Steve Silver's debut

My name is Steve Silver, and I've been hired by the AWA in an attempt to reach out to the 'smark' community, those fans who think they know SO much more than the AWA brass. I'll be breaking down matches and angles from here on out, both past and present.

In order to understand what the hell I'm talking about, you need to understand the match rating system I use. I use a star system, and it goes like this.

***** = Five stars. Easy match of the year candidate.

****1/2 = Four and a half stars. Almost perfect, but with a few noticeable flaws.

**** = Four stars. A very good match, but with several flaws.

***1/2 = Three and a half stars. An above average match, but not a great one.

*** = Three stars. A good match; TV matches will usually not get more than this thanks to time constraints.

**1/2 = Two and a half stars. Usually a standard match with a few interesting spots.

** = Two stars. It didn't suck.

*1/2 = One and a half stars. The match wasn't good.

* = One star. Match wasn't close to good.

1/2* = Half a star. Match sucked.

DUD = No stars. Match REALLY sucked.

Negative stars = Awesomely-bad territory.

I will use quarter-star ratings from time to time as well, just because not every match fits the above criteria. In order to show you how I plan to do things, I will review A.C. Smith's DVD, "The Tank of the AWA." It's newly-released, and you can find details at . The line-up switched around a bit, and that's why the release was several months late, but hey, when life hands you lemons, suck on 'em and spit the juice at the neighborhood's old lady, I always say. Or something like that.

Anyway, here's the match-by-match review...


A.C. Smith vs. Alan 'Bad Boy' Woods: From July 2002, and this is a really rare find. The Back Yard Brawl was a regional promotion in Virginia and the Carolinas for a few years, and while it wasn't quite 'back woods,' it was FAR from the big time. This match wasn't bad, though, and while Smith was very green, he held up his end of a decent power match that helped put him on the indy radar. Smith won this match at about the eight-minute mark with a torture rack, and it was the first of five BYB World Championship reigns in less than two years. **1/2

A.C. Smith vs. Memory: Bonus points to the AWA production crew, as this is also a tough match to find. The BYB closed up in June of 2004 thanks to turmoil at the top, and Smith moved up to More Power Wrestling, a more well-known independent promotion. This is his debut match in August of that year. Memory was a fine technical wrestler, but got the shaft from bigger promotions thanks to his small stature, and injuries forced his retirement in late-2005. This match was an interesting contrast in styles, but it worked well. These guys had good enough chemistry to be over pretty well when they snagged the tag team titles a few months later. However, MPW went under in January of 2005, and the frustration at wrestling's politics from his experiences in the BYB and MPW kept Smith out of the business for nearly a year. ***

Love it or Leave it Battle Royal: A.C. Smith, Dustin Dread, Chris Kinkade, Postulo Amplus, Shawn Orka, Guinevere Charest, Vincent Smith, Johnny Blaze, Chris Kage, Judge Mental, Mason Storm, Whisper, Shane Solomon, Rawstarr, Nicholas Pride, Blackjack: And we're into the AWA years, as this is his debut match in January of 2006. I don't rate battle royals, but as they go, this wasn't bad. It was the send-off for Whisper and Blackjack, and Smith launching Dustin Dread over the top rope to end the match was a pretty impressive debut. It vaulted him into the No Limits division, and surprisingly enough, that's where we go next.

AWA No Limits Championship: A.C. Smith vs. Quade deSade: This is the match at Hell on Earth 2008 that showed Smith might be a player in the AWA. deSade was well on his way to being one of the best No Limits champs in AWA history, and he showed why here. Smith was still learning how to work the style, and deSade used great psychology in leading him along to a very good match. He works on Smith's leg all match, but Smith gets the crowd into a frenzy by powering out of the Crucifier and winning the title after fifteen minutes. Garbage wrestling can get old, but this match had some good technical wrestling as well, and it's enjoyable to watch. ***1/2

A.C. Smith vs. Orlando Ortega vs. Jeff Christianson: This is from Shock in July of 2006, several months after Smith was used to get Jai Williams over. Before the match, Smith tells a funny story about how he wasn't even booked on the show originally, and was thrown into the match at the last second by Travis Gray. Smith was on the verge of going down to permanent mid-carder status, but him winning this match helped his reputation. The match itself wasn't great, as this was when Ortega and Christianson mailed in efforts left and right, but the crowd ate it up. **

A.C. Smith vs. Andreas Lasiewicz: Another Shock match, this one from November. Smith and Lasiewicz teamed up with mild success for a few months, but Lasiewicz was going downhill fast, and the decision was to turn him semi-heel and put Smith over. Lasiewicz still had the goods on the mat and showed it here in an above-average TV match, but the highlight is at the end, where Smith has Lasiewicz in a torture rack. Lasiewicz tries to reach the ropes, but at the last possible second, Smith walks him back to the center of the ring to cinch the tap-out. Smith was starting to learn some great psychology, and it contributed to a great ending. ***

A.C. Smith vs. Brian Stevens: From Wrestlefest 2006, and complete with Smith's police entrance. Some like it, some hate it, but it's nice that they put it in here. Stevens was coming off minor surgery, and put Smith over the previous week in a tag match. This was a fast-paced, hard-hitting brawl that wasn't a technical masterpiece, but it did get the job done, as it propelled Stevens into a bitter feud with Jai Williams (and his eventual reign as world champion) and vaulted Smith to semi-main event status. Stevens wins with a North Star Driver off the ropes. The match isn't a classic, but this is some sick stuff. ***1/2

AWA United States Championship: A.C. Smith vs. Gabriel vs. Terry James: This was after Nathan Hawthorne-Lee won the World title and decided to vacate the other belt. This was the final match of a two-week tournament in early-2007, and Smith won it by making James tap out. It was a bit of a clusterfuck, but Smith got over, won the strap, and got the rub from NHL after the match with an in-ring celebration. Acceptable wrestling and a great crowd reaction as we end the disc. **3/4


AWA United States Championship: A.C. Smith vs. Jai Williams: This is in February, when the Smith-Christianson feud was going on. Naturally, DW is the special referee, much like Smith was when DW dropped the cruiserweight title to Javex Valerius earlier in the night. Anyway, this is standard face-fighting-off-the-odds storytelling, complete with a run-in by a third heel, Logan Alexander. Smith and Williams always had decent chemistry, and here, they showed they could wrestle, not just brawl. ***

Last Man Standing, AWA United States Championship: A.C. Smith vs. Jeff Christianson: This is the famous match from Vortex 2007, and the blowoff to the well-done A.C./DW feud. This one isn't for the faint at heart, as it's very bloody and very gruesome. These two guys beat the bejesus out of each other, and it ends with a sick spot, as Smith powerbombs Christianson over the top rope through a table at ringside. Some may not like this match for the garbage wrestling, but it told a story, and every spot was there for a reason. This is the best match on the set thus far. ****

Smith appears once again to tell the sad but true story of No More Drama 2007. Smith was set to take on Brian Stevens for the AWA World Championship, but Orlando Ortega, in a drugged-up mess, screwed around with the video archiving equipment, and the match is lost forever. Moving on, though...

King of the Kage tournament semifinals: A.C. Smith vs. Logan Alexander: Not a bad substitution by any means. This comes after Smith set a KoTK record by pinning NHL in under ten seconds, and after Logan had already wrestled a ***1/2-match with The Jester earlier on in the night. The contrast of styles is evident, but this was when Smith started concentrating more on technical wrestling, so it's not horribly distracting. Rather than lollygag and save energy for the finals, these two put on a very good 20-minute match, which Logan eventually won. It wasn't the Low/Logan battle in the finals, but it was still tremendously entertaining. Smith had a great run in 2007, and it's starting to show. ***3/4

AWA No Limits Championship: A.C. Smith vs. The Jester: This is the first battle between them, from Classic 2007, and boy is this good. Not to knock Smith, because he brought his A-game to the AWA's biggest stage, but the Jester was able to convincingly wrestle as five different personalities in under 20 minutes, and THAT'S what elevated this match from just a very good No Limits match to a VERY good MATCH. Smith ends with a rare high spot, as he jumps off the top turnbuckle and splashes Jester through a table, ending the match in a double-knockout. This rivaled Low and Logan's Euro Rules match later on in the night for match of the night honors, which really says something. And aside from all that, we got a rematch the next week! ****1/2

AWA No Limits Championship: A.C. Smith vs. The Jester: And it's a rematch we get on this set. This was the Jester's final match in the AWA before being recommitted to the loony bin (or something), and while it was a far cry from Classic, this wasn't bad. It was the main event of this Shock broadcast for a reason, and these two guys had another good, solid match. Smith does eventually win the match and the title, and only loses it thanks to the real-life break the AWA took. One of the better TV matches of the year. ***1/4

We get the finish of Overpower, where Smith defeats Quade deSade in a Finisher's Only match. But what's REALLY cool is that we get the AWESOME heel promo cut by Mark Cross, who really could have been a great heel given the chance. But then the break happened. At any rate, Smith uses this to lead into the next two matches, once again taking the opportunity to bury Ortega, as it was supposed to be OOO turning heel, but his demons reared their heads.

A.C. Smith and Logan Alexander vs. Mark Cross and Jeff Christianson: This is from the Leyendos y Heroes extravaganza the AWA and ELL pulled off together. The crowd heat for this is off the charts, as it is with most Mexican wrestling cards. It's an untraditional match between these four, as it's slow-paced and submission based. The faces eventually win, though, and the fans go home happy. I can see why some people don't really like this match, given the pace and the wrestlers involved having to work it, but I thought it was a nice change of pace and a good technical wrestling match. ***1/2

Four Sides of Hell: A.C. Smith vs. Mark Cross: This is the Wrestlefest 2007 match, and a conclusion to a feud that could have been so much better than it was. This match was destined to be mostly garbage wrestling, and it was. It's hurt by the fact that nobody had much of a chance to believe there was a lot of bad blood between these guys, and the ending, which is a SLEEPER, also leaves a bit to be desired. The match didn't suck, but it wasn't the blowoff either man deserved, either. **1/2

A.C. Smith vs. Brian Williams: And THIS is why the DVD was pushed back. Not a bad call by the folks in production to include this S+B 2008 match. This wasn't so much a feud, just a match put together by Low to give Brian Williams a roadblock. Smith carried the match on the mat, and led someone not known for his mat skills through a bunch of solid sequences. Of course, it's known for the ending, where Smith splashes BW through the freaking ring for the victory. What was a good, *** power match is elevated half a star by a remarkable ending that gave an otherwise-just OK pay-per-view its "HOLY SHIT!" moment. ***1/2

THE VERDICT: The first disc is decent. You get two matches you're not going to see anywhere else, and the matches with deSade and Stevens are good ones. The match quality isn't amazing, but it's good enough. On the other hand, the second disc is FULL of great matches and moments, and would probably be worth buying on its own. This set gets a very strong recommendation from me.
-- Posted by Steve Silver