CWF Mid-Atlantic Battlecade X8

taped 12/30/2017, aired various dates listed below

Mid-Atlantic Sportatorium, Gibsonville, North Carolina, United States

Brad Stutts kicks off the show with a variation of the “lol I’ll pretend u said 18” joke/reference, which is… regrettable considering recent events.

Dirty Daddy (c) vs Mike Mars

CWF Mid-Atlantic Rising Generation League Championship

aired 01/03/2017

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(reviewed 01/15/2018) Quick little title change to kick off the show here, capitalizing on the recent explosion of Mike Mars and the underdog nature of the Dirty Daddy. The champ tries to take the fight to the monster here but quickly gets stomped right back down. All in all I think this is a good use of the skills these young guys posses, in that Daddy has the frame to put some weight behind his otherwise underwhelming strikes when he’s got a head of steam behind him and Mars looks best if he’s making use of his size and dominating people. After some back and forth that mostly favors the challenger, Mars catches Daddy with a spinebuster/chokeslam sort of thing for the quick victory.

Afterward, Daddy, who in the weeks leading into this match promised to show Mars who exactly was the monster around here, slams his fists against the mat in frustrating, likewise smashing a chair against the floor before storming off.

The Gymnasty Boys (White Mike & Timmy Lou Retton) & Ethan Alexander Sharpe vs The Ugly Ducklings (Rob Killjoy & Lance Lude) & Matty de Nero

aired 01/03/2017

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(reviewed 01/15/2018) Impromptu six-man tag with two fun teams. Whole bunch of spots and not much else here but it’s very enjoyable and the perfect sort of a thing for a show like this, weaving in a pair of two popular teams, a midcard heel capping off a story, and a returning CWF original. Lots of dives, lots of strikes, lots of Buddy Rose bumps, etc etc. In the end de Nero picks up the win when he clobbers Timmy Lou with a Power Glove and afterward White Mike hits a Can Opener on Sharpe when he whines about it. Fun stuff all around.

John Skyler vs Cam Carter vs Ray Kandrack vs Tracer X vs Snooty Foxx vs Mace Li vs Michael McAllister vs Aric Andrews

Scramble Match for the Golden Ticket

aired 01/03/2017

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(reviewed 01/15/2018) Quality scramble match here, orchestrated mainly by my man John Skyler. He does a lot here, teaming up with Mace Li early on and then throwing him to the wolf that is Ray Kandrack when it serves his needs, later tossing out both Kandrack and Snooty Foxx when the big men turn their attentions to each other. This is a battle royale where pinfalls and submissions count as well so you’re not getting the most linear and focused match ever, but Skyler’s efforts as a heel go a long way here along with a colorful cast of guys who fit all sorts of athletic, endearing, or abominable roles. Eventually it comes down to Skyler and the recently-turned-face Aric Andrews, who is continuing to campaign for the TV title he lost not long ago. Skyler goes after the former champ’s long legs with a figure four, trying a dirty DDT and a plain ol’ over the ropes elimination when that doesn’t work. He’s frustrated by Andrews’ refusal to die but moreso is relishing in his game plan paying off, as he views this as a walk in the park once it’s down to the final two. His cockiness costs him in the end, though, as he takes too long toying with the crowd and allows Andrews to connect with one hell of an Asphalt Spike to win the Golden Ticket. I’ve never much been a fan of Andrews but I’ve sort of vaguely been charmed by this face turn and this match, in no small part due to the heeling of Skyler, is the culmination of that and, I’ve gotta say, it feels great. I like to finally care about a guy after not getting it for a long time, so this match occupies a happy space in my memory.

WAIT OH NO, THIS FACE TURN WAS ALL A RUSE. ANDREWS CUTS A PROMO ABOUT HOW HE NEVER NEEDED THE SUPPORT OF THE CWF FAITHFUL AND THEY CAN ALL KISS HIS ASS. As Jim Ross would say, awww son of a bitch. Great long-term swerve from Andrews here, this being the first time I’ve actually invested in him as a character. Hope that continues in the coming months.

The Dawson Brothers (Zane Dawson & Dave Dawson) (c) vs The Sandwich Squad (Aaron Biggs & Mecha Mercenary)

Last Man Standing Tag Team Match for the CWF Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championship

aired 01/03/2017

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(reviewed 01/15/2018) Spent most of this match thinking about writing a review that was simply “well, I’ve finally found a last man standing match I didn’t like”, but I’ll be damned these boys pulled it out in the end with a finishing stretch I really dug. Most of this is the sort of lumbering big man pseudo-hardcore wrestling you’d expect from these four in this environment. Some of that’s real good, some of it’s bad, and most of it’s somewhere in the muddy, unappetizing space between. A lot of it’s due to the lack of structure that these guys usually do well with and the exploration of ideas that sort of go nowhere, like Biggs getting his hands duct taped together. Towards the end, though, Biggs hits this big superplex on Zane that is far and away the highlight of the match, leading both members of the Sandwich Squad to unload a series of splashes and elbows to keep him down. Dave then enters the fray and takes out Mecha with a nifty back suplex onto a chair before turning his attention to Biggs. Biggs tries to block Dave’s big boot with a chair in a curious choice that backfires on him, but before he collapses from the collision he’s able to chuck the chair in Dave’s face and send him down for the count too. With all four men down the referee makes the count and just as he reaches ten, Zane’s unconscious body slips out of the ring he was slowly falling off of and he’s able to sort of lay off the apron with both feet on the floor to break the count for his team and win the match. Neat, bullshit-laced finish to a match that I had initially written off but managed to win me over in the end. I certainly wouldn’t call it great or even all that good but it’s better than what it reads like on paper, I think.

Logan Easton LaRoux (c) vs Andrew Everett

PWI Ultra J Championship

aired 01/10/2018

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(reviewed 01/16/2018) Sort of an awesome midcard title match. Up to this point this show has been all speedy matches, even considering the last man standing tag match, and all but one of them had been multi-man matches of some variety, so when this slow-moving singles match comes sauntering out it’s immediately gripping, made more so by the efforts of these two men. I’ve been impressed by LaRoux of late in CWF and NOVA Pro and he does quite well here, stooging around for Everett early on before turning the tide and swamping the challenger while allowing him just enough room to break free. I’ve never been a fan of Everett but he puts in one of my favorite performances of his career here with a simple, straight-forward “returning favorite crashes and burns by way of his high risk style” story. Everett rules the roost early on until LaRoux’s able to shove him into the ropes when the flyer goes for a springboard move and he comes down hard on his arm and it changes the whole mood of the match. LaRoux’s arm work isn’t some groundbreaking thing but it serves its purpose and combined with his smug attitude, Everett’s endearing selling, and a crowd that buys into both I think this match is sort of great. It doesn’t leap off the page or anything but it’s a guy I’ve never been impressed much by impressing me for the first time in front of a crowd he hasn’t been with in a year. Eventually he’s able to fight back, changing up his game in subtle little ways to adjust with his arm, like tucking it when he does a poisonrana. He tops it all off with a shooting star press, taking extra care not to come down on his arm so he instead lands mostly on his knees in a brutal fashion that sells this move as not only a big finish but a last ditch effort from a guy who’s thrown off his game here. There’s lots of little touches in this match that come together to make for a great title switch that feels bigger than its place on the card would belie.

Brad Attitude vs Chet Sterling

Grudge Match

aired 01/10/2018

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(reviewed 01/16/2018) Man, this one just did not do it for me. I like both these guys a lot and I think they did some fun stuff here but nothing that progressed past a perfunctory sort of crowd brawling. Some of that, I think, comes down to Chet and his distinct lack of edge that stands out in a big way against a guy like Attitude. Even then, I wouldn’t call this an especially great Attitude performance either. At just under 19 minutes this isn’t exactly long but it’s the longest match of the show so far and it really feels like it, with an endless barrage of boots and punches and low blows. I guess these two weren’t meant to do a whole lot considering that elsewhere on this card we’ve got a first blood match, a last man standing match, an I Quit match, and another grudge match of sorts, but even then I think there’s room to make something distinct on a show full of stipulations and these two guys just didn’t do that here.

Cain Justice vs Nick Richards

aired 01/10/2018

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(reviewed 01/16/2018) A nice story-driven sprint, the sort of thing this show really needed after the last two matches. These guys come in all sorts of fiery after exchanging heated words in the preceding weeks and right out of the gate it looks like Richards just can’t keep up. Cain blasts him with some good shots early on and then rocks him with a roundhouse that looks to have Richards out. He’s able to stay in the game but can’t really retain control of the match when he’s eventually able to turn things around, especially when Cain has started going after his arm. Richards grasps at his kill move, the cutter, but Cain sees it coming and catches him in a cross armbreaker on the way down, picking up the victory in three minutes. Great stuff here, building Cain up after the talk of him just be a hot rookie, continuing the story of Richards’ tragic descent, and delivering a neat little match with a clever twist surrounding a faux-concussion angle that doesn’t waste any time.

CW Anderson (c) vs Ric Converse

I Quit Match for the PWI Heavyweight Championship

aired 01/10/2018

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(reviewed 01/15/2018) Decent brawl that, for some reason, the crowd isn’t really into at all. I had a bad feeling about this one leading in due to the weak-ass promos from both men that we see before the match, but the match itself is alright. Your usual sort of plunder brawl and not an especially exciting one at that, but I’ll give these two some leeway since they’ve got a combined 40+ years under their belts and it’s really their personalities and strategies that shine in these matches. Ain’t so much in the way of the second but there’s plenty of personality in this one and that’s what carries it to a pleasant place in my book. Converse is able to survive all manner of punishment from the Enforcer, eventually putting CW through a table with a great spinebuster, later smashing a glass bottle over his head, and topping it all off by driving a strand of barbed wire into his forehead until Anderson gives it up. Hardly a great hardcore match, but if you like to see older bald white dudes doing slams, throwing hands, and swinging weapons all over the place, this one’s got a thing or two for you.

Jesse Adler (c) vs Arik Royal

CWF Mid-Atlantic Television Championship

aired 01/17/2018

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(reviewed 01/17/2018) A solid enough title change and the sort of match that does well to lead into the main event. We get Royal picking up the victory and making good on Coach Gemini’s promise of sweeping all the top titles in CWF. Adler, who’s recently come back from injury and was able to end the 480+ day reign of Aric Andrews in only a couple of seconds, has never been a big favorite of mine due to a combination of his look, his presence, his spottiness, and his sloppiness. There’s certainly some of that here (most notably a real bad rolling sole butt) but it sort of plays into the match in that Royal is just simply too much for the kid to handle, being explosive, experienced, and emphatic in everything he does. Mostly he’s just able to overpower the champion but he likewise makes good use of leg work that slows the speedy Adler down. Just as it looks like Adler might be able to pull it off, Coach Gemini runs interference and distracts him long enough for Royal to recover a hit a football tackle for the win. Short and to the point, certainly the sort of thing that helps to segue into a lengthy, story-driven main event.

Trevor Lee (c) vs Roy Wilkins

First Blood Match for the CWF Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship

aired 01/17/2018,

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(reviewed 01/17/2018) Thankfully I was able to stay unspoiled for this match all the way up to now, not that I think it really did all that much good. I stayed clean on my 2017 G1 Climax reviews in an effort to see if I actually did benefit from not knowing outcomes beforehand and that really didn’t have much impact on how I felt. Here, with a match that did have some question marks and doubts leading into it, I thought that maybe I’d get lost in the drama that is main event CWF Mid-Atlantic. Instead my fears were realized and the train simply flew off the rails, with me along for the ride.

What CWF has in spades is emotion. Take a look at my upcoming year end awards for 2017 and you’ll see that what I like most is the heartfelt, genuine characters of CWF and seeing their various struggles and successes. This match certainly has a lot of that, most notably from the champion. Trevor comes out with the promotion literally emblazoned across his heart, a familiar mantra about the price of glory stitched across his back, and there are tears in his eyes. The introductions of these two men and specifically the energy radiating off Trevor as his name is declared sent chills down my spine. The opening moments of the match, with the ever-cocky Wilkins being assured that he’s simply too talented to ever lose only to run face-first into a Trevor Lee who is too familiar with his tricks to do anything other than steamroll over him and Coach Gemini, was incredible. But after that it all just sort of peters out.

Moreso even than emotion, what CWF has always had since I started watching was a sense of structure. Matches made sense and unfolded by the rules and parameters of what came before, not merely in terms of storylines but rather match escalation. The reason these 40, 50, 105 minute title matches succeeded over the last two years, as well as matches against lesser opponents or 29 other opponents, was a sense of direction, a clear—if complicated—story being told. Sometimes it was just the story of one man not having what it took to defeat another. Sometimes it was an overarching narrative about two careers passing each other on their respective trajectories. Sometimes it was a passion play in the midst of a years-long feud that showed no signs of ever slowing down. Regardless of the situation, these matches all had a framework upon which they built moving stories of overcoming the odds. And this match simply just did not have it. Even with the tried-and-true formula of Trevor vs the All Stars so fully in play, this match just felt like a collection of hyperdramatic control segments with no formative tissue holding it together. With Trevor, Roy, Arik Royal, and Coach Gemini you have four of my favorite wrestling personalities in the world together in one match and yet they all felt like pale imitations of themselves here. I suppose some of that’s due to what is well-trodden territory with the Trevor/Wilkins feud. Some of that’s certainly due to the odd constraints of the first blood gimmick that is maybe the only stipulation in wrestling that ALWAYS ends in shenanigans. But most of that’s simply due to an unfocused, unfettered performance from all those involved. I sort of like the idea of the finish, in that it plays with the idea that the All Stars simply get in their own way with these run ins and interference spots, a story that I think first popped up with the last Trevor/Royal match. But it’s only a halfway-interesting finish to what was a meandering, listless match that was, if anything, underbooked. And on top of all that, it would suggest that the Trevor/Wilkins feud will continue, because what you need most in this time of great upheaval in the promotion is something everyone’s already seen before.

CWF’s one of my favorite promotions in the world today and even if the worst happens in 2018, I’m sure I’ll continue to like them to some degree. But with this and with how the year ended for my other favorite promotion going right now, it’s sort of hard right now to be hopeful for the future.

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