As the year comes to close, I’ve decided to list some of my favourite matches for the year. My goal for this year was to go to a lot more British wrestling shows and I’ve managed to do over one a month this year, each being a great way to spend an evening. As such, I thought it would be cool to list what in my opinion have been ten of the best matches I’ve seen this year, I’ve only gone from matches I’ve seen in person and not included any from DVDs or shows I haven’t seen. If you’ve got any recommendations of ones to check out, let me know via twitter: @discoverwres.
(They are in order, but if they are in the top ten, I definitely think they are worth a watch)
10. Nathan Cruz vs Jimmy Havoc (Progress – We Heart Violence)
Awesome character work from the charismatic Cruz and the underdog Jimmy Havoc. A match that was really memorable and told a great story.
9. Stixx vs Dave Mastiff (NGW – 5th Anniversary)
A fun match between two top heavyweights. Stixx and Mastiff put on a classic hard hitting match between two powerhouses.
8. Robbie X vs Dean Allmark (Southside WE – Speed King 2013)
Robbie and Deano are always top quality performers and as a pairing they lit up the Rushcliffe Arena with a dazzling bout.
7. Notorious BAD (Sean Daniels and Sam Bailey) vs The Models (Danny Hope and Joey Hayes) (Futureshock Wrestling – #65 Lotto Thunder)
The Models are one of the most entertaining tag teams of all time and they put on a cracking match against the equally impressive Bailey and Daniels. Great fun!
6. April Davids vs Emi Sakura (10 Minute challenge match) (PCW – Road to Glory Night 2)
Killer action by two of the best female wrestlers in the world, they put on a masterclass for the Preston crowd.
5. Noam Dar vs Joey Hayes (Tournament Final) (PCW – Road to Glory Night 2)
Technical showcase with two of the UK’s greats. Joey and Noam delivered a barnstormer of a match that had the crowd on their feet.
4. El Ligero vs Pete Dunne vs MK McKinnan (Southside WE – Menace to Society 3)
Sizzling Triple threat match featuring the brilliant El Ligero and two of the country’s best in MK and Pete Dunne. This was awesome to watch live and I’m sure it will be as good on DVD.
3. Kris Travis vs Kevin Steen (PCW – Springslam)
A thrilling match with two charismatic performers pulling out all the stops. No more really needs to be said, check it out!
2. El Ligero vs AR Fox vs Tommy End (Southside WE – Crossing The Line)
Jaw-dropping international match that showed a real variety of wrestling styles all within one match. Loved this one.
1. Money In The Bank Ladder Match with Martin Kirby, Kris Travis, Bubblegum, Joey Hayes, Dean Allmark and CJ Banks (PCW – Too Good To Be Two)
This was just AWESOME. Unbelievably great match, full of twists and turns and great wrestling. A real highlight of this year and all competitors blew me away with this match.
Here’s to hoping 2014 brings as many crackers as 2013 had.
I was over the moon when Rev Pro announced their debut in Castleford. I live about fiteen minutes down the road and was completely made up to find out that one of the UK’s largest promotions would be performing on my doorstep. I’d previously been to the Civic Centre in Castleford for the Dragongate:UK show earlier in the year and knew it would be a great venue for the promotion to use, as the atmosphere at that show was absolutely fantastic. Unfortunately the numbers weren’t great for this show, I don’t think this was a fault of the show itself, but probably more of a mix between bad timing (being pretty close to christmas) and taking place on a friday night. Castleford’s skyline is dominated by ‘Xscape’ an ‘under one roof’ entertainment complex full of bars, restaurants, a cinema, bowling, laser quest and a weird 3D golf thing I don’t really understand. Xscape is like an ant farm on a friday, with rivers of people flowing in and out and I honestly think that with People being creatures of habit, it would be hard to make them change their regular ‘Friday’ plans and get them to come to a wrestling show. Personally, I don’t see much in the way of wrestling advertised in my local area and was so excited to see RPW making their way up north. I mean, there is a wealth of excellent wrestling close to me (NGW, Southside, Futureshock, PCW) but not much in under an hours drive. Hopefully, the low attendance doesn’t put RPW off for another show in a similar area as I had a whale of time and would be chomping at the bit to get tickets.
Overall, the show was completely packed with excellent matches and had a real mix of talent with half of the roster for the show being international talent and the other being british guys. It had a lot of pairings I was really excited to see and in short, delivered with a thrilling collection of bouts that had the small, but excitable crowd, cheering and booing in fine form.
First up the current PWG and ROH champion Adam Cole faced off against Josh Bodom. It was a brilliant clash with Bodom riling up the crowd with some classic bad guy antics and Adam Cole making the crowd smile with some cheeky comments. Both Cole and Bodom impressed with some great fighting that had the crowd on the edge of their seat. I was really eager to see Adam Cole as I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve seen of him in PWG and the buzz surrounding him made a grappler I had high expectations for. He was top notch and really demonstrated why he is currently riding high on the US Indie circuit. Previously having seen Josh Bodom as a good guy in Futureshock, I had a great time watching him as the villain at this show. The guy has bundles of talent and really knows his way around the ring, it was cool to see him acting as a baddie and was proof of his range as a wrestler, versatility is one of those things that must be hard to pick up, but Bodom seemed as comfortable winding up the crowd as he did when he had them behind him. Between the two of them Bodom and Cole got the show off to a memorable start with a lot of great wrestling which would be well worth checking out if you are a fan of fast moving, hard hitting action. I really enjoyed this bout and would probably put it at the top of the list if I had to pick a favourite from the show.
Next up was Yorkshire’s own Rampage Brown in a thriller with Uhaa Nation. I’ve read a lot of good things about Uhaa in the past few months following his star-making appearances on these shores. It was the first time I’d got to see him in person and my god was he impressive, a complete beast of a man who seems destined for success in the world of wrestling. Built like a monster, he was one of the few people I’ve seen square up to Rampage Brown and look like a convincing threat. Rampage is one of the best heavyweights in the UK, if not the world at the moment and I was fired up to see him in a competition with such an impressive opponent. They had a complete corker with both guys really wailing on each other in a brutal way. This was the exact type of heavyweight collision I’d love to see on TV every week with two tough wrestlers fighting for domination. Rampage’s strikes look like intense at the best of times, but they were taken to the next level in this epic clash. Uhaa Nation showed why he is so highly rated with some really impressive moves, hitting a high impact gorilla press slam and a standing moonsault and shooting star press combination. I absolutely loved this match and the crowd did too, it was a fresh, exciting fight between two guys who are the definition of heavyweight power.
The first half main event for the Undisputed Championship was Colt Cabana vs Marty Scurll. Colt was in good spirits, encouraging a set of rowdy kids to get involved and acting as the classic hero, putting on an awesome show that put the case forward for his standing as one of the best independent wrestlers in the world today. Scurll was very entertaining, although his hair was slightly bemusing, rocking a fringe version of Gene Simmon’s top of the head ponytail, he had the crowd berating him for the whole of the bout. This was a good fun match that was a cracking example of how a little bit of fun and a simple story can go a long way, with the two wrestlers acting in clear opposing roles and sucking the audience in through classic ‘Panto’ tactics.
We began our second half with Sha Samuels vs Chuck Taylor. Chuck Taylor was one of the guys on the show I was most excited to see, I’m a big fan of his character and think he is a good example of how comedy can really work in wrestling. He was in top form throughout this match hitting his classic moves like the corner stomp around the ring as well as elbow dropping an assortment of hats. I was thrilled when Taylor was added to the roster of the show and he was a perfect fit for the vibe of the evening, appealing to the mix of families and adult wrestling fans equally.
This show was the first time I have seen Sha Samuels and frankly he knocked my socks off, with his bright red and yellow gear and flat cap he really made a visual impact as well as a strong lasting impression after the match. Sha is a stereotypical cockney gangster type from the east end of London, who really played up the obvious geographical animosity between a bunch of northerners and a loud mouthed southerner. Samuels was a great wrestler to watch and one who should be appearing on more shows up north. I really rated Samuels and would love to see him wrestle more often. He and Taylor put on a show stealing performance in one of the most hilarious matches I’ve seen this year. Honestly, it was another highlight in a show that had offered a real selection box of wrestling talents, with a little bit of everything for the audience.
Providing a technically gripping encounter were Hiromu Takahashi and Mark Haskins, with both guys showing why they are so highly thought of with some corking wrestling than looked like it bloody hurt. Haskins has had a stellar year in the UK and is riding high at the moment, I really hope the run of good form continues for him as he is a credit to any show he performs on. This match did exactly what you would expect bringing a real flavour of japanese strong style to the little Yorkshire town of Castleford. Takahashi showed why he has been making an impression in the UK this year with a strong showing that left the crowd wanting more.
The presentation of the show was great with each wrestler getting a full entrance video and music, I really liked the big screen and atmosphere of the show and thought that the running length of the show was perfect. Three matches either side of the interval was the right amount for each bout to have a satisfying length and not feel rushed. I really felt like I’d had my moneys worth by the end of the show and was impressed by the complete variety of wrestling I got to see. As a whole the show was really well put together and had a loose vibe that meant the show felt nice and relaxed, a change of pace from some of the more aggressive crowd reactions over the year and a great way to spend a friday night after a long week at work.
Our final match of the evening was a tag clash between personal favourites Project Ego (Kris Travis and Martin Kirby) and The Forever Hooligans (Alex Koslov and Rocky Romero). I’d heard a lot about The Forever Hooligans and they are one of those teams that are really lighting up the internet at the moment. My money however, was on local favourites Project Ego. I don’t think I can sing the praises of Trav and Kirby enough, a pair of excellent wrestlers who can adapt to anyone they get thrown at them. Koslov and Romero were great as the antagonists and set to brawling like a pair of psychopaths with Ego. The match spilled all over the venue with Kirby getting thrown into walls and Trav taking a vicious looking shot from a rubbish bin that literally bounced off his head. Once the match made its way back into the ring it became a speedy dash of wrestling action that was amazing to look at. Koslov hit some awesome cossack style kicks during the bout and he and Romero were a cohesive unit that look set to be a dominant force for a long time. Highlights of the match had to go to Travis and Kirby whether it was Kris referring to Romero as Craig David or Kirby slowly waving his arms behind Koslov as he sang the russian national anthem. Project Ego always try their best to entertain the crowds and yet again showed why they are so beloved in the UK.
Ultimately, this whole show was an excellent package and one which was a great example of the variety of wrestling that you can see across the UK. I really hope this isn’t the last time Rev Pro venture up north as the crowd in attendance had a great time. This is definitely one to seek out on DVD as the great combination of talent from all around the world acts as a real highlights package of wrestlers who shone in 2013. A brilliant show.
When this was announced I was pretty excited, it marked the first time that WWE was visiting Leeds and also acted as what would be my first visit to the First Direct Arena. Having only just opened, I was excited to visit the venue for the first time and had high expectations of what it would be like. Ultimately, it was a great setup with the stage and ring looking great, however where we were sat (in the upper tier) there was minimal legroom and I sat through most of the show getting pins and needles in my feet due to being overly cramped. I reckon that if you are anything over five foot eight, you should be prepared for discomfort. It didn’t ruin the show by any means, but I know to avoid driving afterwards if I can: a) because my legs were aching by the time I was home and b) because I could use beer to ‘distract’ me from it! Haha!
The venue looked great and from the last time I’d been to a house show, it appears they have changed the set somewhat. I’m sure that last time I saw WWE, it had a big light up ‘X’ in front of the entrance way and this wasn’t present for the Leeds show. Its only a minor thing, but I really think it aided the show. It looked far more like a scaled down version of the Raw/Smackdown set in this way and I think that helped make the show feel like a bigger event, rather than just ‘not’ being a TV taping.
The audience was pretty excited throughout and aside from the usual pockets of drunk lads trying too hard to be funny, they really got into the spirit of the show and added to the atmosphere in a great way. The crowd was absolutely mental from the first match onwards with the Primetime Players getting a huge response throughout their match.
Hunico and Camacho vs PTP was a fun match to start the show, although we missed the first five minutes due to issues at the ticket office. I managed to see what felt like the majority and was impressed by how into Darren Young and Titus O’Neil the crowd seemed to be. Hunico feels like one of the most misused guys on the roster at the moment as he always puts in a great showing whenever he gets the chance. This match was a solid affair, it didn’t really offer anything unique, but it was a more than adequate way to start the show as all four competitors were giving it their all and definitely left a massive impression on the Leeds crowd.
Next up was a bout between Ryback and Justin Gabriel. Justin entered first, getting another loud response from the crowd and I have to admit I was really excited to see who he was against. I really rate Gabriel as a performer and hoped he would have chance to show off his full potential in this match. My heart did sink a bit when Ryback’s music hit, because I just instantly thought it was going to be a squash match, however it didn’t turn into such a match and got the audience really invested in it. By being a showcase for Ryback’s powerful offence and highlighting the charisma and ability of Justin Gabriel with a series of rallying comeback spots, it really had me believing that he could maybe, just maybe pinch the victory. It was also the first time I’ve seen Ryback wrestle in person and he was absolutely fantastic. I was really glad he was as impressive in person as I have felt he has been on TV. If the rumours of a Ryback vs Brock match to take place at the Rumble are correct, I’m pretty excited. However, I think that’s fans of both guys wishing on a star and that personally I think there is more chance that we might see Ryback taking on Dean Ambrose for the US title.
Next up was Divas competition pitting The Bella Twins vs AJ and Tamina. This was probably my second favourite bout of the night and really used the wrestlers involved to their strengths, Tamina acting as the imposing enforcer to AJ’s taunting villain and The Bellas shouldering their new role as crowd favourites with drive and excitement. There was a lot to like in this match and aside from a rather stupid pocket of the crowd rattling out the useless “you can’t wrestle” chant to people, you know, wrestling… the audience was hyped up to see the Divas champion and the stars of Total Divas in action. It had a great story that built the crowd up to a frenzy with AJ hiding behind Tamina and The Bellas desperately trying to take her on. There was a fun moment when AJ took the tag from Tamina only to pose in the ring and tag back out again. The Bellas were top notch and had a lot of energy throughout the match, they didn’t seem to stop moving, something which really helps with a tag match. There’s nothing worse than looking on the apron and see someone looking like they are ‘switched off’ and daydreaming until they get tagged in again.
The Bellas have received a lot of praise recently, largely in the form of a lot of backhanded compliments in that since pairing with Cena and Bryan respectively their wrestling abilities have developed ten fold. I’m calling bullshit on that, Nikki and Brie have consistently been two of the better female wrestlers on the roster, even before their return earlier this year they were having great tag matches on Superstars and Smackdown before they left. I think the reason people have struggled to see their talent is due to the cyclical/rotating nature of the women’s division. What tends to happen is WWE shuffles the deck around depending on who they have/haven’t seen on TV for a while. As such, the audience and performers never get to extend a bond beyond first impressions and therefore, as an audience we only tend to end up appreciating the Divas beyond the surface by the time they’ve hit the peak of their story arc.
Total Divas has meant that the focus has been firmly on Brie and Nikki for substantially longer than normal for a challenger to the championship. So, I think that responses such as “they can only wrestle ’cause of their boyfriends” from a section of the crowd are more due to the fact that they are seeing more of them on camera due to the additional screen time through Total Divas and WWE’s promotion of the show. As such that portion of the audience is seeing/acknowledging their talent for the ‘first’ time. Yeah, yeah, some people will say that “the only reason they are the stars on that show is ’cause of their boyfriends” but addressing that will mean that this review ends up digressing further and, if we’re honest, there is little need for speculation that is similar to the catty attitudes of teenage girls in American sitcoms.
I don’t think I have been as overjoyed to watch a repeat match as when after Jinder Mahal‘s entrance The Great Khali‘s music hit. I am a complete sucker for the Punjabi Playboy and although this match was probably the worst on the show, I had a great time watching the Giant chop and slap the hell out of Jinder and thought that this was a great stop gap and change of pace from what had been two exciting tag matches and a fun singles match between Ryback and Gabriel. The crowd had a great time cheering along with Khali and he was ideal to use in this role, just beating up Mahal until the crowd was satisfied and he dropped him with the Brain Chop.
Paul Heyman, Curtis Axel and Ryback were out next and they cut a promo running down CM Punk and Leeds. It was fun stuff and had the audience on the edge of their seats, chomping at the bit for Punk to make an appearance. When ‘Cult Of Personality’ hit, everyone went mental and the second city saint made his way onto the ramp for one of the loudest reactions of the evening. Punk was in fine form as he verbally dissected the trio leading to Ryback and Axel abandoning Heyman, leaving him at the mercy of Punk with a Kendo Stick. As CM Punk was thrashing away at Paul Heyman the lights went down and the eerie music of the Wyatt Family hit. They began circling Punk and looked to be taking control until ‘Ride Of The Valkyries’ fired up and Daniel Bryan made his way out. I was absolutely loving this, the atmosphere was electric as Punk and Bryan saw off the Wyatts and we got a tag match between the four of them announced. The Wyatt Family (Luke Harper and Erick Rowan) vs CM Punk and Daniel Bryan was definitely my match of the night all four guys in the ring put on a match that basically covered the price of admission. It was a real blast of a match and the pairing of Punk and Bryan is one of those team ups that I have been desperate for. Against two huge guys like the Wyatts it felt like a real epic encounter. The fact that the Wyatts are only a fairly ‘recent’ addition to the main roster has no effect on their presence, the wild eyes and shaking head of Luke Harper playing off beautifully against Erick Rowan’s almost stoic serial killer-vibes (bringing to mind Jason Voorhees in particular), this is even before we get to Bray Wyatt who threatened to steal the show, at ringside he taunted and teased Bryan and Punk, wheeling around like a drunken butcher, preaching and posing as his ‘brothers’ beat and grappled the two heroes. Daniel Bryan and CM Punk had real chemistry as a team and will surely be one of the must-watch elements of WWE for the foreseeable future. I just loved this match, it had everything I wanted from the show and really felt like a main event in itself, I honestly can’t wait for this match to take place at Survivor Series and can say that from first hand experience that if the PPV encounter is half as good as this match was then it will steal the show.
Following the intermission we returned to another tag match, this time, 3MB’s Drew McIntyre and Heath Slater vs The Usos. Personally, I preferred the earlier bout between PTP and Hunico and Camacho over this contest, but this was really popular with the crowd, with the Usos getting a lot of crowd noise from their chants. That’s not to say that they stole the show, Slater and McIntyre were being jeered heavily and the crowd loved having two charismatic antagonists to pick on throughout the match.
Our penultimate contest was for the Intercontinental Title with Curtis Axel defending against R-Truth. I’ll be honest, there is not a person I enjoy watching less than R-Truth at the moment, but the crowd felt very differently giving the former NWA champ a great reception and whats-upping to their hearts content. Axel drew a much more muted reception from the crowd, as I think they didn’t truly know how to react to him following him walking off from Heyman in the earlier segment. This really didn’t matter to the crowd though and they were psyched up to see R-Truth do his thing, the guy had the arena in the palm of his hand as he danced and taunted Axel. Axel probably caught the best moment of the match, in a glimmer of a more charismatic performer he mimicked R-Truth’s signature dance moves before sticking the boot in, winding up the crowd pretty effectively. It’s a shame Axel has had his spotlight withdrawn in the way it has, as his runs on NXT really showed he was a competent and entertaining wrestler. Overall, this wasn’t the greatest match on the show, but the crowd really made it something more. Of which, credit has to go to R-Truth’s abilities as a showman, which shows that there is something for everyone when it comes to the WWE.
Finally we had a World Heavyweight Championship match between personal favourite of mine Alberto Del Rio, and John Cena. This was a great WWE main event and Cena showed why he is the true face of the company. The fight between both guys was enthralling and conveniently relied on both guys’ strengths. Del Rio’s methodical style was at its strongest against Cena, due to the ‘selling’ ability of The Champ. The way they pitched this match strongly in favour of Alberto meant we had a gripping rollercoaster ride towards the finish with John Cena building himself back up against his scheming opponent. Del Rio was in his element as the sneering bad guy and alongside Cena’s performance had the crowd built up into a frenzy. I loved this match and when Cena got the victory the crowd went absolutely bananas.
The only real negatives I had were for the arena itself and its lack of leg room and a slight bit of moaning at WWE’s roster. Whilst, ultimately I had a great time, the show had Cody and Goldust advertised online and I was excited to see them, it was disappointing that they weren’t on the show. It has been noted elsewhere online that WWE have been a bit patchy with the roster on this tour and I have to say I am inclined to agree, even though I think Hunico is awesome, it is a bit strange to see someone who hasn’t been featured on TV in so long in the opening match and I heard kids in the surrounding area telling their parents they didn’t know who they were.
Whilst the card was a bit of a mixed bag, I really enjoyed this show and will happily be venturing to the Wrestlemania Revenge tour when it is back in the UK next year. As the WWE continued to show why they are the dominant force in wrestling with a showcase of world class performers and top level production values.
This is usually a pretty fluid list, but I thought it would be an interesting thing to do, and hopefully call back to in the future. I don’t know about you, but who I enjoy on RAW/Smackdown changes so often dependent on storylines and the kind of matches they are having that I often realise that who I’d consider my ‘favourites’ have changed drastically over the course of the year.
5: Roman Reigns
The guy is just fantastic and seems destined to be one of the biggest stars of the next few years. He started out as a strong/silent type, but is slowly showing more and more personality in the ring and is honestly one of the most entertaining characters on WWE TV right now. Any time he steps between the ropes he makes a big impression. His guttural scream before powerbombing The Big Show through the table at the end of RAW showed signs of a monstrous beast behind the cool intensity of The Shield’s silent giant.
4: AJ Lee
AJ has solidly been one of my favourite performers on WWE since I began watching, she has always managed to carve a niche for herself despite the ever changing landscape of the Divas division. Although she has not been a part of the WWE’s ‘Total Divas’ she has managed to hold to her title/position by being one of the strongest characters across the roster. Whilst the Divas matches can often become a mess of ‘getting everyone involved for the sake of it’ tag matches she holds her own by being a strong personality who can easily be identified and remembered.
3: Antonio Cesaro
Who would have thought that Cesaro would have been in this position after his main roster debut. I had ‘World Heavyweight Title within the year’ written all over him. Whilst he is not in as stronger position as I would have put him in, he is shining as a tag team performer in the under-utilized ‘Real Americans’ making the most of any chance he gets. His mannerisms and attitude in any of the backstage segments and are usually the highlight of the show. Here’s hoping that the Swiss superman continues to build on his momentum and turn it into big singles matches wins in the new year. Personally, in my own mind I have been excited by a potential Real Americans/Cena feud due to the chemistry Cena and Cesaro have had in the big six man matches that we’ve recently had on Smackdown and Raw. Between Swagger and Cesaro, Cena could have a real threat to face off against, getting a worthy verbal sparring partner in Zeb Coulter in addition to the two physical opponents.
2: Daniel Bryan
This year has shown how Daniel Bryan will just out grow any boundaries placed around him, and whilst it appears he is being shuffled ‘down’ the card a little bit to face off against the Wyatt Family, I have no doubt he will still be one of the crowd’s favourite performers and get those huge reactions from the crowd that he so rightly deserves. I really hope that by taking him out of the WWE title picture, that a little of his intensity returns and we take a slight detour away from the ‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’ and more of return to the angry little twat he was when he had the WHC.
1: Cody Rhodes
Whether has he been disfigured or dashing, a part of the ‘Rhodes Scholars’ or teaming with his brother Goldust, Cody has been an essential cog in the WWE machine for a while now. He seems driven to steal the show, I didn’t think he’d still be as enthralling as a good guy as he was when he was a scheming moustachioed villain with Sandow or his awesome disfigured mask persona, but he is really pulling it off. I think partnering him with Goldust has meant that he can continue to keep some of his almost lizard-like skulking character tics as he is definitely not the ‘weirdest’ member of his tag team. I hope that we get the big Wrestlemania payoff match between Goldust and Cody as I think it could steal the show.
The Great Khali. The Punjabi Playboy. The WWE’s figure of fun showcased as a freak of nature barely able to move, let alone wrestle and he is now seen as a joke, but before he was made to be the butt of every bad pun thrown at him, he was one bad-ass heel who desecrated the Smackdown roster and anyone who stood in his path.
He had a feud with Finlay that Ryan had reminded me about and I thought it would be good fun to look back at how vicious he could be against anyone who’d fail to beat him without some form of interference.
Finlay goes chest to chest with Khali bats him away. A few Irish chops do nothing as Khali dominates Finlay in the corner with foot stomps and a vicious elbow. Now a knife edge chop. OUCH! Finlay’s struggling as a big boot floors him and for his luck, he is thrown out of the ring and Khali stalks him throwing him like a rag doll.
Khali tries one of his patented chops, but hits the ring post. Finlay fits back, but he walks straight into a Khali chop that you could hear in Calcutta! Khali is the Punjabi powerhouse and then applies a nerve hold.
Finaly gets out of it and tries another fight back, but again Khali’s strength is too much. Another big boot, almost like a Muay Thai kick and another blood-curdling nervehold to Finlay’s shoulder is applied. Finlay’s arm must be feeling numb as that hold is sintched in pretty good.
Inch by inch, Finlay gets to the ropes, but that does nothing as Khali puts in the vice grip. Hornswoggle’s had enough. He’s in! YOU LITTLE BASTARD! GET OUTTA THERE!! Khali can tell he’s small-fry and throws him out of the ring like a scampi fry. ANOTHER knife-edge chop followed by a big scoop slam. Khali is a MONSTER!
Don’t understand his strategy now, but he removes the turnbuckle and distracts the ref, No idea why he’s doing that, he might as well pin Finlay in this ridiculously one-sided match. Ranjit Singh tries to get involved using Finlay’s shillelagh, but Finlay’s got it! Ranjit Singh’s been floored! He’s going to hit Khali….GOOZLE! That digger like hand is wrapped around Finlay’s neck! The referee removes the shillelagh, but here comes Hornswoggle with a mini-shillelagh! HE JUST PULVERIZED THE PUNJABI PLUMS! SHILLELAGH TO THE SKULL!! He throws away the evidence! 1…2…3!!!
A hit and run, but showed how powerful and well booked Khali used to be until the ending. Even when he was a World Champion, he was feared and even the massive ‘OH NO!’ from the crowd at Royal Rumble 2007 showed how dominant he was eliminating SEVEN WWE superstars until the Undertaker entered. Just look at the destruction and carnage he leaves in his wake in this video.
He was a beast and shouldn’t be remembered as a 7 foot clown, he should be seen as a 7 foot behemoth of the WWE.
Halloween, the clocks going back, a television schedule filled with horror films and an upturn in the sales of pumpkins, it must be time for Future Pro Wrestling’s year ending show, Trick or Treat III. This is by far FPW’s funnest and funniest shows with a great crowd all dressed in fancy costumes, so instantly with the sun down on a Saturday night and wrestlers ‘bumping’ in the night, I knew that everyone was going to be in for a great night of entertainment!
The night begun with its marquee match, the ‘Pumpkin on a Pole Match’. The brain child of Co-Founder Lee Elmer, this was a match that could only finish once the winner plants a pumpkin on his opponent’s head.
Out first is Terry Stryker declaring that he is not a hobbit and that he is going to win his 2nd match in a row at FPW. Next out was Geoffrey the Giraffe from Toys’R’Us. I’m not kidding! A 7 foot giraffe comes out and circles the ring and gets a great pop from the crowd! Disco Diablo (Stryker’s actual opponent) comes out and Diablo and Geoffrey do a groovy disco/giraffe dance.
Once Geoffrey disappears, the action begins with Diablo being really over with the crowd as they chant ‘D.I.S.C.O’. No early exchanges as Diablo is too wily and quick for Stryker dodging out of two collar and elbow tie-ups. Stryker eventually became savvy to Diablo’s ploys and dodges a collar and elbow tie-up, but only winds up getting slapped and spanked by Diablo. Stryker was left livid as the crowd continued to mock him. He did eventually get the upper hand in the match and managed to go for the pumpkin first, high up propped on a pole.
Both combatants went for the pumpkin only for it to fall to the canvas as they both wrestled for the only key to a win. Eventually Stryker was in control and had Diablo set with the pumpkin ready to be planted on Diablo’s head, but it doesn’t fit! Diablo’s afro stopped the pumpkin from covering his head. Stryker remonstrates with referee Chris Roberts claiming that he’s being cheated. This only leads to Stryker unexpectedly getting ‘pumpkined’ by Disco Diablo and wins the match! Strker is furious and starts taking out his frustration on the pumpkin.
Next up was The Warden vs Mad Man Manson. I couldn’t wait to see Manson at FPW. His humour and ability to make the crowd laugh is a gift that fits perfectly with the type of shows this promotion puts on. Warden comes out all super serious as Manson comes out in a straight jacket. Warden queries why he should take on a mental patient? However, Manson seems less mental and more psychologically suited to the match.
The match seemed to end abruptly when Manson asks for the bell three times and then tries to leave, only to be told by Chris Roberts that he is meant to wrestle. Manson gleefully agrees and instantly puts the Warden into a wrist lock. Throughout the match, Warden would be at the mercy of Manson who just didn’t take him seriously. This only riled the Warden more who would go in too hastily and would wind up looking the fool with Manson’s antics.
However, the fun and games weren’t going to last as the fun and games and nipple twisters would end as The Warden would win with a roll up after a triple nipple twister between Manson, The Warden and ref Chris Roberts. Yep, they both nipple twisted the ref. Manson was distraught to lose, but left with the crowd held in the palm of his hand.
Out next was The Mexican Eagle postponing his commentary duties to take on the Earl of Excellence. Before the match, Eagle asked to face Snare, not the Earl of Excellence and he didn’t care if he had to knock some sense back into him via his Ukelele. This only seemed to fire up the Earl as he was instantly on the attack with some great suplexes and excellent mat work. The Eagle, or Pigeon as the crowd were calling him, only seemed to gain control when on the outside and even took time to fool and mock the crowd feigning high fives and throwing the Earl into the ring. It felt like a bit of a stale mate towards the end of the match until Eagle went for desparation and pulled off a bit of the turnbuckle to distract the referee and then hit the Earl of Excellence with his Ukelele. The Earl rolled out and siappeared under the ring, leading to the referee beginning a 10 count. The ref, Chris Roberts, got to 9, but was stopped by the Mexican Eagle as he proclaimed that he won’t finish this match until he defeats Snare.
But look who appears from under the ring, it’s SNARE! He’s got a mask like Samuray Del Sol! Snare hits an incredible finisher and wins by pinfall!
Next up before our interval is Jimmy Havoc vs Colt Cabana. The crowd really do not like Jimmy and absolutely adore Colt! This was Colt in his element using his excellent ring work and humourous trickery on the bitter and angry Jimmy Havoc. Whenever it felt like Havoc could get back into the match, Colt would just make him look foolish by barking at him like a dog, spinning him around in the centre of the ring and dropping Havoc on his back poking fun at Havoc and his hair.
There was a great exchange in the match where the ‘Boos’ and ‘Yays’ were bellowed with twisting arm locks. It was like a big, barrel-chested ballet! Eventually, Colt Cabana won with the GTS to keep the crowd happy into the interval. Havoc left deeply unhappy and made the crowd know how he felt about them at the end of the match flipping them off.
After the interval, we had Noam Dar taking the ‘Trick or Treat Challenge’ where a Treat was left for Noam or a Trick, which could be a match that he may not want. Noam goes for trick and gets…… 100 free Deep Fried Mars Bars. His favourite.
However, he is told that he is not allowed to leave as he does indeed have a match with….. EXODUS. The lights go out and out comes Exodus to strobe lights and smoke. Noam is snuck away in the crowd wearing a hat, glasses and holding a programme.
Exodus gets Noam in the ring and each time, Noam tries to escape. As the match continues and Exodus keeps Noam Dar in the ring, Noam hits Exodus with a quick flurry in the corner, including some sweet kicks and a gorgeous drop kick. Knowing that this won’t keep the monster down, Noam goes to get a chair and uses this only to stand above Exodus. This does nothing as Exodus wins the test of strength and he winds up standing on the chair, but Noam knocks Exodus on the legs and breaks and lands on the chair! Ouch!
Soon enough though, Exodus somehow gets back in the match through brute strength, but there is a ref bump! Poor Chris Roberts accidentally gets squashed in the corner and is out. Noam then tries to run away, but exodus is after him with his chain! Thanks to Noam being so blooming good though, he manages to take the mosnter down and ties him up in his chains around a part of the entrance walkway. Chris Roberts is back on his feet and starts the 10 count. Exodus gets to 9 when he’s out of the chains, but it’s too late. As soon as the 10 count is made and the bell was rung, then Noam does a runner!
Then a quick surprise from Colt Cabana as he comes out and says that it’s CM Punk’s birthday and he’d like everyone to sing happy birthday to him and he’ll show him the film on his phone when he’s back in Chicago. A lovely little surprise for the crowd and everyone burst into a CM Punk chant!
Finally we had the eagerly awaited 5-on-5 elimination match. Team Chamberlain consisting of Sir Thomas Chamberlain, Lord Jonathan Windsor, Master Joel Masters and the London Riots. Team Burridge, captained by ‘The Cockney Crusader’ Greg Burridge, The Swords of Essex Paul Robinson and Will Ospreay (in brilliant S.H.I.E.L.D. gear) and the Bhangra Knights.
The tempo of the match is set to 11 as the battling between the Swords of Essex, Bhangra Knights, Riots and Windsor and Masters is breathtaking. You couldn’t take your eye off the action with a 10 man brawl breaking out and this led to the high flying exploits of Paul Robinson and Will Ospreay who were both balls of energy and it was Team Burridge that took the early advantage as both London Riots were both eliminated with Paul Robinson squeezed in between the two eliminations of which the Riots protested that Sir Thomas Chamberlain was a bad captain.
Team Burridge were quickly cut down to 2 members to Team Chamberlain’s 3 with the Bhangra Knights quickly chalked off and eliminated. This led to Will Ospreay and Greg Burridge being left in the match to take on the rest of Team Chamberlain. However, the brute strength of Joel Masters was too much for Ospreay who was eliminated by Windsor who chopped, sorry, tagged himself in to grab the pin. Master then tagged himself in and argued with Windsor and this led to Masters being eliminated by Burridge with a roll up. This infuriated Masters who started arguing with Windsor as he felt that he was being disrespected and not cared about. Burridge smelt a rift and added more fuel to the engulfing fire as he caused Masters to choke slam Windsor. Burridge got the pin and it was finally just him and Chamberlain.
An immediate exchange between these bitter rivals led to Greg Burridge grabbing the win and the crowd went absolutely bananas!! This led to Steve ‘HD’ Evans coming out and declaring that at Reloaded 3.0 there will be a 30 man Royal Rumble match to give the winner an opportunity to cash in their chance at a match in 12 months at any time. There would also be a number 1 contender’s match for the FPW Title between Greg Burridge and Jimmy Havoc.
This rounded off a really fun and entertaining show that will only make the FPW family grow!!
(In Movie Voiceover Guys Voice) Are you ready for thrills, spills, high octane action and wrestling so fast paced, it will blow your mind? You are? Then you are ready for Project Lucha vs The Young Bucks. Two worlds collide as two of the UKs greatest wrestlers face off with arguably the best tag team in the world. In one corner, Matt and Nick Jackson the showboating tearways with a love of Hanson and Highflying. In the other, El Ligero and Martin Kirby. Two of the greatest singles wrestlers in Britain combining to create the mega-powers team up of PROJECT LUCHA. What will happen when they clash? War on the streets of Preston, a titanic clash that will melt your TV screen and leave you in awe. Sit back, grab a beer and prepare to see one of the highlight matches of 2013.
(Then you press play and watch this match)
Last weekend, I made the trip over to Nottingham for yet another stacked SWE show. The line up was absolutely packed with stunning matches. This show was a little different to other SWE events as it was cross promoted with CZW meaning that we got a lot of CZW talent on the show. It was a win/win situation as a fan and the mix of wrestlers gave us some really exciting match ups across the whole show. The show wasn’t a standalone event however and the feuds and storylines from the regular SWE shows continued throughout the night.
This show was in a different section of the Rushcliffe arena, it was still a great spot and there wasn’t a bad seat in the room. Personally, after a few dalliances with the front row across various shows. I’m at my most comfortable in the back or towards the last rows. You can always still see everything and you also get the benefit of not being clobbered if any suicide dives or such take place. Another thing I really enjoy about sitting in what would be considered a ‘lesser’ seat is that you get the added atmosphere of seeing peoples reactions as the matches take place and in the right circumstance it can really give the right match the extra bit of oomph.
The first match of the evening was a hard hitting encounter between CZW champion Drew Gulak and MK McKinnan. It was a solid bout with a lot of hard hitting offence. I really liked the chemistry between the two competitors and thought that although the match was really good, it could have done with a little more time, basically because I would have been happy to watch them wrestle a lot more. MK is a great talent in the ring and a worthy addition to any event he appears on. He’s always impressive and driven in his bouts. This match had a lot of interesting technical work in it and was a tactical and well fought fight. The CZW champion Drew Gulak looked great in this one and was every bit as impressive as I expected him to be. Overall, this was a cracking little match and one that both guys really shone in, opening the show really well.
Next up was the tag team match between The Predators (Paul Malen and Joseph Connors) and Max Angelus and Robbie X. This was one of the three matches including the Arm Wrestling Contest that didn’t feature international talent and it didn’t suffer because of it. If you look back over the show reviews of the past year, you’ll see nothing but praise for Robbie X, a real talent who only gets better with each and every match. Angelus and The Predators also put in excellent performances in their respective roles. Angelus and X were an ‘uneasy alliance’ against the monstrous Predators and their lack of cooperation meant that they were largely easy pickings for the well oiled machine that is Malen and Connors. The Predators got a lot of great looking offense during this match and just looked completely dominant throughout. This was a great little tag bout and one that would have worked no matter where it was on the card, all four are proven stars within Southside WE and always get their desired reaction whenever they step into the ring.
I was surprised when T-Bone vs DJ Hyde vs Jimmy Havoc was the third match of the night, as it looked to be one of the ‘main events’ and really delivered as one. The crowd was up on their feet for the majority of this match, to follow the crazy ultra violent action around the ring and this one really did what everyone wanted with tables being broken, chairs being thrown and drawing pins being strewn around the ring. Two of my personal favourites T-Bone and Jimmy Havoc really put in strong performances in this match with Jimmy as the plucky hero and T-Bone as the monster brawling with the CZW Figurehead DJ Hyde. T-Bone never disappoints and put in a great performance against another Hardcore legend (Tommy Dreamer) earlier in the year at PCW. The guy is just a great fit for any opponent with a character that is equally as exciting in a fan friendly role as well as a brooding monster. This was a cool match that had a classic hardcore feel and to it and lot of brutal brawling that would appeal to fans of what CZW are famous for.
Drake Younger vs Mark Haskins was a match I was really excited for when the show was announced and it was a great encounter by two talented wrestlers who really know how to get a crowd gripped through intense wrestling. Younger was fantastic and showed why he is regarded as one of the worlds most talented wrestlers. Drake put in a great showing against Haskins who really fought the match at his own pace, with Younger stepping up to the mark in a real exhibition of ‘classic’ wrestling action. Haskins is on top form at the moment and always worth watching and I was really glad that he and Younger had chance to put in a thrilling competition for this event. I loved this match and thought it was one of the best I’ve seen all year, its definitely worth checking out as it has two of the most entertaining wrestlers in the world today dishing out some intense action in a no frills, old school wrestling match.
In our final match before the interval we got to see Chikara’s Soldier Ant in action against ‘The Heavyweight House Of Pain’ Stixx. Again, this was another top match and had me in stitches throughout. An out and out comedy match, Stixx had his work cut out with Soldier Ant. Competing in a press up competition with the Colony member the two of them put on a really fun match that was a great change of pace after the hard fought technical match between Younger and Haskins. Both guys excelled in a fun match that added to the varied show, which really was giving something different in each and every bout. (Editors note: Harvey Dale was also present for the duration of this bout, acting as corner man to Stixx. The Face of House Of Pain unfortunately made himself look a bit of a fool when he failed to complete one press up successfully)
The second half started with my personal match of the night between El Ligero, AR Fox and Tommy End. All three were unbelievable in a triple threat match that demands to be seen, if you weren’t in attendance on the night. It was a phenomenal competition that had everyone’s jaw on the floor. It was pretty much indescribable, it was just AWESOME. I don’t think much more can be said. All three are excellent wrestlers and it was just a mind-blowing showcase of wrestling brilliance. If you weren’t there, you have to see this match it was fucking brilliant.
Then we got the second in the series of arm-wrestling matches between Dale Mills and Harvey Dale. Southside always manages to get the balance right between promos and matches and this show was no exception, it was a little detour away from some pretty over the top wrestling action and helped to rest the crowd before the grappling continued.
Our penultimate battle was between Scotland’s Kay Lee Ray and ‘Ego Dragon’ Martin Kirby. I enjoyed this bout, but in all honestly was slightly disappointed it wasn’t more of a ‘match’. Whilst the match got off to a good start, it took a sour turn when Kirby started to take liberties beating KLR down in the middle of the ring. Kirby then took to the mic and called out El Ligero spurring on their feud towards its conclusion at ‘End Game’ when they go head to head in a steel cage. I thought the segment was really well done and the jawbreaker that Kirby hit on Kay Lee Ray after force feeding her thumbtacks was particularly grim. I would have just preferred if the two would have got to have a lengthy singles match as both of them are gifted wrestlers who always put on a great match.
Our main event was a masterclass of a match, put on by Ricochet and Zack Sabre Jr. It was a dynamic bout which saw the two very different styles of wrestling clash in an epic match. The Technician ZSJ was on top form in this one and really put in a great showing against arguably the greatest highflyer in the world. Like the Triple Threat this was just a jaw-dropping match and an easy candidate for match of the year. Overall, this was another brilliant show for SWE and one that will definitely be worth a purchase when released on DVD. This was a really strong card that genuinely didn’t have a bad match on it. I loved this show and it was a really good pick and mix selection of wrestling matches and styles, with a little bit of something for everything.
Spandex, Screw Jobs & Cheap Pops
Back in January 2012 I was a complete to the British wrestling scene and apart from knowing some of the colourful characters of yonder like Giant Haystacks, Big Daddy and of the more modern day British wrestling legends like Jody Fleisch and Doug Williams, but ultimately I had no idea about the Jimmy Havocs, Majiks and Alex Shanes.
I then found out more about the British wrestling scene thanks to promotions like PROGRESS, FPW, PCW & Southside. I searched more and more on the internet finding out the names and faces of wrestlers and promoters, but still I was miles away from knowing more under the mask of British wrestling.
Thanks to Carrie Dunn, writer of The Only Way Is Suplex, she has manage to capture an open and candid view of what goes on in the minds and careers of other wrestlers, promoters and the fans who dream of maybe becoming promoters and also the promotions who have either fought against adverse dispositions and managed to build a reputation that maybe even the owners and promoters couldn’t envisage.
From the start, you are lead through the roots of British Wrestling delving into the experiences of the graduates of the infamous Hammerlock wrestling school and the high esteem and fear that trainers like Andre Baker were held by his contemperies and protégés.
A great focus on the wrestlers themselves, both male and female being able to tell their story and experiences, their highs and lows, as well painting a vivid picture of where they started and how tough their journey was to becoming established on the British scene travelling the world, gaining untold knowledge and learning new skills and movesets helping to set them apart from others.
There is also a spotlight pointed not only at the wrestlers, but also the other ‘combatants’ in this violent ballet with the referees, managers and the ring announcers still needing to mould into a vital piece of the squared circle centrepiece.
There are also lessons on how to and how not to start a promotion, detailing the many pitfalls and business acumen that is needed for balancing the books. The passion that the few brave enough to take on the challenge should not be faulted or belittled in their attempts at putting on shows.
For every struggling wrestler though, no matter how talented or maybe even bitter, there is a wrestler that will want to think outside the box or find themselves in the spotlight of bigger companies, such as the success recently of Nick Aldis, better know as Magnus, or Katerina Waters (aka: Katie Lea Burchill / Winter).
The exposure that is given the British wrestling may not be much, but there are plenty of talented wrestlers out there for the country to see and Carrie manages to extract a lot of honesty and openness amongst the British wrestling fraternity. For those in the know and those who want to know, this is a perfect book that engages you in the ethos and expression of British wrestling.
There are very few wrestling books that I’ve found are as well-informed, but also easy to follow and don’t patronise you.
Being a wrestling fan, I could relate to the days when I would watch the Attitude Era of WWF, becoming consumed with the cult of ECW and then discovering wrestling shows and schools. This is certainly a book as a fan you could easily relate to and feel comfortable in the way that Carrie puts her interviews and narrative across.
What’s even better about the story Carrie tells is that it may even give you a new view of other wrestlers and people involved in the business and a new found respect for the sport and those involved in it.
To buy a copy of Spandex, Screw Jobs and Cheap Pops, you can go to http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/1909178462/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_alp_ggeArb0AKDECR or visit Carrie site at http://theonlywayissuplex.wordpress.com/
For this week’s post, I’ve decided to do something a little different and share a few things that I love, that aren’t from the world of professional wrestling. I know everyone has different tastes and often the only bond grapple fans can have is their love of pro-wrestling, but I thought I’d take the opportunity to recommend a few things that I love, which hopefully you can enjoy as well.
The first is going to be a book that I think everyone should head straight over to amazon and buy. Gotham Central 2: Jokers and Madmen. Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka’s Gotham Central is a police procedural comic book series that blends superheroics with shows like NYPD Blue. The books focus on a group of detectives and staff who work the various shifts at the GCPD and how they cope with the various criminals and types of crime that are unique to Gotham. The books are written at face value and approach the bizarre criminals and heightened reality from a ground level, meaning its really easy to empathize and relate to the cast of characters. Book 2 is one of my favourite collections of the Gotham Central stories, there are several included but my favourite is the one on the cover, ‘Jokers and Madmen’ which sees the clown prince of crime randomly assassinating people as the cops try to take him down, this really explores the dynamic between the police department and Batman as they both are chasing down the Joker as he wreaks havoc across the city. I really love this book and think it offers a stunning refreshing version of Gotham City and superheroes in general, for those who are familiar with comics, whilst also providing a unique, easy to understand perspective for people who aren’t interested in comics. Any of the books are worth reading and the first volume has arguably the most ‘important’ story in it, the award winning ‘Half a Life’. If you love comics and haven’t read it, start from book one, but if you are new to comics and fancy giving them a try, dive straight in on book two and take it from there.
My second suggestion is Evile’s Skull. Recorded before the recent departure of guitar virtuoso Ol Drake, the Huddersfield based thrash stars fourth album is a tour de force in modern metal. Its a much leaner, slicker beast than ‘Five Serpents Teeth’ and ‘Infected Nations’, but is a more polished and accessible record than the debut ‘Enter The Grave’. I know thrash metal isn’t for everyone, but it really should be! The guys in Evile are roughly my age and should be much better known than they currently are, as they continue to deliver some of the most well crafted and driven metal of recent years. The beauty of them as a band is their fluidity, which is down to their skills as musicians and their ability to re-invent the rather ‘trope’ heavy genre of Thrash. The record is just a magnificent example of British music and is an awesome disc to bash down the motorway to. Check out Underworld, the lead track below.
My Third and final suggestion is ‘The King of Kong: A Fistful Of Quarters’.
If anything this is the one which is the most relevant to wrestling fans. Its a documentary dedicated to one mans devotion to holding the world record for the highest score on Donkey Kong. Yes, that Donkey Kong, the arcade game. Its a typical underdog story which pits everyman Steve against the reigning champion Billy Mitchell. Billy Mitchell is a dickhead of the highest order and is a fantastic antagonist in a film that, on paper doesn’t seem like a bubbling cauldron of excitement, but really is. I’d wholeheartedly recommend this to any wrestling fan and personally its up there with ‘Beyond The Mat’ in terms of re-watch value. I’d go so far as to say, its the only film that can contest it, in terms of niche appeal and entertainment value.
Buy Gotham Central 2: Jokers and Madmen here
Buy Evile’s Skull here
Buy ‘King Of Kong’ here