Absolute Intense Wrestling “Join the Swarm” results: Vetter’s review of Joshua Bishop vs. Tom Lawlor for the AIW Absolute Title, Paul London vs. Wes Barkley vs. Joey Janela vs. Derek Dillinger in a four-way, Dominic Garrini vs. Alec Price, Matt Cross and Josh Prohibition vs. Marino Tenaglia and Philly Collins

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By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)

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Absolute Intense Wrestling “Join the Swarm”
Streamed on FITE.TV
February 4, 2023 in Akron, Ohio at Tadmor Shrine

I admittedly decided to watch this entirely because Paul London was booked for the show. I watched a different AIW show a month ago and only saw a handful of guys that stood out to me. They were back in the building with the Egyptian drawings on the walls, which are a bit distracting. There is live commentary. Attendance is in the 400-500 range.

1. “Money Shot” Elijah Dean and Zach Nystrom defeated “The Bang Bros” Davey Bang and August Matthews at 8:24. The Bang Bros are decent high-flyers and have competed on a lot of Midwest indies in the past year; Davey is shorter and Black while August is taller, white and lanky.  I think this is my first time seeing Money Shot; they gave off heel FTR vibes; they are taller and thicker. One of the Money Shot guys got a rollup, grabbed his teammate’s hands for leverage, and scored the tainted pin. Not much action at all.

2. Shaw Mason defeated Pretty Boy Smooth via DQ at 6:58. PB Smooth, a tall Black man, wore a long furry jacket and necklace, giving off Godfather vibes. In the last show I watched, newcomer Shaw had a really good match with Tom Lawlor. He’s young, short and scrawny but has a legit amateur wrestling background. As they lock up, PB Smooth is listed on Wikipedia as 6’9″ which is probably a slight advantage, but there is 8-9 inch height difference. As expected, PB bodyslammed Shaw several times.

Shaw applied an anklelock, but Smooth shrugged it off. Mason kept going back to the anklelock, and eventually, Smooth grabbed the referee and hit him in an effort to break free from the hold. The ref called for the bell, right as Smooth began tapping out. The heel commentator kept trying to claim that Smooth didn’t tap out, and Smooth lost by DQ, not by submission.

3. Isaiah Broner defeated Sam Holloway at 6:43. Holloway wore black and just looks dirty; somewhat like a taller Sami Callihan. Broner is Black, wore a bandana on his bald head, and a football jersey. He’s thick with some gut, like Junkyard Dog. They traded hard chops, and Holloway hit a nice pump-handle slam for a nearfall. Broner hit an F5 Slam for a nearfall at 5:00. Broner nailed a decapitating clothesline to score the pin. Decent big-man match that could have gone longer.

4.  Marino Tenaglia and Philly Collins defeated Josh Prohibition and “M-Dogg 20” Matt Cross in a street fight at 14:21. Garbage cans were set up at ringside. Cross has wrestled in ROH and recently appeared in NWA; he’s short, white and been wrestling perhaps 20 years. Prohibition also is white and bald, but taller. All four brawled at the bell and went to the floor. Tenaglia and Collins are giving me Rocco Rock & Johnny Grunge vibes as bigger brawlers. They brawled around the floor for several minutes, going in front of bleachers against one wall, and over toward the merchandise tables against another wall.

They eventually got in the ring, and Matt Cross hit a nice handspring-back-elbow at 7:30, then a double stomp onto one of the heel’s back for a nearfall. In an insane spot, Prohibition hit a Razor’s Edge, over the top rope, onto another heel who was lying on a ladder at 11:00. In the ring, Cross hit a stunner, and he went to the top rope, but he was blocked from hitting a big finisher. Cross’s hands were handcuffed behind his back; I didn’t see when that happened. The heels got zip-ties and used them on Prohibition, too. The heels got a Singapore Cane, cracked it over the head of the defenseless Prohibition, and scored the pin.

* Intermission. Blank screen, telling us that AIW returns this Saturday, Feb. 11, to Youngstown, Ohio.

5. Dominic Garrini defeated Alec Price at 12:51. Garrini has a gut and has been in MLW in the past; he looks like the dad who teaches karate classes. Price is in his early 20s, skinny and has a slight height advantage but is lighter; the Boston native has competed on both coasts in recent weeks. Price is still wearing a strap protecting his left shoulder. They brawled to the floor at 3:00, and the heel Price jawed at the crowd as he slammed Garrini’s head into a ring post. In the ring, Garrini hit a series of German Suplexes at 5:30. Price hit a Helluva Kick in the corner. Garrini hit a nice second-rope fisherman’s suplex to score the pin. OK match; I had hoped for more.

6. “The Bitcoin Boyz” Eric Taylor and Mikey Montgomery (w/the Duke) defeated Chuck Stone and Arthur McArthur for the AIW Tag Titles at 12:43. Taylor and Montgomery are skinny kids, while Stone and McArthur are heavyset, older and balding. The BB are the heels. The heavyset Stone hit a spinebuster. The mostly-bald McArthur hit a powerslam. Late in the match, the heels were whipped into the corner. The big Stone went for a rolling cannonball, but both heels moved, and Stone crashed hard into the corner. The BB immediately hit a team neckbreaker move on McArthur for the pin.

7. Derek Dillinger (w/Ziggy Haim) defeated Paul London, Wes Barkley, and Joey Janela in a four-way brawl at 18:56. Barkley wore a black Steve Austin-style vest and Kerry Von Erich-style boots with tassels; think LA. Knight. London, age 42, came out in a full-body gray outfit not hiding at all a fairly substantial gut, and he sang his entrance song; his voice is awful. The announcers said the crowd wasn’t impressed, adding it is London’s first match here in 11 years. London has a lot of gray in his beard. Dillinger is wide. London hit a top-rope dive to the floor on everyone at 3:00.

Dillinger clotheslined London over the guardrail, with them both crashing onto empty chairs. They all brawled in the corner of the building, then up into the risers at 6:00. Barkley was bleeding from the forehead. Garbage cans filled with trash were overturned. Finally in the ring, Dillinger hit a sunset flip powerbomb into a table set up in the corner for a nearfall. There was lots of garbage debris in the ring and they took turns beating each other over the head with boards and door shrapnel. Not my style of match; not what I expected for a Paul London match. Suddenly everyone was down at 14:30.

In a cool spot, London hit a double stomp off someone’s back, then he leapt and did a frogsplash through another opponent who was lying on a table. London went to the top rope (no way he can hit anything cool with that gut) but was pushed to the floor. Ziggy got in the ring, but Janela grabbed her and hit a Death Valley Driver through a door set up in the corner. Janela hit a double stomp onto Barkley for a nearfall. Dillinger hit a Stomp on Barkley and pinned him, so neither Janela nor London were involved in the finish. UGH. Not what I expected at all.

8. Joshua Bishop defeated Tom Lawlor to retain the AIW Absolute Title at 32:18. Bishop is the tall guy with curly blond hair that reminds me of a young Sid Vicious, and he’s much taller and heavier than Lawlor. Lawlor wore his silly tux outfit, but he took it off after the bell, and he put on shooter-style fighting gloves. Bishop backed him into the corner and unloaded several chops. They traded stiff forearms in the middle of the ring at 3:30, and Lawlor nailed an enzuigiri. Bishop fired back with a Death Valley Driver for a nearfall.

They brawled to the floor, where Lawlor cracked a chair across Bishop’s back at 5:00. In the ring, Lawlor hit a uranage. Lawlor avoided a sidewalk slam and he hit a German Suplex, then a Kota-style Komigoye knee strike. Bishop hit an Abyss-style spinning sideslam for a believable nearfall. Lawlor went for the Rings of Saturn, but Bishop scrambled to the ropes at 8:30. Lawlor hit some Sheamus-style blows to the chest as Bishop stood on the ring apron.

In the ring, Lawlor hit a spin kick to the head for a nearfall. They brawled to the floor. In the ring, the ring crew removed the mat and padding. Bishop cracked a Singapore cane across Lawlor’s back at 13:30. They finally got back in the ring, with the bare, wood boards now showing. Lawlor applied a Dragon Sleeper. Lawlor nailed a second-rope Tiger Suplex onto the wood boards, and they were both down at 17:00. They brawled back to the floor while the ring crew now removed the ropes in the ring. Bishop was bleeding from the forehead, and like Dusty Rhodes, Steve Corino and countless others, his blond hair was quickly turning red.

They finally got back into the partially torn-down ring at 24:00. Bishop nailed an unprotected chairshot across Lawlor’s forehead. Stupid, dangerous, unnecessary. A board was removed, revealing the steel beams underneath. A person wearing a sea monster mask popped up from under the ring to distract Bishop; that was very cartoonish and didn’t fit with this match at all. Lawlor applied a Dragon Sleeper.  Lawlor jabbed barbecue sticks into Bishop’s forehead. The sea monster began brawling with a guy who was dressed like Skinner, circa 1992, and they had to be separated.

That distraction gave the wrestlers in the match a brief break, but they kept brawling around ringside, then back into the ring, trading forearm shots as we reached 30:00. Lawlor hit a bodyslam for a nearfall. Bishop hit a Razor’s Edge powerbomb from the ring through a door bridge set up on the floor; Bishop took him into the ring but only got a nearfall. He then hit a powerslam for the pin.

* Bishop got on the mic and made an open challenge to anyone. Marino Tenaglia & Philly Collins came out of the back and they had Matt Cardona on the phone! They said Cardona wanted to accept. Bishop’s open challenge. Also out of the back came Isaiah Broner who also wanted a title match; Bishop agreed and said it would be a three-way dance in March.

Final Thoughts: I was a HUGE London fan, like anyone who was watching early 2000s VHS tapes of Ring of Honor. He was such a star there, and I enjoyed his run in WWE, particularly with Brian Kendrick. I only met him once, as he greeted fans to WrestleMania in Chicago in 2006 (he wasn’t on the card.) He’s made occasional appearances over the years, but not too often. So… this was just sad. It really was. He wasn’t HUGE, but he was definitely bloated, and had more of a gut than I would have ever expected, and that full-bodied gray track suit with red stripes looked cheap and clearly worn to hide how out of shape he is.

The main event was a good brawl but unnecessarily long. They could have told a better, more concise story by staying in the 20-25 minute range. In the other matches, Broner looks good and Matt Cross has been really good for 20 years. However, just being blunt… most of the guys on these cards would be turned away if they tried to get on Pro Wrestling Revolver, Warrior Wrestling, or Game Changer Wrestling shows. This is a fine local indy, but they aren’t at the same level of the other three I just mentioned.

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