The NWA name continues to trundle along, many moons after it had its heyday in the 1980s. However, it does often offer a certain symbol of legitimacy to a promotion, and it is with this branding, and the tag Fight Nation, that we see a UK promotion running in the South East take shape. On the 7th of November, it had what (by Cagematch’s reckoning) was its fourth show, and as with all good promotions these days, the opportunity to watch it On Demand left me no choice but to check out one of the newer boys in my neck of the woods. The show, as many UK promotions do, offered a range of US and UK workers, with a mix of newcomers and established names on the UK independent scene. With that said, let’s get down to the action.
Ryan Smile vs Sid Scala
The opening match sees Ryan Smile go up against Sid Scala. Scala seems to be running with an east end gimmick, with his actions more Rodney Trotter than Del Boy throughout most of the match, whilst Ryan Smile brings the high flying and athleticism to the match. In the early going, it is this speed that has Smile in control, eventually sending Scala into the lap of one of the ladies at ringside. It is only when Smile heads up to the top that Scala gains control, crotching his opponent on the turnbuckle.
When Scala is in control, he brings a standard brawling offense of kicks and stomps, though also utilises a handkerchief grabbed from his knee brace to add a little extra to his chokes out of the view of the referee. He even decides to head to the top rope himself, only to be too scared and head back to the first turnbuckle, missing the resulting elbow drop anyway. Smile doesn’t keep control for long though, missing a corner splash and ending up locked in a vicious looking modified bow and arrow lock. The handkerchief gets a second airing, only for Smile to use it to roll Scala, before nailing him with a couple of clotheslines, three elbows in the corner and a European uppercut to the back of the head for a two count.
Smile once again heads to the top, only for Sha Samuels to head down to ringside and distract him. Initially, this doesn’t help Scala, as Smile drops him with a Thunder Fire Slam, but Samuels does grab Smile’s leg as he hits the rope, allowing Scala to roll him up with a handful of tights for the three count. A decent, if unspectacular opener, with Scala looking like an interesting gimmick if nothing else.
Liquid Dreams vs Doug Williams, Jonny Storm & Andy Boy Simmonz
Trying to broaden my UK viewing does at least connect the dots on some wrestlers I’ve heard of, but have yet to seen; Liquid Dreams consists of Jack McKluskey, Bruce (no surname, seemingly) and Sebastien of the Gzrs, a man I’d heard about, but never seen in action outside of his dodgy dancing at a PROGRESS show. It is strange to see McKluskey with a more outlandish gimmick – I’m much more used to seeing him as Mr Moonsault in Revolution Pro Wrestling. Liquid Dreams are the UK equivalent of Three Count, and we get special attention paid to the removal of their sunglasses. Unfortunately for them, their posturing goes awry, leaving them to be crotched on the top rope.
Williams, Storm and Simmonz control the majority of the match from the get go, working over the arm of Sebastian with quick tags to allow each member to get in their shots.Seb is eventually able to force Storm back into his own corner, before we get an odd spot with McKluskey slow to pull the ref in front of an onrushing Storm, which makes it just look awkward. The following spot at least makes slightly more sense, as the ref is moved into the way of a sunset flip, losing his trousers in the process! Storm and Simmonz take the opportunity as Liquid Dreams try to regroup to dive into them at ringside, taking out all three men.
The main story of the match is Liquid Dreams’ seeming lack of desire to have Sebastian on their team. He tries to dance along with them, but is quickly forced to get back into the corner. Dreams to retain control for a short window, dropping Storm with a lariat, a snap suplex and a double axehandle. Storm is able to halt Bruce’s second attempt at an axehandle with a superkick, and Williams gets the hot tag. An exploder and belly to belly has Williams in firm control, with a unique double capture neckbreaker whipped out for good measure. McKluskey eventually wrests control back, but Seb tags in as McKluskey heads to the top. Seb is then shoved unceremoniously into McKluskey, leaving him easy prey for a Simmons powerslam, a Williams Bomb Scare kneedrop and a Storm springboard moonsault for the three count. Whilst it makes sense for the stature of the wrestlers in the match, I felt the heels didn’t really have control for long enough to truly build up the tension. Still, a solid outing as you’d expect from the veterans in the match.
After the match, Seb gets beaten down until Tom Irvin hits the ring, an inflatable alcopop in tow. He chases off Liquid Dreams, before giving Seb back his Geez t-shirt.
Sha Samuels vs Gunner
Gunner is a wrestler I’ve heard about, but never seen. Samuels, on the other hand, is a regular of the promotions I frequent and can be trusted to offer up a watchable offering. Samuels interrupts the ring introductions to attack Gunner with a charge, only to eat the turnbuckle and get dropped with a hiptoss, with a stalling slam and falling headbutt to follow. They brawl out to ringside, and a kind patron gives Gunner a beer to pour over Samuels, absolutely drenching him. As they heads back into the ring, Sha opportunistically drops Gunner with a shotgun on the top rope and begins to work him over with his scarf chokes and generic choke holds.
Gunner has a brief spurt of offense – a sunset flip getting a two count – but he is quickly dropped with a big lariat. Samuels sticks to his gameplan, locking in a sleeper hold in an effort to control the fiery American. The American is wily as well as fiery though, using the leverage to send Samuels into the middle turnbuckle, hitting a jumping knee to the face for good measure. In a case of scratching backs, Sid Scarlo hits the ring to grab Gunner’s leg, only for Samuels to careen into him, knocking Scarlo off of the apron and leaving Samuels open for a fairly average looking spear. Three slaps of the mat later, Gunner has won the international challenge match. This match felt short; though it was pretty action packed, I felt that they definitely could have gone longer, with Samuels controlling Gunner for longer. In a similar vein to previous match, Gunner never really felt in any danger.
Gunner gets on the microphone after the match, makes it clear that he is aiming for the title and promises the crowd he will be back.
James Castle vs Mark Haskins
On paper, the most interesting match on the card. I’ve always felt that an ‘anarchist’ style gimmick can be very hit and miss, but I’ve liked the limited amount of Castle I’ve seen. Haskins is an absolute star of the indy scene, and can always be relied upon to give his utmost to make his match the best on the card.
The initial stages sees the men trade holds, before Haskins begins to use his experience to take over on the relative newcomer. We see Haskins’ technical skill and athleticism throughout, an early roll through into a sharpshooter a particular highlight. Working towards his submission finisher, he stamps on Castle’s arm and locks him in a kimura lock, but an attempt at a roll through into a DVD sees an eye rake and big drop kick put Haskins on the back foot.
Castle works well on offense, with a brawling style that befits his anarchist gimmick. They brawl to ringside, where Castle plants Haskins on the hard floor with a snap suplex, a move that drew a legitimate cringe out of me. It takes up to a nine count for Haskins to get back into the ring, and there is not let up from Castle, with clubbing blows across the face coupled with a neck crank and bite for good measure. Out of nowhere, a Haskins’ flying clothesline allows him back into the match, and he builds up momentum, landing several kicks, knees and dropkicks into the bottom turnbuckle. As has been the way a couple of times this evening, however, a missed top rope move (a double foot stomp) leaves a wreslter vulnerable, and Castle butterfly suplexes Haskins violently into the turnbuckle for a two count.
A jumping knee attack from Castle gets another two count, and we begin to head towards the conclusion of the bout, both men blasting lumps out of each other with slaps and forearms. Castle shows he is not above breaking the rules, using the ref to block a charing Haskins before planting him with a sitout driver for another two count. A second attempt at a knee attack, sans kneepad this time, is blocked by Haskins, who rolls through into the fireman carry driver, locking in his armbar for the submission victory. An excellent match, with the commentary pushing hard for Haskins to be the next challenger for the NWA British Title.
Joel Redman then hit the ring to offer up an open challenge (research has been difficult in working out who he was due to face). The music hits – and it is Shane Douglas! The locker room empties to stop Douglas trying to get in the ring, but there is a pull apart brawl between the men. The angle is to set up the show in February, and it will be interesting to see what Douglas is capable these days. He swore a lot in his promo – the looks on the faces of the young boys sitting behind him a sight to behold.
MVP vs Marty Scurll © for the NWA British Title
With Haskins and Castle offering the ‘workrate’ match, this always has the feeling that this will be as much about ‘shtick’ as anything, and it definitely begins that way, as we get both men jawing with each other and with the fans. Scurll even threatens to leave in the early going, only to head back to the ring to take on his dangerous opponent.
I’ve talked a lot about length of control, and in this match, it surprises me how much of the match is given over to Scurll. From a headscissors early on, a lot of the match sees Scurll keeping MVP under his control, nailing him with a sweet enziguri on the apron and dropping him with a big European uppercut at ringside. A knee to the back with arms locked seems to be setting up MVP for the chicken wing, but a selection of chops does little but annoy the bigger man. MVP’s big comeback is cut off quickly, with Scurll pulling him off of the top rope during a tornado DDT attempt, yet MVP has enough in him to avoid a charge and rock the champion with several punches and a knee to the face.
The finish is one that I enjoy when watching, but isn’t as satisfying when seen live. An attempt to use the umbrella is stopped by the referee, allowing Scurll to use the belt in the old Florida Brothers/Eddie Guerrero fake belt shot spot, the referee turning around and feeling he has little choice but to DQ MVP. It is unsurprising to see Scurll retain the title in a way that doesn’t completely devalue MVP, but it would have been nicer to have a more conclusive finish. The feeling that they are building to a big Scurll vs Haskins match continues to develop, that’s for sure.
A show that was decent enough, but maybe lacked a little overall in terms of the in ring action. Still, Haskins vs Castle was well worth a watch, and any promotion that has Scurll featured prominently can only be a good thing. Next time, considering how close they run to me, I might even put down my cash and go along – I don’t think I’ll be let down.
You can purchase the DVD of this show from http://nwafightnation.bigcartel.com or you can rent it for £2.00 or buy and download over at http://vimeo.com by searching for NWA Fight Nation