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HWA On-Site Report
Posted by Jared "JHawk" Hawkins on May 26, 2003, 13:21

HWA On-Site Report (5/25/2003)
by Jared "JHawk" Hawkins

OK, this didn't post the first time I tried this, so take two...

As you know, I love my independent wrestling, but it has been so hard to get any good indy shows in my area over the years. But between the UWC that I frequently attend and Ring of Honor's recent stops in the Pittsburgh area, Northeast Ohio is quietly becoming an indy hotbed. So quietly, in fact, that I almost missed a pretty decent show last night.

Apparently, the Cincinnati-based Heartland Wrestling Association made a tour of Northern Ohio this weekend, but there was very little advertising for their show at the Eastwood Expo Centre in Niles, Ohio. So little, in fact, that I found out about the show two hours before the scheduled belltime because my brother called me and told me he checked Hacksaw Jim Duggan into his hotel. So we went. Which reminds me, if anybody taped Heat last night, e-mail me.

More proof that the entire day was kind of a cluster...belltime was scheduled for 7pm with the doors scheduled to open at 6. We get there a little after 6 to find out that not only are the doors not open yet, but the ring isn't even set up. One of the guys in line, a dead ringer for Stone Cold Steve Austin, kept checking on their progress (informing us that the hot dogs were ready...why make food before the ring is even set up?) to the point that they closed the ticket window. That wouldn't stop him for long.

Around 6:30, a local newswoman brought her camera in, and this guy held the door open for her. Then he followed her inside in another attempt to try to figure out exactly what the holdup was. Finally, at 6:45, we were told that they had a problem with the ring truck, so it would be another 15-20 minutes. The doors finally opened around 7:20.

So let me give you a little tip about what to do if you're early or if the doors open late. Talk to the people who are there. When we got there, there were four people in front of us. In the hour or so we stood outside, we wound up cracking jokes and talking wrestling and had a great time. At one point we were discussing how short the matches would end up being and even considered the possibility of a battle royal where the first person out wins. We wound up sitting together for the show and doing some heckling to go with it.

The show starts at 7:55 with a...

14-man battle royal

Despite our earlier conversation, usual rules apply. Battle royals usually suck, but this one was surprisingly very entertaining. Plenty of false eliminations early, and my favorite competitor quickly became Medic #8, who talked to his surgical glove, stole another wrestler's hat, and generally was a pain in the ass. Sadly, he was the first one eliminated. Other eliminations: Rory Fox, T.J. Dalton, Number Two, Monty Fabulous, Shawn Osbourne, Number Three, Quentin Lee, J.T. Stahr, someone whose name I couldn't make out (something Slade I think), Gotti, and Drew the Don. This left Nigel McGuiness and Hoss (who graduated from nearby Mineral Ridge High School and thus had an entire section roped off for his family). Hoss had saved McGuinness from elimination several times, but with them being the final two, McGuinness dropkicked Hoss over the top rope for the win at 12:39.

Sports entertainment time, as Commissioner Peter Black came out to tell the fans that hometown boy Hoss would not be on any part of the rest of the card. This brought out Hoss, who demanded to be placed on the card. Out came Chad Collyer, Cody Hawk, and Chet "The Jet" Jablonski to save the commissioner, which brought out Matt Stryker and D'Lo Brown to make the save. D'Lo issued a challenge for a no DQ six man tag team match, which was quickly accepted. But they decide not to wait and brawl to the back.

Shawn Osbourne vs. Drew the Don

Osbourne is pretty well put together as the face, while Drew is the heel with...I'm assuming a mafia gimmick, but who knows? Decent enough match with some decent mat work by Osbourne. Drew takes advantage for a while. Osbourne makes his comeback with a couple of very near falls, but he gets caught running in with a fireman's carry into a slam that gives Drew the win at 7:07.

"High IQ" Quentin Lee vs. "MTV Superstar" Rory Fox

You might remember Fox as the subject of MTV's True Life "I'm a Professional Wrestler", and his gimmick is still to live off of that. Once Fox reminded us of that (with one guy in the crowd admitting to remembering that), he asks who Lee is, because he looks like an accountant. "Since you like to crunch numbers so much, here are some for you. 1. 2. 3." After the bell, Lee does the stall tactics, which gets Fox saying "the accountant's crying. There's no crying in wrestling!" And just to show us that he doesn't find Lee that worthy, he locks in an armbar and poses so Hoss' mother can take pictures. Funny stuff. An OK match overall that Fox wins with a full nelson slam at 8:45, but this is way up on the entertainment factor.

For the HWA Cruiserweight Championship: J.T. Stahr (co-champion) vs. T.J. Dalton (co-champion)

I'm making the assumption that these two men had a double pin of some sort to become co-champions, but who knows. They spend the prematch arguing over who should carry the cheap piece of tin--er, I mean the title belt. Really good clean match early, but before long there's a crash a row behind me, aa the competitors for our upcoming six man tag have made their way to the floor. They eventually take the two competitors out of action, but the referee lets the match continue. Once it continues, we get a number of false finishes until Dalton gets rolling reverse cradle with a bridge for the pin at 6:43, but his own shoulders are also down, so they remain co-champions. Good match if you get rid of the interference (which is actually a nice touch) and the lame finish.

Out comes Nigel McGuinness for more sports entertainment. He says he eliminated Hoss "because I could", and he could have dropkicked everybody else out too, because he's British. He then calls all Americans cowards, which sets up...

Nigel McGuinness vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan

If you read my onsite report for April Ambush, you know this one. Duggan gets the "USA" pop early, McGuinness has some offense, but Duggan gets the Three Point Clothesline for the pin at 7:16. I liked it better in April when it was a handicap match. Bad match, but still entertaining.

Intermission time, with D'Lo and Duggan posing for Polaroids. I guess Matt Stryker remembers me from my Michael Shane heckling at the last Ring of Honor show, because he actually waved me over to say hello real quick. Cool moment. Intermission takes about 30 minutes.

Women's Match: AJ vs. Bobbi Jo

Polar opposites here, as AJ is this petite little thing and Bobbi Jo is...well, not. We're not talking Matilda the Hun type big or anything, but Vince would never push her as a diva. Some excellent heckling by the ringsiders here, as one fan (OK, my father) would yell "I'll rub that for ya" everytime AJ landed on her ass. AJ cheats to win~! with a roll up in 4:44. Decent enough, but great for the heckling.

Falls Count Anywhere: D'Lo Brown and Matt Stryker (HWA Tag Team Champions) and Hoss vs. Chad Collyer (HWA Heavyweight Champion), Chet Jablonski, and Cody Hawk

Before the bell, the ring announcer tells people "If they start coming your way, MOVE!" HWA is not liable, etc. etc. D'Lo brings out a shopping cart full of goodies. The brawl is on the floor immediately, and immediately things like cookie sheets, trash can lids, baseball bats, and crutches come into play. Once the cart is empty, D'Lo places Hawk into it, goes into full speed, and sends the cart into a support post. Of course, with this one being set up because of being in a hometown, you know Hoss is getting the pin. He gets it by catching Jablonski in midair and taking him down with a version of Matt Hardy's side effect in 12:22. Collyer and Hawk immediately leave the ring, which leaves the Jet all alone to take a Lo Down from D'Lo. Stryker then trips over Chet in celebration, which gives them an excuse to continue the beatdown. Chet wakes up on the floor, asks where his partners are, and when we tell him "They left an hour ago", he starts kicking chairs as he heads to the back. Stryker then wakes up after his fall, sits down at ringside, and pretends he's Duggan by giving a "HOOOOOOOOOO!" D'Lo leads the crowd in a USA chant, and we're out at 9:56.

Let's be honest here. This is probably the least organized show I've ever been to. One of the battle royal participants was the sound guy, the ring announcer messed up one of the intros in the battle royal, and there should never be any excuse for not opening the doors until after the scheduled start time. Add that to the complete lack of advertising for this show leading to a 300-seat setup being barely 2/3 full, and you have a recipe for disaster.

But despite all that, you have guys out there busting their asses to put on a good show, joking around with the fans during the intermission, and not worrying about whether they're working "main event style" or not. Their goal was simply to entertain the fans, and nobody I talked to was disappointed by that show.

I'm hoping for a return date, and I'm hoping it gets a better turnout, because once the show got started, I really liked what I saw. Not bad for not having any idea who was who and what was going on.

I'm back tonight for my final full-time Raw, but drop me a line until then.


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