PROGRESS Chapter 28 – Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want

Arnold Furious: April 10, 2016. PROGRESS: Chapter 28 was presented in loving memory of  Kris Travis, a 32 year old pro wrestler who tragically passed away recently from stomach cancer. Tragedies happen so often in wrestling that it’s easy to start taking them lightly, but 32 is no age to die. Kris faced his problems head on and put a brave face on his fight, raising money for charity and being a genuinely wonderful human being. He will be missed. We’re in Manchester, England at the Ritz Hotel. Glen Joseph takes over MC duties as Jim Smallman is elsewhere. He’s not as entertaining as Jim and there are definite audio problems with the microphone as I find him quite hard to understand. This is not normally an issue with PROGRESS shows. Commentary comes from RJ Singh and Callum Leslie.

 

The Dunne Brothers (Pete Dunne & Damien Dunne) vs. Moustache Mountain (Tyler Bate & Trent Seven)
The Midlands duo of Bate & Seven are immediately over courtesy of an ingenious tag team name and the bags of talent they possess. The Brothers Dunne are both from the Midlands too. It’s a Midlands exhibition! They know each other and Moustache Mountain are allowed to do fun spots. They’re already very popular with the crowd. The Dunne brothers are less fun but as heels they take their licks and have tandem offence. It’s a rollicking good time and once again PROGRESS opt to have someone beat Tyler because he’s already over. This time it’s Pete Dunne with a Flatliner. At least Trent eats the pinfall. Entertaining match up though and pleasing to see upcoming prospects looking this strong. I see big things for these guys.
Final Rating: ***

 

Natural Progression Series III Semi Final
Damon Moser vs. Ashton Smith

Moser’s beard rivals Trent Seven’s beard. Screw the Atlas Division, where’s the Beards division? The championship belt could be really tiny and act as a snood. Ashton Smith is more experienced but is just now reaching the level where he can have this kind of exposure. Ashton is 27 and has been wrestling for almost a decade. Moser is a comparative noob. It’s almost unfair of PROGRESS to put this on after the opener, where four guys got over on cool moves and being new faces. That’s pretty much the expectation for this one too. The execution is a little shaky but without any serious botches. Seeing as the reward for the Natural Progression Series is a title match, I can’t see either of these guys doing that. Moser at one point attempts a Van Terminator and lands it in Ashton’s bollocks. Ashton hits a superkick in response, which doesn’t finish because Moser’s beard cushions the blow. Moser finishes with the Knee Trembler. This was a bit of a mess in truth. Both guys tried hard but the selling was all over the place and the execution wasn’t great.
Final Rating: **

 

Post Match: Pastor William Eaver shows up for a showdown and the difference in character in incredible. Eaver is the finished article now. Moser is not. Should still be a decent match up but I fully expect Eaver to win. Anything else is just wrong.

 

Jinny vs. Toni Storm
On a list of potential riot starting heels in the UK scene, you’d probably be surprised that Jinny is heading to the top of that list. It helps that she’s wrestling a happy-go-lucky babyface in Toni, who everyone loves. Jinny seems obsessed with getting heat and arguing with the fans. Either she’s good at being a heel or she really hates wrestling fans. Either is possible. The work isn’t terribly clean with a few awkward looking spots. As a match it’s not up to much but the crowd destroy Jinny with the abuse. The “Primark Princess” chant is pure gold. Getting that level of heat is almost essential for the women’s division. It puts it on a par with the men. Jinny uses foreign objects like bin bags and lipstick. It’s creative. Toni’s Hulkamania comeback where she tears the plastic bag off is amazing. It’s so much fun. Elizabeth distracts to allow the Facelift to finish. Jinny’s angle with Elizabeth is guaranteed to go somewhere interesting. No downtrodden assistant has ever remained downtrodden in wrestling. The pop when Elizabeth fights back here is formidable. Jinny’s rampage around ringside reminds me of Tiger Jeet Singh in Japan. Chairs flying everywhere and people scurrying to get out of her way. If she’s smart she plants someone at one of these shows and belts them to get people genuinely scared of what she might do.
Final Rating: **1/4

 

Flash Morgan Webster vs. Mark Haskins
This is a total babyface match up, which in itself is a rarity in modern wrestling as, more often than not, one of the faces will be despised by the crowd. Despite being a face, Haskins works as the heel, controlling the pace of the match. The structure allows Webster to fight from underneath. Meaty chops in this one. Echoing around the Ritz. It adds a bit of substance to an already solid contest. Haskins is technically brilliant. The way he rolls into the Sharpshooter is incredible. The way he plans the move is great and then when it’s on he cranks it, like nobody cranks submissions. There used to be a lot more cranking of submissions, making them go from effective to absolutely devastating. Haskins leans way, way back on his Sharpshooter and it looks fantastic. Flash is fast enough to keep up on exchanges but is a step down in technical terms. The dives and on the high spots they exist on an equal footing. Haskins is so smooth and fluid. His transitions into submissions are flawless. They do some awesome mat counters near the finish, from one attempted finish to another until Haskins reverses a pin for the win. Great stuff from these guys. Haskins is at a point where every match he has is good. Like Ospreay only technically sound instead of jaw-droppingly crazy.
Final Rating: ***3/4

 

Progress Atlas Tournament (Block A)
Big Daddy Walter vs. T-Bone

This is the first match in the #BigLadsDivision. T-Bone is representing my county of Worcestershire. Him and Haskins could start a Malvern Mafia! I do love the big lads, Stronkstyle etc. I love the crowd reacting to slams and stuff like we’re in the 80s. As if lifting one of the other big lads is a titanic struggle with shocking results. The ring survives this match but one ringside chair gets annihilated by Walter. He is a furniture wrecker. Good job he wasn’t in the TLC match at Chapter 27. The Big Lads can’t quite emulate the Big Japan style but they have a go. T-Bone has a crack at no selling where he pops up off a German suplex only to get floored by a lariat immediately afterwards. If you like big guys clubbing each other with every big bump greeted by rapturous applause, you should dig this and the Atlas division in general. T-Bone gets terrific reactions for throwing Walter with a fallaway slam, which is sick considering Walter’s size, and a frogsplash finishes for T-Bone. Two big boys smashing each other about. Can’t complain and Worcestershire wins out.
Final Rating: ***

 

Marty Scurll’s Non-Title Open Challenge
Ideally Jimmy Havoc would answer this but seeing as he’s got a debilitating knee injury that won’t happen. Scurll runs a load of cheap heat, including calling the fans “virgins”. “It’s not raining” chant the fans at Marty’s umbrella wielding heeldom. Anyway, Scurll issues an open challenge and Tommy End strolls out nonchalant as you like. The crowd comes unglued.

 

Marty Scurll vs. Tommy End
We speculated, on the BritWres Roundtable podcast, that the Sumerian Death Squad was likely split up because they wanted to push Tommy in singles. Here’s the proof that we were right. End kicks the every loving shit out of Scurll and the chemistry is intensely pleasing. Scurll has some fun counters, going after the shoulder and looking to set up the Chickenwing. The whole superkick/just kidding thing is countered into multiple strikes of death and then Scurll grabs the arm again to stop it. It’s really great work and the idea of a title match is already enticing. It is brutally stiff too. A delight. The sheer number of counters that are brutal strikes, usually kicks or knees, is incredible. “Chicken Wing”…End catches Scurll with a KO roundhouse to the face and just ends him! End draping the belt across Scurll’s face and leaving the champion absolutely dead in the ring is a fantastic visual. I loved this and desperately want a title match.
Final Rating: ****

 

No Disqualification Match
Progress Tag Team Championship
The Origin (El Ligero & Nathan Cruz) (c) vs. FSU (Mark Andrews & Eddie Dennis)
This has to deliver going on after that last match and headlining the show. Ligero’s shield bashing mockery of Mark Andrews is quite sensational. As it’s no DQ they brawl all over the bloody place and don’t do anything stupid like running heat. Origin, as heels, have become quite adept at these wild brawls. They go all over the building in this one, making sure all the fans get a close up look at the match. I’m not sure it would have worked for everyone in the building but everyone does get a moment to admire the grapplers. On video it comes across really well. I love that Origin producing a ladder draws heat due to the crowd hating ladders after the ladder failure at Chapter 27. Mark Andrews taking a swig of a fans beer, and toasting the crowd, is a lovely touch as it shows the connection between the audience and the wrestlers. It’s been a while since a promotion existed that felt like a great big family and that would have been ECW. It’s genuinely touching to see that here. These two teams revel in the thirty minutes they’re given, which is part of what makes PROGRESS special. They allow tag teams to shine and the main event spot has been earned by these four men. They certainly bust a gut to make sure it’s a tonne of fun. The violence handily escalates when they get into the ring and into the bigger spots. Like El Ligero taking a super rana into a pile of thumbtacks. Cruz does the smart thing and tries to clear the tacks away, which involves him kicking them recklessly into the crowd. Lawsuits? What lawsuits? It’ll never happen. The thumbtacks do make a lot of the spots near the end look extremely tentative. There’s just no safe place to land. The Origin manage to knock out both referees to prevent losing. The table makes an appearance at the end of the match, which pretty much makes this a TLC match. Which is, oddly enough, better than the actual TLC at Chapter 27. Eddie Dennis eats a brutally sloppy powerbomb off the apron through a table and two chairs and Andrews gets killed with the Conchairto. That doesn’t finish but a Tombstone on a chair does. This match was utter carnage. Most of it was clean as a whistle too. You couldn’t put something on after this. Cleaning up the ring would take too long. At least there were no light tubes.
Final Rating: ****1/4

Summary: A fine show from PROGRESS, a step up from the somewhat disappointing Chapter 27 show. That show was hampered by the failings of the furniture in the TLC match. This show was less ambitious on paper and yet delivered strongly. The last two matches and Haskins-Webster are well worth going out of your way for. Even the matches on this show that I didn’t rate all that highly they all had heat and there was nothing bad. Not even the Natural Progression match. Despite there being no Ospreay or Sabre Jr. on this show the BritWres train keeps a rolling.
Verdict: 85

Monday Night Raw (02/27/95)

James Dixon: After all the ballyhoo surrounding the 1000th episode of Raw, it may come as a surprise to modern fans that the 100th went without so much as a passing mention. Then again, this isn’t even considered the 100th episode by the WWF, as they played fast and loose with which of the pre-WrestleMania and pre-SummerSlam Raws they actually counted as part of the show’s cannon.

 

To be honest, the WWF didn’t celebrate milestones like that back in the 90s really anyway, (except for WrestleMania X) because it was too busy creating history rather than paying homage to it. Plus, 100 shows is nothing really. I mean, the likes of Velocity and Jakked reached that comfortably. No, we will not be doing guide books for those… Probably. What this does mean is that we are around a 1/10th of the way through. When put into that perspective, suddenly this task is more daunting! Vince and Jim Cornette remain on commentary, as this was taped alongside last week’s show.

 

Lex Luger vs. Tatanka
Suddenly this EPISODE is more daunting, because we open with this. Attentive readers of the series will be well aware that I was not a fan of the rivalry between these two and in Volume #3 I actually chose it in my awards as worst feud. When you consider that some absolute stinkers like Undertaker vs. Kama finished behind it, it should give the uninitiated an idea as to just how bad it was. The horrid nature of it all was summed up in a match I covered for Wham Bam Bodyslam from two months prior to this, which was one of the most turgid piles of mouseshit I have ever had to suffer through. So yes, with all of that in mind, you can imagine my sheer joy when I discover that this is how we are starting the “centenary” show. I hope you all appreciate the hell we are going through to bring you these books, so you don’t have to suffer them yourselves. Pre-match, Luger cuts a “passionate” promo recapping the feud. His delivery is so monotone and cheesy that it is actually funny. “You stooped to an all-time low depth” says Lex. That doesn’t even make sense you inflated goon. Tatanka gets in on the act in the ring, telling Luger he is going to teach him the “Native American way”. Does that mean he is going to teach him how to work a boring, slow, rest-hold filled match? Because he already knows how to do that! To make matters worse, Luger is accompanied to the ring by the fat and old fake Injun Chief Jay Strongbow. Based on the stories and hearsay I have heard about Strongbow as a road agent, I have little time for him. By all accounts he was an aloof, arrogant blowhard. Tatanka brings the thrills right away by bailing as soon as Luger gets any offence in, as the crowd chant “USA” to support… well, both guys I guess. They both have “American” gimmicks, just in different ways. Wrestling fans can be real dumb sometimes. Luger and Tatanka try and bring some passion and hatred to proceedings, bless them, but their movesets are so limited that it is hard to give a damn. It is just clubbing and stalling, followed by clubbing and resting, interspersed with shots of Strongbow’s beer gut and surly, unimpressed face. “Not too much has changed” says Vince as we return from commercial. No shit pal, nothing ever changes in the matches these two have. We have fallen firmly into the usual territory that all Tatanka-Luger matches end up in, with Tatanka slowly working Lex over, and Luger just taking it and offering little in return. The crowd, who were fairly hot at first, gets more subdued as the monotony kicks in. Ah, hello bearhug, I wondered when you would show up. One positive that has sprung to mind is that by this time next year both guys will be gone, and we will never have to cover Luger on Raw again. Roll on September when he leaves! Luger makes a comeback and puts on Strongbow’s sleeper hold, which is just a riveting choice. Tatanka confronts Strongbow over it, because he never taught him it when under his tutelage, or something. What, Tatanka couldn’t learn how to do a sleeper himself!? How completely useless is he? Oh. Tatanka throws off Strongbow’s headdress and gets chopped by the veteran in return. A brawl on the outside ensues and back in the ring Luger throws some clotheslines, leading Tatanka to try and bail. Luger manages to get to him before the count out, but a slam leads to yet another Tatanka escape. Luger catches him again and hits a lazy suplex (he doesn’t even bump it) as Vince starts getting impassioned. Luger’s subsequent offence is so shoddy that even Vince comments on the lack of technical skills on display. Tatanka bails AGAIN, this time giving Luger the count out win. Yet another shallow victory for everyone’s favourite choker. Not as awful as their Wham Bam Bodyslam match by any stretch, but still really long and boring with an unsatisfying finish.
Final Rating: ½*

 

Video Control shows us highlights from a battle royal on Superstars with the focus being the ongoing reboot of the Lawler-Hart feud. In this instance, Lawler was trying to be clever and avoid elimination by hopping around the ring, so Bret trod on his foot. Hang on, isn’t Bret working Backlund at WrestleMania? Why are the WWF building to Bret-Lawler and just completely ignoring Mr. Bob? Their booking in 1995 was the pits.

 

Owen Hart vs. Larry Santo
Santo looks like either a much taller but far less talented Dynamite Kid or a much skinner and more talented Nikolai Volkoff. Take your pick. Cornette claims he is the son of El Santo, bona fide Mexican legend, but he most certainly is not. Owen does his level best to piss Santo off by slapping him, then uses the hot-headed response to school him. After a pretty muted performance compared to his usual, Hart polishes Santo off with the Sharpshooter.
Final Rating: ½*

 

Vince talks gleefully about the publicity generated from the Lawrence Taylor angle, which was of course the whole point and purpose behind using him. Taylor joins us via satellite, like The Rock, and mocks Bigelow for “losing to a 13-year old” at Royal Rumble, referring to 1-2-3 Kid. Taylor is not a good promo guy, but then he wouldn’t be, because he is a footballer. Taylor says he is weighing up his options about how to best deal with the situation. Oh come on, even the markiest mark knows by now that he is going to wrestle him. Bam Bam joins the conversation via a different satellite, and cuts a promo that sounds like the nonsense a drunk would come out with after an evening with the Rockers. Eventually he gets his act together and puts over Kid and the New Generation, before reissuing his challenge. Taylor has heard enough, and walks off. Decent and effective build actually, even if the delivery from both was less than stellar.

 

Doink the Clown vs. Bob Cook
Dink is of course with Doink and he comes in and shakes his ass in front of Cook while he is locked in a hold, making me wish he was dead. Then he comes in and starts pissing around, standing on Cook and rolling on him. Why does the referee allow that little twerp to do that? Come on Tim White, get it together. The officiating has been a shambles these last few weeks. Christ, Cook looks a lot like Typhoon, which makes me hate this match even more. Doink spends the vast majority just standing or sitting in arm holds; he is IRS levels of bad. The Whoopie Cushion finishes things. This Raw is not going well.
Final Rating: DUD

 

Fast out-of-place rock music plays over the top of a highlight video going over the Michaels-Bulldog issues they have had since Royal Rumble. They will face each other next week, which is of course March, and means yet again Furious gets a good match. This is getting beyond a joke now.

 

Kama vs. Ken Raper
I’m sorry, his name is what!? Ken RAPER!? What exactly are the WWF playing at here? I am actually surprised they didn’t turn that into a gimmick. I guess they were confused as to whether he was the raper of Ken, or Ken the Raper. This is my first time with Kama, lucky me. Cornette discusses the potential of a Mantaur-Kama match, which makes me throw up in my mouth. Kama tells the camera that he wants more competition over and over, but he has taken 5 minutes just to beat Ken the Raper, which he does with an STF. Horrible.
Final Rating: ¼ *

 

Another satellite interview closes the show, this time with the British Bulldog. He says he wants to bite Shawn Michaels. There may have been more to it than that…

 

THE RAW RECAP:

 

Most Entertaining: Jim Cornette. Great behind the announce desk, and entertained me with his comments.

 

Least Entertaining: Kama. I’m glad he went on last, because I am about to fall asleep after watching him.

 

Quote of the Night: “You have won the prize” (Vince) “What did I win?” (Cornette) “Erm, weight watchers, or something” (Vince) “Hey, I’m not overweight, I’m under tall” (Cornette). An amusing exchange, but one that highlights what a bastard Vince can be, even when he is trying to be a babyface straight guy.

 

Match of the Night: I refuse to give one.

 

Summary: Back to form we go, as 1995 continues to be a bumpy ride. This was horrific in the ring, with nothing breaking a single star. The only good thing on the entire show was the Bigelow-LT confrontation, and that had numerous flaws. I swear, April had best be a lot better.
Verdict: 14

Monday Night Raw (02/20/95)

James Dixon: We are live in Macon, Georgia, as Raw returns from its dog show induced hiatus. Or high anus, if you are Randy Savage. Tonight it is champion versus champions as Diesel takes on Jeff Jarrett. In the pre recorded hype comments, Jarrett claims Roadie has an “extra shoulder” for the WWF title belt, and Diesel says the WWF will be unplugged tonight. What does that even mean? Are they going to run the show without any lights and music? How will anyone be able to see?

 

Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Gary Sabough
This is the return of Bigelow after a “thirty day suspension” following his assault on Lawrence Taylor at the Royal Rumble. We spend the first few moments of the match in split screen, as we see comments from LT’s lawyers, basically pussying out of Bigelow’s challenge. Oh hey, Jim Cornette is sharing commentary duty with Vince tonight! Awesome! In a strange alternate reality twist, Vince shares some facts about Sabough’s past amateur career, while Cornette throws in a strange snippet of information about Sabough being able to eat a pound of spaghetti in 30 seconds without using his hands. Ok then! The match is ignored, naturally, as Vince and Jim focus on the LT situation. Cornette tries three times to get in some relevant storyline points, but Vince rudely talks over him, getting overly excited about the match when in reality nothing is really happening. After Bigelow gets the inevitable win, he cuts a promo on Taylor and calls him a punk and a wimp, and says he will take him on any time and any place. Cornette smells a lawsuit!
Final Rating: ½*

 

Adam Bomb vs. Rip Rogers
Bomb has reverted to his red and yellow garb following a stint in blue. Interestingly, Bomb claims that he was promised the WWF Intercontinental championship and a sustained push, but that it was quashed from above and he got annoyed, which is why he wound up leaving later in the year. I hear a lot of this kind of thing from wrestlers, which leads me to ascertain that they are either all liars, or that they were all promised various riches in order to keep them sweet, meaning all the road agents and bookers were liars. Either way, someone is fibbing. Rip Rogers was in WCW a few years prior to this, and even competed for them on the BattleBowl ‘93 pay-per-view, teaming with Roadwarrior Hawk to defeat Davey Boy Smith and Stevie ‘Kole’ Ray. He is now a trainer in OVW, so as far as enhancement guys go his résumé is pretty solid. He is also incredibly flamboyant, with pink boots and a glittery jacket. He looks like a Freebird. Of course, he doesn’t fare particularly well against Bomb, and after some Mike Sharpe-esque loud selling he falls victim to the flying clothesline. The crowd actually pops, which surprises me, because I don’t remember Bomb ever being over.
Final Rating: *

 

Video Control gives us highlights from Superstars of Bret Hart receiving an award, and he cuts his “memories outweigh your dreams” promo that he has done a few times.

 

Tangent: I like that the WWF has changed the Raw logo slightly, and that it is now blue. Sadly this doesn’t last long, but there is a definite different feel to things in 1995 than there was last year, and the same between 1994 and 1993. Unfortunately, modern Raw has become so over-produced and homogenized that you cannot differentiate between 2009 and 2013. Everything looks the same and has done for years. Even the arenas are the same, at least in the way they are set up. For example, WWE did a show recently in Boston Gardens which had me excited, because I love the uniqueness of that venue. However, they managed to destroy all of that and just make it look like any and every other show. Blame Kevin Dunn folks.

 

The King’s Court
Oh my god. Anyone who has read last year’s edition of this series will be well aware of my feelings towards this interminable and endless talk show segment. For those unfamiliar, let me reiterate: I HATE it. I cannot stand Jerry Lawler as an active performer in the WWF and I find his promos and matches to be beyond boring. It wouldn’t be so bad, but this talk show gets unreasonable amounts of airtime every single week. It is overexposed on John Cena levels. At least tonight’s show should be interesting, because Shawn Michaels is out to reveal his new bodyguard, so at there is a point to this whole shebang for once. Lawler manages to get a few words before Michaels comes out, and rips on Bret Hart for his award and makes wild accusations that he is a racist. This is all there to kick start the horrid feud the two had back in 1993, and the matches this time are even worse. Michaels comes out and rambles on for a while about being a marked man, before bringing out Sid. Jim Cornette loses his mind, before putting him over well. I love Sid; he just drips with charisma and intensity. He cuts one of his usual maniacal wild-eyed promos and says that he and Michaels will rule the world together.

 

The Blu Brothers vs. Leroy Howard & Mark Starr
This is the Raw debut for the Harris brothers, who are portraying “mountain men” in yet another of the WWF’s horrible 1995 gimmicks. The people running this company are so completely stuck in the land of simplistic stereotypes that it is embarrassing. So far this year we have seen Mantaur, Man Mountain Rock and now these, and over the course of the year it doesn’t get much better, believe me. The Blu Brothers are managed by Uncle Zebekiah, otherwise known in proper wrestling companies as Dutch Mantel. I am a fan, though not under this guise. However, I did enjoy his controversial yet entertaining portrayal of one Zeb Colter on WWE programming in 2013. The guy was a riot alongside Jack Swagger and he helped breathe life into a career that seemed dead and buried. Here he is just another generic southern yokel and this run achieved nothing of note. The Harris brothers are hard work to watch, be it in this gimmick or any other (they were also Skull & 8-Ball in the late 90s). Vince can’t be bothered with this either and cuts to The Toad in the studio, as we get split screen for the second time this evening. Todd tells us that Lawrence Taylor will be on Raw next week to respond to Bigelow, and he marks out like a goofball: “Isn’t this amazing!?” he squeaks. There is a match going on too. Well, it loosely resembles one. Vince gets excited at the prospect of cartoon gimmicks colliding if the Blu Brothers were to meet the Smoking Gunns. Wow, that sounds like a piss-break match if I ever heard one.
Final Rating: ¼*

 

WWF Championship
Diesel (c) vs. Jeff Jarrett
Diesel doesn’t get the opportunity to “do a Warrior” here, because only his title is on the line. I am hoping that Jarrett will bring a little more enthusiasm and motivation to this than he does in the majority of TV matches I have seen him in. Diesel is the aggressor in the early going, and overmatches Jarrett with his size and power, but gets caught out logically by Jarrett’s speed. Jarrett gets his brief momentum curtailed by an over-enthusiastic referee pulling him down from a ten punch, and wouldn’t you just know it, it is Earl Hebner. You know, Hebner is often praised as one of the best referees ever, but he frequently went outside of his remit and did things that he had no right to do, be it changing the rules of how titles can change hands of putting his hands on wrestlers. While Jarrett is remonstrating, Roadie gets on the apron, but is drilled into the post by Diesel and sells it like a trooper. Diesel throws Jarrett over the top to the outside onto Roadie, as he continues to dominate what has been a very energetic match. Roadie tries to hold on to Jarrett and prevent Diesel bringing him back in the ring, and Hebner goes beyond his job description again by kicking Roadie in the stomach to get him off! What the hell does he think he is playing at!? I am outraged by his insubordination. Jarrett finally gets a period of control after some Roadie shenanigans, and Diesel bumps around for him, probably more than you might expect. Jarrett gets a near fall after a top rope crossbody and this serves to rile Diesel, who catches a sidewalk slam and goes into his comeback. Snake eyes is followed by the big boot, and Hogan, sorry Diesel, completes his routine with the Jacknife for the win. Pretty good show from both guys, but fairly formulaic and nothing out of the ordinary. Perfectly acceptable for a TV match though. Shawn Michaels and Sid turn up ominously in the aisle, but Diesel is not especially concerned.
Final Rating: **½

 

Michaels and Sid hang around in the aisle after the commercial break, yet Diesel somehow manages (off camera) to leave the ring and walk past them without a confrontation. Cornette, who is frightened, is forced by an amused Vince to interview Michaels. He rambles on as we go off the air.

 

THE RAW RECAP:

 

Most Entertaining: Diesel. He showed plenty of energy and fire and clearly being WWF champion has him enthused about his job. This is the Kevin Nash I like to watch.

 

Least Entertaining: The Blu Brothers are a chore.

 

Quote of the Night: “What has Shawn Michaels done” – Vince McMahon. Not a particularly memorable quote, but the way Vince delivers the line after Michaels introduces Sid, does a great job in getting him over as an unpredictable monster. It is the wrestling equivalent of pressing the nuke button to solve your problems.

 

Match of the Night: Diesel vs. Jeff Jarrett. The marquee usually wins this by default anyway, and this week it was a fun watch and worthy of the accolade.

 

Summary: Well thank God this week didn’t continue on from the last show, which was an all-time stinker. A lack of Million Dollar Corporation slugs (other than Bigelow, who is not a slug) combined with the welcome return of Sid and a decent marquee match, made this a breezy, if unspectacular, watch. A marked improvement.
Verdict: 33

Monday Night Raw (02/06/95)

James Dixon: Hosted by Vince McMahon and Shawn Michaels, who have quite obviously been superimposed over a shot of the crowd in an attempt to make the show seem live. What’s worse than that, is that I can hear Oscar attempting to rap in the background. Oh hell, what a way to start.

 

Men on a Mission & Lex Luger vs. Tatanka, IRS & King Kong Bundy
After recovering from the seizure the flashing lights in MOM’s entrance gave me, I open my eyes to the sight of THIS match. Ok, this has got to be some sick joke, because I saw Furious chuckling away at his desk while covering January, where he seemed to get decent to good matches and segments every other week. What do I get to start February? A collection of all my least favourite wrestlers in one match! Tatanka reminds me why I wanted to set him on fire in 1994, by doing the least intimidating “pissed off tough guy” stare I have ever seen. Seriously, he looks like a complete idiot. Mabel and Bundy start things out, continuing their horrible TV feud. The action is indescribable, and a Mabel enzuigiri blows my mind, but not in a good way. Mo comes in and tries to slam Bundy, because he is a tool, and Michaels mocks him for it. Rightfully so! IRS comes in, and I look away, continuing my boycott from 1994 of anything involving IRS. I am tempted to add Tatanka to that list, because he makes me feel violent when I watch him. He and Mabel run a bad sequence with some incredibly blatant telegraphing of moves, and then the corporate Injun bails when Luger finally tags in. Thank god for that; I cannot tolerate seeing anymore matches between those two. Of course, the alternatives are equally awful, but at least IRS coming in gives me the chance to sip my coffee. The one positive I can say for this is that at least the resting spots one would associate with all of them, have been limited due to the sheer number of participants. Six-man tag matches are hard to make boring, and while I detest five of these guys (my favourite of the lot is Mabel!), they are tagging in and out frequently enough to keep this on the cusp of acceptable. Well, not acceptable, tolerable. Mo takes the heat because he is by far the most expendable, as things slow to a crawl with Bundy back in. There is not a huge difference in size between Bundy and Mo, though Bundy is bigger, yet the difference in the way they carry themselves and impose themselves is huge. As I said in 1994, Mo moves, sells and works like a much smaller guy. I don’t mean that as a compliment as I would if I were describing Bam Bam Bigelow, but more that he manages to make himself appear smaller and thus less intimidating than he actually is. Bundy does the opposite, and while he is horrid to watch at least he works like the big fat bastard he is. You would never have seen Mo challenging Hulk Hogan for the title in the 80s, that’s for sure. Luger gets the hot tag as Vince lies that “this will be most interesting”. Luger slams Bundy and that brings in Tatanka, as a pier sixer breaks out. Tatanka hits a DDT on Luger in the melee, which Vince seems to think is out of order, despite Mabel being in there as well, and Bundy pins him for the win. That was no-where near as bad as I feared, but some of the action was almost laughable in places.
Final Rating: ¾*

 

Man Mountain Rock, he of backstage documentary (that has never been made) fame, gets an MTV Behind the Music style promo vignette and it is actually pretty good! The character wasn’t dreadful, I mean he was a rock star, but he pissed a lot of guys off with his video camera, and thus had no chance of getting pushed, especially with the Kliq ruling the roost.

 

Lawrence Taylor’s lawyer says he doesn’t want to be a pro wrestler but that he respects the industry. Swell.

 

Man Mountain Rock vs. Charlie Hunter
This is the debut of Rock, and Michaels actually does a good job putting him over on commentary before things start. Rock’s attire can be politely described as “gaudy”. He is wearing wild tie-dye trousers and shirt, with dreadlocked red hair. He screams “dirty hippy” more than rock star. His WWF logo shaped guitar was one of the coolest props of all time, though he doesn’t have it here yet. Michaels puts Rock over again, saying how well he moves for a big guy, but rightfully buries his gear. If memory serves, it does get better. Vince, clearly on a quest to get Rock’s name in as many witty puns as possible, describes him as a “mountain of a man” and after his inevitable victory, says he “rocked the house”. He is such a cad.
Final Rating: ½*

 

Video Control gives us footage from “yesterday’s” Action Zone! show, as Diesel beats Owen Hart with the Jacknife in a fun little *** match. Shawn Michaels gets involved as their WrestleMania build rumbles on, and Vince interviews Diesel in the studio. Diesel puts over the skills of both Owen and Bret, and then discusses his dodgy knee and the nine operations he has had on it. Way to give your opponents the inside scoop there pal! He dismisses the challenge of Jeff Jarrett in two weeks time and says there is no way he will lose.

 

Tangent: You know, sometimes we are a little hard on Kevin Nash, and even a little dismissive of his ability. For example, if he is involved in a good or great match, praise always goes to the other guy. I am just as guilty of doing this as my writing partners. I am going to attempt to change my way of thinking when it comes to Nash, because he was involved in many good to great matches in 1994-95, and it is foolish and plain ignorant to think he was carried in every one of them. He was limited, absolutely, but I can’t think of another guy his size even close to as talented. Nash was lazy by the time he went to WCW, no doubt about it, but he deserves a lot more credit than he gets for his WWF run as Big Daddy Cool.

 

Mantaur vs. Leroy Howard
Is it fat bastard night on Raw? Managing Mantaur has to be considered a career lowlight for Jim Cornette. Were they ribbing him? Actually the way Jim tells it, he didn’t even know he was going to be managing him. Having noticed this big strange guy walking around with a moose head on, he wondered what the hell was going on, and was told “you’re going out with him”. Apparently it was so last minute that he didn’t even question it and just went with the flow. Mantaur is one of the dumbest gimmicks of all time (for those who don’t know, he was basically supposed to be a Minotaur, half-human and half-animal) and it made no sense at all for his character to be paired with Cornette’s character. The two were not compatible. Mantaur suffers from what I am now labelling Mo-syndrome, which I touched upon earlier, in that he is a fat guy but fairly short. The problem is he wrestles like a fat guy who is fairly short and is not imposing at all. Howard looks far better than him and Mantaur takes an age to get the job done. He has absolutely no structure or pacing to him whatsoever, everything he does is just randomly thrown in and his offence is primarily stomps. What a colossal pile of shit.
Final Rating: DUD

 

Razor Ramon vs. Frankie Lancaster
Finally, a real wrestler! Razor is sporting a rather fetching all-yellow number this evening, and he looks good in it. He should have worn it more. Razor schools Lancaster in the early going, but being the generous in-ring worker that he is, he lets Lancaster get a few shots in. Of course, the jobber makes the mistake of taking liberties by chopping Razor, and the receipt is fittingly vicious. Razor runs through the rest of his usual TV squash repertoire, but the top rope back suplex is fairly pleasant tonight. The Razor’s Edge finishes it, and if you have seen one Razor squash, you have seen this.
Final Rating: *

 

Henry Godwinn vs. Billy Weaver
The fat pig farmer completes the set of awful talent I have had to endure tonight, and frankly, I am losing my cool. I think I have done fairly well tonight to keep calm and rational in the face of the parade of tripe I have been forced to endure. Scufflin’ hillbillies are my least favourite gimmick in wrestling, and it seems the only person who wants to see them is Vince. He sure loves his “big ol’ hog farmers”. The crowd is completely silent as Godwinn wins with the Slop Drop. It’s embarrassing.
Final Rating: ¼*

 

Raw next week is cancelled because of the dog show. My wife overheard this and couldn’t fathom why they didn’t just move it to a different day, or indeed, why Raw would ever be cancelled for a dog show anyway. She has a point. It was a different time…

 

THE RAW RECAP:

 

Most Entertaining: Shawn Michaels. He is usually pretty bad behind the announce desk, but here he entertained me, certainly more than the wrestling did. He is no Randy Savage, but hey, you take what you can get. I would much prefer to have seen him actually WRESTLE mind. This show needed him in the ring.

 

Least Entertaining: Oh there is a veritable smorgasbord of options this week. I will go with Mantaur, because the gimmick is just so fucking dumb and his performance was abhorrent.

 

Quote of the Night: “Easy with the head-banging McMahon, you might throw that rug off” – Shawn Michaels. So that is where the rumours started! Maybe.

 

Match of the Night: Not to discredit Scott Hall, but his routine squash match and fetching shade of yellow, is not enough to warrant MOTN honours. Yet it wins by default because nothing else even broke *. The roster should all be ashamed of themselves.

 

Summary: It is the worst episode of Raw I have ever seen, with nothing redeeming about it whatsoever. Usually there is a semi-decent promo or a passable bout, something to drag things above the gaping jaws of wrestling hell. Not this show. No, what we get is terrible gimmicks, a marquee match full of the worst main roster talent they had and nothing else. What is there to recommend? I thought 1994 was bad, but if 1995 continues like this (for me at least) it will be even worse. Holy shit that was a bad show.
Verdict: 10

PROGRESS Chapter 40 – Intercepted Angel

 

Arnold Furious: December 11, 2016. We’re in Sheffield for Progress’ first show in that city. The switch from Manchester coming because of the Manchester venue double booking them. The band booked at the O2 Ritz? Ash. The title reference on this show is to their song “Angel Interceptor”. The venue is interesting to look at and they’ve lit it just like the Ballroom. I like different venues. Host in the ring is Jim Smallman who blames Ash for ruining the show in Manchester. There’s a small child on the balcony, this will not go well. Also not going well is the hard-cam, which moves around during the playing of music. Perhaps not the sturdiest of locations to mount the camera! RJ Singh and Callum Leslie are on commentary.

 

London Riots vs. The New Nation
New Nation made a splash in losing on their debut. Both looked really solid, especially Primate who I’ve been bigging up all year. The Riots are in a different class after some major title matches during 2016 and they start this fast and hard with flipz. It’s not a totally reinvented Riots though and they head into the lumber before Chris Roberts gets insane heat for being a shit ref and not being able to control anything. The crowd bite on Alex Henry cheering his heel team on and chant “evil Sami Zayn” at him. That’s a form of racism, lads. “You have no soul” yells another fan. More racism. Shocking. The match is four big lads putting a beating on each other. There’s not a lot of selling. It’s meaty. Rob Lynch gets all fired up and pulls off the mask protecting his broken face. That’s a fantastic visual but Rob’s face is suffering. The Big Lads stuff is decent apart from the finish where Rob slightly mistimes the Slingshot Spear. That gets it done and the Riots pick up a rehab win.
Final Rating: ***

 

Natural Progression Series IV
Bea Priestley vs. Toni Storm
Toni would be a firm favourite for this tournament if she wasn’t wrestling so regularly in Japan with Stardom. I really miss having Toni on UK shows regularly. She’s so wonderful. Bea is naturally heel here. She’s Will Ospreay’s girlfriend don’t you know? This is her first match on a Chapter show. She has worked on an ENDVR show before. Toni does a bunch of ass offence so Bea goes after her arm to force Storm to take it more seriously. Bea’s technical work is impressive here. She’s certainly improved over the past year, getting exposure and experience. She’s yet another wrestling teenager. She’s only 19. It’s scary how many teens are in the BritWres system at the moment. Bea’s technical skill allows her to boss big chunks of a match that Toni should dominate based on experience levels. Bea stealing the Cheeky Nando’s gets predictable heat. Bea shows her inexperience when taking Toni’s bigger spots. Her bumps and sells are a bit rough. Toni finishes relatively quickly with the Australian Jam. This was fine. Excited to see the semi-final’s and final of this tournament when we get into the business end of things. The three semi-finallists thus far are Toni, Nixon Newell and Jinny. That should be good.
Final Rating: **1/4

 

Atlas Championship Open Challenge
Rampage Brown (c) is out first. His opponent is Dave Mastiff…dressed as “Banter Claus”. He’s accompanied to the ring by Elf Ligero. This is not well received by Christmas hating heel Nathan Cruz. They come out to Wizzard’s “I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day” for fuck’s sake. Dave Mastiff dressed as Santa is my new favourite wrestler. I’ve never seen so many people smiling. Even Rampage has a massive grin across his face. It’s beautiful. “Fuck him up, Santa, fuck him up!” Dave wrestles the match with the white in his beard. It’s not just banter and beatings, there’s actual psychology in this as Rampage works over Dave’s hand to limit his offence. There’s one person singing Christmas songs during this match. It’s not catching on at all. I don’t care. It’s everything that’s wonderful about the season: drunkenness. When the banter starts to dry up they beat the shit out of each other. Mastiff might be the most underrated wrestler in the country. He’s been doing the Big Lad style for years at a high standard. He’s an innovator! Dave misses the Cannonball and gets planted with the piledriver in a satisfying piece of Santacide. No news on whether the child on the upper deck got Izzy levels of upset at this outcome.
Final Rating: ***1/2

 

No Disqualification
Marty Scurll vs. Jimmy Havoc
Marty brings a brolly. Havoc brings a fucking axe! Now that’s the correct level of preparation for a no DQ match. Havoc’s first move of the match, after getting his axe taken away by the crew, is to dive over the first two rows! This is a crazy brawl where they wipe out entire sections of chairs. Marty goes for conventional WWE-esque weapons but Jimmy has other ideas. He’s hardcore so he brings a staple gun. The brawl heads too far away from the ring and camera bums out. Most of the chairs end up in the ring, thanks to Jimmy asking for help. It stops short of Terry Funk stupidly asking for chairs in the ECW Arena, thankfully. Mainly because people want to keep their chairs. What chairs do make it into the ring get decimated by chair stacking spots. Both guys bring a tonne of personality to the dance to the point where people can’t help but cheer for Marty, a rarity in Progress. Or perhaps a concern regarding Havoc as a face. One of the biggest spots in the match is a table spot off the stage. They tease it a lot before Havoc, aiming for a spear, flies through the table solo. That gets a one count. The contest has that big match vibe and Havoc ups the ante by chucking drawing pins all over the ring. Scurll takes a sickening back suplex into those. Followed by a DVD. Holy shit. He’s like a pincushion. Acid Rainmaker finishes and Marty can hobble to the locker room and have those fucking thumbtacks taken out. Jesus.
Final Rating: ****

 

Jim Smallman gets a quick read on the makeup of the Northernness of the room. A “chips and gravy” chant breaks out. That’s how you know you’re Oop North, lads.

 

The Origin (Nathan Cruz & El Ligero) vs. FSU
Crowd hate Cruz but are in favour of Ligero seeing as he’s into Christmas. Nathan does not like banter because he’s a total prick. It’s ok though because it’s time to Party Hard! FSU are the high bar firing up a crowd. FSU have a jolly good time beating up Nathan. Ligero immediately turns the match into a delicious farce by getting on Roberts’ shoulders for a chicken fight! FSU respond in turn and Nathan Cruz is not best pleased. When Cruz refuses to help Mastiff jumps in there! Eddie manages to whip Mastiff off the ropes, with Ligero on his shoulders. My God. “Tall lads wrestling”. When the heels attempt a leapfrog it all goes wrong and Ligero rolls up Mastiff for the three count.

Hang on, what?

“Match of the year”. Things speed up slightly after that with Cruz looking to institute some actual wrestling, rather than the spectacularly goofy work beforehand. The Origin continue to miscue, clearly struggling to get on the same page. The Origin vs. FSU was a great main event earlier in the year when the tag belts were involved. Here it’s very different. Example? Ligero pulls out a bag of Celebrations and scatters them across the ring. The crowd launch into a spectacular rendition of “Celebration” by Kool & The Gang and Ligero gets rolled up for the pin. I have no idea how to rate this but I had a wonderful time watching. Nathan rejects the offers of post match sweets, which enrages The Bastard! Finally a special Christmas miracle; the Prime Banter Squad make friends with Joe (@oldathers). Tis the season to end all this fussin’ and feudin’!
Final Rating: Banter

 

Adam Cole vs. Will Ospreay
The opening moments involve a lot of posing, BAY BAY. This doesn’t last long as Cole turns himself heel by shoving Ospreay off the top rope. There’s an argument that in Indie wrestling the lack of heel/face structure hurts things. Which is arguably demonstrated here with Cole being heel and then doing a crowd-friendly mockery spot right afterwards. Then immediately doing the ‘move the crowd and do no move’ bullshit. Only at least he switches that up by throwing Will into the crowd after they’ve moved back. The crowd, cheering on the heel, proceed to do the “Moose” thing in the counts. Sheffield, you’re ruining it for the world. I have a further issue with the match, which is Cole’s mediocre work being contrasted by Ospreay’s world-beating innovation. They’re not close enough together, in terms of skill, to make it a believable match. I thought the exact same thing of Cole-Ospreay for the ROH title in New Japan. Adam Cole is a perfectly fine wrestler but he’s not in Will’s league. And it’s not like Taguchi, who could raise his game. Cole is just Cole.

They go into a few striking sequences to make things more interesting but that just shows up the astonishing inconsistencies in selling. It’s mainly from Cole. Will’s selling generally makes sense. He stays down when he should. The inconsistencies are such that Jim Ross would *hate* this. The antics are entertaining, once selling has been largely abandoned, and we get cool spots like Will getting superkicked out of the air going for the Oscutter. I get wound up by Cole not grabbing the ropes when they’re in reach during the pin on an Imploding 450. That makes no sense. It’s actively bad psychology. The match continues to escalate as they trade big spots in an attempt to finish things. Will’s selling gets genuinely good as he takes the superkicks down the stretch. The pop up at one after the ‘execution’ superkick is incredible far contrast of this, but it still makes sense. He’s found that one last reserve of energy. Another Oscutter attempt meets with the superkick and Cole finishes with the brainbuster over the knee. The athleticism in this was impressive and Ospreay brought the kind of fight that defies his 0-8 record in Progress since losing the title. I didn’t like a lot of Cole’s work in the match though, despite his hand in making the match epic. It leaves me torn over the rating. I liked a lot of things about the match but they were almost all from Will.
Final Rating: ***3/4

 

Video Control gives us clips from the outstanding British Strong Style interview. I love that Trent Seven and Peter are wearing the same gear here, where they talk about using the titles to sign contracts on, as they were during the WWE UK Championship tournament reveal. That’s some deep psychology. They must have known.

 

Progress World Championship
Pete Dunne (c) vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
Peter gets a touch upset at the crowd reaction to him as champion. Luckily Tyler Bate is out here to watch his back. The crowd seem quite drunk at this point and you can hear people screaming “Peter!” Tyler gets a little bit worked up and runs into the ring, resulting in Roberts actually doing something for once in his life and ejecting young Master Bate! This allows ZSJ to take over and control the match with his technical excellence. This is a brand new challenge for Dunne. Being the Progress champion and having to fend off challengers of this quality. He’s done it elsewhere, and beat Zack in OTT earlier in the year, but this is a major test of his resolve. Pete responds by sticking to his strengths. He bites Zack and gouges the face. The Sheffield fans continue to not cover themselves in glory as I hear a “shit Jack Swagger” attempt from one guy. On your own pal. You may be at the wrong show. Dunne’s aggression here is a joy to behold. If he left the contest as a straight up technical match it wouldn’t be realistic for him to hang with Zack. So he approaches it with a range of heelish tactics.

Zack is equally aggressive in response, at one point standing and stamping on Dunne’s head. Peter’s insistence at turning this into a fight gives him a narrow advantage as Zack tends to temper his aggression to be within the wrestling environment. Whenever Zack tries to slip back into wrestling Pete brings him back into a fight. That doesn’t always work in his favour though, because ZSJ is tough, and at one point Pete gets knocked silly by a slap. It’s a good match, largely because Sabre controls the pace and makes sure Dunne doesn’t look lost or out of his depth in his first title defence. In a way Pete justifies being given this spot but it helps he’s working Sabre, massively. Dunne impresses with his power and he’s been gaining weight constantly for years. The mixture of technical skill, striking and power puts him in Sabre’s league. The double Tombstone spot is very impressive. The way he jacks Sabre back up shows that core strength. The match is long, over thirty minutes, and incredibly intense for a match of that length. It ends when Pete manages to score the Drop Dead. Sabre does a magnificent job of selling the fatigue on the cover by flailing his legs around but lacking the strength to actually kick out. Excellent match. Kudos to Progress for letting it go that long and let them develop a layered story.
Final Rating: ****1/2

 

Summary: I wasn’t that excited to watch Chapter 40 but when will I learn that there’s no such thing as a skippable Progress show. They’re all great. If it wasn’t for Fight Club Pro being even more consistent during 2016 they’d be my promotion of year. Another very good show here. Dunne-Sabre and Havoc-Scurll were both excellent in different ways. I hear the live crowd had mixed feelings about Havoc-Scurll due to them brawling all over the place. It might not have come across as well live as it does on tape. I get the feeling people will like Ospreay-Cole more than me too. I feel like I artificially increased my rating on that to match to convey how excited the crowd were. Everything was solid on this show. Nothing bad. Some very good wrestling and some great comedy stuff from the Origin’s banter squad. I’m tempted to call Mastiff and Ligero joint MVP’s for this show based on their fine comedic talents. This is also a great show for Pete Dunne. He came here and proved he deserved that title belt. If he won the title in slightly dubious fashion he certainly retained it in convincing style.
Verdict: 91

PROGRESS Chapter 41 – Unboxing Live

Arnold Furious: December 30, 2016. We’re in Camden at the Electric Ballroom. I was at this show and it was one of the rowdiest, drunken shows I’ve ever attended in my entire life. The lads, of which I’m included, got tipsy in the Ice Wharf before the show and had been drinking for three hours by the time Jim Smallman stepped into the ring to address the crowd. We all piled into the same area of the Ballroom and I couldn’t see as well as I usually can. This meant I was very close to the bar…and this was very dangerous as I continued to drink for the entire show. To the point where the bar staff, all of them, knew what I was drinking. I get the feeling I wasn’t alone in my lack of sobriety. You can tell as the crowd agree to recreate the Lion King and fail horribly at singing in unison. Commentary comes from RJ Singh and Glen Joseph. The latter looks like Buddy Holly.

 

South Pacific Power Trip vs. FSU & Nixon Newell
Crowd react huge for everyone. That’s always a good sign and Party Hard is such a brilliant song to kick a show off. The faces are all Welsh, which gets a brief “Wales” chant before the crowd turn on the idea. It’s testament to Nixon and Travis that they wrestle an entirely convincing sequence to open the match. Nothing is made of the gender. The concept behind this match is to get the crowd going with a fiery hot opener. It works. They have a kiss-off spot that is amazing. Eddie threatens to kiss Dahlia so TK threatens to kiss Nixon and Andrews and Travis find themselves facing off. That’s a bit weird. They have an awkward stand off afterwards before a handshake while the crowd chant “we don’t judge”. Only in this company could you get the awkward kissing spot and pay it off like that. The Power Trip do oblige with awkward sex positions selling. Travis, mate, your mouth is getting everywhere on this show. When the match is more serious it still takes place at a blinding pace and in front of appreciative audience. Dahlia’s series of crotch kicks is great, because it leads to Nixon doing a series of headbutts, including one straight to TK’s fist. Shiniest Wizard pins Dahlia. I make no apologies for adoring this match.
Final Rating: ***3/4

 

Post Match: the Welsh trio dance to B*Witched. It’s every bit as great as that sounds. Love the graps. Smallman’s “Weekend At Bernie’s” reference is equally brilliant. One match in and this is a late candidate for ‘most fun show of 2016’.

 

Toni Storm vs. Kay Lee Ray
This is a match I’ve been screaming out for so kudos to Progress for actually putting it on. They’re probably the two best women talents available to UK promotions. KLR takes a few shortcuts despite being cheered. She’s only wrestled once for Progress and she was a heel then. Toni, when quizzed about topics for discussion on commentary offered: “well, I use my arse a lot”. Aussies. They do some mat grappling and, shock of shocks, it’s really good. I think I’d prefer a straight up match but KLR deliberately leans heel to give it a specific structure. They have some nifty ideas including suplexes and strikes. Toni uses her posterior throughout. Sometimes it’s goofy and ineffective but when she gets up a head of steam it’s brutal. KLR tries a few different tactics; Gorybomb, senton and a front choke. Toni finds a way out of all of it and finishes with a piledriver. These two are as close to the finished article in women’s BritWres so this was always going to be good. I’m looking forward to seeing how good Toni will be in a few years time. She’s oozing with potential.
Final Rating: ***1/2

 

Wasteman Challenge
Bodyguy has a new Twitter handle (@RoyJohnsonYeah). Get on it. He’s a good follow. Roy calls himself the “one and only Bodyguy” because his old Twitter handle got snapped up by Ellis. This provokes a chant of “fuck you Daniel”…who’s in the building. Awkward. The surprise opponent for the Wasteman Challenge is Mad Man Manson! He’s retired and hasn’t wrestled for two years. His last Progress date was in 2014 against Michael Gilbert (better known as Mikey Whiplash). Manson greets Johnson with “thank you black man”. “This is a race war”. “I’m like a really shit version of Grado”. “Everyone else has been signed so they had to get me”. He’s been retired for two years learning to rap. Crowd chant “drop some bars”. “I have none on me”. “Is there a hard cam in here?” “This is why William Regal wouldn’t sign me. He signed every other fucker”. Roy spends the promo chuckling uncontrollably. “I was not in prison, that’s fucking bullshit”. Johnson’s rhymes include mentioning Manson’s reversal issues (press R2) and singing “My Heart Will Go On”. Like, actually, for real. “Let me lip sync the song of my people”. Yes, Manson lip syncs to Wham instead of actually responding via the medium of rap. My favourite in-ring segment of 2016.

 

Progress Tag Team Championship
British Strong Style (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) vs. The London Riots vs. The Leaders of the New School
LDRS are a big surprise third team with Marty coming out first before unveiling Sabre from a box. The belts are vacant after Pete Dunne tried to give his title to Tyler. Scurll, usually a bad guy, is instantly turned face by teaming with Sabre and he’s more playful than usual. There’s something about the LDRS being paired up that makes both men more entertaining and they’re already two of the best in the world! Marty taking so long to the run the ropes that Davis escapes a Sabre hold into the ropes is peak silly Scurll. The match gets really good when they hit the faked dives spot leading to James Davis doing an insane tope that wipes out three other guys. Davis also stars in a submission chain. He yells “I don’t know any submissions” before applying a headlock. Trent chops the whole thing apart after being unable to figure out how to add his own submission. Trent is too funny to be a heel. He walks a fine line on all of these Progress shows. It’s one that Peter kept him firmly on the heel side of. Once we get super serious the match becomes a spree of near falls and teams being unable to get one man isolated for the pin. Scurll is so over in this match that the build to him declaring a “Chickenwing” is deafening. Moustache Mountain manage to pick off Sabre for successive piledrivers and Tyler gets the pin to claim his tag shield.
Final Rating: ****

 

Post Match: Trent and Tyler pantomime signing WWE contracts on the tag shields and in a stupendously dickish move Seven gets Bate to give him a Too Sweet sign afterwards. After that Jim Smallman gives a shout out to Sophie Owen (@legallyblonde22) for attending fifty Indie shows this year. Well played.

 

Progress World Championship
Pete Dunne (c) vs. Fabian Aichner
Pete promises in 2017 he’s “leaving for good” and taking the belt with him. Peter draws a lot of heat and Aichner doesn’t have to work hard to get love from the audience. What he does do is budget Cesaro antics. He’s very good at it. Dunne’s response is largely vicious. Going after the nose, or biting the fingers. It’s a level of savagery that sets him apart. Aichner, content to operate within the rules, is at a disadvantage. He tries to compensate by delivering a huge array of stuff from his incredible leaping springboard to the floor to his stern lariat. He has an impressive range of skills. Until Pete forearms him out of the air. I love that spot. It reminds me of Samoa Joe stepping out of the way of fliers big spots. Only there’s no disdain here, only aggression. Aichner misses his double springboard and Drop Dead finishes. This was a rock solid title defence.
Final Rating: ***1/2

 

Post Match: Pete nails his heel persona by saying he’ll “see you on the Network” before basking in the heat from the one standing section. What a fucking year this man had.

 

Sebastian & William Eaver vs. Sex on the Beach (Jack Sexsmith & Chuck Mambo)
I headed to the bar as soon as Seb came out here and I was not alone. I vaguely remember apologising to Jack in the World’s End (unless I dreamt that). These are all the lads from the Progress training school and while Seb’s mate, Tom Irvin, isn’t around anymore Eaver and Mambo are pals. So they don’t want to fight. At least among other inexperienced wrestlers Seb doesn’t look out of his depth but the other three are here to entertain. Seb is just the heel. His presence is important for the dynamic of the match but his work doesn’t do anything for me. It kills the momentum. He does take better bumps here than in bigger matches but his selling is all over the place. Some people just aren’t cut out for wrestling. The gimmick of the match is that Sexsmith gives Seb a stinkface and he ends up with poop on his nose, so he vomits on the floor and then slips on it. You’ve taken this too far lads. Seb forces Eaver to lariat Mambo, which is mean. They lost me at the nose business.
Final Rating: ¼*

 

Jimmy Havoc vs. Will Ospreay
This angle has come back full circle. Jimmy is now the beloved babyface and Ospreay is the heel (although he enters as a face). Although Havoc has done little to be a face, other than returning from injury at Brixton. Will is fully aware that Havoc has never apologised for all the dick things he’s done. Ospreay’s attitude is in evidence immediately as he volleys one streamer out of the ring and catches another without looking. Will brings incredible aggression, spearing Havoc into the fourth row. Havoc’s response is to start flipping around like a maniac. Jimmy does a great job of selling his knee, which is what he was out injured with for so long and Ospreay goes after the knee like a son of a bitch. The great thing about Ospreay is we know what a phenomenal flippity dude he is but we’ve barely scraped the surface of his personality. He is a cocky little shit. There’s an awesome spot in this where Havoc no sells the Canadian Destroyer, by grabbing his neck and cracking it back into place, before flooring Ospreay with the Rainmaker. Will doing the Cheeky Nando’s kick to the knee is just perfect. What a prick. His speed allows him to do incredible things. Everything seems so purposeful and direct. Even a toned down Ospreay is remarkable. Perhaps even more remarkable because he does basics incredibly well. The match is all about Ospreay but Havoc comes firing back with an array of Japanese favourites including the GTS and the Burning Hammer. The selling goes completely out the window down the stretch, which hurts the match a touch. Jimmy pulls out the win with an Acid Rainmaker, although if Ospreay had not fired up in between the two big Japanese spots this would have worked better. Still an outstanding performance from Ospreay. World beating stuff throughout. Excellent execution.
Final Rating: ****1/4

 

Post Match: Jimmy Havoc points out he deserves a broken rib for “trying to murder you and shit”. “Me and you, we built this company”. Jimmy asks for Will’s help in fighting British Strong Style. He even apologises. Will shakes hands and then kicks Havoc in the nuts just as he’s mouthing “thank you”. What a prick. As he’s continuing the assault out comes Paul Robinson with a barbwire baseball bat and he gives it to Ospreay! They were a tag team before Robbo was in Regression, listening to Havoc’s anti-Progress rhetoric. I love Will symbolically putting on black gloves to beat Jimmy down.

 

Summary: A hugely enjoyable show. I regret getting a bit too tipsy during the second half and blame…people who bought me drinks? Nah, I blame myself. Importantly I had a good time though and was able to watch the main event back at my leisure thanks to Demand Progress. Excellent show and a strong way to finish a great year in BritWres.
Verdict: 93

RevPro Live At The Cockpit 13

Arnold Furious: February 5, 2017. We’re in London at the Cockpit. Rev Pro have a new ring announcer and a new commentary team. The lack of Quildan is weird. After five minutes of it I miss both Quildan and even Simmonz. Hosts are Luke Bond and Danny Darnell. Both sound bored. The latter is an absolute grind and some of his analysis was akin to listening to paint dry. Sorry lads.

 

Dan Magee vs. Zack Gibson
Rather predictably Zack gets heavily booed for doing his “Liverpool’s number one” promo. It’s not as heated as it is in Progress, sadly. Rev Pro fans hate loud noises. I love that Magee is being given the chance to work his way up the card. He’s looked solid in the ‘Contenders’ matches. This match is rock solid although it has a weird spot where Rob Lias puts Magee’s foot on the ropes after the Ticket to Ride lands. Clearly they’re working a slow burning feud with Magee and Lias, similar to the Sabre-Scurll one. Gibson takes advantage of this to roll Magee up into the Shankly Gates. Obviously this was very storyline heavy. Magee and Lias actually having a story is encouraging though.
Final Rating: **3/4

 

Post-match: Magee tells Lias he doesn’t need him so Rob bashes him in the jaw. That ungrateful swine Magee deserved it.

 

Lord Gideon Grey vs. Timothy Thatcher
Thatcher comes out wearing his Ringkampf gear. I like how wXw’s angles are bleeding into BritWres. Thatcher is widely disliked for his deliberate wrestling style. I’m fine with it but I can understand why people don’t care for it. Gideon actually decides to go one on one with the technical grappling. It’s quite fun. Thatcher runs through an assortment of torturous holds and Gideon responds with a healthy mixture of cheating and technical prowess. I’m shocked at how much I enjoy the match. Has Gideon turned into a technician? Thatcher blocks a low blow and goes right into the Fujiwara armbar for the submission. This was one of the best singles matches I’ve ever seen from Gideon. Has he switches gears somewhat? The new look and especially his new gear would suggest a change of tack.
Final Rating: ***

 

The London Riots vs. Josh Wall & Kurtis Chapman
This is a big challenge for the young lads from the Contender’s division. They’re both heavily out of their depth, in terms of experience and size. Chapman tries but the Riots just murder this poor kid. It’s a torturous outing for the Contender’s. Recently WALTER destroyed Travis Banks & TK Cooper at a Progress show. This is a bit like that, only more pronounced. Kurtis takes a thrashing here. The match is exceptionally lopsided with Davis pulling Kurtis up from a pin at one point. They finish when it suits them and the Riots get the easy win. The Contender’s took a shellacking. It was enjoyable. Total squash though.
Final Rating: **1/2

 

Post-match: James Castle, upset that the Contender’s pinned him last time, runs in to beat them down and get his heat back.

 

Marty Scurll vs. Luke Phoenix
I honestly thought Phoenix retired. I last saw him a decade ago in 1PW. He’s announced as making his return after eight years away from the ring. That’s how you know a scene is buzzing, you get long-retired guys reappearing. RJ Singh had this spot recently, against Sabre. Now it’s Phoenix returning. Phoenix looks in reasonable condition, especially on the mat, and he’s not as rusty as expected. Rev Pro are clearly happy to have him back as they’ve put him in this marquee match up. Considering he’s been gone for a decade, it’s quite the surprise to see him look this effective. Unfortunately he’s not familiar with his surroundings and takes a back bump on the steps. It takes a while for the crowd to buy into Phoenix but when he gets all fired up the match is pretty good. Phoenix doesn’t operate on Marty’s level but then Scurll is a world-beater at the moment. Phoenix looks off Marty’s pace and can’t nail enough effective moves to convince me he can compete. It leaves Scurll looking dumb at times for lying in position for something before it happens. There’s the ring rust. I don’t know if it’s intentional but Phoenix does throw in the same hold that Axel Dieter Jr. used to beat Scurll in wXw. If that was intentional that’s solid psychology. Marty ends up killing Phoenix with piledrivers to soften up the neck and the Chickenwing finishes. This got really good as it progressed. Phoenix has a degree of rust but they put together a good story of Marty getting frustrated and having to pull out all the stops to beat a guy he thought he could steamroller.
Final Rating: ***1/2

 

Travis Banks vs. Ryan Smile
The crowd is irritatingly quiet for what should be a banger of a contest. Travis is extremely underrated when it comes to selling and comedy. His comedy selling in this match is grand. For the most part Travis dictates the pace, being the heel, and he puts a prolonged beating on Smile. Ryan, naturally, responds with a wacky dive. Travis kicks him in the face repeatedly in response. It’s a really solid match with snug work and Ryan hitting a few big spots down the stretch, including lifting the Oscutter. Frog Splash finishes and Smile picks up the big win. Before he has time to celebrate in comes Chris Brookes. The beatdown is really entertaining. I want to see CCK vs. Uptown Funkers at some point. Make it happen Rev Pro.
Final Rating: ***1/2

 

Dave Mastiff vs. Eddie Dennis
This is a healthy slice of Big Lads wrestling. Eddie gives as good as he gets and lots of heavy lumber is brought to the party. Big Dave throwing his weight around is pretty terrifying. Especially his double stomp. Dave wrestling as a generic heel around the UK is odd to me, considering how over he’s gotten as a face in Progress with the banter. There’s no banter here, just lumber. I had the chance to listen to Eddie do a few podcasts recently and his personality is excellent. He has that larger than life vibe. I wish there was a way for both men to get their personalities across more here. Instead the match is more of a grind. Eddie does impress every time he lifts Big Dave off the mat. The silent crowd is perhaps a telling measure as to how well the match works. It has peaks where something crazy happens but it’s not a consistently good contest. Dave hooks the “Bostin” crab and gets the submission. This was sporadically impressive but hurt by a quiet crowd. An issue for the majority of the night. Ed, who was in attendance, blames “Rumble flu” for it.
Final Rating: ***

 

RPW Interim Cruiserweight Championship
Josh Bodom (c) vs. Oliver Carter
Carter is an Alex Wright trainee from Austria. He made his Rev Pro debut toward the end of last year defeating James Castle in Portsmouth. At least that means he’s unbeaten in RPW and therefore a reasonable challenger for this Interim title. Bodom is starting to gain support from the crowd and perhaps it’s his more exciting move set that has encouraged that. He hits another flip off the apron here, landing squarely on Carter’s head and jamming his neck up. Carter doesn’t help himself by hitting some reckless dives. You cannot beat a crazy outta control dive. At least one of his dives results in a horrible sounding thud noise. Carter wins me over effortlessly and Bodom steps up to his level. It’s another excellent showing from him in a streak of them. I’m not sure his heel persona is quite right for the style he’s wrestling but he’s proving himself worthy of the push he’s getting from Andy Q. The timing on the strikes is excellent and it’s technically solid too. I’m totally sold on Carter. Bodom shows moments of experience here that impress me. His ring positioning to get his foot on the rope after the springboard cutter is perfect. Bodom takes it, although Carter survives the Blissbuster first to add to his CV. Carter needs to be used everywhere immediately.
Final Rating: ****

 

Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Mike Bailey
This is a game of chess. Well, it’s not, it’s a wrestling match but it’s a wrestling match that’s heavily reliant on tactics and in that respect it’s a bit like a game of chess. They feel each other out with Sabre looking for openings and Bailey looking to land a kick. This being Sabre it’s a technically sound match with a lot of very good mat work. You’d expect nothing less from Zack. Bailey’s response is the Karate Kid crane kick after his leg has been worked over. That’s just a desperation move in the midst of a sea of limb abuse though. In the sea there’s a shark and that shark is Zack Sabre Jr. He chomps away on that leg, switching holds and varying his attacks. Normally limb work can be a chore to sit through but Sabre has such a massive arsenal that he can keep things interesting. Bailey puts in an excellent turn wrestling defensively too. Mainly through kicks but also with grappling. There’s a slight issue where Bailey starts using his bad leg like nothing happened but it’s quickly forgotten because they start beating the shit out of each other. It is a bit weird to have so much leg focus throughout the match only to completely abandon it at the end but this is modern wrestling. Bailey’s offence, when he can’t be fucked to sell his leg, is mightily impressive. Sabre ties Bailey in knots and invents a new submission finisher to put him away. He does that a lot. This would have been far superior if they’d done the incredible stuff in the first half and then Sabre wore him down with leg holds to get the submission in the second half. That said both halves of the match were excellent but they didn’t click together.
Final Rating: ***3/4

 

Post-match: Sabre puts Ospreay or Shibata on notice and suggests he’ll go to Japan to get his belt back if he has to.

 

Summary: Rev Pro has started the year strongly but despite this show looking good on paper there were a lot of disappointing elements to it. Firstly the decision to switch commentary and ring announcer. None of the new guys did anything for me. I really missed the dulcet tones of Andy Quildan and the announce team sounded bored. This show also had a streak of matches where one guy was far superior to the other in one respect or another. Whether it be Scurll wrestling inactive Phoenix or the Riots squashing the Contender’s. The theme was present throughout the show. The only match that took a 50-50 approach was Smile vs. Banks and Ryan was strangely subdued in that contest. That said the standard of wrestling was high and the show was mostly enjoyable. Special praise for Bodom and Carter, putting on an excellent semi-main event. Probably the best singles match I’ve seen from Bodom and a great introduction to Eurograps star Carter for me. Another thumbs up show from Rev Pro but the concern lingers that the presentation was weaker here than on recent shows.
Verdict: 81

RevPro Live At The Cockpit 16

Arnold Furious: May 7, 2017. We’re in the Cockpit Theatre for another thrilling instalment of RPW’s run of Cockpit shows. 2017 has seen a definitive uptick in quality on these shows, here’s hoping it continues here. It should. The main event is Marty Scurll vs. Kyle O’Reilly. Also we have another Bodom vs. Dijak match and CCK vs. London Riots. Host in the ring is Steve Lynskey, which is still weird to me. On commentary are Andy Quildan and Alex Cupid.

 

Malik, Ash Draven & Cara Noir vs. Josh Wall, Ashley Dunn & Kurtis Chapman
Cara Noir used to be Tom Dawkins and now he’s Dalton Castle minus the Boys. The entrance is so flamboyant that the crowd get into him. Be different. Try weird shit. It’ll probably get you over. Speaking of getting over; Kurtis Chapman, tiny skinny fella that he is, has developed a tidy ability to throw stiff kicks. He’s also great at sympathy selling because he’s so small and all the other guys hit him so hard. Cara Noir’s weirdness is interesting to watch. He’s working on a gimmick and I’m intrigued as to where its going. Too many wrestlers are currently working the exact same style. While I like the style it can get samey. Dawkins is at least standing out. All these lads try hard to impress and the effort level is high. Aside from wacky Dawkins nobody stands out but that’s a good thing because no one is bad either. Ashley Dunn picks up the win with a Pedigree Destroyer. That’s a move for British Strong Style to start spamming when they get bored of the Pedigree! This was a hot opener with good performances all round. I’m not sure it qualifies as “awesome”, which the crowd tried to get going with but it was certainly solid. I’m sold on the Contenders in general. It’s a strong division filled with potential.
Final Rating: ***1/4

 

Zack Gibson vs. Ryan Smile
Gibson gets the standard treatment from the crowd, although it’s not as deafening as usual. He calls Smile a “skinny, flippy boy” and the crowd “braindead punters”. Well, shit, he fucking nailed it there. Ryan Smile has struggled a little recently. Especially when facing far superior opponents. While his Midlands brethren have stepped up their game, he’s not on a par with the better fliers in the business. He’s still perfectly fine but Gibson looks a class apart. He dismantles Ryan and does sensible things throughout. Ryan is at his best when he’s running his mouth and he’s at his most entertaining before the match starts. Gibson’s pre-match attitude is reflected in his treatment of flippy Smile, as he gives him a verbal and physical thrashing. Ryan’s respond is a nutty dive, as you’d expect. It’s as if he ignored the pre-match abuse and tried to write it off as Gibson being a character. If Smile was wanting to show up Zack, he’d have tried to outwrestle him. To make matters worse Ryan’s timing is off in his comeback and Gibson’s tactic of yelling about Will Ospreay is far more entertaining than Smile’s work. It’s very strange. Hopefully it’s building to Gibson vs. Ospreay because that would be great. Ryan gets trapped in the Shankly Gates for the submission and Zack moves on to bigger and better things.
Final Rating: **3/4

 

Jinny vs. Alex Windsor
Jinny’s ability to own a room just by walking into it is matched by her tremendous mannerisms. Like laughing at fans dress sense, wiping down the microphone after it’s passed to her or bashing a child in the audience for starting a chant. “He’ll probably grow up to be nothing, just like his parents”. Rev Pro are having a crack at babyface Alex Windsor. Not convinced. Rev Pro’s problem stems from having a thin division where Jinny is the dominant heel. She’s the boss of this match, and every match, and while Alex is fairly cocky she’s not on Jinny’s level. Jinny’s bitchiness is sensational. She threatens to punch one fans face in before grabbing some lipstick to give Alex a “makeover”. Windsor is showing steady improvement. It’s easy to forget she came from the Saraya Knight school of training and started when she was a literal child. They have a few issues with Jinny’s strikes not connecting, with visible air showing, but I’d rather they did strikes safely than dish out concussions with knees into jaws. The finish is a strike too with Jinny kicking Alex in the head, after raking the eyes and referee shenanigans. Sensational character work although the wrestling was a bit patchy.
Final Rating: **1/2

 

Josh Bodom vs. Donovan Dijak
Big Donny is too big to be a cruiserweight so this is non-title. Bodom is coming off the best match of his career versus Will Ospreay. Now he has a mini-feud blow-off against Dijak. They wrestled twice in early 2016 with Bodom winning both times. Dijak manages to bust himself open in the first ten seconds of the match attempting a wacky dive.

Dijak’s freaky power is a major highlight here as he jacks Bodom up into spots and throws him out like a sack of spuds. I’m also permanently impressed by Dijak’s intensity. That combination of strength and passion puts Dijak in the elite level that the likes of Goldberg occupy. Only Dijak has that athletic ability too. He’s a complete package. Given the sheer number of signings WWE have snatched up from the Indies I’m pretty shocked Dijak hasn’t gone to Florida. Bodom steals Dijak’s finisher and then hits his own and that’s still not the finish because Dijak doesn’t want to get swept 3-0 in their series. Blissbuster be damned! Ashley Dunn appears to save Dijak from a belt shot and Donny scores the win with his big knee strike. This was tremendous but the interference is setting up something else and that detracts from Dijak finally getting a win over Bodom.
Final Rating: ***3/4

 

Rev Pro Tag Team Championship
#CCK (c) vs. The London Riots
The Riots have been great this year but they’ve lost consistently in pretty much every promotion. Meanwhile #CCK, in both incarnations, have become flavour of the month in the UK Indies. They’re suddenly everywhere and winning everything.

Travis Banks hasn’t had a long time to wait for this break but Brookes feels like he’s been around forever waiting to get picked up in big companies. Building that underground river of support until it burst its banks. The crowd chant “CCK pit” and the champs look confused until someone yells “not Cockpit, CCK Pit” and both of them visibly break. Adjusting to CCK being babyfaces as a team is tough but they are both capable comedians and are likeable. It’s just the CCK brand is a heel one and it’s tricky to change that mentality.

They keep me amused by being protective of their dicks, and the punching thereof. The comedy is good but the wrestling is even better as everyone is great. Travis is able to take a few bits and bobs from their recent Riots vs. SPPT match in Progress but they step it up above that too with Banks throwing himself into everything. He’s so good at what he does and he dictates the pace here, allowing everyone around him to look good. Holding it together like some kind of Kiwi wrestling glue. It’s a fun, fun match. My only beef is that I can’t tell if CCK are supposed to be heels or faces that enjoy cheating (like Los Guerreros). The crowd happily cheer them on so I’ll go with faces that cheat. It’s not like Brookes can not cheat and retain his character. CCK retain with double teams, and perhaps a bit of cricket bat. Post match the Riots turn heel by refusing Brookes’ cheeky offer of a handshake and there is a promise of a rematch.
Final Rating: ****

 

Lord Gideon Grey vs. Eddie Dennis
The crowd amuse me by chanting “broken Princess” at the former Princess Unicorn. Poor Gideon has gone off his character rails. Eddie decides to have a bit of a laugh because, let’s face it, Gideon is a goof. I love that he’s trying something different with his character but I’m not sure where it’s going. He strolls to the ring looking vacant and unresponsive and then after a while he just behaves like a heel. As if it comes spilling out uncontrollably. And when he slides back into the coma Eddie comes across as a bastard for beating him up. I’m really not sure what to make of it all. The crowd are equally confused, although they start chanting all manner of weird shit like “we want tables” and “where is Rishi”. Nothing seems to catch on and it appears that the crowd is at odds with itself. As if there are pockets of people with the same opinion and everyone else hates them. Gideon pulls a win out with the Fifty Shades of Grey, a side slam variant, and that’s probably fair. He’s trying something new. Eddie is loss-proof. Apparently he’s on a losing streak.
Final Rating: **

 

Sha Samuels & Rob Lias vs. RJ Singh & Dan Magee
Sha & Rob come out the Revolutionists music. Is the stable being rebuilt? I’m surprised James Castle isn’t opposing Sha here. For some reason people are actually cheering for Sha, who Rob appears to hate. It doesn’t help that Sha calls him “Ricky”. Lias is wearing colourful gear, perhaps suggesting he’s graduated from the Contenders division. Which must upset Magee, who’s still sporting black trunks. Lias and Magee make a point of working hard, as they’re the kids, while Singh and Sha can coast by on personality. Singhton Bomb puts Sha down for three after Rob Lias miscues on his new mate. For fuck’s sake, Ricky, you had one job. Post match this short lived team falls apart with Rob giving his senior partner a dressing down and eating a spinebuster for it.
Final Rating: **

 

Marty Scurll vs. Kyle O’Reilly
Scurll is the local favourite, growing the fan support in RPW for years. Kyle has a few Rev Pro matches under his belt. I saw him at Uprising 2015 against KUSHIDA in a belter. Kyle is an exceptional pro wrestler but like Roderick Strong I’ve always felt there was something missing from his game. Strong has found that in NXT; allowing cameras into his home and exposing the wrestling machine as a real person with a rough past. He’s certainly trying a few things here. He banters a bit, he tries to get a headlock over and he dances a bit. You need that extra dimension because brilliant pure wrestlers are everywhere. Scurll understands this and that’s why he’s developed The Villain. The match occasionally has weird stuff going on, beyond Kyle’s experiments, and at one point he back bumps to avoid a wind up punch. Why? There’s no logical reason for doing it. The match is at its best when it plays off Marty’s tropes (superkick, just kidding, chickenwing etc) and when Kyle abandons any pretence of sportz entertainment and straight up attacks Scurll with strikes. They step it up down the stretch with strike duels, lovely counters and Scurll’s finger snap preventing Kyle from submitting him. A blinded Scurll accidentally finger snapping Chris Roberts is great and it leads directly into Kyle getting a visual victory before Marty rolls through and gets the Chickenwing for the win. Once they moved on from the earlier experiments and went at it this match really delivered.
Final Rating: ****

 

Summary: Rev Pro has an interesting mixture of talent at the moment, ranging from rookies to guys who’ve been there for years to national newcomers and top tier imports. As a result they’re creating interesting shows, especially at the Cockpit. It’s a pity the atmosphere wasn’t as good here as it has been. The crowd was certainly treated to some good matches, especially the tag titles and Kyle O’Reilly vs. Marty Scurll. It’s pleasing to notice where the success is coming from. Either home grown UK talent or more specifically home grown Rev Pro talent like Josh Bodom or the Contenders.
Verdict: 76

RevPro Live at the Cockpit 17

 

Arnold Furious: June 4, 2017. We’re in the Cockpit Theatre, swiftly becoming a hot venue for Rev Pro to run. The shows that emanate from there tend to be consistently good. This was the day after the London terror attack and Andy Q thanks everyone for coming out and supporting professional wrestling. Hosts on commentary are Andy Quildan and Andy Boy Simmonz.

 

El Phantasmo vs. David Starr
This is El Phantasmo’s UK debut. He’s a Canadian grappler. Considering his outlandish name he looks remarkably normal. He does have a cool entrance though, coming out in the dark wearing neon gear. His entrance music has the lyrics “I’m a f*ck*ng headbanger” and Andy Q is beside himself. “I didn’t realise there would be quite so much swearing in that song”. Andy Q is so pure. El Phantasmo was recommended by Kyle O’Reilly apparently. Phantasmo is heavy on the mockery so Starr loses his patience. It’s interesting to see Starr get rattled and the chops he delivers are tremendous. Phantasmo gets over on personality before popping off spots, which is a decent approach for a newcomer. Commentary discuss Phantasmo and how he’s decided to come to the UK for a year to see how he fares. He certainly impresses with a few moves off the top rope. Especially when Starr rolls across the ring to avoid one and still gets caught with a ridiculous missile dropkick. Phantasmo comes unstuck ‘going to the well’ of high flying and Starr beats him with the JML Driver. This was a really solid opening match. Phantasmo got his character across and I’m sure has secured himself a future booking.
Final Rating: ***1/2

 

The London Riots vs. Josh Wall & Kurtis Chapman
Josh Wall is also known as Kelly Six. Wall is his trimmed down, no gimmick approach. Just black trunks and all business, as is the Contenders way. The Riots try for the Authors of Pain Super Collider spot but it’s horribly and obviously botched. The crowd, already quiet, completely no sell it. You could hear a pin drop. The lads get the crowd back by doing basics; brawling and dives. Commentary decide to razz on the youngsters; calling Chapman skinny and Wall chubby within moments of each other. Not that Wall is fat or anything, he just needs to tone up that belly. Or wrestle in a t-shirt like the Riots. The match is littered with untidy moments and hurried recovery spots. Both youngsters have wobbles but recover from them admirably. The match is at its best when the Riots bowl the kids over with power. There are not enough moments like that, as the match is structured to make the Contenders look good. Chris Brookes shows up and steals JD’s cricket bat allowing Travis Banks to blindside Davis and Kurtis gets the pin! If this match hadn’t suffered from so many unfortunate miscommunications it would have been really good.
Final Rating: **3/4

 

RPW Undisputed British Cruiserweight Championship
Josh Bodom (c) vs. Ashley Dunn
No offence to Ashley Dunn but this screams ‘routine defence’. Dunn has only been in the business for 18 months and everything about him reflects that. From his movement to his crowd interaction to his appearance. He’s a work in progress. Bodom on the other hand has had a breakout year. His title victory over Will Ospreay is hands-down the best match I’ve ever seen him have. Here Bodom bullies the smaller Dunn, rightly so. It’s an uphill struggle to convince the fans that Dunn is a genuine contender. Ashley gets murdered with the Blissbuster very early but kicks out. I’m not sure I agree with that line of thinking. “You’re the third best Dunn in Britain” says Bodom. He’s not lying! I don’t think that’s even an insult. Ashley botches a crescent kick so they repeat the spot. Josh looks slightly annoyed at this turn of events. Generally the match isn’t going as he’d hoped and he finds himself waiting for Dunn more often than is ideal. Bodom tries to compensate by hitting bigger spots but the longer the match continues the less likely it is that Dunn isn’t beaten. Bodom’s stuff is so much crisper and the delivery is so superior that my initial feeling, that this is a mismatch, continues to be proven. Dunn takes some serious abuse, including the finish, which is a dropkick to the back of the head that looks like death. Bodom should have won much quicker than he did and Dunn took his abuse like a man but he didn’t belong in this match. Perhaps a better choice of offence from Dunn would have helped matters. He needed to be quick, sneaky and try roll ups and dives. As soon as that Blissbuster hit, the match should have been over.
Final Rating: **1/4

 

Eddie Dennis vs. Donovan Dijak
Dijak had a great run of matches against Josh Bodom for Rev Pro. Dennis is a lot closer in terms of size but maybe not in intensity. Andy Q brings the factoids; Eddie Dennis has never won a match in Rev Pro. That feels like a long-term booking concept. The match is two big lads bouncing off each other. “Come on Donovan Dijak, if that is your real name” makes Dijak break. Eddie Dennis is a funny f*ck*r. Dijak has done his homework and recognises Eddie’s “Next Stop Driver”, busting out a counter. Commentary is fairly critical of Eddie Dennis “pandering” to the crowd. The match dies on its arse as the pace slows and the intensity fades. I have a hard time with Eddie Dennis. I love him and his character but his matches don’t do a lot for me. He’s far better off in tags. Dijak makes amends by throwing Dennis around but it doesn’t bring the crowd back. They get into some beefy big spots down the stretch to get them back with Eddie surviving a string of big spots. Eddie is a guy who can kick out of big spots because he’s got that size to make it realistic. It feels like the finish but they go on to brawl some more before more big spots and dives. Dijak is getting good at match structure. Making me feel like the match is finished but then realistically carrying on is good for business. A common theme is that Dijak is much stronger than Dennis and frequently Eddie struggles to carry Dijak’s massive frame. I really like how the match becomes a struggle at the finish. Both guys looking tired and struggling to get their opponent up into moves. Eventually Dijak has too much for Eddie and downs him with the Feast Your Eyes knee strike. I didn’t enjoy the first half of this but it kept getting better and better. Dijak is on his way to superstardom.
Final Rating: ***1/2

 

Promo Time: Rob Lias
He’s out here to chat with Andy Q. The fans are still calling him Ricky. Rob, trying to escape the Contender’s division, bitches about his music and his “stupid black trunks”. Have you looked in the mirror mate? It looks like you murdered the cast of the Muppets and made a patchwork jacket of their pelts.

 

Zack Gibson vs. Angelico
Gibson doing his promo gets a load of heat, as per usual, and talks smack about Will Ospreay. Andy Simmonz has no idea who Angelico is and struggles with his birthplace. South…..Engl…Africa. Gibson hating the flippy wrestlers is a good storyline. Gibson technically grounding fliers and then selling for their wacky offence is a solid contest every time. Andy Q shoots from the hip in this one calling World of Sport “pish”. Angelico looks a little uncomfortable and moves glacially slowly when running the ropes. It’s the second time this year that Gibson has turned up ready for a midcard masterpiece and has been met with a poor performance from his opponent; after Hirooki Goto. Maybe Angelico is just worried about hurting someone he’s not worked with before but all his strikes look soft. The actual structure of the match is fine, as they tell a basic heel vs. face routine with Gibson targeting the arm to set up the Shankly Gates. It’s all a bit lifeless and Angelico doesn’t bring much in the way of fire. As the match progresses and they become more familiar with each other it improves. Especially Gibson coming off the top and getting caught with a flying knee. Like with Dennis-Dijak it improves as the match progresses and the finish is neat. Gibson blocks the Bucklebomb and hits Helter Skelter to set up the Shankly Gates. It wouldn’t be the worst idea to put the belt on Gibson because he gets lots of heat and he’s not had a big main event run outside of Futureshock. There are unique main events to be had.
Final Rating: ***

 

Jinny vs. Nina Samuels
Nina is La Diablesa Rosa in Lucha Britannia. This is her Rev Pro debut. They set out to showcase some technical stuff by doing the Guerrero-Malenko near falls. It’s on the bigger spots where the wheels come off. Jinny bumping a couple of times off minimal contact where she was expecting to get her clock cleaned. Nina’s gear puts me off slightly too. It looks like beach attire from the 1970s. The match is far better with Jinny on offence as Nina seems happy selling and Jinny has gotten confident enough to work snug and make her spots look realistic. After Nina has taken a kicking she gets her shit together. They put together a streak of moves that look good, including a backbreaker that leaving Jinny holding her spine for the rest of the match. Makeover, which Nina somehow manages to flip bump on, finishes. I liked this but it was too sloppy to begin with. Jinny continues to improve in leaps and bounds.
Final Rating: **1/2

 

Zack Sabre Jr & Davey Boy Smith Jr vs. #CCK (Chris Brookes & Travis Banks)
The two juniors are not merely thrown together as a team. They both represent Suzuki-gun, even though Davey Jr hasn’t been over to New Japan recently. #CCK are not defending the belts here. Presumably because the Juniors have no history as a team. Davey has not been part of the UK Revival and has spent most of his career overseas. He’s ok as a talent but I feel like his development was arrested during his WWE stint and although he’s only 30 years old it feels like he’s run out of things to do with his career. Sabre vs. Banks is great, as per usual, but whenever Davey is in there the match is less interesting. He does a decent number on Brookes’ leg to try and chop the tallest man in the match down to size. It’s very strange to see Brookes work babyface in Rev Pro (and Progress). He made a name for himself being a dick heel across the country and now he’s made it to the big leagues he’s switched face. The most intriguing section of the match is Brookes, babyface, defending himself against the assaults of Zack Sabre Jr, heel. Rev Pro have capitalised on this largely undone match by booking it for York Hall and Summer Sizzler. Andy Q starts screaming about CCK retaining the tag titles in a match that he himself billed as non-title. Sabre bullying Brookes with slaps and such is beautiful. Dick heel Sabre is my favourite Sabre. When he’s cocky and horrible he’s at his best. Brookes manages to get Zack to submit, otherwise Rev Pro would have no justification for booking Sabre vs. Brookes. This mostly worked although Davey seemed a bit distant and him and Travis brawling to the back didn’t make a lot of sense. Nice to see Brookes getting a big win though. It sets him up big time for York Hall.
Final Rating: ***1/4

 

Summary: This was a solid show from Rev Pro, although the lack of atmosphere didn’t help and there was nothing great. Most Cockpit shows have been overdelivering this year so it had to happen sooner or later that one of them would just be ok. The match-making disappointed, although Andy Q is deliberately trying to put on matches that haven’t been done to death elsewhere. The downside to this is workers unfamiliar with each other taking half the match to get adjusted to their opponent and getting the timing right. This was evident throughout this card. Every match suffered from timing issues of some sort. Best match was probably Starr-Phantasmo and they deliberately started slow to get used to each other before building to a crescendo. The Cockpit shows exist to help Rev Pro build to bigger shows (like Summer Sizzler) so it’s hard to complain about match quality on them but the bar had been set a bit higher than this. Rev Pro victims of their own drive and success.
Verdict: 69

Shotgun Saturday Night (02/08/97)

WWE.com

Lee Maughan: And with the whole Shotgun concept dead in the water, the WWF was unable to locate an actual nightclub for its final edition, instead setting up stall in Penn Station of all places, a public venue that resulted in the promotion being unable to make any cash back through ticket sales. Hey, maybe TNA could look into running here sometime?

Crush & Faarooq vs. The Godwinns
What an absolute armpit of an opener this promises to be. Still, if this truly is a celebration of all things Shotgun, one big final blowout, who better than these two cornerstones of the program? One can only hope Savio Vega is still to come. And yes, the fans are soon chanting “bWo! bWo!” as if just for old times sake. And how about a new one? “Nation sucks dick!” As all this is going down, the camera cuts to a split screen where Todd Pettengill can be found making fun of a bloke without any teeth. Really. What a jerk. And indeed, (drumroll please), Savio is here! Yay! An Irish whip and a double clothesline set up the hot tag and Phineas runs wild on both guys until Savio trips him from the outside. Phineas goes after Savio which sets him up for a charge from Crush, but he moves just in time and Crush decks Savio instead, so Phineas looks to follow with a Slop Drop but alas, Faarooq rips his head off with a clothesline to give Crush the three. Not bad given what I was expecting.
Final Rating:

WWF Intercontinental Title:
Hunter Hearst Helmsley (c) vs. The Undertaker
A title match! On Shotgun! This really IS a big final blowout! Helmsley arrives in a stretch limo, and Undertaker makes his way out through the crowd after showing up at the building in Ozzy Osbourne’s ‘Crazy Train’. Time of course for a commercial break just as the match begins, but back from that comes a full replay of Helmsley jumping Undertaker to start, but Undertaker no-selling it and destroying Helmsley in the corner instead. A whip into the corner sees the referee get bumped in just the spot Shotgun has been crying out for all these weeks, and Helmsley bashes Undertaker with the belt as we take another commercial break! Already?!

Back again with Helmsley going to work with choking, a snapmare, a face buster and series of stomps in the corner, but Undertaker gets the best of a slugfest. Helmsley comes back off an Irish whip with a swinging neckbreaker for two, and brings the belt back into play but misses on a big swing. Undertaker grabs the belt and uses it himself for (you guessed it) the disqualification. After the match, the crowd chant for a Tombstone but Undertaker gives them a chokeslam instead. Helmsley then tries to make a dash for it but Undertaker catches him on the way up the stairs and gives him a Tombstone onto an escalator, which an unconscious Helmsley rides all the way back to the ring in the closest thing to an iconic image this wretched show ever got. Fun, energetic stuff here.
Final Rating: **½

Savio Vega vs. Aldo Montoya
You know, if you asked me for my dream line-up before this show, as in “How do we go out with a bang on the last ever live edition of Shotgun?” I’d have hoped against hope that you’d book the guy with two “Least Entertaining” awards to his name against the bloke debuting on the show, with a yellow jockstrap on his head.

Savio runs through his usual, though thankfully forgoes the nerve pinching, and Aldo keeps it rolling with a hiptoss, two dropkicks to the outside and a plancha. Back in he gets two off a flying body press off the top but Savio takes control with knees to the midsection and some wicked chops. He works in his spinning heel kick in the corner and adds a delayed suplex, but soon enough he resorts to choking. In the meantime, roving reporter Pettengill has found a man named Terry who’s carrying an LJN Vince McMahon action figure in his pocket. “You still have the same jacket? 1985, you were like 40 then, right?” The rapture is upon us – Shotgun is coming to an end, and Todd Pettengill cracked a decent joke!

Back from a commercial, Savio is firmly in control as the crowd chants “We want 2 Cold!” I do too, but Flash Funk is the best you WWF fans are going to get I’m afraid. And NOW it’s time for the nerve pinch! Vince uses the dead spot to promote an upcoming Hector Camacho fight on pay-per-view, and before you know it, the Nation are brawling with the Godwinns at ringside. And you know what that means? Six-man tag team match, playa!
Final Rating:

The Nation of Domination vs. Aldo Montoya & The Godwinns
Back from the final mid-match commercial of the Shotgun era, and the Nation are busy getting heat on Aldo as Pettengill finds a woman in the crowd who wants to beat up another woman for stealing her man! “We already have midget wrestling!” decrees Todd. Back in the ring, Aldo catches Faarooq with a swinging neckbreaker after having eaten a backbreaker from Crush, and he goes for the hot tag but Savio cuts him off as the NYC crowd finally win me back over with a hearty chant of “Boring!” that even Vince himself can’t ignore. Aldo actually gets a false tag, so I guess we’re going all-in on this one, and the Nation give him another shit-kicking in the corner. He catches Savio with a missile dropkick off the top and it suddenly all breaks down, with Savio scoring the pin on Aldo amidst the chaos with a spinning wheel kick. The Godwinns did absolutely sod all in this, which was probably for the best.
Final Rating:

Back from one last commercial, and the actual purpose of the Godwinns’ presence is made clear – Phineas chases the still unidentified D’Lo Brown backstage and wildly throws his slop bucket all over Pat Patterson, stationed at the Gorilla position. Given the state of his Bill Cosby-style sweater, I’d say he deserved it. He threatens to come down to ringside and make out with Sunny since she thinks its so funny.

– And finally, Pettengill catches up with Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels who sends out a threat to the Nation. That would equal Faarooq vs. Ray Traylor in some other far off nightmare.

THE SHOTGUN RECAP:

 

Most Entertaining: It’s a toss-up between the Undertaker and Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Undertaker dished out the ass-kicking, but Helmsley took the ride down the escalator, so take your own pick there.

Least Entertaining: I didn’t really want to single any one person out tonight, but Savio Vega did use that fucking nerve pinch of his again…

Quote of the Night: “Welcome to Amtrak’s night train to hell! Ha ha ha!” – The Undertaker works in some corporate sponsorship in his own inimitable style.

Match of the Night: Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. The Undertaker.

Summary: And so to its chilling conclusion comes the WWF’s month-and-a-half experiment with producing a mildly risqué yet ultimately directionless live broadcast from a dingy New York dive. In actuality, the show continued on for several more years, though under a much different make-up. The next week’s show was simply a “greatest hits” from previous episodes (that’s right folks, it’s six sensational weeks of the Shotgun Saturday Night show!), while week eight saw content entirely regurgitated from the final Superstars taping. With RAW then switching to a two-hour weekly format and the cessation of all other WWF TV tapings, Shotgun was soon being recorded before (and occasionally after) RAW, a taping method that would continue with the addition of programming such as Los Super Astros, Sunday Night HeAT, Metal, Jakked, Velocity, Main Event, NXT and the revived Superstars.
Verdict: 35