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House of Hardcore 18
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at 2300 Arena
Report by Dot Net reader Brian Streleckis
Huge turnout tonight. The show was supposed to start at 7 PM, but when I arrived a little before 7, there were still two massive lines of people (one for those with tickets, one for those without or will-call) waiting to get in. The show got underway at around 7:45.
1. Robbie E beat Lance Anoa’i. The ring announcer (Stephen DeAngelis of ECW) announced this was Robbie E’s debut in HOH. Lance, the son of Samu in the Anoa’i family, is more of a regular. An okay match with Lance showing some good athleticism, including hitting a coast-to-coast dropkick/Van Terminator, but Robbie picked up the win with a rollup and a handful of trunks after Lance missed a frog splash.
Robbie proclaimed afterward that he proved that he’s not only the greatest wrestler in HOH history, but that there’s nobody more entertaining in this ring than him. Enter Santino Marella. Santino didn’t say anything and simply offered a handshake, but Robbie slapped it away and told him to get out of his ring. Robbie turned around to gloat more, then turned back around to be laid out by The Cobra, which still got a good reaction, as did Santino’s trumpet celebration.
2. Alex Reynolds beat Pat Buck and John Silver in a three-way elimination match. This was only my fourth HOH show, but I’ve been to enough of them to know that they have a bit of a formula, and part of that formula is a three-way early in the card with three very athletic guys to ramp up the action. This one was pretty good with fun exchanges, and it got better the longer it went, but it went quite long before eliminations started happening. Silver was the smallest of these three but is also a powerhouse. He eliminated Buck first with a lung blower variation, but then Reynolds eliminated him shortly afterward. Good reactions for all three.
As Silver was the last one to leave, Tommy Dreamer came out to the ring to a great reaction. He cut a very complimentary promo about Terry Funk and how much he contributed to Dreamer’s career and the history of this building, and he kind of implied that Funk wasn’t allowed to be at ringside for the main event. Dreamer then introduced Funk to the crowd, who came out to “Desperado” and great ovation from the crowd. Funk stated that he doesn’t ever want to leave this ring, and that the fans in Philadelphia were the best fans in the world. Dreamer teared up a little.
3. Vik Dalishus, TJ Marconi, and Eddie Kingston beat Team Tremendous (Dan Barry and Bill Carr) and Connor Braxton. Dalishus came out with some manager and two women, who played a part in the match in an outdated way. Before introducing his own partners, he heeled on the crowd for cheering for Terry Funk, said he’s tired of constantly being matched up against Team Tremendous, and declared that whoever takes the loss in this match has to leave HOH. He then introduced Marconi (the heaviest of the heels) and Kingston (the best of them). Braxton was introduced as another debuting name; he wrestles in the midwest and has used a hoverboard during matches, and he used it here to good comedic effect. Regarding the two women, when they tried to interfere, Barry and Carr made out with one of them, and the other was given a giant swing by Braxton while he was on his hoverboard. Ultimately, right after the heavier Carr (who was in FCW once upon time) hit a flipping piledriver (Canadian Destroyer) on Dalishus, Kingston hit him with a backfist to the back of the head for the pin. Due to the pre-match stipulation, it was announced that Bill Carr has to leave HOH. An okay match with a good reaction for the babyface team afterward.
4. Chris Hero beat Tony Nese. I’m a fan of both guys and I thought this was the best match of the first half. Both of them relied on a lot of strikes, with Nese having more agility in his game. Some big exchanges in the ring and at ringside. Hero teased a Pepsi Plunge to no avail. Nese went for a 450 splash, but Hero caught him in a cravate as he landed. Hero hit a short piledriver during the match for a nearfall, but in the end he countered a huracanrana attempt into a second, bigger piledriver for the win. Hero shook Nese’s hand afterward and told the fans to give him an ovation, which they did, and then Hero left the ring to Nese in a nice gesture.
Intermission was announced at the start to be five minutes, but it was closer to twenty.
5. Brian Myers and Swoggle beat “The Underground Luchador” & Mascarita Dorada. Myers (the former and current Curt Hawkins, making his HOH farewell) & Swoggle were announced as “1 & 1/2 Men.” Dorada, the former El Torito, came out in his Torito bull mask and a cape, but then removed them to reveal his old Dorada mask and attire. He waved goodbye to his bull mask after removing it, which I thought was a nice touch, and I also thought he looked the best out of everyone in this match. “The Underground Luchador” wrestled under a black mask and in a Lucha Underground shirt, and after getting cheap shot by Myers and Swoggle early, ultimately had enough and took off his mask to reveal he was, in fact, Matt Striker. Towards the end, Striker and Dorada did the Young Bucks pose before hitting superkicks to their opponents, then Striker gave Myers a Pedigree, only to get a low-blow from behind by Swoggle. The finish saw Dorada springboard right into a superkick by Myers, who then pinned him for the win.
1 & 1/2 Men stuck around in the ring, and Swoggle cut a promo about how Myers is his best friend, worked hard on the indies for the last two years, and deserved to be rehired. He hugged Myers, who then took the mic and brought up how special it was to wrestle in this arena in front of the Philadelphia fans, even though he grew up in New York and attended shows at the Nassau Coliseum and Madison Square Garden. He turned the promo around though and told the fans that they can kiss his ass, because he’s going to be rich, be Triple H’s new best friend, and won’t have to deal with us anymore. Swoggle turned heel on the crowd as well, begging Myers to take him with him, to which Myers replied that he had a 10-year run. Myers proclaimed that this part of his career is dead, that the Prince of Queens will now be the Prince of Stamford, CT, and both he and Swoggle bent over for the fans to kiss their collective asses. I enjoyed this more than the match. Right after this however, out came The Ryback, who did his whole entrance to his new music, laid out Myers with his Meathook clothesline, and then laid out Swoggle with Shellshocked.
6. Ricochet beat Sami Callihan. My favorite match of the second half and maybe the night. I’ve seen Ricochet almost consistently for ten years (he did a lot of Chikara shows way back when) and is an absolute star now, and I think Callihan is quite good as well. Ricochet has new trunks and a new shirt based off of the Philadelphia Eagles logo (I met him for a picture before the show, and he said that they’re his favorite team despite being from Kentucky), so some fans did the E-A-G-L-E-S cheer. The match immediately started off with them hitting each other with a bicycle kick and laying each other out from them. They then got back up, did a quick, slick exchange, and again laid each other out with bicycle kicks. It got into more of a groove, with Callihan attempting to get the count-out victory by hitting a piledriver on Ricochet on the edge of the ring, and then another piledriver at the entrance. Ricochet recovered, and they continued fighting at ringside, including a back body drop that sent Callihan into the crowd. Callihan also hocked a disgusting loogie into Richochet’s face in the heat of battle. More big exchanges in the ring got the crowd more and more into it, even encouraging themselves to give this match a standing ovation before it even ended. At the end, Ricochet scored a nearfall off of an Ace Crusher out of nowhere and the Benedryller, then scored the pin off of the 630 senton. Afterward, the two of them shook hands and hugged, then Callihan kissed Ricochet on the mouth (something I’ve seen/heard him do in PWG), and Ricochet reciprocated.
7. BROKEN Matt Hardy (w/Rebecca, Senor Benjamin, and The Scribe) beat Tommy Dreamer. Big DELETE chants even before Matt was introduced. Senor Benjamin had a container of gasoline with him, and The Scribe had his notepad. He properly introduced Hardy, who then cut his usual Broken promo (which I enjoy) on Dreamer, along with a poem and a promise that Dreamer would be eaten whole. Dreamer responded by imitating Matt a little and saying this was his building. This whole match was a big spectacle and ultimately pretty fun because of it, with everything getting a good-to-great reaction. A lot of brawling at ringside, and Matt acted like he bit Dreamer early on. Benjamin and The Scribe introduced some ladders pretty early, which were teased being used, but I don’t believe they were.
Dreamer prepared to come off the top rope with a move, but got distracted when a drone(!) flew out to ringside. This may not have been Vanguard 1 based off its color. A little after this, Matt prepared to hit a move on Dreamer off the top with a ladder situated underneath them, but out came Joey Styles to yell “Oh My God” as a distraction to Hardy. Rebecca/Reby (King Maxell wasn’t present) came into the ring and I believe hit Dreamer low, but then Beulah ran out to even the odds and fight with Reby, and Styles called it as a catfight. Dreamer then hit Reby with a piledriver to take her out of the match. Matt took control as he called upon the seven deities. He asked for the gas from Benjamin, but Joey snatched it away. I missed what happened to Joey after this, as my seat was far back and pretty much everyone was standing by this point.
Soon after this, out came Raven to give Dreamer a DDT and side with Matt. Then came The Sandman, making his full entrance to Metallica’s song. Raven may have bailed, leaving Sandman to cane Matt a few times and even hit The Scribe with the cane. He then left ringside with Beulah as Dreamer worked over Matt with a spinning toe hold as an ode to Terry Funk. He attempted a DDT, but Hardy hit him with a Twist of Fate onto a chair I believe. Then, in my favorite moment of this match next to the drone, Matt lit firecrackers and threw them onto Dreamer so that they went off on him, then secured the victory with another Twist of Fate, this time with the chair around Dreamer’s neck.
Matt then secured the gas and poured it on Dreamer, but before he could do anything else, out came Bubba Ray Dudley, who caused Matt to back out of the ring. Matt and Benjamin stuck around at ringside as Bubba talked, first saying that he wasn’t here to fight nor wrestle, but was just here to support his friend Dreamer and House of Hardcore. He put over the great wrestling he saw tonight and wasn’t going to let Matt set Dreamer on fire nor burn the Arena to the ground. He asked Hardy how he’d like it if he did the same thing to his home in Cameron, North Carolina or to the Impact Zone “again.” He said he put Matt’s boss through a table once, he wouldn’t hesitate to do the same to his wife and son, and he knows these sick bastards would pay to see it. He then proposed the main event for House of Hardcore’s return to the Arena on December 16th: Tommy Dreamer vs. Matt Hardy in a steel cage match. Fans reacted positively to all of this, and that’s our show.
Overall, I had a fun time. Not everything grabbed me, but I came for what I thought would be a spectacle in Dreamer vs. Hardy, and two good matches on paper in Hero vs. Nese and Ricochet vs. Callihan, and all three matches over-delivered for me. House of Hardcore events in general I find to be solid super-show crowd-pleasers.