2022 BELMONT CLASSIC
NIGHT THREE RECAP
By: Tanner Quest
We’re here at the end of the Belmont Classic, which is already shaping up to be one of the most memorable in history! If you missed them, please check out the recaps of Night One and Night Two. There’s lots of other great articles to check out too; we’ve got Parts FOUR and FIVE of our ranking of every Belmont Classic participant. Also, Karen Nakano and Peter Rahal put together a fun “what if” column, where they determine how well key members of the Bang! Pro Wrestling roster would have fared if they had participated in the yearly tournament. You can find that HERE.
Now, let’s get right into Night Three!
December 10, 2002; Chaifetz Arena, St. Louis. The arena–which sold out for both the previous nights–somehow seems MORE full tonight. Patti duPont and “Catfish” Hank Wheeler run down the updates from last night’s show.
-Sammy Broadway suffered a lot of damage to his knees. He will need extensive surgery, and his wrestling career is likely over.
-Referee Andy Chase was severely admonished for not attempting to control Paxton Ray. He will not be allowed to officiate any more of Ray’s matches in the tournament.
-A second Lucha Inquiry took place, and it was quickly decided that Vahid Jafarnejad’s removal of Milagro DC’s mask was not intentional.
-Security guards had been stationed near the extra strength Puerto Rican coffee, under strict orders not to let Charles Beckett anywhere near it. An additional failsafe had been put in place: a note from Beckett’s wife, saying that he wasn’t allowed to touch it.
-Belmont Foundation president Carter Laughlin has not been available for comment.
duPont and Wheeler spent some time running down the other matches from Night Two, then Dustin Callais welcomed the crowd and introduced the night’s video, which we have shared here:
The song is one that Johnny Belmont only used in later public appearances, and at the tournament that bore his name.
KISS, “God Gave Rock and Roll To You II.”
What follows is a series of images and videos showing some of the more noteworthy participants in the tournament history, and the later heights of their careers.
Belmont Classic, 2004. Clay Byrd drops “Slick” Rick Riley with a devastating piledriver. He grabs Riley’s head, as if to lift him up again…but soon lets go, and attempts the pin instead. His heart tells him to inflict more punishment, but he chooses not to succumb to his violent instincts.
Rumble at the Rock, 2021. Clay Byrd grabs Jace Parker Davidson by the neck and delivers three consecutive headbutts, each one increasing in brutality. He has not succumbed to his violent instincts; he has embraced them.
In 2006, Scott Fallon performs well in the Belmont but fails to connect with the audience. He is a solid wrestler, but unspectacular.
In 2019, “The Loved One” Scott Valentine struts to the ring in an outfit more suited to Carnival than professional wrestling; the pageantry of his entrance overshadows his formidable skill.
It’s 2003, and Brandon Youngblood is throwing Jeremy Prince around like a rag doll. His desire to inflict punishment in the first round would be his undoing in the second. He is a man at war with himself, and he is losing.
It’s 2022, and Brandon Youngblood is throwing Cancer Jiles around the ring. One Randallplex after another, delivered with purpose rather than blind malice. He has found peace with himself, and in that peace he will find victory.
After suffering a bitter defeat in the first round of the 2000 Classic, TNTina watches her friend Jared Sykes compete in the tournament final…but she does so from the balcony, as far from the action as possible.
At the conclusion of the Survivor event in 2022, referee Jimmy Turnbull hands the PRIME Tag Team Titles to an awestruck Reina Raspberry. After two decades of standing on the outside looking in, she is finally in the middle of it. Where she belongs, and where she has always belonged.
It’s 1991, and a tearful Jake Colton holds the Belmont Classic trophy in his hands. He looks towards the heavens and smiles; a promise has been made.
It’s 2018, and a tearful Jake Colton embraces his eldest son, moments after Nathan’s victory in the final. As the trophy is brought to the ring, the old man looks up again; a promise has been kept.
Coral Avalon stands triumphant at the end of the 2002 Belmont Classic, having just defeated “Jolly” Roger Morgan in the final. He has proven himself a king, and no one doubts that he will soon claim his crown.
Coral Avalon stands triumphant at the end of the 2021 Terminus Complex, one of the signature events in Bang! Pro Wrestling. He is still in search of his crown, but he is no less a king.
Adam Stearns cuts an impressive figure as he slowly walks to the ring in 2015. He is tall, strong, surprisingly agile…but something seems to be missing.
“The Plague Doctor” Adam Sturgeon cuts an intimidating figure as he slowly walks to the ring in 2020. The mask gives him an extra air of menace, which does not go away when he removes it.
David McBride, 1996, comes up just short against Daniel Phillips in the second round. He has all the desire, but not enough talent or training.
Charles Beckett, 1998, looks absolutely lost in the ring against Lindsay Troy. This is not where his heart lies.
Crash & Burn, 2013, holding aloft the Bang! With Your Partner Championships; another tag team accolade in a career full of them. Time and again, they have proven themselves greater than the sum of their parts.
In 1996, Mandy Wells picks up her third victory in the Belmont Classic. Her performance should be good enough to launch her into stardom…but afterwards, she will be told she “isn’t pretty enough,” “doesn’t have the right look,” “shouldn’t be competing with men.” No matter how hard she pounds on the glass ceiling, she will not be able to break it.
In 2019, Amanda Wallenquist-Robinson cheers from ringside as her star pupil, “Dynamite” Zoe Clark, wins her third match in the Belmont Classic. As a trainer, she has dedicated herself to building the wrestling environment that she wanted in her youth, one where talent, training, and desire were the only things that mattered.
Ned Reform, driven to fits by the Tatterdemalion’s flexibility and submission prowess, catches them with an inside cradle. The referee doesn’t see his feet on the ropes, allowing him to advance to the semifinals in 2021.
Ned Reform, desperate to finish the match, trades off pin attempts with Anna Daniels. On his final attempt, the referee doesn’t see his feet on the ropes, allowing him to win his PRIME debut in 2022.
Brad Cain and Geoff McGregor furiously trade punches in the tournament final in 1995.
Max Disaster and Geoff “The Main Man” McGregor furiously trade punches in a grudge match in 2001. Or 2006. Or, for all we know, last Thursday.
In 2009, Kevin Condor opens a new chapter in his life. The adrenaline rush he used to get from extreme sports is nothing compared to how he feels in the ring, especially as he somersaults off the top rope and crashes down on his opponent.
In 2021, Kevin Condor claims Destruction Productions’ Heavyweight Title for the third time. The means of victory may have been questionable, but the only thing that matters to Kevin is feeling that rush again.
Back in 1998, Ian Nackedy’s unorthodox offense leads to a win in the first round, but it’s his fierce determination that allows him to defeat his own brother, Foster, in the second. He knows in his heart that he is one of the best, and he has the will to prove it.
Back in 2017, Ian Nackedy has just enough energy left to roll Coral Avalon over and pin him in the final match of the Milo Flynn Cup. His long-standing claim that Sound & Fury are the best tag team in history becomes even more unassailable.
Lindsay Troy, circa 1998, desperately reaches out her hand while caught in an STF from Havok. Somewhere beyond pain threshold, beyond resilience, she finds the strength she needs to grab the rope. She is determined to make her mark, and will not be denied.
Lindsay Troy, circa 2022, stands smirking in the ring, surrounded by her Vae Victis teammates. Though her team is assembled of Hall of Famers past, present, and future, everything about her–the poise, the stance, the FIST of DEFIANCE around her waist–lets everyone know that she is truly the Queen. Her place at the top cannot be denied.
Jay Phoenix, 1997, stands in the ring with the Belmont Classic trophy, surrounded by the adulation of fans and peers alike. He is recognized as one of the greatest new faces in the sport.
Jay Phoenix, 2010, stands in the ring, once again with praise raining down upon him. From fans, peers, friends and enemies. All recognize him as one of the greatest in the history of the sport.
Because legends…true legends…are just like rock & roll.
They will never die.
After an extended applause break, Dustin Callais introduced the first match.
IGNACIO EL JAGUAR VS. PAXTON RAY
After two straight homicides masquerading as wrestling matches, Paxton Ray made it to the third round where he encountered Gates of Avalon standout, Ignacio el Jaguar. It’s safe to say that Ignacio was the crowd favorite for this one, especially after Paxton’s last two matches. It seemed like Paxton might make it a third homicide, but he was flummoxed early on by a speedy Ignacio, who dodged out of the way of Paxton’s heavy hands and even tossed him to the outside on an impressive inside springboard hurricanrana. Paxton continued to have trouble pinning down the high-flyer as the match degenerated into an air raid on the outside. A bullet of a suicide dive was followed up by throwing Paxton into the steel stairs. Ignacio wisely re-entered the ring and hoped for the early countout victory, but Paxton rolled in just as Danny Barlow reached nine.
Ignacio continued to play evasive against Paxton, frustrating him for several minutes as he avoided Paxton’s punches and struck back with his lucha-styled offense. Unfortunately, Ignacio couldn’t land a major blow on the big bruiser that could keep him down. Paxton would eventually catch him and batter him with his punches, but Ignacio defended well enough to not be rendered putty. An attempt at the Lafayette Lullaby was countered when Ignacio unexpectedly turned the pop-up into a hurricanrana for a near fall. A superkick put Paxton in position for an attempt at the Twin Helix, which Paxton avoided by rolling away. Ignacio still managed to land on his feet from the Twin Helix, but he came up hobbled on the landing. Paxton then nailed him with a brutal punch that almost knocked Ignacio out right there, and then followed it up with the Lafayette Lullaby to secure the win to the displeasure of the crowd. (13:02)
WINNER: Paxton Ray; Rating: ***½
Ignacio did a great job of staying out of Paxton’s grasp for most of the match, and can almost claim this as a victory by virtue of leaving the ring under his own power. Furthermore, a third-round exit is still a very impressive performance, especially considering his status as an alternate. Unfortunately, the raw damage dealt by Paxton Ray was more than he could overcome.
According to backstage rumor, trainer Foster Nackedy had told Paxton Ray to “tone it down,” and thankfully he did. I am relieved that I don’t have to write another career epitaph during this tournament…yet.
Kellie Burkowski made a visit to Vinny Mariano’s luxury suite, where he defended the decisions of Andy Chase, junior official for Destruction Productions. “Andy was doin’ what he was taught. In DP, we teach our refs to use their discretion. Andy knows that the fans wanna see some violence, so he just stood back and let nature take its course. If they’re not gonna kick Paxton outta the event for actually hurtin’ the guy, there’s no reason to punish the referee.”
GARRY “Ray-Ray” NELSON vs. EDDIE CROSS
Eddie Cross started out hot, starting with an arm wrench, then transitioning into other holds to weaken the limb. He had hoped to weaken Nelson’s slapping power, but it seemed to have no effect; once Nelson got on offense, he paintbrushed Cross into dizziness. Hank Wheeler claimed that Cross’s beard looked a little bit shorter after each slap.
After several slaps that probably felt like getting hit with a shovel, Cross caught a break by jabbing Nelson in the throat. From there, he focused on the ground game, keeping Nelson on the mat while wearing him down with submissions and joint control. He had the Strafe locked in at one point, but Nelson’s lanky limbs allowed him to grab the ropes, and “Ray-Ray” escaped. That’s Cross really turned things up–while Garry was trying to get back up, Cross knocked him down with an elbow to the back of the head. Then, he grabbed Nelson’s right arm, pinned the wrist down to the mat, and gave a vicious stomp to the elbow! While Garry howled in pain, Billy Hawkins admonished Cross, then checked to see if Nelson could still compete.
Nelson wasn’t out of it yet, as he still had one perfectly good slappin’ arm. With a flurry of slaps, he turned Cross’s face and chest into mincemeat. Eddie struggled to regain control, but managed to stay in it with a snap suplex, from which he rolled into a mount position and peppered Garry with strikes. It wasn’t enough to keep the Nelson County, KY native down, though, and before long he slapped Cross so hard that Eddie’s glasses fell to the floor–and they had been on the ring attendants’ table, nowhere close to the action.
Garry went for Blood on the Plow, but howled in pain as soon as his elbow connected and wasn’t able to make the pinfall attempt. That allowed Cross to make a comeback, focusing heavily on the injured arm. He nearly got the submission with a seated armbar, the headed for the corner and waited for Garry to stand up. As he did, Cross charged in… but Nelson spun around–the opposite way this time– and hit Eddie in the face with his left elbow. It wasn’t as forceful, but it was enough to put Eddie Cross down, and Nelson pinned him for the win. (10:42)
Winner: Garry Nelson; Rating: ***
Eddie Cross has the pedigree of a superstar–son of Timo Bolamba, trained by Dave Gibson–but seems to be missing something. Once he figures out what that piece is, I think we’ll see a huge jump to the next level. He had a solid run in this tournament, but ran up against someone with a mostly unknown style. That can be tough to prepare for, but I expect he’ll fare much better if these two ever face off again.
Garry “Ray-Ray” Nelson continues to surprise, as I don’t think anyone had him going to the semifinals in their predictions. Again his unorthodox style carries him to the win, plus he showed remarkable ring smarts by going for his finisher left-handed. That arm injury looked very serious though, and could end Ray-Ray’s dark horse run soon.
Backstage, Simon Tillier got a word with FLAMBERGE. The Strasbourg Superstar talked about how he couldn’t wait to get his hands on Paxton Ray in the semifinals. Simon was quick to point out that FLAMBERGE still had to win his quarterfinal match against Milagro DC; FLAMBO gave him a withering glare and said, “Qui?”
JENNIFER COLTON vs. ANTHONY “Momento Mori” MANCINI
Jennifer shot in quickly, grabbing for Mancini’s leg and hoping to establish control on the takedown. To her surprise, Mancini quickly stepped away and hooked in a rear chinlock when Colton went down. Colton escaped, allowing the two to trade holds for a while, but neither one of them could fully gain advantage over the other.
After a rope break, they exchanged a few strikes, and Jenny started to fall behind. Her offense had more speed and a surprising amount of force, but Mancini had the reach advantage, and he had a lot of power in his kicks. That allowed him to wear down further with submission holds. Jennifer started to fight out of a top wristlock, but Anthony pulled her down to the mat (mostly by grabbing Colton’s hair and pulling her down, but of course he feigned innocence to the official, Jimmy Turnbull.)
That stunt lit a fire under Jennifer, and she launched into her comeback with ferocity. After bringing Mancini down, she trapped his left leg and started working it over with her elbow, then did the same to his right arm. She followed up with a series of high-impact moves, and it looked like she was well on her way to another victory. But as she moved in for the kill, Mancini caught her with a desperation kick, putting himself back in the driver’s seat. He made the most of it too, punishing Colton with suplexes, backbreakers, even a piledriver! While he wasn’t able to finish the match, it was only a matter of time and he knew it. He started showing off more, taunting Jennifer, and playing to the crowd. He even turned his back on Jennifer as she staggered to his feet, riling up the crowd some more.
Go on, guess how well that worked out for him.
She had just stood up when he turned around again, so he made another spin in order to connect with Cement Shoes. The moment his head turned away, Colton sprung after him, and quickly secured the Colton Clutch. The sudden attack as well as the rotation caused him to lose his balance, and they both crashed to the mat. Jennifer quickly rolled him onto his stomach and transitioned into the Colton Clutch 2, scoring the submission. (14:28)
Winner: Jennifer Colton; Rating: ****
For all we’ve talked about Colton’s technical background, Anthony Mancini was her equal, and might have even been better. Like so many young stars, he’ll need to temper the arrogance. It’s important to have confidence in your abilities, but if you ignore your opponents’ skills, it’s easy to get caught. Regardless, this was an excellent performance by “Momento Mori,” and I expect to see more of him in the future.
Colton showed a lot of perseverance in this match, and managed to survive a lot of difficult situations. That’s going to be key for the rest of this night, and it’s one of those intangibles that a wrestler needs. Jennifer probably had an easier path than most through the first two nights, but held her own against a top-flight opponent in this one.
Chris Trutt caught up with a jubilant Garry “Ray-Ray” Nelson, who declared himself to be not only the greatest wrestler of all time, but also Timo Bolamba’s son (by virtue of defeating Eddie Cross.) “Me an’ Dad are gonna tear up St. Louis tonight! RAISE HELL, PRAISE DALE!”
FLAMBERGE VS. MILAGRO DC
Fresh off of taking down third-generation wrestler Curtis Alexander Brown, FLAMBERGE was certainly feeling himself going into his match with Milagro DC. Clearly eager to get past Milagro DC and face off against Paxton Ray, FLAMBERGE seemed to spend more of his time stalling and dancing around Milagro DC than actually wrestling her. After taking control with a couple of suplexes and a throw to the outside, FLAMBERGE opted not to finish things and instead jawed with fans in French, along with focusing intently on a fan with a Nate Colton T-shirt and yelling “BIIIIIITCH!” at them.
Back in, FLAMBERGE spent more time showboating, acting like he already had the match well in hand. This allowed Milagro DC to make a short comeback, utilizing some slick lucha libre to harass and confuse FLAMBERGE. This culminates in a tiger feint kick that followed into a springboard hurricanrana that nearly took out the phenomenal Frenchman. Milagro DC’s next move was an attempt at a 450 splash. However, FLAMBERGE moved out of the way and she hit the canvas pretty hard. FLAMBERGE was all smiles after seeing the crash landing, and he took his time getting set up for the Marie Antoinette.
Too much time, as it turned out. By the time FLAMBERGE grasped the head, Milagro DC came alive, ripped FLAMBO’s legs out from under him, and countered into the Alligator Clutch for a sudden three count! The crowd and *especially* FLAMBERGE was shocked, and Milagro DC escaped the ring, leaving FLAMBERGE fuming in the ring and taking it out on referee Andy Chase and members of the crowd.
Winner: Milagro DC; Rating: ***½
This has to be a major disappointment for FLAMBERGE, who was a very strong favorite to win the entire tournament. He seemed unwilling to take his opponents seriously, and it wasn’t a major hindrance in the first two rounds, it finally caught up to him here. He’s a tremendously talented young man, but will need to develop emotional maturity to reach his potential.
Milagro DC put forth another tremendous effort and pulled off one of the biggest upsets in tournament history–certainly the biggest since White Guy in a Mask pinned Tony Hastings in 2017. It helps that she uses a style that is uncommon in the United States, and downright rare in Europe, but she also has shown incredible fighting spirit as well. She has been one of the standouts of the tournament so far.
Kellie Burkowski spoke with Jake Colton, who was ecstatic about his daughter’s performance so far. “Long way to go, though,” he added. “This is where it starts to get really tough. Not only are you facing the best wrestlers in the tournament, but the exhaustion of multiple matches hits quick. I did everything to make sure she’s ready; the rest is up to her.”
JENNIFER COLTON vs. GARRY “Ray-Ray” NELSON
Colton started off on defense as Garry Nelson (who Maeva keeps telling me is Garry Bolamba now) came out swinging. His attack was simple, but effective, as he managed to get a big meaty paw past Colton’s guard and practically spun her around with one strike. Jenny chose to match his strategy, which proved to be a colossal mistake–she’s a good striker, but Ray-Ray’s reach advantage and dedication to slapping put him at a huge advantage. In fact, it looked like the match would be very short indeed, when he connected with Blood on the Plow just a few minutes into the match! Luckily she was near the ropes when it happened, so she fell out of the ring. Nelson–who forgot about his injury in the head of the moment–cradled his limb in the corner while Danny Barlow issued the ten-count…which Jenny was just barely able to beat.
Jenny switched up her strategy after that, opting to stay inside and work over Garry’s arm. She transitioned quickly between a variety of armbars, wristlocks, and hammerlocks, though she couldn’t ever stay in one position long–any time she really tried to wrench in a hold, Garry could escape by utilizing his lanky frame, either by twisting out of the hold, or reaching the ropes. From there, a series of slaps or some basic-but-powerful moves put Nelson back in control.
In the late stages, Colton looked to secure the victory with a cross armbreaker on Garry’s injured right arm. Nelson was able to not only fight through the pain, but roll to his feet and then lift Jenny up off the ground, slamming her to the mat with a vicious powerbomb! That only got a two count, but the Slap Fighting Champion of Nelson County, KY smelled blood in the water (or on the plow) and pulled Jennifer to her feet. He wound up for a brutal left-handed slap, putting all his force behind it…but Colton ducked! The momentum spun Ray-Ray all the way around, allowing her to connect with a facebuster, and transition right into the Colton Clutch 2! Garry reached for the ropes with his left arm, but Jenny was able to pin it back with her legs, and Nelson had no choice but to submit. (12:57)
Winner: Jennifer Colton; Rating: ***
What a run Garry Nelson had. Despite not having far less training than most of his opponents, and also using a style not often seen in wrestling, he racked up three solid wins. The slap-fighting style definitely worked to his advantage, as nobody had seen it enough to formulate a decent strategy. His time in the Belmont ended in large part to the injured arm he suffered against Eddie Cross, but also because of his Colton’s ability to adapt. Nelson showed a lot of promise this year, and I’m sure will catch on somewhere. He’s got a natural goofy charisma that the fans often get behind.
For the first time, we saw something of a crack in Jennifer Colton’s game when she tried to match Garry Nelson in striking. She’s good at it, probably the best in the family, but she nearly lost when she tried playing directly to her opponent’s strength. It nearly cost her the match, and it was only her good fortune that kept things going. She hasn’t made many missteps in the tournament, but this was a big one. Colton was able to recover from it, but there’s no guarantee she’ll be so lucky in the final.
Simon Tillier spoke with The Anglo Luchador, who sung the praises of his protege, Milagro DC. “I’m so happy that she gets to show the world what she can do,” he said. “She’s had a great rookie year–being in the Flynn Cup, signing with SHOOT Project, and now this. And I promise, she’s just going to get better.” Simon asked how he felt about Milagro’s semifinal match against Paxton Ray; he did not offer comment.
PAXTON RAY VS. MILAGRO DC
The fans in attendance at the Belmont still had a lot of energy to hate Paxton Ray as he got set for his semifinal match against Milagro DC, who received some of the loudest cheers of the night thus far – especially from the Anglo Luchador, who was seated at ringside for the match. Paxton came out of the gates swinging, trying to put away Milagro early. However, much like his match with Ignacio earlier in the night, Milagro utilized a variety of lucha libre maneuvers that frustrated and harassed Paxton. Paxton was sent to the outside early on an armdrag, and then dropped with a suicide dive. Once back in, Milagro kept up her advantage by applying a submission hold, but Paxton powered out of it. He could not take advantage, though, as Milagro remained evasive and avoided more punches. A sudden springboard DDT nearly took the semi-finals for Milagro after she caught Paxton unaware with it, and it looked like all of the momentum was on her side.
And then Paxton punched her to fuck.
Off of a second attempt at a springboard DDT, Paxton managed to club her with his right fist as she flew at him. From there, Paxton took his time beating the hell out of Milagro DC. He toyed with her, landing body shots in the corner and avoiding going for the kill straight away. This went on for an uncomfortable amount of time. Whenever Milagro would show signs of life, Paxton would punch that life right out of her again. Blood was drawn before long, which caused a hush among the fans who were growing uncomfortable at the sight.
At one point, Paxton pulled Milagro up at a two-count, sneering at the referee when doing so. At that point, TAL stood up from his seat and started to consider throwing in the towel for Milagro. Paxton almost dared him to do it. And he might have, if Milagro didn’t insist on continuing despite all the blood. Paxton just laughed. He stopped laughing when Milagro popped him in the chin with a rolling savate kick that nearly took his head off. Fans went crazy as Milagro took it to Paxton from there, blitzing him with dropkicks, hurricanranas, and even a brutal poison rana that almost won her the match. Paxton tried to take the advantage back with a powerbomb, but Milagro managed to take his legs from under him and put him in the Alligator Clutch for an incredibly narrow two-count that nearly everyone in the building thought was a three! Like, damn.
Milagro went to the top and landed a 450 splash, but at two, Paxton managed to kick out. And then when Milagro tried to follow up with another lucha libre maneuver into a DDT, Paxton held on, threw Milagro up into the air, and popped her with the Lafayette Lullaby. Not satisfied with once, Paxton then picked her back up and landed a second Lullaby for the three count. (17:51)
WINNER: Paxton Ray; Rating: ****
The Cinderella run of Milagro DC finally ended, but she should definitely hold her head high over her performance this weekend. She pushed Ray to the limits of his endurance, employing similar stick-and-move tactics that Ignacio el Jaguar used in the third round. It wasn’t enough, though, as the raw damage delivered by the Bayou Butcher was too much to overcome. Still, when the fans in attendance remember this event, I’m sure the moment of Milagro refusing the towel will spring instantly to mind.
Paxton Ray hit like a truck when he connected, but had a lot of trouble doing that and nearly wore himself out trying. But when you hit as hard as he does, you don’t need to connect nearly as often. Ray also showed his eye for recognizing opportunities, such as his counter to Milagro’s attempted springboard DDT, or the first Lafayette Lullaby. He has toned down the raw brutality, but he was every bit as dangerous as he was on the first two nights.
Chris Trutt got a quick word with the whole announce team, who talked at length about how great the experience had been. Dustin Callais thanked the organizers for the opportunity, and gave a shoutout to his friends at Tulane. Patty duPont thanked her parents and her partner for their support. Hank Wheeler thanked “my first and third ex-wives, and most of my kids.”
During the intermission, there was a short presentation featuring highlights for both tournament finalists (though only still images were used for Paxton Ray’s victories on the first two nights.) This was followed by a “Tale of the Tape” graphic, comparing the various statistics of both wrestlers.
In a hallway backstage, Paxton Ray–who had been kept separate from the rest of the field–mentally prepared himself for the final. He practiced his fighting stance and threw punches at imaginary targets…and then at real ones, wreaking havoc on anything he could find and cutting a path of destruction down the hallway.
In the locker room, Jennfier Colton went over some last-minute strategy with her father, Jake. Afterwards, they joined the rest of their family in a circle and joined hands in silent prayer.
At last, Dustin Callais announced that it was time for the main event. Paxton Ray entered first, and the fans booed so loudly that his entrance theme was drowned out. He met the reaction with a wicked grin and a pair of middle fingers.
The cheers were almost as loud for Jennifer Colton as she walked to the ring. As she removed her ring jacket, she revealed that she had a “Fighting For Jonathan” shirt on over her ring gear. This drew more cheers from the audience, and a snarl from Paxton Ray.
BELMONT CLASSIC FINAL
Colton charged in as soon as the bell rang, ready to take the fight straight to Paxton. Ray threw a punch that was perfectly timed but not placed, as Colton ducked under it. He tried again, but was taken down by a dropkick to the knee. That set the tone for the early stages of the match, with Jennifer playing the mouse to Paxton’s cat, hoping to repeat the struggles Ray had in the previous two rounds against smaller, faster opponents.
Paxton was starting to breathe heavily, exhausted and frustrated by his bad luck in trying to connect with offense. He swung wildly with a lariat, which Jenny ducked, but he spun around and caught her with another just as she stood up! The Bayou Butcher took full control at that point, tossing Jennifer around the ring with slams and battering her with strikes. His effort got several two counts from Jimmy Turnbull, but couldn’t quite get the three.
After another pin attempt, he knocked her back down with a brutal headbutt. Instead of going for the pin, leaned down so he could taunt her…and was met with Jennifer’s forehead to his jaw, as she fired back with a sharp headbutt of her own! Enraged, Paxton dropped clubbing forearms to Colton’s back as she tried to get up, then a series of elbow drops as she fell back down. Finally, he grabbed at Jennifer’s FFJ shirt and started to rip it, drawing more booing from the crowd.
Right when Paxton tore the shirt off completely, Jennifer launched into her counterattack. She took Ray down with a leg sweep and immediately went for the pinfall. As soon as he kicked out, she caught him in a rear chinlock, then transitioned into a sleeper as he stood up, and finally a Russian leg sweep as he fought out of the sleeper to put him back down, leading to another pinfall attempt. The cycle repeated itself, with Paxton kicking out of every pin and escaping from every submission…but each time, it took him a little longer.
Paxton attempted to mount a comeback, getting in a few good punches to set up his discus elbow, but Colton dropped down as he turned, leading him right into a drop toe hold. Mere seconds after he hit the mat, she slid forward and hooked on the Colton Clutch 2! The fans roared as Jimmy Turnbull moved in to look for the tapout, but it wasn’t going to come. Even as tired as he was, Paxton still had a lot of fight left in him, as well as a massive size advantage. He pushed himself up with one arm, and briefly got up to a standing position before falling backward, driving Jennifer into the mat. She released the hold and struggled to her feet…but Paxton Ray got up first, and met her with a punch to the head.
“Punch to the head” comprised most of the offense for the next three minutes, but it was all Paxton needed. Blood was pouring out of Jenny’s nose, and another cut was opening on her forehead. As previously mentioned, Paxton had a lot of fight left in him, and he was determined to give every last bit of it to his opponent.
Paxton ran toward the ropes, but swung through them, came back and leveled Jennifer with a shoulder block. He took a few moments to catch his breath, then picked Colton up and whipped her into the ropes. As she came back, Paxton tossed her so high into the air that I thought she just wouldn’t come down.
But she did. Right into Paxton’s fist.
Lafayette Lullaby. Colton collapsed to the mat, and bounced toward the corner. That put her closer to the ropes, but they were still too far away to be any use as Paxton made the cover.
…and then, with an evil grin on his face, Paxton pulled Jennifer’s shoulders off the mat.
He pulled the limp Colton back up to her feet and hooked an arm around her head, setting up for the brainbuster. He looked at the crowd–and specifically at the Colton family, who happened to be seated nearby. Paxton gave them the finger, taking delight in their outrage. Savoring the moment that was about to come.
He grabbed Jenny’s tights and lifted…but Colton had just enough consciousness to wrap her foot around the ropes, blocking the move. Paxton tried again, with the same result.
Ray snarled, and dragged Jennifer back to the middle of the ring. Taking one more moment to stare daggers at the Colton family, he took a deep breath and lifted with all his might…but this time, Jennifer flailed her feet wildly, halting momentum just enough to prevent the brainbuster. As she came back down, she tucked her feet into Paxton Ray’s and rolled him into a small package!
It was a desperate attempt, and not hooked in as well as we’ve come to expect from Jennifer Colton in this tournament. Paxton Ray could have kicked out easily.
If only he hadn’t swung and missed so many times against Ignacio el Jaguar.
If only he hadn’t taken so long to put Milagro DC away.
If only he hadn’t pulled Jennifer Colton off the mat when he had the match won.
But he did. And he did. And he did.
So he didn’t. (14:19)
Winner: Jennifer Colton; Rating: ****
The celebration began as soon as the bell rang, but…
Honestly, I don’t even know how to describe what happened next. Sometimes, words just won’t do.
Fortunately, RingDispatch.com team member Maeva Chastain was able to set up a recording of what happened, which you can see HERE. I can honestly say that in all the time I’ve watched professional wrestling, both as a journalist and a fan, I’ve never seen anything like this.
Afterwards, the celebration began in earnest, with all the streamers and confetti, and everyone at ringside getting a quick moment with Jennifer Colton in her moment of triumph. The stream ended with Colton holding the trophy aloft, having fully taken her place in the family legacy.
Paxton Ray was every bit the monster tonight that he was on Nights One and Two, but at least this time he tempered it so that nobody’s careers were ended. His desire to cause pain and suffering carried him all the way to the end, but his inability to control that rage caused his downfall. If he ever learns to control his anger, Paxton Ray will be unstoppable. Even as he is, Paxton is vicious, heartless, and relentless in his pursuit of causing damage. He will be a force in wrestling for years to come, and it gives me no pleasure to write that.
If you’ve seen anyone else in her family compete in the Belmont, Jennifer’s performance this weekend will come as no surprise. She is every bit as technically sound as her brothers, but also contains a stubborn streak that will take her a long way. Stubbornness can sometimes be a detriment, though, and her ability to adjust her game plan on the fly led to some impressive victories, and was the final piece of the puzzle for her success in the final match.
And that’s it. We made it! Thanks once again to the whole RingDispatch.com team, especially Maeva Chastain on the stream coverage. Thank you for reading, and keep your eyes peeled for more great content from Maeva, Karelma, Peter, Savannah, Karen, and myself. See you soon!
Ignacio/Ray – Renner
FLAMBERGE/Milagro – Renner
Milagro/Ray – Renner
Other matches – Luke
Thank you to everyone who allowed the use of their characters.
Special thanks to Andrew Koerner for use of the Destruction Productions characters, and Jerry Irby for Samson Dynamite.
For Jay Faulkner.