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Yep, it’s your official Northern Virginia correspondent here with another look at NOVA Pro Wrestling and their attempt to entertain the Mid-Atlantic. This is arguably their biggest show of 2017 so far, as we have three titles on the line and a first-ever ladder match in the main event! With 10 matches announced, things began 15 minutes early with a bonus match, and the show didn’t end until 11:15. I was there with fellow Cagesider Gabe, which made for an interesting experience as I caught him up on the action – he hadn’t been able to attend in person since February thanks to his job schedule.
Match 0: Ethan Alexander Sharpe and Isaiah Frazier vs. AC Hawkes and Sage Phillips
Sharpe and Frazier are both members of the Money Team, led by Brandon “Money” Greene, who was sadly absent from this show. Hawkes passed his tryout at the Box of Chocolates show, putting on Match of the Session honors with Sugar Dunkerton. Phillips has worked a few “Match 0” matches before, and in this match was wearing a huge knee brace. (Sharpe noticed me and, in a callback to October, made sure to mock my mustache – his is a well-groomed handlebar, so this is more running gag than anything.)
Hawkes is a Lance Storm trainee, and when he was in, things were pretty solid. Phillips, on the other hand, was noticeably a step slow. I don’t know if he’s legit coming back from an injury or he’s inexperienced, but things were a little awkward when he was in. Phillips was the face in peril as Sharpe and Frazier worked his leg. Hawkes, when he came in off the hot tag, controlled things. However, Phillips tagged in and looked to finish Sharpe. This was a mistake, as Frazier attacked the leg and Sharpe got the pin.
Ethan Alexander Sharpe and Isaiah Frazier defeated AC Hawkes and Sage Phillips when Sharpe cradled Phillips and used the tights at 7:10. (Rating: ½*)
Match 1: The GymNasty Boys (White Mike and Timmy Lou Retton) vs. The Ugly Ducklings (Lance Lude and Rob Killjoy)
On Facebook before the show, some CWF Mid-Atlantic fans were telling us that Northern Virginia was not ready for White Mike. After the match, I’ll say we weren’t ready for anyone in this match. (Editor’s note: No one is ready for White Mike.)
Retton and Mike are both thick men, but they possess some amazing agility. Mike’s selling was a highlight as, after getting chopped by Lude, he would scream like a girl. Lude and Killjoy hit dives to the outside and kept the crowd in it with their “Quack, quack” chant. No doubt who the fans were supposed to side with.
Retton – who recently got an NXT tryout – was particularly impressive, living up to the “gymnast” portion of his gimmick with some incredible flips for a man of his body type. Mike held his own during the breakdown segment, including catching Lude with an 1800 DDT. (That’s five rotations.) Retton missed a shooting star press, and the Ducklings got him out of the ring and did an incredible double-team where Killjoy monkey-flipped Lude into a cannonball on Mike! And that was just the setup… for the finish, Killjoy lifted Mike up on his shoulders, and Lude nailed him with double knees on the way down!
The Ugly Ducklings d. The GymNasty Boys when Lude pinned Mike after a Doomsday Kneedrop at 9:13. (Rating: ***¼)
The match got a bit of a standing ovation, with the Ducklings being given a huge “Please Come Back” chant… which they asked us to modify to “Please Come Quack”!
Match 2: Rory Gulak vs. John Kermon
As is traditional in NOVA Pro in 2017, the second match was John Kermon challenging anyone with an MMA/grappling style. This month’s foe was Rory Gulak, Johnny Kidd Invitational winner and the brother of Drew Gulak. So needless to say, there was no flying in this match. The match started with some jockeying for position, which Kermon has conditioned the crowd to expect in his matches, and the crowd was silent and appreciative… until a break came, and a huge “WRESTLING!” shout came out. It’s our thing.
Gulak, none too surprisingly, was the first to deviate from the grappling strategy, showing frustration and trying to knock Kermon out. However, Kermon stayed with his strategy and caught Gulak out of nowhere with his cross armbreaker, leading to a lightning-fast tapout.
John Kermon d. Rory Gulak with a cross armbar at 8:38. (Rating: **¼)
Match 3: Sahara Seven vs. Faye Jackson
Sahara does a Cleopatra-style gimmick, but she was basically brought in to be the showcase opponent for Jackson. Jackson’s whole thing is that she uses her weight to her advantage. I don’t want to call her fat – heaven knows I have no room to talk – but her pre-match deal includes insisting the ref check her trunk for foreign objects, and her offense includes an Earthquake senton and running Rikishi hip attacks. She uses what she’s got, basically. This was never in doubt.
Faye Jackson d. Sahara Seven with a cannonball in 4:40. (Rating: ¾*)
So three matches, and each of them featured someone making their first appearance in the company. We couldn’t keep up the trends, unfortunately… unless you count referee Jason Munoz, who was assigned to the next match after appearing in the Box of Chocolates tryout as a wrestler. And what a match for a first assignment!
Match 4: wXw Shotgun Champion David Starr vs. AIW Absolute Champion Tim Donst for both titles
Introductions alone take up 5 minutes, as Donst has 3 nicknames and Starr has 10. Back-and-forth opening, with neither man really able to get any advantage. Donst was dumped to the outside, and Starr tried to dive, but Donst rolled in and dove instead on Starr. Later on, Donst was tossed halfway to the crowd, and Starr’s big dive sent him the rest of the way. Both men teased being counted out… wait, 10?
David Starr vs. Tim Donst goes to a double countout…
Wait, Starr gets the microphone and says that he appreciates the referee making sure they were safe, but the match can’t end like this! He wants it re-started with no countout. Donst agrees, and the referee, realizing it was a close 10, lets the match start again.
So with the match restarted with no countouts, the two men quickly spilled out of the ring and fought around ringside. Included in this was Starr getting smoked by a Donst chop and doing a Flair Flop on the basketball floor. OUCH. Back in the ring, the two exchanged strike attacks, with the referee desperately trying to keep it a wrestling match. The two eventually degenerated into a hockey fight, and the referee’s attempts to separate them only hurt him… and led to another bell.
David Starr vs. Tim Donst goes to a double disq…
…yeah, who are we kidding. Before anyone can even get a mic to complain, the crowd is starting a “NO DQ” chant. Donst confirms that’s what they’re chanting, then demands another re-start. Starr’s okay with it, but Munoz refuses – after all, they attacked him. Starr and Donst decide this is the wrong answer and both slug his lights out. The other two referees (Todd Myers and Jason Register) head to ringside to check on Munoz, and Donst grabs Myers and tells him to make the right call. Which he does, so here we go again.
Both men promptly go outside and throw chairs into the ring. Donst gets the better of it early on, but he misses a swing and Starr wears Donst out. He wedges a chair into the turnbuckle, but Donst reverses and sends Starr in before following with an Exploder onto a chair for a very close two. (Gabe noted the chair got the worst of it, actually bending out of shape!)
Starr stops Donstitution from happening and tosses Donst into the chair again, following up with a German suplex and bridge! Myers and Register count (one inside, one outside), and we have a winner!
David Starr d. Tim Donst to become the new AIW Absolute Cha… wait, Register is talking to the announcer.
Tim Donst d. David Starr to become the new wXw Shotgun Cha… hold on, let’s get everyone in on this conversation. Okay, NOW we’re ready.
AIW Absolute Champion Tim Donst vs. wXw Shotgun Champion David Starr ended in a double pinfall after Starr couldn’t keep his shoulders up in a German Suplex in 4:18 + 3:34 + 3:02. (Rating: ***¼)
Each man has the other’s belt – makes sense, because each one was announced as a new champion – and while neither one’s happy, Munoz is angriest of them all. He thinks both men were extremely unprofessional and will have their state licenses for what they did to him. Starr and Donst look at each other, shrug, set the belts down, and give Munoz a 3D. An uneasy belt exchange follows, but both men raise the other’s hands with a “Both These Guys” chant beginning.
Match 5: Reed “By God” Bentley and Mance Warner vs. The Sandwich Squad (Aaron Biggs and Mecha Mercenary)
Bentley is a former IWA-MS champion who has made a few appearances in NOVA Pro, but this is his first in 2017. He brings with him Mance Warner, who is apparently doing a trailer park preacher gimmick. I emphasize “apparently” because he wasn’t nearly loud enough to be heard by the crowd, who yelled at him to speak up repeatedly.
The Sandwich Squad are not really a team you put in a long match, but they tried here. Mecha was face in peril, but Bentley and Warner really didn’t have a good offensive display. During the heat segment, Bentley lost a contact lens and asked a fan at ringside to hold it… he had to explain what it was (hey, would YOU take something a white-trash heel pulled out of his eye?). Biggs gets the hot tag after a Black Forest Slam by Mecha, and he fires up the crowd as he bowls both men over. I’ll say this again: Aaron Biggs could easily make it to the big time. He’s 400 pounds, pretty agile, charismatic, and connects with the crowd.
Anyway, it looked like the finish would be Bentley stuffing his bare foot down Biggs’ throat, but shenanigans happened and Warner ended up eating toejam. One double-team later, that was it.
The Sandwich Squad d. Reed Bentley and Mance Warner when Biggs pinned Warner after a Sandwich avalanche at 10:13. (Rating: *½)
Match 6: Matt Cross vs. Sonjay Dutt
You know how unsettling it is to see Cross with gray hair in his beard? Just saying. Also, we got a Both These Guys chant before the match even began.
Anyway, as an athletic exhibition, this was great and it’s rated as such. There’s one small thing, though: it’s Monday evening and I’m struggling to remember half the match. I feel like I’m letting myself and the rest of you down, because clearly it was a great match – and the crowd was very much into it – but there’s not much to remember. This was two guys who were close friends having another match like they do all over the world.
They couldn’t even put the X Division title on the line (although in their defense, Trevor Lee stole the actual belt, so there’s that). The big spot I remember was Cross doing his dive fakeout on a whip and returning with an RKO. Near the end, both men began spamming cradles, which led to the finish.
Sonjay Dutt d. Matt Cross when he blocked and stacked Cross on La Majistral for the pin at 14:46. (Rating: ***¾)
Now for the part I do remember: after the match, Dutt talked about how he began learning by wrestling backyard-style at the local high school, and said he played as Cross in early video games. Together, they’ve traveled millions of miles and wrestled all over the world… and they’ve even wrestled each other in the US, Canada, Brazil, Germany, Egypt, Singapore, Japan, and so on. It’s always a pleasure (he says) to face his long-time friend. The two have been in wrestling for 18 years each, and everywhere they go it’s great to fight once again. Dutt thanks Cross for the opportunity, and the two embrace to a standing ovation.
And on that note, we go to intermission. During the intermission, I notice that the rope holding the PWI Ultra J title above the ring (for the ladder match, but the title’s been up there all night) is anchored right next to challenger Logan Easton LaRoux’s merch stand. I make sure to tell his Gated Community friends (who are running the stand) that there’d better not be any funny stuff, and they promise they won’t be at the table during the match. (Fortunately, my instincts were off and they were honest.)
Match 7: Handicap Elimination Match – Arik Royal vs. The One Percent (Alexander James and Bobby Shields) and Tripp Cassidy
James and Shields are Logan Easton LaRoux’s stablemates in the One Percent. They hired Tripp Cassidy, as they had in the past, to round out the team because, let’s face it, 2-on-1 isn’t as much of a challenge as 3-on-1. Despite this being advertised as a gauntlet match, it was played as a tornado elimination match, and all three men were allowed to beat on Royal at the same time.
However, it became clear Shields fancied himself the captain of the crew and that he insisted on getting the pin. This was no problem for James, who willingly stood aside early (on a two-count), but when Cassidy thought he’d knocked Royal out with a Shining Wizard, Shields had to pull Cassidy off the cover!
Cassidy was none too amused with this and shoved both men away, walking out to the back. James tried to talk Cassidy into coming back, but Cassidy blew him off and walked out. Shields, alone in the ring, watched the team falling apart, meaning he didn’t see Royal getting up. Shields then walked into a small package, and officially James was the only one left.
But Shields wasn’t about to go quietly, striking with knees and dropkicks in the corner to knock Royal down. James stole a two-count off of it, but he couldn’t keep the advantage – Royal is just that much better. Shields remained at ringside to cheer James on, which he technically shouldn’t have, and it led to a false finish as he distracted the referee when Royal hit his Space Jam signature move on James. James got a low blow and looked to finish with his Bloody Sunday, but Royal tripped James and hooked a leglock to get the submission.
As a result of the victory, Royal will get a Commonwealth Cup finals rematch against LaRoux at Nova Project III (the 2nd anniversary show) in September.
Arik Royal d. Tripp Cassidy (walkout), Bobby Shields (small package) and Alexander James (wheelbarrow cloverleaf with bodyscissors) to win the gauntlet at 10:06. (Rating: **)
Match 8: Angelus Layne vs. Brittany Blake
This was supposed to be Layne vs. Taeler Hendrix, but Hendrix had to cancel and Blake was brought in to take her place. Blake is a semi-regular in NOVA Pro, so this wasn’t out of the ordinary. Blake is much smaller than Layne, so this was a prototypical big/little matchup. Blake actually got her finisher (the Bad Omen, a tequila sunrise) on Layne, but Layne easily made the ropes and finished soon after. Really, it’s not the match itself that mattered…
Angelus Layne d. Brittany Blake with a gutwrench facebuster at 6:19. (Rating: *½)
…as much as what happened afterwards. Layne told the crowd that Taeler Hendrix was smart not to show up for this promotion run by a bunch of carny losers. (See, back in October, she had her match scratched with no explanation, and she’s been trying to destroy the company ever since… by showing up and wrestling for it. Just work with me.) She then says promoter Mike E. King just became a father for the first time (which is true, the birth was last month), and she hopes King is a much better father than he is a promoter.
This brings King himself out to tell Layne that’s enough and to leave the ring. Layne won’t leave, not even caring there’s a big main event on after her. King finally has had enough of her and walks to the back, seemingly to get people to get her out of the ring. Layne walks after King and turns him around… and after a tense split-second… A FIREBALL TO KING’S FACE! King is down and out as Layne races out the door, with building AD Matt Alvin in hot pursuit and half the locker room checking on King.
Needless to say, a visibly shaken Bryan Hughes (ring announcer) is trying to make sure King is getting medical attention. Eventually, everyone returns and, with the blessing of owner Mike King Jr (Mike E’s father) and Alvin, announces that the JCC of Northern Virginia has reached a three-year extension with NOVA Pro! There will be wrestling in my neighborhood until at least 2020! A big “JCC” chant breaks out, which amuses Hughes. “I don’t know how we’ll explain that on the DVD. It’s a new faction out of Dragon Gate. We just made it up, but I’m sure YOSSHINO’s already a part of it.”
Match 9: Beau Crockett vs. Innocent Isaiah
(Note: in the past, I’d been calling him by his full name and using “Innocent” as a nickname. I’ve been asked to change this. My apologies.)
And so begins the next chapter of the Cutie and the Beast story. In May, Crockett split from Isaiah at the end of a tag team street fight, joining the opposing Carnies. Last month, Isaiah was not cleared to wrestle due to a knee injury, but still raced in to attack Crockett after his six-man tag. And now, the two have their first match against each other. Crockett came out to the Carnies theme of Paint It Black, while Isaiah (after taking suggestions on Facebook and Twitter all month) chose You Give Love a Bad Name, sending a direct message to his former tag partner and crush.
A huge slugfest broke out to start, and Isaiah getting the jump on Crockett kept him on the attack. Crockett was the bigger and stronger man, though, and was able to take control by attacking the bad leg of Isaiah. Isaiah managed to escape in the corner and had Crockett set up for Shattered Dreams, with the entire crowd begging him to hit it. But Isaiah made it clear: he didn’t want to stoop to his opponent’s level, and he pulled Crockett out. This was a mistake.
Crockett attacked the leg of Isaiah, at one point using the ring apron to tie Isaiah up in a ringpost figure-four. But Isaiah was not to be denied, as he turned a wheelbarrow suplex attempt into a bulldog. He set up in the corner and yelled, “You broke my heart! You broke their heart! I’m breaking you!” But his superkick was intercepted. Crockett followed up with a spear, which is his finisher, but rather than cover and win, he taunted the entire crowd for a full 30 seconds before covering nonchalantly.
He should not have been surprised at the two-count.
Crockett had had enough of Isaiah hanging around and went outside to get a chair. A DQ finish seemed in the cards, but the referee wouldn’t let Crockett use the chair to destroy Isaiah’s leg. He grabbed the chair from behind Crockett and pulled it out of his hands. As the referee disposed of the chair, Isaiah knew: he had to give Crockett a dose of his medicine in order to survive.
Innocent Isaiah d. Beau Crockett after a low blow and cradle at 11:35. (Rating: **¼)
The crowd cheered and sang along with Bon Jovi, but Crockett clearly knew he had been robbed of victory – never mind that he was going to get himself disqualified, being pinned was a greater indignity. There’s no illusions that this story is over.
MAIN EVENT: Ladder Match for the PWI Ultra J Championship – Chet Sterling (champion) vs. Logan Easton LaRoux (challenger)
So this is it. After the elimination match win in November, the first defense in February, the Commonwealth Cup semifinal in April, the impromptu six-man in May, and the attempted masked theft in June, finally it ends here. Chet Sterling, champion for over 300 days, the man who conquered Cedric Alexander, takes on Logan Easton LaRoux, champion of the One Percent, determined challenger to the gold. And there will be no controversy this time, no need to fake injury, no duplicity. The first person to climb the ladder – and announcements make it clear, you MUST climb the ladder – and retrieve the gold wins it.
And Sterling and Logan are at it from the bell, taking each other down and firing off at each other. Sterling got the early advantage, bowling over Logan in the ring and heading to the outside, hoping to introduce the first ladder. He did… to Alexander James and Bobby Shields, who were running in to provide interference. But this little distraction was enough for Logan to dive onto Sterling as both men hit the floor with a thud. The fight continued, though, with both men doing their worst to each other – including Sterling throwing Logan into the Gated Community fan section that cheers for him!
But Logan took Sterling down before any climbing could be done and gave him an RKO on the floor. Both men were feeling the drop to the floor, but Sterling worse than Logan. Back in the ring, Logan set the ladder aside… he wanted a bigger one, and he saw it in the corner of the gym! The ladder was so big Logan had to ask the ring boys for help carrying it to the ring. Logan set it up, certain he’d won the match, but Sterling by this time recovered and pulled him back down! Now Sterling climbed, but Logan took him off with a missile dropkick!
The regular-size ladder was set up in the corner, and both men took turns tossing the other into it. Logan started the bidding with a slingshot, but as he climbed, Sterling powerbombed him into it! Sterling couldn’t climb as a follow-up, and both men slugged it out on the mat. Logan was up first and tried to suplex Sterling into the ladder, but Sterling blocked and, after a series of reversals, it was Logan going into the ladder!
Sterling knew he hadn’t done enough and tried to follow up, but this time Logan shoved him off the ladder. Now Logan seemed to be unimpeded to the top of the giant ladder, but Sterling would have none of it – climbing the “other” side of the ladder and meeting Logan at the top. After a dramatic slugfest, Sterling got the better of it… and it was a Blockbuster off the ladder! Crowd was freaking out at this point!
Logan fell to the floor as Sterling slowly pulled his way up. But all in all, both men took too long. Sterling was within an arm’s reach of the title when Logan returned, this time with a chair in hand. He smacked Sterling, knocking him off the ladder, before tossing the giant ladder out of the ring. He put the regular ladder on top of Sterling and smashed it with a chair, over and over, hurting Sterling underneath it. Still, Sterling kept coming. Logan realized he was going to need help and called on James and Shields to help him out. After a brief triple-team, he ordered Shields to hold Sterling so that Chet would have to watch his title reign end.
But here comes Arik Royal! Royal has a chair of his own and races in, scaring James and Shields to the back. Sterling is able to get up and once again climb opposite Logan on the ladder! It’s a fight up top, with heads going into the ladder and fists going into heads! This is it… the first one to fall loses! Who’s it going to be? Is it Logan… no, he hangs on! And one last flurry against Sterling sends him down! NEW CHAMPION!
Logan Easton LaRoux d. Chet Sterling to become the new PWI Ultra J Champion in 18:43. (Rating: ****)
The Gated Community cheered loud and long for their hero, while the rest of us applauded an amazing main event. Champagne flowed freely as the new champion, the Commonwealth Cup winner, the big name of NOVA Pro, held aloft his spoils. But he’d better not get comfortable – September is coming, and one man wants to make him answer. It took the presence of James at ringside for LaRoux to beat Arik Royal… can he do it again in two months’ time?
But before we get there, our next NOVA Pro show is August 18 at the Annandale VFD in Annandale, Virginia. “The Progressive Liberal” Daniel Richards will appear there, as we see if his gimmick has any substance behind it. Join us there for…
…wait, this just in: Tripp Cassidy appears to have told his running buddies about what happened, and the match is official. Our main event for Cool for the Summer on August 18 is a six-man faction war: The One Percent of Logan Easton LaRoux, Alexander James, and Bobby Shields against The Carnies of Nick Iggy, Kerry Awful, and Tripp Cassidy! See you in five weeks!