By Michael Melchor, Executive Editor
A minor milestone in wrestling happens tomorrow starting at 2:00 p.m. in Worcester, MA.
The site of so many shows and matches from WWE (then the WWF) in the 1980s and beyond now plays host to another big show. Some of the biggest names in independent wrestling – some who may be moving on to WWE or already have – will be competing the fifth annual Americanrana presented by Beyond Wrestling.
Many independent companies have an annual show that defines their calendar year – PWG has the Battle of Los Angeles near Labor Day Weekend, Championship Wrestling from Hollywood has the Red Carpet Rumble and Absolute Intense Wrestling presents Absolution in late June. Beyond Wrestling has staked its claim to late July since 2013 with Americanrana. For a promotion that started out as what Beyond Wrestling Drew Cordeiro calls “what started as a backyard promotion that taped matches,” that’s quite an accomplishment over eight years.
Beyond Wrestling began in 2009 and immediately took a different approach. Beyond spent several years not running live shows at all. Instead, Cordeiro opted to tape matches in dojos and studios in front of an audience. Of other wrestlers. The matches were then released on YouTube for fans to see that way. Fun fact: the former URL for the Beyond Wrestling website was “lookmanofans.com”.
The online matches began gaining traction with fans to the point that Beyond began putting on shows in front of actual paying audiences. The promotion grew two ways: by featuring matches and stars people would not expected to have seen, and by exposing and developing talent in the home region of the promotion in the Northeast. Current and past performers to spend considerable time in Beyond Wrestling include current “hottest free agent in the sport” Donovan Dijak, former Evolve Tag-Team Champions Chris Dickinson and Jaka, current NXT performers Oney Lorcan and Bobby Fish, andf the current GFW Tag-Team Champions LAX (Ortiz and Santana). Several of those names look to return to Beyond for this year’s iteration of their biggest show.
The first Americanrana, held in 2013, was the apex of the Beyond philosophy insofar as crazy matches and cultivating talent. That show featured matches such as Colt Cabana vs. Jaka, Kevin Steen (now Owens) vs. MASADA, Johnny Gargano vs. JT Dunn, Anthony Stone vs. AR Fox, and in the main event, Eddie Edwards vs. Biff Busick (now Oney Lorcan). Fast forward to tomorrow in Worcester, MA and the same philosophy remains mostly intact, albeit with some surprises thrown in.
The matinee shows starting at 2:00pm feature both philosophies right up front. AR Fox (aka Lucha Underground’s Dante Fox) takes on Brandon Watts and current Evolve standout “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams faces Beyond original Mikey Webb, giving Watts and Webb, respectively) to showcase their skills against two of the biggest names on the independent scene. The craziness happens when former Ring of Honor Television and Tag Team Champion Bobby Fish takes on “Filthy” Tom Lawlor – yes, the UFC Light Heavyweight fighter.
The main Americanrana show starts at 6:00pm tomorrow and ups the ante significantly. Former “son of Finlay” Swoggle takes on current PWG Champion and frequent Beyond Wrestling visitor Chuck Taylor in a Tables, Ladders, & Chairs that should be seen to be believed. The aforementioned former Evolve Tag Team Champions
Catchpoint The Doom Patrol of Chris Dickinson & Jaka face Team P.A.W.G. – LuFisto & Jordynne Grace – in the culmination of a story that has been building to a boiling point in Beyond. Brian Cage (also visiting from Lucha Underground) and Jonathan Gresham square off in what may seem a complete mismatch on the surface but should be an excellent encounter. Donovan Dijak also sees action against another Beyond mainstay, David Starr.
Beyond Wrestling also pays attention to what came before, as another featured matches sees Roppongi Vice tick off one of their commitments and take care of some personal business as they challenge Da Hit Squad – Monsta Mack and Mafia – in a matter of revenge. It was many moons ago that a young Trent Beretta found himself on the receiving end of a vicious trademark of Da Hit Squad, and he brings along Rocky Romero to help avenge that injustice:
The two matches at the top of the card see current GFW Tag Team Champions
LAX (Ortiz and Santana) EYFBO (Mike Draztik & Angel Ortiz) face the Lucha Bros – Lucha Underground originals Penta El Zero M & Rey Fenix – in a match the threatens to steal the show in much the same manner that EYFBO did during their original Beyond tenure. And in the main event, the man who currently defines unpredictable, Joey Janela, looks to break the Beyond Wrestling streak of the breakout star of 2016 (and possibly 2017, given the year he’s having), Matthew Riddle.
Americanrana 2017 promises to be a show full of surprises, lunacy, and action with today’s rising stars and some of the biggest names in professional wrestling. For fans that have followed Beyond Wrestling since the days of taping matches in studios or are just now discovering the promotion’s unique brand of action, the show promises to be both a culmination of storylines and an eye toward the future. Not just of Beyond Wrestling, but the sport as a whole.