ECCW held it’s newly crowned November show “North by Northwest”, which has been created as a tag team tournament to showcase off all of the tag team wrestling. All of it.
It’s a bit of a tall order to have an entire show dedicated to tag team wrestling, but with the way the shows have been booked lately, I had confidence it was going to work.
So how did it go down? What happened? Did they pull off a great night of wrestling? Read on to find out!
The Bollywood Boyz (Current champs) vs Nelson Creed and Alex Plexis
The Bollywood Boyz aka The Most Over Tag Team in BC took on the newly founded team of Creed and Plexis. Why are Plexis and Creed a team now? That’s a great question, and one I have no answer for. As a result they came across as the “they have nothing better to do, so let’s make them a tag team” group of the tournament.
The match itself was solid if nothing else. Creed and Plexis heeled it up during the match, playing to the crowd to try and rile them up. I find Plexis is a much stronger heel in that he generates a lot of hate naturally, such as being skinny (it just sets people off), plus he has one of the most random cutaways in his entrance video, which I can’t help but love.
“I’m just a bad ass, smoking my cigarette. Who needs buttons? Not this guy. Now I’m gonna walk away. Here, eat smoke, loser.”
Plus Plexis has “#Winning” on the back of his vest, which is very dated now, so it just gives you another reason to boo the man. It would be like someone busting out the macarena at a party; legally you have to boo them.
Creed, a veteran of the industry, has never managed to draw me in for some reason. I think I’m just tired of the “I’m smarter than you” gimmick that always seems to pop up in wrestling. I also haven’t seen him be put in too many interesting story line arcs either.
Plus, you know, the junk streamers.
That being said, this was an easy first match to call, the Bollywood Boyz weren’t going to lose in the first round.
Except, spoiler alert, they lost. That’s right, the Bollywood Boyz lost to the team of Creed and Plexis, aka the sexiest brains in the business?
After the shock wore off, I really liked the Boyz losing in the first round because it added a lot of intrigue to the tournament. Instead of a night of “Who are the Bollywood Boyz going to face in the Finals”, it set up a night of “Holy hell, who are the new tag champs going to be?” That helps draw you in to all the other matches on the show more than you might have been otherwise.
One oddity after the match was that Plexis and Creed were declared the new tag team champs, then that was reversed, then that was reversed again. The idea I guess was that the tag team titles were “live” during the tournament, but that got lost on the crowd (and the back apparently). I didn’t really like the idea, to be honest.
I wish they had opened the show holding the two titles up, to re-affirm what was up for grabs. Play up those titles as the most important thing of the night, don’t let them change hands randomly during the night! It also makes the last win of the night more impactful because the team that wins it finally gets their hands on the belts after a long night of fighting.
Tony Baroni vs Air Adonis and Billy Suede
Tony Baroni interrupted ECCW mainstay Archie Henderson receiving the Mike Democrat award (award given to honor people behind the scenes) much to the chagrin of the crowd. I liked this move because it further cements Baroni as a slimy heel via other means rather than just cheap shots in matches. Baroni should get many kudos for his transition from face to heel. It’s not all just bathrobes and chewing gum!
Once Baroni ruined Archie’s moment, he boasted that he didn’t need a partner, and that he would win the tag match by himself. Interesting. Why would a heel do this unless he had a plan B?
Anyhow, out comes Air Adonis (a natural athlete with raw talent who I am dying to see more from) and then comes Suede.
Suede, if you remember from the last RCC recap, had a fan in attendance who wore his jersey. They saw each other from across the room and high fived like long lost brothers.
Well guess what? IT HAPPENED AGAIN.
I was standing in line in front of that gentleman to get into the RCC, and he couldn’t have been more excited to watch the show. Look at that! He even got a high five like last time.
Now, as is tradition in a handicap match, it started with a dance off. Billy did a Flair strut, Baroni did his weird T-Rex dance he does, and Adnois busted out a flip:
Apologies for the ref who seemed intent upon blocking my view for half the night.
The match started with Adonis taking on Baroni. I spent most of the time wondering what Baroni’s plan B was. Would he have someone run in to help? Would the mysterious blue masked man who has been appearing at shows step up?
As the match continued I found myself once again wanting to see Adonis in a consistent storyline. I want to see what ECCW has with him. The dude has a great look, and is naturally athletic. He can make hitting standing moonsaults look ridiculously easy:
I think it might help him to be a bit more serious in his character, however. On one hand, I love the idea of some random drunk airline pilot taking time off from his busy schedule to wrestle matches.
On the other hand, it’s harder to grab sympathy from the crowd when you look like the guy who intimidates you at the gym, and has a pretty lady at his side. Now, they recently had his lady turn on him at Halloween Hell, so I say go the next step and drop the gimmicky theme music (it’s the Magnum PI theme song, which is pretty god damn sweet, but is kinda gimmicky) and play to the crowd more as a good guy they can relate to. Maybe pretend to struggle on a push up or something.
Back to the match, I still had no idea where it was going when all of a sudden it revealed itself. Adonis, reeling from a beating put on him by Tony, dove for the tag…only to see Suede jump away from it.
Suede. Heel turn.
They completed the Adonis beating by placing his ankle in a steel chair and jumping off the top rope on it. Aka I got super sad that Adonis was being written off for the night.
Goodnight you drunk pilot you.
Now, why did Suede join Baroni? Is Baroni making a stable? He has the Goddess Mandy on his side, is Suede also joining them full time? Will Suede finally drop the paisley from his trunks?? So many questions.
I like the idea of Baroni forming a group, I just want them to be very clear about it and their motivations. I would love a better explanation than “I’m following the gold” but I would even take that at this point.
ECCW tends to be vague about alliances at times, which makes it hard to follow who is friends with who, and why. For example, it felt like Kassidy managed 85% of the heels on the roster at one time.
So Baroni and Suede were awarded the win. Alas, they would not move on in the tourney due to ECCW management deciding that it was against the “spirit” of the competition to win in such a devious manner. Yes, they were disqualified. This led to Suede going “Full Lesnar”, tossing a trash can into the wall in anger, and leaving a giant hole in it:
My first thought was “Sweet geezus, the security deposit” followed quickly by “Never go full Lesnar”.
Of course we couldn’t finish this match without checking in on Suede’s super fan, and I have to warn you, it’s not pretty:
You broke a man’s heart tonight Billy. It’s one thing to turn on a tag team partner, it’s another thing to tread all over a fans heart. You monster!
Smac My Bishop vs The Good Brothers
(I can’t remember which person came up with that glorious name for Bishop and Scotty Mac, but it’s too good not to use).
The Good Brothers vs Scotty Mac and Bishop was good, and a lot of that is due to the fact it’s really hard to look poor against two veterans like Bishop and Scotty. They are both so well polished in the ring (from their moves, to their characters, to even their facial expressions) that they are the prototypical Two Man Power Trip for ECCW. As Scotty explained, nobody has done more for ECCW than them, which is true, but it’s being used in an a-hole kind of way, which is pretty much perfect heel storytelling.
I also want to bring up what I feel is a huge part of wrestling, which is ring gear. I know it might not seem like much, but good ring gear goes a long way to maintaining the wall of illusion. You know, the illusion that we are watching real men fight. That wrestling is real. Having good ring gear is the equivalent of clothes being from the proper time period in a period piece.
Bad ring gear? That’s like watching a movie on Fidel Castro and having him ride up on a motorcycle wearing a Lululemon jacket. So while it can seem small, bad ring gear can really mess with your perception.
Now I don’t mean to pick on the Good Brothers, but I really don’t like their ring gear. Crushed red velvet with a blue logo on the back? The other guy wearing Red Sox font shorts? They don’t match as a team, and it gives off a “rag tag” vibe. It’s hard to believe they can win when they come across looking second hand.
It’s especially odd because they have such a great simplistic t-shirt design and color scheme, so I assumed their ring gear would just match that.
Again, I know that might be super nit picky, but it’s just something I feel goes a long way in wrestling.
For example, Scotty Mac has slowly been turning into a chrome ball over the last few months. Every show he has more and more silver on him. Well guess what, tonight Bishop came out WITH CHROME ON HIS EYES. It’s like Scotty Mac turns everyone around him into Chromites, and it’s freaking awesome. A small touch, but it helped play up the fact they were a tag team, and I loved it.
As for the match itself, it started off with a nice leap for the Good Brothers:
But ended with Scotty Mac and Bishop getting the victory. The finish to the match was top notch, as it had Bishop hit Mike Everest, take out Pesky while Smac hit the superkick, which then allowed Bishop to come back and hit his cannonball. That is simply beautiful.
I liked this match because it showed how committed Scotty is to being a heel right now. He is not only trash talking the audience whenever he can, but he’s also doing great spots where he’s missing moves and selling it hard. Crowds love watching an overconfident heel embarrass themselves, and Scotty is working it to perfection.
The Cunninghams vs Amerikan Gunz
Two of my favorite tag teams faced off in the first round, which meant one of them had to lose. All of the bad guys had won so far, so I was pretty confident the Cunninghams were taking this one. The Amerikan Gunz have also been struggling with their manager Kassidy, so the deck was stacked against them.
The Cunninghams are awesome because they really get tag team wrestling. They do a ton of tag team moves, their ring gear matches, and I’m pretty sure nobody owns more spandex in all of indie wrestling like these two do. For example, look at this sweet tag move:
It hearkens back to a time when tag team wrestling was really strong, and you honestly felt like a tag team was good because they used actual teamwork. In WWE you have a lot of teams that just do individual moves, which is why it was such a breath of fresh air to see Tyson Kidd and Cesaro “get it” when it comes to good tag wrestling.
The Amerikan Gunz are a strong heel team, and they tend to put on great matches with the Cunninghams and tonight was no different. The tension between Kassidy and Gunz revealed itself, however, when Kassidy had a chance to choke Carl on the ropes and he didn’t.
“What are you doing?” the Gunz screamed. “I’m holding your stuff!” responded Kassidy. And to be fair, he was indeed holding their hats and wallets. Still, the seed continued to grow that Kassidy and the Gunz were not on the same page.
After a good back and forth match, the Cunninghams picked up the win:
Was I sad I didn’t see Big Jack whip and nae nae? Of course I was.
Brady Malibu vs El Phantasmo
A returning Brady Malibu, sorry, Mali-BOO, offered up a “15 minute open challenge” to anyone willing to step up and face him. The lights went out, the predator noise kicked in, and I was the only one audibly yelling loudly “**** YEAH EL P.”
I admittedly don’t know a ton about Malibu, I vaguely remember watching him during a Ballroom Brawl once upon a time, and he seems to love life preservers, but he did garner a solid laugh from me tonight for not only yelling “Lucha Libre” for no reason after doing a flip, and for taking his Malibu gimmick to the next level by riding El P like Teen Wolf surfing a van:
Now, the match itself was whatever. El P is awesome, so he made it entertaining to watch as usual (he could make pancakes and it would be scintillating as he back flipped butter into the batter), but the storyline behind El P fighting a returning Malibu has no grit to it. It has no emotional connection. Where it got interesting is when El P mimicked a move Scotty Mac did during his match earlier:
This brought out an irate Scotty Mac because, you see, nobody chromes without his permission. You do NOT get to brush chrome off your chest unless you have earned that right. This led to El P then signalling for Scotty’s finisher, the super kick.
Needless to say, it was on like a chrome Donkey Kong.
This led to El P having to make a choice. To either die a hero, or live long enough to become the villain. On this day, he chose to die a hero by going after Chrome Zoolander and Tarzan Hansel instead of hitting his finisher on Malibu.
El P would not make it back to the ring in time to beat the 10 count, thus giving Malibu the victory. Scotty Mac and Bishop then went to the back to celebrate this victory, I assume by having baths in molten silver.
Cunninghams vs Scotty Mac and Bishop
Round two of the tournament bracket was underway, and it had the last remaining good guy team taking on the Two Chromed Power Trip.
Things I loved about this match:
- Carl getting the hot tag, and not Big Jack
- Bishop and Scotty treating Big Jack like Andre the Giant. What I mean is they really played up his size. Scotty began speed bag punching Big Jack’s stomach to try and wear him down, and I really thought it was a smart way to present the match, to make it stand out from the other matches we had seen so far.
- I mean, they REALLY played up beating down Jack and making that hot tag to Carl pay off. One brilliant moment was Bishop knocking down Carl and then standing in his place on the ring apron so he could get the “tag” from a confused and beaten down Jack. I wish I could give a standing ovation for that moment alone, just awesome awesome match planning.
- Carl hitting hurricanranas like nobody’s business
- Big Jack hitting “The End of Days” (I assume Jack calls it the “End of Nae Nae’s” though)
- Bishop randomly retorting to a fan “I’m awesome” with a deadpan delivery. Nobody makes me laugh more in the ring with his facial expressions and body language than Bishop.
- Blue Masked guy making a move, once again
- El P getting his revenge and costing Scotty and Bishop the match
My theory is that Scotty Mac lost because the chrome had washed off of his body, thus leaving him powerless.
FINALS: Cunninghams vs Plexis and Creed
Yes, due to the fact Adonis was broken in half by Suede and Baroni, Creed and Plexis had a bye in the 2nd round. This meant the Cunninghams only had a few minutes to change into their third ring gear of the night (I wasn’t kidding, they own a lot of spandex) before fighting for the tag team titles.
The match was a lot of waiting for the hot tag to Big Jack, which was fine, because they’d already had a match where Carl got to bat cleanup, and the match where they both pulled their weight offensively against the Gunz.
The finish to the match came when the Cunningham’s had victory within their grasp, only to see Kassidy run in with that briefcase of his and interrupt the count.
Kassidy saved Plexis and Creed and before you knew it, the tag team thrown together for the hell of it, had won the titles.
I have gone back and forth over this finish and I am still uncertain of how I feel about it. Long term, it makes sense. The tag division needs another strong heel team (Gunz are about it) and it certainly gives Plexis and Creed something to do for a while. It also makes sense storytelling wise because hey, they had a bye in the 2nd round, so they weren’t nearly as tired as the Cunninghams were.
On the other hand, it feels a bit forced in the fact it’s giving instant credibility to a newly formed team. Like, I still have no idea why Plexis and Creed are a team right now (they both like the color purple?), yet they are the tag champs right now? It’s almost like the titles are being used to propel them as the new number one heel team instead of giving us a more viable reason.
Short term wise, the reaction to them winning the titles fell dead on the crowd in attendance. There weren’t any cheers, there weren’t any boos, it was just mute acceptance of what they saw. Not the greatest reaction to get, but as I said, long term wise it can make a lot of sense. I just still don’t know how I feel about it.
It also brings up another problem I feel ECCW has on their hands, in that it is very heel heavy right now. There are a lot of heels, and they are getting booked in a very strong manner. Traditionally it usually ends up being more riveting when the so called “good guy” is chasing a prize, and can finally get past all the hurdles to claim the ultimate prize. I just think their should be a better balance of good guys right now.
On the singles side, you have credible heels in Pete Powers, Scotty Mac, Bishop, Alex Plexis, Nelson Creed, Billy Suede, Malibu, Tony Baroni.
On the good guy side of things you have El P, Artemis Spencer (injured), Ravenous Randy Nicole Matthews and…. who else are they going to push? Air Adonis? Shreddz? There is no obvious top tier face ready to step up and take on some of the heels.
You know what ECCW needs? A guy like Kenny Lush to come back. They are missing him desperately. He is a credible face, and a big man who can go toe to toe with the Bishop’s of the world.
Even a guy like King of the Yukon would be a huge help.
Or, why not split up the Amerikan Gunz and let Ethan HD have a run as a singles face? He is underrated as hell and is constantly the glue of the matches he’s in. Try and let him evolve his character.
I think it’s easy to book heels strong. Make them take cheap shots at the crowd, give them a manager or two (do any faces have friends right now, managers or otherwise?) and have them rile the crowd up. The trick right now for ECCW is to not let the heels get so strong that the good guys get lost in the shuffle. Yin and yang and all that.
Right now it feels like the bad guys are all super smart, and all of them have plans and ambitions, whereas the good guys are a bunch of yokels just putting in their time, just hoping they can scrounge up enough cash for lunch the next day.
MVP of the Night:
Carl Cunningham was my MVP of the night. It gets real easy for Carl to get lost in the shadow of Big Jack (no pun intended). Jack gets the power spots, Jack gets the majority of hot tags, and he can wow the crowd simply by being an agile big man. In a sense, Carl has to work a lot harder to get noticed some nights.
Tonight, however, he stood out, as he not only got the win by himself in one match, but he also got the hot tag in another. He also then showcased his ability to take a beating and sell it well in the third and final match.
A tag tournament is not an easy sell. Tag matches can end up being far more formulaic than singles matches, because a lot of the time it becomes a “just wait for the hot tag, then we can watch the finish” type situation. A whole night of this has the possibility of becoming very stale very fast. Give huge credit to the Cunninghams who not only brought a variety of offense, but their matches all had different aspects to them, which kept things fresh. Not an easy task.
Regardless, Carl brought his A game tonight, and I was happy to see him shine at the North by Northwest tournament. The Cunninghams keep improving every time I see them, and are some of the hardest working guys in the business. I look forward to seeing them become tag team champs again, because they deserve it.
In closing, El P explains my thoughts on this show the best: