Thursday, 24 March 2016

Live Event Review: Fight Club: Pro Rise Against 2016 (KYS vs. Hunter Brothers)

On 18th March 2016, Fight Club: Pro held Rise Against 2016 at the Planet Nightclub in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, England. The show featured Fight Club: Pro Champion MK McKinnan teaming with fellow KYS member Damian Dunne to face The Hunter Brothers, AIW star Rickey Shane Page facing Clint Margera in a Death Match and "The Bruiserweight" battled "The Bastard" as Pete Dunne and Dave Mastiff squared off...but was it any good? Let's find out.

rise against 2016 match card

Match 1 - Three Way - "Calamari Catch King" Chris Brookes vs. "Text Book" Tyler Bate vs. "The Kentucky Gentleman" Chuck Taylor

Match 2 - Tag Team - The Facesmashers vs. Mike Bird & Nixon Newell 

Match 3 - Singles - "The Bruiserweight" Pete Dunne vs. "The Bastard" Dave Mastiff

Match 4 - Singles - Travis Banks vs. Trent Seven 

Match 5 - Tag Team - KYS (MK McKinnan & "Number 1" Damian Dunne) vs. The Hunter Brothers

Match 6 - Death - Rickey Shane Page vs. Clint Margera

fast-forward...Our host introduced us to the show, including giving us the rules for the evening, which weren't quite as catchy as PROGRESS' "Don't Be Dick"...

tyler bate defeats chris brookes and chuck taylor in a three way

A nice surprise to start the show as CHIKARA star Chuck Taylor made an unannounced appearance, interrupting Chris Brookes and Tyler Bate's match and joining in. This match was disappointingly short, barely scratching the surface of what Brookes, Bate and Taylor could do in the ring together and despite the action being of a high quality throughout I came out feeling a bit let down by it. Bate felt like the star of the contest though, with his dive over the top rope early doors being particularly impressive. He'd later deny Taylor the pin on Brookes following a series of kicks by hitting a Diving Headbutt on the top rope, before putting Brookes away with a sweet brainbuster. As opening contests go this got the crowd warmed up nicely, it would have been great to see this go at least ten minutes more to fully showcase all three talents. I can't help but wonder what they could have done in a main event slot.

the facesmashers defeat mike bird and nixon newell

Things were taken up a gear as The Facesmashers and the newly formed partnership of Nixon Newell and Mike Bird put on a bostin' tag encounter, that provided plenty to enjoy. Seeing as Nixon and Bird have only teamed once before, I was impressed by them a lot in the early stages as their face shine featured some nice double team moves, like Bird launching Nixon off the top rope into a hurricanrana on Wild Boar. I was perhaps more impressed with the Facesmashers, as Boar and Dan Moloney have steadily worked themselves in being one of my favourites tag teams. They used a lot of cheating to stay in control of the second third of the bout, cutting off the ring and working over Nixon. I've said before that Nixon is one of the most easily likable performers in the UK at the moment, which makes her a perfect choice for the face in peril role in tag bouts, with her vocals being particularly strong. I'd be interested to see what could be done if she was the one waiting for the hot tag though.

The contest built nicely following the hot tag to Bird, although it was disappointing to see the legal man concept forgotten as can often be the way in tag bouts on the indies. Lots of action to follow, culminating in Nixon hitting a beautiful Vulture Culture Destroyer to Moloney, which got a big reaction from the Planet and a great near fall. It was Fight Club: Pro Champion MK McKinnan who would be the deciding factor in the bout however as with the referee distracted he nailed Nixon with his title belt and allowed the Facesmashers to win the bout. After Nixon and Bird had defeated McKinnan and fellow KYS member Damian Dunne on the last show it was nice bit of continuation, and a relationship with the promotions most hated heel can only be a good thing for Moloney and Boar, whose record in FCP now stands at four wins in five matches.

pete dunne defeats dave mastiff

The first ever Monster's stall match, or at least that was the case for Pete Dunne! Stalling can work and sometimes it can completely bomb, luckily this was the earlier option, with Dunne and Dave Mastiff able to hold the crowds attention, with very little wrestling in the earlier part of the match. The Bruiserweight spent a lot of the bout avoiding getting involved with Mastiff, jumping in and out of the ring, whilst getting involved in plenty of banter with the fans around the ringside area. This lead to a great moment when Dunne finally appeared to be ready to wrestle and "The Bastard" jumped out of the ring, getting more than a chuckle out of the Planet. 

When the match did get going there was plenty of cheating from Dunne, using any method that he could to keep himself in control. The crowd continued to be on his back throughout the contest, with a lot of the chants having to do with Dunne's hair style of choice the topknot. Dunne was almost caught with Mastiff's cannonball twice, but again used underhanded tactics to avoid it, including trying to pull referee Joel into the line of fire, leading to The Bruiserweight picking up the victory with a small package. Whilst I enjoyed the build towards it, I felt the small package itself didn't look quite as well as it could have, with Mastiff's size in comparison to Dunne making the finish look a little unbelievable. It does however continued Dunne's undefeated streak since winning the Infinity Trophy back in December, as he's gone over the likes of Tyler Bate, Zack Sabre Jr., Damian Dunne, Nixon Newell and now Dave Mastiff, he's in a rather interesting position with his fellow KYS member MK McKinnan holding the title belt he's got a shot for!

fast-forward...A quick interval and cheeky look at some carrot jam before we're back into the action...

trent seven defeats travis banks 

Opening the second part of the show, Trent Seven and Travis Banks put on a cracking undercard match. A lovely technical start between the two, as they exchange holds with ease, with an appreciative crowd leaning largely towards their regular, Seven. Having seen Banks work opposite the heel Chris Brookes on the last show, it was nice to see him get to bring a bit more of a vicious edge to his character here, as he definitely seemed more comfortable performing in front of the unique FCP crowd. To this end, both men were pulling out big strikes early doors after transitioning from their amateur wrestling at the start of the bout. Seven is one of the hardest hitters in the UK right now, with Banks' chest standing testament to this after just five minutes in.

The duo built in a brilliant narrative, focused around Seven getting more and more frustrated that he couldn't put Banks away, with this driving the second half of the action. A wicked reversal from Seven turning a tornado DDT into a suplex into the turnbuckle was the real turning point for things. The moment where Seven hit a piledriver and Banks kicked out on one got a terrific reaction out of the crowd, perhaps the largest reaction outside the craziness of the Death Match. The strikes got harder, faster and more intense as the contest went on with the two going back and forth and the crowd getting louder. After Banks had picked up a nice near fall with a flying knee attack, Seven made sure he wouldn't kick out of the next piledriver, by delivering a sick dragon suplex before hand and walking out the victor. A great match to start the second portion of the show, I'd love to see more of both these guys.

the hunter brothers defeat kys 

Fight Club: Pro's tag scene has been red hot over the last couple of shows and this was another world class effort from the division. You couldn't really go wrong with two of the most hated guys in Wolverhampton in KYS' MK McKinnan and Damian Dunne facing two of the biggest babyfaces in the promotion, Tipton's own Lee and Jim, The Hunter Brothers. The crowd was on fire throughout the bout, making everything McKinnan, Dunne and the Hunter's did feel even more important. The Fight Club: Pro Champion and his ally working over Jim Hunter provided a lot of entertainment, with McKinnan dragging a ko'd Dunne back to his corner to prevent the babyfaces making the hot tag standing out in particular. The crowd hammering away at the ringside cage as the performers built the action towards the hot tag was fantastic to watch and one of the reason why I love the atmosphere inside the Planet.

With KYS suffering their third loss as a team in a row, after Dunne took a barage of offence from Hunter Brothers' that culminated in a avalanche frankensteiner and frog splash combination, the group seemingly expanded their ranks. The Facesmasher's were out with chairs to take care of The Hunter Brothers and even though Nixon Newell attempted to help out (Mike Bird was conspicuous by his absense) it was the heel faction that stood tall at the end. With Dan Moloney and Wild Boar joining McKinnan, Damian Dunne, Pete Dunne (and the lesser-seen and now injured Jimmy Havoc) a considerable amount of the roster is now in the KYS faction, I'm very interested to see where this goes over the next few shows and how it affects McKinnan's reign as champion. Lastly, with such a strong and competitive tag team division I'd love to see FCP introduce a Tag Team title belt to give teams like Hunter Brothers and Facesmashers a real purpose in the promotion.

fast-forward...There was five minute interval to set up for the main event...

clint margera defeats rickey shane page in a death match

Well, this match was one of the most brutal things that I have ever seen. Honestly, I'm not sure how I feel about this contest and it's probably the match that's caused me the most trouble when coming to review it. See, I know that this match was a hit with most of the Planet and I'm sure if you're a fan of Death match wrestling then you would have absolutely loved what Clint Margera and AIW star Rickey Shane Page put on here. But I'm not sure that I loved it, I'm not even sure if I enjoyed it. I found it extremely hard to watch at points, as the two upped the ante with numerous objects and I'm not sure if that's what I want when I'm watching wrestling, especially not in a match where the competitors have no prior history with each other or any strong reason to be doing sadistic things to each other...had the bout been with the man Margera had challenge to Death match, Pete Dunne, then I think I'd have be having less trouble in forming this review.

Let's go through some of the utter ridiculousness that was involved and then hopefully you'll know whether the match would be for you or not. The brutality began with Page sending Margera head first into some lighttubes on the outside, a horrible looking verticle suplex onto a seated chair by Margera, Page stapling a cup to Margera's head, Page stomping Margera's hand and head into thumbtacks, Margera hitting a DDT onto thumbtacks, a Death Valley Driver through a grid of carpet gripper (Yes...), and a finish that saw Margera discus forearm lighttubes into Page's head for the pin! Mental. I'd love to get into how stupid using a piledriver off the top rope onto a chair as a near fall is, but then I'd be here all day. You know what, all credit to Clint Margera and Rickey Shane Page for being willing to put their bodies through all that shit to entertain a few hundred people in a Wolverhampton nightclub, they both worked their asses off and went through a hell of a lot. Not because of the level of violence, but more because of the lack of any real purpose behind it, the match was perhaps not for me, but I know that a lot of people in the crowd enjoyed themselves and that there's definitely an audience out their for this kind of wrestling who would absolutely love to see this match. If you're a Death Match fan then I'd definitely recommend catching this one on DVD when it's out.

atpw scale rating - 6.95/10

Another great card of wrestling from Fight Club: Pro with a lot of variety spread throughout the card. The match of the night for me was The Hunter Brothers and KYS's tag match for the sheer investment from the crowd, as well as the build towards The Hunter Brothers comeback. I'm certain that many would give Clint Margera and Rickey Shane Page's brutal Death Match that award and a higher score than I gave it (The score goes towards the ATPW Scale Rating, but doesn't get revealed itself) with the match closing the show with something completely different to anything that had gone before it. The other marquee bout between Pete Dunne and Dave Mastiff was another different style, closing the first portion of the show of well with a character-based contest. 

The highlight of the undercard for me came from Travis Banks and Trent Seven's lesson in strong-style storytelling, whilst a competitive tag outing between The Facesmashers and Nixon Newell & Mike Bird also provided good action. 

Somehow, the show manages to get exactly the same rating as FCP's last show, All the Best 2016 did! That's probably a fair reflection of the two shows, which both offering a strong variety of wrestling. I'm looking forward to more of the same on 15th April when Fight Club: Pro return to the Planet in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, England for Planet Terror Vol. 2. Hopefully, we'll be back here in a month's time with another review! xoxo

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