The Bash on Ash, Tempe, Arizona
March 12th, 2003
This card was the second part of a double-header, following the previous day’s event at Rodeo Nights. We were unable to attend that, due to a prior engagement with a pineapple and a bottle of 151-proof rum, but we probably prefer The Bash on Ash as a venue anyway. This is not least because Tempe recently barred smoking in all clubs, pubs and restaurants; the libertarian part of me objects to this on principle, but it gets firmly over-ruled by the part which has to come home and take a shower because of the stale smoke in my hair and clothes. No such problems at the Bash.
First up was a tag-bout between J-Rod (who berated announcer Justin Roberts for calling him that – an excellent reason to continue doing it) with Shooting Star against Tony Stradlin and James Lukash. After J-Rod’s lukewarm performance last time, it came as a surprise to find that the bout was not awful. Indeed, it didn’t even make a stopover at Suck Airport, being fast-paced, well-executed and hard-hitting; Stradlin was a particular standout, but all four participants deserve credit.
A welcome couple of insights into last night’s action followed. Frankie Kazarian of Team Elite came out and mouthed off (brief summary: “wee-ooo-wee-ooo-wee-ooo”) a series of excuses about why he was pinned by Jimmy Snuka Jr. A rematch was scheduled. More interestingly, Ghostwalker announced the dissolution of Native Blood, his long-time tag partnership with Navajo Warrior; the latter getting a shot at the IZW title seems to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Ghostwalker stayed around for the next bout, a solid, if not perhaps especially memorable bout against Lawrence Tyler. Think we were perhaps distracted, still mulling the ramifications of Ghostwalker’s declaration. He got the win, then continued his heel turn by declaring that henceforth, he would be known as GQ, provoking snickers from the audience, and indeed, the ring announcer. One wonders what Navajo Warrior was thinking, Ghostw…er, GQ having vowed to be in the corner for the title bout; it was unlikely to have been secure and comforting.
There were another score to be settled from yesterday, Jack Bull having done a number on Hollywood. Horshu was back (after some time away, apparently including a role in Daredevil as one of Michael Clarke Duncan’s bodyguards) to deliver retaliation, in what was always likely to be a nasty brawl. Not one for fans of technical wrestling, yet undeniably intense, this ended with Bull being DQ’d for refusing to stop using the ropes to choke Horshu. It took almost everyone in the building to separate the two participants afterward.
Ending the first half was the singles bout between Frankie ‘The Future’ Kazarian and Jimmy Snuka, Jr.. Anyone who pauses during a match to announce himself as ‘the coolest person in the world’ deserves to get punked. Hard. Every time he says it. Yet, we can’t argue with one fact: Kazarian can wrestle. As can Snuka, who is clearly his father’s son, yet with his own style and moves. This was probably our favourite contest of the evening, with a great mix of speed and athleticism – even Kazarian winning (albeit only by using the ropes) couldn’t spoil it.
After the intermission, it was Erica Porter vs. Lexie Fyfe for the women’s title. Porter – another silver-screen comic-book here, as one of Randy Savage’s entourage in Spiderman – got some cheap heat by revealing her Arizona State University connection (Tempe is the home of ASU), but also managed to wrest the crown from Fyfe, somewhat to our surprise. And that of IZW too, going by the lack of an actual belt with which to present her.
A very-subdued looking (and mullet-less!) commissioner C.C.Starr then led a ten-count tribute for the late Curt Henning, who passed away recently. Then it was back to happier business in the shape of the IZW Heavyweight title, between the Navajo Warrior and reigning holder, Mike Nox – for some reason, every photo we take of Nox seems to make him look more demonic (see right). Expect horns and a tail next time. GQ/Ghostwalker did turn up at ringside, mid-way through, but didn’t get a chance to interfere; Nox lost on his own, his attempt to use a chair backfiring in his own face (literally) and letting the Warrior get the pin. Regardless, GQ attacked the new #1 , ripping off his top to reveal a Team Elite shirt, aligning himself with Nox’s faction before almost falling off the ring in his fury.
Here at TC, we hate reality programs (except Jerry Springer) – a curse on Fox for replacing 24 with American Idol last Tuesday! We’ve never watched The Real World or Tough Enough, so the prospect of a battle between a player from each show was of little or no interest, smacking of a stunt. However, both Kenny King (Tough Enough 2) and, more surprisingly, The Miz (The Real World – New York) were competent enough. The latter provoked one fan into trying to hit him with a chair, though his attempted use of a marker pen (snigger!) as a weapon left a little to be desired. King got the win, which is probably just as it should be.
The final bout brought out the Ballard Brothers along with their manager, The Sheik, to defend their tag belts, at first, against an unannounced pair of ladies, before Starr turned up and insisted they face “proper” opponents. This seemed harsh on the women, who were giving a more than decent account of themselves, and we would have loved to have seen the Ballards lose this one. Enter Team Elite’s Derek Neikirk and, fighting his second bout, Mike Nox. Nox was in trouble from the start, his knee bothering him – showing any sign of weakness to the Ballards is like blood in a piranha tank. Most of the bout consisted of them pounding Nox’s leg, while he tried to tag his partner. However, the end was somewhat confusing; it looked like another member of Team Elite got involved outside the ring, leading to their disqualification. The final result was the Ballards retained their title, and they’ll be happy enough with that.
Curiously, we felt the first half was perhaps stronger than the main events, but regardless – ten bucks to see eight bouts, all of them entertaining, is quite remarkable value for money. It’s a shame the audience wasn’t bigger, as the wrestlers certainly deserve more appreciation. Publicity is an area IZW seriously needs to work on – you had to burrow around their own website to find details, and even if they can’t afford much advertising, there are plenty of publications that will list your event for free. The end of the show has absolutely no mention of any more scheduled events which is, frankly, worrying. We’ll keep our fingers crossed this isn’t the beginning of the end, just the end of the beginning.