The Anarchist: The Arik Cannon Story

arikcannon

Interview

Arik answers the typical gamut of shoot questions, such as what wrestling he watched growing up, his favorite wrestlers, his first live event, and how Molly Holly’s brother was the one who put it in his ear to train to wrestle. He talks about training with Eddie Sharkey, Brad Rheingans, starting as a referee, and transitioning into wrestling. He’s been “The Anarchist” Arik Cannon since Day 1 and discusses the thought he put into his persona and the name. He talks about the state of wrestling in his home state of Minnesota in his formative days and how Wrestling Society X led to him forming F1RST Wrestling. Later he discusses what comes first, his bookings or running shows, and that answer was very interesting. I also found it interesting to hear his perception on making yourself stand out from other wrestling promotions in your area so fans don’t amalgamate your product with there’s, and where Minnesota stands in the grand scheme of the independent wrestling landscape. Dave Prazak joins to discuss the story of Cannon breaking into IWA Mid-South which involves feedback from Chris Hero and CM Punk on a tape sent to their house. He also talks about breaking into CHIKARA via a Skayde clinic where he met Mike Quackenbush, and then CZW via meeting Nick Mondo, bluntly stating why he doesn’t think the CZW audience ever got behind him. He mentions three times he knows he was knocked out and why concussions worry him. At this time (2008), concussions were a big topic of discussion in the wake of the Benoit tragedy. This leads into his memory of Austin Aries breaking his collarbone in IWA Mid-South, having to drop the IWA-MS championship because of it, and the double turn with Chris Hero at the 2005 TPI tournament. His conditioning and physique comes up because of comments made by CM Punk and Low Ki to which he gives his retort on those incidents, and he tells the story of Joey Mercury being difficult during their Fight Sports Midwest match. He states why he decided to leave IWA Mid-South (he would eventually return for a couple dates in 2017, but it was over ten years between those shows and his last IWA-MS date in 2007.) They transition into his CHIKARA tenure and why his bookings slowed down with CHIKARA and how Wrestling Society X was involved in that choice. He talks about AAW, his one time appearance in Ring of Honor, going to VKF Naniwa and Dragon Gate (Japan), and a fairly extensive discussion of Wrestling Society X and expectations versus reality. He ends the interview by discussing him becoming a wrestling trainer, his prize pupils Darin Corbin and Ryan Cruz, what he feels his biggest strengths are as a wrestler, and his goals going forward.

This is different from a lot of interviews in that it asks more generalizations of Cannon’s experiences in certain promotions and gets a lot into Cannon’s personal philosophies about the area in which he was raised and how one should carry themselves as a wrestler. Although it is over a decade old at this point, the content is mostly timeless, and was a fun nearly two hour watch. I wouldn’t call it “must watch”, but will say it holds up better than many interviews from this time period.

Matches

Arik Cannon vs. Cody O’Neill
IWA Mid-South “We Are Family” – Clarksville, IN – 7.4.2003

This is Cannon’s IWA Mid-South debut. O’Neill uses armdrags to keep control of Cannon in the early going. Cannon almost turns things around after a forearm strike and corner chop, but O’Neill chops him several times. Cannon goes to the eyes to stop him, but ends up taking a corner lariat and flying headscissors from O’Neill after the fact. Cannon dumps O’Neill right on his head with a Saito suplex and a brainbuster. When O’Neill starts showing some fire, Cannon shuts him down with another lariat and boot to the head. O’Neill is able to weave Cannon into a t-bone exploder suplex. O’Neill misses a double jump moonsault and Cannon blasts him with the Glimmering Warlock to the back of the head for two. They hit each other with rolling elbows. O’Neill is too worn out to pin Cannon after a half-nelson suplex onto Cannon’s head. Cannon kicks out of Shiranui, but gets crucifixed pinned after O’Neill blocks an Air Raid Crash at 9:29. Everything about this match, from the look of the competitors, the building itself, to the style of wrestling itself, felt very 2003. The fans enjoyed seeing them hit each other and there niftier looking offense but they didn’t give the audience too much to sink their teeth into otherwise. I give Cannon at least some credit for showing personality while O’Neill was as bland as can be. This was a decent showcase for what these two can be capable of in front of a new audience. *½

Arik Cannon vs. Delirious
IWA Mid-South “Payback, Pain & Agony” – Highland, IN – 2.13.2004

Delirious surprisingly bests Cannon in the opening chain wrestling exchange. Delirious psyches out Cannon by swirling Cannon’s own arm around to escape from a cravate. Cannon evades Delirious’s corner attack, slams him face first into the top turnbuckle, then takes him down with an armdrag, converting into a top wristlock. Delirious goes from a courting hold, to an armdrag, and then a crucifix pin before taking Cannon to the corner with an armdrag and delivering the Neverending clotheslines. Delirious follows Cannon the floor with a suicide dive. Back in the ring, Delirious holds onto Cannon’s wrist as he lays in a series of forearm strikes. Cannon weaves Delirious around into a half-nelson suplex right onto his head. Cannon tries to shut up the fans telling him he sucks with a nice looking jumping back elbow. Delirious swings Cannon around into a reverse DDT and boot scrapes to the face. Cannon comes back with Total Anarchy but Delirious gets his arm on the ropes to avoid being pinned. A corner clothesline and brainbuster fails to get three as well. Delirious escapes a grounded cravate and gives Cannon a backbreaker. He calls for Shadows Over Hell. Cannon side swipes him in mid-air and gives him two German suplexes. Delirious reverses the third, hitting his own pair of German suplexes. Both men collapse in exhaustion. After recovering, they duck each others offense until Delirious lands an enzuigiri. Cannon escapes Chemical Imbalance II and hits a double underhook suplex for two. Delirious ducks an enzuigiri and hits Chemical Imbalance II for the pin at __. This was more of a showcase for Delirious than Cannon, making it an odd choice for inclusion on this particular collection. Delirious did very little in the way of shenanigans and instead concentrated on showing his proficiency in chain wrestling with Cannon. These two had a match in 2009 that I really enjoyed, and while the tone of this was different, I liked it just as much. ***

Arik Cannon vs. Samoa Joe
IWA Mid-South “Meeting of the Minds” – Highland, IN – 5.8.2004

Joe’s aggression allows him to take the match early on, with several headbutts to Cannon’s upturned arm, forearm scrapes in the corner, and lighting up Cannon with chops. Since Cannon’s chops have no effect, he decides to poke Joe in the eyes. Joe responds by soccer kicking Cannon several times when they get to the canvas. Finally a forearm strikes affects Joe, but it makes him angry, which he portrays with three very hard forearm strikes to the face. After stringing forearm shots and chops together, Cannon brings down Joe by his left arm and does damage to it. Cannon dropkicks Joe’s knee out when Joe comes off the ropes. Cannon rakes Joe’s eyes again, but as Cannon comes off the ropes, Joe wipes out Cannon’s legs with such impact that Cannon falls and nearly lands on the top of his head. The fans love watching Joe assault Cannon right in front of them. Back inside the ring, Cannon grabs the ropes to escape Joe’s STF. Cannon takes out Joe’s legs and hits a Glimmering Warlock out of almost desperation. When that gets a two count, Cannon drops Joe with a Backdrop Driver for another two count. Joe tries the Coquina Clutch. When Cannon grabs the ropes, Joe settles for a half-nelson suplex. Cannon kicks out. Joe lands a flurry of offense, ending with a jumping enzuigiri for the pin at 10:06. If you’re into watching Joe beat the crap out of people, this is a match for you. Cannon brought the fight to Joe and as soon as it looked like he was going to beat him, the fans who just moments earlier were chanting for Joe and high fiving him were losing their minds, which is kind of crazy because this was a time when Joe was ROH Champion and certainly in no danger of losing to Cannon. But, they got the people to believe, and Cannon looked like a credible match for Joe, and for that it was success. ***¼

Arik Cannon vs. Bryan Danielson
IWA Mid-South “Stylin’ in the Summertime” – Highland, IN – 7.31.2004

Danielson tying Cannon up like a pretzel only makes it easier for the fans to get under his skin. When Danielson backs Cannon to the ropes, he breaks away cleanly. Cannon, on the other hand, in the same situation, slaps Danielson in the face. Cannon pokes Danielson in the eyes, but Danielson comes back with a hard back elbow, then repeated slaps and chops in the corner. Danielson focuses his attack on Cannon’s leg arm. Cannon uses the ropes to stop Danielson and take some time on the floor. This allows for Cannon to blast Danielson with a haymaker when Danielson begins to throw shots. When Cannon takes Danielson to the mat, however, Danielson rakes his forearm across his face. Cannon wastes no time taking it to Danielson back on their feet, even choking Danielson against the turnbuckles and then with his shin. Danielson uppercuts and chops Cannon into the audience. Cannon takes back over with his own strikes, but fails to illegally use the ropes when pinning Danielson. He puts Danielson in the Stump Puller, which Danielson escapes via enzuigiri. He puts Cannon in a Dragon Sleeper. Cannon goes back to the eyes to escape, so Danielson rakes Canon himself. Danielson sits down on Cannon’s chest to counter a sunset flip and gives him an Airplane Spin. Danielson lands a diving headbutt but Cannon kicks out of his pin attempt. Cannon ducks a rolling forearm and gives Danielson an exploder suplex for two. Danielson catches Cannon with an upturned boot in the corner and a diving uppercut out of it. Cannon kicks out after taking a superplex. Cannon fights off Cattle Mutilation and hits Total Anarchy for two. Danielson comes back with a rolling forearm. He puts Cannon Cattle Mutilation but Cannon gets his foot on the ropes to escape. Cannon evades an attack on the ropes. He strikes Danielson from behind before hitting a reverse Glimmering Warlock for two. A follow-up Glimmering Warlock gets Cannon the pin at 23:13. I liked the start of this match, with Danielson’s technical proficiency over Cannon winning over the audience and it crawling under Cannon’s skin to the point where he felt it necessary to take a cheap shot. Then the match fell into a pattern of back and forth offense with not much rhyme or reason. Quite frankly there was a lull where I found it hard to keep focus. The fans dug that Cannon won the match, but I don’t think it came off as big of a moment as it could have. **½

Arik Cannon vs. Homicide
IWA Mid-South “An IWA Fairytale: The Hero vs. The Dragon” – Highland, IN – 8.21.2004

B-Boy is in Homicide’s corner. Homicide plays dirty on the mat. Cannon grabs his leg after being fish hooked and Homicide grabs the ropes right away. Homicide gets the better of an armdrag exchange and lands a cannonball suicida following Cannon to the floor. Homicide belly-to-belly suplexes Cannon face first into empty chairs. In the ring Homicide gets two with an Ace Crusher. When Homicide tries it again, Cannon instead suplexes Homicide into the turnbuckles. Cannon targets his offense on Homicide’s neck. Homicide headbutts Cannon in the face to shut him down. Despite this, Cannon is able to fight Homicide off and land a top rope senton and Total Anarchy. Homicide reverses Cannon’s offense with a piledriver. He drives Cannon face first into the middle turnbuckle with a Complete Shot then kicks him to the floor via facewash. However, Cannon blocks a suplex and gives Homicide a Saito suplex for two. Homicide blocks a corner attack. He gives Cannon a butterfly superplex for two. Homicide turns Cannon inside out with a lariat, and Homicide’s own momentum carries him to the floor. The two men block each other offense, ending with Cannon intercepting a lariat from Homicide and rolling him up into a Ranhei pin at 16:07. This was similar to the Samoa Joe match in that Homicide bested Cannon for most of the match, but just by persevering and giving shots as good as he could take him, he won the crowds respect. Unlike the Joe match, Cannon won, and it felt well earned. ***

Arik Cannon vs. Ian Rotten
IWA Mid-South “An IWA Homecoming” – New Albany, IN – 9.16.2004

These two punched and headbutt each other back and forth for awhile in front of very few fans. I hate watching Rotten headbutt people because it reminds me of the story Chris Hero told in his BOTI that Rotten’s skin flakes from his forehead scars transferred onto his own forehead because of Rotten’s headbutts; so gross. Commentary between Dave Prazak and Mickie Knuckles was actually pretty fun, minus the part where Mickie uses “gay” as an insult. Cannon worked over Rotten’s left arm and eventually hit him with Total Anarchy for the win at 12:12. Ian Rotten matches are something I never look forward to, but this could’ve been a whole lot worse. It really was meaningless in the grand scheme of things. This show took place the night before the 2004 TPI, one of the best independent wrestling tournaments ever, but you could sense that everyone was probably playing it safe in anticipation for the two big shows. *

Ted Petty Invitational 2004 Opening Round Match
Arik Cannon vs. Super Dragon

IWA Mid-South “Ted Petty Invitational 2004, Night 1” – Highland, IN – 9.17.2004

Cannon slaps Dragon in the face after an aggressive lock-up takes them to the corner, so Dragon returns the favor and chops Cannon silly. Cannon uses a double leg takedown to stop the onslaught and does some damage to Dragon’s neck. Dragon wins a forearm strike exchange and drills Cannon with a curb stomp twice. Cannon gives his own curb stomp to Dragon. Offended, Dragon gives him a third. After Cannon escapes Dragon’s leg submission, he suplexes a charging Dragon into the turnbuckles and gives him a suplex for two. He wears down the neck in a straight jacket choke and hits Total Anarchy twice. Dragon’s brutal strikes and soccer kicks help him get control. A top rope double stomp only gets a nearfall, but a darn close one. After a neckbreaker, Cannon hits the Glimmering Warlock, sending Dragon to the floor. Two backdrop drivers and another Glimmering Warlock get Cannon the win at 13:45. Even with Cannon being the homer, I was surprised to see him take the win over Dragon. The fans loved seeing Dragon give Cannon the curb stomp but were also happy to see Cannon get the W. It’s been interesting seeing Cannon’s relationship develop with the IWA fans; he may antagonize them, and they give him the jeers he’s looking for, but they respect his abilities and give him applause and praise time and time again because of it. ***

Ted Petty Invitational 2004 Semi-Final Round Match
Arik Cannon vs. AJ Styles

IWA Mid-South “Ted Petty Invitational 2004, Night 2” – Highland, IN – 9.18.2004

Styles gets angry after a strike exchange and sends Cannon face first into all four turnbuckles of the ring. Cannon scurries to the corner where Styles goes for his legs. Styles kicks him in the back several times hoping to bring him out of the corner and into the Styles Clash, but Cannon uses Styles own momentum to send him outside with a Frankensteiner. Cannon catches Styles coming back into the ring with a second rope hanging DDT. After several chops to the neck, Cannon gives Styles a brainbuster for two. An eye poke and Total Anarchy follow. Styles sweeps out Cannon’s legs to block the Glimmering Warlock. The moonsault inverted DDT gets Styles two, as does the Phenomenal Forearm thanks to Cannon putting his foot on the ropes. Cannon ducks a discuss forearm and dumps Styles on his head with an exploder suplex. Styles ducks the Glimmering Warlock and hits the discuss forearm for the pin at 6:04. I like that Cannon used the same method that got him past the first round in this match as well. I can’t fault them for going short, because after a long show with tons of great matches, the fans weren’t nearly as rowdy as fired up as they had been. **½

The Kings of Wrestling (Arik Cannon & Claudio Castagnoli) vs. Mike Quackenbush & Jigsaw
CHIKARA “Speaking in Tongues” – Reading, PA – 4.15.2005

Quackenbush takes Cannon to the mat and legdrops his arm. Quackenbush wrenches his arm back on their feet. Quackenbush breaks free from a wristlock using his head. Jigsaw tags in and methodically trades wristlocks with Cannon (Prazak and Kingston call it “cute”). Jigsaw rolls back to his corner and tags in Quackenbush. Quackenbush sends Cannon to the corner and hits the Kangaroo Blaster. Jigsaw takes Cannon down with a headscissors and leapfrogs over Quackenbush with a legdrop for two. Claudio tags in and immediately is taken over with an armdrag. Quackenbush tags in and goes back and forth with Claudio. Quackenbush gets sent to the apron, but comes back in with a couple armdrag variants and a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Claudio asks for a handshake. He chops Quackenbush, so Quackenbush comes back with a wrist clutch armdrag. Quackenbush rolls Claudio into a figure seven ankle lock. Jigsaw sends Claudio out with a leg lariat and throws Cannon to the floor as well. Jigsaw hits Claudio with a 619 on the floor and knocks Cannon to the floor. Quackenbush dives out of the ring with a somersault senton onto both guys. Claudio blocks a clothesline and drags Jigsaw to his corner. He Giant Swings Jigsaw into a dropkick from Cannon. The Kings isolate Jigsaw in their corner, preventing him from tagging out to Quackenbush. After being bullied by the Kings for a significant time, Jigsaw wheelbarrows into a sunset flip and superkicks Claudio. He tags in Quackenbush who mows down Cannon with a trifecta of clotheslines and gives Cannon windmill chops in the corner. Claudio interrupts and feels the effect of those chops. The Kings avoid a splash in the corner. Quackenbush drops both of them at the same time, one with a DDT and one with an inverted DDT. Quackenbush hits a reverse DDT on Claudio, and Jigsaw comes in with a frog legdrop for two. Cannon sends Jigsaw to the floor and forearms Quackenbush from behind. Claudio fireman’s carry’s Quackenbush into a European uppercut. Cannon hits an exploder suplex for two. Quackenbush and Jigsaw knock Cannon down with Total Elimination. Claudio breaks the pin. Claudio pops Jigsaw onto Cannon’s shoulders. He hits a Doomsday Device with a European uppercut, and Jigsaw kicks out. Claudio accidentally pops Jigsaw into a huracanrana on Cannon. Jigsaw rolls him up for the pin at 20:23. Claudio and Cannon are an unexpectedly great duo, as there styles are complimentary although you wouldn’t necessarily think that before seeing them work together. Even in their formidable tag days, Quackenbush and Jigsaw showed a lot of proficiency. These four always produced fun matches and this was no exception. ***½

Best of the Best V Opening Round Match
Arik Cannon vs. Mike Quackenbush

CZW “Best of the Best V” – Philadelphia, PA – 5.14.2005

Some chain wrestling leads to Quackenbush taking Cannon down in an armdrag. Cannon delivers an armdrag himself, and a second from the second rope. Quackenbush comes in from the apron with a wrist clutch springboard armdrag. Quackenbush sends Cannon to the floor with a huracanrana. Quackenbush follows out with a high crossbody. In the ring, Quackenbush hits a flip senton for two. Cannon drops him with a twisting neckbreaker, then hits a Perfect neck snap. Cannon drops his neck first across his knee for two. Quackenbush uses some Johnny Saint antics to turn Cannon’s headlock into his own modified Rings of Saturn. Cannon shimmies to the ropes to break the hold. Cannon hits the Total Anarchy for two. Cannon throws Quackenbush off the top rope. Quackenbush rolls through and palm strikes Cannon. Quackenbush windmill chops Cannon in the corner. He strings a clothesline and bulldog together before hitting a sliding kick. Quackenbush gets two with a somersault senton from the top rope. Cannon German suplexes him. Quackenbush fires up but gets caught with an exploder suplex right away. He still kicks out at two. Quackenbush ducks the Glimmering Warlock. Cannon delivers a fisherman’s buster for two. Cannon goes for the Glimmering Warlock. Quackenbush instead catches him with the Quackendriver II for the pin at 10:04. These two did what they do best together (Lucha) and separately (Cannon with neck work and throws, Quack with obscure British wrestling holds and chain wrestling.) While the beginning was a bit repetitive, the last couple of minutes were great and made Quackenbush look like a superhero. **¾

Arik Cannon vs. Sabian
CHIKARA “Aniversario Blue” – Reading, PA – 5.20.2005

Cannon and Sabian vie for the advantage on the mat. Cannon targets Sabian’s shoulder which has an IcyHot patch on it. Cannon hits a shoulder block. Sabian double stomps him as Cannon drops down. Sabian takes Cannon down with a pair of armdrags and sends Cannon to the floor with a headscissors. Sabian dives out with a tope con hilo. Sabian gets a two count. He locks Sabian in a straight-jacket choke. Cannon escapes and begs off Sabian. He then nails Sabian with a hard forearm. He chokes Sabian in the corner after a hard strike. Cannon chokes Sabian with his shin. Sabian sunset flips Cannon for two. Cannon knocks him down with a lariat. Cannon hits a brainbuster for two. Cannon winds up for a chop but just pokes Sabian in the eyes. Cannon ducks a rolling forearm and superkicks Sabian. Cannon hits a snap suplex and then applies a full body submission while he digs his elbow into Sabian’s side. Cannon transitions into a headlock. Cannon pulls Sabian’s bandana over his eyes and forearms him in the face. Sabian ducks a clothesline and hits a back cracker while trapping Cannon’s arm over Cannon’s own neck. Sabian hits a superman headbutt and drops Cannon to his knees. He hits a basement dropkick for two. Cannon drops Sabian with Total Anarchy for two. Sabian ducks the Glimmering Warlock and hits the reverse curb stomp. Sabian comes off the top rope with a double stomp for two. Sabian double stomps him again. Cannon gets up and hits a small package driver for two. He follows up with a Saito suplex. He hits the Glimmering Warlock for the pin at 13:37. This was competitive and hard hitting. Cannon makes for a very entertaining bully, and they did a great job making you think the match was either competitors for the taking. ***

IWA Mid-South Light Heavyweight Championship
Josh Abercrombie vs. Arik Cannon

IWA Mid-South “Technically Suicide” – Rensselaer, IN – 8.5.2005

Abercrombie has been champion since 6.17.2005 and this is his eighth defense. Cannon is now using his trademark mohawk. Cannon works over Abercrombie’s arm on the mat. He chokes him with his chin. Abercrombie creatively uses a headscissors from inside the ropes to avoid Total Anarchy and bring Cannon to the floor and follows with a twisting Asai moonsault. Although Abercrombie keeps on the attack as they get in the ring, Cannon swings him into a neckbreaker to turn things around. Abercrombie evades a corner attack and schoolboys Cannon for two. Cannon mows him down with a clothesline to halt any chance of making a comeback. Cannon twists up Abercrombie’s neck and legs as he drives his knee into the face repeatedly. Abercrombie hits a gamengiri out of the corner and gets the small crowd to rally behind him. Abercrombie hits the Taliban Backpack for two. Cannon comes back with Total Anarchy. Abercrombie avoids a brainbuster. Cannon rolls him up for a potential reverse DDT, but Abercrombie flips forward into a flipping square driver for two. Cannon avoids a Phoenix Splash. He hits the Hero’s Welcome and puts on the Hangman’s Clutch, an obvious slight at Hero. Abercrombie taps out, but Cannon refuses to release the hold, and ends up being disqualified at 12:29. These guys put in a strong effort but the two dozen fans barely made any noise. In the end it was all a build up to Cannon vs. Hero in two weeks time, but Cannon looks stupid in winning the title, only to lose it seconds later because of a grudge. I get what they were going for but it just came off poorly. *½

Arik Cannon vs. Reckless Youth
CHIKARA “Negative Balance” – Philadelphia, PA – 8.13.2005

This is CHIKARA’s debut in the ECW Arena. Cannon bails to the floor before anyone makes a move. Youth takes Cannon down in an armbar. Cannon escapes, but Youth reapplies the hold when Cannon goes for an armdrag. Cannon again rolls to the floor. Cannon brings Youth to the corner and nails him with a hard right hand. Youth takes Cannon down with a headscissors and a toreador. He arm whips Cannon to the mat and applies the armbar once more. Cannon and Youth take one another down with a headlock takeover, reaching a stalemate. Cannon catches Youth with a twisting neckbreaker. He chokes Youth on the second rope. Cannon holds the ropes to evade a dropkick. Cannon hits a back elbow for two. Cannon stretches out Youth’s neck on the mat. Youth gives Cannon a Code Breaker and heads up top. He comes down with a knee strike to Cannon’s neck. Cannon sends Youth to the floor with a rolling elbow. Youth and Cannon exchange chops. Cannon backdrops Youth on the guardrail. Back in the ring, Cannon hits a delayed vertical suplex for two. Cannon puts Youth in a modified Octopus stretch with Cannon’s leg draped over Youth’s neck. Cannon breaks the hold and scoop slams him. Cannon misses a top rope cannonball senton. Youth hits a flurry of forearm strikes. He comes back with a moonsault press. Cannon blocks an Irish Whip with an enzuigiri. He drops Youth with an Exploder suplex for two. Cannon and Youth fight on the top rope. Youth brings Cannon down with a Hamachan cutter. Youth then hits a frog splash for two. Cannon blocks the 2k1 Bomb with a Saito suplex for two. Youth comes back with an arm capture Saito suplex. Cannon fires up and lays in some forearms. Youth ducks a roaring forearm and hits the Shellshock. Youth then hits the 2k1 Bomb for the pin at 14:53. Cannon working over Youth’s arm was done very methodically and convincingly. Youth’s comeback was excellent and both men came out looking great. ***¼

Arik Cannon vs. Chris Hero
IWA Mid-South “Put Up or Shut Up 2005” – Midlothian, IN – 8.19.2005

While it looks like things will start with a lock-up, they go right at it with forearm strikes. Hero knocks him down with a back elbow. Cannon kicks out Hero’s leg. Hero ducks the Glimmering Warlock and dropkicks Cannon to the floor. They chop one another around ringside. Cannon ducks a rolling elbow and sends Hero face first into one of the ring posts before sending him into a sea of chairs. Back inside, Cannon spears Hero in the corner and lands a senton splash for two. He weaves Hero into a vertical suplex. He captures Hero’s arms while applying a chinlock. Hero becomes angry when Cannon begins striking him in the mid-section, causing him to turn over and deliver repeated forearm strikes to the face. Cannon backdrops Hero to the floor to stop his onslaught. The two men disorient one another with headbutts ringside. Cannon pokes Hero in the eyes to stop him. Cannon misses a chop, hurting his hand on the ring post by mistake. Hero looks for a powerbomb on the floor. Cannon instead backdrops him onto chairs. In the ring, he snapmares Hero into a back kick before putting on a modified grounded Octopus stretch. Hero fights his way free. Cannon holds the ropes to counter a powerslam from Hero. He does more damage to the mid-section, including two sentons, which fires Hero up! They trade chops. Cannon dumps Hero on his head with a Saito suplex. Hero fires himself up to hit one himself, resulting in both men laying. Hero chops Cannon in the neck to bring him to the corner. He whips him across the ring and follows in with a leaping forearm strike. He folds up Cannon with a powerbomb, then turns him over in the hopes of getting on the Hangman’s Clutch. Cannon gets the ropes right before it is applied. Cannon maneuvers Hero into Total Anarchy. He holds on and delivers a brainbuster for two. Cannon kicks Hero in the face a few times. Hero kicks out his leg and goes for the Glimmering Warlock himself! Cannon ducks, but Hero does pull off an exploder suplex. Hero misses a top rope double stomp, but rolls through and knocks down Cannon with a big boot. Hero nails the top rope double stomp the second time but doesn’t even get a one count! Cannon hits a step-up enzuigiri thrice, but Hero remains on his feet. Cannon slaps Hero. Hero blasts him with a haymaker for the pin at 19:35. This did a good job planting the seeds for Hero’s turn the next month at the TPI. You could sense between the two of them that winning the match was so important, because it was definitive proof as to who amongst them was the tougher competitor and better wrestler was. The crowd was into the action at the right times, and the way the match built, a haymaker serving as the finish worked for me. Cringeworthy commentary aside, this was really fun. ***½

Arik Cannon vs. KUDO
IWA Mid-South “12 More Minutes” – Lafayette, IN – 8.20.2005

Cannon attacks KUDO’s left arm on the mat. KUDO shotgun dropkicks Cannon away. During a chop exchange, KUDO transitions from chops to chest kicks and knocks Cannon down. He kicks Cannon in the shoulders twice. Cannon begins to wear down the neck. He takes down KUDO in a dragonscrew leg whip and applies a modified grounded Octopus. After KUDO is brought up to the mat, he maneuvers to the apron and comes of the top turnbuckle with a missile dropkick. KUDO escapes a brainbuster. Several kicks land but none are able to keep Cannon down for a three count. After a reverse DDT, KUDO goes for his top rope double knee attack. He misses, but also ducks Cannon’s Glimmering Warlock attempt. Cannon swings him into an inverted Hero’s Welcome. He locks KUDO in the Hangman’s Clutch for the submission at 11:25. This was eerily reminiscent of the Abercrombie match in that the fans didn’t make much noise despite some good action, and it existed for the sole purpose to continue Cannon’s rivalry with Hero. **

Young Lions Cup IV Finals
Arik Cannon vs. Cheech

CHIKARA “Young Lions Cup IV, Night 3” – Philadelphia, PA – 6.25.2006

Cloudy is in Cheech’s corner. This is the first Young Lions Cup finals where there are no Wrestle Factory graduates involved. They reach a stalemate on the mat in the opening exchange. Another stalemate is reached in a wristlock exchange. Cheech shows some gumption by taking Cannon to the mat. Cannon gives him a hard right hand. Cheech trips Cannon as he hits the ropes. He dropkicks Cannon from the floor. A slingshot senton gets him a two count. Cannon forearms Cheech in the corner. He flies off the second rope with a forearm to Cheech’s neck. Cannon gives him a delayed vertical suplex for two. Cheech gets his boot up in the corner. Cheech drops him with a STO for two. Cheech gives Cannon a neckbreaker, then one across his back for two. Cheech puts on a hands free Sharpshooter. Cannon gets the ropes so Cheech poses and kicks him in the ribs. A missile dropkick to the back sends Cannon to the floor. Cheech Fosbury flops after him. Cheech gets a two count back in the ring. Cheech sends Cannon back out with a Superman spear. Cannon catches Cheech’s pescado and gives him an exploder suplex on the floor! Cheech gets his foot on the bottom rope to save himself from being pinned. Cannon’s ear is bleeding, I think from his earring. Cannon gives Cheech some headbutts. Cannon cracks him with another hard right hand. Cheech boots Cannon and goes for a clothesline. Cannon turns it into a neckbreaker for two. Cheech comes back with an Ace Crusher. A high impact kick to the chest gets Cheech a two count. Cheech goes for a backslide. Cannon rolls out and gives him a rope-assisted X-Factor. Cheech kicks out at two. Cannon chops Cheech up while trapping his legs. Cannon turns him into a parachute stretch. Cannon delivers some hard chops against the ropes. Cheech ducks a clothesline and gives Cannon a tornado DDT. A one legged dropkick and a fisherman’s suplex take Cannon down. He misses a shooting star press. Cheech has the wherewithal to duck the Glimmering Warlock. He hits his flying knee strike for two. Cannon hits an enzuigiri. He follows up with a brainbuster for two. Cheech hits a crucifix driver for two. Cheech ducks a rolling forearm and hits a flying knee strike again. Both men are down. They begin to trade strikes on their knees. Cannon hits Total Anarchy for two. Cheech recovers enough for a pumphandle suplex. It only gets a two count. Cheech can’t hold Cannon up for The Deluxe. Cannon delivers a Saito suplex. The Glimmering Warlock gets him two! No one can believe Cheech kicked out. Cannon delivers a second Saito suplex. Cheech ducks a Glimmering Warlock. He fails at the Deluxe again. He goes for it again and hits it! Cannon gets the bottom rope to stop the count. Another Deluxe and knee strike give him a two count. Cannon kicks out Cheech’s leg. He hits the Glimmering Warlock. Cheech fires up, so Cannon has to bust out the Anarchist Hammer to pick up the win and Cup at 23:48. I don’t think this match needed to go as long as it did, but I cannot deny that they filled the time really well. They managed to take Cheech, a long running tag team wrestler, and make it seem like he could win what was at the time CHIKARA’s only singles title. They did a great job trading finishers although it did seem to go overboard at one point. I’m surprised to say this, but I thought this was almost as good as the incredible finals match from last year. ***½

Arik Cannon vs. Tyler Black
F1RST Wrestling “A New Era” – Minneapolis, MN – 4.22.2007

This is the main event of the inaugural F1RST Wrestling event, billed as a battle of former Wrestling Society X stars. Black, the fan favorite despite this being Cannon’s hometown, uses his speed to best Cannon in the early going. Cannon uses an atomic drop and clothesline to turn things around. Cannon pummels Black in front of the fans who have been antagonizing him throughout the contest. Black literally bounces from a belly-to-back suplex from Cannon. Black enzuigiri’s Cannon from the apron. When he goes for a springboard, Cannon rocks him with a haymaker and hits Total Anarchy for two. Back outside the ring a fan distracts Cannon long enough for Black to recover and blast him with rapid fire chops. Unfortunately, he crashes into the ring post just a moment later. Inside, Black nails an enzuigiri after escaping a waistlock from Cannon. Cannon sends Black into the corner with an exploder suplex for two. Black ducks the Glimmering Warlock and immediately hits a standing shooting star press for two. Cannon blocks the Small Package driver with a jackknife pin. This leads to Cannon and Black trading pin attempts. Cannon ends it with a huge Backdrop Driver and the Glimmering Warlock for the pin at 19:43. I’m not sure a match marketed around Wrestling Society X was that wise of a business decision, but nonetheless it was a very fun back and forth match and a solid way to end the main event of the first F1RST event. Cannon clearly comes out of this as the top heel for the promotion. Black was just a few months away from his ROH debut and you could see that he already possessed the tools to do great things at this time in his career. ***¼

Arik Cannon vs. Jerry Lynn
F1RST Wrestling “Full Force” – Minneapolis, MN – 5.20.2007

Lynn channeling his inner Ric Flair further wins over the fans. He does damage to Cannon’s left arm on the canvas until cannon grabs his hair and delivers a back elbow. Lynn lands his own leaping back elbow, which causes Cannon to regroup on the floor. Lynn’s signature leg drop in the ropes and cannonball senton off the apron earn him a nearfall. More Flair mimicking helps Lynn, but when he goes to hit the ropes, Cannon pulls Lynn his hair back and across the knee with a neckbreaker. Although Lynn is able to catch Cannon with his twisting Sunset Flip, an eye poke from Cannon keeps things under his control. Lynn ducks the Glimmering Warlock but takes a belly-to-back suplex. Lynn counters Cannon’s running bulldog with a uranage, earning himself some recovery time. Lynn gives Cannon a DDT. Cannon holds onto the top rope to avoid a TKO. He gives Lynn a neckbreaker and exploder suplex. Lynn stops him on the top turnbuckle and brings him down with a Frankensteiner. Cannon stops an Irish whip, cracks Lynn with an enzuigiri, and gives him Total Anarchy. Lynn ducks the Glimmering Warlock again and stuffs Cannon with the cradle piledriver for the pin at 12:12. The wrestling was pretty much the two competitors playing the hits, but thankfully Jerry Lynn’s hits are exactly what this crowd wanted and Cannon was an excellent foil. **¾

Arik Cannon vs. Chuck Taylor
CHIKARA “Young Lions Cup V, Night 2” – Barnesville, PA – 6.23.2007

Cannon puts on a wristlock causing Taylor to get to the ropes very quickly. Taylor mouths and goofs off before reluctantly engaging in a knuckle lock. Cannon takes him down and locks up his arm. Cannon talks Taylor through a wristlock escape, then just brings him back down to the mat. Taylor is very happy when he manages to reverse it. When Cannon reverses back, Taylor gets his foot on the ropes. Cannon throws a variety of armdrags. Taylor bails to the floor where he puts on a Jigsaw replica mask momentarily. Cannon blasts him with a haymaker when he comes to the apron. Cannon calls over a young fan Taylor admonished earlier. He lets the fan deliver an overhand chop! Cannon gets distracted, allowing Taylor to drop toe hold him into the second rope. Taylor pulls out his invisible grenade. He drops it on Cannon and tries an elbow drop. Cannon evades it and picks the grenade up. He drops it into Taylor’s tights and gives him an atomic drop which causes it to go off! Taylor is able to kick out Cannon’s right leg which got hurt during the atomic drop. He pulls on Cannon’s mohawk while throwing some forearms. Cannon throws a sole butt kick. An uppercut leads to a clutch pinfall for two. Taylor gets a head of steam and dives over the top rope into a Swanton. Cannon kicks out. Taylor throws some forearms to his neck. Cannon becomes angry and throws harder forearms to Taylor’s neck. Cannon sunset flips him for two. He drops Taylor with a swinging neckbreaker. After some more strikes he hits Total Anarchy for two. Taylor comes back with Sole Food. He goes up top. Cannon brings him down with a Spider German suplex! He follows up with a brainbuster. Taylor kicks out! Cannon wants a superplex. Taylor flips out of it. He brings Cannon off the top with the Awful Waffle for the win at 16:03. While Taylor kicking out of Cannon’s bigger moves was slightly annoying, it made him look strong and gave him a big win over a former YLC holder before heading into the finals. They also brought a lot in the comedy department which was appreciated. ***

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