It may have been well below freezing on Friday night in Edmonton, but the action inside the Force Pro Wrestling Arena was as hot as ever.
January 17th saw Force Pro Wrestling back in action with their first event of 2020, the Return. The event marked the promotion’s official relaunch following a pair of highly-acclaimed events to close out 2019, and Friday night saw the promotion looking to build on the considerable momentum it had built to close out the decade.
Well, that they did, as Force Pro Wrestling put on yet another terrific card featuring a number of the top stars of the province’s independent wrestling scene. Over 200 people braved the frigid Edmonton cold on January 17th, and all were treated to another banner night of Albertan professional wrestling. Not only did the in-ring action deliver as expected, but the promotion did an excellent job of building towards their soon-to-be-announced next show.
Before we officially get started, I have to give a quick shout out to the colour commentator for the evening’s event, as he was both obscenely gifted and handsome. Much, much more handsome than Thaddeus Archer III.
Now, with that out of the way - let’s recap!
- “The Thickness” Reid Matthews def. Shotgun Syd Greed
- “Spaceman” Beri Grayson def. Sheik Akbar Shabaz, Kato
- Zoë Sager def. Taryn From Accounting
- Jack Pride def. Colton Kelly
- Andriy def. Chris Perish
- Michael Allen Richard Clark def. Kayla Jaye
- Michael Richard Blais def. Davey O’Doyle
As Sesame Street’s The Count would say - “Six! Six debuting stars!”
Admittedly, with the promotion hosting only their third show in over 18 months, there was always bound to be a number of wrestlers making their first appearances in Force Pro Wrestling. However, even with that caveat, the stars making their official debuts were truly the biggest stories coming out of the Return.
Look no further than the evening’s opening match. The Return kicked off with “The Thickness” Reid Matthews hosting an open challenge to the locker room. While many speculated as to who would accept the challenge, I would be shocked if anyone could have predicted that not only would the call be answered by someone not only making their inaugural appearance in Force Pro Wrestling but their overall singles debut.
However, that was the case on Friday night, as Shotgun Syd Greed stepped through the curtain for his first-ever singles match. Those who saw him at the Clandestine Society show last month marvelled about Sydney’s incredible in-ring debut in the This is not a Clusterf**k…This Is Just a Tribute match, and for good reason: in my humble opinion, there perhaps hasn’t been a debut this impressive since Zoë Sager over a year ago. Yet again, Shotgun Sydney was astounding on Friday night, throwing his body about with reckless abandon in attempting to defeat the PWA Mayhem Champion.
That being said, it wasn’t always Sydney’s choice to have his body thrown about, as Matthews was vicious in his assault of the debuting star. Few wrestlers in Alberta today possess the sheer power that the Thickness does, and he utilized it to his advantage early and often throughout the match, However, even the Thickness’ best was unable to put Greed down for good. At points, Sydney was even caught laughing maniacally at the brutality that Matthews dished out.
In the end, however, it was a combination of Matthews’ veteran savvy and Greed’s sheer lunacy that drew a conclusion to Friday night’s matchup. Amidst a fit of laughter, Shotgun Sydney squared up and slapped Matthews square across the face, enraging the PWA Mayhem Champion. Immediately, he collected Greed and hit him with a massive combination of a Canadian Destroyer and Orange Crush Powerbomb. That was all it took to finally put Shotgun Sydney down for the three-count.
Despite the loss, there’s perhaps no one in Force Pro Wrestling that inspires more intrigue than Shotgun Sydney Greed. Colour me excited to see whatever develops in his potential feud with the Thickness or otherwise.
Taryn From Accounting Clocks In
The evening’s third matchup also saw Taryn from Accounting make her first appearance in Force Pro Wrestling. Much like Shotgun Sydney before her, TFA was tasked with facing off with one of the provinces - nay, Canada’s - top wrestlers in the aforementioned Zoë Sager.
As we’ve come to expect, TFA was met with raucous applause from the moment she stepped through the curtain. It was clear that the change in promotions did nothing to wane Taryn from Accounting’s popularity with the Albertan wrestling faithful, with “TFA” chants erupting throughout the Force Pro Arena from the second her music hit.
That being said, not only was Taryn stepping into the ring with one of Alberta’s most beloved stars in Zoë Sager, but one of it’s most dangerous. The reigning PWA Women’s Champion has been one of the most dominant wrestlers in Alberta over the past year. However, a pair of recent defeats at the hand of Jack Pride and Nicole Matthews have only seemed to motivate Sager, who’s looked downright dominant since the calendar flipped to 2020.
The matchup, simply put, was as good as it gets in independent wrestling. Though the two exchanged handshakes prior to the matchup beginning, it wasn’t long before the proverbial good tidings came to pass. Sager continues to impress each and every time she steps foot in the ring, and frankly, it’s only a matter of time before the proverbial big-leagues come calling for the PWA Women’s Champion. That being said, TFA pushed Sager to her absolute limit throughout their matchup on Friday. The former MPW star was certainly more aggressive than we’ve previously seen her, laying in each of her numerous blows to her opponent with a newfound ferocity.
With the two so evenly matched, it was always going to come down to someone capitalizing on an opportunity. In the end, it was Sager who was able to do so first. In the final moments of the matchup, Sager was able to counter yet another massive strike from TFA into a devastating chinbuster, sending the debutante reeling. Seconds later, the PWA Women’s Champion hit her patented Z-Factor facebuster, pinning Taryn for the 1-2-3.
Despite the loss, fans cheered wildly for TFA as she left the ring, with Sager the first to acknowledge her opponent’s efforts. Shortly after, Sager made her way to the back as well: however, that wasn’t the end of either women’s evening. More on that in a minute.
Sask Boys 4 Life
Three matches took place following the evening’s sole intermission, with each featuring a different star making their in-ring debuts for Force Pro Wrestling. We’ll talk about one of those in a moment, but for now, let’s focus on the debuts of both Michael Allen Richard Clark and Davey O’Doyle. Both made their first appearances in Force on Friday night; however, unlike relative newcomers Shotgun Sydney and Taryn from Accounting, Western Canadian wrestling fans are well-versed in just how good both O’Doyle and Clark are in the squared circle.
It was the PWA Champion that had the opportunity to step inside the ring first, taking on Kayla Jaye in what represented Clark’s first intergender singles match. Though Jaye represented a far different opponent than the powerhouses Clark has faced recently, he was no less vicious in taking down the Golden Child of Albertan wrestling.
Of course, Clark’s victory didn’t come without its pains - literally. Throughout the match, Jaye was able to utilize her legs to her advantage, hitting her trademark kicks on the PWA Champion and sending him reeling on more than one occasion. However, there’s a reason that M.A.R.C is regarded as one of the top wrestlers in the country, and he proved it often on Friday night. Simply put, he was at his methodical best throughout the match, and it served him well on his way to a win in his first appearance for Force Pro Wrestling.
Meanwhile, O’Doyle was tasked with facing off with Michael Richard Blais in the night’s main event. It was the first time the two had squared off one-on-one on Albertan soil, and the two put on a match equalled only by the finest Eskimos/Roughriders battles. Many, if not all in Alberta are well aware of just how good Michael Richard Blais is in the ring. However, though fans are well-versed in O’Doyle’s tag team accomplishments as a member of the League, few have had a chance to watch him excel in singles action to the level he was at on Friday. Throughout the match, O’Doyle was able to effectively target the left arm of his opponent, forcing God’s Gift to Wrestling to rethink his entire strategy on the fly.
Eventually, despite O’Doyle’s impressive showing, it was Blais who left the main event with his arm raised after countering a submission attempt into his patented Brainbuster. However, it’s a testament to O’Doyle’s abilities that he was able to push MRB to his absolute limit. Many regard Blais as the top wrestler in Canada, and it took everything and the kitchen sink for him to put O’Doyle away for good.
It was a star-making performance for both of the Sask Boys, though frankly, there should have been no doubt they’d impress.
The Good Stuff:
Andriy Wins, Jaye Loses, But the Golden Cartel Stands Tall
Though Dylon Stone was conspicuously absent for the second straight show - purportedly still on business in Miami - the Golden Cartel still was able to make a statement at the expense of the Force Pro Wrestling roster on Friday night.
Two debuts conspicuously not talked about in my opening paragraph were those of Chris Perish and the *literal* biggest debut of them all.
Friday night saw Chris Perish scheduled to take on the aforementioned Dylon Stone for the first time in nearly three years. Not only was Perish evidently fired up for his first singles match in nearly six months, but fans in attendance were excited at the prospect of the two long-time rivals facing off yet again after such an extended absence. However, those same fans were disappointed when Stone’s fellow Golden Cartel member Kayla Jaye entered the ring to inform Perish that Stone was no longer available for their scheduled matchup. Instead, she explained, the former tagSTRUGGLE star would be tasked with facing the monstrous Andriy in his singles debut in Force Pro Wrestling.
Two facts stuck out to me when watching this match. First, how simply impressive Chris Perish looked in his return to singles action. Many - the man himself included - were curious as to how his knee would hold up following his extended absence from the ring, especially given that Perish’s in-ring style isn’t exactly toned-down. In fact, Perish was at his absolute best on Friday night, pinballing around the ring as effectively as ever in trying to avoid the humongous Andriy. When he was able to, he was scary effective; at times, it looked as though Perish’s proverbial David would actually take down Goliath.
Unfortunately, that simply wasn’t to be.
Not only was Andriy able to effectively counter Perish’s agility throughout the match, but absolutely brutalize him at points. After some time on the shelf due to a shoulder injury, the giant returned with a newfound fire about him. Not only did he seem quicker than before, but somehow more powerful; each blow to Perish seemed to knock the very life out of him. Despite Perish’s resilience throughout the match, he was unable to put Andriy down for any longer than a one-count. Conversely, Andriy was consistently able to power through his opponents best throughout their battle. Though Perish’s effort was commendable, he eventually fell victim to an earth-shattering powerslam from Andriy for his first loss in Force Pro Wrestling.
Though Jaye wasn’t able to join Andriy in victory, the Golden Child was still incredibly impressive in her tilt with Michael Allen Richard Clark. Throughout the match she was at her cocky best, even mocking Clark at points in both doing pushups on her opponent’s back and hitting him with his trademark cutter. It was yet another star-making performance from Jaye; however, it was her actions prior to her match that truly had the Force Pro faithful up in arms.
As Zoë Sager made her way to the back following her intensely physical match with Taryn from Accounting, she was met by both Jaye and Andriy. After a vicious assault on the PWA Women’s Champion, including a chokeslam to the apron courtesy of big Andriy, the duo slapped a pair of handcuffs upon Sager, leaving her prone with her arms wrapped around the second rope. As the fans vehemently voiced their disgust, Jaye hit not one, but two superkicks to Sager’s jaw, leaving her unconscious and locked in place. Frankly, the beatdown likely would have been worse if Taryn from Accounting hadn’t entered the ring wielding a kendo stick. As the Golden Cartel made their way to the back, Taryn assisted her former opponent to the back.
How will Chris Perish respond after the deception put forth by the Golden Cartel? Has Kayla Jaye become consumed by defeating Zoë Sager? How will TFA factor into all of this?
It’s hard to hate Kayla Jaye’s in-ring work, but damn is it easy to hate her for everything else.
There are few, if any, in Albertan professional wrestling as vicious as Colton Kelly and Jack Pride. Friday night, the two proved it with an absolutely brutal affair with each’s respective undefeated streaks on the line.
In what was perhaps my favourite match of the evening, both Kelly and Pride went above and beyond in their attempts to solidify their respective claims to being the baddest man in Force Pro Wrestling. It was a matchup that can simply be described as an all-out slugfest, with both men not only looking to brutalize their opponent, but dehumanize them.
Folks, this one gets my patented “watch this match” rating.
Shockingly, in the end it wasn’t a devastating strike or ruthless submission that picked up the victory for Jack Pride, but a savvy roll-up as Kelly attempted to set him up for a piledriver. Unfortunately, the loss seemed to enrage the Millennial Icon. As Pride celebrated, Kelly launched a vicious assault on both his opponent and Judge Ben Oomen, tossing both about like rag dolls before making his way to the back amidst a sea of boos.
At press time, rumour was spreading that Kelly would be fined for his actions on both Judge Ben and Jack Pride. Selfishly, I hope it doesn’t teach the Millennial Icon a thing - I want to see these two square off again.
Grayson Continues to Fly
“Spaceman” Beri Grayson said in his first interview with Force Pro Wrestling that he joined the promotion to make a statement. If his past few appearances are any indication, he’s certainly made good on that promise.
Friday night saw Grayson face off with two of Alberta’s longest-tenured stars in Sheik Akbar Shabaz and “The Asian Assassin” Kato. The trio represents three of Alberta’s most well-rounded wrestlers, and their match on January 17th more than proved it should there have been any doubters left in the province.
The match itself was pure cacophony. Alliances were made - and subsequently broken - between each member of the match at some point in the evening. Though the Sheik and Grayson aligned early on to take out the Asian Assassin, it wasn’t long before the two found themself in a brutal battle of power vs. speed. However, Kato was able to utilize his veteran savvy to his advantage, taking out both the Sheik and Grayson in short order at various points throughout the match. Frankly, it was likely the former MPW stars strongest performance since leaving the promotion late last year, and for those who have read my previous work on the Asian Assassin, you know how much that statement means.
The close to the matchup came fast and furious. With Grayson outside the ring. Fortunately, Kato was able to effectively counter the Sheik’s suplex attempts, viciously tossing him from the top rope to the floor. Just when Kato’s troubles seemed to be averted, however, Grayson re-entered the ring and set his sights on his pair of opponents. Immediately upon setting foot inside the squared circle, Grayson winded Shabaz with a lionsault/senton-like manoeuver before ascending the turnbuckles and collecting Kato in his clutches. Within seconds, the Spaceman had hit the Asian Assassin with an avalanche Space Shuttle DDT for the 1-2-3.
That’s now two wins in a row for Spaceman Beri Grayson under the Force Pro Wrestling banner. The only question is - how will he continue to build on his momentum?
News & Notes
- With his win, Jack Pride moves to 3-0 to remain undefeated in Force Pro Wrestling
- Michael Richard Blais also moves to 3-0 in singles action, with his lone loss taking place in tag team action at the Prelude
- Zoë Sager’s win was her first in singles action under the Force Pro Wrestling banner
- Michael Allen Richard Clark and Andriy were the only debuting stars to pick up a victory on Friday night. Shotgun Sydney Greed, Taryn From Accounting, Chris Perish and Davey O’Doyle all picked up losses in their first matches for the promotion
- Both Kayla Jaye and Kato remain winless in singles action for the promotion. Jaye, however, does own a tag team victory over Michael Richard Blais and Zoë Sager as a member of the Golden Cartel
- While it’s an incorrect statement more often than not, Friday night was proof that wins and losses don’t always matter in professional wrestling. There’s no need to look further than the debuts of both Shotgun Sydney and Taryn From Accounting. Though neither was victorious in their inaugural matches for Force Pro Wrestling, the pair both looked remarkable in taking two of the province’s top talents to their limits. More importantly, both left fans in attendance eagerly anticipating the duo’s next moves. A triple-threat match of some sort between TFA, Sager and Kayla Jaye looks likely for the next Force Pro Wrestling show, while Sydney potentially looks to be continuing his feud with the Thickness. Even if both of those predictions turn out to be untrue, consider me excited.
- Was that a smattering of cheers for Colton Kelly I heard? Yes, yes it was. It’s a testament to both Jack Pride’s viciousness and Kelly’s sheer in-ring ability that the crowd was able to get behind one of the most ruthless men in the province. While his post-match antics may have some fans on the fence about fully being able to love the Millennial Icon, count this writer as a huge, huge fan.
- The only beneficiary of Dylon Stone’s absence - well, outside of Andriy, of course - was yours truly, as it allowed me to keep my full beer for the majority of the show, rather than having him steal it.
Force Pro Wrestling has yet to announce their next show, but for those looking to get caught up on the action, head to the Backbreaker Media V.O.D channel.
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