Welcome to Pwinsider.com for live coverage of Wrestling Cares Association’s Race for the Ring Finals LIVE from Culver City, CA. Check back throughout the evening for live thoughts and musings on what should be an excellent night of pro wrestling.
Tonight’s show marks the return of original hostess and new entrant into the podcasting world, Maria Kanellis. (And if you weren’t already sure, she looks AMAZING.) Maria reminds everybody that we are donating to the San Diego Center for Children, this is the “cares” part of Wrestling Cares. Maria hypes up the crowd and the management team of Les Thatcher, Nigel McGuiness, and David Jackson are introduced followed by all the competitors on tonight’s card. We are treated to a classy trumpet rendition of our National Anthem.
Match One: AARON AGUILERA vs. BRIAN CAGE
We start with the big bruisers. Aguilera was impressive in his last appearance for WCA. This match will not be held under tournament rules so it is one fall to a finish. Cage is an absolute physical specimen. They lock up to start and neither man can overpower the other. Some chain wrestling to start and Aguilera scores with a standing spin kick. Cage scores with a dropkick to the knee and a downward spiral from a seated position. He then hits a 20 second delayed vertical suplex. I hate this spot especially this early in the match where it makes no sense for Aguilera to be beaten up enough not to be able to fight out. Cage then powers Aguilera up to his shoulders off the ropes and has trouble getting him over for a pancake powerslam type move. Cage is clearly a strong dude cause that was all muscle to get him over. Aguilera tries to counter with some big man lucha but Cage is able to send him to the apron and then hits an impressive superplex pulling Aaron from the apron back into the ring for a near fall. Cage goes up top but Aguilera cuts him off and ends up hitting a top rope rana. Cage cuts him off again with a savate kick to the midsection and then hits a very nice sitout pumphandle reverse slam for a near fall. Aguilera counters using great agility to spring to the top in one leap, fires off with a back elbow and then hits a STO for a near fall. Cage briefly comes back again but Aguilera drills him with a boot to the face followed by a Tiger Driver for the win. OK opener.
Winner: Aaron Aguilera
It is announced that Alex Koslov is out due to concussion like symptoms. Rocky Romero’s partner will be Joey Ryan
Match Two: LES THATCHER’S LADIES BEAT THE CHAMP SERIES FINAL! KATARINA LEIGH (champion) vs. MELISSA ANDERSON (challenger) Tournament Rules.
Les Thatcher has the winner’s cup for the championship presentation. Katarina makes her way over and fondles the cup trying to seduce it away from Les who tells her “It’s not yours yet!” Melissa makes her way out to a nice response.
Katarina starts with her funky hypnotize Angelina hand movements, Melissa has none of it and chases her across the ring. Melissa is the aggressor to start but misses a charge into the corner and Kat rolls her up for a three count for a quick fall to take a 1-0 lead. This pisses off Melissa who takes Kat down and curb stomps her to tie it up immediately 1-1. 7:03 left to go. Melissa continues to beat the crap out of Kat in the corner and hits a flashing elbow drop after a takedown. Melissa then hits a Samoan Drop to take a 2-1 lead with 6:02 left. This is the first time in the tournament that Kat has not been able to control the pace of the match throughout. Kat is finally able to slow down Melissa with a jawbreaker. The ladies then exchange forearms in the middle of the ring. Kat scores a near fall off of a small package, and another off of a Magistral cradle, then finally ties it up with a backslide. 2-2 with 4:17 remaining. Melissa misses a leap off the top at Kat hits her with her spinning backbreaker that has led to the downfall of her past opponents. Kat scores the pin and is up 3-2 with 3:33 left. Kat fights hard for a Boston Crab to keep destroying the back, but Melissa won’t let her get it and eventually is able to counter with a roll up to tie it with 2:13 left. With 1 minute to go and Kat holding Melissa down the crowd really gets behind Melissa and she fights her way up. Melissa and Kat start brawling and then have a FANTASTIC closing sequence where Melissa picks up Kat for the Kryptonite Krunch holding her up and trying to let enough time to expire so it will definitively close Kat out, Kat counters into a sunset flip, but Melissa sits down with time running out, at 2 Kat is able to counter that by snatching Melissa’s shoulders with her legs and scoring the final fall as time runs out. Really good stuff!
Winner: Katarina Leigh 4-3
The first 3 way dance in WCA history. In the first minute we have some wild brawling and Gatson hits a big dive on Willie and B-Boy. He rolls Willie back into the ring for a near fall. Willie takes a nap while B-Boy and Gatson go at it. B-Boy hits a shining wizard and Willie Mack recovers destroying both guys with a series of high octane clotheslines. B-Boy now naps in the corner while Willie and Gatson trade blows in the corner with Willie scoring with hard chops. Willie catches Gatson on high cross body attempt, tries to powerbomb him but is countered into a rana. B-Boy is back in it and all three guys are trading strikes. Willie scores with a flying kick on Gatson and B-Boy scores with a flying forearm on Willie. B-Boy takes a silly bump off of a Gatson strike and is locked into a submission. Willie breaks it up and then sends B-Boy for the ride with an overhead belly to belly. Gatson his Willie with a scissors kick and a handspring splash into the corner. B-Boy follows Gatson in and splashes both men in the corner. Willie and Gatson end up seated and B-Boy flies in hitting both with a knee strike. B-Boy scores a near fall on Willie with a reverse DDT. Gatson scores with a Diamond Cutter on B-Boy and then a springboard Diamond Cutter on Willie for a near fall. He then jumps on B-Boy for a near fall. Gatson get crotched on the top and B-Boy tries to end Willie with the Shining Wizard. Willie counters and gets B-Boy in a fireman’s carry and then stacks up Gatson John Cena style for a brutal double Samoan Drop for a near fall. After a counter Willie is tossed to the outside and B-Boy drills Gatson for the fall before Willie can recover and get back into the ring. It was pretty much nonstop action, more in the vein of a ROH style match then a Wrestling Cares style match, it was a good change of pace. The crowd loved it chanting “That was awesome!” after the match was over. I always believed three way matches are really hard to pull off and the three did well with the formula.
Match Four: Adam Pearce vs. Adam Page
During the intros Pearce knocks Page unconscious with the Lariat and begins jawing with the fans. He rolls Page into the ring and Geno the ref refuses to count because the match hasn’t officially started yet. The crowd is on fire here. Pearce is now jawing with Geno. Page starts to fire back with shots and Geno calls for the bell. Pearce immediately cuts him off again. Pearce is mauling Page in the corner and doing an absolute amazing job of being a jackass heel. Taunting Page and telling him “You wanted this match.” Page has had enough and dumps Pearce to the floor, then hits a dive from the second turnbuckle to the outside on Pearce. Both guys are now wiped out. Page is still reeling from the early attack and the damage he did to himself on the dive and Pearce beats him back to the ring. Page barely beats the count before firing up again and now he has Pearce reeling. Great babyface fire by Page. He scores a very near fall on a powerslam. The crowd is totally into this. Pearce begs for mercy and is able to turn the tide for a moment, but it is Page again firing up and nailing Pearce in the corner. Pearce turns the tables again with a back elbow counter to a charge into the corner. He goes up top but Page cuts him off again and nails a flying kick that sends Pearce to the outside. Pearce uses villainy over youth and fire by sweeping out Page’s legs and causing him to crash to the apron, he rolls Page in for a near fall and now heels Maria as her picture comes up on the HD screens around ringside. Page again counters Pearce knocking him off the top but can’t recover from the beating he’s received and Pearce recovers to try for another superplex. Page now fights back again and Pearce crotches himself on the top rope. Page nails a flying DDT off the top and scores the fall. Really really good match. Pearce is so good at what he does and Page was a great babyface here fighting with courage all match long. Loved it!
Winner: Adam Page
After the match Pearce pulls Page to the center of the ring by his hair, then offers his hand for the handshake of respect, and raises his hand.
Les Thatcher is now in the ring for the Adam Pearce tribute. Les Thatcher gives a great speech putting over Pearce and gives him a plaque that reads like the inscription that the New York Yankees give to the player plaques in Monument Park in NY. Big “Thank you Adam!” chant from the crowd. Nigel is now out to talk about the check for Adam Pearce’s favorite charity the San Diego Center for Children. Nigel “When we asked Adam what his favorite charity he asked can’t you just give the money to me? “If you look up professional wrestling in the dictionary you’ll see Adam Pearce.” Adam Pearce talks about the memories and bonds forged on the road during trips, time in the hotel, time in the bar, and how those are the best memories. Excellent speech by Pearce putting over the fans as the “driving blood of the business.” “Work hard, treat people fairly, and earn your respect.” Great speech, classy moment.
Intermission time! Pictures will be taken and merchandise will be bought! Coming out of the break we are wishing Marlene the ticket a happy birthday! Happy birthday Marlene!!
Match Five: Oliver John & Timothy Thatcher vs. Rocky Romero & Joey Ryan Golden State Tag Team Title Match
This will be held under tournament rules, it will be interesting to see how the dynamic changes with Joey Ryan involved. Thatcher and John have been two of the highlights of this WCA season, I am really looking forward to this. 10 minute time limit. A save rule has been instituted, the first time you save your partner from a pinfall a warning will be given, the second save will result in a DQ. Early on John and Thatcher are trying to isolate Romero in their corner, but Romero keeps getting away. John grabs a knee bar on Romero but he gets to the ropes. Thatcher grabs Romero by the arm after a quick tag but Romero is able to get to the ropes. Thatcher grabs a leg grapevine but Romero counters into a cross armbreaker attempt. Thatcher with a nice bridge while Romero jockeys for position and grabs an armbar of his own. Romero finally gets away and tags in Ryan. Thatcher with and arm wringer while manipulating the wrist, Ryan is able to back Thatcher into the corner and tag Romero who turns up the speed with a rana and hits several charging corner clotheslines before being cut off with a boot to the face. Romero with another rana for a near fall and tags in Ryan. Romero and Ryan with quick tags so they can work over Thatcher with double teams. Near fall off of a double back elbow. Romero hits two knees right into Thatcher’s face and tags in Ryan who whiffs badly on a superkick and gets a glancing blow on a superkick while Thatcher is on his knees. This scores a fall. Not a great finish 1-0 Ryan & Romero with 2:55 left. John tags in and takes over with strikes. He is like a bull in there very realistic offense. Thatcher is tagged back in and looks for a crossarm breaker but Ryan gets to the ropes. John is back in and continues to punish Ryan’s arm. Quick tag to Thatcher who grabs a reverse armbar. Romero seeing there is 90 seconds left uses his one save attempt. Thatcher and John continue to destroy the arm and now Romero can’t save Ryan. Thatcher lacks in the reverse armbar again. Ryan gets close to the ropes and Thatcher hits an awesome gutwrench suplex and back into the reverse armbar. Romero screws up and makes another save with time running out leading to a DQ. 1-1 at the end of regulation and we go into OT. Romero scores with a flying knee on Thatcher at the bell and goes for the crossarm breaker. Ryan is tagged in and hits another weak looking superkick for a near fall. Ryan and Romero tag in and out quickly, Thatcher is able to tag John without Ryan noticing, he shoots Ryan into the ropes, drops down, and when Ryan goes over Thatcher he gets drilled with a powerslam for the 3 count and the victory. Good match even though Ryan’s superkicks were not on the money tonight. Probably a step down from the Hooligans vs John/Thatcher match at the last show, but that is too be expected since Ryan and Romero are not an established team and the Hooligans are.
Winners: Oliver John & Timothy Thatcher.
John & Thatcher are presented with the trophy and the crowd is really into this duo. I really like this team and implore you guys to seek out any DVDs that contain Timothy Thatcher and Oliver John matches. These are two guys I really enjoyed getting to see work live throughout this tournament.
Match Six: Adam Cole vs. Johnny Gargano: Finals of the Race for the Ring Tournament 20 minute time limit.
Good fundamental chain wrestling over the first 4 minutes which was highlighted by a great series of counters as each guy tried to hit a few of their signature kicks and strikes. The first big strike is hit by Gargano as he hits a great kick to Cole with both men on the mat, he follows with double knees to the corner, but as he tries to take Cole across the ring he gets caught with the Florida Keys out of nowhere for the fall. Cole leads 1-0 with 14:20 left. Cole grabs a chinlock and immediately finds the HD screen closest to him so he can track the time. Now that he has the lead he’s going to lean on Gargano and make him fight his way up trying to burn clock. Gargano does fight back with sudden strikes, hits a running snake eyes drilling Cole into the middle buckle and following up with a kick to the head on the grounded Cole to tie the match with 12 minutes remaining. In an absolutely great sequence Gargano is on the turnbuckles looking for a big move, Cole sweeps him off the turnbuckles into a backbreaker and then drills him with a brainbuster over his knee to take a 2-1 lead with 10:30 left. Cole now with a headscissors to wear down Gargano and burn clock while forcing his opponent to carry his weight. Gargano fights his way up, hits two strikes, and shoots Cole to the other side, Cole grabs the ropes and takes a powder. Gargano chases him because he’s behind, Cole dives back into the ring and tries to get the jump on Gargano. Another good sequence ends with Cole going for the figure four, Gargano countering into the small package and each man reversing small packages until Gargano ties it up at 2-2 with 8 minutes to go. Another series of great counters as each man has the other’s moves scouted very well ends with Cole finally getting the figure four leglock and a tapout victory for a 3-2 lead with 6:44 to go. Cole with the lead now powders out again forcing Gargano to chase him and burn more clock. Gargano chases him back in, Cole tries to charge him but is drilled with Gargano’s slingshot spear through the ropes for a near fall. Another great sequence of scouted counters has Gargano cover up to block a superkick, Cole drilling a kick to the leg, both guys reversing moves until Gargano hits the full nelson spinout slam for the fall that ties it up at 3-3 with 3:31 left. Cole misses and axe handle off the top and tweaks his knee on the way down. Gargano smells blood and starts to relentlessly attack the leg. Cole keeps him at bay with a kick to the face with his good leg and gets Gargano back in the figure four. Gargano turns it over and Cole is forced to tap to the reversal because of his injured leg. LOVE IT. 4-3 Gargano with 1:25 left. Les Thatcher checks with Cole to see if he can continue. Cole says yes, Gargano charges for the killing blow but Cole counters. Cole goes for a suplex but Gargano drills his knee to the head counter. Cole goes for it again and as Gargano tries to counter with his knee Cole cinches his leg and hits a Fisherman Buster to tie it at 4-4 with 30 seconds left. Time expires and we have OT. Cole hits an Enzuigiri and a Shining Wizard for a near fall to start OT. Another great counter sequence before Gargano drills his full nelson spinout slam for a near fall. Crowd thought that was the finish. “This is awesome!” chants. Cole hits a superkick to the face and a superkick to the back of the head. He hits the Florida Keys but can’t hold the pinning combo due to his injured leg. Cole shakily goes to the top, Gargano counters, locks in the Rings of Saturn, Cole escapes, Gargano locks it in again as time runs out. Les Thatcher announces that this is the finals and we’re going until we have a winner. Double OT! Both guys on their knees throwing bombs ala Tully and Magnum in the I Quit match. Both guys to their feet exhausted trying to slug it out. Gargano goes for his spear through the ropes and gets killed with a Superkick. Cole slams him down for a near fall and the crowd loses it. This is fantastic. Cole sets Gargano for a Samoan Drop off the top Gargano fights his way out with a sunset powerbomb hits the double knees in the corner. Hits the running Snake Eyes into the far corner, hits a second running Snake Eyes into the near cornerand it is another near fall. Rings of Saturn back in and Cole gets the ropes. This is a big time championship main event match. Both guys are on the apron slugging it out again. Cole hits a superkick and DDTs Gargano on the apron. Both men are down and out outside the ring. Cole in at 6. Gargano barely beats the count. Cole hits him with the Canadian Destroyer as Gargano struggles back to his feet. Near fall! Cole is besieged with apoplexy! “Wrestling Cares” chant from the fans. Cole hits Gargano with several headbutts. Cole screams “Johnny!” and drills Gargano with a superkick, Gargano immediately fires back with his own superkick. Both guys stagger and steady themselves and hit stereo superkicks on each other. Cole crumbles to the mat and Gargano crumbles on top of him for the fall. Incredible match. Get this DVD when it comes out. Watch this match. These guys laid it all on the line.
Winner: Johnny Gargano
Les Thatcher is in the ring and puts over both guys saying “If the business is in the hands of young men like you it will be just fine.” Cole thanks Gargano for being the best he’s ever been in the ring with. Gargano picks up the champagne for the celebration and says “I’m Straight Edge so I can’t drink this, but if I was going to drink this I would raise a glass to Adam Cole.” Gargano puts Cole over as a great opponent, colleague, and friend. He then presents the victory champagne to Adam Cole. Cole pops the champagne and starts to spray it in the ring, Gargano runs so he doesn’t accidentally drink any. Les presents Gargano with the ring. I can see it gleaming from here. First class ceremony. This was a fantastic 9 month tournament. I really enjoyed every show and I wish we’d see more true alternatives like this in the wrestling business. On every level this was an artistic success. All the crew should be proud of themselves. I’d love for another one of these to start up tomorrow. Gargano puts over the fans, points out a kid with a “Yes!” sign in the first row and we get our first “YES! YES! YES!” chant of the tournament. I can’t recommend this enough. GET THE DAMN DVD.
That will wrap us up from Wrestling Cares. You can follow me on Twitter @MikeEpsenhart and listen to me be stupid every Saturday on the Funnest Mailbag on pwinsiderelite.com!