Wow, 50 entries! Planning to keep these going, but will be changing up the format when I finish the WCPW World Cup, which should be in entry #55. Thanks to all readers, subscribers and commenters.
The penultimate show! Not much longer to go until we crown the first (and, um, only) World Cup champ. It’s the 24th August 2017 and we’re in the Bowlers Exhibition Centre of Manchester, England, for the Quarter Finals of the WCPW World Cup! Your main event tonight: Zack Sabre Jr vs KUSHIDA in the pick of the Quarter Final match-ups!
Dave Bradshaw and James R. Kennedy welcome us to the arena, with a crowd that is honestly not quite as loud as previous ones. A near two-hour show here with just the Quarter Final match-ups, so expecting some long contests.
We get a recap of Penta piledriving his way to success against Bad Bones the previous night, then Ricochet making Angelico tap out. Straight into it after.
Penta El Zero M vs Ricochet (WCPW Pro-Wrestling World Cup Quarter Final #1)
Another Lucha Underground reunion. “Ciero Miedo” chants abound, but Ricochet with the bigger reception. Penta with a “Ciero Miedo”, Ricochet back with a bird and a “fuck you”. Slap, rapid running and flip chains, Ricochet sends Penta out with a drop-kick and follows up with a somersault tope, and the crowd proper explodes at that incredible start. Back in, pump kick to Penta, slap in the corner, rope-assisted senton, rope-assisted stomp, all Ricochet so far.
Penta back with forearms, but cut off with a big uppercut. Ricochet dropping a lot of elbows, and one stiff looking one to the back of the head that brings a brief pause. Penta back with kicks, “Ciero Miedo”, a big kick to the head. Slingblade, the crowd is into it, and we go into the corner for some shushed chops. Ricochet slinks out to avoid another, but Penta follows with kicks as Bradshaw tells us the winner here faces the winner of Ospreay and Bailey.
Ricochet sent into the ringpost, then back in. Back kick, another corner chop, Ricochet gets a shoulder in on a charge, then a roll-through drop-kick. Crowd is appreciative. Corner forearm, 619 when Penta lands perfectly, then a big-air springboard elbow. Looking for a rana, countered into an ugly-looking powerbomb backbreaker for two, a move to make you wince. Looking for the Fear Factor, Ricochet out of it with a big knee. Dueling strikes, Penta on a charge, but countered into a cutter. Running Shooting Star follow-up, but only two. “Fight Forever”.
Ricochet looking for an uranage, Penta fighting out, and able to land a Backstabber off a neat corner chain. Looking for the Fear Factor again, Ricochet out of it again, but then eats a superkick. Back with a discus forearm, then an exchange of kicks. Penta to the second rope, Ricochet follows him with a roll-through slap, very nice. Ricochet to the top as well, knocked off, jumps back up, and nails an Avalanche Rana. Follows up with a springboard 450, but only two to the crowds shock and admiration.
Dueling chants, Penta set-up on the top, Ricochet follows, looking for a Spanish Fly I think, but Penta holds on, and then flies down to hit a Destroyer. Ricochet sells it to the hilt and rolls to the apron, but then decides to no-sell it, hop up, and hit his own springboard Destroyer. Crowd pops big, but telling of how over-done that move is that Ricochet was happy to no-sell it, and not even a pin attempt after. Both men to the apron, dueling strikes, and Penta able to hit the Fear Factor with both falling to the outside. “Holy shit” chants, and Kennedy wonders if Ricochet’s neck is broken. Only two though when they go back in.
Penta hits what I can only describe as a Pumphandle Driver, two. Locks in a Surfboard, transitions into a pin, but it’s actually a double pin and Ricochet gets his shoulders up just in time, to take the win in just about 16 minutes.
Winner (and advancing to the semi-finals): Ricochet, in a bit of a silly finish.
Verdict: Great match, some really good back-and-forth action and the crowd was super happy with this. But I’m not super happy with the finish, that seems meant to protect Penta, but just makes Ricochet look fluky.
Penta unhappy after initialling thinking he won, but show of respect, a hug in the aftermath and stereo “Ciero Meido”. Where have all the bad guys gone?
Brief recap of Joseph Connors’ comeback and win over Joe Coffey last night, then Hiromu Takahashi over Lucky Kid.
Joseph Connors vs Hiromu Takahashi (WCPW Pro-Wrestling World Cup Quarter Final #2)
Winner of this faces whomever comes out on top in the main event. Takahashi out with Daryl, and guess which one Manchester serenades. Milder response for Connors it has to be said. Dueling chants as we begin, that quickly change to an all-out “Daryl”. Taking a while to get going as Takahashi poses with Daryl, Connors thinks about it but gets warned off by the ref, and this is all a little silly now. We eventually get going, lock-up, dueling chops, leapfrog chains, and Connors hits a counter hip-toss. Takahashi lands on his feet from a reverse suplex, begs off holding his left knee, ref plays into it, and Connors gets ambushed. Taking a while for this one to get going.
Time Bomb on top with strikes in the corner, Connors ends up on the apron but avoids the Sunset Flip Powerbomb. He doesn’t avoid a takedown to the outside, and a very awkward spot where Connors left leg gets “wrapped” around the barricade and he wobbles there trying to sell that he’s trapped for way too long, before the strike comes. Hmm. Back in, Takahashi keeps working over the left knee, and puts in an extended lock where Connors could easily put on a sleeper in response but doesn’t. These two just aren’t clicking so far. Eventually out of it but Takahashi keeps up the offence, using the rope to keep up the pressure on the knee.
To the outside again, dueling strikes, and Connors’ leg gets smashed into the ring post a few times. Modified Figure 4 when they are back in, but Connors able to get to the ropes. Takahashi able to maintain the offence, but then Connors back with chops, then a very badly executed clothesline, the two just seemed to run into each other. Dueling chops, another, more awkward, leapfrog chain, and Connors gets two off of a powerslam. More chops, yawn. Connors with a double foot stomp off a Time Bomb charge, selling the leg, and taken down again after another whip chain. Leg lock again, and the crowd chanting “Tap”, jeez, not exactly behind the English guy. Connors to the rope again.
Takahashi out of a Sunset Flip, floors Connors with a low clothesline. Connors out of the Time Bomb, hits a backbreaker, then a modified press slam with lots of air for two. Takahashi with a superkick, then a running clothesline for two. Another leg lock, come on now. Really close to the ropes too, but Connors doesn’t go for it straight away. Time Bomb attempt again, Connors out, but launched into the corner with a belly-to-belly right after. Looking for the Time Bomb again, again Connors out, gets two off a predicament. Springboard DDT to Takahashi, two. Takahashi to the outside, and Connors hits a huge tope.
Back in, Connors to the top, and takes so long that Takahashi has the knees up on a splash. Takahashi looking for another leg lock, Connors rolls him up, and that’s the 1, 2, 3 OUTTANOWHERE in just about 18.
Winner (and progressing to the semi-finals): Joseph Connors, proving that Vince won’t allow even his least loved roster-members to get shown up on the indies.
Verdict: Not a huge fan of this one, too much “focusing on a limb”, some awkward spots, the crowd was more into Takahashi, and dead at the bell.
Takahashi begs the forgiveness of Daryl as he departs, while Connors takes in the apathy of the crowd.
Recap of Mike Bailey getting the upset over Travis Banks, and Will Ospreay putting away Rey Mysterio. This one could be a lot of fun, even if there is only one winner possible.
“Speedball” Mike Bailey vs Will Ospreay (WCPW Pro-Wrestling World Cup Quarter Final #3)
More than an hour left in the show still. Total non-reaction from the Manchester crowd for Bailey, other than hilariously polite applause and a lone “Let’s go Speedball” guy. Ospreay gets a bigger reaction as you would imagine. Handshake, to applause. Circling, lock-up, clean break from Ospreay against the ropes after some theatrics. Bailey back with some kicks, kick and handstand chains, crowd is appreciative.
Ospreay with a takedown, leapfrog chain, handstand dodges, Ospreay lands on his feet off a rana, baits Bailey in and hits a Senton Splash for two. Ospreay with strikes, then a modified cloverleaf. Bailey to the ropes, Ospreay maintains a beatdown with stomps and forearms. Bailey back with a chop but then floored with a low drop-kick. Back with some high kicks, then an awesome Yakuza-esque kick. These two compliment each other well.
Bailey with running knees into the corner, but Ospreay dodges on the third. Bailey back with a kick to the back, then out of a Sunset Flip to land a standing moonsault double knee drop for two, what a cool looking counter that was. Bailey with more kicks, overwhelming Ospreay in the corner, and sends him out with a double stomp. Unlike everyone else in this tournament, Bailey waits out the count, but Ospreay back in at seven. Another running knee, snapmare, kicks, two. Slaps, but that gets Ospreay back into it, and now we get kicks from the Assassin. Bailey doesn’t let up though, coming back with a knee to the head, before eating a spectacular overhead kick from Ospreay.
Ospreay with a jawbreaker, big kick, then a running drop-kick to the corner. Follows up with a standing corkscrew for two. Hits the Unphenomenal Forearm off a springboard, channeling Okada, but Bailey back with a roundhouse after Ospreay dodges two of the them. Looking for a suplex, but countered by Ospreay into a Stunner. Looking for the Oscutter, but eats a head kick instead. Bailey to the second rope, going for the double knees but lands on his feet when nobody is home. They basically repeat that spot, Bailey hits a running Shooting Star, then gets the knees on a top-rope corkscrew, then Bailey gets two off a delay piledriver. That was an utterly mental sequence.
Both men take a break for a second as the crowd chants “Both there guys”, which is new for me. Bailey sizing Ospreay up, and hits a vicious kick to the chest. Ospreay calls on another one, Bailey obliges, but Ospreay hulking up now. Back with forearms, kicks, Bailey responds with slaps and knees, then a rapid fire series of kicks. German, Ospreay lands on his feet, then eats a big clothesline. Deadlift German from Bailey, Ospreay straight back up, running chain and both men down from mutual clotheslines that leave them spinning. A thunderous “This is awesome” chant, and well deserved.
Another breather, both men back up. Bailey intercepts Ospreay on the top, double underhook position, Ospreay fighting out of it, headbutt to the chest, Ospreay underneath, but Bailey somersaults out of the Cheeky Nandos Kick, Jesus Christ. Lands a bridging Dragon Suplex after a roundhouse to the head, but only two. Last one looked a tad dodgy, and the kick-out was more of “moves sideways”. “Fight forever”. Bailey calling for something big, but eats a rope-assisted enziguri on a charge, then a Tornado DDT. Ospreay calling for the Rainmaker again, Bailey with a kick to stop it, then adds on another twenty more to the chest and head. Taking chances here. Ospreay suddenly jumps up, hits the Rainmaker, but Bailey basically no-sells. Some counters, Bailey hung-up, Ospreay to the top, and hits a Shooting Star, which sends Speedball to the outside.
Both men back in and up before the count of ten. “5 star classic”. Exchanging shots on the apron, Bailey sweeps the leg and hits that standing moonsault double knee drop again, and it looks just as cool the second time. Ospreay in and prone, Bailey to the top, and hits the same move off the top to a standing Ospreay, and that was incredible looking, it’s like Cameron Grimes’ Cave-In only with a freaking somersault before hand. Should end it, it’s so awesome, but only two. Big roundhouse in the corner, back to the top, but intercepted and Ospreay hits a Spanish Fly for two. No let-up, Ospreay hits a jumping reverse DDT, two. No let-up, Ospreay looking for a powerbomb, countered into a roll-up, two. More kicks, Ospreay dodges a roundhouse, lands his own. Hits the Oscutter for the 1, 2, 3 in around 22 minutes.
Winner (and progressing to the semi-finals): Will Ospreay, take a bow.
Verdict: The best match of this tournament so far for sure. These two were perfect for each other, it has great spots, great timing, great pacing, and Bailey did all the hard work to make it seem like he might have a shot. Fantastic, fantastic contest.
Show of respect in the aftermath, as the crowd shows their appreciation for Mike Bailey. Ospreay faces Ricochet in the semis, oh yes please.
Onto the next one, and our main event. KUSHIDA beat Kenny Williams last night, while Zack Sabre Jr made Jay Lethal tap-out. Winner of this one faces Joseph Connors.
KUSHIDA vs Zack Sabre Jr (WCPW Pro-Wrestling World Cup Quarter Final #4)
Over half an hour left for this one, so it will be an epic I’m sure, but they have a hard act to follow. Big reception for KUSHIDA, a bigger one for ZSJ. Circling, KUSHIDA trying to bait Sabre in, waistlock chains, lots of counters, it’s practically Greco-Roman and eventually they break. Test of strength, KUSHIDA into a scissors, mounted forearms, counter takedowns, break. Another test of strength, ZSJ tries a leg-lock takedown, countered into a leg-lock of his own by KUSHIDA. Sabre out eventually into a Bow and Arrow variation, KUSHIDA trying to counter with spins and eventually succeeds. Sabre floats over into a pin, but KUSHIDA has his foot on the rope. KUSHIDA takes a break on the outside. Very technical as you would expect, and the crowd is in an enraptured silence.
Back in, KUSHIDA with the takedown, wrist-lock, Sabre back with a snapmare but KUSHIDA holds on. They basically repeat the spot a few more times, but eventually Sabre breaks the hold with a kick. Another KUSHIDA takedown, and he spins around on Sabre’s back for a bit. ZSJ unhappy with that, a shove, then counters a backslide, but a counter-counter turns it into a KUSHIDA crossface. Sabre out, another takedown from KUSHIDA, he loves those, but Sabre able to counter into a weird looking leg-lock/roll-up attempt, then a Camel Clutch, then countered into a torture rack, then countered into pin, and break. As you would expect so far, and these two might be the best in the world for this style.
More counter chains, it’s just takedown after takedown, and ZSJ gets the advantage off an ankle snap. ZSJ with a modified STF, but KUSHIDA to the ropes despite Sabre’s best efforts. Victory Roll countered into an Ankle Lock from KUSHIDA, but ZSJ to the ropes. KUSHIDA focusing on the left leg with a smash. Leg-lock and elbow lock together, but Sabre able to counter with a finger break spot to get free. After a break ZSJ with an armbar attempt, but KUSHIDA to the ropes quick enough. Sabre maintains the advantage for a bit, dueling strikes, ZSJ with forearms, awkward leapfrog spot where Sabre only just get the required elevation, then eats an enziguri. KUSHIDA with stomps, Sabre with forearms, and KUSHIDA suddenly puts in a kneebar, countered into one of Sabre’s, and they go back-and-forth for a bit, and Sabre gets free with a hard slap. This one has died a little bit, and needs a spark to get it going again.
Sabre with a boot, leapfrog chain, and KUSHIDA with his hip-toss side drop-kick combo. Sabre with another boot, comes off the second rope and drops into an armbar. Countered into a leg-lock, countered into an Ankle Lock, and break. Sabre eats a boot on a charge, then a Tornado DDT into a Kimuru, but Sabre to the ropes quick. Springboard Tomahawk Chop from KUSHIDA, then ZSJ with a triangle lock. KUSHIDA out quick enough, to the apron, and KUSHIDA locks on a Kimuru through the ropes for a few seconds. Sabre dodges a running drop-kick and hits a PK. KUSHIDA dodges another, goes for the Kimura again, but Sabre out. Scissor Sleeper from ZSJ, but KUSHIDA counters with a Kimura into a bridging Northern Lights suplex for two. This one feels its length, and could do with a finish.
KUSHIDA with a roll-through leaping DDT, but Sabre out of the Back To The Future attempt. Wrist-lock chains, sleeper from Sabre, into a double underhook suplex. Another PK, two. More chains and counters, and Sabre hits a bridging Dragon Suplex for two. KUSHIDA dodges a low roundhouse, then nails a Pele Kick. Springboard elbow countered by ZSJ into a triangle choke, then transitions into a modified Rings of Saturn, but KUSHIDA to the ropes. KUSHIDA with chops, Sabre with uppercuts, then dueling forearms. KUSHIDA looking for that Back To The Future, countered into a predicament, and the ref counts three but KUSHIDA had kicked out. Dueling kicks, KUSHIDA hits a running handstand kick. Drags Sabre to the top, but ZSJ able to lock on a Kimuru of his own for a few seconds. Another handstand kick, back to the top, a sort of modified Spanish Fly where KUSHIDA locks in the Hoverboard Lock when he lands. Sabre trying to fight out of it, then end up in a predicament, and KUSHIDA gets the pin in just under half-and hour.
Winner (and progressing to the semi-finals): KUSHIDA, “finally…and eventually” as Bradshaw says.
Verdict: These two are good at counter hold wrestling, but this went on way, way too long, with a super dull middle section. Compared to what came before it was rather dull for large stretches.
KUSHIDA celebrates his victory, and that will be all.
Semis and Final will all be on the same night. We have:
Will Ospreay vs Ricochet – Should be a hell of a match, and you’d think Ospreay should win out.
KUSHIDA vs Joseph Connors – Contrasting styles here, and the WWE factor means Connors might be due one more win at least.
That would leave it as an Ospreay/Connors final, and I would assume Ospreay would go over in that case. Anyway.
Best Match: Ospreay/Bailey is the best match tonight, and the best match most nights.
Best Wrestler: I guess I will go with Ricochet who, despite the badly booked finish, showed why he is always a good bet to go far in tournaments.
Worst Match: I regretfully will go for the main event, whose length killed it really.
Worst Wrestler: For lack of any more obvious options, Takahashi wasn’t quite at the races.
Overall Verdict: Some good wrestling in this show as we hurtle towards a conclusion. I suppose when you have a card this stacked it’s hard not to have a few stand-outs, and Ospreay/Bailey was worth the price of admission alone.
Quick Thoughts On Wrestlemania Week
NXT Takeover: Stand And Deliver Night 1
Storm/Stark – Inconsequential kickoff fare, save for the result. Think it’s still a little early for Stark to have even this spot and this win, given the depth of the NXT womens division. Inessential.
Dunne/KUSHIDA – Fun tech fest that didn’t outstay its welcome as such things tend to. Good in-ring story, and would watch more of these two. Give it a look.
North American Gauntlet – Tonnes of fun, a great use of a stacked midcard, and while Swerve was a little buried by the finish, Reed a good choice to win. Must see.
WALTER/Ciampa – Great contest of the “Who has the higher pain threshold?” variety. Let down by having an inevitable result, but still enjoyed the hell out of it. A chop should be WALTER’s finisher. Essential.
Tag Title Triple Threat – Every PPV card needs a spot fest, and this provided just that. The rana sequence, MSK stopping each other from tapping, the Doomsday Device from the ramp were my personal favourites. All three teams looked great, but I would have preferred GYV won, would have set-up a continuing feud with MSK, whose “overcome the odds” story got diluted by the triple threat. Regardless, a highlight.
Shirai/Gonzalez – Great feud, great blow-off. Shirai showed herself as “the Guy” of the division, and what a crazy bump off the stage. Gonzalez looked great in victory, the cap to a slow-and-steady build of her character (remember the “Who are you?” chants when she debuted?). This whole thing is why NXT right now has the best womens division in wrestling history. You have to see this.
Overall – Takeover does it again. Brilliant, brilliant show.
NXT UK: Prelude
Bate/Dar – Good contest. I like “British Rounds”, even with its self-evident flaws, and Bate and Dar are the kinds of guys who I could watch go all day. Give it a look.
Womens Tag – Forgettable filler really, just meant to set up a Ray/Satomura re-match. Skippable.
WALTER/Rampage – Big stiff fest, and parts of it were good, but never really felt like a title change was likely. They need to build someone up to WALTER’s level. Inessential.
Overall – Just an episode of NXT UK really, was hoping for more.
NXT Takeover: Stand And Deliver Night 2
Breezango/Dainrick – I love Dain and Maverick, so will generally watch them against whoever. Fun kickoff enocunter, liked Fandango working heel, right winners. Worth seeing.
Cruiserweight Unification – Liked this, they didn’t go completely crazy with the spots even if the intensity otherwise was sometimes a bit lacking. COVID killed Devlin’s push before #speakingout did additional damage, so the right guy won. Give it a look.
Womens Tag Titles – Fun back-and-forth, but never really felt like The Way had a genuine shot this early in Moon/Blackheart’s reign. Still a good example of how deep this division is. Watchable.
Gargano/Reed – Was sort of hoping for a bit more from this, which seemed set-up to “make” Reed, but was a little disappointed. Just didn’t have the right flow, save for the last 3-5 minutes. Still, I must have been cuckoo bananas to expect a title change. Inessential.
Balor/Kross – Great clash, felt really epic with a sense of desperation from both sides. Putting the belt back on Kross the right call, he could craft a really lengthy reign. Must see.
Cole/O’Reilly – Good feud, good story. Proper Takeover main event, with obvious shades of the Gargano/Ciampa epics, but perhaps didn’t have enough in it to justify the length. Still, hard not to like this one. Essential.
Overall – Not quite as good as Night 1, but still a banger of a show for NXT. Have to see it.
Wrestlemania Night 1
McIntyre/Lashley – Good hoss fight, worth waiting for but perhaps went a bit too long. Surprised, in a good way, that Lashley went over, but why break up The Hurt Business then? Give it a watch.
Womens Tag Gauntlet – Short and sweet, good choices to have a succession of brief matches. Dead crowd says a lot about depth of the women’s roster though. Inessential.
Cesaro/Rollins – That’s more like it. Hell of a match, and a great moment for Cesaro. Hopefully the start of something big. Must see.
Raw Tag Titles – Very unique tag, with the lengthy “heel-in-peril” section, before Omos annihilated everyone. That’s him “made” anyway, and welcome to the Grand Slam club AJ. Worth watching.
McMahon/Strowman – Been a weird old feud, and I’m never a fan of cage matches, or of modern-day Shane McMahon. Just an excuse for another Shane O Mac bump. Skippable.
Morrison & Miz/Priest & Bunny – Seemed to take an age for this one too get started, but it was decent when it did. Bunny looked good out there, and it served the need for Mania to have a celebrity moment fine. Give it a look.
Banks/Belair – Strong main event, nice crowning moment for someone I’ve watched grow slowly in NXT to someone who could dominate. Good flow, good spots, right finish. Has to be seen.
Overall – Decent first night, no serious mis-steps, apart from the weather delay. Lots of big moments, and a worthy return to fan attendance.
Wrestlemania Night 2
Orton/Fiend – Only so much more you can do with the Fiend really, whose gimmick has devolved to lame blood pack effects and magic tricks. Match was lame. Little to see here. Skippable.
Womens Tag Titles – Perfectly acceptable TV fare, a little underwhelming for a Mania. WWE remains at sea with this division. Can be missed.
Owens/Zayn – These two could put on a three star match with their eyes closed, so this was good. Logan Paul didn’t need to be there. Give it a look.
Riddle/Sheamus – Nothing hugely special, and marred by one significant botch, but nothing hugely objectionable either. It was alright. Inessential.
Big E/Crews – Probably a bit too short given how long the feud has been going on, and how it was set up to be a spot fest. Hopefully Big E can move on to bigger things now. Nothing special.
Asuka/Ripley – Such a huge fan of these two, but this one just didn’t work for me, felt too basic and slow. Nice to see Ripley win of course. Still, it just wasn’t enough. Disappointing.
Reigns/Edge/Bryan – Even if the winner was the wrong call in my opinion, this was pretty good. Feud was good, good pace, nice mix of spots and didn’t mind the finish. Maybe a straight up Reigns/Edge feud next? Regardless, this was decent, and perhaps redeemed the night. Must watch.
Overall – A big letdown after Night 1, with just two matches really worth seeing. If WWE keeps up the two nights they’ll have to do a better job balancing the card.
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