In what has been, and will continue to be a big weekend for midwest wrestling, AAW returned home to the Berywn Eagles Club for a Thursday Night Special. It was a big night of debuts with lucha legend Juventud Guerrera, former WWE Superstar Jack Swagger, high-flying sensation and current CZW Champion Lio Rush, and Impact Wrestling star Laredo Kid all making first-time appearances.
The show appeared to be a legitimate sell-out with all the remaining GA tickets sold at the door, and plenty of people left standing. It wasn’t the most packed I’ve ever seen Berwyn, which is normally a sardine can, but it was a great turnout for a Thursday night show where most people had to work in the morning.
AAW Thursday Night Special
Conner Braxton came out to kick off the night and complained that he wasn’t advertised for the show. He bragged that because there had never been a Thursday night show, that he was undefeated in AAW on Thursdays, and issued an open challenge to remain undefeated.
1. Paco def. Conner Braxton. A good back and forth match with the local Paco getting a great pop as the surprise challenger. I’ve been very impressed with Braxton lately. It seems like every show he’s on, he gets more heat than the last. There was a sick spot where Braxton caught Paco coming over the ropes, threw him back into the ropes and caught him with a headbutt on the rebound. The thud of their skulls colliding was nasty.
2. Jake Crist def. Myron Reed, Laredo Kid and Joey Janella in a four-way match. High spots everywhere, and the crowd ate it up. There was a sequence at the end where everyone was diving to the floor, but there was four of them so they could believably rotate in to keep it going if they kept it at the right pace. The crowd went nuts for this, and at the end OI4K manager JT Davidson came off the top rope with a senton just to add to the insanity. This was followed by an immediate “dive” chant, and then a loud “f— you Randy” chant.
3. Trevor Lee def. Colt Cabana. Trevor made his entrance in about three seconds and yelled at production to cut his music. It’s a super effective method of drawing heat now that he’s gone heel, as everyone dancing and signing to Taylor Swift has long been a favorite part of AAW shows.
4. Davey Vega & Alex Daniels def. Detective Dan Barry & Lt. Bill Carr, and Trey Miguel & Stephen Wolf in a triple threat tag team match. This was a lot of fun. The bright side to the indies losing so many guys to WWE recently is that AAW has been able to bring in a lot of new and returning names that are all coming along really well. Daniels, Miguel and Wolf have all added a lot to shows this year.
5. Keith Lee def. Donovan Dijak. Easily the match of the night. These two tore the house down in a hard-hitting, back and forth hoss fight. The crowd was into it from beginning to end, and they had to tighten the ropes after they were done because I swear everyone thought it was going to collapse from the raw power and size these two threw at each other. Great spot late into the match as Dijak sent Lee over the barricade into the crowd with a rolling elbow, then (and remember this guy is at least 6’7) did a springboard moonsault all the way over to take him out. The fans threw money at them after the match. Definitely check this one out when it’s available.
6. Michael Elgin def. Jack Swagger. The announcer had to come back and “properly” announce him as Former World Heavyweight Champion Formerly Known as Jack Swagger. As someone who went straight to OVW out of college, who never had to work the indie circuit, this was something of a trial by fire against one of the modern standard-bearers of the indies. Swagger definitely came to play, and took some ridiculous chops and strikes from Elgin. He had a welt on his chest that turned dark purple almost instantly. I don’t know if his goal is to continue full-time, but it was clear he’d be welcome back in AAW any time.
7. Rey Fenix & AR Fox (c) def. Lio Rush & Shane Strickland to retain the AAW Tag Team Championships. Fox and Fenix are somewhat of a makeshift team thrown together because of Dave Crist taking time off, but they’ve found a surprising amount of chemistry and are now 2-0 in great matches together. As expected this was another crazy, high flying spectacle that made Rush look great in his debut. Strickland has been great since debuting in March, and is hopefully becoming a regular.
8. Sami Callihan (c) def. Juventud Guerrera to retain the AAW Championship. I just need to take a second to appreciate Sami Callihan. The guy is banged up, far less than 100% physically, screwed up his ribs badly in this match, and works a busier schedule than almost anyone in the business. And yet he still went out there, against a guy he’s never worked before (to my knowledge), and killed it. This was something of a transcendent experience for me. 20 years ago Juve was one of the two wrestlers that got me into wrestling (the other being Eddie Guerrero), and here he is two decades later wrestling my current favorite wrestler for my favorite promotion. Wrestling is cool.
After the match, Jake Crist and JT Davidson beat down Juventud and tried to rip his mask off, until Fenix ran out to make the save. They beat down Fenix as well and held him down as Sami said that he was tired of all the “luchador bulls–t” and wanted to unmask him for good. Michael Elgin’s music hit, prompting OI4K to flee the ring. Big Mike officially confirmed that he will challenge for the AAW Championship on June 17th at 115 Bourbon Street, and Juve closed out the night thanking the fans and saying that he was happy to finally be in an AAW ring.
There was a big press conference after the show in the locker room, after all the fans finally went home. They filmed the contract signing for the Callihan vs. Elgin match on 6/17 and had a few people from various wrestling outlets present to ask questions. They really took it to the next level cutting intense, personal promos on each other in what should be an extremely entertaining 15-20 minute video package. Keep a look out for the video when they put it up on Twitter or YouTube.