After a bit of a hiatus from wrestling for no particular reason other than things just not working out favourably, I was back with a bang this weekend. After a trip to Hertfordshire for Dragon Gate UK on Friday my appreciation of wrestling was rejuvenated. This show also meant that I was heading into Kamikaze with a really high standard in the forefront of my mind. I can’t say that one show was better or worse than the other – they are simply very different. But I certainly didn’t feel any kind of come down.
Doors opened bang on time (surely a first in Indy Wrestling history?) and it seemed quite quiet to begin with, my concern at this point was that with the great weather people would be out sunning themselves instead. Fortunately my concern was a little premature and by the time the show started the Cadbury Club had filled up nicely and there was a really good atmosphere heading into the first match.
The first match saw Damian Dunne vs Chris Brookes vs Sebastian Radclaw. At the start of the match Radclaw arrived through a side door pulling his case, he apologised for not being able to make his originally booked Kamikaze Pro last year since he got lost and has only just arrived. He tried to get everyone to sit with him so he could tell his story of how he ended up in Birmingham, Alabama but Damian Dunne refused and ended up slapping Radclaw to start the match. There was a lot of back and forth, each guy has a very different style and there were moments where this possibly meant the flow didn’t quite work but they kept up a good pace throughout with plenty of interaction between everyone, it looked like anybody could pick up the win but ultimately Damian Dunne picked up the victory pinning Brookes.
Next up saw Van Damage return from suspension to face the debuting Brandon Thomas. I’m going to get this out the way right of the bat, when I saw the announcement about Brandon Thomas coming to Kamikaze Pro I was a little surprised. I am well aware of his legacy but having seen him a few times in the last few years at AWW I was not really sure how he would fit in to the Kamikaze roster. Needless to say this was the best performance I have seen from him, he did a lot more in the ring than I had previously seen and as a battle between two legitimate big guys it looked really believable. Van Damage spent the whole match running his mouth, aimed mostly at the crowd who gladly reciprocated. At one point Van Damage did a moonsault off the apron on to Thomas as well as a chunk of the crowd. It’s debatable whether this was a bad choice or an overshoot, but my simple minded opinion is that by sitting on the front row I run the risk of having somebody land in my lap. That’s just my opinion. When it was all said and done Van Damage picked up the win with a bridging German suplex.
The first half main event saw “Dynamite” Pete Dunne take on “The Righteous One” Joseph Connors. Both these guys fall in to my list of ones to watch and have both come on leaps and bounds in the last 6-12 months, don’t get me wrong, they have always been good but now they are way beyond that! This match certainly didn’t disappoint, full of back and forth action, Connors dark persona really showed through in everything he did from his eerie entrance to his calculating and sometimes vicious offence. Dunne played off the crowd and got everyone going in his support and on several occasions looked to mount a comeback against the Connors attacks only to be halted. Despite taking a lot of punishment for large portions of the match he managed to pick up the victory with a tombstone piledriver that came on the back of multiple reversals. This was an excellent match from both, a real “edge of your seat” style battle with lots of twists and turns.
The second half kicked off with Marshall X taking on Nixon Newell. Marshall started off bad mouthing Newell telling her to get back in the kitchen but she got the physical advantage in the early going and Marshall was rolling on the back of fast paced attack. Marshall soon made the most of his size and strength advantage to seize control of the fight but was unable to put Newell away. After a cocky pin attempt which he broke up himself, pulling Newell up by her hair, Marshall went under the ring to fetch a steel chair. Chris Brookes hit the ring to defend his Vulture Squad partner and stripped Marshall X of the chair. Unfortunately for him while he was tending to Newell Marshall got his chair back and attacked Brookes. After a fairly blatant low blow that the referee chose to let go Nixon was able to fire Marshall X into the steel chair that he had placed in the turnbuckles before hitting the Vulture Culture Destroyer for the victory. Overall a very good battle, both worked very well together and kept up a good pace throughout. Intergender matches are sometimes a little difficult, I know some people do not like them at all but I enjoyed this match. After the match General Manager Harvey Dale booked a match between Marshall X and Brookes for the next show, Lethal Weapon in Great Barr on August 30th.
Next up was the Kamikaze Pro Tag Team Championship match between The Hunter Brothers (champions) and Miracle Violence Connection (Tyler Bate and Daniel Moloney) As much as I love The Hunter Brothers and they really are fan favourites there was certainly a lot of support for Bate and Moloney as they go from strength to strength to strength. They physically look the part and can definitely back it up with their in ring ability and are really starting to connect with the crowd. This was a fast match with lots of offence from everyone. After a while with all 4 involved it quickly broke down and then it all got a little confusing. With Bate and Jim Hunter (I think) brawling on the outside strangely the referee followed them to the back, both Moloney and Lee Hunter had the match won in the ring at different stages but there was no referee to make the count. Eventually a second official hit the ring and the match continued. After a while everyone returned to the ring including the original match official. Ultimately there was a double pin with one referee declaring the Hunters the winners and the other declaring MVC victorious. A predictable ending that you could see coming a mile off but otherwise an exciting match. Instead of restarting the match Harvey Dale stripped the titles and booked a rematch for the next show. I don’t mind the ending especially as it leads to a rematch that I am really looking forward to, it just didn’t play out all that well in my opinion.
Next up was the main event, a rematch between Kamikaze Pro and Relentless Champion Ryan Smile and Robbie X. What can I say about this? It is tempting to say nothing at all and simply demand you buy the DVD when it is released but I guess that would not make this a complete review …
The crowd were really hot by this point – I mean loud and boisterous but also it was very warm in the Cadbury Club – and it took a long while for the match to get started after lots of interaction between Smile and the crowd. I know I am meant to dislike him but it is really hard not to be entertained, he is a great character and has a great love/hate relationship with the crowd at every show. I think more and more people are finding it difficult to boo him, especially when you add in-ring ability into it too.
When the match did start it was at a ridiculous pace, some of the early exchanges were amazing with counters and reversals for everything. The action spilled to the outside and went all around the venue culminating in Robbie getting thrown into and through about the first 3 rows of seating. Momentum went back and forth before a brief distraction by Damian Dunne allowed Smile to take advantage reversing Robbies attack and picking up the pinfall victory.
After the match Smile and Dunne continued to beat down Robbie until Pete Dunne made the save with a steel chair. Harvey Dale entered the ring and suggested that since Damian Dunne likes to be involved in Ryan Smiles business so much at the next show how about he FACE him for the Kamikaze Pro and Relentless titles. Ryan tried to laugh it off but ultimately Damian accepted the match.
Finally Harvey Dale announced that the two men left in the ring, Pete Dunne and Robbie X would get their own chance at gold when they have a triple threat match at the next show with Jay Lethals ROH TV title on the line. After the announcement, out of nowhere and a shock to everyone Robbie X hit Pete Dunne with the steel chair before leaving the ring!
Overall a great show with some big announcements heading into Lethal Weapon on August 30th. Really tough decision on Match Of The Night between Dunne/Connors and Smile/X but I think the title match just pips it for the wild action and speed at which both guys went throughout.
On a personal note it was great to be back at Kamikaze after missing the last show, there is always such a great atmosphere and family feel at every show and I think it reflects in the performances of everyone there too. I have also lost my voice a bit which is always a sign of a good show!