Review By James Tee (@JamesTee22) Picture Credit: John Searle
Three Shows, Two Days, 16 of The World’s Best Competitors, and one Grudge match with epic consequences for the loser. The third edition of the Road To Glory tournament had it all, from some of the best matches seen on these shore, to one of the most anticipated comebacks ever, PCW put on an extravaganza that any company in the World would be proud of.
It was on March 1st 2014 that PCW was shocked to it’s core by the injury sustained by Lionheart during the main event of Road To Glory 2014. Now, a little over a year later, the British Wrestling scene was abuzz with anticipation, as a long personal journey came to a head.
With Joey Hayes waiting in the ring, and Richard Parker on announcing duties, a state of hush descended over the PCW crowd, a surreal moment considering this was a complete sellout. And with the first bite of Lionheart’s theme, a once quiet crowd erupted, giving the former PCW Champion an ovation the likes of which are rarely scene at any promotion.
For many who were there a year earlier, there was a sense of uncertainty, with people wondering how Lionheart would hold up in his first match back. And as the match developed, those fans needn’t have worried.
Hayes and Lionheart, despite the match not being the conventional Wrestling classic, put on a match that was a superb piece of storytelling, and had the crowd on the edge of their seats.
In fact, in Lionheart’s other matches of the weekend, great storytelling was a constant theme. The reluctance of Martin Kirby to attack the neck and head of his opponent in their quarter final added a much needed sense of realism to the match. And when Kirby missed a suicide dive to the outside, and crashed into the chairs at ringside, that realism stepped up a notch, with fans showing great respect for the effort both men had put in.
The Semi Final was something completely different though, with Tyson T-Bone putting on a demonstration of what ring psychology should be. His methodical offense was executed superbly, and the aggression shown by T-Bone was nothing short of impressive.
The fact that Lionheart got enough offense into the match to make it look believable was also a credit to both men, and a quick roll up seemed like the only way that this match could end. However, the near impossible task of Lionheart was made that much harder after the match, with a devastating Tombstone Piledriver hit by T-Bone before he had a chance to celebrate his victory.
Regardless of that attack by Tyson T-Bone, it is hard to argue that there was a more deserving winner of this year’s Road To Glory than Bubblegum. Not only has he held the PCW Cruiserweight Championship for close to a full year, but you can argue that he is one of the best Heels in all of professional wrestling, not just the British scene.
His first round match against Ashton Smith was the fast paced encounter that most expected it to be, with both men showing why they are so highly rated. On the back of this performance, despite losing, it would be great to see Ashton back in a PCW ring at some point.
But the Cruiserweight Champion gained a huge advantage, by receiving a bye straight through to the semi-finals, after Sha Samuels and Dave Mastiff fought to a double count out during Show 1.
That rest would be needed though, as he took on one of the greatest tag team wrestlers of all time in the form of Matt Hardy. Hardy, who had already taken on Rampage Brown and El Ligero in the previous two rounds, instantly made the most of his size and strength advantage, and it appeared as though we would have a RTG Final between the two most popular semi finalists.
But Bubblegum fought his way back into the match, and despite the best efforts of the founder of Mattitude, found his own way to get the 3 count, sending him into the final against Lionheart.
And rightly so, the match proved to be the main event of the whole weekend. Bubblegum started the match by attacking an unsuspecting Lionheart, and soon found himself on the front foot of the match. But throughout the weekend, it was clear that the man from Glasgow was slowly finding that his old swagger and confidence was returning. After working his way back into the match, Lionheart returned to the top rope, hitting his infamous Frog Splash for a near fall.
But despite this being Lionheart’s big return, there was going to be no denying Bubblegum, and after a devastating Pedigree, the Cruiserweight Champion guaranteed himself a Heavyweight Title shot at the Fourth Anniversary show.
For Lionheart, there was no denying that 4 matches in 24 hours was a hugely impressive way to return to the ring, and with more matches, it is not hard to believe that he will be in the Championship picture in the upcoming months.
But for Bubblegum, the Road to Glory victory is just reward for some of the best work seen in the UK over the past year. Not only that, but with the run he has been on since he claimed the Cruiserweight, will anyone be able to stop him becoming PCW Heavyweight Champion this summer?
UHAA NATION LEAVES PCW
Aside from the Road To Glory, the main story to come from the weekend was the battle that took place between Chris Masters and Uhaa Nation. With the loser leaving PCW, there was huge risk and reward for PCW’s two regular overseas workers.
However, nobody could have predicted what unfolded during one of the most anticpated matches in PCW history.
With Uhaa Nation caught in the Masterlock, it appeared as though it would just be a matter of time before Masters reclaimed the Heavyweight Championships. But as Uhaa reached the ropes, and the Masterpiece reached for a Steel Chair, announcer Joanna Rose announced that the new PCW General Manager declared the match a No DQ match. With Masters attacking Uhaa with the chair, again, the Champion seemed on the verge of losing his belt and his PCW career.
But Uhaa fought back once again, and after hitting the Uhaa Combination, the PCW crowd rose in anticipation of a hard fought victory for PCW’s favourite American.
And then the shock of all shocks…
Team Single stormed the ring, attacking Uhaa Nation in front of a stunned sell out crowd. Despite kicking out twice, there was little Uhaa could do to prevent losing his title, and watching his PCW career go up in smoke.
As Masters celebrated with Rampage and T-Bone, Joanna Rose entered the ring, apparently to announce The Masterpiece as the new PCW Champion. In a shocking turn though, Rose embraced with all in the ring, declaring herself as the new PCW GM.
The whole turn was executed perfectly, with very few inside Evoque being able to claim they predicted what was going to happen. Rose’s promo after the match was precise, well thought out, and delivered in a way that maximized the heat she was received. It also makes it exciting to think what will happen in the upcoming months as this storyline develops.
THE BRITS MATCHING THE INTERNATIONAL TALENT
One criticism that some people have of British Wrestling as a whole, is the fact that some companies tend to rely on international talent. In my opinion, in the right scenario, International talents can be used to help raise the profile, and develop the skills of our own talent.
This weekend was a prime example of this. Will Ospreay returned to PCW, and had one of the best matches ever seen in PCW history against John Morrison on Night 1. In a match that I personally could watch over and over again, both men appeared to put everything into making the other look as good as possible, and in the process, pulled out moves that were beyond great.
Morrison also produced another classic on Night 2, against Noam Dar, who seemed to have rediscovered his PCW mojo. The men, who had fought each other before at Festive Fury in 2012, and once again, put on a clinic in how to put together a five star match.
Eugene came back to PCW, and did what he does best; entertained the crowd, and in the process, provided great belief in between a lot of high quality wrestling matches. Ricardo Rodriguez was a great surprise in the weekend’s opening contest, and showed that he is one of the most under-rated performers in the planet, as he lost to El Ligero.
Matt Hardy and Christopher Daniels came to PCW and embraced everything that the crowd had to offer. Daniels, who lost in the first round of the Road to Glory tournament to Martin Kirby, was the subject of some of the best chants ever heard in PCW, and soon was in his element as one of the best, and most entertaining heels on the planet.
Hardy, on the other hand, received one of the best ovations of the weekend, and from a personal standpoint, was one of the biggest names PCW could have brought to the UK. All weekend, Hardy made his opponents look an equal level to himself, with Rampage Brown, El Ligero and Bubblegum all coming across as the World Class talents they truly are.
But the Brits also proved why this country is producing some of the best talents in the world at this time. Dave Mastiff and Sha Samuels, two of the best Heavyweights we have to offer, appear to have started a feud that will surely culminate in one of the hardest hitting matches ever seen on these shores.
As previously mentioned, Ashton Smith impressed hugely, and deserves another chance in a PCW ring. Joey Hayes was superb as always, and his facial expressions are on the same level as Dean Ambrose in terms of their brilliance.
PCW return on March 29th for Who Dares Wins, where the 30 man PCW Rumble will return. Appearances will be made by Davey Richards, Angelina Love and Ken Anderson.