With the move to quick international releases of their shows via Vimeo, and with WWE’s UK tournament being built on a foundation of their stars, Fight Club Pro, once one of the hidden secrets of British Independent Wrestling, have enjoyed a higher profile in the last 18 months with more eyes than ever on the Midlands based “British Strong Style” promotion.
The company capitalised with the biggest weekend in their 8 year history, the Dream Tag Team Invitational, selling out Wolverhampton’s 1100 capacity Diamond Banqueting Suite the night previous (thanks in no small part to the addition of New Japan stars Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks) and continuing that buzz here selling out Manchester’s Metropolitan University for this, Night 2 of the tournament, in front of a more moderate but still impressive, capacity crowd of 500.
With £2.40 pints flowing at the Student Union bar, and a stacked card, the stage was set for another memorable night of wrestling in the company’s home away from home in the North West of England.
Bonus Match: Drew Parker versus Killian Jacobs
Having ran ridiculously late on Night 1, with a near midnight finish that managed to outdo a similar finish time from Rev Pro the night prior, Fight Club Pro bucked the worrying trend of the weekend (and well, in Brit Wres in general) by not only opening doors on time here for Night 2, but by offering a dark match as many, this writer included, were still filtering into the building.
The intended match of Drew Parker and Killian Jacobs, ended before it could begin however, when a scary landing from a Drew Parker dive during the opening exchange, led to the match being called off. Parker appeared okay after the match and did wrestle later in the weekend but kudos to the promotion for handling what could potentially have been a more serious situation quickly – better safe than sorry.
Clint Margera & Jimmy Havoc versus The Hunter Brothers (Jim Hunter & Lee Hunter)
After Trent Seven’s now traditional Jim Smallman style opening spiel, the show started proper with another unadvertised match as Clint Margera and Jimmy Havoc answered the open challenge of Tipton’s Hunter Brothers. In truth, the match was a bizarre stop start affair, with a muted crowd perhaps not quite ready for the death match antics of Havoc and Margera this early in the evening. Still, many in the audience jumped at the opportunity to provide Havoc and Margera with paper notes at request, to be stapled to the bodies of both Hunter Brothers (one fan even handing over a £20 note) and did come alive for Havoc and Margera giving paper cuts to the pair, then dousing the open wounds with alcohol procured from the venue bar.
— Slade (@23tslade) April 16, 2017
Although it was Jim and Lee Hunter who were victorious with their (Double) Double Stomp, all four proved real winners, retreating together, to the MMU bar after the match, staple covered £20 notes in hand, ready to splash out on the very reasonably priced pints at the student union bar.
Zack Sabre Jnr versus Angelico
This was a match put together for it’s setting, with an extremely quiet crowd in it’s opening stages that would in any other environment have been a critique of the match. For this crowd though, it felt like the wrestlers were delivering what was wanted, an exhibition of the slick technical skills of Zack Sabre Jnr, where the people were quiet through much of the match through attentiveness rather than any genuine lack of interest, as the two men exchanged intricate holds and counter holds, one upping one another in back and forth stretches.
When chants did erupt in the closing stages, it was Sabre who was the much more popular of the two, with Angelico working to his style rather than the other way around. Some of Sabre’s best work comes in matches against wrestlers with styles opposite to his, so it was interesting to see Angelico, instead of countering Sabre’s technical with flying, showing technical offense of his own, shrugging off the occasional “do a flip” shouts from some of the more impatient members of the audience.
Angelico would eventually succumb to a Sabre Jnr Penalty Kick and Rings Of Saturn style submission finish to win a slow paced match that built to it’s bigger spots, offering something different to the rest of the card.
Dan Moloney versus Mark Andrews
Mark Andrews, teased entering here first using his own “Junior” provided music, then his “Party Hard” entrance theme accompanied by FSU partner Eddie Dennis, before returning to the back a third time and entering to Limp Bizkit’s “‘Rollin”, riding through the audience on a bicycle, mock Undertaker style. Moloney continued a pattern here of being one of the most hated villains on the FCP roster, roundly mocked by the live audience for the “What things have you seen?” meme from his WWE UK interview and riled with chants of “Dan!”.
A fast-paced affair compared to the matches that came before it, this was a welcome change of pace with a surprising clean finish of Moloney pinning Mandrews with his Electric Chair to Sit-Out Powerbomb move. Expect big things from Moloney going forward in the company.
FCP World Championship: Travis Banks versus Mark Haskins
The rise of Fight Club Pro, from underground Indy bubbling under, to being very much at the forefront of British Wrestling, can be tied to it’s champion Travis Banks. Now Head Trainer at the FCP School, it is indeed it is his story, as the plucky underdog, coming close in matches but never coming through until the moment was right, winning the FCP Infinity Tournament and then in-turn becoming FCP Champion that personifies the spirit of the promotion.
Mark Haskins was his challenger here, himself with a similar story, returning to the independent scene in 2017 after potentially career ending neck issues, another perennial underdog, who before injury had risen to the top in multiple promotions against the odds. This was a solid match to end the first half and a good continuation of Banks reign as a fighting Champion, defending against all comers and anchoring the shows, even where the big headlines will be grabbed by the imported stars. Banks would pick up the win via his modified Crossface submission, before Zack Sabre Jnr emerged to challenge him for his next defence on Night 3.
DTTI Round One: #CCK (Chris Brookes & Kid Lykos) versus Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate)
Quietly rising in profile, Chris Brookes has been one of the hidden gems of British Wrestling, perfecting his dirty heel character in the last year, with fantastic chemistry with fellow member of the original incarnation of CCK, Kid “Mondai” Lykos (a second variation of the team sees Brookes teaming with fellow standout Travis Banks in Rev Pro). With the future of the WWE contracted Moustache Mountain likely not guaranteed on shows at this level for much longer, both men seem perched to move into higher profile positions in British Wrestling in 2017, and so it was fitting that CCK would take the win here over the British Strong Style team – Brookes in particular, seems a shoe in to occupy the top touring heel spot likely to be vacated by Pete Dunne, if and when WWE offers more permanent deals to it’s contracted talents.
— Christopher (@tamping) April 15, 2017
The match itself included a lot of comedy, first centred around who was in possession of the towels of Moustache Mountain, getting various Towel-based chants from the crowd and then with CCK doing comedy, being caught in awkward positions as the “dirty wolf” Lykos would land several times into compromising positions with his partner. The match escalated to the outside where not for the first time this evening, a dive spot went array with Lykos landing squarely onto members of the front row audience.
CCK controlled much of the match, with Brookes putting his gross-out wet willie spots to good use and Moustache Mountain eventually responding with the big strikes the team are known for, before succumbing eventually to a second rope version of the Codebreaker/Senton finish of CCK (a move affectionately described by Brookes in the past as “I throw a Wolf at you and then I sit on you”. This was an important win for CCK on the road to the DTTI finals – expect to see both men working absolutely everywhere by the turn of the year.
Jack Evans versus Shane Strickland
A great looking match on paper between two of the premier flyers of the last ten years delivered something quite different than expected, with Jack Evans character work elevating the match from a standard exhibition, to something much more heated. Evans showed excellent poise on the microphone, running down all of the world’s ills, from war and famine, to Trump and Brexit, before laying the blame squarely on all of the “god damn Mancs” in the crowd.
We've had Jack Evans decide he's a scouser, Jack Evans do terrible karaoke to "You'll Never Work Alone", and a GOD DAMN DANCE-OFF. ******
— Big Bad Benny Daddy (@BritWresAwayDay) April 15, 2017
As Evans, wearing a hat sporting the crest of neighbouring Liverpool FC, gave one of the worst renditions of that team’s anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone” of all time, the Manchester crowd peppered him with with Boos, adopting Strickland as one of their own, cheering loudly when as he attacked Evans, in defence of the city, taking Evans into the crowd to be chopped in revenge by the fans. Evans wrestled much of the early stages of the match with a cigarette in his mouth, bumping and hitting his normal high spots, pausing only for an impromptu dance off to the Beastie Boy’s Ch-Check It Out. Things got more serious in the closing stretch with both men hitting spectacular dives, in particular a huge Space Flying Tiger Drop from Evans, before Strickland got the win, hitting a seated Double Stomp from the top. This was lots of fun live, and a clear match of the night.
— Peter Mcarthur (@PeterMcarthur20) April 15, 2017
DTTI Round One: Penta El Zero M & Rey Fenix versus Pete Dunne & Sami Callihan
Looking at the card on paper, there didn’t appear to be much in the way of a clear main event, but the company chose well, putting likely two of the big draws of the card, Lucha Underground’s Pentagon and Fenix on top, with the team coming out to a huge response. Penta particularly, a man with huge superstar aura and one of the best looks in the business, just has to be seen live. Dunne and Callihan played up their “Lucha Cats” gimmick that originated in PWG, with drawn on cat faces and some comedy spots in the match, showing a lighter side of Dunne, whilst still working in his usual biting and Triple H inspired spots, as well as all of Callihan’s circling the ring dropkicks and other familiar tropes.
— Shauna 👻 (@shaunathegrinch) April 15, 2017
If excess in indy wrestling isn’t your thing, you may hate this match, but it seemed fitting, on a card that already had a lot of big spots, that the main event would take it to another level with big near falls from all four men’s finishes culminating in a Canadian Destroyer/Package Piledriver combo from the Lucha Brothers, taking the amount of those moves already seen on the first two nights of the card to their natural conclusion.
After such a heated match where the stakes were high, it was something of a shame for Callihan to end the show with the “we’re all friends really” indie respect on the microphone, but it was refreshing to see Dunne, not taking the loss and elimination lightly, attacking Callihan with a low blow before retreating to the back, setting up a match for the 3rd night, where Callihan, in an about turn on the microphone, would promise vengeance on his former partner, challenging him and the rest of British Strong Style to a 6 man match with two mystery partners of his choosing for the next night.
This was a strong offering from Fight Club Pro, who capitalised on their momentum, with by far their biggest attendance for a Manchester show, in a great venue with a receptive audience. A show with a little of something for everyone, the second half particularly over delivered, with two match of the weekend contenders and a lot of fun to be had. A definite recommend both on DVD and once it drops on Vimeo in the coming days.
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