CZW Best of the Best V Wrestling Review.

“I can feel it in the air tonight.”

Taking place May 14, 2005 in Philadelphia, PA at whatever the ECW Arena was called that week and I was there live!

That’s right. The girl I was dating at the time asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday. She said is there any wrestling happening on your birthday? I’m sure she thought we would drive from upstate NY to Albany for Raw or something like that. I mention that Combat Zone Wrestling is running at the legendary ECW Arena and she agreed! Bought two tickets. Drove there and back. Stayed in a hotel with me. (That part was a gift from my dad.) We were excited. We left NY early. We had a good drive. For the rest of my life I will remember when U2 played in Philly. Because it was the same night and we got stuck in traffic. Causing us to be late to the show. Also, as much as this ex girlfriend was familiar with “the City” (San Francisco for her… long story) she did not feel comfortable leaving her old hatchback two door car outside in the area surrounding the Arena. She also got really upset about the show too.

I’ve been waiting 15 years to see what I missed, to remember what I did see, and to see camera angles and words that I didn’t pick up on while watching live. This show is on IWTV and you can watch along with me.

On IWTV this event runs five hours. The first 30 minutes is a lot of recap. Once we’re live CZW owner John Zandig is in the ring cutting a promo and showing off all of the wrestlers who will be in tonight’s tournament.

Oh, indie wrestler rules apply, as always. I’m reviewing in ring action and my thoughts on the performance. No part of this equals endorsement for any person. I have not researched what every member of this card has done in the last 15 years, so if someone is “cancelled” all I’m doing here is enjoying a match.

Chris Bosh vs Super Dragon.

Bosh dives on Dragon during his entrance and misses. Sometimes its all or nothing for the independent scene. Impressive satellite head scissors. Bosh catches a kick and switches it into a half crab. Well done. This match is way more hard hitting than I would expect from a first round tournament match. Save some energy! Tiger Driver off the top and Dragon wins.

Excalibur vs El Generico.

The voice of AEW vs Sami Zayn! The Spider German Suplex was a hell of a move. This match is slower paced than the previous, but really good. A Yakuza kick, a suplex, and a brain buster. Once Generico picked up the pace he also picked up the victory.

Two matches in and already seeing different styles. This is why I picked this show. It wasn’t to see something “ultra violent” it was to see everything that wrestling can be from hungry passionate independent talent.

Chris Hero vs Brandon Thomaselli.

This is when my ex and I finally arrive. Longtime readers can actually see us show up on camera. We arrived late thanks to traffic. She’s freaking out over the area and parking. We went up to the window and had our tickets at will call or whatever. We looked around for our seats and I start pointing things out like hard camera, the entrance, and most importantly for her – the bathroom. To say something nice about an ex, she said one of the funniest things. That was the shortest line for a women’s room that she’s ever experienced. I mean, yeah, it’s wrestling.

Hero is so good. One of the most under rated talents in the last decade, almost two. His cravate use alone. The announcers point out this is a slower pace since match one. It should be! Its a tournament! Hero side kick is an amazing name for a move. This is also the moment I realize Bryce Remsburg is one of tonight’s referees. Hero wins the match with exactly the amount of sweat and effort that a first round match should be.

Kevin Steen vs Kenny the Bastard.

Who is this baby named Steen?! Wow. This is the most shocking example of how much someone can change in 15 years. Steen is already so good here. “Mr Wrestling” indeed. It might sound silly, but I think people knew this guy’s a future star. He hits a Steenalizer for the pin and its just disgusting. Wow. This is the magic of pro wrestling because I have no idea how this is done safely.

Arik Cannon vs Mike Quackenbush.

This is a great story of Arik the rookie vs the more experienced Quack. I start to wonder if this night had more influence on me than I remembered. Quack is really good throughout the evening, and I know what 2020 taught us, but he’s good here. I wanted to see more. I sought out Chikara. I enjoyed it immensely and looked for more – YouTube shows, extras on Twitter, on the email list. And I think following talent on Twitter led me to discovering someone’s podcast (hey Joe!) about comics which then ripples out to more people I interact with, post inspiration, influences, and more. Even though my company for this evening is long gone I think I was meant to be at this show for the butterfly effect it had on my life.

There’s a Palm Strike that’s executed and sold so well it instantly makes the move. Quackendriver #2 for the pin and I’ll be seeing more of him this evening.

Claudio Castignolli vs. Derek Frazier.

Claudio with hair! I wonder what was his favorite cafe in the area. Why is Claudio wearing gear with Chris Hero’s “CH” all over it? There’s definitely a bigger story that I’m not familiar with. Claudio pulls out the cravate too! Cravate out of no where! I’m loving this spot. Standing on a chair for leverage while executing a bear hug is an interesting twist. I’d like to see someone play with that concept some more. Might create a new updated twist on the old finisher. “One of his trainers, the Honky Tonk Man.” There’s no way that’s right. Right? Claudio gets stuck in a submission but power bombs his way out for the pin.

“End of Disc 1.”

Sabian vs. B-Boy.

Eddie Kingston is on commentary! It is shocking how much talent is on this show and on the Chikara show I reviewed earlier this week. Sabian is pissing off the crowd so well. His attitude is off the charts. Riot level. Eddie’s call adds so much to the match. I don’t want to think of him retiring, but whenever he does can someone lock him down to a long term announcing contract? I can’t even explain how the match ends. Like a small package pile driver? A stuff pile driver? B-Boy advances.

Ebessan vs. “Spyder” Nate Webb.

Nate Webb is here too? I remembered a lot about this show, but damn sure not everything. Nate with hair! I had more hair back then too. And the Teenage Dirtbag entrance was there 15 years ago. Damn, this just makes me happy. Kids following him around. This is a great comedy match. Nipple twists like ringing the arm. That’s a great spot that should be done more. “Webb just puts on submission holds and doesn’t know if he’s doing it right.” I don’t care if he is, this is entertaining as hell. Webb keeps putting on crazy moves. Shining Wizard and Ebessan gets the pin. While Nate is done for the evening, they all dance to Teenage Dirtbag post match. You gotta love how wrestling can be everything and anything it wants to be, even on the same show.

Super Dragon vs. El Generico.

This is a fight! Chair shot! Dragon with a surfboard then flips Generico onto his head. Japanese cradle with bridge. Dragon holds Generico and kicks him in the face. I love the Yakuza kick. Dragon with a clothesline that’s bordering a lariat. This is good. Brainbuster off the top turnbuckle and somehow Dragon kicks out. Psycho driver and Generico kicks out. The crowd is super into this match. Lariat and Psycho Driver 2 and Dragon wins. Dragon lifts Generico’s prone hands up to clap.

This match was so good but also when my ex starts freaking out. She did not like moves that looked like a lot of impact on the necks. She was absolutely sure someone was going to be paralyzed by the end of the evening.

Kevin Steen vs Chris Hero.

Steen comes out and Hero attacks him on the ramp. Hero wrestles like a best of tribute to his favorite wrestlers. It’s awesome. Spring board drop kick by Steen. So many moves that were rare and original 15 years ago. I wish I could see it through those more innocent eyes once more. Cravate! Steen hits a great moonsault. Sunset flip, Steen gets the pin and Hero freaks out over his loss.

Claudio Castignolli vs Mike Quackenbush.

Who the hell brought cookies? There are cookies being handed out. Claudio sets a chair up across Quack’s throat, then sits on it. He hits an elbow drop off from his seated position. The aforementioned Palm Strike sends Claudio over the top rope to the floor. An arm drag over the guard rail! Claudio shoots Quack up over the guard rail, lands on his feet on the apron, comes off with Tail of the Dragon spinning DDT on the floor. Claudio brings out his uppercuts! Reverse DDT then another attempt but Cluaido fights out. Claudio hits a Ricola bomb. Quack rolls and gets Claudio in a modified school boy for the pin. This was so good. Why isn’t Cesaro WWE champion?

Ebessan vs B-Boy.

This match tells a great story of two wrestlers who would probably never fight each other in any other circumstance trying to figure each other out. The match gets slow. It’s been a long night already for everyone. B-Boy blocks a Shining Wizard. A second miss? Now he hits it. Shining Wizard for the pin and B-Boy wins.

H8 Club – Nick Gage and Justice Pain (CZW tag team champions) (with Dewey Donovan) vs Tony Klien and DJ Hyde.

Toby directs the fight to outside. Pain jumps in an clips Toby’s knee. Chair shot then Gage and Toby are outside. Pain and Hyde in the ring. Huge fight throughout the crowd. Chairs everywhere. I remember this fight going right past us. The crowd gets so into a fight right in front of them. My ex was losing it being so up close to the action. A little scared, but in that good way. Pain slides across the floor when he’s hit and I can’t imagine that’s fun on the Arena floor. Everyone is back to the ring. Dewey hits Toby with a chair. Mistake. Pain knocks Toby’s head back into the chair. Toby is handcuffed to the ropes. Toby eats a huge chair shot to the head. Gage jumps off top and barely puts Hyde and Pain through the table. Gage pins Hyde on the floor.

As crazy as this match was, I remember it being even crazier in person. Remember kids, there’s nothing like watching wrestling live. Also, Pain’s junk is just out there on display the entire match.

Post match Toby is still cuffed and Dewey goes after him. H8 Club threaten to burn Toby but Dewey can’t get it lit. They push around Dewey for his failure and then leave. They step over Hyde on the way out. I think the story was that the H8 Club is too crazy to team for long. They will eventually implode.

“End of Disc 2.”

Rukus (CZW champion) and Eddie Kingston – BLK OUT (with Robbie Moreno) vs. Sexy Eddy and who….?

It’s Nate Webb!

Eddy’s tights are way too small. I know that’s his gimmick but that’s a lot of junk in the last two matches. Eddie Kingston has a nasty Yakuza kick. Rukus is so gifted with a ton of attitude. BLK OUT is here to hurt people. Gotta respect honest wrestlers like that. Webb takes a hell of a beating. Eddy hits an Asai moonsault and almost lands in the front row. Rukus hits a tilt a whirl back breaker onto the top turnbuckle and I don’t know how physics works anymore. Eddy gets slammed onto the entrance. Rucks backflips down that ramp entrance and splashes onto Eddy. Webb puts a bag over Kingston’s head! Kingston goes after Webb but hits the post, knocking Rukus off of it. Kingston suplexes Eddy but he lands on Rukus. Eddy then pins Rukus.

Rukus and Eddie fight. It’s broken up and calmed down. Then all of BLK OUT beat up Eddie Kingston! Sexy Eddy says he wants a title match after that victory. Rukus swerves the fans and agrees… next month. Eddy brings a girl into the ring for a sexy dance party and I gotta wonder if anyone checked ID?

Finals!

Kevin Steen vs Super Dragon vs Mike Quackenbush vs B-Boy

Quack does so many things I’ve never seen before. Slow build while every pairing gets a moment in the ring together. This is an elimination match and there are some stiff tags in and out of the bout. Four way headlock spot. Quack goes over the top. His momentum is slowed down but he still hits the floor. Steen kicks Quack’s head off. B-Boy locks on an Orange County stretch. Quack rolls with it to a two count then stands up with it still locked on. Steen hits two package pile drivers. Pins Super Dragon.

B-Boy hits a cross piledriver on Steen for the pin.

The double clothesline spot with both men down is a great way to take a breath and reset the match. Crucifix pin attempt, two count. Death valley driver. Two count. B-Boy with two shining wizards, a facelift, and still only a two count. The crowd is completely behind Quack to pull this out. Both men drop, exhausted. Quack bridges up to break the next pin attempt count. QuackenDriver 2 and Quack wins the match and the tournament.

B-Boy hands Quack the trophy. All of the other tournament participants come back out to ringside. Super Dragon wins the fans choice award. Ebessan comes out sans mask.

This was great to watch again too. SO much talent here. I remember being a huge mark for Super Dragon after this. He just seemed so fresh and had an awesome look to him. The rumor I knew was that he was a west coast guy and that’ why he didn’t work for the east coast indies that often. No idea if that was the reason or not.

Following this match was a CZW underground or uncensored or beyond the wire or whatever they called it. CZW at the time wasn’t allowed to do death matches in PA. I believe this was part of the XPW issues but I’m not going to look up all of the details of the Pennsylvania independents jockeying for control of the territory. Point is, a death match played on the screens after the tournament. My ex made it a minute into the match and said she would wait for me in the car. Even on a screen, not live, it was too much for her. I think Necro Butcher was in the match, but it’s not paired with this event on IWTV. This ex of mine was studying criminal justice, loved true crime, read all the gory books, watched all the uncomfortable shows. But a guy getting hit with a light tube was too much for her. And suddenly that parking lot was seen as “safer”.

This was fun to look back on. I’m also thankful that there is such a site as IWTV. Every week on this site I discuss media and creations that are seen as disposable by the majority but have real value and purpose to a smaller group. Wrestling, but especially small independent shows fit that. So many amazing matches are lost to time and without sites like this we would all lose incredible matches worthy of wrestling history.

 

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