Welcome to the first in a monthly series where I chronicle my journey exploring the world of British wrestling. As you’ll know if you read my first column, I only discovered how great the UK wrestling scene is about a year ago. In the meantime I’ve been to a bunch of shows and watched quite a bit online, mostly consisting of Revolution Pro and PROGRESS. I like to keep track of what I’ve watched and thought a viewing diary would be a good way to do that. If you’re reading this and have suggestions for shows/matches/wrestlers that should be on my radar then please feel free to shoot them over to me on Twitter @bennyowens
This month will probably be a bit more brief than usual, as I only decided to start writing towards the end of it. Also, if you’re after snarkiness or negativity then you’re in the wrong place; I’m all about highlighting the positives of our thriving wrestling scene. That said, I hope you enjoy reading.
This month I was at CHIKARA’s Anniversario event in Bush Hall, London. First thing to mention is that the venue was wonderful; ornate, intimate and a real joy in which to sit and take in a wrestling show. Top to bottom the show was incredibly entertaining, featuring the mix of comedy and fast-paced action that CHIKARA is known for. The British stars stood toe to toe with their American counterparts, and in some cases even outshone them.
It’s hard to pick a favourite match as they all delivered in some way or another. I’ll highlight two that stood out though. Firstly Eddie Kingston vs MK McKinnan, which was the kind of hard-hitting brawl that I love, and which gave the show a nice mix of styles. If you watch the show back you’ll no doubt see me cowering in fear as these two big lads come brawling up the aisle in my close vicinity! Secondly, Pete Dunne vs Ophidian. Their characters meshed really well, especially Dunne being perplexed at some of Ophidian’s antics. Dunne has rapidly become the guy I most look forward to seeing on any live card, and he provides an excellent counterpoint to high-flying wrestlers so I’m beyond excited to see him take on Will Ospreay in July.
One other thing to mention is the fantastic job Trent Seven did as MC. Although it was disappointing that he was unable to wrestle on the show, he displayed a great mix of charisma and humour, and kept the crowd entertained throughout. If he ever decides to hang up his boots I’m sure there’ll always be a place for him as a personality in the wrestling sphere beyond being an active wrestler.
PROGRESS was the first British company I got properly invested in. I’d heard people mention the Jimmy Havoc storyline and was intrigued. After watching Chapter 13 for free on YouTube I immediately signed up for their on demand service, and chose to start at the beginning, as I hate starting a story partway through. This month I finally reached the end of Jimmy’s story, with Ospreay dethroning him at Chapter 20. I won’t write too much about that here, as I’m planning to write in far more depth about it soon, but suffice to say it was a very satisfying conclusion. Elsewhere on the card there was a brilliant tag title match between SDS and the Hunter Brothers which showcased the Hunters’ fast paced teamwork and the crushing power of the SDS. On any other show it would be match of the night.
I’ve also watched most of their shows from Download 2015. It was the first Download festival I’d missed in 4 years so I was bummed I didn’t get to see them live, but they’re fun exhibition shows in front of a raucous crowd. I can only imagine how cold the guys were, as you could see their breath, but I’m sure it added an extra sting to those knife edge chops.
I took advantage of Highspots Network free month offer. As far as streaming services go, it’s one of the best, with loads of shows from PWG, CZW, IWA MS and WXW, among others. The first show I watched was Revolution Pro’s Summer Sizzler from last year, which was my first live RevPro event. Will Ospreay vs Matt Sydal is the centrepiece of that show and it more than holds up on a rewatch. They put on a thrilling encounter that built off their previous matches and contained some awe-inspiring spots. At the time it was the best match I’d seen live, but Ospreay has a habit of outdoing himself time after time, so it no longer holds that distinction. Elsewhere on the card there is a good hard-hitting match between Big Damo and Tomohiro Ishii, as well as an exciting main event between AJ Styes and Marty Scurll. The show is probably the weakest of the three York Hall shows I’ve been to, but it is still a great show and an easy recommendation. Check it out on Highspots Wrestling Network or RPW On Demand.
Whatculture Wrestling announced they would be airing British Weekly Wrestling on their Youtube channel, starting in June. In anticipation of this they uploaded a couple of highlight videos showing what BWW is all about. I like the concept of the ten minute time limit matches, as they are well-suited for a TV show, and offer a good showcase of what the modern indie style is all about. There’s quite a few guys on their roster I enjoy watching, notably Zack Gibson who is a terrific in ring performer, and Nathan Cruz who is charismatic as hell. I’ve enjoyed both these guys in PROGRESS and am looking forward to seeing them in a different setting. I’ll definitely try and fit BWW into my weekly viewing. I don’t need sleep, right?
Revolution Pro TV S2E3 featured a great match between Zack Sabre Jr and Will Ospreay that I thought was even better than their much lauded match from Dallas over Wrestlemania weekend. Both guys are having a stellar year, and this match seems to have slid a little under the radar, which is a shame as it definitely has a place on my match of the year list.
I checked out episode 18 of ICW’s Friday Night Fight Club, but only for the main event of Big Damo vs Trent Seven. I honestly find ICW a bit mystifying, as their stories seem to move quite fast and I can never keep track of who is aligned with whom. This is more a comment on my viewing though as I haven’t made the time to sit down and get myself invested in the company; there are only so many hours in a day! As it stands, I usually just check out their Friday Night Fight Club shows when there is a particular match that jumps out at me. If you can imagine in your head what a Damo vs Seven match would look like, then you’ve pretty much imagined what they delivered. It was everything you would want when seeing those two names on a marquee and is well worth going out of your way to see. Find it on ICW On Demand.
Performer of the month – Gotta give it to Trent Seven for a fantastic title match and doing a great job as MC for CHIKARA
Best match I saw this month – Sydal vs Ospreay from Summer Sizzler
Moment of the month – Ospreay winning the PROGRESS title
And that’s it for this month. Next month I’ll be at Revolution Pro’s Angle vs Sabre event, and I’ll be continuing through the PROGRESS timeline, as well as starting British Wrestling Weekly.
Also I’ve created a YouTube playlist where I’ll post any videos I discuss in these posts. You can find it here https://goo.gl/YxFosP