A great pro wrestling show featuring a brutal no rope barbed wire match.
AAW’s The Art of War took place just outside of Chicago a few weeks ago. The show lived up to the name.
Date: Thursday, August 31, 2023
Place: Berwyn Eagles Club (6309 26th St, Berwyn, IL 60402)
Ticket Price: $25-second row seat ( $27.50 after fees)
AAW is a staple of the Chicago independent wrestling scene. I haven’t been to one of their shows in a long time, probably since 2018. AEW has basically most of their former roster now. Five years ago you would see guys at AAW shows like Brodie King, Eddie Kingston, Darby Allin, Swerve Strickland, MJF, AR Fox, Penta, Fenix, Sammy Guevara and several others. I don’t know most of the AAW talent now. I imagine AAW probably had a better crowd due to the AEW All Out weekend taking place and shows happening throughout the Chicago area.
From the looks of it a lot of the current talent in AAW now also works for Impact Wrestling and NWA, which are two companies I don’t really keep up with. Good for them on getting more national exposure though.
This was my first time at the Berwyn Eagles Club. All the other AAW shows I went to at the Logan Square Auditorium in Chicago. I think AAW lost the Logan Square Auditorium or there were some issues there where the company hasn’t used that building lately.
I really wanted to see the no rope barbed wire match between Mance Warner and Robert Anthony live, as I never saw one in person before. I’m a big fan of Mance Warner after discovering him a few years ago in MLW. I think he’s awesome. The main event was basically the reason I bought tickets and also to reconnect with the company. I didn’t know any of the current storylines or why the matches were taking place.
This is only the third barbed wire match in the company’s history, with Tyler Black aka Seth Rollins being the first in November 2006 against Marek Brave. The second match happened in March 2010 between The House of Truth (Christin Able and Josh Raymond) and The Phoenix Twins (Dash Phoenix and Tweek Phoenix).
They also taped three matches for their YouTube show called AAW Alive before The Art of War started.
The doors seemed like they opened pretty late. I got there around 6:25 and there was a long line of people waiting outside the building still. The doors were supposed to open at 6 with the Alive taping at 6:30. By the time I got in and found my seat the first match was starting up at around 6:50. The actual main show was scheduled to start at 7:30 so it seemed rushed.
Three of the advertised matches didn’t happen as planned and were switched with different opponents, which were the tag title match, the Silas Young match and the intergender contest that was supposed to just be a women’s singles match. Silas Young was supposed to face a guy named “Thrillbilly” Silas Mason who was off the show due to a high fever and Russ Jones’ partner had some travel issues. I guess that’s more likely to happen on these indie shows.
This show can be ordered for online streaming at Highspots.
No Rope Barbed Wire Match
Robert Anthony defeated Mance Warner
AAW Heavyweight Championship Match
Davey Vega (with John E Bravo, Hartenbower and Logan) defeated Jake Something (champion)
AAW Women’s Championship Match
Masha Slamovich (champion) defeated Sierra
AAW Tag Team Championship Match
Russ Jones and Levi Everett (champions) defeated Ren Jones and Xavier Walker
Gary Jay defeated “The Last Real Man” Silas Young
“Big Beef” Gnarls Garvin defeated Hartenbower
Joe Alonzo defeated Fuego Del Sol, Gringo Loco and Isaiah Moore
Solomon Tupu defeated Anthony Catena
Conan Lycan and Heather Reckless defeated Jessie V and Taylor Rising
- This was a really fun show. I’m glad I went. It was about four hours long but went by quick.
- This crowd for AAW added a lot to the show. They brought a lot to the matches and the atmosphere of the night by getting into each match, doing lots of chants, yelling at the wrestlers, making funny comments and things like that. The fans seemed to know all the people on the card too so they probably follow AAW more closely.
- The fans chanted “let’s get laid” when Koa Laxamana and Kallies Malia came out during the Alive taping, which is a play on words for Koa’s Hawaiian background. I thought that was funny. They had these light up leis with them when they came out for their entrance that were cool.
- Hunter Holdcraft who was in the three-way match on the Alive pre-show has that amateur thing going on like Kurt Angle or Chad Gable. He seemed pretty young
- I guess his name is Logan but he’s got something to him. He was pretty funny. He wrestled Maggie Lee on the pre-show and is also in Davey Vega’s stable. He has a lot of personality.
- Mance Warner cut a pre-taped promo that they played in the building. He talked about seeing a guy get run over by a train when he was seven years old. He said the guy was like spaghetti in a machine grinder and that’s what he was going to do tonight to Robert Anthony. It was a really good promo, especially with how Mance delivered it.
- Jessie V reminded me of Matt Morgan with his size and look. He seemed really green though.
- During the second match, some fan in the front row yelled at Anthony Catena that he wasn’t showtime and Catena responded that it’s prime time bitch. That was hilarious since the fan completely got Catena’s nickname wrong while trying to taunt him.
- Joe Alonzo’s manager Chuck Smooth came out with him before the match and cut a promo. It reminded me of some ’90s ECW thing where he insulted the crowd, cursed a lot and talks about sexually pleasing women better than anyone else. He did get the crowd worked up though.
- Gringo Loco is super popular. The crowd really went crazy for him.
- Fuego really didn’t get a major reaction considering he’s a more profile name on the card after recently leaving AEW when his contract wasn’t renewed. He ended up losing the four way match too. I was surprised by that.
- Isaiah Moore is impressive and has potential. He did a pretty incredible dive over the turnbuckle to the outside floor where the rest of the three guys were.
- Gringo had Fuego so high up during one move that he almost hit the ceiling from the top rope into a like a sitting powerbomb or whatever.
- I liked Gnarls Garvin a lot. I remember seeing him a while back on MLW shows on YouTube. He had a good, hard hitting match with Hartenbower. The crowd was really into Garvin and kept chanting “Beef” for him.
- I liked the team of Ren Jones and Xavier Walker a lot. They ended up taking most of the tag title match by beating up the substituting Levi Everett. The crowd really antagonized both Jones and Walker and they played off that really well.
- Russ Jones is massive in person. I’m surprised he hasn’t been picked up by one of the bigger companies yet.
- Masha Slamovich is awesome. She has that “it” factor. She has a really cool look too. This was my first time ever seeing her or one of her matches.
- The women’s title match was really good. I want to see the rematch. There were several minutes where both of them went to the other side of the room and were fighting in the crowd. My side of the room couldn’t see what was happening so it did take away some from the match live. Even then it was still a great match.
- Sierra is pretty good and has a lot of potential too.
- I was actually confused because I thought AAW’s rules were, “No countouts. No disqualifications. Just professional wrestling for the wrestling fan” but in both title matches the referee was going to call the match. The women’s title match actually ended by DQ due to “excessive force” when Slamovich hit a second referee. The last few minutes of the match did get a bit convoluted with ref bumps and stuff. Afterwards the whole locker room came out to separate the two, which was done pretty well.
- Jake Something is built like a house. He put on a really good performance against Davey Vega. They had a solid match that the crowd was invested in. I wonder if Something will be focusing more on Impact and that’s why he dropped the belt. Vega has been with AAW a long time but I remember him mostly as a tag team guy. I like the stable they put together for him.
- The crowd loudly chanted “fuck Davey Vega” during his entrance.
- During the match Something almost threw Vega on top of me into the crowd where I was standing. That was cool.
- Mance Warner coming out to “Simple Man” by Lynyrd Skynyrd was pretty cool. They really milked the entrance the length of the song with the crowd getting into it.
- The no rope barbed wire match was brutal. It was a great match. Both guys worked really hard. They beat the hell out of each other. I’m not really familiar with Anthony even though he’s been around a long time but he was intense. It was a pretty long match. I think they went about half an hour. It got really bloody and lots of different weapons were used. During the match it did come across how much they hated each other in the storyline.
- The one thing I thought was kinda weird in the match was how Anthony didn’t even bleed at all, which stood out a bit given how much happened. Mance was completely covered in blood but Anthony had literally nothing on his face, even though he was stabbed in the forehead with some tool and had barbed wire used on him.
- I think they did a Terry Funk spot in the main event where Mance’s head was in a ladder and then Anthony hit the ladder with a chair. The crowd chanted “Terry” afterwards.
- One of the big moves during the main event was Mance wrapping Anthony and himself in barbed wire then doing a backdrop off the apron through a table on the outside of the ring. They both landed with a sick thud and like a gun went off.
- Jon Moxley showing up during the main event was a really cool moment. He literally ran right past where I was sitting from the crowd as the lights were off. It happened so fast. Someone came by me and told us to quickly move and right as I did there went Moxley. The crowd went crazy when he showed up. He got a huge reaction. I had a feeling something would happen on this show considering AEW was in town.
- When Moxley helped Anthony defeat Mance Warner it reunited Team74 or something like that, which is a real deep cut. I guess they are friends in real life. That’s cool they tied in their history like that to this particular match.
- It would would be great for AAW if Moxley faced Mance in their promotion instead of somewhere else.