Hello and welcome to another edition of Graps and Claps, this time taking me to Preston for the first time in 4 months for PCW’s year end show entitled ‘End Game’ emanating from Evoque Nightclub due to a venue change from the Guild Hall because of staff shortages.
Arriving in Preston for 2pm, me and Geoff took to the streets of Preston on the search for a couple of new pubs which had recently opened in the city in the form of Plau Bar and Vinyl Tap, whilst also taking in the regular haunts on our visits to Preston.
First pub was the Guild Ale House which was fairly busy on this day due to Preston vs Aston Villa taking place just up the road at Deepdale. Only one pint here for me in the form of a Rubis Temparillo Chocolate Stout (4.5% £3.50 pint) that was as ever a smooth and delicious from these fine purveyors of drink.
Next up was the aforementioned Plau Bar which is located just up the road to the UCLAN university area. This bar is akin to somewhere you would go on a romantic date with an intimate setting and moody lighting, this would be the place for such a thing. In here I had the Ilkley Brewery Holy Raspberry Milk Stout (4.7% £3.80 pint) that ranked as my pint of the day and was beautifully described for its taste by the barman who I would give top marks for his customer service. Do be warned though, you will pay through the nose here if you like your gins with one coming in at £9.10 for a double measure.
The sitting booths in here also reminded me of the scene from Boys from the Blackstuff where Yosser Hughes goes to visit a priest (check it out on Youtube).
Next pub as we walked up to near 53 Degrees which PCW ran twice mainly on Freshers Weeks. The bar across the road that we visited was the Beer Brothers PR1 Bar that was very quiet on this afternoon due to maybe the proximity of this place but nonetheless there was a good selection of beers, a pool table and a dartboard to keep you occupied.
It was a tune though that came over the speakers that made us think of what a great theme tune Boney M – Rasputin would be for Ilja Draguanov instead of them Umaga jungle drums he comes out to now. Drink of choice in here whilst we waited for one of our many wrestling chums Will, was a fairly average pint of Crankshaft Brewery It’s Snow Joke (4.2% £3).
With Will in tow we made our way to the Vinyl Tap bursting for a piss, fully emptied we surveyed the bar for a range of six cask beers including a pint of Great Heck Amish Brew (4.4% £3.20). This pub certainly has a rock pub vibe with many tunes from the back catalogue of Iron Maiden being played over the airwaves plus the barman being dressed as a Cowboy akin to the Smoking Gunns back in the day. Also on offer was a batch of reading material ranging from old comics to copies of the Good Beer Guide, all in all a decent boozer if you fancy a change from the usual Yates’s.
Next pub was to be the cosy Plug and Taps for 2/3rds of what looked like Illuminous Mango Juice in the form of Top Rope Brewing’s Big Papa Mango (£6 8%) that set the juices flowing in my mouth with its sweet texture – another cracking drink from this up and coming brewery.
Final pub was Hogarth’s but nothing of note to report from there, so straight to the queue to get into Evoque where whilst stood in the queue I spotted Twitter Legend Allan Blackstock making a rare appearance back to PCW and as I would find out later in the show came good as a stand in reporter due to me having to miss the last three matches because of the last train being at 928pm and the show not finishing till around 10pm – so I was very grateful for his help on this evening.
With a healthy crowd of well of 300 in attendance, we had a total of 8 matches starting off with a 5 way for the No.1 contendership to the Cruiserweight title with as follows:- Dave Birch vs Philip Michael vs A.C Stryker vs Big Time Bruce Wheeler vs Arcadian. Early on Philip Michael hit a dive to everyone on the outside, but not so long after this, Arcadian hits a cactus dive off the raised bar area to everyone below.
A struggle a top of the ring occurred later on as Arcadian completed a German Suplex on both A.C Stryker and Birch to a good reaction. With Arcadian on top though, Bruce Wheeler interjected himself into the picture by hitting of all things – a Package Piledriver for a near fall. It was though to be Philip Michael who would pick up the win in this contest hitting a brainbuster to A.C Stryker and then locking in a modified Rings of Saturn to get the tapout victory to gain a Cruiserweight title match against Tel Banham in the future.
Before getting into the next match, we had a new ring announcer for the evening in the form of DJ Connie Von D who for a first time did very well on the microphone to hype up the crowd but it was a bit shouty in parts – think like Rayvon off Phoenix Nights (“The louder you scream, the faster the ride – Shabba”!).
Next up we had Tyson T-Bone taking on Shingehiro Irie in a proper battle of the big lads with the hope that Irie would be able to show more here than he did in his encounter with Walter the other week at Progress, which was a bit of a one-sided shooing. Hard hitting start to this match with both Bone and Irie laying in the leather, but Irie would get the better of things during this match at one stage hitting Bone with a Death Valley Driver for a two count. He also followed up with not one but two speed cannonballs to wind Bone, but it was T-Bone who would have the final laugh as he drilled Irie with a match-winning piledriver to win a hard fought contest.
After the match, Bone got on the mic to announce that tonight would be his last match in PCW for the time being as goes on to his next career stop in WWE UK tagging with Saxon Huxley. It can’t be questioned though that T-Bone will be a miss to PCW as he has been the go to person for if they need a champion to hold onto the belt in many transitional periods of this company.
Next up was an open challenge for the PCW Tag Team championships with the Champions being ‘The Buyout’ of Sheikh El Sham and Danny Hope. Before we got into the match there was a long promo from Sham and Hope telling the crowd of their recent actions where last time Hope turned on long time friend and foe Joey Hayes. So who would take up this open challenge but none other than Joey Hayes and his tag team partner – my boy Ashton Smith for one of the last times we would be able to hear his tune ‘all of the lights’ again.
This was quite the all-action tag team match with both teams pulling off maybe my match of the night. Joey and Ashton both hit stereo rko’s to the Sheikh but when Ashton went for the pin he was thwarted as Hope pulled out the referee just as the ref was about to count three.
Ashton was then sent to the outside whilst being attended to by the referee. Back inside the ring though with Joey ready to put away Hope, Sham came into the ring to spear Joey into orbit to get the win for his team to very much the jeers of the crowd in attendance.
After the match, Ashton got on the mic as per T-Bone to announce his departure from PCW as he goes off to WWE UK which is becoming the norm for quite a few wrestlers over the next few days and weeks. Good luck mate!!
Half time main event now with the prestigious NWA Title being on the line with the holder of the ‘Ten Pounds of Gold’ Nick Aldis taking on the challenger Iestyn Rees who is looking in fantastic shape more than usual. Festivities before the match included PCW Booker Greg Lambert ring announcing both wrestlers into the ring and also a special representative for the NWA being put in place in the form of Doug Williams.
As expected this was a 50/50 match with two wrestlers of similar style doing battle for just over 12 minutes. I did feel though that the crowd was a bit flat maybe due to the baddie persona of Rees and Aldis possibly not being the most charismatic wrestler out there.
Rees got on top early to hit a big shoulder block to Aldis to get a two count, this was soon followed up by a spear from the big man from Gloucester for another two count. Aldis did make a spirited comeback hitting a Tombstone for two, as the match went back and forth it was to be Aldis who would roll through on Rees into a pinning combination for a three count to retain the NWA Title.
With the time coming up to 845pm and time running out for me, Geoff and Will we only had the opportunity to catch one more match which was the Last Woman Standing Match between the Women’s Champion Nightshade taking on long time rival Rhio, in hopefully turns out to be the end of this feud and a move on to fresher opponents in 2019.
Even though this was a Last Woman Standing Match, this stuck for 95% of the match in the confines of the wrestling ring which was an interesting direction to go for me. As it looked at one stage that Rhio would capture the title as she hit a Roll of the Dice and a JOHN WOO!! to flatten Nightshade but out of nowhere here comes Sheikh El Sham to wallop Rhio from behind to knock her unconscious to leave Nightshade to be the count of 10 to retain her championship – BOOOOOO!!!
Match done, my writing duties were then passed on to Allan to describe what went down in the last three matches as I made the dash to Preston Station to catch the last train.
Next match was Lionheart vs. Dean Allmark with the stipulation of the Styles/Smiles Clash being banned from the match. As ever Deano can carry a broomstick so this should be OK.
Lionheart starts proceedings by burying Greg Lambert on the mic, but puts him over for banning the Smiles Clash. When Lionheart is on the mic, close your eyes and imagine Wet Wet Wet Marti Pellow. Then open then again and remember it’s auld Lionheart.
The match starts off at a high pace with a Deano tope. Dean has a fetching beard, I approve. They brawl around Prestons premier discotheque, doing the standard fayre ramming heads off sofas and the like.
Deano has Dr. DEATH inspired tights, unsure why I’ve never noticed before. Maybe because it wasn’t a Lionheart match before? Anyway, Lionheart does have a good running boot that Kevin Nash would appreciate which Deano sells like a trooper.
Allmark hits a beautiful moonsault for the 2 count then attempts something from the top rope but gets crotched but recovers but walks in to the 25th super kick of the match. Less is more lads or it loses all meaning. Anyway ref was distracted leaving Lionheart to hit the Styles clash and Deano kicks out and not so long after he scored a near fall with a roll up. The ref messed the near fall and counted to three but then the match was given to Deano. Too short for anything resemembling better than fair.
Lionheart then grabs the mic and tells everyone he hates them and leaves.
Jordyanne Grace vs Yuu (Editor’s Note – bit sad we couldn’t try out the vast range of songs for Yuu – some absolute belters) Hyped for this tbh and is the reason I showed up, as I know both can go and hopefully will be motivated.
They shake hands before they grapple, Its all head locks and head scissors to start with. We then move to the I’m movable object and irresistible force spots in the form of shoulder blocks – Somewhere Gorilla Monsoon is smiling.
The thing I like about Grace is she does what she says on the tin, power moves. Channelling her inner Big Bossman she hits a Mean Sidewalk Slam and a Masato Tanaka sliding clothesline. The crowd aren’t in to this as it’s doesn’t appear to be a clear heel face dynamic.
Yuu hit a John woo dropkick. (third in total on this show) which raised a reaction before both exchanged in a forewarn battle than Yuu got the better of. Grace hits a spine buster for a near fall and the crowd starts to get interested. Yuu has a great Rousey judo throw and locks in a rear naked naked choke than gets the crowd rallying around Grace for support. The finishes was Grace hitting a Vader bomb for the clean fall.
It’s main event time now with Tel Banham taking on Matthew Brooks in a match where Brooks’s hair is on the line if he lost, but if he won he would win back his voice which has been missing for over 6 months now. Matthew Brooks is like The Roger Daltery of BritWres with his flowing curly locks.
Big T in the house accompanying Tel to the ring – I’m all for a Big T appearance! Big T has some Beefcake shears that Brother Bruti never ever used. Matthew Brooks comes out to a big pop with a classic John Farnham number, the voice. Love that song I do.
The thing about Matthew Brookes I like is he is in phenomenal shape and has some of the best gear in BritWres – Brookes in the Ultimate Warrior colors is a big hit with the kids and he’s over like rover which is good to see.
These two have worked each other a ton so this has potential to be fun! Brookes punches LIKE Kerry Von Erich which is different to most strikes people do nowadays, and different is good. We have another brawl around the ringside area including a dive off the dj booth by Brookes on Big T.
At this point I left as I was hungry. Not a slight on either but my stomach is more important than this match as I haven’t followed the feud.
Thankfully for Graps and Claps fans, I had a contingency plan once again as I got long time PCW fan Rick ‘The’ Rock to report to me about the finish – Brooks got the victory in an entertaining match up to win back his voice. After the match though both Banham and Big T were joined by Nightshade, Danny Hope and Sheikh El- Sham in a beatdown of Philip Michael, Brooks and Joey Hayes to form the full 5 person faction of ‘The Buyout’ which looks like the direction that PCW will be moving forwards with in 2019.
Hopefully though this turns out better than other factions in PCW e.g. The Firm and the latter end of the ‘Friends with Benefits’ angle which was the downturn for the company in my opinion.
PCW’s next show is on January 12th in Blackpool on the same day as NXTUK Takeover, so make sure you check it out for something to do before the big one in Blackpool.
In closing a big thank you to Allan and Richard for their help in finishing the review for me – so I hope you have enjoyed reading and I will see you next time with a review of Progress Unboxing!