AIW: Gauntlet for the Gold 7

Cleveland, OH – 3.2.2012

Eric Ryan vs. Ophidian

Ophidian does a headstand in the corner. Ryan dropkicks Ophidian as he comes out of the corner. Ryan armdrags Ophidian twice and huracanrana’s him to the floor. Ryan suicide dives after him. Ophidian and Ryan fight up the ramp and to the back. Kobald returns with both of them in a headlock chain. This match is now a three way dance.

Eric Ryan vs. Ophidian vs. Kobald

Kobald drops a knee and elbow onto Ophidian for two. Kobald gets two again with a springboard splash. Ophidian goes for double knees in the corner. Kobald powerbombs him out of the corner. Kobald spears Ophidian from the ring apron. He tries a slingshot spear but Ryan stomps Kobald as he comes back into the ring. Ryan knee strikes Ophidian in the face. Ophidian grabs a trapezius hold. He kicks Kobald and enzuigiri’s Ryan. Kobald springs off the ropes to dive onto Ryan on the floor. Ophidian comes out with a corkscrew plancha onto Ryan. Kobald whips Ophidian into the guardrail. Kobald chops and slaps Ryan before taking a “bite” out of his clavicle. Kobald hits a modified Rocker Dropper for two. Ryan German suplexes Kobald but Ophidian breaks the pin. Ophidian locks on the Death Grip. Ryan starts to fall but Kobald breaks the hold. He puts Ophidian in the Rings of Saturn. Ryan boots Kobald. He turns a Complete Shot into a Koji Clutch. Ophidian comes off the top with double knees to Ryan for two. Ophidian drives his knees into Kobald for another two count. Ryan gives Ophidian a Michinoku Driver. Kobald picks up Ryan for a suplex and a two count. Ophidian gives Kobald the Duat Driver. Ryan clutches Ophidian in a crucifix pin for two. Ryan avoids a spear, sending Kobald into Ophidian. Kobald picks up Ophidian and spears him into Ryan. Kobald pins them at the sme time for two. Ophidian gives Kobald a lungblower. Ryan gives Ophidian a Package Piledriver for the pin at 9:54 (total). That was fun, non-stop action. I don’t think I have seen Kobald or Ophidian be that interesting in CHIKARA since the 2012 season began. Eric Ryan is one of my favorite AIW guys and it won’t be long until he’s one of the guys on top. **3/4

Tim Donst vs. BJ Whitmer

This is a rematch from last year’s TPI tournament. Donst snapmaes Whitmer and goes for a chinlock. Whitmer floats over into a pin for two. Donst and Whitmer look for control and end up standing off. Donst takes Whitmer down in a double hand clutch. He puts Whitmer into a Parachute Stretch for a couple seconds. Donst busts out a toreador and an armdrag. Donst hits his wrist against the ropes, so Whitmer drives Donst’s wrist into the mat. Whitmer works over the wrist until Donst bails to the floor. Whitmer whips Donst into the ring post. Donst catches Whitmer as he comes back into the ring. His arm is too weak to Irish whip Whitmer. Whitmer goes back to damaging Donst’s arm and wrist. Donst spits in Whitmer’s face. Whitmer stomps him down and chops him up in retaliation. Whitmer whips him shoulder first into the top turnbuckle. Donst suicide dives onto Whitmer. They trade strikes until Donst comes off the apron with a quesadora armdrag! That was pretty great. Donst suplexes Whitmer in from the ring apron. He locks on the CHIKARA Special. Whitmer gets his foot on the ropes. Whitmer suplexes Donst twice for a two count. Donst drops Whitmer face first with the Gator Roll for two. Donst bulldogs him. Whitmer delivers a lariat for two. He gets two with a fisherman’s suplex as well. Donst and Whitmer fight on the top rope. Donst brings Whitmer down with a super Death Valley Driver for two. Whitmer catches Donst with the Complete Shot. He puts Donst in the Peruvian Necktie for the submission at 12:58. This may have been a step above their TPI match, which I also thoroughly enjoyed. These two work really well together and worked a really smart, engaging battle. Heck, if they met in the JLIT I wouldn’t be upset. ***1/4

2012 Gauntlet for the Gold

This match has thirty competitors total. After the first two are introduced, a new wrestler enters every 90 seconds. You eliminate your opponent by throwing them over the top rope and to the floor, just like the Royal Rumble. The last man standing will get a shot at the Absolute Champion at “Absolution VII” in June.

The order of entry is:

1. Jock Samson
2. The Duke
3. AERO!
4. Joey “The Snake” Diamante
5. Rickey Shane Page
6. K. Fernandez
7. Luis Diamante
8. John Thorne
9. Colt Cabana
10. Cliff Compton
11. Eric Ryan
12. Uhaa Nation
13. BJ Whitmer
14. Mat Fitchett
15. Matt Cross
16. Facade
17. Flip Kendrick
18. “The Chad” Williams
19. Louis Lyndon
20. Chest Flexor
21. Josh Prohibition
22. Colin Delaney
23. Gregory Iron
24. Marion Fontaine
25. ACH
26. Bobby Beverly
27. Tim Donst
28. Davey Vega
29. Southside St. Clair
30. Johnny Gargano

Order of Elimination:

1. Jock Samson by The Duke
2. Joey The Snake by John Thorne
3. Luis Diamante by Rickey Shane Page
4. AERO! by Rickey Shane Page & John Thorne
5. K. Fernandez by Rickey Shane Page & John Thorne
6. Rickey Shane Page by John Thorne
7. John Thorne by The Duke
8. Cliff Compton by Uhaa Nation
9. The Duke by Eric Ryan, with an assist from Jock Samson.
10. Colt Cabana by Uhaa Nation, with an assist from Eric Ryan
11. Uhaa Nation by BJ Whitmer
12. Eric Ryan by Facade
13. Facade by Louis Lyndon and Flip Kendrick
14. Mat Fitchett by “The Chad” Williams
15. Gregory Iron by Josh Prohibition
16. Louis Lyndon by Josh Prohibition
17 & 18. Marion Fontaine and Colin Delaney fight to the back after going through middle rope. This counted as both of their eliminations
19. Josh Prohibition by “The Chad” Williams
20. Matt Cross by BJ Whitmer
21. ACH by “The Chad” Williams
22. Chest Flexor by Tim Donst
23. “The Chad” Williams by Tim Donst & BJ Whimter
24. Flip Kendrick by BJ Whitmer
25. Bobby Beverly by Tim Donst & BJ Whitmer
26. Davey Vega by Tim Donst & BJ Whitmer
27. BJ Whitmer by Tim Donst
28. Southside St. Clair by Tim Donst
29. Tim Donst by Johnny Gargano

Winner of the 2012 Gauntlet for the Gold: Johnny Gargano

I thought this did a terrific job of building feuds both in the long and short term. We got to see a continuation the Jock Samson/Duke feuds, John Thorne starting something with Rickey Shane Page, Irish Airborne (who beat up Aeroform after their eliminations for revenge from earlier) setting up something with Kendrick & Lyndon, and of course Johnny Gargano’s big return to AIW and earning a shot at the man who literally stole the title from him at Absolution VI, Shiima Xion. The storytelling in AIW has been on point for over a year now and this match is further proof of it. The match flew by and stayed entertaining for the duration. I very much enjoyed this years gauntlet. ***1/2


You can read my review of the entire show here.

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