Right in the middle of the New Japan Cup comes Legacy Wrestling’s “Hollywood Takeover.” These days there simply aren’t many “indy” companies that can make me take notice, let alone get a ticket, drive to the venue, and sit in the crowd to watch them. I’ve got plenty to occupy my time, and fulfill my wrestling needs, with New Japan Pro Wrestling, Ring of Honor, NXT, and Lucha Underground. I don’t need to go sit with 125 people in order to watch local guys pretend to professional wrestle, and then ask me to buy their t-shirt for $20. But Legacy Wrestling is different. Legacy Wrestling is legitimate, it’s solid, it passes the test, and can proudly stand beside the top professional companies in the world. So off to Manheim, Pennsylvania I went to grab my front row seat for some live “wrestling done right!” Take a look at my thoughts here to see why you too can comfortably attend any, and all, Legacy events.
The show began with TJ Mathis remembering a young boy that they brought onto the last show, named Chase, who was fighting cancer. Sadly Chase lost his battle, so we opened the show with a 10 bell salute to the young boy, who passed a few weeks ago at only 12 years old. Mathis is really using his hometown name and reputation to sell himself at Legacy, and it is working.
What I appreciate about that, is that Mathis isn’t just being used because he’s local, and has bumped a few times. TJ Mathis is solid in the ring, and is working hard every day to get better.
Hollywood's Finest came out immediately after the 10 bell salute. The Winner Andy Vineberg, lead Laszlo Arpad, and Kevin Murphy, to the ring, where they beat down Mathis, and proceeded to declare themselves in total control of Legacy, and that the champion, Eddie Smooth, would be taking the night off. As Hollywood’s Finest left the ring, Mathis, still lying on the mat, then challenged Arpad, who accepted, and stormed back to the ring. Mathis, seemingly inspired by the spirit of a young boy now gone, got the biggest victory of his career, pinning Arpad with a quick roll up after a tough battle with the angry Hungarian. This was Arpad’s first loss in Legacy, and he wasn’t happy. Arpad got his hands on a large leather strap, and proceeded to beat Mathis down, until CZW’s DJ Hyde made the save. Hyde then challenged Arpad to a match in July, where the fans could buy raffle tickets, to earn leather straps that they could then use as lumberjacks for the match!
I enjoyed this segment as it really gets a ton of heat on Hollywood’s Finest, who can too often be cheered in the local area. It also really boosted Mathis’s worth with such a victory. Hyde and Arpad have had heat for some time, but it’s odd seeing DJ as a face, as it’s often not the case with him. Where does Mathis go from here, a rematch with Arpad in April, before the Hyde strap match?
-The brash, bold, and cocky Anthony Deppen then took on high flying sensation Dezmond Xavier in a great, fast, action packed match. There is no doubt this bout was a show stealer, as while everyone knew both guys could go, no one expected them to work as good as they did. These two guys proved themselves to be stars, and worthy of top billing in a back and forth match that saw both men kick out of numerous pin attempts that would have finished bigger men. Finally Xavier pulled out the win, but that doesn’t mean Deppen was a complete loser. Everyone in the crowd was on fire after this bout, and clearly want to see both Deppen and Xavier back in Legacy.
A really great match that made me want to see both guys become regulars with Legacy. Xavier is easily rocketing to the top of the best high flyers in the game today, and few, and I mean very few in this business have the character, and the charisma, of Tony Deppen. Is he the best at it? He’s up there.
Veda Scott then challenged Legacy Women’s Champion Kimber Lee for the title. Kimber Lee came in very sure of herself, but Veda seemed determined to put the champ in her place. After Kimber Lee was finally convinced to hand the title to the ref, the match got underway, as Veda went into a furious assault that sent the champ reeling. Veda then slowed, possibly thinking she had the match won, and Lee took advantage as she rushed back to take control. Both women performed solidly here, and the fans were on the edge of their seat all the way through. In somewhat of an upset, Veda pinned Lee to win the title. Kimber wasn’t happy, and vowed to get her title back, as Veda celebrated in the ring as the new Legacy Women’s champion.
I am a fan of Scott, but I was shocked by her victory. The fans really seem to love her in this area, so I am anxious to see how she does as champion. I appreciated the solid effort in a match that was made to feel important in how it was worked.
Lio Rush took on Aaron AR Fox in a match up that had every fan in attendance chanting “This is awesome” before they even touched each other. This bout was what everyone knew it would be, as both men moved like greased lightning yet never missed a spot. How two humans can work like a well-oiled machine as these two did is beyond my ability to even understand. Hold after hold, reversal after reversal, was just seamless, and flawless. Just as it seemed that the end might be approaching, Joe Keys intervened and jumped Rush. Keys has been chasing after Rush all over the place, most recently having jumped him in Harrisburg after his match with Shane Strickland at PWE. This time Rush demanded a match with Keys on April 30th and it has been signed.
Even though I was disappointed with the non-finish to this bout, getting to that point was everything I had hoped it would be, and left me wanting to see it again, as well as the Rush vs Keys match up. Fox is always money, and Rush is nearly on that level as well. If Keys can step up to that height it will only be all the better for Legacy, but can Keys handle that kind of pressure? We will see.
Facade with Danni Mo then took on The Madjai Amasis in a fun match up. Of course I didn’t like the fact that they had a “dance off” in the middle of the match, as I am never going to like things like that, but before, and after that this, was a solid contest between to very skilled wrestlers. Facade pulled out the victory with a serious looking driver that made me cringe.
Façade is big time over in Central, Pennsylvania and always a huge crowd favorite. Amasis can give anyone a great match and that’s what he did here. While I didn’t like the dancing, I have to give Danni credit for her amazing “worm.” Façade keeps climbing the ladder at Legacy, and I am anxious to see what is next for him.
Jonathan Gresham and Drew Gulak then faced off in a very technical “submissions match.” These two worked each other over intelligently, knowing that the only way to victory was by wearing the other down to the point that they would give up, or tap out. Time and again both Gresham an Gulak applied arm bars, leg bars, stretches, and lock holds like the figure four, trying to destroy each other's body so they could gain victory. Gulak seemed to have the upper hand do to being so much taller than Gresham, but Gresham proved he had a little more fight, as he withstood Gulak’s punishment, and finally locked on his Octopus stretch hold, forcing Gulak to tap out!
I enjoyed this scientific bout, but feared the crowd would disengage, but that did happen! The crowd chanted for both men rather evenly, but clearly stayed engaged all match long, much to my pleasant surprise. This bout cleared showed that Legacy isn’t all about high flying and death defying performances. Legacy is about wrestling of all styles, and types…done rightly!
For the Legacy tag team championship, it was THE BLOODBOUND WARRIORS versus The Wildcardz in a very solid tag team match that showed how, and why, these two advanced to this point. The Bloodbound Warriors, The Red Scorpion and Greywolf, are two monster men that simply do as they wish in the ring, but the Wildcardz proved that they were to be taken seriously, and had the BBW’s on their heels more than once. Tess Valentine helped the Cardz cause as well, often getting in the way of Scorpion, or Greywolf, when they sought to do their worst to one of her boys. Finally, Scorpion tossed Valentine out of his way just in time to help deliver Blood Eagle, the BBW’s patent finisher, to become the first ever Legacy Tag Team Champions.
This was a very solid match up, and I believe this match could, and likely would get even better the more we see it, if these two teams would feud for the titles. While the BBW’s often look monstrous next to whomever they face, the Wildcardz are not small, and have a ton of strength in order to not be completely out muscled. Tess Valentine works a very good valet/manager role and I know isn’t afraid to bump as well. Do these teams keep facing off? I am curious to see the next tag team to come to Legacy, as well as the new tag team title belts, which were not ready in time for this show.
Hollywood’s Finest returned to the ring and introduced the Legacy Champion, Eddie Smooth who insisted on taking the night off. The fans reacted terribly, and Smooth hopped out of the ring, and taunted fans on every side. When one fan stood tall, Smooth flipped him over the barricade and proceeded to beat him senseless. As security attempted to stop the madness, Smooth, Arpad, and Murphy, took them out as Andy Vineberg cheered and sneered! Finally, Cedric Alexander hit the ring and put a stop to it. He then got in Smooth’s face and told the champion “You can’t beat me!” Murphy and Vineberg told Smooth he wasn’t wrestling, and had nothing to prove, but Smooth decided to put his title on the line, and teach Alexander a lesson so many other have learned.
For twenty minutes Smooth and Alexander tore into each other like men possessed. Smooth’s body was nothing but welts, and small cuts, as Alexander was determined to win the Legacy title. Smooth however, sly, and slick, refused to go down. Like him or not, Eddie Smooth is an amazing competitor, and put Alexander through a wrestling lesson I’ve never seen anyone deliver to the Ring of Honor star! The crowd though, solidly behind Alexander, seemed to push him towards victory, but just as he had Smooth down for the count, the bell rang, signifying that the 20 minute time limit has expired, resulting in the match being declared a draw, Cedric, along with the worked up crowd, demanded 5 more minutes. Smooth resisted, as Murphy, Arpad, and Vineburg shouted that Smooth was still the champ because Alexander lost! Cedric then got on the house mic and shouted “You never pinned me! to Smooth, causing Eddie to get pretty heated. After some consulting with Vineberg, Eddie eventually agreed to five more minutes. The fans cheered in delight, but as referee Bruce Delaney turned to signal for the bell, Smooth delivered a low blow to Alexander, and covered him just as referee Bruce Delaney turned around for the 1-2-3. As Smooth was laughing, taunting, and celebrating, AR Fox hit the ring and tossed Smooth around. As Smooth lay in the corner, Fox ascended to the top rope, delivering a coast to coast drop kick, to send the crowd home happy!
Hollywood’s Finest are great, but what’s even better is that they are legitimate heels and getting heel heat finally. Smooth, though a legitimate wrestling prodigy, is getting his wins underhandedly. The fact that he doesn’t need to makes him all the better of a heel, and I love it. No one, especially in this area, has a local champion that’s been made, and put over the way Smooth is in Legacy. Vineberg has helped with the heel heat tremendously as well. He, along with Murphy, Arpad, and Smooth really seem and feel like “stars” now, and I hope that only gets bigger and better. It was announced at the end of the show that Johnny “Wrestling” Gargano will be Smooth’s next opponent and that is just wrestling nirvana! Legacy stands head and shoulders about all other indy promotions, in my opinion, and with a nice sized crowd on a Friday night, it looks like others are starting to grasp that as well.
This show was an easy 9.5/10 with the only a few points shaved off for the dance spot, and not having tag belts ready for this show. Every match was great, different, and entertaining. When the losers of each match still walk away with better reputations, that’s the mark of a great show, a great company, and incredible workers. I’ve been promising you all that Legacy was going to be something special from the day the company was announced to the public, months before one single match was announced. As such, I can fairly say two things.