The Delco Elbow Drop

Friday, February 7, 2014

Best of the Tubes – Mr. Wrestling vs. The Mobster; Gargano vs. Tozawa; Young Bucks vs. Bad Influence

The third installment of “Best of the Tubes” brings matches from CZW, AIW and QPro Wrestling to distract you from the strange happenings that have been going on in WWE lately. CM Punk is gone for who knows how long, the Shield is picking fights with the Wyatt Family and are seemingly on the verge of disbanding and Zack Ryder had two matches on WWE TV in the same week. What?!

“Mr. Wrestling” Kevin Steen vs. Franky the Mobster
CZW Deja Vu 3, Ironman championship match, Aug. 2005

Both Kevin Steen and Franky the Mobster came to CZW from IWS in Canada and immediately made an impact in the company. Steen debuted in CZW in 2004 and a few months before this match against Franky the Mobster for the Ironman championship, he battled his way to the finals of the annual CZW Best of the Best tournament. Steen defeated Kenny the Bastard (another IWS import) and Chris Hero before facing Super Dragon, B-Boy and Mike Quackenbush in the finals.

Franky the Mobster also made an immediate impact in the Combat Zone. His loud, brash, in-your-face persona as well as his size made him hard to ignore. Even more impressive is that in his first match in CZW, Franky defeated B-Boy to win the Ironman championship and defended it numerous time before meeting Steen at Déjà Vu 3.

I can’t recall the match specifically but I’m sure I was at this show; me and a couple friends pretty much attended every CZW show between 2003 and 2006-07. This contest between Steen and Franky is really hard-hitting, as both these guys are pretty sizable and known for their power offense. But if you follow indy wrestling today, you’ll mainly notice how much bigger Steen has gotten since 2005, that Bryce had a decent head of hair at one point and yes, that was current CZW/Wrestling Is official Nick Papagiorgio at the time keeper’s table.

Johnny Gargano vs. Akira Tozawa
AIW TPI, 2011

Johnny Gargano and Akira Tozawa may not be the most well-known names among casual fans but those who follow the indies, and Japanese promotions, have seen what these two athletic guys can do in the ring. Gargano is actually the AIW Absolution champ at the time, their biggest title, though this match is not for the belt.

Gargano has been working the American independent scene since 2006 but has really come into his own and made a name for himself over the past few years. I originally was introduced to his work through Chikara, where he was a member of the heel stable F.I.S.T. alongside Icarus, Gran Akuma and Chuck Taylor. However more often than not, Gargano works the role of a good guy and is very adept at getting the crowd behind him, thanks to his relentless style and driven attitude. Gargano has also held the Open the Freedom Gate championship in Dragon Gate USA, their biggest title, for over 800 days, defeating several American stars as well as Japanese wrestlers – such as Akira Tozawa.

Tozawa made his debut for Dragon Gate in Japan in 2005 but I only became aware of his work after he made a lengthy trip to the states in 2010-2011 where he competed for several companies such as Dragon Gate USA, Chikara and PWG. Though he has evolved over the years, Tozawa, like Gargano, is lauded for his fast-paced work ethic and his hard-hitting style and always riles up the crowd with his intensity and antics. He’s had incredible matches against guys like Kevin Steen, El Generico, Gargano and has teamed with Steen many times to form the Nightmare Violence Connection.

Though you would think that a match between Gargano and Tozawa (this being their first-ever meeting – though DG USA fans know of their wars for the Open the Freedom Gate title) would be a high-flying extravaganza, this match from the AIW 2011 TPI starts off with back-and-forth technical grappling and eventually transitions into a hard-hitting fight with both guys trading high-impact moves – despite it being the first night of a two-day tournament.

The Young Bucks vs. Bad Influence
QPro Wrestling Show #1, June 2, 2013

The final match I’m showcasing this week is hard to classify as it’s between two teams with a huge amount of starpower but takes place in a newer, relatively unknown promotion. QPro Wrestling, out of southern California, seems almost like an underground version of PWG, if that makes any sense. I’ve only just heard of the promotion very recently but it seems like they regularly book guys like Kevin Steen, B-Boy, Brian Cage and many other PWG mainstays (even referee Rick Knox!) and in this case, even brought in the TNA tag team, Bad Influence (Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian).

It’s really cool to see Bad Influence work a smaller crowd like this. It isn’t often these days that the Young Bucks get out-heeled (since they are their usual, arrogant selves in this match) but Bad Influence has a lot more experience riling up the crowd with not only their excellent mic-work but with their underhanded maneuvers as well. At one point, the Young Bucks also worked for TNA as Generation Me but I don’t know if they ever wrestled Bad Influence, mainly because I don’t watch TNA. Fun fact, I called the Young Bucks “Generation Me” at the House of Hardcore show in Philly (also this past June) and they were not impressed. Nick Jackson actually acknowledged my stupid heckle, yelling “Who’s that?” back at me.

It’s odd that this match doesn’t have commentary, but I read in the comments that QPro doesn’t produce DVDs, which is also how they can book a team contracted to TNA, like Bad Influence. I don’t really mind the lack of commentary, since watching a Young Bucks match without Excalibur calling it just seems wrong to me. I’m definitely going to make sure to keep an eye on QPro - they might only a few shows produced so far but with the kind of stars they are already booking, the only direction QPro can go is up.

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An avid gamer and long-time pro wrestling fan, stay tuned to Grizzly Gaming and the Delco Elbow Drop for game reviews and pro wrestling news.

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