Absolute Intense Wrestling returned to their Girls Night Out brand on 29 March this year for the tapings of both GNO 11 & 12 – repeating the successful “two tapings in one day” format they first experimented with GNO 9 & 10 last October – but for a show that promised much, it seemed beset by doom as a massive snowstorm hit Cleveland, resulting in crazy cold temperatures inside Turners Hall and presumably also affecting any potential walk-up business. Mickie Knuckles and Shanna were no-shows (at least Shanna apologised before the shows for her non attendance), and Athena very nearly missed the shows due to transport issues, resulting in AIW owner John Thorne making a mad dash to and from the airport to try and get Athena back to the venue in time. Regardless, the buzz coming out of the shows suggested that the GNO 11 & 12 tapings were the strongest set of tapings AIW had produced so far. High praise indeed. As usual, Smart Mark Video got the footage out in short order on VOD and mp4 download – but they’ve even released these shows on Blu Ray. I understand the Blu Rays are a one-time deal, and once they’re sold out, they’re sold out forever. Check them out. I’ll be reviewing the mp4 download version here. Let’s see how it goes.
1. Jasmin pinned Angelus Layne with a swinging neckbreaker.
2. Thunderkitty defeated Marti Belle with a sleeper hold.
3. Sassy Stephie beat Kaela with the Kiss My Sass.
4. Kimber Lee defeated Hania with a Ganso Bomb.
5. Nikki Storm pinned Angel Dust following the Eye of the Storm.
6. Veda Scott beat Kay Lee Ray with an elevated Mind Trip.
7. Annie Social & Heidi Lovelace beat Seleziya Sparx & Jenny Rose. Lovelace pinned Sparx with a lungblower.
8. Allysin Kay made Leah Von Dutch tap out to a Gogoplata to become the Undisputed AIW Women’s Champion.
• As is tradition, the show starts with a collection of promos. We get words from Sammy Geodollno (on behalf of The Social Network), Marti Belle, Kaela, Jasmin, Sassy Stephie, Hania and Leah Von Dutch & The Duke. Quality varies based mostly on experience levels. AIW always put the promos in succession at the start of the programme – but I wonder if it might be interesting to see them interspersed through the show? Might be something to consider, perhaps?
• The opener was between Angelus Layne and Jasmin. Layne had a decent showing for AIW back at AIW GNO 8 before missing 9 & 10 last October through injury. Jasmin was one of the discoveries of that October set of tapings, teaming with and then facing off with fellow Canadian Jody D’Milo – very likeable and seemingly with a load of potential going forward. What we got here was a surprisingly fantastic match – and I say surprising just because I wasn’t expecting so much out of an opening match. These two brought it. Jasmin had excellent (sometimes scream-y) babyface fire, and Angelus (as I feel I’ve been commenting a lot recently) is really bringing some fantastic aggression as a heel. They gelled very well, putting together some nice sequences and near falls. Layne showed off her Angel Lock lifting submission (see right!), which is just great, but she eventually fell to a neckbreaker from the Canadian. For an opener, this over delivered – and the best match I’ve seen either involved with. Kudos to both.
• The commentary team (at least for the first half of the show) was regular colour guy Aaron Bauer, but this time flanked by Leonard F. Chikarason – and I was a big fan of these two together. Chikarason held it together very well, and there were a few deep references I really dug (such as Chikarason quoting a commentary call from WrestleMania VII in a later match which popped a nerd like me), but overall keeping it fun and on point.
• The second match was the return to the promotion for both Thunderkitty and Marti Belle, and well, this one didn’t really work. There was nothing terribly wrong with it, other than that they never seemed comfortable with each other, and consequently stayed pretty basic and never really left first gear. Whether that’s an accurate statement, I don’t know – but that’s certainly the impression I got. I’ve seen both women look better.
• Next up was Sassy Stephie (or “Pissy Steph” as Aaron Bauer riffed near the start of the match) vs the debuting Kaela. I’d never seen Kaela before this match, nor do I know much of anything about her at all other than that she’s local and seems green. She does seem to have potential, though it was Stephie leading throughout the match. Some of Kaela’s offence is floppy and not always perfect, but that’s fine for now. Stephie wins with a Kiss My Sass. Pretty standard vet vs rookie style match, and I’m sure we’ll see Kaela more going forward.
• Things stepped up a few rungs in the next match as regular show-stealer Kimber Lee took on the debuting Hania, the Howling Huntress… or, as LFC referred to her on commentary, “Triple H”. That was worth Chikarason’s involvement right there. I’ve been seeing a few Hania matches lately, and she’s got a load of promise that will start coming to fruition shortly as she continues to expand the places she works and the people she works against. She’s always got excellence of execution (to borrow a phrase), and she’s obviously fearless – I just think she lacks a bit of experience. Kimber Lee is, to nobody’s surprise, a big favourite of mine, and she gave Hania a cracking match here. Hard hitting, kick-y and exciting. There were a couple of fantastic wheelbarrow type spots, one where Kimber was launched into the turnbuckles, and one which turned into a killer wheelbarrow suplex. Kimber finished the match with her splits jawbreaker and the same Ganso Bomb style drop she used to beat Santana Garrett on GNO 10 (right). Really good effort from both women here.
• Nikki Storm vs Angel Dust was next, and while entering to an Arctic Monkeys track may have been apt given the arctic conditions in Turner’s Hall, I missed seeing Storm coming out to “Larger Than Life” by the Backstreet Boys. Hopefully that’s rectified next time Storm returns to AIW. Angel Dust carried herself in a weird way in this match. While Storm was clearly the obvious heel, Angel Dust seemed to be in a pissy mood herself, possibly reacting to the perceived lack of crowd reaction she was getting? Not sure exactly what it was, but if Angel Dust was looking for a babyface reaction, she didn’t really seem to endear herself much to the fans. It took both a Perfect Storm and the Eye of the Storm to put Angel Dust down, but didn’t seem like anything special.
• In a match between the two women left without opponents, Kay Lee Ray (who was scheduled to take on Mickie Knuckles) took on Veda Scott (who was Shanna’s announced opponent)… and they managed to pull out quite a fun encounter. Although there was no storyline heat behind the match, and nor was there a distinct babyface/heel dynamic (Scott might actually have been the most over babyface on the show, actually), the two took the match to the outside and they fought into the crowd, up the side of the hall, back round to the entrance ramp and (eventually) back into the ring. Chairs were used, and the debuting Kay Lee Ray seemed intent on living up to the “Hardcore Daredevil” nickname she’d been introduced as. The match wasn’t actually a no DQ match, but the referee just let it go anyway. Back in the ring, KLR missed a Swanton Bomb and Scott got two off a Saito Suplex before eventually putting the Scot away with a Tower of London style Mind Trip (legs draping off the top turnbuckle – see right). Good stuff.
• The only tag team match of the show featured the Social Network of Annie Social & Heidi Lovelace vs Jenny Rose and a mystery opponent – who turned out to be Seleziya Sparx. Sparx has been a big part of AIW for some time, but this ended up as her actual GNO debut. Let me tell ya, that Seleziya is a hell of a twerker. Yep – twerking played a pretty huge part in this match – which was wrestled with a strong comedic style. Heidi Lovelace had her head banged into Sparx’s twerking ass in the corner ten times early, and not to be outdone, the Social Network had some boob related humour to complement the ass work. Somewhere in here, a traditional tag team match broke out, with a hot tag and everything… and in fact, Sparx’s most memorable contribution to the match was hitting stereo Northern Lights Suplexes on *both* Social and Lovelace simultaneously. However, seconds later, miscommunication resulted in Sparx hitting Rose and Lovelace hitting a lungblower on Sparx for the win. This wasn’t a great match, but it was a fun match.
• Should note at this point that the commentary team for the second half of the show (KLR/Veda onwards) was BJ Whitmer and Aaron Bauer. They were fine, though I think they got carried away trying to pop themselves with comedic comments a bit too much as the show went on. I laughed too, especially at Bauer’s comments about The Duke in the main event – and that twerk-heavy tag match was ripe for comic mining, but I missed Chikarason in the second half of the show.
• Mia Yim vs Athena was next – at least on the released version. As noted, Athena was late arriving due to the inclement weather conditions, so this match was taped at the start of the GNO 12 taping and inserted back onto GNO 11. Thank the Lord it all worked out, because this match was a stunner. They started fast, and barely dropped the pace for the whole match. This was very much in the same ballpark as Athena’s match with LuFisto at WSU Mutiny – sprint style, crazy exchanges and tight near-falls. There was a great Code Red from Yim for a near-fall, but Athena hit the O-Face for the three count. Very move-heavy match, but I was just ready for something like that, especially after that wacky tag match, and this hit the spot for me very nicely.
• Main event time next – and both Leah Von Dutch and Allysin Kay came out with a version of the AIW Women’s Championship (Von Dutch with the old pink one, and Kay with the sweet new one) based off their disputed match at TGIF where it appeared that Von Dutch and The Duke had conspired to steal Kay’s title. Although it was announced subsequently that Kay was still the rightful champion, this was basically a “unification” match between the two disputed claims. The match was short though – too short, I thought – at about seven minutes of action. Kay kicked LVD’s ass early, but a ref bump and interference from The Duke turned things around. Duke hit Kay with a chokeslam and went up for a Vader Bomb from the middle turnbuckle, but Kay got knees up. Von Dutch got a *great* two count off a spear, but Kay finished her with a Gogoplata submission. Fun but short.
So… considering everybody was calling these the “Best GNOs Ever”, it wasn’t like absolutely everything shone here. There were, as noted, one or two disappointing or flat matches – but they’re easily forgivable when you had a bunch of other fantastic performances up and down the card. Athena/Yim is a must-see, and Kimber Lee/Hania, Layne/Jasmin and Scott/KLR are all high on the list (probably in that order) – making the money you’re going to have to pay to see this show entirely worth your while. Even the main event is worth watching as it has a few really cool spots. Given that LVD and AIW parted ways almost directly after this show, you wonder how that match with Kay would’ve gone if the Von Dutch/AIW relationship was going forward – but nevertheless. The roster worked hard in what I understand were ridiculously cold conditions inside the hall, and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into GNO 12 in the near future. Get this one.