CZW Allentown Project (16/01/2004)

Your hosts: Eric Gargiulo and John House.

This show isn’t coming from the usual ECW bingo hall digs. Instead it comes from a fairy tale land called Allentown, 60 miles north of mainland Philly. This appears to be the dub’s attempt to expand their coverage, as I can’t find any other show emanating from this area beforehand. They’ve moved from New Jersey to Delaware to Philadelphia to Allentown, and with any luck they’ll be pulling huge crowds in Scranton and Sheboygan by the years end.

I haven’t seen this show and looking at the card, that’s probably for the best. I might’ve seen a couple of matches on Fake You TV (CZW’s taped TV show) back when the Wrestling Channel was a thing, but other than that this all new. Talking of FYTV, this show is designed to build feuds and angles for upcoming episodes as well as appealing to the local crowd in a bid to build an audience, and hopefully shift some tickets for upcoming Philly shows. It just gets a bit confusing when you consider that almost none of the matches here stem directly from Cage Of Death 5 results, as they’re all saved for the next day’s show back in the City Of Brotherly Love. So if you were following along with CZW on a show-to-show or tape-to-tape basis, you were in for a hell of a time.

I am relived that this show is 1 hour, 45 minutes. The set looks drab and basic, with 200 people in attendance. Attendance and interiors wouldn’t usually bother me but this isn’t IWA-MS. This is a CZW house show. I am so exited. So scared

Dee Jay vs. Jon Dahmer

DJ Hyde is out first to Linkin fucking Park and he appears to have murdered Jamie Samuels and turned those trousers of his into this monstrosity of early 00’s indie;

Big fan of the name too. Dee-Jay. Super hip. God bless the Deej.

Out comes Jon Dahmer with the Slim Shady special. Dudes buzzing their hair and dying it blonde were all the rage back then. The crowd are quiet but not like a respectful Japanese crowd, just an uninterested one. It has been hard chops, back sentons and exploders in the opening seconds as these two try and get the crowd fired up. Dahmer finally gets some noise from the audience with a plancha.

But still, Dee Jay does not make for a good look to a casual viewer or attendee. It sets the show out on the wrong foot and makes the promotion appear more bush league. Maybe that’s why Dahmer is trying balance out the shindy qualities with some REAL AMERICAN STRONG STYLE.

Dahmer attempts the Air Sabu, Hyde catches him and drills him with a back suplex onto the…canvas. Not the chair. Actually perpendicular to the chair. Weird stuff, as my 2020 mind was prepped for a potential gnarly chair bump. And why wouldn’t you in a match where there’s relaxed rules (as is the case for most CZW matches). Weird.

As if to prove that it’s still typical CZW rules though, Dahmer clobbers Hyde with an unprotected chair to the head and the Tanaka chair-elbow special. That’s enough for the finish in this thankfully short encounter. Hyde looks to have been busted open on the side of his head too, proper hardway.

Dahmer and Hyde, to their eternal credit, didn’t let a quiet, half empty venue stop them from beating the tar out of each other for 4 minutes. Their goal was to set the tone and the in-ring rules for any newbies, and they did just that. This would’ve got a belting reaction had it taken place at Beyond Wrestling in 2020.

Yellow Michinoku Ranger vs. Diehard

Well, fuck me silly. When I went to Cagematch to find out who these two actually are, it gave me a heart attack. Diehard is Eddie “Eddie Edwards” Edwards, and YMR is Sumie Sakai in a traditionally over-the-top Japanese gimmick. What in the flying shit. This is insane.

The card must’ve been swapped around, as Eric mentions that this is not on the call sheet. Did a car load full of Michinoku Pro/Boston guys show up from out of nowhere? This is what I love about indy shows from this era. All the weird names who show up without warning and in different gimmicks.

Is this one of the earliest examples of “proper” inter-gender wrestling? Was CHIKARA dipping their foot in the mixed gender pool around this time? They’re doing a good job getting the crowd clapping for the action, though it’s typical “Me?? A big, strong man? Wrestle…a mere woman??!” stuff with Eddie under-estimating Sumie (Yeah, I’m not using their tremendously bad old names here).

Sumie fakes out Eddie with a 619 and sends him to the floor and follows up with a ‘rana. A plancha from Sumie doesn’t garner the same big reaction though, as I think most of the crowd still don’t know how to feel about this apart from one fan who shouts “Boooo! This shit is fake!”.

Sumie hits that big Joshi missile dropkick but Eddie just no-sells and hits a powerslam. Now Eddie is in control it gets a bit too uncomfortable with Sumie making high-pitched squeals to sell Eddie’s headbutts, knee drops, elbow strikes and hair pulling. The same loud guy in the crowd yells something akin too “Yeah she deserves it!”. Not a good showing from Allentown here.

Eddie hits a nice springboard moonsault but eats the canvas. The biggest reaction in the match comes from a comedy spot where Sumie catches Eddie’s kick and sends his leg into the ref’s bollocks. That gets a big laugh and cheer. Sumie hits a DDT and Eddie somehow lands directly on Sumie’s nose. A tilt-a-whirl ‘rana gets two for Sumie and Eddie reverses the next one into a sidewalk slam.

Diehard goes to powerbomb Sumie but she begs him to show mercy and put her down so Eddie obliges. Sumie goes back on her word and tries to attack from the top rope, so Eddie kills her with his backpack stunner for the victory.

This wouldn’t feel out of place on a show today (again, a Beyond crowd would be into this) and the action was okay but it wasn’t going to work in 2004 in front of this crowd. I’m actually surprised how tasteful it was considering it’s an early 00’s CZW show. This wasn’t one for the local hicks though. Yes, everyone who doesn’t live in a big metropolis is a country bumpkin, those are the facts. I am thrilled to learn that we’ll see these two rookies on a couple more shows going forward. I hope they progress well.

Hallowmass vs. Nick Berk & Z-Barr

Who the fuck are Hallowmass, you ask? Great question. It’s Joseph Corman and Samir, two white dudes from the Texas scene in white face paint and black tracksuit bottoms. Indyriffic. They both competed at 2001’s Cage Of Death 3 in a forgettable three-way, and they were both squashed by The Briscoes at another CZW show in 2002. This is your big chance to shine, lads. Don’t fuck up.

I should note that the sound quality is fucking dreadful. I can barely make out the ring announcer or the music. Berk and Z-Barr are out to a big reception though! I definitely hear the tones of Iron Maiden so there must be another slew of Kerrang! albums in the ring truck.

The Hallowmass guys just look very uninspired. I am not exactly excited for this. It’s typical arm-based feeling out stuff at the start but it’s very shit and loose. It looks a lot worse than the previous two matches some how. Even at that super young age, both Edwards and Sumie showed promise and potential. These four…not so much.

Nick Berk hits a leg lariat that’ll make ‘Easy’ Ernie Benson proud. The faces have taken total control in the opening minutes, with slams and double teams and the like. I am really feeling for these sympathetic bad guys. The goth lads finally take over, and they lazily tag on the outside of the ring which the ref ignores and just allows. Fucking shite, that.

Berk snaps off a big satisfying sunset flip but then it’s back to being beaten down. It’s generic indie action but the crowd are clapping along, so it works I guess. It’s non-stop with little resting so I’ll give them that. Every time it looks like Berk will get the tag, the boot sale Headbangers get the upper hand. They are really teasing and milking this tag to Z-Barr but I don’t think they’re gonna get the big pop that they’re building to. One of the Hallowmass guys takes a nice biiiiiiiiiiig back body drop though.

Z-Barr comes in illegally because he’s crap and takes out the legal man, again to no reaction, so they’ve already ruined the rested face getting his hands on the dastardly heel team. Berk still has to hit three suplexes in a row afterwards to tag himself out and the crowd goes mild! Less than mild! This is the coconut korma of hot tags.

Barr gets to do all his favourite Fire Pro moves for a couple of minutes before a schoolboy with the tights gets Hallowmass the victory. Barely passable tag action. Barr hints at a rematch for the next day. Wait, the next day? Yes because the next day is a real CZW show at the arena. This is a warm-up, of sorts. I’m sure the crowd are rushing to the merch stands to buy tix to see the rematch of this classic. Well I suppose Berk and Barr need their win back. Fuck sake.

Joker vs. Sabian vs. Jonny Storm vs. Niles Young vs. Cory Kastle

One of these is not like the other! Imagine having Jonny Storm, who had a blow away performance with Jody Fleisch a couple years earlier at CZW’s annual Best Of The Best tournament, and having him here with the trainee chumps.

Looking at the card, they could’ve found a better spot for him surely. Just stick him in a singles match with Joker, who made himself a star at the last show. Or even Sonjay Dutt, who’s defending the JR title against Derek Fraizer for some reason. Jonny is here as part of his mini tour of the US, where he’ll also hit PWG before jetting off to Japan for Zero-1.

Jonny grabs the mic after some nice applause and goes full-on Butlins camp heel on them. “You’re smelly! You Americans are all inbred! You yanks are so stupid! etc etc etc!” He calls everyone wankers, tells them to shut up and threatens to slap all of them. Yes! That’s got the crowd riled up nicely!

And then they revert back to silence when they see the rest of the participants. Sabian makes his entrance as John House screams, “The booty man! The booty man! The booty man” after his stunt at Cage Of Death 5 garnered so much press on the Live Journal community. As everyone else enters and the match starts, you sense the gulf in class between Jonny and the CZW Dojo guys. Sabian and Joker can just about hold their own, Niles needs more work and Kastle needs LOADS more work. This should be interesting at the very least.

Sabian does his best to keep up with Jonny until the Englishman thinks “Fuck it” and lets the trainees go through their practiced routines. Kastle comes in without tagging (AGAIN ON THIS SHOW) and takes over, and Joker complains to the ref who just shrugs. Such fucking shite. We get a dive train that includes a smooth topé con hilo from Joker and Jonny’s trademark springboard somersault plancha.

Kastle and Young run through some dumb stuff in the ring and Kastle eliminates Young with a move that I cant tell if it was botched or not. Joker lariats Kastle for his trouble, and that’s followed by Sabian’s pancake 450 to send him packing.

Jonny soon takes out Sabian with a ‘rana off the top, but Sabian has to look strong so he kicks out just after three and the crowd boo because they think it’s a fuck up. Or they’re booing because they see through Sabian’s Hulk Hogan Fuckery tribute. It sucks, either way.

And now we’re down to Joker and Storm, which is what it should’ve been from the start. Joker is still very new so the ‘fish out of water’ spots and double clotheslines do not look good. But this is the kind of experience that a new guy or trainee needs; one-on-one with experienced hands in front of local crowds, not shoved in multi-mans with other students and green workers on every single show. No one learns from that.

Jonny hits the Storm Cradle Driver and Joker gets to kick out and hit a cross-armed brainbuster for the victory, and that is a huge victory. Joker tries to pick Jonny up in a sign of respect, but gives him a bit of a slap instead when Jonny tells him to fuck off, as I don’t think he knew Jonny had to do his post-match posing and tantrums. This sucked. A total waste of Jonny, and to some extent, Joker.

CZW Jr Heavyweight Title: Sonjay Dutt vs. Derek Frazier

So this is for the Jr Heavyweight title, yet Derek lost a triple-threat match at Cage Of Death? Why not just have Storm there instead then? Either do what’s best for the trainees or put together the most entertaining matches possible; this show has done neither. I calm down enough to see Sonjay posing with kids during his entrance. Big fan favourite here. Hopefully that translates once the bell rings.

House and Eric argue about Ruckus not being in the Jr title match. House thinks that Ruckus should get his rematch, with Eric replying “Yeah but he lost!”. Well so did fucking Derek! GIVE ME STORM VS SONJAY, you cowards! After a bit of internet sleuthing I learn that Sonjay defeated Storm at a deathmatch-heavy outdoor CZW show in Delaware in August of 2003. I bet it’s a proper 5 star classic, especially in front of that bloodmark crowd. What a waste. I am wound up. I need to take a bath.

Sonjay is leagues above the guys we’ve seen so far (including Fraizer and Joker, with the exception of Storm). He’s got good gear, his moves have snap and he looks like he’s seen the inside of a gym. Fraizer looks to have blown his knee during the opening seconds and drops to the mat in agony. The ref and Sonjay look concerned and they get another two refs out there to have a look at the situation. Fraizer gets carried out to respectful applause and I feel terrible for ragging on him. Well at least it was short.


Give that man an Oscar!

I wish I was at this show for that brilliantly executed bit of business because the crowd do not make a fucking peep. Hopefully its shocked silence. There was some shouting and abuse, but nowhere near the explosion of booing that it deserved.

Despite all that it quickly settles down as, at the end of the day, it’s just Derek Fraizer, and Sonjay struggles to keep the crowd interested during his comeback. Man, every match so far has been a battle with the show’s omnipresent competitor; the fucking dead Allentown audience. They react here and there, but it’s never sustained. Sonjay gets the duke with a Muscle Buster and a standing Shooting Star. The crowd react nicely to his win, much to my surprise. Passable but boring stuff, and a bit ropey in parts, but the Fraizer angle was so great.

CZW Tag Team Titles: Backseat Boyz vs. Alex Shelley & Jimmy Jacobs

Well Shelly and Jacobs won their respective No.1 contender matches at COD5, so I guess this makes some sense. By all rights this should blow everything away on the show so far.

The Dew is alive and in a wheelchair to occupy the Backseats! Wonderful! Trent is in his house show gear, much to my disappointment. That doesn’t stop the ladies pounding his and Kashmere’s groins with dollar bills. Kashmere is in the silver gear today, so they must swap gear every now and again. That’s a bond that most tag teams don’t have.

Jacobs and Shelly coming out to a reception of nothing is bothersome, as is Shelly’s buzzcut. These two are currently in the middle of a quite popular IWA-MS feud, and Eric points this out as Alex is grooving along to the wonderful tones of Stan Bush’s ‘The Touch’.

Within seconds the Backseats have hit a load of fancy double team combos to a few cheers and Jimmy Jacobs cleans house afterwards. Weird way to start things, as surely the established heels would want to give some shine to the newbies first. Jacobs and Shelly establish control and then the Backseats take control again. It’s very back and forth, and not what I expected at all. The Backseats cement their heat segment with a massive powerbomb/neckbreaker combo.

Jacobs eventually fights back with some less-than-crisp offence. Shelly gets a hot tag (well, hottish) and hits some slams and the like. A Demolition-style back senton gets 2. Jacobs and Shelly try some cutesy drop-down double team and Trent takes advantage of Jacobs accidentally hitting Shelly with a clothesline, and then a T-Gimmick on Jacobs finishes. This was very underwhelming.

Post-match, Rebel’s Army (Josh and Rockin’) attack the IWA-MS guys, and then they call out the Backseats. Apparently a match between them is tomorrow night. Yep, I can see all these Allentown locals making the 60 mile trip to Philly the very next day to see how this culminates.

Post-post- match Shelly attacks Jacobs and gives him the Shellshock, which Jacobs always took wonderfully on his neck/head. Like, always. Alex grabs the mic and cuts a promo on Jacobs.

“Gfdhdhdhd…..fhdjfhfjfhf…..kick my ass! You furry little bastard!”. That’s all I can make out on this shoddy PA sytem. Something about not wanting to travel and tag with him in the first place and being sick of carrying him in every promotion they work in. Shelly finishes it off with a massive slap on Jacobs chest and a few stomps. Well I for one can’t wait to see how this progresses in the dub.

CZW Iron Man Title: Jimmy Rave vs. Ruckus

Ruckus lost the Jr Heavyweight title, and now he’s challenging for the Iron Man title on the next show? Sure thing, that’s how sport works. Jimmy seems to have stolen Dee Jay’s gear as he has the same bright blue baggy pleather. There must’ve been a sale.

Uh-oh, Jiimy is on the mic which is bad news. He says something about Iron Man rules, and hands the mic to Ruckus (who apparently has just got to the venue according to Eric). So I guess Ruckus gets to make the rules for this one and all I can hear is that it’ll be a one fall match instead of the usual Iron Man rules. Ummmm…yay??

Ruckus is wearing a COD5 shirt, which is good for advertising a show that happened a month ago. They do the corner pose routine and Rave gets a bigger response! So he has something that this Allentown crowd like. This appears to be the start of Ruckus’ proper heel turn, as he’s stalling and telling the fans to shush. Don’ do that Ruckus, you fuck! It’s been hard enough keeping them engaged as it is.

Ruckus lands a cheap shot on Rave but Rave still feels like getting the fans to clap along and grabs a headlock after taking a straight right to the face. Ruckus gets frustrated with the wrestling, pops outside and throws a kid’s cap into the crowd. That’s a nice bit of heel work, and Sabian would do a similar thing a few years later when he chucks an old man’s walking stick across the venue and rips out the guy’s hair when he grabs his bandanna. Yeah, both are the same and both are equally as wholesome (nope).

Ruckus hits some flippy offence, which is always impressive for his size and is his main quality. Ruckus gets the fans to move out of their seats so he can send Rave into some destruction, and then chucks Rave back into the ring instead to a big reaction. These fans love their shtick! Less moves lads, more shtick and nonsense! Ruckus hits the RAZZLE DAZZLE but Rave catches him in an armbar. Ruckus battles out and simply tries it again and this time it connects. Huh, right.

An enziguri gets Rave back on level and the crowd try to clap for support but doesn’t sound like many of them are in a supportive mood. Ruckus takes over again with a neckbreaker, and I can’t see Rave getting a second wind out this crowd. But he does! More solid clapping after Ruckus misses a twisty mcflip off the top. Ruckus attempts a sunset flip afterwards and Rave reverses into the big knee and that’s it! Well, that was a bit disappointing, which has been the theme the last couple of matches. Nothing notable happened. Rave and the crowd don’t look thrilled with the victory.

This whole card is very house show like which isn’t my experience of CZW at all. The guys are hovering around the second gear, with the rare shift into third for short periods. I hope this show wasn’t sold at full price on video. Fingers crossed that the main event can deliver a fun brawl to end the show on a high.

The Hi-V (Adam Flash, B-Boy & The Messiah) vs. Ian Knoxx & The H8 Club (Nate Hatred & Nick Gage)

This is announced as Falls Count Anywhere (yes!) and they’ve got Dewey out for double duty! With a stipulation like this and the feud, this should deliver the goods. 6-man tag main event at a house show? That’s the way it should be. Pay attention WWE. PROTECT YOUR WRESTLERS.

Ian Knoxx arrives in a velour tracksuit. Eeeesh. Not exactly main event status gear. He really should’ve brought along his usual clobber. The purple trackie and grey vest make him look more like he’s just got out of bed. This is the main event! This is not how you treat the big push you’re getting.

For Ian’s defence, it was probably a direct order from Zandig though. “Yeah just dress like you’re hungover on a Sunday morning. It’ll really help your connection with the fans”.

This is where that swerve at COD5 starts to scrape the barrel, as Hatred is tagging with guys he’s been battering for the past 8 or so months. Ian Knoxx almost died battling the team he was apart of. Talking of Knoxx, Messiah agrees that the gear sucks as he dominates Knoxx to start. Suplexes, mean stomps and very aggressive chinlocks. Yep, a chinlock in the first 30 seconds of a 6-man tag. Work that hold, brother. Slow it down. Work it. Slow it.

Ian is already getting his comeback. At least the crowd (or family and friends) erupt into “Ian! Ian!” chants. The heels talk shop on the outside, and Messiah takes over again. Ian is still young and inexperienced so his time on offence is rough and/or fucked up. A double clothesline looks especially disastrous. Messiah just decides to drop Ian with a callous back suplex to teach him a lesson. Veteran move.

Gage looks like damn baby and the fans still love him. Well, until he takes off his bandanna to show off his balding monk hairstyle, which makes him look older than he does now.

I thought this was a Falls Count Anywhere affair, yet referee Rob Hartog is calling for tags and starting counts on the outside. The crowd are more alive for this match, which makes it an easier viewing experience at least. After the H8 Club run a train on Flash and Messiah for a bit, Knoxx is tagged in and he is immediately taken back under the thumb. Well, the good thumb at least.

B-Boy is the most polished of the Hi-V, Messiah is decent and Flash is…uhhh, Flash. He exhibits a classic late 90’s PA indie style. Really lazy hot tag from Knoxx, who just hits some light punches to Flash’s gut before apathetically tagging Hatred. I feel like nothing is working for these guys. The Backseats interfere as the ref starts to lose control in this match that shouldn’t really have any rules at all.

A table gets brought in and surprisingly for a CZW show this is only the second match that has any plunder. Wifebeater is here! What a surprise! He snap suplexes Flash through the table, covers and wins via pinfall!……You fucking what?!!??! What a terrible finish! That’s two shows in a row where the main event has ended in disastrous fashion.
No fucking way are any new fans going to the dub’s show the next day, or any show for that matter. Christ. Wifebeater makes up for it by pushing Dewey around the ring and through the entrance, and you just about see him fall over.

Afterwards, Hatred lariats Messiah, and Gage whacks him with a chair as the first (and I think only) CZW chant breaks out. What a mess. I’ve also just realised due to a subtle hint from John House that the HI-V is a pun on HIV. CZW, guys.

Would I recommend this show? Absolutely fucking not. It’s devoid of anything good, fun, innovative or just enjoyable in general. The matches are short, but it still took me two sessions to get through. Proper house show fodder, and not in the good way. Honestly, the whole event just feels depressing. The set-up, the content, hell even the colours are ghastly.

What I noticed from the whole show is the stuff that got the biggest reactions were comedy spots, mic work and crowd interaction. Big moves and storyline developments made no impact at all in comparison . This was a local crowd, and they weren’t after a CZW experience. They wanted a good ol’ AMERICAN PRO WRESTLING experience.

So there’s a show the very next day at the ECW arena and it’s more connected to the developments of Cage Of Death 5 than this show. I’m curious to see if the feuds that were started on this show (Backseat Boys vs Rebel’s Army, Alex Shelly vs Jimmy Jacobs and the Kobashi/Misawa that will be Hallowmass vs Barr & Berk) confuse the crowd or if CZW finds a way around it.

The plan was to recommend at least one match from every show on this quest and already the second show makes that so hard. I want to say Dahmer vs Hyde because its short and also fun for all the wrong reasons. That or Frazier/Sonjay for the injury angle, but not much else. Fuck it, Dahmer vs Hyde it is.

That’s all from me, until next time.

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