Review: Queens of Combat (March 21, 2014) – Serena Deeb vs Taeler Hendrix steals debut Highspots show

Taeler vs Serena Queens of CombatFor quite a while now, Highspots.com has not been happy just being a purveyor of fine wrestling merchandise – they’ve also been involved in creating it, from sponsoring wrestling shows, creating online video content on YouTube to producing quality shoot interviews – and in Queens of Combat, a new venture based out of their home city of Charlotte, NC, they’re looking at entering the growing DVD market for all women’s shows. It bears many of the hallmarks of what you’d expect a debut show to be – just five matches, but with a few notable stars along with some more local talent.

They’ve already got a second show booked, for June 13th, with what looks like an even stronger lineup, so hopefully things are looking bright going forward. Let’s take a look at the debut event, available now on Highspots (naturally) on both DVD and Blu-Ray. Click through after the cut for results and opinion on the debut release.

Results:
1. Leva Bates pinned Amber O’Neal following a Superhero Kick.
2. Amanda Rodriguez & Amy Love beat Miss Rachel & “Hardcore” Heather Owens. Love pinned Rachel with a Sunset Flip.
3. Reby Sky pinned Nevaeh with a Twist of Fate.
4. Jessicka Havok pinned Sojo Bolt after an Air Raid Crash.
5. Taeler Hendrix pinned Serena Deeb following a Snapmare Driver.

Opinion:
• The first thing that stands out here is the quality of the video production. Believe me, I’ve seen first attempts at putting out a DVD product that end up looking awful for a number of reasons – be it cameramen who don’t know how to shoot wrestling, inexperienced video editors, poor quality equipment or whatever else you may care to mention – but that’s not an issue here. While I don’t know who exactly is involved on the production end of this DVD product, I imagine the fact that it’s coming from a company that knows wrestling and has experience of shooting wrestling shows is a major positive, because the video quality and the production here are top quality for an indie. I may be watching the DVD version here, but I can’t imagine the Blu-Ray version could look much shinier.

• The opener is Leva Bates vs Amber O’Neal. To give some flavour to the match, we get a backstage skit first which establishes that O’Neal is a heel, as she’s heard on the phone to her friend and regular Leva Bates vs Amber O'Neal Queens of Combattag team partner Santana Garrett (now TNA’s Brittany) about how appalled she is at having to face of against Leva. Leva, of course, is standing very close by in perfect earshot. Her reaction faces made this skit. Honestly, the segment probably wasn’t necessary – Amber could’ve just established herself as the heel with her work in the ring – but I appreciate that they cared enough to give me a reason to like/dislike someone. The crowd isn’t big in the venue, which looks like it could hold considerably more – but to their credit, they cared. Leva engaged them early, and they responded with chants and reacted to the matches. They started simply enough, with some back and forward chain wrestling before turning it up a bit – and the match was going along quite nicely until the end, which I wasn’t a huge fan of. Leva had cosplayed as The Bride from Kill Bill, and brought a katana sword to ringside, you see… so O’Neal grabbed the sword and got into the ring, I guess with the intention of murdering Leva(?), but after waving the sword around ineffectually a couple of times, Leva hit a schoolgirl rollup… for two. A heart punch and a superhero kick later and it was over. It was an opening match, and it felt like an opening match between two people who are comfortable working each other – nothing particularly earth-shattering… but as I noted, they kept the crowd interested, so credit for that.

• Doing commentary on the show are the team of Jeff Todd and Amber Gertner. They were a solid team – both have a deep knowledge of wrestling, and they had a pleasing and easy-going banter between them. Perhaps they were a little cliched at times – which as a commentator myself I can’t say I’m not guilty of from time to time too, but overall they were good here.

• Next up was a tag team match between a group of wrestlers I’m less familiar with (and in the case of one of them – England’s Miss Rachel – haven’t seen in many years) as Miss Rachel teamed with Miss Rachel vs Amber Rodriguez Queens of Combat“Hardcore” Heather Owens (under the management of “Dastardly Handsome” Zane Riley) to take on the babyface team of Amber Rodriguez and Amy Love. The heels jumpstarted this one before it settled into a standard tag match with a long period of the heels getting heat on Rodriguez. When Rodriguez finally made the tag to Amy Love, she made a fiery comeback and hit a sunset flip on Miss Rachel. Owens tries to help her partner, but Amber Rodriguez also got involved, and a bit of a dog-pile later, Love got the leverage on Rachel and pinned her. Amy Love’s time in the ring? 37 seconds. Post match, the Rachel/Heather Owens team had a spat, with Rachel blaming Owens for the loss and hitting her with a Fisherwoman’s Suplex. I can’t say I had any great reaction to that as I’ve only just been introduced to the team and have no particular sympathy for either party. As for the match itself… it was basic, yet relatively effective. I suppose we’ve got a reason for a match between Owens and Rachel at the next show possibly… though we learned absolutely nothing about the babyface winners here.
Reby Sky vs Nevaeh Queens of Combat
• Next up, Nevaeh took on Reby Sky’s Ass. Now, I’m sorry, that’s a bit of a crass way to refer to Mrs Sky-Hardy, but there’s actually little doubt that if Reby Sky wanted me to take anything away from this match, it was the fact that she does, in fact, have quite a spectacular booty. She made great efforts to show it off in a wrestling outfit with the hips practically cut out, playfully slapped her ass during her entrance and presented it coyly when the referee went to do his pre-match checks. All duly noted. The thing is – at the end of the day, ass aside, I often enjoy Reby’s matches, and her stuff in SHINE especially was often surprisingly good. Here, against a solid and reliable talent like Nevaeh, she had the opportunity to show, once again, that she’s actually more than just T&A. It wasn’t anything that I’d call a “must see”, but it was a perfectly fine back and forth match with a couple of really nice spots and near-falls. (Jeff Todd on commentary misidentified Nevaeh’s Backpack Stunner on one of them, unfortunately.) Sky won with a Twist of Fate. Not bad, and I appreciated the clean finish.

• In the semi-main event of the show, Jessicka Havok wrestled Sojo Bolt. Well, I say wrestled… I mean “clubbered”, as there was much back and forward brawling in this one. I liked the change of pace here, after three fairly good but fairly sedate matches. They brawled in the ring and out, and into the front row, as both Havok and Bolt ended up getting a seat on someone’s lap while getting chopped. Once back in the ring, Bolt went to the top turnbuckle to try and deliver a move, only to be tripped by Amber Jessicka Havok Ow Queens of CombatO’Neal, who had made her way to ringside. Havok was able to grab Bolt and deliver an Air Raid Crash for the pin from there. It’s not explained why Amber would’ve had an issue with Sojo, though one would assume that Queens of Combat 2 will have a match between the two. Once again, like the Amber skit earlier, I really do appreciate that they’re trying to give us a reason to like/dislike people going forward, and building stuff for future shows, but having Amber run in here and essentially screw Sojo for absolutely no reason we’re aware of as viewers can’t help but smack of disappointment. As noted, I enjoyed the Havok/Bolt brawl for what there was of it, but the finish was just a bit out of the blue and unsatisfying.

• By this point, the show is… there. Some of the booking has been a bit heavy-handed, but it tips their hand that there are plans going forward with feuds – for example, they’ve set up two grudge matches for the second show in Owens vs Rachel and O’Neal vs Bolt. There have been clear babyface vs heel divides in all the matches too, which helps immensely. The presentation of the show has been good, as noted, and the commentators have both product knowledge and a sense of humour. The only thing was… nothing had really excelled. Nothing so far was a “must see” match by any stretch of the imagination, and as promising as much of QOC is, they needed a great main event. Good job they booked Serena Deeb, then…

Serena vs Taeler Queens of Combat• After Serena Deeb entered the ring for her main event with Taeler Hendrix, the DVD cuts to a several minute long clip from Taeler Hendrix’s ‘Diva Diaries’ shoot interview. Now, I’ve no issues with Highspots taking the opportunity to promote their other products on this show, especially as there would clearly be a crossover audience – but I take issue with the decision to place the clip where they placed it. Put it between matches – not halfway through the entrances, because the way it acts now, it acts as a momentum killer. That may be something to consider for next time. Anyway, once we got back to the venue and Taeler had made her entrance, the match began. I had a sneaking suspicion this might be good, as both Deeb and Hendrix have had a similar path in their training through OVW and I could see the two meshing stylistically. Deeb is playing the heel role, which she’s doing pretty much everywhere now (and she’s fantastic at it) – while Taeler makes a fine sympathetic babyface – though that was being said, I didn’t need it rammed home on commentary by having them strongly reprimand Deeb for “taking the easy way out” by going to the ropes on a couple of Hendrix submission attempts. I’m sorry, I don’t buy that psychology at all – if a babyface does it, it’s “good ring awareness” and a “smart move”, but when a heel does it it’s seen as cheap? Bah. That really irritated me – especially when Deeb’s doing such a great job of projecting her heelishness through body language, facial expressions and doing things like using closed fists behind the referee’s back or grabbing her opponent’s hair. This one also went outside the ring for a stretch, with some hard hitting chops being exchanged. Deeb steered this match nicely, giving Taeler moments to shine, and taking back control when she needed to – and eventually the finish saw Hendrix hit Deeb with a Snapmare Driver (Mind Trip) for the pinfall. Hendrix looked overjoyed to have won, while a disconsolate Deeb looked angry and Sad Serena Queens of Combatembarrassed to have lost. Best match on the show by a wide margin, and the reason why you should look into seeing this show.

• In addition to the show, which clocks in at around an hour and a half, there are a couple of DVD extras worth mentioning. Apart from a backstage Heather Owens promo, there are two matches from the show shown from an alternate angle – that of the referee-cam. Yes, you can watch Havok/Bolt and Deeb/Hendrix from the point of view of a camera strapped to the referee’s chest, bringing back memories of WCW’s short-lived early 90s flirtation with the concept of a “Refer-Eye” camera. There’s also an extended clip from Leva Bates’ ‘Diva Diaries’ interview, all taking the run-time to over two hours for the entire release. I’d be lying if I said that this was a great release – but I’m trying not to compare it to established DVD products. For a first time attempt, this was creditable and has potential to be something different once they’ve got their legs under them and a few shows done. I feel sure that there are better shows to come from Queens of Combat, but at the same time, if you’re anything like me and you’re a fan of Serena Deeb, you might well find that this is worth your money.

— Stew Allen

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