If one was to scale the entire world of wrestling into Alberta, Canada, then Red Deer’s Festival Hall is our Madison Square Garden.
While, admittedly, it’s hard to draw any other comparisons between the Big Apple and the sprawling metropolis of Red Deer, Festival Hall itself has been the site of countless classic events now etched in Albertan wrestling lore. Whether it be the inaugural matchup in April between Top Talent and tagSTRUGGLE or the barnburner between Pride and Dylon Stone that many recognized as the province’s Match of the Year in 2018, the Hall has played host to some of the finest wrestling matches seen in the province’s recent history. It’s location also allows for a number of unique matchups to take place; with no boundary or promotional restrictions to speak of, the venue has the advantage of being able to utilize the best of the best in the Albertan wrestling scene.
That fact was something that yet again played to the advantage of Real Canadian Wrestling and the Canadian Wrestling Coalition on Saturday night. Names like the PWA’s Sheik Akbar Shabaz and “The Omen” Gabriel Lestat faced off with the likes of Top Talent’s Heavy Metal and Big Jesse Youngblood. A women’s tag match featured women spread across three Albertan promotions. The night was headlined by two of the biggest stars in not only their respective home promotions but Western Canada. It made for a spectacular evening of wrestling in Red Deer, Alberta, and one that fans through the province won’t soon forget.
Like a Chopped Leaf employee, we wrap.
Main Event Madness:
There are many names and titles that have been bestowed upon the man known as Pride, but one is absolutely undebatable: one of the best professional wrestlers in Alberta.
Throughout 2019, wrestling fans throughout the province have been treated to a number of first-time-ever matchups and dream battles between many of the top stars in the province. While the moniker to this point has been aptly used, let’s not forget that the first time the title was bestowed on a match this year was the January 9th donnybrook in Radway between Pride and Michael Richard Blais. Their battle went down as an instant classic in Albertan wrestling history; however, it did leave a little to be desired due to the actions of Chris Perish, who interfered late in the match and left us without a clear victor. On Saturday, Blais and Pride were set to face off once again, and with Perish in Lethbridge for Pure Power Wrestling’s Reach for the Sky event, there was little chance of interference in the rematch.
For 36 minutes on Saturday night, both Pride and Blais proved why they’re known as two of the top wrestlers in Alberta today. The pair put on an absolute wrestling clinic; while many came into the evening with expectations already high given their previous encounters, the two went above and beyond in not only outdoing those expectations but each other. Blais was at his high-flying best, careening around the ring like it were a pinball machine. As we’ve seen so often before, Blais was willing to risk it all to win, even in anticipation of what’s perhaps the biggest match of his career against Teddy Hart on Saturday.
However, it was a different Pride that we saw on Saturday night in Red Deer. It seemed for every manoeuvre that Blais attempted, the First of the Fallen had an answer; however, the same can be said for Blais to Pride. By this point, the two seem to have each of their opponents’ best blows scouted, and while both were able to get in a number of devastating blows, neither was able to keep the other down for long. It seemed as though neither was willing to give the other an inch of advantage. Every devastating chop, brutal kick or aerial acrobatic just seemed to motivate their opponent, rather than put them away. Blais was unable to finish Pride with a Spanish Fly, nor was the First of the Fallen able to end it with a massive standing moonsault. Interestingly, Pride began bringing out manoeuvres not seen from him in years, including a Green Arrow that brought the fans at Festival Hall to their feet.
However, it wasn’t to last. It’s difficult to keep Michael Richard Blais down for long, and especially an MRB with something to prove. After a number of attempts failed to connect earlier in the match, Blais was finally able to hit his patented Brainbuster/450 combo, and after just over 36 minutes, the match was over.
It was an excellent main event, punctuated by a show of respect between the two men following the match. Deservedly, both men were applauded out of the ring to close out the night. While this may be the last time for the foreseeable future that the pair duke it out, it was a more than satisfying conclusion to their feud.
Three titles were on the line through three separate matches on Saturday night at Festival Hall, including a defence of Aussie Legend’s RCW Canadian Heavyweight Championship.
For those who haven’t had a chance to watch the Aussie Legend wrestle live, you’re missing out. He is the prototypical professional wrestler; he’s built like a Mack truck with the speed to match, and despite his huge frame he’s far from one-dimensional. There’s a reason he’s been able to take down names like Raj Singh and Heavy Metal during his run as RCW Champion, and it was a winning streak he was looking to continue with the odds stacked against him on Saturday.
Facing off against the Legend were Shiek Shabaz, Big Jess Youngblood and Günnar the Pagan Destroyer. Both Shabaz and Youngblood have had extended reigns as champions in their respective promotions, and while Günnar has yet to capture singles gold, his monstrous presence makes him a threat any time he steps inside the squared circle.
However, while the match was technically a fatal four-way, for the majority of the tilt it looked as though it was a handicap match between Aussie Legend and the team of Youngblood and Shabaz. The two worked together seamlessly to ensure that both Knight took a beating and that Günnar was kept at bay. As one attacked the RCW Champion, the other would keep the Pagan Destroyer outside of the ring, allowing for the pair to gain a considerable advantage over their two larger opponents. However, it didn’t last long, as both Günnar was able to recover and Aussie Legend was able to persevere. After a series of devastating chokeslams from Günnar to both Youngblood and Shabaz, he set up for a third to the defending RCW Champion. However, Aussie Legend was able to escape the hold and hoist the Pagan Destroyer on his shoulders. After hitting his finisher on Günnar for the three-count, the Aussie Legend had retained his championship in yet another excellent match.
In another title defence, Dylon Stone defended his Alberta Championship against Dirty Inc’s Cody Chimera. Both men have been at the top of their game over the past few months, with Stone recently taking ROH Champion Matt Taven to his limit at the RCW 16th-Anniversary show, while Chimera recently captured his first professional wrestling gold, claiming the RCW Tag Team Championships with Maverick Jack late last month. In an interview last week, Stone commented on how much he was looking forward to his battle with the RCW Tag Team Champion; however, despite his victory, that may have changed during the course of Saturday’s match. Both men took an absolute beating through the title defence, with Stone ruthlessly chopping Chimera’s chest into hamburger meat throughout their battle. Chimera, too, was merciless in his assault, taking the Alberta champ to his limit throughout the course of the action. Both men have mentioned in recent interviews that they fell they’ve been wrestling the best matches of their careers lately, and this tilt would rank right up there with the best of them. Whatever your preferred style of wrestling, this had it, and by the conclusion of their nearly 35-minute match, both had left everything on the mat. However, it was Stone who emerged victorious following a creative series of pinfall attempts from both men - something that didn’t sit well with Chimera. As Stone celebrated, Chimera ripped him off the top rope and summoned his tag team partner from the back. The two proceeded to decimate Stone, with the pair concluding their beatdown with their patented “Dirt Nap” finisher. However, as the two went back for more, Travis Cole came and made the save for Stone with a metal pipe in tow. It looks as though neither Cole nor Stone is finished with Dirty Inc, and that’s something that wrestling fans throughout Alberta should be excited about.
Finally, the RCW Commonwealth Championship was on the line in a triple threat between Brice “The Slammer” Sova, “The Universe” Zack Mercury, and current champion “The Viking Lord” Vince Austin. As you’d expect, it was an absolute slobber knocker between the three veterans, with each strike looking more vicious than the last. The rivalry between the Universe and Austin is one may throughout RCW are familiar with, and with the addition of the Slammer to the festivities, it was bound to leave everyone headed home banged up. Unfortunately, the match was marred by its dirty finish; just as the Slammer looked as though he would emerge victoriously, Vince Austin was able to utilize his championship belt as a weapon without the referee noticing. Sadly, it led to Austin retaining his title, and while the Viking Lord is a hell of a professional wrestler, it’s unfortunate his retention was via dirty means. Next up, Austin and Mercury will square off in a Glove on a Pole match.
The Women Deliver:
Saturday night didn’t see the advertised triple threat matchup between Kayla Jaye, Kylie Morgan and Zoë Sager take place; however, that’s only due to the dastardly actions of the current PWA women’s stars. As Jaye made her entrance to the ring, both Morgan and Sager attacked her from behind, commencing with a ruthless beatdown to the former RCW Women’s Champion. However, out of nowhere, Alix Zwicker hit the ring to make the save for Jaye, and a tag team match pitting the PWA stars against the women of the CWC was made. As could be expected considering the talent’s involved, it was another shining example of what makes the women’s wrestling scene in Alberta great. All four looked terrific on Saturday night, though it was admittedly slightly jarring watching Sager and Morgan team together just one week before the two square off for the revived PWA Women’s Championship. While Zwicker took the majority of the offence from her two opponents, her resilience gave her team a chance to win when, considering the brutality of the beating delivered by Morgan and Sager, would have put many other women down for the three-count. However, eventually, Zwicker was able to make the tag to Kayla Jaye, who along with her partner ran rampant on both of her opponents. Eventually, Kayla Jaye was able to isolate Sager, hit a jaw-jacking superkick, and set up Zwicker to hit her somersault DDT to pick up the victory.
Saturday saw the revival of a years-old rivalry between Heavy Metal and “The Omen” Gabriel Lestat. The two titans of Albertan wrestling have faced off more times than can be counted, but their battle on Saturday was the first time in over four years that the two met in the squared circle. In that time, the two have developed into two of the top stars of the Albertan independent scene, and with the length of time between encounters, many in the crowd were watching the two battle for the first time. From the onset, the two delivered, with both Metal and Lestat bringing the crowd to the edge of their seats during their thrilling dustup. While both Lestat and Heavy Metal feature a unique blend of power and agility, both attempted to gain the psychological advantage over the other throughout the duration of the match. However, while both were able to get their offence in, neither was able to gain a clear advantage over their opponent for the majority of the match.
However, wherever Heavy Metal is, you can bet that Big Jesse Youngblood isn’t far behind. Late in the match and with Metal reeling, Gabriel headed to the top rope looking to finish off his opponent. However, as the savvy veteran he is, Metal utilized referee Cedrick Hathaway IV to not only help pick himself back up but as a human barrier between himself and his airborne opponent. With Hathaway down for the count, it wasn’t long before Youngblood entered the ring and gave Metal a numbers advantage. While Gabriel valiantly attempted to fight back, it wasn’t long before the numbers game caught up to the Omen, and a devastating combination of a kick to the back and a spear from Youngblood put Gabriel down for the count. As Metal pinned Lestat, Youngblood dragged the dazed referee over to count the pinfall. Three seconds later, and Heavy Metal had emerged victorious. However, the victory wasn’t enough for Metal, not did the interference seem to satiate Youngblood. The two commenced with yet another beatdown of the Omen, but this time, Gabriel received some backup of his own in the form of the Slammer. After chasing off Top Talent, the Slammer and the Omen challenged the duo to a match at July 20th’s show in Red Deer, which Metal and Youngblood were all too eager to accept. It’s the first match announced for next month’s show, and one that should tear the house down.
If you want blood, said AC/DC, you’ve got it. That same lyric could have applied to the opening match of Saturday’s show, as Maverick Jack and Travis Cole went to war at From the Ashes. Cole has had an issue with Dirty Inc ever since the last show in Red Deer, where fellow members Sydney Steele and the RCW Women’s Champion Angelica attempted to take out Kayla Jaye (then known as Envy), following her match. With both Steele and Angelica on Dirty Inc business for the evening, Cole had to take his aggression out on Maverick Jack, who was more than willing for a fight. This was a brutal battle, with Cole getting the upper hand. Unfortunately, the influence of Jack’s Manager Dirty Mike Jones distracted Cole enough to change the tide. After a beatdown by Jack that opened up a gash above Cole’s eye, it appeared that Cole was going to be able to overcome the odds. However, Jones once again got involved, sliding Jack’s Tag Team Championship into the ring. While referee Cedrick Hathaway IV was distracted, Jack hit Cole from behind with a low blow, followed by a roll-up and a hand full of tights for the victory for one half of the RCW Tag Team Champions. While Jack won the battle, I expect this rivalry to be far from over.
The evening also saw a six-man tag match take place, pitting the team of Big Bruce, Dante, and Lorenzo Hernandez against Barricade, Xander Price and Son of Irish. The action started hot and heavy between the six, with a massive brawl kicking off the festivities. Eventually, the action broke down outside of the ring, where not only did Barricade take to the skies, but Son of Irish hit an insane moonsault to the outside that brought the Festival Hall crowd to their feet just minutes into the match. Unfortunately, the manoeuvre proved to be costly for Son of Irish, as after the action came back inside the squared circle he was worked over for the majority of the match. However, he was eventually able to make the tag to Xander Price, and from that point, everything went in favour of the good guys. After a dominant run from the faces, Son of Irish was able to hit yet a massive shooting star press to Hernandez for the victory.
What a hell of a card. Truly, there isn’t much more you can say than that. From start to finish, RCW and CWC combined to put on an excellent night of professional wrestling, and one that won’t soon be forgotten by Albertan fans.
Next up, RCW and CWC host their next show at Festival Hall on July 20th. The promotion also announced that their dates between August 29-31 will feature WWE Legend “The Genius” Lanny Poffo. Tickets for all shows are available through any RCW roster member.
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