Views from the Hawke's Nest: DGUSA Freedom Fight 2011
Posted by TJ Hawke on 03.08.2014
The show where Gargano won the belt! I started this review 28 months ago, and he's still the champion.
November 13, 2011
New York, NY
Commentators: Lenny “Lenny Leonard” Leonard, Brodie Lee, Calen Konley. Scott Reed, & Jimmy fucking Bower!
I originally watched this show the day after it happened in November, 2011. However, my internet cut out during the Freedom Gate Title match, and I never went back to finish it until now (March 2014). Everything in this review until the Gargano/YAMATO match was written in November 2011. Gargano/YAMATO and the main event were written in 2014. Thus, if some comments seem out of date, it’s because they are in fact out of date. That’s what I do.
Lenny Leonard is out to start the show, and he introduces B.J. Whitmer who has made several DGUSA appearances on the last two triple-shots. Whitmer says he wants his return match to NYC to start right now, so we get…
B.J. Whitmer vs. Brodie Lee
Whitmer in 2011 looks like a combination of “Biker” Undertaker and Keamy from Lost. I was never a huge Whitmer fan, but I’m glad to see he has gotten back in shape after a bad injury in 2008.
Whitmer quickly boots Brodie to the floor and hits a BIG somersault plancha. Ricochet distracted Whitmer on the floor and then Brodie wiped out Whitmer with a suicide dive. Back in the ring, they started slugging it out until Brodie hit a back suplex. Ricochet distracted Whitmer again, which allowed Brodie to hit a big suplex. Whitmer came back with some forearms and kicks. Whitmer hit a neckbreaker variation and then locked in a Peruvian Neck Tie (Apparently that is his new finishing move). Lee escaped it and hit a big Liger Bomb: 1…2…NO! Big Boot! Truck Stop! ANOTHER LIGER BOMB: 1…2…3!
This was a fun opener. Whitmer feels completely different from his ROH years. He looks to be in good shape (after rumors of him getting very overweight in him time away), and he would be of value to most indie companies at the moment. I would like to seem in Evolve too going forward. Match Rating: **3/4
John Silver and Uhaa Nation vs. The Scene (Caleb Konley & Scott Reed w/ Larry Dallas)
Nation is the newest hot prospect of DGUSA. He left for Japan to perform for Dragon Gate after this weekend. Silver is a NYWC trainee who had a good match with Tony Nese at Evolve 9. The Scene is a new tag team that have already won the FIP Tag Titles.
Reed had some success against Silver. Nation tagged in and Reed ran away. Nation took out both men on the outside, which allowed Silver to hit a sommersault plancha onto The Scene. Silver tagged back in and was overwhelmed by the numbers game. Silver escaped for a moment and made a hot tag to Nation. Nation hit a standing shooting star on Konley but Reed made the save. HUGE Belly-to-Belly to Reed. Double Super Kick to Konley: 1…2…Reed with the save. Nation missed a Brogue Kick and went over the ropes to the floor. Silver then got hit the Scene’s Double Team Finisher (Draping DDT/Wheelbarrow German Suplex combo) for the win.
Another solid match here. Nation is seemingly a big star already with every crowd he performs in front of. The Scene have great chemistry already after only teaming for 5 months or so. Match Rating: **3/4 2014 Edit: How anyone could watch this and think The Scene were the team to push from this match is beyond me. Also, why would you cheapen an Uhaa Nation appearance by having him do a random tag match?
Ronin comes out. Gargano calls out Chucky T for stealing the belt after losing to Yamato the night before. Chucky T still seems pissed about losing the night before, and he seems to be blaming Gargano for ratting him out to the referee. Rich Swann tells Gargano to keep his head together and focus. Swann then hypes up the crowd for the tag match right now.
Ronin (Rich Swann & Chuck Taylor w/ Johnny Gargano) vs. Blood Warriors (Akira Tozawa & BxB Hulk)
This match seems like another match in the best of 501 series between Ronin and Blood Warriors.
The teams were going back and forth and then all of a sudden everyone was back raking each other (including the ref!). Ronin used some teamwork to get the advantage on Tozawa. Tozawa came back with some chops and punches on Swann. Hulk then delivered some stiff kicks to Swann’s back. Tozawa then worked over Swann’s back some more. Hulk delivered a big axe kick on the back of Swann’s head, but Chucky made the save. Swann came back with a Trouble in Paradise on Hulk, and he then made a hot tag to Chucky T who hit an overhead belly-to-belly suplex on Hulk and some karate kicks on Tozawa. Swann then hit a Pele kick on Tozawa, but Tozawa came back with a running knee to Swann. Hulk then hit a series of kicks and flips on Taylor for a two count. Hulk hit a Mic Check variation on Swann for another two count. Swann came back with a superkick on Hulk and a handspring Ace Cutter to Tozawa. Taylor with a big Sky High Powerbomb on Hulk. Double team combinations to Tozawa! It is impossible to keep up with everything they are doing. Just know they are trading some huge big moves. AWFUL WAFFLE TO TOZAWA! JUMPING 450 SPASH TO TOZAWA! 1…2…3! RONIN BABY!
I loved this match. Hulk and Tozawa carried a lot of the match, but Swann and Chucky T kept the crowd involved with their great personalities. Swann’s extensive time in Japan has paid off big time. His work is so crisp now. Don’t sleep on this match. Match Rating: ***3/4
All of Blood Warriors beats down Taylor and Swann after the match. Gargano and Masato Yoshino run in to make the save. That leads to the next match…
CIMA vs. Masato Yoshino
This match was made for no other reason than that neither of them had a match.
Lenny Leonard: “These guys acknowledge each other as each other’s greatest in-ring rival.” Brodie Lee (on commentary): “I barely acknowledge Yoshino lives.” CIMA was no match for Yoshino’s speed early on. The screen froze at this point (onDemand version). Did this happen to anyone else? Ok, back to normal. CIMA is now working over Yoshino. CIMA was going after Yoshino’s leg (Dragon Gate guys working over a leg is just asking for there to be no selling during the finishing back and forth sequence). Yoshino dodged a palm strike and locked CIMA into a submission into the ropes. That slowed CIMA down but Yoshino’s leg was still injured. Another screen freeze as I hear Yoshino running around doing stuff. Terrible job WWNLive. Back from the screen freeze, and Yoshino locks in From Jungle. CIMA escapes and gets a nearfall with a rollup. Yoshino went for a springboard move, but CIMA caught him with a dropkick. CIMA tried for the Coast-to-Coast dropkick, but Yoshino avoided and hit his top rope dropkick. CIMA pops right back up and hits a double stomp; both men are down after that. CIMA kicked Yoshino in the gut, and Yoshino sold it like a gunshot wound. CIMA then walked around and smiled instead of finishing him off. CIMA finally started kneeing Yoshino in the gut. CIMA hung Yoshino up in the corner and gave him shotgun knees. Yoshino got to his feet and hit lightening spiral. Yoshino went for Sol Naciente, but CIMA escaped and hit SCHWEIGN: 1…2…NO! CIMA hit a package powerbomb, but Yoshino still kicked out. Crowd was really behind Yoshino after that. Cima went for another package powerbiomb, but Yoshino escaped. They traded more strokes, and Yoshon reversed a Schweign into a crucifix pin: 1…2…NO! Lightning Sprial: 1…2…NO! Torbellina! Torbellina! Yoshino locks in Sol Naciente! CIMA tries to kick out of it, but Yoshino is able to hold on, and CIMA TAPS OUT!
Despite the technical difficulties, this match still ended up being damn good. This match should come off even better once they get the technical difficulties sorted out on DVD. Yoshino seems to be a prime candidate to get a Freedom Gate Title shot at the WrestleReunion show. Match Rating: ***3/4 2014 Edit: The match did in fact look better after it was edited, and Yoshino’s title shot came at Wrestlemania instead of WrestleReunion. I also probably overrated this at the time.
Lenny Leonard brought out Uhaa Nation to start the second half of the show. Nation says he is thankful for the fans and that he is excited to go to Japan at the end of November for a month. Then he left. Okay.
Ricochet vs. PAC
These two had a good (but not great) match back in September for DGUSA. They have also wrestled a lot in Japan throughout the year.
They actually were trying to get the advantage on the mat early on. Things picked up and Ricochet got the first advantage. Ricochet started working PAC for a while and locked in a leg submission but PAC escaped. PAC hit a standing shooting star to slow down Ricochet. PAC sent Ricochet to the floor and hit a Fosbury Flop. They started fighting through the crowd and Ricochet hit a hurricanranna somewhere in near the bar. Couldn’t really see what happened that well, but the crowd reacted big. Ricochet then hit a running somersault dive over a balcony and people onto PAC. Back in the ring, Ricochet was in control again. Ricochet started mocking PAC, which just pumped PAC up. Ricochet did some more taunting but ate a pop up Ace Crusher for his troubles. PAC hit an enzugiri and a bridging Norther Lights suplex for a nearfall. They started trading big moves. More freezing issues. Both men ended up on the floor. PAC avoided a big running dive from Ricochet and hit a SPIKED REVERSED HURRICANRANNA ON THE FLOOR! HOLY FUCK! Ricochet almost got counted out. He rolled into the ring and was greeted with a brutal German Suplex from PAC: 1…2…NO! Ricochet hits a reverse hurricanranna of his own (but it was in the ring). Both men down. Ricochet avoided a middle rope Phoenix Splash, and then hit one of his own for another nearfall. PAC went to the top rope, but Ricochet ran up and hit a One Man Spanish Fly: 1…2…NO! That was sick. Ricochet back to top rope: Shooting Sta-PAC GIT THE KNEES UP! Tozawa distracts the referee, as Ricochet kicks PAC LOW! PAC comes back with a SKY HIGH POWERBOMB: 1…2…NO! Ricochet hit a pair of enzuigiris and a bridging German but PAC kicked out. BACKSLIDE DRIVER! SNAPMARE DRIVER: 1…2…PAC KICKS OUT! Finally, Ricochet delivers a huge kick to PAC’s head to knock him out for the three count.
Crazy match that you will not be able to see anywhere else in America. It wasn’t just a spotfest however. It was a physical match, where Ricochet really worked to get the crowd behind PAC. I do have two complaints though (besides the technical issues). They probably had aboyt 4-5 too many nearfalls. The crowd didn’t get quiet at the end, but they were not as loud once they realized that the matchwas going to have a lot of nearfalls for the sake of nearfalls. Also, in my opinion, a kick to the head is a very lame finish to a match with 500 flips and dives. On top of that, the whole issue between these two men is that they are out to prove who the better high flyer was. Neither man seemed to be confident about doing a top rope move, with such a low ceiling, but surely there could have been a better finish that a kick to the head. Match Rating: **** 2014 Edit: I was getting all ready to write about how silly it was that Ricochet won with a kick, but I actually managed to write about that back in 2011. Yay, me. Seriously though, that would be like a battle of two men fighting who was the best submission artist and the blowoff ending in a shooting star press. Also, I used to write down a lot more movez in my recaps back in 2011. I’m glad I stopped doing that so much.
Gargano has had a lot of great matches this year in DGUSA, but I disagree with the notion that he earned his title shot. His singles record this year is 2-4 (and one of those wins was against Jimmy Rave). Certain people have argued that his eliminations of CIMA and Austin Aries in a 6-man tag make up for him losing to both of them in singles matches, but I disagree. If tag matches suddenly count for earning singles titles shots (which I disagree with), then all tag matches should count, which puts Gargano’s record at 5-7 on the year. In fact, I wrote an article on my blog about how Chikara built up their world title match at High Noon (which aired on iPPV on the same day as this show) much better than Gargano’s build at my blog if you are interested.
Chuck Taylor still has possession of the belt he stole at Bushido the night before. Yamato was in control early on, locking in a crossface, but Gargano quickly made the ropes. Gargano came back and started working over Yamato’s left arm. Yamato cut Gargano off with some big chops, but Gargano came back with a stiff soccer kick to Yamato’s chest. Gargano continued to hurt Yamato with kicks and knees. Yamato avoided a charging Gargano and locked in a crossface, but Gargano made the ropes. Yamato started heeling it up a little bit, thankfully. Yamato was able to completely dominate Gargano for a while. Yamato spat in Gargano’s face and rained down strikes in the corner. Yamato went to finish Gargano with a brainbuster, but Gargano kneed him and the head and hit his rolling kick to the side of the head. Gargano sent Yamato to the floor, as the crowd rallied behind The Whole Shebang. Gargano went to the apron and hit a ugly crossbody to the floor, and then a slingshot spear back in the ring. Bacl and forth finishing sequence time. LIGER BOMB BY GARGANO! Yamato rolls to the floor, but he eats a suicide dive and a pair of rolling sentons from Gargano. Gargano went for the Hurt’s Donut, but Yamato escaped and hit an enzugiri. BRAINUSTER: 1…2…NO! Yamato transitioned into a crossface, as the crowd rallied behind Gargano again. Gargano crawled and crawled and he made the ropes. Gargano hit a mic check into the turnbuckle. He went to follow up with a dropkick in the corner, but he hit the referee instead. Gargano hit a Hurt’s Donut on Yamato (the crowd counted to 3) but no ref came out to count. Yamato low blowed Gargano. Chuck Taylor ran out to attack Yamato, but he accidentally hit Gargano with the belt: 1…2…NO! They went back and forth. YAMATO hit Galleria: 1…2…NO! Gargano got a nearfall with Hurt’s Donut and then transitioned into the GargaNO Escape…YAMATO tapped out!
Chuck Taylor initially walked back with the belt. He stayed on the ramp though. Gargano then cut a promo about Ronin. He said Swann/Taylor were now the number one contenders for the tag titles. I agree, but they never ended up getting that tag title shot. Hashtag story lines. Taylor went to the ring and handed Gargano the belt. Ronin all hugged. Chuck joked like he was going to superkick Gargano. Taylor then cut a promo about how Ronin will soon have all the DGUSA belts.
Despite the unnecessary story line with Chuck Taylor that took away from the focus on the magnitude of Gargano’s win, this was a great title match and a damn fine title win for Johnny Gargano. He’s been the face of WWN since this show, and thus, hit title win pretty much makes this show important all on its own. Match Rating: **** 2014 Edit: When I start writing ‘YAMATO’ as opposed to ‘Yamato’ is when I started watching material from this show for the first time.
What a great way to end the Starrcade of DGUSA’s 2011!...Wait, what???
The Dirty Ugly Fucks (Sami Callihan, Arik Cannon, & Pinkie Sanchez) vs. Jon Davis, AR Fox, & Sabu
This was the main event of the show for reasons that have never been clear to me. I expect it to be relatively enjoyable at least though.
Fox tried to start the dive with a tope con hello, but DUF scattered. Fox splattered on the apron. Sabu and Davis did dives. Never seen a Davis dive before (or since). There was a lot of brawling after that. Sabu used a railroad spike on Cannon. Sami and Cannon were bleeding. There were a lot more spots, plunder, and movez. Fox was bleeding. Fox hit Sami with a Lo Mein Pain and a 450, but the DUF kept saving Sami. Sami gave Fox an Awesome Bomb through a bridged guardrail. Sami hit Fox with a fork and then broke a bottle over Fox’s head: 1…2…3. That finish was a little flat compared to the rest of the match.
Sami and Cannon really had crimson masks by the end.
I think it was very silly for DGUSA’s “Starrcade” to end with this match and feud, but I don’t think you can deny that it overdelivered and ended the show on a relatively satisfying (or at least fun) note. Match Rating: ***1/2
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The 411: This was a darn good show from DGUSA. Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to care about this show (due to the state of the company and stories they were attempting to tell), but there's no doubt that there was some great wrestling on this show. You know you have a good WWN show on your hands when The Scene do something redeemable!