Combat Zone Wrestling: Aerial Assault
Let me start by saying that I have a love/hate relationship with garbage wrestling. Like car accidents, I find myself repulsed yet strangely compelled to look at garbage matches when I come across them. It’s not that I think pro wrestling is above bloodbaths (just watch any match featuring Ed “the Sheik” Farhat and you’ll see some old school extreme action) but I think there should be more to the world of professional wrestling than how many thumbtacks you can fall on or how many light fixtures you can get powerbombed through. While Ric Flair may have underestimated Mick “Look at Me” Foley’s abilities as an entertainer, there is definitely something to the comments Flair made in To Be the Man (read my review HERE) about Foley being a glorified stuntman.
After nearly thirty years watching wrestling, I know better than to think that there is anything even remotely resembling class in pro wrestling. Still, there is something about garbage wrestling that borders more on a sadomasochistic relationship than a staged athletic event. The audience derives its pleasure from watching two performers see how much pain they can take as the bar for destruction gets higher and higher. Exploding rings, barbwire ring ropes, and fiery baseball bats wrapped with wire make many matches look like deleted scenes from
The Passion of the Christ. To make matters worse, garbage matches (like hardcore matches) more times than not end up being a series of clichéd spots that get old real quick. The fact that wrestlers are taking literal beatings that are certain to shorten their careers (oftentimes at chump change rates) just makes me dislike the genre even more.
The video began with announcer Eric Gargiulo standing at ringside looking for co-host John House. Gargiulo does an amusing amalgamation of a poor man’s Joey Styles and Gorilla Monsoon as House sneaks up behind him wielding a fluorescent light tube. House (looking like a fan dressed up as Tazz) swings back to level Gargiulo but instead hits the wall behind him, scattering glass everywhere. Gargiulo and House do a good job of putting a hardcore spin on the classic chemistry of Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan. It’s a little cheesy but it’s a fun update reminiscent of Star Trek: the Next Generation as opposed to Godzilla.
Things didn’t appear to be as bad as I thought they might be so I tuned in to the first match. Sonjay Dutt vs. Chris Cash. I’d heard of Dutt and remembered reading an interview with him in Pro Wrestling Torch newsletter so I was anxious to see if he lived up to the hype. I wasn’t disappointed. Both wrestlers executed move after move of high-flying action. Even though I didn’t know who either wrestler was, I quickly got lost in the match. Both guys put on a good show and Dutt’s agility is unbelievable. The match climaxed when both wrestlers jumped onto the light rigging over the ring and Dutt kicked Cash off, following up with an elbowdrop. Dutt followed up with a Phoenix Splash for the pinfall. Good match with surprisingly good commentary from Gargiulo and House. While Gargiulo and House rip off Styles and Tazz respectively, it’s better than ripping off Michael Cole and Tony Schiavone. The only complaint I had about the match was that there was no psychology to the match. Both guys kept executing one amazing move after another with almost no selling. Still, both guys executed the moves smoothly and I was so caught up in the match that I barely noticed this flaw.
Jodie Fleisch vs. Jonny Storm- “Best of the Best” Round 2. Both wrestlers are from the U.K. and you could tell that they’ve worked together before. They applied hold after hold flawlessly and put the match together like a high-speed puzzle. The match was the perfect combination of highflying moves combined with brawling in and out of the ring. Despite the incredible number of high spots, there were no blown spots. After getting pulverized for most of the match, Fleisch delivered a 720 DDT and got the pinfall win.
Ultraviolent Tournament of Death Match: “Homeless” Jimmy vs. “Sick” Nick Mondo- You have to give major props to a promotion that goes with a gimmick like “Homeless” Jimmy. Even the announcers get into the gimmick when they point out that Homeless Jimmy has the advantage due to it raining (this match takes place outdoors) and he’s used to living in the rain. It reminds me of this crazy indie promotion from the early 90’s that had outrageous gimmicks like a wrestler named the Abortionist and a KKK guy. Nothing all that special about this hardcore match as both men brawl, use barbed wire, a shutter, and other weaponry before proceeding to the top of a Ryder rental truck for the obligatory holy shit spot. Jimmy and Mondo brawl atop the truck, teasing that they’re going to knock each other off the top. Mondo proves that it’s better to be Ryder than wrong as he delivers an Assault Driver on Jimmy, knocking him through a series of light fixtures arranged for maximum destruction before getting the pinfall. CZW chants fill the air as the audience shows their appreciation for both men.
The DVD was a pleasant surprise to me. The action and workrate in the first three matches was top notch. The wrestlers told a story in each match (and the announcers filled in the rest of the details) and the wrestling was as good as you’ll find just about anywhere. The fans were definitely into the product and it helped the show a bit as well. Unlike Ring of Honor DVD’s the sound was very good and for the most part the production values were more than you might expect for an indie promotion. In one of the biggest surprises, I found the commentary to be very good and a lot of fun. While Eric
Gargiulo and John House are clearing aping Joey Styles and Tazz, they do a good job announcing. There’s nothing wrong with imitating someone’s work as you develop your own style (comic book artists such as John Byrne routinely ripped off Neal Adam’s style until they developed their own). The chemistry between
Gargiulo and House is good and they add a sense of fun to the matches. In another good move, they have segments that introduce each match so fans can get an idea what is going on with the wrestlers involved in each match. I must admit that this product was nothing what I expected and that this DVD definitely has sparked some interest in Combat Zone Wrestling. I definitely plan on checking them out.
Copyright © 2005 Derek Burgan. All rights reserved.