Before we get into the thick of this review/report, let me go into the specifics of how I’ll be rating it. At a live event I find it hard to attach things like star ratings and stuff, because it is often completely different if you ever watch it back on tape. So, for this review and all live event reviews, I will be adding how many euros I thought a segment was worth. Then at the end I will tot up the amount and I will show if I thought I got full value for the price I paid for my ticket. Got it? Good. Now on with the show.
Looking around at the crowd tonight, I was surprised to see a mixture of ages there to see AWR in the National Basketball Arena. There was the usual smattering of small kids that you get at every wrestling show, but there was also a sizeable chunk of adults and teenagers. There were even women! *drops jaw* I dare say that the people over 15 outnumbered the people under 15, which showed how well AWR succeeded in drawing in the casual audience.
Of course, having probably the strongest touring independent roster ever to come to Ireland probably helped them a tad, but it was still impressive considering the fans also have a choice of WWE and TNA within the next couple of months, as well as a Bernard Dunne fight. All hard competitors for the casual pocket.
The place wasn’t sold out, but about as near to full as you can get without selling out. I bought a 50 euro gold ticket at the door and managed to nab myself a sweet front row spot. In the gold section, I’d take a guess that there was about 180-200 people. There was at least that much outside that section again, probably a little more. So, my guesstimate on attendance would probably be around 400-450 people. I’m pretty hit or miss with those guesses though, and wouldn’t be shocked if I was out by a few dozen.
Production wise it was probably about as good as you could make the basketball arena look. They had a good entrance way, proper crowd barriers and football floodlight style lighting. While the lighting served its purpose well, it made for horrible photo taking. Nearly every angle had you aiming your lense straight into one of the lights. I’ll give them their first euro for the set up and looking slightly better than your average indy show. 1 EURO.
I didn’t spy any camera men in the arena, so no chance you’ll be seeing the Dublin show on DVD. If they plan on making regular stops in Dublin, I think they are missing an opportunity. If they do Tallaght next year, I’m sure that many would buy a DVD of this years show. With mega stars like RVD on the roster, you’d probably do decent online trade too.
When I first got to the arena at about 6:45, I was surprised to see the doors already open and that many people had filed in. I guess they must have set up the night before to make sure everything ran on schedule. The show pretty much started bang on time, so I’ll add another 50 cents to the ticket value for that. 50 CENTS
Now onto initial complaints, albeit they are pretty minor ones. Seat wise, the gold section chairs could have done with being just about a ¾ inch higher. Looking all the way across my row, I could see that the very top bar of the ring barricade was at eye level for nearly everyone. It kind of obscured anything mat based, but at least there wasn’t much work on the mat tonight. I’ll only take 50 cent off for that. Although, as a side note, I really would have liked to have seen at least one mat based, technical match, but I guess that isn’t something that panders to the casual market. MINUS 50 CENT
My other complaint is just a personal annoyance, but I DESPISE whoever thought it would be a good idea to sell those blow horns to kids. Kids + Sugar + Noise Makers = Bad Headache. They don’t add any atmosphere for me, just annoyance. I may be alone in this, but still. MINUS 50 CENT
There was also one handicap kid in a wheel chair near me, who I didn’t feel they catered to very well. He was stuck in the awkward corner spot where he not only had the ring post obscuring his view, but that big ass floodlight lighting rig too. It was also kind of heartbreaking watching him put out his little hand for every wrestler that came out, but not a single one touched it. MINUS 50 CENT.
Now onto the actual show!
Jamie Coleman made me laugh my ass of as the ring announcer with his big, fake American accent, but I guess that is part of the “Big American Experience” they promote. He did his job well enough, doing his best to keep the crowd revved up during the lulls in between matches.
KID KASH VS SCOTTY 2 HOTTY
The crowd was pretty hot for the opener, as you’d expect them to be, although the match itself had very little to it and was pretty short. It was pretty much Kash beating on Scotty for a short bit, and then Scotty going directly into the big comeback, skipping the middle of the match entirely, and then hitting the worm for the win. Were many people actually pinned by that in the WWE days? I can’t really remember. Kid Kash went about getting his heat in a strange way. He kind of came out very neutral, and even shook the refs hand and stuff. When Scotty came out, it was obvious who the face was, as Scotty made sure to give a big hello to everyone in the front row. Kash only really started having a go at the fans AFTER the match which I found very strange. It was a hot crowd for the opener so it did its job. I’ll give it 1.50 EURO.
Here is an example of Kid Kash showing exactly what family friendly entertainment means!
M-DOGG 20 VS PADDY MORROW VS SHAWN MAXER
M-Dogg was sporting a pretty fucking impressive Mohawk. It wasn’t a half assed one, it was full blown! Maxer played the heel for this with M-Dogg and Paddy sharing the babyface duties. I was really hyped to see this match, cause I honestly thought it was going to knock me dead, but I was a tad disappointed. I’ve seen all 3 guys in performances where they go all out, and they didn’t do that here. It was like they had a mind on the rest of the tour and were holding back from going balls to the wall. It was still a really good match mind you, but it felt like the last 10 minutes of a more epic contest, and you sensed they had another gear. They went to the highspots pretty early, and they all got their obligatory dives to the outside in. The end came when M-Dogg hit a big move on Paddy Morrow and turned his back. Maxer then rushed in and nailed Paddy with a standing shooting star and stole M-Dogg’s win. [Correction - it was actually M-Dogg 20 who did the standing SSP on Suicide Machine for the pin, Maxer got the sneaky pin behind his back immediately afterwards].This gets 5 EURO.
After this match, Renee Dupree came out to pose and gloat with his new AWR belt and did the standard, run down whatever town you’re in spiel. He was interrupted when the DX music hit and out came X-Pac. He stood up for truth, justice and the Irish way! And if Dupree wasn’t down with that he could fellate something apparently. Oh, and he challenged Dupree for the title later in the night which Dupree accepted. X-Pac sounded a little awkward on the mic which is odd considering how long he’s been doing this now. I’ll give this 50 CENT for setting up one of the double main events, even if it was by the numbers.
JOE E. LEGEND VS PAUL TRACEY
Paul Tracey comes out as “The Lord of the Manor” which is kind of a Hunter Hearst Helmsley style gimmick. He gets on the mic and says that he was once proud to be Irish, but when he looks out at all the trash, it makes him ashamed to be. Joe E comes out to defend the Irish people. Didn’t we just see this same promo with X-Pac and Dupree? Anyway, the match was pretty decent. Joe E is pretty good to watch live, as he has a good charisma and connects with the fans well. I was pretty distracted by his singlet though. It seemed to be a size too big and his moobs kept coming out I was surprised to see this actually got more time than the 3 way, but they used it well enough and I was pleasantly surprised. Tracey seemed to be missing a chunk of skin on his collarbone but it was a dry sore which are always the worst. Not sure if he did it in this match, but I sympathise with that kind of sore. I think it was Legend who picked up the win in this one, but I can’t recall the manner of the win. 4 EURO.
JOE CABRAY VS DUNKAN DISORDELY – FLAG MATCH, IRELAND VS THE UK
Weird that they chose Dunkan to be the out and out British guy. He comes out with a union jack and in a “Where are they now?” moment, Georgie Mac as his Irish hating manager. Cabray comes out looking like Uncle Fester with a bald head and no eyebrows. I also noticed what looked like a golf ball coming out of the back of his head, must have done that on some other show. He also brings the only T and A for the night, his valet who’s name I forget. It’s crazy how patriotic people get at wrestling events, as I think the Irish flag probably got the third biggest pop of the night. Both of the flags were put on poles mounted to the ring posts, and there was an awkward moment early in the match where the Irish flag came loose and fell to the floor on its own. Cabray and Disordely took it in their stride though and kept going until they got to an acceptable point where it could be reset. The match had tons of interference from Georgie Mac and Cabray’s valet, with both guys trying to get the upper hand. Cabray even managed a dive to the outside in this one. In the end Cabray picked up the win and hoisted the Irish flag high above his head. Cabray looks more polished every time I see him. Good atmosphere for this match given the Ireland Vs UK element and the wrestling was pretty good too. 5 EURO.
RENEE DUPREE VS X-PAC – AWR TITLE MATCH
This was a pretty good little match but nothing blow away. Match involved a lot of one of them selling on the floor outside. X-Pac went for the bronco buster 3 times for some reason. He hit it the first time and then missed the next two times. Dupree just seems to draw heel heat without really having to try. He didn’t even get the “OMG he used to be in WWE!” cheer tonight. He just exudes the “Boo me” aura. The ending of the match was a bit of a downer. X-Pac began to get the upper hand, so Dupree grabbed that sexy AWR belt and nailed him with it, causing referee Gerry Soul to DQ him like the dirty scoundrel that he is. 3 EURO
ROB VAN DAM VS SABU – NO DQ, EXTREME RULES
Anyone who simply paid for the 20 euro general admission, got a main event that was worth the price of admission by itself. Picture everything you’d want in an RVD Vs Sabu match and you pretty much got it right here. If the other guys on the roster seemed like they were pacing themselves to last the tour ahead, there was no such notion with these guys. It was balls to the wall. RVD probably came pretty close to ending Sabu’s tour on the first night a couple of times. There was one spot where RVD hit some sort of crazy ass suplex variation onto a chair with Sabu, and the moment Sabu impacted, just by the visual and the sound you could tell he got brained legit. Then when he got up, it was confirmed by the fact he’d been busted open hard way on the top of his head, ouch! I think he pretty much broke his ass going through a table too. Some new scars on his body to remember Ireland by. When they took the fight to the outside, it was kind of funny to watch the security have a coronary. Even the ringside crew seemed to have a panic attack. I personally came within an inch of getting my nose broken when RVD hit the guard rail directly in front of me. Sabu is like a man possessed once he gets going. He just doesn’t give a fuck and will kill himself and anyone in the near by vicinity. At the end of it all Rob Van Dam nailed the five star frog splash for the win, and they embraced afterwards. About as good as any of their ECW stuff, and it was an awesome match that had the crowd rocking. You couldn’t accuse either guy of half assing it. It was probably worth going to the show just to see this match alone. 20 EURO.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Because this is a touring company and not a one off show company, it at times felt like a house show style effort but a solid one at that. There was nothing worse than mediocre and the best was fucking fantastic. If they are coming to your area with this line up, then I’d definitely recommend giving American Wrestling Rampage a try.
I’ll also add 10 EURO to their final value amount just for the roster they brought over which is the best that has been independently assembled for our viewing pleasure.
SHOW VALUE: 48.50 EURO
I paid 50, but I’m not going to argue with just being 1.50 short of being full value for a gold ticket. On the other hand, if you bought a 20 euro ticket you got an extra 28.50 value for your money! Happy days!
Overall, a thumbs up for AWR.