It began at Destiny Returns: the distant roll of thunder. Since then, there’s been a change in the air…the damp fills your lungs with every breath, every scent touched with something cold and crisp. You struggle to see even in broad daylight, because the clouds have rolled in to blot out the sun – thick as wool and black as night.
Friday, January 28th, that heavy cloud cover finally split like a ripe melon, and the torrential downpour of violence fell, hitting the pavement with a steady, rhythmic sound – wet and sharp as the sound of flesh colliding with flesh, a fist meeting with a jaw.
The clouds opened, and the Heavy Rain fell. What did the storm bring? What kind of chaos was left in its wake? Who survived the maelstrom?
Let’s find out. Spoilers ahead for MPW’s Heavy Rain…and with that warning done? Let’s enter the eye of the hurricane.
NATIONAL TITLE MATCH
Brendan Divine DEFEATS Hoss Hog
The first casualty of the storm was the ring announcer – who, tonight, was none other than general manager Bryan Carter. Introducing the competitors as they entered the ring, though his clear biases would tinge the air of every match…reluctantly, this reporter must admit that he served his duties well, and remained otherwise unobtrusive during the rest of the night’s contests, including this one.
Which began with Hog snatching up the belt during the pre-match moments and referee’s instructions. This match built itself upon a war of words that captivated social media in the days leading up to Heavy Rain, with Hoss Hog convinced of his superiority and Brendan Divine drawing his confidence from the faith of his Believers to sustain him. Unsurprisingly, the contest began with a disrespectful slap from Hog – one which Divine returned in kind with little preamble.
From there, it’s unfortunate, but Divine made the early mistake of trying to test the strength of the behemoth Hoss Hog. Failing in that endeavor, he lost some early ground, but as Hog took advantage of his power and size, Divine quickly corrected course by utilizing his speed to overtake the challenger. One notable dive to the outside to tackle Hog was a prime example of Divine’s incredible quickness, both of body and of mind.
The tables, however, would turn again, and quickly, as a series of blows from Divine only served to clear Hog’s head after some intense offense. It wouldn’t be the last time in the contest that Hog would feed on the flurry of fists that came from Divine, as Hog seemingly drew strength from the pain. He was not, however, invulnerable to the chops the pair traded shortly after – and it was his reliance on size and power that would be his undoing.
After taking a dazed champion to the top rope for an aerial maneuver, Divine drew on his inner reserves, and the support of the crowd, just enough to flip the script, and turn what was likely meant to be a superplex into a top rope powerbomb that allowed Divine to retain his title by pinfall.
A thrilling contest to open Heavy Rain, to be sure – but brightest moment of all was the end of the match, where Hoss Hog and Brendan Divine shook hands, with Hog acknowledging the grit of the National Champion with a salute of his own. What began with a war of words turned into a truly sporting contest where mutual respect was earned and celebrated.
It offered a warm glow of sportsmanship and satisfaction that would be the first, and last, of the show. What little nourishment the rains might offer to the earth was about to be swept away in a brutal downpour.
The Void (Artorius & J2 Mattioli) DEFEATS Mylo & Rebel Storm
This match began with Rebel and J2 to start, but as with previous weeks in this relentless quest to reclaim the soul of the Playmaker, there was no reasoning with the slave of the Void. True to his word, Storm was unafraid to fight his friend, willing to hurt him if it meant saving him in the long run – at least, with his fists. Still in possession of the strange little J2-shaped totem stolen from Auntie Hydie, Storm has been unwilling to destroy it lest he do harm to his best friend that won’t eventually heal. Though he insisted that he did not have the totem with him at the start of the match, sources close to the X-Press took note of a sly moment from Storm where he played to the cameras, and opened his jacket to display something hidden inside.
Perhaps this had some effect during the contest, as Artorius entered the ring subsequently to be victim of Storm’s patented airplane spin. Mylo soon entered with a tag, hitting a headscissors takedown until she was sequestered in the enemy corner, and picked up by J2 for who knows what kind of punishment.
Storm cried out for mercy, demanding that J2 put Mylo down. The fans joined him…and after some visible hesitation, he dropped Mylo. Granted, it wasn’t what Storm had in mind, but it was still evidence that somewhere behind the vacant, sunken eyes of J2, the Playmaker was actually listening.
Artorius found his way into the ring again soon enough, and was soon assaulting the Rebel Storm viciously and berating fans at ringside who were crying out for J2 to wake up. Insisting that J2 was lost forever and demanding they stop trying to wake him up, fans redoubled their efforts as the match continued.
Continue it did, with yet another moment in the contest where J2 seemed to falter. Ignoring the shouted commands of Artorius, confused by the pleading of the Rebel Storm, the empty husk that was once the Playmaker visibly wavered…
…and instead of obeying his compulsions, stumbled back into his corner to tag in Artorius.
For the remainder of the match, J2 was absent. Rather than stand in his corner, he sat on the ring apron, visibly unwell as he hunched over on himself, held his head – fought some inner battle we as onlookers can only guess at.
In the end, Artorius won the battle with a pinfall, earning the victory for the Void…but in dragging J2 back to the locker room, one has to wonder: who’s winning the war?
Storm, with renewed hope and an ace in the hole by showing the crowd he did, in fact, have the totem in hand, grabbed a microphone. Reluctant to damage the totem for fear of permanently harming his friend, he was at a cross roads…but ready to finish what he started: no matter the cost.
The challenge was laid out, and reports have confirmed that the match is set: next week, at MPW’s I Need A Hero, it will be Soul For Soul as the Rebel Storm takes on J2 one last time.
Tyler Bateman DEFEATS Jordan Cruz
Introduced as the Modern Day Spartan, Jordan Cruz was a man possessed as he stalked to the ring – unlike most weeks, however, this was self-possession. For all his arrogance and trash talk, it was clear to anyone with eyes that Cruz was taking this match very seriously: confidence was one thing, but fighting Tyler-Goddamn-Bateman was another story.
Bateman’s entrance was equally enigmatic. Full disclosure: Heavy Rain is this reporter’s first exposure to Tyler Bateman’s work. Seeing his appearance at Naughty Or Nice was far different from the sight of this towering pillar of raw bloodlust. There is little more that adequately describes the creature that made his way to the ring, save the simple words ‘hungry animal.’
I was already prepared to see an incredible fight. Instead, what I – what all those within the MPW Arena got was a tornado of sheer talent and violence as we witnessed what might be the single most compelling match that MPW has ever witnessed.
The war of words that preceded this bout was made manifest within the first few moments after the bell: Cruz slapped Bateman outright, and Bateman slapped him right back. From there, it was difficult for either man to get things started as they felt each other out. Bateman made no bones about fighting dirty, bending Cruz’s fingers in hellish directions to try and disable him while Cruz struggled to try and get a hold of Bateman for any real attempt at turning this contest into a mat game. The back and forth in the early match was so perfectly balanced, nobody could get anything started.
Or so it seemed…as the match progressed, it became more and more clear that the hungry animal was playing with his food, toying with Cruz and playing games for his own amusement. Taking Cruz down, Bateman finally seemed ready to get serious and get violent when Cruz finally got Bateman trapped in the corner, slamming him into the ringpost and finally seeming to locate an advantage when Bateman visibly began to favor his shoulder.
The pair spent a fair amount of time outside the ring, here and throughout the match as Cruz pressed that advantage for all it was worth. Arrogance had abandoned him, confidence the only thing keeping him from running away: by this point, Jordan Cruz was a desperate man starting to realize just how deep the trouble he’d gotten himself into was.
Desperate, but by no means defeated. To his credit, Cruz held his own, and even when Cruz started delivering blows that Bateman began to ask for, egging him on with a wild look that was disturbing to see, Cruz didn’t falter in trying to find something, anything that would take the Ring Of Honor alumnus down even a single moment for Cruz to capitalize on.
All he could do was continue to pursue Bateman’s injured shoulder as the crowd came alive with a chant of “this is awesome!,” previously all but silent until that point. Make no mistake, there was no lack of interest in the match: simply put, the shouts and jeers had dimmed to murmurs and gasps as every member of the audience sat, completely spellbound, by the brutality and brilliance of this incredible contest.
Driven to their knees, barely able to answer a ten count, both men had been pushed to their absolute limit. Cruz dished out a beating Bateman took with gusto, and the half-mad Bateman simply could not put the Modern Day Spartan down.
Inevitably, the moment came where Jordan Cruz could not rise, and Bateman took the pinfall victory, but there is no version of this story where anyone could have truly lost this match. Say what you will about his bad attitude, Jordan Cruz proved himself to be a true contender in this bout, even as he was helped back to the locker room, unable to leave on his own power.
However, the story doesn’t end there. Few storms resolve themselves so simply.
After Bateman’s hand was raised, in a mirror of Naughty Or Nice, Brendan Divine’s music hit before the National Champion burst through the entryway and joined Bateman in the ring. As the two faced each other, nose to nose, Bryan Carter made his presence known at the soundboard, demanding both men stand down. Insisting this would not happen at Heavy Rain, instead Carter confirmed that in two weeks time, the National Championship would be up for grabs in the match that’s been building since the end of last year: Bateman versus Divine.
Meanwhile, the storm raged on.
Duke Bennett DEFEATS Dustin Daniels
This match was initially billed as Bucio versus the American Grizzly, but after Bennett’s unforgivable assault on the members of Full Send last week, Bucio was not medically cleared to wrestle. Thus, his partner fought in his stead, entering Heavy Rain to stand toe to toe with the vicious Duke Bennett.
It was a brave display, and a noble gesture from Daniels – but in the end, it was a terrible mistake.
As both men stood in the ring, receiving the referee’s instructions, Bennett – in gear reminiscent of the hardcore legend Terry Funk – all but lounged in the corner and asked the official to offer Daniels the option of forfeiting the match. Insulted, Daniels launched himself at Bennett and paid the price, being summarily choked with his own discarded t-shirt.
Much as it pains this reporter to share, the match from this point on…it can hardly be called a match. The word implies a contest, and there was none. It was nothing more than a beatdown, Bennett openly toying with Daniels the entire time. From a powerbomb at ringside to flat out chopping Daniels right out of the ring, Bennett had more than a size and strength advantage: he wasn’t there to fight. He came to destroy, and destroy he did.
Daniels tried, to his credit, with a defiant slap to Bennett’s face, but ultimately it was a slaughter. Finishing the match by ragdolling Daniels much the same way he did to Bucio last week, the American Grizzly was awarded the pinfall victory, pleased with his merciless assault as a battered Daniels had to be helped to the locker room by officials.
One has to wonder, after this incredible two week display of carnage, if we will see the members of Full Send any time soon – and more importantly, what the hell was Bryan Carter thinking in bringing this maniac back to the MPW roster?
MPW WORLD TITLE MATCH
Danny Divine DEFEATS Ray Rosas
A match over two weeks in the making, if you count the farce that was their first confrontation at Genesis, Ray Rosas versus Danny Divine promised to be a reckoning for the turncoat world champion. Full of hubris in his statements made on social media, Divine was convinced of his victory – however, the MPW audience had all the faith in the world in their captain as Rosas entered the ring.
The culmination of the storm, this match did not disappoint for even a moment. The fans of the MPW Arena said it best with their chants: this is wrestling.
A mat game early on, Divine ducked out of the ring more than once to take a powder, slowing the pace down and evading the ring general, Ray Rosas, at every turn. It was a wise choice, as when he got back in the ring, Rosas nailed him with a whip into the corner that was so intense, it visibly moved the ring. When the match slowed down this time, it was by the will of Rosas as he laid into the champion with some chops so sharp, many in the crowd cried out in sympathy on Divine’s behalf.
Rallying with a headlock on Rosas, Divine reclaimed the advantage, leading to a fight on the ring apron and a vicious looking stomp on the ropes as Divine hung his mentor out to dry in a very literal sense. Not even with this, however, could he put Rosas away, leading to some visible frustration on the part of Divine. Dragging Rosas to his feet, Divine could be heard berating him about retirement, making it clear he intended to put Rosas down permanently.
Intended, but unable – the fact was, as these two fought with a rapid slew of suplexes and trading holds, teacher and student were too evenly matched to give the crowd a clear view of who would prevail. Chanting and cheering were rampant, but in a similar fashion to the earlier Bateman versus Cruz, many moments passed where the audience lapsed into relative silence, transfixed by the athletic contest before them.
Say what you will about Divine’s change in attitude and avoidance of a real fight: his skill is undeniable, and his talent can only be outmatched by his arrogance. One near fall after another between the competitors, victory teetered on the edge of a knife so delicately, a breath could have tipped the match in either direction.
Divine and Rosas were both spent when all was said and done, barely dragging themselves to their feet to continue. Ray tried, and failed, to finish Divine in a submission hold. He tried, and failed, to finish Divine with his trademark Randy Savage-inspired big elbow as Divine just barely rolled aside.
Finally, when Rosas called for a Twist Of Fate, Divine found an opening through which to slip, evaded destruction, and took a pinfall victory away from the match by the skin of his teeth.
The title, however, fell back into question as the lights went out, and a familiar entrance theme touched the air – along with the telltale silhouette of a gauzy, light up cape in trademark pink.
Barbie Boi, king of the Dream House and former MPW World Champion, was back.
Danny Divine remains champion this week, with a challenge made for next week to reclaim his title—a challenge denied him by general manager Bryan Carter, according to sources close to the X-Press. Although the self proclaimed Perfect General Manger has refused to book the match, he has allotted time next week for a face to face confrontation between the current and former champion.
Will we get some answers as to Divine’s atrocious behavior and betrayal of a man he once called friend? Will Barbie Boi find any measure of satisfaction? Will Carter back up his alleged intention to give MPW the best matches every week by booking this return match for the World Title?
There’s only one way to find out, folks: show up next week, and make it known. I Need A Hero.
Indeed, don’t we all?
For Your Consideration
Already, we have several matches lined up for next week: Rebel Storm versus J2, a non-title match between Brendan Divine and Alejandro Mauricio Fernandez, and the return of Miggy Rose as he goes up against El Primohenio.
What heroes may rise from I Need A Hero? Time alone will tell, and the X-Press will be here to share the latest with you as it happens.
For now, take comfort in knowing that the storm has passed…until the next one.