Friday, 31 July 2015

Wrestle Ropes' Ready For The Weekend (31st July-2nd August)



Another week and another edition of Ready For The Weekend. So without further ado, lets get started.




On Friday night, Discovery Wrestling are making their debut at the Portobello Town Hall in Edinburgh with a card stacked with British and international talent. One match containing both talent from our shore and overseas is Chris Hero vs Joe Coffey. Hero is probably one of the most respected wrestlers in his native USA and all over the world. Joe Coffey is quite simply the Iron Man. A hard hitting, non-stop machine of a wrestler. Chris Hero is known as The Knock Out Artist. It might very well take a knock out to stop Joe Coffey. Also set for July 31st is the rematch between Damian O'Connor and Rampage Brown. We will need to hope that the Portobello Town Hall is well-built as when these two men collide it may destroy the very foundations of the building and only one man will be left standing after this war. One match with a great deal of interest surrounding it is the four-way elimination between Lionheart, BT Gunn, Christopher Saynt & Danny Boy Rodgers. In what will no doubt be a very competitive match, the implications that this match could have on the Y Division Championship is what really catches the eye. All of these matches plus contests including Viper, Kid Fite and Lewis Girvan is making Discovery Wrestling event a very worthwhile destination this Friday.





Moving on to Saturday and Pro Wrestling Chaos are at the BAWA Club in Bristol with Hell Is For Heroes. Sitting right at the top of the card is Mike Bird defending the King Of Chaos Championship against the returning Mark Andrews. Mike Bird has had great year in PWC with successful championship defences against the best that Pro Wrestling Chaos has to offer. However Mark Andrews is on top form right now, wrestling all over America. Not to mention that Mark Andrew probably knows Mike Bird better than anyone, as Bird helped train Andrews many years ago. Mike Bird has defeated the best, he'll have to beat Andrews in his best form to keep the championship. Speaking of best form, Rockstar Spud who is having the best period of his career so far will also be in action on August 1st when he competes against Damian Dunne and the most hated man in Pro Wrestling Chaos, 'Flash' Morgan Webster in a triple threat match. Another match set for this Saturday in Jeckel facing Rampage Brown. Jeckel has had a hell of a year in Chaos, defeating the likes of Mikey Whiplash in 2015. His confidence is at an all-time high as he personally challenged Rampage Brown for this match. Brown has never back down from a fight in his life, this will be no different. Also in action will be Chris Hero against Eddie Dennis, The Hunter Brothers in tag team action and The Doomsday Killers open invitational.





Sunday will see Insane Championship Wrestling begin their four week tenure at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The first show, 'I'm A Lumberjack Match (And I'm Okay)' will give a tiny glimpse at the carnage that awaits at 'Fear & Loathing VIII' when Legion's Mikey Whiplash competes against the New Age Kliq's Wolfgang. Speaking of the New Age Kliq, Chris Renfrew and BT Gunn will be in action against the Sumerian Death Squad's Tommy End & Michael Dante with the winner being named the number one contenders to the ICW Tag Team Championship. In the fallout from the main event of 'Shug's Hoose Party II', one of the men responsible for costing Damo the ICW World Heavyweight Championship, Jack Jester will face the wrath of 'The Beast Of Belfast' when the two meet this Sunday at the City Nightclub. Add in matches with Noam Dar, Kid Fite & Joe Coffey and it looks like ICW are kicking of their residency in the Scottish capital in style.

That wraps up this week's preview of the weekend's wrestling schedule.

That wraps up this week's preview of the weekend's wrestling schedule. Of course, there are many more events taking place over the three days. To find out more about the shows we've highlighted here as well as all the others, check us out at www.wrestleropesuk.wordpress.com for the latest show and match announcements, British Wrestling event list, interviews, exclusive columns, reviews, reports and results!

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

SWA Summer Blowout 2015 Live Review

It was my first trip back to the Shropshire Wrestling Alliance since last year's Summer Blowout event (29th September 2014 - Review here) and it seemed like a lot had changed in that ten month period. A few new faces and few changes in alignment, but the one thing that hadn't changed was the strength of the card. With Mark Haskins battling Chuck Cyrus in the main event, as well as Chris Brookes, Chris Ridgeway, Dan Maloney, Damien Dunne, Eric Ryan, Pete Dunne, Ryan Smile, Will Ospreay and more on the show, could this one live up to expectations? Let's have a look.





Lord Graham Thomas opened the show after he was revealed to be our ring announcer for the evening, and after some banter with referee Paul Winstanley that went straight over my head it was into the first match of the night. 


One Fall Match
"The All Day Star" Ryan Smile 
vs. 
"Young & Bitter" Pete Dunne





This was never going to be a bad match, was it? These two have wrestled each other and been tag team partners all over the United Kingdom and into Europe over the last four or so years, and that could be seen in the match that they had. With only one real slip up throughout that was recovered very well, as Dunne turned Smile's slip on a head scissors attempt into a side slam, it was clear to see why Dunne and Smile have risen in the ranks around the UK over the last year or so. Smile's ridiculous suicide dive near the corner post was a highlight of the bout for me, with Smile almost flying completely over Dunne before landing on his feet.


Whilst the wrestling was sleek throughout, this bout was made on the strength of the characters. Smile coming out in a Flash body paint design, which looked incredible, and Dunne working his Young and Bitter persona that has come on and on over the last year. With The All Day Star's red body paint rubbing off on Dunne, it almost looked as if Dunne was allergic to Smile. Dunne having to use various parts of the ring to take control of the match, with a good sequence seeing Dunne repeatedly throwing Smile into the metal part of the turnbuckle on the outside, worked well, suiting the characters and allowing the match to tell a strong story. After some decent near falls, Smile picking up the win with his Smile High Frog Splash set the show off to a good start, with the crowd warmed up nicely.

One Fall Match
Nixon Newell 
vs. 
Toni Storm




A decent showing from these two, there seemed to be a strong in-ring chemistry, that developed nicely as the match progressed. A strong technical start, developed into a mainly pin-fall based match, with multiple pin-fall variations, with the two seemingly evenly matched inside the ring, highlighted by a spot that saw both deliver suicide dives to each other. Whilst the match seemed to have stepped into another gear with Toni throwing Nixon into the ringpost shoulder first, referencing Nixon's breaking her collar bone in their previous encounter, it was a shame to Nixon win with her variation of Beth Phoenix's Glam Slam, a move that would make use of the injured area.


It was time for the TLC match, with Lord Graham Thomas chatting away, as multiple tables, ladder and chairs were placed at ringside.


Tables, Ladders and Chairs Match for the #1 Contendership to the SWA Championship.
Chris Brookes 
vs. 
Eric Ryan 
vs. 
"Number One" Damien Dunne 
vs. 
"Super Beast" Dan Maloney




Fun. Fun. Fun. And a bit more fun. This match was exactly what you'd want it to be, spots and spots and bloody silly spots. All four guys made good use of the gimmick, keeping the match flowing very quickly indeed, moving from one ridiculous move to the next. If the TLC gimmick wasn't enough, Eric Ryan decide to bring some more toys into the match, literally toys. With Lego strewn around the ring, there was a number of painful looking moves onto the miniature building blocks. Anyone who has even trod on Lego could surely imagine that pain that would come following a missed leg drop onto them or even worse, a tiger bomb!

CZW regular Eric Ryan stood out here, with a series of exciting moves that complemented the gimmick.. Putting a hell of a shift in throughout the match, his sequence with Damien Dunne, after the former had introduced the lego, was a hell of an exchange, with the idea of a one on one match between the two now being a mouth watering prospect. The move that won the match was just as impressive as Maloney the match was straight-up ridiculous as he was able to hit a Blue Thunderbomb off the top rope to Chris Brookes, sending him crashing through a table, before being able to retrieve the contract from the ceiling in a terrific climax to the contest. Maloney seems poised for big things in SWA (and around the country) and this victory cements his shift towards the top of the card.


After a quick jaunt to Costcutter it was time for the second half of the show! Or so it would seem, a cheeky raffle shocked us all, when ATPW was able to claim two tickets to SWA British Lions on October 31st.


One Fall Match
"The Aerial Assassin" Will Ospreay 
vs. 
"The Priority" Chris Ridgeway




This was the match that convinced me to buy a ticket, being a big fan of both Will Ospreay and Chris Ridgeway, I was looking forward to being able to see what the pair could do in the ring together. Often when I pick out a match in such a way, I leave disapointed, not because the match wasn't good, but because my expectations were too high. Luckily for me, that wasn't the case here, with Ospreay and Ridgeway gelling well in the ring to created a fast-paced offering, that had the fans in the palm of their hands throughout. 

If you've been checking ATPW's Facebook page recently you would have seen us share an exchange from this match. That exchanging ending in Ridgeway countering Ospreay's ace crusher attempt into a handstand, before delivering a kick to the chest for a near fall. The whole sequence was a blistering back and forth affair that raised the match into the next gear and would surely make even the most jaded of fans sit up and take notice. The ability to change the pace of the match and to know when to do so is an important one that both Ospreay and Ridgeway seemed to have a good grip on, with this sequence coming just at the right time.

Whilst it was a shame that a spot on the outside that saw Ospreay crack Ridgeway's fingers (a move that got a great reaction), seemed to be forgotton after a minute or so, the majority of the crowd couldn't have cared less, popping hard for the rest of the action and especially the near falls. Ospreay kicking out at one following a superkick and sunset flip from Ridgeway, was a nice moment that, and the crowd going nuts for Ospreay's subsequent kicks was even better, even if the Essex Destroyer attempt went a little awry. The Aerial Assassin picked up the win with a Spinal Tap to close a very good match, and pick up his first victory in the promotion.


One Fall Match
"The Star Attraction" Mark Haskins 
vs. 
"Mr. Massive" Chuck Cyrus





This match was way too long for what it was and seemed oddly placed in the main event slot on the card. The first ten minutes or so was rather slow, with the pair exchanging holds, which might have been okay had this not been Mark Haskin's debut for the promotion and the pair both seemingly working babyface. There was very little that held my attention in the first part of the bout, and those around where we were sitting seemed content to come up with various puns about how this supposedly "Massive Party" we were promised by Cyrus, wasn't much of a party at all. I mean, what kind of party doesn't even have balloons...or a cheese and pineapple hedgehog? 

That opening paragraph probably sounds a little harsh and I'm sure many who were in attendance will be shaking their heads in disagreement, because the second half of the match was rather good. Cyrus is genuinely impressive in the ring for a man of his size (although Massive may be an overstatement), with his Standing Moonsault and Standing Shooting Star Press especially showing some good agility. His multiple attempts at a Jackhammer also worked as a nice bit of story, leading a lovely deadlift version of the move that worked as a smashing false finish. 

With a strong pace towards the end, it was the more experienced Haskins who was able to pull out the victory, via submission with a Stretch Muffler. This came about after The Star Attraction had focused on Cyrus' knee for a short portion of the bout, including a dragon screw leg whip in the ropes. Cyrus sold the knee well for this time, but I'd have liked to have seen the injury inflicted a little earlier on, to give the finish a little less of an out of nowhere kind of feel. It seem as if Haskins would be working more a heel role for the promotion going forward thanks to the viciousness shown in the closing stages, against a clear fan favourite in SWA, making the after match handshake even more curious.

We had been promised an appearance from SWA Champion Joey Sanchez and his current manager Joanna Rose, and this came rather strangely after the match that appeared to be the main event. Joanna's promo cut straight through me, as she shouted her words at the microphone. Maybe the intention was to be annoying, but because of the shouting some of the words were lost for me. Essentially, Joanna called out SWA Owner Simon Brown, with a strange promo about Brown leaving the promotion, before Brown placed Sanchez in a title match with Big Mike Wild, who is apparently an SWA trainee.



One Fall Match for the SWA Championship
Big Mike Wild 
vs. 
Joey Sanchez (C)
with Joanna Rose


This was a weird match. I had never heard of Big Mike Wild before this match, he looks like Big Al Snow, which was picked up on quickly by some of the fans around us, with many wondering "Where oh where is Head?". Wild is clearly someone who is limited in the ring, and the match played to those limitations, consisting mainly of Wild hitting Sanchez with various forms of chop, including one to the back that sound like it had legitimately killed the champion. Even other SWA Academy members got involved on the chopping action, with the referee letting it go for reasons, and some of the members taking their involvement a little too seriously. Sanchez was able to retain his title, with a Codebreaker that almost certainly broke Wild's code, as he was unable to kick out. Not a great match by any stretch of the imagination but a match that did the best with what it had, and was thoroughly entertaining.



One Fall Match for the SWA Championship
"The All Day Star" Ryan Smile 
vs. 
Joey Sanchez (C)
with Joanna Rose


Of course, the show wasn't going to end with the Champion facing a Big Al Snow. It was all a rather clever set up for Ryan Smile to make his entrance to the ring (sans Flash paint) and cash-in a title shot that he won in the Gold Rush rumble in November. After a short exchange, Smile captured the title with a Smile High, getting a fantastic reaction as the fans stormed the ring. The moment felt truly special for the company, with every fan in attendance seemingly jumping to their feet for both Smile's entrance and subsequent victory. Smile's speech following the bout closed the show off with a real sense of purpose for the promotion going forward. 


Finally...


ATPW Scale Rating - 6.14

Another strong showing from the Shropshire Wrestling Alliance. Ryan Smile capturing the title and the fans reaction for that title match stand out as the best moment of the show, for the sheer emotion that those fans emanated. It's clear that those who attend SWA on a regular basis, truly appreciate the work that wrestlers and everyone involved with SWA put into the show and this came shining through when Smile won the title. It's a close  call for the Match of the Night however between the Four Way TLC bout and Ridgeway vs. Ospreay with both matches offering something different and both having different reasons for being worthy of taking the MOTN.

There wasn't a bad match on the show, even the Wild vs. Sanchez match that could have been a mess, worked well for what it was, with the pair clearly aware of what was needed and what they could do together in the ring. I very much look forward to return trip to Dawley (which is great) in October and I hope to see you there.


You find out more about SWA on Facebook and Twitter by clicking on the links.

Monday, 27 July 2015

ROH Death Before Dishonor XIII iPPV Review

Just five weeks after Best in the World, Ring of Honor was back with another offering, this time available on iPPV, this time for the thirteenth incarnation of Death Before Dishonor from the William J Myers Pavillion in Baltimore, Maryland, USA. With Jay Lethal defending the ROH World Champion against Roderick Strong in the main event and The Briscoes, The Addiction, reDRagon, Adam Cole, ACH and more all on hand for the show, how did things turn for the companies fourth PPV event of the year? Let's find out.





An opening package for the show, mainly focused entirely on the main event between Jay Lethal and Roderick Strong, neglecting that there was six other matches on the card. Luckily, commentary team Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino were on hard to run down the card, with a look at the two title matches, the No Disqualification bout and Cedric Alexander vs. Moose.


One Fall Match
Will Ferrera
vs.
"Professional Wrestling's Last Real Man" Silas Young




This worked as a nice opening bout for the show and whilst no one will be claiming that it was a Match of the Year candidate there was plenty to enjoy. Silas Young especially looked good here, with his Last Real Man gimmick working a charm against the pace of Will Ferrara. While the match was pretty basic in it's storytelling, what was done was done well, with a ambitious closing sequence that saw the momentum change numerous times before Young was able to hit Misery (Airplane Spin into a Cutter) to pick up the victory. With Dalton Castle's Boys turning up after the match, that wouldn't be the last we'd see of The Last Real Man.


A decent promo package for Moose vs. Cedric Alexander worked as a sound catch-up for anyone not fully up to date with ROH storylines.


One Fall Match
Moose 
with Stoke Hathaway
vs.
Cedric Alexander 
with Veda Scott







This was the only match on the show that I just couldn't get into and I'm not sure why. The Baltimore crowd seemed unsure about Moose, with smattering of "Moose" chants, but no real support, whilst Alexander's fledgling heel run doesn't seem to have gathered much steam yet either. So the crowd was neither fully behind Moose or against Alexander, and ended up for the most part being rather quiet, with them perhaps on the whole being more into the stuff that Alexander was doing. This wasn't helped by Alexander pulling out a beautiful Tope Conhilo towards the closing stages of the match. 

Whilst the two never seemed to click in the ring, there were a couple of nice near falls, inclduing a Michonoku Driver from Alexander. The conclusion of the match also worked well, bringing together a number of different storyline elements, with Prince Nana (who was doing guest commentary) ended up getting a right hand from Alexander, as did Stokely Hathaway, but after Moose managed to gain a modicum of revenge with a powerbomb onto the apron, Alexander was able to pick up the victory after blocking Moose's spear attempt with his trusty wrench. Whilst the majority of the contest didn't tickle my pickle, I have to say the closing stages were well structured and left room for development for both characters heading into Field of Honor in August.


One Fall Tag Team Match
The Briscoes
vs.
RPG Vice




What this match lacked in consequence, it made up for in action. Whilst this was essentially a thrown together tag team match (which was a little bit disapointing for a Jay Briscoe just five weeks removed from being World Champion) the content of the bout was entertaining throughout, picking up the pace of the show with blistering, balls to the wall tag team outing. Roppongi Vice cleverly took the role of heels for the match, as they were always going to struggle to pick up crowd support opposite the perennial favourites, The Briscoes, with the pair throwing in a number of sneaky tactics in order to take control of the bout. This gave the match a nice dynamic, and built the groundwork for the later stages of the contest.


The skirmish built towards it's conclusion well with a series of near falls for both teams, including a Superkick into a Destroyer combo from the Briscoes to escape Roppongi Vice's Strong Zero. Whilst the final end sequence went a little bit too long for me, due to the match having no real build, it was thrilling to watch the two teams got back and forth with a number of big moves before Jay was eventually able to hit a Jay Driller on Berreta, followed with a Froggy Bow from Mark to give the Briscoes the victory. Following the result of the Four Way tag bout later in the night, one would assume that The Briscoes would be next in line for a shot at the titles, with ROH seemingly keeping the duo in the tag division for the time being.


One Fall Match
Dalton Castle 
with The Boys
vs.
Adam Cole





I absolutely adored this match. Dalton Castle's character has been a breath of fresh air since debuting on ROH television and he stepped up his game here opposite one of ROH's premier competitors to create a thoroughly entertaining match. Both men put in terrific character based performances, with the crowd being the hottest it had been so far, with dueling chants for almost the entirety of the bout. For someone who has only been wrestling regularly for ROH since March to be getting this kind of reaction against one of the current corner stones of the promotion, says a lot about the strength of Castle's character and how quickly the ROH fans have taken to it. 


It would have been easy for this contest to descend into a straight up comedy bout, with Cole more than capable of working that kind of style, as evidence by some superb facial expressions throughout, the wrestling content here was also of a high quality. The pair seemed to connect quickly in the ring, creating some nice sequences, like Castle managing to turn Cole's Panama Sunrise attempt into a Northern Light's Suplex. If I didn't like the Peacock already his selling following a lengthy spell in Cole's Figure Four Leglock had me absolutely sold, as it could have been something that had been easily forgotten but instead added an extra layer to the match. Obviously Cole was eventually able to pick the victory with a Brainbuster onto the knee, but Castle certainly had his star raised thanks to his performance here. The only real criticism I'd have here it that like the previous match, there really was no reason for these two be fighting on PPV, meaning the match lacked a sense of purpose and consequence.

A promo for the upcoming ACH and Adam Page bout, was mainly focused on a promo from Adam Page, that didn't quite hit the spot for me. Before the match could get under way BJ Whitmer limped to the ring revealing that he had undergone knee surgery, whilst Steve Corino on commentary wished that he had been hit by a car, which was nice.


One Fall No Disqualifcation Match
ACH
vs.
Adam Page 
with Colby Corino




If the two previous matches had been lacking on purpose then this match had it in spades, as the feud between ACH and Adam Page that has been raging across ROH TV for months continued. From the very start of this match, even without the prior video package, it was clear that these two had a dislike for each other, thanks to the way ACH went straight after Page and how things quickly escalated throughout the match. With both guys being over in their respective roles, the crowd added an extra dimension to their grudge bout, lifting the near falls and seemingly pushing the men in their violent activities towards each other.


The No Disqualification gimmick was used strongly with all sorts of weapons getting involved chairs, a ladder, tables and even a workout club (I have no idea what a workout club is, or what in fact it was doing underneath the ring). The ladder especially saw a lot of action, with Page taking a pumphandle thing onto it, before replying with a German Suplex that saw ACH taking a truly horrible looking bump after attempting to flip over during the move and landing on his shoulder. It would seem that this feud isn't over yet either, after Colby Corino caused the distraction that allowed Page to get the win with his Right of Passage reverse piledriver off the apron through a table on the outside. The finish got a great reaction out of the crowd, but unfortunately the chosen camera angle showed just how far ACH's head was away from the table, which is the fault of the production team who should have known what was about to happen. With ACH still to pick up a win over Adam Page, I'd like to think that this feud is still not over yet.


One Fall Four Corner's Survival Tag Team Match for the ROH World Tag Team Championship
The Addiction (C)
vs.
reDRagon
vs.
War Machine
vs.
The Kingdom (Bennett/Taven) 
with Maria Kanellis





This match was everything that you'd have expected it to be. Eight men going nuts, with plenty of big moves and spots and a break-neck pace. There really wasn't time to get bored with this one, as the match made full use of having so many bodies in and around the ring. A section that stands out here saw three or four dives to the outside, of different variations, as the mass of humanity built up on the outside of the ring. The pay-off saw War Machines' Hanson climb to the top rope and hit a senton onto pretty much everyone on the outside, as the big man continues to stand out with his mixture of power and agility.


Whilst the bout was mainly focused on spots and ridiculous moves, there was some nice story also involved in the bout, mainly focused around the clear crowd favourites, Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish, reDRagon. We saw a good length sequence with O'Reilly into the ring as he looked for a tag, whilst both The Kingdom and The Addiction both cut off O'Reilly's attempts to get a tag to his partner. Eventually this lead to O'Reilly having to tag in War Machine, took advantage of the gimmick for a nice twist on the traditional hot tag and was also the catalyst for the competitors taking things to the next level.

War Machine came off a particular impressive in this one, with a number of stunning double teams move that defy their size and look. Both men worked hard to keep up with their opponents in the ring and matched them move for move, their finisher Fall Out working as a nice near fall in a match full of near falls. The Addiction stealing the win from under reDRagon's nose after O'Reilly and Fish seemed to have the match won after hitting Chasing the Dragon, only for Fish to walk straight into Celebrity Rehab (Release belly-to-back suplex into Double Knee Facebreaker) and allow The Addiction to hang onto the tag team titles, was a fitting conclusion to an thrilling bout that showcased the strength and variety of ROH's tag division.

It was almost time for the main event, with a superb promo package featuring promos from both champion and challenger acting as the lead in.


One Fall Match for the ROH World Championship
"The Greatest 1st Generation Wrestler" Jay Lethal (C) 
with Truth Martini, Donovan Dijak & J. Diesel 
vs.
Roderick Strong





The first thing anyone would have noticed when scanning the results of the show would surely have been that this match went the full sixty minutes and ended up in a draw. This isn't something the modern wrestling fan is used to, especially one with WWE-centric viewing schedule. In fact, even in ROH, there hasn't been a 60-minute broadway since Austin Aries and Tyler Black went to the limit back at Final Battle 2009. Which probably why the reactions to it have lurched from "one of the best ROH World title matches ever" to "one of the most boring matches I have ever seen" across social media. People just aren't used to watch a sixty minute match anymore, so the reaction is either that of utter amazement or utter indifference.


It was a rather interesting decision by ROH to go with the sixty minute Broadway here, why after so many years was this match the one that was chosen to be the one to go the distance. It would seem that ROH had either booked themselves into a corner, with Lethal only just winning the title after a lengthy build-up and Strong's renaissance storyline also still with plenty of steam, neither man could really come out of this match on the losing side. I'll give ROH the benefit of the doubt and say that they knew exactly what they were doing and that this is leading to something bigger and better, with Strong slipping back down the pack, giving Lethal more heat as the heel champion, and allowing Strong more time to continue his storyline before eventually winning back the title.

After all that, shall we talk about the actual content of the match? Yeah, lets do that. I'm not sure whether I was the only one (maybe because I had a timer going on the bout) but from about ten minutes into the match it was clear that if this match wasn't going the distance then it was going to be close. The pace was curious to say the least, not quite what I'd call slow, but it was clear that the two were taking their time in the early stages, with plenty of stalling from Lethal, and a lot of technical wrestling as the two tried to out do one another, with Strong often coming out on top of the exchanges. 

Outside of the early technical section of the match, the pair spent a lot of time on the outside of the ring. The pair would end up out of the ring for what felt like the majority of the match, because it happened so often. This would be my main criticism of the match, as whilst the clash called for some brawling, this did feel like overkill, with a number of times that the pair would go to the outside offering nothing new to proceedings. The commentary team did spend a long time trying to get over just how hot it was in the building, as a reason for why the pair were on the outside so often, with the idea being they were attempting to escape the  The two were absolutely dripping in sweat from fairly early on, but the commentary team didn't have to mention the heat for any other match on the card.

Woven into the fabric of the match was the interference from Lethal's cohorts in the House of Truth, with both Donovan Dijak and J. Diesel taking turns to lay the punches into Strong when the referees back was turned. This gave the match somewhere to go whilst trying to kill time in the sixty minutes, without knackering out both Lethal and Strong. Dijak and Diesel work well in their roles as Lethal's enforcers, with the idea that everyone knows Lethal doesn't need them to win a match adding to the gimmick's strength. The pay-off for Dijak and Diesel's interference came when Strong was finally able to take the pair out with a beautiful corkscrew plancha. Truth Martini would also get himself involved in the match, causing a distraction to allow Lethal to use the Book of Truth for a superb near fall. 

Whilst the reaction online was mixed, the Baltimore crowd seemed to absolutely eat up everything that Lethal and Strong put together. When Strong seemed to fire up, asking Lethal to hit him with more chops, the audience went nuts. It was at this point (as the commentary team seemed intent on getting over) that the fans seemed to begin to believe that Strong could potentially win the title. Perhaps this wouldn't have been possible in a 15 or 20 minute match, but the reactions that the pair were able to get following this moment were some of loudest I've heard in ROH for a long time. 

The last ten minutes or so of the bout were truly fantastic stuff, with both men somehow being able to find something else in the tank despite wrestling for 50 minutes already. With Strong hitting the majority of his offence on Lethal's back, the Strong Hold got the reaction of a legitimate finish, although perhaps if Lethal had sold the back it would have been an even better moment. The highlight of the match for me saw Strong hit a Superplex, Double Knee Gutbuster and then a Sick Kick for an amazing false finish that had the Baltimore crowd convinced Strong had captured the title. Lethal redeemed his earlier no-selling, by appearing to almost throw up after failing to get the win with a Lethal Injection, which sold the moment fantastically. With the clock running out with Strong seemingly taking control after a brilliant strike sequence, and the crowd completely into the match, it left the PPV without a real finish with the show simply going of the air.

Finally...


ATPW Scale Rating: 6.79

Just like the opening package suggested this PPV was all about the main event. I can see why the bout wouldn't appeal to everyone, but I certainly enjoyed it. Do I think it was worthy of Kevin Kelly's claims (and bloody annoying shouting)...maybe not...but I still thought it was a great contest, that both Strong and Lethal should be commended for putting on. In a wrestling world where the main company is often afraid to take risks, it was good to see Ring of Honor attempting something different.

The rest of the show (with the exception of Alexander vs. Moose which did nothing for me) ranged for decent to very good, with the Fourway tag team bout and the No Disqualification matches working as strong contrasts to the main event, both showing something different and showcasing the variety that ROH can offer. Other bouts suffered from having no real reason to be going ahead, and whilst they were entertaining, it would have been nice to have seen a little build on TV or a live events.

Friday, 24 July 2015

WWE It's Good to Be King - The Jerry Lawler Story DVD Review

WWE's It's Good to Be King - The Jerry Lawler Story is out now on DVD and Blu-Ray, available from www.wwedvd.co.uk and all other good home video stores. The three disc set features a documentary looking Jerry Lawler's life, as well as over twenty matches from The King's career, ranging from 1981 to 2011, alongside a number of non-wrestling segments in various forms. The set includes matches against the likes of The Undertaker, Curt Hennig, Bret Hart, Terry Funk, Ric Flair and more.






Disc One





The main feature of this set is the documentary that covers the first disc and comes in at just under an hour and a half. Following Lawler's entire life, the feature is impressive in the amount of ground it manages to cover in such a short amount of time, keeping a quick pace throughout, especially as Lawler moves throughout the different territories. The interview with the man himself, allows for some good insight into a number of his most famous moments in wrestling, with stories of how he broke into the business being particularly fascinating. 

All the major points that you'd expect to be included are there from Lawler's feud with Andy Kaufman (including footage from the pairs appearance on The David Letterman Show), to his arrival in the WWF and feud with Bret Hart, his departure from WWF in 2001, as well as his infamous heart attack during a live Monday Night RAW (including never before seen footage, which isn't comfortable viewing) Plenty of other aspects of Lawler's life are covered rounded off the documentary that gives a nice picture of Lawler's life at a distance. The King's interview comes across as honest, with Lawler not worried about saying how he feels, whilst also never afraid to point out his own errors throughout his career.





A number of different personalities are also interviewed, including some of Lawler's biggest rivals and allies, as well as those who knew him in his youth and his current girlfriend. Anytime Vince McMahon appear on these sets is a real treat these days, and his insight on Lawler's career, especially his match with Supestar Billy Graham and Lawler's 2001 departure are invaluable here. Both former Mid-Sothern promoter (and TNA co-founder) Jerry Jarrett and announcer Lance Russel make their debuts on a Home Video release, both providing a satisfying look at The King's time in the Mid-Southern promotion. It's clear that a lot of effort has gone into putting together these interviews to provide as wide a look at Lawler's life as possible and it pays off.

My only real complaint is that the documentary is just a little short, and whilst the brevity allows the documentary to keep up a cracking pace, at times it would have been nice to see things delve a little deeper. Especially when it came to Lawler's time before WWE, as Lawler spends time in an era and promotions that very rarely get a look in in today's WWE landscape. There's space to expand, and more areas of Lawler's life to be explored that perhaps an extra half hour or forty five minutes would have allowed.



Disc Two





The first match is a real treat, as Lawler takes on Terry Funk in an Empty Arena match from CWA (April 1981) and whilst the footage isn't great, it's a curious brawl and completely fascinating for any modern day fan. Lawler's first bout with Andy Kaufman (also from CWA in April 1982) doesn't have a lot of wrestling content with plenty of stalling, but a red hot crowd laps it up. The lengthy time that Kaufman sends on the mat following the mat works as a nice contrast to the modern day pacing of wrestling, but perhaps takes up a little too much time for a Home video release. The crowd continues to play a major factor in a Loser Leaves Town Match with Bill "Superstar" Dundee (CWA, June 1983) being loud throughout and pushing the match along nicely. The match itself is good ol' fashioned brawl, with a sound structure that plays the crowd well, leading to an electric finish. 

With the best footage of the set so far, an AWA World Heavyweight Championship clash with "Cool" Curt Hennig (AWA Championship Wrestling, March 1988) is another brawling effort. For me, the match was a little long for the shitty finish that it is given. As the wrestling landscape continued to change, The King's match with Kerry von Erich over the AWA and WCCW World Heavyweight Championship (WCCW, September 1988) is an acceptable inclusion for it's historical significance alone. Lawler shines as a heel here and whilst von Erich no selling a piledriver had me shaking my head, the angle that follows the contest is a terrific piece of booking. 





A handful of WWF segments follow, including Lawler's debut for the company, but it's his interview with ukulele playing nuisance Tiny Tim (WWF Monday Night RAW, July 1993) is a particular highlight, for unexplainable reasons. Owen Hart provides a decent opponent for Lawler (WWF Wrestling Challenge, July 1993), although the bout is a little short on wrestling content. The inclusion of a Bret Hart and Bam Bam Bigelow collision (WWF Monday Night RAW, July 1993) may look odd at first, but does include Lawler's infamous tirade on Stu and Helen Hart at ringside, which genuinely hilarious. A segment involving The King and a fake "Rowdy" Roddy Piper (WWF Monday Night RAW, June 1994) doesn't quite hit the spot on a Home video release on it's own right.

However, the segment does work as a nice lead in to Lawler's bout with Piper himself (WWF King of the Ring, June 1994), with the bout having a true big fight feel. The match didn't do a whole deal for me, going much longer than it needed too, with one good false finish the shining light in between a corny story. Almost certainly included for the name value is a Casket match with The Undertaker (WWF, 1994), that whilst promising a strong narrative early on fails to deliver.


Disc Three




If your a fan of celebrity appearances than William Shatner's turn on the King's Court (WWF Monday Night RAW, January 1995) will be right up your ally, but it wasn't my cup of tea. The Kiss My Foot match with Bret "Hitman" Hart (WWF King of the Ring, June 1995)  is one of the strongest matches on the set, in front of a great crowd, that's into everything that either man does in the match. A solid end to the feud that is helped by the previous segment inclusions on the set which add nice context to the match, allowing the viewer to be almost as into the finish as the Baltimore Crowd. A match in which Lawler does his own commentary opposite Al Jackson (WWF Supestars, March 1996) is much better than it deserves to be, with Lawler's heel gimmick shining. 

Some may get a kick out of the infamous bout with Jake "The Snake" Roberts (WWF SummerSlam, August 1996), but the focus on Roberts' real life alcoholism really didn't sit well with me. Part of WWF's ECW Invasion storyline see's a superb back and forth segment between Lawler and Paul E. Dangerously (WWF RAW is WAR, March 1997) with the pair both breaking into almost shoot territory at points. A surprisingly enjoyable tag match, with "Mr. Monday Night" Rob Van Dam opposite The Headbangers (WWF Shotgun Saturday Night, June 1997), mainly because of Van Dam's involvement, although the close is disappointing.

A bout with Tommy Dreamer (ECW Hardcore Heaven, August 1997) is a hell of a lot of fun, even if Lawler bleeding buckets is a bit too much. Shit loads of ridiculous false finishes, tonnes of surprise appearances and Lawler taking to the ECW style better than he should have been able to in 1997 make this a great watch. Included simply because of The King teaming with his son, "Too Sexy" Brian Lawler, a match opposite Flash Funk and Scott Taylor (WWF Shotgun Saturday Night, October 1997) is an absolute mess of a match. The same can be said for a contest with Tazz (WWF SummerSlam, August 2000), which whilst the crowd is, for some reason, into proceedings is a bit ol' shitfest. 

A "Legends Match" with "Nature Boy" Ric Flair (WWE Monday Night RAW, November 2004) is everything that you would want it to be at the time, with a superb finish. Lawler's Hall of Fame induction (March 2007) is included in full, with William Shatner on hand to do the inducting. The crowd is disrespectful throughout, which makes for frustrating viewing at times, as does Shatner's piss poor induction speech. Lawler looks at home with his speech, with some genuinely funny jokes and stories, although there is some cross-over, content wise, with the documentary on Disc One.





Remembered for being much, much better than it should have been, a TLC bout for the WWE Championship with The Miz (WWE Monday Night RAW, November 2010) makes good use of the toys available with Miz and Alex Riley both putting in a lot of work. The story of the bout works well, with Lawler receiving his first WWE title match, with Lawler doing a great job as the nostalgic favourite. The final match on the set see's The King opposite Michael Cole (WWE WrestleMania 27, April 2011) in a match that doesn't deserve to Lawler's only match at The Show of Shows. On the upside, seeing Lawler's face on his entrance and whilst delivering a Bret's Rope Fist Drop, is an absolute picture and it's so clear how much being able to perform on that show meant to him. The after match antics involving "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Booker T and Jack Swagger is much much more entertaining than the match itself.



Finally...






I'd recommend the documentary portion of this DVD to anyone who considers themselves a wrestling fan, and especially anyone interested in learning more about wrestling history from the pre-Sport Entertainment era. 

The matches however are a different kettle of fish. It's a shame that the first match available comes 12 years into Lawler's career, but with the quality of the footage of that match, it's not surprising that earlier footage either doesn't exist or isn't of a high enough quality to include on a home video release. There's some good matches on here (Bret Hart, The Miz) and some significant and curious bouts also (Terry Funk, Kerry von Erich, Tommy Dreamer) which make for great viewing. Then there's some horrendous matches that don't reflect greatly on Lawler or WWE (Jake Roberts) and some that are just plain shite (Flash Funk and Scott Taylor). If I wasn't reviewing this set then the skip button would have come in handy a few times.

If your a documentary guy then the documentary justifies the price tag, if you're after matches there might be just enough to make this a worthwhile purchase, but be prepared to sit through some bouts that don't quite cut the mustard.

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Wrestle Ropes' Ready For The Weekend (24th-26th July 2015)



Another weekend, another pack schedule of events. So let's get started on just a few shows coming up this weekend.





To kick off the weekend, on Friday night, Grand Pro Wrestling are in action at their regular haunt of The Rose Club in Hindley, Wigan with Cruel Summer. Right at the top of the card is Bubblegum defending the GPW Championship against Craig Kollins. 'The One Man Riot' has had a hell of a debut year in GPW, arguably the best of any in the history of the promotion. He has defeated everyone put in his path in 2015. That being said he's now facing one of the best in GPW and in Europe right now in the shape of Bubblegum. Kollins has the opportunity to become a GPW champion in less than a year but to do so he'll have to be at the top of his game to beat the man at the top of GPW. Another man who is at the top of his game is 'The Grappler' Jack Gallagher. Without question Gallagher is one of the finest if not thee finest technical, pure wrestler in Europe at present. His opponent is a young man by the name of 'The Priority' Chris Ridgeway, who has had some great matches with some of the best in Europe this year and beaten quite a few of them. Ridgeway is a star on the rise, Gallagher is a star that is burning bright. On Friday, these two stars are going to collide and it'll be explosive. The Bad Lads and the Midnight Bin Collection have had a storied rivalry over the past few months in Grand Pro Wrestling, with wins going back and for the between the two teams. It has now come to a point that their issues need to be settled and they may very well be on July 24th when The Bad Lads defend the GPW Tag Team Championship against former champions, Midnight Bin Collection in a Dumpster match. Whether their issues will be settled or not is unknown. What is known is that one team is walking out of Cruel Summer with the gold, while the other will be wheeled out with the trash. All of this plus a GPW British Championship defence, the continuation of the North West Rookie League and a lot more takes place this Friday night in Hindley, Wigan.





Moving on to Saturday and we're faced the familiar dilemma of too many shows to just pick one... so we picked two! Up first on Saturday we have Empress Pro Wrestling hosting their inaugural Empress Pro Invitational Tournament in High Wycombe at the Art4Every1 Centre. The tournament consists of four qualifying matches with the the winners moving forward to a four-way final match. One of the qualifying matches scheduled to take place will see fellow Irish competitors, Katey Harvey and Rhia O'Reilly face one-on-one. Both of these wrestlers are exceptionally talented. While Rhia O'Reilly has appeared all over the UK and US and is rightly one of Ireland's best wrestling exports. Katey Harvey is probably lesser known to those in the UK. However, this match will be no walk in the park for O'Reilly. Katey Harvey is a highly-talented individual who will push Rhia O'Reilly to the maximum. Anyone unfamiliar with Harvey before the show, will be very aware of the talent and skills she possesses by the end of it, regardless of the match result. Another qualifying match taking place on Saturday will feature Kay Lee Ray and Sammi Baynz. For as gifted as both these women are, they have never face each other despite them collectively winning eight championships during their careers so far. There is a very high chance that one of these two competitors will add the EPI2015 trophy to their list of accomplishments on July 25th. Taking a step away from tournament matches, on Saturday there shall be a tag team match that will determine which pair of 'besties' are better when Nadia Sapphire & Faith Lehaine of Team Superficial take on The Bae Club's Sammii Jayne & Debbie Sharpe. Both these teams say they are the best, on Saturday in High Wycombe, one of them is going to prove it. Add in two other qualifying matches featuring Chardonnay and Courtney plus Violet Vendetta and Addy Starr and then the four-way final, Empress Pro look set to deliver a great inaugural tournament.





Also taking place on Saturday we have Shropshire Wrestling Alliance's Summer BlowOut 2015 at the Dawley Town Hall in Telford. If you're a fan of young rising talent then you'll not want to miss Chris Ridgeway vs Will Opreay. Now we've already spoke about Ridgeway earlier and how his star is on the rise right now. His opponent, Will Osrpeay is another who has limitless possibilities in their future. Both men are going further afield, picking up wins and having matches that leave people talking. On Saturday we'll see which one can pick up the win against the other. July 25th will also see former best friends become opponents when Pete Dunne competes against Ryan Smile in Dawley, Telford. This match came about when the current SWA Heavyweight champion, Joey Sanchez announced that Smile would be facing his former friend, undoubtedly as a way to stop Ryan Smile cashing-in his championship opportunity. If Smile wants to get the championship then he shall have to put his old rivalry with the 'Bitter & Twisted' Pete Dunne to rest. Speaking of championship opportunities, Chris Brookes, Damian Dunne, Eric Ryan & Dan Moloney will compete in a Tables, Ladders & Chairs match with the winner earning a championship match of their choosing. Moloney, Brookes & Dunne could all argue their right to a championship match based on previous performances. However with the added unknown of CZW regular Eric Ryan plus legalised weapons, it could well come down to who is the most resilient to decide who wins the opportunity. Add in matches featuring Mark Haskins, Nixon Newell, Chuck Cyrus & Toni Storm and SWA are on track to deliver once again.


On Sunday night, Insane Championship Wrestling make their return to the O2 ABC in Glasgow for Shug's Hoose Party II, as part of their Waynestock weekend that will see them hit the Community Central Halls (also in Glasgow) the night before for Long Before Wesley Snipes. The 55 are a group of men who have run roughshot in ICW for months, attacking who they choose, when they choose. One of the men then have particularly focused on however, is Grado. The 55 have seen Grado as everything they are against and have never passed up the opportunity to show that. On Sunday night, Grado will face possibly the most dangerous man of The 55, Bram. Grado has never been one to back down from a fight and the fight will be taken to him on July 26th. It's unlikely that this will end this feud but maybe Grado can send a message and overcome The 55. Back in January, Dickie Divers won the Square Go and a guaranteed Heavyweight Championship match. The only issue with his win is that he eliminated his New Age Kliq brother, Chris Renfrew to do it. Renfrew didn't like that. From that point on, Chris Renfrew has descended into a deeper, darker place till his only focus was Dickie Divers and his destruction. Dickie Divers now stands alone in ICW and Chris Renfrew is more dangerous than he has ever been. Renfrew wants the Square Go contract but he wants to destroy Dickie Divers just as much. If Divers is to keep the contract, he'll need to not only win the ladder match this Sunday but survive Chris Renfrew. In the main event we shall see Big Damo challenge Drew Galloway for the ICW World Heavyweight Championship. Big Damo has been on a roll in ICW for months, demolishing opponent after opponent. While Drew Galloway has been defending the ICW World Championship all over the world. Big Damo feels that his isn't respect by Galloway or those in control of ICW. Galloway is undoubtly once of the most in-demand and talented wrestlers in the world. On Sunday, Big Damo is guaranteeing to prove to everyone what he already knows. That he can be the ICW World Heavyweight champion and not Drew Galloway or ICW can stop that from happening. All of this plus matches involving Joe Coffey, Sha Samuels, Mark Coffey, Jackie Polo, Kenny Williams and not forgetting the wedding of DCT & Viper takes place in Glasgow at the old out O2 ABC.


That wraps up this week's preview of the weekend's wrestling schedule. Of course, there are many more events taking place over the three days. To find out more about the shows we've highlighted here as well as all the others, check us out at www.wrestleropesuk.wordpress.com for the latest show and match announcements, British Wrestling event list, interviews, exclusive columns, reviews, reports and results!
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