This week I get to tick another promotion off my list of many hot Wales-and-West companies, as the Combat Sports Federation make one of their regular stops in my home-town of Weston-super-Mare. Whilst their regular venue of the seafront Winter Gardens is under refurbishment, Hutton Moor Leisure Centre plays host as a more than adequate and accessible alternative. The line-up includes some very familiar faces from the local and national circuit, whilst my research has led me to expect some family-friendly, competitive wrestling.
Home-town Referee, Mark Rowell, gets introduced and warms the crowd up well with some synchronised cheers, before the lights drop for our first competitors’ entrances.
Eddie Ryan vs. Paul Malen
Paul Malen is a villain of the old-school, dressed in black and adorned with skulls like some Stygian nightmare, whilst his opponent, ‘English Lion’ Eddie Ryan, could easily be from the more heroic end of Greek legend, leading Spartans into battle. The diametric contrast of character gets the crowd fired up perfectly to open the show.
Malen, making his CSF début, is both aggressively threatening and wily, using the ropes and apron to break up Ryan’s offence, slow things down and lay in his own methodical attack. Eddie Ryan’s superb conditioning and athleticism allowed him to weather the storm of Malen’s increasingly desperate and underhand tactics, and ultimately defeat his foe with an arsenal of strong strikes, slams and suplexes. Eddie Ryan wins by pinfall.
Charlie Garrett vs. Odyssey
The next match-up is between two former champions, the agile and powerful Charlie Garrett who has held the All-Nations title twice in recent years, and the experienced brawling bruiser, Odyssey, more than a decade on from his reign. Odyssey starts his onslaught, taking the bout to Garrett, using his size advantage well. The younger fan-favourite has the muscular physique of a heavyweight, although manages to pull out some stunning acrobatic counters, aerial assaults and somersaulting sentons, even getting up high to kick Odyssey in the head whilst he sat on the top turn-buckle.
On his day, Odyssey is a threat to anyone on the CSF roster, with his size, power and experience, but the rapidly rising star of Charlie Garrett and his spectacular skill-set is too much for him to handle. Charlie Garrett wins by pinfall.
Kay Jutler (c) vs. James Baker for the CSF All Nations Championship
Kay Jutler comes to the ring to parade the championship belt and cut a scathing promo, ending it by denigrating the genetic diversity of my fellow Westonians, to jeers of derision from the crowd. James Baker subsequently receives a very warm reception upon his entrance.
This match was a superb exposition of a diverse set of technical wrestling between two very well matched competitors, with both men using the whole of the ring well, from the mat to the ropes, and even the ringside area to the delight of the front row fans. The exchanges of the bout ranged from excellent striking and throws to good old-fashioned chaining and countering, punctuated by several well-timed acrobatic attacks; Jutler finally finding advantage though, with his submission game. Kay Jutler retains by submission.
The Magnums (Dick Riley & Chris Walker) vs. Alex Gracie & Owen Wall
The pace changes again, and the pantomime-esque antics are doubled up with the double-entendre and playground-level puerile humour of the always entertaining Magnums, contrasting nicely against the energetic agility of the up-and-coming Gracie and Wall. The low-blows of the underhand Magnums go hand-in-hand with the relentless knob-gags (and ‘accidental’ embarrassing collisions) whilst they keep Owen tied-up in their corner.
Gracie uses some charismatic crowd interaction to influence the match whilst he waits, with increasing frustration, for the hot tag. Once he receives it, they set to work taking down Riley and Walker, necessitating the Magnums to use one last groinal shot whilst the ref was distracted to get the pinfall victory.
White Tiger vs. Alex Steele
The Main Event of the evening is between White Tiger, whose in-ring evolution of this styling seems to be as influenced by his Japanese feline namesakes as his vesture, and the over-the-top extrovert Alex Steele. Steele manages to draw the irritated ire of both the fans and his opponent with his relentless grandstanding before he would even lock-up. Once they had however, it was obvious that their mutual talent for a good mix of ‘high-risk offence’, and strong strikes and slams, were a good even match.
Steele shades the power-manoeuvres in my opinion, most notably with a double-underhook backbreaker and a a firemans’ carry to sitout-slam variant which must have left Tiger gasping under his mask, whilst the versatile fan-favourite had the better from the top of the ropes, catching Steele with a particularly full-blooded drop-kick. It is White Tiger’s night though, when he deploys a low, AA-like slam to gain the hard-fought pinfall victory.
CSF put on an excellent show here, where the characters may be a little more black-and-white than shades of grey in the heroic morality stakes, which certainly caters more for traditional family entertainment than a Smark’s archetypal independent, but the quality of grappling is of the same excellent wave that we are all surfing on the hot UK scene. Take this family designation as no slight, this is fun and accessible professional wrestling for all ages and covers a wide range of technical tastes. So put your ubiquitous black merch’ t-shirt away, pull on your #1 Fan Finger and leave your cynicism at the door for some fun!
Check with CSF’s facebook page [https://www.facebook.com/csfprofessionalwrestling/] for details of their upcoming events:
Saturday 29th Oct: Bridgwater
Sunday 20th Nov: Bath