The Rise Of OTT Wrestling

Added by Senan Rogers

For many years, until the establishment of Over The Top Wrestling and its subsequent rise to prominence, the Irish Independent wrestling scene lay dormant. That’s not to say that there were no shows at all, but rather many of those that did take place were reliant on past-it WWE stars or legends to draw in an audience. Whilst the United States saw promotions like Ring of Honour and Pro Wrestling Guerilla catch fire and create homegrown stars that would later go on to achieve incredible feats in WWE and New Japan Pro Wrestling, the same could not be said for the Irish and British scenes at the time. Though there had been wrestling in the United Kingdom dating back to the 60s, the culture had faded out with the cancellation of World of Sport and took years to reach the heights it had once seen. However, just as BritWres entered into a boom and claimed its spot as the hottest thing in professional wrestling .. So did a little promotion in Dublin by the name of OTT.

Founded back in 2014, OTT set out to target the fan-base that had grown up during the Attitude Era, but who had perhaps lost interest in the years following the TV-14 departure. With their debut show entitled ‘F*ck PG’, OTT’s identity was clear right from the offset. Shows were held in the intimate Tivoli Theatre, which has gone on to become the promotion’s equivalent to the ECW Arena. Though former WWE stars and recognisable faces were still brought in, OTT placed a greater emphasis on the Irish and British talent that made up the bulk of their shows. A great example of this is their Craggy Island themed event ‘Ah, Ted’ from last year. Whilst many may have been lured in by the silly, albeit hilarious, antics of Eoin McLove and his fellow priests, a much greater impression was left on fans by the incredible performances from Pete Dunne, Ryan Smile & Will Ospreay in the show’s main event. From that moment on, OTT has gone from strength to strength.

One of the key contributing factors to OTT’s popularity amongst fans is its characters, many of whom are based on people you’d see walking the streets of Dublin everyday. “Session Moth” Martina has proved to be a massive hit with viewers and is undoubtedly the Face of OTT. Similarly, The Lads from the Flats are greeted with a hero’s reception everytime they appear at an event. As for their Belfast counterparts, the despised Kings of the North, it’s a very different story. Damien Corvin, Dunkan Disorderly and Bonesaw are as dominant a trio as you’ll find in OTT, but are not met with applause .. unless they’re rocking up to Mandela Hall. The Hart Foundation-esque dynamic they’ve created is one of the most interesting parts of an OTT show, and as for their matches .. well, they speak for themselves. With the WWE UK tournament arriving at the doorstep of British/Irish wrestling this past January, it allowed a lot of tremendous talent the opportunity to showcase their abilities to a much greater audience. One of the 16 competitors battling it out for the championship was Bray’s own Jordan Devlin, who has been a mainstay of Irish wrestling for years. The two-night tournament gave the Finn Bálor-trained protege (who does bears a striking resemblance to the first ever Universal champion) the platform he needed and despite not taking home the gold, he’s ensured that no one’s forgotten his name ever since. With amazing matches against Trent Seven in ICW, Moose at OTT Outer Space Odyssey 3 (That stage dive spot though..) and most recently against Matt Cross at WrestleRama, Devlin has proved that he’s more than capable of hanging with the best of them and doesn’t belong in the Demon’s Shadow. With such vast improvements being made as far as progressing the crop of amazingly talented Irish wrestlers goes, it brings a massive smile to my face knowing what a great place the scene is at the moment.

For me personally, it feels good to finally get in on the buzz of independent wrestling and not be stuck on the outside looking in. Sure, it was always readily available on online .. but nothing quite compares to seeing the superstars of today like Marty Scurll, Matt Riddle, The Elite and British Strong Style make their way over to Dublin to mix it up with our talent, and leave singing their praises. I thought Eddie Edwards showing up in Dundrum for a show a few years ago was unbelievable, but if you told 11 year old me at the time just how far we’d come .. I wouldn’t have believed you.

In my opinion, the event that has put the most eyes on the promotion to date was ScrapperMania III, Live on Flo-Slam, back in April. With the aforementioned Elite, consisting of Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks, taking on Will Ospreay, Lio Rush and Ryan Smile in the main event, many fans were drawn to the show and curious to see what all the fuss was about. The event marked OTT’s first time venturing out of the Tivoli and into the National Stadium. Seen as a risk by some, they ended up selling the venue out and packing 2,000 strong inside to witness the biggest night in Irish wrestling history. The show itself was an enjoyable ride from start to finish, with highlights coming in the form of the Tag Title bout between the Lads from the Flats and the Kings of the North, the Six-Woman Tag that gave a preview of the Martina/Katey re-match that would come down the line and of course the insane Main Event featuring an all star cast of some of the best wrestlers working today. OTT did receive some criticism for the fact that no Irish talent were featured in the huge six man tag, but I don’t believe it’s deserved. Whilst the Irish wrestlers of today are extremely talented, the scene itself is still in its infancy. The idea to have wrestling in the emerald isle was only spearheaded by Finn Bálor and Paul Tracey back in 2002, a mere fifteen years ago. Their lack of inclusion is not a reflection on the scene’s growth and progression. The scariest thing about ScrapperMania though? OTT managed to top it with their second National Stadium show – ‘WrestleRama’ – a few weeks ago. I could talk for hours about how great this show was, but you’d be better watching for yourself. I believe it brought together all the factors that make OTT what it is. Whether it’s British Strong Style putting on yet another Match of the Year contender against War Machine and Jeff Cobb, or Joey Ryan and Mick Foley going viral with their hilarious dick spot (I’m sure you’ve seen it by now), there’s something for everyone when OTT comes to town.

There are so many wonderful aspects of Over The Top Wrestling that I haven’t even gone into. Angel Cruz, Team Prick and B Cool being one of the most consistently funny groups going today, Katey Harvey’s excellent work and her role as the perfect foil to Martina, The Contender shows OTT put on every couple of months to further highlight the excellent, and ever growing, Irish wrestling scene. Nothing I say will do OTT justice, so the best thing to do is to check it out for yourself, if you haven’t already. It’s great craic.

The prospect of the Irish scene in 10 years time is very exciting to me, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds. Do yourself a favour and pick up OTT On Demand to get on board with one of the best wrestling promotions in the world today. You won’t regret it.