Chris Hero & Drew Gulak vs Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano
115 Bourbon Street, Merrionette Park, Illinois, United States
(reviewed 01/13/2017) This is certainly a stacked tag team match, though I wonder how it’ll play out, as these are four very different competitors who aren’t really used to mixing it up in this specific matchup. Gulak and Ciampa start things off, and surprisingly Ciampa outdoes the Legal Eagle in the realm of technical trickery. Ciampa and Gargano hang with and overcome their opponents early on, which is a little curious, as Hero and Gulak are certainly stronger competitors canonically, though perhaps not the stronger team. Before long, the mentor and trainee duo are able to take control, though somewhat awkwardly, as it appears that some miscommunication or mistiming threw a wrench into things. The commentary team is likewise thrown off by it, choosing to discuss Steve “The Turtle” Weiner’s hot mom instead of the match, though it’s not like AAW commentary is ever anywhere near the realm of “good”, or even “acceptable”. Gargano makes a comeback with his usual sort of goofy one-man double team spots, tagging out to Ciampa who does the same, but Ciampa manages to keep things centered with his striking and intensity. Hero evens things up again and does a subtle thing where he “accidentally” rolls to the wrong corner to add drama to Ciampa’s possible hot tag. The match progresses as you’d imagine, slowly breaking down into a tornado tag, and it’s all bland and odd-looking. At one point, as the future DIY lads have their signature submissions locked in, Gulak reverses Ciampa’s bridging armbar into a quick pin attempt, causing Hero to yell “No! I’m legal, you asshole!”, and really, that sums up this match in a lot of ways. Everything blends together and loses meaning to the point where the referee can’t keep anything straight, and none of it matters. When this match isn’t awkward stumbling around into spots that don’t feel good, it’s simply the usual Ciampa/Gargano crowd-pleaser tag match that I’ve seen dozens of times, but without the reigning-in of WWE production, it’s all overwrought and tedious in such a typical indie wrestling fashion. Unfamiliarity with this match permutation certainly plays a role here, but outside of a few shining moments from Hero and some solid striking from Ciampa, no one is good in this, and you can feel it. All four men managed to have an off night and produced an absolute stinker of a match that is far below their usual threshold. Easily the worst Hero match I’ve seen from 2016, he eventually picks up the win with a mean piledriver and Hangman’s Elbow on Gargano. Be sure to skip this one, folks.