Friday Indie Spotlight Thing: Nobody Puts BLP In a Corner!

More wrestling, yay!

Today’s show is from Crown Point, Indiana, the home of Black Label Pro. Crown Point is in Northwest Indiana near Chicago, on the shores of Lake Michigan. So, to honor their home, they decided to call this show Crown Point Jewel. Unfortunately, the artwork on the posters was a little too obviously ripped off from WWE’s Saudi Arabia shows and a cease-and-desist followed. Fortunately, the company had a good rename: Nobody Puts BLP In A Corner! And with that, we were underway.

The PG Era Rant for Nobody Puts BLP In A Corner! (Tape runtime: 212 minutes)

From Crown Point, IN, January 18.

Your hosts are Dave Prazak and Sarah Shockey on commentary, with J.Rose as ring announcer.

Stepstool Sarah makes a special announcement that Wrestling Is For Everyone, so there will be no tolerance of bigoted speech of any sort.

Opening Match: Isaias Velasquez vs. Alex Shelley. Dueling chants before the bell, and Code of Honor after it. Headlock by Shelley, and after some quick chaining and arm work by both guys Shelley goes to the leg quickly only for the chain to continue until Shelley gets a short arm scissores with his legs. Isaias reverses to a ground wristlock and tries a crucifix pin, but Shelley escapes and gets a reverse stump puller. He switches to a leg chickenwing, into a chinlock. Isaias to a headlock now and an up-and-over leads to a headlock takedown and a series of dropkicks by Isaias.

Elbow to the neck, but Isaias runs into a knee strike and Shelley kicks him down. Shelley works the arm around the top rope. Blimnd charge misses for both men, then Isaias with a kick to Shelley. Baseball slide misses, so Isaias pulls Shelley to the floor and lands a running kick from the apron. Isaias works the arm on the apron before getting a top wristlock to throw Shelley back in.

He works Shelley down with the wristlock, getting a one-count, before Shelley kicks away Isaias. Isaias with a punt to the arm to stay back in control, but Shelley uses the good arm to nail forearms. A Codebreaker to the bad arm stops Shelley, but only for a while as Isaias runs into an overhead suplex. Ah, we’re doing the “hit a move THEN sell the injury” game today.

Shelley slaps Isaias around, which just angers him, and the two chop on each other in the corner. Shelley gets the better of that with Kobashi chops before getting mad at the referee for telling him to stop. Cross-whip and Isaias tries a blind bodypress, which Shelley slides under and gets two off of the splat. Border City Stretch try, but Isaias fights out. Shelley trips Isaias and gives him a Hotshot before a slingshot splash gets two. Shelley toys with Isaias, kicking him around, so Isaias slaps him and dares him to take it seriously. Shelley obliges with stomps and facewashes.

Spinebuster into a reverse Crab by Shelley, hooking the full rocking horse. He transitions to a European Clutch for two. Blind charge hits the elbow and knees before Isaias kicks the wrist and gets a Complete Shot out of the corner for two with Shelley in the ropes. Double underhook by Isaias, but Shelley blocks whatever was coming in the ropes before unloading with strikes from his good arm. Big boot leads to a rolling elbow. Both men with lariats, and Isaias gets a crucifix for two. Low superkick from Isaias gets two. Double stomp off the top is an airball, and Shelley with a belly-to-belly into the corner. Air Raid Crash (Celtic Cross) gets two. Superkick by Shelley and (Shell Shock) Sister Abigail gets two, and Shelley switches instantly to the Border City Stretch for the submission at 13:22. (***1/4)

THOUGHTS: Not the match I’d choose for the opener – it was too slow starting – but I enjoyed the chess match in it. Shelley is a known quantity, though I question having him go over here when Isaias could have a big feather in his cap. Lots of submission work by Shelley made Isaias seem like a survivor.

Violence Is Forever (Dominic Garrini/Kevin Ku) vs. Corn Beef (Jake Garvin/Steve Manders). Corn Beef attack before the bell and they brawl in the crowd. Ku tries to fight out of a double-team (Garrini is choked with his BJJ purple belt), but he gets thrown into the gym wall. Garrini recovers and attacks, but he’s dragged to the ring.

Back in the ring (what a concept), Garrini gets double-teamed. Slam by Manders and splash by Garvin gets two. Manders in, working Garrini in the corner, and Garvin returns as Corn Beef gets a double shoulderblock. Garrini with palm strikes for a comeback try, but Garvin cuts it off and splashes him in the corner. Manders back in with a stalling suplex for two. Manders trash-talks Ku only to walk into a heel hook from Garrini. Manders uses the nerves to get out and bring in Garvin, who elbows away on Garrini in the corner.

Dropkick by Garvin, Ku saves. He’s escorted out, so Corn Beef do a double-team before Garvin pounds away on Garrini in a neutral corner. Hammer throw, but a blind charge misses and Garrini gets a T-Bone suplex. Hot tag Ku, and he cleans house. He and Manders have a chop battle, with Ku going to a series of kicks before catching Garvin with a kneelift. Double stomp to Manders, then a dragon suplex. Running knee gets two, Garvin saves. Garvin pounds on Ku, but Ku pops right back up and chops away. Another dragon suplex, this to Garvin, but Garvin reverses a follow-up to a Saito suplex.

Running high knee by Garrini and a release German suplex, but Garvin no-sells it and Saitos Garrini. Garvin with a big splash, but he lands in a triangle from Garrini. Manders slams Ku onto Garrini to break. Everyone slugs it out on their knees, then standing up, and Ku is the first to go down. Garrini chops both opponents but wears himself out, and Garvin with a lariat. Beefy Bomb to Ku by Garvin (a rope-hanging body attack), and Corn Beef both go up.

Manders with a Patriot Missile and gutwrench bomb, Garrini saves. Garvin and Garrini fire off, with Garrini getting a sleeper. Garvin gets the ropes, so Garrini gives him a Gotch piledriver only to get Pounced by Manders. Ku breaks up a gutwrench powerbomb and VIF with a brainbuster/superkick combo for the pin at 10:08. (**1/2)

THOUGHTS: The time includes everything on the floor even though the bell rang again when two men got in the ring. This had a lot of hard-hitting action, but it felt like the finishing segment went on too long – it was over half the action! If you’re into four guys beating the crap out of each other, though, this is your match. Would have been a much better opener.

This is the live feed, so the announcer does some housework while the commentary mocks the hashtag.

BLP Midwest Championship: Alex Hammerstone (challenger) vs. AJ Gray (champion). No belt can be seen, weirdly enough. (Commentary wonders where it went, then jokes it got the John Cena treatment.) Gray with a waistlock, reversed, and Hammerstone rides him down only to get armlocked. Hammerstone with the hair to break. He reverses to a headlock, and a shoulderblock attempt goes nowhere for either man. Gray tries again, but Hammerstone with a European uppercut and he sends Gray into the corner. He beats the crap out of Gray and works the eyes, but Gray gets a basement dropkick and senton. Standing hip attack and high-angle cannonball gets two.

Big chop from Gray in the ropes, then some forearms. A kick stuns Hammerstone, and Gray clotheslines him out of the ring. On the outside, Gray forearms Hammerstone and the camera can’t keep up with the action. By the time it runs around, Hammerstone has reversed momentum. He fakes an axhandle and just slaps Gray instead, which angers Gray enough to take over. Hammerstone throws Gray into the apron and breaks the count before heading back out only to get chopped against the ringpost… until he ducks one and Gray hits the post.

Sloppy press slam on Gray, and Hammerstone breaks the count again. Gray recovers enough to slam Hammerstone on the floor. Gray throws him in, but Hammerstone kicks the ropes and dropkicks Gray back out of the ring. He then powerbombs Gray onto the apron. Hammerstone wants the countout (in a title match?), but Gray’s in at eight. Hammerstone chokes Gray against the ropes and gets a choke sleeper into a forearm to the back. Stalling suplex gets two. Into the chinlock. Gray breaks free , but Hammerstone with a dropkick (and some great elevation on it) Hammerstone mocks the crowd, which is a mistake as Gray gets up to fight back.

Hammerstone with a big boot before running into a lariat for the double KO. Gray is up first, and he nails the elbows before catching an up-and-over try into a flapjack and German suplex with bridge for two. He tries another one, but Hammerstone with a jumping knee and Catatonic for two. Hammerstone up first, and he wants a piledriver, but he’s backdropped out of it. Koppo Kick by Gray, and he wants a superplex. It lands, getting two. Now Gray tries a piledriver, but Hammerstone lifts him up and throws him aside. Big boot, release German, and Batista Bomb gets two. Hammerstone forearms away but runs into a kick. Gray tries a slam, but Hammerstone slides out the back only to walk into a lariat. Snow Plow wins it at 12:35. (**1/4)

THOUGHTS: Too much back-and-forth at the beginning of this one, especially since Gray was supposed to be the full-fledged face against a large outsider. This had an “indy match” feel to it, with both men just firing bombs back and forth with no rhyme or reason. We got something like that in the tag match, but we also had structure to that. This lacked it.

Hammerstone flips off Gray as he leaves.

Ophidian vs. Rocky Romero. Of course Romero has the R3K gear on. This is Snake Style (Ophidian) vs. Sneaky Style (Romero) leading to the following on commentary…

Sarah: “So what style are YOU the King of?”

Prazak: “Uh… commentary… style…”

Ophidian crawls low during the circle-round. Ophidian with an armbar to start, but Romero rolls through into a judo throw and wristlock. Ophidian crawls through the back and gets a leglock and ankle lock. Romero fights up, but Ophidian gets an armdrag, Oklahoma Roll, and a wacky cradle for two. Test of strength, but Romero wiggles through it into a snapmare and chinlock. Ophidian glides through into one of his own, into a headlock takedown. Romero reverses to headscissors, but Ophidian forces Romero to wheelbarrow to the ropes… and get a headscissors out of it!

Romero chops Ophidian, but a cross-corner whip allows Ophidian to stand on his head, perplexing Romero. He revs up, but Ophidian avoids whatever and flips over Romero to pose with “fangs up”. Romero rolls to him with the Eddie Shuffle. So Ophidian strikes Romero with the “fangs” (his fingers) for a Vulcan Nerve Pinch. Ophidian can’t follow up, but handwalks into a satellite headscissors on Romero anyway. Romero with a standing headscissors of his own, but Ophidian ducks a clothesline, gets the Nerve Pinch, and ranas down Romero, who bails.

Back in, Ophidian stomps away and gets a handstand elbow for two. Pretzel-like double armhold by Ophidian, but Romero bridges back to get two. Ophidian with a crucifix for two, and another wacky submission. Romero fights out of it and gets a triangle, but Ophidian escapes into a hiptoss and Hell’s Gate. Romero makes the ropes. Ophidian with chops in the corner, but Romero with a running lariat. He tries another, only Ophidian hooks the arm and goes for Old School. Romero pushes Ophidian off the ropes to the outside and kicks away.

Romero beats him up on the outside, and back in, Romero with a wristlock and he drops the knee from the second rope on it. Romero kicks the arm repeatedly. He knocks Ophidian down, and when Ophidian asks if that’s all Romero has, Romero chops the daylights out of him. There’s your answer. Ophidian blocks a wristlock and strikes away with his one good arm in the corner, only to run into a European uppercut. Tornado DDT is blocks, enzuigiri is ducked, and Ophidian kicks Romero’s arm. Both men are on one arm now as they kick away on the injured limbs of the other, then they exchange armbreakers.

Forearm exchange follows, won when Romero winds up like Popeye and pokes Ophidian’s eyes. Springboard DDT, but Ophidian takes the hook and gets a brainbuster of his own. Ophidian puts the blood back in his bad arm, uses the Nervehold, and gets an enzuigiri for two. Cobra clutch (obviously) by Ophidian, but Romero breaks only to walk into a big boot. Blind charge misses and Romero does a series of clotheslines in the corner. Ophidian ducks #4 and gets a backslide for two, reversed to a cradle for two. Romero with a shotei, getting an enzuigiri on the rebound and a running shiranui for two. Romero with a rolling triangle, into a short-arm scissors, but Ophidian stacks him for two. Romero shifts his weight, though, and gets the tapout with a full triangle at 14:23. (***)

THOUGHTS: Ending came out of nowhere, as if they were going long. Both men trying to take out the arm of the other was a good subplot, and Romero got the better of it with a triangle submission. Ophidian fought hard, and both men showed Fighting Spirit, but in the end, it was established Romero was just slightly better. This match made both guys look good.

Romero tries to charm Ophidian after the match, and the two salute each other.

Stepstool Sarah returns to do ring announcing for the next match.

IWTV Independent Championship: WARHORSE (champion) vs. Kylie Rae (challenger). Yes, Kylie Rae is the happy-go-lucky women’s wrestler who was with AEW for about 30 seconds. WARHORSE HAS DEFENDED THE TITLE 26 TIMES NOW OVER 119 DAYS, AND I APOLOGIZE BUT HE INSISTS ALL INTRODUCTORY INFORMATION ABOUT HIM BE IN ALL CAPS. Dueling chants before in-ring introductions here. AND WARHORSE DOES AIR GUITAR TO THE CHANTS.

Warhorse puts Kylie on the turbuckle and gives a clean break. (“They put Kylie in a corner!” For those wondering how long it would take to make that joke.) Warhorse admonishes Kylie, but Kylie with a diving armdrag and Crossface try. Warhorse makes the ropes. Kylie cradles for one, then jack-knifes for one, then psyches out Warhorse with a superkick fake. Warhorse curses out Kylie, who is appalled. She wants to do the Dirty Dancing lift, and Warhorse is reluctant. The crowd wants it. And then “Time Of My Life” plays! Kylie tries to get Warhorse to dance as Kylie teaches the lift. (Sarah’s making up lyrics on commentary.) After a lot of stalling so they can get to JUST the right moment in the song… Warhorse powerslams Kylie.

What, you thought he was going to go along with it?

Warhorse headbutts Kylie in the corner before getting a hiptoss for one. He gets a couple more two-counts before arguing with the ref. Warhorse slugs away and hammer throws Kylie. Suplex follows, for two. Warhorse HITS THE CHINLOCK, then slams Kylie down out of it. Another headbutt by Warhorse as Kylie goes into the corner to recover, but a blind charge eats boot. Another one misses, and Kylie with an uppercut. They fight across the ring, and Kylie with an Oklahoma Roll kip-up into a superkick for two.

Another superkick try is blocked, but Kylie recovers with a Russian legsweep into the Crossface. Warhorse stacks her for two. Another headbutt from Warhorse, and a Stinger Splash flattens Kylie. To the top, and a missile dropkick connects for two. Warhorse pushes around Kylie to wake her up, and she begins a forearm duel. Kylie wins it, hammering away on Warhorse, but he comes back with a chop and enzuigiri. Lariat is ducked, though, and Kylie with a German suplex only to get a follow-up reversed to a Saito suplex. Powerbomb by Warhorse is escaped, and Kylie gets one of her own! It gets two.

Kylie is focused and tries a suplex, but her back ins’t strong enough and Warhorse reverses, only for Kylie to cradle for two. Kylie with another superkick for two. Crossface is applied instantly. Warhorse can’t make the ropes, and an attempt to stack is rolled through, but finally Warhorse drags Kylie to the ropes. Kylie is now frustrated and just pounds away on him. Kylie charges straight into a lariat and oshigoroshi, then a Lyger Bomb… gets two! Now THAT sequence deserves a “how isn’t that a three” face from Warhorse. Kylie is dead weight on a pickup attempt, but Kylie rushes Warhorse to the corner after being provoked to do something. Running uppercut by Kylie, but Warhorse catches her and Germans her into the turnbuckles! Double Stomp gets the pin to retain at 14:35. (***3/4)

THOUGHTS: Something for everyone here! You had a take-all-comers champion, a spunky challenger, a comedy setup that was subverted to fit the story of the match, Kylie going from friendly to serious, Warhorse stepping up his game to match… this was a very good title fight, with both wrestlers sticking to their characters. If you can watch intergender wrestling, and I know some people can’t, but if you can, this is the match to see. Warhorse is a fantastic touring champion and gets a good deal out of darn near everyone.

After the match, Warhorse gifts one of his jackets to Kylie as a show of respect. They headbang together to an ovation.

Intermission. IWTV shows an episode of Locker Room Detectives. It’s a Scooby-Doo homage.

Jonathan Wolf vs. Jason Cade. Wolf represents a group called IFHY, which stands for Indiana Really Hates You. (That one’s for you, Tommy.) Cade goes with a knee to the gut out of the lockup, but runs into a receipt out of the corner. A snapmare is flipped out of, and Cade begins a leapfrog sequence ending with Wolf cartwheeling out of a headscissors. Wolf comes back with an armdrag, rana, and dropkick. It gets one. Wolf gets sent up and over in the corner, but he lands on the apron and… stops a springboard because Cade hides behind the ref.

Cade sends Wolf to the floor, then follows him out and slams him into the apron. Wolf visits the merch table (as J.Rose reminds you to run if the wrestlers come your way), then Cade sends him into a ringpost. Wolf has finally had enough and smacks Cade, so Cade throws him into the front row to get even. Back in the ring, Cade steps on Wolf’s throat. Wolf fights back with punches and a chop, but on the whip Cade reverses, trips Wolf, and gives him a kneelift on the apron. Cade then does an inside-out slinghot legdrop. Back in, it gets two.

Wolf gets one chop, but Cade ducks a second and gets a dropkick. Wolf finds a desperation jawbreaker and back elbow off a blind charge, then comes off the middle rope with a crossbody. O’Connor Roll is blocked, clothesline is kipped away from, and Wolf gets an enzuigiri. Wolf sweeps the leg and dropkicks Cade to the floor. Wolf follows with a tope con giro through the lower ropes, then a crucifix driver gets two. Cade with a knee to stop a suplex, and the two follow each other off the same set of ropes over and over until Cade stops it with a superkick… but he runs into a Michinoku Driver for two.

Wolf pulls down the straps and tries a brainbuster, but Cade slips out, boots Wolf, and gets a powerbomb and running kick for two. Cade tries a backslide type move, but Wolf pushes out. A blind charge eats boot and Cade gets a Russian legsweep and AA for two. Cade misses a roundhouse, but so does Wolf and Cade gets a flying knee into a Northern Lights into a double stomp. Uppercut in the corner leads to a hanging DDT for two. Frog splash hits the knees, and Wolf gets a quick two. Roundhouse by Wolf, into a half-nelson suplex and corner spinning suplex for the pin at 10:22. (**)

THOUGHTS: Too many weird false finishes and bizarre choice of move sequences for my liking. The first part was a good solid basic story match, and both men showed athleticism, sure. But a superkick leading straight into a Michinoku Driver from the opponent? Really? There’s no real flow to the finishes. Everything looks like a display of one-upmanship instead of a match.

BLP Championship: Erick Stevens (champion) vs. Tom Lawlor (challenger). Weird continuity: last time Lawlor was in Black Label Pro, he left his shoes in the ring, as though he was done with the company. Here? They put the shoes in the ring before he enters, and he puts them on.

Code of Honor to start. Lawlor with a go-behind and rides Stevens down, and Stevens goes to the ropes. They knuckle up, but Lawlor turns the test of strength into a top wristlock, into a short-arm scissors. Stevens again goes to the ropes. Stevens now with a headlock, and we go to the International, ending with Lawlor rolling through a sunset flip and getting a judo throw into a cover for two, reversed by Stevens for two. Stevens backs Lawlor into the ropes and chops away, which torques off Lawlor into a double-leg.

Lawlor questions if Stevens wants the fight, so Stevens offers his hand only to fire off a sucker punch. Lawlor with a gut kick and soccer kicks to Stevens, and a chopfest breaks out when Stevens gets up. Lawlor gets out and fires off forearms, uppercuts, chops, and everything but the kitchen sink. Big boot misses, and Stevens takes advantage of Lawlor being hung up to get a Russian legsweep and ground Octopus.

Lawlor cradles for two, but Stevens re-establishes the hold. Lawlor forces a release, so Stevens goes for the Romero Special, deciding on a hamstring stomp instead. Stevens goes CLUBBERIN, THEY BE CLUBBERIN TONY, but he waits too long and Lawlor fights out, backing Stevens into the corner and forearming him into a paste. Snapmare and soccer kick follow, then a Yes Kick, as Lawlor’s ear may be bleeding. Running Yes Kick follows, but Stevens wants more. Lawlor obliges, kicking him down until he doesn’t get up, but one last boot is caught and Stevens goes for the shotei. Lawlor rolls into an ankle lock, then a figure-four leglock.

Stevens makes the ropes, but Lawlor won’t break, causing both men to roll until they fall out of the ring still in the hold! Back in, Lawlor with a big corner clothesline and he puts Stevens up top and follows, getting a superplex and rolling… only for Stevens to get a flip Backstabber out of a suplex formation for the double KO. Both men up at 7 and they trade shots. Crowd is burned out. Stevens wins the chop battle, so Lawlor goes for rights and kicks. The final haymaker misses and Stevens takes over with a Judas Effect.

A second one misses, and after a grapple in which Stevens drops the elbows, Lawlor is swinging wildly. Fortunately, he’s connecting, and he gets a big boot and left cross. Inverted lifting DDT gets two. Choke sleeper try, but Stevens backs into the corner and elbows out. Uranage backbreaker by Stevens follows, into a tiger bomb for two. Stevens wants the Crab, but Lawlor escapes and gets the choke sleeper.

This time, backing into the corner needs multiple attempts, and Stevens with a snapmare before catching a charging Lawlor with a powerslam into the turnbuckle. Stevens taunts the crowd, which gives Lawlor a chance to recover and charge Stevens with a running boot in the corner. Butterfly superplex by Lawlor knocks Stevens out of the ring. Lawlor eventually follows (can’t win the gold on a countout, after all), but Stevens sweeps Lawlor off the apron and goes for a tope con giro… running headfirst into Lawlor’s boots. Hook kick follows, and back in, Lawlor runs into a Gut Check and pumphandle T-Bone for two.

Stevens wants a gutwrench, but Lawlor blocks. Stevens clubbers him to keep him down, only to run right into an enzuigiri and torture rack face slam for two. It was kind of what WWE would neuter the Burning Hammer into. Lawlor goes for a slam, but Stevens slips out the back to an Oconnor Roll for two. Lawlor with a choke sleeper out of the kickout, but Stevens flips on top for two. Lawlor hooks the triangle, and Stevens powers out into a Liontamer! Lawlor breaks, but Stevens cartwheels only to walk into a cradle for two and the choke sleeper!

Stevens guillotines Lawlor and gets Rock Bottom into a lariat, then a gutwrench powerbomb for two. Stevens strikes away, ending with a back elbow, but Lawlor catches Stevens taunting and fight back, ending with a chop rush and knees to the head, then forearms. Rolling elbow looks to be the coup de grace, but Stevens with a German suplex and lariat… for ONE. Discus forearms by Stevens follow, then one to the back of the head. Brainbuster FINALLY ends it as Stevens retains at 21:08. (***1/2)

THOUGHTS: Do you like “indy style” matches? Man, is this the one for you! Dozens of false finishes in this one, and a lot of moments where it was just “my turn to kill you with a move”. This isn’t to say they were bad, but the law of diminishing returns is in full effect. The Liontamer-cradle-sleeper sequence should’ve led straight to the finish in my book, as it felt like a finish. But both men showed off their athleticism, and that’s what indy wrestling is nowadays, right? I kid because I love; this was the most action-packed match, and the crowd ate it all up, so call it a success.

Main Event: The Greatest BLP Rumble. 34 entrants in this one, and we’re told it’s 45 second entrances. (J.Rose says the number is undisclosed, but IWTV’s preview gives you a number.) Gary Jay is #1, and Kobe Durst is #2, cosplaying as Randy the Ram Robinson. Feeling out process, which is odd given how fast the next person will enter. They chop at each other over and over, basically taking up the whole time until Idol Heinze is #3. He tackles down Durst right away and boots Jay. He sets Durst on the turnbuckle, throws Jay into Durst, and suplexes both men at once.

Dean Jacobs is #4, and he fires off at Heinze before getting a running chop like he’s Bray Wyatt. Running boot in the corner by Jacobs on Heinze, then a Northern Lariat and wheelbarrow suplex as Reilly Maguire is #5. Missile dropkick instantly on Jacobs, and an enzuigiri on Jay. He fires elbows and gets a punt and moonsault on Jay. Judo trip and double stomp on Heinze. Jacobs neutralizes Maguire as Wheeler YUTA is #6. Superkick to Maguire and DDT on Durst. Maguire runs into a Manhattan drop and enzuigiri, but Maguire reverses and YUTA goes over and back.

Maguire is targeted by Durst and Jay as Davey Bang is #7. Springboard clothesline to Jacobs right away, then he follows with an enzuigiri and double stomp. Everyone tries to eliminate someone in the corner as Lord Crewe is #8. German suplex to Jacobs (he’s a popular target) and slaps the taste out of Bang before giving him a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and inverted suplex. Durst goes over the top, but stops himself and comes back in with a top-rope axhandle. Jay boots Heinze as Alice Crowley is #9. Lucha armdrag on Maguire, then a Saito suplex. Crewe charges Crowley but misses. Corwley exits through the ropes and brings in a… unicycle?

Heinze bails to the outside as Crowley unicycle rides a clothesline into Crewe! Meanwhile, Josh Crane is #10. He uses the unicycle as a club on Crowley, then chops on Bang. Durst goes over and back. YUTA tosses the unicycle over the top rope, but that doesn’t count. Crane sets up some chairs as Graham Bell is #11. Crane puts a door on the chairs and returns to confront Bell, who shoots Crane with his bazooka and eliminates him. Bell uses the bazooka as a club on everybody before slugging down Jay and giving him an F-5. Side note: I’ve never seen a Rumble where #10 was the first one out.

Crewe tosses Durst, who goes over and back as Project MONIX is #12. Jay and Durst are fighting on the apron, which ends with Durst piledriving Jay off the apron through the door! MONIX spears Bell. We find out Jay and Durst are both still in it as Ashtyn Braven is #13. He goes right for Bell, getting a Pele kick on him. Maguire with a guillotine on Heinze as Crewe attempts to help eliminate him. YUTA and MONIX team up as B.M.D., thoroughly unprepared, is #14. He slams down MONIX anyway. YUTA tries to toss out Bang as Bell works on MONIX and can someone please be eliminated already?

Austin Manix is #15, and he beats down YUTA before landing a pop-up forearm on Crewe. MONIX and Manix tangle, and Manix gets the best of it with a facejam and elimination as Shawn Kemp is #16. No, not that one. Kemp instantly falls down as Jacobs is eliminated somehow. Kemp with a torture rack drop on Bell, and he and YUTA toss Bell out. Bang is on the top rope in trouble as Joshua Bishop is #17. He tosses Crowley as a hello, then sends Crewe out as well. BMD follows soon after. Then he chucks Bang onto everyone on the outside to eliminate him.

Heinze is tossed out, but hangs onto the ropes and comes back in without elimination as Hawlee Cromwell is #18. She attacks Bishop, who no-sells it. But he has to sell a headscissors. Cromwell tries a chokeslam (yeah, no), but Bishop gets one of his own to eliminate Cromwell. YUTA comes up from behind and gets hiptossed across the ring as Chase James is #19. James suplexes Bishop to start, then tries to toss out Heinze. Heinze goes over the top and back in, as does YUTA. Nolan Edwards is #20 as Manix is out. YUTA goes for Edwards, but gets German suplexed as Dave Turner is #21.

He instantly pres sslams Edwards out. Braven tries his luck after a faceoff, and Braven gets slugged down. James is lifted for a powerbomb, but escapes and gets a kneelift as Ace Perry is #22. He gives a returning Jay a Diamond Cutter as Braven was eliminated somehow. Turner tosses James, and Shawn Kemp joins him out of the match. Perry chucks out Maguire. Turner tosses Bishop into YUTA as Danhausen is #23. He gives Perry a German, a knee to Bishop, and a Northern Lights to YUTA. He throws some teeth into Perry’s mouth and kicks his head. Turner is tossed by Jay as Jake Something is #24.

He catches and returns Danhausen without elimination before slugging it out with Bishop. Flying knee by Something on Bishop. Thomas Shire is #25. He squares off with Something in a staredown. The two slug it out as Blair Onyx does the Bray Wyatt walk to the ring at #26. She spits o both big men only for Shire to uppercut her and toss her out. Something then lariats Shire only to be reversed into a torture rack spin as Tre Lamar is #27.

Five seconds later, Shire throws him to the apron, only for Lamar to return by taking out Shire. YUTA goes over and back as the camera can’t keep up. Lamar finds Durst and helps him back in. Aaron Williams, in shirt and tie, in #28. He gets an STO on Lamar and superkicks Shire out for an elimination. He kicks Lamar a bunch and gets a spinning neckbreaker on Something. YUTA resists another elimination as Levi Everett is next at #29, doing an Amish Roadkill gimmick. Torpedo headbutt to YUTA as he knocks everyone down, and YUTA gets a churn armbuster. Then everyone crushes Everett as Williams dives with a moonsault onto five guys as Ethan Page is #30… or not. Shane Sabre is impersonating him.

He tosses Williams to start and tags in Danhausen (don’t ask), allowing him a superkick on Durst. “Page” with a spinning Rock Bottom on Durst, but couldn’t lift up Something as Percy Davis is #31, dressed as Powerline! Meanwhile, “Page” is already eliminated. He and Something face off, with Davis biting Something’s ear to begin punching him out. Logan James enters at #32. He slaps Davis and applauds himself, but now Davis pulls the straps down and walks into a low blow. James then catches Everett in mid-air with a forearm and Perry with a gutbuster. Perry’s up and out as YUTA tosses James over, but not out. Cole Radrick is #33. He slams down everyone he can find and lands a springboard Cutter on YUTA. Double knees to Bishop and he tries to toss Davis.

The final entrant at #34 is Billie Starkz. So our final field as I hit pause is Jay, Durst, YUTA, Bishop, Danhausen, Something, Lamar, Everett, Davis, Logan James, Radrick, and Starkz.

Starkz kicks away at Everett and gets a German on him, then YUTA, then Lamar, then everyone basically. James slaps Starkz while Radrick tosses Davis. Starkz with a roundhouse and James is out. Ten to go. Starkz backs into Something, and while she holds her own with chops, Something mugs her with a Northern lariat. Radrick to the rescue, but that doesn’t work, but Starkz low bridges Something… and he hangs on… and blasts Starkz to get back in. Radrick tries to fight Something, but he gets destroyed with a Screwdriver and eliminated.

At this point everyone gets sick of Something and attacks, but it doesn’t last. Everett headbutts everyone, but Durst knocks him down and throws him into a Lamar superkick. Bishop tosses Everett and we’re down to eight. Starkz tries to German Something, but Something just picks her up and tosses her out. Lamar runs headlong into a Bishop clothesline and he’s done. Durst comes up from behind and takes out Bishop soon after. YUTA then dropkicks out Durst and our final four is Gary Jay (1), Wheeler YUTA (6), Danhausen (23), and Jake Something (24).

Logan James is on the outside cursing his bad luck, so Danhausen tells him no swearing before stepping to the apron and it’s TEQUILA! All four dance as Danhausen kicks James while he walks by. Jay then tosses Danhausen to the floor, sending YUTA out afterwards. Danhausen jumps back in and pins Jay (don’t ask) before leaping out of the ring and eliminating himself. So it’s Gary Jay vs Jake Something to end it.

Jay gets the opening salvo, adding a headscissors and running forearm. Something throws Jay into the corner and slugs him, but Jay comes off with another rana… only Something holds on and powerbombs him… Jay sends him over the top! Both men on the apron over the top! Headbuts by Jay to stagger Something! Something is dazed, but fires off a forearm! Jay elbows Something over and over to wear him down, but Something picks him up for a Tombstone on the apron that kills Jay and eliminates him, giving Something the win at 51:17. (*3/4) Something is now has a Money in the Bank privilege as a result of winning.

THOUGHTS: The opening bits were really, REALLY incoherent, with the camera missing a lot of eliminations. When it got down to the final field, it got much better, but this match was trending badly for some time. Way too many men in at the beginning, long stretches with no eliminations, not much heat for the ones that did happen… kind of a mess. Still, let’s give credit to the final group that saved the match, as the last 12 put in a beautiful effort and produced a stronger performance. YUTA in particular was amazing in this match, lasting a long time and (unlike Jay) not taking a break to do so. The last two did the “both on the apron, first to drop loses” bit quite nicely.

Rumbles I find are more about the booking than they are the wrestlers in it, and you have to be stinking up the joint REALLY bad to make the bad wrestling stand out. In this case, the action was fine when there was some, with lots of people getting a chance to show off, but it was hard to follow and the timing of eliminations was all messed up. That’s usually on whomever puts it together.

The big issue is that several times, eliminations just happened out of nowhere. Watch a WWE or other major Rumble. Eliminations are usually built up to, to the point where it’s the focus of in-ring action before heading to the ropes to be tossed. Everyone not involved in an elimination sits around in a corner or on the ropes, leaving the spotlight on the next big moment. There were times when this didn’t happen; instead, eliminations would be two at once in two different parts of the ring. Even watching carefully I missed three or four eliminations… or, rather, the camera did.

Now, there is one way this is on the wrestlers themselves: the entrances took FOREVER in some cases. There would be 10-20 seconds of music before the wrestler would emerge from the curtain, pose, and then saunter to the ring. I’ve never seen that so consistently before. A break like that usually comes when the action stops because everyone in the ring recognizes the music and either prepares for war or does a double-take. This had neither, and it’s part of the reason for the trouble: people would get eliminated during these entrances. You don’t do that.

Now, with all that said – and heaven knows I could go on forever talking about Rumbles because they’re my favorite match – when entrances stopped happening and we had a de-facto 12 person battle royal, things really picked up. Starkz set the tone early, Something bullied in the middle, Bishop was the perfect red herring, the comedy bit got over and allowed the competitors to reset, and the last two brought drama. Not a total loss of a Rumble, but not one we’d be enjoying on Sunday.

WRAP-UP: Whew, this was a LONG show. If you want to watch it in two pieces I wouldn’t blame you – it’s what I did. The first bit is very good, with a wild tag match, a big star in Shelley, and an amazing intergender match. The second half has the Rumble, but Stevens/Lawlor is worth a look as well.

A word of warning: Shockey is not what I look for in a color commentator, constantly making bad jokes and overselling her own running gags.  She tries too hard to be memorable and not hard enough to call the match.  Prazak does okay to rein her in, but there are times you can tell he’s as sick of it as anyone else.  Don’t let it detract from the show, though.  And if Sarah’s reading this — don’t be a character, be an announcer.  Lawler and Heenan could do it because they were already characters.

Even a bad Rumble can be fine to watch, and nothing else stunk up the joint, so I give this a solid WATCH IT. But be warned, it’s a long show.