The John Report: House Of Hardcore 14 in Niagara Falls, ONT Review

This past Saturday I made the two plus hours trek to Niagara Falls (Ontario not New York) for the House of Hardcore wrestling event at the Scotiabank Centre. For those that don’t know, HOH is a brand started by ECW and WWE legend Tommy Dreamer in 2012. Most of the shows have been in the northeast US, but when I found out they were coming to southern Ontario for the second time (they were in Toronto last year) I knew I had to make the trip. The event was held at the Scotiabank Centre, which was pretty close to where all the action is in Niagara Falls. We were able to walk there from our hotel right by the falls.

Fortunately for me, my good friend Mickie James was a part of the show, so my buddy Steve and I were able to get in with her. Did I mention that she’s a former WWE Women’s & Divas Champion as well as a TNA Knockouts Champion? Nine times combined, by the way. Anyway, it was nice to get in there early.

Pre-Show Notes

– Before the doors opened, we were able to have quick talks with several of the performers. It was nice to speak to veterans like Rhyno and Tommy Dreamer briefly. Then I got to see Eric Young and Bobby Roode, who were the main event of the show. Both guys were really happy to be there. While I won’t say if I got a definitive answer about their wrestling future, I’ll just say I’m surprised if they are wrestling in the indies for much longer. Young main evented on NXT last week. Roode has been there. Both are headed that way. Just a matter of time before it’s officially official.

–  We helped Mickie set up her merchandise table. Most of the talent lines up against the back wall with their shirts and photos on the tables while the fans filed into the building. We were beside Moose (most notably from Ring of Honor) as well as former WWE referee Jimmy Korderas, who is also a friend that I just had on the TJRWrestling Podcast last week.

– I talked to RJ City before the show. He’s a rising young star from Richmond Hill, Ontario that Jimmy talked about on our show last week. He impressed me a lot. More on that later.

– It was also good to see Cherry Bomb, who is another talented young Canadian wrestler. She recently signed with TNA Wrestling (using the name Allie there) and her husband Pepper Parks was also signed by TNA – he’ll be called Braxton Sutter for them.

– I didn’t get a lot of photos with talent. I would have felt bad asking them for pics when they’re charging people for them and merchandise items. They have bills to pay, after all. I appreciated being there and I’m happy enough to just shake their hands to say good luck to them as well thank them for coming to the show.

– The crowd was pretty lively. I saw on Twitter that HOH announced 1,300 fans in attendance.

– The meet and greet session lasted from 6-8pm. Mickie’s line was pretty busy. Most of the others were too from what I could tell. The show started right around 8pm.

Here are the match results with my thoughts on them.

Bull James vs. Eddie Kingston

– Bull is the recently released WWE NXT star Bull Dempsey. When I got a chance to talk to him, he didn’t seem upset about being let go by WWE. He said it was all part of the journey. Really nice guy.

– Kingston was the cocky heel while Bull worked as the face. They had an entertaining match that the crowd was into a lot because of the familiarity with Bull mainly. Bull got the clean win.

Winner: Bull James

CJ Mirror, Hacker Scotty & Psycho Mike vs. Adam Brooks, Beta & Ben Ortiz

– I’ll admit that I didn’t know these guys. I watch quite a bit of wrestling, but I don’t get a chance to go to indies that much. Despite the crowd not knowing all of them, it was still a fun match because they were able to mix in some comedy spots with great action. There was a point in the match where everybody was hitting dives outside the ring and even the referee jumped off the ropes onto the guys on the floor. They caught him and put him back in the ring. You don’t see that very often!

Winners: CJ Mirror, Hacker Scotty & Psycho Mike

Colt Cabana vs. Chris Hero

– This was one of the best matches on the show, which is not surprising considering these two came up in the business together…along with a guy named CM Punk. After the match, I asked Colt how many times they’ve probably wrestled eachother. He said it’s probably in the hundreds. I believe it. They’re teaming up for NOAH in Japan these days too. I even asked Colt how CM Punk is doing. He just kinda laughed.

– It was mostly a serious match, but with Cabana he always mixes in comedy well. Since Hero is known for his hard elbow smashes, they played it up in the match a lot by having Cabana avoid the elbows as much as possible. Then when Cabana hit a Dusty elbow of his own, it drew a good reaction.

– They really didn’t work as face vs. heel although Cabana was cheered more. The crowd was rallying behind him when Hero nailed a cradle piledriver and Cabana kicked out. Shortly after that, Cabana did a successful pinning combination where he used his legs to keep Hero down.

– Post match, they shook hands (Cabana usually shakes hands pre-match) and even held hands as they left the ring together. That was funny.

Winner: Colt Cabana

Cody Deaner vs. Nick Aldis (Magnus)

– Deaner’s from Ontario and was cheered as he faced off against a mystery opponent. Aldis wasn’t advertised, but his wife Mickie James was on the show, so people probably figured he was there. I tried to no-sell it when people asked us before the show. He can’t use the Magnus name since he’s out of TNA, so he went by Aldis and worked as the heel.

– I was really impressed by Deaner because when he was in TNA he was more of a comedy figure that was paired with ODB a lot. In this match, he was more of a traditional face that was able to get the crowd to really behind him.

– Aldis showed off his power for much of the match. I was really impressed by some of the things he was able to do in there. He’s a former TNA World Champion that isn’t even 30 years old. He has a very bright future. He was able to get the clean win.

Winner: Nick Aldis (Magnus)

Rhino vs. Moose

– When I saw Rhino before the show I told him how I used to see him in the indies in 1997 with Edge (back then as Sexton Hardcastle) and Christian (Christian Cage back then). It made us feel old, but it shows how durable he’s been. Moose used to play for the St. Louis (now Los Angeles) Rams, which is my favorite NFL team, so we hit it off well. He’s a good guy that is huge.

– This was a lot of fun from the beginning with “Gore” and “Moose” chants from the crowd. The wrestling business doesn’t have to be complicated. Give us short, one syllable words to chant and we’ll chant it relentlessly. Just look at “what” and “yes” chants.

– They built up the match to have an exciting finish where Moose was sent into a chair wedged against the turnbuckle and Rhino hit a Gore. Moose kicked out at two, which drew a great reaction. Then Rhino got the clean win with the Gore. I was a little surprised that Rhino won since Moose is a rising star, but it didn’t matter too much. The match was entertaining, so that’s what we really care about.

Winner: Rhino

They had an intermission for about 20 minutes or so. Some talent were at their tables taking pics with fans and selling merchandise. At shows like this you go from seeing a guy like Rhino having an intense match in the ring to walking in front of you in flip flops so he can take some pics.

Tony Nese vs. RJ City vs. Alex Reynolds

– I was really impressed by RJ City’s promo prior to the match. Best way I can describe it is he did the most obnoxious promo possible and the crowd hated him for it. It was also very funny. It reminded me of Chris Jericho as a heel in WCW around 1997/98 when he would put himself over while adding humor in perfectly. They could have had RJ work as a face since he was from the area, but I’m so glad they didn’t because he really thrived as a heel. Plus, the crowd was strongly against him during the match.

– Nese is a guy that I remembered from TNA earlier in the decade. He’s done well in the indies, but it was my first time seeing him in person. I didn’t know much about Reynolds although have heard of him.

– The match was awesome. It was a fast paced wrestling match between three guys who were great in the air with some cool highspots, but they mixed in the technical wrestling really well also. I really liked the mix of nearfalls along with submissions where all three guys were involved.

– It was an elimination style match, so Nese pinned RJ City first with a 450 Splash and then beat Reynolds with a Michinoku Driver. Give these guys a lot of credit because they may not have been the most well known to the crowd at the start of the match, but by the end they won the people over. That’s pretty cool.

Winner: Tony Nese

Hardcore Mixed Tag Team Match: Tommy Dreamer & Mickie James vs. Pepper Parks & Cherry Bomb

– Cherry Bomb did this really cocky promo before the show saying she was the best female wrestler from Ontario – better than Traci Brooks, Gail Kim and Trish Stratus. The crowd hated her immediately! Then she said the best thing she ever did was get out of Canada and marry an American like Pepper Parks. More heat for that. It was great because she did it this in really annoying voice too. Cherry’s hot and it would be easy for the mostly male crowd to cheer her, but she did an excellent job of pissing people off. True heel heat is the best.

– Mickie wore a black and yellow HOH shirt to match Tommy and they came out to “Man in the Box” by Alice in Chains, so that was cool. The crowd loved the Tommy/Mickie team since they are wrestling legends and there were “Thank You Tommy” chants since he brought the show to Niagara Falls.

– This was a lot of fun because they started as a regular tag match, then the face team of Tommy & Mickie got control of things and started using weapons. At one point Dreamer even used a prosthetic leg as a weapon. They used all kinds of weapons during the match. Mickie nailed Cherry with some hard cookie sheet spots.

– The match made me laugh because of all the low blows not to just to the men, but the women too. It proved that hitting somebody down low will always be funny and even better when a weapon is used. It’s like that “man getting hit by football” bit in The Simpsons. I don’t think I’ve seen that many groin shots in a match before too, so congrats to them for trying to set a record!

– Towards the end of the match, a big guy named TJ Marconi went in the ring to help Pepper and Cherry. He was their bodyguard. He was stopped by Mindi O’Brien, who ran a fitness expo in the same building earlier in the day, so she was there to help Tommy.

– For the finish, Dreamer hit a piledriver on Cherry and Mickie covered for the win. The match was really entertaining. It was physical at times and it made us laugh a lot. When you go to a show like this, you have to mix things up with different kinds of matches. This one delivered for the people wanting a hardcore style match.

Winners: Tommy Dreamer & Mickie James

Bobby Roode vs. Eric Young (with Jimmy Korderas as the referee)

– This was the only match Korderas was the referee for. He received a nice ovation from the crowd.

– It was billed as the All Ontario main event because they are both from this province. Roode still lives in Ontario while Young lives in Nashville now. Both Roode and Young wore their Team Canada gear from their early TNA days.

– Prior to the match beginning, they played O Canada played as we sang along with the recording. Then a few minutes into the match, fans started singing “O Canada” so Young stopped to sit on the ropes while the crowd was singing. I’ve never seen that in a match before!

– Both guys worked as faces, which is cool. I think if you had one of them do a heel promo it may have led to more crowd reactions, but most of the fans knew this might be the last time we see them at an indy together, so I think it was fine to keep it a face vs. face match since people wanted to cheer both of them.

– There was a slow pace to the match. Even though we were 2.5 hours deep into the show by this point, I was okay with it because they wanted to tell a story where they were familiar friends that knew eachother well, so it was going to take a lot to win.

– One of the biggest crowd reactions during the match was when Roode applied a Sharpshooter. It’s Canada. The Sharpshooter will always be over. I think all politicians should do a Sharpshooter and they’ll win their election. That’s a joke, but it would probably work!

– The last couple of minutes were really exciting. Young tried to nail a piledriver, but Roode was able to get out of it. They each scored a couple of really good nearfalls. This was also where Roode did the Sharpshooter. In the end, Roode was able to counter a pin attempt by Young into one of his own and Roode ended up as the winner. I think it was a victory roll.

– I liked the match a lot. Good effort by those guys. Like I said, it was done in a way where it was competitive, but the face vs. face aspect prevented it from really being as intense as it could have been. It was more about who was the better man between these two men that knew each other so well.

Winner: Bobby Roode

– Post match, Roode’s hand was raised as the victor and then they embraced in the ring. What’s next for them? I think we have a good idea. Yes, I almost wrote NXT there. You get my point.

 

Post Show Notes

– Some of the talent came back out to take photos with fans. Dreamer took a lot of pics for free (he didn’t have a table set up like others), which was very nice of him. I didn’t get one because he looked exhausted after promoting the show so much and having a match, but I’m glad I was able to shake his hand so that I could thank him for doing a show here.

– A fan asked Chris Hero to chop him hard in the chest. The guy even took off his shirt. He was a pretty big dude. Hero chopped him really hard two times, which led to some redness in the chest for the fan. It was pretty funny to see that up close.

– The show ran three hours long. I think 2.5 hours is probably a better run time, but I didn’t mind it too much. I could tell some of the crowd was getting tired by the end because it can be a long night especially if you’re there with kids.

 

Final Thoughts

House of Hardcore was the perfect mix of using veteran talent like a Dreamer or Rhyno while also showcasing the younger talent like RJ City and Cherry Bomb. That way you can use the bigger names to work with the ones that the average person in the crowd may not know.

I had a great time at this show. I know people that read my stuff think I’m some wrestling “reporter” that may not have a passion for the business that was there before I started writing about it all the time, but believe me when I say a show like this really helps to ignite that passion.

Thanks to Tommy Dreamer and the entire House of Hardcore team for coming to Niagara Falls. I hope they have more shows in this area in the future. The crowd was hot, the action lived up to the hype and everybody had a great time. Can’t ask for much more than that.

That’s all for me. Go Raptors.

John Canton – [email protected]

Twitter @johnreport

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