Commentary on the in-ring or mike prowess of wrestlers named in the #SpeakingOut story should not be taken as support for them in general. I beleive her.
Only two more of these qualifier shows before we get into the business end. It’s the 21st July 2017 and we’re in the Bowlers Exhibition Centre of American heartland Manchester for the USA Qualifiers of the WCPW Pro-Wrestling World Cup! Your main event tonight: with only World Cup matches on the card, the second preliminary final.
A raucous crowd are behind Dave Bradshaw and James R. Kennedy on commentary, as we head to the first Tale of the Tape. This is a two hour+ show with just six matches, so expect some lengthy contests.
David Starr (boo) is honoured to be an American representative. Bobby Fish (yay) does his best work when the lights are brightest. Might not get on so well if they go ringside then. Starr says he’ll grind it out. Fish will force Starr to adapt to him. The sexual predator spouts his catchphrases. Fish will win because is unpredictable and the complete performer.
David Starr vs Bobby Fish (WCPW Pro-Wrestling World Cup USA Preliminary Semi-Final #1)
Starr the wXw Shotgun Champ at the time. Fish has already debuted with NXT, and will be off there full time the following month, so even if he wins this match I doubt he’s going to the finals. The crowd with love for both men, but more obviously for Starr. Wonder what his reactions will be like nowadays.
Greco-Roman chains to start, then Fish with a leg-lock: when Starr gets to the rope he exhorts Fish to “follow the rules” and let go, for some cheap laughs. Starr with a trip off a whip, then a crucifix for two. Handstand evasions, then a very awkward Lou Thesz press from Starr. Fish body-dropped onto the apron, then drop-kicked to the ringside. Fish out of the way of a tope, Starr pulls out of it, but after some more dodging chains is able to hit one to a big reaction.
Back in, Fish with the takedowns and we got outside again straight away. These two are too good to be brawling at ringside. Starr with the beatdown, no count-out, and did I just see Mick Foley in the front row? Back in, Fish with a big kick to the back to the crowd’s unhappiness. Knees to the chest, snapmare, then a springboard senton for two. Dueling strikes, Starr with a jumping knee, running chop, adds a few more, dodges a high kick, and then hits a flipping Big Ending. Some good back-and-forth now.
Fish fighting back, but gets caught up in the ropes and nailed with a cool-looking Product Recall DDT, but only two off a rope-break. Starr looking for his Product Placement, Fish out, takedown on Starr and we’re back outside to trade kicks, and you better believe Bobby Fish is winning that fight. Back in, more kicks, big shoving boot into the corner, looked vicious. Fish locks in a tight Ankle-Lock, Starr able to get to his feet then bridges backwards into a pin for two. Starr charges, and takes an Exploder into the corner for two. Fish looking for a suplex, but countered into a dropping neck-breaker. Looking for the Product Placement again, Fish out of it, misses a roundhouse then takes a swinging forearm to the back of the head. This time he does hit the Product Placement, with a bridge – terrible finisher for the record – and that’s it in around nine minutes.
Winner: The sexual predator.
Verdict: Didn’t need the ringside brawling, but as good as you would expect from these two. Fish onto bigger and better things than WCPW. Boom.
Starr seeks a handshake, and Fish decided to jaw at him a bit, and it looks like he’s trying to cut a promo without a mike. They do eventually shake, to the crowds delight.
Jay Lethal and Moose are next for the Tale of the Tape. It’s the first time Lethal has represented his country. Never in TNA’s tournaments? Moose is honoured and aims to be “the lone winner”. As opposed to the group winner? Lethal will use his speed to avoid Moose’s power. Moose is the cream of the crop, something he repeats a few times. Lethal is the greatest wrestler in the world, which even as hyperbole is a stretch.
Moose vs Jay Lethal (WCPW Pro-Wrestling World Cup USA Preliminary Semi-Final #2)
Moose the GWF Champion at the time, but out with no belt, not sure why. Crowd goes mild for Lethal, who probably hit his apogee a few years before this. He takes a brief powder before we get going, which is very unnecessary. I’ll give them one thing, they get dueling chants going, but probably play to the crowd too much.
Takes a long time for even a lock-up. Moose mocks Lethal’s height, or lack of it, and then a wrestling match breaks out. Lethal gets in a chop, Moose isn’t impressed, super-kick, a chain of slow-ass handstands, some leapfrogs and then the most telegraphed charge I have seen in ages where Lethal is able to lower the bridge and send Moose outside. Lethal lands an awful looking tope where Moose seems to have problems selling, adds another to make up for it, but gets caught on a third and slammed against the apron. On paper it’s all a great sequence, but Moose looks remarkably sedentary.
Lethal answers a count of eight, and eats a series of chops. Hilarious moment when Bradshaw says Lethal must be running on fumes, when Moose looks gassed AF. Able to hit a Scoop Slam for two, but nobody home on a drop-kick, Moose out of a Figure 4 attempt, and this time hits his drop-kick, so I’m guessing a rest-hold is coming up. We go the ringside, chops, Moose hits a “running” pump kick – more of a jogging pump kick really – does another one that looks even slower – a brisk walking pump kick? – and heads back in to let Lethal answer another eight count. Terrible rhythm to this one so far, and I think it would be dangerous to let Moose win and fight again tonight.
Lethal trying to rally back, but walks into a pop-up powerbomb – Lethal doing most of the work there – then a near-fall for Moose off a running senton. “No wasted motion” says Kennedy, and yeah right mate. Here’s the long awaited rest-hold, with a bear hug for a bit. Lethal out eventually, then eats another pump kick, but then able to hit his own super-kick. Hip toss, drop-kick, cutter, then a slow trek to the top-rope to hit a top-rope nothing, countered into a brief leg-lock. Lethal out, Lethal Combination, but it’s not a finisher anymore so only two.
Lethal looking for a suplex, Moose not playing ball, hits another pump kick, but Lethal no-sells this one and now he’s able to hit the suplex, but only two. Crowd struggling with this one, a lot of silent sections. Moose trying to call for chants as he takes shots from Lethal, but the crowd is not biting. Imagine Hogan Hulking up to silence to get an idea. Moose starting to no-sell the offence, hits back with a few strikes of his own but walks into another super-kick. Another pump kick, hip-attack into the corner, drop-kick into the corner, only two. Labouring offence from both guys now, and this one needs to head towards a conclusion.
Lethal out of another corner attack, but caught on the second rope with a “Go To Hell” Choke Bomb, but Lethal kicks out at 2 and 49/50ths. Moose with laboured chops, goes for a springboard crossbody which looks like it might be the last of his energy, but it’s countered into an STO for two. Handspring cutter – the “Lethal Injection” – gets only one to the crowds genuine shock. Enziguri, super-kick, another, a third, another enziguri, another super-kick, a third enziguri, Moose still not going down because this is dumb as hell. Another Lethal Injection ends it in just under 17-and-a-half.
Winner: The one who looks slightly less likely to keel over after going nearly twenty minutes.
Verdict: Moose looked shocking out there, and the protection he got in the booking of the match was very silly. Credit to commentary for trying to play it up as epic.
Post-match, the world’s least deserved show of respect, with Lethal actually keeling over, but in a kayfabe way. Him and Starr has only one winner on the basis of this.
James Storm and Keith Lee up next, oh hell yes. Lee invites us to bask in his glory. Storm is sorry for everyone else’s bad luck. Lee is one of the most exciting guys in the industry. Storm looking forward to facing some new young faces (umm…). Lee plans to avoid the super-kick. Storm is used to dealing with big guys. We even get some Impact stills here, so WCPW really pushing the boat out. Lee is the best “big man” in wrestling.
Keith Lee vs James Storm (WCPW Pro-Wrestling World Cup USA Preliminary Semi-Final #3)
At time of writing this Lee has just started his main roster run on WWE, and I’m hoping and praying he gets the run he deserves. Storm is one of the best things to come out of TNA, with whom he was to finish up with this year. He was, pre-lockdown, spending his 40’s on NWA Powerrrrrrrrrr. I know who has the better deal. Dueling “Keith Lee”/”Beer!” chants, and that is a contrast.
Lock-ups, leapfrog chains, and that will never not look impressive when Lee does it. Lee invites Storm to bask in his glory, and gets a slap instead. Lee on a corner charge, dropped onto the apron, going for a springboard spear but caught with a Lung Blower. Nice. Only two, Storm maintains the attack, and finally gets Lee down off a big clothesline.
Lee dodges from a corner charge, and floors Storm a few times himself, before a not-so-great looking rana. Even Mr Limitless has limits it seems. Connects on a corner charge, big double slap, milks the reaction for a moment and then does it again. Crowd popping big. Storm rallying back with an awkward double axe-handle, enziguri from the apron, then a neckbreaker for two. Slightly odd feel to this one, lots of pauses in-between short high-intensity moments. Storm struggles a bit to get Lee up on top, but is able to hit a Frankensteiner. Storm to the top, and has just, just, enough distance to hit a splash for two. Looked dodgy as hell, and this is threatening to turn into a botchfest.
Storm looking for a powerbomb, Lee resisting, hits a big left-hand for two. Lee looking to go up town, but intercepted as he goes. Storm able to carry Lee into the middle of the ring and hit the Eye of the Storm, but it’s not a finisher anymore so only two. Lee gets up a bit quicker than he really should, hits the Ground Zero (which has the much better name of “Big Bang Catastrophe” recently), and that’s the 1, 2, 3 in just under ten.
Winner: Oha, oha (Keith Lee)
Verdict: Not as awesome as I would have hoped, and ended real sudden.
Onto the next, and final match of this round.
Matt Sydal and King Ricochet are both happy to be here representing the US of A. Sydal is representing the entire planet more so, because he is heel, I think. Ricochet thinks representing America is pretty cool, as the highlights focus on his crazy in-ring style. He doesn’t have a set strategy, but his ability to improvise will carry the day. Sydal can endure more pain than anyone. A little milquetoast this one, they try to play up the two’s tag teaming past (they held IWGP Jr Heavyweight Tag Titles together) but no real commitment behind it.
Matt Sydal vs King Ricochet (WCPW Pro-Wrestling World Cup USA Preliminary Semi-Final #4)
Sydal a few years removed from his WWE run where I genuinely think he could have made it bigger there before injuries (and a well-documented fondness for the wacky tobaccy) derailed him. No getting away from that, because that run in the Fed is the first thing commentary brings up. Speaking of trips to the Fed, Ricochet is half a year or so from arriving on NXT, where he would have a crazy-good run, and now is predictably lost on the main roster.
Handshake to start, and I’m guessing this is going to be hardcore indie style. Headlocks, then into one of the standard Ricochet chains where both guys are dancing more than fighting, but looks amazing. Some flipping chains follow, and Ricochet tweaks his left knee for a kayfabe impediment. Sydal able to hit a running drop-kick to the corner to take the advantage. Ricochet soon sent to the outside, where Sydal locks on a strange leg-lock variation on the apron.
Back in, where Sydal takes a roll-through drop-kick after a dodged charge, but then answers with his own drop-kick to the injured leg. Sydal locks in a half Boston Crab, but Ricochet to the ropes quick enough. Sydal with a spinning heel kick, then a sweet looking Muta Lock. Ricochet out of it eventually, rallying back, and floors Sydal on a big charge. Hits a 619, springboard uppercut, looking good. Powerbomb attempt, Sydal out with a kick to the head, but walks into a cutter, then a standing shooting star for two. This was getting slow, but has now sped up measurably.
Ricpchet looking for an uranage maybe, but Sydal out of it. Fireman’s carry, Sydal out of it again, but Ricochet counters him back into it, but before he can hit the Benadrilla kick Sydal gets it in instead. Only two, Sydal to the top, Ricochet up, top-rope nothing and Sydal eats a scissors kick. Dueling uppercuts, corner charge from Ricochet, then Sydal hits a bizarre inverted cutter/DDT thing. Going for the Air Sydal (what a terrible name), but nobody home. Ricochet with a few kicks, his own Benadrilla, and that’s enough in just under ten, surprisingly.
Winner: Prince Puma/King Ricochet/Emperor Main Event
Verdict: Shorter than I thought, given there is the better part of an hour left in the show. Ricochet rarely puts in less than an awesome shift, but Sydal wasn’t entirely at the races.
This means our main event will be the admittedly mouth-watering clash of Keith Lee and Ricochet.
A lengthy promo for WCPW Loaded follows, the promotion’s weekly show that went off the “air” a few months previous to this but is due for a return. I’m sure it will work out swimmingly for Blampied. Just a few months until his true colours are revealed, as a reminder.
Back in the arena, another sexual predator is coming back out.
David Starr vs Jay Lethal (WCPW Pro-Wrestling World Cup USA Preliminary Final #1)
I’ll say this, that “Your favourite wrestler’s favourite wrestler” line is dynamite. Lethal goes after the leg straight away, and before you can say “Please no”, we’re going to the outside for some brawling. Eventually back in, where Starr isn’t able to get in a tope owing to a knee injury. Lethal commences working over the knee even more, hanging it on the ropes, stomps, etc.
Starr trying to rally back with roll-ups and strikes, and now able to hit a tope after getting Lethal out with a high knee. Taking a while to nurse his knee on the outside, then back in with chops. Not a great energy to this one really. A series of strikes and chops in the corner, and Lethal collapses from the hurt. Some dueling strikes, a few counters, and Lethal hits a big cutter, but no energy to go for the cover. Both men slowly back up, Lethal to top, Starr follows, some grappling on the top rope, Starr knocked off, Lethal, after a wait that makes the whole thing seem rather silly, hits an elbow drop for two.
Lethal looking for the Lethal Injection, but countered into a release German. Lethal no-selling essentially, gets intercepted on a tope attempt, hit with a big suplex neckbreaker, but only two. Both men back up eventually, Lethal hits the Injection for two, then transitions into a Figure 4. Starr screams, trying to get to the ropes, nothing doing, and after around a minute taps out, with just over 13 on the clock.
Winner (and progressing to the Finals): Jay Lethal, surprisingly.
Verdict: Finish a bit of a surprise, I’m guessing Starr wasn’t available for the rest of the tournament, or was too expensive. Not much to say about this one, which was nothing to write home about.
Show of respect in the aftermath. I might nit like Lethal in terms of how much he can go at this point, but at least we won’t see Starr again.
Blampied is in my face to plug Loaded again. I have no confidence it will succeed again!
On to the main event, which has the space to be epic.
Keith Lee vs King Ricochet (WCPW Pro-Wrestling World Cup USA Preliminary Final #2)
Both men smiling at each other as we start, and we get a handshake to boot. Lock-up, and Lee easily shoves Ricochet into the corner. Going back in, Ricochet is unable to take Lee down, and is flung about instead. Gets in a headlock, and Lee uses just his neck to life Ricochet up. A shoulder charge ends with Ricochet on the floor, he puts in another headlock, and Lee teases that he might tap out, but instead deposits Ricochet on the top. Bit of a comedy feel to this now, but then we get a sudden rana/leapfrog chain, that ends with Lee flooring Ricochet with a drop-kick.
Ricochet with a totally ineffectual chop, and gets floored when Lee reciprocates. Lee hitting bigger moves and clotheslines now, and gets two on the first pin attempt. Wearing Ricochet down with body stands and rope-based chokes. Ricochet rallying back with strikes and a big spinning forearm. Goes for a springboard crossbody, but nailed with a Lee crossbody instead. Big throw, big corner charge, an even bigger throw, and an even bigger, bigger throw. Impressive strength, but getting a little dull now. Lee going for another Avalanche, but Ricochet avoids it by simply collapsing.
Lee charging again, but gets caught, and Ricochet somehow delivers, just about, a Fallaway Slam, in what is easily the spot of the night. Deserved “Holy shit” chants. Flying forearm into the corner, apron enziguri, springboard uppercut, running shooting star, but only one, much to Ricochet’s shock. Looking for the Benadrilla, but doesn’t have the strength. Charging again, and walks into a huge chokeslam, with some of the biggest air I’ve seen from such a move, but only two again. Unreal spot again.
Axe Kick from Ricochet, springboard drop-kick, springboard 450, only two. Seems like a match where there is little back-and-forth, just periods of dominance. Ricochet looking for the Bendrilla again, but again can’t get Lee up. Pump kick, big chop, but caught on another charge into a bear hug, transitioned into a belly-to-belly. Sweet looking. Big Bang Catastrophe, but Ricochet kicks out, to the crowd’s surprise. Ricochet prone, Lee going to the top, moonsault but nobody home.
Another scissor kick, high knee, spin kick, now Ricochet able to hit the Benadrilla, but Lee stays on his feet. Another Axe Kick where Ricochet very obviously whiffs. Ricochet to the top, shooting star, but not great contact and Ricochet rolls away. Lee rallies with a goozle, the King breaking out of it, Lee responds with a Spirit Bomb, but again only two. Kick out spam, thy name is WCPW. That’s OK, because out of another lift from Lee Ricochet counters into a roll-up for the win in just about 19 minutes.
Winner (and progressing to the Finals): One. And. Only.
Verdict: A bit oddly paced, and that meant the finishing sequence didn’t have the impact it should have had. These two have done better.
Another show of respect in the aftermath, and honestly this show has had a few too many of them, it makes everything seem very samey. Not enough heels I suppose.
After the show goes off the air, we get a recap of the draw they have already made for the Finals, though there are still two slots to fill. We have Will Ospreay vs Rey Mysterio, Joe Coffey vs Michael Elgin, Kenny Williams vs KUSHIDA, Lucky Kid vs Hiromu Takahashi, Bad Bones ve Penta El Zero M, Zack Sabre Jr vs Jay Lethal, with Mike Bailey and Ricochet down to face the two qualifiers from the final “Rest of the World” preliminary show. Ospreay/Mysterio the obvious stand-out. Looking forward to it, though I understand there was some late changes to the card , so we’ll see.
As for tonight:
Best Match: Starr/Fish was the standout I suppose, benefiting from seeming fresh in comparison to the matches that followed.
Best Wrestler: Ricochet is going to be hard to beat out for this category anytime he is on a show.
Worst Match: Lethal/Moose was honestly a bit of a train wreck for both men, but especially Moose.
Worst Wrestler: Against my usual procedure, I have to give it to Moose, who looked so out of shape and limited for someone of his apparent notoriety.
Overall Verdict: It needed more heels and more imagination. Too many wrestlers were in second gear, and there was little to really write home about.
Just one more of these prelim shows before the finals. Sock it to them “Rest of the World”.
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