Many fans not-so-lovingly referred to this card as "Do Or Die" preceding the event, and frankly, that characterization was on point. "Ascension" was billed as a second chance for some and an opportunity to make a long overdue point for others, but it ended up being a train wreck for several emcees and easily URL's weakest event in recent memory. Every battle contained at least one choke, and there was only one that clearly made it into "2-1" territory. It's safe to assume that several of the names on the card won't return to URL anytime soon if at all, but the event still wasn't a total loss.
(Debatable) Battle Of The Night: Real Deal vs. Reepah Rell
This was probably the only battle on the card that wasn't a 3-0, easily making it Battle Of The Night. On paper it looks like a bit of a mismatch— or at the very least, random— simply because Real Deal has been consistent since Scribble Jam including several standout URL showings while Reepah Rell has been around just a few years, only recently having started on Smack. Still, Reepah more than held his own, and the clash was looking extremely debatable until Round 3.
Round 1 was razor-close in the building, with RD delivering concise, sharply written material in a mostly four-bar structure and Reepah following it up with a much longer, more dynamic and personal round. There was a definite discrepancy in performance energy, but the round essentially came down to preference with a roughly even split in the crowd. RD's second was solid but lacked the intensity the building was probably looking for after Reepah's first. That round clearly went to Reepah, as it was even stronger than his first.
After taking a more subdued "bars only" approach than you might have expected him to in the first two rounds, RD started to hit Reepah with some heavy angles in the third, calling him a "deadbeat dad" among other unpleasant labels. Reepah responded with a decent "I'm a great father" rebuttal and quickly got into his bars, but shortly thereafter his Round 3 devolved into a series of chokes and a suddenly stifled stage presence. The third became a wash for RD, and it raised an interesting question. Given how close Round 1 was, should Reepah completely falling apart in Round 3 have an effect on deciding the winner of that close first round? For some, myself included, it might have made the difference. Let me know your take in the comments below.
Performance/Body Of The Night: Cortez Over Prez Mafia
Do I even need to say it? Yes, Cortez blacked out on Prez Mafia in a massive "fuck you" to everyone who believed he belonged on this card, let alone those who actually predicted he would lose. It was an A-1 performance, maybe even one of his best ever on URL, and he covered all the bases. His first and third were particularly momentous, clowning Prez into oblivion for his bar-stealing controversy and going at the entire new class, respectively. There was just no contest between him and Prez on that stage as he moved throughout it and constantly hammed it up with the crowd, and it added up to nothing short of a bodybag.
There's a certain phenomenon in battle rap where battlers get so wrapped up in envisioning their performance as it unfolds that they can lose their grip on the crowd and end up scrambling, and that seemed to happen to Prez. His Round 1 started decently with him leaning heavily on his stilted delivery and trying to style on Cor, but it quickly went downhill, and each round got progressively worse. There were chokes, awkward pauses, and every round seemingly got cut short. Prez made no excuses and gave the win to Cor 3-0, but it's hard to picture him back on URL anytime soon.
But don't worry, "NO VAULTING WAS IN THE CONTRACT!"
DOT did exactly what he needed to do to beat Mo Mula, which was simply to be himself (Reach Gawd) and deliver a clean performance. He clearly hadn't lost a step in the delivery department, animated as ever, and the crowd was happy to see him reaching all over the stage with carefree abandon. If Mo Mula had been able to clown him effectively like Young X did a while back, which threatened the end of DOT's Smack tenure, things might have gone differently. In the building, it was 3-0 DOT.
Jai 400 Block
After a lukewarm performance versus Dre Dennis, Jai showed up to Ascension pissed off with a point to prove. His aggression put the pressure on Dougy from the jump, and it didn't waver in the slightest over three rounds. With some of his best writing to date, he put on a thoroughly dominant performance that should land him back on URL sooner rather than later.
Snake Eyez has never been wack on URL, but up until Ascension his most memorable performance was a clear loss to Ryda. Much like Jai, he seemed fully determined to whoop Tone Montana's ass and make a statement, and that he did. It was a clear 3-0, and even if Tone had been on point (he wasn't), he still probably would have had trouble matching Snake's haymaker-packed rounds.
Bless his heart, Bill Collector did everything he could to save his clash versus Uno Lavoz, but a rapidly thinning crowd and a pretty godawful showing from Uno made it an uphill battle. That's all the more reason to commend him though, because he didn't let either of these factors rattle him, sticking to his usual approach and finding humor in the whole mess. His Round 2 was particularly impressive, matching the caliber of his heyday performances and hyping up the crowd more than seemed possible at the start of the battle. 3-0 Bill.
Young Kannon is nothing if not consistent. Seriously, he barely ever loses despite not making a lasting impression as often as he should, but few probably expected him to beat on Money Bagz the way he did. To be fair, a lot of the one-sidedness was due to Money Bagz' own shortcomings (discussed at greater length below), but you have to commend YK for being simply unshakeable; he always gets through his bars cleanly regardless of the vibe of the room. Yet another 3-0.
There's no need to mince words: battling DOT shouldn't have been as difficult as Mo Mula made it look, and he made a terrible case for becoming a URL mainstay. While he's performed much, much better in lower profile clashes, Mula's presence and delivery were seriously suffering at Ascension. His rounds were riddled with awkward pauses and all seemed cut short, and he didn't manage to land much of anything until the third (you might give him that round if you're feeling extra generous).
Dougy was not necessarily one of the battlers on the card who needed to prove anything, but he turned in probably his worst performance to date, which didn't look great in the wake of his losses to Nu Jerzy Twork and Ryda & Jakkboy Maine (with his doubles partner Snake Eyez). The chokes— which were most problematic in Round 2, cutting it wildly short— weren't even the whole problem. Truth be told, many of Dougy's bars relied on wordplay that had already been done to death, with far too many "bald head" lines to tolerate (much akin to his overuse of "ratchet" bars versus Twork).
This was more than likely Tone Montana's last shot on URL after his horrifically unprepared showing versus Saint Mic, and he probably didn't do enough to be called back. There were flashes of greatness throughout his rounds, particularly in the first, but by mid-Round 2, his grasp on his material seemed tenuous at best. While he didn't choke as glaringly as plenty of others on the card, many fans suspected him of forgetting his bars and reverting to overly generalized material that wasn't meant for Snake Eyez at all.
In each round, Uno Lavoz showed promise in the very beginning before quickly falling apart. Like clockwork, he would get a hilarious joke off, then almost immediately falter in his cadence and become frustrated with the crowd. In an attempt to show he "actually has bars," he also delivered probably the worst Dragon Ball Z scheme of all time. You'll have to take my word for it, because there's no way Bill vs. Uno will ever drop. To quote Bill, "We goin' in the vault. God dammit, Uno."
What the hell happened to Money Bagz? He went from clearly 3-0ing Pass on KOTD, to having a forgettable debatable versus Prez on URL, to haphazardly freestyling his way through much of this performance versus YK. It seems like Bagz gets a lot of his power from the crowd, and the lackluster energy in the room at the time of his battle did not seem to do him any favors, in sharp contrast to his electrifying Pass performance that took place in front of a wildly enthusiastic crowd. It was a trip to see him struggle on stage, and I can't recall another time he's choked in his entire career.
Saint Mic vs. Fettuccine 20
It's not clear what exactly prevented this clash from going down, but fans became aware of its cancelation through various channels a couple weeks before the event, so it didn't come as a terrible shock the day of. Still, it's a shame, because Fettuccine 20 was in a similar position to Snake Eyez and could have used the jumpstart. Even worse, Saint Mic, coming off a fire performance versus Showoff, had plenty of fans anticipating his return to URL.
Rich Imnice (Rich Dolarz) vs. Prep
Prep has done a couple of Facebook Live videos to explain why this battle didn't go down, but it all seems to come down to him being ridiculously late to the event, plain and simple. Rich was at the venue all day, visibly becoming more and more irritated as the hours passed. There were reports that Prep eventually showed up after the venue cleared out and wanted to do the battle outside, but Rich had no interest. Understandable. Show up to your battles, unless you want to "end up where Rich Dolarz at." Wait...