Larry Goodman sent this in:
?SAW: The Next Level? was by far, the largest scale event in the history of Showtime All-Star Wrestling. For the key players, it was the culmination of 2 1/2 years of blood, sweat and tears; two years of getting a ridiculously large bang for their limited bucks. It was a triumph, drawing the largest crowd (700) to the Tennessee State Fairgrounds Sports Arena since TNA abandoned the venue 5 years ago, thus establising SAW as the premier independent promotion in the Southeast.
The talk of this event being shot as a pilot for Jerry Jarrett’s attempt to get a national television syndication deal did not become a reality. Not yet, at least. It was taped with Jarrett in attendance, but the footage will be used to produce three episode of SAW TV.
A terrific tables match between former Naturals partners, Chase Stevens and Andy Douglas.was unquestionably the match of the night. Their feud has been building throughout the year and based on last night’s outcome, it ain?t over by a longshot. The main event was changed because Bob Holly, Kid Kash’s scheduled opponent in the SAW Title match, wasn?t there. Al Snow subbed and nobody seemed to mind. There really wasn’t one bad match on the show.
The building had a buzz and a big time feeling. For an indie show, I would compare it to NWA Charlotte’s first event, and the NWA Anarchy show at the Gainesville Mountain Center, except with a larger crowd. The pacing was tons better than the typical TV taping at the SAW Mill. Crowd was electric during the first half. Not so much for the second half, but not bad. The tables match lead into the first intermission. Nothing could follow it, and the second half matches were wisely kept short to keep the crowd fresh for the main event, which was in the ring a little after 10pm.
It should make for great looking TV. The crowd was hot, especially the folks on the hard camera side, which was packed out up into the balcony.
The dreary old place looked pretty damn good. A new set was constructed ? a fake brick similar to what ECW used when they toured the South. New lighting was added for the ring, so they didn?t have keep those horrible house lights on. The northwest corner was walled off to enlarge the ridiculously cramped dressing room.
As is always the case, some things can stand improvement. It seemed to work out OK, but I didn?t care for ref bumps figuring so strongly in both of the big matches. Casey Smith’s ring announcing was a weak point. The value of a great ring announcer was driven home to me at a recent TNA show where I marveled at the job Jeremy Borash did. Smith wasn?t horrible, but he looks uncomfortable and doesn?t exactly have a gift for gab. The TV show, the tapings in Millersville, and the website never got plugged. The possibility of a return date was never mentioned. The weird thing was SAW had a seasoned ring announcer there (former Deep South ring announcer Dan Masters, who handled the ring announcing for the Lawler 35 at the same venue last November), but his duties were limited to the doing post-show interviews.
(1) Wolfie D beat Sean Casey (with Freak Squad) in 7:14. Big pop for Wolfie, who is remembered fondly in these parts. He hit a pescado early. Lead freak Tiana, looking quite stunning and far more poised at ringside, grabbed Wolfie’s leg to set up the heat. Casey used a a slingshot suplex and his middle rope diamond cutter for near falls. Wolfie’s made this fantastic comeback, capped by a killer DDT. Tiana tried to interfere and got spanked by Wolfie. Casey connected with his superkick finisher, and you knew he wasn?t going over when Wolfie got a foot on the ropes. Wolfie won it with a flying elbow drop from a reverse DDT position. A strong opener.
(2) Rick Santel (with Paul Adams) beat Mike Taylor in 9:40 after interference by ?Problem Solver? David Young. Another good match. I?m always struck by how smooth Taylor is, and Santel hung right with him. Santel was attired in a very swank ?Nature’s Greatest Miracle? ring robe. Santel knocked Taylor out of the ring with an elbow to take over. When Santel later tried for a repeat, Taylor’s tenacity got the better of him. Santel took a back bodydrop into the heavens. They traded near falls. Referee distraction by Adams allowed Young’s interference to go undetected, and it was the Santel Slam for the 1-2-3.
(3) ?Teen Excitement? Drew Haskins (with Derrick King Enterprises) beat Hammerjack via count out at 5:55. Hammerjack got the loudest babyface intro pop of the night. Hammer decked King but Haskins used the opening to gain a short lived advantage. After Haskins did a crash ?n burn flying body press, Hammer had him set up for his finisher, when a small child (Hammer’s daughter) wandered down the ramp holding Marc Anthony’s army helmet. It came out of nowhere and the visual carried an emotional wallop. Hammer was counted out as he carried his daughter to safety. Hammer was then jumped and destroyed by ?Maniac? Marc Anthony. He finished the job with a Bombs Away knee drop and was holding four refs, Commissioner Freddie Morton and Hot Rod Biggs at bay before exiting out the back door. Great angle.
(4) Andy Douglas (with Paul Adams) beat Chase Stevens in a table match (21:13). Clearly, this was the match people came to see. It was one of the best tables matches I?ve ever seen live, because there wasn?t a lot of extraneous BS. The focus was on putting the other guy through the table. After the obligatory stalling by Douglas, Stevens set a table up at ringside, but it was his? head that got slammed it. Douglas then suplexed Stevens on the floor. A second table was brought into the ring. Douglas went into it head first, and the impact sounded like an explosion. They did this great chase sequence where Stevens almost got his hand on Adams. Stevens tried to whip Douglas into a table propped up in the corner, but Douglas did a baseball slide out of the ring and headed up the ramp. Stevens cut off his exit. Back inside, Stevens took a shot into the table and came up bleeding from the forehead. Stevens took an awesome face first bump to the mat here. Douglas rubbed Stevens? blood on his chest. With the crowd behind him bigtime, Stevens made the comeback. Stevens went for a missile dropkick and took out ref Mark Owen. Young interfered. Stevens backdropped Young over the top rope to put him through a table. Douglas hit a Harley Race knee and it was both men down. Stevens reversed a shot into the table with a superkick and it was both men down again. Santel interfered. Douglas inadvertently backdropped Santel over the top rope onto a table. A collision of lariats left both men down yet again. Morton and other refs came out to survey the carnage. Owen was still down in the ring. Santel and Young were down on the floor. Meanwhile, Douglas and Stevens were fighting all over the building. This part of the match felt contrived because it had nothing to do with tables, but it was a necessary evil to set up the spot that Stevens teased in his go home promo ? throwing Douglas off the balcony. They worked there way up to the balcony. Stevens had the advantage until Adams threw powder in face. Douglas got Stevens over the rail, and he took a Nestea plunge off the 12 foot balcony. Total nuts but it was a bullseye with no splinters into his body. Stevens never moved. He was carried out of the building using a table as a stretcher. What a match.
(5) Derrick King Enterprises (Derrick King & JT Stahr with Drew Haskins & Sista O?Feelyah) beat Vordell Walker & LT Falk to retain the SAW Tag Team Titles in 9:57. Walker planted a lingering kiss on O?Feelyah in the early going. It didn?t do much for the match, but I suspect Walker enjoyed the hell out of it. Walker’s explosive offensive attack with King on the receiving end got over great. They did a spot where Falk hit a neckbreaker on Stahr causing him to DDT his own partner. Falk’s bandaged shoulder got posted and DKE worked over the injury. Haskins was getting off on taunting Falk with one of the title belts. Walker made a blind tag and cleaned house and scored big near falls with the STO and a german suplex where Stahr took a full rotation bump. Finish saw Haskins draw Walker’s attention, while DKE hit Blood Money on Falk.
(6) Jon Michael Worthington beat Jesse Emerson in 5:21. A brawl mostly. Nothing wrong with the match but not much for crowd reaction. Only a snippet of this storyline has aired since SAW got back on TV in Nashville. Emerson took brutal punishment – a backdrop to the floor and a powerslam as he came off the top. They teased repeats of the finishes of two of Worthington’s previous cheap wins. Worthington blocked the Alabama Slam. Emerson blocked the Brentwood Breaker. Worthington rolled Emerson up with a fistful of tights, and there was a full moon over Nashville.
(7) Michael Shane beat David Young in 3:20. Shane has short hair now. He didn?t look as bulked up as I remembered him. This was rushed. Young opened up fast. Crowd got behind Shane, who capped off a comeback with a downward spiral. Adams tried to interfere, but Taylor came out to check him. Young was too busy worrying about the boss and got nailed with a superkick.
(8) Rob Roy McCoy beat TJ Harley via submission in 2:10. Great to see McCoy back and this was the right way to reintroduce him, except he should have talked a bit. He did the deal where he locked Harley in the chickenwing and refused to break the hold, despite the protestations of SAW officials.
Head honcho Reno Riggins explained that Holly wasn?t there because he had suffered an injury. ?Everybody knows Reno Riggins is not going to let his hometown down.? Snow came out doing the head gimmick and got a decent enough pop.
(9) Kid Kash beat Al Snow to retain the SAW International Title in 26:13. Crowd hung in there really well for such a long match with no back story. They developed a good story, though, as the psych master, Kash, was getting outpsyched by Snow’s psychotic unpredictability. A nice back and forth exchange built to a lariat by Kash. Snow can still go. He kept cutting off Snow’s comeback, and took it to the ground to slow things down. Kash tried to choke Snow out. That wasn?t happening. Kash brought the moonsault out of mothballs. It missed. Snow wanted to use Head, but Senior Official Mark Herron took it away. Kash caught Snow with a Russian legsweep and tried to kick a field goal with Head, but Snow speared him in the nick of time. Snow pulled the straps down and pounded Kash’s face. Herron got bumped. As usual, it did not look convincing. Snow hit the Northern Lights Bomb for a visual fall. Eventually, a second ref came out to make the count, and Kash kicked out. The second ref got bumped. Kash slapped the mat with a chair, tossed it to Snow, and went down like somebody shot him. Snow smacked the mat with the chair and likewise, went flat on his back. Clever stuff. Herron came around to find both men down and the chair lying in the ring. He asked the crowd who done it? While Herron’s back was turned, Snow gave Kash a shot in the nuts and went back to playing possum. That was funny, Herron called for the restart. Snow charged, Head in hand, and Kash rolled him up using the tights.
NOTES: Along with Jarrett, Corsica Joe, Paul Neighbors, Bully Douglas and Timmy Thompson were up in the VIP balcony?Mike Sircy was manning a camera?NWA Top Rope has secured a new building in Lebanon. It’s a warehouse space that is in the process of being spiffed up. Sircy said he plans to run weekly Saturday night shows there once it’s ready?SAW’s next TV taping is October 30 in Millersville?.Stevens came through the crazy table bump relatively unscathed. It brought to mind the serious injury Rick Michaels received 8 years ago taking a bump from the balcony in almost the identical spot?SAW’s new sponsor, Grumpy’s Bail Bonds, had a big display set up. Owner Leah Hulan was there in all her bodacious glory.