Monday, 24 January 2011

IWA Mid-South A Shot Of Southern Comfort - Retro Review

With no television or DVD reviews to occupy me I’m going to step out of my comfort zone again, and having recently experienced the worlds of John Zandig and the Blue Meanie we’re now going to Ian Rotten’s world, back to May 2004. No death match stuff here as we take a look at IWA Mid-South’s A Shot Of Southern Comfort, one of the three IWA-MS shows broadcast on the sadly missed Wrestling Channel here in Britain.

The show began with singles action, and a battle of highly imaginative names as Danny Daniels faced Eddie Edwards.

This was Edwards’ IWA-MS debut, and I have to admit that I didn’t recognise him at first. He looked somewhat scruffy compared to his more polished American Wolves look.

It was a very quick and very enjoyable opener. Both guys gave a good account of themselves with some fast paced back and forth action before Daniels got the pin after a pile driver. Nice stuff, but I’m glad Edwards has changed his ring attire since then.

Then it was on to the first round of the Tag Team title tournament as Tracy Smothers and Chris Hamrick, Southern Justice, took on Eddie Kingston and Blackjack Marciano, the Wild Cards.

Some really good action throughout. Smothers and Hamrick pulled off some really good moves, but then, for some reason, The Wrestling Channel cut away from this match and returned halfway through the next one. It was the kind of “technical” problem that the channel would become well known for during it’s brief tenure. (Smothers and Hamrick won by the way).

The next match, the one that TWC began halfway through, saw the Second City Saints, Colt Cabana and C.M. Punk, accompanied by Traci Brooks, taking on Nigel McGuinness and Chad Collyer.

I think you can imagine how annoyed I was that the beginning of this match was missing. What was shown was great. Punk and Cabana looked great as a team as they used McGuinness as a punching bag before the future Desmond Wolfe finally got the hot tag to Collyer.

It wasn’t long before Collyer applied the cloverleaf to Cabana, but a shining wizard from Punk broke up the hold, with Cabana rolling Collyer up for the pin.

The third match saw the Havana Pitbulls, Ricky Reyes and Puma, going up against Brad Bradley and Ryan Boz.

Boz and Bradley came into this one with a distinct size advantage, and they used that to good effect when they focused their attack on Puma.

But the plucky underdog managed to make his mark, and after getting the tag to Reyes they used hit and run tactics before Reyes scored the upset with a roll-up on Bradley.

Boz and Bradley then spent a great deal of time arguing with their manager Carmine Despirito, who kept telling them they were robbed.

The final match of the first round saw M-Dogg 20 and Josh Prohibition face Homicide and B-Boy.

This was by far the best match of the round. Homicide and B-Boy impressed the hell out of me, and Dogg and Prohibition weren’t too far behind them in that respect.

It was an outing full of hard hitting and fast paced action, with several near falls from both teams before Homicide took Prohibition down with the cop killer for the pinfall. Afterwards both teams received a standing ovation for their efforts, and rightfully so.

The semi-finals began with the Havana Pitbulls taking on the Second City Saints.

The second great performance of the evening from Punk and Cabana saw them putting on a hell of a match against the Pitbulls who, for their part, were more than able to keep up with their more illustrious opponents.

It was another of those hard hitting back and forth affairs which really could have gone either way, with plenty of near finishes before Cabana held Puma in place so Punk could deliver a shining wizard, with Cabana getting the pin with a fisherman’s suplex. Once again both teams received a well deserved standing ovation.

The second semi-final saw Southern Comfort facing B-Boy and Homicide.

A somewhat distinct difference in styles made for a highly entertaining encounter. Homicide and B-Boy did a good job of doubling up on Hamrick, before we got the inevitable mass brawl with plenty of big moves, before Smothers pinned B-Boy after Hamrick took him down with a blockbuster from the top of Smothers’ shoulders. Another fine tag team encounter.

It was back to non-tournament action next for the first ever meeting between Samoa Joe and Chris Hero.

This was Joe at his best, certainly a lot better than we’ve seen from him in TNA in the past year or so.

With a rabid crowd cheering for both men Joe and Hero put on a tremendous hard hitting match, with Joe looking to cement his status in the company while Hero was looking to break out of his losing streak.

I really can’t speak too highly of this match. The only problem was that it had to end. Hero made the mistake of not going for a cover after his heroes welcome finisher, instead holding on to Joe and opting to go for the move again. But Joe countered with his rear naked choke. Hero refused to submit, and the referee stopped the match when Hero passed out, ending this tremendous battle.

Then it was on to the seven man elimination match, featuring Alex Shelley, Roderick Strong, Austin Aries, Petey Williams, Delirious, Nate Webb and Jimmy Jacobs, with the winner getting an immediate show at IWA-MS Champion B.J. Whitmer.

This match would have fitted in perfectly in the X Division back then. Plenty of fast paced action with some nice double and triple team moves, especially when Shelley, Strong and Aries were trying to take out Williams. We also had some nice comedy moments at the beginning from future Age of the Fall buddies Jacobs and Delirious.

So after a ton of work Williams emerged victorious, taking on Webb with the Canadian destroyer and pinning Aries after he missed a 450 splash from the top rope.

It was then that Whitmer appeared on the scene, and Williams’ title shot began immediately.

Whitmer proceeded to take Williams apart, throwing him across the chairs at one point. Then, from out of nowhere, Williams hit Whitmer with the Canadian destroyer, and a three count later and against the odds Williams had won the IWA-MS title. Two extremely well executed matches here.

The final match of the show saw Southern Comfort taking on the Second City Saints in the finals of the Tag Team title tournament.

Billed as a battle between veterans and up and comers this match was a great piece of storytelling.

Things began in a good natured way, but as Punk and Cabana doubled up on Smothers they began to realise they’d have to cut a few corners to get the job done, but not even that could put Smothers away.

Eventually the match degenerated into the inevitable brawl, and it was there that the upset occurred when Smothers pinned Cabana with a sunset flip to get the title winning pin.

Relationships looked like they had returned to normal shortly afterwards when the two teams shook hands, only for Punk and Cabana to confirm their heel turn when they attacked Smothers and Hamrick, leaving them laying in the ring.

In conclusion - you know what? When I saw this on TWC a few years back I don’t remember this show being so good.

From top to bottom this show featured some tremendous action. The tag team tournament was played out perfectly, coming to a nice conclusion, while the Joe/Hero match was definitely the highlight of the night for me, with Petey Williams performance, going through six other men and then taking out B.J. Whitmer to win the title going down as one of his best outings.

My only criticism of TWC’s version of this show was the clipping of the Southern Comfort/Wild Card and Second City Saints/McGuinness and Collyer matches, the switching round of the Joe/Hero and the elimination match, and the fact that they completely cut the Jerry Lynn/Sabu match.

But in all my first review of an IWA Mid-South show ends with a big thumbs up. Mind you, I haven’t reviewed any of their death match tournaments yet, and long-time readers will know just how much I loathe them!