Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Live Review: SWA Summer Blowout 2015

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.


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