Despite a months-long delay, talent changes up and down the card, and a snow delay, Terminus: Modern Age Grappling finally held their long-awaited debut show. Formed by Jonathan Gresham and Baron Black, Terminus was meant as the return of professional wrestling into the Atlanta area. I was able to attend the show in person and it was certainly an interesting show.
Whereas I can't speak to any issues the Fite stream may have had, this debut was not without its day one jitters. Most matches either had a performance mistake or a technical mistake. There was 30 minute delay that those in attendance did not know about. The short staff did not allow concessions or alcohol to be sold at the event, so like me, people brought their own food. During match 2, a fan purchased 3 large pizzas and started giving them out to people for free. The audio was wonky throughout the night with a decent amount of awkward pauses. This was not a great first impression on a technical level.
But despite all of that, the crowd in attendance was into everything and stayed with the performers. It was a strange vibe to be a part of. You have these technical issues throughout the show, plus the matches, in my opinion, were underwhelming, but the crowd planted the seeds of a community. We all wanted this show to be great and we weren't going to let the performers down. It's tough, I imagine, listening and wrestling to a quiet crowd. But make no mistake, this was not a lack of reaction. The crowd, for the most part, was focused and engaged in the wrestling. It felt like I was at a New Japan event, pre-covid, where the crowd was studying more than making constant noise. The crowd was engaged in the wrestling, and on that merit, this show was a success.
Lee Moriarty def. Josh Woods
The first surprise of the night. Jay Lethal was originally scheduled to wrestle Moriarty here, but he did not show. Lethal has made no comment over Twitter and worked the NJPW Seattle show the night previous. My best guess is flights were canceled due to the snow in Georgia, which played a factor all night.
Josh Woods wrestled instead, sans ROH Pure Title. Moriarty and Woods put on a fine match, showcasing the style of wrestling that was to come. It wasn't a blow-away match, but a table-setter. Both men matched up fairly well and employed similar strategies on one another, even to the point of doing similar moves. Being there live, this match was a bit of a disappointment, mainly caused by the news of Lethal no-showing. This match wasn't what the crowd expected but it was decent enough to watch as match #1 of the promotion. **1/4
Daniel Garcia def. Adam Priest, Invictus Khash & JDX - Terminal Eliminator Four-Way Match
A very solid match between these four men that, despite an apparently botched pinfall on JDX, showcased the youth in this promotion's roster. I wondered, like many people, why Daniel Garcia was not in a singles match but the result here gave the answer. Garcia eliminated/terminated all 3 of his opponents, two by pinfall and one by knockout. The crowd got behind JDX, Priest and Garcia had some intriguing North/South continuity, and Invictus Khash had a solid breakout performance for someone I had only ever seen in squash matches. **3/4
Mike Bennett def. Moose via DQ
This match was a match card replacement announced in advance. Originally, Alex Coughlin was supposed to wrestle Moose. However, Alex Coughlin was still at the show and went face to face with Moose following the match. Maybe I missed something but is Coughlin injured or something? Why was he still at the show if not to wrestle? Just seemed weird to me. I am Matt Taven was also here on commentary.
Anyway, the match itself was fine, sorta continuing the storyline from Impact with Moose, the Impact champion, against this new outside invading faction. The two put on a fine match that showcased the new rules of the promotion, with the finish being Moose getting tired of dealing with Bennett and choosing to throw Bennett over the top of the rope twice and get DQ. If that was the finish, why not put the title on the line? Also, and this was a point the crowd around me brought up, is it a technical if you throw someone through the ropes? No, right? I don't know. Also, Paul the Ref should have a flag or some sort of visual thing to show the technical thing. **1/2
Diamante def. Janai Kai
Another replacement match here, with Liiza Hall unable to travel, probably because of the snow, but with everything in the world, who honestly knows at this point.
A perfectly cromulent match, with the two having a lot of hard-hitting kicks. They did lose their spot at one point in the match, but they were able to bring it back around. Diamante had a really cool-looking submission on Kai to win the match. Don't know what it's called but that's cool. This match wasn't a breakout match or anything for Kai, but hey, a rep is a rep. **
Jordynne Grace def. Kiera Hogan - Impact Digital Media Title Match
The announcer said this match was going to be the Bandido vs Black match and then the Grace vs Hogan graphic went on the screen, and the guy had to re-announce the match. Oof.
Hometown hero Kiera Hogan had a great reaction from the crowd. Plus these two put on a really solid match. There was a point early in the match where it looked like Hogan got dropped on her head but despite that, the crowd was into it and these ladies put forward a solid hard-hitting outing. ** 1/2
Bandido def. Baron Black - ROH World Title Match
Such a weird match. Baron started with a promo package with a solid monologue with a dud of a final line. The crowd around me all said "huh" in unison. Then there's the title match aspect of it. Cagematch thinks this was a singles match. ROH said they vacated the title off of Bandido but here we are in Terminus with Bandido defending the ROH title. What is happening?
The match was nothing to write home about in my opinion. Lots of big dialogue from Baron Black that I don't think quite earned yet, despite being a guy running the company. You cannot deny confidence, but the majority of this crowd has seen you lose 40+ times in AEW.
Plus it is in this match where we start seeing the restraints of the promotion. Bandido is one of the best high flyers, yet I don't recall him doing a single high flying move. And if he did, then I don't remember any of it. There's nothing in the rules saying he can't. So why not do it. This match should have been a style makes fights kind of match but instead was a restriction on Bandido to play Black's game. The match structure just did not work.
I thought these guys still had a decent match, it was just something that built into the promotion's debut as a whole and that was disappointing. On paper, this was a great card, but time after time, we never quite got there. I've seen Baron Black have a really great match with Lord Crewe. And with Bandido, they just grappled. Yes, I know what the promotion is called. But when you have a guy like Bandio in the ring, you have the grapple start and then go high-flying. People there live stayed engaged, but this match was nothing that we were all expecting.
Oh, and the timer was on 15 minutes, not 20 for title matches, and they totally had to leave early. **3/4
Dante Caballero & Joe Keys def. Fred Yehi & Tracy Williams
Now to pull a 180 on my last review, this match was a real surprise. For one, I totally forgot that this was Catch Point teaming together. 100% forgot. And then we got Caballero & Keys. Two ROH Dojo guys, who have teamed in the past, putting on a true breakout match to me. This was my match of the night in all honesty. Caballero & Keys, who need a name, had some issues with the tag rope early on but they got the tag team chemistry together by the end and not only kept up with Catch Point, but was able to beat them. A true upset of the night that popped the crowd big. ***1/4
Jonathan Gresham def. Josh Alexander - ROH Original World Title & Pure Rules Match
Main event time between Gresham and Alexander. I loved that a portion of the crowd chanted ROH and it then turned into a big Terminus chant. If that doesn't sum up the ethos of this promotion, I don't know what will.
Gresham and Alexander put forward a pretty good match, with lots of variations on the idea of grappling. What I love about Gresham is that true embodiment of modern age grappling. He's not out there putting on a grapple fest, but rather doing big, fast action, with dropkicks and piledrivers and top rope moves. The promotion needs to mold around his style, not that of the old. But it's a question of how you do that. This match showcased it.
The finish of the double pin, however, was a letdown, especially considering there is an overtime rule built into the promotion. I don't think this was the right decision to end the night, or to send the crowd home happy, but I guess otherwise a solid match. ***
Following the show, Bandido came out and stare downed Gresham. Then suddenly, AEW's Santana appeared. He challenged Gresham to an ROH Title match at Terminus's next show. Bandido stood there and watched.
Terminus will have its next show Thursday, Feb 24th. Bold move to go from Sunday to Thursday, and because of that, now I can't go to the show live. I have a lot of questions surrounding the decision-making in this promotion but maybe future shows can answer that. Otherwise, you can hear more of my thoughts on Ring Post Radio. Overall, I don't think this show was the home run it needed to be, but it was a stinker. I'll rule it as a double. There is always a good second impression.