Tommy Dreamer's HOH debuted here at the Mid-Hudson last October and the second show was held in Philadelphia in June. It returned home to Poughkeepsie for show #3, and we were there.
On the way in a guy was selling The meet-and-greet/fan fest, for which two and a half hours were set aside before bell time, was set up much the same was as it was at the first show, so I won't go into too much detail here about the logistics of it. Suffice it to say, the opportunity was there to meet everybody involved in the show (besides the surprise appearances), as well as several special guests that were on-hand just for the signings. Sadly, we didn't get to meet the Funker, but we did have the great opportunity to get to talk to and get autographs from two other legends who just came for the signing - one of my all-time favorite bad guys, "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase, and the legendary manager of the Four Horsemen, J.J. Dillon. Ted DiBiase, Jr. was also there with his father and we got a group picture with the two of them (see below).
We also got to talk to Rosita again; despite having suffered another concussion in the intervening months she kind of remembered us from meeting her at the IYFW convention in March, and she was just as awesome. Lisa Marie Varon was also very cool to talk to. Devon seemed to get a kick out of the story of the cardboard Nutcases Tag Team Title belts we made when we were 14. Maryse, local hero Hale Collins and Kevin Steen, who were all also quite cool, rounded out our stops at the fan fest.
The show got underway at 7:30 with FWE's AJ Pan serving as host and ring announcer. The opening match saw Sonjay Dutt take on HOH Wrestling School student Ben Ortiz. Ortiz is a big, heft guy who wore a full body-suit resembling a cross between Bam Bam Bigelow and the suits from Tron
. They did a lot of classic big man-versus-little man stuff with Dutt trying to find a way to take the bigger opponent off his feet, and went back and forth for awhile until Dutt hit the Moonstomp for the pin. Solid match and Ortiz showed promise as an up-and-coming "big man" wrestler with a mix of agility and power.
Next up was up-and-coming third generation competitor Lance Anoai taking on Matt Striker, Our Teacher. Striker antagonized the crowd before the match for chanting "ECW" and said they should be chanting "sports entertainment," then implied that Anoai could end up in WWE but would only play a stereotypical Samoan character once he got there. They finally came to blows and the match was on, with Striker eventually winning with a schoolboy holding the tights. Striker continued to antagonize Anoai after the match by doing a Jimmy Snuka pose, and Anoai finally sent him packing with superkick to send him out of the ring. Good example of an undercard match generating interest by creating an issue between the competitors and telling a self-contained story.
The mixed tag team match was next, with Rosita and Carlito facing Lisa Marie Varon and Stevie Richards. Rosita spotted us in the third row on her way to the ring and gave us a point-and-smile. Lisa and Stevie came out to her first notable WWE theme, "All the Things She Said," which was kind of cool (and sure to be overdubbed on the DVD). Normally I'm not a big fan of mixed tags; the ones usually seen on TV tend to be formulaic and I usually feel like I'd rather just see two separate matches. This one, however, was an absolute blast. Lots of fun stuff and interplay between the various competitors. Rosita played face-in-peril and after a ref bump Lisa and Stevie argued about who would do a moonsault on her; finally the Blue Meanie came out as a surprise appearance and started heading up for the Meaniesault. He had trouble getting up the ropes, though, so Lisa and Stevie tried to give him a boost. This gave Rosita and Carlito ample time to recover and hit Lisa and Stevie with stereo Backstabbers. Carlito then spit the apple at the Meanie, who was still trying to climb the turnbuckle, and Rosita hit her own moonsault on Lisa for the pin. After the match Lisa and Stevie argued and Stevie pushed her down, but they quickly made up and Lisa hit the Widow's Peak on the referee for no particular reason. This would easily fall on my short list of favorite mixed tags ever.
Up next was the Hardcore Hell Rumble, which featured a number of HOH Wrestling School students making their debuts, the HOH trainers, a few visiting wrestlers from Italy, and a few veterans and surprise appearances. Over-the-top eliminations, pinfalls and submissions all counted. Some of the competitors that stood out most were one of the HOH trainees, Joe Caldo, who showed some good speed-based offense, and King Danza, one of the Italian wrestlers, a muscular guy whose gimmick could be described as a '90s throwback "degenerate" heel. Also notable were HOH school executive assistant Brooke Danielle, who started refereeing the match but after some of the wrestlers started bullying her, entered the rumble as a competitor, and another HOH trainee who was, awesomely, known only as Fungus. Seriously, Fungus. John Redbeard and Mint Mike Mitchell, who moonlight in FWE as JP and M3, the ExerGuys; indy veterans Shooter Schultz and Bill Carr, and, as surprise entrants, ECW Originals Spike Dudley, Little Guido and Tony DeVito also made appearances (DeVito, who has served as a road agent for all of the HOH shows, appeared despite a heart condition that effectively ended his in-ring career, though he worked in a safe manner). In the end it came down to HOH trainers (and former tag partners) Hale Collins and Vik Dalishus. Dalishus' manager Larry Dallas and valet Monique interfered against Collins; Collins tried to drag Monique into the ring but only succeeded in pulling her wig off, and Dalishus shoved him out of the ring for the win. After the match Dallas put a crown of thorns on Dalishus' head as he left to the theme from "Jesus Christ Superstar," seemingly signalling a new egomaniacal character.
A singles match followed with Luke "Man of a Thousand Ring Names" Gallows taking on Montel Vontavious Porter. Gallows - who was announced by that name, but was listed in the program as Drew Hankinson and on his entrance video as The Big XLG - was accompanied by Amber O'Neil of Women Superstars Uncensored (among other promotions). Gallows is, I think, quite underrated in terms of working the crowd as a heel. I haven't seen MVP work since he left WWE, but I know he's been spending a lot of time in Japan over the past few years and he definitely seems to have mixed up his style, adding a lot of strikes, suplexes and submissions to his arsenal. This was a solid, hard-hitting affair. Amber distracted the referee to allow Gallows to hit a chair shot to the head for a near-fall. MVP finally hit the Drive-By Kick for the win.
The last match before the intermission was a tag team affair. The face team was presented as a "dream team" with half of the Hardys and half of the Dudley Boyz in Matt Hardy and Devon teaming up; they took on the new threat on the indy scene of Outlaw Inc., Eddie Kingston and Homicide. Hardy and Devon were accompanied by Hardy's wife Reby Sky, while Amber O'Neal came back out to support Outlaw Inc. and even the odds. The match played out as a brawl with Hardy and Devon seeming to have a good time working together; at one point Hardy set up for a Poetry in Motion but Devon, apparently thinking he was too heavy, ran around him rather than springing off his back. They also did the "WHASSUP!" headbutt. After going back and forth a table and ladder came into play, and finally Hardy and Devon hit a double chokeslam or uranage on Homicide through the table for the win. Hardy then got on the mic to thank his wife Reby in the building they first met in.
There was a fifteen-minute intermission at this point. We got to meet Little Guido (who we'd met previously at the IYFW convention in March), the Blue Meanie, and Tommy Dreamer's mom at the merch table. Meanie got a kick out of my "Monsoon/Heenan 2016" campaign shirt and said he loved doing these shows because he can hang out with his friends and perform in the process.
After the break was Kevin Steen vs. Rhino. Steen, who worked as a heel, is absolutely fantastic at working the crowd and this was every bit the hard hitting brawl you'd expect of these two. Eventually a piece of the guard rail found its way into the ring and both men got slammed on it in turn, noticeably denting it in the process. Steen set up a chair between the turnbuckles and Rhino eventually got sent through it headfirst. Rhino came back and hit the Gore but Steen kicked out. Rhino then avoided a package piledriver attempt. Steen also got slammed onto an upright folding chair which got crushed. After a few reversals Rhino finally hit a second Gore for the pin. Personally I was rooting for Steen to win, but that's just my preference; it was still a hell of a match.
And speaking of "hell of a match," we move from a brutal brawl to high-flying action as Alex Reynolds, Tony Nese and Petey Williams fought in a three-way dance. This was a rematch from HOH2, which saw Williams take the win. Nese and Reynolds also fought one-on-one at the first HOH show, with their trainer Mikey Whipwreck as guest referee. There's no way to do such fast-paced action justice in written form; suffice it to say the "this is awesome" chants were well-deserved. As an ECW-style three-way it was an elimination match; the end came when Williams hit an insane Canadian Destroyer *off the top rope* on Reynolds to eliminate him; Nese then immediately came off the top with a 450 on Williams for the victory.
Finally it was main event time. Sean Waltman came out first to his X-Pac theme. He made like he was sent on business by Triple H, saying he would take Terry Funk out because it was best for business. Lance Storm then came out and introduced he and Waltman's backup: a former partner of both of them, Justin Credible (who wrestled earlier in the night for In Your Face Wrestling, then came all the way from Ballston Spa to Poughkeepsie to appear here), and "another smoking-hot Canadian," Angelina Love (she and Velvet Sky had both been on hand for the meet-and-greet earlier). "Man in the Box" hit and Tommy Dreamer came out, then "Desperado" came on and the legend, Terry Funk, came out to a standing ovation. As you might expect, this broke down into a wild brawl in and out of the ring. At one point Funk began fighting Credible outside the ring and went to the back. A trash can and lid and a ladder also came into play. Angelina Love broke a Dreamer pin attempt on Storm, and Dreamer's wife Beulah came out to do a catfight spot with Angelina. Storm broke it up and clotheslined Beulah; eventually Dreamer retaliated by piledriving Angelina. Funk hit Waltman with the ladder (legitimately busting him open) and then hit a DDT for the pin.
Dreamer and Funk stood tall in the ring as Dreamer got the mic and started the show-closing "thank you" speech. As he spoke, out of nowhere Bully Ray hit the ring and attacked both Dreamer and Funk with his steel chain. Bully Ray said that Dreamer was supposed to be his friend but didn't invite him to his show, so he showed up anyway. He said that TNA is coming to the Mid-Hudson on December 30th for "One Night Only: Old School," and challenged Dreamer to a no-holds-barred match. He continued attacking Dreamer and Funk with the chain and "Highway to Hell" hit. Spike Dudley stormed to the ring and went for an Acid Drop on Bully, but he threw him off and started beating him with the chain too. Devon then came out and faked going to fight Bully, but it was a swerve and the reunited Team 3D hit a 3D on Dreamer. "Enter Sandman" then hit and the Sandman made his way in through the crowd. When he got to the ring he hit cane shots on Bully and Devon, but was quickly overwhelmed and got hit with his own cane. Bully said this wasn't House of Hardcore 3, it was House of Hardcore *3D*. After they left, Dreamer, Funk, Sandman and Spike got to their feet and Dreamer said that on December 30th, HOH will "kick the living shit out of TNA." The others then left, leaving Funk to give the farewell address. He wished everyone a safe trip home and said that this was the resurrection of hardcore and "it's going to be here forever and ever, amen!" Not a dry eye was in the house as he left to "Desperado."
Definitely an unexpected, hot end to the show with Bully Ray showing up, and a genius piece of cross-promotion between HOH and TNA. Not 100% sure yet but hopefully we'll be able to come back to the Civic Center for the TNA show on December 30th.
---Maryse. What more can you add?It turns out everybody DOES have a price.We've met a lot of cool people in wrestling since we started doing these shows, but Rosita is definitely one of the coolest.Me and Rosita (Vik Dalishus randomly in the background).Jon and Rosita.With Lisa Marie. She's a real kick too.One of the great fictional tag teams, the Nutcases, meet half of one of the great real ones.Top row: Ted DiBiase autograph; HOH3 program; Maryse autograph. Middle row: Lisa Marie Varon autograph; Kevin Steen autograph; Hale Collins autograph. Bottom row: Devon autograph; J.J. Dillon autograph; Ted DiBiase Jr. autograph.