Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Kamikaze Pro Lethal Weapon Review

Following a terrific Shropshire Wrestling Alliance show (Review - http://www.acrossthepondwrestling.co.uk/2014/08/swa-summer-blowout-review.html) the night before, Kamikaze Pro had the unenviable task of being the difficult second show of a double header weekend. With many of the same talents used by SWA the previous night, as well as former NXT Tag Team Champion Joel Redman (fka Oliver Grey), how did Lethal Weapon presented at The Collingwood Centre in Great Barr (As great as Dawley? I think not) live up to the expectations? Let's find out.






Match 1 - 
The Hunter Brothers (c) vs. Miracle Violence Connection (c)
For the Undisputed Tag Team Championships



After Born and Raised saw the Tag Team titles held up, following a double pin, this was the rematch to see who would take both title belts. 

This was a decent opening contest, but I feel that it barely scratched the surface of what these four guys could be doing. The match was very slow to get going, with the referee having to step in between the two teams a total of four times, this harmed the pace of the match and left me a little bit restless to actually see some wrestling. This would have been fine if the match was placed anywhere else on the card, but in the opening contest it was a bit of an overkill. 

Once the match got going, there was some nice moments, like Dan Maloney attempting to block a punch and ending up on the receiving end of a DDT, and the majority of the wrestling was strong (bar a slip up on a hurracanrana, credit goes to Maloney for not selling). A handful of nice false finishes warmed the crowd up towards the end of the bout , including a nice tease at the finish as Miracle Violence Connection attempted a Doomsday Device, that was reversed into a victory roll, getting a nice reaction out of the crowd. The finish saw Hunter land on his feet following a second Doomsday Device, only for Maloney to strike with a Lariat to pick up the three count. A nice twist on the Doomsday Device, which kept the two sides looking pretty even, I'd expect a rematch between the two, hopefully it will be given an extra five minutes or so. 

Following the match, it seemed there was tension between Maloney and Bate, as Maloney attempted to walk out with both of the tag team titles. I'm not quite sure where this had come from, as there was no tension teased in the match or any real reason for this to be the case. MVC didn't seem to heel it up as much as they usually do for Kamikaze, a prime example being the use of a delayed vertical suplex, which is always going to get a pop out of the crowd, and rightly so. I am interested to see where this is going, because I think Bate is much stronger as good guy, whilst the opposite is true for Maloney, so a feud between the two could be interesting, but if that's the direction Kamikaze is going, I'm not sure why MVC won the tag titles here. 

Match 2

Violet Vendetta vs. Nixon Newell




This was Violet Vendetta's debut match in Kamikaze, opposite Nixon Newell who has become a popular face since debuting at Broken Down City in May. The crowd certainly didn't warm to Violet, giving her a reaction of utter indifference, and this match gave them no reason to change their minds. Whilst there was a good deal of intensity, as Violet charged Nixon back first into the ring post and went on to deliver a vicious looking kick off a chair, there was no real reason for this to be taking place, and even then it wasn't picked up on later on in the match. Violet did seem to be working the back following the attack on the ring post, but it was quickly dropped, following a lack lustre boston crab. 

Violet got in the majority of the offence until Nixon pulled a Superkick out of nowhere to pick up the victory. Whilst this was a good way to continue to present Nixon as the Face of the "Fighting Females" division (I imagine a title is on it's way once the division builds up), it certainly wasn't the match that the first One on One women's match in Kamikaze should have been. 

Following the match, Marshall X came through the crowd and was setting up to attack Nixon with a steel chair, before Chris Brookes ran out to make the save. A nice bit of extra build up for Marshall and Brookes match later on in the show, giving the feud an extra bit of depth. Good stuff. I was however a little disapointed to hear Ring Announcer and General Manager Lawrie Neal announce "I'm sure we'll see the rest of that STORY later", erm... story? Really?

Match 3

Dick Riley with Chris Walker vs. Joel Redman




Former NXT Tag Team Champion Joel Redman took on The Magnum's Dick Riley in an interesting contest. I say interesting because both men seemed to be working babyface at the start of the match, with the allegiance switching a handful of times during the match, which gave it a rather unique dynamic. 

The action in the ring for the most part was strong, and after struggling to connect in the early parts of the match, Redman and Riley grew into the bout, putting together a series of entertaining sequences and began to show signs of a real chemistry in the ring. Riley reversing a powerbomb attempt on the outside into a top rope crossbody and the pair trading lovely German Suplexes were both particular highlights. Oh yeah and there was a Reverse Freaking Rana from Riley, that I don't think anyone saw coming. 

The closing stages of the match however really elevated the match in my eyes. Redman had been wearing a huge knee brace throughout the match, and therefore I was disappointed when it seemed that it would not play a part in the match. However, that would change as after Redman had done a series of moves using his knee, he seemed to tweak it, and with Walker doing some great work at ringside, Riley kicked Redman in the knee allowing him to hit a Superkick for a good near fall. Riley continued to work over the knee effectively, removing the brace, before the finish saw Redman make a comeback with a powerful lariat, before struggling to climb to the top rope, continuing to sell the knee to hit a big knee drop for the victory.

A good debut match for Redman, possibly the strongest on the show and definitely the best match of the first half, whilst also giving extra depth to Dick Riley's character and The Magnums as a tag team in general. I'd happily see Redman return to Kamikaze Pro as he certainly has a lot to offer the promotion, I'm also looking forward to seeing where The Magnums go from here as well.



Match 4

Marshall X vs. Chris Brookes with Nixon Newell




With the previous encounter between the two, this was always going to be a heated affair. Add into the mix a solid pre-match promo from Chris Brookes, which managed to get the crowd to chant "Silly Bugger" and this feud was beginning to heat up nicely. 

The two brought a good energy into the match, with Brookes hitting an impressive Tope Conhilo at the start of the match to set the tone. The two traded moves on the outside, including a nasty vertical suplex from Marshall onto the wooden floor, given all the more reason to do so by the previous encounters between the two. The match flowed very nicely, both men hitting some nice looking moves for near falls, with Marshall coming close with a Falcon Arrow, before Brookes almost got the win with a Michinoku Driver. 

The finish was one of the cleverest of the weekend, as after Marshall had produced a bottle of Talc earlier in the match, it played into the finish as Marshall through talc into Nixon's eyes, before throwing Brookes into position for a blinded Nixon to hit a Vulture Culture Destroyer, accidentally handing Marshall the victory in the process. A great way to have Marshall pick up the victory, whilst also giving the fans a chance to see the Nixon's exciting finish move. A side note on Nixon's selling of the talc, which was spot on, and made the finish even more effective.

After the match, Marshall continued the attack. Unfortunately, a pair of handcuffs, supposed to be used to trap Brookes to the ring rope, didn't seem to function correctly which lead to an awkward exchange between Brookes and Marshall, luckily the pair improvised something that would the same effect, with Marshall going back to the talc again. This would allow Marshall to take down Nixon with the steel chair from earlier, before delivering a vicious double stomp with Nixon's arm trapped inside a steel chair. The moment was sold very well by Nixon and a few of the Kamikaze Pro roster who came out to help. The rivalry is building up nicely, I'm very much looking forward to seeing how things develop over the next few months.


Match 5 Damian Dunne vs. Ryan Smile (C)


For the Kamikaze Pro Championship




Heading into this one I wasn't completely convinced, Heel vs Heel matches are a rarity, and despite a similar match between Smile and Eddie Dennis at Sky's The Limit in May working very nicely, I still wasn't sure if lighting would strike twice.

There was a lot of stalling early on in the match, with the two best friends not wanting to fight each. So when Smile quickly picked up the victory with a remake of the infamous "Finger Poke of Doom" I was a little worried that that could be all she wrote for this match. Luckily, Kamikaze Pro isn't WCW and decided not to devalue their title belts, as the match was quickly restarted, and with a few clauses in place, we got a proper match after all. 


I like the story being told throughout the match, with the idea being that Smile didn't want to fight Dunne, at one point offering him Chicken Nuggets and Onion Rings (which got a duelling chant going), with Dunne doing what he had to do to try and win the title. The two created nice spots, like Smile hitting a suicide dive that sent Dunne through the chairs at ringside, which usually I'd pull up as being a babyface move, but seeing as both men are supposed to be heels I don't think it mattered quite as much here. 

After some solid near falls, including a beautiful Blue Thunderbomb from Smile and a very well done sequence that culminated in a two count for Dunne off a Brainbuster, the match reached it's conclusion with Smile hitting a Cross-legged Samoan Driver to pick up the win and retain his title. With all the stalling and the restart, this match did feel a little short, but it did what it needed to do with the time given.

Following the match, Acting General Manager Lawrie Neil revealed Smile's opponent for Line in the Sand in September, as former TNA X-Division Champion Doug Williams. This has the potential to be an outstanding match and with Smile pulling out a blistering promo on Williams post match, I'm sure the two will have something special for the crowd at the Cadbury Club come September 21st. 


Match 6

Robbie X vs. Pete Dunne vs. Jay Lethal (C)

For the ROH World Television Championship





The second ROH World Television Championship match I'd seen in two days, had an awful lot to live up to, following Lethal's terrific clash with Tyler Bate the previous night at SWA Summer Blowout. What made the previous match so good, was what was lacking from this one. Drama. There wasn't a point in the match where I believed Lethal wasn't walking out champion. Now, obviously that's a very hard task to pull off when Lethal is defending a different companies belt, but if the previous match could make me suspend my disbelief, then adding two more guys into the mix should have had even more chance of doing so. 

That's not to say that this match wasn't entertaining because it was. There were some really nice moments that used that extra body in the ring to the matches advantage, like Lethal looking Robbie in a Figure Four Leglock, before catching Dunne in a Crossface and an Inverted DDT/Neckbreaker combination from Dunne. There was also some nice back and forth exchanges, with all three men exchanges chops and forearms, before Lethal delivered a sweet Superkick to Robbie. 

As is important with big US names, those that came specifically to see Lethal were treated to the majority of his signature moves, including the Lethal Combination, Hail to the King and after a few attempts the Lethal Injection that would eventually get the win. Lethal looked very much the professional in the ring, and as with his match with Tyler Bate, it's the little nuances to his performance that really help elevate his match, specifically going to battle Robbie on the top rope after Robbie took a little too long on a dive to the outside. This meant there was no awkward standing around for Lethal and Dunne and allowed the match to flow nicely, as Robbie eventually hit his move. 

I was interested to see how Robbie X worked as a heel, after turning on Dunne at the previous show, but apart from refusing to get in the ring at the start of the match, I didn't really see much of a difference. His move set was essentially the same, a Moonsault Plancha is never going to get you any heat, is it? There was also very little follow to his attack on Dunne during this match, the opportunity was there to further the feud between the two, building to a one on one match down the line, I don't feel like that was fully realised at any point. This might be a bit premature, but after seeing Dunne work heel elsewhere, it might have best if Dunne had been the one to turn instead.

Finally...


It would be unfair to compare this show to the one the previous night, as on it's own merits this was an enjoyable show. Certainly not the strongest I've seen out of Kamikaze Pro, but it still had it's moments with the two matches either side of the interval battling it out for my match of the night. There were a few things that niggled me, and I feel like the main event was a missed opportunity, but with most of the show being used for furthering storylines, it did it's job quite well. I'm interested to see where a number of the feuds are heading, and I'll definitely be back at Kamikaze later in the year.

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