Pro Wrestling Empire made their debut show in Harrisburg last night (11/07/15) at the Yellow Breeches Sports Center in front of a very large crowd (I’d estimate at least 500) and they had The Bad Guy, Scott Hall, as their featured guest. Not normally having to wait in line, I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of people doing so. Once I got into the show, it was also nice to see tons of vendors set up with many wrestlers also doing pre-show meet and greets. I made my rounds talking to all my friends, as well as meeting Hall. I then took a seat at the Legacy Wrestling table with owner Adam Loncar, Katelyn Rocko, and the one and only Swerve, Shane Strickland. Any wrestling show is always that much better when you get the observations of it from a wrestler like Kill Shot! In fact, it was Strickland himself that would open the very first PWE show!
Match one saw The International Swerve take on Kai Katana in what was the match of the night in my opinion. While I understand why this match opened, I did hear numerous fans ask why, as it was clearly two guy’s worthy of the main event. PWE wanted a guy like Strickland to lead them off, and that he did, but it set a tone that was difficult to match. I’ve been a fan of Katan’s for some time as well, and he keeps getting better, as was clearly displayed in this match up. Both guys put on a performance that should have been studied by everyone in the locker room, with Strickland getting the win with his Swerve Stomp. Without a doubt this match, and both performers, were Wrestling Done Right.
Next up was the match I had dubbed The Hunks vs The Flunks, as a special team Kevin Murphy put together consisting of himself, Stan Styles, BJ Walker, TJ Mathis, and subbing for Malek Avalaon, a very out of place Cyrus Parker (I really missed Avalon in this match). They took on perennial fan favorite, and “every man” Richie Nightmare, and his team of t-shirt wearing, ticket selling, weekend warriors Slyder, Nighthawk, Pitbull, and Mercenary. Richie got a grand entrance, being escorted in by numerous Harley driving, leather clad, biker dudes. While I appreciate cool entrances, this was so loud, and so full of exhaust fumes, that it made it difficult to appreciate. Sadly, most of this match was as bad as I thought it would be. The first four men eliminated (including Murphy) were eliminated first by disqualification, and then count out. The only good thing about that, is that left us with the most legitimate guys in the ring, those being Nightmare, Slyder, Mathis, Walker, and Styles. Slyder managed to eliminate Styles, only to be quickly taken out by Mathis. Nightmare gave it his all, eventually taking out Mathis, but couldn’t do the same against The Icon, BJ Walker, after Kevin Murphy returned to provide a distraction, as Mathis delivered a low blow to Richie, allowing Walker to get the pin and victory. Murphy then challenged LCW’s Shatter, who had purchased a ticket and was in the audience. Shatter of course hopped the guard rail and got in Murphy’s face, only to be escorted out by security. As Murphy celebrated Shatter’s removal, he was attacked by a kendo stick wielding Mercenary. Lost in all that nonsense was BJ Walker getting a huge win over the local hero, further cementing his arrival on the local scene, something this reporter has predicted for over a year. Keep an eye on BJ Walker!
Colin Bright, owner of PWE then welcomed us all to the show, and introduced the special guest Scott Hall. Andy Vineberg would then interrupt, and call Hall a loser. Hall put Vineberg in his place, after taking one of his famous survey’s, causing Vineberg to slink away as the crowd celebrated with Hall. Something noteworthy here though, as Bright promised that PWE would not be a showcase for Hollywood’s Finest, much of the crowd booed. As I’ve said many times, too many companies are missing the boat with Hollywood’s Finest. Here’s hoping PWE doesn’t make that same mistake.
Next up Heroes for Hire took on a debuting tag team calling themselves “The Starlords.” Getting serious for a moment, this is the third or fourth gimmick I’ve seen Jay Mack in, over the past two years. I give the guy credit for trying, but it’s clear he doesn’t know what he wants to do. I was worried this match was going to be terrible, and while it wasn’t as bad as I feared, it wasn’t very good. Heroes for Hire were the leaders in the match, and that saved it from being terrible, but with Zack Rayne getting less action than any of the other three, it kept it from being even okay. Kolby took several major bumps, that showed his dedication, but The Starlords seemed to desire laughs more than anything. Connelly was better than I expected, since not having wrestled in years, but all I’m really doing here is trying to find the positives. My biggest gripe about the match is that it was two teams performing moves on each other. None of the moves were horrible, but the match flow was weird, and the fans didn’t know who to root for. The right team won in the end, but Heroes for Hire deserve better than that.
Next up was a match I was looking forward to, as Laszlo Arpad took on Shane Malice. I enjoyed this match as both guys went after each other right away, but I think it could have told the story as to why this match was even happening better than it did. Far too many local fans don’t use the internet for pro wrestling, and as such they don’t see the videos, pictures, and statuses about match ups. Many fans had been calling for Malice to join Hollywood’s Finest, to which he objected, and Kevin Murphy took offense and sent Arpad to teach him a lesson. A very solid story that at least 50% of the crowd had no idea about. As such, this was just a decent match with two guys that seemed ticked off at one another. Each guy got all of their “stuff” in, with a confusing moment coming after it appeared Arpad nailed his finisher, the big “Sword of Atalla” clothesline, only to pick Malice up, and keep the match going. I assume the point was that Arpad needed to punish Malice more, and it nearly cost him the match, as Malice stormed back and nearly won it. Arpad then realizing the mistake, nailed his finish again and this time took the 1-2-3.
During intermission Officer David Hetfield (in ever improving gear) hit the ring to introduce a new tag team partner. Since it was intermission, I didn’t catch the partner’s name, but I do know that he is experienced in tag team wrestling, and I like the idea over all. Hetfield has talent, and a desire to improve, and this area is weak in the tag division, so let’s see what these two can do. They did a fine job of attacking the referee!
After intermission Louis G Rich took on CM Serenyi in an okay match that was over pretty quickly. Before the match started both men insisted that Hollywood’s Finest should recruit them into the faction, reminding us all that their new member had yet to be announced. Rich out wrestled Serenyi for the victory (after having faced Big Rob Terry a few hours earlier in another company!)
Bringing their feud to central Pennsylvania was The Neon Ninja Façade, with Dani, against Jason Gory. These two never have a bad match, and I was slightly annoyed that this area didn’t know who Gory was. Don’t get me wrong, the fans were into the match, but I think it would had been a bigger deal if the crowd would be more educated, and savvy to indy workers, and not just those who have been booked in the area in the past. As expected it was a fast paced, big moves, slick production that saw Façade get the victory.
In a ladies match, Tess Valentine took on Samantha Starr. I was looking forward to this match as I know both women are talented. The match was going well, holding everyone’s interest, and then suddenly Roxanne Steel storms the ring and attacks Valentine causing the disqualification. Steel then gets on the house mic and says Central Pennsylvania is her house, and this is her ring, and it wasn’t acceptable that she didn’t have the first women’s match for PWE. Tess and Samantha joined forces to stand against Steel leaving together to cheers. I like all three of these ladies, but the ending was a major disappointment. Why not have Steel simply attack the winner to make the same point?
Swift Kick Cannon then took on Suicide Meyers in a match that I feel I’ve seen a dozen times. I have nothing against Meyers, or Cannon, but if either are going to improve they’ve got to get in the ring with wrestlers other than each other, or guys on their level. It’s nice to clearly see that Cannon is a legitimate martial artist but beside that, there wasn’t much here to see. Cannon gets a swift victory. The question is, where does he go from here?
The main event saw Eddie Smooth vs. Sean Carr in a hardcore match. Before it got started though, Smooth got on the mic and introduced Hollywood’s Finest newest member….Andy Vineberg! At first I didn’t know how to take that, as I had been awaiting a new wrestler joining them for months. As I considered it, I came to realize that Vineberg may be exactly what Kevin Murphy needs. Murphy can use a manager to help ensure he gets his victories, something he doesn’t get enough of. He already has two of the best wrestlers around, in Smooth and Arpad, backing him up, adding a weasely little manager may finally put him over the top, or at least I hope so. Scott Hall was a special enforcer in this match, though while “extreme rules.” Apparently it was to keep Hollywood’s Finest from getting involved. The match in and of itself was very entertaining, with both Carr and Smooth taking, and giving shots that a normal human being would take weeks to recover from. Boards, chairs, bottles, and trash cans, were used as the two men fought all over the venue. Arpad and Murphy made their way to ringside and while referee Mark Yeaton was busy with them, Vineberg got in the ring taking a shot at Carr. This caused Scott Hall to enter to chase off Vineberg. As this was happening Smooth took a 15 foot ladder from under the ring, climbed it, and nailed his “Photo Finish” elbow drop from it, onto Carr for the 1-2-3 victory. While this was entertaining, it hurt a little bit not getting to see Smooth and Carr in a wrestling match. Both men are two of the best on the indy scene today and I really want to see them in a clinic. Extreme rules are usually reserved for hot feuds, so it was odd seeing these two in such a match for their first ever meeting.
Over all I’d rate the show a 5/10. I liked 50% of it, and didn’t like 50% of it. The “main” matches all delivered, except for the throw away ending of the women’s match. I believe the shows will keep getting better, especially if they build Hollywood’s Finest the way they deserve to be built, and don’t have them face challenges from workers that shouldn’t be a serious threat to them. And while I understand the financial reasoning behind booking wrestlers based on how many tickets they sold, as a fan of wrestling, it just doesn’t work. You get booked based on talent, not based on how many friends and family members will pay to see you play wrestler. Once fans in this area begin to realize what excellent wrestling really is, PWE, and all of central Pennsylvania wrestling will be better because of it. If you want to see what I mean, then come to Legacy Wrestling on December 5th at Spooky Nook, in Manheim, Pennsylvania! They book only the best talent, and don’t rely solely on old retired WWE guys to get people in the door. Ultimately I’d love to see PWE, and Legacy, come to an agreement to work together, using that same booking philosophy.