I am starting to write this article at 10:30 AM. It’s a Friday, I have the day off from work, and most importantly tonight I am going to the 2nd anniversary show for Freelance Wrestling. You as a reader are probably wondering, “If this is a review, why is he starting this right now when the event has yet to happen?” Well since this is a special show for not only Freelance Wrestling, but for fans, and the Chicago Wrestling scene as a whole, I want to look at on why I believe in this product. I am a huge fan of the product, so much so I had the owner/booker/wrestler Matt Knicks over at /r/indiewrestling on reddit for an AMA a couple months ago. Along with a review of telling you what matches I felt were good or bad, I want to explore why I believe in this is a product to be apart of and why people in Chicago or surrounding areas should be going to this show or travel out to see this show.
Why do I believe in Freelance Wrestling? Is it the talent?
In Chicago for a long time we really only had AAW to really have a place where independent wrestlers can go to grow as performers, and to be groomed to become stars in the landscape of independent wrestling, and as well as getting fan bases along the way. Other promotions in the area can’t really provide that due to visibility in the landscape of independent wrestling. While AAW still provides this for guys (right now they are building Kongo Kong & Matt Fitchett) , in the past year AAW has been focusing becoming a next level company on the level of Evolve, PWG, CZW, & Chikara. AAW has gotten in the booking philosophy of booking big time matches and big time stars. How can I complain? I get to see my favorite wrestler Chris Hero and matches I thought would only happen in Reseda, California every month. I find that to be great and I want to keep seeing that, but at this stage as a independent wrestling fan I want to discover and get behind a younger generation. A generation that as a fan who I want to see start from scratch. A generation that will fill those shoes latter down the road.
Freelance not only provides that but relies on building guys towards the future and providing a place for them to become stars and hopefully get exposure as they have become a feature promotion Smart Mark promotes on their VOD site, and Freelance stream their shows live via hard cam for free on YouTube. Freelance has veteran talent like Ethan Page, Sally Stitches (who may or may not be Heidi Lovelace, I’m pretty sure it is not), former CZW champion Robert Anthony, Arik Cannon, Darin Corbin and Sugar Dunkerton there to help to legitimize the product and help the younger talent. Freelance also gives a platform for Prince Mustafa Ali and Nick Brubaker to perform and to give them a break as they are guys who are underrated and hasn’t had much breaks in their careers despite being around for a bit. The younger talent Freelance builds behind includes the tag team of Beauty & the Beast (Wrestle-1 wrestler Stevie Fierce and Rob Matter), Chris Castro, Craig Mitchell, Kenny Sutra, GPA, Matt Knicks, a young Canadian talent like Kobe Durst, a extraterrestrial talent like Space Monkey, and making someone who on paper due to his size should be just a indie jobber and someone to laugh while a bigger guy is pounding on him in any other setting, a underdog fan favorite and legitimate wrestler in Alex Ohlson. Plus tag teams like the Brothers of Funstruction and the N Words to round out the list.
While I love all the talent I listed (sorry to the guys I missed), there is one special guy who Freelance has been building around and making it a legitimate company, Isaias Velazquez. I like to call him Freelance’s best kept secret. The guy got crowned the first Freelance Champion at the first anniversary show and has had a year long title reign that I find to be one of the best title reigns in wrestling right now. While outside sitting at my desk while writing this perspective, I am a huge fan of the guy. He is great in the ring, he has swagger and charisma that can match anyone else on the indie scene. But when I enter the Bottom Lounge to attend a Freelance show, I turn into someone that despises the existence him. He projects this dickhead aura that makes you want to see his ass kicked. I FUCKING hate this dude with a passion when I am at a Freelance show which when I walk away from the building makes me love and appreciate his work. The guy is a special talent, and Freelance through booking and his own talent has made him a viable guy to build around towards. I want to see this guy everywhere possible, and I hope the more Freelance grows the more I see him booked in other places. These guys and the way they are handled are part of the reason why I believe in the product so much and appreciate them.
Why do I believe in Freelance Wrestling? Is it the live experience?
I would say so in a way. When I went up to the bottom lounge yesterday I met up with Jerome Cusson from Pro Wrestling Ponderings, and two parts of what is known as the Hales Clan and also two fellow Wrestling With Words staff Papa and Dylan Hales who flew from Tennessee for a Chicago tour (as they will also be at AAW next week). While I heard great stories from both of the Hales, I think this is fitting to after the show ended. Papa Hales wanted to make sure I put that they both enjoyed the show, but what put this part into perspective is what Dylan told me. He told me the closest thing that he has been to in terms of Freelance is AWE. While he didn’t tell this to me personally I know Dylan has gone on record via podcasts and Twitter is that AWE is a product you have to go to live. I feel Freelance is in that boat as well. I have experienced Freelance in every way possible, the finished product put out on YouTube/VOD, the live stream that comes from Google Hangouts, and I have experienced it live a couple times. None of the viewing methods I listed come close to the live experience of Freelance Wrestling. It is the punk rock show of wrestling as they market the show as such. Like any punk rock show it looks fun on tape but you don’t know what it feels like til you are there. Freelance crowds knows who they like and who they don’t like as they follow the product, but even on conflicting opinions of who to cheer for we don’t hold it against each other. The chants are infectious to be apart of especially where I was standing as that was the origin of most chants. There is a brother/sisterhood that comes to going to Freelance shows that I don’t really feel at a place like AAW even though I love going to those shows. Freelance Wrestling is a product you have to experience live and while I didn’t get to hear Jerome’s thoughts on the show as I didn’t get to see him afterwords (Which we will likely hear his thoughts on PWP’s newscast) it makes me happy that Dylan and Papa who came from a long way were able to experience this live Freelance show.
Why do I believe in Freelance wrestling? Is it the Wrestling? (aka the Review)
I am not going to be doing star ratings for this review. I am one to usually do star ratings in my reviews but since I was there live I have a bias towards it than if I watched the show on tape. Also I’m not one to remember all the moves and sequences that happens after like an hour as which I’m writing this the day after.
It is Freelance tradition that the show starts with a scramble. The scrambles are usually there to take a look at someone, to introduce a wrestler to the company, and to give something someone to do if they aren’t in a match later in the night. A lot of the times we don’t know who are in the scramble matches going into an ordinary Freelance show. This scramble was different though as it served a different purpose on this show. It was a number 1 contendership to face Isaias in the main event for his championship. These guys are all either over in a face or heel sense. We had fan favorites in Ali, Olson, Shug D, and GPA and not so fan favorites in Craig Mitchell and Nick Brubaker. I am a fan of all six guys so either direction they could have went I would have been happy with. This was a fantastic opener, a great spot fest, and a great way to start the shot hot and heavy. I sadly don’t remember most of the spots but a lot of great action that helped everyone shine and made them creditable guys to win it. We had Olshon doing a lot rana’s, spots, and moves that suits his size really well. At one point GPA was bleeding. Mitchell and Brubaker doing great heel work. Shug showing off the charisma that he has, and Ali doing the smooth maneuvers that he is known to do. Everyone The match ended with Ali doing a beautiful Spanish Fly from the top rope to Ohlson to get the pin. At one point in the match Ali hurt his knee.
After the match Shug took the loss to heart as he has been built the past couple months to take the title off of Isias. He told Ali that he better be the one that takes it off him as Shug is the main guy to rival the stable Isais is a part of B.E.T.A. While Ali left the ring, Shug was given a moment with the fans chanting for him. This was then ruined by a debuting Christian Rose as he attacked him and gave a great promo introducing himself to the Freelance audience and what he aims to do. I am a fan of Christians work in the Central and southern Illinois as well as in North Dakota Promotion Fully Loaded so I am excited to have him a part of this roster now.
This was a grudge match that has been brewing for months as Matt Knicks stabbed Castro in the back and broke up the Four Star Heroes. Since then Matt joined team B.E.T.A as has embraced his heel persona. I really liked this match as it was a different match from the rest of the show as it mainly a brawl from what I remember which at a point led into the crowd. Both wanted to kick each others ass and they did. Once Castro started to gain the upper hand Matt Knicks faked an injury and by surprise pinned Castro for the win. I really like Knicks as a heel as he isn’t trying to be the cool heel everyone else tries to do these days. He brings legitimate heat with him and I thought it was exclent placement on the card for this match.
This was one of the matches I was most looking forward to. Fan favorite Robert Anthony going up against a young standout Canadian talent like Kobe Durst, a returning Mr.450 and a debut of one of the rising names of the independent scene right now due to another high profile place he works at. I mean, could you not be excited for it? This was a match that also delivered that built up hype I had for it. A lot of great spots with all of the guys. We saw the famous Robert Anthony jumping over someone spot but with Mr.450 added to doing that with him. We saw some great crowd brawling. But what was the most that shined was of course to no surprise Jeff Cobb. Seeing him doing his athletic stuff is great but what I loved the most was when he was just wrecking everyone in sight. Seeing him live was such a treat. He got really over with the crowd as when he came out he barley got a reaction. Robert Anthony won the match with a rolling death valley driver. At the end Jeff Cobb got one of the loudest please come back chants that I have heard.
I was not really into this match. This is the only down point of the show for me. I enjoy all these performers but it was a comedy match I just wasn’t into. I’m a huge fan of Space Monkey in places like Alpha 1. What they did got over with the crowd. A lot of things revolved around Space Monkeys fascination with bananas. Space Monkey won with his devastating tale whip. This match wasn’t even bad. All performers worked hard to entertained the crowd which mission accomplished and I’m glad Freelance doesn’t take themselves too seriously but it just wasn’t for me.
This was a fun and entertaining match. Masked Character was being the sexual deviant that he is, messing around with Sally and Garret showing he can swing both ways. Sally came out as not having any of that and Garett wasn’t having it either during the match. This was a good mix of comedy and wrestling unlike the match before this which was mainly comedy. I don’t remember most spots in this match but it was a fun and good match.
This was one of the best matches of the night. Two great tag teams that really know their characters well and know what they can and cannot do. They don’t try to do moves that makes it unbelievable as in case of point of Rob Matter being the small guy that he is trying to do a power bomb to no success of lifting the other guy up. A lot of great tag team action from both teams. Beauty and the beast are great heels, as the N Words are great babyfaces. One of the main gimmicks of the N Words are eating Swiss miss powder to power them up in a Popeye like fashion then spitting it out to blind to opponent but it seems like Bryce (I think?) forgot the powder and improved by poking Matter in the eyes and blinding him. Then to end the match Stevie Brought out his mirror and smashed it on one of the N Words heads had a blind Matter pin him. Beauty and the Beast are one of my favorite tag teams going today and are doing a great gimmick that set them apart from the cool moves tag teams we are so used to on the scene and they are great.
Boy, big match feel that is a rematch from one of the early match of the year contenders from January. Of course everyone from BETA was out there with Isaias as they are there for every title defense to help him. This got broken up fast a a group of BETA’s enemies took out all of beta to even the playing field. This was a fantastic match that set me on a wrestling high like none other. This was special match that I was glad to be there live for. I’m giddy just thinking about how great this match was. I don’t remember a lot of moves what happened but Ali had most of the crowd behind him. Ali getting soccer like chants at him most of the match. Ali sold his injured leg from the first match which I was glad he did. A big spot I do remember was Isaias setting up a row of chairs and throwing Ali on top. This was one of the first of many great near falls that had the crowd to the edge of their seats. Isias was doing his piledriver finisher that got kicked out, Ali had had to do two 450s to keep Isias down. As celebration of Ali being the one to trump Isais’s 364 day title reign (from what I heard he was a minute short from the 365 before the clock turned to 12 PM), he cut a promo on how Freelance made him fall back in love with wrestling and how he feels at home there.
Show top to bottom was great. That main event set the show over the moon for me and is a legitimate MOTYC. The wrestling is just another ingredient of why I believe in the product of Freelance Wrestling.
So WHY do I believe in Freelance Wrestling?
With the the talent, the live experience, and the wrestling I think I came up with the main reason why I believe in this product. In Ali’s post match promo while all the fans surrounding the ring (including myself) he thanked the fans and how the wrestlers really believe in this place as much as us the fans do. Ali made it feel like we are all family. THIS is the reason why I believe in this product so much. From the wrestlers, to commentators like Maxwell, to the other fans in attendance, we are a family at Freelance. The wrestling is great, but we also have great wrestling in Chicago at AAW. The main draw is that when I go to Freelance I am accepted into this family. Freelance markets itself as punk rock wrestling, and they do great at capturing one of the best parts of the punk rock community which is the brother/sisterhood that the crowd brings as I alluded to in the live experience aspect of the company. Thank you Freelance for letting me and the other fans including outsiders like Dylan and Papa Hales into your family. More of this needs to be in independent wrestling, thank you for providing us of this. Congrats on two years of existence and here is to many more!