Sunday, 9 August 2015

PCW The Fourth Awakens LIVE Review

Just under four weeks since Tribute to the Troops 2 (which saw Dave Mastiff defeat Chris Masters for the PCW Championship) PCW was back to celebrate the promotions fourth anniversary in style, with The Fourth Awakens. Packed with talent from around the world, the show was main-evented by current WWE NXT star and former ROH World Champion, Samoa Joe taking on an unannounced opponent, with the likes of Dave Mastiff, Drew Galloway, Joey Hayes, Martin Kirby, Noam Dar, Sha Samuels, reDRagon and more also appearing. The event also featured the well-anticipated return of Kris Travis, in his first PCW match since June 2014, after being diagnosed with stomach cancer.

Due to being stuck by the bar (outside of the main room in Evoque), I completely missed comedian Chris Brooker's opening speech, although I'd imagine it was a hilarious affair, as usual.

One Fall Six Way Match

Luther Ward 
Dean Allmark 
El Ligero 
Charlie Garrett 
Ashton Smith

 Anyone who's seen a PCW show will be more than familiar with the company's six way bouts, by now. If you're not, I'm sure you can figure out what six of PCW's cruiserweight division going at it could potentially look like. The match has become a calling card for the promotion. Plenty of fast-paced action and some quality spots spread throughout the bout, with Ashton Smith's double Olympic Slam and a superplex to the outside standing out as the pick of the bunch. The bout had an interesting dynamic, with the debuting Luther Ward impressing as the only heel in the bout. My only real complaint was that the match was fairly short, and all six of the men in the match could have benefited from a having a bit more time here. I also would have liked to have seen the bout have some kind of consequence (a shot at the Cruiser-weight title being the most obvious option), which could have added a little extra bite, when El Ligero picked up the win with a C4L on Smith.

One Fall Tag Team Match for the PCW Tag Team Championships.
Team Single (C) 
The Broleivers

Hmmm...How to review this match? Essentially, what was supposed to happen, didn't happen, and what was supposed to happen wasn't much in the first place. Without going into it too much, Rampage Brown and T-Bone legitimately battered Josh Bodom and Ryan Hendricks for an uncomfortable couple of minutes. The majority of the Preston crowd couldn't have cared less for the debuting Broleivers or their fate chanting on for the usually hated Team Single. The finish saw the referee call for the bell with Bodom in a rear-naked choke from Brown, despite the move clearly being in the ropes and Bodom seemingly never tapping. Make of this what you will. It was not an enjoyable experience to watch this one at all, I'd paid to watch pro wrestling and this wasn't pro wrestling.

Following the match T-Bone, who for some reason was suddenly sporting a funky hat, challenged the winners of the upcoming reDRagon vs. Martin Kirby & Joey Hayes bout for a match later down the line, a strange thing for a heel tag team champion duo to do.

One Fall Match
Dave Rayne 
Iestyn Rees

Going in, I was wondering how exactly Dave Rayne and Iestyn Rees would approach this one, with their styles of wrestling being very different. However the pair put on an enjoyable encounter, that although fairly short, played to the strengths of both men well. With a strong structure, that involved Rayne giving Rees the old fashioned run around in an attempt to take control of the match and plenty of comedy thrown into the mix, as one would expect with Rayne. The finish furthered Rayne's issues with General Manager Joanna Rose, as she appeared at ringside with Rayne's #Boom belt, allowing Rees to take control and hit a huge powerbomb to pick up the win. Plenty to enjoy in this one, with some strong storyline development, as Rees' powerbomb after the match suggested that we may see a rematch between the two, further down the line.

One Fall Match
Noam Dar 
Drew Galloway

This bout was right up my alley, with Galloway and Dar putting together a top-quality effort. Some strong story-telling which saw Dar focus the majority of his efforts on Galloway's right knee, including hitting a dragon screw leg whip in the ropes, as well as off the top rope! The former Chosen One's selling was spot on throughout, with just enough touches  and winches on the knee, to keep the injury in the mind of fans, meaning that when Dar locked on the Champagne Super Knee Dar, twice, it meant so much more, and got a lovely reaction out of the Evoque Nightclub.

Whilst the crowd in many places around the country would have been split down the middle for these two Scotsman, Preston quickly decided they were behind the regular Noam Dar, serenading him with the usual chants. Galloway's demeanour, walking out slowly with head down and hair across his face, made it easy to side with Dar, over the more well-known former WWE Intercontinental Champion, with Galloway clearly playing to this kind of reaction, unlike previous imports who have clearly been thrown by the reaction opposite the ever popular Dar. The current leader of The Rising's offence seemed very scrappy, suiting his demeanour and adding something different to the show as a whole. 

With two huge near-falls, that got both got terrific reactions out of the live crowd, for Galloway, including a Tombstone Piledriver, it was Dar who was able to pick up the victory, capturing a frustrated Galloway in a small package for the pinfall. Whilst it was a shame not to get a true pay-off on Dar working the leg earlier in the match, it could easily be argued, in kayfabe, that the injured leg made it harder to escape the small package, so all is well with me. A post-match attack from Galloway following a handshake, turning him full-blown heel in PCW, would suggest this isn't the last we've seen of the current ICW World Heavyweight Champion in the promotion, a rematch with Dar certainly wouldn't go a miss for sure.

Elimination Three Way Match for the PCW Championship
Chris Masters 
Dave Mastiff (C) 

I can't say I was particularly over joyed when Joanna Rose added Chris Masters to the match, mainly because Master's does very little for me, however his involvement here did provide a solid narrative, and allow babyface champion Dave Mastiff to be seen as the underdog, a role that one of our top five bastards is very rarely able to be in. The best reaction of the match came when Masters' asked Bubblegum to lie down for him, and whilst the logic may have been a little flawed (Why not wait to eliminate Mastiff?), the masses rallied behind their favourite Rent Boy, with Bubblegum eventually able to eliminate Masters with a roll-up. Strangely, Joanna Rose instantly banished Masters' from F.W.B. and PCW, turning him into an awkward babyface, whilst Bubblegum remained heel, despite having the crowd support earlier on. 

With Mastiff quickly able to take advantage once inside the ring, the big man from the Black Country picked up the win with a Cannonball in the corner to retain his title. It was a shame not to be able to see a little more of a one-on-one contest between Mastiff and Bubblegum, as I was interested to see how the dynamic was going to play out when heading to the show. However, this worked well as a way of building Mastiff as a dominant champion, who the crowd is clearly behind when placed against the right opponent. Another potential match for a future show, whilst the Bubblegum babyface turn tease seemed well received, there was a lot to take away from this bout. 

That wasn't the last we'd see of Mastiff on the night, as Joanna revealed that he would Samoa Joe's opponent in the main event, with the current WWE NXT star heading out for an intense stare down.

After a quick fifteen minute interval, with your regular wetting of whistles and perusing of the merch desk, it was back into the action.

One Fall Match
Rockstar Spud 

Unannounced before the show, this match seemed to fall flat with the crowd. The problem seemed to be that both men are currently protagonists in the promotion, and so, as can often happen, the crowd was unsure on who they wanted to get behind and therefore...didn't get behind anyone. There were smattering of chants for Spud and a "Sexy Bastard" chant or two for Lionheart, but beyond that the match was mainly played out to crickets. The match having very little consequence or a build heading in, didn't help proceedings either, as there was no particular reason for anyone to care about who picked up the win.

The action in the ring was perfectly fine, as you'd expect with two of the most well-travelled performers here in the UK. The pair flowed nicely in the ring together, and every move looked crisp throughout, I don't think I could pick fault with the action at all. Rockstar Spud's selling was particularly strong, which perhaps made it even more frustrating to watch, as if Lionheart had been playing a full-blown heel role, which was teased at points, it would have completely changed the match around with the crowd being able to truly get involved in the action. Lionheart picking up the win cleanly with a Lifting Side Slam, followed by a Frog Splash, was a big win for the Pro Wrestling Elite promoter and gives him some momentum heading into PCW's autumn and winter shows, with particular eye on the collaboration with Ring of Honor in November.

One Fall Tag Team Match
Martin Kirby & Joey Hayes

With an intriguing pace and slightly off-kilter story, this was a delightful slice of tag team action from start to finish. Almost all of the story was focused on PCW regular's Joey Hayes and Martin Kirby's precarious partnership, with Hayes presenting Kirby with a brand new pair of trunks with his name on them prior to the match, setting the tone for what was toe come. reDRagon worked over Hayes for a good portion of the bout with their usual hybrid style, much to the delight of the Evoque, building nicely to a hot tag to Kirby. With the bout lifting in tempo for the closing stages, with the highlight of Kirby's run as the proverbial house of fire being a double Northern Lights suplex. 

The action was spot-on from bell to bell, and as the bout headed to a climax (following the hot tag to Kirby) the two teams lifted their respective games and the pace to create some good tag team action, with the performers seeming to gel together early on. reDRagon's combination that see's Fish hold an opponent in a wheel barrow position, followed by a double underhook DDT by O'Reilly, before O'Reilly pushes the opponent into a wheelbarrow suplex from Fish, always impresses me for it's creativity and flow, and worked nicely as a near fall here, with the teams going back and forth for a good few minutes either side. 

The Hayes and Kirby story continued to develop when after Kirby had hit Kirby's Dreamland and seemingly had the match won, Hayes tagged himself in, leading to a disagreement between the two and Hayes kicking Kirby in the stomach and tossing him to the outside. Whilst this worked as the finish to the match (after reDRagon took advantage and hit their Chasing the Dragon finish for the win), it was surprising to see Hayes and Kirby split up so early, meaning that the incident was a little underwhelming at the point it came at. reDRagon move onto a Tag Team Championship bout in November, whilst Hayes and Kirby will supposedly now be working a singles feud, perhaps involving Kirby's Money in the Bank briefcase, over the next few shows.

One Fall Match
Kris Travis 
Sha Samuels

The moment Kris Travis walked out to wrestle for the first time in a PCW ring since June 2014, was a truly special moment. One of those moments that only pro wrestling can create, when a full to brim Nightclub can show their appreciation to a man who suffered with stomach cancer, for coming back to entertain us. Kris Travis is certainly a one of a kind performer in the ring, but making a return to pro wrestling, when many would have called it a day, makes him a one of a kind human being. Trav is the fucking man, man.

The match itself featuring some superb storytelling and Travis and Sha Samuels had the crowd in the palm of their hands from start to finish. Samuels, the cockney wanker that he is, made Travis' stomach the focus of his attacks throughout the contest, with Travis' selling being so good that at times it was uncomfortable to watch. Travis' fight back produced a stellar false finish with the Shooting Star unable to put away Samuels with a Double Underhook Piledriver. Travis even became the first person to successfully escape Samuels' sleeper hold for another big moment. It was, however, not the fairytale comeback that the crowd was looking for with Samuels able to put Travis away with another Sleeper Hold, this time with his leg wrapped around Trav's waist. For me, having Samuels win here was the right decision for everyone involved, with Samuels getting some lovely heat from the crowd, whilst Travis now has a much more interesting story to follow as his comeback continues. 

A raffle happened, who doesn't like a raffle. With the crowd being directed to the screens, former NWA World Heavyweight Champion, Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat was announced as making an appearance for the promotion on October 31st. 

One Fall Match for the PCW Championship
Samoa Joe 
Dave Mastiff (C)

For what would many would mark as a dream match, Evoque was very subdued for this one. Maybe it was that the match started way after ten o'clock, maybe it was the crowd needed to come down after the emotional rollercoaster that was Travis vs. Samuels, maybe the match suffered from a similar problem as the previous Spud vs. Lionheart match, maybe it was because we'd already seen both Mastiff and Joe earlier in the night, I'm not quite sure what it was that caused the crowd to be relatively quiet for this heavyweight clash. 

The pace of the start of the match seemed to suggest that the match could potentially be going long, with the pair exchanging holds at a low pace and Joe especially working a headlock for a long time. Although this wouldn't come, there were a handful of nice suplexes delivered from both men (although not warranting the "Suplex City" chant that broke out) and a submission sequence from Joe also stood out, with Joe transitioning from an STF into a Crossface. With F.W.B. and Iestyn Rees charging the ring following a Cannonball from Mastiff, I was left scratching my head a little bit, as the run-in caused the disqualification that allowed Mastiff to retain the title, exactly what the pinfall on Joe would have done. 

The show closed with Chris Masters heading out to make the save for Joe and Mastiff and the trio being able to fight off the four heels. It was Joanna Rose however who had the last word, announcing that Mastiff would be defending his title on October 31st opposite former 5 time NWA World Heavyweight Champion, Jeff Jarrett. With the pair having a heated exchange back in April at 5upershow - Show 3, this one looks set to be an intriguing encounter indeed, especially if Jarrett's wife, Karen, is involved.


ATPW Scale Rating - 5.69

Another strong showing from PCW, that produced a number of matches that I wouldn't argue if someone wanted to call match of the night. Travis vs. Samuels had some superb emotional storytelling, Dar vs. Galloway produced top performances from both men, whilst reDRagon vs. Martin Kirby and Joey Hayes was an unusual bout, but worked well thanks to four top-quality workers.

While there wasn't a "bad" match on the card (let's not talk about Team Single's Open Challenge at this point) there were points when the match failed to capture the crowd, with the biggest example being Lionheart and Rockstar Spud's bout, which would be heavily based around the reasons mentioned above, but could also have done something with the match being chosen to open the show, in a show that seemed to struggle to a gain good flow, in terms of match placement. Having Travis vs. Samuels directly before the main event would work as an example of this. 

With some pleasing storyline development (Mastiff vs. F.W.B., Dar vs. Galloway, Travis/Lionheart vs. Samuels, Hayes vs. Kirby, reDRagon vs. Team Single) this anniversary show seemed much more focused on the future than it did the past. This is a PCW that is continuing to grow as a promotion, and it's was great to see the promotion looking to build, rather than looking back at past successes.

With just over three weeks until the promotion hits Blackpool for Bank Holiday Bash (which is free by the way), which will feature 
2 time ROH World Tag Team Champions The Wolves, 3 time TNA Knockout's Champion Mickie James, former  WWE United States Champion Mr. Anderson, former IWGP Tag Team Champion Magnus and former WWE World Tag Team Champions Too Cool, you can find out more about Preston City Wrestling by clicking the name.

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