LIVE from The MECA, Swindon
1. The Saint & Robbie E vs Crusher Lomaxx & JD Knight
Initially outnumbered, The Saint introduced his mystery partner as “someone who wants to make an Impact…TNA Superstar Robbie E!”. Lomaxx & JD Knight looked decidedly unimpressed and Robbie couldn’t do much to change that in the outset, coming up short against the big man in Crusher Lomaxx. Eventually Robbie & The Saint built up a head of steam with some quick tags, but JD Knight did a good job of isolating The Saint. He valiantly fought for the hot tag and Robbie E cleared the ring, hitting a nice half-nelson facebuster before following up with a big plancha on Lomax. The Saint, however, got caught by JD Knight coming off the top-rope and Knight hit a double-underhook DDT for the win. This was fine for an opener, Robbie E did well and the crowd enjoyed it until the finish.
2. Shanna vs Hikaru Shida
A big international challenge match here as Portugal’s Shanna, who has been making a great name for herself in Europe & the US, took on one of the top women’s wrestlers in Japan today, Hikaru Shida. Shanna attacked Shida as she made her entrance, but it didn’t earn her much of an advantage and soon the two were trading dropkicks and headscissors, before Shida caught Shanna completely off guard with a vicious spinning back kick. Shida spent too long celebrating, however, and was dumped out to the floor before Shanna hit a tope suicida. ‘Portugal’s Perfect Athlete’ took control, punishing Shida with a necbreaker drop for a big near-fall. She attempted to use Shida’s kendo stick against her, but referee Chris Roberts interceded and Shida went on the attack, suplexing Shanna in the ring and hitting a missile dropkick for a near-fall of her own. Shida looked to have things wrapped up, but Shanna fought back well and almost put Hikaru away with an implant DDT, but she went to the well once too often and on the second attempt Shida countered into a Go 2 Sleep, following up with a running knee strike for the three count. The finishing stretch was great here, it took a while for the match to get up to speed and there were a few unfortunate missteps in the early going, but this was an enjoyable bout nonetheless.
3. Tatanka vs Saul Adams
Two heavyweights doing battle in this one, as ‘The Native’ Tatanka took on Saul Adams (a very big man replete with purple furry boots). Saul proved the match of Tatanka in terms of strength as the match got under way, but Tatanka showed some surprising speed for a 54 year old and floored Adams with a lariat. Tatanka took control of the match and punished Adams with a bodyslam and big vertical suplex, prompting “you’ve still got it” chants from the crowd, but Saul’s valet got on the ring apron and distracted Tatanka, allowing Adams a way back into the match. Adams took full advantage, hitting a nasty big boot and backdrop suplex. He also managed to stall Tatanka’s war dance, but eventually the veteran avoided a middle-rope leg drop from Adams and went back on the attack. However, the valet again got on the ring apron, but this time Tatanka forced a kiss upon her, before hitting the End of the Trail for the win. This was a lot better than I thought it was going to be, Tatanka did well and probably did more than he had to, in all honesty. That being said, the match was fairly by-the-numbers, but both men put in some good work and the crowd got their money’s worth.
4. Drago vs Pentagon Jr.
This was a heavily promoted match in advance of the show, Dragon & Pentagon Jr. being two of the stand-out talents of Lucha Underground, and while it didn’t disappoint it certainly felt like both guys had more in the tank. They started off by trading some wacky lucha submissions, before Pentagon Jr. superkicked Drago as he went for a dive and took control of the match. Drago tried to fight back after some vicious chops, going for a handspring only for Pentagon to kick out his arm. Drago eventually got his comeback, hitting a big flurry of offence that resulted in a dangerous looking tope with the limited floor space in the building. Drago got Pentagon back in the ring and tried a series of flash pins, none of them successful, and then when springboarding off the ropes he was caught with a boot to the gut from Pentagon, who quickly followed up with a package piledriver. Drago somehow kicked out just before the three count and then sprung to life as Pentagon was ascending the ropes, hitting a huge Frankensteiner and then pinning Pentagon with the Dragon’s Tail for the win. Not the best encounter between the two, but a fun exhibition regardless.
5. Kenny Omega vs Mark Haskins
Some very solid exchanges on the mat in the opening moments of this match, as Haskins (who gives up some ground to Omega in both height and weight) surprised Kenny first with his technical ability and then with his speed. Haskins went for a sharpshooter but Omega, as a Canadian native, fought desperately to avoid the hold being applied, only to be floored by a beautiful dropkick from Haskins that sent him crashing out to the floor. Kenny dodged as Haskins went for a dive, but he turned it into a Tiger Feint at the last moment, before changing sides and slamming Omega into the guardrails with a tope suicida. Kenny took a nasty slam into the barricades, but caught Haskins trying to follow up and elevated him into the crowd. Haskins went to springboard off the barricade, but Omega showed his amazing strength by catching him out of mid-air like it was nothing, before savagely slamming Haskins back-first over the ring apron. Omega continued to work over the back, hitting a Davey Boy-esque running powerslam for a big nearfall. Haskins kept trying to fire back with forearm shots, but Omega kept cutting him off until a big spinning heel kick caught him flush in the face and Haskins was able to build up a head of steam. It didn’t last long, however, as Omega (always a crafty competitor) took a page out of Goto’s playbook and slammed Haskins neck-first over his knee to turn the tide once more in his favour. Omega followed up with a Finlay Roll and went for a moonsault, only for Haskins to get the knees up and then trap him in a triangle choke.
Again Kenny’s crazy strength came into play, as Omega lifted Haskins up with one arm, only for Haskins to roll through beautifully into a cross-armbreaker. Once more Kenny lifted his way out of it, but this time slammed Haskins back-first into the buckles to release the hold. Both guys now visibly showing the effects of such a fast-paced and hard-hitting match-up, started trading some brutal high knees, before Omega hit the Dr. Wily Bomb for a huge nearfall. Kenny tried to go for the snap dragon suplex, but Haskins rolled through and applied the Sharpshooter, before transitioning into the Star Armbar that forced Omega to scramble for the ropes in desperation. Another high knee from Kenny caught Haskins unaware, but as Omega went for the One Winged Angel, Haskins countered into a tornado DDT and hit a huge top-rope doublestomp for the nearest of nearfalls! Haskins dragged Omega into position for Made in Japan, but at the last moment Omega floated over and hit the snap dragon suplex, a third brutal high knee strike and the One Winged Angel for the victory! What a match this was. Omega’s in the form of his career and put in a lot of work here, but Haskins deserves a ton of credit in defeat and had the crowd in the palm of his hand with his comebacks. He’s so ridiculously smooth as well and looked very much at home in the ring with a talent the calibre of Kenny Omega. Great, great match.
6. 4FW Heavyweight Title No.1 Contendership: Doug Williams vs Saime Sahin
This was supposed to be Doug taking on the 4FW Champion Tiger Ali, but Ali’s Three Kings cohort RJ Singh declared that Williams would have to face Saime Sahin first to determine who the no.1 contender was, then the winner would immediately face Ali. Williams wasn’t about to agree to any of this, but Saime Sahin wanted a title shot and was prepared to take Doug on. Evidently agrieved at the situation, Williams caught Saime unaware with a high knee and tried to follow up with an exploder, but Sahin blocked it and shoved Doug into the ropes, where RJ Singh tripped him up. Sahin, not wanting the Three Kings help in securing the win, chased after RJ only to be floored by a suicide dive from Doug. Back in the ring, Williams hit a nice diving uppercut off the top-rope, but could only get a nearfall. He went for a vertical suplex, but Saime blocked it and hit one of his own! Both men started trading some hard shots, wearing each other out and playing into the hands of the Three Kings. Doug caught Sahin with a sleeper, but was shrugged off to the outside and then flattened by a plancha from Saime! He tried to follow up with a diving headbutt, only for Williams to roll out of the way.
Taking full advantage, Doug hit a high knee in the corner and an exploder suplex for a nearfall, but when he went up to the top Rishi Ghosh of the Three Kings pushed him down the mat. Sahin followed up with a discus clothesline for the surprising three count. Tiger Ali wasted no time in starting the title match, hitting a flurry of offence including a huge vertical suplex and apron dropkick, but Sahin refused to quit. Ali locked in a Camel Clutch, but eventually Sahin fought out of it and went for the discus lariat only for Tiger to duck, causing the ref to get hit instead. The Three Kings wasted little time in attacking en masse, Rishi Ghosh taking off his robe to reveal a referee’s shirt. He made the count after another big vertical suplex from Tiger Ali, only for Doug Williams to break it up at the last moment! Doug cleared the ring and ran the two of the Three Kings to the back. Ali hit the ropes and went for a rana, but Sahin stalled his momentum, hit a devastating sit-out powerbomb and followed up with a giant moonsault to become NEW 4FW Heavyweight Champion! In spite of all the shenanigans, both of these bouts were well worked and Sahin impressed with his strength and agility. Good stuff.
Overall this was an enjoyable show, highlighted by the exceptional Kenny Omega vs Mark Haskins bout and the main event, which the crowd were very much into, rooting for the hometown hero in Saime Sahin. The other matches on the card were all good, although I would’ve liked to see a bit more from Pentagon Jr. & Drago, and I was surprised by the work Tatanka put in to his bout with Saul Adams. Hikaru Shida vs Shanna was another good match, especially towards the end. On the presentation side of things I thought they did a good job with the sound in such a cavernous building, while the ring mat, turnbuckles and barricades look good adorned with the 4FW logo and present a good visual identity. The camera work was good for the most part, although they did seem to be having problems with one of the handheld cameras remaining in focus throughout the show, which was a little distracting at times, but never a major concern. While commentary would have been welcome, the show doesn’t suffer for the lack of it. A good show from 4FW and I urge everyone to check out the Haskins vs Omega match, one of my favourites of the year so far.
4FW “New Years Wrestleution” and many other 4FW titles are available now for streaming and download over at 4FW On Demand: http://4fwondemand.pivotshare.com