AIW: Gauntlet for the Gold 7

Cleveland, OH – 3.2.2012

Commentary is provided by Matt Wadsworth, Aaron Bauer, “Juicy” Pat Lucey/Winston, and Pedro Deluca.

Pre-Show Match
AERO! vs. Benny Boone

The winner of this match gets to enter the Gauntlet for the Gold match later tonight. Boone pounds AERO to the mat. AERO ducks a couple elbows and delivers a huracanrana. AERO kicks out Boone’s leg and kicks him in the side of the head. AERO suicide dives onto him. Boone snaps AERO’s neck on the top rope. He drops a knee for two. Boone suplexes AERO for two. Boone misses a splash in the corner. AERO kicks Boone in the jaw. AERO counters a slam attempt with a small package for the win at 2:51. Glad AERO won, as he was flying around like a pinball for all three minutes and was entertaining in doing so. *

Pre-Show Match: Beyond Wrestling Showcase
Aaron Epic vs. JT Dunn

Really Dunn? Still coming out to Party Rock Anthem? C’mon man. Epic and Dunn trade forearms and kicks. Epic sends Dunn out with an enzuigiri. Dunn side steps a baseball slide and trips Epic into the ring apron. Epic is able to trip Dunn face first into the canvas. In the ring, Dunn sends Epic face first into the second turnbuckle. Dunn hits him with a dropkick for two. Dunn lays in forearms in the corner. Epic turns him around to get in some shots of his own. Dunn sweeps Epic off the top rope for a two count. Dunn gets another two count with a Golden Gate Swing. Epic stomps Dunn out of the corner. He gets two with a leg lariat. Epic turns him inside out with a lariat. Epic blocks a kick and delivers an enzuigiri. Epic kicks Dunn in the face from the apron for two. Dunn throws some kicks and a forearm before suplexing Epic on his head. A low superkick gets Dunn a two count. Epic side steps a bicycle kick. He hits his Fastball punch. Even after two superkicks he twists Dunn into a modified Go 2 Sleep. Another Fastball punch gets Epic the win at 5:47. I really dig what both these guys are doing and I hope it gets them onto AIW’s main shows. Epic is just on a roll in independent wrestling right now. **1/2

The actual show starts with some promos. Jock Samson says he’s going to take Gauntlet for the Gold tonight, then go right after The Duke again. Eric Ryan says that he is a part of the Gauntlet and that his actions will speak louder than his words. The Duke says he will run through 29 other obstacles to become #1 contender, then become AIW Champion at Absolution VII. No one will stand in his way. ACH pretty much says he’s winning, but in a more charismatic way than I can convey here. Uhaa Nation says anyone who steps in his way will go down and that he will be the next AIW Champion. Tim Donst says most people say he can’t win Gauntlet for the Gold twice. He thinks differently. He believes his road to the Absolute title begins again tonight. Gregory Iron admits luck hasn’t been on his side as of late. He feels like he’s been looked passed. He plans to make tonight differently by throwing everyone out of the Gauntlet and be the final man standing in the ring. He plans to prove he was meant to be one in a million. The unnamed ring photographer wants to be in the match. So does Hobo Joe, who isn’t even booked for the match as of now. Both of those promos were weird. Marion Fontaine makes a billiards reference to say he is going to win the Gauntlet. Rickey Shane Page says he’s had experience in multiple Gauntlets, so he’s going to use his expertise to win the bout. Chest Flexor says a member of Flexor Industries will win so that Absolute Champion (and Flexor Industries member) Shiima Xion can take the night off at Absolution VII. K. Fernandez says he has come close in the other five Gauntlets he’s been in. He says after he and Da Latin Crime Syndicate beat The Submission Squad, he and his partners will enter and win the bout. Southside St. Clair is over excited about being in the Gauntlet. He swears a lot and says he needs a beer.

Da Latin Crime Syndicate (Luis Diamante, Joey “The Snake” Diamante & K. Fernandez) vs. The Submission Squad (Pierre Abernathy, Evan Gelestico & Gary Jay)

The winning trio will be entered into the Gauntlet for the Gold match. DLCS attack the Submission Squad as they obnoxiously cheer for themselves. They escape without DLCS noticing, which allows the Squad to take control. Gary Jay’s face looks a lot like Chris Hero’s now. Both trios poke each other in the eyes, disorienting everyone. The Squad attacks Luis in the corner. Gelestico stomps on the back of his head. Luis distracts the referee so Fernandez can drop Gary Jay on the top rope. Luis hits a spinebuster for one. DLCS lay a beating on Jay in their half of the ring. Jay clotheslines Luis off the second rope so he can finally tag in Abernathy. He takes Fernandez down. Joey attacks him and throws forearms to Gelestico’s back. Jay sends Joey to the floor. Gelestico kicks Fernandez onto Abernathy’s feet. Jay double stomps Fernandez into the feet for two. Gelestico accidentally kicks Jay. This allows Fernandez to give Gelestico the Blu-Ray. Luis and Joey hit the Cracka Cracka (a top rope back cracker/powerbomb combo) for the pin at 6:05. Solid trios action to kick off the show. I like the Anarchy System guys being in AIW. DLCS are usually hit or miss and they hit here. **

Marion Fontaine vs. Colin Delaney

Delaney comes out on a crutch, which he uses to attack Fontaine’s leg from behind. Delaney smartly works it over in the early going. Delaney knees him in the head when Fontaine throws some punches to his mid-section. Fontaine lands a chin breaker. Fontaine kicks out Delaney’s good leg. Delaney hops over to the corner. Fontaine side steps him and drives Fontaine’s neck into the middle rope with his buttocks. Fontaine crossbody’s back in for two. Fontaine gets two with a superkick. Delaney rolls to the floor and grabs his crutch. As referee Jake Clemons is distracted (Fontaine shoved him to the corner), Delaney nails Fontaine in the head with the crutch to get the pin at 6:02. I’m interested in the direction Delaney is taking in AIW, but there was nothing much to this match in and of itself. **

Eric Ryan vs. Ophidian

Ophidian does a headstand in the corner. Ryan dropkicks Ophidian as he comes out of the corner. Ryan armdrags Ophidian twice and huracanrana’s him to the floor. Ryan suicide dives after him. Ophidian and Ryan fight up the ramp and to the back. Kobald returns with both of them in a headlock chain. This match is now a three way dance.

Eric Ryan vs. Ophidian vs. Kobald

Kobald drops a knee and elbow onto Ophidian for two. Kobald gets two again with a springboard splash. Ophidian goes for double knees in the corner. Kobald powerbombs him out of the corner. Kobald spears Ophidian from the ring apron. He tries a slingshot spear but Ryan stomps Kobald as he comes back into the ring. Ryan knee strikes Ophidian in the face. Ophidian grabs a trapezius hold. He kicks Kobald and enzuigiri’s Ryan. Kobald springs off the ropes to dive onto Ryan on the floor. Ophidian comes out with a corkscrew plancha onto Ryan. Kobald whips Ophidian into the guardrail. Kobald chops and slaps Ryan before taking a “bite” out of his clavicle. Kobald hits a modified Rocker Dropper for two. Ryan German suplexes Kobald but Ophidian breaks the pin. Ophidian locks on the Death Grip. Ryan starts to fall but Kobald breaks the hold. He puts Ophidian in the Rings of Saturn. Ryan boots Kobald. He turns a Complete Shot into a Koji Clutch. Ophidian comes off the top with double knees to Ryan for two. Ophidian drives his knees into Kobald for another two count. Ryan gives Ophidian a Michinoku Driver. Kobald picks up Ryan for a suplex and a two count. Ophidian gives Kobald the Duat Driver. Ryan clutches Ophidian in a crucifix pin for two. Ryan avoids a spear, sending Kobald into Ophidian. Kobald picks up Ophidian and spears him into Ryan. Kobald pins them at the sme time for two. Ophidian gives Kobald a lungblower. Ryan gives Ophidian a Package Piledriver for the pin at 9:54 (total). That was fun, non-stop action. I don’t think I have seen Kobald or Ophidian be that interesting in CHIKARA since the 2012 season began. Eric Ryan is one of my favorite AIW guys and it won’t be long until he’s one of the guys on top. **3/4

Intense Championship
Bobby Beverly (Champion) vs. Colt Cabana

Both men do a hip swivel. Flexor Industries is in Bobby Beverly’s corner. Cabana breaks a lock-up cleanly. Beverly breaks a lock-up but shoves Cabana into the corner. Cabana delivers a flurry of punches. He’s about to hit the Bionic Elbow when Flexor Industries jumps him. The match is thrown out at 2:35. I should have known this was going into something else, considering the Wrestling Road Diaries 2 tapings are taking place tonight. However, I saw a lot of awesome wrestling out of Cabana and Beverly in those two and a half minutes and I hope we get a real for deal match some day. N/R

Southside St. Clair runs out in the hopes of saving the day. He alerts Flexor Industries that he’s not coming alone. “Welcome to the Jungle” hits, and out comes Cliff Compton! He and St. Clair send Flexor Industries running. Compton says it’s unfortunate that their buddy Luke Gallows tore his groin last night and can’t fight. Compton says he was so pumped up on drugs that he’s not sure if he’s Festus, Super Festus or Luke Gallows. He introduces Gallows as their team manager. He comes out on one crutch. Gallows tells Flexor Industries to get ready to face his “Good Brothers” tonight.

Colt Cabana, Cliff Compton & Southside St. Clair vs. Flexor Industries (Bobby Beverly, “The Chad” Williams & Chest Flexor)

Flexor tags out after Cabana shoves him to the corner. Same goes for Beverly. Cabana throws Williams’ face into the mat. St. Clair chops up Williams’ while Cabana holds him. Gallows is doing commentary over the house mic during the match by the way. Compton overhand chops Williams repeatedly in the corner. Gallows gets on the apron so he can deliver a chop himself. Compton back elbows Williams and hits a butterfly suplex. Cabana and St. Clair wishbone Beverly’s legs. While wearing a sailor’s hat, Compton chops Beverly in the corner. Williams moves Beverly so that Compton misses a corner splash. Flexor Industries isolates and wears down Compton in their half of the ring. Compton punches Beverly low so he can tag in Cabana. He gives Flexor a flurry of punches and Williams the bionic elbow. A flying hip attack on Flexor gets Cabana a two count. Beverly enzuigiri’s Cabana. St. Clair bicycle kicks Beverly. Williams gives St. Clair the Mercy Kill. Flexor holds Cabana for Williams. Williams back elbows Flexor by accident. Cabana gives them both the Flying Asshole. Compton Superfly Splashes Flexor for the pin at 10:39. That was a lot of fun. Compton is a better wrestler than I think more people give him credit for. Cabana’s team kept the goofiness to a minimum and told a good story with the Flexor Industries team. This was a nice surprise. Compton thanks the fans afterwards. **3/4

Tim Donst vs. BJ Whitmer

This is a rematch from last year’s TPI tournament. Donst snapmaes Whitmer and goes for a chinlock. Whitmer floats over into a pin for two. Donst and Whitmer look for control and end up standing off. Donst takes Whitmer down in a double hand clutch. He puts Whitmer into a Parachute Stretch for a couple seconds. Donst busts out a toreador and an armdrag. Donst hits his wrist against the ropes, so Whitmer drives Donst’s wrist into the mat. Whitmer works over the wrist until Donst bails to the floor. Whitmer whips Donst into the ring post. Donst catches Whitmer as he comes back into the ring. His arm is too weak to Irish whip Whitmer. Whitmer goes back to damaging Donst’s arm and wrist. Donst spits in Whitmer’s face. Whitmer stomps him down and chops him up in retaliation. Whitmer whips him shoulder first into the top turnbuckle. Donst suicide dives onto Whitmer. They trade strikes until Donst comes off the apron with a quesadora armdrag! That was pretty great. Donst suplexes Whitmer in from the ring apron. He locks on the CHIKARA Special. Whitmer gets his foot on the ropes. Whitmer suplexes Donst twice for a two count. Donst drops Whitmer face first with the Gator Roll for two. Donst bulldogs him. Whitmer delivers a lariat for two. He gets two with a fisherman’s suplex as well. Donst and Whitmer fight on the top rope. Donst brings Whitmer down with a super Death Valley Driver for two. Whitmer catches Donst with the Complete Shot. He puts Donst in the Peruvian Necktie for the submission at 12:58. This may have been a step above their TPI match, which I also thoroughly enjoyed. These two work really well together and worked a really smart, engaging battle. Heck, if they met in the JLIT I wouldn’t be upset. ***1/4

Whitmer and Donst shake hands after the match. Flexor Industries runs out to attack Whitmer.

Irish Airborne (Jake & Dave Crist) vs. The Sex Bob-ombs (Davey Vega & Mat Fitchett)

The winning team will get an immediate AIW tag title match against reigning champions Aeroform. Jake controls Vega by his wrist. He jams up Vega’s elbow. Vega rolls Jake into a cross armbreaker. Jake gets the ropes immediately. Dave and Fitchett tag in. They exchange wristlocks until Dave armdrags Fitchett to the ropes. Fitchett responds with a dropkick. Fitchett spins Dave into a Complete Shot from Vega. He then hits a standing moonsault for two. A double spinebuster and a Camel Clutch/dropkick combo get the Bob-ombs a two as well. Jake hip tosses Fitchett into a cross armbreaker. Jake tags in and assists Dave with double kicks and knees to the head. Jake hits a quebrada for two. Fitchett slams Dave and tags in Vega. The Bob-ombs superkick Dave a few times for a two count. Dave hits a springboard boot on Vega, tagging in Jake in the process. Jake swanton bombs Vega across Dave’s knees. Vega gives Jake some elbows in the corner. He goes for a splash only for Jake to scoop slam him into the corner. Dave and Fitchett duck each others clotheslines and Fosberry Flop onto the others’ partner! Fitchett and Dave exchange elbows. Fitchett comes off the second rope and eats a knee strike from Dave. Fitchett uses the ropes to break the pin. Vega superkicks Dave from behind. Fitchett Pele kicks Dave into a German suplex from Vega. Jake shoves Fitchett off the top ropes and Dave gets his knees up to block Vega’s frog splash. Jake kicks Vega in the side of the head. He and Dave hit Irish Coffee on Vega for the pin at 9:53. So this wasn’t exactly as flippy and crazy as I was hoping, but considering the winning team had a match right after it’s easy to see why they didn’t kill themselves. That’s not to say the match wasn’t good; it was. I’d just like to see a rematch down the line where they can go balls to the wall. ***

Aeroform attack Irish Airborne after their match. The referees check on the Airborne ringside. Absolute Owner Matt Wadsworth makes his way ringside. He doesn’t think the Airborne are ready to get a title shot right away, but Aeroform did sign a contract to defend their belts tonight. Wadsworth ponders who Aeroform could face. He happens to have a tag team who recently reunited and won a big match against Colt Cabana and Greg Iron a couple months ago. With that, classic Cleveland tag team Youthanazia (Matt Cross & Josh Prohibition) to accept the title match.

AIW Tag Team Championship
Aeroform (Flip Kendrick & Louis Lyndon) (Champions) vs. Youthanazia (Matt Cross & Josh Prohibition)

The match starts out on the floor. Prohibition and Kendrick pair off as Lyndon and Cross fight on another side of the ring. Matt gives Lyndon a flagpole elbow. In the ring, Lyndon ducks under a leapfrog and rolls up Cross for two. Cross armdrags Lyndon twice. Lyndon boots him to the corner. Prohibition tags in and nails a rolling forearm. Prohibition knees him from the apron and gives him a neckbreaker in the ropes. Prohibition’s slingshot neck snap gets a two count. Prohibition puts on an STF. Lyndon gets the ropes. Kendrick distracts Prohibition, allowing Lyndon to hit a spinwheel kick. Aeroform now take turns beating on Prohibition. Prohibition wheelbarrow suplexes Lyndon after just after a couple of minutes of being teamed up on. Cross tags in. He airplane Spins Lyndon into Kendrick and drops Lyndon back first across his knee. Cross dropkicks Lyndon to the floor. Kendrick hits the floor to avoid an attack. Cross ends up diving onto him anyways. Lyndon bicycle kicks Prohibition to the floor. Lyndon hits a springboard tope con hilo onto Kendrick and Youthanazia. Kendrick suplexes Cross. Lyndon picks him up for a German suplex and gets a two count. Lyndon tries to sunset bomb Prohibition to the floor. Prohibition avoids it but legdrops the apron instead of Lyndon. Kendrick’s twisting quebrada gets him a two count when Prohibition breaks the cover. He sends Lyndon to the floor. He then buckle bombs Kendrick and nails him with a lariat. Prohibition gives him a backbreaker. Chest Flexor gets on the apron to prevent a pin. Lyndon comes into forearm Prohibition. He accidentally hits Flexor. Prohibition gives Lyndon the Drunken Driver. Cross follows up with a shooting star press for the win and the titles at 8:28. That was an awesome reintroduction for Yotuhanazia into AIW. Having them win the titles in a historic Cleveland venue was the right call. I liked what Aeroform offered as rudo champions but I definitely think moving the belts here was the right call. ***

Elimination Match
Uhaa Nation vs. ACH vs. Rickey Shane Page vs. Facade

ACH uses the ropes to headscissors Facade to the floor. ACH throws some strikes at Nation’s massive chest to no avail. Nation leapfrogs over ACH and dropkick him to the floor. Page’s shoulder blocks do nothing to Nation either. Page decies to huracanrana him to the floor. Page catches Facade coming in the ring. Facade kicks Page in the back of the head. ACH palm strikes and kicks Facade in the corner. Nation bicycle kicks ACH. Page drops Nation with a stunner. He tornado kicks Nation to the floor. Facade hits a springboard gamengiri. ACH and Facade fight over dueling Kamehameha’s (like from Dragonball Z). They end up throwing their combined energy into Page’s chest. ACH whips Facade to the ropes. Facade tope con hilo’s onto Page. ACH split-legged monsaults onto both of them. Nation tope con hilo’s onto everyone. Back in the ring, Facade crossbody’s onto Nation. Nation catches him and delivers a Roll of the Dice for two. Page Saito suplexes and German suplexes Nation for two. ACH hits the Rocker Dropper on Page. He stomps on his neck and hits a running knee strike for two. Facade springboard spinwheel kicks back into the ring. Facade kicks ACH in the chest. An Arabian Press gets Facade a two count. Facade looks for a huracanrana on Nation. Nation powerbombs him three times to counter and gets a two count. ACH baits Nation into a scissors kick on the apron. ACH frogsplashes onto Facade for the pin and elimination at 8:13. ACH catches Nation on his shoulders. ACH hits the FU. Page unleashes some chops and strikes onto ACH in the corner. ACH takes him down and low clotheslines Page in the corner. Nation pops up ACH into a gut buster. A standing moonsault from Nation eliminates ACH at 9:49. Page lays in forearms to Nation’s face. Nation isn’t fazed by a rolling elbow. He bicycle kicks Page before delivering a powerbomb. Nation’s standing shooting star press gets him the pin and the victory at 10:44. All this match did was make me sad that Uhaa Nation is hurt. He’s so much fun to watch and was just hitting his stride. ACH and Page really impressed too while Facade did his usually routine. A very fun elimination bout to get the crowd energized right before the Gauntlet. ***1/4

Uhaa Nation challenges AR Fox to a 30 Minute Iron Man match when AIW returns on April 6th.

2012 Gauntlet for the Gold

This match has thirty competitors total. After the first two are introduced, a new wrestler enters every 90 seconds. You eliminate your opponent by throwing them over the top rope and to the floor, just like the Royal Rumble. The last man standing will get a shot at the Absolute Champion at “Absolution VII” in June.

The order of entry is:

1. Jock Samson
2. The Duke
3. AERO!
4. Joey “The Snake” Diamante
5. Rickey Shane Page
6. K. Fernandez
7. Luis Diamante
8. John Thorne
9. Colt Cabana
10. Cliff Compton
11. Eric Ryan
12. Uhaa Nation
13. BJ Whitmer
14. Mat Fitchett
15. Matt Cross
16. Facade
17. Flip Kendrick
18. “The Chad” Williams
19. Louis Lyndon
20. Chest Flexor
21. Josh Prohibition
22. Colin Delaney
23. Gregory Iron
24. Marion Fontaine
25. ACH
26. Bobby Beverly
27. Tim Donst
28. Davey Vega
29. Southside St. Clair
30. Johnny Gargano

Order of Elimination:

1. Jock Samson by The Duke
2. Joey The Snake by John Thorne
3. Luis Diamante by Rickey Shane Page
4. AERO! by Rickey Shane Page & John Thorne
5. K. Fernandez by Rickey Shane Page & John Thorne
6. Rickey Shane Page by John Thorne
7. John Thorne by The Duke
8. Cliff Compton by Uhaa Nation
9. The Duke by Eric Ryan, with an assist from Jock Samson.
10. Colt Cabana by Uhaa Nation, with an assist from Eric Ryan
11. Uhaa Nation by BJ Whitmer
12. Eric Ryan by Facade
13. Facade by Louis Lyndon and Flip Kendrick
14. Mat Fitchett by “The Chad” Williams
15. Gregory Iron by Josh Prohibition
16. Louis Lyndon by Josh Prohibition
17 & 18. Marion Fontaine and Colin Delaney fight to the back after going through middle rope. This counted as both of their eliminations
19. Josh Prohibition by “The Chad” Williams
20. Matt Cross by BJ Whitmer
21. ACH by “The Chad” Williams
22. Chest Flexor by Tim Donst
23. “The Chad” Williams by Tim Donst & BJ Whimter
24. Flip Kendrick by BJ Whitmer
25. Bobby Beverly by Tim Donst & BJ Whitmer
26. Davey Vega by Tim Donst & BJ Whitmer
27. BJ Whitmer by Tim Donst
28. Southside St. Clair by Tim Donst
29. Tim Donst by Johnny Gargano

Winner of the 2012 Gauntlet for the Gold: Johnny Gargano

I thought this did a terrific job of building feuds both in the long and short term. We got to see a continuation the Jock Samson/Duke feuds, John Thorne starting something with Rickey Shane Page, Irish Airborne (who beat up Aeroform after their eliminations for revenge from earlier) setting up something with Kendrick & Lyndon, and of course Johnny Gargano’s big return to AIW and earning a shot at the man who literally stole the title from him at Absolution VI, Shiima Xion. The storytelling in AIW has been on point for over a year now and this match is further proof of it. The match flew by and stayed entertaining for the duration. I very much enjoyed this years gauntlet. ***1/2

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