Sunday, September 13th, 2015
Fairmont, West Virginia
I recently made the trip to witness VOW's first deathmatch tournament. It took place in upper West Virginia. I hadn't heard about this company before, but the card had an impressive lineup and looked interesting. The tournament took place exactly one week after the NGI (I wasn't able to attend that one), so it didn't seem to have as much hype. Among deathmatch fans, not as many travelers were expected to be there.
I decided literally a few days before the show to make the trip. I had nothing going on that weekend, and the tourney intrigued me in a few ways. I wanted to see some of the bigger names (MASADA, Tremont, Claxton), but I was also excited to see wrestlers I had never heard of. Also, this was VOW's first time hosting a deathmatch tournament, so I wanted to see how they went about putting one on (such as gimmicks, setup, etc). It was supposed to take place outside, and I love the atmosphere of outdoor shows.
I arrived about an hour and half before bell time. The YWCA was pretty easy to get to from the interstate, as it basically was right off I-79 (it's a beautiful drive through that region). I pulled to the back of the YWCA and didn't see a ring. It looked like they unfortunately moved the event inside, as it had been raining most of the day.
They opened the doors a bit late, but I got my ticket and front row seat. The first thing I noticed was how tiny the building was. The roof was very low and there wasn't much open space, especially once the whole crowd was there. It would have been much better outside, as there was a good sized parking lot, and the mountains in the background would have been great scenery. The rain kind of ruined that plan, so it was good they had this building as a backup.
The crowd was small when I first arrived, but it picked up around showtime. They really packed that building (because it was so small). I would say the draw was about 100 or so, which I thought was great for VOW's first tournament. There were only a few travelers like me. Deathmatch superfan Yuki was there from Japan, which was awesome! The crowd was primarily locals from the area, who either go to VOW shows regularly or had heard about this one. It is safe to assume that just about all of them had never been to a deathmatch tournament before or seen the art form, as they were somewhat shocked. Even the little things seemed crazy to them, but they all really enjoyed themselves and were very nice people.
The start time was pushed back a little bit. I saw Tripp Cassidy arrive in his car along with his friend Dale Patricks (I wish he would have been in the tournament!), so I imagine that was the reason for the delay. The announcer (who was pretty good) then set up the tournament for us and explained what to expect. All of the participants came out for an introduction and photo op, and then the tournament began!
Patrick Hayes defeated Gory
Thumbtacks to Infinity match
There were various weapons with thumbtacks on them throughout the ring. There was also some plywood they could drop tacks on to. There were tiki torches with tacks on them. As Gory swung one, the fuel canister inside fell out and went flying in the crowd (good thing it didn't hit anyone). The match started really slow and didn't pick up until the end. There was a good finish, but overall it was probably the worst match of the night. Patrick Hayes is their Anarchy Champion, but he didn't seem to be much of a deathmatch wrestler to me.
Conor Claxton and Eric Ryan defeated Tripp Cassidy and Super Beast
Clockwork Orange match
They had two four foot tall cages against two sides of the ropes (with some weapons and barbed wire zip-tied to them), and some weapons (such as staple guns) hanging on the other sides. It was a pretty cool-looking setup. They also had a noose in the ring.
The match itself was OK. Better than the first match. Eric Ryan got thrown off the corner into chairs on the outside. Somebody jumped off the top rope on to everyone, but the roof was so low it was kinda awkward. He couldn't jump very high. Tripp Cassidy and Claxton stapled dollar bills to each other. The crowd thought it was pretty crazy. Super Beast didn't impress me much, and I found him a bit annoying. Claxton and Ryan picked up the victory. After the match, Ryan (I believe) attacked Claxton's knee.
Matt Tremont defeated Derek Direction
The duel featured boards with a whole bunch of Legos glued to them, pans of Legos, a doll house, and a few other toys. Derek came out acting as the bad guy and saying that the people in the crowd were stupid and deathmatch wrestling was dumb. Tremont pumped the crowd up, and the match got under way. It was a damn good duel, as Derek really brought it to Tremont and took some good shots. I think the fact that the gimmick was kinda lame (in my opinion) hurt the match, but it was still entertaining and one of the best of the night.
MASADA defeated G-Raver
Light Tube Prison match
They brought out a lot of light tubes for the match, and I loved the set up. I was looking forward to this contest. I have never seen G-Raver before, but his gimmick was really cool, and it fit within the deathmatch environment. He was very popular with the VOW crowd, and this tournament was advertised as his last match(s) ever.
I thought MASADA was going to destroy G-Raver in a one-sided affair, but a lot of the match was back and forth. It started with both guys trying to get the upper hand. They went through light tubes that were against the ropes. The action spilled into the crowd for the first time of the night. G-Raver set MASADA up on a chair, went back on the ring apron, and did a running drop kick over the guard rail. However, he partially missed, and kinda just landed painfully. MASADA suplexed him on to some light tubes on the ground, and then scraped glass on top of his head with his boot.
The match eventually got back into the ring, and then in the craziest maneuver of the night, MASADA power bombed G-Raver over the top rope through a light tube board on the outside!!! It reminded me of Jun Kasai from CZW's UnFnBelievable, when he was powerbombed on to that board. The back of his head had some nasty shards in it, and was pouring blood on the ground. The crowd was in awe. As the match continued, MASADA proceeded to mostly dominate with a variety of moves.
There were many G-Raver chants from the fans, and it was unusual to see MASADA as the least favorite in a match (the crowd consisted of mostly locals). Everything abruptly ended when the referee did a super quick three-count, even though G-Raver was in the process of kicking out. The ending was weird.
Another fan told me he thinks the ref took it home was early because of the gashes on Raver's shoulder, and how much blood was coming out. The ending kinda tainted the entire thing, because it was so strange, and the match could have went longer. However, this was the match of the night by far. It was pure bloody goodness. The crowd being into G-Raver over MASADA gave it a very unique atmosphere. G-Raver impressed me. I would like to see more of him elsewhere if or when he comes back. He would be perfect for Carnage Cup.
G-Raver after the match
There was an intermission to clean the mess. They made sure every single piece of glass was swept up all around the building. At this point, the rain had let up, so the fans hung around outside. One of the takeaways from the show was seeing G-Raver for the first time, as he is popular in the area, but I had never heard of him. He seemed pretty crazy, and was a good deathmatch combatant.
Yuki Kasai helped clean up the mess!
Patrick Hayes defeated Conor Claxton and Erik Ryan
Barbed Wire TLC match
The match was ok. It had a few highlights, but the roof was too low to do anything off of the ladder. Hayes took advantage of the beef between Ryan and Claxton, and hit a frog splash from the third step of the ladder (lol) to pick up the win. I wasn't too happy to see Hayes go to the finals, as he really didn't show me much in terms of being a deathmatch wrestler. He was the VOW Anarchy Champion, and a big name in VOW, so I suppose it made sense.
Matt Tremont defeated MASADA
Carpet Strips and Coffin of Mouse Traps match
This one was a bit short, but still delivered the quality you would expect from these two. They did a good job using the carpet strips against each other. MASADA got slammed into the coffin, and had mouse traps attached to his back and shoulder, which was a cool visual. A mousetrap coffin was the best use of mousetraps I have ever seen, as usually in matches they are just on a board and always seem to accidentally go off before somebody hits them. But since they were in a coffin, it ensured they wouldn't go off until someone went in it.
MASADA broke out the skewers and stuck them in Tremont's head with viscous force. The crowd went absolutely crazy!!! They were both disgusted and amused. MASADA pulled them out and did it again and again and again. I remember one lady screaming like he was being murdered. It was cool, as obviously the locals had never seen this before. MASADA kept using the skewers, but then Tremont finally turned the tides and hit a finisher. It was done. Tremont was moving on to the finals. This was a good match, but their previous contests against each other (KOTDM 2011, KOTDM 2015) were better.
Brittany Black defeated Angel Dust
Anarchy Rules match
Basically a mini-TLC match, as both the table and ladder were very small. This was a decent contest, and it did a good job as filler between the semis and finals. The crowd wasn't into it much, though. Blake picked up the win after sending Angel through the table.
Matt Tremont defeated Patrick Hayes
Panes of Glass match
The finals featured only one pane of glass and some light tubes. It wasn't much, and I hated it as the finals. All I remember of the match was Hayes repeatedly hitting Tremont with light tubes in the arm. Finally, Tremont got the upper hand and put Hayes through a pane of glass, and pinned him for the win. I understand why Hayes went to the finals, as he was the Anarchy Champion and a mainstay in their Anarchy division. However, as a deathmatch fan, I didn't like to see him make it that far, as he didn't come across as a deathmatch wrestler. He didn't really do anything too impressive.
Tremont accepted the trophy as the crowd was all happy to see him win. The fans had these confetti guns they were shooting in the ring, which was cool. Tremont got on the mic for his now typical victory speech. He talked about how he was brought into VOW to establish their Anarchy division, and put over the VOW mainstays. He then mentioned he was now a 6 time deathmatch tournament champion!
Overall, the tournament itself was OK. Basically, the matches featuring the big stars (MASADA, Matt Tremont) were pretty good. All of the other matches were alright at best. It definitely didn't compare to any of the big tournaments. But for VOW's first deathmatch tournament, and for a crowd that hadn't seen a tourney before, I saw the show as a success. I will say it would have been much better had it been outside, because there wasn't much room outside of the ring, the low roof limited some of the matches.
I did have fun, and it was cool to be there. To me, it was all different and brand new, since I knew nothing about VOW. Even though the tournament wasn't great, I wasn't disappointed, because I had a completely open mind going into the show. I had no expectations. As a promotion, VOW seems to be very organized. They had impressive merchandise and professional-looking tickets. While it took some time for clean up (since it was inside they made sure everything was swept up well), the setup for each match's gimmicks was well-organized. They were definitely prepared.
After the show, a few of the wrestlers hung out chatting with fans. It's cool how approachable they can be.
Hanging out with MASADA post-show
I bought a piece of hand-made cow bone jewelry from MASADA. I also picked up a patch that I sewed on to a pair of shorts, kind of like he wears them.
MASADA bone jewelry on the VOW Lord of Anarchy shirt
When it was all said and done, I made the long drive home. VOW plans for this to be an annual tournament, so I definitely will look into going again! It was a fun trip and a good memory.
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