GRAPS AND CLAPS REVIEW – THE RISE ‘ASCENT’ TOURNAMENT

Added by Andrew Ogden

All Rise! All Rise! and welcome to another edition of everyone’s favourite alternative look at the great British sub-culture called British Wrestling, this time taking this writer on a trip across the Pennines for a first look at RISE Wrestling and there all-day Ascent Tournament taking place at The Temple of Boom just outside the City Centre of Leeds.

From its presence on Social Media, RISE has built itself a cult following going down the ECW route with a mixture of Hardcore Wrestling, Beer, Outlandish Characters and some decent wrestling thrown in as well. In one recent show, X-Factor star Wagner even turned up to interfere in a match, showing anyone can turn up at any moment.

To be honest on the Leeds wrestling scene which is a funny one to say the least for a big city, with Tidal Wrestling drawing anything near the 100/150 marker , the many Adam Bowler operations drawing one man and its dog and Defiant/WCPW when then have done the 02 Academy drawing anywhere between 300 – 700 people to its shows depending who was on. Even PCW is trying to test the waters in October at the PRYZM Nightclub and have currently sold over 230 tickets which for a first time promotion in Leeds is a good thing.

RISE on the other hand from the pictures I have seen, has drawn a regular 300/400 in its Brudenell Social Club home and also drawing decent numbers on this day, with at least double the crowd of what Tidal usually draw in The Temple of Boom. My first impression I can take from the fan base is one of which this is there only promotion they go to on a regular basis and not go to anything else with a number of unfamiliar faces in the crowd. It was interesting to see this type of fandom and how they really have gotten into characters who elsewhere necessarily wouldn’t get over in other promotions e.g. Boris Koslov (A kossack dancing Russian who drinks Vodka), seeing the reaction he gets from this audience was so refreshing to see.

Anyways before we get into the wrestling japes, let’s get into the drinking scene of Leeds and what bars I visited before going to the wrestling.

Arriving into Leeds at 2:15 pm, we made our way to TAPPED which is a drinking establishment offering over 20 ales plus a number of canned and bottled beers. Also from a food prespective, you can have a number of pizza’s which have won rave reviews from a number of people. I had a pint of Wapen-Slapped, a IPA brewed with blueberries – 5.3% £3.90 a pint, this was good but with a slight after taste of blueberries.

Instead of going to the usual jaunts of The Head of Steam, Bundobust and Friends of Ham, we went along our jolly way more near the venue for the afternoon, taking in some different pubs for a change. First of all was The Duck & Drakes which is a ‘Spit and Sawdust’ pub which was once a venue for a Roger Daltrey concert, this had 2 separate rooms with one room offering the usual lager type drinks and the other room offering 8 real ales ranging from £3 to £4.20 a pint. I had a pint of 3.8% Salamander Brewing Forbidden Fruit costing £3.50 with an accompaniment of a good sized Pork Pie costing £1.95 (it was an extra quid if you wanted some mushy peas with it).

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Next bar was a new offering from the owners of Friends of Ham – ‘Lucky Number Seven’ based in the Northern Quarter style section of Leeds near the Grand Arcade. This use to be ‘Ham and Friends’ but when that venture proved unsuccessful, the owners decided to make this into a more bar come Mexican street food venture, whether it lasts or not is another thing. The range of beers in here was around 20 keg taps ranging from £4 foe a pint of Pilsner to £9.60 for a pint of IPA, with that price range I decided just to have two half pints, both of which were passable. Also to note in here are the Unisex toilets with only two traps, so expect longs queues on a busy day.

With the time coming up to 430 pm, we drank up and made our way to The Temple of Boom for the afternoon/evening’s action. First laugh of the afternoon was a number of the wrestlers/bands who were playing on this afternoon trying to get their relevant automobiles do a narrow street with a tour bus parked on the left hand side of the road. Only one car failed this operation – the car of Wrestler – Gene Munney who tried to get his 4×4 vehicle down said street but clipped his right side bumper into the tour bus, leaving Munney to look at the damage in shame knowing that his match fee was going to be spent with an afternoon at the local Kwik Fit!

Before the show started, ring announcer Johnny Santiago who has a striking resemblance to former World Champion Darts player, ‘The Bronze Adonis’ Steve Beaton was going around doing a sweepstake on the Ascent Tournament.

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Entries were £2 a pop and yours truly picked out Amir Jordan who be knowing to me was double booked in Pontefract this evening so his odds drastically went down here.

Starting at 530 pm, 30 minutes later than planned we started off with an Ascent 1st round contest between Martin Kirby (Coming out to an inspired tune – ‘I Need A Hero’, Kirby really does have a great taste in music) and the aforementioned Boris Koslov. The crowd at this point was just over the 100 marker, but would soon fill up later on as time went along but with the intimacy you could get right up to the ringside and see everything that was going on. This first match was a very good match with Koslov utilizing the headlock early on Kirby, Kirby made a comeback trying to smack talk his opponent in amongst his beatdown of Koslov (Kirby is great at this, something that probably goes unnoticed elsewhere).

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Koslov came back with a Cossack Dancing Leg Drop and a spinebuster for a 2 count, with the match coming to a possible conclusion Koslov threw Kirby off the top rope due to Kirby taking too much time. With Kirby down on the ground, Koslov locked in the cross face but before Kirby could tap the bell was signalled for a 15-minute time limit draw to the apathy of the crowd, meaning both men were eliminated from the tournament.

Next up was a battle of stable mates in RISE between Sean Only facing off against one of his protegees Boy 1 (Jack Bandicoot). After a spirited promo from Only who was belittling RISE Management, we got down to action which was a quick 5 minute match but nonetheless very good with Only picking up the win with the Curb Stomp to Boy 1, Boy 1 did try to hit the Scaffold DDT along the way which ended up being his downfall leading the defeat not long after. It does have be said that Boy 1 does have some great facial expressions!

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Third match was a First Round match in the Women’s Tournament between Mischa and Northern Wrestling regular Little Miss Roxxy. Another good contest to add to the day ended with Roxxy hitting a big JOHN WOO!!!! for a two count and a thumbs up to yours truly for bellowing it out, not long after Roxxy locked in the Last Chancery submission for the popular tap out victory for the North East Native.

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We then had a break from the action with an Interview segment RISE Champion Dr. Leonardo Darwin and ‘Sexual Gammon’ Gene Munney to set up their big title match later on in the show, Darwin is very much the antagonistic bad guy with his quick comedy timing to shut down any derogatory comments from the crowd, as someone who I have not see elsewhere he could easily offer something on a card across the country. The use of fantastic entrance music continued with Darwin coming out to ‘Gold’ and Munney coming out to ‘Baker Street’. The end of this segment was Darwin stating that he wasn’t fit again to wrestle Munney (this happened at a previous show as well), but what he did offer was an unnamed American opponent to take on Munney in his place but still with the title on the line later in the evening – we shall see!

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After this segment we had another 1st Round Match in the Ascent Tournament with Dom ‘The Pork from York’ Black who is a bit of a sleazy character which an attraction to lower extremities took on a returning ‘Pastor’ William Eaver who has been out with injury since a match against Roy Johnson in January at PROGRESS. This was a fairly quick match with Eaver hitting an evil Crucifix Bomb and then following up with a ‘Clothesline from Heaven’ to Black for the victory. Even though this was a short match, Black showed a lot of potential on the microphone and in the ring, I know he wrestles usually in the Yorkshire so go and give him a check out – you heard it here first!

The next and final contest of the First Round of the Ascent Tournament was between WWE UK’s Amir Jordan facing off against HT Drake. With Jordan doing his famed entrance to get the crowd dancing, he was soon stopped in his tracks by HT Drake who attacked Jordan once he got into the ring meaning the early exchanges were all about Drake beating down the luckless Jordan. Jordan did eventually get a fightback on hitting a sweet rolling DDT to Drake for a 2 count, feeling refreshed Jordan went to the top rope ready for a dive but Drake knocked him off and left Jordan caught up in the ropes with his knee exposed for a pounding from Drake.

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With Drake still focusing on the knee, he got a bit too complacent thinking he was on his way to victory and was blindsided by a CHEEKY ROLL UP! by Amir for the loss – The Sweepstake Lives ON!

With the first half over we had a 45-minute break meaning people could sample the rock acts next door or the culinary delights of the Vegan Cafe in the venue offering either a Black Bean Style Dish (£5 with Rice) and a Vegan Curry (£4.50 with Rice), unfortunately when I tried later in the evening the Black Bean Dish had ran out so stuck with ever reliable Vegan Curry which is a dream to devour. Instead of waiting around the venue for 45 minutes, we moved on to the nearby North Brewery Co. Beer Tap just up the road which offers a number of beers from its range and also an outside street food festival which was fantastic to visit. I had a pint of Mango & Guava Pale Ale that was lovely and crisp at a cost of £4 for a pint and also to eat I had something called a ‘Frenchie’ which was basically posh Chips, Cheese and Gravy but enough to fill a hole while later on (this cost £7.50 but well worth it)!

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Arriving back at the venue, the crowd had visibly risen and we took up a position at the back of the room. With the added attendance the heat in the room was considerably rising and it only got hotter with the first Semi-Final in the Ascent Tournament between ‘Pastor’ William Eaver and Sweepstake selection Amir Jordan. An excellent ten minute opener with both wrestlers looking good in the process ended with Amir missing a dive off the top rope and Eaver following up with the Crucifix Bomb and a big Lariat for the win , Eaver looks good from his absence away from the ring.

We then had our second match in the Women’s Tournament between ‘Voodoo Queen’ Amarah and Lana Austin. The early portion of this match took to the outside when Amarah a duo of running dives to Lana, Lana did get up and started to lay the boots to Amarah before returning back to the ring. Once back in the ring, this was a very promising contest which ended with Amarah blow a mist into Lana’s eyes with the referee not looking and then finally finishing Lana off with a Death Valley Driver for the 1-2-3.

Next contest was a World of Sport Rules contest between Little Joe (Joe Vega) vs Big Joe (The Bouncer), Big Joe is a beloved character for the RISE faithful since having been turned on by his former friend and current Champion, Leonardo Darwin, taking part in many hardcore matches he has got his niche and took it to the top in this promotion. The World of Sport Rules got enforced by Darwin to Big Joe as a test to see if he can actually wrestle instead of the blood and guts of hardcore style wrestling.

Sadly though the World of Sport Rules didn’t last very long as Big Joe soon got fed up of them and instead himself and Little Joe took to a ‘Circle Moshpit of Death’ in the other building to continue the chaos – this was something I have never seen before done in a wrestling match, so full props to whoever came up with this idea. Back in the ring though, the rules were then reinforced with Little Joe grabbing a chair to hit Big Joe to cause the DQ. Big Joe did get up at the end of the match and challenged Little Joe to a Deathmatch at their big Summersesh event in August!

We had an interview segment next with Danny O’Doherty of RISE Management to have a go at the culture of drinking and violence within the promotion and he wants to rid of that with wrestlers like Boris Koslov being his main point of aggravation. In amongst all this patter, O’Doherty and his crew including Martin Kirby & HT Drake were pelted with Leeks and Beer Cans by some of the RISE faithful showing their disgust at this diatribe from O’Doherty.

With the crowd reaching fever, the crowd’s hero Boris Koslov came out to attack the group and a surprise of Sean Only initially giving Boris a helping hand, only for Only to smack Boris on the back with a chair for the heel turn and in turn joining O’Doherty’s SOBER stable. The crowd heat for this was off the scale when Boris was ejected from the building by O’Doherty’s minions, with Boris out of the equation Only got on the mic ordering his protegees Boy 1 and Boy 2 (Crashboat) to come to the ring and offer them the opportunity of joining the Sober faction. With Boy 1 and 2 in the ring, Only initially offered them to join, but soon changed his mind and locked a sleeper on Boy 1 leaving Boy 2 in a bit of a pickle and not long after he was soon left laying by Only as well much to the disgust of the crowd whose noise was deafening at this moment.

Once Boy 1 and Boy 2 got there bearings, the crowd gave them a huge round of applause for not joining the dark side with this admiration they both ripped off there Sean Only T-Shirts and celebrated with the crowd, leading the announcement they the Boys had turned into Men!! Cue a chorus of Boyz 2 Men ‘To The End Of The Road’ playing out over the tannoy system to the joy of the crowd – fucking fantastic segment even for a RISE first timer like me!!

With that out of the way, we had a Sambuca Death Match with the Hardcore Connection colliding – Caden vs Darko but sadly this didn’t really get going as SOBER made an appearance asking for the cancellation of this match only to be ran off by a returning Boris Koslov to a huge ovation. Koslov was like the Second Coming to this audience!

9th match of the evening was the first in the RISE Tag Team Tournament. We initally had a parade of the 5 teams who will take part in this tournament – England’s Hardest Men (ShreddyBrek & Lou Nixon), Brothers of Rage (Benji & Lou Rage), Hardcore Connection (Darko & Caden), Sons of Ulaid (Rory Coyle and what seems to be Mil Martinez or another partner of Rory’s choosing in the future) and The Lion Kings (Sebb Strife & Nsereko). With all the teams in the ring a big fight ensued before the first sanctioned contest of England’s Hardest Men vs The Brothers of Rage took place. When the action did get going though this a good rough and ready tag team contest with Shreddybrek and Joe Rage looking very impressive from a Hoss standpont, Shreddy is a unit of a man from the Rampage Brown school of hardness and he used that to good effect helping himself and Nixon to victory to get the first 3 points in the tournament on the board for England’s Hardest Men!

Sadly with the time getting up to 10 pm, me and Geoff had to go along our merry way back to to the train station to catch the 1040 pm train back to Littleborough, but we left with the memory of a fantastic time at our first ever RISE experience, which was a change from any other promotion you will ever see around the country just for the insane crowd atmosphere and outlandish characters that I say you don’t really get elsewhere – they have certainly got a niche product but are perfoming admirably in putting on a great experience for a fan – I for one will be back in the future for their shows.

But thank you to my mate Andrew Campbell, who has provided the following report on the remaining matches for your reading pleasure:

Match 10 – Dr Leonardo Darwin’s American replacement DF Gene Munny to retain the Rise Championship.

This whole angle had been done very well with genuine buzz that an American star was turning up. it turns out it was Darwin’s American twin brother (Darwin in an amateur wrestling singlet and a nipple helmet). Darwin came out to the American anthem with Little Joe (Darwin’s illegitimate son) carrying sparklers for pyro. Darwin shouted out about his “shoot” wrestling abilities. The crowd were firmly behind Munny and the numbers were firmly against him. This match was the best match I have seen from both guys and Darwin was correct that he had some shoot wrestling skills and there was some really good wrestling ability in this match perhaps not usually associated with these 2, mainly comedy acts. Munny had 2 near falls with Little Joe pulling the ref out both times. This drew nuclear heat from the crowd as they all (including me) thought Munny was going to take the title. After the 2nd near fall Darwin turned into the old Darwin and low-blowed Munny with the ref on the outside dealing with Little Joe. Darwin has been watching a lot of Nakamura recently as he did not low-blow once but I counted 6!!!!!!! He then finished Munny and the ref came in and counted the 1,2,3 much to the outrage of the crowd. this was a really good match with a feeling that Munny really could have taken the title from Darwin. Darwin continues to excel as a heel that draws real heat from the crowd. He doesn’t care what he says and the crowd react accordingly.

One issue with this match was the amount of cans and beer thrown into the ring after Darwin had won. When this happened at the Rise Rumble it was spontaneous and worked well. Now it feels it has become the done thing when Darwin is in the ring. It is dangerous with full cans of beer being thrown in and puddles of beer appeared and this was not the last match of the night. I feel this needs to stop. Rant over.

Match 11 – Screwface Ahmed answered Musclecat’s open challenge and defeated Musclecat after interference from El Ligero

The crowd started off quieter at the beginning of this match. Probably because of the amount of energy the crowd used up previously and also, I believe, this was Screwface Ahmed’s first match in Rise and many fans were not sure what to make of this very big man. Screwface came out with Legion Of Doom type shoulder pads but felt more like Heidenreich than Hawk or Animal. When the wrestling started this became a very good technical match with Musclecat showing the level of technical ability he has in every match he has had in Rise. Musclecat brought a watermelon to the ring which got a good reaction.(if you don’t know about this youtube ‘Smyths toystore watermelon’)

Musclecat had the slight upperhand in a hard hitting match until he ran the ropes and the top rope snapped and he flew over onto the hard floor. This looked dangerous and could of seriously hurt Musclecat. He was quickly checked on by Roxxy and the Voodoo Queen who looked visibly worried. The ring was put back together and Musclecat continued the match and thankfully does not seem to have been hurt. The match continued and out of nowhere El Ligero appeared dressed in black and attacked Musclecat. The ref did not see this and Screwface benefitted and got the pin. Then, again from nowhere, Gabriel Kidd appeared and attacked Ligero and Ligs retreated. Surprise Appearances from these 2 quality wrestlers deep into the show really shows the level of quality cards Rise are putting together.

Match 12 – Pastor William Eaver DF Sean Only to win the Ascent tournament and become number 1 contender for the Rise Championship

Only came out with the rest of his newly formed stable of O’Doherty, Martin Kirby, HT Drake and someone else. the numbers were against the Pastor but if you have the crowd behind you and you just BILLEAVE you always have a chance. the return of the Pastor was a real high of this show. Eaver was the Rise champion and unfairly lost the title in the Rumble in January as the title was on the line. The Pastor was never pinned or submitted and was surely due a rematch before suffering an injury soon after this and I believe these were his first matches back since that injury. Only is getting better everytime I see him and after his double turn the crowd really didn’t want him to win. Only was my tip for this but that was before I knew Eaver was returning.

This was a good match with not a lot of interference from the outside more of a constant threat with them circling the ring and telling fans to shut up and much worse. Drake calling me an idiot hurt my feelings.

Kirby, Drake et al tried their hardest to help Only in the match but nothing was stopping Eaver and he finally got the pin for the win and huge celebrations from the crowd.

Darwin came out dressed in his suit and sunglasses and shouted down Eaver but Eaver is made of sterner stuff and was having none of it. I cant wait for the match at Summersesh.

Great end to a show that was better than even I imagined. the card was stacked, there was comedy, stupid stipulations, surprise returns and run ins and an electric crowd. I do apologise for not knowing precisely how these matches were won but by this time I was exhausted and had definitely had a few beers. If you have not been to a Rise show I recommend you try.

(Editor’s final words):

Drink prices in this venue were £1 for soft drinks, £2.50 for 500ml cans and £3.50 for 500ml bottles.

Hope you have enjoyed this review and if you want to go and check RISE out the next show is at The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds on August 3rd for one of their biggest shows – SummerSesh! Like and Retweet this and thank you very much for the support of this blog 🙂