Monday, 4 September 2017

ATTACK! (Thank God It's Not) WinterSlam 2 Review (Live)

On 20th August 2017, ATTACK! Pro Wrestling held it's 16th event of the year, (Thank God It's Not) WinterSlam 2 at Walkabout in Cardiff, Wales. The show featured "Flash" Morgan Webster challenging for Chief Deputy Dunne's "No Fun" ATTACK! Championship and ATTACK! Tag Team Champions Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) teaming with "Fat Cat" Lloyd Katt against the Anti-Fun Police's Brothers of Obstruction (James Obstruction & Leigh Obstruction) and the newly-christened Cones McSafety (formerly Splits McPins, more on that later), as well as the likes of Sergeant Banks, Chris Brookes, Charlie Sterling, Eddie Dennis and Mike Bird in action, but was it any good? Here's our review from the event. 

All photos credited to - This is the End photography.

"The Pride of Wales" Eddie Dennis def. Sergeant Banks

In a rematch from May's Soundtrack to a Head Drop, Eddie Dennis and the Anti-Fun Police's Sergeant Banks produced a good opener, that played to the crowd well and warmed up Walkabout nicely for the rest of the evening. The match initially began with a couple of comedy spots, with both men being naturally able to hold a crowd whilst pissing about tripping up and during beer based shenanigans, before beginning to rise in intensity, with a big forearm strike from Dennis. One of my favourite things about the Sgt. Banks character is the facial expressions and utterances from Banks during his appearances, which are almost always laugh out loud funny, but in a way that makes you want to see him get beaten up even more! The pendulum of momentum swung back and forth between the two as they traded big moves inside and outside of the ring, including a cool spot where Dennis caught Banks on a second suicide dive attempt, before sending the Kiwi crashing onto the apron with a swinging side slam. The best example of this however (and probably the best sequence of the match) was arguably a sequence that saw Dennis go for his second Crucifix Powerbomb of the match, repeating the pattern that going for a move twice would not have the desired effect as Banks reversed the move into a hurricanrana that sent Dennis into the corner, however when the Sergeant went up top to attempt his corner-to-corner front missile dropkick, Eddie caught him in mid-air with one of his wicked forearms and nailed a Next Stop Driver for a brilliant near-fall. After another last-gasp kick-out, this time from Dennis following a Kiwi Krusher, the Pride of Wales managed to power out of Banks' Lion Clutch and in a lovely piece of action turned it straight into the second Next Stop Driver of the match to pick up his second victory in a row over Banks in ATTACK!. As an opener the bout more than did it's job, providing a sound mix of comedy and developing that into a snug, well-worked wrestling match, but I got the feeling that this barely scratched the surface in terms of what Dennis and Banks can do together, given the opportunity. I hope to get to see them tie up again soon on the basis of the two matches I've seen them have, there's a possibility that they could create something special. 

  • Post-Match - Dennis offered a handshake, but Banks rolled out of the ring and to the back, as the face turn continued to be teased.

Charli Evans def. Charlie Sterling, "The Urchin Prince" Drew Parker, "Bronco" Brendan White, "The Original Badman" Beano and Posada in a Six Person Scramble 

An interesting mixture of talent here, including two debuts (Charli Evans and Posada), that produced an energetic, but sloppy six way contest. The spine of the scramble was the interaction between Charli Evans and Drew Parker, with the two having issues throughout the match following Parker attempting to dismiss the debuting Australian female early doors, before a back drop driver from Evans kicked off the action. This was my first look at Parker's "Urchin Prince" character live, following his recent heel turn and his character work in the contest was strong, standing out alongside the comedy from elsewhere. There was your usual series of dives to the outside, which is always fun, with the variety of performers bringing a cool variety of flips and tricks, including a big arse tope conhilo from Charlie Sterling. Of course, there was also a tower of doom spot, which looked very impressive once all six performers got involved. Beyond a comedy moonsault spot that didn't land for me, the first half to maybe two thirds of the match was going quite well, sticking to the tried and tested formula of the multi-person scramble with some sprinkling of comedy, but unfortunately it was in the last three or four minutes that the match unravelled a little. An slightly awkward "superkicks for all" spot, was followed up by slips on a big move from Sterling and Brendan White and then White and Posada. Whilst a lot of the match wasn't particularly crisp, these moments stood out in particular as damaging the pace and flow of the contest, as there were a number of sizable spots around them like a Spiral Tap from the six foot plus Sterling, that meant had the flubbed moves gone the right way the match could have been taken to the next level. The finish ended the match on a high, however, as after hitting a leaping meteora to Sterling, Parker missed a springboard 450 splash, allowing Evans to capitalise with a kneeling powerbomb to pick up a win on her debut.

Splits McPins and Los Federales Super Santos Jr. Hostage Trade-Off

So basic catch-up on the storyline here. At Damplified in September, the Brothers of Construction kidnapped Bowl-a-Rama's Splits McPins and in reply "Fat Cat" Lloyd Katt kidnapped Los Federales Super Santos Jr. with the help of a so-called "fun burrito". There's a shit load more backstory, including the Brothers of Obstruction being the ones who provided CCK with the dynamite to blow up Bowl-a-Rama's Bowling Alley, but let's keep things (relatively) simple. This was the supposed trade-off, where Katt would return LFSSJ and the Anti-Fun Police would return McPins. Those in attendance seemed convinced that the man the AFP bought out, with his head under a sack wasn't McPins and there would be shenanigans a foot. In a way, this was correct, as after LFSSJ had been returned to AFP, it was revealed that Splits McPins had joined his captors and been renamed Cones McSafety in a dramatic twist. Very much the sort of over-the-top antics that anyone whose been following ATTACK! has come to expect. Tag Team Champions Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis), who had been scheduled for an open challenge title defence, came out to make the save and we had a six man tag on our hand.

Aussie Open & "Fat Kat" Lloyd Katt def. The Anti-Fun Police (The Brothers of Obstruction & Cones McSafety)

The best match on the first half, this was super good fun house, with six over characters and performers. If you're not keeping tabs on Aussie Open right now, you need to be, because pretty much anything Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis do is "must watch" and the structure of the bout allowed them plenty of time to show off what they can do. The classic heel antics of the Anti-Fun Police, eye rakes, distraction and the more modern technique of referee Shay Purser being a casual twatcake, were almost always swiftly bought to a stop by a pacy hot tag from Fletcher or Davis, leading to mental moves and strikes done at speed. At one point we even got both lads making the hot tag, after Lloyd Katt had spent a while as the bowler in peril. Mixed into Fletcher and Davis being generally great and the Brothers of Obstruction being rascals of the highest order, we had the story between Katt and Cones McSafety. Throughout the match we saw Katt pleading with his former partner, attempting to relive some of their signature spots to no avail. Despite this we saw very little offence from McSafety for his team. Then in closing moments of the bout, McSafety removed his new mask, to reveal he was still Splits McPins all along and the crowd went apeshit. I'm not doing this moment justice because I was too busy hugging people around me and jumping about like loon, to note anything more detailed than "SPLITS IS FUN". I think I almost cried. The final five minutes around that moment were ridiculously entertaining fare including the BoO using their helmets to block strikes and even a piledriver from Aussie Open, a silly suicide dive from big lad Los Fedarales Super Santos Jr. and then the closing flurry of fantastic shit from the Aussie lads that sealed the victory once James and Leigh were left alone. 

  • It was Mark Davis' birthday so before the interval he got a sing song, which was lovely.

Bird & Boar def. "The All-Day Star" Ryan Smile & Chris Brookes 

To say that Wild Boar and Mike Bird's victory over Ryan Smile and Chris Brookes was an interesting bout would be an understatement. There was a lot of moving parts that went into the creation of the contest that was originally scheduled as two singles match (Bird v Smile, Brookes v Boar) and I think it's safe to say that not all of them worked. A lot of this hinged around the mostly (or at least, loud) negative reception for Smile, probably due to recent comments on Twitter being poorly received. This wouldn't have caused a massive issue, if the structure of the match hadn't been pivoted around Smile being a popular blue-eye (which up until this show, he had been doing fairly successfully in ATTACK!). Let's do a little play-by-play and attempt to explain what went down here. With Wild Boar and Chris Brookes ready for their match, Boar's regular tag team partner Mike Bird jumped Brookes with a forearm shot and the two fan favourites began to beat down the villain, in what seemed to be a double turn, but without any real acceptance from the audience. Then Smile made his entrance with a flashy save for Brookes, which got a loud boo, followed by "Fuck you Ryan" chants from not all, but definitely a loud portion of the crowd. When Smile offered Brookes a handshake, that same portion was violently against Brookes joining up with Smile, to the point where when Brookes left Smile to himself against Bird & Boar and headed to the back, he was cheered for doing so. We then headed into the match as a handicap bout.  

 After a few minutes of Smile getting beat down by Bird & Boar, Brookes came out to make the save and we had a tag team match and supposedly this completed Brookes switch to a good guy, although you wouldn't have known it where I was standing. Smile was clearly unhappy with the audience, some of whom took things too far (although admittedly I didn't hear the "Kill yourself" remark that was reported afterwards), even beginning to shout things towards that part of the crowd when on the apron. Of course as fans, we've been conditioned that if a wrestling character tells you to stop something, the performer behind the character is actually encouraging you to do so even more. I don't think that was the case here. Even when hitting his truly spectacular tope conhilo over the ringpost, Smile was met with "You still suck" from a section. I'm not sure if there was a conscious decision between all the performers, but Bird & Boar definitely seemed to switch things up in the later portion of the match becoming more fan-friendly and playing into the mostly positive reaction they were receiving. The content of the match was fine and under normal circumstances would've been a cool way to open the second half of the show, with lots of double team attacks, powerbombs and piledrivers, but it came unstuck on the crowd's reaction to the mildly-complicated alignment switches. 

*I was obviously stood in a very specific part of a big building, if you were stood on the opposite side of the bar then you may very well have had a completely different experience of what went down here.*

ELIJAH def. Omari 

A solid pre-main event bout, that kept things short and simple, going just over six minutes. It wasn't a blowaway memorable classic, but the two up and comers held their own and produced a couple of nice reversal sequences, whilst not really putting a foot wrong either. The structure was straightforward, paint by numbers stuff, with ELIJAH getting some decent heat when in control, with kicks in the corner and a nice knee on the apron. Omari is yet to gain as much traction in ATTACK! as he has in Fight Club: Pro, but he gave a good account of himself here, showing off his power catching a dive from ELIJAH into a powerbomb and later hitting a gutwrench variety of the move, whilst pulling out a lovely moonsault as well. The strongest part of the match came from Omari attempting his modified lifting reverse STO finish, only for ELIJAH to swing round mid-move and hit a crucifix driver. It was a well-timed reversal and a slick piece of action. After a number of shenanigan filled bouts, it was nice change of pace, that refreshed the crowd ahead of the main event and provided good opportunities to two lads who have come on leaps and bounds over the last six months. 

  • In-Ring - Ruddy hell, the Anti-Fun Police came out with "No Fun" riot shields! 

"Flash" Morgan Webster def. Chief Deputy Dunne to win the ATTACK! Championship

A wild, sprawling main event, with shed-loads of interference, referee shenanigans, cool high spots, dramatic near falls and swervey finishes, this was ATTACK! Pro Wrestling at it's most ATTACK! Pro Wrestlingieist. There were certain similarities to Travis Banks'beating Pete Dunne to win the Fight Club: Pro title earlier in the year. Every potential obstacle was put in Morgan Webster's way, but there was just no chance that he wasn't walking out of Walkabout as the ATTACK! Champion. Things started regularly enough with Flash locking on a guillotine choke and then cleaning house when the Brothers of Obstruction broke up the hold, nailing a sweet reverse rana and then a tope conhilo. The crowd were ready for this one and they had to be as Webster and Dunne took the match to them, with all sort of madness going on as part of an intense, rowdy crowd brawl. The pair went all around the lower portion of the building, stopping only to cause each other a bit more pain. Some of this was obviously a little difficult to see, but I did catch a tasty hurricanrana on the floor, which happened near us. It was quite a while before the two got back in, as they continued to brawl closer to the ring, with Webster continuing to shine as he nailed a tilt-a-whirl DDT on the floor. 

Whilst crowd brawls are fun and all, the match took things to the next level inside the ring, with Dunne taking advantage of referee Shay being a dick and nailed Webster with a kick to his. Shay's smiling face whilst Dunne stomped on Webster's head was a brilliant visual. Purser's role in matches like this one has become instrumental and perhaps sometimes overlooked. The little shit helps garner extra heat for the villains (and the Anti-Fun Police are already nuclear hot) and also helps to provide dramatic "near falls", like when he refused to count the three count after a double underhook piledriver looked like it could have won it for Webster (which was followed up by former 24/7 Champion Warren Owens returning to nail his former rival with a spear). Talking of near falls, there certainly wasn't a shortage of them here, as the match was loaded with sensational last-second kick outs, with a handful of them convincingly feeling like they could've seen the match come to a close. Webster jumping off the top rope into a spear, a double-knee facebreaker from Dunne, the aforementioned double-underhook piledriver and then a somersault reverse DDT from Webster (that included the drama of a new referee having to appear) all produced great moments. 

The last five minutes were utterly bonkers stuff. Locker room emptying brawls (Chris Brookes on the face side, so that answer that question), Eddie Dennis hitting a ridiculous crucifix powerbomb on Los Federals Super Santos Jr, another incredible near fall for Dunne, a tense showdown between Dunne and Sgt. Banks and then the gripping final moments that saw Webster clinching the win to become just the third ATTACK! Champion. It was busy and chaotic, but wonderfully so. There was so much going on in that last block of action, with so many people involved, that it could've been a disaster. One wrong move could've sent the rest of the bout into a bit of a shambles, but that didn't happen. Each building block came together to create something special, taking the story that had built up for months and months, since Webster's return from injury in April, pulling in a number of narrative threads along the way. Of course, none of the story twists and turns would've been possible if it weren't for the two being two of the best the country has to offer right now, as they took each change of style and direction in their stride, with the foundation of the contest always being very good pro wrestling. 

ATPW Scale Rating - 6.34/10

Believe it or not I've purposefully left out or been vague about certain moments in the main event, because I'd like everyone who reads this that hasn't seen the match to go and check it out (and preferably go back and watch the last year or so of ATTACK! shows because they're well worth it and you'll appreciate this cracker even more) You can do so here - The rest of the show was another good edition to the library, with Sgt. Banks vs. Eddie Dennis and the Anti-Fun Police vs. Aussie Open & Lloyd Katt both being well-worth checking out, for different reasons. There were a few things that didn't work, but this is something to be expected with a promotion that likes to experiment and try new things. As always, ATTACK! was fun!

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