This past weekend saw Over The Top Wrestling host the fifth iteration of their biggest show of the year – Scrappermania. As if it couldn’t get any bigger, it was held over St Patrick’s weekend in Dublin, meaning for any wrestling fan this was to be an incredible ‘must-attend’ weekend. Having heard and seen incredible things from OTT Wrestling over 2018, I wanted to get to a National Stadium show – the biggest shows the promotion run, lauded for their incredible atmosphere and big lineups in the 2000 seat arena. Given that they only ran two shows there in 2018 (it’s primarily a boxing venue), I bit the bullet and decided to go for this show once they announced the main event would be Devlin Vs Walter II, a rematch of what was widely regarded as the best european match of 2018. Having been home for a bit of time and mulled over the show many times, it is absolutely no exaggeration to conclude that this was indeed the perfect wrestling show.
It’s impossible to not talk about The National Stadium as a venue first. The place is quite possibly the best wrestling venue I’ve ever seen a show in. Some of the 2000 seats are in the ringside area but the most are tiered up the sides with a gap for the huge stage. These tiered seats are permanent which is so so important, and everyone can see really well. It’s a warm venue but not too hot, everyone can see the stage and the ring, and the bar area is huge and really easy to use. I love York Hall and The Electric Ballroom but this National Stadium easily trumps them both as a venue, and the atmosphere is so far superior as well.
This was a nine match card, which often has the potential to drag, but the placing of matches here was expert, as well as timings to ensure that it didn’t seem too long. I usually favour an eight match card but this flew by in every sense and left me wanting more. The variety on the card was noticeable also. From the epic story driven main event to crazy spotfests in the Tag Team World Cup to comedy matches. Nothing dragged at all because it was all incredibly fresh.
Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) defeated Angelico & Rey Horus and Club Tropicana (Aidan Epic & Captain Sexsea) and The Besties In The World (Davey Vega & Mat Fitchett) (8:52)
The night started with a four way tag team World Cup match with Aussie Open, Angelico and Rey Horus, The Besties in the World and Club Tropicana replacing the injured Lads from the Flats. Something OTT do really well is bringing back guys that do really well in a one time booking, and here we saw The Besties come back after their great match against Davis and Ospreay at Homecoming. This was Rey Horus’ first trip to Europe and he was extremely popular, with the crowd presumably familiar with his work in PWG. He was teaming with Angelico; all I have to say about him is that he’s really really bad at dancing. The real fan favourites here though were of course the Irish comedy team of Club Tropicana (Aiden Epic and Captain Sexsea). Amongst all these three popular teams was Aussie Open who are really getting there in OTT as bad guys (you can tell because they wear their black ring gear). Assuming the aim of this match was to get the crowd hyped up, then the match passed with flying colours. There were dives all over the place, Horus had some really innovative offence while Club Tropicana messed about with oars and comedy schtick. I normally detest comedy wrestling, especially when the other guys in the ring as we see here are so good, but it genuinely added to the match here. Aussie Open were doing all they could to cheat and despite a great comeback sequence from Sexsea, eventually Aussie Open won with a low blow and fidget spinner after distracting the referee. This didn’t outstay it’s welcome at all and was a really warm start to the evening. There were chants of ‘please come back’ for Rey Horus so I would certainly expect to see him return soon. I would love to see him in a Ringside Club main event against a Devlin, or Davis.
More Than Hype (Darren Kearney, LJ Cleary & Nathan Martin) defeated The Rapture (Charlie Sterling, Sha Samuels & Zack Gibson) (9:32)
I am by no means a stranger to Zack Gibson being booed – I’ve seen him booed out of York Hall many times before, yet this was somehow on another level. Gibson, Sha and Sterling came out first with the British flag and cut a really really good promo about OTT, Dublin and St Patrick’s day as a whole. The boo’s were unrelenting to the extent that Gibson was inaudible and the Rapture lapped it up and continued until they were interrupted by More Than Hype to a huge ovation. They ran into the ring and straight into a suicide dive, wiping out The Rapture on the outside. Quickly, the Rapture brought it back, with Psycho Nathan being beaten down by all the guys with some really painful looking offense including a hellacious spinebuster from Sha Samuels. During all of this, there were chants from the crowd of “no deal brexit”, and “the queen’s a c*nt” – even for a Brit it was hard not to laugh here. Eventually the tag was made to the star of the match, the excellent LJ Cleary. He ran wild on the opponents with exciting offense that the crowd lapped up and then his team mates joined in on the action. They won with what is my favourite finisher at the moment – a canadian destroyer when Nathan and Darren essentially throw LJ into it. You don’t get a better heel/face dynamic than this.
Hurricane Helms & The Angel Cruzers (Angel Cruz & B. Cool) defeated Justy, Sammy D & Team Prick (Peter & Rick) (9:24)
This was not for me, but I appreciate it’s place on the card. A classic Angel Cruzers video played at the start and it was genuinely really nice to see them teaming with Helms. The teams messed about in the ring for a bit with comedy spots, including Hurricane getting in his signature spots which was cool to see. Angel Cruz got a lawnmower from the back and mowed the hand of either Peter or Rick, which actually drew blood and was quite cool. Angel Cruz chained the other up to the ring post and let loose. This allowed for an easy win in the ring as Angel Cruzers and Hurricane celebrated together. It could have gone a bit shorter but this was fun on the whole.
David Starr defeated Dan Barry (18:02)
This was the more serious part of the card. Starr was again trolling the crowd with his theme and wearing the Irish trunks. Is there a better actor on modern wrestling than David Starr? He looked like a spoilt child that wasn’t getting his way and was constantly debating whether to cry or beat someone up. His volatility was a stark contrast to Dan Barry’s jovial mood, grateful as ever to receive the enormous reaction he did as the adopted son or Ireland. Early on Barry outwrestled Starr, which only pissed him off even more. In every grapple and hold, Barry would escape, or ground Starr. I’ve seen Starr wrestle a lot before, and his reaction to Barry was something new. He reached a full new level of intensity, with every strike, dive or hold having an incredible amount of force and heart behind it. When David Starr looked at Dan Barry, he saw OTT wrestling, and let rip on Barry as his punching bag, getting out all his frustrations. I cannot stress enough how unhinged he looked – this was a new level of Starr’s excellence in ring and he maintained the same upset yet dangerous face and mood the whole time. This also bought a new level to Barry, who hit a springboard frankensteiner, tombstone and dive over the ringpost in a short space of time. He was such an underdog and the crowd, already behind him, became unglued for him evidently trying really really hard to win the match. Eventually his defiance was worn down and Starr pinned him with the back-breaker powerbomb (dubbed the ‘Death Starr’). This was a really strong story told, and both men played their parts outstandingly.
Meiko Satomura defeated Session Moth Martina (13:02)
Martina came out her usual self, dancing and drinking. It’s a very small critique, however given that the story of this was that she is trying to prove herself as a serious wrestler, I think it would have been a stroke of genius for her to come out straight-faced and serious to win the match. Needless to say, it was awesome to see duelling chants for Martina and Meiko, and the match obviously meant a massive amount to her given she cancelled a booking with Wrestle Gate Pro to be there. Meiko was not holding back here by any means, and was willing to make Martina look really really good. It started off very technical, with both of them figurng each other out and the crowd fell quiet. However the silence was surely due to everyone being glued to the action, rather than boredom. It eventually reached a crescendo of applause for the competitors out of pure respect for their grappling. They went to the outside early on, with Martina suplexing Satomura onto the chairs. When they got back into the ring, Martina leapt about off the ropes coming at Meiko with everything she had, as well as some big lifts and power moves. Meiko just retaliated with some of the stiffest shots and kicks I’ve genuinely ever seen, wowing the crowd. Eventually Satomura won but the crowd gave both women a massive ovation and they celebrated with a beer and dance in the middle of the ring. At this point, my heel turn senses were on full alert, expecting Martina to get her when her back was turned however the moment passed with nothing happening. Whilst it’s hard to criticise a show for something there was never an expectation they would do, I just felt that there was potential for this to be more than just a match, and lead to a big character moment for Martina. Regardless, this was really good stuff and Martina is really getting to the next level.
OTT Tag Team Title Six Man Tag Team Losers Leave Town: British Strong Style (Pete Dunne, Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) defeated Kings Of The North (Bonesaw, Damien Corvin & Dunkan Disorderly) (c) (12:28)
If it weren’t for the main event being one of the best things I’ve ever seen in wrestling, then this match would have stolen the show for sure. I cannot speak highly enough of the video promo the Kings did online for this match. They recounted the great battles the trios have had before, in Belfast, Dublin and London – go and watch it because The Kings are some of the best promos out there at the moment. Seeing the Kings coming out looking intimidating as ever with the extra muscle of Dunkan Disorderly was awesome and it was great to see Dunkan back. British Strong Style genuinely carrier a massive star power and the crowd (assuming this was the last they would see them), erupted. I’m not the biggest fan of them and they way the conduct themselves however it was pretty cool to see British Strong Style wrestle given that so far in 2019 Pete Dunne has only worked the Royal Rumble, three NXT UK matches, a Progress Dark match and a Canadian indy. It started off at an insane pace, with all men going at each other, and after a series of crazy dives, they brawled around the crowd. The teams had so much chemistry and every move or strike felt like it had so much real passion and hatred behind it. Whilst in the crowd we saw balcony dives and the like, with Bate seeming genuinely hurt. Back in the ring, the craziness continued and it’s really hard to describe. You often see a wrestling move that connects really well, or is executed to perfection, and it seemed like every move here was on that level. Every throw was higher, every strike stiffer, and this really seemed to me like British Strong Style going back to their roots. Bate was yet again a human highlight reel, carrying two men for his airplane spin, and the madness ensued with Corvin kicking out of the bitter end. Suddenly out of nowhere, British Strong Style got the pin, winning the OTT tag titles and banishing the Kings from Dublin. This was pure genius on multiple levels. Given that BSS are taking more serious roles in WWE these days, and he been leaving their home promotions of Progress and Fight Club:Pro, it was obviously assumed that the loser leaves town stipulation was to set up their departure here also. It was unthinkable that they’d pick up titles too, given that they essentially don’t do indy dates anymore. All this logical thinking just meant that the reaction was even bigger when they won. It doesn’t make any sense and that’s what is so good about it. This was so so so so good and the Kings are the best.
OTT Women’s Title: Raven Creed (c) defeated Debbie Keitel (w/Valkyrie) (6:20)
There was absolutely nothing wrong with this match at all, however unfortunately it was just overshadowed by bigger things on the card. It was a classic match, with Valkyrie distracting the official and doing anything possible to give Debbie the upper hand. However Raven Creed eventually got her hands on Debbie and savaged her to little comeback, getting the win pretty easily. They did as good as they could with six minutes.
Scotty Davis defeated Jushin Thunder Liger (10:05)
As with a lot of the card, this was surreal to see. For starters, seeing British Strong Style and Jushin Thunder Liger on the same card is mind boggling and it still amazes me how OTT is able to balance such a good relationship with both WWE and NJWP. And secondly the sheer contrast in Davis and Liger was incredible. It dawned on me that Davis was younger than me and Liger was older than my dad which really put it into context just how old Liger is, yet still wrestling, and also how young Davis is. Duelling chants for the two guys started immediately with the crowd split between the fiery young Irishman and the heroic Japanese legend retiring in under a year. Whilst in ring, this match was always going to be limited, you must go watch it for the sheer spectacle. Liger grounded Davis early on with his signature holds but Davis evened it up with a gator roll. Living up to nickname, Davis went wild with suplexes and follow it up with his signature dive to the outside. Liger evened it up however with a Liger Bomb and a nasty looking brainbuster on the outside. Davis quickly picked up a win out of nowhere and the place erupted. The two embraced and Liger was very evidently very impressed with Davis. This was exactly what it needed to be and made even better by the fact that Davis won. As good as Davis Ospreay would have been, it think it’s actually good that it was Liger rather than Davis. It gives Davis more momentum with a big win, and he can build himself up to facing Ospreay at a main event level match. I don’t have enough good things to say about Davis. He’s so ahead of everyone else his age and it’s scary how good he is. Not only in ring but he just gets wrestling in terms of structure and storytelling. I personally cannot wait for the inevitable Davis Vs Devlin match at The National Stadium for the title.
OTT World Title: Jordan Devlin defeated WALTER (c) (21:14)
No matter how much I praise this match, there is no chance I will do it justice and so I will describe what happened before going into how good it was. Devlin came out more popular than St Patrick himself, looking ready for what is definately the biggest match of his life. Walter came out overconfident and nonchalant, stamping and dropping the title to the annoyance of the fans – he was less popular than the Welsh Rugby team. Devlin went for Walter straight at the bell, continuing this psychopathic side to him we saw at Homecoming against David Starr. He hit a pacy suicide dive, and a bit double stomp from the ring to the outside. Walter went for Devlins hands to make sure he couldn’t lift Walter for the package piledriver. Devlin accidentally slapped the ring post and Walter capitalised by stamping on the hands. He got him back in the ring and got his Irish flag, putting it on Devlin and stamping even further. He started dominating Devlin with suplexes and of course chops, and Devlin got him in a sleeper hold in a desperate attempt to get into the match. Walter climbed to the top rope and jumped back but Devlin stayed on and got in the rear naked choke on Walter – stealing his move (a sure sign a feud has reached a legendary level). The move stealing continued as Devlin snatched Walter’s hands from the ropes and hit a big German suplex. The match became a series of big moves and both men were clearly giving it their all. Devlin hit a springboard cutter from the top rope, a crisp 450 splash and a huge moonsault to the outside while Walter hit a massive jumping tombstone, and a trifecta of Golden bombs and eventually got Devlin trapped in the rear naked choke. Just as it looked like he was going to pass out, he refused for his hand to drop and stayed in the match. The reversals were on another level as well, with a 450 splash being blocked and turned into a german suplex, and Devlin hitting a brutal headbut to escape Walter’s onslaught. Then as the match reached a climax Walter hit his finisher on Devlin, the same move he won the title with, but it wasn’t enough. Walter tried to leave but at every exit, there were members of the OTT roster stopping him including promoter Joe Cabray. Walter had to go back to the ring where Devlin was waiting to hit the package piledriver and won the match and the title and the hearts of all Irish wrestling fans. As you will have likely seen on Twitter, the place became unglued with the largest reaction I’ve ever seen live or on demand ever. People were genuinely crying and the emotional investment in the storyline and match was incredible. Initially I was unsure whether the atmosphere and investment had actually made up for what wasn’t a perfect in ring match, but having rewatched it the in-ring action was on a next level and only enhanced by the investment the crowd obviously had in it. The storytelling in the ring and callbacks to their previous encounters was excellent and the perfect example of long term build to a match. And to add onto that, the atmosphere was something else for the match and the finish. For anyone aware of the feud, this has to be match of the year so far. For the occasion, the in-ring work, the storytelling and the atmosphere. It has it all. And to top it all off David Starr came out at the end to stare down Devlin, who was celebrating with the whole roster.
What. A. Show. For someone used to the UK indys, we think we have great atmospheres at shows but this really on a next level. The crowd was molten hot for the whole event, for every near fall and every entrance. OTT deserve a huge amount of praise for how invested people are in everything they do to the extent that The National Stadium can have that exceptional atmosphere it does. For me, this definitely was the perfect wrestling show without a doubt. You had the comedy with the Angel Cruzers, the tag team spot fest opener, the legend Vs future Starr matches for Martina and Davis. Further, you had incredible brawls with KOTN Vs BSS, clear heel vs face matches with MTH Vs the Rapture as well as emotionally charged matches with Starr Vs Barry. On top of all of this is the main event to end all main events which combined aspects from all the other matches to make the perfect match and end to an insane night. OTT Wrestling at the national stadium is a must do for any wrestling fan, but good luck getting a better show than this, I don’t think such thing exists.