Let me set the stage a little bit here, I am a huge wrestling fan and have been since I was seven years old or so. Due to a variety of reasons I am a hardcore wrestling fan who watches less non-WWE programming than just about anyone you will find. Money and how I choose to spend my discretionary income is one major reason. As a husband, and father of two small children time is also pretty tight. As I also got up early to go to church on Sunday morning I was pretty tired rolling into this event. Now I know this sounds like a lot of excuses for why I didn't enjoy the show and that is by design. The fact is not only did I enjoy this show, but as I mentioned I was more FIRED UP! about independent wrestling than I had been in years.
As for the show itself, AWE unfortunately had to deal with a venue change at the last minute. This show ended up being held at The Enclave (708 Spring Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30308) right in the shadow of The Varsity. It made for an intimate environment which gave the event a really cool vibe and atmosphere. We found a place to sit and this was our view. Intimate, right?
The show started rolling at 4:00 PM as scheduled. Here's a look at the matches. Please note I do not do detailed match analysis or recaps as that is just not my thing. You won't see my drop a star rating on a match and you won't see me do a thorough breakdown of a match from a technical standpoint. Again, that's just not my thing. To that end here is PWP's results for the show. All that said, here are my thoughts on the matches:
- Spring Street Suicide Squad v The Dixon Line--The SSSS were the first wrestlers we saw and you know that kind of sets the tone for a show. I was immediately impressed with them even though one of them forced me to attempt a painfully awkward White Guy High-Five. The brought a great energy and the in-ring work to back it up. The Dixon Line were perfect foils for them I thought. For whatever reason the headband shenanigans amused me. (SSSS won)
- Slade Porter v Chico Adams--I dug Chico's look and the quick pre-match mic work. I will admit to being a bit confused because when Slade Porter entered I was kind of confused as to who I should be rooting for in this one. The crowd was definitely behind Slade Porter it seemed. Anyhow, I enjoyed the match. (Slade Porter won)
- Sylar Cross v Glenn "Chips" Matthews v James Dylan v Luscious Le'Ron in an Elimination Match--This served its purpose. It was a fun match with fans getting on Le'Ron pretty good and rallying behind "Chips" and Sylar Cross specifically. I will say that Cross's gimmick doesn't exactly appeal to me, but I was in the minority on that one. (Sylar Cross won)
- The Hierarchy (Murder-One and Iceberg) v Owen Knight and Martin Stone--This was a match that we were specifically looking forward to as long time fans of Murder-One and Iceberg from their NWA WildSide days. It did not disappoint. Martin Stone's got a great look and I heard a lot of chatter about how impressive Owen Knight was as well. We were supposed to get our trademark "Iceberg! ICEBERG!" fast-paced chant going, but Norko got it going so good I couldn't get in to do it. (The Hierarchy won)
- Adrian Armour v Rayo--Armour has a really good look and more importantly was completely believable to me. Rayo has an over-the-top soccer gimmick which shouldn't work, but completely did in my book. A post-match promo by Armour, which again was believable, led to Paul Coldheart foolishly challenging him as the head and sole member of Coldheart Security. Armour dealt with him swiftly, justly, and in a crowd-pleasing manner. (Adrian Armour won both)
- Ashton Starr v Gabby Gilbert in an Intergender Match--Hear me out on this one as I know this will get under some people's skin. I am not a guy that really gets into or gets intergender wrestling. If you do, that's great. That said I thought Gabby was really good and I was very impressed with Ashton Starr. Although I do not care for intergender wrestling I though Starr's gimmick made this work. (Ashton Starr won)
- Lio Rush v Aaron Epic--This is where business really started picking up with the first match of our triple main event. Norko brought me up to speed on Rush so I was fully prepared to be impressed by him and I was. What surprised me a bit was how impressed I was with Aaron Epic. There was one spot in this match where he threw a punch which just completely impressed me. I mean how often does a simple punch become a memorable part of a match? It's not often, but Epic and Rush were both money here and I thoroughly enjoyed this. (Lio Rush won)
- Tommaso Ciampa v Chip Day--Now I knew all about Ciampa's rep before the show. I have seen precious little of his actual work, but I knew he was a big deal. Well, the moment he walked through the curtain I thought to myself, "That guy is a star." This was my favorite match of the night. The running knee to Chip Day who was sitting in a fan's chair was incredible. The mood of the crowd went from fired up to whatever that next level might be during this one. Chip Day is another guy I have heard a ton about recently and he did not disappoint either. It was good to see Murder-One again as he attempted to help Day as well. You can watch this match here, but I assure you that watching on video does not do this one justice. (Tommaso Ciampa won)
- Jimmy Rave (C) v Johnny Gargano for the Georgia Wrestling Crown Championship--Everything I said about Ciampa is also true about Gargano or "Johnny Wrestling." Now Jimmy Rave is a guy like Iceberg and Murder-One who I was already familiar with before the event. Having heard about his career resurgence I was excited to see him in person and he did not disappoint. Fans were invited to crowd the apron for this one so we were more than happy to oblige. Much like the Ciampa/Day match you felt like you were witnessing something special here and the vibe in the building was like nothing else. In an effort to be able to show others how close we got to stand for this one I took the following video with my iPhone which could not have turned out better IMHO. The video does contain NSFW language so please mute if that is going to bother you. (Jimmy Rave won)
That video goes a little way to capture the atmosphere of this event, but absolutely does not do it justice. The crowd's level of interactivity is unparalleled. I heard some chatter that some were turned off by the nature of the chants, banter, etc. from some members of the crowd. That only added to the vibe in the arena in my opinion.
If you're in the area you really need to make an AWE show. For example, I enjoyed NWA Smoky Mountain's Collision Course 10 and to a lesser degree our trip to Anarchy Wrestling in Cornelia, GA last year, but those were just wrestling shows. AWE is so different that it really is kind of unfair to compare them to those other promotions. Honestly, it's just something you have to experience.*
For the latest news on AWE give them a Twitter Follow @ATLWrestlingENT.*I initially neglected to mention that while AWE is great it is definitely not family-friendly.