Sunday, 21 October 2018

Live Review // ATTACK! Pro Wrestling GooseBUMPS VI // Drew Parker vs. Splits McPins

ATTACK!'s Halloween spectacular was back for the sixth time with the Trinity Centre in Bristol as the host of the grizzly graps. This year's edition was hit by taking place on the same day as a NXT UK taping and a big RevPro event, meaning a whole host of regulars, including ATTACK! Champion Wild Boar and 24/7 Champion Pete Dunne, as well as the likes of Chris Brookes, El Phantasmo, Aussie Open, Millie McKenzie, Travis Banks, Eddie Dennis, Trent Seven and Tyler Bate were all absent. It was definitely a blow and a test of the depth of the ATTACK! roster, but offered up opportunities to the likes of Drew Parker and Splits McPins who main-evented in Halloween Havoc 2018, as well as The Hunter Brothers colliding with Team WhiteWolf in a "Grudge" match. The show also featured action involving Martin Kirby, Mike Bird, Damian Dunne, Chuck Mambo and Spike Trivet...but was it any good? Lets take a look. 

FUN fact - This was the first GooseBUMPS missing appearances from Pete Dunne and Eddie Dennis (with at least one of the pair having main evented every incarnation of the event, including together on the original and third shows), meaning Mike Bird and Damian Dunne are the only two to have wrestled on all six shows.

The show kicked off with an appearance from ATTACK! General Manager and general scamp Kid Lykos, who announced that former tag partners turned bitter rivals LK Mezzinger and Splits McPins would be taking part in Pick Your Poison at the show, with both men able to choose their enemies opponent. Cheers Lykos. 

A solid opener saw 2 time ATTACK! Tag Team Champion LK Mezinger pick up a victory over former ATTACK! Champion Damian Dunne. The bout continued the narrative of a disheartened Dunne, still recovering from the breakup of the Anti-Fun Police at the hands of Nothing to Prove in August, keeping things short and sweet as we were provided with glimpses of the old Chief including a thunderous spear that garnered a big pop from the Trinity Centre and that felt like it could have been a turning point. Mezinger didn't look out of place with a more experienced performer, working well in the spoiler role, as he mocked Dunne and provided the early ammunition with a massive slap. I'd like to see the character fleshed out slightly and a few of the disparate elements (the outfit, the cane, the nickname of "Your favourite scumbag" etc.) bought together more to create a better defined persona, but that will surely come with more singles exposure over time. Dunne attempting his springboard lungblower finish (without trademark "No Funahhhhh") was a running theme throughout, so of course it would eventually be his downfall with Mezinger able to transition into a cradle belly to back piledriver. It was a shame that the following move, a senton bomb, missed by a mile taking the punch out of the finish that really didn't require the top rope move after the more impressive piledriver.

FUN Fact - This was LK Mezinger's first singles win in ATTACK!, having previously suffered losses to Big Grizzly and Tyler Bate.

Nothing to Prove continued to gain momentum as ELIJAH put away Niwa in what was a strong showing from both performers. This was probably the best singles work I've seen from either as they paced the bout well and plotted in a few brilliant spots. I've been waiting to be impressed by both men for some time and whilst both have shown potential in multi-mans and tag outings, this was the first singles match that I've been genuinely into from Elijah, whilst in the case of Niwa, it's difficult to buy into someone you mostly see in scramble matches. It wasn't a must-watch classic, but both men took the opportunity and produced a match that was full of action and physicality. The obvious highlight of the match was the massive springboard coast to coast dropkick that ELIJAH used to knock Niwa off the apron on the other side of the ring, because it came almost completely out of nowhere and took me completely by surprise. I'm hoping both men get more opportunities like this one around the country because it will only be a benefit to both the performers and the scene in general.

FUN fact - Niwa is still searching for his first ATTACK! singles win, after previously suffering losses to Travis Banks in July and Mike Bird in August.

Okay, the first two matches had been alright, solid stuff, but where the fudge was my Halloween goodness? It came in the form of a Grudge Match for the Tag titles, which the Hunter Brothers took literally as they appeared to have been transformed into the spirit from Halloween classic, The Grudge. Team WhiteWolf on the other hand reminded us that "No one expects the Spanish inquisition" as the Spaniards arrived as the Monty Python sketch to hilarious consequences. Seriously, I struggled to breath through portions of this match, with some utter silliness displayed by both teams as they played up the roles and had a number of ludicurous interactions in the opening portion of the match. The variant on the cliche bridging pin reversal spot was the highlight, before the Hunters were offered a beer and quickly snapped back into their usual selves. From then the match shifted into something much more recognisable as The Hunter Brothers continued to show why they're thought of as one of, if not the, best tag team in the UK with a number of sleek tag team sequences including a lovely superkick spot. Whilst there was some miscommunication that lead to a really awkward dive spot, Team WhiteWolf still had a strong showing, flying about the place with ease and pulling out a number of cracking tag moves, including a missile dropkick variant of Total Elimination (Totaller Elimination?), as well as a top-rope Spanish Inquisition Fly from A-Kid. They aren't the finished article yet, but more matches like this will help them get there. 

FUN Fact - The Hunter Brothers have been undefeated since the break up of the Anti-Fun Police at WinterSlam 3, with their run as a duo extending back to the second night of Press Start VI.

The second half began with more Nothing to Prove success as Chuck Mambo (as a creepy face-painted Love Making Demon) defeated Martin Kirby (as Uncle Fester off of The Addams Family). A little bit spookier than the previous Nothing to Prove singles match, but with similar structure, it's difficult for those match not to merge into one in my head, but this was probably the strongest of the three. Whilst it lacked the emotional element of the opener and the big spot from ELIJAH vs. Niwa, this was just a good solid wrestling match, with the two working nicely together in their first one on one bout. Whilst it feels like Mambo is still settling into his heel character, the role allows for him to explore his style in ways that the happy-go-lucky surfer gimmick doesn't, with Chuck able to display (perhaps oxymoronically) both his technical talents and fiery brawling side. Kirby is, of course, one of the most dependable and consistent performers in the country and worked well in his role, getting the crowd behind him with ease, despite having not performed for ATTACK! in Bristol since December 2016, thanks to some offence like his springboard dropkick and by not being a part of Nothing to Prove. A nasty bump of heads on an O'Connor roll into sleeper hold could have derailed the finish, with Mambo suffering a nasty wound under his eye, but they kept on with a couple of good near falls for each, before the dreaded sleeper hold sealed the win for Mambo. 

FUN Fact - Martin Kirby has never won a match at ATTACK! in Bristol.

HALLOWEEN MADNESS! If there's one thing this show will be remembered for it's that Spike Trivet dressed up as Theresa May and came out to Dancing Queen. As soon as I realised what was about to happen, a few seconds into the famous song, until the end of the match I was in absolute stitches, with Trivet owning every second of his Bristol ATTACK! debut. He was part of a four way scramble, that also featured Mike Bird (as Big Mummy), Shay Purser (as Kung-Fu Panda) and Nico Angelo (as Tarzan), that was stacked full of the silliness that ATTACK! is most loved for. There was the ridiculous Big Mummy character, a parody of World of Sport legend Big Daddy, full of lots of insider stuff to pop those who got it, the delightful Purser just trying to Kung Fu shit and Angelo with a more animalistic twist on his super flippy and athletic self, what more do you want from a batshit mad four way? Trivet pulled it all together with his various Spinnatory attempts, with the match peaking when Trivet offered £20 to Angelo to do a dive for him, quickly swapping for banana when he realsied Tarzan didn't understand the concept, before striking Angelo in the junglefruits. The finish saw Bird going nuts with piledrivers and Steiner Screwdrivers for all, before Purser completely no sold a top-rope over the shoulder Tombstone and won with a swift punch to the stomach. This had actually been set up earlier in the match with Purser unable to use the move because of Big Mummy's big belly (a hoodie inside Bird's singlet) but with the belly now gone Purser was clear to hit the move and pick up the win. Side note: Purser moving up the belt classes of pro wrestling is really cute gimmick that will hopefully become even more interesting and dramatic as things progress. 

FUN fact - Mike Bird ties Travis Banks for most ATTACK! four-way appearances in 2018, although neither man has managed to win one.

The best thing to come out of all the absences on the show was that Splits McPins and Drew Parker got a big opportunity to main event in a singles match and grabbed that opportunity with both hands. With a Halloween Havoc No Disqualification type gimmick, this was a rough and tumble clash with plenty of menace behind it, with the pair having issues since the start of the year (including McPins' tag partner LK Mezinger (fka Lloyd Katt) defecting to NTP). The match built well throughout, shifting through the gears well, moving from back and forth seated punches to big shots with plastic wet floor signs to stapling balls and apron bumps, there was pretty much no let-up or lull as McPins and Parker consistently upped the ante. Parker's experience in the Hardcore zone/sphere meaning he was able to come out on top of number of exchanges was a nice little story, that threaded the match together, making this feel more main event than throwaway plunder brawl. Some big highspots helped towards this aim as well, with a nasty death valley driver on the apron from McPins and Parker's avalanche falcon arrow through a table being the most memorable. The finish saw things develop further with a clever ref bump that involved Parker stapling McPins mask back to front and putting referee Huw in place for a superkick, before thumbtacks and LK Mezinger arrived on the scene. Mezinger accidentally clobbering Parker with his cane almost immediately was a nice way of playing with the audiences expectations, especially after three previous Nothing to Prove victories, whilst McPins ended up with a convincing victory after a Full Moon and a solo More Bowl for your Buck into the drawing pins. These lads stepped up and using a few tricks to get there, produced a good main event that didn't look out of place on regular ATTACK! event. 

Post-match - There seemed to be issues between Mezinger and Parker, I'm intrigued to see if that leads to anything on the last few shows of 2018.

FUN Fact - Splits McPins has only lost one singles match in ATTACK!, to Tyler Bate at Club One Hundred #2 in September 2016. 

This was a lovely fun show, with every match being somewhere in the solid to good range and nothing looking to outstay it's welcome. Whilst it would be wrong to say the absences weren't noticeable and that no match was without its issues, pretty much everyone that had to step up on these shows did and I think that's part of what made it such a lovely experience as a fan. Perhaps ironically this was most notable with the group that calls itself Nothing to Prove with all four members proving their ability and/or potential as singles guys across the card and whilst it's arguable that the group was seen too much on a six match card, the experience will be invaluable to all four as they continue to grow. ELIJAH out performed my previous estimations, whilst Drew Parker looked extremely comfortable in the main event. It's difficult to pick a match of the night, because I wouldn't class any one match as "must-watch", but there were certainly stretches of the Hunters vs. WhiteWolf, the four-way scramble and Parker vs. McPins main event that would make any of those three worthy winners. It's been questioned recently the effect that WWE running NXT UK events reguarly in the UK will have on the Indy scene, but If GooseBUMPS VI is anything to go by ATTACK! Pro Wrestling and British wrestling as a whole has enough talent coming through to keep things entertaining for quite some time and perhaps not having to rely on big names will allow new and fresh talent to come through.

You can check out the On Demand version of this show for yourself here -

Review by James Marston 

Photo credit - Ringside Perspective 

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