By Chris Vetter, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@chrisvetter73)
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Ohio Valley Wrestling “Hard Reset”
Streamed on FITE+
September 9, 2023 in Louisville, Kentucky at Davis Arena
Like many wrestling fans, I devoured the seven-episode Netflix docu-series “Wrestlers,” which focused on Al Snow and Ohio Valley Wrestling. I admittedly haven’t seen OVW before, even though I have Fite+ and the weekly show is available to me. I was aware that Mahabali Shera and Jessie Godderz, who have both competed in Impact Wrestling, were on the OVW roster, and I admittedly wasn’t a huge fan of them. That said, Shera came off so darn likable in the docu-series, you can’t help but root for him.
However, I’ve seen very little coverage of OVW in recent years, and I was surprised by a lot that I learned while watching the Netflix show. So, I decided to check in on “OVW: Hard Reset,” which took place on Sept. 9, 2023. The ring is really well-lit and looks new and clean, and the crowd is in the 300 range; this made me think of watching the AEW Dark tapings on the sound stage in Orlando. The big drawback I noticed immediately is they weren’t displaying wrestlers’ names on the screen; that should be an easy fix. I had the OVW website open to its roster page to help me out with names and spellings.
* Ryan Von Rockit, an aging blond-haired rocker, came to the ring with Katie Gannon to perform the national anthem on his guitar. For those who watched “Wrestlers,” he was shown a handful of times but he really wasn’t heavily profiled, either.
* The ring announcer talked about how “The Wrestlers” was about to be released. (If you haven’t seen it, it was recorded in summer 2022, leading up to “The Big One,” a PPV held in August 2022.) A preview of the Netflix series was shown to the crowd.
1. Donovan Cecil defeated D’Mone Solavino at 4:18. Cecil is a big man, on par in size and looks of Viking Raider Erik. Solavino is a Black man and much, much smaller than Cecil, and he wore a demonic, fallen angel outfit. He spewed mist into Cecil’s eyes before the bell! Cecil hit a fallaway slam. He kept Cecil grounded with a sleeper. Cecil hit a series of clotheslines and a uranage-style sideslam for the pin. Solid opener.
* TW3, a Black man, spoke backstage. He’s coming for the Kentucky Heavyweight championship.
2. Star Rider defeated Erik Darkstorm, TW3, Dimes, Ty Vance, Jared Kripke in a six-way scramble at 10:40. Star Rider wore a black-and-white mask and pants. Darkstorm was heavily featured in the docu-series, and he’s much larger than everyone else; he is heavily tattooed and muscular. Darkstorm tossed the tiny Dimes onto two other men. Darkstorm hit a spin heel kick on Star Rider for a nearfall at 5:00, then he hit a double clothesline. Kripki and Dimes, who are both quite short, traded blows in the ring. Dimes hit a double chokeslam (he’s 5’0″ or so but the heel commentator is pretending he’s a seven-footer.)
TW3 hit a top-rope dive to the floor on everyone at 8:00. Darkstorm hit a flip dive onto the pile of wrestlers on the floor. Star Rider then hit a flip dive, launching over the referee, onto everyone on the floor. In the ring, Star Rider hit a Rollins-style stomp on Darkstorm for a nearfall, but Kripke made the save. TW3 hit a top-rope Meteora on Dimes. Darkstorm hit a release German Suplex on the purple-haired Vance.
Bundles suddenly appeared at ringside and pulled Darkstorm out of the ring, and the commentators said he wasn’t supposed to be there. Star Rider hit a top-rope doublestomp on Vance’s chest for the pin. Good action.
3. Manny Domingo (w/Star Rider) defeated Will Austin at 6:53. Osten apparently has left Domingo recently. Domingo is much shorter and he’s Latino. Austin is taller and white with very short brown hair. Austin hit a backbreaker over his knee at 2:30. Austin hit a German Suplex for a nearfall. Domingo hit some flying forearms and was fired up. Austin nailed a Buckle Bomb into the corner. Domingo hit a Frankensteiner out of the corner. He then hit a top-rope 450 Splash for the pin. Good match. Austin hit a low blow kick on Domingo after the match, and Star Rider chased him off.
4. Haley J and Amazing Maria defeated PJ Jones and Shalonce Royal at 7:07. This was the debut of PJ Jones. He dressed like an amateur wrestling trainee, in an ugly blue singlet and head gear protecting his ears. Shalonce has had several AEW Dark matches, with her ‘singing’ loudly between spots in a match. She sang on her way to the ring; fans held up signs that looked like ‘stop signs.’ Funny. Mother-and-daughter combo Haley and Maria are the stars of the Netflix show (along with Al Snow.) Haley is reportedly getting an NXT tryout soon. We know that Maria must be age 40-42, based on the Netflix show, and they beat up on Shalonce early.
Jones tagged in for the first time at 3:00, as the heels worked over Haley’s left arm. Maria made the hot tag at 5:00 and she hit a bulldog on Shalonce. Jones tripped Maria, and he chopped Haley on the chest. She sold anger and he ran from her. Funny. Shalonce and Jones argued in the corner, tagging each other in, as neither wanted to be in the ring. Funny.Maria and Haley hit superkicks on Shalonce. Haley J hit a spinning back fist and a superkick to pin PJ Jones. Acceptable comedy match.
* Backstage, Crixus cut a short promo. As we saw on the Netflix show, his English dialect is so thick, he’s hard to comprehend.
5. Tony Evans (w/heel manager) defeated Crixus at 7:37. Evans came out first, dressed in basic black trunks, and he was giving me Shane Douglas heel vibes, telling the crowd to ‘hush.’ “I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty pissed off tonight,” Evans said. He said this was supposed to be his chance to get his title back. The crowd booed him as if he was Dominik Mysterio, drowning him out. Crixus has half of his face painted blue, and he looks as if he just stepped off the set of “Braveheart.” (Think Viking Raider Ivar but thinner.) The bell rang and Evans stalled in the ropes, then on the floor. Crixus finally got to hit a shoulder tackle at 2:00 that dropped Evans, and he dominated early on.
Evans hit a second-rope elbow drop. Crixus hit a second-rope belly-to-belly suplex and they were both down at 5:00. Crixus hit a Stinger Splash in the corner. He caught Evans coming off the ropes and nailed a spinebuster. Evans hit a spinning back fist for a nearfall. Crixus hit a headbutt. The heel manager, who previously put on a thick glove, struck Crixus in the head with the loaded glove. Evans immediately covered the knocked-out Crixus for the tainted pin.
* Luke Kurtis and Joe Mack cut a backstage promo, saying they are about to become tag champions. Kurtis is shorter and he wore gold chains and gave heelish Enzo Amore vibes. Mack is much taller with short, dark hair; think Dak Draper for a comparison.
6. “The Overmen” Luke Kurtis and Joe Mack (w/Shannon the Dude) defeated Big Zo and Gnarls Garvin to win the OVW Tag Team Titles at 10:42. Zo is Black with his hair in dreadlocks. I’ve seen Garvin several times; he is thick with a big tattoo on his chest and often just called “Beef.” Mack and Zo started. Kurtis entered and hit a dropkick. Garvin hit some hard chops and a suplex on Kurtis. Garvin hit a second-rope superplex on Kurtis for a nearfall at 6:00. Zo hit a T-Bone Suplex and a Hogan Legdrop across the throat, as the champs worked over Kurtis. Garvin accidentally struck Zo! Mack got in and hit a series of punches on Zo, then a Spinebuster on Garvin. Zo and Garvin hit a team suplex on Mack at 10:00. Kurtis low-bridged the top rope, sending Gnarles to the floor. Kurtis hit a top-rope diving headbutt on Zo, and Mack covered Zo for the pin. New champs! Solid tag team match.
* Backstage, Freya the Slaya’s team vowed they were going to beat up the heels. Freya is a full head taller than her teammates. (Freya had a fairly prominent role as a heel who ‘led on’ a male referee in the Netflix series.) We then head to the heels, who talked about their “bad girls domination.”
7. Jada Stone, Leila Grey, and Tiffany Nieves defeated Freya the Slaya, Harley Jane, and Riley Matthews at 7:03. Leila, of course, is a regular on AEW. Stone is a really short Black girl with red in her hair; I’ve seen her a lot in Carolina-based Deadlock Pro. The heels got on the mic and boasted they “are the best at everything.” (The heels apparently ruined Freya’s wedding?) Tiffany (who has red, white and blue in her hair), opened against the blonde Harley Jane (think Tiffany Stratton). Red-headed Riley wore a white-and-black checkered top, and she hit some deep armdrags on Jada. The tall Freya hit a bodyslam on Stone at 2:00, as the faces took turns beating up Stone.
Leila is red haired today and looking like Mercedes Mone. Freya hit an axe kick on the bak of Leila’s head, then a rolling cannonball in the corner. Freya hit a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker over her knee on the tiny Jada. Jada hit a stunner on Riley at 4:30. The heels began working over Freya in their corner. Riley made the hot tag and she hit a Northern Lights Suplex and some superkicks. Grey grabbed a weapon fron the corner (I couldn’t tell what it was!), struck Riley over the head, and scored the cheap pin. Solid match.
* The bald Adam Revolver cut a brief backstage promo. Kal Hero then cut his own promo and had tape over his eyes.
8. Kal Herro defeated Adam Revolver (w/Shannon the Dude) in a blindfold match at 11:35. I saw Herro compete on an AEW Dark taping in Milwaukee a year ago. He has short, dark hair and is of average size. Two people helped Herro to the ring because he apparently was recently blinded. Blindfold matches are rarely good and should be kept to under five minutes. Herro put his hood on first, but Revolver attacked him without having his on yet! Revolver put his mask on, and they fought on the mat. Herro crawled away and Revolver swung wildly at the air. The crowd is into this. Shannon the Dude whispered in Adam’s ear, then he distracted the ref, while Adam peeled off his hoodie, found Herro and attacked him. Revolver hit a Russian Legsweep into the corner for a nearfall at 5:00.
Herro was able to back Adam into a corner and hit a series of punches and the crowd was hot. Revolver grabbed the ref, which of course is absurd because the ref is wearing a shirt and Kal is not, but at least Adam realized it before he did any offense on the ref. Adam charged at Kal but crashed through the ropes. They wound up brawling on the floor and teased striking officials at ringside. In the ring, Herro hit a big knee lift to the chest for the pin. Okay, that topped all reasonable expectations, and my earlier comments… I stand corrected. This crowd was HOT and made this match work. Bravo to all involved.
9. Jessie Godderz defeated EC3 (w/Shannon the Dude) via DQ to retain the OVW National Heavyweight Title at 11:58. Both men have absolutely tremendous physiques, and EC3 held the NWA Heavyweight Title. They essentially did a posedown as the commentators talked about the prestigious lineage of the NWA title. EC3, who isn’t exactly tall, has an inch or two on Jesse; I didn’t realize Godderz was that short. THey had a quick tie-up but EC3 rolled to the floor and stalled. Basic brawling in the ring. Godderz hit a back suplex at 11:00 and a side slam. Some guys tried to interfere; Godderz hit a Pedigree on one. EC3 grabbed his title belt and struck Godderz in the head with it… right in front of the referee, who called for the bell. This had decent crowd reaction but was quite light on actual action.
* Tony Gunn cut a backstage promo. If Mance Warner is a tribute act to Steve Austin, then Tony Gunn is a tribute act to Mance Warner’s tribute act to Steve Austin. He’s the “Arkansaw Roughneck” who likes his liquor, and he’s got Adam Page’s down-to-earth babyface charisma.
10. Jack Vaughn defeated Mahabali Shera, Ca$h Flo and Tony Gunn in a four-way to retain the OVW Heavyweight title at 20:07. The aging, heavier Ca$h Flo was heavily featured in the Netflix docu-series; I saw him having hardcore matches in IWA Mid-South in the early 2000s and it’s rather astonishing he is still wrestling. Gunn came out first, and the bald, thick-glasses Vaungh attacked him from behind before they got in the ring. Shera came out next and he stomped on Gunn, too, as he walked to the ring. Flo came out last and he got a huge babyface pop. Gunn was helped to the back! We have the opening ring intros and it appears we are starting as a three-way, without Gunn. Vaugn rolled to the floor; he’s got a handlebar mustache that curls around his lips.
Shera and Flo brawled in the ring. Vaughn got in, hit them both, and did the ‘Fargo strut.’ Shera hit some Stinger Splashes in the corner on Vaughn at 4:00. Flo hit a decapitating clothesline on Vaughn for a nearfall, but Shera made the save. Flo hit a twisting Flatliner and got a nearfall at 7:00. You can sense the crowd is just waiting for Gunn to return and this is just window-dressing. Shera and Vaughn hit a team superplex on Flo, but they stopped each other from pinning Flo. Vaughn accidentally clotheslined the referee at 9:00! Suddenly everyone was down, including the ref, and sure enough, Tony Gunn hit the ring and struck the heels with a steel chair.
Gunn stood across from Flo, chair still in hand… but he tossed it to the floor, as they are both babyfaces. Nice. They traded punches without cheap shots. They switched to chops. The heels were still down. Flo hit his twisting Flatliner on Gunn; a referee jumped into the ring and counted to two. Vaughn finally got back in. Gunn tossed Flo onto Vaughn and got a nearfall at 13:30. Shera got in and hit a chokeslam on Flo. Vaughn hit a spinebuster on Shera. Flo hit a superkick on Vaughn, and suddenly everyone was down again. All four got up and traded punches. Vaughn pulled the ref in front of him, and the ref got hit and knocked down.
Shera hit a Sky-High powerbomb. He hit a low blow uppercut on Gunn! He got a chair and hit Flo, then Gunn, across the back with it. Shera covered both babyfaces but only got a two-count at 18:30. Shera swung the chair, but it ricocheted off the top rope onto his head. Flo hit a top-rope frogsplash on Shera, but Vaughn stole the pin attempt and got a nearfall. Vaughn hit a hard clothesline to pin Shera. Good match and well-booked. I never thought Flo was winning, but I could have seen any of the other three winning.
Final Thoughts: I’m not going to suddenly become a weekly viewer of this product, but this was fun visit. I found the roster to be better than the slow, aging NWA lineup, and less frustrating than the disjointed MLW shows. The quality of the overall production, from lighting to commentary to backstage segments, is a huge plus. The docu-series gave us a strong insight into Al Snow’s booking and putting together storylines, and I felt that was really evident here. The biggest drawback is I didn’t see anyone here that I was going to write today and rave about, saying “you gotta see this wrestler!” That said, Eric Darkstorm, Haley J, Crixus and Star Rider were the ones I’m most interested in seeing again.
Maybe “hard re-set” means something different in Kentucky. I took the show’s title to mean a soft relaunch. I expected some titles to change and a fresh new direction. Instead, champions Jesse Godderz and Jack Vaughn left the building with the titles they walked in with. Vaughn didn’t strike me as ‘championship material’ in my first time seeing him.
Oh, if you have Netflix and haven’t seen “Wrestlers,” go check it out now. I devoured the seven episodes in three-four days. Learn more about this promotion at ovwrestling.com.