Photo Credit: (c) Marc Lungley & Kamikaze Pro
Returning to the Cadbury Club in Bournville for the first time this year, Kamikaze Pro was firmly on home turf and in its element for Storm Warning. Hosting shows at this venue semi-frequently has done well for Kamikaze Pro thus far, bringing in a mix of students and families along with the increasing tribe of their own fans. And unlike their recent outing in Pheasey, this was a wrestling fan’s show with the star attractions coming from the indie circuit in the form of Jonny Storm and Johnny Gargano. The venue is deceptively large, still seating the growing audiences comfortably for now, and accommodating a low ring without the ceiling having to take too many bumps.
The presentation was, as usual, simple but solid. While this promotion doesn’t have the decorative entrance and lighting rigs of the likes of NGW (or even SWA), the shows never seem to lose anything as the wrestlers make good use of the venue’s own staging. Perhaps having the benefit of a nighclub setting in their forthcoming show on 1st May will add some extra flair to the procedings.
Ryan Smile (c) vs. Damian Dunne vs. Chris Brookes (Relentless Division Championship)
Given that the holders of the main Kamikaze Pro Championship have never been heavyweights (Ryan Smile being the original champion, followed by Robbie X), I can’t say I know what qualifies competitors for the Relentless Division. With Smile having held both championships at once, the management clearly had no intention of unifying the belts and the opportunity has now passed. Even the term “Division” seems a bit of misnomer, as the competitors who square up for the title battle merrily with competitors who have fought for the main title, and others who have never had the Relentless Division mentioned in their match introductions. However, a belt is a belt, and clearly the management at Kamikaze believe that the wrestlers consider the belt important. Either that, or they really hate Chris Brookes.
Ryan Smile and Damian Dunne have been at the head of a faction almost since Kamikaze Pro first started promoting shows. Whatever else has happened, Dunne and a small clique of others have given Smile a leg up here and there when needed, and protected the interests of those wrestlers who feel the need to cheat. When Smile and Dunne last faced each other over this belt, the match managed to be competitive despite Smile trying to charm Dunne into taking an easy fall. If the management were hoping to cause tension by coercing Dunne into competing again with the man who is now his tag team partner, they were foolhardy in the extreme. Brookes here was booked into a handicap match disguised as a triple threat.
Going straight for a drop kick at the start of the match served Brookes well, allowing him to reduce his immediate competition to one man. However, there was no chance that he could put half of his competition out for the whole of the match. Despite his best efforts, Dunne and Smile working together to keep the title in Smile’s hands were too much for Chris Brookes to handle. Smile beat Brookes by pinfall in an action-packed opener to an excellent show.
Nixon Newell vs. Chardonnay (Fighting Females)
Women’s matches per se are a relative rarity in the UK – a scarcity of available opponents often placing woman wrestlers in matches with men. So it was a nice break from the norm to see this match between fan favourite Nixon Newell and the debuting Chardonnay. “Chav” wrestlers are the same the UK over, so seeing Chardonnay strut to the ring drawling, “Whatever,” at the crowd could easily have come across as female Marshall X that the promotion doesn’t need. But surprisingly, it worked. Chardonnay made an instant impression on the crowd, backed up by their natural support for Newell – who has a down-to-earth charm that makes her one of the most likeable wrestlers on the circuit.
The match itself was a very decent showing from two very decent wrestlers. Decent in the skill sense, of course – Chardonnay cheated about as much as we expected her to. That said, Newell was backed up by her tag team partner, Chris Brookes, who dashed to the ring to re-tie a removed turnbuckle pad – freeing the referee up from spending an inevitable minute fixing the ring rather than calling the match. Brookes’s efforts were in vain, however, as Marshall X put in an appearance that resulted in a pin for Chardonnay over a distracted Newell.
Continuing his campaign of harassment against the Vulture Squad, Marshall X attacked both Brookes and Newell before finally being seen off. It was then time for ring announcer and apparent authority figure Lawrie Neal to step in and book the Vulture Squad’s revenge. Marshall and Chardonnay are a likely pairing, so they have been given a tag match with Brookes and Newell at Sky’s the Limit 2. Furthermore, Neal (backed up by a vocal audience) may have given them an unwanted team name – the Ghetto Smurfs…
Robbie X (c) vs. Jonny Storm (Kamikaze Pro Championship)
Robbie X used to be a high-flying underdog – a small wrestler with big moves and a lot of heart. Now he walks to the ring picking fights with small children. Jonny Storm is a veteran of the British and international indie circuit with a list of championships and awards as long as your arm. Die-hard wrestling fans in the West Midlands recognise him as Alternative World Wrestling’s current champion out in the Black Country.
Kamikaze seems to position itself as family entertainment, and Storm has certainly always had a great rapport with the kids in an audience. This match certainly had the crowd’s full enthusiasm, riled up by Storm’s charm and Robbie’s new-found cowardice. The fight was as spectacular as one would expect from two of the best athletes in Britain, and the battle spilled out of the ring and around the hall. Robbie pinned Storm to retain the championship after a blistering match.
Miracle Violence Connection (c) vs. The Hunter Brothers (Kamikaze Pro Tag Team Championship)
This was a match about unfinished business. Tyler Bate and Dan Moloney took the championship from original champions Jim and Lee Hunter, and another bout between these teams was due. Furthermore, tension has been building between Bate and Moloney for months, no doubt due to Moloney’s jealousy of Bate’s popularity with the Kamikaze faithful. An aggressive competitor, Moloney has also expressed frustration that Bate is less and less willing to use illegal manoeuvres in matches.
This was a tense match, a real struggle between two equally skilled but very different teams. The Hunters use flash moves and elevation, where MVC often fight with sheer, raw power. The contest was, however, complicated by MVC’s internal difficulties. Unfortunately, this was the night that they finally snapped, with Bate clearly not wanting to take the low road and use a title belt as a weapon against his opponents. Moloney’s response, following a match full of goading towards his own partner, was to take a belt to Bate and leave the ring. Frankly, that the Hunters’ response to this was to shrug their shoulders and take the cheap pinfall was disappointing. But at the same time, two-on-one they would only have been dragging out their inevitable victory.
The Magnums haven’t disappeared from the scene and So Scandalous are up and coming, so The Hunter Brothers won’t be short of exciting opponents for the first title defences of their second reign. Meanwhile, Bate and Moloney are surely on a collision course in the near future.
Marshall X vs. Omari
Omari, trained in Kamikaze Pro’s own “dojo”, is a relatively new addition to the roster, but his persona has earned him some affection from the promotion’s audience. Marshall X, on the other hand, has been around since the beginning and has roundly annoyed the Kamikaze faithful on a monthly basis ever since. This was a good match-up to help seal Omari’s popularity, and very technically sound. However, I feel nothing but sympathy for the referee. Having apparently suffered a concussion at the last show, evidenced by his mistaking Marshall shaking his opponent’s arm for a tap-out by the latter, the ref’s woes in Marshall’s matches have continued. This time, he took another fall, appearing to bang his knee so hard that he lost the sight in his right eye. Needless to say, this resulted in another victory for the Ghetto Smurf.
(NB: My facetiousness here is in no way meant to imply that I suspect that there is anything amiss about how this man is calling Marshall X’s matches.)
Johnny Gargano (c) vs. Pete Dunne (Dragon Gate “Open the Freedom Gate” Championship)
As if seeing all three of Kamikaze Pro’s titles defended in one night wasn’t treat enough, we were told near the beginning of the show that Gargano was to defend his Dragon Gate title against Pete Dunne.
To give the competitors here the praise they deserve for this show, I have to put my “cynical” hat on for a minute. Obviously, a bigger indie promoter like Dragon Gate is unlikely to let their champion drop a title in a match for some local promoter thousands of miles away from home. The result being a foregone conclusion leaves the performers with a much harder job to maintain a viewer’s suspension of disbelief. Fortunately, Gargano and Dunne are that good.
The match began with a “feeling out” exchange, building the tension of a match that means something to the competitors. As lines were drawn and the tension built, the bigger moves came out, the action moved beyond the ring some, and the final minutes included some hairy near-falls that seemed like maybe Dunne could pull an upset victory. Gargano retained his title, of course, in a textbook performance by him and Dunne that was enjoyable throughout.
Kamikaze Pro rewards the regular punter, but when they hit their stride there is still a lot for a new fan to get into – plus a home crowd puts in a lot of enthusiasm. This promotion is growing in popularity, and that popularity is coming on the back of cards like this. Every match at Storm Warning was, to my mind, worth the price of admission by itself. Kamikaze had been around for less than two years and is already about to debut at a major Birmingham nightclub. It is well worth catching their shows and growing with them.