Whilst I'm not ready for it to be the final Fight Club: PRO show of 2017, I am super pumped for the 2017 edition of the Infinity tournament. FCP has been riding a wave of momentum in 2017, moving to a bigger warehouse and consistently putting on sick af shows, in front of one of the best audiences in the UK. So as they look to end the year with a bang, they present us with their signature singles tournament, that has been running since 2011. With a brand new format for 2017, replacing two four-way elimination semi-finals and a singles match final, we have four singles match semi-finals and a four-way elimination final. Simple enough and allows for more action across the card and hopefully wider storytelling potential come the main event. Previously the tournament has been won by a list of names that are synonymous with the brand. Current WWE United Kingdom Champion Pete Dunne, Trent Seven, Travis Banks, Chris Brookes, MK McKinnan and Clint Margera have all walked out with the trophy in years gone by, but who could possibly follow in their foot steps? Although the line-ups are yet to be announced, we know who our eight competitors will be, so lets take a look.
Kay Lee Ray
The current WCPW Women's Champion made her FCP debut last October and has quickly cemented herself as a regular member of the roster. Her high-flying daredevil style has made her a favourite in ICW and Southside, including capturing the ICW Women's Championship and only last week winning the Queen of the Ring tournament with consecutive wins over Toni Storm, Lana Austin and Kasey Owens. However, she is three matches without a win in FCP and is also yet to have an intergender one on one match in the promotion, which could put her at a disadvantage depending on the first round draw. Converting her undoubted tournament credentials into the very different environment of the Infinity Tournament will be the Scot's key to victory on Friday.
Where to begin with Travis Banks in FCP?! He turned up in February 2016 and rocked our respective worlds. Killer matches with the likes of Zack Sabre Jr., Sami Callihan and Tyler Bate lit up shows in the Planet and Fixxion and Banks' losing streak angle became one of the hottest stories in British wrestling by the end of 2016. That culminated in the dramatic victory at last year's Infinity tournament, as he defeated Trent Seven in a ridiculous final, before winning the title from Pete Dunne four months later. Since then Banks has exploded all over the country and beyond, doing bits for PWG, PROGRESS and wXw. His tournament acumen has grown, winning Super Strong Style 16 and reaching the semi-finals of the Battle of Los Angeles in what has been an incredible year for the Kiwi Buzzsaw. His crisp offence and hard strikes, ability to draw an audience deep into a match and a never say die fire make him a perennial favourite, but could Banks be the first ever two time winner of Infinity?
*Cheesiest line of the article alert*...The fans may make fun of Jordan Devlin's perceived massive fucking head, but there's also no questioning that Devlin has massive fucking potential. The OTT star has impressed repeatedly in FCP with sleeper outings with Travis Banks and David Starr, whilst also showing multi-man acumen by winning his debut six way scramble in May and a three way in July. The sole Irish participant in the competition started strong winning three of his first four matches in FCP, but his fortunes since then have been less favourable with three defeats on the bounce, meaning his momentum heading into Infinity isn't what it would've been had the tournament in the summer. Devlin is capable of putting on great matches with a vicious, technical style, but has a lot to prove in Wolverhampton this Friday. Will that translate into a big victory? We'll have to wait and see.
Of all the competitors in the tournament, Dan Moloney has been in FCP the longest by quite some way, making his first appearance way back in February 2013. Since then Moloney has gone from strength to strength, developing a penchant for turning on tag team partners, as Tyler Bate found out in 2014. A split from Facesmashers partner Wild Boar in September last year (after a fantastic feud with The Hunter Brothers) would see Moloney really come into his own, not just going undefeated in one on one action (a run that actually went back to December 2014) and defeating the likes of Mark Andrews, Fire Ant and Andrew Everett along the way, but also improving almost every element of his game, all whilst the crowd revelled in the fact he was wearing short boots. A feud with Barely Legal (Shay Purser & "Session Moth" Martina) has derailed Moloney slightly, including the loss of his undefeated streak, but that could also mean we see even more violence out of the WWE UK competitor.
One of FCP's newest regulars, Mark Davis has found most of his UK success tagging with Kyle Fletcher as Aussie Open. Title wins in ATTACK and HOPE have seen the duo rise up the British tag ranks at record pace, having only tagged for the first time in July. Whilst the two have impressed with their all-action tag team style, they actually had their first match in FCP against each other, when the two tore the (Wrestle)house down in June. Unfortunately for the Aussie, that was his last and only win in FCP as despite the wild and entertaining natures of Aussie Open's tag matches they've fallen to Moustache Mountain, OI4K and the Callous Hearts. Davis has also dropped a couple of multi-man contests. Davis' participation guarantees those in attendance some marvellous action, but whether he's able to break his duck and pull out a victory is another kettle of fish.
Having begun to impress in Birmingham-based Kamikaze Pro against the likes of Pete Dunne, Tyler Bate and David Starr, Omari made his FCP debut last October with a dark match win over TK Cooper and has made FCP his home in 2017. After coming up short in last year's tournament in a four way including the much more experienced trio of Trent Seven, Mikey Whiplash and Joe Coffey, Omari continued to develop and garner crowd support throughout 2017, transitioning out of opening (and often dark) match multi-mans with fellow up and comers to marquee matches with Pete Dunne, Shane Strickland and Travis Banks. Most notable though was Omari's spectacular victory over former ROH star Keith Lee in July. The victory got an electric reaction from the Wolverhampton crowd and showed that on his day Omari can hang with just about anyone on the indy circuit. Whilst he's three without a win since, there's every chance that the Big O could pull off another incredible upset on Friday night. He'll have the swell of the crowd support and the reaction to an Omari win may well surpass the atmosphere that was present after his victory over Lee.
The other half of Aussie Open, Kyle Fletcher has to be considered the tournaments underdog, with no singles match victories in FCP. In fact, his only win came in a trios match, teaming with Omari and Millie McKenzie against now partner Mark Davis, Shane Strickland and Fire Ant in August. Aussie Open have had success elsewhere, but in Fight Club: Pro things haven't been as easy and that narrative translates to Fletcher's solo performances also. One of the most entertaining performers on the roster, with a fast-paced, highflying style, the Aussie Arrow is often the show-stealing performer wherever he goes, but can he pull one out the bag and steal the Infinity trophy?
The tournament wild card is Millie McKenzie, having only made her debut in June in a losing effort to Kay Lee Ray. As an FCP trained performer, McKenzie has a massive connection with the FCP faithful, as fans attempt to jump on the hype train early for the 17 year old. An impressive weekend at September's Project Mayhem with a shock win over Jessica Havok and Kay Lee Ray in a three way and a powerful performance in a seven way contest that featured the likes of David Starr, Mark Haskins and Jordan Devlin and was eventually won by three time Open the Dream Gate Champion CIMA propelled her further into the collective consciousness of the BritWres community, with many making her their one to watch for 2018. We may still be in 2017, but with McKenzie's tenacity and brutal suplexes, it would be a fool who wrote off from a potential upset.
The tournament is perhaps one of the most open for quite some time, with a number of potential winners amongst the pack. There's a tonne of stories that could be told with any one of the competitors winning or anyone of the competitors going out early or having a run through the final etc. I'm looking forward to seeing how FCP go about this, as they look to set the tone for the company going forward into next year.
The show will also feature appearances from former ROH World Champions Low Ki and Homicide, former CHIKARA Grand Champion Eddie Kingston and the current Fight Club: PRO Champion Chris Brookes (supposedly with broken CCK partner Kid Lykos in tow). What these four will be up to has yet to be announced, but it's FCP it'll be fucking brilliant whatever happens. If it sounds like your bag, there's still tickets available at fightclubpro.bigcartel.com
Preview by James Marston (@IAmNotAlanDale)