Sunday, 27 September 2015

Live Review: PCW Heroes

Just one week removed from short trip to 53 Degrees for UCLAN Fresher Week, which saw The GZRS in back to back matches against Hayes & Kirby and The UK Hooligans, PCW was back at Evoque for the first time since the start of August, for Heroes. Dave Mastiff putting his PCW Heavyweight Championship on the line against former WWE United States Champion, Bobby Lashley in the main event, as well as the likes of Charlie Garrett, Drew Galloway, El Ligero, Iestyn Rees, Noam Dar and Tommaso Ciampa also on the card. Could the show be as heroic as the title suggested?

Before we get to talking about the first match of the evening, I'd like to take a moment to discuss the magnificence that is Xander Cooper's coat. Making his d├ębut appearance at Evoque (after losing El Ligero at UCLAN Freshers Week), the Futureshock Wrestling regular rocked up in a get-up that would get you battered in most nightclubs around the country and certainly "noticed" in a few others. All dark green and peacock feathery, Cooper looked resplendent as he headed down the Evoque steps to the ring. In a way, it was a shame that Cooper didn't get a one on one match for his (Evoque) debut, to really get the crowd familiar with his character (A small "You're just a shit Ric Flair" chant didn't really hit the spot)

Match 1 - Cruiserweight Championship Four-Way - Bubblegum (C) vs. Xander Cooper vs. Dean Allmark vs. Ashton Smith

      An adequate start to the show, this was what you'd expect from these four talented performers. The action was fast-paced and with it's fair share of flips (Allmark's Asai Moonsault especially standing out), but for me, it was the heel-face divide that drove the bout. With Bubblegum and Cooper seemingly joining forces early doors, the pair would be thwarted at almost every turn by Allmark and Smith (the latter ducking a crossbody by Cooper, sending him into the arms of Bubblegum, before nailing Bubblegum with a backstabber was the highlight of the contest), the champion had had enough of the partnership and nailed Cooper with a Pedigree for the victory, working as a satisfying pay-off to the narrative. For me, this was a little too short to really allow any of the four performers to shine as bright as they could have and to fully explore what could have been done in the ring, both in terms of the action and story-telling. (I think it's also worth noting that all three of Bubblegum's challengers had lost their previous match in PCW)

Winner - Bubblegum via pinfall (on Cooper) in 7 minutes, 34 seconds *STILL CHAMPION*

Match 2 - Singles - Charlie Garrett vs. Iestyn Rees with Joanna Rose

Two workers who clearly know each other very well (They've performed as The Alpha Males tag team in various promotions for the last two years), and who are both technically proficient in the ring. It would be difficult to fault any of the wrestling content of this match, but it was quite simply...a little bit dull. The pair seemed to almost be coasting here, with a crowd that had been slow to warm up not being drawn into the action, which was needed considering this match was happening for...reasons. I found Joanna Rose at ringside to be the most interesting piece of the puzzle here, and even she didn't come into things until the closing stages of the match, causing the distraction that would allow Rees to get the win with a big ol' Powerbomb. 

Winner - Iestyn Rees via pinfall in 11 minutes, 53 seconds.

Match 3 - Singles - Dave Rayne vs. PCW Tag Team Champion T-Bone with Joanna Rose

After Joanna  had offered Rayne a shot at the #Boom Championship, if he could beat T-Bone, Rayne didn't beat T-Bone in a sub-two minutes squash, that saw the PCW Tag Team Champion finish off Rayne with a sweet Tombstone Piledriver. Boom!

Winner - T-Bone via pinfall in 1 minute, 48 seconds

Match 4 - Singles - "The Psycho Killer" Tommaso Ciampa vs. "The Mexican Sensation" El Ligero

     Undoubtedly the highlight of the first half; former ROH World TV Champion Tommaso Ciampa and All Star Wrestling regular El Ligero put on a pleasing rematch of their Supershow of Honor clash from last November. Whilst I'd rank the original clash a little higher, this was still a quality encounter, full of hard chops and big impact moves. Ciampa impressed with his character work, quickly taking on the antagonist role by laying into Ligero before the bell, as well as causing a little girl to cry at ringside. All was good later, the girl isn't scarred for life and some people were really angry on the PCW Facebook page, if only they'd have really given him some heat in the match!. Both men got some great near falls, taking on a very Indy feel, as Ciampa came close with an over the shoulder belly to back piledriver on the apron and Project Ciampa, whilst Ligero seemed to have the match won after hitting a lovely frog splash. With the series now tied at one a-piece, I'm hoping that later down the line (I'd imagine sometime in 2016 now), that we get a third clash between the two, with the pair given a little bit more time to really put on a show.

Winner - El Ligero via pinfall in 11 minutes, 57 seconds.

Match 5 - No Holds Barred - Lionheart vs. Sha Samuels

Sha Samuels is one of my favourite heels in PCW and he's been built amazingly since debuting just over a year ago. So when The East End Butcher came out to Kris Travis' music I couldn't have been happier... I mean, obviously I showered Samuels with some boos, as did the rest of the crowd, but that's exactly the reaction it should have been getting. With Lionheart heading straight and wasting no time going after Samuels, the crowd was the hottest they had been all night and perhaps the most behind Lionheart I've seen since his return from injury. Unfortunately, the match couldn't quite keep things up, with the action never really living up to the No Holds Barred moniker. I mean, if you'd never seen a No Holds Barred match before, I'm sure you'd have thought it was bloody marvellous. Some brawling on the outside and some whipping with Samuels' braces (which didn't look particularly convincing), but compared to the action before the Noam Dar and Drew Galloway match later in the night, this was a fairly tame affair. The finish was well-done however, with Samuels locking in the sleeper hold, with a scarf for added measure, and it was good to see Samuels' momentum continue to grow.

Winner - Sha Samuels via referee stoppage in 10 minutes, 24 seconds.

Before the night's sole tag team encounter, there was a backstage skit, involving Sam Ward taking a piss....yeah. Then The Wards came out with a dog. A DOG! A BLOODY DOG! This went straight over my head, but seemed to get a decent reaction from sections of the crowd. It even garnered a "That was Awesome" chant, which I'm really not sure was supposed to be the reaction it should have been getting. Whatever. Wrestling.

Match 6 - Tag Team - Hayes & Kirby vs. The Wards

Another very short bout, the pre-match antics actually went on about three minutes longer than the actual in-ring action. But, in terms of action, this was the weakest bout of the night, with the four never seeming to connect. There was some decent continuation of Joey Hayes and Martin Kirby's storyline, although if not a little repetitious on previous goings on, with Kirby taking on the majority of The Wards' offence, before Hayes came in to steal the win. Whilst the Wards look okay on the attack, with a fine looking powerslam combo situation working as a nice near fall, but I was not sold on the duo when Kirby was powering up. Sam looked especially ropey, taking a bizarre shitty bump off of the Kirby's Dreamland that would end the match.

Winners - Hayes & Kirby via pinfall (Hayes on Sam Ward) in 6 minutes, 3 seconds

Before the rematch from August's The Fourth Awakens, could even begin, Noam Dar and Drew Galloway had brawled all over Evoque. Trust me, this will look magnificent on Blu-Ray as the pair really went at it, and the stuff that I could see clearly looked brutal and was done with an intensity that was missing from elsewhere in the night. Brawling on the booths, brawling behind the bar, a Fallaway slam from Galloway into a fire door, Dar sending Galloway head first into a wall. The two made the most of the environment provided and continued to get over the rivalry that began when Galloway attacked Dar at the end of their match in August. It's interesting that this action felt much more No Holds Barred, than the No Holds Barred match earlier in the night.

Match 7 - Singles - Noam Dar vs. Drew Galloway

High and away the match of the night, the action inside the ring was just as good as the action outside it. The pair looked almost effortless in there, with Dar quick to target the former WWE Intercontinental Champion's leg once again, straight away bringing back memories of how good their initial contest was. Galloway's selling was on point once more, making Dar's Champagne Super Knee Bar feel all the more dramatic, as Galloway managed to claw himself to the ropes. Whilst CSKB was clearly a big part of this and the last match, Galloway bought his own weapon with the Futureshock DDT. After attempting a swinging variation of the move earlier in the match, it was not one, but two DDT's that would eventually put Dar away. This was a bout that played off the original encounter, whilst being completely different at the same time, brilliant stuff. Give me more of this.

Winner - Drew Galloway via pinfall in 10 minutes, 9 seconds

Pull apart brawls are great, give me a pull apart brawl and I'll be happy! Who doesn't love pull apart brawls? Seriously, though, Dar and Galloway heightened things with their post-match confrontation, with a number of PCW Staff/Trainees getting in between the pair as they tried to tear strips off each other, after Galloway continued to batter Dar after the bell. Just like the previous bout, the goings on post-match intensified the want for a rematch and raised the feud to the next level, superb booking that was improved upon by two world-class performances. Big shout out to the trainee who couldn't wipe the "Look at me, I'm in the ring" smile off his face during the entire segment, because it wasn't a serious situation at all. 

After the thrill-ride that was the raffle, it was almost time for the main event. Before that though, Joanna Rose said something. She put over Bobby Lashley as her choice to dethrone Dave Mastiff as champion, which I suppose made some sense as Lashley may have gotten a more positive reaction simply because he's been on the telly. But I honestly don't think it was needed, as Lashley got plenty of heat walking out for just working for TNA and being alongside Joanna, who had already been out twice in the evening. 

Match 8 - PCW "World" Heavyweight Championship - "The Bastard" Dave Mastiff vs. Bobby Lashley with Joanna Rose

When your main event gets a "boring" chant, that pretty much says it all, doesn't it? This match was just that, boring. What would you do if the crowd was chanting boring? Slap on the fourth rest hold of the match, according to big Bobby. The match ran just shy of ten minutes; why are we having to have FOUR REST HOLDS! Yes, Lashley was "wearing down" Mastiff and all that, but there were surely more interesting ways to so, especially when the match was going less than ten minutes. Even then Mastiff had to resort to a low blow to get the victory, which I'm sure was in there to keep Lashley looking relatively strong for his TNA/Bellator commitments rather than do anything for Mastiff, before hitting his Cannonball to retain the title. 

Winner - Dave Mastiff via pinfall in 9 minutes, 53 seconds.

Iestyn Rees, T-Bone and Bubblegum were all out to give Mastiff some beats after the match, with The Bastard also taking a big spear from Lashley. The crowd clearly knew the score as the "Maaartin" shouts began, and out came Money in the Bank holder Martin Kirby. Kirby's partner Joey Hayes argued that Kirby shouldn't cash in, giving Mastiff enough time to recover and the trio fought off F.W.B to close the show. Not quite sure about this as the closing segment, as whilst it sent the fans home happy, the Kirby and Hayes stuff went on a little too long. The crowd chanting for Kirby to cash-in, despite Mastiff being their favourite Bastard was also a weird moment. One last point, F.W.B. have been trying to get the belt off Mastiff since he won the belt in July, so why didn't they want Kirby to cash in his Money in the Bank? The fact that they bought in Lashley for this show already shows they aren't too bothered about the title going to someone already in the group, right?


Galloway vs. Dar just about saves this show from dropping below a 5 on the ATPW Scale, with all three portions (the bout, plus action before and after) scoring high.

As you might have been able to tell from reading the review, I didn't enjoy the majority of this show, at all. If I was taking into account the fucking weird crowd (bloke who couldn't chant in time, drunken women, some shit chants that unsurprisingly didn't get going) then I think that the rating would be a lot lower, as I know that it certainly impacted on my enjoyment of the show. I wouldn't say there was necessarily a "bad" match on the show, although parts of the tag bout perhaps came close and the main event couldn't live up to the action directly before it. There was a lot of average or dull action throughout this show. More often than not the contests felt way too short to fully deliver on their potential also.

Having tickets to Shropshire Wrestling Alliance show on Halloween, I'm certain I won't be back for PCW's Halloween double header. My next trip to Preston will be for the PCW/ROH weekender in November...I'm expecting to have a much better time of things here, as last year's four shows were superb. But as it stands, I'm considering making those shows my last PCW shows for a while. 

A big thanks to Andrew Tomlinson for casting his eagle-eye over this. Very much appreciated. 

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