NOVA Pro Such Great Heights recap & review: Top of the world

A little bit of a different format here, folks, you can check out the in-depth results of the show here for exact finishes and summaries of the promo segments and whatnot. Here in the recap I’m going to try and take a step back on the blow-by-blow action (not that that’s always easy, especially as we get deeper in the card and I get more caught up in the action) and try to look at little more at the bigger picture.

On with the show!

Breaux Keller vs. “Supercop” Dick Justice vs. Isaiah Frazier vs. Lucas Calhoun (Karate Kumite Invitational Gauntlet Match)

The basic story here was one where Calhoun played it straight as the karate man against his opponents’ pro wrestling, felling them one by one with the one-inch punch, but Frazier lasted longer than Keller, and then the flavor changed when Dick Justice came in. The Supercop began to take him apart, blocking his shots and taking his knee out from under him. An extended test of strength sequence lead them out of the ring and into the front row!

Finger gun vs. one-inch punch, it’s a Mexican stand-off but they shake on it and leave in respect.

A fun diversion to kick the card off. Not a huge amount going on here but it was a fun time, everybody got at least a beat to shine, and Dick Justice is always a welcome surprise on a show. Plus that’s a clever finish to an invitational exhibition match, and hey, the Supercop pulled his gun without a camera man dying, that’s progress.

Fuller House (Josh Fuller & Mike Mars) vs. Sandwich Squad (Aaron Biggs & Mecha Mercenary)

Fuller starts for his team, which is a mistake, given that everyone else in the match is twice his size and as commentary says, he gets an “all you can eat buffet of pain” for his trouble. After an absolutely brutal splash to his back from Biggs, however, he tags Mars in and we have an actual fight on our hands here! …until Josh tags back in and we’re back to the murder.

This time Mike is proactive and saves his bacon but inevitably the Squad pick up the win and collect their reward from the fat man.

Another solid pre-show match, a nice opportunity for two up-and-comers to get to show their stuff against a more-established tag team. Although I’ll tell you, NOVA Pro, I’m very upset about not getting my Santa Claus match. Maybe next year?

AJ Gray vs. Gunner Miller (c) (Anarchy Triple Crown Championship)

Slow start, probing each other’s strenght, Miller heads out to take a drink and it’s a ploy to spit water at Gray and take the advantage! But the theme here is that AJ won’t just sit back and let him, fighting to crack little opportunities open at every turn even as the champ shuts him down. On one such opportunity the action spills to the floor and Gray has his rally derailed when his nose gets busted and Gunner takes full advantage!

Really good match for the length and the spot on the card. Kinda wish Gray had gotten a chance to turn the heat up, but even without the crazy high flying he did an excellent job as the never-say-die challenger against Miller’s indefatigable, nigh-unbeatable champion.

Beau Crockett vs. Sugar Dunkerton

Beau tries to blindside Suge but the power of the dance prevails! Dunkerton carries the dance routine on for a good minute and Crockett takes his leave after being dipped. The match heats up off a dive and gets real serious real fast as Beau starts throwing hands! Sugar manages to get back into it after a minute and we get a classical back-and-forth grudge match until Crockett sees a shortcut he can take.

Beau Crockett is a human being who looks like he’s never happy unless he’s hurting someone and conversely, Suge D is always the happiest man on the planet, even when he’s not. So maybe not the monumental pivot point I predicted in our preview, but this was a lot of fun all the same and a good way to close the pre-show out.

And hey, you can still watch the entire pre-show for free on YouTube, so let’s embed that before we head on into the main show.

Donst starts things off working the safety first schtick, measuring Jacobs and the ropes, but Jimmy wants to get right to the action. It’s a back and forth struggle but eventually with the Zombie Princess in a half-crab, Donst is able to get his measurements and ensure the safety of the ring… and the action immediately heads outside, where it is not very safe.

The match goes through a phase here where Tim’s helmet is central to the action, protecting his head from the post, saving him from a DDT, and hurting Jacobs when he goes to punch it. Jimmy heads into the garbage for a pair of scissors that aren’t safe at all, using them after an obligatory “running with scissors” tease to cut the caution tape and really hurt Donst!

The temperature turns up, Jacobs beating on him with the trash can and Donst thows the high visibility vest off, promising no more safety! Jimmy takes the opening, beating on him, choking him with the tape measure, trading Ace Crushers, going off hot and heavy here! A struggle over underhooks leads to The End at one point, it’s great. Both men run low after that, trading bombs until inevitably the final hammer falls and safety rules the land.

Very good match, well structured going from the comedy early to intensity without ever just flipping the switch, making sure to leave the transition very smooth. Had a really good ebb and flow to it as a result, and when it really got serious it didn’t feel out of place and very much felt like two complete characters interacting and telling a story rather than two dudes just ticking boxes off on a checklist.

Alexander James vs. Fred Yehi

Mat grappling, as you’d expect between these two men, back and forth, James tries to take it to strength testing but Yehi is a step ahead, all stomps and nukes! Alexander makes his move, targeting the arm on the comeback, double stomp and putting the shoulder into the post! Absolutely dissecting the arm here, but Fred manages to find an opening and fight back.

As so often happens the arm proves a lever to change the momentum right back but Yehi keeps his focus and lands a German suplex that leaves both men down and out! Fred on him with strikes, life coming back into the arm, but the Liu Kang bicycle kicks can’t seal the deal! A nuke wipes James out hard but he comes right back to the arm! Even so Yehi digs deep, quick cover and then the Koji Clutch!

But when he gives up on that again Alexander heads right back to the arm and it’s not long before the former FIP World Heavyweight Champion falls before him.

For whatever reason I wasn’t expecting a huge amount out of this beyond “Hey, it’s Fred Yehi, it’s gonna be a good match”, but this was really good. Fred dug deep and kept fighting, Alexander kept finding new and interesting ways to torture the arm, just a really good technical wrestling match start to finish.

Allie Kat vs. Angelus Layne vs. Brittany Blake vs. Jordynne Grace (Elimination Match)

Very quickly Layne becomes targeted by the other three women and things thin out to just her and Blake. Brittany sends Angelus to the floor, Grace comes in to hoss her around! Kat in on Jordynne, the claws are out, jockeying for position and Allie nearly takes it with a senton! Layne comes back in, wipes Kat out with a German suplex and tortures her until Grace comes in with the Tenryu powerbomb!

Pussy Piledriver connects but Jordynne kicks Allie low before she can capitalize! Headed up top with Blake on her back and she hits a splash that eliminates Kat, Blake is quick to grab a sleeper and that’s Grace done for! Angelus and Brittany fight it out, Layne in charge but Blake is able to reverse a suplex into a small package!

Good match, I wasn’t expecting eliminations but they played it well. Brittany Blake in particular came off really clever here as the smallest woman in a match otherwise full of power wrestlers, taking her advantages where she could get them and squeaking the victory out. Good stuff all around.

Dominic Garrini vs. John Kermon (No Rope Match)

Starting hot with punches, post to post and a whip takes the action to the floor! Trading shots on the outside, just wicked chops, back in, running knee and Kermon reverses a piledriver attempt into a triangle, leading Dom to slip outside and powerbomb him into the apron! Garrini targeting the back now, backbreaker into a Japanese stranglehold with a knee to the back!

John creates an opening, whip drama into a guillotine and Dom drops him with a counter brainbuster! Kermon throws kicks and bids Garrini back into it and gets his wish with a short-arm triangle choke! Eschewing the counter powerbomb, John floats over into a sleeper hold and after the escape we move from grappling to striking, chop for chop and knee for knee!

Kermon nearly has Dom out off the knees but he manages to take him down into a Fujiwara armbar! Reversed to a triangle, Garrini posts to his feet and breaks with kicks to the ribs into the short piledriver!

That was everything I hoped it would be. Well, okay, I would have liked a little bit of ring disassembly but I know that’s a big ask for a match that isn’t the main event or headed into intermission. But in any case I was really impressed that they played it more “pro wrestling” than I would have expected. Would have been an easy, safe call to have an awesome mat grappling match between the posts and they did a lot of that to be sure, but they kept the throttle open and included stuff like that apron powerbomb and all that drama around the Irish whips that really made the match pop. Great match.

Logan Easton LaRoux (c) vs. Sage Philips (PWI Ultra J Championship)

LaRoux running hot from the jump, taking the action right outside but a missed chop into the post gives Philips an avenue! Back and forth, Sage just wrenching at Logan’s hand for a momentary advantage and Bobby Shields gets involved from the floor! Subprime Mortgage denied with a bite to the hand but the Ace Crusher finds home and gets a nearfall!

The champion really pummelling him here, corner-to-corner, post-to-post, but a trip outside with a suicide dive and back in with a springboard reverse STO turns the tide! A shiranui is blocked but Sage is sticking to his guns, octopus hold applied… and reversed to an Air Raid Crash! Chop for chop, forearm for forearm, kick for kick, neither man willing to give an inch and they end up wiped out off a double lariat!

Philips is tempted by Bobby Shields’ crutch, the referee distracted… but he takes the high road and LaRoux takes the low road with a low blow! Sage kicks out, but alas, it’s not enough and the Ace Crusher finishes things immediately after.

Good match made better by the build and the drama around it. That moment, right before the finish, where Sage knows that he can take a shortcut and probably get away with it but decides to do things right and immediately pays the price? That’s good babyface action right there, and absolutely heartbreaking even though I’ve only been following the story at arm’s length, so to speak.

Arik Royal & David Starr vs. Ugly Ducklings (Lance Lude & Rob Killjoy)

Back and forth action early as both teams are content to probe with a bit of light lucha libre type action for the most part, neither team able to keep an advantage going for long until Starr wipes Killjoy out with a dive to set up a wicked Murder-Go-Round! Lude isolated as they punish him, the Ace using his weight to try and cave the Duck’s back in but no matter what they do he won’t stop ticking.

Killjoy all hard strikes and suplexes, and an Asai moonsault on Royal sets it off! Dive city, bodies on the floor, missile dropkick countered into a powerbomb and then a powerbomb lungblower nearly wins the match for Starr and Royal! ARIK ROYAL HIT AN AVALANCHE CRUCIFIX POWERBOMB AND LANCE LUDE IS STILL TICKING WHAT IN THE WORLD. HE JUST POUNCED LUDE TO HELL! APRON DDT CATCHES KILLJOY! SPACE JAM! STARR MAKES HIM LOOK AT IT BUT IT’S NOT OVER YET!

Malfunction at the junction, David and Arik take too long to put it together and the Ducks are able to finish it!

Holy crap what even. Like it went from your standard fun Ugly Ducklings tag to “OH GOD!” with that Asai moonsault. Fantastic match, and Starr and Royal had some instant chemistry going on. It’s a bummer Chet Sterling couldn’t make the show, but I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing them team again in the future.

Faye Jackson vs. Veda Scott (Street Fight)

Faye wastes no time, freight training and mangling her glasses! Choking her on the floor, beating on her against the apron, but when the action heads back in the ring Veda heads back to the floor and gets a cookie sheet for some clobbering! Cookie sheet is countered by a giant Whitman’s sampler and chocolates go flying! It’s a back and forth fight on the floor until Scott takes her to the concession stand… AND USES A KETCHUP PACKET TO TRY AND GET THE COMMISSION TO STOP THE MATCH FOR BLOOD!

They head back in the ring, a chair comes into play as they trade a variety of shots with it, Faye eventually able to put her face first into it and climb atop the unfolded chair for a handspring cannonball! Veda stops her short of a followup and gets a chain. Jackson does her best to fend her off but Scott clocks her with it and sets up a chain-assisted Muta Lock!

Wrapping the chain around her kickpad, she tapes it in place, chain-assisted Shining Wizard… NOT ENOUGH! Veda goes and gets a… milkshake? No, the cup is full of tacks! Jockeying for position over the tacks, Faye’s back comes into play and she can’t get Scott up for a Samoan drop at first but after Veda makes the mistake of climbing the turnbuckles, into the tacks she goes!

At this point it’s all over but the shouting, Jackson follows it with a diving splash and orders the referee to go get her baseball bat so she can choke Veda out and end this.

That was an absolute war. Not the most perfectly executed match of all time, but smart, visceral, and really well put together. Still can’t get over the ketchup spot. Trying for a commission stoppage, my god. Something to be proud of for sure.

Jonathan Gresham (c) vs. Sonjay Dutt (Powerbomb.tv Independent Wrestling Championship)

Feeling out gives way to Gresham dissecting Dutt’s arm, and Sonjay turns the heat up to escape using his veteran wiles. And so it goes, Jonathan staying one step ahead, widening the gap when they end up on the floor, Stokely Hathaway even joining in while Gresham keeps the referee busy. Finally Dutt starts to rally with a jawbreaker… and Jonathan is able to lever the arm and take it right back.

The crowd behind him, Sonjay firing up but a whip with the bad arm turns out to be a terrible idea. Thinking on his feet, Dutt shifts to his feet and nails him with a dropkick! Jockeying for position, a crotch chop in Hathaway’s direction sets up a missile dropkick. Tornado DDT attempt, Dutt finally has the momentum to shrug off an uppercut to the arm and keep going!

Gresham gets a wicked German suplex off, can’t end it but Sonjay is down and out in a bad way. Able to rise slowly, desperate punches but the Octopus goes right back to the arm. Dutt doing his damnedest to avoid further damage, incredible fast and furious back and forth action… and his leg goes out from under him. Jonathan immediately capitalizes and ends it with the figure four.

So obviously Sonjay being hurt is a bummer there but I really like the way the finish played into the structure of the match and how it fits into Gresham’s highly opportunistic title reign. Sonjay spends the whole match getting his arm worked over, gradually builds up enough of a tolerance to fight through the pain and take his shot, we go into that AMAZING ducking and diving section… and then his leg goes out from under him and that’s all she wrote.

A great story, just a shame we seem to have gotten there by legitimate means, and hopefully the injury isn’t serious.

Overall

That’s a live streaming debut to be proud of, right there. As far as technical aspects go, I had a couple dropouts through the night that required a refresh, but the picture remained clear. I will say the sound quality could stand to be improved but a) that’s true of most indies and b) they did something (turn off the camera / room mics?) during promos that made them clearer than the ring announcer’s audio.

And, clearly aware how many people would be watching for the first time with this show, NOVA had big-league style video packages ready to go before all the matches that had a hefty helping of backstory go along with them. Combined with the usual super-informative commentary from Brad Stutts and Kevin Ford, it made a for a really easy viewing experience.

As far as the quality of the actual show, I’m not going to analyze storyline stuff because I’m just dipping my toe into NOVA here (although man, Royal/Miller’s gonna be a hoot and a half when it happens), but Gresham/Dutt, Jackson/Scott, Royal & Starr vs. Ugly Ducklings, Kermon/Garrini, and Yehi/James were all matches I’d recommend just about anyone seek out and watch, and there wasn’t a bad match on the card at all.

Indeed, taken as a whole, this was a really enjoyable pro wrestling show and I hope it’s not the last time NOVA will be streaming live on Powerbomb.

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