PWR Naito Takes Dayton Results (2/16): Naito vs Elgin, Havok Defends AAW Women’s Title, OVE, Trevor Lee vs Shane Strickland & More; Detailed Live Report

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Pro Wrestling Revolver: Naito Takes Dayton
February 16, 2018
Dayton, OH

I had the pleasure of attending this past weekend’s PWR event at the Rockstar Pro Arena in Dayton, OH as a part of the three day tour featuring New Japan Pro Wrestling superstar Tetsuya Naito. Thank you to Sami Callihan, Dave and Jake Crist, JT Davidson and the entire OI4K family for having us out for the show.

The replay for Naito Takes Dayton is already available for just $4.99 on the Highspots Wrestling Network, or free if you’re a regular HWN subscriber.

(1) Trey Miguel def. Jason Cade

Great opening match. Cade is no stranger to the midwest indie scene and the crowd was hyped for their local boy Trey Miguel, who I believe is part of the Rockstar Pro family. Both guys are neck and neck with their high-flying as well as their grappling, and pulled off some buttery smooth, unbelievable sequences. The perfect way to kick off a show and get the crowd fired up. It’s almost shocking that Trey is only 23-years-old and already as good as he is, not just at jumping off things but in virtually every aspect of the game.

Photo Credit: Mike Killam for ProWrestling.com

(2) Palmer (c) def. Curt Stallion, Gregory Iron, Kody Rice, Myron Reed, Pat Monix, Cole Radrick, Jeremiah, Samantha Heights, Austin Ace and…probably a few others to retain the PWR Scramble Championship. 

I first got to experience this for the first time at last year’s PWR Pancakes & Piledrivers event in Orlando, and again at their Midnight After Mania show, but there’s one thing that this promotion does better than anybody in the world: book ridiculous scramble matches with an unholy amount of people involved. They even have a championship for it. The general rule is that you never know exactly who’s going to show up for these things, leading to chaotic, utterly insane bouts that would make the Young Bucks stop to catch their breath.

I was pretty excited for this, because I was only deeply familiar with three of the competitors going in (Stallion, Reed and Heights), while others like Palmer, Iron and Monix were on my radar but never my television screen. Everyone involved impressed me to some degree. Not a bad egg in the bunch. On first impressions, I’m really excited to see where Austin Ace goes. Somebody should probably tell him the “King of Spades” gimmick is treading pretty closely to Shayna Baszler, but other than that he’s got a great look and knows how to put himself out there as an effective heel. I’d like to see him in some less chaotic singles matches to really get a feel for his abilities. Same goes for Monix and Radrick, who I also came away appreciating.

Indie promotions: Don’t be afraid to book these kinds of matches. Both PWR and Glory Pro do them spectacularly in the midwest. The key is that even with so many people involved, when given enough time to really go, those who had their shit together and knew how to work found a way to shine brightly through all the chaos. This is my favorite way to experience a whole bunch of new talent at once, and I wish more promotions took advantage of the younger talent they have at their disposal.

Photo Credit: Mike Killam

(3) Jessicka Havok (c) def. Shotzi Blackheart to retain the AAW Women’s Championship. 

Heck yes, women’s wrestling!

As a Chicagoan present at almost every single AAW show, it was super cool to see the relatively new AAW Women’s Championship defended at another promotion in the midwest. Since winning the title Havok, as inaugural champion, has already brought a great deal of respect to it with consistent defenses and a great lineup of opponents. Being able to put the gold (silver?) on the line at an “away game” brings yet another level of prestige, and had to be a special moment for the champ in her home state.

This was my first time in a long time seeing Shotzi, who has quickly become one of my favorite women’s wrestlers on the planet. Her look, style and technique are different than 99% of the talent out there, male or female, and she’s a pleasure to watch perform no matter who she’s in the ring with. To that end, this was no exception and I quite enjoyed their title match. I know she’s a west coast girl, but given that she works for SHIMMER and RISE in Chicago, I would really like to see Shotzi get on a few more, bigger midwest shows at some point soon.

Photo Credit: Mike Killam

Photo Credit: Mike Killam

(4) Brian Cage def. Clayton Gainz.

Pretty simple, straightforward match. Not the strongest of the night, but the fans were still really into everything and reacted when the needed to. So the idea is that Gainz is the big bodybuilder type “bro” character who does the poses and is really full of himself. Normally he has the size advantage in matches and can play that role perfectly. The problem is, Brian Cage is like twice his size and has the wonderful advantage of being a Lucha Underground and IMPACT Wrestling superstar, which means Gainz had virtually zero advantages in the match and had to resort to cheating on several occasions. It was a well built match, and I’ll give it credit for being very different than everything else on the card. Lots of stiff clotheslines and slams.

(5) The Besties in the World (Davey Vega & Mat Fitchett) def. Zero Gravity (c) (Brett Gakiya & CJ Esparza) and The Night Ryderz (Alex Colon & Dustin Rayz) to become the new PWR Tag Team Champions! 

I was actually surprised by The Besties capturing the tag team titles here, but maybe that’s because I’m largely unfamiliar with the Revolver tag team scene and I’m used to seeing them every month in Chicago. As it turns out, Vega is actually an Ohio boy, so this is something of a hometown win for him. They also happen to be AAW Tag Team Champions currently, so it looks like ya’ boys are taking over the midwest.

The match itself was very good. As you might expect from triple threat tag team matches, there was a lot of chaos and a lot of high spots. Zero Gravity carried a bulk of the flipping and flying, but the Besties didn’t exactly take it easy, which surprised me because Vega just seriously messed up his knee a few weeks ago. This was my first experience with the Night Ryderz. I’ll excuse the intentionally misspelled “Z” from 1995, because I quite enjoyed what they have to offer. I’d like to see a bit more personality, and for them to shine through a bit more, but some of that could just be how they laid the match out. Either way, it was enough for me to give them another look next time I have the opportunity.

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Photo Credit: Mike Killam(6) Shane Strickland def. Trevor Lee. 

This might have been the best match of the night. I would need to see it and the main event again, but I remember having the feeling “this might be the best match I’ve seen live so far in 2018” as soon as it was over.

I’ve called Strickland the best wrestler on the indies before, and I’ll stand by that again here. He steals the show everywhere he goes, and that’s incredibly impressive when you consider he consistently works for promotions like AAW, CZW and Wrestle Circus that go out of their way to make sure their match quality can’t be topped. And then there’s Trevor Lee, who has just exploded in the last year as a character wrestler, to the point where he’s so good at promos you almost forget that he’s an excellent wrestler as well.

This match had everything. A little bit of grappling, a little chain wrestling, a little high flying, and a well-paced built that tied it all together with an amazing crescendo. They held nothing back. You could hear the chops, strike and kicks around the venue. It was like they knew who was in the main event, and set out to steal the show anyways. They might have succeeded.

Photo Credit: Mike Killam

Photo Credit: Mike Killam

(7) Jon Murray (c) def. Jake Manning to retain the Rockstar Pro Championship. 

Have you ever wondered what it would look like if your middle aged dad dressed up like a Boy Scout troop leader and fought Hurley from LOST? Well, have I got the perfect match for you!

All joking aside, I went into this expecting nothing, completely unfamiliar with the champion and only vaguely aware of the challenger. Given the names on this card I sort of figured it would fall by the wayside in my memory. I’m SO happy I was wrong. I know comedy wrestling isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but some of my favorite performers include Colt Cabana and Toru Yano, so keep that in mind as I evaluate this.

Murray came out as the Rockstar Pro Champion, in the Rockstar Pro Arena, and got the second biggest pop of the night after Tetsuya Naito. I was not expecting that. I get so used to crowds in Chicago who largely cheer for the biggest stars on the card, or at least the most established indie names, that I forget most smaller “local” promotions are built on local guys you’ve probably never heard of unless you live in that state (or city, in some cases).

Whatever the case, Murray was OVER. He came to the ring with a can of beer tucked into his oversized red button-down, held up by suspenders. In stark contract was this small man across from him, adorn in a Boy Scouts uniform, adamantly flipping through the pages of his Scout Master handbook looking for the section on large men who want to put their thumb in your bum. What proceeded was some of the best, most well-recieved comedy I’ve seen in a long time. It was a lot of fun, and more importantly the crowd loved every second of it.

That’s the key. Comedy wrestling only “hurts the business” if the fans aren’t into it. And if the fans aren’t into it, it’s not because comedy wrestling is bad; it’s usually because the wrestlers performing it aren’t doing a very good job. These two would have made Colt and Yano proud.

(8) OI4K (Sami Callihan, Jake & Dave Crist) def. Maxwell Jacob Friedman, Moose & Ace Romero. 

Before the match MJF came out with Ace and cut his usual promo. “Just in case you’re deaf, dumb, blind or stupid…, etc.” He trashed the Dayton crowd for having no teeth and not understanding how to use deodorant, and somebody threw a roll of toilet paper at him. They brought out Moose and all three guys flipped off the fans.

I’m going to be honest with you… I have no earthly idea what happened in this match. The entire thing was a wild, insane brawl all around the arena with fans trying to move out of the way and not get clobbered by flying, sweaty men. Everybody seemed super into it, and I think it was the perfect style to run with before the main because it was different than everything else on the card. The one thing I did see was Jake Crist hitting a springboard RKO on MJF, who was standing on top of Ace Romero’s shoulders ready to splash Dave. One of the more absurd spots I’ve ever seen at a live wrestling show. I want to say MJF also did a hanging piledriver in the ropes to Callihan as well.

Photo Credit: Mike Killam

(9) Tetsuya Naito def. Michael Elgin. 

I’m struggling to find the words to talk about this main event properly.

Compartmentalizing the whole situation, taking away everything going on with Michael Elgin, turning all of that off and just focussing on the WRESTLING of it all… It was an excellent match. A rematch between two major stars, who one year ago (almost to the day) wrestled one of the best bouts in New Japan history. The fact that it took place at a small, yet passionate indie show in Dayton, OH seems almost a paradox, mirrored by Naito’s own pristine white suit against the backdrop of the grungy, dimly lit Rockstar Pro Arena.

 

But then the reality sets back in, and you hear 400 people rabidly chanting “f–k you Elgin” while individuals scream obscenities, pleading for the once-beloved indie star to retire. I watched as one of the security guards had to talk down a heckler in a brightly colored hoodie, who had been yelling homophobic slurs towards the ring.

And that’s really all I’m going to say, because this incredibly divisive topic isn’t going to be solved in a recap of an indie show on a wrestling news website. Their match was excellent, for what it was – a wrestling match – but I am still struggling to figure out exactly how I feel about witnessing it, and how I will choose to deal with Michael Elgin’s role in the wrestling business going forward.

Photo Credit: Mike Killam

Photo Credit: Mike Killam

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