BANKIE'S HOT TAKE #12 - American X Wrestling "For the People"
Saturday night, I had the privilege to go to the first show of the rebranded American X Wrestling in Hamburg, PA.
Formerly known as Outbreak Wrestling, AXW switched its identity at the end of 2022. For the past six to eight weeks, the promotion had been going under a culture shift, thanks to the addition of Kevin Kelly, current New Japan Pro Wrestling commentator, to the ownership team.
When I heard that it was going to be held at the Historic Hamburg Fieldhouse, I knew I had to get there.
For many, many years, pro wrestling was a beacon inside Hamburg. Beginning in 1963 with the World Wide Wrestling Federation under Vincent J. McMahon, the Fieldhouse hosted a whole plethora of talent throughout multiple decades, including Bruno Sammartino, Superstar Billy Graham, Pedro Morales, Andre the Giant, Curt Hennig, and the list goes on and on. Hell, this was the same venue that “Rowdy” Roddy Piper smashed the coconut into the head of “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka on Piper’s Pit in 1984. That venue has HISTORY written all over it.
An hour and a half drive from Central New Jersey got me to Hamburg just as the day turned into night. I waited outside for 45 minutes to go inside. Once I did, I instantly took it all in and embraced it.
American eXcellence Wrestling is a throwback.
In the days of social media, “For The People” was promoted primarily through local business and flyering throughout town. People of all ages came out to the matches. What caught me was that it was a lot of younger fans’ first ever events. It blew my mind. It also took me back to when I was a child going to my first ever wrestling show.
After walking into the venue, I came across AXW’s mascot UNCLE SLAM. He was dressed up in his red, white, and blue Star Spangled Banner get-up, with a AXW logo shirt on underneath. As a huge geek for mascots in sports and pro wrestling (i.e. Wild Cat Willie in WCW), Uncle Slam made me smile.
About a half hour before the show, AXW made a very special moment for several young individuals. With help from Special Olympics Pennsylvania, over a dozen boys and girls were able to make a special entrance down the aisle with individual introductions, complete with nicknames and entrance theme. I loved every second of it. Those children are the real heroes.
Once 7PM hit, the show began to take shape.
The opening contest of the Golden Era and Tough Guy Inc. was as old school as it got. All four performers told a simple story in between the ropes and it just worked. In the end, “Brutal” Bob Evans bealed “Tough” Tim Hughes off the top rope onto his opponent and picked up the victory. Remembering Tim from his moments from Project: Diverge, it was great to see him shine in a different environment.
After the tag team match set the tone for the night, the rest of the show flowed like water down a stream.
Izzy McCoy really shined in her moment on the show, winning THREE STRAIGHT arm wrestling matches against two fans and the dastardly Kory Cross. Hamburg’s own Ed House teamed with the Intimidator champion Laszlo Arpad to defeat the Art of War to become the Badstreet Tag Team champions! Performers like Cabana Man Dan, Goldy, and Andy Header made impressions on the fans for their performances as well.
But two moments, in particular, stood out.
First, Kekoa, who I remembered YEARS before as a wrestler for the Bodyslam Wrestling Organization, and Leo Sparrow had a solid back-and-forth contest. At one point, Sparrow had the match won. Instead of going for the pin, he went outside the ring and grabbed a COCONUT. As I mentioned before, this was the same venue as the infamous Piper’s Pit segment. Although Sparrow decided against it and fell victim to Kekoa’s superkick and frog splash, I thought it was GENIUS to enhance the legacy of the Hamburg Fieldhouse by doing an homage like that.
Second, the reaction Matt Quay had for his AXW championship 2-out-of-3 falls battle with champion EN Bush was incredible. Quay came within an eyelash of becoming champion, but thanks to the vile “King Road Slayer” Derek Neal causing a disqualification, that opportunity fell just short. I loved every second of this battle. The fan reaction felt organic and passionate, which is all you ask for out of pro wrestling, especially with their anger at the end.
AXW’s ability to provide quality entertainment for the consumer on Saturday was outstanding. The entire staff came together to provide a great fan experience. That’s what pro wrestling is all about. Teamwork and quality.
I talked to a couple of guys prior to leaving the Historic Hamburg Fieldhouse on Saturday night.
J-Rod from the We Love Wrestling Podcast said that Saturday night was “the biggest crowd” he’s seen in the venue in quite some time. Tone, a Hamburg Fieldhouse historian, stated that it was positive seeing his favorite building receive some love from quality pro wrestling.
American X Wrestling had a great first show in its rebranding. February 18, I can’t wait to check out the next event. It will be worth the price of admission. Most importantly, I hope all local residents check it out as well. You won’t be disappointed. It’s “eXcellent”.