This is a Falls Count Anywhere Match.
I’ve long been a fan of Slash Venom, better known in American circles as Flash Flanagan from his many years in Ohio Valley Wrestling, as well as in the dying days of Smoky Mountain Wrestling. Put simply, Venom is a heck of a worker who can excel in pretty much any style, any era, and against any opponent. It’s always surprised me that even among the hardcore fans Venom remained pretty much an anonymous figure. Sure, some of us recognized him as a fantastic worker, but for the most part Venom flew under the radar for most of his career (and continues to fly under said radar today).
Where Venom didn’t fly under the radar were in the territories that he worked. Just take a look at Puerto Rico for example. For years he was a top guy in International Wrestling Association Puerto Rico, able to get the fans to hate him, and eventually cheer him, every step along the way. The reason for that is simple, Venom brought a very Southern style to a Puerto Rico scene where they happen to love a lot of the classic tropes of Southern wrasslin’. But it was more than that with Venom, he could bring a touch of the modern to his classical ways. That made him a hit both with people looking for story and those looking for in-ring action.
This match is Venom at his very best, taking the Southern brawl and blending it into the Puerto Rican style of brawling with dashes of insane spot madness for good measure. There’s no waiting to get going in this contest. Venom plants himself in the middle of the ring and waits for the arrival of his foe. The line in the sand is drawn right off the bat, and that lets the fans know that they are not in for a wrestling match but an out of control brawl instead. Kendo stick shots, chair shots, and Punches intended to pop a head right off; and all is right with the world.
The man squaring off against Slash Venom in this match is Ricky Banderas. I don’t have quite as loving of a relationship with the future Mil Muertes as I do with Venom. And this is a very, very green Banderas. His offensive repertoire is basically Chops, Punches, and Clotheslines. That’s okay though, because this is a brawl and that means Banderas’ only job is to take it to Venom when he needs to take it to Venom. He does that, and he shows surprisingly adept timing in his comebacks. That’s what Banderas brings to this match, and while not much it is enough to supplement the great performance of Venom.
Speaking of our favorite unknown Southern great, Venom bleeds and displays great athleticism. The early brawling leads to Venom with a bloodied face, and it sets the table, pardon the pun, for Venom to hit a picture perfect Springboard Diving Elbow Drop onto Banderas who is laying prone on a table on the outside. It really is a beautiful spot, but most importantly it is a spot that is earned. Because of the way the match is structured it’s a spot with meaning and purpose. Venom and Banderas established a bloody base so that the big spots would have plenty of impact.
Speaking of spots and impact, I’m not stupid. I know why this match has the reputation it does. The match ends on perhaps the most brutal spot I have ever seen. Banderas and Venom have brawled to about mid balcony level in the arena. After some jockeying Banderas launches Venom off of the balcony and all the way to the floor with a Hip Toss. The target was a table, but Venom sails past the target and sickly bounces off of the hardwood of the arena floor. It is a terrible moment, yet I can’t deny that it is a moment that adds to the match and engages me as a viewer. It’s also the finish to the match, which is very important because there shouldn’t be any comeback after the splat that Venom ended up being. What started as a brawl ends in car crash theater, but the sort that doesn’t feel cheap.
There’s something deeply enthralling about a great Puerto Rican brawl. Add in a talent like Slash Venom, a willing dance partner in Banderas; then pepper in well-earned highspots and cap it all off with a death defying ending. The end product is one hell of an experience watching them there pro graps. This one was great well before the ending, but what an ending it was. This match has something for everyone, and that something is gooey wrestling goodness.