NY INDIE SHOW FEATURES REUNION OF ECW STARS
Ballpark Brawl V: Bang! Bang! Have a Nice Day!
August 13, 2005
Dunn Tire Field, Buffalo, New York
Review by Mike Rickard II
Indie shows have never been a big attraction for me (and no, I don’t consider full-time promotions such as Ring of Honor to be indie shows so put down your poison pens). If I wanted to see a collection of WWF superstars wrestling past their prime, I’d watch old tapes of the American Wrestling Federation (although the WWE’s recent return of Hulk Hogan, Jake Roberts, Tatanka, and Road Warrior Animal is no doubt their latest effort to up the ratings. With all the nostalgia, the only thing missing now is Eric Bischoff referring to the WWE as “Where the Big Boys Play”). Between the big name no-shows, the no-name do-shows, and the production values of a public access cable show, there’s never been any motivation for me to spend money on an indie show. Quite frankly, the thought of attending an indie show held as much attraction as getting a colonoscopy or reading Bruce Mitchell write about how he and his pals in Front Row Section D spent hours chiseling stone tablet signs and upset the Israelites by cheering for Goliath rather than David.
All this changed last summer when I attended Ballpark Brawl II, an indie show that proved me wrong. I was amazed by the quality of wrestling, the talent assembled, and the show’s impressive production values. Ballpark Brawl III proved that II wasn’t just a fluke and that the people behind it knew how to put on an exciting show without charging the fans an arm and a leg. Needless to say, I was impressed and looking forward to Ballpark Brawl IV in 2005. Unfortunately the show was a bit of a let-down. As an indie show, it was quite good but by
Ballpark Brawl standards, to quote Chaka Luther King in Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, “This movie is gonna make House Party II look like House Party III”. Ballpark Brawl IV had not lived up to the tremendously high standards set by its predecessors. Frankly, I was so disappointed that I seriously considered skipping the August show.
Fortunately, I decided to give the show another try (after all, it wasn’t like Ballpark Brawl IV was Heroes of Wrestling) and I couldn’t have been more please with the show. Promoter Christopher Hill has once again raised the bar for what fans should expect from an independent wrestling production by putting on a first rate professional show which makes me wish the guy would win the Power Ball jackpot so he could finance a run against Vince McMahon. The guy knows how to assemble Grade A wrestling talent, book a superior show, and give the fans their money’s worth. Sam Muchnick couldn’t have done it much better.
As soon as I entered Dunn Tire Field I saw one of the greatest managers of all time Jimmy “Mouth of the South” Hart. Hart looked to be on his way to the dressing room but he was gracious in signing autographs to fans who stopped him on his way. Hart has become a fixture of the Ballpark Brawl and he’s not afraid to use the same talents that made him a top draw as a manager help make the Brawl a better show. After some difficulties arose setting the ring up, Hart came out, grabbed a microphone, and told them a little bit about the show as well as some items that were being auctioned and raffled. Rather than sit in the back and collect a quick paycheck, Hart went out and kept the fans entertained while they waited for the show to start. It’s the little things like this that separate the Ballpark Brawl from other shows.
After finding my seat, I tried to gauge how many fans were there. There looked to be at least 800-1,000 people attending the show (which followed a Triple A baseball game) but it was difficult to tell because people were spread all over the park. The wrestling ring was set up near the pitcher’s mound and had a small number of ringside seats surrounding the ring (ringside seats cost $25 compared to the stadium seats which were priced at $12).
After teasing the fans that there were some no-shows to announce, ring announcer Chris Hill was happy to report that “everybody’s here”. While no-shows are to be expected at any professional wrestling show, this was great news, and a sign of things to come. Hill directed fans to the Jumbotron where a video recap of Ballpark Brawl IV aired followed by a pre-show warm-up courtesy of announcers “Ivan the Impaler” & Scotty Bender. After the pre-game show, Mick Foley appeared on the Jumbotron, welcomed fans, and reviewed the card.
The show kicked off with a backstage promo with Sonjay Dutt. Dutt was interrupted by his opponent for the night Trent Acid. I’ve seen Dutt and Acid wrestle before (Combat Zone Wrestling: Aerial Assault) and Acid did a great job at Ballpark Brawl IV as one half of The Backseat Men.
1. Trent Acid vs. Sonjay Dutt - Acid stalled for the beginning of the match then blindsided Dutt. Short but fast-paced match including a spot where Dutt jumped onto the referee’s back and spring-boarded outside the ring, striking Acid. Dutt went on to win with the Phoenix Splash. After the match, Dutt was attacked by Acid and a partner. High action match which was a good way to start the show.
Backstage, Jennifer Blake interviewed the participants of the six man Scramble Match which was being held to determine the number one contender for the Natural Title (a championship belt made to be defended at the Ballpark Brawl shows). Participants Glenn “Wonder Man” Spectre, John McChesney, Damien Alexander, Matt Stryker, & “The Enforcer” Bobby Roode were all curious as to who the sixth man would be.
2. Six Man Scramble Match - The sixth man turned out to be Harry Smith, the son of Davey Boy Smith. (Smith wrestled Teddy Hart at last summer’s Ballpark Brawl III in the finals of the Natural Title tournament). The scramble match was fast paced and featured a lot of cool spots as well as some comedy spots with Glenn “Wonder Man” Spectre. At one point, Spectre grabbed his opponent and began to lead him around as if he was ballroom dancing (John O’Hurley couldn’t have done a better job). In another spot, five of the wrestlers were in the ring applying submission holds to one another (in a you have to see it to believe it spot where one wrestler applied a hold then another applied a hold to the guy applying the first hold) when Spectre grabbed the last wrestler applying a hold and kissed him. The wrestlers were eliminated in this order: 1) Damien Alexander 2) Glenn Spectre 3) John McChesney, 4) Matt Stryker, and 5) Bobby Roode. Harry Smith won to become the #1 contender for the Natural Title.
Recently released WWE superstar Charlie Haas came out and told the fans that he was glad to be able to cut a promo without someone else writing it. He said he’s worked hard to establish himself as a tag team specialist but that tonight was going to be “the birth of Charlie Haas singles superstar”. He said he came here to wrestle and challenged Natural Champion Chris Daniels and challenger Chris Sabin to a make their match a three way dance. He finished by saying that no one can withstand the “Haas of Pain”. Haas received a good pop from the fans.
“The Mouth of the South” came to ringside as he sang along to “Eat Your Heart out Rick Springfield”, that piece of 80’s kitsch from The Wrestling Album. Hart was part of a tag team match between local disc jockey J.T. McCarthy aka “Jimmy T”. Jimmy T got to pick Hart’s partner who turned out to be “The Genius” Lanny Poffo. Hart was excited to have Poffo as his partner and asked Poffo to read a poem (which he did). However, Hart wasn’t excited about the special referee-local Empire State Wrestling star Johnny Puma (who Hart turned on at Ballpark Brawl III after Puma cost him a tag team match). Hart said he was wrestling under protest. T then introduced his partner, none other than the Ugandan Headhunter, Kamala (w. Kim Chee).
3. “Jimmy T” & Kamala vs. Jimmy Hart & Lanny Poffo. - Kamala tossed Poffo around as Hart wanted nothing to do with tagging in as long as Kamala was in the ring. Ironically, Poffo looked like he gained some weight (although he looked to be in good shape) while Kamala looked like he lost some weight. When T came in, Poffo went on the offense and tagged in Hart. Not surprisingly, T quickly rallied back, stunned Hart, and tagged Kamala who then splashed Hart and got the pinfall.
Backstage, April Hunter (wearing a neck brace) admonished Slyck Wagner for selling her out to Abyss at Ballpark Brawl IV when Wagner bailed out of the ring and shoved Hunter into Abyss to slow him down, allowing Abyss to deliver the Black Hole Slam to her. Wagner said he was just trying to protect Hunter and that things backfired. He then cut a promo on Abyss who he was scheduled to fight in a bull rope match with the stipulation that if Abyss loses, he also loses his mask. Mike Rosario, Abyss’ defacto manager cut a promo on Wagner and Hunter and said that he brought 5,000 of his friends with him, then pulled out a bag of thumbtacks. He promised a Double D body cast for Hunter.
4. Abyss (w. Mike Rosario) vs. Slyck Wagner Brown (w. April Hunter) (Bull Rope Match) - Match went back and forth until Brown seemingly had match won and went to touch fourth turnbuckle only to have April Hunter lean over and cover it up. Brown was stunned and Abyss went to tag corner when Hunter pulled off neck brace and threw powder in his face. Rosario chased Hunter to the back. Now this bit of booking I didn’t understand, why would April Hunter pretend to help Abyss at this point if her ulterior motive was to help Wagner Brown win? He has the match in hand so why go to the trouble of pretending to help him? It all seems so Russoesque and just seemed to come out of right field (perhaps apropos given the event’s name but still….). As Abyss was stunned from the powder, another wrestler (possibly Damien Alexander?) came out and helped Brown work over Abyss. They set up a table and then slammed Abyss threw it. As Abyss lay in the wreckage, Brown demanded an apology only to have Abyss grab him and his cohort by the throat. Brown’s accomplice fled the ring and Abyss spilled the thumbtacks onto the ring. Abyss then tagged all four corners winning the match. After the match, Brown put the thumbtacks to use by power-bombing the referee onto them.
Jimmy Hart came to ringside to announce the winner of the raffle.
Backstage, Jennifer Blake (doing a weak Maria impression) interviewed Shawn Spears about his tag team match against Team Canada’s Petey Williams & “Prime Time” Eric Young. At Ballpark Brawl IV, Team Canada sold Spears out so they could win a match and Spears said he was out for revenge.
Before the match, indie wrestler “Completely” Cody Steele was introduced as guest commentator for the match.
5. Shawn Spears & “Dangerboy” Derek Wylde (w. Jennifer Blake) vs. Petey Williams and “Prime Time” Eric Young. Good tag match where it soon became apparent that Spears had set Wylde up. Every time Wylde went for the tag, Spears was conveniently not around. Finally, Wylde’s valet Jennifer Blake confronted him only to get pie faced. She sold the pie face like she had
osteogenesis imperfecta. Spears left the match as Wylde tried to hold his own in a two on one situation. Steele then left the announce table and went to Wylde’s corner. Steele was tagged in and cleaned house. However during the confusion, Team Canada got to Wylde and pinned him. Team Canada and Spears then led a three on two beat down until Harry Smith and another wrestler made the save.
A promo aired for Ballpark Brawl VI, scheduled for August 14 in nearby Rochester, New York.
Mick Foley came out in a Buffalo Bisons (the local Triple A baseball team) jersey and threw some baseballs out to the fans. He told the fans the outline to getting over in Buffalo: A) Wear a Bisons jersey, B) Give out free merchandise) and C) Tell the fans it was great to be in Buffalo. He then grew somber as he told the fans about a recent heart-breaking encounter with a young fan. Before the show, the fan came to Foley and told him that his mother beat him. Foley learned that the physical abuse wasn’t just limited to mom and that his father beat him as well. There was a glimmer of hope though and the fan had a plan. The fan told Foley that he wanted to go and live with Matt Stryker because Stryker’s never beat anyone.
The Rock’s music played and Matt Stryker (dressed as the Rock) came out. Foley told Stryker that he’s fought the Rock, teamed up with the Rock, and that he’s no Rock. Stryker took the mic and said, “Finally, the Rock has come back to Rochester”. He asked Foley what kind of pie he likes, and when Foley replied he said “It doesn’t matter what kind of pie you like”. Really weak Rock imitation with Stryker doing the “If you smell….” bit before Foley applied Mr. Socko and dispatched with him.
Foley was then interrupted by former referee and ECW manager Bill Alfonso (The fans popped big for Fonzie). Foley asked Fonzie what he wanted and when Fonzie went to reply Foley countered with “It doesn’t matter what you want”. Fonzie said he wanted the match between Sabu and Sandman to be a traditional Greco-Roman match. As he talked, Foley pulled out a bottle and began to blow bubbles. Foley asked Fonzie if he ever blew bubbles. Fonzie said yes and Foley said “Good because Bubbles is in the back looking for him”.
Another surprise followed as ECW’s Tod Gordon came out to a nice pop. Gordon praised Foley and said that Foley was his inspiration to start the hardcore movement. The fans went nuts when Gordon announced that the match between Sabu and Sandman was being changed to a Singapore Cane, Tables and Chair Match. The fans went nuts as Buffalo played host to a mini-reunion of Extreme Championship Wrestling.
Backstage, Miss Jackie began a promo for the five woman “battle rumble”, referring to herself as “Just Jackie”. The rest of the participants then cut promos including Jamie D. an alleged female wrestler whose gender was in serious doubt, TNA’s Traci Brooks, April Hunter, and Nattie Neidhart, daughter of Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart. Jennifer Blake was announced as the guest referee to even out the sets of silicone/saline in the ring.
6. Five Woman “Battle Rumble” - The match started with Traci and Neidhart battling. Last year Neidhart impressed fans with her power wrestling style (something you don’t see a lot of in women’s wrestling). During their struggle, Neidhart pulled Traci’s trunks down and it looked like her finely muscled ass was showing (can’t wait to watch that DVD). It was Royal Rumble style rules with a new opponent entering at certain intervals (seemed like every minute). Order of entrance: 1) Traci 2) Nattie Neidhart 3) Jamie D 4) April Hunter 5) Jackie Gayda. April Hunter and Nattie Neidhart eliminated each other. Jamie D was then eliminated. Jackie Gayda won when she threw Traci over the top rope. Good action and the match didn’t overstay its welcome. Unlike the WWE, these women looked hot AND they could wrestle.
Before the “Natural” Championship match, contender Harry Smith was introduced. Chris Daniels then cut a promo on Charlie Haas and ran him down for even considering himself to be in the same league as Daniels. However he said he would make the match a three way dance.
7. “Natural” Championship Match. Champion “Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels defended his title in a Three Way Dance against Chris Sabin and Charlie Haas. - The match was announced as having a twenty minute time limit which seemed way too short for a title bout. All three men put on a terrific match. During the last five minutes of the match, a timer was shown for the fans. The match had a terrific ending with Sabin applying the Crippler Crossface to Haas. Haas looked like he was ready to tap with just 20 seconds left when Daniels came in the ring and grabbed Haas’ hand to prevent him from tapping. The match ended in a draw but Sabin and Haas demanded 5 more minutes. They threw Daniels in the ring and continued the match. The match ended when Haas small packaged Daniels for the pin, winning the title.
After the match, Haas invited Harry Smith into the ring. He told Smith that they both shared tragic losses (Haas’ brother dying and Smith’s father dying). Haas told Smith it would be his honor to wrestle him tomorrow (at Ballpark Brawl VI). Smith congratulated Haas on his win only to have Haas blast Smith with the title belt. Haas told the fans he doesn’t need anyone’s accolades and told Smith “Nothing personal, just business”.
Backstage, Tod Gordon and Sandman cut a promo for the main event. They promised that Fonzie was going to end up being Chachi. Sandman drank a beer and smashed the can into his head.
8. Sandman vs. Sabu - Mick Foley was introduced as guest commentator. Sandman came out to “Enter Sandman” and a huge pop. He drank some beers with the fans and mingled for a few minutes before Sabu was introduced. Sabu jumped Sandman before the match but Sandman quickly rallied back. Gordon got the Singapore cane and gave it to Sandman. Classic hardcore match with Sabu doing his usual spots using a steel chair. Fonzie then jumped in the ring, knocking Sandman and Sabu outside the ring. Gordon came in at which point Fonzie told him he had until a five count to exit his ring. Gordon responded by kicking Fonzie in the groin. He told Sandman it was time to give Fonzie the Malachi Crunch and Gordon and Sandman double splashed Fonzie. After the double-team on Fonzie, Sabu blasted Sandman with a chair and put him on a table. Sabu went to leg drop Sandman through the table but Sandman moved and Sabu smashed through the table. The match ended when Sabu swung the cane at Sandman and missed, striking the referee. Sandman took the cane and Russian leg sweeped Sabu with the cane. Foley came in to make the three count.
After the match, Sandman, Foley, and Gordon celebrated in the ring. In a revelation the likes of which we haven’t seen since Saint John vacationed in Patmos, Sandman told the fans he was drunk. When Sabu went to leave, Sandman told him he shouldn’t leave without drinking a beer. Sandman then thanked Sabu for the match. Sandman asked the fans if Fonzie should drink a beer and he did. Sandman then told Foley that he had to drink a beer and Foley agreed only to take a sip. Sandman told him to chug the beer but Foley spilled most of it out of the side of his mouth. Finally, Sandman backed Foley into a corner, climbed on top of Foley, and poured a beer down his mouth. Sandman told the fans that Tod Gordon is the godfather of wrestling and asked him to down a beer (which he did). Sandman climbed the ladder in the ring and fell off. After the show, Chris Hill thanked the fans for coming.
At the risk of gushing like Niagara Falls, Ballpark Brawl V was a spectacular show with consistently good wrestling, some big names and a lot of fun surprises. Ballpark Brawl V once again showed promoters how an independent show should be run. There were solid production values including ring entrance videos, video recaps, backstage interviews, and a pre-game show that set the storylines for the night’s show. The sound was excellent and you knew exactly who was wrestling who and why. Most important, the wrestling was solid and entertaining. I don’t know what the future holds for the Ballpark Brawl but build it and they will come.
Copyright © 2005 Derek Burgan. All rights reserved.