Bob Holly puts his undefeated House of Hardcore record on the line in a rematch with Sami Callihan. Matt Cross and Tony Nese look to finally settle their long-running dispute once and for all: just who is the true premier athlete of the two?
Thorn got the action started when he took advantage of a distracted referee to attack James with his cane. The referee distraction? Putting away Bull James’ slice of cheese hat that he’d worn to the ring.
The match was short and sweet, and fulfilled its purpose of getting the night started with a babyface win for Bull James. Not often you get to hear “He hit the pedigree on the cheese!” from a commentator. Was a rather amusing finish, to be fair.
Striker has long been one of my favourite commentators in the business, but I’ve not seen an awful lot of his in-ring action besides what he was doing a number of years ago. I was interested in this bout.
This match very much felt like the kind of contest that gets put on for a live crowd, but maybe not for the viewing audience at home. It was all a little silly, and had very little in the way of wrestling. From Braxton running the ropes on his hover board, to Striker getting a front row seat to a dance off leading to a stink face that almost cost him the match, they certainly put on a show. The crowd were into it though, and I can’t say it wasn’t entertaining.
Striker nabbed the win with a rollup and a hold on the ropes.
Surprise appearance for Ken Anderson, and his House of Hardcore debut. He was very over with the crowd.
Of the opening three matches, this became the second to use a sneak attack to open proceedings – would’ve been a nice opening, had I not seen similar done on the show already. It did however give us the first real lengthy match of the show, which Anderson won with a Mic Check.
Cabana was over with the crowd, as he always is. From start to finish, he delivered his usual rather over-the-top silliness. Lots of people like that from him, and in a live arena it is entertaining, but as a viewer on a live broadcast, it just didn’t work entirely.
Duggan is an old school heel, from his appearance and mannerisms, to the way he sells the babyface. His “Stop touching my chest hair!” line was hilarious, and got Cabana’s actions more over with the spectators.
Cabana took a hard throw into the turnbuckles, after hitting a big splash on Duggan that almost led to a clean pinfall. The win did quickly follow for Cabana however.
If you’re going to push Cabana’s lighthearted style and attitude, putting him against someone like Duggan is perfect, and it did work better than I expected.
There was a good backstage promo earlier in the show, where Matt Cross reinforced how much it meant to him to beat Tony Nese, and confirm that he is the Premier Athlete, not Nese.
A handshake opened the match, and the following few minutes were very standard. There was a lovely kick combo from Nese, leading into a leg sweep and near fall, which suddenly raised the tempo and led to some wonderful moments. Cross’ springboard cross body was lovely, as were his two consecutive suicide dives to Nese on the outside.
After Cross hit a double stomp from the corner, followed by a standing moonsault, chants of “This is awesome,” filled the hall. With what would follow, those fans weren’t wrong.
An absolutely superb sequence of back and forth moves, each man hitting their opponents same move harder, led into a cutter from Cross. Everyone thought that was it, but Nese kicked out at the last moment. After avoiding defeat to a pump handle tombstone, Cross was able to hit the Shooting Star Press and then follow it with a three count for the win.
This match really picked up in its second half, and both men put on a great show. With Nese seeing out his last dates with the smaller promotions, following his move to WWE, the right man won this match.
Tommy Dreamer & Mickie James
Aiden O’Shea & Angelina Love
If you saw Dreamer’s written statement on his Facebook page prior to this event, then his promo prior to his match would’ve just reinforced how much House of Hardcore 21 means to him and his financial future. He’s put a lot of his own money into funding this show, and investing in new technology to support their move onto the FloSlam streaming network.
O’Shea was a surprise partner for Love, and both were out first. Dreamer and James were out last, to a great reaction from the crowd, which you’d obviously expect given who they are. Mickie James looks in great shape, and commentary tried to put her over as the best female wrestler of all time, given her accomplishments – it’s hard to argue with that, based on evidence, but there might be some women ahead of her. She’s certainly up there though.
In the brief moments of inter-gender action early on, the women hit very believable moves on their male opponents. Dreamer and O’Shea are huge compared to both ladies, so it made perfect sense to have Love need assistance to take down Dreamer (as an example), and they really played on that size and weight difference when Love struggled to roll Dreamer onto his back to make a pin attempt.
Love and O’Shea’s ‘insurance policy’ didn’t last long, with the monstrous Mustafa ejected from ringside after tripping Dreamer. The action then went to ringside, with things moving up a tempo or two, and getting significantly more violent culminating in both Love and O’Shea being nailed with having the bell rung on their delicate regions.
I thought the match was over when Mickie James hit a low blow on O’Shea, followed by a DDT, but it wasn’t to be, and James got taken out right after with a hard kick from Love. James sold it like she’d been hit by a bus, and it looked great. She recovered a few moments later to pin Love for the win, after Dreamer took Love out with a pile driver.
Some shenanigans followed, with Mustafa returning to wipe out both Dreamer and James. Ryback eventually came from backstage to take out Mustafa, to a big pop from the crowd. Dreamer went slightly out of character to cut a long promo putting over all the participants in the match and the beatdowns after. Funny moment when Ryback delivered one of his old Skip Sheffield catchphrases.
It was obvious right from the start that this would be a hard-hitting match, with Callihan nailing two kicks to the head of Holly to open things, and then Holly responding with a mean clothesline.
It went to the outside very quickly, and Holly found himself trapped under a railing, as Callihan hit it several times with a steel chair. That was the story early on, in fact, with Callihan controlling the match.
Things did slow down when both men ended up back in the ring, and certainly the match didn’t continue at the pace it started at, but that’s to be expected given the two talents involved. Bob did make a nice babyface comeback, but made sure his strikes were nothing but friendly as each one was hit with thunderous strength. The exchange of chops in the middle of the ring were so damn stiff, felt every single one of them.
The finish was rather sudden, and it was reflected in the crowds response, as Callihan scored a submission victory to end Holly’s undefeated record in House of Hardcore. It was rather flat, and whilst I enjoy quick taps to submissions (makes it more realistic!), this one seemed to just end the match short. It could’ve done with another burst of energy, like at the start, before coming to a close.
Holly’s offer of a handshake was accepted by Callihan, before the latter shoved his beaten opponent, leading to Holly cleaning up shop and sending fans home happy.
As a live entertainment show, I can only imagine that this would’ve been great to be in the audience for. Some of the early silliness didn’t translate onto the screen as well though, at least in this writers opinion, but I did appreciate the effort. Those kind of fun antics do get the live audience excited and vocal, which was the point, I suppose. I would’ve just enjoyed a bit more quality wrestling thrown in too, especially given some of the names on the card.
Match of the Night
Matt Cross vs. Tony Nese
House of Hardcore 21: Blizzard Brawl Overall Score: