Monday, 14 August 2017

GFW One Night Only: Amped Anthology Part 1 Review

Remember when Global Force Wrestling taped a TV show in Las Vegas, way back in 2015? No? Well, I freaking do. I know, Jozef Raczka does too. Well, the show was called Amped and they did three tapings in July, August and October 2015. Since GFW and Impact Wrestling merged earlier this year, it seems that the new GFW has decided to cut some costs and air the tapings across four of their One Night Only PPVs. Even if it's a pretty obvious money saving method, I was still interested to see what these tapings were like. I mean, the show couldn't get commissioned for whatever reason, so my hopes weren't particularly high, but there was a decent line-up of names including Mickie James, Bobby Roode, PJ Black [Justin Gabriel], Sonjay Dutt and KUSHIDA amongst others on this first part, so out of hope and genuine intrigue (and the fact it's currently available on Channel 5's on Demand service, My5, for free in the UK) I thought I'd give it a shot. 

So let's find out if the mysterious GFW Amped was any good...

  • Promo - This explains how the show will work, letting us know that what we will see isn't scripted and is real, which is a little lame but let's roll with it. It also lets us know about the various championship tournaments that will be the spine of the show and gives a glimpse into some of the stars of the show. 

Match One - GFW NEXGEN Championship Tournament First Round

PJ Black def. Seiya Sanada 

PJ Black had left WWE in January, Seiya Sanada had left TNA in February, so kicking off the show with two known international television talents, that happen to wrestle a high pace, exciting style was a pretty sound tactic. The two were presented as an even match for one another with some technical exchanges breaking out in some smooth back and forth as the duo pinged about the ring before both ended up missing attempts at different moonsault variants. The later part of the matches provided some big spots and some good near falls for the man from Niigata, Japan as he hit a frankensteiner, managing to counter Black's counter, a bridging tiger suplex and then came closer still after powering out of a crucifix attempt to hit a TKO. The finish ended up being the scrapiest part of the match as the scramble for a superplex couldn't match the action that had come moments prior and otherwise cool moments like Sanada kipping up moments before Black went for a top rope move felt a little wasted in their placement. However, once Black had pulled his opponents throat across the top rope and nailed his signature 450 splash for the victory, I was more than satisfied with the quality of this opener. Both men came out of it looking capable of pulling out a victory, whilst Black was helped by surviving a barrage of high impact offence. 

  • Promo - Kevin Kross - We're informed that Kross is well travelled, up to this point he'd mainly wrestled in Portland, Oregon and Las Vegas, Nevada (with a single match for IGF in Japan according to  
  • Backstage - Los Luchas (Misteriosa Jr., Phoenix Star & Zokre) - The lads fire each other up in the locker room, part in Spanish and part in English, saying they'll win the Tag Team Tournament, which is a little confusing because there's three of them and it's not a trios tourney.
  • Backstage - Bobby Roode - Roode's arrived pulling his wheely suitcase behind him, he's not bothered with a suit for this show.

In-Ring Segment

feat. Bobby Roode, Nick Aldis and Kongo Kong

This was an odd segment, with seemingly odd intentions and a lack of self awareness on the part of GFW and whoever was in charge of putting this together. Bobby Roode came out first, cutting a pro-TNA promo, positioning himself as an anti-GFW guy, who was coming to take the belt from the company in response for Jeff Jarrett taking the TNA King of the Mountain Championship at Slammiversary (28/05/15 and by mid-August Jarrett had vacated the belt on TNA television as part of the GFW Invasion angle). After just one match, expecting the audience to give a crap about GFW, especially enough to care about Bobby Roode (arguably the most established male star on the show) disparaging the company seemed like a misstep. Roode's promo about how he was always going to be a TNA guy is also unintentionally comical two years on, with then IT Factor and now Glorious One currently being WWE's NXT Champion and spending only eight more months with TNA past these tapings. The Nick Aldis [Magnus] interruption didn't do much for either guy as Aldis spent most of his promo putting over Jeff Jarrett, before being jumping by Kongo Kong with a nasty looking Samoan drop. We conclude things with a Crossface from Roode and even without looking at spoilers it's pretty clear to see that it will be these two men in the GFW Global title tournament final. 

  • Backstage - PJ Black - A promo is spliced to fuck with various clips from the match and he really doesn't say anything at all of note.
  • In-Arena - Chael Sonnen and Cyrus Fees - Chat about the upcoming Global Championship Tournament, talking about Brian Myers [Curt Hawkins], Chris Mordetzky [Chris Masters] and Nick Aldis, with Sonnen singling out Mordetzky as his pick to win the tournament.

Match Two -   Six Man Tag Team Match
Los Luchas (Phoenix Star &Zokre)& Misterioso Jr. def. Shamu Jr., Blood Eagle & Bestia 666

Despite the company supposedly being partnered with AAA, this Lucha showcase match that served as the first main event has no AAA talent in it, which could be to do with the launch of Lucha Underground which happened in nine months before these tapings. However, these six lads come in and do a really good job in this spot, creating something that still feels exciting to watch now, even with the influx of lucha talent that we've seen since LU's arrival on the scene. It starts of regular enough, the heel side (Shamu Jr. and pals) do some double and triple moves on one of Los Luchas, before a pop-up reversed into a rana sends us into a hot tag and it's all go from there. Everyone flies around the place, with a number of sweet highspots including a funky spinebuster from Phoenix Star, Bestia hitting a Ki Krusher, Misterioso Jr. landing on his feet from a moonsault and hitting a standing one anyway and then a series of dives from anyone who fancies it, including big chunky Shamu Jr. pulling out a suicide dive. The conclusion showcases Los Luchas nicely as Misterioso hits a lung blower and wicked af front flip piledriver, before Star and Zokre finish Blood Eagle off with a moonsault and rope-hung backbreaker combination. This was a tremendously fun match to watch, that stands out from most of the main stream TV products at the time and ended what was supposed to be the first episode on a real high note. 

  • Promo - Sort of a next time trailer, which is pretty redundant in this format.
  • Promo - Sort of a last time trailer, which is pretty redundant in this format. 
  • In-Arena - Chael Sonnen and Cyrus Fees - We're shown the tale of the tape for Bobby Roode vs. Kevin Kross and then KUSHIDA vs. Virgil Flynn, both matches will seemingly happen within the next portion of the PPV.
  • Promo - KUSHIDA vs. Virgil Flynn - A look at KUSHIDA winning the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship, with Flynn mostly putting him over as one of the best wrestlers in the world. Whether it was a great idea to focus a major part of KUSHIDA's story around a title that he'd lose two months after these tapings took place (and just happens to have won back by the time they finally aired!) or whether it was just a case of GFW management naively expecting these episodes would be almost immediately picked up by a TV network, I do not know. 

Match Three - Singles Match
KUSHIDA def. Virgil Flynn 

We get a decent introduction KUSHIDA here and California-based Indy star Virgil Flynn does a decent job of making the Japanese wrestler look like a star in front of a fresh audience. The match is almost entirely focused on KUSHIDA looking for the Hoverboard lock (or Kimura as the commentary team decide to opt for) as he takes control of the match by applying a hammerlock and lobbing Flynn into the ringpost, before managing to transition into the hold out of a bridging German suplex. Flynn looked capable with some big offence, that made KUSHIDA look durable, but at times I felt like he could have made more of selling the arm as in between the two submissions it didn't feel like it was made the most of. A nice sequence that saw some back and forth strikes before a Pele kick from the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion and then Flynn reversing a cross body into a moonsault slam is arguably the highlight of fun match. An awkward 450 splash still makes for a decent near fall for Flynn before a straight punch, a kick to the arm and the Hoverboard lock pick up the submission victory for the New Japan star. We're three for three for entertaining matches so far. 

  • Promo - Lei'd Tapa vs. Mickie James vs. Christina Von Eerie - We get a look at each woman training and their personal lives, with James having the most interesting story after taking a break to have first child, but Tapa looking like the most interesting character. We also get clips of Karen Jarrett talking about how the company will be looking to focus on it's women, not calling them names like Diva or Knockout, whilst also giving them the opportunity in main events. Less than four months later Sasha Banks and Bayley main evented NXT Takeover: Respect and in under a year WWE dropped the term "Diva", so this segment is a little dated by August 2017.
  • Backstage - KUSHIDA & Virgil Flynn - Both boys are lovely here, putting each other over again as KUSHIDA points to his IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship and calls it a dream come true. Heart warming.
  • Promo - Kevin Kross - Another look at Kross who claims "if [he] needs to punch a whole in Bobby Roode's head [he] will", which is a weird thing when you're supposed to be the home-town babyface. 
  • Promo - Chris Mordetzky - The Adonis chats about how he broke into the business and how he felt he was unfairly treated during his time in WWE, before closing with talking about developing a reputation in England (mostly for PCW, but also with a handful of appearances for the likes of Southside, HOPE and 4FW) after his release. These promos feel completely different to anything WWE or TNA was doing or is doing, having a genuinely real feel about them, but the main problem is it often isn't translating to what is happening in the ring.
  • Promo - The Bollywood Boyz - Harv & Gurv Sihra (currently Jinder Mahal's trusty sidekicks in WWE) discuss wanting to portray India culture without resulting to stereotypes (their examples are turbans and swords) so they decided to celebrate Bollywood instead. I'm not sure I completely follow their logic, but they talk a bit about Ring Ka King so all is forgiven. 

Match Four - GFW Global Championship Tournament Qualifying Match 
Bobby Roode def. Kevin Kross 

For a match that has been built up with two promo videos on Kevin Kross, an in-ring segment with Bobby Roode, the commentary chatter about the tale of the tape and at various points with on-screen graphics during other matches, this was disappointingly one sided. Had their not been so much fan fare about it (and also had the previous bout not focused on the same body part) then Roode targeting Kross' shoulder to set up for the crossface with a series of vicious attacks inside and out of the ring would have been a decent squash match, that put Roode over as a technical veteran who would be a force to be reckoned with in this tournament. However, seeing Kross get in very little offence after having so much time dedicated to how he was a shooter and prepared to punch a whole through Roode's face, left the bout feeling a little flat. The TNA star would eventually get the win after reversing a sunset flip attempt straight into the Crossface for the second submission victory in a row.

  • Promo - The Akbars - In a poorly advised move, GFW have Omar and Ali Akbar [Mohammad Ali Vaez] cut a promo, spliced with pictures of busy streets and flying planes as they ask the audience "What would you do if someone who looked like us sat next to you on a plane?". It's got similar vibes to what Jinder Mahal is doing at the moment, but taken two or three steps to far, in my opinion.
  • Promo - Another last time trailer, with an added promo from Kevin Kross where he called Bobby Roode a douchebag, but said he respected him, because he didn't know what he'd gone through. 
  • In-Ring - Some lad called Henry Maxwell [Maxwell Chicago], who apparently wrestled for the likes of FUW and BELIEVE in Florida, hammed the fuck out of the American national anthem, before getting the shit beaten out of him by The Akbars. It was tonally off with both acts working heel, with it feeling like whoever was supposed to sing the anthem pulled out when they heard about the Akbars dated gimmick. 

Match Five - GFW Tag Team Championship Tournament First Round Match
The Bollywood Boyz def. The Akbars

I'm going to be totally up front and say I despise everything about The Akbars gimmick and believe that there is absolutely no reason to have to resort to shouting "Allahu Akbar" in 2015. As much as The Akbars talked about being American and tried to spin their gimmick (similar to Jinder Mahal in WWE) as being upset for the way they were treated by Americans because of their looks, there's no doubt that this sort of gimmick attempts to stir up xenaphobia and bigotry, whilst appeal to the lowest common denominator in order to get a reaction. The match itself was a perfectly fine paint-by-numbers tag team match, with nothing out of the ordinary, as we got some cliche heely tag tactics from the Akbars, followed by a comeback from the Bollywood Boyz. A pair of superkicks, a diving back elbow and an elbow drop later and the future Cruiserweight Classic competitors found themselves in the next round of the tag tournament. 

  • Promo - Sonjay Dutt vs. Jigsaw - We got a look at the lives of Dutt and Jigsaw here, with Dutt telling a great story about being signed with TNA whilst still studying at University as well as being set up as a family man. Jigsaw was presented as someone with a fresh, interesting style and look (despite having seen a six man tag earlier in the show where everyone wore a mask) and came off a little awkward on camera with a couple of oddly worded statements. 
  • Promo - Chris Mordetzky - The Adonis is back again, this time with lots of footage of his time in PCW and whilst it's lovely to see Kris Travis on my TV screen in 2017, comparing the promotion to a trip to Japan is a little bit of a stretch. 
  • In-Ring Segment - Karen Jarrett, Lei'D Tapa & Royal Red - A pretty pointless segment, that involved Jarrett telling Tapa that she didn't need her husband to talk for her, which didn't exactly helped the monster image that Tapa was trying to portray.

Match Six - GFW Women's Championship Tournament First Round Triple Threat Match 
Christina von Eerie def. Lei'D Tapa and Mickie James 

As arguably the biggest name on the show and with six reigns on top of WWE's Women's division and three at TNA, it was some what surprising to see Mickie James as the element that held this match back. Yes, James had only given birth for the first time less than a year previously, but she'd also been back in the ring since November 2014 and wrestling regularly on the Indies in 2015, so I would've expected her at least be able to hit a handful of signature moves effectively. A flapjack on CvE and a Mick-DT on Tapa both looked red reels. The bout did have a decent dynamic though with James and CvE fighting against the larger Tapa, which allowed Lei'D took look like a monster when she dominated the competition, including hitting a cool double samoan drop to the pair (even if James landed awkwardly on her leg). The move that CvE picked up the surprise pinfall on Tapa with looked brilliant as she nailed a straight-jacket backstabber after leaping off the middle rope and the star of California's AWS made a good account of herself throughout. Chael Sonnen's commentary continued to grate on me here as he made a comment about preferring skinny women, whilst his commentary partner would know a thing about bigger women like Lei'D Tapa. Considering the promotion had pushed how it was looking to present it's women as credible competitors, the comment about which type of women he fancied and their body shapes really didn't fit. 

  • Promo - As Christina von Eerie was walking to the back, her post-match promo began airing over the top, I'm not sure whether I liked this style but it was different and gave a nice pace to the production.
  • Commentary - A tale of the tape for Kongo Kong vs. Nick Aldis, as well as a look at the brackets for the GFW Global Championship and GFW NEXGEN Championship tournaments, before another tale of the tape for Sonjay Dutt vs. Jigsaw.

Match Seven - GFW NEXGEN Championship Tournament First Round Match
Jigsaw def. Sonjay Dutt

Two underrated performers pulled out the match of the PPV with a really good Junior heavyweight style match as the NEXGEN Tournament became the highlight of Amped. The two opened up with a wonderful series of quick near misses and crisp reversals that would grab any audience and seemed to get quicker as it went on. Jigsaw's Gory special looked beautiful and the sequence of near falls that followed was only let down by a referee who couldn't keep up with the pace. After the technical battle, both began to show off their high-flying arsenal with Jigsaw nailing a tasty tope conhilo and missile dropkick, before Dutt answered with a leaping hurricanrana and a running shooting star press. The pendulum of momentum swung back and forth throughout with a feeling that either man could pull out the victory, producing a great sequence with Jigsaw blocking a shiranui attempt, only for Dutt to able to counter once again with a Satellite DDT for a near fall. After a big german suplex near fall for Jigsaw, the CHIKARA star was able to block a superplex, before hitting a double stomp to the back of Dutt's neck and advancing with the Jig N' Tonic (cradle belly-to-back piledriver). This match flew by, with both men's offence looking crisp as they kept up a good speed throughout, getting just enough time. With five more minutes I think we could have seen a couple of extra near falls and highspots that would've taken things to the next level, but both men worked hard to create the best match on the show. 

  • Promo - Nick Aldis vs. Kongo Kong - This was the most baffling part of the show, as we got a load of footage that hadn't previously aired, showing that the singer from earlier, Henry Maxwell, was Kong's manager and he'd had a couple of run ins with Aldis as well. The booking of Maxwell in the Akbars segment earlier was even more confusing now. 
  • Backstage - Sonjay Dutt spoke to Jigsaw, putting over their match as the best they'd have to date (they'd previously worked in CZW and TNA) as well as wishing Jigsaw well in the later rounds of the tournament. 
  • Promo - Reno Scum (Adam Thornstowe & Luster the Legend) - From this I learnt that these two lads are a tag team and we saw some footage of them in the gym, even having seen them on a couple of episodes of Impact earlier in the year, I feel I know less about them now than before I saw this promo.
  • In-Ring - Henry Maxwell announces Kongo Kong to the ring, which was nice of him.

Match Eight - GFW Global Championship Tournament First Round Match
Nick Aldis def. Kongo Kong

This match outdid my expectations, but my expectations weren't incredibly high to begin with. Until a final stretch of near falls, the bouts highlight was the antics of Henry Maxwell at ringside, which lead to him being the most over part of the match and actually getting a chant from the Las Vegas crowd. Vegas didn't seem to give a flying fuck about Nick Aldis or the peril he faced. The match felt a little bit out of it's time with the monster facing the good looking hero, whilst featuring plenty of interference from a flamboyant manager and a grand total of three bear hugs, whilst Sonnen essentially took the piss out of Kong's look on commentary. The last few minutes however were well put together as Aldis hit a nice-looking superplex before getting a convincing near fall from his diving elbow drop finisher. This was followed up by a well-worked distraction false finish, as Kong got two off a cannonball, before the 400lbs Kong missed a moonsault and Aldis advanced with a weak looking Spineshaker (Belly-to-back side slam). Whilst no one came away looking particularly impressive in the bout and it seems a shame to have the potential monster of Kong lose in his first match, the closing stretch was entertaining stuff and ended up saving what could have been a dud of a main event.

ATPW Scale Rating - 4.46/10 

As a PPV, this show wasn't great. It was poorly put together at points and also difficult to follow, with it being clear that whilst the earlier episode had been put together with care to shop to Networks, the later stuff on the show was thrown together to make up the show. However, the majority of the in-ring action was of a high quality, especially when involving the NEXGEN division as Sonjay Dutt vs. Jigsaw and PJ Black vs. Seiya Sanada were both good to very good matches, whilst the Lucha trios match and KUSHIDA vs. Virgil Flynn also producing some entertaining action. Parts of the show were dated already and some of the booking decisions were questionable (The Akbars and Henry Maxwell segment and the Akbars character in general, Bobby Roode being positioned as against a company that I had no reason to care about yet) and the commentary was awful (Sonnen was almost unbearable at points) but as a show that was available to me on an on demand service in the United Kingdom for free and with no ad-breaks, it provided me with more than enough to be satisfied by on a Sunday afternoon with my brother (@DaveAtTheGraps on Twitter). I think we'd both quite happily watch the next PPV, as we found a lot to enjoy and even the stuff that we didn't think was much cop was still fun to discuss. 

Review - James Marston (@IAmNotAlanDale)

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