By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
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Freelance Pro Wrestling “Before The Fall”
Streamed on IndependentWrestling.TV
August 31, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois at Logan Square
This show was posted on IWTV on Monday. I like that a lot of indies held shows in the Chicago area during AEW weekend; I was at Dynamite and I wish I could have stuck around to see this, or GCW on Friday. I admittedly tuned in for one match — Jordan Oliver vs. Bryan Keith. This is a tavern and it was completely packed with a standing crowd of maybe 400. I didn’t catch their names… but I really didn’t care for the commentary team.
1. Acid Jaz defeated Sabin Gauge, Shane Black, Badger Briggs, Brandon Gore, and Sorta Incredible Iverson in a six-way scramble at 7:42. Briggs is a tall woman and reminds me of WWE’s Valhalla. Shane wore red and he’s a lifeguard. Sabin Gauge is Latino; I’ve seen him a couple times. Gore wore a tinfoil hat and he’s a conspiracy theorist; he looks like NXT’s Brook Jensen. Jaz is Black and of average height and size. Iverson is the dork who thinks he’s a superhero and wore a pink cape and mask. All of these five are fairly green and it feels like the action is at three-quarters speed.
Gauge hit a nice dropkick. Black hit a cannonball dive off the top turnbuckle onto everyone at 4:30. Iverson hit a top rope dive with his arms straight forward, looking like Superman. Gauge hit a Fosbury Flop; he’s much better than everyone else in this match. In the ring, Iverson hit a uranage on Badger Briggs. Black hit a D’Lo Sky High (the commentator called it a sidewalk slam?) Jaz hit a Sliced Bread for the pin. Acceptable and a bit cartoonish.
2. Shazza McKenzie defeated Cole Radrick in an intergender match at 10:12. THe commentators said they’ve met before but not in Freelance. I admittedly am not a fan of the dorky Radrick, who I always say is James Ellsworth-meets-Gomer Pyle. Shazza wore her Natalya-style pink-and-black, and she kept him tied up early; he finally broke free and she did her curtsy, showing a bit of arrogance. He hit a shoulder tackle at 4:30 and got booed. She hit a fisherman’s suplex for a nearfall. He laid in a few chops; I’ve heard him hit harder but still, those hurt! She fired back with her own chops. He hit a 619 and got a nearfall at 7:00. They hit double clotheslines and were both down; this match is just quicker and crisper than the first and you can see why these two are booked all over the country every weekend.
They got up and traded forearm shots. She tied Cole in the ropes and hit a series of spin kicks to his chest. She dove through the ropes onto him. In the ring, she hit a top-rope crossbody block for a nearfall at 9:00 and she barked at the referee. He hit an Air Raid Crash for a nearfall. Shazza hit a back suplex, then her splits-style stunner! She got a jackknife cover for the pin. That was good stuff and they hugged afterward.
3. Robbie Reeves vs. Stone Ambrose ended in a draw at 1:32. The commentators said they are both students at the Freelance Wrestling Academy. Reeves looks like he’s 17; he’s got babyfat in his face and he’s a bit chubby with short wavy black hair. Ambrose also is young with short hair, and he work trunks. They did some very basic stuff early on. Out of nowhere, Trevor Outlaw ran in and hit a low blow on Stone and the ref called for the bell. He hit a vicious Curbstomp on Reeves. He got on the mic and was loudly booed. I always describe Outlaw as Marty Scurll-meets-Josh Woods and he’s a good heel, and he got the “shut the f–k up!” chant. He said he wasn’t leaving the ring until he gets a match! The promoter came out and told him he could fight “Perch” next month.
4. Darin Corbin defeated Dan the Dad at 9:33. I first met redhead Minnesota native Corbin when he was training to become a wrestler in 2003 and it’s hard to believe he’s still wrestling 20 years later. Dan sipped on a mixed drink and held onto it as they traded reversals. They kept trading atomic drops and this is the expected silliness. Dan hit some jab punches, ripped off his shirt, and nailed a spinebuster at 7:00. Darin got a rollup with a handful of tights but the ref saw it. Corbin shoved the ref out of frustration. Dan got a schoolboy rollup for a nearfall, then a windup baseball punch. Dan removed his belt and he whipped Darin on the butt with it. Darin shoved Dan into the ref in the corner. Darin immediately hit Dan on the head with the coffee cup! Darin hit a Ginger Snap stunner for the cheap pin. The crowd was thoroughly entertained with Dan’s antics.
5. Isaias Velazquez defeated Koda Hernandez at 14:03. Koda (think AEW’s Santana) is a vastly improved talent here in the Chicago area, and he came out first. Velazquez ran out from the back and attacked Koda before they got on the ring, and they brawled around the floor and over to a pool table. Velazquez dove through the ropes. Koda was bleeding heavily from his forehead and this is really gross. Koda dove through the ropes onto Velazquez. “I really hope their is a mop here,” a commentator said. Yes, he’s bleeding that much. In the ring, Koda hit a back suplex and they were both down at 6:30.
Koda hit a pump-handle Angle Slam for a nearfall. Nice move. Velazquez nailed a top-rope doublestomp to the chest for a nearfall, and he applied a crossface at 9:30. Koda fired back with a modified Jay Driller for a nearfall. Velazquez trapped Koda’s arms and hit a series of Moxley-style elbow strikes to the side of the head. The ref got bumped at 12:00 (one of the weaker bumps I’ve seen.) Koda hit a suplex for the visual pin but the ref was down. Koda got a chair, but Velazquez hit a low blow uppercut, then he hit a chairshot over Koda’s head, then he hit his own Jay Driller for the cheap pin. Good brawl but we didn’t need that level of blood loss.
6. Bryan Keith defeated Jordan Oliver to retain the Freelance Legacy Title at 12:21. Keith wrestled at the AEW Rampage taping a night before this match took place. Thunder Rosa joined commentary. They shook hands before the bell. An intense lockup and standing switches to open. Oliver hit a back suplex for a nearfall at 2:30. Keith hit a Mafia Kick and his own back suplex for a nearfall. They brawled to the floor. Oliver hit his leaping mid-ring sideslam. In the ring, they traded chops. Keith hit a suplex into the corner, and they were both down at 8:00. Oliver hit a cross-armed German Suplex at 9:30. Keith hit a back suplex. Oliver hit an enzuigiri and a Tiger Suplex for a nearfall.
Oliver hit a running kick to the side of the head, but he couldn’t hit the Clout Cutter. Keith hit an Ibushi-style Kamigoye kneestrike to the collarbone for a believable nearfall at 11:00. Keith went for his Tiger Driver powerbomb, but Oliver avoided it, got a rollup and a nearfall. Oliver hit a moonsault for a nearfall. Keith hit a running knee, then the Tiger Driver powerbomb for the clean pin. That was fantastic. Keith tipped his cap and shook Oliver’s hand, and they hugged afterward.
7. GPA & Laynie Luck defeated Davey Bang & August Matthews and “Bussy” Effy & Allie Klatch in a three-way to retain the Freelance Tag Team Titles at 13:29. GPA had a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it match against Powerhouse Hobbs on AEW Collision on Saturday (I timed it at nine seconds!) Laynie is a prima donna in the same mold as Britt Baker or Raychell Rose. Bang and Matthews wrestled at the ROH tapings as part of Saturday’s AEW event as well. All six brawled at the bell. Allie and August traded quick offense and had a standoff. Bang and Effy traded good offense. GPA and Laynie began working over Katch in their corner. Laynie hit a senton at 4:00. Bang entered and hit a dropkick on Laynie Luck and he was fired up.
Bang nailed a standing moonsault for a nearfall at 5:30. GPA hit a Bulldog Powerslam for a nearfall on Bang, and the heels worked Davey over. Effy hit a double Blockbuster at 8:00, then Helluva kicks on each heel. Effy hit a TKO Stunner on Laynie, dropping her on GPA. Matthews hit a flip dive to the floor on the two women; that seemed a bit dangerous. Bang and Matthews hit a team doublestomp move. Effy tossed Bang onto Matthews at 10:30. Effy tossed Laynie onto GPA, and Katch hit a rolling cannonball onto both heels. Katch hit a piledriver on August, then a kneestrike on Luck, then a piledriver on GPA. Bang hit a Death Valley Driver on Allie. Bang nailed the Spears Towner team spear. Bang nailed a top-rope 450 Splash on Allie. However, Luck immediately hit Bang with the title belt! GPA rolled up Bang for the cheap pin. Good match.
8. Storm Grayson defeated Joey Janela to retain the Freelance Heavyweight Title at 22:30. Grayson wrestled Veer at a WWE Main Event taping last year, and he has long, curly hair and dark features; he’s a regular in the Chicago area here in Freelance as well as Warrior Wrestling. This was supposed to be Storm vs. Steph De Lander, but SDL canceled her weekend matches due to an injury, so this is an open challenge (mystery opponent) answered by Janela. Mat reversals and a feeling-out process to open. They shook hands, but then Janela kicked him in the gut at 2:00 and took control of the offense. They brawled on the floor, and Janela remained in charge as they re-entered the ring. Storm fired up and hit a series of chops at 5:30 and a hard clothesline.
Grayson hit a sit-out powerbomb for a nearfall at 7:30. Janela hit a hard kick to the spine and a running boot. Janela nailed a top-rope superplex, and they were both down at 11:00. They got up and traded punches and chops. Grayson hit a flip dive to the floor and he was fired up. Janela hit a Death Valley Driver for a nearfall, and Storm sold a shoulder injury; he may have legitimately separated his shoulder as the match really came to a stop. Janela immediately hit some punches to the shoulder and was booed. (They looked soft.) Janela hit a couple of superkicks to Grayson’s jaw. Grayson hit a backbody drop but sold the pain in his arm. (Okay, I don’t think he’s legit injured.) Storm hit a spinning Blue Thunder Bomb and they were both down at 16:00.
Janela tied up Grayson’s legs on the mat. Janela kissed Grayson’s forehead and hit a Bray Wyatt-style Sister Abigail swinging faceplant. Nice. Grayson fired back with an enzuigiri and a rollup for a nearfall. They traded chops, and Janela nailed a brainbuster at 19:30. They went to the floor, where Janela hit a suplex onto a hard brick floor. In the ring, Janela went for a top-rope doublestomp but Grayson got his knees up. They traded more punches and Janela nailed a Dragon Suplex, then a Tiger Driver powerbomb for a nearfall at 22:00. He hit a superkick. Grayson fired back with a running knee for the pin! A good match but Janela’s matches always seem to start slow and go a few minutes too long.
Final Thoughts: If I were to make a list of the top 10 indy wrestling free agents, Oliver and Keith make that list. They showed why here with a fantastic back-and-forth match. That’s a match I wouldn’t have complained if they had crossed 20 or more minutes. Glad to see Keith get a chance to show his skills on AEW Rampage. Oliver had his run in Major League Wrestling, and it seems like just a matter of time before he winds up back in a televised promotion. Janela-Grayson earns second-best, as they had a really strong second-half of the match. I do tend to roll my eyes at Janela’s matches because he and his opponent usually kick out of moves that would normally end a match. While the blood was more than needed, the Velazquez-Koda match takes third place.
This show can be viewed at IWTV. Freelance definitely took advantage of GCW holding a show in the area on Friday to get some of those top indy names on this show.