Chris Hero (c) vs Low Ki vs Eddie Kingston vs Necro Butcher
PWG World Championship
American Legion Post #308, Reseda, California, United States
(reviewed 05/23/2019) You might know that my favorite match is Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Dude Love from WWF Over the Edge 1998. It’s not my favorite match because of its stunning technique or its emotional storytelling but simply because it is so much goddamn fun. Between the great work in and out of the ring from Austin and Foley to Vince’s performance as the guest referee to Patterson and Brisco constantly changing the rules per Vince’s orders to JR and Lawler losing it on commentary to the Undertaker hitting the single best chokeslam of all time at the end, there is never a dull moment bell to bell. It is the most Attitude Era match ever, the match most imbued with the energy and mania that fueled the hottest period of time in wrestling history. I couldn’t imagine having more fun watching a wrestling match.
This one comes close, I’ll say. This is such an awesome combination of things I love, between the four men in the ring and what they do to each other and where (as well as when) it takes place. It’s a stunning marriage of comedy and violence taking place in a magical venue in front of a crowd that’s still earnest enough to not ruin it. I can’t get enough of it.
The fun starts before the bell, as the sound system’s broken. Ki and Necro just stomp to the ring normally but Kingston dances his way out, listening to something on an mp3 player. Hero, being the champion, is treated to some karaoke, as Dino Winwood accompanies him to the ring while singing Bonnie Tyler’s “I Need a Hero”. It’s not even the last musical goof of the night, as Excalibur quotes a bit of John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” on commentary later.
It’s off to the races once the match starts. Kingston’s not afraid of anybody but he plays it smart at the beginning here, doing what he can to avoid going toe to toe with anyone right off the bat. He’s hilarious in that role as a coward heel, instantly fleeing back toward the entrance once Ki catches him with a chop. Necro tries to give chase but Legion Larry (owner of the venue) stops him, presumably because all sorts of legal issues could stem from them taking the fight outside, so NECRO TRIES TO SEDUCE LEGION LARRY TO SLIP BY:
Action continues in the ring with Hero and Ki rolling around on the mat but soon LEGION LARRY IS ALL THAT STANDS BETWEEN CHAOS AND ORDER IN THIS WORLD:
Better comedy than PWG’s seen in years, probably because none of it was planned. What’s more it functions to bring some much-needed levity to a match that otherwise could be way too serious, even if it’s only a lead-in to what the rest of this match is about: sheer violence. Hero and Ki continue to grapple but as soon as Kingston finds his way back to the ring he takes charge, running some clever crowd control to ensure that he’s only ever facing anybody one-on-one. He keeps Ki in the corner while repeatedly knocking both Hero and Necro off the apron, using whatever combination of vicious shots and eye pokes it’ll take to get the job done. Hero eventually throws Kingston off his game but it’s not until everyone else gets involved that this match devolves into all-out warfare.
Said warfare is often horrific. Everybody’s willing to play dirty and knows that such trickery might be necessary to survive here, which gives the hard-as-nails striking you’d expect from these four an even nastier bent. Even something like Hero’s cravate feels gruesome and it’s immediately followed by one of the sickest backfists Kingston’s ever thrown. Just a smorgasbord of violence here: Ki kicking Necro directly in the temple; great headbutts from Hero and Kingston; two tremendous koppu kicks from Ki; a dozen Necro punches that land with the heaviest of thuds; Ki yanking on Necro’s jaw to open him up for the dragon sleeper. As with Legion Larry’s interference not a lick of this match feels planned, which makes half the cutoffs here feel real as real gets. Everybody walks away with lumps and bruises and it’s just the best, aided by the fact that these guys are just as great at selling as they are in dishing out punishment. Even better it’s pretty short, clocking in at just under 18 minutes of balls-to-the-wall action. There’s no dull control segments weighing things down, no awkward tags in and out, nothing but four of the toughest motherfuckers the US indies have ever known duking it out.
Hell, even the post-match is great! Hero grabs a mic and address the crowd, taking a shot at Kingston in the process:
Is it a shoot? Probably, sure. Kingston hasn’t come back to PWG since this but it’s not like it stopped him from turning around and working with Hero again in 2009. They just don’t quit. Shit runs deep.
HOW DOES THIS COMPARE TO SHAWN VS TAKER FROM WM25: Shawn/Taker is anything but fun. It’s not a hell of a lot of other things either, like compact, brutal, charming, and unpredictable, but more than anything else it’s just not fun to watch. This four-way is all of those things and the ways it knocks each quality out of the park takes it head and shoulders above Shawn/Taker.
VERDICT: Better than Shawn Michaels vs The Undertaker from WrestleMania 25