AIW “Tougher Than Leather” results: Vetter’s review of Isaiah Broner vs. Alec Price for the AIW Absolute Title, Joey Janela vs. Derek Dillinger, Demolition appears and brings out a friend from AEW


By Chris Vetter, Contributor (@chrisvetter73)

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Absolute Intense Wrestling “Tougher Than Leather”
Streamed on TrillerTV+
March 22, 2024 in Cleveland, Ohio at Temple Live Asylum Room

The lights are really low, but the ring was lit okay. Attendance was maybe 600-700 or more as they draw well here; this theatre has stadium seating, so everyone has a good look at the ring. (The ring is shoved next to the stage in the front of the theatre.) Matt Wadsworth and Dustin Alberty provided commentary.

1. “Money Shot” Elijah Dean and Zach Nystrom (w/ The Duke) defeated “PME” Philly Collins and Marino Tenaglia (w/Bill Alfonso) to retain the AIW Tag Team titles at 8:23. All four brawled at the bell. Money Shot worked over Marino. Philly finally made the hot tag at 6:00 and hit a double clothesline, then a powerslam on the long-haired Nystrom. Dean (think Eric Young) hit a Spinebuster. Fonzie threw a chair at Duke. However, Dean got a rollup on Tenaglia with a handful of tights for the cheap pin. Basic, by-the-numbers tag match.

2. Sam Holloway defeated Microman, Tom Lawlor, Tre Lemar, Mikey Montgomery, and Daniel Rockingham in a six-way at 10:32. Lemar is Black with some light brown hair at the front of his head; he missed a few recent shows I watched where he was booked, so good to see him back. I’ve never seen Rockingham before, but he appears to be a ‘motivational speaker’ gimmick with an earpiece, shiny jacket and tie. Holloway is legit 6’6″ or taller and he reminds me of Julius Creed; he’s the rising star they need to be building around. Microman came out last and got a huge pop. Microman immediately tripped Rockingham and hit a huracanrana. Microman hit some bodyblows and a dropkick on Lawlor. “Wrestling is the best!” a commentator said.

Tre “missed a crossbody block” on Microman because he overshot him at 1:30. All the heels attacked Microman and got loudly booed. The commentators said Microman is 3’3″ and 63 pounds; I never knew the size. Mikey hit a top-rope moonsault to the floor on nearly everyone (Micrroman was in the corner.) Holloway put Microman on the top rope so he could dive onto the other four on the floor at 3:30, drawing a “holy shit!” chant. In the ring, Mikey and Lemar traded some good offense. Lawlor tied up a couple opponents on the mat. The heels again tried to beat down Microman but he ‘powered up’ and sent all of them flying.

We were down to just Holloway and Microman and the crowd chanted “twins!” Funny. Microman grabbed a leg and hit a back suplex at 730, and we got a “this is awesome!” chant. Rockingham hit a Tombstone Piledriver, but of course, Microman’s head was nowhere close to the mat, and he easily kicked out. Lawlor hit a hard running knee on Lemar, then a spear. Holloway hit a hard uranage on Montgomery. Lawlor applied a rear-naked choke on Microman and was loudly booed. Montgomery hit a Sliced Bread on Lawlor. Holloway hit a frogsplash and pinned Rockingham. Good action, and the crowd loved the Microman silliness.

3. Effy vs. Magnum CK ended in a draw/no finish at 9:00. While he’s clean shaven, I always compare Magnum CK to Damian Sandow with his long shiny robe and demeanor. I nice pop for Effy,, who is more flamboyant here than of late. This was a “pick your poison” match, where heel Derek Dillinger picked Effy to be Magnum’s opponent. Effy isn’t a regular here; he was here just once before, in 2021, the commentators said. Lots of comedy early on; this almost feels like they are mimes as they aren’t actually touching each other. Effy hit a Helluva Kick at 4:30. Magnum applied a bearhug. Effy hit a spear and both were down at 7:00. They stood up and some music hit. Out came “Demolition” Ax and Smash. (If they weren’t wearing facepaint I would not recognize them.) One of them said it’s “time someone kick their heads in.” They brought out Danhausen, who got a huge pop. This will re-start as a three-way!

3b) Magnum CK defeated Effy and Danhausen in a three-way at 4:32. Danhausen hit some punches on both opponents. Danhausen hit a Demolition-style flying kneedrop. Danhausen poured teeth into Effy’s mouth, then kicked them out. CK hit a spinebuster on Danhausen for a nearfall at 3:30. Effy hit a Blockbuster on CK. CK hit a back suplex on Effy for the pin. This was highly underwhelming.

* A commercial aired for the AIW training school.

4. Chuck Stone defeated Wes Barkley to retain the Hardcore Title at 10:39. Barkley has dark, short curly hair and he’s the babyface. Stone (think Joe Coffey from NXT’s Gallus) attacked from beind and took charge early. They brawled at ringside; it’s too dark out of the ring. Stone kept him grounded in the ring, and he hit a clothesline for a nearfall at 5:30. He hit a hard backbreaker over his knee for a nearfall and remained in charge. Barkley hit an enzuigiri and a rolling clothesline and he was fired up. He hit a Michinoku Driver for a nearfall at 8:00.

Stone hit a rolling cannonball, then a spinebuster for a nearfall. Stone rolled to the floor and grabbed his hardcore title but the ref stopped him from using it. Barkley hit a Jarrett-style Stroke faceplant, but Stone rolled to the floor to avoid being pinned at 10:00. Stone pushed the ref into the ropes, causing Barkley to fall from the corner. Stone hit a low blow, and he choked out Barkley. The ref checked Wes and called for the bell. Solid action.

5. Jason Bane and Tyler Prohibition defeated Joshua Bishop and Tyler Jordan at 16:40. Prohibition is the bald veteran and he’s been feuding with his trainee, Tyler Jordan, for months. Jordan is similar to Shelton Benjamin or Jason Jordan; he clearly has amateur wrestling background and he has a promising future. Bane is aging and muscular and bald. Prohibition and Jordan opened with an intense lockup, and Jordan hit a dropkick. Bishop and Bane had a confrontation at 2:00. Bishop hit a bodyslam on Prohibition, and the babyfaces worked Josh over early on. Josh dropped Jordan throat-first on the top rope at 6:00. Bane tagged in and immediately took control of the offense, hitting a belly-to-belly suplex for a nearfall.

Josh tied up Tyler in an STF and kept him grounded. He applied a half-crab, but Jordan reached the ropes at 10:00. Bishop made the hot tag and hit some punches on Josh, then a chokeslam at 13:00. Bishop and Bane finally locked up and traded forearm strikes and punches. Bishop nailed a fallaway slam but Bane popped to his feet! Bane hit an Exploder Suplex. Jordan dove off the top rope but Bane caught him. Jordan superkicked Bane. All four brawled in the ring. Bane hit an F5 Slam on Jordan. Bishop hit a Black Hole Slam on Josh for a nearfall at 16:00. Bane clotheslined Bishop; Josh immediately jumped on Bishop and scored the pin. Decent big-man match.

6. Dominic Garrini and Shaw Mason defeated “To Infinity & Beyond” Colin Delaney and Cheech at 10:15. I’ve written this before, but Cheech now looks very much like Sonjay Dutt. Shaw is younger, has short hair, and a bunch of medals around his neck. He opened against Shaw. Garrini and Delaney entered at 2:00 and Delaney got in an amateur wrestling position on the mat, but then he stood and kicked Garrini. The heels beat down Dominic for several minutes. Garrini hit a double back suplex at 5:00 but he couldn’t make the tag. Garrini hit a neckbreaker over his knee on Cheech and finally tagged in Shaw at 7:00.

Shaw hit a belly-to-belly suplex. Shaw hit a top-rope crossbody block on both opponents. The heels began working over Shaw. Garrini entered and hit chops on both heels. Cheech hit a German Suplex on Garrini at 9:00. Shaw applied an anklelock on Cheech. Delaney hit a low blow mule kick on Garrini. Shaw hit a Canadian Destroyer on Delaney. Shaw hooked Cheech’s arms, rolled him up in a seatbelt cover, and scored the pin. Cheech was in disbelief he was pinned. Entertaining tag match.

* Garrini hugged Shaw, but then hit a clothesline to the back of the head! They won the match and I’m unclear why Garrini attacked him. Garrini hit a piledriver on the ring apron.

7. Eric Taylor (w/The Duke) defeated Dex Royal to retain the AIW Intense Title at 12:02. These are two of AIW’s young rising stars. Dex is Black and he’s the babyface here. Taylor is white and makes me think of VSK. An intense lockup early on. Royal hit a top-rope doublestomp to the chest as Taylor was on the ring apron and Taylor fell to the floor. Back in the ring, Taylor took charge and he hit a basement dropkick on Dex’s knee at 3:00 and he grounded Royal. Dex fired up and hit some chops and a leaping DDT for a nearfall at 6:00. Dex missed a top-rope Shooting Star Press. Taylor hit a top-rope fist drop for a nearfall.

Dex hit a spear for a nearfall at 7:30. Taylor nailed a leaping Flatliner for a nearfall. Dex hit a second-rope Spanish Fly, then a Tiger Driver for a believable nearfall at 9:00. They got up and traded slaps to the face. Dex hit a Cave-in leaping doublestomp. Taylor nailed a flip dive to the floor and landed on his feet at 10:30. In the ring, Taylor came off the top rope but Dex caught him with a superkick for a believable nearfall, but The Duke distracted the referee. Taylor hit Dex in the head with the belt for a nearfall. Taylor then hit a Stomp to the head for the pin. That was really good and easily best match of the show so far.

8. Derek Dillinger (w/Katie Arquette) defeated Joey Janela at 23:35. This is another pick-your-poison match. Derek is the rotund brawler. An intense lockup at the bell. Dillinger hit a senton at 3:30 and he kept Joey grounded. He choked Joey and hit a snap suplex for a nearfall. They brawled to the floor and Derek accidentally chopped the ring post at 6:00. Derek was back in the charge as they got back into the ring. Janela hit a top-rope moonsault press. Dillinger hit some rolling forearms for a nearfall at 10:00. Janela hit a tornado DDT for a nearfall. Joey got a chair and hit Dillinger over the back. Dillinger hit a second-rope superplex through a board bridge in the ring and they were both down at 13:30.

Janela hit a suplex and they were both down. They brawled back to the floor and Janela hit some more chairshots to the back. Joey grabbed Arquette and hit a Death Valley Driver, sending them both onto Dillinger on a board bridge from the apron to the floor at 18:30. In the ring, Joey hit a top-rope doublestomp onto a chair on Derek’s chest for a nearfall. Derek hit a sunset flip powerbomb, tossing Joey through a board in the corner for a  nearfall at 20:00. They got up and traded forearm strikes. Dillinger hit a second-rope Bubba Bomb through a board bridge for a nearfall at 22:30. Dillinger hit a package piledriver for the pin.

9. Isaiah Broner defeated Alec Price to retain the AIW Absolute Title at 12:19. The bigger Broner easily shoved Price to the mat. Price hit a second-rope flying crossbody block and a huracanrana. He dove onto the floor but Broner caught him and slammed him onto the ring apron at 1:30. In the ring, Broner hit a Stinger Splash in the corner and was in charge. He hit an overhead release belly-to-belly suplex for a nearfall at 3:30, and he easily hip-tossed Price across the ring. Price hit an enzuigiri, then a German Suplex for a nearfall at 6:30. Price hit his series of kneestrikes in the corner. Price nailed a top-rope flying leg lariat for a  nearfall.

Broner nailed a sit-out powerbomb for a nearfall at 8:00. They traded forearm strikes, but Broner dropped Alec with a hard blow. Price nailed a Rebound Lariat, then a Canadian Destroyer, but Broner rolled to the floor to avoid being pinned. Price hit his dive over the top rope to the floor. In the ring, Price hit a springboard tornado DDT, then a top-rope Blockbuster for a believable nearfall at 11:30. Broner nailed a short-arm clothesline, then an F5 faceplant for the pin. That was really good stuff.

Final Thoughts: A decent show. Broner-Price narrowly beats out Taylor-Dex Royal for best match. I’ll go with Janela-Dillinger for third. That said, I’m hot-and-cold on Janela matches. That was a typical Janela match; it was fought at a more methodical pace with him kicking out of some offense that leads to pinfalls for most other wrestlers. As is often the case, his match was the longest of the show. But, it built nicely in the final few minutes, although I’m just not a fan of him kicking out of some of those moves. It makes other wrestlers look weak in comparison because they get pinned by those same moves.

I’ve written this before, but AIW has a promising young core led by Sam Holloway. This young core includes Tyler Jordan, Dex Royal, Tre Lemar and Eric Taylor, and those are the guys they need to build around. Their aging roster of guys in their late 30s and 40s don’t interest me as much.


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