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By Mark Carpowich on 2014-06-15 10:41:09
Tommy Dreamer’s House of Hardcore promotion made its West Coast debut on June 14, just one week after running back-to-back nights on the East Coast.

The show, held at the Harrah’s Resort just outside of San Diego, was fairly well attended, considering that Valley Center (the actual city where the venue is located) isn’t really close to anything and is not particularly easy to get to.

The seven-match card followed an autograph expo, as well as a Q&A led by Mean Gene Okerlund, and was well-received by an enthusiastic crowd.

Scott Schwartz, the 1980s child actor ("The Toy", "A Christmas Story") who has become a regular at wrestling-related events in Southern California, greeted the crowd as the evening’s ring announcer, and before even introducing the first wrestler was already responding to a heckler in the crowd.

Joey Ryan vs. Tommaso Ciampa was the first bout, with both men somehow walking in to the same entrance music. Fans quickly made their voices heard, and while the show was all ages, the chants throughout the evening were decidedly 18 and up. This was a pretty good match that gets a little bumpy toward the end with a couple of awkward spots, but Ryan hits a picture-perfect superkick for the win.

Next up is Chris Masters, who gets only about 15 seconds into a promo when he stops to silence another heckler. Boy, this crowd really is enthusiastic. Masters issues an open challenge for anyone in the back to take the Masterlock Challenge, especially any of the legends who had appeared at the signing event earlier in the day. Bushwhacker Luke is out first, but Masters cheap-shots him and he quickly succumbs to the hold. Next out is Balls Mahoney, whom Masters attacks from behind and then finishes off. Not really sure why Masters is Pearl Harboring people, since the Masterlock Challenge was always a voluntary thing. The next guy out is Ezekiel Jackson, who fights back and puts Masters into his own full nelson until he gets low-blowed. Masters then finishes him off. Finally we get MMA fighter (and TNA super part-timer) King Mo, who of course does in 10 seconds what the actual wrestlers couldn’t do, breaking the hold and taking Masters down, applying a heel hook and forcing the tap. Because even as a legit MMA fighter, King Mo is totally known for his submissions. Not. For some reason the bell rings, and Schwartz gets on the mic to say, “The winners of this match…are the four old guys.” Jackson and King Mo look confused – almost as confused as the fans who are trying to figure out how this counts as a match. Bushwhacker Luke’s music plays, and all four babyfaces do the Bushwhacker dance in the ring.

We apparently have a change in the card for our next match, which is not acknowledged but becomes obvious when Matt Striker, who was supposed to face Chavo Guerrero, is now announced as teaming with Gangrel against X-Pac and Rikishi. X-Pac cuts a pre-match babyface promo, but suddenly stops and tells a ringside fan, “Call somebody an old man again and see what happens to you, boy.” Wow, tough crowd. Then again, given the amount of potential heckling material fans had to work with, X-Pac actually got off pretty lucky. The match itself is pretty good, with the story being that Striker and Gangrel are no match for Rikishi, but go on the offensive once X-Pac is tagged in. Rikishi finally gets back in, hits the stinkface on Striker, and the babyfaces win. After the match ends, the old Too Cool music hits, and all four wrestlers – including Striker, who miraculously gets better long enough to dance when it’s his turn but then immediately goes back into sell mode afterward – dance for the crowd. The fans loved this, chanting, “This is awesome” when it was done.

A new ring announcer has arrived for our next match, which is Adam Pearce vs. Bob Holly. Pearce gets a nice hometown pop when he is announced as being from San Diego, but the crowd turns once his manager, Jarek 120, takes the mic. Jarek talks for about 5 minutes, saying a total of maybe two sentences about Pearce while using the rest of the time to put himself over as an illusionist, magician and master manipulator. The match itself is no less plodding, unfortunately, as Pearce works his offense the entire match at a grindingly slow pace, doing more talking than wrestling. When Holly finally goes on the offensive toward the end, Jarek gets on the apron to distract the referee, but Holly pulls him into the ring and gives him the Alabama Slam. Pearce suffers the same fate, and Holly picks up the win. Fans are not happy with this match, chanting “Please retire” at Pearce afterward. As Holly walks to the back, Pearce teases turning on his manager before giving him a hug instead, playing up the manipulative abilities of his character. This was not good.

Lance Storm is out next to take on Mike Bennett (with Maria Kanellis). The couple make out before the match; then, as he’s about to lock up with Storm, Bennett slides to the outside and makes out with Maria again. The crowd chants, “Get a room,” ironic considering this show is being held in a hotel ballroom. Lots of good back-and-forth action throughout, with Maria interfering a couple of times to give Bennett an edge. Speaking of Edge, Bennett for some reason sings the first line of his theme song during a moment of offense, but Storm suddenly rolls him into a small package for a 2 count. Maria interferes again, but Storm grabs her by the wrist and tosses her into Bennett. As he goes for a superkick, Maria ducks and he nails Bennett. So he was intending to kick Maria? Anyway, Storm goes for a spear, but Bennett rolls him up for the 3.

Aaron Aguilera (formerly Jesús in the WWE) is introduced next, only to have his music stop and the ring announcer suddenly declare intermission. After a 15-minute break, Aguilera is introduced again, as is his opponent, Mil Mascaras. Yes, at nearly 72 years old, this guy is still wrestling. Mascaras, long known for no-selling his opponents and being surly with fans, basically totally dominates the much younger, much bigger Aguilera. Mascaras struggles through basic moves like hip tosses and arm drags, as Aguilera sells like a champ. After knocking Aguilera down with a weak shoulder block, Mascaras sits on a rest hold as someone in the audience sarcastically chants, “This is awesome.” Mascaras ends up hitting a flying cross body from the top rope for the win. Impressive finisher for someone of his age, but this match was awful, and while it was nice for fans to see a legend in the ring, the idea that he could beat someone like Aguilera by a fluke, let alone via domination, was totally ridiculous.

Our “Extreme Tables, Ladders and Chairs Match” is next, as Carlito arrives with a three-person, mixed-gender entourage to take on Matt Hardy (with Reby Sky) and Tommy Dreamer (with Terry Funk). Before the match, Dreamer takes the mic to complain that he is the only one without a woman in his corner, so he introduces Candice Michelle. The match begins with a comical three-way lockup, then Carlito slides to the outside and tells the babyfaces to fight each other while he watches. And then they do! Wow, maybe Jarek 120 should be taking mental-manipulation lessons from Carlito. Soon, all three are back in the ring, and after a series of spots where those on the outside trip up their opponents, the referee sends everyone to the back. Candice Michelle is the only who actually leaves, though, and the match continues as if that never happened. Before long, a ladder has made its way into the ring, as has a chair. Carlito puts the ladder in the middle of the ring and then climbs it, but then realizes there is no title belt or briefcase to grab. That was funny. The babyfaces dump him off the ladder, then fight each other. Everyone uses a weapon at some point, then Carlito breaks out the worst of them all: the apple. As he takes a bite, Reby Sky enters the ring, begging him to show some mercy on Hardy. Yeah, because in a TLC match, that’s when you want to protect your guy. The woman in Carlito’s corner attacks Sky, but then Dreamer pulls her off and piledrives her. Carlito’s two cornermen then attack Dreamer, but Terry Funk comes into the ring and chases them both to the back. Dreamer sets up a ladder on the second rope and punches Hardy in the corner, but then his feet slip between the rungs of the ladder. Stuck there, Carlito jumps on him and hits the backstabber. He and Hardy soon end up on the turnbuckles in another corner, and Carlito puts Hardy through a table for the 3 count. A fun match that ended with the crowd chanting, “Thank you, Tommy.”

It’s time for our main event, as Bad Influence (Frankie Kazarian and Christopher Daniels) take on the Young Bucks. Almost as soon as the match begins, a “F*** TNA” chant breaks out. All four men stop and cup their ears to the crowd, but then Daniels gets on the mic and starts a “House of Hardcore” chant instead. This match is every bit as good as was expected, with all four men working together brilliantly to deliver a beautiful organized chaos. The final 10 minutes of the match see several “this is awesome” and “this is wrestling” chants. The referee loses control of the match as all four wrestlers eventually end up in the ring at once, but the Young Bucks hit a quick series of spectacular high spots and pick up the win.

As the team celebrates, the Nasty Boys come out from the back and enter the ring. Brian Knobbs puts over both teams, congratulating them on a great match, and says they are helping bring back tag-team wrestling. But then, he adds, “the only thing you’re missing sometimes is a little bit of nasty,” and the Nasty Boys attack both teams. “Enter Sandman” suddenly comes on over the PA, and the Sandman emerges from the back. He hits the ring with a kendo stick and a 12-pack, but the Nasty Boys retreat before he can use either. Sandman shares his beer with the two teams still in the ring, then goes into the crowd and pours beer all over the fans, including directly into their mouths.

In all, this was a fun show, and aside from a disappointing showing for Adam Pearce and a totally unbelievable, almost insultingly easy victory for Mil Mascaras, the wrestlers worked hard. The fans did their part as well, and chanted “Please come back” as the ring announcer bid everyone a good night.

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