Cleveland-based Absolute Intense Wrestling (AIW) built a reputation on a couple of things that’ll be backed up at Grado and Dick’s Excellent Adventure in Mentor-on-the-Lake, Oh. One, promoter John Thorne is known for bringing in an array of independent stars and past names from major promotions. Recent shows included everyone from Greatest Royal Rumble entrant Swoggle to WWE Hall of Famer Charles Wright, appearing as both Papa Shango and the Godfather. The promotion also has a colorful cast of regulars, many of whom were trained by fellow homegrown performer Johnny Gargano and his wife Candice LeRae.
This month’s show epitomizes AIW’s mixing of regulars and big-name visitors, with hilarious yet capable performers co-headlining what must be among their dream match-ups.
No Consequences (Chase Oliver, Joshua Bishop & Tre Lamar) vs. Zach Thomas, Ryder Reid, Wes Barkley, and TKD
The probable opening match pits the recent against the brand new. The guys in No Consequences are all Gargano and LeRae trainees who regularly appear on AIW cards. Their opponents go fresh from AIW’s wrestling school to a chance to leapfrog a prior graduating class.
To Infinity and Beyond (Colin Delaney & Cheech) vs. The Production (Danhausen & Eddy Only) vs. The Party Never Stops (Big Twan Tucker & Parker Pierce) vs. The Young Studs (Bobby Beverly & Eric Ryan)
Three more upstart tag teams get a good shot at proving their worth in this four-way battle involving three-time tag team champions To Infinity and Beyond. The former champs include Cheech and Colin Delaney, nearly a decade removed from his run as WWECW’s lovable loser. Delaney isn’t there for laughs, as he’s a capable performer who, at 31, is still a young man with a lot to offer the wrestling business.
The Production (Magnum CK and Frankie Flynn) vs. The Philly & Marino Experience (Marino Tenaglia & Philly Collins)
Both homegrown, character-driven teams get a chance here to set the stage for an evening of light-hearted laughs and hard-hitting wrestling. Plus, it’ll be interesting to see if the Production’s Magnum CK recovered yet from Papa Shango’s voodoo spell–a question that screams Memphis wrestling.
#DukeMoney (Jock Sampson & Mance Warner) vs. Weird World (Alex Kellar & Evan Adams)
Ohio’s Jock Sampson teams with fellow redneck and Southern Psycho Mance Warner to face the winners of last month’s Chandler Biggins Cup, the Weird World. “Quest For Tit” songwriter Alex “Worldwide” Kellar and “Weird Body” Evan Adams need a win here to better position themselves for a shot at the AIW tag team champions, PB Smooth and Swoggle.
Dominic Garrini vs. Spyder Nate Webb
If you’ve heard him on the Between the Sheets podcast, you know that Garrini brings both a judo background and witty banter to his home state’s hottest indie promotion. This time around, he squares off against and learns from a CZW veteran with nearly 20 years experience.
Koharu Hinata vs. Allie Kat
This card’s sleeper brings one of Japan’s best comedy-style women’s wrestlers to the states to square off against equally charming Midwesterner Allie Kat. Allie’s fresh off some high-profile indie matches, including a must-see battle with fellow Indiana grappler Tripp Cassidy, so her AIW debut comes at an opportune time for the promotion. With both being new faces, it’s hard to pick a winner, but it’s easy to assume that these women might just steal the show.
Dick Justice vs. Kikutaro
In lighter fare, the Phil Hickerson of Northeast Ohio, Dick Justice, gets his hands on the former Ebessan. Their mix of styles should make for an interesting match, marked by both comedy spots and Pier-six brawling. On paper, this match just about sums up AIW’s healthy blend of CHIKARA-style comedy and old-school Southern storytelling.
AIW Absolute Championship: Nick Gage (c) vs. Grado
Any match involving Gage probably sounds like an ass-whooping waiting to happen. That’s likely to be the case here. On the flipside, Grado has proved in AIW that he can take a beating and still come away with his hand raised. He proved this in a fantastic match (and dance-off) against Tracy Smothers at AIW No Sleep Til’ Brooklyn back in 2015. Gage likely retains, but don’t dismiss Grado as a worthy contender for the Absolute title.