Well, the APW show turned out to be pretty good. The matches, in order:
- The Rizzono Mafia (Chris Colioni, Big Sal Soprano, & Tiffany) vs. Lance Chandler, Tommy Angels, & Melissa - My friend Joe refereed this match. This was not the high point of the night, although it wasn't a bad match by any means. It had some good spots, but it didn't have much flow. The face team was sort of cobbled together. It was really intended as a Tiffany/Melissa match, but it didn't work out that way exactly. At one point Joe called a tag behind his back as legal, but reversed his decision when the fans yelled that there was no tag — I found this hilarious but Joe's kind of embarassed by it because as a ref you're not supposed to let the crowd influence your calls.
- Immortal Fear (Billy Blade, Kayden & Payton) vs. The Wholesome Twins ("Wholesome" J. T. Hyatt & "Mack Daddy" Jimmy Ripp) - This was booked as a standard 2-on-2 tag match, but Ripp challenged Immortal Fear to put their valet, Payton, in and make it a 3-on-2 handicap match. Payton didn't seem to thrilled with the idea but Blade & Kayden accepted. A fun tag match. The ending was great: Ripp got a crossface on (IIRC) Blade, then Kayden ran in to make the save and Ripp put the crossface on him, and finally Payton ran in and got a crossface for her troubles. But Hyatt, that goody-two-shoes, came in and broke it up because she's a girl. This allowed IF the opportunity to hit a double-team move and pick up the win. Good storytelling there.
- Venice deMarco vs. Grand Kahuna - This was an okay match. DeMarco's other Rizzono Mafia teammates kept trying to interfere, but Kahuna would take them out every time. Kahuna got the win.
- "Fly Daddy" Jardi Frantz w/ Akuma vs. Dana Lee - Joe was the ref. Akuma, who supposedly can't speak English, is a big hit with the crowd. "Siiiiiiiiii!". An energatic high-flying match. Better than Frantz & Lee's last encounter, although I admit I only saw that on Clickwrestle's grainy video. In one exchange, Joe got hit by a superkick from Dana and it looked like he'd gotten smacked into next week. He was down for a good long while, allowing Akuma to bring in a ladder for Jardi, which ended up backfiring. Lee won, but Jardi layed in with a post-match heel beatdown on Lee, and then on Akuma (I guess because Akuma failed to net him the win?). Joe is really proud of his bump: apparently, even the booker thought he'd gotten stuffed, but he claims the kick was actually light as a feather.
- "Wheelman" Robert Thompson vs. Orlando Matthias - This was the "Above The Law" challenge, which means it was for a belt that Robert Thompson had made for himself and which APW management doesn't recognize. Sorta like Ted DiBiase's Million Dollar Belt. Thompson came out with his shinai and got patted-down while holding it. I guess that means it was booked as a no-DQ match, although I think they could've made that clearer. Wheelman's huge shiny red vinyl pants prompted "Kool-Aid!" chants from the crowd. Thompson was beating Matthias pretty handily, but then he got out into the crowd and layed a sloppy wet one on Orlando's GF. Matthias snapped, and started wailing on Thompson. He was really intense. At one point after a dive-out he charged over towards where people were standing (at the APW garage, most dive-out happen in the "war zone", the place right by the garage door where they can fit two rows of chairs instead of just one. When somebody's about to dive out, everyone gets up from their chairs and gets the hell out of the way), demanded we get out of his way, and grabbed a chair to use against Thompson. People (including me) were climbing over chairs to get out of his way. Orlando beat Wheelman down, took the belt, and left. This was kind of confusing, but I guess since the title isn't officially recognized it only matters who has ahold of the belt. All the brawling into the audience was a highlight (I love that stuff!). The match was somewhat marred by a group of four guys sitting in front of me who kept cheering for Wheelman even though he was in full heel mode.
- JJ Perez (c) vs. Li'l Cholo, for the Internet Title - The fans weren't sure who to root for, since they're both popular faces. Perez pulled some vaguely heelish antics, but not enough to signal an actual turn, and the audience was split for the entire match, which can be a problem but wasn't here. The match started out a little slow, with some redundant bits, but once it got really going it was great. IMO, this was match of the night. They took it right down to the wire, and it ended with a draw (meaning Perez retains). The crowd chanted "Five more minutes!" and Perez encouraged them, but the decision stood. Perez & Cholo shook hands and embraced before leaving the ring.
- Nathan Rulez vs. James Watkins (c), for the Universal Heavyweight Title - Fun match. Rulez was wearing some dark eye makeup that just highlighted his really creepy pale eyes, had shaved his hair down to stubble and shaved the stubble into odd geometric patterns. But, while he's officially broken off from the Beach Boyz stable, he still entered to the Beach Boyz' music ("Wipeout" by The Ventures), so I really have no idea what his new character is all about. In the ring, he seemed a lot more focused (now that he's apparently dropping the surfer-slacker gimmick). He had his own cheering section in the stands — a group of people from the church he goes to. This was another excellent match. Rules hit a sweet moonsault from his fans' corner that almost brushed the ceiling. He almost went for the pin after that, but the chants of "Again!" convinced him to do another splash, this one a frog splash of comparable height, before going for the pin...but Robert Thompson (the other half of Above The Law with Watkins) ran in, clubbed the ref (not Joe this time) and got an inverted brainbuster on Rulez. This disqualified Watkins, but apparently APW has a no-title-change-on-DQ rule so he retains.
- Thompson & Watkins raged, the locker room spilled out and drove them off. Matthias, wearing the ATL belt, cut a promo about how eveyone is sick of Above The Law. Oh, and now he's calling himself Killer Jay Matthias. Dunno where that came from, but there you go.
After the show, I hung around. Joe was my ride, so I had to wait for him to get finished. I chatted with JJ Perez' dad — he almost hadn't made it to the show, but APW superfan Licorice Joe had helped him out. I complimented some of the wrestlers on a good show as they came out. Big Sal got his picture taken with some people who'd come all the way from France. Some of the wrestlers shot the shit outside by Billy Blade's truck. They teased him for having blue running lights installed. Joe made a run to Crap In The Sack and picked up a Jumbo Jack for me. Eventually most of the wrestlers left, and Joe said I could come inside. Victor, the head janitor, loved my James Choi t-shirt, and brought me over to show the boss, Roland (who really didn't seem to care as much as Victor did, and was also busy with a phone call). That felt odd. Before he left, Roland congratulated the beginners on a cleaning job well done and shook their hands. Since I was standing around with them, he shook my hand automatically, but then said, "Are you one of my students?"
"Then you don't owe me any money, do you?"
"Okay then." and he left. Oh...kayy...
Joe had to stick around to lock up, since Billy Blade and Tommy Angels were still there reviewing footage of their matches and duping copies. and they didn't have keys to the place. So we were all sitting around in the video room. It was interesting hearing their thoughts on the 6-man tag match. They were pointing out places where things went wrong, blown spots and problems with the match psychology. Apparently there were a lot of things that should have happened in the match, but were forgotten on derailed at the time.
Afterwards, Joe & I drove to his house to have a few beers. We watched a movie, and I ended up staying over because it was too late (and Joe was too drunk) to drive back to Berkeley.