It’s been close to seven years since Biff Busick last wrestled in Fete Music Hall.
On his last night for Beyond Wrestling, he defeated longtime rival Eddie Edwards to win the first ever Greatest Rivals Round Robin. Having won all three of his matches on that night, Busick left the independent wrestling scene in a blaze of glory before heading off into the uncertainty of a career in the WWE.
I think we all know how that went.
Oney Lorcan was never the golden boy in NXT. Most of the time, it was hard to tell that anyone in management even knew he was around. He made the most of what he was given, whether that be his tag team with Danny Burch or a short-lived alliance with Pat McAfee. At his best, he got the chance to maximize short TV bangers against the likes of Hideo Itami or Drew McIntyre to give everyone a glimpse of the fantastic talent he had. I don’t think anyone held out much hope that he’d main event any WrestleManias though.
In November, Lorcan was granted his release from the WWE. Once again going by Biff Busick, the man went about announcing the news in a very calm, almost unassuming manner. No flashy vignettes breaking out of prisons for Biff, just a simple vlog on his official YouTube channel stating that his non-compete clause ended in February 2022.
Biff Busick’s 91st day since leaving the WWE proved quite challenging for independent wrestling across America. A snowstorm slicing through the country led to travel issues caused several workers to miss their bookings, and worse, forced several promotions to cancel their scheduled events.
Beyond Wrestling was not exempt from these issues. Kimber Lee couldn’t make it to the show due to a stomach bug, Alex Shelley got into a car accident on the way to the show. Attendance to seemed to take a hit too. Fete looked far less packed than Beyond’s last show there in December despite the promised of a beloved hero returning to independent wrestling. The storm also caused constant interruptions to the IWTV livestream of the event (I couldn’t say for sure if the same was true for the Fite stream).
For better and worse, it felt right that this was Biff’s return to independent wrestling. Nothing better to wash off the stink of wasting away in Vince’s warehouse than an intimate venue with a dodgy internet connection.
Biff’s opponent on this night also helped on that front. SLADE had a big 2021 as a central focus of Beyond’s Uncharted Territory runs. I can’t pretend to be too familiar with his work. I’ve not been in love with the glimpses of him I saw last year, but he clearly does serve a purpose as a brawler who brings a touch of hardcore violence to proceedings at Beyond.
SLADE’s a maniac from Rikers Island, billed quite repetitively as “wrestling’s Michael Myers” and a “walking snuff film.” He hits people pretty hard, doesn’t mind bumping on the floor. You get the picture.
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While I might not have been endeared to SLADE previously, I thought he put in a great performance here. A big part of that is the cold demeanor he brings to the proceedings. There’s no sense of pomp and circumstance about him, it doesn’t especially matter to him who Biff is or what he represents to Beyond. He just sees a bigger target to beat into the dirt. In fact, SLADE’s the first man to make a move here, grabbing Biff by the throat within seconds of the opening bell.
All of SLADE’s offense in this looks great. A lot of that is limited to throwing some solid clubbing elbows and moving some hardcore plunder about. That’s not a knock on SLADE, quite the opposite actually. Keeping things so simple makes the challenge in front of Biff feel so much more real than if it had been a little more showy. SLADE’s ability to dish out and absorb punishment means that when he does something wild like no sell a bump to the floor or disregard having a door smashed over his head, it’s easy to buy into. There’s no faking any of that, so surpassing it only makes him all the more impressive.
Then there’s SLADE greatest contribution to this match: blood. Some people don’t have the experience or the willingness to get a real, proper gusher in wrestling. Others just have thicker skin than others. SLADE bleeds buckets for us in this match and it rocks. Biff also blades early on, but it’s SLADE who provided most of the plasma on this night. At the end of the match, there are perfectly round, undisturbed puddles of blood from where SLADE bled ono the mat.
This led to one of the best moments of the match where SLADE slapped on a sleeper, blood pouring all over Biff. It’s a literal blood baptism for the returning hero.
Biff is, of course, excellent in this as well. For someone as heavy handed and explosive as Biff is on offense, what he actually does best here is sell. In the opening moments, there’s some very real concern in his eyes as he begins to fathom just how far into the deep end he’s jumped. SLADE’s not a man one runs into in the polished halls of the WWE Performance Center, and Biff perfectly gets across the fear he has without ever slipping into melodrama. It’s a pitch perfect emotional performance.
It only makes Biff’s eventual victory all the more satisfying. He threw himself into the deep, and he didn’t drown. He tapped into that old violent streak, forced to lie dormant for so long, and came away with the victory over a maniac. By the end of this, Biff feels every bit like a world beater, ready to take on anyone to reclaim his love for professional wrestling.
After the match, Biff delivers a speech to the crowd at Fete. There’s a crazy sort of charm to this promo. Standing there, caked in blood, Biff sounds calm, serene even. He thanks everyone for their support, wishes them a safe trip home in spite of the storm. It’s a powerful kind of babyface energy to be dripping blood from head to toe, and still find the strength to show small courtesies for the fans in attendance. It’s just as important a piece to the whole experience as all the wild violence.
Another thing stood out from the post-match promo. Biff mentioned that in the last couple of years, he had lost his passion and love for professional wrestling. Those words lent even more meaning to the fight. It was a bloodletting for Biff, not just in the literal sense, but in that through this violence he purged the part of himself that had grown stagnant and stale while working in the WWE. Oney Lorcan died on this night, crushed beneath SLADE’s relentless onslaught. Thank God, Biff Busick came to take his place.
Sometimes a man needs to bleed to remember that he’s still alive.