A free evening in my schedule meant I had the chance to go see some wrestling. Thankfully Future Pro Wrestling was running their Summertime Brawl IV show in Wallington, Surrey. With a card boasting talents such as RJ Singh, Sha Samuels, Will Ospreay and Mark Andrews, among many others, I took a punt and decided to make my first trip to FPW. Wallington Hall was a perfectly serviceable venue for a wrestling show, despite it seeming like the sound from the PA system wasn’t loud enough. The building boasted a crowd of, at a guess, a bit under 200 people. Those attending were mainly families and many seemed to know each other, which is quite common in the wrestling community. I got to have a quick chinwag with Eddie Dennis, who was there on the off chance selling some merch and enjoying getting the chance to just watch a wrestling show. My main experience with family shows has been All Star Wrestling. You can find my previous experience with that company elsewhere on this site. But I had high hopes for this show, so let’s jump right in.
The opening match was a first round in the tournament to crown the first ever FPW Zero-G champion. The round had an original format. The match is a three way and is a two fall affair. Whoever wins the first fall qualifies for the next round, leaving the other two to continue the match. Whoever of those two wins next also qualifies, while the final loser is eliminated.
The combatants were ‘White Lightning’ Mark Andrews, ‘Wild Boar’ Mike Hitchman and ‘The Aerial Assassin’ Will Ospreay. Well there wasn’t any chance that this wasn’t going to be good. Ospreay and Andrews shook hands, with Hitchman not quite being so sportsmanlike. Ospreay hilariously asked him if he wanted a treat, which set the Boar off and he attacked both opponents with huge ferocity. Andrews and Ospreay took Boar to the outside and indulged in some high flying and technical wizardry. Boar spoiled the party and took Andrews outside to brawl, which Ospreay broke up with a huge dive. Hitchman took over with some innovative and rough squashes in the corners to both men and gave Andrews a devastating senton whilst Mark was in a crawling position. Andrews eventually scored the first fall after catching Ospreay off guard with a springboard hurracarana. The match continued with Hitchman doing everything he could to put Ospreay down. After countering the package piledriver, Ospreay got the Boar down to the canvas in position for one of his top rope moves. Tonight, he treated us to an incredible 630 senton which put Wild Boar down for the three count and out of the running for the Zero-G title. Ospreay and Andrews advance in a fine example of high impact and aerial action. The only down point was that everything else on the card had to follow this.
After some ponchos and inflatable cacti were placed in the ring, the Mexican Eagle came out to a chorus of “Si” chants and presented the second edition of The Eagle’s Nest. His guests were the team of “The Warden” Phil Ward and Terry Stryker. This pairing apparently spoiled the last show’s edition of the Nest. Here’s where the PA problems happened for me. Where I was sitting, I could barely hear the music let alone some of the talking during this segment. Basically the Eagle mocked the pairing, with the Warden being serenaded by the theme from Police Academy and YMCA, as well being given a bar of soap, which was then dropped, and being informed that he looked like the rejected fourth member of the Shield. Striker wasn’t let off lightly, being given a copy of The Hobbit (which was a chant he was plagued with due to his somewhat diminutive nature). Ward eventually took the mic and told off one of the co-promoters at the music desk for the lack of respect he and Striker were being given and then challenged Eagle to a tag match. Eagle calls out Dragonita to be his partner, but is then informed she’s not here. And so begins a handicap match. Far from a technical classic, Eagle had the support of the youngsters in the audience, but he eventually succumbed to a stunner from Striker and an Ace Crusher from Ward. I haven’t been overly descriptive to this match as there wasn’t really much to tell you about. Very average and even at a shade over five minutes long, it felt longer. Ward was fine and he’s a good promo, but Striker was quite poor. And while I’m no stud, he really needs to either work on his mid-section or get more flattering ring attire. After the match, the beat down on Eagle continued until the previously mentioned co-owner of FPW ran the heels off. A promoter in an angle is never something I like to see, but hopefully it won’t progress to that. The segments and match were well received by the regulars, so any criticism from me I’m sure won’t be noted by those involved.
Up next was a match to become the number one contenders to the tag titles between the London Riots and the Alpha Males. I’ve seen the Riots plenty of times, but never had an opportunity to see the Alpha Males. Holy shit, these two are put together! Charlie Garrett and Iestyn Rees are two of the most sculpted wrestlers I’ve ever seen. Straight away they showed they could fight too, as the match erupted into a brawl almost immediately. The Riots decided about a minute to not bother with the match and left for the back. The Alphas let ref Chris Roberts count to four before deciding to go the back to bring the Riots back.
Just thinking logically here, the match is to get a title shot. Why not just get the count out and win?! Regardless what followed was a very good tag match. The Alphas kept James Davis occupied with some nice teamwork, including a rather sweet top rope elbow from Garrett. The Riots took over on Garrett with plenty of cheating and working the left leg. Rees came in off a hot tag and clean house, hitting some fantastic clotheslines and slams. Garrett tagged back in with a top rope move and kept control of Davis. On the outside, Rees is slammed face first into a ring post by Rob Lynch. Garrett has the win with a roll up on Davis, but the ref is checking on Rees, allowing Lynch to come in with an hellacious spear. Davis gets the cover and the tainted win to become number one contenders and the shot at the Swords of Essex in September. A very good match, just a shade under great just due to being slightly formulaic. I’d heard the name Iostyn Rees before, but never seen him, but he really impressed with a solid performance.
After the interval, the second triple threat Zero-G qualifier took place between Paul Robinson, Rob Cage and the mysterious masked ‘Japanese’ wrestler Dai Konran. The mystery man came to very slow and intense music which suddenly turned into a euro dance style track, with the masked man dancing his way to the ring which popped the crowd. I haven’t seen Rob Cage in a very long time and to say he’s changed slightly would be an understatement. Swaggering his way to the ring like a combination of Razor Ramon and Tyler Breeze, Cage’s arrogant demeanour wasn’t exactly subtle but was entertaining. His instructions to the ref to make sure his hairband wasn’t damaged in any way was met by Konran snapping it in half, drawing a big Oooooooh reaction from the crowd. The match started fast, with Cage having to keep up with his smaller opponents. Konran hit a nice series of kicks on Cage before getting a very quick win with a slow and safe standing hurracarana. Surprising result as it felt as though the match was only just getting going and Konran’s win meant the match went to a singles much earlier than expected. Robinson kept up the offense, with Cage looking rather uncomfortable. I’m not sure but it seemed like he may have been injured early. Robinson went for the Shooting Star, Cage moved, Paul landed on his feet but still fell victim to a Shining Wizard, giving Cage the second fall at only about four minutes altogether. Really surprising result and disappointing match. If Cage did indeed get injured, then that would explain why the match was so short, but if this was by design, then that was a very odd decision. Robinson put a lot of energy into the match and was excellent, but I felt that the match length really hurt the contest.
The penultimate match was between recent NXT alumni Martin Stone and Joel Redman. Stone really got the crowd going on his entrance, while Redman got a nice reaction too, coming out to his old NXT theme. Starting off with a handshake, a fantastic technical exchange took place. A very even contest saw some high impact moves, including Redman countering a second rope dive into a thunderous Spinebuster. Stone took Joel down with a devastating lariat, but couldn’t get the win, even after a second lariat. Stone set up twice for London Bridge, but Redman countered each time. Redman hits a brutal looking top rope kneedrop. A ‘This is Awesome’ chant eventually broke out, before Redman a twisting Fisherman’s Suplex. After that, the London Riots suddenly appeared at ringside antagonising Redman. Joel called for Martin to get up to fend off a potential attack, but shock horror, Stone attacks Redman from behind. The Riots throw Stone one of their shirts, which he gladly puts on before telling the Riots to give Redman a beat down. Inevitably the ref calls the bell, giving Redman the win via DQ. Stone cuts a promo about how he brought the British wrestling scene to a higher level before he left two years ago and is now back to claim what’s rightfully his, with the Riots being his firing squad. Stone goes for London Bridge to put the exclamation point on it, but the Alpha Males arrive to chase the new three-man Riots off. Garrett throws one of their own shirts to Redman, who puts it on forming new union as an Alpha Male. Good segment cementing a new top face and heel for FPW plus the extension of two tag teams to three-man factions. As for the match, it was excellent. It was actually a shame that they had to go for a DQ ending, as the match was building really nicely. However the angle was really well delivered, so I can’t critique it too much.
The main event saw the champion RJ Singh defend the FPW title against the ‘East End Butcher’ Sha Samuels. The former champion Sir Thomas Chamberlain made an unscheduled appearance to inform the crowd he was unable to invoke his rematch clause tonight due to injury and to introduce his hand picked challenger in Samuels. First time I’ve seen Chamberlain and he took the catcalls from the crowd very well. Samuels was fantastic in his entrance. He verbally abused most of the children in the audience, shouting to one to keep their lucha mask on to hide their face, grabbing one child and pointing to the exit shouting LEAVE! One young girl showed she wasn’t intimidated by smacking Sha in the stomach, to which he took out his frustration by chasing the ringside cameraman! Such a great villain. RJ came out with his director to a huge response. It didn’t take long for the match to go to the ringside area, with RJ hitting a great dive onto Samuels. A brawl erupted, with children running everywhere to avoid the fight heading their way. After RJ got rammed into the ring post, Samuels grabbed a chair and assaulted the director, something that happened more than once during the match. Back in the ring, Sha kept RJ grounded. RJ came back with a great Falcon Arrow, Samuels hits a huge Spinebuster, RJ goes the Ethnic Submission but that is countered, both men head up top where RJ knocks Samuels down to the mat and hits the Singh-ton Bomb for the three in a cracking main event. As a fan of both men, there was no way I was going to be let down, but they actually surpassed my expectations. Hard hitting, intense action, with fantastic crowd interaction from Singh. After the match, Chamberlain beat down RJ, hitting a great looking GTS. Samuels joined in the fun, bringing the director in for more punishment, before Samuels proclaimed Chamberlain the next champion.
Overall, this is how a family friendly wrestling show should be run. Although I wasn’t fond of every match, the atmosphere was very nice. The crowd all seem to know each other and were very friendly to newcomers. The segment before the main event where the promoters got all the young lads that were celebrating their birthdays to make an entrance and pose on the turnbuckles was a great idea and is something I’d LOVED to have done when I was younger (hell, I’d love it now!). The action was great, for the most part, and wasn’t dumbed down too much by being PG. I wouldn’t say the show is a must-see event, but if you happen to take a chance on the DVD, you’ll at least be treated by four matches ranking between good and awesome. A company certainly worth a look live too for their forthcoming shows.