WINDSOR — As much as I love watching professional wrestling, sometimes I absolutely dread it. Like last week’s Raw, for instance, and the horrible story with Daniel Bryan and Kane. It nearly made me embarrassed to watch it.
Fast forward to later in the week. It’s Friday, and I crossed the border from Detroit to Windsor and entered a gym at St. Clair College for a Border City Wrestling show.
Over the years, I’ve heard nothing but great things about BCW. From the talent they produce, to the shows they put on, it’s all been positive. However, it’s just never worked out for me to go to a show. What got me across the border this time, though, was the addition of the stars of New Japan Pro Wrestling.
Now, just like BCW, I’ve heard all the hype about NJPW, but I’ve never seen it before. I’d seen the forum postings, I’d hear the wrestling insiders discussing how great it is, and I even had a few friends pump it up to me, but I just haven’t been able to bring myself to stay up at the super-late hour their pay-per-views are on at, nor figure out how to buy their DVDs or other assorted media. I always figured I have plenty of wrestling to watch on North American TV, so I didn’t need NJPW.
Needless to say, I was excited to see both the stars of BCW and NJPW on Friday — and boy oh boy did everyone deliver.
First, BCW puts on a high-class show. This is where promoter Scott D’Amore and his team’s vast experience really shines through. As this show was being taped for television, it really had the feel of a television taping. The gym was brightly lit, the stage and ramp area were great, and it looked and felt like something big.
The action in the ring, though, is where the night really shined.
The theme was “East vs. West,” with the stars of NJPW taking on the stars of BCW in a best-of-five. As a way to showcase the stars of both promotions, this was a really great idea. What was very interesting, however, is that it seemed as if the majority of the crowd were BCW regulars, not a bunch of “outsiders” there only to see the NJPW wrestlers.
The first match featured IWGP Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura taking on Tyson Dux. Nakamura was instantly over to the crowd with his unique mannerisms and movements. Dux, of course, is a local favorite. The two had a very good match, which went about 10 minutes, and saw Nakamura use a low blow and a running knee to win the match.
The match of the night, by far, was next, however, as the BCW team of Petey Williams and Brent B teamed up to face the former IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Alex Shelley and KUSHIDA, who are known as the Time Splitters.
If this was seen by a larger audience, it would probably be a match of the year candidate. These four had the crowd going absolutely bonkers at multiple times in the match with an amazing showing of athleticism from all four men, including Brent B (also known as Brent Banks), who hasn’t been seen on a large stage like the others have.
The match went nearly 25 minutes with the teams hitting each other with everything but the kitchen sink. At one point, Shelley had Brent tied up in the tree of woe, drop kicked him, then German suplexed Williams onto Brent while he was still tied up.
I won’t spoil too much of the action, because this is an absolute go out of your way, must-see match. In the end, it was the Time Splitters that got the win, hitting Skull and Crossbones on Williams and a 2-0 lead for NJPW.
This match was truly the crown jewel of a great event.
BCW battled back, though. Joe Doering and Bolen defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi and Takaaki Watanabe. Unfortunately, this match wasn’t much of a showcase for the talents of Tanahashi, as it was mostly a standard tag team affair, but Doering and Bolen shined here, and picked up the win when Doering pinned Watanabe with a spinning sit-out power bomb.
BCW tied the series at two when BCW Champion Phil Atlas took on IWGP Tag Team Champion “Machine Gun” Karl Anderson. Let me tell you, for a local star, Atlas is just about as popular as you could possibly imagine. The crowd loved Atlas and hated Anderson here. Atlas seemed like the true star of BCW, getting one of the loudest reactions of the night of anyone on the card.
It was a back-and-forth affair that saw Atlas pin Anderson with a roll-up to a huge ovation from the crowd. It was even more commendable because Atlas sprained his ankle on an outside dive early in the match but still continued and put in a great effort. [Editor’s note: Atlas later revealed the ankle was broken.]
With the series tied at two, it all came down to a battle of former world champions to decide it, as former TNA World Heavyweight Champion Chris Sabin battled former IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada.
This was also a back-and-forth match that featured a vicious ref bump, during which Sabin recorded a long visual pin on Okada, but Okada roared back and finished him with the Rainmaker, a vicious lariat, to win the series 3-2 for NJPW.
The night, however, was not over. The night ended with Cody Deaner facing the absolutely massive 350-plus-pound Kongo Kong, with special guest Booker T as the outside enforcer. For an independent wrestling show, Kong is probably about as massive of a talent as you’ll see. And not only that, he could wrestle, and had a stunning amount of athleticism. However, that athleticism came back to haunt him as he missed a top-rope moonsault, yes, a top-rope moonsault, and Deaner finished him off with a DDT.
Keep an eye out for Kong, folks.
Overall, any show that features a match of the year candidate is going to be two thumbs up. Add in the rest, and this is one of the best shows I’ve ever attended live of any promotion.