By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
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The Wrestling Showcase
Streamed on FITE TV
September 3, 2022 in Schaumburg, Illinois at Hyatt Regency Hotel
The afternoon show allowed fans, and Matt Cardona, to get to the GCW show later that night.) The crowd is maybe 300; it grew sizable after the first two matches, so fans probably came here from other wrestling shows/events in the city. This appears to be an ornate ballroom, with chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.
Johnny Loquasto and Josh Shernoff were on commentary. This show features an eight-man, single-elimination tournament.
1. Ernest “The Cat” Miller (w/Sonny Onoo) defeated Dave Segan at 2:58. Miller competed at the GCW show a night earlier. As I noted in a different review, he’s now 58 but doesn’t look much different than he did 15 years ago. I have never heard of Sagan, but his look and demeanor remind me of Austin and Colten Gunn. Onoo distracted Segan, and Miller caught him with a kick to the chest for the pin. Not much to this one.
2. Cyon defeated Joe Alonzo to retain the NWA National Title at 6:22. Cyon is Robert “Ego” Anthony in a mask; I first saw him wrestle in IWA-Mid South circa 2004, and Wikipedia says he’s now 40. He has had a handful of AEW Dark appearances, too. Early in the match, Cyon leapt over the guardrail and crashed onto Alonzo in the empty chairs. In the ring, Cyon tied him in a surfboard at 3:30. Alonzo fired back with a springboard cutter for a nearfall, then a swinging faceplant for a nearfall. However, Cyon hit a rolling Death Valley Driver for the pin. Decent action.
3. Rich Swann defeated Johnny “Showcase” (Morrison/Hennigan) in a first-round match at 6:35. They shook hands before the bell, and they traded good reversals. Unfortunately, at 4:00, they got “drip sticks” and had a duel with the water guns. Johnny hit a superkick and a swinging neckbreaker and was in charge. They traded blows. and Swann hit a spin kick to the head for the pin. Adequate; they certainly have a far better match in them than this.
* Matt Rehwoldt joined the commentary team to provide color and the history between Josh Alexander and Moose. Karen Jarrett hit the ring and fired up the crowd. (We’ll see why she’s here later…)
4. Josh Alexander defeated Moose in a first-round match at 5:49. Mat reversals early on, and Josh went for an ankle lock, with Moose scrambling for the ropes at 2:00. They pointed out Brian Hebner is the referee; I thought he retired! They continued to trade mat reversals when all of a sudden, Alexander got the three-count with a school boy rollup. I know this is a tournament and two guys will wrestle three times, but to call this match underwhelming is just an understatement.
5. Jacob Fatu defeated Steve Maclin in a first-round match at 8:10. Maclin hit some chops early, but Fatu came back with harder open-hand slaps and a running crossbody block, then a senton. They brawled to the floor and traded chops. Maclin hit a backbreaker over his knee at 3:00, and he took control. This is already much better than the first two tournament matches. Maclin tied Fatu in the Tree of Woe and hit a spear as Fatu was hanging upside down at 5:00. Nice move!
They brawled out of the ring, where Fatu hit a back body drop onto an entrance ramp. In the ring, Fatu hit a top-rope crossbody block, then a handspring-back-moonsault for a nearfall. Maclin fired back with a brainbuster for a nearfall, and he tied Fatu in an STF. Fatu hit a pop-up Samoan Drop for the pin. That was hard-hitting and good for the time given.
* Matt Cardona hit the ring and gave the same promo I’ve heard a few times now, where he talked about how he had a “life-threatening” injury when he hurt his arm. He vowed to win the tournament.
6. Matt Cardona defeated Tatanka in a first-round match at 8:34. Tatanka, age 61, came out second, wearing his headdress and carrying his hatchet. He has a sizable gut now. Plenty of stalling and standing switches. Tatanka hit a clothesline at 2:00 that sent Cardona to the floor, and he called for a timeout. He got on the mic and apologized to Tatanka. “I was disrespectful on Twitter. I’m sorry. I take back everything I said.” But then he talked about Tatanka’s action figure. Funny. Cardona offered a handshake, but went to kick him; Tatanka caught the leg and hit several punches.
They brawled back to the floor. The heel commentator pointed out that both men had fought for the intercontinental title at a WrestleMania, but only Cardona won the belt. Back in the ring, Cardona choked Tatanka with his t-shirt and was in charge. Tatanka hit a belly-to-back suplex; that was his first bump, and they were both down at 7:00. Tatanka hit a backbody drop. Cardona hit his Famasser for a nearfall, and he jawed at the ref. Cardona hit a low blow uppercut when the ref was distracted to get a rollup for the tainted pin. Better than it had any right to be. Tatanka hit a post-match Samoan Drop.
7. Kal Herro defeated Luke Kurtis at 8:03. The commentators say Herro is only 20; we’ve seen him in AEW; I saw him lose to Jora Johl at a Milwaukee AEW show. This is an OVW showcase match. We had an “update” that Cardona may have once again “torn his bicep” and may not be able to continue in the tournament. Kurtis reminds me of Daniel Garcia with his close shave on his head and a decent muscle mass. Kurtis applied a Crippler Crossface on the mat, but Herro reached the ropes at 5:30. Kurtis missed a top-rope frogsplash. Herro hit a bionic elbow drop to the head. Herro won it with a running knee strike to the head. This stayed in first gear.
** During the next match, they talked about the “Money for Mongo” fundraiser, which was held earlier in the day. Sounds like a great cause. Anyone who has seen online pictures of Steve McMichael know he is in rough shape.
8. Josh Alexander defeated Rich Swann in a second-round match at 7:47. They shook hands and traded mat reversals. In a nice spot, Swann went for a dropkick, but Alexander caught the foot and applied an ankle lock at 2:30. Swann hit a flip dive from the ring apron to the floor. Alexander kept him grounded with a headlock. This is intense mat action. Swann hit a huracanrana out of the corner at 5:30. Josh hit a forward Finlay roll.
Swann hit a swinging back fist. Alexander went back to the anklelock. Swann went for a handspring-back-elbow, but Alexander caught him and hit a German release suplex, then the piledriver for the pin. That was a good match.
* Cardona came to the ring with his right arm in a sling. He got on the mic and said his bicep was re-injured, but he has a replacement ready, and that man is Brian Myers!
9. Jacob Fatu defeated Brian Myers (w/Cardona) in a second-round match at 8:28. Fatu attacked at the bell. Cardona distracted Fatu, allowing Myers to beat up Fatu on the floor. In the ring, Myers hit a back suplex for a nearfall at 3:30, and he kept Fatu grounded. Myers hit a jumping DDT for a nearfall. Fatu dove through the ropes at 6:00, and they were both down on the floor. In the ring, Fatu hit a Samoan Drop, then a running butt splash in the corner for a nearfall. Cardona hit a spear for a nearfall. Fatu hit the pop-up Samoan Drop, then a top-rope moonsault for the clean pin. Exactly the match you’d expect here.
10. Chelsea Green defeated Deonna Purrazzo and (C) Taya Valkyrie in a three-way to win the MLW Featherweight Title at 9:11. Green and Purrazzo wore their identical gold and red outfits, making it clear this is really two-on-one, not every woman for herself. Brian Hebner is the ref again. The heels attacked Taya to start. Taya rolled to the floor to recover at 2:00. Deonna ordered Chelsea to lay down, and she did, but when Deonna made a lazy cover, Chelsea rolled her over for a nearfall. They then started actually trading reversals and rollups.
Deonna hit a Flatliner on Taya at 4:00. The heels hit a team snap suplex and are working together again. Deonna hit a Russian legsweep for a nearfall; Chelsea sat by and didn’t try to break it up. Taya hit a Blue Thunder Bomb on Chelsea at 6:00, and she tied Green up on the mat. Deonna hit a powerbomb on Taya for a nearfall at 8:00. The heels became angry and shoved the ref to the floor. They each grabbed a title belt and hit Taya with it. Chelsea hit an Unprettier to pin Taya.
* As Purrazzo and Green celebrated, Karen Jarrett returned to the ring, and she ordered the match re-started. The heel commentator demanded to know who gave Karen that authority.
10B. Taya Valkyrie defeated Purrazzo and Green to retain the title at 0:40. The heels immediately attacked Hebner again. Taya hit a suplex to pin Green. The typical Dusty Finish.
* Matt Cardona hit the ring and said he has good news — he didn’t re-tear his bicep. That brought boos. He said he was on the phone with his attorney, “Smart” Mark Sterling, who told him Fatu shouldn’t have touched him. Karen Jarrett came to the ring, and she agreed that Matt should be in this match, but she turned this into a three-way finale.
11. Matt Cardona (w/Chelsea Green) defeated Josh Alexander and Jacob Fatu to win the Wrestling Showcase at 7:15. Fatu shook Josh’s hand, but then immediately superkicked him in the face! They fought to the floor, with Josh hitting running Mafia Kicks on both opponents. In the ring, Fatu hit a top-rope flip onto Alexander at 2:30. Cardona hit a Rude Awakening standing neckbreaker on Alexander for a nearfall. Fatu went for a superkick, but Josh caught the leg and applied an anklelock.
Josh hit some rolling German suplexes on Cardona, then one on Fatu. He clotheslined Fatu to the floor, then hit a forward Finlay Roll on Cardona. Moose came out of nowhere and jumped on the ring apron, so Josh brawled with him. Josh nailed the butterfly piledriver on Cardona, but Moose pulled Josh out of the ring and they continued to brawl. Fatu went for a top-rope moonsault, but Chelsea hopped in the ring to cover her husband. She slapped Fatu, then she hit a low blow. This allowed Cardona to crawl over and cover Fatu for the tainted win. The sure got a lot in for a seven-minute match.
Final Thoughts: Adding Cardona to the main event was quite the cop-out, preserving both Alexander and Fatu from taking a pinfall against each other.
None of the tournament matches were bad, but they were surprisingly short. While this show had great star power, there is nothing worth going out of your way to watch, either. I’ll go with Alexander-Swann (second round) for best match, Fatu-Maclin (first round) for second-best, and the main event was third-best.
The women’s match was fine and played out the way I expected. I don’t need to see Tatanka or Ernest Miller in the ring in 2022, but Tatanka’s match was well-booked to protect him, and Cat’s match was short and harmless.
The show clocked in at just under three hours.