----With more local talent coming in to SAW, I am going to try to cover their results every week. Let me just say, if the Douglas retirement is a shoot [and I am assuming it is], it is really a sign of how sad the business is in this area. Douglas is one of the best - flawless in the ring and the "look" that apparently WWE was looking for at one time. I got to see the last match between Douglas/Stevens from the Fairgrounds and it was probably close to anything being perfect that this area will ever see. I have always seen guys like Stevens, Flash Flanagan, Douglas, Brian Christopher, Derrick King, Kevin White, Alan Steele and Pokerface as part of that generation that got stuck without territories. King, Flanagan and Brian C [made it big, but hurt himself] had a little bit more chance at one time. Then Stevens/Douglas were one of the reasons to watch TNA PPVs, but then guys like White, Steele and Poker almost are having to make their own ways - so much harder these days. How sad is it that none of those guys have a job with either WWE or TNA??
----On a positive note, I did talk to Downtown Bruno and he said, "it was nostalgic for me to be back in the old fairgrounds sports arena" and he had a great time. I bet he is happy to find out that he "has lost the scruffiness he had back in the day and was quite well spoken." LOL
Andy Douglas announced his retirement at the Nashville Fairgrounds Sports Arena last night.
In a fitting conclusion to his eleven year career, Douglas made the surprise announcement after losing a steel cage match to his former partner of seven years, Chase Stevens, who was making his first defense of the SAW International Championship. The emotions inside that ring where as real as it gets.
Combine that with one of the best weapons brawls you would ever want to see, and I’m thinking it was SAW’s best event ever - as good as it gets for southern style pro wrestling in 2010.
For length and pacing, they nailed it right on the head. They started early (7pm - a kid friendly idea if I ever saw one) and finished in 2:30.
Although not quite as large in numbers (800), it was the hottest crowd, start to finish, for any of the four SAW events at the Fairgrounds. It was getting rowdy. Security had to ask the people to move back because they kept crowding up near the ring barrier, just like back in the day. Clearly, SAW has established an passionate core fanbase that knows the characters and follows the product on TV.
(1) Drew Haskins (with Sista O’Feelyah) submitted Cody Melton with a figure four leglock. I only saw the finish. Haskins’ gear wasn’t as…um…flamboyant as it was later in the evening.
Downtown Bruno was interviewed Natalie Van Eron. A fair percentage of the crowd seemed to remember him. Bruno took us down Fairgrounds memory lane, pointing out the spot where he met his fiance, and listing some of the great ones he had the opportunity to work with. Good segment. Bruno has lost the scruffiness he had back in the day and was quite well spoken.
(2) Jesse Emerson pinned Big Bully Douglas in 4:51. A somewhat mixed reaction for Emerson. He’s apparently too clean cut for a certain segment of this crowd. Back when there were territories, Douglas would have earned a living as a pro wrestler. Emerson took control. Douglas said enough with this clean wrestling BS, and leveled Emerson with a lariat. Douglas followed with a lariat off the ropes and a fallaway slam. Crisp finish- Emerson got the drop on Douglas and tried for an O’Connor Roll. Douglas blocked it and Emerson pinned him with a backslide.
(3) Brian Christopher beat Lani Kealoha in 3:08. Christopher got a longer, louder pop than he did for his return to the Fairgrounds last month. Kealoha was in the best cosmetic shape of any of his SAW appearances. He attacked before the bell. Christopher dropped Kealoha in his tracks with a superkick, hit a missile dropkick and deposited him outside the ring. Christopher danced and got tripped up by Kealoha. A nifty ropes-mounted spinning back elbow by Lani connected, but no such luck on the diving headbutt. Christopher capped his comeback with the top rope leg drop. No goggles this time. Hmm.
Stevens came into the ring with the SAW International Title for the first time and was interviewed with Van Eron. He’s way over but not to the degree Hammerjack is. Stevens was elated about having the prize coveted by every wrestler in the locker room, and said he was no paperweight champion. Adams appeared in the entrance way, and wow, did he ever get heat. He complained about biased officiating (by matchmaker Reno Riggins) and pointed out that while Stevens won the match, he was yet to walk out of the ring with the title. Rick Santel blindsided Stevens. Stevens cut that off with a high backdrop but got nailed by Andy Douglas. Adams joined in to make it a three on one beatdown, until Christopher made the save.
(4) PG-13 (Wolfie D & JC Ice) retained the SAW Tag Team Championship vs. Derrick King Enterprises (Derrick King & Drew Haskins with Sista O’Feelyah) in a double count out in just 4:04. The first of four advertised matches saw DKE invoke the Freebird rule with Haskins subbing for JT Stahr. Haskins’ gear was hilarious. He wrestled in tiny blue tights while wearing socks and loafers. It was so gay. I’m not sure who exactly “Teen Excitement” was trying to excite. Wolfie was handing Haskins his ass. Bad image, sorry. Haskins ended up wearing only one loafer. King interfered and DKE briefly got heat on Wolfie. He used a Morton roll for the hot tag. Wolfie’s timing on what to do and when to do it is so spot on. Ice got a pair of near falls on Haskins. The match broke down with all four on the floor. Half Dolla came out with a broom, and King broke it across Wolfie’s back. Hopefully, this program is just getting off the ground.
(5) “Maniac” Marc Anthony beat Hammerjack in a Tennessee Streetfight in 14:53. Match of the night and my favorite live match so far for 2010. For a weapons brawl, it don’t get no better. Anthony’s promo work has been phenomenal. Last night, he brought his A game in the ring. He deserves a shot on larger stage. Kudos to Hammerjack on a remarkable piece of work. He was sick as dog, to the point he had no business doing the match, much less putting on a stellar performance. Hammer received an explosive pop coming out, and the heat never let up from there. The brawled outside the barricade, and Anthony fell back over the rail wearing one of those giant trash barrels. Anthony took over and delivered a Dick Murdoch elbow with Hammer lying defenseless on the apron. Anthony bashed Hammer with this giant metal roasting pan, and the impact created one of the best weapons sound effects ever. Hammer crowned Anthony with a trio of metal trash can lid shots. Anthony keeled over onto the concrete floor. Crowd was going nuts for Hammer’s comeback. Anthony drove a chair edge into Hammer’s throat over by the announcer’s desk. Finally inside the ring, Anthony whipped Hammer head first into a chair wedged between the turnbuckles. Within moments, Hammer’s face was covered with blood. Anthony charged and took a backdrop to the floor. Hammer tried to follow up, but Anthony started beating on him with a tennis racket. A can lid shot to Hammer’s head sounded like an explosion. Hammer suplexed Anthony into a coffin of chairs at ringside, busting up the chairs for a great carnage visual. Another huge “Hammerjack” chant here. Anthony fired one of the chairs at Hammer’s head to cut him off. Anthony delivered a low blow that Hammer sold like the mother of all nut shots. Anthony crashed and burned on a top rope headbutt. Just when Hammer had Anthony where he wanted him, a video played on the big screen. It was an endless loop of Hammer’s daughter running towards the camera with a present in her hand shouting “Happy Birthday, daddy!” It’s usually so lame when a wrestlers stops a match to look at something on screen, but this was disturbing enough to allow for suspension of disbelief. Anthony capitalized with one chair shot to the back and a sick one to the head for the pin.
The postmatch was like a psychotic nightmare. Anthony set Hammer’s throat on the edge of a chair and waffled his back with another chair shot. Hammer was still bleeding profusely. Hot Rod Biggs hit the ring. Anthony whacked him in the head with the chair and a second shot put him down for good. Biggs bled all over his white shirt and looked like a zombie mess. At one point, Anthony was holding ten guys at at bay, before they were able to pull Hammerjack out of the ring. As Hammer was being carried out, Anthony put his helmet on and barked to the heavens. This match that will be etched in my brain for a very long time.
(6) Brian Christopher beat Rick Santel (with Paul Adams) via DQ in 2:33. The pop for Christopher was amplified the second time around. Santel was talking smack. Christopher shut his mouth with a quick burst of offense. Adams jumped up to provide distraction, and Santel jumped Christopher from behind, injuring his shoulder. Christopher fired back, but the shoulder was giving him fits, and Santel hit a back suplex. Nature’s Greatest Elbow hit nothing but canvas. After laying Santel out with a neckbreaker, Christopher went up top and Douglas dumped him for the DQ. A Team doubled up on Santel until Stevens made the save. The point was to get Christopher over more as a babyface and it worked.
(7) Jon Michael Worthington defeated Cody Melton in 4:37. This was the only match the crowd wasn’t up for. Melton came off the ropes and tasted Worthington’s boot bigtime. Worthington made three consecutive covers but no dice, so he beat the hell out of Melton in the corner. Melton escaped from a power slam position and downed Worthington with a back stabber. Melton’s big near fall came off a flying body press. Finish saw Melton attempt to suplex Worthington out of the ring. Not gonna happen. Worthington countered with the Brentwood Breaker (jackhammer).
(8) Chase Stevens pinned Andy Douglas at 13:42 to retain the SAW International Championship inside a steel cage. It wasn’t the best match they’ve had during this incredible run. But it added a final piece to the impressive body of work these men compiled over the last 16 months. Their epic series of matches set the standard by which to judge great matches in SAW. They took SAW from a company that had a rep for not being able to deliver the goods in big matches, to one where it is now the norm. This was an old-fashioned cage match. Nobody was getting in and nobody was escaping. Stevens was all over Douglas at the start, flinging him into the cage. Stevens took a chest bump into the buckles, and Douglas returned the favor with shots into the cage. The third one was a classic face first shot. Stevens bled. Douglas kept the pressure on the blood was really starting to flow. The crowd got behind Stevens, and they let the heat build before Douglas let the air out of them with a high knee for a near fall. Stevens hit a top rope superplex that left both men down. At the count of six, Stevens scrambled for a cover and Douglas kicked out. Douglas begged for mercy. Stevens gave him the one finger salute in stereo. Stevens hit a codebreaker for a near fall. Douglas snapped off a Jake Roberts style DDT for a near fall. Stevens made Douglas miss with a guillotine leg drop. Stevens then missed with a moonsault from the top of the 12 foot cage. Completely insane, but what the hell, the guy had survived a fall from the balcony in one of their previous matches. Douglas covered and Stevens kicked out. Douglas used a Frankensteiner for a near fall, and then hit the Natural Selection. Stevens kicked out of it just before the three count. Douglas went for it again, and Stevens countered, dropping him on his neck with a variation on the Attitude Adjustment.
Douglas embraced Stevens. This was far from an ordinary hug. Douglas was choked up bad. He asked for the mic. What an awful time for the sound system to konk out. They waited and waited and with no working mic forthcoming, Douglas went without, which in a way, made it even more special. Few could hear what Douglas was saying, but the raw gut churning emotion made it unforgettable. Here he was, retiring in the building where he made his name, a building where countless legends had preceded him, after putting over his long time partner. Douglas started weeping and it became difficult to find the words. Only after they left the ring and people were starting to leave, was a working microphone brought out. Douglas said wrestling meant the world to him, and he always gave 100% for the fans. He ran down a list of people he owed thanks to. Douglas started weeping and it became difficult to get the words out. Stevens took the mic and said, “You are my best friend, and I love you very much. Thank you for the seven years you gave me.”
NOTES: SAW returns to the Nashville Fairgrounds Sports Arena on May 8. There will be a television taping in the interim at a location to be announced.
Credit: Larry Goodman @ WrestleView.com