On 6th October 2016, WCPW presented their first Supercard event in Newcastle, Tyne & Wear. With Joseph Conners putting his World Championship on the line against Martin Kirby in the main event and a mixture of imported talent, like Kurt Angle, Minoru Suzuki and Kimber Lee, and British talent like Doug Williams, Joe Hendry and Joe Coffey, was it time for WCPW to cement it's place on the world stage, just 4 months into it's existence? Let's find out.
Disclaimer - I've never watched an episode of Loaded or any previous WCPW adventure, so I really was going in dry here! I also watched the event a few days after it aired, so there won't be any complaining about how shitty the live stream was either (but apparently it really was the drizzling shits)...
Martin Kirby unsuccessfully challenging Joseph Conners was the main event of this show in everything but name as the pair put on a great showing for the first twenty minutes of the bout. They've wrestled a number of times outside of WCPW, in places like SWE, HOPE and RDW and that showed here with some incredibly smooth wrestling, with a clever narrative at it's heart. Kirby was painted as having the rub of the green on this occasion, getting the better of Conners at almost every opportunity, with Conners able to take advantage of the referees positioning to make sure he was able to stay in the match. Conners looked great when in control, bringing a more vicious and gritty side to the bout, but also sold well for Kirby on his comebacks, in fact both men's facial expression were marvelous throughout the contest. The contest built well into a number of near falls, including a variation of an Avalanche Fireman's Carry Slam from Kirby, whilst also keeping Kirby's Sable Bomb in the mind of the audience.
I have to say that I was really getting into Kirby and Conners' war, they'd gone twenty minutes and seemed like the duo were about to change gear and head for home when Conners began to fire up on Kirby, then the ref got bumped and I groaned. Everything after the ref bump was so frustrating to watch, as whilst the initial moment of there not being a ref to count Kirby's victory after a Sable Bomb, was hurt by the fact that the supposed babyface Kirby, and then damaged even more so when Adam Pacitti stopped Kirby from hitting the Zoidberg Elbow and gave Conners the title win. I just didn't get why the WhatCulture personality had to be pushed to the level of causing the main event finish, effectively placing himself above the talent. Maybe it's because I don't really watch WhatCulture or that I'm completely new to WCPW but I couldn't get my head around it. It didn't make me want to see Pacitti get beat up or feel anything in particularly for anyone involved. In my personal opinion, on WCPW's first supercard, where new eyes like mine would be on the product, I would've made sure that my World title match was an absolute killer. Kirby and Conners showed they were capable, but had their legs cut from underneath them with the screwy finish.
Okay, so I've already mentioned that I didn't enjoy the gratuitous WhatCulture personality interference in the World title bout, so I was going to absolutely hate a Street Fight involving Adam Blampied and Rampage [Brown], wasn't I? Well, to be honest I went into the bout wanting to absolute hate it, but it actually was kind of alright? It was set up quite nicely from the outset with Blampied trying to offer Rampage a suitcase of money to buy some meat, before a stream of interference left Rampage fighting from underneath. The former PROGRESS World Champion excelled in this role, with some nice selling, whilst a moment that saw him take out each member of Prospect (Alex Gracie, [H.T.] Drake & Lucas Archer) whilst Blampied cut a promo was handled well by all, even if it was a little bit corny. Adam Pacitti sending out numerous talents (including Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) who mind bottlingly weren't actually on the card) to help combat Prospect and Big Damo was a little confusing, especially with Pacitti costing Kirby the title match later on, yet it did build to a satisfying finish as Rampage powerbombed Blampied through a table. Personally, I think they could have shaved five minutes of this and made it a more concise and exciting bout, but I still found this a much more entertaining watch than I was expecting.
In the opening contest, Pro Wrestling NOAH's Minoru Suzuki made his WCPW debut in hard hitting affair with former ICW World Heavyweight Champion Joe Coffey in a match that was fought under "NOAH Rules". This match was mostly made up of hard strikes as the pair went back and forth, with the main narrative thread coming from Suzuki's second El Desperado's constant interfering on the outside. The crowd ate this up and even if the "Shit Kalisto" chant made me cringe a little bit, it was still some good heat for the heely action of Suzuki, something which is often difficult to achieve as a well known import and respected veteran. There was some nice mirror storytelling in the final stretch of the match, with Suzuki dodging Black Coffey (Discus Lariat) before Coffey hit the move for a near fall and then later Coffey would escape Suzuki's sleeper hold, only to end up back in the move for another near fall later on. The finish where Suzuki won the match with a Gotch Style Piledriver set things up strongly for a rematch as the move would regularly be outlawed under WCPW rules. There's a lot of potential in a rematch between these two as whilst this match was an enjoyable scrap, there pair seemed be holding back and never quite hit their top gear.
Whilst Doug Williams' "Mr. Brexit" character is a jumble of ideas which boils down to another rehashed Anti-Import gimmick, his match with a debuting Cody Rhodes was a smooth encounter that gave just a glimpse at what the pair could do together. As crisp as the early wrestling was, as Rhodes and Williams appeared to exchange holds with ease, Rhodes impressed me most with his selling as he made a real effort to make Williams offence look as devastating as possible, including trying to shake some life into his arm after taking a gutwrench suplex. I feel like with an extra five minutes or so, the pair would torn the house down as whilst we saw both go to the sky, as Rhodes hit a slingshot crossbody to the floor and Williams hit a diving knee drop, that seemed to be only the tip of the ice berg for the two technicians. I would've liked have seen a few more narrative seeds planted to build to finish, but Rhodes getting the win with Cross Rhodes still left us with a delightful bout.
6 time TNA World Heavyweight Champion Kurt Angle defeating "The Local Hero" Joe Hendry would close the show, because Angle is a big enough of a star to command a show closing position. The match was a compelling watch, helped by some brilliant commentary, as Angle and Hendry told an easy to follow story, that progressed throughout the match. The idea that The Local Hero was outwrestling Angle in the early stages, given legitimacy by talk of Hendry's background in the amateur sport, leading to Angle taking a rougher brawling style to steal control. Later, the Olympic Gold Medallist would constantly go for the Angle Slam or Ankle Lock, painting The Cyborg as a veteran on the back foot, desperately trying to hold onto his status. The only spot that didn't quite work in this was the Avalanche Angle Slam as there seemed to be some miscommunication on how the move would be hit, leading to a couple of awkward seconds as Angle tried to explain to his opponent. Luckily, the finish didn't have any problems as after the straps were down, the pair would trade Ankle Locks with Angle selling for Hendry marvelously, before Angle would get the eventual win after grapevining the leg. Was it a must-see classic? No. Did it raise the profile of Joe Hendry, whilst giving fans a rare chance to see a bonafide legend who can still go? Oh hell yeah.
Nixon Newell retained her Women's Championship over former CHIKARA Grand Champion Kimber Lee in what was the most disappointing contest of the evening. Part of that disappointment was to do with the brevity of the match, part of that was too do with the commentary teams apparent indifference for the bout as they talked about previous events instead and part of that was to do with a couple of moments of sloppiness, that unfortunately came at key points within the bout. Those moments of sloppiness coming at those key moments, such as the messy finish, meant that the good work that the two women had put together previously, including a nice German suplex section, was pushed to the back of most people's minds. Lee would attack Newell after the match, I'm hoping the pair get to go at it again in WCPW, as they can do much better than they displayed here.
Perhaps one of the most curious bouts of an evening filled with curious bouts was a Triple Threat encounter, as 2 time WWE World Champion Alberto El Patron (Alberto Del Rio), 2 PROGESS Tag Team Champion El Ligero and Travis Banks came together in an attempt to become the first ever Internet Champion. This easily could ended up being a bit of a mess, with the unfamiliarity of the three competitors, but the trio managed to flow quite nicely together, with opening partnership between Ligero & AEP crumbling quickly to set the stage for the rest of the match. I would have liked to have seen some better use of the three way set up, but that would have come with the match being given a little more time to grow, as when we did see the threesome begin to look at this, like Banks blocking AEP's build to the cross armbreaker on Ligero (which was poorly shot), they produced some interesting stuff. The best work of the match came between Banks and Ligero in the first half of the contest, as they traded big moves and did so smoothly, but AEP still held up his part of the bargain including hitting a tasty middle rope lungblower on Banks in a nice swerve when they looked to be doing a tower of doom spot. The finish didn't quite hit the right notes for me as Ligero pinned Banks with a magistrale cradle, but once again it does set-up a number of interesting possibilities heading out of the show.
Easily the most head-scratching part of the show was the opening segment of the show, that involved 5 time WWE World Champion Bret Hart getting some cheap pops and putting over talent like Kurt Angle and Cody Rhodes, before James R. Kennedy and Prospect (Alex Gracie, Drake & Lucas Archer) interrupted. From this point on it was one botch after the another, as first JRK's mic didn't work, leading to an awkward moment where Hart had to hand him his mic, and then Alex Shane on commentary called the company NGW (his promotion) instead of WCPW, which certainly won't help those rumours that Shane is heavily involved in the creative for the promotion. Even without the botches, this was a dull segment lacking in any real friction or drama, that concluded with Liam Slater, Gabriel Kidd and Johnny Moss making the save. Seeing Hart is always a treat, but I'm not sure this was the best use of the WWE Hall of Famer.
Best of the Rest
- In a "What the fuck is happening" segment, Jack the Jobber bought out some flowers for ring announcer So Cal Val, before The Primate came out and then attacked his valet Suzy...I think...whatever it was it didn't make a whole lot of sense and shouldn't have been on the PPV.
ATPW Scale Rating - 5.42/10
Show in a Sentence - Decent, above average, but needed more PW and less WC.
Match of the Night - Martin Kirby v Joseph Conners
Words - James Marston
All images remain the property of their respective owners.