After a very good show on Friday and a superb show on Saturday in Wolverhampton, Sunday, 23rd October saw Fight Club: Pro head North for a show at Manchester Metropolitan University's Student Union in...umm...Manchester. 75 miles from their home, FCP presented a show that saw Clint Margera get a shot at Pete Dunne's FCP Championship in a Falls Count Anywhere Match, Trent Seven went one on one with Mikey Whiplash and Chris Brookes tangled with Fire Ant. With Kimber Lee, Nixon Newell, Shane Strickland, Orange Cassidy and Travis Banks featured on the undercard, could Breaking Into Heaven better the high standards that had already been set across the weekend and smash into Manchester with a cracker?
Pete Dunne collected his second successful FCP Championship defense in as many days, with a victory over the man who last defeated him in FCP, Clint Margera. The bout began with a similar moment to Dunne's bout with Trent Seven on Pulp Fixxion Part 2, where The Bruiserweight attacked Margera before the bell, calling out the FCP management for making him defend the belt against a "Death Match Worker", only for Margera to turn the tables and make the match Falls Count Anywhere, because...he bloody did. The duo brawled around the Union, fighting on the apron, around ringside, into the fans and onto the stage area. This fracas was punctuated by elongated "Pet-er" chants for Dunne (in reference to a moment from PROGRESS Chapter 37, a week earlier just half a mile away). At times it became a little too much and distracted from the action, which may also have something to do with Margera being a relatively unfamiliar face to the Northern audience. This isn't to say that there wasn't plenty of good to very good stuff going on (Dunne hitting a Tombstone Piledriver on the stage, being the stand out moment), but that it often got overpowered.
Just like the night before there was plenty a shenanigan in the finish of this on. Chris Brookes made the save for Dunne following Margera hitting an avalanche Death Valley driver and then it all seemed start happening. Ref bumps, biting, wet willies, all sorts of things were occuring, but the long and short of it was that Dunne retained the title with a Rear Naked Choke. There were even more antics post-match, with Trent Seven came out to help Margera, only to be beaten down by Dunne and Brookes as well. This would lead to Jimmy Havoc returning to the promotion, turning on former KYS pal Dunne and turning babyface in the process, as he hit Brookes with an Acid Rainmaker. It was a cool end to the show and after a lengthy time off it's good to see Havoc continue to make his return in different promotions and shake up their stories and rosters in the process. I can't help but feeling that having Havoc announced as already appearing on the show, impacted a little on the moment, as anyone who was paying attention could see exactly where ir was going. Potentially having Havoc come out and cut a return promo earlier in the night before coming back out for the save, would have given the moment more of a swerve factor, but preferably I would've liked this to be a complete surprise.
The semi-main saw Mikey Whiplash defeat Trent Seven, giving Whiplash his second victory in as many days over former FCP Champions. If you've been following British professional wrestling over the last twelve months, then you'll know that Whiplash and Seven have been tearing it up in Insane Championship Wrestling trading victories in Glasgow, Birmingham and Manchester, with things spilling over to Scottish Wrestling Alliance in Motherwell and a special show presented by Jimmy Havoc in Glasgow. So as was to be expected, this bout was slickly put together and stiff as fuck as Whiplash and Seven tore strips out of each other and hit the majority of their big moves in an intense scrappy match. There was a lot of back and forth, with reversals and strike battles, with the story playing out as two guys who are extremely familiar with one another and had an answer for seemingly even the most severe assaults.
If I was surprised to see Whiplash defeat Margera on Saturday, I was flabbergasted that Whiplash pinned Seven with a Gotch-style piledriver, only moments after withstanding a Bret's Rope piledriver (silly, silly nearfall). With two big wins over the weekend, Whiplash would seem to be becoming a regular for FCP, but having already gone through two of the promotions top babyfaces and with FCP currently looking a little heel heavy, I'm intrigued to see how he'll fit in next year. Bouts with the likes of Tyler Bate, The Hunter Brothers and Nixon Newell should provide some great variety, with the returning Jimmy Havoc offering another attractive prospective match up. Seven sold the loss like an absolute boss and after back to back losses he looked not just hurt from the rough clash, but emotionally drained as his quest to regain the FCP Championship seems to have hit a stumbling block.
In a surprisingly long opener, Chris Brookes picked up his third victory of the weekend, this time besting Fire Ant. This bout was very much in the CHIKARA vein, as the pair mixed some good quality wrestling exchanges with a number of comedic spots and general hijinks. It was clear where the bout was heading from the very beginning as after being a piss-kidney to a loud fan, Brookes repeatedly asked the ref to back Ant up, causing Ant to end up actually outside the ring himself. It was corny spot, but both men, as well as referee Joel, played it perfectly. As Brookes' gimmick is developing into someone who would really rather not be wrestling, after taking control of the bout he took Ant out of the ring and out of the room, into the bar area of the student union, before legging back to the squared circle in attempt for a countout. The moment was made by a couple of verbal quips from Brookes once he got back inside the ring.
One of the spots that I was most looking forward to was Brookes (who is still a turd) going for his, now signature, wet willy spot. You can't do a wet willy on a masked man/ant. The spot didn't let me down and went flying passed what even my twisted imagination had conjured up on the drive to Manchester. After initial confusion by the lack of ears, Brookes pulled a canister of bug spray from a black fabric bag and really went to town with it. I don't know the international rules of wrestling completely, but I'd imagine that bug spray doesn't result in a DQ, because what if there's like bugs, that aren't wrestlers, trying to get involved? Exactly! Following this spot the pair mixed things up with some pacy sequences and a couple of nice near falls, including a Brainbuster from Ant and Michonoku Driver from Brookes. The Calamari Catch King would win with his now familiar closing sequence, getting a submission with his double armed octopus stretch, although Ant had previously been able to reverse the rope-hung whiplash neckbreaker, as repeating that sequence began to pay off in more interesting variations.
The Hunter Brothers (Lee Hunter & Jim Hunter)' only appearance across the weekend saw Ashley Clementine (Kimber Lee) and Orange Cassidy unsuccessfully answer the open challenge laid down by Lee and Jim. Considering both were already on the show under different guises, it was a mild disappointment when Clementine & Cassidy came out, probably because the open challenge gimmick often leads to a lot of speculation. The match was entirely dictated by the Clementine & Cassidy's gimmick of being The World's Laziest Tag Team. At first, I was quite into the idea with Cassidy putting on weak head locks and both going to sit in the crowd after taking chops from Lee & Jim. It wasn't "laugh so much it hurts" funny, but it was still funny. However, for me it ended up dragging, as the single joke was stretched across almost fifteen minutes without really having a big punchline. It was mostly entertaining, but could have done with losing five minutes or more. Had this been the third night in a row of seeing the Hunter Brothers, then I think I would've enjoyed the change of pace for Lee & Jim, but with this being their only match of the weekend and with very little tag wrestling at all over the three days, a Hunter Brothers bout with a hot local tag team would have felt fresher than a bottle of Tropicana.
The strongest contest on the show was Shane Strickland going over Travis Banks, in a bout that presented a nice style clash. Banks desperation to get a win in FCP was stamped all over the action once again, this time from the very beginning as Banks upped the aggression level with Strickland matching it and the pair producing a pacy and dynamic opening sequence that set the tone for what was to come. The crowd was well split between the two and both worked the Manchester audience well, keeping things fairly even with a string of top quality reversals. Banks catching Strickland coming out of a Rolling Thunder into a German suplex and Strickland swiftly hitting a Spanish Fly as Banks charged in looking for his running knee strike are the two moments that spring to mind initially, but the bout was full of similar switches and swerves.. The match didn't have as many strong near falls as the Banks v Fire Ant match from the night previously, but it managed to tell a different story within the established narrative in a distinct style. I would love to see the pair have a rematch at some point as an extra five or even ten minutes would have only benefited these two creative performers, especially as they become more familiar with each other.
In the sole women's outing on the show, Nixon Newell defeated Kimber Lee in a hard-hitting battle. The contest fell into a similar pattern that we'd seen from the other female matches that weekend, with the pair trading moves. Forearms, chops, kicks, a few more kicks and a german suplexes. A spot where the pair hit each other with bicycle kicks looked particularly well-done, as I've often seen that moment look awful if not timed right and not built to in the right manner. In comparison to the Newell v Kay Lee Ray match from the previous night, the bout had a little more aggression and omph behind it, especially in a sequence where Newell hit a head butt and a German suplex, before Lee would reply threefold. I would've liked to have seen a little bit more action before the finish to really develop the hostility between them, with Newell wanting to even the score from their previous match in May. The bout concluded with Lee missing a high-angle senton bomb and Newell nailing a picture perfect Vulture Culture Destroyer for the pinfall.
Continuing his more than impressive weekend, Dan Moloney won a four way contest pinning TK Cooper in a match that also included Ethan Silver and Drew Parker. It was even more of an imposing victory because not only did Moloney call out anyone to face him, but he ended up with three opponents and finished the match standing tall over all of them. The bout concluded with an incredible double powerbomb on Silver and Parker, before a deadlift spinning sitout powerbomb to Cooper, making Moloney look like an absolute (super)beast. Moloney completely owned the space during this one, especially in that final stretch and after the match. Outside of Moloney looking like a top tier talent in the making, the rest of the four way was an entertaining spot fest that managed to fit an awful lot of action into a short amount of the time. Cooper, Silver and Parker could certainly play a role in FCP in the future, with the trio all offering something a little bit different to what's already on the regular roster.
ATPW Scale Rating - 6.75/10
Show in a Sentence - A good start for FCP in a new city, but couldn't match the two previous show.
Match of the Night - Shane Strickland v Travis Banks
Words - James Marston
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