Friday 17th April saw HOPE Wrestling roll back into the Polish Club in Derby. HOPE had somewhat struggled to replicate the success of their Mansfield shows in Derby but the generous queue outside the venue before 7pm was certainly a positive sign. No doubt the presence of Mason Ryan and Sabu helped attracting in more people but equally the card was stacked with UK talent and offered a full tournament plus extras for a mere £10.
First match up was the opening bout of the Kings of Flight Tournament pitching ‘The All Day Star’ Ryan Smile against ‘Young & Bitter’ Pete Dunne. Dunne started out hard, taking the pressure game to Smile but Smile managed to weather the storm and pick up the win.
Out next was Bubblegum, full of swagger and riled the crowd up. Unfortunately he had been drawn against HOPE favourite El Ligero who came out to cheers of “Ole!”. Bubblegum looked to ground El Ligero as well as forcing him out the ring numerous times. As classy as ever Bubblegum even used El Ligeros cape to wipe his ass. Enraged El Ligero fought back hard but following a dirty low kick Bubblegum secured the win.
The 3rd quarterfinal of the tournament saw a clash of Hunters as Lee Hunter took on Jim Hunter. There were no hard feelings from the start with the brothers coming out together, playing to the crowd as they always do. The brothers engaged in some hard fought mat wrestling, demonstrating that both of them have just as much technique as highflying ability. Jim eventually picked up the pin fall over Lee.
The final quarterfinal was a fatal four way between Chris Tyler vs Robbie X vs Danny Chase vs a very unexpected Flex Buffington who replaced MK McKinnan. It was an incredibly fast paced match with each guy giving it their all. Early on Chris Tyler and Robbie X teamed up to neutralise Danny Chase. Robbie X eventually took Flex out in the middle of the ring but Chris Tyler displayed excellent awareness, throwing Robbie to the outside and stealing the win.
Bubblegum came out limping for his tournament semi-final, obviously in pain from the previous match with El Ligero. After being checked over by the referee and goaded by the crowd he eventually started only to rush Ryan Smile, it had been a ploy all along. Visibly angered by this less than sportsman like display Smile hit back hard, hitting a modified driver and then rolling Bubblegum up for the win leaving him sulking on apron.
The second semi-final match saw Chris Tyler take on Jim Hunter. Before Jim even had a chance he was distracted by Tylers minder and Chris quickly rolled him up for a 3 count. Both Jim and crowd were disgusted with the dirty tactics and Jim ran backstage to try and find Tyler.
Before the final tournament bout, Harvey Dale, accompanied by his cronies LJ Heron and Bam-Bam Barton made their way to the ring. Harvey announced he had a peace offering for Mason Ryan, who just last year had lost to LJ Heron due to Harvey’s interference. Mason came out to huge applause and proceeded to take the gift, a framed picture of Batista and smash it over Harveys head. As Heron and Barton helped their dazed manager out Mason declared his tag team partner for the evening would be Joseph Connors. The team of Heron and Barton quickly isolated Connors, avoiding the man mountain that is Ryan. With quick tags and a lot of corner work they wore Connors down and it seemed the crowds chants just kept him going enough to eventually get the tag. Mason promptly cleared house, spearing and power bombing Barton for the victory.
The Kings of Flight Tournament final saw a relatively fresh Chris Tyler taking on a wired Ryan Smile. These guys left everything in the ring, taking it into the crowd and both showing their flight credentials with 450s. Once again Tylers minder interfered, this time nailing Smile with a running slam. As Ryan recovered Tyler hit a ridiculous Canadian destroyer picking up the much-deserved win. Whilst he’s very cocky there’s no denying Chris Tylers athleticism and given his age he has huge potential within the UK circuit and beyond. Smile lost nothing from the match, demonstrating how he’s a mainstay of the UK scene.
Main event time! And one the crowd were clearly prepared for. Hardcore legend, Sabu, was to face off against one of the most despised UK wrestlers, Jimmy Havoc, in a fans bring the weapons match. All decorum broke down as the crowd stood up, waving their weapons in the air as they were announced. As expected the match was full of brutal blows, Havoc nailing Sabu with anything he could get his hands and Air Sabu’s aplenty. We’ve all seen an Arabian face buster with a chair but seeing them with a wok and a Russ Abbot vinyl was pretty special. Sabu had set a table up in one corner and eventually nailed Havoc through it with a top rope Arabian facebuster, a pretty ridiculous spot that got the biggest pop of the night. Sabu picked up the win following this but the true sportsman he is offered his hand to Havoc post match to be greeted with a finger in the face. Even in defeat Havoc cemented himself as the man people love to hate.
All in all it was the strongest HOPE Wrestling show in Derby so far and an fantastic demonstration of UK talent. I’m sure a lot of fans turned up for Sabu but hopefully saw that HOPE is definitely a promotion worth following.
Check out HOPE Wrestlings Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/HOPEWrestling and their website http://HOPEWrestling.co.uk and catch them next when they debut in Burton on Trent at the Carver Road Community Centre on Friday 8th May where El Ligero takes on the wrestling riddle wrapped in an enigma, Jigsaw!