Ladder Match Reviews 2020: #4

W.A.R – 17, 08/02/20

WAR Respect Championship: Aaron Williams (c) vs Orlando Christopher 8/2/20

Coming to you live from Ohio! It’s WAR (WRESTLING AND RESPECT)! And the WAR Respect Championship is on the line!

I don’t know any other names on this card, so this is big time regional wrestling. Most of the matches are gimmick matches so I hope the crowd aren’t burnt out already. They seem like a fun bunch, and it definitely looks like a local, casual crowd; kids, parents, colourful clothing, old people. Basically the opposite of a Fight Club: Pro crowd. I bet they don’t natter among themselves during matches too.

This is a mystery opponent deal with the heel champion, Aaron Williams, daring anyone to come and challenge him. He is a fighting champion, after all. Orlando Christopher, who commentary say was the originally scheduled opponent, arrives to answer the challenge to a big pop from the crowd. From what I can figure out, Orlando has been out with an injury, and took time off during a Best Of 5 series with Aaron and he’s back in time for the fifth and final match of that series. Well, at least that’s what I was able to figure out. The CageMatch for this promotion isn’t exactly comprehensive.

Aaron is wrestling in his shirt and tie like a Clockwork Orange cosplay act, and Orlando Christian is dressed like your typical goth backyarder. He’s still got that Disturbed CD in his car and a Spineshank poster on his bedroom wall. Fuck the suits, Orlando!

The set-up is a hardcam and a roaming camera on the outside, and it looks clear and nice. The audio balance is good and the crowd are into it. There’s long, still shots from both cameras with no shaking or weird shots. Amazing that this regional company can do it but some other larger companies can’t. Looking at you, Rev Pro…

Orlando takes control in the initial flurry, out-wrestling the champ and taking him down with a couple of suplexes. He batters Aaron on the outside with the ladder and he’s got the BIG ORANGE LADDER. MY FAVOURITE. FIVE STARS. Orlando tries to climb and Aaron stops him with a nice looking right hand. Aaron climbs but Orlando is still in this in the early going.

They battle to the outside and Aaron whips Orlando into the turnpost, but Orlando leaps up the turnbuckles, onto the in-ring ladder, and comes within a inch of grabbing the belt before Aaron realises and stops hims at the last minute. Nice stuff. Aaron drops Orlando hard with a powerbomb and a tie-assisted neckbreaker.

Aaron brings in a busted old painter’s ladder that probably carries several diseases. He decides now is the time to take his shirt off. You sure, fella? With the potential of bumping onto THAT ladder? After a series of reversals, Orlando monkey flips Aaron into the same ladder. It’s safer than it sounds. Orlando then does the ol’ladder slingshot in the bottom rope, and it looks better than usual for a move that usually looks pretty shit. Aaron’s head gets caught in the rungs so it comes with him as he arcs over. Orlando then just suplexes the ladder onto him in a Sandman tribute.

Remember to get those shots, Aaron. For every disease you can. In a desperation move, Aaron takes out himself and Orlando with a cactus clothesline. Orlando hits a mean looking dropkick onto a seated Aaron off the apron, and then suplexes him onto the ramp. This is moving along really nicely and i’m genuinely surprised at the restraint and effort. They’re not doing anything special or telling some grand story, but it doesn’t feel painfully slow and it isn’t boring.

Orlando starts setting up ladder bridges on the outside and Aaron backdrops him onto one. Aaron gingerly makes his way into the ring and he’s followed by Orlando, whose also hurting. Now this is where the current tempo and layout isn’t going to do the match any favours if it carries on. There needs to be a gear change at some point otherwise the match will stall, and the dominoes will fall like a house of cards. Checkmate.

That’s one of the issues with deciding to go for a restrained one-on-one ladder match; you still need to pepper the match with punctuation between all the climbs, bumps and highspots. Having both guys do nothing for long periods doesn’t make for entertaining viewing even if the crowd is red hot.

Aaron realises that he still needs to keep Orlando down for a climb, so looks for a finishing blow but Olando catches him in the tree of woe. He sets the ladder in the parallel corner and comes off the top with a flying…something. Headbutt? Maybe? Looks like he had to adjust for height and distance, so it came looking a little bit shit. Sorry OC.

That’s not enough for Orland though, and he throws Aaron into the crowd. Now we’re in frustration territory. There’s obviously something planned to take place over in the bleachers but the method to get there is lazy. Not only did Orlando choose not to climb for the title, but he takes himself away from the area entirely. I want this babyface to lose now. This hasn’t worked, guys.

A ladder gets set up near the bleachers and it is a big one! Maybe they can claw back some of that goodwill with a huge highspot. Aaron is out on the floor (not on a table or anything) and Orlando climbs to the top of the ladder but Aaron is soon up to lean the ladder over into the bleachers. Orlando grabs onto the railings and dives off onto Aaron and the security team. The idea was good and innovative, and the security had a reason to be there as they were keeping the crowd at bay (one of my wrestling pet peeves is the ever-present trainee squad being there to catch dives), but it still comes off as…well, backyardish. It’s a super dangerous spot, but Orlando somehow makes it look drab. Maybe it was the camera angle, maybe it was the set-up or maybe it was Orlando doing a silly pose beforehand.

Orlando is constantly doing Attitude Era nods. He’s doing the Raven pose, he’s doing crotch chops, he’s dipping into the Sandman and RVD movesets, and I have no idea if this is part of he gimmick or just him. Either way, it’s amateur hour stuff. I’m sure he’s a good dude though, and we’d have a great time going through my mp3 player from 2004. Got that Muderdolls album on repeat.

Orlando crawls back to the ring, selling that fall really well, and climbs for the belt but Aaron has already recovered and is meeting him at the other end. Dodgy stuff there. The crowd are with the action though and there’s big Orlando chants. Y’see NXT-UK, stuff like crowd investment really helps. Despite the faults, I’m more into this match than that multi-man clusterfuck because the fans here actually give a damn and it’s not over-produced.

Aron spits mist or Ribenna or something in the face of Orlando, who then falls, and that’s enough for Aaron to win and continue his one year reign. That finish took me by surprise as there was still an unused ladder bridged on the outside, and even the first bridge bump looked a bit too tame for it to be over. Slightly anti-climatic.

The Verdict:
This was a fun watch that suffered from some issues. Both guys worked at a good pace for most of the match but never got out of third gear. The silly stuff in the final ten minutes brought it down a bit, and it felt like they threw the structure and pacing out of the window just so they could do that balcony dive.

Both guys had moments where they looked good and played to their own strengths. Orlando Christopher is the promotion’s ECW tribute act, and Aaron Williams is the solid ring general that every regional promotion worth their salt has. The two work well together in that sense, and it’s easy to see why they were put together for a Best Of 5.

Most of the work was solid but not exactly spectacular. The two big highspots didn’t really hit the homerun that they were set-up to do but I commend and appreciate the effort. Even with the match suffering after they attempted some ambitious stuff, this cruised along at a nice speed, like your nan cautiously driving on a rainy day. A fine effort that the live crowd loved, but nothing essential **1/4

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