not cheating every three seconds. Oh well, what do you expect from Flexor Industries?
Uhaa Nation defeated AR Fox
I knew this match was going to be awesome, and I was not disappointed in the slightest. Fox and Nation met in the ring to an equally split crowd. AR Fox wowed with his unique mix of high-flying and near-death experiences, most notably leaping over the rope, only to be caught mid-air and slammed back-first into the edge of the apron by Nation.
Nation of course was full of big, powerful, stunning moves, like the aforementioned slam, a massive kick to the midsection of AR Fox and the beautiful standing moonsault he used to get the win.
On an aside, could you imagine a match between Izeah Bonds and Uhaa Nation? They’d tear the ring apart.
Anyhow, the match was amazing as predicted, and the crowd was utterly in love from start to finish.
Four-Way Elimination: Tim Donst defeated Marion Fontaine, Rickey Shane Page, and Johnny Gargano – About a week earlier, AIW had announced that Page had been seriously injured, so when Eric Ryan came out to replace him, I was not terribly surprised.
I was surprised, however, when Rickey Shane Page came out right behind him and stepped into the ring. So I’m not sure if that was some kind of ruse or if he managed to recover enough to be able to compete, but either way, I’m glad he made it in.
Johnny Gargano and Marion Fontaine started off the match. Immediately after locking up, Fontaine took it upon himself to waltz Gargano around the ring. A bit later he took it upon himself again to pirouette atop a flattened Tim Donst. Fontaine also showed off his grace with this sort of helicopter-headscissors-spinning thing, though Donst was a terrible dance partner and countered with a powerbomb.
Thereafter, Johnny Gargano blew everyone away with this monster superplex to both Rickey Shane Page and Tim Donst. That was followed by RSP’s attempted a suicide dive, which landed him only on a bunch of chairs (it took place on the other side of the ring from me, again, but it sounded gnarly.)
The first two eliminations were Fontaine by Gargano and Page by Donst, leaving Donst and Gargano to duke it out for a few minutes. Gargano hit Donst but the evil ref Dave “The Potato” refused to count to three, to the extreme displeasure of the crowd and Gargano. Donst got up, beat Gargano around a little and got him for a fast count pin.
The crowd was not pleased, to make a dramatic understatement.
I’d count this match among one of the best of the night. The action was incredible, but the ending was ruined by that crooked ref.
AIW Women’s Title: Mickie Knuckles (c) defeated Mia Yim to retain. Special guest ref Gail Kim presided.
The brunt of this match had lots of banter and posturing between the ladies which made the pace seem a little slow, but there certainly were more than a few awesome moments.
Yim’s kicks to Mickie were all incredibly stiff, just for starters. She also performed a really great Sky Twister Press from the top rope, though unfortunately it missed. Mickie had some throws, and they each got a solid German suplex from the other. Mickie retained her title after hitting Yim with a strong slam.
Gail Kim got into the action after the bell was rung, calling Chest Flexor out for, again, his interference. She kicked the crap out of both him and Mia Yim to uproarious applause. I was disappointed her match with Hailey Hatred was cancelled, but it was cool to see her wrestle even for those few brief moments.
Shiima Xion defeated BJ Whitmer to retain the Absolute Title – Whitmer started the action out strong by trying to break the ring with Xion’s back. He then contorted Xion into a series of gorgeous holds. Xion decided he wasn’t having any of this and limped backstage with various members of Chest Flexor Industries, who had been milling about ringside. Obviously Whitmer wasn’t going to stand for this and dragged Xion right back into the ring.
Xion decided he did want to be in the match after all, and came back by slamming Whitmer’s face into a chair, then flipped him over the barrier into the crowd. When they made it back into the ring, Xion sent a missile dropkick into Whitmer’s face, and a little later got him with a beautiful moonsault.
Chest Flexor Industries were still ringside, and interfered, leading to referee Jake Clemmons getting knocked out. He was carried backstage and a second ref, Dave the Potato (also known as the crooked ref from the four-way) came out and refused to count Whitmer’s pin, preferring to fake-tie his shoe.
A third ref came out and finally counted three on Xion, but Flexor put Xion’s foot on the rope. The match continued until Xion got a pin on Whitmer, holding him by his tights out of view of the ref.
Johnny Gargano came out of the back with a chair, and Matt Wapdsworth took to the mic to announce a match for the next AIW show, Nightmare before X-mas: Johnny Gargano vs. Crooked Ref Dave the Potato.
MASADA defeated Mad Man Pondo in a Hell on Earth Bloody Damned Massacre – Implements of destruction brought out prior to the start of the match: fluorescent light bulbs, several boxes of glass Christmas ornaments, a stop sign, a light up plastic Santa Clause decoration, a sledgehammer and cutlery.
Implements of destruction utilized over the course of the match: all of the above, plus chairs, tables, cinderblocks, wooden skewers and baseball bats wrapped in barbed wire.
This can’t even properly be called a match; this was a massacre. Both men ended up covered in blood and glass shards, as did the ring and the arena.
Memorable moments include: Pondo giving MASADA the lowest of low blows with a light tube, Pondo again detonating a cinderblock on MASADA’s crotch with a sledgehammer, and a chair literally being broken over the back of the Pondo. At least I think it was Pondo, I might have been too busy cringing to take proper notes.
MASADA ended this bloodbath after throwing the Mad Man on a table and then leaping on him. Twice. Because the table didn’t break the first time (it may have been imported from Japan). Then he dragged Pondo into the ring and drove a solid handful of wooden skewers into his head. Where they stayed, through the pin, and through Pondo’s speech at the end.
Nine hours of work, several cups of coffee, and two energy drinks culminating in a nineteen hour day. I thought I was going to be exhausted; instead I was up on my feet screaming my lungs out, jumping up and down. Hell on Earth my day might have been, but the wrestling was absolutely worth every bleary eyed, ass-dragging moment leading up to it. And all that money I spent on energy drinks.
One final thing I’d like to point out: One of the things I really love about AIW is the crowd. There is nothing better than being in a crowd full of raucous, obnoxious wrestling fans watching awesome wrestling. After seeing Hell on Earth, I can honestly say that AIW does both of these things extremely well. If you’re in or around Cleveland, they are absolutely worth your time and your money. If you aren’t, they’re still worth your money and Smart Mark Video has your back.
Until then, enjoy over 800 photos below the cut!