With the second season fully underway, BWW hit the ground running with some excellent actions and exciting angles. As I look over Episode Five through Eight, we see big matches for the NGW World and Tag Team titles, as well as a big grudge match stemming from The Control’s continuing attempts to take over NGW. Without further ado, let’s get down to business.
The grudge match previously mentioned isn’t until Episode 8, but stems from the Control’s involvement in the Nathan Cruz vs Zack Gibson title match from Episode 4. This episode opens with a look at the aftermath of that match, as Gibson jumped Richie West backstage. This would eventually lead to a match between Gibson and Rampage Brown, as Brown attempts to put himself back into contention for the NGW World Title.
Justin Sysum vs Robbie X vs Bubblegum (Gen-X League match)
The Gen-X League continues with a general feeling of disarray due to the draw in the previous League encounter. The winner of this match will meet Mike Hitchman and an as yet unknown opponent in the final. We get a showcase of Bubblegum prior to the match, with Chardonnay particularly happy with Bubblegum’s recent progress.
Bubblegum is initially double teamed, as Sysum and X play the roles of fan favourites. He is effectively kept out of the ring by the other two before introducing himself into the match by kicking Sysum off of the top rope. Sysum is an impressive physical specimen, mixing size and power, though I hope that he wrestles his size against smaller men more often than relying on high flying just because it is possible.
As with a lot of the Gen-X matches, there is almost too much action going on to do it justice. Highlights of the match sees Robbie X hit a dive to the outside, before a Sysumspringboard dropkick lead to a reverse rana by X on Bubblegum in a very impressive spot. X almost has the win with a springboard ace crusher, but Bubblegum is able to break the pin at two. Following attempts to get involved earlier, Chardonnay makes her mark in the finish, feigning injury after Robbie X dropkicks Sysum off the apron. The confusion allows Bubblegum to roll X up for a three count. I feel that the right man won, although it was possible telegraphed by the time spent showcasing him prior to the match. A spotty, yet entertaining contest to kick off this set of episodes.
The London Riots © vs Colossus Kennedy & Stixx (NGW Tag Team Title match)
A match many episodes in the making, Stixx and Kennedy finally get their rematch following their victory over The Proven. The London Riots walked out of their previous match, so the former champions will need all their mettle to come out on top. With a match this loaded with previous, it is unsurprising to see the big men brawl to begin with, the faces ending up initially in control with Kennedy in particular using his size to work over the champions. It is only when the match spills to the outside that the champions manage to wrest control back, Stixx eating a big clothesline and leaving himself the face in peril.
The Riots work over Stixx for a while, Lynch using a chinlockto wear him down before the champions plant the big man with a double back body drop. A blind tag almost sees Kennedy get into the ring, yet the referee enforces the rules, sending him back to the outside. The Riots try and use their bat as an offensive weapon, but a blocked bat shot by Stixxallows him enough time to tag out to Kennedy.
The finish is satisfying, if a little silly. Following a Stixxspinebuster, the Riots choose to leave like the last time. At the count of 9, Kennedy hits the referee on the head, the ref selling it like Wile E Coyote on a bad day. A Kennedy chokeslam almost gives the victory to the challengers, but the ref is pulled out. Finally, however, a spinning black hole slam by Stixx is followed up with a Kennedy splash for the three count and new tag team champions! The match was solid for the most part, though it is weird to see the Riots toned down for a more family orientated audience than they might see in PROGRESS. With the Proven having been beaten for the title shot in the first place, it remains to be seen who the next big tag team challengers might be.
Matt Myers & Liam Slater vs The Proven
After another engaging promo by Caz Crash describing what the Proven will set out to do to the golden boys of Matt Myers and Liam Slater, we head to the ring for a big tag team match – could this allow The Proven a road back to NGW Tag Team Title contention?
Whilst the production of the episodes is generally of good quality, there are times when the advert breaks don’t quite make sense. Myers is in control with a spinning arm drag, only for us to come back from the break to find Slater getting beaten down in the middle of the ring. With the nature of the taped product, I don’t quite understand why that needs to be the case outside of giving it a sense of legitimacy and being live.
Richie West is often the difference maker and gets involved by dragging Myers off of the apron when Slater is close to getting the tag. Myers gets in off of a blind tag also, but the ref is quick to send him back outside the ring. Finally, Slater manages to make the big tag to Myers, who uses his superior speed to take it to the heels. A jawbreaker and a springboard second rope moonsault have The Proven rocking, and Slater gets in on the act with a double crossbody off of the top rope! Happy to stick his oar in once again, West distracts Slater’s attempts to hit a charging elbow into the corner, allowing The Proven to hit their finisher, Point Proven (an assisted ace crusher) for the victory.
It is good to see the heels pick up the win here, as I was beginning to question their legitimacy considering how they’d been portrayed fairly weekly up until now. Richie West invites out Zack Gibson after the match, only for Gibson to be attacked by his opponent in two weeks, Rampage Brown. Gibson is eventually able to fight off all of the Control, before Nigel McGuinness, in his role as guest commissioner, threatens to fine West for his actions. McGuinness is due to be the guest referee in the grudge Gibson/Brown match to add an additional nugget of interest.
El Ligero vs Jody Fleisch
The main event of this episode saw what could be considered a dream match by some, as Jody Fleisch aimed to show he could still go with the best of the newer high flyers in a match against El Ligero. Both men had lost their previous matches making this match incredibly important in trying to re-establish some momentum. A standard showing of respect in a handshake gives way to a trading of holds and pinfalls as each man showed they had the capacity to outmatch the other. It is Fleisch who initially takes control, nailing Ligero with a big spin kick for two, before following it up with a hard whip into the turnbuckle and snap suplex.
Indeed, Fleisch controls large sections of the match, clearly indicating that he is more than capable of competing with someone of the level of El Ligero. After Ligero lands on a moonsault attempt following a short flurry of offense, Fleischdrops him hard with a back suplex into a facebuster, using his strength advantage to good effect. Even with the additional bulk he has put on, a jumping headscissors takedown off of the top rope shows that Fleisch still has it in him to wow the crowd with aerial moves. Ligero shows he is no slouch either, hitting a cannonball senton off of the apron.
An ace crusher and pumpandle facebuster from Ligero sees him almost get the victory with a succession of near falls, before Fleisch almost steals it with a standing SSP after a trading of quick pinfalls. In the end, he went back to attempt the top rope headscissors/huracanrana, but this time saw Ligero roll through, allowing him to land a super kick, kryptonite krunch and a Mexican wave splash off of the top rope for the three count. A good match, with the correct man winning – you have to feel there is more upside in a Ligerovictory than a Fleisch one. The lack of Dara Diablo interaction in these episodes is surprising though. I look forward to seeing where that angle heads in the future.
‘Wild Boar’ Mike Hitchman’s open challenge
After a victory to progress in the Gen-X League tournament, Mike Hitchman hasn’t received enough attention on the show, at least according to his manager, Gilligan Gordon. The answer to this? An open challenge.
The challenge is answered by Robbie X.
Robbie X is fired up in the early going, possibly sensing an opportunity to catapult himself up the rankings by defeating the Wild Boar. Charging forearms have the Boar reeling, only for him to drill X into the corner with a spear. Unique offense is X’s fare though, and he uses the ropes to flick up into a headscissors that sends Hitchman to the floor. The Wild Boar takes control at ringside, and even teases a package piledriveron the ramp, only for X to block it, superkicking the bigger man and leaving him laying at ringside.
It takes Gordon’s interference to allow his charge to take control with a brutal top rope t-bone suplex. However, Hitchman struggles to keep X under control, with another package piledriver blocked and turned into a neckbreaker. A springboard enzguiri, handspring ace crusher and standing shooting star press gives Robbie X the surprise victory!
Gordon is not a happy man, attacking the referee and leaving X to be mauled by the Boar, a big package piledriver putting down the victor – not only do I like the surprise win, the overall selling of the package piledriver as a big move is done well throughout, making this attack after the bell mean something.
Nathan Cruz © vs Mark Haskins (NGW World Title match)
This is sold as Cruz vs Haskins II, and in the lead up to the match, we see footage from their first contest from the previous season. As Haskins seems to have the match firmly under his control, Cruz was able to grab a quick roll-up for the victory. Unlike the first match, this match has the added bonus of being for the title. Additionally, The Control are banned from ringside leaving Haskins to have to do it all by himself.
These men, having spent time teaming on the Indy scene, know each other incredibly well, and we see the standard trading and avoidance of strikes, before headlocks and reversals become the order of the day. After a big Cruz forearm, it is Haskins who blinks first, heading to the outside of the ring to regain his composure. Taunting Cruz from the outside only stokes the champion’s ire, but allows Haskins to gain control by kicking Cruz as he rolls back into the ring in pursuit of his challenger.
After Cruz briefly threatens to regain control with a second rope crossbody, Haskins blocks a Show Stolen attempt with an eye rake and a nasty kick to the chest. Unfortunately, the heat section is rather cut short by an advert, which is another example of bad timing on behalf of production. When we return, we see Cruz beginning to fight back, cracking Haskins with a big knee, dangling him on the top rope with a suplexbefore hitting a dropkick to his helpless opponent.
A lot of the match is gearing towards each mans’ submission move, and it is Haskins who locks in the Scorpion Deathlockfirst. Cruz is able to get out of it with punches to the face, but is left vulnerable to be hit with Seeing Stars (STO lariat) for a two count which is ever so close. A missed double foot stomp by Haskins allows Cruz a way back in, and he gets his own two count with Hullywood Boulevard (lungblower).
The finishing stretch is one becoming of two of the best wrestlers on the independent scene as we see Cruz lock in his Texas Cloverleaf, only for Haskins to grab the rope. A Show Stolen attempt has both men down, and as Cruz finally goes for a cover, it is blocked into Haskins’ signature armbar. Cruz is then able to strong arm him back to his feet, planting him with a Show Stolen for the three count. A good match, hampered a little by the position of the advertising. Where Haskins goes from here is anyone’s guess, but you have to feel that a Cruz and Brown re-match will be in the pipeline for NGW.
Kid Fite & Davey Blaze vs Matt Myers & Liam Slater
With the gradual increase in interest in Scottish Independent wrestling, NGW chose to run with a series of matches pitting the best of Scotland vs the best of England. With matches due to run for the next few weeks, the first match saw Kid Fite and Davey Blaze against the very popular team of Matt Myers and Liam Slater. Clearly playing the role of the heels, Fite and Blaze jump the English team on the bell, only to be met by stereo dropkicks before Blaze is dumped to the outside by a double clothesline. Myers even finds an opportunity in the early going to force his Vengaboys-esque dance on Fite, much to the crowds’ amusement.
As I’ve stated before, Slater is a natural face in peril, and after the advert, he is getting beat down. We get a flashback to during the break (something that would have helped previous matches impacted by the ad break removing important sections of the match) where Blaze knocked Myers off of the apron, leading to Fite beating down a distracted Slater. Slater is squashed by a Fite double stomp, whilst Blaze rakes his face and gets a two count off of an elbowdrop. Slater’s speed is one of his main assets, and he is able to avoid a charge and duck under the legs of one of his opponents to make the big tag
Myers has offense that works well to pop the crowd, but is a little overly intricate for what it needs to be in some regards. He hits a flipping armdrag (case in point), but also lands a cool running springboard moonsault for a two count after Fitebroke up the pinfall. I think the heels have the victory following a Fite brainbuster and Blaze top rope splash, but Myers has enough to kick out. Myers manages to avoid a charge and make a tag to Slater, leaving him able to land an impressive spinning dive to Fite as Slater rolls up a distracedBlaze for the three count. A fun match to begin the England vs Scotland series, and I look forward to seeing more Slater for sure.
Zack Gibson vs Rampage Brown (Nigel McGuinness special guest referee)
Episode 8 sees the return of the former champion for the first time since he lost his belt, Rampage Brown, as he goes against Liverpool’s golden boy, Zack Gibson. Unsurprisingly, the match begins before the bell, as Brown attacks Gibson at ringside. Gibson is clearly fired up in front of his home crowd though, as he retaliates with forearms, elbows and a European uppercut, eventually sending the big man to ringside after a second rope dropkick and clothesline over the top rope. After putting him over the guard rail with a dropkick through the ropes, Gibson shows his willingness to take risks by hitting a bit suicide dive over the guard rail!
Both men continue to brawl around ringside, with Brown being sent arm first into the ring post. The Proven head down to ringside, but they are sent quickly away by McGuinness. This momentary distraction is enough for Brown to take control, punishing the smaller man with a couple of clotheslines, a spear into the corner and a modified choke. A second corner spear attempt this time sees Brown go through the ropes and hit the ringpost hard.
As the action kicks up a gear, Gibson shows surprising strength by dropping Brown with a flapjack and turning a blocked Shankley Gate into a wrist clutch t-bone suplex. The arm is the big target, and a yanking arm twist sends Brown to the mat and leaves him vulnerable to the Gate. Brown has enough left in the tank to make the rope and break the hold.
It is inevitable that the Control will continue to get involved, and Richie West distracts Gibson long enough to allow Brown to hit a Samoan drop. Even then, Gibson is close to picking up the victory with his lungblower from the second rope, only for McGuinness to leave the ring to chase off the Proven who hit the ringside. A distracted Gibson is hit with a Falcon Arrow, only for the second referee to hit the ring late enough to get Brown only a one count. Gibson manages to block the piledriver with a roll-up attempt, but West pulls the referee out of the ring at 2. This leaves Gibson to eat a big DDT on a chair, giving Brown the big victory.
As the credits roll, we see the Control attacking Gibson, yet it is the NGW Champion, Nathan Cruz, who hits the ring to help try and run them off.
Another four solid episodes, with title changes, titles defences and big grudge matches aplenty. The TV format does mean that some people aren’t showcased over stretches of time (no Joseph Conners, for example), but NGW tell a compelling enough story with the angles and matches they give for free to the UK viewer to make it worth your time. As always, check it out on Youtube or subscribe to BWW for their whole archive.