GRAPS AND CLAPS REVIEWS – PCW ‘ROAD TO GLORY’ 2019

Added by Andrew Ogden

Hello and welcome to this edition of Graps and Claps, this time taking me to Blackpool for PCW’s Road to Glory weekender with what was advertised of being two tournaments taking place with the Singles on Saturday and the Tag Team tournament on the Sunday. However, in a change to the advertised schedule there was a removal of the tag tournament probably due to the non-availability of suitable tag combinations. In its place on the Sunday we instead had a TV style taping session for PCW’s new show on the Fight Network which will be launched in the coming weeks. Also being televised will be the Road to Glory Singles Tournament which involved a total of 16 wrestlers – with 8 First Round matches, followed by the Quarters, Semi-Finals and Final all on one enormous day of wrestling.
Now how we are going to do this as it was a ram-packed weekend of grappling action, is to run you through some of the highlights on show and also take you into detail about the Blackpool beer scene or lack of thereof. Arriving into Blackpool at 12 Noon, after a journey of two and half hours coming from my house to Manchester and then to the seaside mecca, we met up with Andrew Campbell who we had been with at the PCW show in Leeds the night before (this will be reviewed by our Geoff later in the week).

With a small amount of time before the show started, we were planning to visit a local real ale choice in the form of The Pump and Truncheon, sadly though this was closed due to a refurbishment. So Instead we plumped for The Castle (a proper Geezer Pub), which looks inviting from the outside, but once you are inside it reminds you of a weekend away in Magaluf with a packed pub full of tourists dancing away to DJ Otzi, getting pissed on gassy lager whilst listening to the styling’s of Joe Curran’s Marmite Show – think of him as Blackpool’s answer to Bernard Manning handing out sharp barbs to anyone daring to walk past him to the toilets, so sharp were these barbs he had to have a bouncer stand next to him in-case anyone decided to spark him out!.

With the 1st PCW show starting at 1pm, we made our way to the venue with what I would say around 100 in attendance for the first show, meaning those who had bought the cheaper tickets got moved forward into the VIP front row seats, so lucky for me I could stretch my legs for the duration for 3 out of the 4 shows. In general, the attendance was around the same level for all 4 shows with Show 2 and Show 4 providing the larger crowds which was a shame. However, with that said and it can’t be denied is that PCW produced 4 solid shows on this weekend – so let’s start with the show 1.

Best matches:

Jeff Cobb vs Tom Lawler – A masterclass in grappling and the pure wrestling style with Olympic trained wrestler and current ROH TV Champion Jeff Cobb taking on the current MLW Champion, Tom Lawlor. If you like your wrestling full of Suplex variations from both guys, plus hard lariats this was the one for you with the former UFC star Lawlor getting the victory with a rear naked choke on Cobb to advance to the next round in around 15 minutes and for me the best match of the 4 shows taking place in Blackpool. Lawlor is easily someone I can see like a certain Matt Riddle who can reach that top level in the world of wrestling, as he has done in the world of MMA.

Sheikh El-Sham vs Philip Michael – Two of PCWs standouts from the Academy, took to the squared circle in the match before the interval and once again they proved why they are both so highly rated by many people on the local scene. One constant you will read through this report is how good Sheikh El-Sham is getting nowadays from a character and an all-round package standpoint – from the promos, the sneers and subtle winding-up of the crown, plus a look of someone who can go very far in his wrestling career – he is coming off with that star quality. Philip has a star quality from a wrestling standpoint, but I do feel he needs that little bit of pizazz added to his repertoire ala Zack Sabre Jr to push to that next level, but that will come with time. What would become Philip’s downfall in this match, would be played out for the rest of the weekend, as he went to leap at Sham, but on landing he jarred his knee – something that both Sheikh El-Sham and Tel Banham would target on the other shows.

Another thing to point out from this match, would be the first appearance of Referee, Mark Alexander Price who the previous evening cost T-Bone winning the PCW Heavyweight Title off of Tel Banham, by reversing a decision a replacement ref made whilst Price was knocked down. The story with Price was that being hinted was he the main heel group ‘The Buyout’ paid off official in which he would somehow always get in the way of The Buyout’s opponent and in turn costing them the match with his biased officiating. As a weekend long story, this was fantastically done with every time that Price made his entrance to the ring he got mercifully booed from the crowd in attendance.

As per this match, Price got in Philip Michael’s way causing Phil to be caught with the roll-through spear by Sham who advanced to the next round to the jeers of the audience. Before this match we had an appearance during an interview segment by Tel Banham who challenged Philip to a Cruiserweight title match that would take place later on in the second show due to Philip being eliminated – more on that later!

Sugar Dunkerton vs MJF – Plenty of shenanigans in this one with Sugar riling up MJF by nicking his Burberry scarf and duly wiping his arse with it. MJF who impressed when he was over last May, was once excellent again as the cocky ‘Better than You’ antagonist compared to the fun-loving Dunkerton who had the crowd firmly on his side on this what was the 1-year anniversary of his first tour of the UK. Unfortunately for Sugar, it wouldn’t end so well as MJF kicked Sugar in the bollocks whilst Referee Des wasn’t looking and rolled up Sugar whilst having a hand on the ropes for more leverage to advance to the next round.

Other results from Round 1 were as follows:

‘Magnificent’ Matthew Brooks beat Dave Birch when hit the Big Leg for the three count. A big plus for Brooks this weekend, was the usually temperamental microphones were on amazing form this weekend, so his beautiful singing voice could be heard at full capacity.

Puerto Rico’s own Franco Varga who comes out to the Ricky Martin classic ‘Living La Vida Loca’ beat ‘Big Time’ Bruce Wheeler who is an Academy Graduate who has been wrestling for the last 8 months and whilst some of his ring work needs a bit of fine tuning, his mic work is very good for someone who hasn’t been doing this long. Franco who impressed on this weekend, especially with the kids in attendance who swamped him for photographs at the end of the show advanced to the next round when he hit a F5 into a stunner and then a Moonsault for the three count.

Jaxon Stone Everybody!! Who has the look of former Newcastle player Jonas Gutierrez put away Planet Bolton’s own Arcadian in a good contest that was back and forth for the duration of the contest, which ended when Jaxon put away Arcadian with a powerbomb to advance.

In what was supposed to Daniel Thorley (Academy Trainee) vs Iestyn Rees, never got going due to BIG T who felt jilted that he wasn’t in the tournament came in to lay waste to Daniel in the end racking him, to leave Iestyn just to walk to the ring to get the forfeit victory which had people thinking that Rees would be soon to be a member of the Buyout, despite him saying that he wanted to be his own man at the last show in Blackpool – this would be played out later in the show and the weekend.

Main event of show 1 was battle of former friends with Danny Hope taking on Joey Hayes. In what was very much a slow burner type of a match, that turned good near the end – Joey Hayes advanced when he locked in the Cross-Hayes on Danny to win via submission. Hope had earlier during the match thought he had won, but the referee noticed Hope had his feet on the ropes and promptly stopped the count.

Show one done – a quick drop off of my bags at our B&B for the evening, that being The Trentham B&B which cost £41 for the night, but the only down point being the low roof in my roof, meaning me and Geoff would have to very careful once we rolled in at 2 am half cut! Two pubs were visited in between Show 1 and 2, that being the local branch of Hogarths for a pint of Cheadle House Bitter at a cost of £1.95 to wet the taste buds whilst observing the bouncer in there who had the look of MJF less the Burberry scarf.

The other pub we tried in between was The 1887 Brew Room, which is the site of the formation of Blackpool F.C and has been turned into in the last year, into a brew pub as of West Coast brewery. This has been well needed in the town, as there is very much a lack of real ale choices apart the two ‘Spoons. Two pints in here were had including a Tiny Rebel Rise Lager (4.2% £3.90) and an 1887 Brew House Lager (4% £2.85), both which were very good being accompanied with a foot-long sausage and nachos for £4.25. This pub would be visited again after Show 2, for another two-hour session this time with The Indy Corner boys (Benno, JP and Joe and Colin) who had come up for the weekend – all cracking company throughout the time they were there.

Show two now, so let’s get into the best of the action:

MJF vs Joey Hayes – in a rematch of a cracker, MJF took on Joey Hayes, with Joey looking to avenge his defeat in May and once again they didn’t disappoint as MJF looked to finish off Joey with his rope-assisted piledriver, but only got a two count as he complained to the referee which soon led to his downfall as not long after this, Joey hit the JKO to get the three count and to advance to the Semi-Finals. Good crowd head especially with MJF who once again was a star on the microphone – this fella is money!!

Tom Lawlor vs Jaxon Stone & Franco Varga vs Iestyn Rees followed next in what were two very good big lad’s matches, with the Stone vs Lawler being probably the best of these two with Lawlor very much being on the defensive surviving close countouts at the count of 9 to carry on. Lawlor however managed to choke out the BIG Jaxon at the third attempt to advance to the Semis. In the other quarter, after a valiant effort by Franco Varga, he finally succumbed to iestyn Rees who beat him with the Alpha Lock to also cement his place in the Semi-Finals.

Shenanigans galore in the final Quarter match when Sheikh El-Sham scrambled through against ‘Magnificent’ Matthew Brooks after Sham was in a pinning position on Brooks, but with the aid of Danny Hope holding Brooks foot on the outside for added leverage to get the three count BOOOO!!! So your final 4 – Lawlor, Sham, Rees and Hayes!

Half-Time Main Event was a proper tour de force of emotions as Philip Michael challenged Tel Banham once again for the Cruiserweight Title, after losing in Blackpool the last time at Club Domain, so for Philip this was a chance at retribution. Fully based around Banham working on the already injured knee of Michael from earlier on, he was trying everything within his power to make the man from Accrington tap out. However, at one stage near the end of this match it looked like Philip would do the unthinkable and make Tel tap in a modified ‘Rings of Saturn’ but to the sadness of the crowd in attendance, Tel would get to the ropes. With the match reaching around the 20-minute marker it would be Tel who had done enough work on Phil to make him pass out from the pain to deflate the crowd into one big huff – an excellent match up though, that the crowd were fully invested in for the duration of – well done lads!!

Semi-Finals of the tournament we had Iestyn Rees facing Joey Hayes, which was all going well until BIG T got involved once again on this day to remonstrate with Iestyn who he had been courting on behalf of his group. This led though, to distract Iestyn enough to be rolled up by Joey who advances to the Road to Glory final leaving an angry man from Gloucester baying for BIG T’s blood.

In the other Semi-Final we had Sheikh El-Sham vs Tom Lawlor in an interesting styles clash, which on paper many people thought Lawlor would advance, but once we saw who the official was for the match doubt set in (Mark Alexander Price once again!!). Price would get involved once again as he gave a fast count as Sheikh had Lawlor pinned much to the disgust of the crowd. After the match, Lawlor would get his revenge as he choked out Price enough, that it ruled him out from reffing/spoiling the final.

Before the final we had a 6-man tag to break things up with ‘The Buyout’ (BIG T, Danny Hope and Nightshade) taking on Sugar Dunkerton, Matthew Brooks and Arcadian. In a really fun break from singles action, it would be ‘The Buyout’ who would get the victory as BIG T hit the final sentence to Arcadian to get the 3 count.

Final time now, with Sheikh El-Sham coming out on a royal throne carried by security in a proper WrestleMania type entrance – that had me applauding like a seal – taking on Joey Hayes in the Road to Glory Final. This match is very poignant for Sheikh, as his first ever match was against Hayes at the PCW Academy when he was defeated by the man from Leigh, since then though Sham has had the upper hand, but would it be the same on this evening. Lots of interference in this one including ‘The Buyout’ getting involved, that was until Referee Des ejected them, we had signs of tension between Sham and Banham as well – which in the future we could see played out!

As the match was reaching its climax and with Sham on Top, BIG T came in as well to put the final exclamation to Hayes whilst Des was floored, but out comes Iestyn Rees with a chair to wallop T over the head to send him packing. This in turn lead to Joey Hayes locking in the Cross Hayes at the second attempt to get the Submission to send the crowd home happy and to win the Road to Glory tournament and an opportunity at the PCW Title at a later date. A fitting way to end a fantastic, storyline driven tournament!

Show done, it was time to visit the bright lights of Blackpool, as mentioned spending a couple of hours once again in The Brew Room till around 10:15pm. That was before we made our way to The Castle only for that to be shut! However, we did end up going to The Layton Rakes Wetherspoons to sample the £1.95 bottles of Sierra Nevada, followed by Knobby’s Karaoke Bar to here many songs being mercifully murdered by the locals – including a rendition of The Cranberries hit ‘Zombie’

Next on the beer crawl of Blackpool, was local Irish bar ‘Shenanigans’ which can only be described as a shithole, where we stopped for an hour only before my dancing got even worse! Last pub for us was The Miffin which was a decent café style bar, but it was a bit dead like that scene out of The Inbetweeners whilst we sang along to ‘Sugar Sugar’ by The Archies as requested by my mate Andrew! That said it was time for me, Geoff and Jan to leave The Indy Corner boys and Andrew to party the night away in the local Popworld – of which I had reports of stunning barmaid from Andrew.

Waking up the next morning at 930am, we made our way down for breakfast which was a good effort, but I never understand why all B&B’s insist on only giving you 1 sausage??? Meeting up with Jan and Andrew we made our way in for Show 3 of the Blackpool weekend, not before being surprised when walking into the local CEX to see a DVD of something called ‘The Brave Little Toaster’, supposedly a Children’s film from the late 80’s costing the pricey sum of £28 – FUCK ME!!

Anyways, less about toasters and let’s get into what happened in Show 3 and 4 – these being the TV tapings for the Fight Network shows, so be aware of spoilers to come! Starting off the first taping we had Philip Michael who was still carrying a bit of a knee injury from the previous evening taking on Dave Birch! A very good start to proceedings here, with both wrestlers impressing, but if I am being a bit picky it maybe could have had a couple of minutes shaved off it as they were trying to hit all the moves – still excellent by all accounts. Philip got the victory here with the Rings of Saturn to Birch after earlier hitting a Canadian Destroyer on Birch for a two count.

The sounds of Big T’s entrance were heard next as he came out to take on Arcadian. As expected this was a bit of a mauling apart from Arcadian at least getting the big fella down to one knee with kicks. T finished off Arcadian in quick fashion with The Final Sentence to get the win, once again teasing us with the non-appearance of his famous rack move ‘The T-Break’.

More comedy stylings next as ‘BIG TIME” Bruce Wheeler took on Sugar Dunkerton. Plenty of talk prior to the match was of Bruce Wheeler saying that he had the writing credits to the tune ‘Sugar Sugar’ like a 1960s version of Gary Barlow nicking all of the writing credits – which got a few laughs from my mate Andrew about this! Sadly, this was no laughing matter for Wheeler as he was put away with a roll-through X-Factor for the win.

Non-title Women’s action with Desi Derata taking on the PCW Women’s Champion Nightshade. Derata who had been beaten by Nightshade in a 3-way match on Friday in Leeds was looking for revenge here. Early portion of this match was a bit rough around the edges, but as it went on it turned into a good contest, in which Derata got the shock victory by hitting a spinning bomb to Nightshade to get the 3 and as we would see later in Show 4 – a title shot. Unfortunately, though in the later match, it wasn’t meant to be for Desi as she was put away by Nightshade with a high-angled German Suplex to get the win. Nightshade it has to be said is very good at getting the crowd riled up and it is good to see her getting some newer opponents to start off 2019 – keep an eye out for her!

Next two matches were a decent Big lads match with Jaxon Stone taking on Franco Varga in which Stone got the victory and Iestyn Rees disposing Danny Hope in quick time – let it be known this wasn’t a good weekend for the Sheriff of Tasseltown, as apart from the 6-person match, he lost every match!

Up next we had the unveiling of a new PCW signing that being Joe Hendry, who we would find out was a supposed attacker of Matthew Brooks (which was announced at the start of the show that Brooks would not be appearing because of this). With Hendry proclaiming that he is a better singer and a wrestler than Brooks, this prompted Brooks’ friend Sugar Dunkerton to come out to remonstrate with Hendry – in a very good back and forth talking segment, it would be Sugar who ended up sending Hendry packing to the back with a right hook, but not before Hendry challenged Sugar to a time of his choosing which would be later on in the Second show. Good stuff this!

Main event of the first show was an All-Star tag with Sheikh El-Sham and Tel Banham trying to work out their differences, taking on Joey Hayes and Tom Lawlor. A chaotic tag match that ended up with the crooked referee Mark Price getting involved once again with some underhanded skulduggery and also the rest of Buyout interfering to stop Lawlor doing any damage. With Danny Hope and BIG T occupying both Tom Lawlor and Jeff Cobb, the latter who had come out to save his mate, this left Banham free to clock Joey with the PCW Title belt to Joey Hayes to floor him to get the three count as Price counted the fall to get the tainted win for The Buyout!

After the match though, Joey dusted himself off to challenge Banham for the PCW Title in the second show to send the crowd off for an hour break before the 4thand final show started. During the break, it was time to get some Fish and Chips from the Chippy next to Coral Island, which were are solid 8/10 standard costing £6.55! I forgot to say whilst I am typing, that beer was shunned in the first show by quite a few of us nursing hangovers – instead plumping for £2.50 cups of Slush Puppies – many a brain freeze was had in the space of 2 hours.

4th and final show now, starting off with 4-way action with Jaxon Stone taking on Dave Birch, Bruce Wheeler and Franco Varga respectively. In a really fun opener to get the crowd warmed up once again, the popular Franco got the victory here by hitting the F5 stunner to Birch to get the victory here to end what was successful first time showing here in the U.K for the Puerto Rican! After the match, Dave Birch got onto the mic, to say that he was sick of all the losses and needed to seek change to get his fledgling career back on track.

After the aforementioned Women’s match we then had 3rd on – Danny Hope taking on Arcadian. After a prolonged beat down of Arcadian by Hope, out of nowhere the man from Planet Bolton shocked The Sheriff with a springboard cutter from out of nowhere to get the shock win! Which was nice to see as Arcadian impressed quite a few onlookers on this weekend, including Joe and JP, whilst we are on the subject got us all talking about Babylon Zoo which Arcadian uses their hit ‘Spaceman’ as his theme – only at the wrestling can these conversations ever come up!.

Next up was announced as an ‘I Quit’ match between Sheikh El-Sham and Philip Michael (something to be probably explained on TV to this stipulation). An added stipulation to this match was if the Sheikh won, then Phil would have to join The Buyout, if Phil won – The Buyout would have to disband! This was very much a match to show off the Sheikh’s dominance as he beat down on Phil’s already injured right leg, constantly targeting this throughout the match and after around 15 minutes he eventually made Phil scream ‘I QUIT!’ after the pain was too much for the lad from Accrington – so with that said – A reluctant Phil now has to be The Buyout’s slave for the foreseeable future.

Joe Hendry vs Sugar was up next to settle out their squabble in the earlier interview segment. In another good storyline driven match, for which PCW are very good at nowadays, it would Joe Hendry who would get the victory with a roll-up and a hand on the rope similar to an MJF victory the night before – very much to the boos of the crowd in attendance. So with that win, it looks like Hendry is going to be moving into a feud with Matthew Brooks, expect the Sing-Off and many other singing related games between these masters of the voice.

Three matches to go and we come back with a return match from Show 1, with Jeff Cobb once again taking on Filthy Tom Lawlor in a similar type of match to that one, with both hitting hard strikes and throws, but on this occasion, it would be the man from Guam getting the victory as Jeff Cobb hit the ‘Tour of the Islands’ to give Lawlor a hard landing to get the three count in a hard-fought contest with both lads giving each other a deserved show of respect!

More big lads action with Iestyn Rees and BIG T trying to settle their differences. Even though this was short, it still had some great spots including Rees doing a wonderful dive to T on the outside and also managing to slam T in the centre of the ring. With Rees locking in the Alpha Lock to T and with him ready to tap, Sheikh El-Sham ran in to attack Rees with a Chair to cause the DQ. It now looks like this is the direction for the next couple of months in PCW with Rees taking on Sham – which I am certainly all for! Rees is certainly getting over well in this new babyface role.

Main event time now and your final match for the weekend was for the PCW Heavyweight Title with the Champion, Tel Banham taking on the No.1 Contender Joey Hayes. Luckily for Joey fans at the start, PCW Honcho Steven Fludder ordered the dismissal of crooked referee Mark Price, leading to Price being fired and then duly removed by security – an excellent way to end the weekend long storyline with him. You would think as well with all of the wrestling that had just passed that the crowd would be tired, but this match the whole audience engaged from the start. None more than the moment Tel Banham went to hit Joey with the belt only to be thwarted by Referee Des, and then hit with a JKO for the nearest of three counts that had the crowd on the edge of there seats.

Thankfully though for Joey, he was wise once again when Banham went to hit him with the belt again, only for Hayes to lock in the Cross Hayes on Tel to make him tap out onto the belt (great visual) to become PCW Heavyweight Champion to a great reception from the crowd.

There we have it then! A tour de force of a weekend, which a couple of thank you’s go out to the young lad in the front row who didn’t stop chanting all weekend and gave me a rest which was needed much on the Sunday shows. Also a thank you to Rick ‘The Rock’ (PCW Regular) with his help with some of the results and his thoughts on the weekend – go and check him out on Youtube (The Peoples WWE Channel)!

In closing, despite some low attendances, the outlook for PCW does look good from a storyline stand point with the main baddies looking a threat especially Banham, BIG T, Hendry and Sheikh El Sham. From the goody side Hayes, Rees, Sugar and Brooks look to be their dance partners with also Philip Michael looking on within the buyout – I for one am excited from a story standpoint of things!

I hope you have enjoyed reading this review of PCWs weekend in Blackpool – give them a check out online or when they are on The Fight Network. I will see you next time when I go to Leeds once again for Tidal Wrestling so until then – BYE!!