As a follower and fan of Kamikaze Pro, I was hoping to be able to write that Hostile Takeover 2 started their 2015 with a bang. It did, but not quite as big an explosion as I was expecting from a group who consistently put on many of the highest quality matches in the Midlands, if not the UK.
This is the third or fourth time I’ve seen wrestling at the Collingwood Centre (in Pheasey, north Birmingham), and the venue is a decent size with a nice high ceiling. Kamikaze haven’t been around long, but already they’re coming close to filling working men’s club venues. Presentation-wise, they don’t have the lighting rigs or stage dressing of some other promoters, but good wrestlers cost money and talent is surely the better thing to spend your funds on. That said, apparently the music for this event was handled by a DJ who was introduced to the audience via an announcement during the interval. Unfortunately, he actually lowered the quality of the inter-show background music, and the large round of indifference he was given by the audience demonstrates that I wasn’t the only one who thought so.
Dan Moloney v. Omari v. Sam Wilder v. Lee Hunter (4-way elimination match)
This was an excellent way to begin the show – a match featuring a crowd favourite, a character we all love to hate, a seasoned performer, and a returning wrestler who is also well-liked. Wilder and Moloney (who is half of the current tag-team champions, the Miracle Violence Connection) seemed to be working together for much of the match, allowing them to divide and conquer the two crowd favourites. Omari, wrestling only his second or third match for the promotion, was eliminated first – but for all his inexperience was looking more confident than in his debut against T-Bone some months back. Having pinned Omari, Moloney later let his competitive instinct get the better of him, breaking Wilder’s pin on Hunter. The mistake was fatal for Wilder as a later miscommunication would result in Lee pinning him without Moloney to make a rescue. Hunter and Moloney then battled it out to a final victory for the young Dan – to the crowd’s vocal displeasure. Lee Hunter may get the last laugh, however. Moloney took the mic after the match to berate his tag team partner Tyler Bate for his selfishness in being in Germany rather than wrestling alongside him. Threatening to take both the belts for himself, it seems that Dan Moloney’s ego may cost MVC the championship in the future.
Danny Steel v. Clint Margera
Danny Steel appears to have been a late replacement for “Flash” Morgan Webster, Clint Margera’s billed opponent. This match was Margera’s in-ring debut for Kamikaze Pro following his masked attack on Chris Brookes in Bournville last year. The problem with British wrestling, of course, is that most promotions only do one show each month and tend to work a circuit of venues within a region, meaning the audience is a mix of hardcore followers, curious locals, and long-standing fans of this month’s ex-WWE import. With a three-month break after ‘Frost Fight 2’, it seemed that most of the audience had forgotten about Margera. He certainly wasn’t greeted like a man who had attacked a fan favourite post-match.
The fight with Steel, however, certainly put Margera back on the radar. The crowd got firmly behind Danny (an unknown quantity to a Birmingham audience), and the match itself was a very solid bout that both wrestlers can be proud of. Margera claimed on twitter later that he had used Steel as a “crash test dummy” for Brookes, which is an exaggeration of the beating he doled out, but it was indeed a hard match to Steel’s pinfall defeat.
Robbie X (c) v. El Ligero (Kamikaze Pro championship)
Kamikaze Pro, like many UK promotions, sells a lot of tickets on the back of international names. El Ligero is one of them (or 5 of them, if you believe Matt Bayliss). Alright, I’m kidding. The point I’m really making is that it would be easy for international headline matches to diminish promotion championships, so Kamikaze has been very wise in putting its own championship contests as a “first-half main event” just before the interval. And the competitors in this match really did deliver a match that looked like it mattered. For a family-friendly promotion, El Ligero is always a great choice for a show – he’s a great wrestler in his own right while also being able to do the comedy bit. And he’s great with the kids. Robbie X, having recently giving up performing for the audience’s benefit to focus on his new goal of being the biggest a-hole with a championship belt, decided to try intimidating small children. He should pick on someone his own size (oh, wait…).
In the ring, both competitors fought fiercely, with some very impressive action around the hall. Robbie X did try to take the short cut of leaving the ring with the belt in the hope of a count-out, but the referee told him via the ring announcer that he would be stripped of the title if he didn’t return. The final stretch of the match was tense, with close-run near-falls, but Robbie X finally retained his championship after pinning the challenger.
It’s rare that an interval deserves a mention, but the half-time show here was Too Cool wishing a “happy birthday” to a young fan. A nice little routine ended with the youngster and Grandmaster Sexay caking the ring announcer. Unfortunately, a public photo opportunity with the American stars overran somewhat, but the first match of the second half soon cleared any restlessness in the crowd.
“Dirty” Dick Riley v. Marshall X
The evil Ali G figure of Marshall X is one of the distinctive features of Kamikaze Pro. Everyone hates him, and for good reason. He’s a short-cutting cheat of the old school, crossed with everything you hate about modern society. He’s also actually a very good wrestler when he bothers. His returning opponent, one half of the Magnums, was accompanied by his tag team partner “Filthy” Chris Walker (still recovering from a knee injury).
Despite their sleazy personae and use of dirty tactics, the Magnums have become firm favourites with the Kamikaze Pro faithful. Maybe it’s because they deliver in the ring, maybe it’s because everyone likes to chant for “Dick”. There were certainly shenanigans on both sides in this match, although Marshall X seemed to come off worst for them. The referee had to warn Walker on a couple of occasions not to interfere, especially with him crotching Marshall on the ring posts (aided and abetted by young members of the audience the second time). Inevitably, the referee ended up taking a hit when Marshall pulled him in the way of a charging Dick Riley. The “Badman” then took advantage of the referee’s disorientation to grab Riley’s wrist during a submission hold and feign a tap-out on his opponent’s behalf. That the referee didn’t see that Riley’s arm was being manoeuvred was surprising, to say the least.
Pete Dunne v. Chris Brookes
The same referee adjudicated this next match on the card. Frankly, he should have been replaced for his own safety because, if he could make that call on the last match, the man was clearly very badly concussed.
Dunne and Brookes are both well-liked regulars in the Kamikaze ring, both as singles competitors and, in Brookes’ case, as half of The Vulture Squad (with tag-team partner Nixon Newell). The match was an action-packed affair, Brookes opening with a drop kick that made Dunne seek safety outside the ring. Not that there was any to be had. The match continued with exchanges of impressive moves until Clint Margera put in an appearance, baiting Brookes from ringside. Soon afterwards, Dunne pinned him for the victory.
While that match may sound exciting on paper, I would actually mark it as a dip in the quality of the card after seeing it. I enjoy a gentlemanly face-on-face contest, and such matches are usually a showcase of wrestling skill that divide the audience between the two competitors. When a match like this is between two of the best wrestlers in the country, as Brookes and Dunne really are, it should be blistering. The audience seemed cold, and I don’t recall any chants breaking out in support of either competitor. For one thing, this show broke Kamikaze’s attendance record, which means there were a lot of new people in the crowd, not necessarily invested in the promotion’s regular competitors. Furthermore, Dunne and Brookes didn’t play to the audience at all, dashing from spot to spot and not building any real tension in the whirlwind of action. Finally, Dunne’s win was surprising. He didn’t take advantage of Brookes’ back being turned to face Margera, so I’m not sure to what extent the sudden pin can really be blamed on the “distraction”. In all, it wasn’t the match I would expect from wrestlers of Dunne’s and Brookes’ standing.
Too Cool v. So Scandalous
I have a confession to make. I wasn’t watching wrestling on TV when Scotty 2 Hotty and Grandmaster Sexay were in the WWF. I’d heard of Scotty as a name in passing, but I didn’t know what to expect from this match at all.
Even going into this cold, the match was entertaining. Ryan Smile and Damian Dunne are fantastic comedy heels, being abused in the ring by the American stars to great effect. The crowd were well into the show, and I can only assume that they got the nostalgia blast they were looking for. So Scandalous did get the win over the visitors, but the fan favourites got their revenge, including an opportunity for Scotty 2 Hotty to do the worm. And then they danced, getting the ring announcer and a young member of the crowd involved, too. I think it’s safe to say everyone went home happy that night.
Overall, although it wasn’t quite what I’d hoped for, ‘Hostile Takeover 2’ was a good, solid start to the year for Kamikaze Pro. I’d always recommend seeing this promotion, and they always put on a good quality show. Kamikaze punches well above its weight, and its ever-increasing audiences are testament to the reputation that it’s developing in Birmingham.