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All Pro Wrestling’s Cow Palace Royale
May 6, 2017 at the Cow Palace in Daly City, California
Report by Dot Net staffer John Moore
Some on-site notes, Since APW doesn’t run press releases, I’m just going based on my estimate quick count. I just eyeballed it but it looked like there were about 2,500 people in attendance. It’s just a guess but It sure looked like that much which is a really good number for an independent show.
Of course since this report is coming from my notes at an indie event with shoddy sound, please don’t mind how I my get some wrestler’s names wrong and miss details due to it being a live event vs having my laptop in front of me during my traditional television reviews.
Former Tough Enough runner-up and current ring announcer for Hoodslam, AJ Kirsch, was the ring announcer. They had a legendary commentator appear (didn’t catch the name) and he talked about calling classic matches involving Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. Of course, he introduced Pat Patterson as well as the opening match which was the 30-person Cow Palace Royale.
1. 30 Person Cow Palace Royale. This was your traditional 30 man battle royale, and since it was an indie show a majority of the audience didn’t know who most of the wrestlers were. “The Berkeley Brawler”, a man who is a parody of UC Berkeley Students/citizens (I can tell you 100 percent that I don’t dress or act like the heel Berkeley Brawler haha) started the match off against a guy who calls himself “The Real Deal”. The Real Deal guy looked really good in the ring for a guy his size, he was closer to 5 foot from what it looked like in the ring.
The third person in the Royale was Sean “X-Pac” Waltman who looked great as he came to the ring an did his signature spots. I heard a lot of surprised people in my section of the crowd who were very aware of the TMZ report on his arrest from earlier in the week. He didn’t have a lot of time in the ring and was eliminated early. This was the part of the battle royale where we got a lot of wrestlers who didn’t have name value and a handful of them were out of shape. Luckily, the person who held it down in there was Bay Area independent wrestling “legend” and WCW wrestler Michael Modest. He doesn’t look to be in great shape but his in ring work was as solid as ever.
There was also this Big Ol’ dude who I didn’t catch the name of, but he played the solid big man in the match and they even did the traditional every gang up on this one guy to eliminate him. He wasn’t bad in the ring either as he had a few eliminations and didn’t look lost. The fan favorite out of this segments seemed to be “The Chicano Flame” who was an out of shape Luchador, but who can’t cheer at the name “Chicano Flame”, people like em’s some Generic Luchadores. There was also a guy called “The Breaking Ball”, I think, that cleaned house. There was this purple singlet guy who was in there for a long time, I think his name was rick?
One of the most disappointing parts of the Royale was the quick elimination of The Jungle Boy (son of actor Luke Perry). He’s a wrestler who looks like a 13 year old boy in the ring, it’s a bit hilarious. I’d recommend that he puts on a streak of facepaint to make him a little less boy and a little bit more jungle; but at the last APW show I attended, his performance against Vinnie Massaro stole the show from the undercard as the guy can do some really good lucha libre moves in the ring. Think of his moves as some of the cool things that old school Mistico used to do (without the botching of course that Mistico currently is known for). Jungle Boy got a move or two in but was eliminated in less than a minute by the heels. The in ring quality of the match improved drastically by the latter part of the match and it was initiated by former leader of “The Brood”, Gangrel who was in amazing shape and did his classic blood spit to start off the match. He was also the person who carried most of the wrestlers in the ring at this point. A lot more eliminations happened until we got a few more recognized names.
The last two names I’ll focus on are Jacob Fatu and Willie Mack. Jacob is Samoan and a part of the legendary Anoa’i family. He’s son of Tonga Kid, which actually makes him really close relatives to The Usos, Umaga, and even Rosey and Roman Reigns. I like what he did in this show. On the last show I saw him at, he looked like he was an babyface Uso ripoff. I know that he does have all the right to use it since it is his family legacy, but when you come to an indie show using a gimmick that you see on TV it just makes him come off as hitching his bandwagon to his more famous cousins. This time he came out wearing tights that reminded me of his Uncle Umaga/Eddie Fatu. So this time he came out as a hybrid Uso/Umaga and it really worked for him as it gave him an original identity rather than just as an Uso. He also looked great in his in ring work.
Willie Mack is also known as “The Mack” from Lucha Underground and I won’t go into too much detail on him, but you can read my many many written and audio reviews on Lucha Underground to see and hear my thoughts on his stellar work. He does look like an out of shape Rich Swann, but he can do everything Rich Swann does with his 300 lb. frame. One of his best matches I can point out to watch on Netflix is Ultima Lucha 1 where he faced Brian Cage in a hardcore match.
The final two wrestlers were The Mack and “The Samoan Werewolf” Jacob Fatu. Mack ran into the Royale doing his signature copycat version of the Stone Cold Stunner, but then he led into his own unique moves of doing jumping enzuigiris, shooting stars, and standing moonsaults. Jacob did some odes to his family by pulling out some of the Umaga hip attacks and top rope splashes. Fatu managed to pull off this very cool looking somersault flip on Mack. The one-on-one action had the crowd at this point. Jacob Fatu wins the match with a springboard moonsault to win the Cow Palace Royale and a small trophy.
Jacob Fatu defeated Willie Mack to win the Cow Palace Royale Match.
The next match was billed in the advertising as a singles match between Candice LaRae and Shotzi Blackheart. Everybody knows Candice, right? I don’t have to go into too much detail with her. She’s Joey Ryan’s tag team partner, Johnny Gargano’s wife, and SoCal independent legend. She was even on the last episode of NXT in the Women’s Battle Royal for number one contendership to Asuka’s title!
Shotzi should be a star someday. She received exposure on WWE Television as a finalist in the last season of Tough Enough. She was the featured person from the first episode of that tough enough season and they presented her as a favorite. Currently, she has dyed green hair but you might remember as the red hear spunky babyface who called her parents when she was made a finalist for Tough Enough. Then they ran the sad story where WWE doctors told her she had possible heart/cardiovascular irregularities that prevented her from being on Tough Enough. Anyway, she’s really, really good in the ring as a spunky babyface and her high risk moves are very clean. If you plug her in the main event picture of NXT right now she would shine. She would have an amazing match against Ember Moon or Asuka. All that said they turned the match into a triple threat involving Rachael Ellering, daughter of NXT manager Paul Ellering.
2. Candice LeRae vs. Shotzi vs. Rachael Ellering. Candice did the solid mat work that she’s well versed at and the California crowd treated her like a star. Shotzi came back with lots of fun energy and quick moves. She did running splashes and cannonballs to the corner all while getting the crowd hype. Ellering wasn’t bad as well. There were no real botches and this was a really fun women’s match. Shotzi in particular was a fan favorite. What was surprising about this match was the match length. It almost felt like time was cut, but that’s just a guess. After a Tower of Doom spot, Candice was dropkicked. I don’t have it in my notes, but I believe Ellering won with a basic move. Of course this wouldn’t be the last we’d see of Candice LaRae tonight, especially with her “World’s cutest Tag Team” partner in the main event.
Rachael Ellering defeated Shotzi and Candice LeRae via pinfall
3. The Classic Connection vs. Lion Power (Marcus Lewis and Will Hobbs) in a handicap match for the APW Tag Team Championship. This was your traditional formula tag team match. Quick note to WWE viewers, Lewis appeared on WWE Raw last year as a Klay Thompson parody when he and another jobber got squashed by Braun Strowman. Marcus isn’t a jobber though in that he’s really good at a lot of things from mat wrestling, high spots, and selling. I feel confident in comparing him to a young Dolph Ziggler. Hobbs is a traditional big man who is a bit clumsy, but he does the job by providing the hot tag. The heel Classic Connection guys, who wear In-and-Out burger shirts for some reason, did a traditional heel isolation spots to start of the match as Lewis sold for a majority of the match. The tide turned on cue with Hobbs tagging in and cleaning house with clotheslines and body slams. Lewis hit this cool looking corkscrew Tope Con Hilo to the outside to take out The Classic Connection. Lewis then hit a 450 Splash on one of the guys to pick up the pinfall victory and bring the APW Championships back to Lion Power.
Lion Power defeated The Classic Connection via pinfall to become the new APW Tag Team Champions.
4. Shayna Baszler vs. Ruby Raze for the APW Women’s Championship. Even though Shayna is the champion and household name due to her MMA background, Ruby Raze, who did a Freddy Kruger gimmick, was the one who shined here. She did some sick looking suplexes. Baszler did some solid mat work, but I felt like she could have done a better job integrating the MMA into her style since she is working an MMA gimmick. Raze teased using the Freddy hand knives, but the referee took them away which allowed for Shayna to pick up the win with a Rear Naked Choke. This match was also a bit short for time.
Shayna Baszler defeated Ruby Raze via Submission to retain the APW Women’s Championship.
Next was an fun, crowd pleasing, pro wrestling angle involving Pat Patterson. At this point of the show, the microphones were really acting up so it was hard to hear the promos and intros. Pat Patterson had the mic and went over how wrestling in the Cow Palace was a part of his history. As Pat was about to get into thanking the fans, he was interrupted by a heel that called himself, The Golden Boy. The heel did a traditional thing of mocking the legend. Patterson eventually grabbed the guy in the nuts and punched him out for a crowd pop.
5. JR Kratos vs. Jeckles the Jester in a San Francisco Death Match with Kevin Sullivan as the ringside enforcer. I hear a lot of great things about JR Kratos and I know APW pushes this guy as their top tier champion, but for the second match I’ve seen him in a row, he wasn’t fun to watch. It seems like he’s moving in slow motion and he’s a bit clumsy at the mat wrestling. Believe it or not, Luster the Legend carried him in the last match I saw with him. The crowd wasn’t into it until the Jester saved things by dropping the thumbtacks in the ring. Wrestling crowds love thumbtacks of course. By “Death Match” standards, this was really tame, but I actually like that because independent wrestlers shouldn’t be killing themselves for matches that are only seen by a hidden minority and would even hurt their chances of landing a television look. Kratos managed to get good by the end by not being slow motion anymore. He hit a sidewalk slam on the thumbtacks and sold getting tacked himself. He then hit a Tombstone on Jeckles to pick up the victory. Sullivan got involved by beating up the Jester’s voodoo doctor manager.
JR Kratos defeated Jeckles the Jester via pinfall
6. Will Cuevas vs. Karl Federicks for the APW Internet Championship. The one flaw I see in the game of Will Cuevas is he calls himself “The Moneymaker” and does imitate Okada a bit, and as I mentioned with Jacob Fatu, I don’t recommend coming off as a copycat. With that out of the way, Will Cuevas is really really good in the ring and doesn’t need the Okada stuff since he’s a great mat wrestler. Cueva’s seems to be APW’s go to guy if you want a solid opponent for anyone. Karl Federicks was the heel of the match and he wasn’t bad as well. Fredericks drew “You still Suck” chants from people who knew his storylines.
Fredericks drew some heat by doing a people’s elbow into a moonsault. Heels deserve extra props when they do high flying moves and draw heat at the same time (John Mundo, Neville, and Jack Evans come to mind with me). Fredericks hit a cool looking Tilt-A-Whirl side slam in the match which was different because we usually get a backbreaker from the move. Late in the match Will Cuevas hit a cool looking pop up DDT move after being set up by Fredericks. Cuevas was building up to the Rainmaker and even hit a 3 amigos. Cuevas then went into Eddie Guerrero mode with the Frogsplash. The match did have a surprising ending with Karl Fredericks pulling out a quick-execution Go To Sleep which led to him picking up the pinfall victory.
Karl Fredericks defeated Will Cuevas via pinfall to become the new APW Internet Champion.
Next was the match of the night and if I were APW I would have shuffled the last three matches (even though I do understand that Cody Rhodes drew the people in the building). I’m also guessing the promotion underestimated the drawing power of Johnny Mundo. TNA Wrestler, Luster the Legend of the Reno Scum act, was the APW Universal Champion. This match was originally billed as Luster the Legend vs. Adam Thornstowe for the world championship. Thank God this was changed, though I do wish Adam a speedy and solid recovery. This match was changed to Luster vs. John Mundo (a/k/a John Morrison) vs. “They Call Him” Cage vs. Jeff Cobb (a.k.a. Matanza Cueto) for the Universal Championship which is a much much better match. You also have a TNA wrestler and three of the top Lucha Underground stars all in one match.
7. Luster the Legend vs. Johnny Mundo vs. Brian Cage vs. Jeff Cobb in a four-way for the APW Universal Championship. It’s already been a year, but this match reminded me why I love attending the Lucha Underground live tapings. It’s interesting in that even though we had three possible high flyers in the match, they all stood out as unique. Cobb also has altered his style to what Will Pruett and I have argued he should do by tonight down the high spots and performing more on his suplexes and power moves. Cobb impressed everyone with his pure strength. He does these suplexes where he picks up giant people like Cage or Luster midair while also swinging them around like they were just rag dolls. Even though Cage may be a machine, Cobb is an inhuman monster with the way he deadlifts giants like Luster with ease.
I give Mundo credit for at least trying to keep continuity alive by flipping the bird and trying to keep up his Worldwide Underground persona, but it seems like most fans were more nostalgic for his WWE work and he appealed to that well to with his many parkour moves and corkscrew variations on everything. What surprised me the most was I expected Luster to fade into the background due to how much his three opponents have stood out on the national stage, but he was really good as well on his end providing the solid big man base and big man power moves. He hit some good suplexes and performed a Razor’s Edge on one dude into another against the corner. I also give Luster credit for building up to his Texas Cloverleaf submission. Another credit to him for popping himself in the air into some of Jeff Cobb’s Suplexes. He does tend to yell “Oi” a bit too much for my taste. It might get over, but he overdoes it a bit. Both he and Christina Von Eerie have done a bit too much of that on Impact recently. Cobb’s best catch was catching a flopping Mundo midair into a belly to belly with a ground twist.
It was actually Cage who sorta faded into the background, not to his fault, but due to the other wrestlers doing so much in the match. That’s a downside with four man matches. Cage did get to stand out though with some of his signature spots like the discus lariat, F5, and Weapon X. The crowd clapped to the tune of Terminator, which they figured out was odd and was odd to me who regularly attends his matches at the Boyle Heights temple. The crowd figured out this was odd too and then did the traditional thing of slapping metal to do the Terminator theme. Mundo, Luster, and Jeff Cobb played into the finish. Mundo managed to nail Jeff Cobb with the Starship Pain and Cobb kicked out of Mundo’s finisher for a really good nearfall. Luster then went into the ring and cleaned house. Cobb lifted up the big Luster the Legend with ease while everyone was knocked out. Cobb planted Luster with a good looking Wrath of the Gods powerslam (way better than the one he did to Mil Muertes in the Grave Consequences) and picked up the victory to become the new APW Universal Champion. The crowd gave Cobb a hero’s reaction due to him being an APW/bay area/California guy.
Jeff Cobb defeated Luster the Legend, John Mundo, and Brian Cage via pinfall to become the new APW Universal Champion.
AJ Kirsch had a hard time on his hands when they went to setting up the main event. The crowd really started to get restless at this point and even reacted worse than when WWE did the House of Horrors movie from last week. It took forever setting up the steel cage. There was this awkward moment where two pieces of the cage would come out, the crew would then walk back and then bring out the same two pieces of cage out. All this while AJ is trying to kill time and distract the crowd, but it didn’t help. Of course, if they would have anticipated the long cage setup time, they should have set up the cage match for after Intermission to use the intermission to set up the cage, then have the Cuevas match, and then the Universal Title match which they should have known would have been good. If it was Thornstowe vs. Luster I would have left the title match below the Cody one, but it wasn’t.
8. Cody Rhodes vs. Joey Ryan in a steel cage match. This match was set up at the “We Out Here” show where Ryan did a post-match attack on Cody and Pentagon while also wearing his Stardust jumpsuit from earlier on in the night. Cody can use his Rhodes name since this is not on television. The cage wasn’t too high but it did the job. Ryan was his self where he did the oil thing and the lollipop stuff. If you’ve seen one Joey Ryan match on TNA or Lucha Underground, then you’ve seen them all. He did add a new part to it (or newer, since I’ve seen it before) where Cody tried to kick him in the balls early on but Cody sold the pain because I guess Ryan has balls of steel? Maybe Ryan needs to find a way to wrestle Braun Strowman at WWE Great Balls of Fire.
Ryan was chickenshit throughout and he tried to escape the cage once with Cody ripping off his tights to reveal his thong and bare ass. Cody slammed Ryan against the cage several times and you could clearly see the blading and blade transfer after it. At one point, only because he does this in every match now, Ryan did that thing where the opponent grabs his dick, and he flexes his arm muscles to pantomime dick strength. He then flips them with his dick which is his signature meme. At least they tried to explain people grabbling his dick now by saying that he puts their hands down there and it’s just “so strong” it holds the hand in place.
The match got a bit unique but totally expected by the end. As Cody tried to escape, the cage a woman in a jumpsuit and Stardust kid’s mask blocked his escape at the cage and door. Of course, if you follow independent wrestling even a little bit, you should have expected that this was Johnny Gargano’s wife and Ryan’s longtime tag partner Candice LeRae. This popped the crowd due to her work in So/Nor Cal. Candice gave Cody a Ball-Plex which is a German Suplex where she grabs Cody in the balls. Lots of ball grabbing on this show.
Eventually, Brandi Rhodes ran in to even up the odds for the babyface husband and wife. Cody took down Candice accidentally by hitting her with a beautiful disaster kick. The move of the night was Cody and Joey both being on the top of the cage area. Cody then doesn’t hold on to the cage and manages to hit Ryan with a top of the cage superplex all the way to the mat which was sick looking. Cody then escaped the cage to leave the crowd going home happy.
Cody Rhodes defeated Joey Ryan in a cage match.
Cody and Brandi made their way to the back as AJ handled the outro. AJ Kirsch announced that APW was coming back to the huge Cow Palace venue again in September so he told us to look out for that.
John’s Thoughts: Good work by the APW crew for booking a huge venue, using huge legends like Pat Patterson and Kevin Sullivan, and for bringing in top tier talent. Another positive was keeping most of the APW “meh” guys early in the battle royal and have everyone else after that to the end of the show being meaningful and standouts. The two booking differences I would have made would have been to move the Cody vs. Ryan steel cage to the match after intermission because it would have mitigated their easily anticipated cage problem and they should have had easy confident that their world title match would be off the charts good in-ring. Another change I would have made would have been to give Shotzi and Candice more time because I felt they could have had a first half show-stealer from the women’s side without overshadowing the men. All that said, I came out pleased. Props to Luster for looking good too. Also, I’m looking forward to see what APW is going to put together for their next Cow Palace show because they went hard on this one. I will have to see the lineup first to see if it’s worth going to.
The new edition of the Pro Wrestling Boom Podcast with Jason Powell features Ricky Starks on his NWA run, doing enhancement work for WWE, leaving NOLA due to Hurricane Katrina, the January 24 NWA Hard Times PPV on FITE.TV, his relationship with Nick Aldis, and much more...