Two weeks in a row, I’ve gotten to write a recap. Isn’t that terrific?
Guys, I can’t tell you how great it’s been to get some original Albertan wrestling over the past two weekends. Since March 7th, there’s been nary a crumb of original wrestling content to be found, with the only glimmers of hope coming from the series of previously-released matches that Alberta’s various promotions - and Backbreaker Media, a proud member of the WCSN! - have been putting out over the past few months. However, though the matches are obviously welcome content during a time that it’s so clearly lacking, there’s simply nothing quite like brand-new wrestling.
This afternoon, the second half of the Northern Alberta Invitational Tournament aired on Wrestling Rodeo, bringing a conclusion to the first original Albertan wrestling programming in over two months. The tournament, filmed at the start of March prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, saw eight of the province’s top stars competing for the right to be crowned the top talent in Northern Alberta. A non-tournament matchup pitting Taryn from Accounting against Zoë Sager was also featured, with the duo continuing to build on their impressive series of matches that kicked off in January.
We won’t spoil the winner for you here but though the result may be surprising to some (except for, of course, yours truly, who correctly predicted the entire tournament bracket), it certainly wouldn’t come as a shock to those who tuned in this afternoon on Wrestling Rodeo.
No sense in pushing it back any further - like a Pita Pit employee, let’s wrap!
- The Giant Orion def. Jack Pride
- Michael Richard Blais def. Dylon Stone
- Taryn from Accounting def. Zoë Sager
- Northern Alberta Invitational Tournament Finals: Giant Orion def. Michael Richard Blais
Semi-Finals: Jack Pride vs. the Giant Orion
The tournament’s first true David-vs-Goliath matchup saw the Giant Orion take on Jack Pride in the first tilt of the afternoon.
Though this was perhaps a more even matchup than Orion’s first-round victory over Sheik Shabaz, it’s still difficult to say that he wasn’t dominant in this one. Yes, Pride may have gotten in more offence. Unfortunately, when your opponent is a seven-foot colossus, it frankly doesn’t matter how much offence you get in most of the time. Though Pride put up a valiant fight, it was Orion who left the victor after reversing a hurricarana attempt into a Razor’s Edge for the three-count.
A friendly reminder that I called this one, too. Just sayin’.
Semi-Finals: Dylon Stone vs. Michael Richard Blais
This one was almost over before it got started.
As predicted by our panellists on the NABinv pre-show, Stone hit his patented Saturday Night Special within seconds of the opening bell. However, Blais was able to roll out of the ring not once, but twice to avoid losing out early.
It was much to the crowd’s benefit that he did. For any who have watched their previous matchups, you know just how good these two are when paired together. However - and this is no disservice to their prior matches - this blew their previous one-on-one battle out of the water. As expected, the two put on an absolute clinic, with either looking to have the match won throughout. Whether it be Blais massive Code Red or Mr. Saturday Night’s Stone-Cutter TKO, their tilt certainly could have gone either way.
Unfortunately, I don’t get to make a cool Pokémon analogy again this week in recapping a Dylon Stone victory. Of course, there’s something to be said about Blais sounding like blaze, and the Stone/rock analogy can obviously still apply. However, OBVIOUSLY rock Pokémon are super effective against fire Pokémon, and Stone was certainly less than effective against Blais. While Stone’s quest to be the very best (like no one ever was) ended at the hands of MRB, he can take some consolation in the fact that he’s far from the first to do so.
Zoë Sager vs. Taryn from Accounting
Earlier, I described the Pride/Orion matchup as the only true David-vs-Goliath matchup in the tournament. That statement may hold true, but if we’re including non-tournament action, the barn-burner between Zoë Sager and Taryn from Accounting would certainly be included in that description.
Man, did I love this match. Every time I watch Taryn and Zoë square off, I’m impressed, and that certainly was the case again on Saturday afternoon. There’s a reason that both are known as lynchpins of the Albertan women’s scene; there’s simply no doubting their talent. There are few more well-rounded pro wrestlers in the province than Sager, while TFA is perhaps the most powerful female wrestler in Alberta. Their dynamic always makes for an excellent matchup, and that was definitely the case once again on Saturday.
There are few bigger compliments I can give a match than to simply drop what you’re doing and go and watch it, and that statement definitely applies to their tilt at the Northern Alberta Invitational. Of their matchups to this point, it’s quite easily my favourite, and considering the talent’s involved that should speak volumes.
Once again, it was TFA who left with her arm raised, shrewdly countering Sager’s Bulldog/X-Factor attempt into her finishing maneuver affectionately known as “Crunching the Numbers.”
Though Taryn from Accounting may hold the definitive advantage in their ongoing feud, one thing you can definitely a-count on is that I can’t wait for their next encounter.
I’ll see myself out.
Tournament Finals: Michael Richard Blais vs. the Giant Orion
The Northern Alberta Invitational Tournament finals saw Michael Richard Blais and the Giant Orion face off for the first time ever inside the squared circle.
Yeah, there’s no other way to put it, this match ruled. Though I perhaps could have done with a little more in-ring action considering the first five minutes of the match were a frightened Blais avoiding the Orion like we’re currently avoiding the outdoors (nice topical reference, Spencer! - editor), when the action kicked off, it was downright terrific. Orion put on perhaps his best performance as a professional wrestler, while Blais continued his trend of being able to bring out the best in any opponent he faces. This match was #neat and I recommend you watch it.
I could give you a lot of typical thoughts about this being a back-and-forth match, or I could tell you that a seven-foot dude won with a freakin’ moonsault. Which one’s a better selling point? Exactly.
Truly, the Northern Alberta Invitational couldn’t have been more of a coming-out party for the Giant Orion. Defeating three of Alberta’s top stars in Sheik Shabaz, Jack Pride and, of course, Michael Richard Blais is a major statement. Not only was Orion dominant, but thoroughly entertaining throughout; in fact, his three tilts over the course of the tournament were some of my favourites, and I’d wager that I’d be speaking of them as my top three quite easily if it wasn’t for his series against Big Jesse Youngblood late last year.
Though there weren’t many who may have picked him off the hop in this tournament, I highly doubt there were many disappointed with the end result. Congratulations go out to Orion on his victory, and the trio of Wrestling Rodeo, Wrestlesode and the Top Talent Wrestling Academy for hosting what we can definitively say was the best Albertan wrestling since at least March 8th, 2020.
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