Friday, 28 September 2018

FCP The Eighth Rule of Fight Club Review // Sekimoto vs. Bate

After a three night stretch at Bush Hall in London, Fight Club: PRO was back at Starworks Warehouse in Wolverhampton for the first time in just over a month on 31st August 2018. Whilst all title holders (World Champion Meiko Satomura, Tag Team Champions Chris Brookes & Kid Lykos and Infinity Trophy (deceased) holder WALTER), were all absent, alongside other regulars like Travis Banks, Angelico and Clint Margera, the originators of British Strong Style still managed to put on a rather tasty looking card on paper. This included the only advertised match in the main event between former BJW Strong World Heavyweight Champion Daisuke Sekimoto and former WWE United Kingdom Champion Tyler Bate in a mouth-watering international clash. Elsewhere, Pete Dunne & Trent Seven were joined by Millie McKenzie to become British Strong Mates as they took on The Rascalz (Dezmond Xavier & Zachary Wents joined by Trey Miguel) and the newest member of Schadenfreude, Mark Davis, took on FCP Original MK McKinnan, as well as action featuring Jordan Devlin, Kyle Fletcher, "Session Moth" Martina, El Phantasmo and Chuck Mambo. But was it any good? Lets find out! 

Six Person Tag Team Match // 

British Strong Mates (Pete Dunne & Trent Seven & Millie McKenzie) def. The Rascalz (Dezmond Xavier & Zachary Wentz & Trey Miguel) // 


This international six person tag was a strong start to the evening, presenting varied action throughout. Underlined by some fun character work from all involved, the bout followed what has become a trademark of British Strong Style (and the Bruisermates) beginning with almost pure japes, before launching into more serious and exciting work in the stretch. The comedy was highlighted by some variation on some of Trent Seven's spots as the Wulfrunian looked to prove his lucha credentials. Seven's run as face in peril had it's moments, but the match really hated up following a hot tag to Pete Dunne, with the pace lifting and leading into a wonderful sequence between Dunne and Trey Miguel. In his Wolverhampton debut Miguel really impressed for me with this delightfully fast and crisp exchange with Dunne, being followed up by a series of truly impressive dives to the floor later on in the bout. For me, a few more convincing near falls could have elevated this one just that little bit more, with jumping piledriver from Seven that was preceded by duel headkicks from Dunne and McKenzie being the only moment I can remember as feeling like it could have been match-ending, but perhaps that's the difference between an opening match and a main event. Destroyers from all three members of British Strong Mates to Xavier was a neat way pulling the matches two strands together, with Starworks popping big for Seven pulling out the move for the eventual pin. 

WrestleHouse Stat // This leaves poor Trey Miguel with a 0-5 record in Fight Club: PRO.

- Trent Seven stuck around, being joined by Martin Zaki, to welcome Project London Super Trainee Stars Of The Future Tournament winner Scotty Davis. This was all fun and games until Davis mentioned wanting to do Ireland proud, bringing out Jordan Devlin. Some words later and we had ourselves a match...

Singles Match // 

Jordan Devlin def. Scotty Davis // 


As someone who hadn't seen Scotty Davis before this was a great introduction to what he can offer to FCP, as he took part in an even contest with one of the top singles performers in the company. The two have previous in Over the Top Wrestling (OTT) meaning that the familiarity allowed for a heated and mostly smooth clash, with Davis showing impressive babyface fire from the very beginning. I was particularly impressed with some of his strong style strikes out of the gate, as well as some solid selling in the later stages. Obviously, Davis will need to evolve past a relatively generic babyface role later down the line in FCP, but as a first introduction to Wolverhampton this worked just fine. For me, this one lagged a little in the middle, losing some of the impact it had in the opening exchange and perhaps could've been improved by being a little shorter and punchier. As the story developed in the later stages, there were plenty of near falls for both sides, including a Fisherman buster for Davis and an avalanche DVD from Devlin, which really put over Davis to the new audience as he held in their with a more seasoned wrestlers and showed a tonne of fighting spirit (something which would become quite a theme for the evening going forward). A desperation headbutt leading to Devlin falling into the pin for the victory deepened the narrative and should lead to a very interesting rematch down the line.

WrestleHouse Stat // Jordan Devlin's one on one record in FCP goes to 7-2, with only Travis Banks and Jeff Cobb managing to beat the Irishman in singles action since August 2017.

Singles Match // 

Kyle Fletcher def. Omari // 


The first half main event was the match of the night for me, as Kyle Fletcher got his win back on Omari after their match at June's World Warriors event. Obviously since June, we've seen Fletcher turn to the bad side and join Schadenfruede and Omari lose his Infinity Trophy to WALTER, so this was a very different match-up from the original clash. Like the previous bout this was one was heated from the very beginning with Omari getting a massive slap for the face from Fletcher after the Big O had repeatedly called his opponent "Chris Brookes' bitch", before Omari replied with a barrage of offence. After his match with Travis Banks last month was cut short by an injury to Banks, this was my first real chance to get to see Fletcher's new heel persona and the Aussie Arrow impressed heavily as he targeted Omari's bandaged hand for long periods, with vicious stomps and submissions, often varying his offence to focus on the injury, whilst also spending time to soak up the heat from the crowd. On the flip side, Omari sold the injury well, continuing to perform effectively in the sympathetic babyface role. The damage played a big part in the closing stages with Omari unable to get the cover after his lifting reverse STO finish in a dramatic moment, before a miss tope conhilo would see Fletcher captalise with as series of moves that concluded with a nasty looking modified crossface (with a heavy focus on the hand of course) gave the Aussie the win. This was a much more mature display from each than their previous outing, bringing the story to the forefront, lifting the intensity and opening up a number of possibilities for both men going forward. With the pair at one a piece, a rematch would seem possible before the end of the year.

WrestleHouse Stat // This loss leaves Omari without a win in his last six in FCP, since beating Fletcher at World Warriors in June.

Singles Match // 

Mark Davis def. MK McKinnan // 


"Find a well known hard man...and start a fight" - MK McKinnan's Arctic Monkeys entrance music acted as an omen of things to come as he scrapped with "Dunkzilla" Mark Davis in the Aussie's first Wolverhampton appearance since joining Schadenfreude, coming hot straight out of the gate. In one his best performances since returning to action, McKinnan took an absolute beating from the bigger man, including a barrage of vicious looking chops and just kept on plugging away. I've felt that McKinnan has struggled to gain a connection with the larger Starworks crowd since returning, with many unaware of his past or his importance to the promotion, but his performance here should hopefully have won a lot more people over, as he sold tremendously throughout, not just the beating, but his desire to prove himself. McKinnan's facial expressions and body language in particular were spot on, drawing me further into the match and almost feel the pain myself. This was, of course, made easier by Dunkzilla being a big violent bastard and the ongoing Schadenfruede story in general, something which was maybe missing from other recent MK matches. It's much easier to root for the underdog, when you've got a connection with the villain of the piece! Davis would pick up the win with Close Your Eyes and Count to Fuck, but both men came out better off following this one. All we need now is for more promotions to start booking McKinnan because he's only going to benefit from further ring time and exposure.

WrestleHouse Stat // Mark Davis remains undefeated one on one in FCP, having previously put away Kyle Fletcher in June 2017, Kay Lee Ray in December 2017 and Clint Margera this May.

WrestleHouse Scramble Match // 

Chuck Mambo def. "Session Moth" Martina and El Phantasmo and Drew Parker and Charli Evans // 


A well-placed and welcome scramble match, as Chuck Mambo finally got his chance in Wolvo and completely owned it, alongside strong performances from Martina, El Phantasmo, Drew Parker and Charli Evans as well. Particular moments that I noted down were Phantasmo's rope walking escapades, which I don't think could ever not be entertaining, as well as a strong sequence with Martina and Evans, who both put on impressive displays. A couple of slip-ups here and there, including a nasty blockbuster from Mambo, but it's rare to have a six-way bout at this pace without something going slightly awry at some point.  It was pleasant surprise to see Mambo so dominant in the victory as he cleared the field with a series of moves in quick succession including a dive to the floor before a top rope splash was enough to put Parker away. A fun change of pace from regular scramble finishes, which can come off a fluke, this seemed to be a way of establishing Mambo as a regular roster member going forward.

WrestleHouse Stat // This loss means that still Martina's only FCP victories in England were shooting Chief Deputy Dunne with a nerf gun and in a three-way that involved a stuffed giraffe as one of the participants. 

Singles Match // 

Tyler Bate def. Daisuke Sekimoto // 


Whilst it was a very good and extremely physical encounter, the real strength of Tyler Bate's victory over absolute unit Daisuke Sekimoto was the groundwork that had gone in across the previous couple of hours. Each singles match on the show followed a similar pattern, with one performer having to fight from underneath (Scott Davis, Omari, MK McKinnan) whilst the other (Jordan Devlin, Kyle Fletcher, Mark Davis) dominated the majority of proceedings, before the underdog was unable to overcome the odds. That meant that when Bate hit a gorgeous spiral tap to pull out an unlikely victory over an opponent that was bigger, more experience and had shown to be a consistently stronger boi, it felt like a much bigger moment than if the match had been consumed in a vacuum. 

The match itself was a meaty affair with the Big Japan star using strength and size to control, absorbing almost all of Bate's offence (including some big chops). With a much more considered pace than the rest of the card, this match took it's time to tell the story, holding the crowd more through the presence of the performers than a blow-away series of action, especially in the early goings. It was refreshing to see Bate back in a role in which he performs so well, as he got plenty of time here to show the fighting spirit and guts that saw him rise to the top of British wrestling, with some delightful facial expressions as he looked to find a way past Sekimoto. For me, I would've liked to have seen Sekimoto go in a little harder when the two were exchanging strikes, as Bate's chops almost always came across as more impressive, when it felt like Sekimoto's should have been the exclamation point on the exchange, whilst I think the bout could also have benefitted from a gear change down the stretch and perhaps one more good near fall. Overall though, this was a very good conclusion to the show, that tied things together nicely and provided a brilliant and rare opportunity to see Daisuke Sekimoto perform in England.  
WrestleHouse Stat // One on one Tyler Bate is undefeated in Fight Club: Pro since All the Best in February 2016 (a loss to Pete Dunne at the Planet) with Daisuke Sekimoto joining a list that also includes Will Ospreay, Jeff Cobb and Travis Banks (twice).

ATPW Scale Rating // 

A lovely show once again from Fight Club: Pro who have real hit a rich vein of form since Dream Tag Team Invitational. Whilst this show didn't have the stand out match that other shows this year have had, everything seemed to hit around the good to very good range, with nothing that really dragged the show down. The pacing was some of the best I've seen FCP this year, with the right matches opening and closing each half and the scramble match coming at just the right point to clear the palette before the main event. The story told throughout the show was also a masterful piece of booking that could easily be overlooked. I touched on this in my Bate vs. Sekimoto review, but it really does need bringing up again, because it's not something that I can remember happening in FCP for quite a while. 

Review by James Marston

Photo Credit - The Ringside Perspective