2023 BELMONT CLASSIC
NIGHT TWO RECAP
By: Tanner Quest
Hello again! We’re back with the recap for Night Two of the Belmont Classic, which should build on the action provided by Night One (read that recap HERE.) We’ve got more articles when you’re done, including this preview of the upcoming Clash of Aces show from Bang! Pro Wrestling, written by Karen Nakano, and a special look into Rapier: Battle Arts by Peter Rahal.
Let’s get started with Night Two!
Back to the Chaifetz Arena in St. Louis on December 29, 2023. Chloe London and Priscilla Kennedy ran down the results of Night One, then updated the fans on a few news items.
Chris Chickentenders was taken to a local hospital after his match, where he underwent an emergency “everything-gram” to determine the extent of his injuries. Unfortunately, he is expected to make a quick and full recovery.
Joe Fontaine and Sid Phillips left the Chaifetz Arena shortly after the Castle/Killmore match, and were said to be “furious.” We are unsure if this means tomorrow’s Powerbomb Exhibition featuring Terry Blackquill will be cancelled, or extended for another two hours.
Lord Gavin Yum was hit by an errant freeze blast from Myrtle Kombat during her match with Crash last night. Thankfully, Clay Byrd shoved him into a “thermal locker,” and he has made a full recovery. (Is he still there? Someone should check.)
Renjamin Brusch was seen running up and down the streets of St. Louis, looking for “redcoats.” No word on if he found any.
After that, Dylan Earley welcomed the audience and introduced the pre-show video.
The video begins with the iconic opening notes of Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock & Roll,” and much like last night, the video is a series of still photographs–these ones taken at the Belmont Classic itself over the years.
2016. Strong Antonio the Paperboy poses for a crowd of fans, a small child hanging off each of his mighty arms.
2005. Darin Zion speaks with backstage reporter Amanda Fitzpatrick. The young man’s face is full of excitement, as if he can see a future of fame and stardom laid out before him.
2003. Jack Sweetwater helps “Kodiak” Cody Baker limp backstage, after the bigger man twisted his ankle at the end of the match.
1994. Johnny Belmont himself, surrounded by the men who took his place on top of the mountain. Julius Slater, Lester Schmidt, Jackie Drummond, and Algernon Hart all hold their index fingers aloft, unaware of what the next two years would take from them. Aces High, boys.
2017. Josh Spiral gets his foot on the ropes during a pinfall attempt. Dabney Doubleday releases the pin, even though the referee was out of position and wouldn’t have seen it.
1991. Jake Colton and Carlos Talamantez enjoy beers in the locker room after the first night. They raise their cans in toast of the friends they recently lost.
1998. Donovan Winters signs a young girl’s autograph book, while behind him the Nackedy brothers jostle each other over who gets to be next. Tamika Holland is already just as much a part of the Belmont as those who compete.
2010. Tempers flare backstage, and two of the tournament’s biggest entrants are about to come to blows. One of them is held back by three other men. The other is held back by Ria Lockhart.
2020. Benjamin Colton slumps on a bench, distraught after his semi-final defeat. The first person there to comfort him is his cousin Dennis, who Benny had eliminated earlier that night.
2000. Jared Sykes and TNTina hug in the hallway before heading to their separate locker rooms. From here there paths would diverge greatly, but one day would lead them back to each other.
1997. Jay Phoenix has just won the Belmont Classic, and the first person to congratulate him is his final opponent, Joshua Two Bulls. In a matter of seconds, enemies become brothers.
1990. Johnny Belmont stands in the ring, beaming like a proud dad at the gathered entrants of the first Classic that surround him. They are all part of the dream now.
After the video ended, Dylan Earley introduced the participants of the first match.
GABRIEL “Baconator” MARTINEZ vs. “The Foundation” BRICK MAYHEW
Before the bell, the big beefy men met in the middle of the ring and exchanged a pleasant handshake. After the bell… Well, things got rough in a hurry! Mayhew charged forward and smashed into Martinez, causing him to stumble into the corner. Though caught off-guard by the Baconator staying on his feet, Brick pushed his advantage, blasting Gab with roundhouse forearm shots! He kept it up until referee Ron Martin backed him off.
Mayhew pulled Martinez away from the corner and showed impressive power by body slamming the rotund luchador! Brick hit the ropes and followed up with a big splash! That only got a two count. Feeding off of the rambunctious crowd, “The Foundation” waited for Martinez to get to his feet before putting him right back down with an awe-inspiring chokeslam! It seemed like it might be over already, but Gabriel managed to kick out just before three!
Mayhew was feeling it, charging to the ring ropes for another big body block. But Martinez countered with A HURRICANRANA, sending the crowd into a frenzy! Though it took him a moment to recover, Gab followed up with a flipping senton! Brick somehow found the strength to kick out at two! Martinez wanted to keep the momentum on his side and tried a springboard body block… only to hit the mat hard when Mayhew hit one of his own in contrast!
Brick looked ready to finish things, lifting Martinez up into The Cornerstone! But Gab managed to slip behind before the hold could be locked on! POISON RANA! POISON RANA! “The Baconator” was pulling out all the stops! Mayhew was heavily stunned down on the mat, most likely because a man his size isn’t used to being dropped on his head. Martinez pulled the almost limp body of Brick over to the corner… BACON BOMB! Martinez went for the cover!… And Mayhew kicks out just a second after three, giving Gab a hard fought win! After the bout, both men shook hands once again, to the delight of the audience! (9:45)
WINNER: Gabriel Martinez; Rating: ***½
Here at RD we love some big bois throwing bombs, and this match definitely delivered. Brick Mayhew proved he wasn’t just a guy who dominated against tomato cans; he could hold his own against other big men as well. Unfortunately he didn’t have an answer for the Baconator’s agility, but I’m sure that will come with time.
Statement win for Martinez here, defeating one of the other big men in the tournament and securing a place on Night Three. The lucha background gives him an extra dimension to his game that saw him through here and should serve him well tomorrow.
Lord Kurosame-sama got a word with Nate Robideau, leader of Blackhawk Fight Gym. He was very proud of both his students, and told us to expect more of the same. “The only way they’re not both in the finals is if they go up against each other. Either way, expect Blackhawk Fight Gym to be victorious in the end.”
DREW MITCHELL vs. IZZY SIA
Drew Mitchell smiled wide as he looked down at the smaller Izzy Sia, and referee Masked Justice called for the bell. Mitchell was determined to use his impressive height and weight advantage against Sia, repeatedly charging directly at her in the opening moments of the match. Izzy was wise enough to see it coming each time, dropping the larger Mitchell with drop toe holds, and finally with a crowd rising arm drag that was floated over into a quick one count.
Mitchell was able to power through and entered his dominant period of the match. He took control of the diminutive Sia and began tossing her around the ring. This culminated with an impressive tilt-a-whirl backbreaker that left the crowd stunned as Izzy crumpled to the mat. Mitchell was only able to garner a two count from Masked Justice and set about lightly complaining. Sia shook the cobwebs clear while Mitchell was indisposed and quickly rolled him for another two count that got the crowd onto their feet.
Mitchell was first to feet at this juncture and connected with a running knee that planted Sia back to the mat. Instead of attempting a cover, he hoisted Izzy into the air and left her there, the crowd counting out the full ten before she crashed back to the mat in a heap, the stalling vertical suplex knocking every last bit of wind out of her. Drew Mitchell’s confidence was soaring and he lifted her again, tossing her into the ropes, attempting to connect with a dropkick.
Something interesting happened here that maybe nobody expected. Izzy Sia slid under the attempted dropkick and scrambled behind Mitchell as he collided to the mat. She locked his ankle in tight and he screamed in agony, but refused to surrender. In classic catch style, Sia realized this case and grabbed the second leg, crossed it and bridged herself backward into a Muta Lock.
Izzy Sia had it locked in tight, but Drew Mitchell was able to drag himself across the mat to the ropes. Masked Justice broke the hold at the five count and Izzy relented, but with protest. Without wasting time, she leapt onto Mitchell’s back, attempting to lock in a rear naked choke. Desperate, Mitchell backwards, both competitors hitting the back. From there, Izzy was on her feet in a flash, before Mitchell could even think. She delivered vicious kicks to his midsection. As Drew Mitchell reached up to try and stop the kicks, Izzy Sia got the opening she was looking for and latched onto Mitchell with the Keyholder. He held out as long as he could, but eventually relented, tapping out with a panicked scream. Izzy Sia released the hold and Masked Justice raised her arm in victory. (11:21)
WINNER: Izzy Sia; Rating: ***½
A strong showing from Mitchell, but his arrogance got the better of him. We’ve seen it play out countless times in the Belmont–someone who could go all the way gets cocky, looks past an earlier opponent, and gets caught napping. Mitchell’s got all the makings of a superstar, but he’ll have to temper that confidence a little.
Izzy Sia was one of the surprises of Night One, and repeated that status again here. I don’t know how much longer the Cinderella run continues, but even making Night Three is a huge deal. I wouldn’t be surprised to see both Blackhawk graduates on promoters’ wish lists very soon.
Dustin Callais caught up with Trece Vickers, now watching backstage with other Colton Academy representatives–Jake, Nate, Jennifer, plus trainer Anthony Whittaker and beginner student Khalil Jeffries. Trece was complimentary toward Connor Nackedy, who defeated him last night, and is looking forward to the rest of the tournament. “I was goin’ through it last night, and all I wanted was to go home. But Coach told me there’s a lot to gain by just bein’ here, so I made up my mind to enjoy the rest of the weekend.”
LANCE CASTLE vs. MORITON
Rolento Shang got the assignment for this match, and hoo boy, was it a barnburner. Moriton’s relative inexperience in the American art took him aback early on in the match. Castle’s sublime training at the Gates of Avalon really shone. Technique over raw power. As it turned out, catch-as-catch-can grappling had a bit of an advantage over the sheer simplicity of the bökh style early on. Castle’s agility had the Horde Rider flummoxed. Moriton spent a good bit of the match flailing under the duress of Castle’s superior professional grappling.
Of course, Moriton didn’t exactly look out of place. He did quickly dispatch one of the pirates in the first round, a rich wrestling lineage there. The times he was able to throw Castle to the canvas, Lance felt it. This man had thrown some of the largest adult sons in Mongolia to the hard, cold earth in the steppe. To quote the DK Rap guy, “if he shoots yo’ *MONKEY NOISE*, it’s gonna hurt.” Castle’s overall agility won out early on, but his frustration built more and more and more as the match progressed.
Progression was the word of the match. See, one does not reach the title of State Grand Champion by being a minuteman. For nearly a decade, Moriton endured marathon bouts, sometimes against younger and sprier competitors who could withstand his brute force. He always came out on top. Endurance was his bag.
And Castle found that out the hard way. Each time the Avalon grad would think he had the Horde Rider dead to rights, Moriton would kick out, grab the ropes, power out of a submission, get back into the ring. The frustration set in until he started to get a little sloppy. And that was where Moriton could work in his attrition with his advantage in bulk. Judo throws, hip tosses, leg sweeps. Each time, Castle landed harder and harder on his body, but any student of Coral Avalon and Franco Marchesi would also have to be resilient.
Finally, he saw what he swore would be the dagger in the match. Moriton got a bit full of himself and ran the ropes, something he hadn’t done in his career to date. He launched himself at Castle only to catch nothing but air and canvas. Taking his time, he got to a seated position, but that’s where Castle struck. Secace! The move that put Arnold Killmore away in round 1 would be his ticket into the quarterfinals, but he knew it wasn’t enough. He had to do it like Coral. Two Armaments. He waited for Moriton to rise to his feet.
Except his exhaustion blunted the momentum on it. Moriton caught him, then threw him with a capture suplex. He dragged Castle to his feet, hit him with the Chingiisin Yalalt for good measure, and the war was over, finally. (15:39)
WINNER: Moriton; Rating: ***
Great effort from Lance Castle, but Moriton’s size and endurance proved to be too much–he had to work that much harder to put the big man down, and in the end just ran out of gas. No doubt he’ll be working on that in the years to come, and he should be able to carve out a nice career for himself.
Moriton put up another impressive display, picking up a win against someone with an impressive skillset and pedigree. Night Three will be a test unlike any he’s ever seen, but so far he’s been up for every challenge.
Lord Kurosame-sama found a man sneaking toward the backstage coffee station, which now featured the fabled Extra Strength Puerto Rican coffee from last year, as well as several armed guards and a laser grid. You might suspect it to be Charles Beckett, but that would be foolish–this man had a large mustache, and we all know Charles doesn’t have one of those.
He was able to get very close, not drawing the attention of the guards despite saying “sneak, sneak, sneak” the whole time…but just before he could reach the laser grid, something shiny flew across the hall and he had to go chase it. This turned out to be a secret Beckett Deterrent Device, installed just for this purpose. Somehow it worked on this guy too.
Lord Kurosame-sama turned to the camera and said the only thing one possibly could in this situation.
THEODORE BOSWELL vs. CONNOR NACKEDY
This matchup promised to have a lot of intrigue, as both competitors were part of the same gym, Gray’s Wrestling Academy. Of course, by the time this match had started, both men were representing different flags: Nackedy entering as trained by Jonathan Rhine, and Theodore Boswell entering under MESSIAH. And as soon as the bell rang, you could sense that this was not a normal match. There was no camaraderie, no handshake. Just an immediate exchanging of blows, which naturally favored the larger Boswell.
The seven footer began to decimate Nackedy, trapping him in the corner and wearing out his chest with chops. His power style completely overwhelmed Nackedy, and he was able to get three nearfalls before Connor got a single move in.
But the resilient young man did indeed get some offense in, using Theodore’s size and momentum against him. After stumbling the MESSIAH’s Monster with a drop toe hold, Nackedy used his technical prowess to attack the big man’s limbs.
What resulted was a back and forth match for the next few minutes – Boswell would start to overpower Nackedy with his strength, and Nackedy would attack weakened joints and keep the monster at bay. After a few high risk maneuvers paid off for Nackedy, he was firmly in control and trying to end it. He grabbed Boswell and attempted to lift him up for the Rhine Rewind, a nod to his trainer. However, he was unable to get Boswell in the air, and that allowed the big man to take control again.
After several more nearfalls, it looked like this match would end with Boswell victorious. He lifted Nackedy up for the Boswell Bomb, but Nackedy escaped and took Boswell down by the ankles, then quickly grabbed him. Before anyone could realize what was happening, Nackedy lifted Boswell off of the ground, slammed him with the Rhine Rewind, and held him just long enough for Ashley Barlow to count to three. (12:33)
WINNER: Connor Nackedy; Rating: ***½
I think the intensity of this match caught everyone off guard, with these two young men fighting like they’d been bitter enemies for years. Theodore Boswell is an absolute beast, and with MESSIAH’s backing he’ll be able to write his own ticket. A second-round loss has got to be disappointing, but he’ll bounce back.
Connor brought a lot of fire to this one, and that was enough to get him over the top where his technical prowess alone might not have. I do wonder if he might have burned himself out a little bit on this one; hopefully he’ll have enough left in the tank for the rest of the tournament.
A scheduled intermission took place. At this time, a few entrants came out to ringside and signed autographs for fans. Eventually everyone returned to their seats…but notable by his absence was Joey Malone, which I’m sure is fine.
ROSE vs. “The Essence of Essex” SHANE SEXTON
Despite being substantially outsized, Rose came out swinging as soon as the bell rang. Quickly Sexton overpowered her, even though most of her strikes landed with deadly precision. Sexton had the upper hand throughout the match through utilizing the substantial size difference. The action was frequently akin to something you’d expect to see in a bare knuckle league with both of these fighters’ brawler backgrounds really shining.
But as the match wore on, it became evident that Sexton had come out too hot. Rose began countering almost every move being thrown at her. The crowd could see the visible frustration rising in Sexton. This led to a rushed attempt at The Metric Sex-Ton, which Rose countered into a hurricanrana. Ron Martin stopped the count at 2 as Sexton managed to break free from the follow up pin.
In the second act of the match Rose’s high flying talents were showcased. Sexton fought valiantly to keep up, but Rose moved at a breakneck speed. It was a smorgasbord of reversals, top rope stunts, and surgical rest holds. It was evident that Rose had the upper hand and the crowd got behind her a little, in spite of themselves. A particularly painful springboard from the ring onto a recovering Sexton outside really set things off, as Sexton lost all patience.
Increasingly frustrated and exhausted, Sexton gave one last rally with a succession of catch holds. They did the job on slowing Rose, and the Essence moved in for the kill…but while going for another The Metric Sex-Ton, Rose stopped him dead in his tracks with a low blow, following it up with a swinging neckbreaker. Rose climbed to the top rope above a lying Shane Sexton and nailed the Wilt to Bloom for the win. (8:48)
WINNER: Rose; Rating: ***
Shane Sexton started strong but faded late, a common event for so many who hope their physical advantage will carry them to victory. He lost his composure by the end; learning how to keep his cool when he’s struggling will definitely be a key for his future growth.
After an easy outing last night, Rose was really able to show her stuff here…and very impressive stuff it was. She fights with a lot of passion, probably more than anyone else still in the tournament.
Dustin Callais spoke with local favorite Jaire Devlin and his arch-rival, Doctor Destructinator. Jaire talked about how strong the St. Louis territory had grown since the Belmont’s inception, with a strong new crop of talent springing up every year after the event. Destructinator agreed, adding: “MWAAAAAAAAHAHAHA ALL WILL BE CRUSHED IN MY MIGHTY JAWS! TREMBLE IN FEAR, FOR DESTRUCTINATION COMES FOR YOU!!!”
He also mentioned that he had a sofa for sale.
DOMINGO CRUZ vs. MAGGIE DASHER
Maggie Dasher’s entrance definitely received some big time buzz from the St. Louis audience. The smaller wrestler hit us with a “serious contemplation” pose on the way down to the ring, then did a thorough inspection all around the squared circle, encompassing underneath the aprons, the flexibility of the ring ropes, and how hard the announcer’s table was. Our referee for the contest, Masked Justice, was absolutely bemused during all of this.
The self-proclaimed “mastermind” kept pointing to her head like she’s some kind of genius or something, but by the time Domingo Cruz’s music cued and he’d made it down the ramp and into the ring, the hijinks sort of just died.
Once the bell rang, the mismatch was more than apparent; Cruz, fighting out of San Antonio, is 254 lbs compared to Dasher’s 140. That’s an uphill battle for anybody, even a “mastermind” like Maggie. Initially circling to find the best entry point, Dasher tied up Cruz before transitioning behind him. She attempted a quick small package but Cruz rolled right out of it. Maggie circled again, tied up with Cruz, and managed to reverse an Irish whip to the ropes, but Cruz hit her with a flying lariat on the way back, causing audible gasps from the audience.
Dasher was quick to her feet but was met with a series of arm drags. She got a hold of a leg and looked to be attempting a dragon screw, but Cruz maintained his balance by hopping on his free foot and smacking Dasher with a kick to the face. From there, it was all domination. A belly-to-back suplex nearly flung the lightweight Dasher out of the ring with its ferocity. An ankle lock followed, which Maggie managed to scramble out of, but a DDT and a leg drop guillotine later and Dasher’s odds seemed…well, dashed.
There was a pinfall attempt, a long two count, a longer look from Domingo to Masked Justice, and then just a technical wrestling clinic put on by the heavier, more skilled competitor out of Texas. To Maggie’s credit, there was a brief moment where it looked like she might steal the whole thing. A crafty reversal and a dropkick left Cruz reeling long enough for Dasher to climb the turnbuckle. But her attempted flying crossbody was nullified by Cruz catching her mid-air, POWERSLAMMING Dasher, and then finishing her with the “Deuce Dime” package piledriver. (7:03)
WINNER: Domingo Cruz; Rating: **
Whatever momentum Maggie had gained the previous night was lost pretty quickly here, as she just couldn’t handle Cruz’s size advantage…or his ruthlessness. I expect the Dasher siblings to be a solid addition to the tag team division somewhere, but the Mastermind couldn’t think her way out of this one on her own.
A convincing, if predictable win by Domingo Cruz, who racks up another dominating performance in a year full of them. He’s sure to break through sooner or later, either as a singles wrestler or in his tag team with Frank Pastore. Possibly both.
In the bowels of the Chaifetz Arena, a secret cabal had gathered to commit evil deeds. The cabal consisted of Joey Malone, Charles Beckett, Mestizo, a couple of ninjas, Biff of the Bonafide Dancers (how did he get down all those stairs with his mega-arthritis?) and a cameraman.
They gathered around a shiny red button which was supposed to summon the giant pyramid beneath the arena. Unfortunately, nothing happened when Joey pressed it. Charles and Mestizo also tried, but had no further luck.
Apparently they didn’t know that the secret pyramid under the Chaifetz is still under construction, thanks to a series of delays brought by budget overruns and the presence of a much larger pyramid two miles away, underneath the Enterprise Center.
“Boxcar” LEM HAWTHORNE vs. LA MUERTE ROJA
The match opened with a series of arm drags from Lem Hawthorne to La Muerte Roja. After a trio of them, Lem bounced up to his feet, and as he turned around, La Muerte Roja stood behind him with a creepy smile on his face. Hawthrone tried to fire off a forearm strike to Roja, but it was blocked and La Muerte Roja retaliated with a stiff boot to the midsection before connecting with a spinning back elbow that sent Roja crashing into the nearby corner. Roja picked up steam as he connected with a monkey flip out of the corner and followed that up with a sling blade that sent Boxcar crashing to the mat.
Boxcar refused to stay down for long, though, as La Muerte Roja went for a springboard moonsault, and Hawthorne managed to get his knees up, sending all of Roja’s weight crashing into them. Boxcar immediately went for a rollup but only managed to get a two-count. As both athletes bounced back to their feet, Lem ducked under a running clothesline and bounced off the ropes before connecting with a running spear that sent Roja to the mat.
Hawthorne immediately went to the top rope, but as he stood up fully, La Muerte Roja was no longer in the ring. Boxcar looked around and found Roja on the ring apron next to him. Roja grabbed onto Boxcar’s leg and tried to pull him down, but Hawthorne slammed his opposite boot into the face of the challenger. He then leaped off the top turnbuckle and connected with a head scissors that sent Roja flying onto the arena floor.
Rolento Shang began his count as Hawthorne slammed his forearm into the upper back of La Muerte Roja and rolled him back into the ring. Boxcar rolled into the ring, and as he stood up, he saw Muerte Roja no longer on the mat. He turned around and La Muerte Roja on the top turnbuckle. Before Boxcar had a chance to react, though. La Muerte Roja leaped off from the top rope and connected with a flying spinning back elbow from the top rope.
With the Del Cielo al Infierno completed, Roja hooked both legs, and Shang counted to three to secure the victory. (9:54)
WINNER: La Muerte Roja; Rating: ***
Hawthorne’s unorthodox style carried him far in this one, but not far enough. That said, he came out of nowhere and put together a solid couple of matches in this year’s tournament, and I look forward to seeing more out of him in the future. Another victim of a tough draw on Night Two…but by this time, they’re all tough draws.
Great win for La Muerte Roja here, as we start to see what makes him truly dangerous in the ring. Even when he was on the ropes, he still seemed to be thinking a few steps ahead of his opponent. We often see a variety of skills at the Belmont, but it’s not often we see this level of in-ring intelligence.
Apparently it was a very good night for secret plots at the Belmont, as Dustin happened upon another one–Generalissimo Garry “Ray-Ray” LastNameTBD and his Monster Menagerie were gathered in a secluded hallway. The Generalissimo was heard to say, “Look at ’em out there. Happy, full families…we will be whole once more. By Dale, we will.”
Dustin left the conversation very quickly; the camera operator following him wasn’t so lucky.
JOEY “Golden” BURKHALTER VS. CRASH
Main event of the evening pitting SHOOT Project vs. PRIME! I’m sure there were some people howling about favoritism with Ashley Barlow on the call, but from my vantage, this match was called right down the middle, which is right where Crash took the first hit in the match. More specifically, it was a roundhouse kick that hit him flush in the forehead between his eyes. Burkhalter thought he was sending the crowd home early but his lax cover didn’t do him any favors. Crash is the resilient kind anyway, and even with his bell rung to start the match, he bounced back to be the Jerry to Burkhalter’s Tom.
In fact, the Golden Blackhawk got so frustrated with Crash’s elusivity that at one point, he took the ring bell outside of the ring and slammed it onto the floor. Thank God the recoil didn’t put it into the crowd. Crash didn’t so much have an advantage physically as much as he was able to play keepaway. The hardest shot he laid on Nate Robideau’s prize pupil may have been a mid-kick or a knife edge chop.
Of course, a good cat always catches the mouse, and when Crash got the idea to try something a little less conservative than an Irish whip, Burkhalter was ready for him. A well-placed roundhouse kick on a flying crossbody sent Crash crumpling into a heap of humanity. Ouch. Burkhalter went to work like a vulture picking the carcass clean. The beating took on a sadistic quality. Burkhalter worked him over like the cocky villainous favorite in a bad ‘80s karate movie. Crash, for all the punishment he took, still looked upon Burkhalter with grim determination. Like the underdog protagonist from that same bad ‘80s karate movie.
Crash found his opening only after taking the last volley from the Golden Blackhawk. With Crash on all fours, Burkhalter threw kicks at him cockily, in between taunts and jeering dances. It was obscene. He waited for Crash to roll over, holding his ribs, before slowly and histrionically lifting him up to his knees for the coup de grace.
Except the kick didn’t land. Crash tucked, rolled, and with desperation, swept the goddamn leg.
Although Burkhalter was more shocked than hurt, Crash had his opportunity, lifting up to his feet using the ropes and smashing his WIDE LEFT superkick in Burkhalter’s face. Then a jump-swinging DDT as Burkhalter staggered to his feet. Then the LFG DDT off the top rope. He felt the crowd’s cheers surging through his veins, and went for Crash Dot Com…except there was no water in the pool.
Burkhalter rose to his feet, beckoning. One last shot. He leapt from his feet for the Geum Chagi, spun around, and made complete and solid contact…
…with the air.
Burkhalter landed hard after Crash ducked his devastating kick, and before Joey knew what was happening, Crash rushed over and corralled his opponent with an Oklahoma roll! Burkhalter struggled to kick out, but only managed to do so a split-second after Ashley Barlow’s hand hit the mat for the third time! (16:44)
WINNER: Crash; Rating: ****
WOW. I don’t think anyone saw this coming. This has got to rank among the biggest upsets in tournament history. Burkhalter came into the weekend with a ton of hype, and a lot of people–myself included–picked him to win the whole tournament. I guess he bought into that hype a little bit, and that’s what cost him.
Crash not only pulled off the huge upset, but he also formed a connection with the crowd in a relatively short time. If anyone had been wondering how he earned a PRIME contract, they definitely got their answer here. A huge statement win, which should provide him with a lot of momentum going forward.
That concludes Night Two! We had some amazing matches, as the overall quality really starts to ramp up, and that insane upset to close the show. That match is going to keep the internet buzzing for a while, I would say.
Night Two is always when the Belmont really begins; most of the chaff has been cleared out and we get to see what the future really looks like. Lots of exciting talent putting on fun matches, setting up what should be an exceptional final night of the tournament. We’ll be there for it, and I hope you will too.
TH: Castle/Moriton, Burkhalter/Crash