So, if I am able to keep these up, the fifth entry will be dedicated to a ongoing series of inter-connected shows, and we’re going to start it off with the broadcasts of What Culture Pro-Wrestling’s Pro-Wrestling World Cup, a 65-man (we’ll get there) tournament that took place in 2017, shortly before WCPW became Defiant Wrestling. It featured a load of great indie talent in the actual tournament, along with a lot of other awesome-looking matches, and we begin with the show dedicated to the English Qualifiers. I know What Culture tends to have as many detractors as fans, and Adam Blampied is an admitted “sorry-I-got-caught” emotional abuser of women, but I’m just here for the wrestling.
The show is dedicated to the memory of the then recently deceased Jan Ross, wife of Jim.
It is March 25th 2017 and we’re at the sold-out (?) Harvey Hadden Sports Village in Nottingham. Our opening titles showcase eight national flags, but I think 13 nationalities (counting the countries of GB separately) would take part in the end.
We open with a stirring recitation of “God Saves The Queen”, the world’s worst, most dreary, uninspiring national anthem. Fight me Sasanachs. The guy delivers it well though, and I’ll admit playing national anthems is actually a nice touch given its meant to be a World Cup. The ever-great Matt Striker is on commentary, with comparatively not-so-great Dave Bradshaw besides. He runs down the card: eight men in knock-out ties to determine two English entries for the final World Cup tournament, and our main event, the Bullet Club (the Young Bucks and Adam-Cole) vs the Prestige in a mouth-watering six-man tag.
First off, a tale of the tape for the very first tournament match, Will Ospreay vs Martin Kirby. Off to a not great start, with the audio for Ospreay’s segment too low making him appear very mumbly. Kirby super-enthusiastic in response, doesn’t “want any of those other dickheads representing England”. ITS COMING HOME LADS. Ospreay does a Michael Cera impression as a retort.
Will Ospreay vs Martin Kirby (Pro-Wrestling World Cup English Preliminary Semi-Final #1)
Ospreay is one half of the WCPW Tag Champions at the time. Described by Striker as “the man who put British wrestling back on the map”, and as good as Ospreay undeniably is he’s also benefitted from a healthy propaganda department at times. Kirby’s entrance occurs in such darkness it’s hard to tell where he is. “The faithful here appear to be split between the two” says Striker, as a huge “MARTIN KIRBY” chant starts.
Trading drop-kicks and high-legs right off the bat. Kirby with a nice stall suplex spot as we go through a few chain sequences. Not as fast-paced as I would have thought early-on, what with Ospreay involved. Case-in-point, only two minutes in and Ospreay locks in a few rest-hold submission spots, though the crowd is still into it.
Kirby takes over on offence for a bit with some nice slams, running kicks and strikes. On commentary Striker seems more concerned with putting the tournament over than this match, while Bradshaw is all about social media plugs. Ospreay with a flying, unphenomenal, forearm for two. Delayed Yes Kick spot that doesn’t work because the mikes aren’t picking up the impact. Nice chain here where Ospreay dodges an enzugiri only to walk into another.
Kirby goes for a Sable Bomb but gets a thumb in the eye. Nice dive to the outside from Kirby, then a slingblade, then a driver, but only two. Kirby up for the Zoidberg Elbow, but Ospreay interrupts. Ospreay to the top for the first time, but gets crotched. The two go for the tried-and-true Frankensteiner-but Ospreay-lands-on-his-feet spot, but Ospreay, ala Tony Hawk and the 900, has to put his hand down to land it, sort-of diminishing the impact. Follows up immediately with the OsCutter for the 1, 2, 3 – because this isn’t New Japan where everyone kicks out of it – in just over nine minutes.
Winner: Will Ospreay and recommendations to pace yourself.
Verdict: Honestly, with its length relative to rest-holds and lack of top-rope fun, kind of dissapointing given how good Ospreay is. I suppose a tournament like this will have to have short matches and, given Ospreay will wrestle twice tonight, the Aerial Assassin might be holding something back.
Ospreay insists on his hand being raised and Kirby leaving the ring, because he is a heel. Tell that to the crowd though.
Another Tale of the Tape for the next contest. Nick Aldis is “glad to be here”. Yeesh, not exactly rip-roaring. Rampage very politely outlines that he will take down Aldis “through his brutality”, talking like he’s at afternoon tea. Very definite feeling that Aldis is here to make up the numbers from this.
Nick Aldis vs Rampage (Pro-Wrestling World Cup English Preliminary Semi-Final #2)
They namedrop Aldis as a former TNA Champion (all good) and a GFW Champion (not so much, in hindsight). The lighting for some of these entrances is terrible, and Rampage is barely visible. They mention Rampage was in WWE developmental for years, and I’m not sure I like this occasionally desperate attempt to link wrestlers to the big leagues. Be your own thing.
The winner faces Ospreay later tonight in Final #1. Rampage has a taped shoulder, but surprisingly enough that’s not going to be the story of the match. Some slow chains to start, lots of mat wrestling and clean break spots. Trading clotheslines, and there’s a definite effort here to emphasise the equality between the too. First rest-hold a few minutes in though. First big spot a flying clothesline off the second rope from Rampage.
Rampage hits an slightly awkward Samoan Drop for two, shortly after Aldis gets a powerbomb for the same. Locks in a modified cloverleaf, but Rampage to the rope quick. Good bit of top-rope work in this one so far, as Aldis lands an elbow-drop for two. Very sloppy-looking Cactus Clothesline on Aldis where Rampage struggled to get over the rope. Back in the ring Aldis gets two off a small-package, Rampage adjusts it so he’s on top and gets a surprising three in around seven and a half.
Winner: Rampage, and civilised brutality.
Verdict: Nothing too special, with Aldis clearly not looking super into it. The pre-match package tried to paint Rampage as a brawler but he was more technical here. Aldis would be NWA Champion within a few months.
After the break, Striker gets the chance to outline what the brackets look like for the Mexican qualifiers. The Lucha Brothers will implode (!) with Pentagon Zero vs Fenix, with the other stand-out being Rey Mysterio vs Alberto El Patron. Writing this just as the news broke of El Patron’s arrest on suspicion of sexual assault, so amazing timing. The Mexican qualifiers will take place in the sunny climes of Coventry the month after this show.
Before the next match James R. Kennedy of Prospect is out to work as a guest commentator, unseating Bradshaw. Kennedy says Bradshaw is a serf, while he is “a Master of Surf”. Sick wordplay bro. And speaking of bros…
Liam Slater & Matt Riddle vs Prospect (Alex Gracie and Lucas Archer)
Man, NXT didn’t stray too much with Riddle’s theme music huh? He’s the then Progress Atlas Champion. There’s recurring discussion of Prospect trying to get to Orlando, where WCPW had a show, State Of Emergency, planned to coincide with Wrestlemania 33. Kennedy doesn’t appreciate all of this, apparently not actually being of Prospect, unlike what the ring announcer said earlier. This tag match appears to just be an excuse to sell this apparent in-fighting feud. Anyway.
Crowd is only here for Riddle. Gracie leaves the ring to grab some Filipino sticks, keeping one and tossing the other to Riddle. Crowd big into this as they go after each other with the sticks. Kennedy on commentary insists that he “fears for my own safety”, but isn’t selling it very well. After a while Riddle knocks the stick out of Gracie’s hands and we go back to wrestling.
Riddle and Slater dominant and clearly the main in-ring attraction, showing off Northern Lights suplexes, MMA-style kicks and slams. Gracie playing the face-in-peril, though Slater/Riddle aren’t exactly playing heel. Archer with the hot-tag and beats up Slater for a while. A missile drop kick from the second rope only just makes contact with Riddle. A nice kick/Russian Leg Sweep double-team by Prospect gets two.
Archer goes for the Worm on Slater, but nobody home. Very awkward O’Connor Roll collapses before a count. Gracie and Riddle exchanging shots and chops. Riddle no-sells a DDT, nails a running knee, then gets hit by an inverted piledriver. No idea who the legal man is now, all of that appears to have been left at the wayside, which even Striker has to acknowledge. Riddle with a huge jumping Tombstone on Archer, Slater with a diving headbutt, and that’ll be all in just over ten minutes.
Winners: Liam Slater, Matt Riddle and the build for Orlando.
Verdict: Perfectly acceptable tag team fare, but the way that everything kind of fell to pieces, rules wise, at the end might be off-putting to some. Kennedy didn’t add anything on commentary.
Signs of respect at the end, and Riddle gets to take the sticks home. If interested, Prospect would get on the Orlando card.
Back to the World Cup with the next Tale of the Tape. Marty Scurll won the BOLA last year, so that’s a point in his favour. Zack Sabre Jr won it the year before that though, so…ZSJ thinks its only right that he makes the finals considering the ambition of the project. Scurll says he and Sabre are brothers. Sabre says he’s lost so many tournaments he should just say he’s going to lose. Woah, someone tear these guys apart! I kid, but given these are two fairly heavy-hitters on the indie scene, you’d think they would try and inject a bit more fire.
“The Villain” Marty Scurll vs Zack Sabre Jr (Pro-Wrestling World Cup English Preliminary Semi-Final #3)
Guaranteed this one is ending in a roll-up of some kind. Cool music/entrance from Scurll, he’s a guy crying out for a bigger stage. ZSJ out covered in championships from various promotions, PWG and Evolve included. I note that the commentators are at pains to point out Scurll’s work in other promotions, but nothing on ZSJ joining super-heel Suzuki-gun in New Japan the month previous to this.
Straight into mat-wrestling and technical exchanges, and we’re going to be seeing a good bit of this. “Silky smooth” croons Striker, and it’s as good a description as any. Crowd dead quiet for the opening exchanges, but applauding politely on escapes. Striker at pains to excuse things in case a certain demographic switches off: “No hitting the ropes, no flipping and dipping…young fans take note, this is still professional wrestling”.
Exchanging holds, joint manipulation spots, submissions. Scurll botches a kip-up land and stumbles back comically, for a “You fucked up” chant, sort of ruins the mystique. Re-does the spot to the delight of the crowd, but this is briefly a comedy match, and Striker sounds annoyed on commentary. This tournament is for serious business, not for play, I suppose. Duelling pinning predicaments for a bunch of near-falls gets some of the serious momentum back, and we’re getting duelling “Let’s go” chants now.
Really cool technical chains as we go from bridge pins to reverse bridge pins, to really good looking holds like Scurll’s “Lobster Trap”. The two exchange a handshake after one escape, and this match reminds me of what my friend Gavin once said about the Democratic Primary Debates in 2016: “One person says something, the other one says “I agree” and the audience cheers”. The holds and counter-holds continue. This is all fine, but the match is starting to lack a certain amount of spice.
Things start getting a little more fast-paced, a little more high-impact. Scurll does his finger break spot, sets up for the chickenwing, but a series of reversals see’s Sabre on top of a predicament and that’s the 1, 2, 3 in just under 13 minutes.
Winner: Zack Sabre Jr who is definitely not part of a villainous stable in New Japan, no, no.
Verdict: Really good demonstration of this kind of style, but I couldn’t get into it as much as I wanted. The “mutual respect” angle was played up too much, when the thing needed heat.
They emphasise that Scurll has dislocated one of Sabre’s fingers, so that’s going to come up again tonight (psyche, no it won’t). Sabre unhappy with Scurll doing this, but still shakes the hand. #respect.
Time for what I assume is the final Tale of the Tape of the evening. Not very long before he became one of NXT UK’s top heels, Liverpool’s #1 Zack Gibson says that he’s been overlooked as a top British wrestler for too long. Jimmy Havoc, sounding very not bothered, says people will get the full Jimmy Havoc tonight. Gibson points out this isn’t a death match, but a wrestling match. Havoc says Gibson should expect some surprises. There’s a strange dichotomy here where Gibson’s script is heelish, but the delivery is striving to seem normal. Havoc sounds like this is a paycheck and nothing more.
Zack Gibson vs Jimmy Havoc (Pro-Wrestling World Cup English Preliminary Semi-Final #4)
Boos for Gibson, because people hate Liverpool, don’t they? Havoc wins on the entrance music stakes anyway with this frantic synth death metal track. Heavy emphasis on the difference between the two men’s respective styles. During the introductions, Gibson grabs the mike for, if you are in any way familiar with him, his typical spiel. I used to hate his “Sooooon to be “reckognized” shtick, but have come round, provided they aren’t too long. Gibson takes the expected shots at the crowd, the smart marks at home, and “Mr Deathmatch”. Actually nice to get an outright heel in the tournament considering the milquetoast heat between some of the other competitors.
Gibson on top with joint manipulation at the start, says Havoc is out of his league. Gets a forearm to the face for his trouble. Havoc to the outside, trying to goad Gibson into “his territory”. Gibson takes the bait and eats an apron hurricanrana for his trouble. Havoc on top, and we’ll just try and ignore the bad lighting outside the ring. No count-out calls from the ref I notice. Havoc moves Gibson onto the stage area, but eats a scoop slam. Havoc gets hurled into some chairs in the front row, to boos. Brawling in the front row now, yawn.
Havoc lands a double foot stomp on Gibson after setting him up on some chairs, and the crowd likes that. Finally back to the ring and the light for another stomp off the top, but only two. Crowd very hot for “Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy Fucking Havoc”. Gibson takes the offensive, getting a two off the Ticket To Ride, which works better as a tag finisher really. Gibson hits an enzuguri to Havoc’s shoulder.”Still effective” says Striker, though Havoc basically no-sells it. A roll-through, then a tornado DDT from Havoc, the Acid Rainmaker OUTTANOWHERE and that’s 1, 2, 3 in just under seven.
Winner: Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy Effin Havoc, or says Striker.
Verdict: Only seven minutes, but felt longer with Gibson’s speech (good) and the crowd brawling (bad). Finish happened quick. Actually surprised to see Havoc advance, given how non-caring he seemed with his pre-match video. He faces ZSJ later tonight.
After a quick ad for the upcoming WCPW show No Regrets, WCPW GM and professional woman-harasser Adam Blampied is out to a big reaction, around six months before his relative fall from grace. He’s here to talk about Gabriel Kidd, WCPW’s hot up-and-comer, who is also a Nottingham native. Kidd lost to Joe Hendry in a #1 contendership match for the Internet Championship recently, but only because of shenanigans. Blampied can’t do anything about that result, but he can make Rhodes/Hendry a triple threat with Kidd included. He further announces that tonight’s main event will now be an eight-man tag, with Kidd teaming with the Bullet Club against the full Prestige.
Finally, Internet Champion Cody Rhodes is missing tonight because he’s off filming Arrow (“It’s a good show” Blampied repeats tonelessly). To make up for the absence, he announces a surprise ROH World Title match for WCPW’s El Ligero, and it’s happening….right now! Blampied then thankfully departs the ring forever, I hope.
Christopher Daniels (c) vs El Ligero (ROH World Championship)
Ligero is a bit of an acquired taste, but can be fun over on NXT UK: when he comes out they call him a “Mexican Sensation” and I can hear Jordan Devlin’s outraged “He’s from Leeds!” in my head. When Daniels, going by “The Almighty” (look out Lashley) comes out all I can hear in my head is his awful SCU AEW theme music. We open with Daniels turning his struggles to kip-up after a twenty year career into a comedy spot. Handshake into a headlock, but Ligero equal to it. Ligero on top early-on, just to present the lie that he might win.
Daniels actually pulls off a rolling trip, as rare as a blood moon in this sport. Bradshaw is delighted that Gabriel Kidd is an honorary member of the Bullet Club tonight. “They’ll let anyone into that club nowadays” Striker snarkily responds. Not sure what that’s in reference to. Story so far is Daniels trying to get into Ligero’s head with shows of respect, that Ligero eventually rejects. Big hip-toss on Daniels to the outside, followed by a diving senton.
Ligero continuing to be on top, getting a two off a snapmare. Resthold, and then Daniels takes over, nailing a stiff-looking STO, then a spinning sit-out powerbomb. Going for the Angel’s Wings too early, countered with a body drop, then Ligero hits a Destroyer, the world’s most overused move, for a near-fall. Ligero goes for the C4L but no-one home. Shots traded, Ligero dodges out of an attempted uranage, then accidentally nails the ref with an elbow.
Daniels hits the uranage, but jumps into Ligero’s feet when he goes for the moonsault. Ligero with the cutter and the cover, but the ref is nowhere to be found as the crowd counts to 10. Ligero grabs the title belt, but hesitates to use it, then relents. Daniels goes for the roll-up but only gets two. Ligero gets Daniels down, goes for the Mexican Wave splash but plays to the crowd a bit too long, and nobody home. Daniels responds with his moonsault and that will be all in 12 and a half.
Winner (and still ROH World Champion): Christoper Daniels, who should know that “Fallen Angel” is much cooler than “the Almighty”.
Verdict: These kinds of matches always suffer from a predictable result, but it was a good showcase for Ligero.
In the aftermath Ligero grabs the belt again, but hands it to Daniels and accepts a handshake, because the H is for honour.
An ad for State of Emergency, and then we’re straight into our next contest.
Drew Galloway vs Ricochet (non-title)
I think Galloway signed to NXT literally days after this went out, but is still WCPW Champion for the next month (and would take part in this tournament later). Ricochet had another nine months before getting to NXT. Not a super-hot reaction for Galloway if I’m being honest. On commentary, Matt Striker seems confused as to whether this is a title match or not but I see no indications that it is. In fact there is no build or anything to this, making it feel a bit weird.
This is a good match-up though, with Galloway a good opponent insofar as he is a big guy for Ricochet to bounce around, and Ricochet can also get thrown around really well by Drew. A fling across the ring early on here is impressive from both men, and also a crazy looking belly-to-belly from Galloway to Ricochet.
Galloway on top for some slow, deliberate offence of stomps and vicious-sounding chops. Ricochet sells a Glasgow Kiss like he’s been shot in the head. Crowd struggling to get into it though, maybe why Ricochet takes over with a rana off the second rope. Drop toe-hold into the corner, European Uppercut off the springboard, then a moonsault to the outside, and when Ricochet gets going he really is poetry in motion.
Ricochet goes for a poisonrana but gets swung around like a rag-doll instead. Galloway goes for the Future Shock but Ricochet wrestles his way out. Nice back-and-forth now. Exchanging kicks to the head, Ricochet with the cutter, then a standing Shooting Star for two. Goes for a Benadryller, but Galloway blocks it. Tries a charge to the corner, but Ricochet counters for a Northern Lights suplex, but can’t roll through for a second, and gets tossed instead. Things are picking up quick in this one.
Ricochet whiffs a Pele Kick that Galloway sells anyway. Goes for a Frankensteiner off the top but nothing doing. Galloway’s turn, and he hits an Air Raid Bomb off the top, but only for two. Crowd big into this now, and this blog gets its first “This is awesome” chant to report. Ricochet battles back with a succession of kicks to the head, this time hits the Northern Lights-roll through-suplex combination for two, and that does look amazing considering Galloway’s size.
Ricochet to the top with Drew prone, but nobody home on a corkscrew senton, Ricochet walks into a Claymore Kick, then a piledriver, but only two again. “Holy shit” chants. Galloway hits the Future Shock, then a second, then a third, and that overkill will most definitely be good enough for the 1, 2, 3 in just over 15 minutes.
Winner: Drew “Still totally sicking around as champion right?” Galloway
Verdict: Started slow but was hugely enjoyable for the last five minutes and was a good showcase for the strengths of both guys.
The two embrace in the aftermath as the crowd gives them a standing ovation.
Adam Blampied, sigh, is walking backstage when he walks into Joe Hendry, who pins him against the wall by the throat, unhappy with the triple-threat decision. Sock it to him Joe. Hendry says Blampied just wants attention from social media, and won’t give Blampied the satisfaction of being the victim. He beat up someone else instead, who I initially mis-stook for one of the Young Bucks, but is actually Prince Ameen. Blampied and Gabriel Kidd stand over the Ameen’s twitching body, looking worried. Yeah, whatever.
Will Ospreay vs Rampage (Pro-Wrestling World Cup English Preliminary Final #1)
Ospreay out clutching his back, so that’s going to come up. Ospreay’s charging dropkick starter doesn’t so much, and Rampage takes over for some junior-heavyweight tossing pretty much immediately. Ospreay tries to get some licks in on the outside, but gets tripped up on the apron and honestly looks like he slams the back of his head really hard. That’s before Rampage starts flinging him into the barricade.
Ospreay dodges a charge, then nails a running kick that sends Rampage into the front row. Ospreay to the top for a big crossbody into the seated area for a “Holy Shit!” chant. Ospreay tries to wait out a ten count, but Rampage back in in time. A drop-kick to a prone Rampage only gets one. Ospreay gets launched with a back body drop, but manages to recover enough to hit an unexpected German Suplex. Rampage back on top quick enough with a huge clothesline that sends Ospreay spinning, but only two.
Rampage goes for the piledriver, Ospreay battles out and spits at Rampage’s face. Wouldn’t get away with that nowadays. Gets clattered in the face for his trouble, ref bump, and WCPW Women’s Champion, and Ospreay’s girlfriend, Bea Priestly is in the ring. Rampage distracted, Ospreay nails him with his tag title belt, hits the OsCutter for the 1, 2, 3 in just under seven.
Winner (and advancing to the finals): Will Ospreay and the power of love.
Verdict: A bit short given its apparent importance, but fine for what it was.
An ad for the Scottish qualifiers is shown. No real stand-out matches really, maybe Joe Hendry vs Kenny Williams? Onto the last of the preliminary matches.
Zack Sabre Jr vs Jimmy Havoc (Pro-Wrestling World Cup English Preliminary Final #2)
Bradshaw mentions that ZSJ and Havoc are both from the same wrestling school, going through it at the same time. Must have been different classes though, given their styles. A handshake turns into a small package attempt from Havoc, but no good. Havoc nails a plancha, double stomp from the top, but only two. Havoc continues his “lightning start” with shots to the back, but Sabre reverses the attacks into a triangle submission.
A rope-break and now Sabre in control. Joint manipulation, slow submission holds, and the crowd has gone dead. Exchanging slaps, then back to the mat-holds. Havoc to the outside, an apron kick puts him down. Back inside, Havoc hits a Fireman’s Driver for two. A few in the crowd chant for Havoc, but little take-up, a bit of exhaustion becoming apparent.
Sabre nails a squat German Suplex, dodges an Acid Rainmaker, and hits a Full Nelson Suplex. Another missed Rainmaker eventually gets countered into a pinning predicament on Sabre but only two. ZSJ locks in what I can only describe as a double armlock/sitting Boston Crab combination, and Havoc submits in six minutes on the dot.
Winner (and advancing to the finals): Zack Sabre Jr and his endlessly inventive submission holds.
Verdict: Very short for all of the slow submission spots, but have to give it props for the submission hold ZSJ came up with. Also appreciate that Havoc can be a crazy brawler whose rep is not undermined by him occasionally tapping out.
Straight into a brief video package for our main event. The recently formed Prestige are WCPW’s resident heel faction, whom Adam Blampied refers to, in a moment worthy of a LOLWCPW, as “the Prickstige”.The story here is that the Prestige beat up Blampied, and while most of us were celebrating, he was a bit annoyed. His revenge is to get the Bullet Club to take them on and “I hope they kill you”. Woah, someone warn this guy about that incredibly sharp edge he’s got on display!
Bullet Club (Adam Cole and the Young Bucks (Matt and Steve Jackson)) and Gabriel Kidd vs The Prestige (B.T. Gunn, Joe Coffey, Joe Hendry and Travis Banks)
Bradshaw hilariously claiming that few wrestling factions “have made such an impact in such a short period” as the Prestige. Bit of a stretch, no? Gabriel Kidd gets a bit of a pop when he’s out, but the Bullet Club less so, oddly enough. I wonder how smarky this crowd is, they’ve been a bit weird all night. It’s odd seeing Adam Cole without the “BAYBAY” intro. He’s wearing a head bandage for reasons they aren’t getting into.
Teams squaring up ahead of the bell, “Too Sweet’s” from BC, though they very obviously don’t go for it with Kidd. We’ll start with Travis Banks and Nick Jackson. The dropdown works again, with Banks taking down Nick. Duelling dropkicks and in come B.T. Gunn and Cole. No, Gunn straight out in favour of Joe Coffey. Then Joe Hendry. Then Gunn. Mind games! Or something.
We finally get an “Adam Cole BAYBAY!” and it’s the signal for everything to break down in a mass brawl, with the Prestige getting the best of it. They subdue the Club, take out Travel Lodge keycards, and force them into the mouths of their opponents, apparently objecting to being put up in such accommodations by WCPW. The Club respond with four stereo superkicks. Kidd wants a Too Sweet, but gets taken out by Banks before he can get one.
BC taking care of business, clearing the ring with kicks and flips. The Prestige all lined up on the outside, and Kidd going for the Too Sweet again, to no avail. The Bucks and Kidd with a triple dive to the Prestige. Striker says “this is the best I have ever seen Kidd wrestle” and that’s a terrible sign because he’s done nothing here really. Triple Powerbomb to Banks onto the apron. Kidd again going for the Too Sweet and the Bucks are like “We’re not quite there yet”. Odd comedy seam going through this main event.
Cole locks in a Camel Clutch on Gunn, allowing the Bucks to do an extended rope run ending in a kiss to the cheeks of Cole. This has turned into a clownshow surprisingly quickly. Striker at pains to emphasise the Bucks are more than just their comedy spots. BC working over Gunn with constant quick tags, though they try to keep Kidd out of it. Kidd finally gets in, and nails a hammer blow on Matt Jackson by mistake.
That allows the Prestige to take over with Kidd as the face-in-peril. Striker is unsympathetic: “Kidd doesn’t even have his own pro-wrestling T store, how can he get accepted by the Bullet Club? “Joe’s a wanker” chants as the Prestige’s beatdown on Kidd continues. Includes a roll-through superkick from Banks, but Kidd gets the hot-tag to Cole shortly after. The future longest-reigning NXT Champion cleans house, nailing a super kick and then a Last Shot, I mean, Shining Wizard on Hendry for two. Cole to the second rope, going for the Panama City Sunrise I presume, but Hendry wise to it. Double clothesline and both down. Good pace to this now.
Coffey and Gunn in to take on the Bucks. Superkicks for all from them, followed by the typically velvet smooth double-team offence you would expect, that I think only the youngest iteration of the Hardy’s has ever been able to match. A Senton Bomb from the top only gets two. Prestige able to get some of their own in, with Coffey sending both Bucks on airplane spins and then slingshots. Joe goes for a top rope crossbody to both and eats a double superkick. Cole in, and everyone is getting triple superkicks, with Banks getting a quadruple one. It’s like there’s a superkick party, and everyone’s invited. Kidd finally gets his Too Sweet, and celebrates with a moonsault to the Prestige on the outside. “The power of the Too Sweet brings out the spot monkey in all of us” says Striker, enjoying himself.
BC cleaning house now, but Prestige make the save for Coffey. Bucks setting up a Meltzer Driver, but instead we get a succession of staggered high impact kicks and slams between the individual team members. Matt, the apparent legal man, is left with only Kidd as a partner, and his attempted superkick to Coffey ends up knocking the ref unconscious. The Prestige with stereo kicks to the head of Kidd, followed by the Black Coffey (has the much weirder name “All The Best For The Bells” nowadays), Hendry gets the ref moving and that’ll be the 1, 2, 3 in around 19 minutes.
Winners: The Prestige. “That sucks” says Striker, and the air has sort of left the room.
Verdict: Just what’s you expect from a Bucks-based eight-man tag. Big focus on Kidd, who wasn’t really that impressive, and Coffey, who was. Maybe a bit too much comedy and it was all a bit chaotic, but good fun regardless.
The Bucks chase the Prestige off with chairs in the aftermath. The Prestige celebrate on the ramp, and that’ll be all. Final thoughts:
Best Match: Gotta be Galloway/Ricochet. Despite the random nature of it just happening in the middle of the card with no build or explanation, it had the kind of indie rhythm that Ricochet especially just thrives on and, with foresight, showed exactly why both men were destined for bigger spotlights.
Worst Match: A few bores tonight, chief among them Aldis/Rampage, that needed to be a bit more cooked.
Best Wrestler: At the start I would have thought it would be nailed on to be Ospreay given his talent, but I’ll actually give it to Zack Sabre Jr, whose technical style was shown off really well in both of his matches.
Worst Wrestler: No one disgraced themselves by any means, but I thought that Joe Hendry did surprisingly little given that the main event was set-up to be all about him and Kidd earlier in the show.
Overall Verdict: Decent introduction to the tournament, but really only that. The four World Cup matches were all a bit too quick: you could lose that first tag match and maybe the largely pointless ROH Title match to give them more time, since they are supposed to be the reason we are all here. Everything else was either perfectly acceptable or a bit above average. This is a reserved recommend.
Hopefully I’ll see you for the Scottish qualifiers in entry #10.
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