AIW “Hell On Earth XVIII” results: Vetter’s review of Kenta vs. Dominic Garrini, Isaiah Broner vs. Derek Dillinger for the AIW Title, Tom Lawlor vs. Rocky Romero vs. Joshua Bishop vs. Tre Lemar in a four-way


By Chris Vetter, Contributor (@chrisvetter73)

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Absolute Intense Wrestling “Hell On Earth XVIII”
Streamed on FITE+
November 24, 2023 in East Lake, Ohio at Force Sports

The event was held in a large fieldhouse with a high ceiling. The lighting was good. The crowd is maybe 500-700; the entrance ramp is across from the hard camera, which I really hate, as I like to see fans and their reaction. Matt Wadsworth and Dustin Alberty provided commentary. I did a Google Map search and East Lake is northeast of Cleveland.

1. “The Philly Marino Experience” Philly Collins and Marino Tenaglia (w/Bill Alfonso) defeated “Latinos Most Wanted” Sabin Gauge and Koda Hernandez, “To Infinity and Beyond” Colin Delaney and Cheech, and “Members Only” Calvin G. Lewis and Malcolm Cambridge in a four-way tag at 11:30. I’ve written this before, but with his curly blond hair, Marino looks like Kenny Omega, while Collins looks a bit like Joe Gacy. Cheech really looks like Sonjay Dutt now. I don’t know if I’ve seen Members Only before; they are Black men who wore fairly identical yellow gear. PME made a hot tag at 4:30 and got a big pop as they cleared the ring. Sabin hit a Swanton Bomb; both Sabin and Koda hit dives to the floor.

All eight brawled on the floor. Delaney hit a springboard splash to the floor at 6:30. Marino hit a dive to the floor on everyone. Collins hit a moonsault to the floor on everyone. Alfonso went to the top rope and hit a summersault onto everyone on the floor, drawing a huge pop. “That’s a 66-year-old man throwing himself off the top rope!” a commentator said. Malcolm hit a Shining Wizard for a nearfall at 9:30. Tenaglia hit a doublestomp on Cheech’s back for a nearfall at 11:00. Bill Alfonso got in the ring and whipped a chair at Koda. It allowed PME to hit a team faceplant move to pin Sabin. Good opener.

2. Josh Prohibition defeated Tyler Jordan at 12:03. My first time seeing Jordan, a Black man in a red vest and trunks and he makes me think of WWE’s Jason Jordan. The bald, white Prohibition has probably been wrestling for 20 years now; the commentators immediately said Josh has been wrestling longer than Jordan has been alive. Solid mat reversals to open and the commentators talked about Tyler Jordan having a wrestling and boxing background, and that Tyler won their first meeting. Josh choked him in the ropes and was in charge. Josh applied a Tarantula in the ropes at 7:30, and they brawled on the floor. Josh dropped him throat-first on a guardrail.

Back in the ring, Josh argued with the referee. Tyler hit a second-rope missile dropkick, then he dove to the floor on Josh. Tyler hit a Split-legged moonsault for a nearfall at 10:00. Tyler hit a German Suplex. Josh hit an Exploder Suplex, then a neckbreaker over his knee for a nearfall. They traded rollups. Tyler went to the top rope but Josh pushed the ref into the ropes, causing Tyler to fall and be crotched. Josh immediately got a rollup for the cheap pin. That built niicely; there is a lot of promise with the young Jordan.

* Josh Prohibition got on the mic and said he proved he’s back.

3. Magnum CK defeated Eric Taylor (w/The Duke) at 11:49. Magnum came out to a “Phantom of the Opera” tune and his whole look, his long jacket, is giving me Damian Sandow vibes, but Magnum is a babyface. He is much taller and thicker than the scrawny black-haired Taylor. Taylor (think VSK!) won the JT Lightning Tournament in September and won a four-way featuring Magnum CK; that is the last time I watched an AIW show. Magnum choked Taylor in the corner, and they choked each other. Eric hit a Blue Thunder Bomb at 7:00. He hit a Flatliner for a nearfall. They brawled on the elevated entrance ramp, and Magnum hit a clothesline to send Eric into the ring. He hit a top-rope elbow drop for a visual pin but Duke distracted the ref. Eric accidentally hit Duke. Magnum hit Taylor with a boot to get the pin. The crowd cheered, even though Magnum had cheated. Eric and Duke argued their way to the back…

4. Wes Barkley defeated Sam Halloway to retain the AIW Intense Title at 9:35. Halloway is the tall, mat-based wrestler who I”ll compare to Julius Creed; I’ve been veery impressed with him in prior viewings; I wrote in my review of that tournament in Saturday that he should have won. Barkley has short, curly black hair and he is much smaller than Halloway; his ribs are taped up, and Halloway immediately whipped him into the corner, with Barkley selling the injured ribs. Sam hit a Mafia Kick for a nearfall at 4:30 and he grounded Barkley. Barkley hit a crossbody block and fired up. He tried some clotheslines but they had no effect. He finally clotheslined Sam to the floor.

In an impressive move, Sam leapt over the guardrail and flew onto Barkley at 7:00. Back at ringside, Wes hit a tornado DDT on the hard floor. In the ring, they traded forearm strikes. Sam hit a Bulldog Powerslam. Suddenly Eric Taylor and The Duke appeared on the entrance ramp and they were still arguing! They hit Halloway! Barkley immediately rolled up Halloway for the cheap pin! Halloway was livid he got screwed out of a win.

5. Tre Lemar defeated Joshua Bishop, Tom Lawlor, and Rocky Romero in a four-way at 13:59. Bishop and Lawlor just formed a faction in MLW, and they came out together. The commentators were baffled because this is a four-way, not a tag team match. Lemar came out third and Romero last. However, Bishop and Lawlor had vanished. They came to the ring for a second entrance. Weird silly dumb fun. So, we started with Bishop and Tre in the ring while Lawlor and Romero were on he apron. The comentators reiterated this is a four-way as Bishop and Lemar traded standing switches. A commentator pointed out these two are in that WTF faction in MLW.

Romero and Lemar traded forearm strikes at 3:00. They did a comedy spot where Bishop went to lauch off Lawlor’s back, but Tom collapsed under Josh’s weight. Lemar hit a flip dive to the floor on all three. In the ring, Romero hit a mid-ring Sliced Bread on Tre for a nearfall at 6:00. Tre hit a Death Valley Driver on Lawlor. Lawlor hit a double spear on Romero and Tre at 9:00. (This still looks like a tag match. I bet some of the crowd thinks this is just a regular tag.) Bishop made the hot tag and hit some forearm strikes in each corner. He bit a Black Hole Slam on Lemar for a nearfall. Lawlor hit a Bronco Buster in the corner on Romero at 10:30 and this kept going and going.

Lemar hit a Pele Kick on Lawlor. Bishop tossed Lemar at Lawlor, with Lawlor applying a rear-naked choke. Romero hit a Sliced Bread on Bishop and landed on Lawlor to break up the hold, and all four were down again. They all got up and traded forearm strikes. Lemar hit an Ospreay-style heel hook kick on Bishop at 13:30. Lawlor hit an enziguri on Tre. Romero hit a tornado DDT on Lawlor, but Tre immediately hit a brainbuster on Romero for the pin! That was fun. Kudos to the commentators here for their work in making clear this was a four-way. Romero was the last one in the ring and got a nice “please come back!” chant. He got on the mic and thanked the fans.

* Short intermission; I hit fast-forward.

6. Mike Montgomery defeated Kaplan, Rachel Armstrong, Dex Royal, Austin James, and Vik Vice in a six-way scramble at 8:59. I don’t think I’ve seen Kaplan; he’s a rotund brawler; think Bully Ray. I always say Armstrong looks like pop singer Corrine Bailey Rae and I bet she’s half of Kaplan’s weight. Dex is a thin Black man; I’ve seen him maybe two or three times now. James wore a baseball uniform and sun glasses and hat, and he carried a bat with him to the ring; at first glance I thought he was Joey Janela; he wrestled in that September tournament too. Vice is a Black man with long dreadlocks half-way down his back; he has Swerve Strickland facial features. Mike is white and wore a blue jean jacket and he’s scrawny. (So, I think I’ve not seen three of these six before! Rachel is hardly a veteran but the most well-traveled of these six.) Right on cue, the commentators said Rachel was a last-minute fill-in for a guy who couldn’t make it.

Dex hit a dropkick. Rachel hit a huracanrana on Dex. James clobbered Rachel and got booed. Montgomery hit a moonsault to the floor on everyone. In the ring, Dex hit a brainbuster. Kaplan nailed a clothesline on Dex at 5:30. The massive Kaplan hit a Canadian Destroyer! James hit a moonsault on Kaplan. Rachel hit a Sliced Bread on Vice for a nearfall. Dex and Mike leapt from opposite corners and crashed into each other in the air. Cool spot. Mikey hit a Death Valley Driver out of the corner on the big Kaplan for the pin. Considering how green many of these six are… that was a lot of fun.

7. “Money Shot” Zach Nystrom and Elijah Dean (w/heel manager) defeated “The Main Event” Duke Davis and Ganon Jones to retain the AIW Tag Team titles at 9:59. Davis and Jones are muscular Black men and they lost the next night on live AEW Rampage to Matt Taven and Mike Bennett; these two both have long black hair in dreadlocks (showing my age, they are Milli Vanilli with muscles.) Money Shot wore Stone Cold black vests and give off America’s Most Wanted cowboy vibes. Duke hit a suplex on Nystrom from the ring apron into the ring at 3:00, as TME worked over Nystrom. Nystrom (think long-haired Peter Avalon) tied up Gannon and kept him in their corner.

Davis made the hot tag at 6:30 and hit some big kicks on the heels. Davis hit a TKO stunner on Dean (think Dax Harwood!) for a nearfall. Dean hit a dropkick. Davis hit a Bulldog Powerslam for a visual pin at 9:30 but a heel manager pulled the ref to the floor! Nystrom got a cowbell and hit one of TME with it, then a low blow on the other. Money Shot hit a team spike piledriver for the tainted pin and they were loudly booed.

8. Kenta defeated Dominic Garrini at 18:31. Garrini came out to a generic rap song instead of The Cranberries “Zombie.” This match is the whole reason I watched this show. They opened in a knucklelock and this was an intense feeling-out process. Kenta rolled to the floor to regroup at 3:00. They brawled to the floor, and Garrini whipped Kenta into the guardrails at 5:00. Kenta hit a running boot to the face as Garrini sat on a chair, and they continued to brawl on the floor. In the ring, Kenta peppered Garrini with some kicks and was in charge. Garrini got up and hit some chops and forearms, but Kenta dropped him with a blow at 10:30. Kenta hit a standing neckbreaker. Garrini hit a back suplex, then a fisherman’s suplex for a nearfall at 12:00.

Garrini hit a stiff kick to the spine; Kenta hit a stiff kck to the spine, then a DDT. Kenta hit his delayed basement dropkick in the corner, then a top-rope doublestomp to the chest for a believable nearfall at 14:00. Garrini hit a rolling elbow and he appleid a rear-naked choke. They traded Mafia Kicks. Garrini hit a spinning back strike, then a jumping Tombstone Piledriver for a believable nearfall at 16:30, and they were both down. This crowd was HOT at this point. Garrini set up for a Musclebuster, but Kenta turned it into a rollup for a nearfall. Kenta hit a series of open-palm strikes to the face, then a Shining Wizard for a nearfall at 18:00. Kenta hit more hard slaps to the face and a kneestrike to the face. Kenta finally nailed the Go To Sleep kneestrike to the head for the clean pin. Fantastic stuff.

9. Isaiah Broner defeated Derek Dillinger (w/Katie Arquette) to retain the AIW Absolute Title at 17:02. Dillinger is the rotund brawler. I have always compared Broner to Ahmed Johnson or Ezekiel Jackson. This is going to be tough to top the prior match. Dillinger rolled to the floor at the bell. Broner hasn’t lost a singles match in a year, the commentators said. An intense lockup in the ring and a bit of a feeling-out process. They brawled to the floor at 4:30 and traded chops in front of the fans. In the ring, Broner hit a Samoan Drop and got a nearfall at 7:30. Dillinger hit a Bubba Bomb for a nearfall. Broner hit the Sheamus-style blows to the chest in the ropes at 11:30.

Arquette grabbed Broner’s ankle, allowing Dillinger to slam him into the corner, then hit a running knees to the face for a nearfall. Broner hit a German Suplex, then an F5 slam at 14:30. Dillinger hit a German Suplex; Broner hit a German Suplex. Ziggy Haim (who Dillinger abandoned in September and left the ring with Arquette!) hit ringside and brawled with Katie. This distraction allowed Broner to hit a spear through a table set up in the corner for the pin. The women continued to brawl at ringside.

Magnum CK power-walked to the ring and traded punches with Dillinger. The women kept brawling on the floor, too. Suddenly, Eric Taylor hit the ring and brawled with Broner. That brought out Sam Halloway! That brought out Money Shot! That brought out Philly Collins and Marino Tenaglia! So, we had quite a post-match melee. Wes Barkley slowly walked to the ring and got in, as it was unclear if he turned heel earlier. However, he helped the babyfaces fight off the heels.

* Barkley got on the mic and noted there are five men in the ring (Barkley, Broner, PME and Halloway). Barkley suggested the heels find a fifth man and fight them next month in Cleveland in a no holds barred, falls count anywhere match.

Final Thoughts: No, the winner was never in doubt. Kenta was always going to win. But Garrini brought one heckuva fight. I swear, Kenta has had his best matches of 2023 on U.S. soil in indies. He’s just soaked in the adulation of the adoring U.S. fans, and has just been far better than in his matches in Japan this year. This was easily match of the night.

I’ll go with the Lawlor four-way for second-best, as it had some fun humor to go with great action, and the main event for third. AIW has some promising young guys on their roster. Halloway has the size and genuine wrestling ability. I’ve said for a while that Koda Hernandez seems on the verge of breaking out in the Midwest, and I came away impressed with Tyler Jordan in my first time seeing him. Check out all AIW shows at Fite+.


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