As Bellatrix was kicking off the recent Fight Season in the UK, Absolute Intense Wrestling in Cleveland, OH were getting the ball rolling Stateside with a SHIMMER-esque double taping at Turner’s Hall under their “Girl’s Night Out” banner. Built around the rivalry between AIW mainstays – longtime Absolute Women’s Champion Allysin Kay and her #1 Contender Veda Scott (they headlined both this and the evening Girls Night Out 10 event), AIW also welcomed first time guests in the form of Scotland’s Nikki Storm, Portugal’s Perfect Athlete Shanna, Australia’s Savannah Summers, a handful of Ontario-based Canadians and offered an AIW debut to Santana Garrett – giving AIW its strongest women’s division show yet (on paper, at least). Kudos to Smart Mark Video for turning around production so quickly on both shows, making them available for download approximately a fortnight after the show happened. We’re reviewing the mp4 digital download version of the show here, but you can pick up the show either as a digital download, a streaming VOD or on physical media all via the SMV store.
1. Annie Social (w/ Sammy Geodollno & Heidi Lovelace) pinned Jewells Malone with a Stunner.
2. Santana Garrett beat Jenny Rose via submission.
3. Leva Bates & Xandra Bale beat Jody D’Milo & Jasmin when Bates pinned D’Milo following a Superhero Kick.
– Post match, The Social Network of Annie Social, Heidi Lovelace & Sammy Geodollno attacked Bates & Bale.
4. Three Way Match: Angel Dust won over Melanie Cruise & Heidi Lovelace when she pinned Cruise with a schoolgirl roll-up.
5. Leah Von Dutch pinned Mickie Knuckles after The Duke knocked out Knuckles with a punch.
6. Savannah Summers pinned Sassy Stephie with a roll-up counter to the Kiss My Sass.
7. Taeler Hendrix pinned Marti Belle.
8. Kimber Lee made Nikki Storm submit to a cross armbreaker.
9. Dream Partners Tag Match: Allysin Kay & Mia Yim beat Veda Scott & Shanna when Yim pinned Shanna after Kay had chased Scott to the back.
Click thorough after the cut for opinions on the show.
• A couple of names missing from the originally advertised lineup here, as Seleziya Sparx had border issues (Marti Belle, who was not originally scheduled to be on the shows, replaced her), while one part of The Social Network (Nikki St John) was also absent for no reason. In fact, during the opener, the commentators note that Annie Social was “one third” of their group – along with Sammy Geodollno and Heidi Lovelace – rather than “one quarter”. However, on twitter, John Thorne confirms she just had a scheduling conflict, so hopefully she’ll be back down the road.
• AIW had previously made a big deal over win/loss records mattering in GNO competition, though had kind of pulled back from that being the be all and end all of the division soon after. Here, records are mentioned during introductions and referred to regularly on commentary. It’s a nice idea.
• Opener between Annie Social and Jewells Malone was a bit more one-sided than I’d have liked, but it was perfectly fine for an opener in all other regards. I’ve been very much sold on Jewells this year, and think she makes an awesome babyface-in-peril, but she didn’t really get a comeback in this. It was all Social, Social, Social… stunner, pin. Like I said, perfectly fine for an opener. Commentator Aaron Bauer amused me by revealing that Sammy Geodollno had spent time in a “Maximum Security Prison”. One of many great comic asides he employed throughout the show.
• Santana Garrett vs Jenny Rose was a *great* little match. I really enjoyed it. Again, given its place on the card, it’s not a “Match of the Night” or anything like that, but it was a really well wrestled match between two women who seemed comfortable in there. Garrett’s been impressive in most every appearance I’ve seen of her this year, and although she’s now gone back to Japan again, having Jenny Rose on a bunch of cards recently has been a really nice bonus. Aaron Bauer’s commentary gem on this one surrounded the fact that both women were second generation stars… Santana was the niece of Tito Santana, apparently – while Jenny Rose is the daughter of “Playboy” Buddy Rose. He’s got all the scoops.
• By comparison to the previous bout, the tag match between (Leva) Bates & (Xandra) Bale and “Team Double J” of Jody D’Milo & Jasmin didn’t really click for me. For what little I’ve ever heard about Jasmin, I know she’s still green (and she is), but holy cow is she adorable. I guess the idea for the match was that D’Milo was the “Team Captain” and would give directions to Jasmin, but it was never really played up enough. There was only the one pretty obvious miscue where Jasmin got wiped out, but otherwise with the benefit of hindsight and knowing that Jody & Jasmin were facing off at GNO10 later, the issues could’ve been laid on a little thicker. Aaron Bauer’s line of the match for this one? “Jody D’Milo says she’s a work of art. I think *that’s* a work”. Ouch. Nothing much to see in this match, but a post match beat down of Bates & Bale by The Social Network sets up a tag match for GNO10 and leaves Heidi Lovelace in the ring for the next match…
• I’ve watched Melanie Cruise matches for years, and I never necessarily thought I’d enjoy watching her as much as I have in 2013. Here’s a woman who has completely learned how to work as a big woman, and use her size to its fullest. Case in point this match, where Cruise was faced with two much smaller women in a triple threat match – and she went to town with big spinning slams and the likes. A joy to watch. Angel Dust and Heidi Lovelace did their roles well, but Cruise was the star, which ironically enough, made the finish (Angel Dust schoolgirling Cruise for the shock pin) a bit of a let down. Again, there *is* storyline reason for it as the two would face off at GNO10, but still. Dave Prazak joined Aaron Bauer on commentary for this one, and the two seemed to be having fun. Approved.
• Leah Von Dutch (aka “LVD – The Whole Fuckin’ No-Show”, per Aaron Bauer) made her much delayed debut as part of the regular AIW #NIXON stable next in a decent match with Mickie Knuckles. There wasn’t a lot of Mickie-esque violence in the match, though they did do one particularly creative bit where they both went under the ring and we could hear banging from underneath. If I had any issue with this one, it was the finish, which saw The Duke punch Mickie Knuckles, knocking her out and allowing Von Dutch to get the pin. Yes it’s certainly believable that a dude can punch a woman out cold, but in the exaggerated reality of pro-wrestling, it seemed a bit disappointing to have the former Death Match Queen cold-cocked by a single punch from an authority figure.
• Savannah Summers debuted in the US on the next match, vs Sassy Stephie. The commentator referred to her a couple of times as “The first lady of Australian wrestling”, although the MC specified she was “The first lady of *SOUTH* Australian wrestling”. Fine, standard stuff. Commentators and crowd getting plenty of mileage out of Stephie’s 0-4 record going into this bout in GNO competition.
• Marti Belle, working heel, found a great new way to get heel heat coming out for her bout with Taeler Hendrix – and that was singing along in fist-clenching emo style to Nickelback’s ‘How You Remind Me’. Genius. The match seemed short (I wasn’t timing) and ended following a flurry of striking offence and a big kick from Taeler. Wasn’t expecting that to be the finish.
• It’s a joy to see Nikki Storm get herself over in front of a new audience – she doesn’t even need a microphone to be heard, but instead just opens her mouth and out flies a torrent of Scottishness that entertains and infuriates in equal measures. If any wrestler underestimates the importance of character, just watch Nikki elicit a response from the crowd without even so much as having to lock up. Her opponent here was Kimber Lee, and they ramped up the intensity in their match. Good effort all round, and Kimber won with a flash cross arm breaker. Very enjoyable.
• Probably my favourite match on Girls Night Out 9 was the main event – and fittingly so, given its positioning. What was so great about this was that it was that it did what so many matches these days don’t bother to do – it told a story. Veda Scott, who – full credit to her – had one of her best performances I’ve seen in a long time here, and despite doing the “adorable” gimmick to a T as a babyface, really, really suits being a heel, was in her element here. She stayed out of the ring for much of the match, working only in small doses and irritating Allysin Kay when she did. Her facial expressions and mannerisms were good, and Kay, who we usually see cast as the heel, fit into the de facto babyface role quite well. Mia & Shanna worked a lot together, and they gelled very nicely – and it’s a shame we didn’t get to see a Shanna vs Mia singles match during Shanna’s US trip this time round. Finish came when Yim pinned Shanna with a Quebrada after an irritated AK chased Veda to the back. Pretty standard finish, as it keeps the heat on Veda vs Kay for GNO10, and finishes the show on a high. A lot of fun.
I’ve been mostly positive about everything, and it becomes difficult to keep finding new ways to say “I enjoyed this” without being repetitive – but that’s mostly what I thought all the way through the show. There was nothing earth-shattering on the show by any means. The main event was a really enjoyable storyline based match, and on the undercard I still want to particularly pick out Santana Garrett vs Jenny Rose as a great little “second match on the card” type match. Two favourites of mine, Kimber Lee and Nikki Storm, also had a good intense battle – and even in the one or two times I was disappointed with stuff, or would’ve liked to have seen something different, I can already see why the things happened the way they did with Girls Night Out 10 coming later in the day and I expect (or hope) I’ll be satisfied there.
Taking this in context of Fight Season – which is not probably entirely fair given that AIW’s business model and talent list isn’t exactly comparable with something like SHIMMER’s massive roster, but I have to be honest and say there’s nothing on the show that is *must see* in the same way I would trumpet some matches on the SHIMMER weekend – but the show is definitely worth checking out. I can’t compare it to GNO10 yet, naturally – but with SHIMMER and Femmes Fatales likely to not have their DVDs ready for a period, this is an excellent option if you still need to scratch that Fight Season itch. The presentation and feel is different, as is the commentary – but those differences are good differences. I used to say when reviewing these Girls Night Out shows that it was great to see each show get better as AIW really got to grips with the female wrestling product – and I think now it’s come of age, and nestles well alongside the likes of Femmes Fatales, SHIMMER, WSU, SHINE and Bellatrix.
Coming in in a few days, hopefully, Girls Night Out 10. Bring it on.
— Stew Allen
— Photography by Ichiban Drunk