Podzilla 1985

Thursday, April 06, 2017

The Fall of Brandon Barbwire

Brandon Barbwire is counting down the hours until he loses his championship.

It's not a matter of "if" at this point, and you can thank none other than Matt Hardy for putting the final nail in the coffin of the Pinnacle's best.

Hardy made a surprise return to WWE at Wrestlemania on Sunday. and even won the RAW tag titles with his brother Jeff. The WWE fans welcomed Team Xtreme back with open arms. After their stint in TNA, where Matt became broken and embraced an insanity that would make him even more valuable as a performer, the Hardy's could have gone anywhere. They were such a hot commodity that they demanded their own price, and WWE had the biggest bank account. Even though legal battles with Anthem meant the "broken" Matt Hardy was dead in the water, Matt & Jeff were instant stars again when the New Day introduced them on Sunday.

It was a Wrestlemania moment if there ever was on.

And sitting somewhere watching the epic return of Matt Hardy was Brandon Barbwire. I can picture it in my head how he clutched his Cape Championship Wrestling title to his chest that night and reminded himself that he was the man who took Matt Hardy to his limit.

Thanks to his manager and leader of the Pinnacle Jeff O'Dell, he might has well be a member of Batman's rogue gallery, who sat around a Poker table in a classic episode of Batman the Animated Series telling each other about how they "almost got him."

Rewind to just over a month ago.

Matt Hardy, soon to be the biggest free agent of the world, came to CCW in his quest for gold and went toe to toe with the champ. Brandon Barbwire is a lot of things - vindictive, jealous, vile, sneaky, and a cheat, but dammit he's still OUR champ.

The two had an incredible encounter, one in which our guy had scouted out the Broken One's moves and countered him quite expertly. He avoided the Twist of Fate on multiple occasions, and gave it back to this worldwide legend just as good as he got it. It was a clash of champions, and the Cape Champion Wrestling fans were out of their seats with their jaws planted firmly on the floor.

Meanwhile, I watched Brandon's manager Jeff O'Dell. I saw it all over his face - concern. Don't give Jeff too much credit. He wasn't concerned that his supposed friend Brandon could get hurt going against a ring veteran and a certified psycho. He was concerned that his favorite fashion accessory, the CCW title, might be in danger of not being at the center of his den of snakes that he calls Pinnacle. Every time Hardy slammed Brandon, the panic became more apparent on his deceptive mug.

Brandon ended up on the outside of the ring and took a moment to collect his thoughts. When he tried to enter the battle once more his manager, his friend Jeff, held him back and cost him the match via count out. When Brandon finally got back in the ring, infuriated and bewildered by what just happened, Matt Hardy laid them both out and stood over them like a conquering hero. He invited his fans in the ring to take pictures, while Brandon Barbwire, our guy, limped to the back like a wounded dog.

Much has already been said about the fallout from that betrayal. I even had both Jeff and Brandon on a special edition of Pro Wrestling Unscripted, where the champ confronted his friend on his lack of faith in him. Hearing Jeff O'Dell, that modern day snake oil salesman, sell Brandon an arena full of lies, excuses, and vague justification was insulting.

Let me be honest - I don't like Brandon Barbwire. He has called me out at multiple CCW shows, and once actually put his hands on me as he tried to recruit me into his organization of liars and thieves. He is a boisterous coward, and the kind of champion you want to see lose in the most humiliating way possible. But, somewhere in that arrogance, is a legitimate fighter who wants to prove how good he is. He's a real bastard sometimes, but he's still our guy, the CCW champion, and occasionally  he doesn't seem like that bad of a fellow.

Brandon Barbwire had the chance to defeat the most talked about wrestler in the world, and I watched Jeff O'Dell rob him of a once in a life time opportunity. Jeff had the audacity to tell Brandon that "there will be other Matt Hardy's" during our interview, and I'm not sure if he was outright lying or he didn't realize that he's wrong. There will never be another opportunity like that. Yes, Brandon will surely go on to fight bigger and better warriors in his career. But, short of a miracle, Matt Hardy will forever be the ghost that haunts Brandon Barbwire.

At CCW March Malice, Brandon fought Sarge O'Riley in an epic encounter of former teammates. Sarge was greeted with the revere that a veteran of this great sport deserves. And Brandon? He was heckled, booed, and it didn't take long before he heard the chant that will forever follow him like a curse - DELETE! DELETE! DELETE!

Those chants struck at his very soul. I could see the frustration and paranoia in his eyes as he tried to bully the fans into respecting him. Brandon Barbwire won his match against Sarge thanks to Pinnacle's dirty tricks. In fact, Brandon has quickly gone from having Pinnacle as his back up to outright relying on them to win again and again. His confidence is shaken, his abilities and natural skill are locked behind a wall of doubt thanks to Jeff O'Dell's betrayal.

On that same card the Best of the Best Austin Lane fought up and coming star, and possibly the best all around wrestler in CCW Hollis Giroux, to a draw in their battle for a chance to fight Brandon for the title at the super show in April during Comic Con. If there were two men in the entire wrestling world that Brandon Barbwire never wants to face again, it's those two warriors.

Both men have a legit claim to be number one contender. Hollis earned a title shot by beating both Jake Dirden and The Cody Wilson, and the very idea of facing him scared Brandon so much that the latter faked an injury to prolong the inevitable fight. Austin Lane, who tore down the house against Ricochet last year and is regarded as the man to beat in CCW, defeated Brandon multiple times in his quest for the gold. The two carried on a bitter rivalry for months that saw Austin have the champ's number on multiple instances.

Brandon kept his title against both of those men individually. Their quest for a rematch seemed to be over when their match ended in a draw due to a double pin, and somewhere Brandon Barbwire smiled. His smile would be short lived though, as Osby Tomlin, former KoK champion and new general manager of CCW, broke the news to him that because of their draw he would have to face BOTH men in April.

Not only that, but there would be a fourth man in the match that took us all by surprise - Colt Cabana.

The look on Brandon's face said it all. He knew his time was over. He started as a conquering champion, one who defeated Sarge O'Riley and Farmer Billy Hills in the same night to claim the title. I've been to every Cape Championship Wrestling show, and I watched his confidence fade over the months as he faced star after star.

He beat Jake Dirden thanks to smashing him in the head with his belt.

He lost to Austin Lane, and only won the feud thanks to luck, cheating, and the Pinnacle.

He barely defeated Hollis Giroux after cowering from him for months, and his post match beatdown showed the frustration in his own waning ability as his reign continues.

The one constant through his months as champion is his increasing dependence on the Pinnacle and especially his "friend" Jeff O'Dell to interfere on his behalf. Where as he once had Jeff in his corner for guidance and maybe an occasional distraction, he now relied almost entirely on Jeff to save to his title time after time.

And Jeff O'Dell is no idiot. He's a lot of things, almost all of them negative, but he is a smart man. He knows how dependent his champion is on his interference. When I had Jeff and Brandon in the studio to talk about the former's actions against Matt Hardy, I couldn't help but wonder how much longer Jeff will put up with the man he hand picked to be champion. He is no longer the fiery warrior that Jeff O'Dell recruited as his number one in the nefarious Pinnacle stable.

After Jeff saved Brandon's title again against Sarge at March Malice, you could see the desperation on both of their faces when Osby made his announcement. Brandon behaved with a mixture of anger and fear, but Jeff looked concerned. By the time Hollis and Austin laid Brandon out together,

Meanwhile, Jeff looked like he was ready to sell off his stock in the Barbwire Bandwagon. Brandon should be afraid, because there is a precedent that Jeff has already set. When Sarge didn't need his help anymore, he had Pinnacle turn on him. When Blaster chose to do the right thing in the tag tournament, he had Pinnacle turn on him. When people outgrow their use to Jeff O'Dell, he disposes of them without shedding a single tear.

At the end of March Malice, Brandon Barbwire looked like a lost child. His eyes were glazed over, and his mouth was wide open as he sucked in wind after being laid out by two of his opponents.

Jeff O'Dell looked over at me as he was helping Brandon to the back and asked me "are you happy now?"

I snapped back at Jeff that this was his fault. Brandon's loss to Matt Hardy, his chance of greatness being stolen, the "delete" chants, his fading star, was all Jeff's fault. Brandon looked over at Jeff like he finally realized something, but even if he has, it's far too late.

Matt Hardy returned to a heroes welcome at Wrestlemania. Brandon Barbwire will lose his title at March Malice. You can't help but wonder how things might have ended differently if Brandon got to prove his mettle against Hardy, but it's pointless now. He is a dead man in Cape Championship Wrestling.

The only question is - who will Jeff O'Dell get to pull the trigger?

(Special thanks to Mandy Kennedy at Voyage Visions for the pictures.)

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