2023 MILO FLYNN CUP
NIGHT ONE RECAP
By: Tanner Quest
Hello again, faithful readers. Welcome to the RingDispatch Recap for Night One of the 2023 Milo Flynn Cup. Thank you for supporting the site.
As always, kudos to the rest of the RingDispatch team: Peter Rahal on research and statistics, Karelma Gutierrez on editing and proofreading, and Maeva Chastain on livestream coverage. Also, we had two great spotlight articles this week: Karen Nakano filled us in on the history of the Crownless Kingdom, and Dustin Callais–our newest member–did the same for Sound & Fury. This site is nothing without them, so make sure to read their articles too. Especially the round table where we all made our predictions for the tournament!
Let’s get started!
We are LIVE at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul, Minnesota, and this crowd is on fire already. The organizers have definitely built on last year’s success, delivering a stacked lineup and the full superstar experience. They added a meet-and-greet with all the contestants and whatever other stars happened to be around, so a lot of the fans in attendance have been here since noon.
As with every year, the show starts with the customary video package. “No Shelter” by Rage Against the Machine provides a soundtrack to highlights from Milo Flynn’s career. We see brawls with tag teams at every level in the NWC, from the Body Baggs and Shelter to the Hung Jury and Crash & Burn. Defeating Josh Hamlin to win the SCCW Television Title. The absolutely insane street fight in Athens against Malignance–Flynn throwing Judas through a shop window, raining fists down on Erik, and powerbombing Judas onto a trash can. There’s also Homeless Havok leaping off a moving car to spear Judas off the top of ANOTHER car, which didn’t involve Flynn but is still one of the coolest things ever. Finally, scenes of their hard-fought victory over the Dynasty; the video ends on a still frame of the Raging Hobo and Homeless Havok, holding the NWC World Tag Team Titles aloft.
As the music fades, the video transitions to a picture of Milo himself, with the caption:
“THE RAGING HOBO” MILO FLYNN
At Home In Our Hearts
Then, the ten-bell salute.
The lights come up to show the jam-packed arena; over five thousand people yelling their heads off. The fans in the front row are banging semi-official Gutterpunk Trash Can lids against the guard rail.
In the ring, we see several members of the Cup’s executive board, who welcome us to the event, thank us for watching, and show off the Flynn Cup itself. They’re the same people from last year, but let’s meet them again.
-Charles Beckett, aka Crash Domino (half of Crash & Burn; creator of the popular YouTube channel “Becketts Wreck It”)
-Beydaan Duale, community organizer and activist for homeless causes
-Geoff “The Main Man” McGregor (Minnesota native, former wrestler, current promoter for the Midwest Wrestling Kartel)
-Scott Jamison, who was added to the executive board because he won a radio contest
After asking the pressing question on everyone’s mind–i.e., “Who Wants a Ham Sammitch?”–they take their leave.
Your ring announcer is Nicollette Fowler (Midwest Wrestling Kartel.) Commentators for the livestream are Chloe London (MWK) and Sawyer “Sawbones” Bowen (PHX Fights). Chloe runs down the results of the pre-show matches held at the nearby Schoenecker Arena.
-The Spicy Bois (Ancho Man/Cayenne Kid) d. The Bad Newsies (Kid Stringalong/Spike Flanagan) (w/ “The Editor” William Randolph Hurts) by pinfall (7:33)
-Black & Tani (Roosevelt Black/Tani Albright) d. Pork & Beans (Porky Stubbs/Beans McGee) by pinfall (9:49)
Now, let’s get to the action!
EMINENCE vs. KINETIC INNOVATION
The team of Kinetic Innovation, Cory Kensington and Jamaal Ingram, came out with a lot of energy but little fanfare–though they did receive a smattering of cheers from the crowd as some had caught matches of theirs from England. Then, about three notes into “Back to School” by the Deftones, the fans absolutely blew the roof off the building. They knew that only one man would use the Minnesota State Wrestling’s Old School Saturday theme…and somehow, they only got louder when Jared Sykes stepped through the curtain, along with Justine Calvin. The PRIME tag team champions sized up their opponents as they approached the ring, while Nicollette Fowler was drowned out completely.
Cory and Jared were the first to start things off. Jared, the veteran of the two, frustrated Cory a bit to start matters off, as he connected with a forearm strike followed by a drop-toe hold. As Cory rose to his feet, Jared quickly planted his boot into his midsection and connected with a vertical suplex. Cory rolled to his corner as Jared watched on as Jamaal received the tag and entered the ring. Jared went for a clothesline, but Jamaal ducked underneath it before connecting with a springboard crossbody that sent Jared crashing to the mat. As Jared rose to his feet, Jamaal connected with an uppercut that sent Jared crashing to his corner, where he tagged in Justine Calvin.
Jamaal managed to keep Justine off kilter a bit as he employed an unorthodox style that left Justine Calvin guessing as to where he was going. He managed to connect with a handstand knee to her face that sent her crashing to the mat, before cutting her off from her side of the ring with a springboard moonsault. Jamaal quickly tagged in Cory, who slingshotted himself over the top rope and connected with an elbow across Calvin’s sternum. Calvin kept trying to fight back, but Jamaal and Cory managed to cut off the ring effectively and utilized quick tags to keep things in their favor.
Eventually, Justine ducked a spinning back elbow from Jamaal and connected with a Pele kick that dropped Jamaal. Justine managed to crawl across the ring and tagged in Jared Sykes for the hot tag and he came in firing as he connected with a series of clotheslines on Jamaal and Cory before clotheslining Jamaal out of the ring. Jared then connected with an arm-trap saito suplex and chained it into a second one. As Jared rose to his feet, Jamaal came flying back into the ring and connected with a clothesline to the back of the head. He then went for a springboard moonsault, but Justine managed to save the day with a superkick to the leaping skull of Jamaal that collapsed him into a heap.
Cory managed to wrap his arms around Justine and connected with a release German suplex that sent Justine flipping inside out and onto the canvas. As he rose to his feet, Jared connected with a snap suplex that he followed with a sliding elbow strike. Cory stumbled to his feet, dazed, as Justine Calvin rushed in and connected with a step-up enziguiri that dropped Cory to both knees. Eminence then began to set up the Moonlight Butterfly, but with Justine on the top rope, Jamaal slammed his body into her and sent her crashing to the outside. Jared dropped Cory and was met with a superkick to the jaw from Jamaal.
Cory then got back to his feet and hoisted Jared into the air as if he was going to hit him with an atomic drop. Jamaal then bounced off the ropes and jumped to the middle rope, looking for a springboard, but Justine hopped onto the canvas and slammed her knee into his face, stunning him. Sykes then connected with a series of elbow strikes to the neck and head of Cory, forcing him to let him go. As he did, Sykes lifted him up and connected with an Impact Driver followed by Justine Calvin springboarding off the top rope and connecting with a flying double stomp (Moonlight Butterfly) before pinning Cory for the victory. (17:19)
WINNERS: Eminence; Rating: ***½
After the match, the team of Kinetic Innovation stared down Eminence as if they were about to try something, but instead left the ring. The two teams’ eyes remained locked as Kinetic Innovation disappeared backstage.
Kinetic Innovation were thrust immediately into the spotlight; regardless of the result, they proved that they belonged there. They dominated the early portion of the match, not at all intimidated by who they were facing, or the hero’s welcome their opponents received. It’s also obvious that Kensington and Ingram have a chip on their shoulders, judging by the tension between the teams after the match. Time will tell if that works for or against them.
Eminence haven’t had a tag match together since Lucha Especial 2 back in April, but they obviously hadn’t lost a step. They were able to weather the storm early on, then mounted a strong comeback and scored the win. Calvin and Sykes not only cemented themselves among the favorites, but they also got this huge crowd off to a hot start.
A quick scan of the crowd showed more famous faces from the world of wrestling. Brandon Youngblood and Amelia Campbell, Joey Oktoberfest, Timo Bolamba, and numerous other members of Vae Victis and the Crownless Kingdom were all spotted.
Shay Gilder (Golden Gate Wrestling) briefly interviewed the Coltons, who reached last year’s finals before losing to the New World Trash. Despite not being selected, they were still excited to support the event and the teams. “This might be the greatest gathering of tag team talent in the world,” Dennis Colton said. “Minus us, of course.”
“Mine-us?” Benjamin asked, and the conversation devolved into a series of puns that caused a nearby David McBride to roll his eyes.
SCURVY KNAVES vs. DSA HORDE
Pete Yardley started off with the mighty Moriton, and things looked to be just as one-sided an affair as most of Salty Pete’s Flynn performances as of late. Moriton’s size and mastery of Bokh allowed him to dominate Yardley, bullying him all over the ring and forcing his limbs into uncomfortable positions. Pete managed a tag to “Fancy” Dan Winthorpe, who fared slightly better. Winthorpe stayed out of Moriton’s grasp with a series of flashy evasive maneuvers and quick strikes, but it wasn’t long before Moriton established dominance again.
Mullen tagged himself in, and while momentum shifted back to the Knaves a bit, it was obvious that Felix had really upped his game during his time in SHOOT Project. He was always a damage sponge, but he was now a much more prolific cheater, as he held Pete Yardley at bay with thumbs to the eyes and the occasional kick to the Buried Treasure. Felix had difficulty pressing the advantage though, especially when he lined up an attack on the downed Yardley, but Brianna Kincaid grabbed Mullen’s leg as he came off the ropes. His demands to have the Cap’n removed from ringside fell on deaf ears, and he tagged out in a huff.
Moriton again proved himself a force to be reckoned with–and Yardley again proved himself to be a liability–as the Mongolian Monster bullied the old pirate all over the ring. Winthorpe tagged in and again fared little better. While it seemed the big man was slowing down, allowing “Fancy” Dan to pull out some of his more exciting tricks, one solid slam or throw would be enough to level the field. The DSA Horde worked over Winthrope with a series of quick tags, hard-hitting slams, and flagrant illegal attacks. After a prolonged beatdown of the Knaves, Moriton looked to finish off Winthorpe with a belly-to-belly that sent “Fancy” Dan halfway across the ring! He stalked over and made the pin…but miraculously, Winthorpe got his foot on the ropes before the three count.
Probably because “Cap’n” Kincaid put it there.
Felix Mullen was beside himself, and demanded that Moriton put an end to her interference. Moriton left the ring and slowly approached Kincaid–who, to her credit, didn’t back down so much as a step. Because a captain must show no fear in the face of death…and also, because it distracted Moriton from what “Salty” Pete Yardley was up to.
Yardley had spotted what was about to become of his Cap’n. He pulled himself up to the top rope and, with a fearsome battle cry, he dove at Moriton, bringing the big man down to the floor. If that wasn’t enough to keep him down, Yardley hammered him with fists to take him out of action. Felix Mullen tried to cross the ring to intervene, but he was cut off by a superkick from Winthorpe. Soon both Knaves were working over Mullen, who scurried away to his corner just as Moriton regained his bearings. Moriton charged at both men, but Yardley and Winthorpe countered with a double hiptoss, sending him straight into the Horde’s corner and knocking both men to the floor! And since Mullen had been holding the tag rope at the time, referee Ollie Burandt declared it to be a legal tag!
The Knaves fished Mullen from the floor and tossed him in the ring, allowing Winthorpe to hit the Flourish for the pin…but not the three, as Mullen had just enough gas left in the tank. With Moriton stirring again, “Fancy” Dan tagged in Yardley, and they quickly connected with the Dead Man’s Chest, taking the wind out of Mullen’s sails…and lungs. “Salty” Pete rolled Mullen over for the pin, and though Moriton dove in to break it up, he was just short. (12:53)
WINNER: Scurvy Knaves; Rating: **½
Moriton is an impressive talent, and he wrestles a style that most viewers won’t be familiar with–though that will change after this display (I know I’ll be looking for clips tomorrow.) He dominated large parts of the match by himself, and I expect big things out of him in the future.
The Knaves had a breakthrough performance, especially in the closing minutes. Yardley hasn’t shown that kind of fire in ages, and I definitely didn’t have him diving to the outside in the Year of Our Lord Pelican Boy 2023 on my Bingo card. Winthorpe’s flashy style is very fun, and will definitely win him a lot of fans. We also can’t ignore the leadership skills of Brianna Kincaid, who helped her crew in every way she could, despite her injury.
Felix Mullen was also there.
It was here that the night’s events were interrupted. The notorious Dr. Zeke D. Badguy, Esq., known for managing the Evil Henchmen in the National Wrestling Council and, more recently, for pestering the PRIME roster via their internal Jabber platform, took to the ring. He demanded that his team of Rocko and Barry be allowed to join the tournament. When this fell on deaf ears, he threatened to steal the ring bell and hold it for ransom.
Rocko and Barry appeared through the crowd. Barry in particular seemed to have some difficulty navigating the guard rail, and needed a pair of fans in the front row to give him a boost before he was able to clear it. Once in the ringside area, both members of the Henchmen took the ring bell from the timekeeper’s table and darted back off through the crowd. Once again, Barry needed assistance from the audience.
Zeke stood in the ring looking rather proud of himself, because how can a wrestling show go on without a bell, but his bravado faded when a back-up bell was brought out from the backstage area.
Zeke remained in the ring for a moment, but didn’t say anything, before sulking his way backstage.
BOOMER SHOOTERS vs. NEW WORLD TRASH
This got off to a hot start, as the defending Flynn Cup Champions started throwing hands the moment they hit the ring, and the Shooters were more than happy to oblige. The early advantage went to Fox and Sharpe, as hitting and/or kicking stuff is kind of their specialty. Fox got an early pin attempt on Quinley after a running knee strike, but Angel just managed to kick out.
Quinley was able to turn the tide, fending Fox off with quick strikes, before tagging out to Bex Savage. Savage did her best to close the distance, but Fox kept her at bay with lightning-fast kicks long enough to tag out. When Rob Sharpe entered the ring, both fighters adopted a new strategy–i.e., knock the other person out as fast as possible–and threw absolute bombs at each other.
Savage struggled against the larger, stronger, more experienced Sharpe, but was able to turn the tide when Rob threw a haymaker that spun her around, then she came back with a surprise headbutt. That gave the Trash the opening they were looking for, and they started working over Sharpe with double-team maneuvers until referee Travis DeClercq restored order. Rob Sharpe quickly scrambled to his corner and tagged Fox back in.
David Fox wore Savage down with stiff kicks to the midsection until she finally caught one and countered with a T-Bone suplex. She tried to follow up, but was met with a kick to the crown, and Fox swiveled back up to his feet.
The two competitors went blow-for-blow, with Fox’s speed and precision matching up against Savage’s raw energy and brutal impact. David started to fade, allowing Savage to tag out to Quinley, who was already ascending to the top rope. She leveled Fox with a crossbody for two, then dropkicked him in the face just as he was getting up. Quinley really turned up the heat, with a series of attacks done with blazing speed, picking up a series of two-counts that were getting closer and closer to three. But after a reversal on an Irish whip, Quinley found herself tossed in the air by Fox, only to land jaw-first on his knee. Angel tried to push herself back up, but was immediately driven back down with Scorpio Rising! The referee’s hand was maybe two inches from the mat on the third count when Savage dove in to break up the pin.
Quinley stumbled around the ring; her bell clearly rung from Fox’s last kick. She even went to the wrong corner, allowing Fox to tag out to Sharpe. They delivered a punishing double backdrop suplex…then Sharpe lifted Fox up for another one, only to drop him on top of Quinley. Sharpe made another pinfall attempt, but it was broken up by Savage, who…savagely kicked him in the ribs. While Sharpe recovered, Savage dragged Quinley to the Trash’s corner and tagged herself in.
Bex brought her full arsenal to bear on Rob Sharpe, erasing his size advantage almost through sheer force of will. She even managed a Decker Plex for a two-count, but before she could capitalize, Sharpe caught her with a punch to the gut, followed by a gutwrench suplex. He then flipped her over on her back and held her for a while in a camel clutch. When he released the hold, it was only to deliver punishing forearms to the side of her head. Eventually, Bex slumped to the mat, and Rob Sharpe lifted her up for the kill.
He grabbed Savage from behind for the Sharpe Turn, but Savage managed to slip out of the lift and behind Sharpe. The moment Rob Sharpe turned around, he saw a Bakebrainer waiting for him. Bex Savage made the cover, while a still woozy Quinley jumped to the top rope–presumably to dive onto Fox and keep him out of the fight–but she slipped while springing off the rope, and…
The footage…exists. We will not be posting it on our site, but you can probably find it elsewhere fairly easily. I strongly recommend not watching it.
Quinley landed on her head; upon impact, her neck bent awkwardly to the side. David Fox, who had been about to slide into the ring, instead started screaming for the medics. Travis DeClercq counted the three, but I think he, Savage, and Sharpe were the only people who knew a pinfall was happening. (14:21)
WINNERS: New World Trash, No Rating
It hardly seems important, but up until that moment the two teams had an excellent match. The Shooters matched up very well against the Trash; their experience and ring savvy were a good counter to NWT’s recklessness, and they no doubt learned a great deal from watching the last year of footage from the previous winners.
Angel Quinley was taken directly to United Hospital; she is currently in stable condition but she will likely undergo multiple surgeries.
I would like to personally apologize on behalf of RingDispatch.com for our incorrect report on Quinley’s condition during the livestream. We shared an unconfirmed statement, and thereby caused harm to the friends, family, and loved ones; we are truly sorry.
An extended intermission was called. A highlight montage from the event’s history was shown on screen, with heavy emphasis on last year’s run by the New World Trash.
On a personal note, I want to thank Karelma Gutierrez for stepping in for me on Jabber during this part of the show. At some point I will have to accept that I am not a field reporter.
Just before the end of intermission, event organizer Charles Beckett was seen having a hushed conversation with Ignacio el Jaguar and Powerslam Anubis backstage. We couldn’t tell at the time what they were talking about, though we did catch the following statement from Beckett:
“You can’t bring those in here. Go put them in the supply closet near Section 204, with the others.”
He then gave an exaggerated wink.
SURF EXPRESS BRO vs. NO LAUGHING MATTER
Frank Pastore and Bowie Abrams started off, and immediately Frank established dominance with heavy blows on the Idaho native. Pastore swung for the fences early and often, and while Abrams was able to duck a few of the blows, he caught enough that it put Surf Express Bro at an early disadvantage…one that opened up when Pastore tagged out to Cruz, setting up a double clothesline.
Domingo locked down Abrams further, using a variety of joint-straining holds to keep Bowie from escaping. Bowie was desperate to make a tag and nearly got there, but Cruz dragged him down to the mat and trapped his arm with a hammerlock. Undeterred, Abrams reached toward Nelson with his foot, which Bradlee slapped to bring himself into the match.
Nelson came in with a flurry of offense, putting Domingo Cruz on his heels long enough for Surf Express Bro to get in some quick tags and double-team offense. Cruz tagged out, but Pastore didn’t fare much better, eating a double suplex and a pair of fist drops in quick succession. Abrams catapulted Pastore directly into a superkick from Nelson for two, and it looked like Surf Express Bro were rolling to victory, when NLM deployed their not-so-secret weapon–their manager.
Tony “The Grin” Gamble.
As Nelson bounced off the ropes, Gamble tripped him to give Pastore and Cruz an opening. Both teams tagged out, but Cruz caught Abrams with a low blow while senior official Ed Faraday admonished Gamble. This led to an extended beatdown, with No Laughing Matter fully cutting the ring in half. Bowie Abrams did his best to escape, but he would get stopped in his tracks by the legal man. One such attempt led to Abrams getting dragged back to the NLM corner by both opponents, but the moment Cruz let go of Bowie’s leg, he got a kick in the face. Bowie followed with a facebuster to Pastore, then a mad scramble and a dive for Bradlee’s outstretched hand!
Unfortunately, Tony Gamble was back on the apron, and Faraday missed the whole thing.
Domingo Cruz told the crowd that he was done playing with his food, and set Abrams up for the Deuce Dime. He set up the piledriver, but as he grabbed Bowie’s arms, Abrams used his last burst of strength to counter the move, flipping Cruz on his back! He finally made the tag to Nelson, and Bradlee was determined to make it count this time.
We saw a dropkick party, a body slam fiesta, and a backbreaker soiree in rapid succession as Bradlee Nelson tore through No Laughing Matter like his board through a wave. (I think. I know very little about surfing, or how good Surf Express Bro actually are at it.) Just as they tried to mount a counterattack, Nelson wiped them both out with a beautiful springboard crossbody. He and his team were firmly back in control, until a low blow from Frank Pastore finally slowed him down…but not for long.
Pastore whipped Nelson hard into the corner, where the young surf king collided chest-first. He staggered backwards into the waiting arms of Pastore, who lifted him up for the Harsh Intent. But Nelson still had one surprise left–he jumped in time with Frank’s lift, giving him extra momentum and allowing him to flip over Pastore and land on his feet. The moment Pastore turned around, he was met with a thunderous superkick! That gave Surf Express Bro the opening they needed; Nelson ran to Bowie for the tag, then both men ascended adjacent turnbuckles.
When Frank Pastore got back to his feet, Bradlee Nelson brought him back down with Fire It Up, his signature missile dropkick. That left Pastore in perfect position for Bowie Abrams to hit the Contact High…but Tony Gamble was in perfect position to prevent that, shoving Abrams off the top rope while Cruz distracted the official. Pastore threw an arm over Abrams just as Cruz backed off, drawing a two-count that was broken up by Nelson at the last minute.
No Laughing Matter threw Bradlee Nelson out of the ring, where Tony Gamble took him out of the equation by choking him on the arena floor. Pastore “helped” Abrams back to his feet, then “helped” him up into the air with a powerbomb. Domingo Cruz jumped in with a lungblower to complete the move, and One Last Breath drove any remaining fight out of Surf Express Bro. (13:21)
WINNER: No Laughing Matter; Rating: **
The low rating wasn’t really the fault of either team; the crowd was still shaken after Angel Quinley’s injury and weren’t quite into the match. They were warming up to SEB by the end, and of course everyone hates Tony Gamble, but there’s only so much they could do.
Surf Express Bro have shown a lot of improvement lately, no doubt thanks to the work they’ve put in with MVW. Abrams and Nelson have talent and very good continuity; in better circumstances, I think they would have made a stronger connection with the crowd and might have even pulled off the upset.
No Laughing Matter impressed in their Flynn Cup debut, but that’s no surprise to anyone who’s watched them up to this point. They recently won the Celestial Dragon Tag League in Bang! Pro Wrestling, and that was without Tony Gamble’s direct assistance. With him in their corner, Pastore and Cruz go from dark horse candidates to one of the favorites.
Ray Mulligan (Sunshine State Wrestling) caught up with the supporting cast of Vae Victis, there to cheer on their leaders later tonight. Kerry Kuroyama and Clay Byrd believed that their friends would soundly defeat whoever their first round opponents were, whereas Oscar Burns felt that Vae Victis would “completely obliterate” them. Butcher Victorious tried to offer an opinion, but as soon as he started talking, Clay Byrd smacked him with his hat.
CROWNLESS KINGDOM vs. GLUE MAN GROUP
The first round of the Flynn Cup got to play host to perhaps one of the bigger grudge matches in some time, when the Crownless Kingdom pair of Coral Avalon and Lord Gavin Yum, Esq. took on the Bang! With Your Partner champions and PRIME tag team stalwarts, the Glue Man Group!
Joe Fontaine did not endear himself to the crowd, walking out in a gaudy Packers-themed tearaway suit and a large cheesehead. At one point, he shouted “LAMBEAU LEAP!” as he attempted a plancha on the outside – he missed, of course. Sid was largely nonplussed by his tag team partner’s antics, but when the time came for him to do powerbombs, oh golly gee there were powerbombs.
Despite the fact that Coral Avalon’s ribs were taped up, he and Yum largely dominated the early parts of the match to the raucous cheers of the crowd. Joe Fontaine might have rapidly improved in Japan, but against the two veterans – one of whom is an experienced puncher of balls – he had much difficulty. It was only when Coral Avalon’s injuries caught up to him and Sid was able to tag in and start doing his thing that the Glues took control.
After Avalon took a buckle bomb from Phillips and a Fontaine of Youth from Fontaine, Fontaine decided to spend some time taunting Coral’s pregnant wife sitting at ringside instead of making a cover. Annabelle seriously considered smashing him in the face with her fist, but Coral Avalon instead hit him with a Rhongomyniad on the floor, threw him back in the ring, and hit a second one. While Phillips pulled Fontaine out of the way of the Carnwennan, Avalon simply landed in a roll and tagged in Lord Yum.
Lord Yum knocked Fontaine around with a few European uppercuts, including one where he wound his arm around a few times (as though this actually builds momentum) before ending with a poke to the eyes! The Lunch Lawyer looked for the Galatine Driver, but Phillips intercepted him and nearly powerbombed him out of his boots!
Just as Fontaine went for the pin…the lights went out. What happened next is hard to describe, and honestly I don’t think it will help, but I’ll do my best.
When the lights came back, almost everyone was wearing a bear mask. The crowd, the camera operators, London and Fowler, referee Sarah Whitlock…I think the only people who weren’t wearing the masks were myself, the tiger (yes there’s a tiger, that’s a whole thing), and the Glue Man Group.
As if that weren’t terrifying enough, the speakers then started blasting “Who Let the Dogs Out?” by the Baha Men. Those wearing masks then started doing a coordinated dance; a sort of shuffle with the hands held beside the head, at first, before they all started swiping at the air. Peter Rahal has since explained to me that this is a Minneapolis-based cultural phenomenon known as the “Angry Bear Dance.” I said at the time that this explains nothing, and I will say it again right here.
Phillips ran away screaming from the whole thing, leaving a bewildered Fontaine to attempt to land another Fontaine of Youth. Instead, Yum caught him in midair with the Galatine Driver! A tag to Avalon set up a Camelot’s Turntable followed by Vortigern’s Pillory, and Joe Fontaine had no choice but to verbally submit to his former trainer! (10:35)
WINNERS: Crownless Kingdom, Rating: *½
I’m probably caving to my personal bias with that rating, but I don’t care. That was a lot of nonsense in a match between two teams that didn’t need it. It also might have triggered my fears about large carnivorous mammals and also large groups of people acting in unison. If anyone with authority in the event is reading this, I beseech you: never do this again.
(In fairness, it did lighten the dark mood that had fallen over the crowd.)
The Glue Man Group performed well, but also put their weakness on display. All of them, not just Sid Phillips’ fear of bears. Fontaine was often more concerned with agitating the crowd than defeating his opponents; Phillips’ moveset and personality quirks make him an open book with only four or five pages. I know they’ve been very successful in Bang! Pro Wrestling, but there’s still a lot to work on if they want to sustain that momentum.
There was a lot of concern heading into the Flynn Cup this year about how well Coral Avalon would work with anyone other than Franco Marchesi. Gavin Yum stepped up admirably, but the end result gave us more flash and less substance than the traditional CK pairing. We’ll see how they perform tomorrow night.
Shay Gilder interviewed some more surprise attendants: Corey “Cobra” Shelby, John “Firebird” Franklin, and “Mustang” Sally Shelby-Llewelyn, who tore up the Midwest wrestling scene in the 80s as American Muscle. They were honored to be on hand for the event this year, and Shelby talked about how proud he was to see the art of tag team wrestling grow and evolve from what they had done in their careers. John said, “I hope to see our son take part in one of these one day,” to which Sally nodded with approval. (John and Sally were married from 1992 to 1994, and have one son together.)
SOUND & FURY vs. KINGS OF THE WILD FRONTIER
Boone Daniels and Ian Nackedy started off the match, where both men circled each other while Nackedy continually made comments about Boone’s name. After about seven such comments, Boone leapt in and took down Ian, wrapping him in a quick headlock to slow the pace down. Daniels and Davies made a few quick tags, teaming up to hit Nackedy with a double suplex.
Davies took control, trapping Nackedy in the corner with punches and kicks. However, the more experienced Nackedy was able to reverse an Irish whip and turn it into a clothesline. He used his speed to hit Davies with a few kicks to the knee, then tagged in the larger Gildenstern, who immediately tried to grab Davies by the ears for the Basketweaver. Naturally, it was too early and Davies escaped the ring and the action reset after a few seconds.
With more time to collect himself, Davies used his brawling ability to take over again, putting Gildenstern at a disadvantage. Another series of quick tags resulted in a near far from Daniels after a perfect bridging overhead suplex.
Ian Nackedy was getting visibly frustrated on the apron as The Kings continued their assault on Gildenstern, who besides being beaten down and overmatched didn’t look particularly interested in being in the ring. His partner clearly noticed, which made Ian’s pounding on the turnbuckle more frantic. A few times Gil almost got close enough to make a tag, but wasn’t able to get there before being cut off.
Ian was getting desperate, screaming at anyone who would listen in hopes that it would motivate his tag team partner. When Gildenstern barely kicked out of a simple vertical suplex right before three, Ian couldn’t take it anymore. He jumped the ropes, hit Davies with a clothesline, and dragged his partner to his own corner before exiting the ring, tagging Gil, and entering. The referee tried to restore order, but Ian’s entrance had caused chaos. Both members of the Kings of the Wild Frontier started to gang up on Ian, and Gildenstern got up in time to make it a tornado tag team match for at least two minutes before order was finally restored.
When it was, Ian stood dazed in the ring while Davies had him lined up for the Shotgun Lariat. But Nackedy ducked at the last minute, then laid Davies out with the Don’t You Dare Make Fun of My Funny Sounding Last Name or I Will Drive You Into the Mat Like I Just Did. He looked over at Gildenstern and offered his hand out, saying it was time for their tag team finisher, whose name I refuse to type here.
But Gildenstern shrugged and shook his head. After a few moments of angry staring, Ian lifted Davies up and hit another Don’t You Dare for the win. (15:07)
WINNER: Sound & Fury; Rating: **
Davies and Daniels showed a lot of fight here, and there’s no doubt that they’ll just keep improving. They still need experience–which they got plenty of this weekend, between their match here and their booking in SHOOT Project a few nights later–but if they keep at it, they’ll be solid contenders for the tag titles in MVW before you know it.
As someone who’s followed the careers of Sound & Fury for several years, this was hard to watch. I’ve never seen Gildenstern act so lackadaisical in the ring, and there was far more miscommunication between him and Ian Nackedy than ever. They were able to overcome those problems here, but they’ll need to get back on the same page if they want to advance any farther.
Ray Mulligan met up with another famous name from wrestling history: “Jolly” Roger Morgan, Pete Yardley’s old tag team partner in the Privateers. He offered glowing praise to Pete’s new team, giving special credit to “Cap’n” Brianna Kincaid for her leadership skills. “It does my heart good to see the ol’ tar come through. Kincaid’s a fine captain to be bringing that kind of fight out of him.”
PAYDIRT SQUADRON vs. LOS REBELDES DEL BIEN
The mood in the arena after having watched Angel Quinley suffer a grievous injury that some outlets were reporting was fatal was not the best, but luckily for the live crowd not plugged into social media, Mestizo was there to save the day with their antics. Los Rebeldes Bien were first out, which meant Mestizo was posted up at the entryway as a means of intimidation. If you think that little furball can’t possibly be intimidating, well, you try having your ankles bitten by a tiny mass of lint and dust that may or may not be human. Lil’ Virtuoso X steered clear of the dust moppet, but BASHTIN? He nudged the little thing with his leg, and by nudged, I mean kicked him off to the side against the barricade. Oof. Would that come back to bite Paydirt Squadron in the ass? Literally?
Virtuoso and Pedro Gonzalez started the match off, and it was as lucha-tastic as one might expect with these two in the ring. Lots of standing switches, some leapfrogs, even the requisite “hey both guys try a dropkick at the same time!” thing. Then they tagged out to their partners, and the arena’s attention was split between Persona Non Grata trying to match power with the BEHEMOTH of the Paydirt Squadron and Pedro trying to restrain Mestizo from getting in the ring and biting part of BASHTIN as payback for the insult of being knocked on his diminutive ass before the match.
Virtuoso tagged back in, but that’s where things started to go south for the Squadron. With Mestizo and BASHTIN distracting the referee, Rebeldes took their liberties and used the numbers game to get a solid advantage over the smallest wrestler actually in the match. Poor Lil’ Virtuoso X, falling prey to every mean lucha trick in the book, including being put in the Paradise Lock and kicked like he was a soccer ball. He didn’t actually move like a soccer ball because even at 165 lbs., he’s still not aerodynamic enough to move like a conveyance in a footy match.
All the fun and games ended after PNG whiffed on a crossbody and Virtuoso got a chance to break for his corner. Which he did. And hoo boy was BASHTIN, who had to deal alternately with his partner getting his butt kicked AND a tiny mass of hair and teeth threatening to castrate him, mad. We’re talking steam shooting out of his ears.
A lariat that nearly took PNG’s head off was the first salvo. Then he grabbed Pedro under his pits and threw him once. Then twice. Then three times. It looked like the match was going to end right there, but no one took into account the little pile of fur that had ascended to the top rope. Many people in the arena had to be treated for ear damage with the sound Mestizo made when leaping off the top to sink their fangs into the nook where BASHTIN’s neck and shoulders met, and even more immediately booked appointments with their therapists when they saw the look on BASHTIN’s face. The ref and both members of Los Rebeldes were distracted, but you know who wasn’t?
Lil’ Virtuoso X.
He blind-tagged his partner, snuck around to where Pedro was watching and laughing, and a victory roll later, Paydirt Squadron had taken the duke and advanced in the Milo Flynn Cup. (9:49)
WINNERS: Paydirt Squadron; Rating: ** ½
At first glance, Los Rebeldes appeared to take a step back from last year’s performance–they went from giving the Crownless Kingdom a good scare in the second round, to an exit in the first. But just like last year, they brought their primary weapon–chaos–to bear, and it simply didn’t work in their favor this time. The team is every bit as dangerous as they were a year ago, and one can expect them to be even more so when they return to the Flynn Cup.
Paydirt Squadron came out of nowhere (well, Buffalo) and really turned some heads in this one. “Polar opposite” partners are a classic of tag team wrestling, but I don’t think I’ve seen a pair this different from each other since…probably the Demigods. Lil VIrtuoso X and BASHTIN aren’t at that level, but you can definitely see the spark of greatness in this young team.
VAE VICTIS vs. CHINGONS GROSEROS
Chingons Groseros arrived first to Molotov’s “Arre Cesar;” Bennet Bronco preening and flirting with the ladies while talking shit to their husbands and boyfriends. In contrast, an impassive King Oso next to him.
Then, “Stranger Fruit” by Zesl and Ardor signaled the arrival of Vae Victis. Sonny Silver led the way, but did not perform his normal announcing duties–a decision we later learned was because of the recent news regarding Angel Quinley. The Besties kept their eyes locked on Chingons Groseros as they walked to the ring, though it was apparent that Lindsay Troy was doing her best to keep her emotions in check.
It was Keyes and Bennet to start, and the Kraken was not having any of Bennet’s pretty-boy bullshit, leveling him with knees and propeller-edge chops to back him into the corner. More knees, then a toss out of the corner followed by a kick to the back that could be heard all over the arena.
A quick tag brought in Troy, who scored a shotgun dropkick and a one-count that was broken up by King Oso with a brutal kick to the ribs. Oso actually had an easier, quicker shot, but passed it up in order to target the ribs–no doubt he knew of the injury Troy suffered in her FIST of DEFIANCE match against Dex Joy the month before. Keyes came into the ring while Troy rolled off of the pin attempt; he and Oso began trading MASSIVE forearm shots.
While Ed Faraday tried to get the match back under control, Bennet worked Troy back into a corner, delivering kicks and punches to the ribs. Eventually the Queen was able to grab Bronco’s leg, whip him around, and level him with a superkick! Bennet staggered across the ring and flopped to the canvas…fortunately, near his own corner. Oso broke off the fight with Keyes and got back into position, where he was able to tag himself in. Keyes did the same for his partner, and soon the two men were trading blows again.
The Kraken stood his ground, taking some of King Oso’s hardest shots, but soon the big luchador wore him down. A kneebreaker put Keyes down, where Bronco tagged in and went to work, bending Henry’s leg in every direction except the one it’s supposed to go. It looked as if Bennet might pull off the submission victory with a reverse figure four, but Keyes got loose enough to kick Bronco in the face and break the hold.
Keyes crawled toward the corner for the tag, reaching for Troy’s outstretched hand…and made it! Troy stormed the ring, ready to take Bennet Bronco apart, but she was stopped by Faraday, who’d been distracted by the opposing team and missed the tag! While a fuming Troy went back out of the ring, Bronco pulled Keyes back to his own corner, where he tagged in King Oso.
Chingons Groseros fully cut off the ring at that point, laying into Keyes with heavy blows while utilizing quick tags for double-team opportunities. Keyes barely escaped pins after a powerslam from Oso and a German suplex from Bronco, as well as an Irish whip straight into a big boot! But while Keyes wouldn’t stay down, he still couldn’t get up long enough to tag out.
Another tag brought King Oso back in, but instead of a double team, he kept hammering at Keyes while Bennet Bronco charged across the ring and slapped Lindsay Troy in the face! Of course the Queen wouldn’t stand for that, but once again Ed Faraday stopped her. She had a few choice words for the official, but remained in her corner.
Meanwhile on the other side of the ring, King Oso got the upper hand on the Kraken and planted him with a DDT that almost sealed it, but Troy was able to charge across the ring and make the save!
The Queen did her best to provide more respite to her tag team partner, but Chingons Groseros managed to toss her back out of the ring and return their attention to the Kraken. They called for the Groseros Fencepost but when King Oso set up the piledriver, the Kraken drove his forearm at full force…between the uprights, let’s say. As King Oso crumpled, Henry crawled towards Lindsay Troy again. Bronco headed over to stop Troy from reaching out, but she caught his arm on the swing and pulled him towards her, delivering a thunderous headbutt! Bennet Bronco staggered away, trying to shake it off, allowing Keyes to finally make the tag!
The Benchmark stormed the ring and leveled Bennet Bronco with a spin kick, then drove a running knee into King Oso’s face, knocking him over. She focused on beating down the big man, even though he wasn’t legal, to the point that when Bennet recovered and kneed her in the back, she barely even noticed. Bennet Bronco finally got her attention when he pulled her up by the hair, then dropped her with a brainbuster. King Oso called for Bennet to make the pin but Bronco waved him off, ascended to the top and took flight, flipping and twisting through the air for a picture-perfect corkscrew 450 splash.
Except one thing was missing from that picture–Lindsay Troy. She’d rolled away at the last second, and Bennet Bronco almost made a dent in the ring from his landing.
Another tag brought in Keyes, who chop-blocked King Oso off the apron as Troy pulled a woozy Bronco to his feet. The Besties surrounded him, then Troy took out his legs with a sweep, just as Keyes flattened him with a spinning heel kick.
Get In Losers, We’re Going Headhunting.
Bennet dropped like a sack of potatoes and Henry Keyes made the cover. As Faraday’s hand hit the mat for the third time, the crowd gave a huge cheer. (20:45)
WINNERS: Vae Victis; Rating: ****
Result aside, Chingons Groseros put on an excellent performance, holding their own with two legit legends and giving them fits for most of the match. Much like the Paydirt Squadron, their contrasting size and styles make it very hard for opponents to adjust after a tag, and their ruthlessness is just another tool in their already strong arsenal. If King Oso and Bennet Bronco can iron out the kinks in their cohesion, they’re going to be a major force going forward.
What often makes a top-tier wrestler isn’t their own talents or skills; it’s their ability to weather the storm. We saw that on display here with the Besties, with Keyes staying in the fight after suffering a lot of punishment, as well as Troy keeping a level head after the events of the show as well as those of the match. Another top-notch performance in a career full of them.
That brought an end to Night One, with a lot of excitement but also an uneasy feeling heading into Night Two. It’s difficult to fully recommend this show, with the shadow of Angel Quinley’s injury hanging over it…to say nothing of the false report that we repeated, much to my shame. On a lesser scale, two very promising matchups–the Crownless Kingdom/Glue Man Group and Sound & Fury/Kings of the Wild Frontier–weren’t what they could have been because of other factors.
On the positive, both the opening and closing matches are very good, several new teams went a long way to establishing themselves, and we saw the most effort from “Salty” Pete Yardley in almost a decade. The show itself was mostly solid, but pales in comparison to what it could have been.
Thank you for reading our Night One coverage. The Night Two recap will be coming soon; in the meantime, be sure to read Karen Nakano’s breakdown of the Celestial Dragon Tag League, Peter Rahal’s primer for Rapier: Battle Arts, and Maeva Chastain’s tier list of the competitors’ ring gear from this year’s Flynn. See you soon!
Craig – Eminence/Kinetic Innovation
Renner – Crownless Kingdom/Glue Man Group
Nate – Sound & Fury/Kings of the Wild Frontier
Tom – Paydirt Squadron/Los Rebeldes del Bien
Lindz/Luke – Vae Victis/Chingons Groseros
Luke – the rest