TERMINUS: Terminal Velocity or just Terminal?
Jonathan Gresham's promotion held their first show this past weekend, and expectations were high. But did it deliver? Paul investigates.
In late 2021, Jonathan Gresham revealed to the world that he and his good friend, Baron Black, had finalised plans to begin their own promotion. While it was originally planned to begin in November 2021, the ongoing world pandemic once again reared its head and forced them to push the date back.
Anticipation continued to build, especially when names such as Daniel Garcia, Jay Lethal, Josh Alexander, and the Impact World Champion, Moose, were announced for the debut show, as well as the fact that there would be three Championship matches on the show as both Bandido and Jonathan Gresham would defend their respective ROH Titles against Baron Black and Josh Alexander, and Gresham’s wife, the always impressive Jordynne Grace, was set to defend the Impact Digital Media Championship against Kiera Hogan.
The rest of the card was suitably stacked; with Lee Moriarty set to take on the World Class talent that is Jay Lethal, Impact Champion Moose in non-title action Alex Coughlin, Liiza Hall taking on Janai Kai, Dante Caballero and Joe Keys tagging up against Tracy Williams and Fred Yehi, and a Terminal Eliminator match between Daniel Garcel, JDX, Invictus Khash and Adam Priest, the match card seemed to be the perfect blend of youth and experience.
Gresham also told in interviews, such as on the Talk is Jericho podcast, that he wanted TERMINUS to have a different feel, and that TERMINUS would have a strict set of rules that would be enforced.
“Not everyone is gonna be able to, and I’m gonna use him because he’s a very popular guy right now, not everybody’s gonna be an MJF right off the bat. Definitely coming into a company on the independents, a lot of the time, you just get the match. You don’t get the chance to do a promo. You don’t get a chance to use those words to manipulate the crowd, so you have to do it from bell to bell. Because that’s what you’re given, you’re either given your ten minutes or your 15 minutes, and so now we need the individuals to learn that you can also be a good heel from bell to bell by just doing things from wrestling’s past, making it new again, adding to that. But a lot of people believe like an eye poke or cutting someone off and talking crap to the fans is enough being a heel. But you have to do more now.
“The way information travels, the way people digest information, you just have to be more wittier. You have to be more creative now. And I feel like if you’re not getting the opportunity to cut a promo, it’s very difficult to get over. So now we have to use the elements that are presented to us, which is the referee, the rules of wrestling. If there are no rules of wrestling, then the heel has nothing to really use to get over. That’s why I think a lot of the heels now are doing cool moves because they have no way to get over. Because there are no rules to break. So I wanna help promote real heels coming back to the sport. I wanna promote the heels playing their role. Because if you play your role, you’re doing the job, you’re doing the most important job, which is helping that face overcome something. You’re being that obstacle for the face to overcome.”
With all of this, it seemed as though independent wrestling was set for a huge shot in the arm, and with Gresham at the helm, he certainly has the experience to make a very good promoter. TERMINUS was pushed and advertised hard, and the fact that their first PPV was available on FITE TV, which over the last couple of years has become the go to hub of independent professional wrestling, everything was in place for TERMINUS to have a successful launch.
Beers at the ready, and anticipation levels at their highest, we eagerly switched on to FITE and waited for the show to begin.
And waited... and waited... and waited...
Right up until the day of the show, it had been advertised to start at 11pm GMT, but on the day, FITE began advertising a 9:30pm start time. That time came and went, and in fact we didn’t get anything until around 10:15pm, when its pre-show, The Tip Off, began.
Hosted by Suge D and Faye Jackson, the pre-show proceeded to run through all the matches on the show, as well as guest appearances from people such as Mr Hughes, Matt Taven, and the “It’s still real to me” guy, Dave Wills. This in itself was fine, but what really hurt the pre-show was the fact that for 90% of it you couldn’t hear a word they were saying as the microphones continually cut out. Add to this that Suge D was having to use his phone to look up the matches on the show, it came across as unprofessional and unprepared.
Also, we were informed that Jay Lethal was unable to appear as scheduled, as was Liiza Hall, meaning that Lee Moriarty would now be wrestling ROH Pure Champion, Josh Woods, and Janai Kai would be taking on AEW’s Diamante.
Not a great start.
Now, in their defence, Atlanta was in the midst of the worst snowstorm they had experienced in some time, and this no doubt caused a multitude of problems, such as travel issues for people getting to the show, as well as technical issues brought about by the adverse weather conditions, and so a certain amount of interference was to be expected. Nevertheless, we were fairly sure we were still going to be treated to a great show.
So, the pre-show went off air, and the timer began to count down, but due to more technical difficulties we were given a brief view of the arena for the nights show. And in all honesty, it was hardly inspiring...
Whilst again, allowances had to be made because of the difficult weather conditions, this shot painted a picture of a largely uninspiring arena with a lot of empty space, not to mention the curtain separating the arena from backstage did not reach all the way across, meaning you could see everyone walking past. Also, whilst it wasn’t really something they could do anything about, the drab contrast of the Kroc arena didn’t help their overall aesthetic.
The countdown to the beginning of the show began again, and we had 25minutes to wait for the show to begin. As we watched the timer count down, we discussed what the top matches on the night were going to be. We knew that no matter what, Gresham would deliver in his title defence against Josh Alexander, and the likelihood was that Bandido would deliver against Baron Black.
We had good feelings about most of the matches, and this added to the anticipation of the show beginning. The timer continued to tick down towards the start, then at three minutes to go, it jumped up to fifteen minutes.... then 27minutes. It seemed that there were more technical issues prolonging the start of the show.
Finally, the timer went back down to just a few minutes, and the show finally began almost two hours after the initial start time.
For the next two hours, we watched TERMINUS’ vision of Professional Wrestling unfold;
Lee Moriarty v Josh Woods was a solid opener between two very good up and coming talents. The match itself was very back and forth, with Moriarty taking the win. Whilst the match itself was good, the camera work made it difficult to follow all the action properly, and this was a theme that would continue for most of the show.
The second match was the Terminal Eliminator match between JDX, Adam Priest, Daniel Garcia,and Invictus Khash.
What is a Terminal Eliminator match I hear you ask? Well, it starts as a four-way tag team match, with four singles competitors. Two start in the ring and they tag in and out as normal.
When one person gets eliminated, it becomes a triple threat match, then when another is eliminated, a straight singles match. Sound confusing? That’s because it was.
With the standard time limit in effect of 15minutes also, the match moved at a fast pace. The first person eliminated was JDX, after seemingly hitting himself below the belt, he was either pinned by Daniel Garcia or disqualified for the low blow, even though it was to himself. The outcome of this was not made clear. Garcia then pinned Adam Priest, before “knocking out” Invictus Khash with a “palm strike”. Garcia seemingly then tried to continue the assault on Khash as the referee wrestled him away due to the knock out. It was a convoluted and confusing match, made worse by the officials seemingly misunderstanding their own rules.
Next up was the Impact World Champion, Moose, taking on his replacement opponent in Mike Bennett, as Alex Coughlin was injured and unable to compete. This had the potential to be a really good match, but Moose established himself as a heel within TERMINUS by earning a disqualification via two technical fouls, having thrown Mike Bennett to the outside twice.
Next up was Diamanté taking on Janai Kai, and this was a fairly decent match, though the pace was slow and methodical, making the moves seem almost predictable. Janai Kai has only been wrestling since late 2018, and obviously missed out on a lot of experience due to the pandemic. There is promise in her when she gets more seasoning. Diamanté (or Diamonte as the name bar said at the start of the match) was pretty solid as to be expected.
Then was the first title match of the evening, as Jordynne Grace defended her Impact Digital Media Title against Kiera Hogan. These two are experienced hands and so the match was good, with Jordynne coming out victorious and successfully retaining her title. However, the ring announcer referring to Grace at the start as “Thicc Pump Mama” instead of “Thicc Mama Pump”, while not a major issue, was still the kind of attention to detail that can affect a company.
Following hot on the heels was the first of the Ring of Honor World Title matches as Bandido defended his version of the World Title against Baron Black. Aside from a couple of botches, this was also a fairly good match, with Bandido managing to retain with less than a minute left on the clock.
The penultimate match was the tag team clash with Joe Keys and Dante Caballero taking on Tracy Williams and Fred Yehi, and for me this was one of the best matches of the night. Everything went smoothly, and all four men took their opportunity to shine, with Caballero and Keys picking up the win.
This brought us on to the main event, a Pure Rules ROH Original World Championship match between the Champion, Jonathan Gresham, and the challenger, former Impact World Champion, Josh Alexander.
And as expected, they delivered. Gresham and Alexander put on an absolute clinic in technical wrestling, Alexander may have held the weight and height advantage, but you wouldn’t know it from watching the match.
Gresham is a phenomenally gifted wrestler, and that shines through all the more in Pure Rules matches. Alexander was a more than worthy opponent for him, and at times would have you believing that he would in fact take the ROH World Title from Gresham as he forced him to use all his rope breaks, but the end of the match came with a double pin, as after a suplex over the ropes, both men ended up pinned to the mat for the three count, which in all honesty was a slight disappointment given the strength of the match.
As the show was coming to an end, with Gresham in the ring, Bandido came down to the ring and he two had a face-off with their respective titles. Then the shock of the night happened as Santana arrived, and challenged Gresham for his title at next month's show.
Overall, this was not a fantastic start for TERMINUS, but the potential is there. It was their first show, and there were bound to be issues, and coupled with the adverse weather conditions only made life more difficult for them, but despite all this the glaring issues are in their production and audio departments. The audio was awful during the Tip Off show, and the camera work for the majority of the matches could have been better. In regards to the venue, I can see that the potential is there for it to showcase fantastic shows, and maybe if they aim a little higher in terms of attendance, as it is said that the show was a "sell out" at around 300-400 tickets, maybe the crowd would have been fuller, but unfortunately with it being mostly empty it didn’t help the aesthetic.
So, what’s the verdict? It would be wrong to judge TERMINUS fully on the strength of one show, but there is a lot to work on ahead of the next show. The potential is definitely there, but they really have to work on the production and audio issues before their next show in February.
From what we saw in some of the matches, it seems they need to fully verse their referees on the rules they want to implement if they want this directive to succeed. TERMINUS really could be a fantastic alternative to WWE and other companies that walk the sports entertainment line. TERMINUS is about Modern Age Pro Wrestling, and there was enough in the show to imprint that vision on the future, but the hard work begins now as they look to cement their place among companies like MLW, ROH and NWA.
Will TERMINUS be a huge success? It's far too early to tell, but myself and countless other fans will absolutely be hoping so, because a thriving independent scene is great for the industry as a whole, providing more opportunities and options for people wanting to both break into the wrestling business or find their way back in after a period away, such as Charlie Haas in recent times.
TERMINUS could well be the next big thing in independent wrestling, as long as they can fix the glaring issues from the first show. Jonathan Gresham seems like the kind of person who will have already put things in motion to fix those issues, and if they can fix it, and improve on it ahead of February’s show, then they will continue to go up and up, but if they allow the issues to continue, then they will soon become “just another local promotion”.
What were your thoughts on TERMINUS’ debut show? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear them.