NOVA Pro Wrestling: Paradise by the Dashboard Light


Hey, they were back in my neighborhood, so I stopped by. DVDVR already reviewed this show, but I was there so I wanted to join in. As a note, I am reviewing the DVD of the show, to make sure I didn’t miss anything when taking notes. This show is available on SmartMarkVideo, and I cannot recommend it highly enough – as you’ll see, holding the show on Black Friday allowed for an all-star cast to show up.

From Fairfax, VA.

Your hosts are Kevin Ford and Emil Jay.

Pre-Show Match: Mikey Webb vs. Frankie Pickard. By “pre-show”, we mean this match kicked off before the scheduled bell time as people are still filing in. It’s on the DVD, so it’s part of the show, obviously. Webb is a New-England based wrestler and sometime partner of Donovan Dijak, whom we’ll see later. Ford is doing solo work on this match, as Jay hasn’t arrived yet (the running gag has been Jay is scouting Pickard for a CZW push).

Pickard does a backward roll off a lockup, and Webb is nonpluessed. Round 2, and Webb gets a cheap forearm and some face shots. Blind charge misses and Pickard brings the elbows and a running knee strike for two. Webb rolls out for distance (“Ow.”), but Pickard brings him in to get kicks and an enzuigiri for two. RKO (Webb: “Outta nowhere!”) by Webb, and he follows with a dropkick for two. Forearm by Webb, and a backbreaker for two. Webb stalls too much and gets blasted with a forearm, but Webb with a running kick for two. Pickard with palm strikes for the comeback, but Webb cuts it off with a short elbow for two. Spit punch misses, and Pickard with a roundhouse and Trouble in Paradise for two. Front dropkick by Pickard for two. Pickard’s moonsault misses, and Webb with the corner Death Valley Driver (called the Blu-Ray) for two. Powerbomb by Webb gets two. Pickard with his DDT and Rewind DDT out of nowhere for the pin at 6:51. This was a bunch of moves. *1/4

Opening match proper: Ethan Alexander Sharpe & Lucas Calhoun vs. The Sammich Squad. Sharpe is a rich mama’s boy, Calhoun is an Elvis impersonator, and the Sammich Squad (Aaron Biggs and Mecha Mercenary) are 400 pounders you may have seen getting misted as part of Tag Team Apocalypto. Calhoun: “Hey, y’all got any of them peanut butter and banana sammiches?” Sharpe is not a fan of this fraternizing and tells Calhoun to knock it off.

Sharpe and Mech start, but Sharpe bails quickly. Jay returns to commentary saying Pickard didn’t return his calls and he’ll try to be in a good mood. Sharpe stalls, ducking in and out, then jumping back in and tagging in Calhoun. Calhoun does some karate at Mech, which does nothing but elicit stares. Calhoun tries the Crane Pose instead (Crowd: “Sweep the leg!”), so Mech just clotheslines him down. Cahoun tricks Mech into a headlock, but Mech runs him over and in comes Biggs. Biggs with a 5-second slam, but Calhoun rakes the eyes and (eventually) tags in a very reluctant Sharpe… who tags right back out. Calhoun runs into a hiptoss by Biggs, and Mech comes in to bite Calhoun on an arm-wringer. Blind charge eats boot, but Calhoun runs into a back elbow. Elbowdrop misses, and now Sharpe tags in and pounds away. It gets one. He keeps pounding, but Mech just no-sells and goes for a chokeslam, but Sharpe grabs Mech’s goatee to escape and does shoulder thrusts in the corner. Jawbreaker follows, though both men sell it, and then he tries to whip Mech across the ring, which, uh, no. Avalanche by Mech airballs, and now Sharpe goes for the pump kick… and it’s caught. “Hot” tag for Biggs, and Sharpe gets headbutted left and right. Trip by Mech and back splash by Biggs, but Sharpe avoids getting sandwiched and tags in Calhoun. But Calhoun’s had enough of this and tosses Sharpe back to Mech, straight into the Black Forest Slam for the pin at 8:04. A bit long for the comedy they were doing, but the crowd liked it. 1/2* Calhoun and the Squad dance after the match and celebrate with a five-foot sub… that falls onto the floor! Calhoun and Mech freak out while Biggs leads a Five Second Rule chant in a funny bit.

Brandon Day vs. Jon Kermon. These are two Virginia-based wrestlers. Day carries a chain with him to the ring; Kermon is MMA-trained. In a twist, Kermon checks the ref for weapons (Jay approves).

Kermon works a wristlock to start, but Day reverses and gets the ride. Kermon tries a pinning predicament and switches to a front heaclock and rear guard, but Day slides out and sneaks on top for one. Kermon goes for the armbar, into a leg wristlock and crucifix pin for one. Day reverses for one, and both get to a standing restart. Kermon lies on the ground to offer a free shot, then avoids the elbowdrop and goes for the cross armbar, but Day’s in the ropes. Kermon sends Day to the outside, and Kermon gets a double axhandle to follow. Kermon chops Day all the way around the ring, and back in, he gets caught coming in and Day with a running knee and punches.on the mount. Deadlift German by Day (Kermon’s only about 160, mind you), and Day works Kermon over in the corner. Chops and a headsmash, then a running uppercut gets two. We HIT THE CHINLOCK, then Day catches a charging Kermon with a knee to the gut. Falling elbow gets two. Day with a top wristlock, but Kermon rolls Day to the mat for two. Jawbreaker by Day, and a snapmare. He tries another low lariat, but Kermon catches Day and delivers knees to the head. Punch-out by Kermon in the corner, and Kermon with the Brisco Brothers rollup into a double stomp into a cross armbar. Day stacks him for two. Day drives Kermon into the corner, but Kermon gets separation and dives onto him with a guillotine. Day suplexes out of it for two. Day does mounted punches in frustration, then goes for the chain. Kermon ducks a chain elbow and gets a choke sleeper, then fights out of the corner into a triangle choke for the tapout at 9:21. Day’s strength is not an MMA style. *1/2 After the match, Kermon issues an open challenge for 2017 to all MMA/wrestling hybrid talents.

Rachael Ellering vs. Brittany Blake. Blake is CZW-trained and NOVA Pro’s resident female. Ellering is Paul’s daughter. This match has Aspyn Rose, wrestling’s only mermaid – yes, that’s her gimmick – as the referee (Blake was supposed to face Jordynne Grace, presumably meaning Ellering and Rose would face off, though the latter match was never announced and, at any rate, Grace withdrew due to an injury). For the record, Aspyn appears to be about 12 years old and the ref shirt she borrowed looks like a nightgown on her.

Blake with an armdrag and she escapes a press, then gets a tilt-a-whirl headscissors. Ellering with a Flying Jalapeno, and she chops Blake down. Ellering fakes a soccer kick and gets a senton for two. Blake escapes another fireman’s carry and gets an enziugiri and knee strike in the corner. Facejam gets two. Ellering catches Blake on a crossbody and sets her on the top rope before knocking her to the floor. Ellering and Blake brawl on the outside, which ends when Ellering boots Blake down. Blake recovers with a headbutt and breaks the count, but runs into a pummel from Ellering. Finally in the ring, they trade forearms, including chasing each other off the ropes, which ends with Ellering getting the Bossman Slam for two. Ellering bounces off the ropes into a superkick, and Blake wins a series of reversals with a Codebreaker for two. Blake tries the Bad Omen (Tequila Sunrise), but Ellering makes the ropes. Ellering dropkicks Blake into the ropes, adding an STO. Twisting legdrop off the second rope, but Blake’s foot is on the ropes. Spinebuster gets two, but Blake kicks out into the Bad Omen for the win at 6:10. Rose was a non-factor. This match felt like it had another five minutes in it, honestly. *1/4

Jonathan Gresham vs. Donovan Dijak. As of this taping, Gresham was CZW champion, but this is non-title. Dijak is of course the ROH Top Prospect, and he has a good ten inches of height and 90 pounds of weight on Gresham. Funny bit as the ref forgets to go to the ring and has to race out during Dijak’s music, causing a “Referee” chant.

Dijak keeps Gresham at arm’s length to start, then backs him into the corner only for Gresham to hook a sleeper. Dijak slaps around Gresham, but off the lockup Dijak throws an elbow to the head. Gresham sits down for leverage, so Dijak reaches in to pick him up and gets rolled over. Gresham follows with a Victory Roll neckmare and trips Dijak into the ropes, dropkicking him from behind. Gresham follows with a slingshot plancha, but a tope suicida is caught and Dijak lawndarts Gresham into the post. Gresham ducks under the ring and finds streamers, distracting Dijak with them to get an edge only to get forearmed down. Gresham takes a front-row seat and begs off, but Dijak throws him into the ring. Gresham keeps rolling the other way, only for Dijak to follow and forearm him down again. Dijak chokes Gresham with a streamer to get one. Gresham headbutts the gut and tries a slam, but, um, no. Dijak elbows Gresham down for two. Suplex throw by Dijak, then a huge forearm smash. Gresham bites Dijak’s hand to get the edge, but the back falls out on a slam attempt and Dijak gets two. Chokeslam try by Dijak, but Gresham reverses to a prawn hold for two. Big kick by Dijak gets two. Dijak mauls Gresham for two. Dijak with throwback slam, but Gresham yanks on the ear to get the edge as they both fall into the corner. Dijak chokes Gresham on the bottom rope to give him some breathing room. He sets Gresham on the top and follows, but Gresham blocks the superplex. Gresham tries another prawn hold, but Dijak blocks, but Gresham spins Dijak face-first to the canvas. Haluva kick by Gresham, then another, then he trips Dijak into the turnbuckle and adds a running dropkick. Dijak rolls out, so Gresham fakes a rope dive and does a quebrada off the turnbuckle instead. Gresham can’t get Dijak in, so he rolls in for a countout try and… climbs a far rope? Yep, and when Dijak stumbles in, he walks into a bodypress for two. Gresham calls for the slam again, and it almost works, but Dijak slips out the back and gets a Torture Rack. Gresham punches out, and after some strikes, Dijak with a rolling elbow, but Gresham with a rebound German suplex into a moonsault DDT for two. Gresham goes up top again, but the 450 is caught in midair and Dijak gets the chokeslam backbreaker. Dijak’s moonsault off the top misses, and Gresham hooks the Octopus Hold. Dijak powers out into the Rack, and from there Feast Your Eyes ends it at 14:26. Amazing last five minutes of a match with a great build. ***3/4 Match gets a standing ovation. The two men form a mutual admiration society post-match.

Logan’s Heroes vs. Sterling’s Studs. Okay, bear with me, because this is a 5-on-5 Survivor Series match and we have a LOT of people to introduce.

Team 1 is Logan’s Heroes. The captain is Logan Easton LaRoux, Champion of the 1%, who has the greatest hometown ever, “A gated community inside another gated community surrounded by yet another gated community in Great Falls, VA”. His teammates are Alexander James (CZW’s Young Lion), Bobby Shields (longtime vet doing a gym rat gimmick), and the Carnies (“Dog-Faced Gargoyle” Kerry Awful and “Blue-Eyed Devil” Tripp Cassidy), demonic circus folk based in Tennessee. Their leader, Nick Iggy, is not present.

Team 2 is Sterling’s Studs. The captain is PWI Ultra J champion Chet “I’m Different” Sterling, last seen at Total Nonstop Deletion getting beaten by Itchweeed. His teammates are Chuck “Dustin” Taylor (indy all-star), “Detective” Dan Barry (his part-time partner), and Cutie and the Beast (Beau Crockett and Isaiah Santero, whom I’ve profiled already on this site). Basically, in October – Iggy/Awful defeated Crockett/Santero, LaRoux/James defeated Taylor/Barry, and Sterling defeated Shields. So now we have this match. We good? Good.

After some deliberation, Logan and Sterling start. Sterling works the arm, but Logan reverses. Sterling rolls through and gets a wristlock into a headlock, but Logan blocks a rana and tries for a spinning toe hold. Everyone breaks and we reset with a test of strength, won by Sterling. Now Sterling gets the headscissors, and Logan bails to tag in Cassidy. Cassidy lariats down Sterling, and Santero tags in. Santero gets a quesadora armdrag, and Taylor and James are next in. James with an early headlock, and they exchange shoulderblocks. Taylor cuts off a charge with an elbow and gets a backflip into a dropkick. Big chop in the corner, and Sterling is back in to chop away and get an uppercut. Crockett in next, and he chops away. James with an eyepoke to take over, and he chops away and gets a snapmare. Uppercut to the back follows, and Awful comes in with an eyepoke. Throat thrust follows, and they trade power with Crockett getting the slam to get the edge. Shields in now, and he gets a dropkick, only for Barry to tag in and get a cartwheel into a leg lariat. Then the fun begins: Santero enters with a slingshot stomp; Crockett with a slingshot elbow; Sterling with a tope atomico; Barry with a knee-balance senton; and Taylor with the world-famous handstand senton (which he celebrates like he’s Shawn Michaels). This brings everybody into the ring. Faces (that would be Sterling’s team) clear the ring, and Taylor and Santero with stereo tope suicidae. Crockett with a slingshot plancha (off-camera) onto the Carnies, Barry with an Asai moonsault to James/Shields, and Sterling finishes with a tope con hilo to Logan. Shields charges Taylor, but a catapult Complete Shot by Taylor/Barry eliminates Shields at 7:52.. James enters and gets a superkick/Sole Food combo. Barry goes up, but the Carnies shake the ropes and Barry is crotched. Tower of London by James eliminates Barry at 8:33. Taylor back in for the Awful Waffle, but James with a mule kick and rollup for the pin at 8:52 and it’s 4-on-3. James cartwheels out of a whip by Sterling, but Chet with a dropkick and Ruff Ryder for two. James catches Sterling’s foot and hangs it on the middle rope, getting a cradle for two and a kneebar as Logan stomps away on the knee. Logan puts Sterling in the Tree of Woe and dropkicks the knee for two. Awful in, and he and Logan wishbone Sterling. He spits at Crockett, drawing him in, then adds a low headbutt to Sterling for two. Cassidy enters, and he gets a kneelift for two, Crockett saves. James tries a back suplex, but Sterling flips out the back and gets an enzuigiri. Santero gets the tag and tackles James to no effect. James turns to his corner to laugh, so Santero brings in the much bigger Crockett, and Crockett’s spear works. Time of My Life follows to eliminate James at 12:32. Cassidy runs into some punches, but he gets caught in the wrong corner. They try a double-whip, but Crockett runs them together. German suplex to Cassidy, clothesline to Awful, and he’s going up top. The Carnies bail to the outside, so Crockett shrugs and dives out there instead. (Santero freaks out and tells him never to do that again.) Crockett agrees, and they do the lucha handhold ropewalk into a pescado by Santero. Cassidy’s sent back in, but Awful cuts off Time of My Life, so he gets a Superman Punch. Low blow by Cassidy to Crockett as the ref is telling Santero to leave, and that gets a pin at 14:46. Santero tries to fight both of them, but gets caught with the Car-Knees. Tiger bomb by Awful, and Logan in with a tope atomico. Northern Lariat by Logan gets two. Northern Lights by Logan gets two. Cassidy in, and he knocks off both Sterling and Santero. Suplex by Cassidy and senton by Awful, and Awful chops away on Santero. Awful follows up by biting Santero’s nose, and Cassidy enters with a water bottle. He spits the water into Santero’s face, and Awful licks the water off his chest. Ford is disgusted. Awful tags in again, but Santero fights out of a double-team, gets a hip check on Awful, runs them together, and gets a Mysterio double bulldog. STO to Cassidy, and he prawn holds Awful for… wait, Cassidy’s the legal man, so nothing. Cassidy pounds down Santero, and Awful tags in for a double suplex. Santero stomps the feet, throws Cassidy into Logan, and cradles Awful (who is NOW legal, despite Emil’s protests) for the pin at 19:26. Awful sticks around to give Santero a powerbomb, and Cassidy with the Tombstone to pin Santero at 19:58. Crockett returns from the back to beat up Awful and send him to the back. Meanwhile, Sterling with a series of dropkicks and a running STO to Cassidy. Half-nelson suplex is set up, but Cassidy fights out and tries another Tombstone. Sterling escapes and gets the half-nelson suplex, and the High Fly Flow makes it just Sterling and Logan at 21:19. Logan tries a quick RKO, but Sterling rolls out, and tries a cradle, but Logan blocks and grabs the ropes for the pin at 21:38 to be the sole survivor. You know, the action was pretty constant in this match, but the thing that stood out to me was the booking: all the heel pins were gotten with a bit of cheating beforehand, and all the faces won their falls clean as a whistle (including one where they had it called off because the wrong man was pinned). That’s good booking, and it leads to a very captivating match. ***1/4

Side note here: during intermission, Rachael Ellering and Chuck Taylor gave us an impromptu karaoke style duet of Paradise by the Dashboard Light. Taylor, of course, sang the female parts.

Brandon “Money” Green vs. Rayo. So, Green is one of those indescribably rich people who thinks money is everything and who cheats like a monster – think Ted DiBiase with a Monopoly man mustache.. The story is that he brought Rayo (a Peruvian soccer player) into the US and made him a wrestler, but Rayo’s been chafing at Green’s advice (cheat first). Rayo wanted out of his contract, and Green promised it if he could beat Arik Royal in October. Royal is NOVA Pro’s ace, so that didn’t happen, but Rayo wanted one more chance. So here it is: if Rayo wins, he controls his own bookings in NOVA Pro. If Green wins, Rayo’s contract is extended indefinitely.

But before the match, Green reminds Rayo of the deal: if Rayo lays down, Green will donate tons of money to Rayo’s village. Rayo lays down, all right… but Green arrogantly walks into a kick from a prone position. Cradle by Rayo gets one, and Rayo with kicks and knees into a headscissors as Green bails. Rayo with a baseball slide and running kick from the apron. Rayo with Yes Kicks, but Green ducks the roundhouse only to get caught with a Dragon Whip style kick for two. Rayo up top, but Green catches him and slugs away. He rakes the eyes, but Rayo fights out and tries a sunset flip bomb. Green blocks and gets a powerslam for two. Bottom rope legdrop gets two. Swinging neckbreaker gets two. Green pounds Rayo down in the corner and stomps a mudhole, then slaps Rayo and tries a backdrop. Rayo flips to his feet and kicks away, adding a header and kicking Green in the ropes. Fisherman’s buster by Green off of a whip gets two. Green finds a chain in his boot, but Rayo cuts him off only to dive into a Diamond Cutter for two. The ref catches the chain and removes it from the ring… so Green gets a second chain. Of course. Rayo ducks the chain shot and dropkicks Green to the floor. Rayo goes for a dive, but Green catches him with a forearm and gets a butterfly suplex on the floor. Emil rubs in how Rayo doesn’t know how good he had it. Back in, Green gets two. Green chops Rayo, but Rayo begs for more before getting the comeback with clotheslines and an enzuigiri. Perfectplex gets two. Rayo goes up top but overshoots Green. AA by Green… and after a one-count, the bell rings? The announcers eventually figure out that one of Green’s merch boys stole the bell and rang it, and this was all Green’s idea because during the confusion, Green smokes Rayo with brass knuckles for two. Green throws money at the ref, who gets sick of this and shows Green a yellow card. Rayo springboards up with a knee strike Del Rio style, and the Yoshi Tonic gets two. Now Rayo discovers one of the chains and wants to get all his frustrations out, but the ref reminds him he could lose it all by DQ, so Rayo throws the chain down… and walks into a Side Effect. It gets two. Green mocks Rayo’s Yes Kicks, but he misses and Rayo gets a running knee to the face. A spinning Free Kick gets Rayo his independence at 10:57. Rayo leaves with Green’s jacket for fun. Very basic match, but very Memphis. *3/4

Dan O’Hare and Shlak vs. Jeff Cannonball and Matt Tremont. So O’Hare and Shlak are known as the Storm of Entrails and have “Hellcat” Riley Madison as a manager. Back in CZW’s Dojo Wars, O’Hare used to team with Jeff Cannonball, but that blew up. Cannonball challenged the Entrails to a match here, promising a new partner, and boy did he get a good one in former CZW champion Matt Tremont. But wait! DJ Hyde, CZW Owner and god of the lariat (so he says), is with O’Hare/Shlak and cuts a very indyish promo about how we’re all losers who aren’t worthy of seeing the Storm. But that’s okay – Cannonball and Tremont brought backup, too, in George Gatton (one of Hyde’s former students). And as this is a CZW match, here we go:

CZW Rules tornado tag match: Dan O’Hare & Shlak & DJ Hyde vs. Jeff Cannonball & Matt Tremont & George Gatton. Gatton: “I say it’s time for a goddamn fight!” So much for our PG rating. Side note: does anyone find it funny that CZW main eventer Tremont uses Journey as his theme music? Anyway, we’re off!

Massive brawl to start, and the faces clear the ring. Gatton gets Fastball Special’d onto the heels as Ford and Emil give up all pretense of being impartial and start cheering for one side or the other. Tremont axhandles all the Entrails, and Cannonball gets a running start and… uh, trust falls onto the pile. Tremont attacks Hyde with the padding as Shlak gives Gatton an backbreaker. Shlak saves Hyde, and Hyde and Tremont walk around the ring brawling. Chairs get thrown into the ring (just by the faces, not by the fans – we’re not ECW), and Tremont drops O’Hare throat-first onto a chair. Gatton pounds away on O’Hare and chokes him with a streamer. Hyde and Cannonball visit the concession stand, with Shlak trying to suffocate Cannonball with a trash bag. Madison gets involved, so Tremont literally turns her over his knee and spanks her. Hyde stops it with a ring bell, but Tremont takes over and puts the bell over Hyde’s crotch. DING! Meanwhile, Cannonball has found some PE equipment and is beating Shlak up with a children’s hockey stick. Shlak retaliates with a football thrown to the dome. Yes, this is happening. Shlak chairs down Cannonball, while in the ring (what a concept), Tremont and O’Hare trade forearms until Tremont gets a Samoan Drop for two. Cannonball runs Hyde into the post, and in the ring, he faces off with Shlak. A headbutting duel and a chop duel go nowhere, so Shlak rakes the eyes only to get caught with an STO for two. Cannonball with the Ball Mahoney punches, but the Popeye windup misses and Shlak with a back suplex for two, Gatton saves. Gatton, to Hyde; “You and me, son of a bitch!” Hyde (who towers over Gatton) obliges, and he spits on Gatton. Gatton chops away on Hyde, doing the machine gun chops, but Hyde no-sells and chops Gatton into next week. Hyde catches Gatton with a knee and snapmare, following with a soccer kick to the back. Meanwhile, O’Hare is biting Cannonball as Gatton gets a backfist chop to stagger Hyde. Cannonball smashes Shlak with the ringbell’s hammer as Madison gets on the apron. Gatton removes his belt and pretends to get seduced, but he blocks Madison’s slap and chops her to the floor. Is it officially a CZW match yet? Gatton with a chop, but Hyde blocks a lariat and gets a Tazzplex. But Tremont and Cannonball enter the ring and double-team Hyde. Double elbow knocks down Hyde, and Cannonball with a falling legdrop as Tremont gets a legdrop for two (brother). O’Hare and Shlak catch Tremont and Cannonball and pull them outside, then duct tape their wrists to the bottom rope – which, according to wrestling logic, incapacitates them. This leaves Gatton alone, but he gets a bodypress on O’Hare and clothesline on Shlak. Gatton then charges Hyde, and both men miss an avalanche. Gatton comes off the top with… I have no idea what just happened, and neither does the crowd. It gets two, anyway. Okay, NOW it’s a CZW match. Gatton sets up the chairs from ten minutes ago back to back and wants the Death Valley Driver on the chairs, but Shlak interferes and the Storm gives a double STO to Gatton onto the chairs for the pin at 12:15. **1/4 Heels beat up Gatton post-match. So we had silly weapons spots, a removal of a pants belt, a female valet being spanked, a blown big spot, and DJ Hyde. Maffew, you need to get this show.

Main Event, The Ace meets The King: Arik Royal vs. Chris Hero. As mentioned earlier, Arik Royal is NOVA Pro’s ace. He’s beaten Chase Owens, Tim Donst, Donovan Dijak, Tracy Williams, and David Starr so far… actually, let’s be precise; he’s beaten everyone thrown at him so far. So who do you give him for a challenge? Wait, Chris Hero’s available? SURE! Hero comes out in the Grayson Allen jersey (Hero’s a known Duke fan and we are in Virginia) for cheap heat, but dude, what low-level indy is booing Chris Hero? Points for effort. Also, he tells the ring announcer to take a hike and introduces himself.

“Ladies and gentlemen, you guys know me. You guys have seen me wrestle all over the planet for the last 18 years. And you know that in the year 2016, no one has come even close to my body of work. So without further ado: I am the Knockout Artist. I am the greatest of all time! I’m ____ing Chris Hero.”

Crowd with a dueling chant to start, which Hero encourages. Big staredown as the anticipation can be cut with a knife. Handshake follows. Hero works the wrist to start, but Royal flips out the ack and reverses, flooring Hero. Crowd is quiet, but having been there, I can say it’s an intense quiet. Hero reverses to a headlock out of a hammerlock. Royal pwoers out, reversing to a headlock of his own. Shoulderblock goes nowhere for either man. They try again, and nothing. Hero teases starting a third try, but instead does a roundhouse kick to the face. Now he tries the tackle, but Royal with a leg lariat and he tackles Hero in the corner, then lifts Hero and throws him into the other corner before lifting him up a second time for a spinebuster. Royal charges and gets backdropped to the apron, and Hero follows with a running boot to send Royal to the floor. Hero with a forearm to Royal on the outside, then he chops away. Big forearm and Hero undoes the ponytail. Boot by Hero, and he rolls in and out. Another forearm smash, and he tosses Royal into the wall before catching him coming back with another forearm. Back in, kneedrops by Hero, and he taunts Royal. Hero with a knee to the face, then a senton follows. Another kick by Hero, then a chop, but that wakes Royal up to ask for more. They begin to exchange chops, which Royal gets the better of, and the strap comes down only for Hero to get a short jab on Royal and put Royal’s strap back up. Big forearm and senton gets two. Hero slaps Royal around some more and chops him, but again Royal is firing up and demands more. The two exchange elbow smashes, with Royal getting a flurry. Royal ducks a rolling elbow and gets a clothesline. Running butt butt in the corner by Royal, then another and a third, leads to Royal trying for an Exploder. Hero fights it with elbows to the back of the head, but Royal manages to get the Exploder anyway for two. Royal chops away on Hero, and now Hero powers up out of it and asks for more. Big right by Royal, but a pump kick by Hero. Kick by Royal. Elbow by Hero. Another kick by Royal. Chop by Hero, into a big boot, but Royal with a running boot for two. Royal with an axhandle to the back, and he strikes away in the ropes. Hero blocks a whip and gets slapped some more, but Hero flips over the top rope to the apron and does a push kick to send Royal away. Royal fires back with a running uppercut that nearly sends both men through the ropes. Space Jam (springboard claw facejam) gets two for Royal. Royal with a headbutt and another butt butt, but he runs into the Cyclone Kill (tornado big boot). A third senton gets two, and Hero is starting to show frustration. Hangman’s neckbreaker is spun out of by Royal, but Hero gets out of a fireman’s carry and gets the rolling elbow for two. Hangman setup again, but Royal gets a backslide for two. Hero catches him with a piledriver, but Royal’s in the ropes at two. Hero stomps away, thinking of what to do next, then pulls Royal to the middle of the ring and… goes up top? Moonsault by Hero misses, and Royal with a deadlift German suplex. Pounce (running chop block) gets two, much to Royal’s shock. He pulls the strap back down, but Hero is up behind him and catches him with a knee strike and rolling elbow. Death Blow has Royal out on his feet, but the “on his feet” part infuriates Hero. Cradle piledriver by Hero somehow gets only two. Hero is flabbergasted and does a running elbow to a crawling Royal for another two. Crowd rallies behind Royal now as Hero stands over him. Big forearm smash by Hero, but Royal stays on his feet. Right jab, still on his feet as Royal tries to wake himself up. Chops in the ropes by Hero, and another knee to the face. Royal’s still on his feet. Another forearm and the ropes are keeping Royal up. And now Royal fires back with forearms of his own, but chops get Royal down to his knees. Hero slaps Royal and runs, but Royal meets him with a Northern Lariat. Royal runs the ropes, but Hero meets him with a knee strike. Now Hero runs the ropes… Pounce by Royal! 1, 2, 3!! Royal is still undefeated and has conquered Chris Hero in 19:47!!! Standing ovation for both men as you’d expect. If you like strong style and fighting spirit, you will LOVE this match. ****

Papa Hales is given a chance to talk and declares the match “fantastical!” The crowd agrees that this was lit. Hero agrees that Royal was on fire tonight, and the two drop to one knee to salute each other as we leave.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Whew. A real big-time card here, with names from all over the East Coast plus one of Chris Hero’s final matches before going back to WWE (it’s his last match in Virginia, anyway). The card got off to a slow start with the local talent, but once you reach the second hour it’s all really good from there. The elimination match is well planned and well booked, Dijak/Gresham brought the goods, Green/Rayo was a fun good/evil match, the CZW guys did their thing, and of course you have Chris Hero and Arik Royal up top. Easily my favorite NOVA Pro show, with two of the three best matches in company history.

MATCH TIME: 109:29 over seventeen decisions in nine matches
BEST MATCH: Royal/Hero
TOP ROPE MOONSAULT COUNT: 1 for 4
AUTOGRAPHS: 3 (Chuck Taylor, Dan Barry, and Chris Hero)

After the show, in addition to getting Hero’s autograph, I talked to him about that match (and recommended Royal for a future BOLA). I asked him if he thought the silence was weird because it wasn’t an indifferent silence, but it was this silence where everyone was paying attention – you know, the whole “cut the anticipation with a knife” thing. He said it was like a Japanese match here in Virginia. He put over the atmosphere as great and said he had a blast. I in turn bought some merch from him, so maybe his praise was paid for. Who knows?

FINAL RATING: 9. This company has my money whenever they’re putting on a show.

They performed a show this past week in Annandale, which is where I bought the DVD, and I’ll review that in time. Their next live show is Friday, March 10, at the Annandale VFD. Veda Scott, Trevor Lee, Rachael Ellering, and Joey Janela will guest star.