Finally! Some new Albertan wrestling to recap.
Well, technically new. On Saturday, footage from the Northern Alberta Invitational Tournament was aired in conjunction with the Top Talent Wrestling Academy, Wrestling Rodeo, and Wrestlesode. Though airing yesterday for the first time, the footage was filmed in early March prior to the COVID-19 pandemic’s restrictions being put in place, making this the first fresh footage involving Albertan wrestlers since March 7th saw the PWA, RCW, and MPW all run on the same night. Eight of the province’s top talent’s - pun fully intentional - were in action on Saturday afternoon, and as expected, the in-ring action delivered. The sellout crowd of what I’d estimate to be eight people were raucous throughout the event, making for what was an incredibly sports-entertaining afternoon.
- Giant Orion def. Sheik Akbar Shabaz
- Dylon Stone def. Heavy Metal
- Jack Pride def. Kato
- Michael Richard Blais def. “The Original” Marky
Orion Leaves Sheik Seeing Stars
I must admit, Sheik Shabaz made me feel pretty stupid for picking him in the preview show we did here on the Network a few days ago.
It’s rare you can say that Shabaz had an off-night inside the squared circle. Unfortunately, not only was that the case on Saturday afternoon, but the Sheik was thoroughly outclassed by his opponent, the Giant Orion. Through the majority of the tilt, Shabaz was, frankly, dominated, with the PWA Grand Slam Champion unable to get any momentum going against his larger opponent.
However, you can’t write Orion’s dominance off due to Shabaz’s rough day at the office. For the better part of a year, the former MMA fighter has been improving by leaps and bounds inside the squared circle, taking on - and defeating - the likes of Big Jess Youngblood and Brice “The Slammer” Sova throughout the past 365 days. Much like his matches against the previous two individuals, Orion’s tilt against Shabaz was a coming-out party of sorts, with the former King of the Cage winner putting on perhaps his most impressive showing to date.
In the end, Orion was able to reverse a Razor’s Edge attempt from the Sheik into a massive chokeslam, putting Shabaz down for the 1-2-3 and moving on to the second round of the tournament.
The Saturday Night Special: It’s Super Effective!
You can’t say that Dylon Stone’s victory over Heavy Metal was an upset. Given how talented Mr. Saturday Night is - and how well-known that fact is across Alberta - I don’t think “shocked” is the right word to describe the general feelings about Stone’s first-round victory on Saturday afternoon.
However, this is Heavy Metal we’re talking about. The man who’s held championships across the province for a combined 2,000+ days. One of the most ruthless professional wrestlers in Alberta. Hell, the man has his name on the damn building that the tournament was hosted in.
All that being said, while certainly no David-vs-Goliath story, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that didn’t consider Metal the favourite heading into their matchup.
We’re cheering for Dylon now especially after what Metal did to him last time. https://t.co/SSdJr9bDoL
— The Win Column Sports Network (@WCSportsCA) April 27, 2020
Oh, right, except for us
As Stone astutely points out, steel Pokémon certainly are weak to ground-type moves, which while technically not applicable to anything at all involving real combat certainly must have been a fact that got into Heavy Metal’s head on Saturday afternoon. Despite Metal’s routine dominance throughout the matchup, an uncharacteristic mistake led to his downfall in the first round of the Northern Alberta Invitational. As Metal set up for his patented Steiner Screwdriver (which let’s get real, is always a delight), Stone was able to shrewdly reverse his momentum and shove his opponent into the ropes. Mere seconds later, Stone had hit a Saturday Night Special out of nowhere, and laid Metal out for the three-count to move on to the semi-finals.
Pride De-Claws Kato
The phrase “dream matchup” has been beaten to death to the point it’s unrecognizable, but I won’t say that this hasn’t been a match I’ve anticipated for quite some time.
As a long-time fan of both Kato and Jack Pride, I’ve long thought that the two could match up well against each other. On the surface, the two seem like perfect foils for each other; both have similar builds, and though they each come with their own unique strengths, the pair are two of the most well-rounded wrestlers in the province. Not only that, but the two are equally capable of utilizing mind games to their advantages, setting the stage for perhaps the most unpredictable matchup of the afternoon.
Unfortunately for Kato, it was clear from the second that Pride walked through the curtain that his more vicious half had taken over for the impending match. No matter who the opponent, it’s never good news when the Man of Two Minds allows his darker half to take over; however, as a fan, it’s always my preference when the more vicious side of Pride shows up. Personally, it added a new level of intrigue to a matchup that I was already highly anticipating, and the two certainly didn’t disappoint.
In my opinion, this was perhaps the most evenly matched tilt of the show. The two put on an absolutely terrific matchup, with both Kato and Pride putting on a show for the capacity crowd. This is another one well worth the rewatch, and I’d highly suggest doing so prior to next week’s semi-final matchups.
In the end, it was Pride that moved on to the second round after hitting a picture-perfect Swallowed Pride on Kato for the victory. Pride now moves on to face the Giant Orion in semi-final action.
Good Professional Wrestlers Do Good Professional Wrestling Things
Saturday’s main event saw two of Alberta’s best renew their rivalry inside the squared circle, as “The Original” Marky squared off with Michael Richard Blais.
If you’ve been an Albertan wrestling fan for any sort of extended period of time, then I’m certain you know already exactly what these two are capable of inside the ring. There’s no doubt that the pair represent the apex of Albertan wrestling over the past fifteen years, and though by no means was this their first time facing off, the anticipation for a Marky/MRB tilt is always high.
As always, the two delivered an absolute thriller. In retrospect, it’s especially impressive what Blais was able to do given his recent revelation of a pectoral injury that’s expected to keep him on the shelf for an extended period of time. Whether it be Marky’s picture-perfect reversal of a brainbuster into a stunner that came within milliseconds of putting MRB down for the three-count, Blais’ Attitude Adjustment-style manoeuvre from the top rope to the ring apron that nearly forced a count-out or the seemingly endless series of near-falls and reversals, the duo had fans in attendance and watching online on the edges of their respective seats for the duration of the battle.
However, as Albertan wrestling fans are so used to, it was Michael Richard Blais who ended the match with his arm raised courtesy of a massive superplex/Brainbuster combination to an exhausted Marky. Give the Original his due: this was one of those matches that could have ended in either competitors favour at any point. It was simply Blais that was able to capitalize at the right time.
Something that wasn’t expanded on a ton were the series of vignettes attributed to “The Omen” Gabriel Lestat. Both prior to the official start of the show and in the midst of the Metal/Stone match, a series of logos flashed across the screen with the Omen issuing a series of threats. Though nothing has come of them thus far, it’s certainly something to keep an eye on as the tournament moves forward.
This Saturday will see both the semi-finals and finals of the Northern Alberta Invitational take place. Additionally, a featured matchup between Zoë Sager and Taryn From Accounting that will have no impact on the tournament is also scheduled. The stream is scheduled to begin at 4 pm Mountain Time on the official Wrestling Rodeo YouTube page.
- The Giant Orion vs. Jack Pride
- Dylon Stone vs. Michael Richard Blais
- Zoë Sager vs. Taryn From Accounting
- Northern Alberta Invitational Tournament Finals
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