I’m a bit late with this month’s post. Serves me right for leaving it all to the last minute. Still, it was a packed month of Britwres.
First up this month I had Revolution Pro’s Angle vs Sabre event at York Hall. At this point a lot has been said about the show, and if you’re interested then you’ve probably already checked it out, so I’ll keep my thoughts fairly brief. Obviously the atmosphere was amazing; it was the loudest crowd I’ve ever been a part of, and the main event felt like something truly special between the chanting and singing that threatened to blow the roof off the building. Even more amazing was the reaction Will Ospreay got, returning home after becoming the youngest ever winner of New Japan’s Best of Super Juniors tournament. It was probably the single greatest moment I’ve experienced as a wrestling fan.
As for the matches themselves, Ospreay vs Mike Bailey was my match of the night. The two gelled really well and it had some insane sequences, as you’d expect from the pair. Close behind it was Josh Bodom vs Chris Hero. I’ve been high on Bodom for a while and this was the best match I’ve seen him in. I think he’s really going to benefit from working some of the bigger names that RevPro bring in, in the same way that Ospreay did last year. I was impressed with the team of Joel Redman and Charlie Garrett. They had some really dynamic offence, between Redman’s suplexes and power moves, and Garrett’s impressive high flying. They seem to be a bit lacking in the character department at the moment, but hopefully that will develop in time, and it’s exciting to have some fresh faces on top of the tag division.
I also went to NXT in Dublin, and although it’s not really the focus of these columns I’ll just give a few quick thoughts. Firstly it was awesome to see Finn Balor make his return to Dublin, just two days after seeing Ospreay return to London. The Irish fans gave him a warm welcome and he cut a great promo afterwards. Secondly, this was my first WWE show of any kind, and it was interesting to see the difference in how the matches were worked compared to what you see on TV. There was a bit more playing to the audience, and the matches were a lot more simple, as you would expect given they were doing so many nights on the trot. Lastly, although I’ve seen Shinsuke Nakamura live twice before for RevPro, his entrance gave me goosebumps; they’ve done a fantastic job presenting him as something special.
I watched the first night of WXW’s 16 Carat Gold Tournament, and the Brits put on a great showing. My favourite match was Zack Sabre Jr vs Big Daddy Walter. It was a simple story of the big powerhouse getting outworked by the smaller technician, but both guys played their roles perfectly. Elsewhere Will Ospreay had another one of his crazy matches, this time with Shane Strickland. It featured an extended dance off which was only slightly marred by the dubbed over music which appears to be a staple of WXW shows. The main event was a fun I Quit match between Marty Scurll and Axel Dieter Jr. From what I can gather Dieter is the guy WXW are pushing as their top face, but the crowds aren’t quite taking to him. Regardless, this was a fun match with some creative spots, and it was cool seeing a storyline play into a tournament match. The presentation of the show was great, with a nice entranceway and slick graphics. I’m looking forward to digging into the rest of the tournament. I watched it on Highspots Network, but you can also see it on WXW’s own on demand service.
PROGRESS Chapter 21 is up there with the best shows that company has put on. It had a great variety of matches, topped off with a main event featuring Will Ospreay’s first title defence against Mark Haskins. Their styles meshed brilliantly, and I feel like Mark Haskins’ performance is the kind that makes you sit up and pay attention. Everything he does is so smooth, and he has lots of ingenious ways to set up his moves. I’m so happy that he’s getting exposure stateside later this year with PWG and SMASH. The counterpoint to this technical match was the violent No DQ match between Jimmy Havoc and Paul Robinson. These two laid it all on the line in the most violent match in company history. The fans were chanting ‘This is Progress’ and the commentators (I believe it was Glen Joseph) disagreed and said this isn’t what the company is about. While they may not be about deathmatches, they are absolutely about well built stories that culminate in emotionally engaging matches where you actually care about the result, and this match was every bit of that.
Another thing PROGRESS do well is mystery opponents, and the challengers for the SDS’s tag titles certainly lived up to the hype. Roderick Strong put on a great showing in the SSS16 so he was always going to get a warm welcome, but the reaction Adam Cole got as his partner was incredible. The two teams put on a great match, and I’m really enjoying the SDS’s run so far.
I found Marty Scurll vs Kris Travis really hard to watch. It was great seeing him back doing what he loved but it’s such a tragedy that he was taken so young. Still, I’m glad he got one last run, even if it was all too brief. RIP Trav.
Definitely a top 3 PROGRESS show, check it out on Demand Progress.
I’ve watched the first batch of episodes of British Wrestling Weekly. The first two were great. Episode one was built entirely around a triple threat match, which despite having a screwy non-finish, was really well worked, and set the table for an ongoing storyline in this season. The second episode had a cracking match between Sami Callihan and Mark Haskins which, while being a shade below their Southside match from earlier in the year, was violent as all hell, including a particularly nasty tope onto Haskins. The rest of the episodes have been a somewhat mixed bag, but it’s been interesting being introduced to a lot of the northern talent that I haven’t seen in RevPro or Progress. The show features a lot of talking and analysis segments, and I think it could be better paced. For example, episode 4 only featured one 9 minute match, and it had an advert break in it, so we didn’t even get the full thing. Surely they could have found space in a 45 minute show to fit in the whole match?
Anyway, the show’s production values are top notch, and I really like the presentation, from the onscreen graphics, to the way the interviews are conducted. It all looks very slick and is a great showcase for the rest of the world to see some of the great wrestlers on the UK scene. You can see full episodes on WhatCulture Wrestling’s Youtube channel, although it seems they’re only keeping the most recent episode up there.
I caught most of the first episode of WhatCulture Pro Wrestling. I’m not sure if it’s for me, to be honest. I like their top 10 videos, and Adam Blampied is a funny, charismatic guy, but I’m not really interested in their various personas and found them all a bit grating. I’ll give it another episode or two to make my mind up before writing it off completely though. On the positive side, they have a great roster, and the guys running it seem to really be passionate about this project. It’s also more exposure for some great UK talents, which is always a good thing.
I have to mention Will Ospreay’s stellar month in NJPW. The BOSJ finals was an incredible match, maybe a notch below his first match with KUSHIDA, but still a dramatic, exciting encounter. After showing off his creative selling with the no hands ‘handspring’ in that previous match, he went a step further and hit a one-legged springboard move. It really feels like every time I watch a big Ospreay match I’ll see something I’ve never seen before.
His rematch with KUSHIDA was another very good match, but fell a little short of their first match, as well as the BOSJ final. It would have been nice to see Ospreay get the win here, and there were a couple of near falls that almost convinced me that he would, but these two are building a great rivalry, and I get the feeling Ospreay’s time with the belt will come.
Performer of the month – No way it could be anyone but Will Ospreay
Match of the month – Probably Ospreay vs Taguchi, both for the match itself and what it represented for Ospreay.
That’s it for another month. July sees Revolution Pro return to York Hall, with the debut of Katsuyori Shibata. Can’t wait for that! As always you can send me feedback and match/show suggestions to @bennyowens