Picture credit to Brett Hadley & HOPE Wrestling
Match 1: Matt Myers defeated Barricade
HOPE’s resident monster Barricade was up first, which was kind of fitting as Myers’ ring attire always reminds me of a power ranger. Myers came out to a good reception from the crowd to be followed by… Harvey Dale almost having to physically drag his client Barricade out to the ring. Barricade has been on a bit of a bad run of late, losing his undefeated streak which was obviously putting strain on the relationship between manager and wrestler.
The match very quickly ended up outside the ring where they both traded blows while Dale was constantly screaming at Barricade to put Myers away. Back in the ring, Barricade took control with a couple of his arsenal of power moves, first with a backbreaker leading to a leg drop off the apron, then hitting a 1 handed chokeslam that almost put Myers through the ring. Myers bravely continued to fight on, mounting small spurts of offence, all the time Dale at ringside was berating Barricade for not being able to put him away. Myers soon capitalised on Barricade’s inability to put him away with what looked like a Michinoku-Driver for the victory.
After the match, Dale got into the ring to give Barricade another rollicking, again getting in his face in a fit of rage telling Barricade he had turned into a joke with his recent poor run of result. The crowd were very unhappy with Dale’s actions and a Barricade chant broke out for the monster as he exited the stage.
My reaction: Very good opener, all involved sold the story perfectly to the fans.
Match 2: Nixon Newell defeated Violet O’Hara
Next up was Nixon, who had shocked HOPE fans last time out by turning on her own boyfriend, Zak Northern. It’s safe to say that she wasn’t very popular, with 1 older fan getting up out of his seat to ram home his animosity towards her. An unknown until tonight, Violet got a good reception because of who she was facing.
This one didnt let up, with both wrestlers showing an array of sound technical wrestling at a fast speed, they both traded picture perfect suplex’s and Violet hit a shining wizard reminiscent of AJ Lee. Violet showed the HOPE fans that she was upto the challenge of taking on Nixon on her debut, not afraid of going toe-to-toe with her and looked as if she might cause an upset until Nixon showed just why she’s been on such a good run of late, picking up the win.
My reaction: Was very impressed with Violet’s debut, she looked comfortable in the ring. She’s certainly not the tallest in the world but handled the physicality just fine. I could see her and Nixon having a very interesting rivalry in the future. Nixon is a favourite of mine and always gives a good account of herself, tonight being no different. It seems she’s revelling in her new role.
Match 3: Jimmy Havoc defeated Sebastian Radclaw
Making his debut at HOPE next was one of the UK’s most well established bad guys in the business, Jimmy Havoc. He was making no friends here in Mansfield either! Instantly living up to his reputation by antagonising the locals. Radclaw’s reception with his partner in crime ‘Scat Monkey’ was entirely different. HOPE fans had already enjoyed seeing Radclaw before and greeted him accordingly.
It took a little while for this one to get going after Radclaw confiscated a camera and took it into the ring, which lead to Havoc taking a seat in the crowd and asking for a beer (to which a fan happily obliged and passed Jimmy a pint). Radclaw followed him outside the ring and began his own David Attenbrough style documentary about Jimmy being in his natural habitat which seemed to have the fans in a fit of giggles.
The match finally got under way and Jimmy wasn’t happy! Where he pulled them from I do not know, but Jimmy managed to handcuff Radclaw to the top rope while he turned his attention to Radclaw’s companion Scat Monkey, stomping on him much to the crowds dismay. This seemed to give Radclaw superhuman strength like a parent helping their child and he managed to break free from the handcuffs to put a stop to Jimmy’s fiendish acts. It wasn’t enough however, with Havoc hitting a sickening brainbuster before hitting his finisher and putting Radclaw away.
My reaction: I dont want to take anything away from the 2 wrestlers, but I was disappointed in this one. Radclaw seemed to ‘go on’ a bit, but maybe that was because I’m used to seeing people filled with hatred for Jimmy and coming at him all guns blazing. Once the match got going I was fully into it, but as the opening took so long I was left wanting so much more. Would like to see them both back at HOPE regardless, just against different opponents.
Match 4: Tyler Bate defeated Robert X
I almost wet my pants with excitement when the match before the break was announced a fews ago… with 2 of the UK’s hottest young talents (both still in their teens I think!) in Tyler Bate and Robert X. Both guys have previously wrestled at HOPE so the fans were expecting a high standard match-up.
It didn’t disappoint!
Before the match there was a bit of back of forth with the fans, whose notable chants included “Tyler’s moustache! *clapclapclapclapclap*”, along with “He’s got a red face on his face” directed at Robert X (which originated from a PROGRESS wrestling show).
The match got under way with some intricate mat wrestling which culminated with Tyler doing a headstand in the middle of the ring. After a few vicious chops that echoed throughout the venue, followed by the customary “WOOOOO!” the match went outside the ring and Bate reversed an irish whip from Robert and flung him head first into a whole section of the seating arrangements. Back in the ring, Robert X mounted some stiff offence, starting with a stiff super kick to the jaw, a vicious sit-down power bomb and a cutter coming off the top rope. Tyler managed to get his knees up and block the standing moonsault. Tyler got up and gave Robert what I counted as 16 vicious european uppercuts before going up top for a moonsault which he landed on his feet to as Robert moved out of the way. As Robert came running at Tyler, Tyler scooped him up on his shoulders and proceeded into an air plane spin and once he gained enough momentum… a UFO! Anyone who doesn’t know this move, get on youtube and type in ‘Cesaro/Claudio Castagnoli UFO’… it is absolutely nuts. After this craziness, Bate picked up the 1-2-3 to a rapturous reception from the crowd for both guys.
My reaction: Both these guys have genuine talent and any time they’re on a card I look forward to it. Putting them both together left me foaming at the mouth. They lived upto the hype and if this matchup was repeated many times at HOPE I doubt I’d get bored of it. The UFO from Bate actually got me bouncing on my feet like a kid at Christmas (it’s been a long time since I was a kid).
Match 5: LJ Heron defeated Sam Bailey
One of Dale’s stable on a better run over the past few months has been LJ Heron. Since turning on his former friend El Ligero, LJ has not been popular with the HOPE faithful so as soon as he entered the venue with Harvey Dale at his side a chorus of boos rang out. This ensured Bailey, who came out with a heavily strapped shoulder would get some vocal support.
The match started a little tentatively as each wrestler tried to gain the upper hand, both showing some great technical skill. LJ gained the upper hand and while the ref’s back was turned the underhanded, sneaky Harvey Dale got involved wherever possible, choking Bailey on the ropes at one point. After catching LJ with a cutter, Bailey attempted a running bulldog which LJ managed to fend off. After another exchange of blows, Bailey hit his running bulldog which could have possibly brought him the win were it not for Dale again interjecting himself into the match, this time it looked like Bailey might just give Dale what the crowd had been wanting as he dragged him through the ropes and into the ring…
…unfortunately I can’t report that Dale got his comeuppance! During Bailey’s pre-occupation with opponents manager, LJ had shaken off the cobwebs and was poised in the corner ready to hit Bailey with his Spear finisher to claim the match.
My reaction: After the interval, this was a nicely timed match that continued LJ’s recent good form, thanks in part to Dale’s interventions. It was my first time seeing Sam Bailey and he looks a good solid wrestler who I’d have no hesitation seeing again down at HOPE as I’m sure there’s more to come.
Match 6: Hunter Brothers defeated The London Riots.
In place of the recently absent home-town heroes of Battle Squad: Awesome, HOPE management decided to treat their fans to this pants moistener for the tag team match of the night. The Riots were never going to be popular this far north and it showed instantly, with both Davis and Lynch exchanging verbals with the crowd. The Hunters came out to a loud reception, being popular elsewhere close to the Midlands enhancing their popularity here.
I’m pretty sure this match started outside the ring, with 1 from each tag team pairing off with an opponent at opposite ends of the venue. Both teams duelled it out all over the place until eventually getting back in the ring with the Hunters taking control with a Cesaro swing/low drop-kick combination. The Riots soon fought back and began to dominate with some high octane offence, which included a vintage Legion Of Doom ‘Doomsday Device’. After a match at breakneck speed that the crowd couldn’t take their eyes off, the Hunters after taking a serious beating managed to pick up the win with some high-flying offence.
My reaction: Lived up to the hype I’d heard about this match, never seen them face off against each other and the action just never stopped from start to finish, building the crowd up to a crescendo. Quality booking, quality match.
Match 7: Rampage Brown defeated Joseph Connors.
Main event time! Connors has been on a roll of late and has been one of HOPE’s shining lights this past year, having some fantastic matches against some top-drawer opponents like CJ Banks (in a best of 5 series that stands at 2-2) and Dave Mastiff. This ensured Joe had his fair share of cheers when entering the ring. HOPE fans seem to enjoy seeing big, but still very agile wrestlers and Rampage had a following of his own.
After Connors held his own early on, the match settled and Rampage was on the offensive, delivering a jumping DDT that I thought would put Connors’ head through the mat before Connors managed to mount an attack of his own, showing some impressive strength to body slam Rampage with ease. The match ended with Rampage reversing what looked like was going to be a Razor’s Edge from Joe (again, very impressive strength) and turning him inside out with a meaty clothesline. Pulling up a groggy Connors from the mat, Rampage hit him with a devastating piledriver to take the main event.
My reaction: Connors doesn’t have a bad or even average match any more at HOPE, whoever he’s facing is in for a fight to the last breath and no matter if the whole crowd aren’t always on Joe’s side, I feel they still appreciate what a quality wrestler he is. Rampage managed to come out on top this time, his no-nonsense style definitely goes down well here. The crowd were also very hot for this one, the noise didnt stop pretty much throughout the match and beyond. Great finish.
Time to close the book on this one for the night, many thanks to HOPE management for the entertainment on show.