By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
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Battleground Championship Wrestling “A Champion Shall Rise”
Streamed on FITE.TV
March 18, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania at 2300 Arena
Joe Dombrowski provided commentary. This show is built around an eight-man, single-elimination tournament, with the winner getting the BCW Title.
* The Phiadelphia Playboy & Mr. Boogie Nights hit the ring to talk to BCW owner Tim Embler, but got shouted down. They want a match! The BCW owners says he is sending them to Nastyville!
1. “The Nasty Boys” Jerry Sags and Brian Knobbs defeated The Philadelphia Playboy and Mr. Boogie Nights in about 2:00. Knobbs spoke on the mic, saying these two losers aren’t worthy of being in the ring with them, and he orders them to come to the floor. They brawled, and Knobbs gave Mr. BN a trip to “Pitty City” (armpit rub.) We don’t actually have a bell or a pinfall, we just have two old guys whipping two green, thin unknowns with trash can lids for two minutes. Better than them having an actual 10-minute match at this point, as the crowd got what they wanted.
2. Afa Jr. defeated Wrecking Ball Legsursky at 5:56. Afa Jr. (formerly known as Manu in WWE) seems to be mimicking Sandman, with a cigarette in his mouth and a Singapore cane in his hand. The ball, rotund Legursky is reasonably over in NWA; I am amused by him. Legursky clotheslined him to the floor, and they traded chops in front of the fans. Back in the ring, Legursky hit a fallaway slam at 3:00. Afa Jr. hit a Death Valley Driver onto an open chair for the pin. Basic.
* Immediately after the bell, Sandman walked to the ring to a huge pop, and he also had a Singapore Cane. He got in the ring, they stared at each other from across the ring, and Afa Jr. bailed to the floor and up the ramp without them touching. Sandman drank beer with the crowd.
* NWA’s May Valentine hit the ring and displayed a title belt. She literally did a loop around the ring with the belt above her head, put it in a case, and walked to the back without saying a word.
3. Brian Kendrick defeated Rich Swann in a first-round tournament match at 12:51. If you’ve never seen it, Swann’s entrance on the indy circuit goes on forever. They shook hands and appear to both be babyfaces tonight. They traded headlocks and mat holds early on. Kendrick set up for Sliced Bread #2 at 4:00, but Swann pushed him shoulder-first into the corner. They brawled on the floor, with Kendrick selling an arm injury.
In the ring, Kendrick applied the Captain Hook headlock submission hold at 8:30, but Swann fought free. Swann hit a second-rope kneedrop on Kendrick’s damaged arm, and he applied a Fujiwara Armbar. Kendrick snapped the back of Swann’s neck over the top rope and got a nearfall at 11:30, and he again applied Captain Hook. Swann nailed a handspring-back-stunner for a believable nearfall, but he missed a 450 Splash. Kendrick rolled him over and got the pin. Good match.
4. Lance Archer vs. Bully Ray was declared a no contest in a first-round tournament match at 0:20. Archer got on the mic and said, “Do you think I give a shit about the ECW Arena? Just like you, it was a dump and needed to be fixed.” Matt Cardona ran in and gave Bully Ray a low blow. Archer grabbed Cardona by the neck. Steph de Lander ran in and gave Archer a low blow! The ref ruled this was a no contest, drawing massive boos from the crowd. Fans chanted, “let them fight” Archer got on the mic and said, “You want to see us fight? F**k you!” and he stormed off. They literally didn’t even get a chance to lock up. What a massive bait-and-switch; I can only hope and presume these two return later in the show.
* Bully Ray picked up a kid, probably 7, who was crying; Dombrowski said Archer had scared him. The kid was dressed like Orange Cassidy. Classy moment from Bully Ray to calm the kid down. Dombrowski said the winner of the next round will get a second-round bye and move directly into the finals.
5. Matt Cardona (w/Steph de Lander) defeated Harry Smith in a first-round tournament match at 13:31. Cardona wore a cartoonish “death match king” crown that looks like he got at Burger King. Cardona did his “All hail the death match king!” routine, drawing boos. Cardona rolled to the floor to stall before the bell. They eventually locked up and traded mat hold. They brawled to the floor, and Cardona whipped him into the guardrail at 6:00. In the ring, Cardona hit a Rude Awakening standing neckbreaker.
Harry hit a running powerbomb, and they were both down at 9:30. Harry climbed on the second rope and hit a series of punches to the forehead, then a top-rope guillotine legdrop for a nearfall. Harry hit a series of German Suplexes at 12:00. Cardona nailed the Radio Silence Fame-asser for a nearfall. Smith nailed the running Bulldog Powerslam, but de Lander put Cardona’s foot on the top rope, and she distracted the ref. Cardona immediately hit a low blow uppercut to get the tainted pin.
6. Johnny Battleground (f/k/a John Morrison) defeated Tony Nese in a first-round match at 12:09. Standing reversals to open. Johnny hit a low blow in the ropes, then the Moonlight Drive twisting neckbreaker at 5:00. They brawled to the floor, where Johnny dropped Nese throat-first on the guardrail, and he whipped Tony into another guardrail. They got back in the ring, and Johnny had him typed up in a Cobra Clutch on the mat.
Nese hit a second-rope moonsault for a nearfall at 10:30. They brawled on the ropes in the corner. Johny hit Starship Pain corkscrew splash for the pin. Decent match, but Nese is such a good heel, it was weird having him work as a babyface here.
* So, Dombrowski was wrong; he didn’t see the brackets. The Archer-Bully Ray draw means Johnny Battleground has a bye to the finals, not Cardona.
7. Brian Kendrick defeated Matt Cardona in a second-round tournament match at 0:49. Bully Ray appeared at ringside to distract Cardona, allowing Kendrick to hit the Sliced Bread #2 overhead faceplant for the pin. That was disappointing.
* Bully Ray got on the mic and told Kendrick he hopes that he wins the tournament. He then turned to Cardona and challenged him to a match when they return to this venue on July 1, with the stipulation that the loser will never wrestle in the ECW Arena again. Battleground promoter Tim Embler returned to the ring and said the Bully Ray-Cardona match is signed.
* 20-minute intermission. At nearly two hours in, seems late to be taking an intermission.
8. Facade (w/Dani Mo) defeated Myles Hawkins and Ray Jaz in a three-way at 11:16. Hawkins is a thin Black man. Jaz is the stereotypical Jersey Shore jerk. Facade, with his neon green hair, is a 20-year pro. Myles hit a nice dropkick on Jaz. Jaz hit a high back suplex on Facade. Myles hit a flip dive to the floor on Facade at 2:00. Jaz hit a summersault roll from the ring apron to the floor. They all brawled on the floor. Jaz shoved Facade off the guardrail and into the crowd. Jaz and Myles got in the ring, while Dani Mo tried to help Facade recover.
Facade got in the ring and hit a springboard stunner on Jaz at 6:30, but Jaz rolled to the floor to avoid being pinned. Facade leapt on an open chair in the ring, then leapt off the top rope, before hitting a flip dive on both men. Jaz hit a German Release Suplex, then a Death Valley Driver on Facade for a believable nearfall at 9:00. Jaz hit another Death Valley Driver on Hawkins. Jaz nailed a top-rope frogsplash on Facade for a nearfall, but Hawkins made the save. Facade got a jackknife cover rollup to pin Hawkins. Decent match.
* A large Black man who was in the front row, who had been barking at wrestlers all night, hit the ring and attacked Facade. Dombrowski tried to sell it as a fan hitting the ring, but the cameras followed him as he was escorted backstage. (Prior to the intermission, Tim Embler made a comment toward that fan that really seemed out-of-place, so the fact he was a plant makes sense.)
9. Kamille Brickhouse defeated Vita VonStarr to retain the NWA Women’s Title at 11:48. Dombrowski reminded us that Vita was in The Righteous at the tale end of Sinclair ROH era; I truly had forgotten that group had a female member. She is dressed like WWE’s Nikki Cross; a quick internet search says she is 5’7″ and 130 pounds, so she is giving up height and weight to the much larger Kamille. Dombrowski said Kamille has now been champion for 651 days. They opened with some mat reversals. Kamille dropped her face-first on the top turnbuckle.
Vita hit a clothesline at 3:00 but only got a one-count, and she applied a leglock around the neck as they fought in the ropes, and Vita took control of the action. She applied a mid-ring Octopus at 6:30. Kamille hit a Bulldog Powerslam for a nearfall, then a swinging neckbreaker for a nearfall. Vita hit a Michinoku Driver for a nearfall at 9:30. Vita did a headstand in the corner, but Kamille ran in, grabbed Vita and put her on her shoulders in a Torture Rack, and spun her to the mat for a nearfall. Vita avoided a spear; she hit a kick to Kamille’s gut for a nearfall at 11:00. Kamille nailed a spear for the pin.
10. Brian Kendrick defeated Johnny Battleground in the tournament final to become the first BCW Champion at 5:19. The referee displayed the title belt for the winner. Johnny barked at the crowd and was acting like the heel. Standing switches to start. Johnny went to work on the left arm. They brawled to the floor at 2:30. Back in the ring, Kendrick applied the Captain Hook headlock submission hold, then the Sliced Bread #2 for a nearfall at 4:30. Johnny hit a (soft-looking) running knee to the jaw, then the Moonlight Drive swinging neckbreaker. However, as he leaned over to pick up Kendrick, Brian grabbed him, got an inside cradle, and scored the pin. Blah; it felt like a half-match. Considering how talented these two are… this is on the far low end of expectations of what they can do.
Final Thoughts: I can’t believe how incredibly awful it is to book Archer vs. Bully Ray and they literally didn’t even lock up. You can do that crappy finish, but you should let them fight for 10 minutes first. While I certainly hope that neither Archer nor Bully Ray are injured… to me… that is the only reason to book a match that ends without them ever even locking up.
What an ugly tournament. Of seven possible tournament matches, we had two that ended in under a minute, one that was erased because of a draw, and the main event clocking in at barely five minutes. Sure, Kendrick-Swann earns best match, but it didn’t have any competition.
I noted this after the GCW show on Friday, but I am really liking the Cardona-de Lander pairing. While she isn’t as muscular as Chyna was (who is?), she is tall and far stronger than most women. I really didn’t notice it when she was in NXT, largely because she competed so infrequently, and she teamed with the equally tall Indi Hartwell.
I like a phrase Dombrowski used, calling it the “Sinclair ROH era.” I plan to use that term to describe the final years of ROH before Tony Khan bought it.
I watch wrestling because I like it. I write reviews because I want to highlight positive, fun shows that probably didn’t get noticed by more casual fans. Unfortunately, this show gets a big thumbs down.
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