[TV Recap] APW Gym Wars – 8/18/2012

Jumping into some independent wrestling action with a recap/review of the 8/18 edition of APW Gym Wars, which features former WWE/TNA star Brian Kendrick. Check out the show itself (via YouTube) followed by my recap/review after the jump!

APW Gym Wars opening video plays, set to a pretty damn catchy theme song.

JJ Purdum and Matthew Theall welcome the home audience. They go over the lineup for tonight: Will Rood/J.R. Kratos (Lucky Seven semi-finals), Brian Kendrick/Dylan Drake (Lucky Seven semi-finals), and Almighty Sheik/Jeckles for Sheik’s Undisputed Heavyweight Championship.

Allen Michaels makes his way to the ring for the opening contest and Purdum/Theall mention that it’s the youngster’s first singles match in APW (he’s a recent graduate). His opponent Sheik Kahn Abadi makes his way out next and although he’s hyped as one of the most popular wrestlers in the promotion, he comes out almost ambivalent to the crowd and the others around him. Apparently he’s normally a lot more energetic than this. I wish I wasn’t such a newbie.

Match #1: Sheik Kahn Abadi Vs. Allen Michaels 

Abadi and Michaels circle one another, and Abadi sticks his hand out. Michaels goes to shake it and Abadi kicks him in the face. He then pulls Michaels on top of him for the 1…2…3? Heh?

Winner [via Pinfall]: Allen Michaels (0:25)

  • …Not much to say about this match for obvious reasons. Too bad too because I like the look of this Sheik Kahn Abadi guy. Plus his name is just fun as hell to say. (N/A)

Abadi kicks Michaels out of the ring then angrily grabs a microphone. Abadi is mad that there’s another Sheik in APW and tells the crowd “I hope you enjoy your new sheik” before dropping the mic and exiting the ring.

  • That came off a bit petulant and “cry-baby”-ish, which I guess is the point. But that was a little…weird, but I guess it makes sense in some weird way.

Ad for the APW Boot Camp, which was made famous in the wrestling doc Beyond The Mat. Unfortunately it wasn’t for great reasons, but still.

Match #2: Will Rood Vs. J.R. Kratos [Lucky Seven semi-finals]

Rood and Kratos lock up, and Kratos quickly knocks him to the mat. Kratos knocks him down again, but Rood hits a dropkick followed by a second-rope uppercut/shoulder trackle. Kratos reverses an Irish whip and hits the Pooooooounce…period. Kratos follows it up with a suplex. Rood tries to fight back but Kratos hammers forearms into his back. Kratos picks him up and connects with a scoop slam. Kratos goes for the pin. 2-count.

Kratos whips Rood into the ropes, who ducks two clotheslines before hitting a flying forearm. Rood hits a dropkick and tries to follow up with a forearm but Kratos blocks it and hits a few of his own. Rood hits him in the gut then hits a running neckbreaker. He goes for the pin. 1-count. Rood connects with an uppercut. Kratos reverses an Irish whip into the turnbuckles then hits a running clothesline. Kratos tosses Rood to the outside.

Kratos follows Rood to the floor and stomps him. Rood blocks a shot and hits a couple of chops. Kratos blocks a shot and hits a loud chop of his own. They roll back into the ring and Kratos whips him into the corner. Kratos hits what Purdum calls an Avalanche Splash. Kratos sits Rood on the top turnbuckle but Rood kicks him off. Rood tries for a splash from the second rope but Kratos hits a mid-air spear for the 1…2…3!

Winner [via Pinfall]: J.R. Kratos (5:26)

  • Good match between the two, with a fun finish (mid-air spears never get old to me). The spot-calling in some areas were a little too obvious though and detracted from the match, and the action felt a bit disjointed at times. Overall I enjoyed it and I like what I saw from both men. (C+)

Kratos claps and points at Rood in a show of respect as “Down with the Sickness” plays. They shake hands and hug. Kratos lifts his arm up, before Rood leaves to let Kratos soak in the win.

  • Kratos looks like a badass (goatee, bald, jacked to the gills), but seeing him shake hands with his opponent after the match was a bit…weird. He just seems like a natural heel.

Ad for APW kids birthday parties. Does being 25 count as a child? No? Damn.

Match #3: Brian Kendrick Vs. Dylan Drake [Lucky Seven semi-final]

Kendrick and Drake lock up, and Drake forces Kendrick in the corner. Kendrick hides between the ropes and jaws with a loud fan. Drake connects with a waistlock takedown. He transitions into a front facelock, but Kendrick reverses into an armbar. Drake gets an armbar of his own. Kendrick grabs the ropes but Drake pulls him off. Drake whips him into the corner and connects with a splash. A couple of armdrag takedowns followed by a dropkick by Drake and out goes to Kendrick to the floor. Kendrick hides behind a child in the audience to avoid possible future punishment.

Kendrick comes back in and tries to get a right hand but Drake blocks hit and hits several of his own. Kendrick wraps himself on the bottom rope to prevent a Drake attack. Kendrick runs at him but Drake hits a backbreaker and goes for the pin. 2-count. Drake kicks at Kendrick’s left leg and puts him in a leglock. Kendrick gets the ropes and Drake lets go. Kendrick sends Drake to the apron, but Drake hits him and he goes to the top. Kendrick crotches him and down he falls to the mat.

Kendrick chokes Drake with his boot and blows a kiss to the crowd member who keeps saying he sucks. Kendrick chokes Drake on the middle rope. Kendrick kicks him in the back and then into Drake’s shoulder. Kendrick goes for the pin. 2-count. Kendrick attempting a cobra clutch while wrapping his legs around him but Drake turns it into a pinning combo for a 2-count. Kendrick gets out and goes right back on the attack. He locks on a camel clutch and drives his forearm on the bridge of Drake’s nose.

Drake stands up and drives Kendrick into the corner to break the hold. Drake whips Kendrick into the opposite corner and tries for a splash but Kendrick moves. Kendrick attempts the Sliced Bread #2 but Drake blocks it and hits a vertical suplex into a backbreaker (messy-looking) for a 2-count. Drake whips him hard into the corner and catapults him into a backbreaker for a 2-count.

Drake goes to the top but misses the flying cross-body. Kendrick kicks him in the face and goes for the pin again. 2-count. Kendrick tries for the Sliced Bread #2 again but Drake rolls him up for a 2-count. Kendrick goes for a splash from the top but Drake gets his knees up. Drake picks him up and connects with a Splash Mountain Sitdown Powerbomb for the 1…2…3!

Winner [via Pinfall]: Dylan Drake (8:31)

  • A damn good match between these two, with both having some great offense and Drake especially looking excellent. I really like his whole “Human Backbreaker Machine” gimmick and he came up with some interesting ways to do so (the catapult into a backbreaker being the coolest one). Not knowing APW too well I assumed Kendrick would win it because he’s a “name” but I was pleasantly surprised. Dylan Drake is an indy talent more should be paying attention to. (B)

Kendrick gets up and crawls to the back. The crowd cheers his efforts.

Advertisement: APW is looking for interns. The use of interns might explain some of the awkward camera angles I’ve seen tonight.

APW News Break w/ Matthew Theall

  • Recap of the Lucky Seven tournament thus-far; next week, J.R. Kratos takes on Dylan Drake in the finals to decide the number one contender for the Universal Heavyweight Title.
  • Main event for next week’s Gym Wars: Timothy Thatcher defends the Universal Heavyweight Championship against Adam Thornstowe (spelled “Thornstone” on the green screen but I looked it up).
  • Thatcher and Thornstowe cut a promo on each other for next week’s match. Thatcher has messed up front teeth. It’s actually pretty unnerving. Both men talk about how they’re friends and how they’re awesome wrestlers, but they will emerge the victor next week. Thornstowe cut the better promo on this go around.
  • Another match for next week’s Gym Wars announced: Su/Ka will defend their Unified Tag Team Titles against Rik Luxury and Damien Grundy (The “y” in Grundy is obscured in the graphic)
  • Rik Luxury/Damien Grundy promo with Theall. The audio is really messed up so I can’t understand what’s going on. A guy interrupts them, but the audio quiets down just long enough for me to not hear his name. Luxury promises Grundy he will make him a Tag Champ next week.
  • Recap of Sheik Kahn Abadi‘s actions from earlier. Cameras follow Abadi to his car, who tells them to go bother the other Sheik. He throws his stuff into the trunk of his car and sarcastically chants “APW” before getting in. What a whiner.

Commentators recap next week’s announced Gym Wars lineup.

Main Event: The Almighty Sheik (c) (w/ Brian Zane) Vs. Jeckles for the APW/VPW Unified World Heavyweight Title

Sheik attacks Jeckles before the bell and continues after the bell is run. Sheik chokes Jeckles in the corner and chops him down. Sheik chokes Jeckles with his foot. Jeckles blocks Sheik from throwing him face-first in the turbuckle. Jeckles whips him into the opposite corner and hits a clothesline. Sheik retreats to the outside of the ring.

Jeckles follows him out a few seconds later, but Sheik catches him with a slap and a chairshot to the back. Sheik bodyslams Jeckles on the cold hard concrete floor. Apparently there are no disqualifications in this match, which is perfectly fine. Sheik attempts a piledriver on a chair, but Jeckles back bodydrops him onto the floor. Jeckles drives Sheik head-first into the apron. Sheik falls onto a fan and Jeckles hits him with a series of fists while he sits on him. Jeckles throws him in and tries to come back in but Sheik drapes him neck-fist over the rope and knocks him back to the floor.

Sheik goes back outside and hits Jeckles once again with a chair. He throws Jeckles head-first into a standing chair held by a fan. Sheik eggs on a fan to attack him. Sheik rolls Jeckles back into the ring and he follows. Sheik sits on his chest and lays in a series of fists. Sheik steps on Jeckles’ throat. Sheik whips Jeckles hard into the corner, and Jeckles falls to the mat due to the force of the throw. Jeckles tries to fight back but Sheik rakes his eyes.

Sheik chokes Jeckles on the bottom rope until the ref breaks it up. Zane chokes Jeckles while the ref’s back is turned. Sheik picks Jeckles up and tries for a suplex but Jeckles blocks it and hits a suplex of his own. Sheik quickly retaliates with a running clothesline. Sheik moves the kneepad down and hits Jeckles in the head with his exposed knee. Sheik applies the Camel Clutch in the center of the ring.

Jeckles starts to get to his feet, but Sheik catches him with a forearm to the side of the head, followed by another. Sheik goes for a diving elbow, but Jeckles moves. They go to the corner and Sheik chokes him. Jeckles reverses an Irish whip and connects with a back suplex. Both men slowly get to their feet. Sheik tries to splash him in the corner, but gets a boot and a clothesline for his troubles. Sheik rolls to the outside to catch his bearings but Jeckles follows and continues the attack.

They fight into the crowd, and Jeckles whips Sheik into a row of chairs and the ref calls the match off.

Winner: No Contest (Time not recorded because my stopwatch is unreliable)

  • A competent brawl, but a boring one. There was just something missing and I couldn’t really get into this one. Sheik and Jeckles are both interesting characters, however, and the match itself did pick up towards the end. But something wasn’t firing on all cylinders tonight. (C)

Jeckles and Sheik continue to fight all around the Garage and into the backstage area. They get back to the ringside area and they continue beating each other down as officials pull them apart. Their separation doesn’t last for long as Sheik runs through the officials to continue his beatdown. They both roll into the ring and continue fighting. The officials pull them apart once again. Sheik heads to the outside. Jeckles beckons him to re-enter the ring, but Zane talks him out of it. Sheik and Zane start heading to the back…but Sheik runs back in and the fight resumes! The crowd chants “Let them fight!”. Sheik and Jeckles are separated and restrained once again. Sheik finally leaves, and Jeckles hangs out in the ring as we end this week’s edition of Gym Wars.

  • Interested to see where this goes, since neither man is scheduled for next week’s show. Will it transition over to VPW or will APW continue to build their feud via vignettes? Guess we’ll see next Saturday.

Overall Show Thoughts:

This is only the second Gym Wars show I’ve seen, but I enjoyed it. Kendrick/Drake stole the entire show and had a great matchup, and Rood/Kratos impressed as well. The main event was a bit underwhelming, however, and the Sheik Kahn Abadi character shift was completely ridiculous and petulant, even to a new viewer like me. There were also some noticeable technical difficulties through out the show, most likely due to the fact the show is done by interns, with visual and sound issues taking away from certain segments and matches. But although it wasn’t perfect, APW put on an interesting enough show to keep me watching for at least another week.

Overall Show Grade: C+

  • Favorite Match: Dylan Drake/Brian Kendrick
  • Least Favorite Match: Sheik Kahn Abadi/Allen Matthews
  • Favorite Segment: The end of the show brawl
  • Least Favorite Segment: Sheik Kahn Abadi’s whole crybaby schtick; I’m sure that’s the point but they turned me off the show more than got me to hate the guy in the good way.
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