Monday, 7 October 2013

Kamikaze Pro: Bank on It Live Event Review

Promotion: Kamikaze Pro
Venue: Meadway Sports and Social Club
Location: Lea Hall, West Midlands, United Kingdom.

It's been a long time since I managed to get out and catch some live wrestling action, in fact it was all the way back in April at the WWE tapings at the O2 Arena, so where was I this weekend? The Meadway Sports and Social Club in Lea Hall near Birmingham! But the surroundings weren't important, wrestling should always be about what's happening in the ring and how that action connects with it's audience, whether that audience is 15,000 strong or 150. That's my philosophy anyway. 

The make up of the crowd, however, is certainly an important factor into how a show will go, and there was a healthy mix of the younger generation of fans, donning Sin Cara or Rey Mysterio masks and John Cena merch, alongside the more seasoned wrestling fan more likely to be sporting a CM Punk or Kevin Steen T-Shirt. It can be difficult to please both sections of the audience at the same time, it's something that WWE has struggled with at times, so how did Kamikaze Pro do? Let's find out.

Iestyn Rees vs. Ricky J. McKenzie

The opening contest saw Iestyn Rees taking on Ricky J. McKenzie. This was a solid bout, that set out a lot of the basic principles of pro wrestling nicely, presenting a clear babyface and heel, that got the crowd involved from the outset, warming them up nicely for what was to come. Rees and McKenzie ran through a fairly simplistic match, that implemented solid psycology, with McKenzie working over Rees' bandaged arm, with the injury being sold throughout by Rees. Various comeback attempts by Rees were cut short rather quickly, building the crowd anticipation up well, meaning when Rees did eventually pick up the victory, Sometimes keeping it simple can be very effective and it certainly worked here. 

Winner Faces Uhaa Nation at “Rise of the Uhaa”

Stixx vs. Eddie Dennis 

Next up, saw “The Pride of Wales” Eddie Dennis taking on Stixx, with the added stipulation that the winner of the bout would face Uhaa Nation in the main event of the next show “Rise of the Uhaa” There was a lot of fun to be had with this bout, with Dennis working the heel role to perfection. For any American readers, think of Wales as England's Canada and you'll get an idea for how the character comes across and gets an easy reaction from the crowd. Stixx spent most of the match in control, with some sound crowd interaction spots (including a poorly executed Knife Edge Chop from yours truly). Unfortunately, this bout was let down by what seemed like a botched ending, when the referee seemed to accidentally count to three, when Stixx's shoulder was clearly up a two, with some confusion from everyone involved, Dennis did manage to recover by grabbing the microphone, saying that it was definitely three, but he could beat Stixx again and the match was restarted. However, with a similar finish later on, with Dennis' feet on the ropes and Stixx's shoulder clearly off the match before three, everything was left feeling a little flat, as Dennis heads to face Uhaa Nation on November 10th. 

Relentless Division Championship Match

MK McKinnan vs. Damien Dunne © 

The last bout before intermission saw “Delicious” Damien Dunne defending his Relentless Division Championship against “The Future” MK McKinnan. Both local boys managed to put on a blistering title encounter, that really got the crowd going, with the strongest in ring action of the night so far, with the crowd solidly behind Wolverhampton's McKinnan. The pace of the bout didn't let up, with some solid back and forth sequences and a number of clever reversals on the part of both men. The only thing I'd say against this bout, is that maybe it was a little too long, as there were a few sequences that ended up getting a repeat, and whilst the sequences were strong enough to see for a second time, it would have been nice to see something a little different later on in the bout. Dunne went on to pick up the victory via pinfall and retain the Relentless Pro Championship, with a surprisingly clean finish, but it wouldn't be the last we'd see of Dunne at Bank on It, so it made sense to keep the Birmingham Boy looking strong. 

Before intermission, Eddie Dennis was back out to put over himself and his bout with Uhaa Nation on November 10th. Dennis is mic work was strong here, especially considering the negative reaction he was getting from the crowd, with Dennis playing around with the crowd but still managing to get in what he needed to say, take note Bo Dallas! I'm not sure whether the promo was planned, but it was certainly needed after the slightly dodgy ending to his bout with Stixx earlier on.

Money in the Bank Ladder Match

Robbie X vs. Chris Brookes vs. Dan Splash vs. Justin Sysum vs. Jim Hunter vs. Marshall X

After intermission it straight back into the action, with a Money in the Bank Ladder. If you've been watching WWE over the last eight years or so, you should be familiar with the concept, as Robbie X, Chris Brooks, Dan Splash, Marshall X, Justin Sysum and Jim Hunter battling it out to win a shot at the Kamikaze Pro Championship at a time of their choosing. At first, I wondered if having only one heel in the bout (Marshall X) would work, but I was proved wrong pretty quickly, with Marshall repeatedly attempting to steal victories, after some crazy spot had taken out the faces. The bout was exactly what was expected of this type of match up, with a series of ever increasing exciting spots, including a German Suplex and Monkey Flip onto Ladders, and a superb moonsault to the outside, from Robbie X onto the rest of the faces, with the crowd then solidly behind Robbie for the remainder of the match. With the match building to a nice crescendo, it was fan favourite Robbie X that managed to pull down the briefcase, with all other men scratching to reach him in time, in what JBL might have described as a War of Attrition. 

Tag Team Match

The Magnums vs. Tyler Bate & Dan Maloney

It's been a problem faced by WWE for years, especially at the Money in the Bank Pay-Per-Views, how exactly do you follow a Money in the Bank Ladder Match? Somehow, Kamikaze Pro managed to do just that, presenting a tag team bout with The Magnums taking on Tyler Bate and Dan Maloney. The Magnums gimmick is certainly not PG, but extremely funny, especially when they sat on the lap of another member of the ATPW team! The match went down the comedy root, with a number of hilarious spots seeing Bate and Maloney end up in some precarious positions. Like all good comedy match, the match was based around good solid wrestling that was present throughout, alongside some well worked tag team psychology, including the classic distraction techniques employed by the heel team. The Magnums eventually came out on top, following their Moustache Ride double team finish, in a solid closing sequence that saw all four men get involved in the action. This bout was a lot of fun and that's what wrestling should be! 

Kamikaze Pro Championship Match

El Ligero vs. Ryan Smile © 

Following on from a raffle, that was truly “You Had to Be There” hilarious, came the main event as “The All Day Star” Ryan Smile defended his Kamikaze Pro Championship against “The Mexican Sensation” El Ligero. Ligero has been exciting fans all over the country for some time now, and he certainly deserves the hype that he has received, with Smile matching up with The Mexican Sensation very well, in an exhilarating main event, that had fans old and young alike involved from start to finish. With a basis of solid wrestling (including Ligero recovering well from a botched springboard attempt), the bout built on that with a series of well worked spots, including a brawl through the crowd, not one, but two referee bumps and the involvement of the championship belt. The false finishes were a plenty with more drama than you could shake a stick at, as the plucky Ligero through everything at Smile, and looked to have won the match, only for their to be no referee to count the pinfall. Once the championship belt had came into play, and with two referees knocked out a ringside, it was only a matter of time before Smile would manage to plant the belt into Ligero's skull, after some back and forth with the belt, and finish Ligero off, with the original referee recovering just in time to count the pinfall and see Smile retain the Kamikaze Pro Championship. This bout definitely screamed main event, with plenty of really good false finishes and spots that whilst familiar to most, worked effectively and built nicely towards the finish.

But the show wasn't over there! With Smile looking exhausted from his title defense, the familiar sting of Flo Rida's “Good Times” hit, and the crowd erupted into chants for Mr. Money in the Bank Robbie X, who headed down to ringside with his briefcase in hand, looking for the early cash in, with Smile delivering a pitch perfect reaction. The crowd loved it, and was ready to see a new Kamikaze Pro Champion crowned as Robbie looked for an early cash in. That however was not to be the case, as Relentless Division Champion, Damien Dunne made the save and the two heel champions began to beat down Robbie X. With the Smile and Dunne getting legitimate heat for ruining the feel good moment, Chris Brookes came out to save Robbie X, as Smile & Dunne quickly exiting the ring. With a tag team bout quickly set up for “Rise of the Uhaa”, all this angle was missing was an appearance ,by Teddy Long! A solid angle that set up well for the next show, drawing interest and hopefully getting more than a few repeat ticket sales to see the Robbie X and Chris Brookes get their revenge on Ryan Smile and Damien Dunne, and the Money in the Bank Winner actually being booked well, what wasn't to like about the finish to the show? The show finished up with one last round of applause for El Ligero. 

Overall, this was a extremely entertaining card, from top to bottom. The solid wrestling action was backed up nicely by sound, logical booking, that kept things simple and looked towards retaining the audience for future shows by producing intriguing angles and stories that were impossible not to get behind. This may have only been Kamikaze Pro's fourth show, but they already seem to have found their feet, and are certainly one to keep your eye on for future. Hopefully, we'll be in attendance on November 10th for Rise of the Uhaa for just £10 for a front row seat, it's fantastic value you for money, and I'd even be willing to pay more if the action continues to stay as good as this. 

Quick Results:

Iestyn Rees defeated Ricky J. McKenzie

Winner Faces Uhaa Nation at Rise of the Uhaa
'The Pride of Wales' Eddie Dennis defeated Stixx

Relentless Division Championship Match
'Delicious' Damian Dunne (C) defeated. 'The Future' Mk McKinnan.

Money In The Bank Ladder Match
Robbie X defeatead Chris Brookes, Dan Splash, Marshall X, Justin Sysum and Jim Hunter

Tag Team Match
The Magnums defeated Tyler Bate and Dan Moloney 

Kamikaze Pro Championship Match 
'The All Day Star' Ryan Smile (C) defeated El Ligero to retain the Kamikaze Pro Championship

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