Tuesday, February 27, 2024

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WSU Breaking Barriers in Review: The Rose With the Thorn in Her Side

WSU continues to roll on under the radar, as it wrapped up its 2014 last night in fine fashion with an array of great matches.

In the main event, Jenny Rose had the biggest match of her career to date, as her recent winning streak was rewarded with a WSU World Championship match against current champion LuFisto. A tour de force that went in, out of and across the ring, it invoked a host of emotions as allegiances switched throughout the match between the two fan favourites. Although Rose put in a performance of a lifetime, and with her family in attendance for her big moment, it was LuFisto who would emerge victorious, landing a double underhook powerbomb for the win.

(Fanboy note: I absolutely love the fact that LuFisto’s entrance theme in WSU is “The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg” – one of Iron Maiden’s best, most overlooked and underrated singles. I just think it’s kind of fitting, given that that song is to Maiden what LuFisto’s been to mainstream women’s wrestling for so long.)

After the match, Sassy Stephie came out looking dapper in a white suit, with her cronies Mademoiselle Rachelle and Amanda Rodriguez, and beat the champion down. Earlier on in the show, Stephie had addressed the audience, announcing her new role in WSU management, and to clarify not only that her issues with Jessicka Havok are still far from over, but that she had her sights set on LuFisto and her title too.

In other title news, Niya‘s Spirit Championship was up for grabs as she faced third-generation WSU debutante Tessa Blanchard. Niya showed no respect for her opponent, knocking Blanchard for six with a devastating big boot immediately as the bell rung, and dominating for large portions of the match with her hard strikes and keeping her grounded with some superb submissions. Blanchard held her own though,and though she appeared a little lost at times, she executed some moves perfectly, including a textbook backcracker and springboard bulldog. In the end, Niya would win with a sick-looking double-arm DDT – the only outcome that made sense considering Blanchard’s inexperience and Niya’s bad blood with Nevaeh needing a belt to give it some gravitas – but Blanchard more than impressed and it’ll be interesting to see where she goes from here. After the match, Niya continued the beatdown on Blanchard, and Nevaeh came to the ring to stop the madness, before confirming a Spirit Title match between the two at the next show in February. A few matches prior at the start of the show, Nevaeh made a statement of intent by taking out Jewells Malone in a short but close-fought and entertaining contest that saw the Gem City Queen get the win with a Death Valley Driver.

Say what you like about JT Dunn and David Starr holding the WSU Tag Team Championships – this rivalry between them and C.U.N.T has been pretty damn good so far, and while I want nothing more than to see Kimber Lee and Annie Social win back those belts, these guys are doing a great job of making me care that that happens, and I mean that with all credit to them.

With Social and Lee both needing singles victories against their rivals to earn another shot at the titles, we saw Social and Starr kick off proceedings in a solid contest that, between the habitual taunting from Starr, contained some good looking offense from both sides, with Social eventually countering one of Starr’s moves into a backslide for the victory. Later on, Kimber Lee would face JT Dunn in another great, stiff, striketastic bout that saw Lee get the win with a Ganso bomb – although the less said about Rick Cataldo’s run-in halfway through, the better.

There aren’t too many things more entertaining than great intergender wrestling – it’s still reasonably uncharted territory for our art form, which allows for plenty of unique and fresh dynamics to explore. You know what’s not entertaining though? Sozio on colour commentary. I don’t watch CZW so I can’t say I know who he is, but he appeared at the announce desk for the duration of those two matches and bordered on unbearable at times. A Holocaust joke? Are you fucking kidding me? This show was made so much better by the lack of DJ Hyde – let’s not tarnish that by bringing in someone seemingly worse.

Leva Bates made quick work of CZW academy graduate and fellow cosplayer Brittany Blake, which, despite the short length of the match, did well to highlight upstart Blake’s resilience, kicking out of a Pedigree and a vicious double stomp from the top rope and almost causing an upset a couple of times, particularly after knocking Bates to the floor with one of her beautiful trademark missile dropkicks, before finally succumbing to a Pepsi Plunge which, while it certainly could have been done more smoothly, was impressive nonetheless. A welcome return for the perennially popular Bates, and a great experience the ever-improving Blake.

Meanwhile, Cherry Bomb and Solo Darling put on a good match that, like Leva and Brittany Blake’s match, was kind of lost in the shuffle due to the lack of any build-up. A by-numbers contest that saw Cherry Bomb in control for the bulk of the match’s opening, before Solo got her sugar galvanisation and began to fight her way back, it ended abruptly after a devastating BSE to Solo gave Cherry Bomb the victory.

Hania and Athena stole the show at the last WSU event and their rematch last night continued in a similar vein, with Hania lunging into Athena at the very start and the match pretty much keeping the tempo at that level from then on, with Athena beating lumps out of the Howling Huntress, swinging her into the guardrails, striking her face with stiff knees and twisting her body into various shapes with submission holds. Hania replied in kind though, with a nicely-done crossbody and a succession of dropkicks followed by an inverted DDT. Hania then went for a hurricanrana attempt, but Athena countered into a massive powerbomb for a two-count. Then, just when it looked like Athena had it won, Hania busted out a Frog Splash to get the pinfall and even the scores at 1-1. A deciding contest had better be on the cards!

Then, Mickie Knuckles and another WSU newcomer D’Arcy Dixon picked up where Hania and Athena left off after the intermission with another brutal, high-octane, hugely entertaining contest that saw Dixon astound the audience with some remarkable feats of strength, suplexing Knuckles onto the ring steps and even managing to powerbomb her from the top rope, before exchanging headbutts with her in the centre of the ring. Not the walkover Knuckles may have been expecting, although she picked up the win in the end with a pump-handle slam.

WSU is a weird kettle of fish at the moment. It has history, the wrestlers are the same ones I know and love from other promotions and the matches are of a consistent high quality – so why does it feel intrinsically small-time compared to those other companies? I’ll even admit, this is the first time I’ve done a proper write-up of a WSU show in several months. The fact that it’s effectively become CZW’s women’s division may be an element of it, but in all honesty, if it means WSU has stability and can continue to produce iPPVs as frequently as this, I will begrudgingly accept that happening. Just…no more DJ Hyde, please.

This show was several large steps in the right direction. LuFisto is a great champion, and Jenny Rose a worthy opponent, and it’s great to see another youngster’s path of success being forged before our eyes. The same can be said for Athena and Hania, who could well end up having produced a trilogy of instant classics come February. Juicy Product’s tag title reign has been better than I expected, but cannot be anything other than transitional – and by the looks of things, that’s the way it’s headed. Some great talent debuted on the show today, with Tessa Blanchard and D’Arcy Dixon both looking extremely impressive on their first WSU outings. And like I said, DJ Hyde’s absence from the show pleased me a lot. The last thing I want is him making it all about himself again. If we do at some point have to see his face on a WSU screen one more time, it had better have LuFisto’s boot wedged firmly into it.

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