Amongst a wet a windy weekend Evoque nightclub in Preston bore witness to four of the best wrestling shows any promotion has put on this year, as Ring of Honor and Preston City Wrestling came together for Supershow of Honor 2. Building on last year’s resounding success, the two companies put on a weekend featuring the best Indy talent from the UK and North America, and left everyone in attendance going home happy (if slightly tired) at the end.
Each show had some real stand out moments and matches that helped keep fans highly entertained. Starting with show one, we saw the unveiling of the new PCW championship belts. These beautiful new straps are fitting for one of the top independent groups in the world (and surprisingly heavy), but this wasn’t a boring old presentation ceremony. Instead it lead to the devilishly GM Joana Rose changing the opening PCW cruiserweight championship match to an elimination 3-Way between champion El Ligero, her Friends With Benefits stable mate (and former champion) Bubblegum and ROH’s Adam Cole. What a way to kick off the weekend. El Ligero and Bubblegum have had some fantastic matches all over the UK, and adding Adam Cole into the mix just made for a frantic match that had the crowd’s attention from start to finish. At the start of the match the three men traded exchanges either in 3 way spots or while one man was downed on the outside. A spot where Ligero turned a ‘Doomsday Device’ into a rewind/reverse rana wowed everyone in attendance. It was a surprise to see Bubblegum eliminated first, but even more of a surprise to see his post pinfall Pedigree on Ligero help Adam Cole to win the title (via the Suplex dropped into neckbreaker on his knee), in what had been El Ligero’s first defence. Cole went on to retain the title over the weekend, and will be taking it back to the US with him. Having him wear it on ROH TV is going to be great exposure for PCW going forward.
The next match of real significance was the tag team street fight between reDRagon and Team Single (Rampage Brown & T-Bone). This was, as expected, a brutal and exciting encounter from start to finish. The match itself was full of stiff exchanges, chair shots and near falls and everyone in Evoque ate up each and every minute. Despite the brutality of the match, it also produced two moments of perfectly timed comedy. Firstly reDRagon produced some rather unique weapons in the form of a rubber chicken and pig, which they preceeded to beat Team Single with (at least until Kyle O’Reilly but the pig down the front of his trunks). This was then followed by O’Reilly attempting to wrap T-Bone in Christmas paper. Amongst all the insanity and wrapping paper, T-Bone scored the pinfall with a perfectly executed Steiner Screwdriver to continue Team Single’s over 900 day title reign. At the end of the match there was a moment of genuine elation from the attending crowd, when Joey Hayes came out and attempted to cash in the Money In The Bank briefcase. He and Martin Kirby pinned Team Single and everyone went wild, believing they’d finally seen new tag champions crowned. However Joanna Rose came out to make another big impact on the card, by overturning the victory. She pointed out that, as Kirby is the rightful holder of the briefcase, Hayes can’t cash it in for him.
The main event bout for the ROH World Heavyweight Title between Jay Lethal and Noam Dar was another standout. While it seemed obvious to everyone in attendance that Lethal would retain (which he did), this action packed match had a story running through out that made people think “what if?”. The match started off with a technical masterclass, showcasing the skills of both wrestlers involved, and making Dar look every bit a genuine contender. However, it was when Dar began to focus on the knee of Lethal that the match really hit its stride. A combination of believable looking kicks and dropkicks to the knee, and fantastic selling from the ROH world champion whipped the crowd up into a frenzy. When Dar locked on the ‘Champagne Super Kneebar’ those in attendance loudly implored Lethal to tap out. Of course, he didn’t, and after the second attempt at hitting a Lethal Injection was successful he got the pin and retained the title. This is the kind of exciting edge of the seat main event that both companies have been built on (and WWE creative should take notice of).
Other highlights from show one included a hard hitting technical masterclass which saw Doug Williams defeat Silas Young (who showed why he is quickly becoming a top level villain in ROH) and a PCW heavyweight title defence which saw Dave Mastiff defeat ROH World Television Champion (and king of the shitty little boots) Roderick Strong.
The Friday show was followed by a thoroughly entertaining edition of I Am The Tag Team Champions, hosted (as always) by Billy Kirkwood and Chris Brooker, and featuring special guests Dave Rayne, Stallion and Adam Cole. If that wasn’t enough the traditional late night aftershow party rounded off the night. As always it allowed wrestlers and wrestling fans to mix at the bar and on the dancefloor. With these late night shenanigans, Saturday’s morning show two was always going to be a slightly quieter affair (there’s a reason they’re called the hangover shows). While the crowd were slightly more subdued, the in-ring action continue to excel.
The two opening contests proved the perfect tonic for those in attendance who may have imbibed more than they’d expected to (this writer included). First, the non-stop thrill ride that is the PCW 6 way match. It was a fast paced spot fest that didn’t give up from start to finish, and featured a mixture of ROH (Kenny King and Roderick Strong) and PCW (El Ligero, Charlie Garrett, Bubblegum and Dave Rayne) talent. As expected there were some fantastic exchanges between all involved, as well as some great comedic moments provided by Dave Rayne, whose popularity amongst the PCW faithful is at a cult level very few wrestlers ever achieve. Rayne eventually dropped the fall to Strong (who finished him off with a Sick Kick), but the match had done enough to set up the crowd for what was to come. What was that you ask? The ‘Party Peacock ‘vs The ‘East End Butcher’ as Dalton Castle took on Sha Samuels. Castle had quickly become a crowd favourite after show one, and his interactions with a character heel such as Samuels worked perfectly. Before the two had even locked up the crowd were in stitches, and the very clear villain/fan favourite dynamic between the two gave the match tremendous heat. The action was smooth throughout, with Samuels giving one of his best performances in a PCW ring. Sha eventually picked up the victory via a sleeper sold (after Dalton had reached the ropes on the first few attempts).
The next match to really whip up the crowd was between Noam Dar and Cedric Alexander. As well as being the longest match of the card, this was a top notch affair blending technical wrestling, hard hitting shots and a lot of near falls. The near falls issue is significant, as it produced one of those spontaneous moments in wrestling. The “one count” chant. Those unfamiliar with PCW will need some background. A new young referee has been employed on a number of recent shows, and has been put through the ringer by the crowd with chants of “work experience” and “it’s his homework”. In this match a series of back and forth one counts had the crowd in a frenzy, shouting “ONE!” and laughing in equal measure. Once this sequence had ended, the crowd would continue to count one, no matter what the ref counted. There was also speculation that the ref should be renamed “The One One OneKid”. Alexander and Dar lapped this up, working it into the match to add a touch of tongue in cheek comedy to the already solid encounter. It was perfectly timed as well, as it bridged a solid technical opening between the two into a back and forth consisting of solid forearm shots and quick reversals. The end of the match is definitely one to be enjoyed on the upcoming DVD release. As Alexander attempted an enziguiri, Dar (in one fluid motion) caught him in the ‘Champagne Super Knee Bar’ for the submission victory. This match was another indication that Dar’s star is on the rise in PCW.
The main event once again saw a ROH World Championship defence from Jay Lethal against one of the UK’s finest, Doug Williams. The two are no strangers to each other, having both worked for ROH and TNA together in the past, and it may have been this familiarity that helped them have such great chemistry. Right from the start the two traded off some excellent technical spots. Lethal made a point to mention his leg was causing him a problem from the previous night’s main event, so obviously Williams concentrated much of his attack on it from the get go. The crowd in attendance lapped it up, forgoing the usual raucous chants and songs for a very respectful, almost Japanese style atmosphere. The match had a great back and forth build, which climaxed with one of the best closing segments of the weekend. Lethal attempted the ‘Lethal Infection’ which Williams countered into a ‘Chaos Theory’ attempt. However, Lethal countered that into a superkick and finally a successful ‘Lethal Injection’ to retain. Lethal left the champ, and the crowd left happy.
Other highlights of show two included another successful PCW title defence for Dave Mastiff against Silas Young and a match between Ashton Smith and Adam Cole which really showcased the young Brits talents against one of the best in the world. Special mention must be given to poor Kyle O’Reilly, who looked very much worse for wear in the 4 way tag match. Having seen him in the hotel at breakfast, it looked as though all the coffee and Red Bull in the world wouldn’t get him through the match. Thankfully he gritted it out, and produced an admirable performance. With the second out of the way, the traditional post show meet and greet begun. Fans had the chance to have pictures with and buy items from the talent in attendance, as well as original ‘Kilq’ members Scott Hall & Sean Waltman, who were in the country for Wales Comic Con the next day. It was another great way for everyone to interact, and is an important part of what makes these PCW weekenders so popular.
Onto Show Three, which was a show strongly built around it’s main event, Adam Cole vs Dave Mastiff for the PCW heavyweight title in a 30minute ‘Iron man’ Match. This was a rematch from last year’s Supershow of Honor, and was one that everyone in attendance had been eagerly looking forward to all weekend. Before we got to that match though, there were a few other stand out moments. Two tag bouts thrilled the crowd early in the night. One that had been announced and one that was more of a surprise. First of all came the battle between two of ROH’s finest, as reDRagon took on War Machine. The two teams had played an important role in show two’s 4 way tag match, but this bout gave them a real chance to shine in their own right, and shine they did. Brutal striking exchanges and insane power moves littered this exciting tag bout. Hanson was particularly impressive, as he hit power moves that had people gasping with excitement (like a perfectly timed deadlift German suplex). Fish and O’Reilly also sold everything to make sure the larger team looked a million bucks. This was a case of a well-established team doing their all to get the other team over, and it worked. While reDRagon were still clearly the crowd favourites throughout, the 2nd half of the match saw War Machine getting some big reactions. A sequence of near falls increased the crowd intensity, before War Machine picked up the win with a powerbomb and splash combination. The match left Hanson and Rowe looking exceedingly strong, and ready for their upcoming ROH World tag team championship match at Final Battle.
The second tag bout was, as previously mentioned, unannounced. That didn’t stop it from being one of the hottest bouts of the weekend, with the crowd energy at fever pitch throughout. Let me set the scene. The dastardly Joana Rose once again turned up with her Friends With Benefits cronies, Bubblegum, Team Single & Iestyn Rees. She questioned whether or not their scheduled opponent (Dave Rayne) had secured any tag partners. Of course, the former #Boom champion had, and it was a team that kept the PCW crowd very happy. It was comprised of The UK Hooligans, Sean Waltman who was wrestling as X-Pac and their manager for the evening Scott Hall. The crowd loved it. Their enthusiasm seemed to spare on the wrestlers involved, and we were treated to a match that can only be described as unadulterated fun. The bout started off with some classic moments from Waltman, before the FWB. took control and singled out Roy Knight. Lots of ref distractions and double teaming helped the heels cut off the ring, building up to a hot tag that slightly lacked the desired heat (due to the crowd serenading Iestyn Rees with “Bohemian Rhapsody” due to his Freddie Mercury-esque moustache). This was probably the only missed beat in the whole match. The match ended when the original ‘Lone Wolf of Wrestling’ Scott Hall hit Rees in the face with a toothpick, before he stumbled into an X-Factor for the pin.
The next match to have a real impact on the night was another surprise, as Noam Dar was scheduled to take on an unknown opponent. It was announced that he would face off against a PCW Academy graduate, who would be getting a chance to wow Evoque on the biggest show of the year. That graduate was Jack Baron, an enthusiastic young man who was introduced in a video package, before coming out to an good response from the live crowd. However, there was a twist to this tail. As Baron was soaking up the atmosphere in the ring a mystery attacker appeared through the crowd, laying out the young prospect before revealing himself to be Drew Galloway. The fans went mental as Galloway gave a venomous promo that lead to Noam Dar running to the ring and straight into the big Scot. This was the third match these two have had in PCW, and it was filled with heat from start to finish. It started off as a full on brawl around the nightclub, where is seemed like the two were legitimately kicking the shit out of each other. The most impressive spot of this whole section was Galloway delivering a crucifix powerbomb to Dar through a fire escape (which may well have been the best spot of the entire weekend). Back in the ring the intensity continued. Galloway played the big brutish bad guy role perfectly, while Dar was the ultimate underdog and had the crowd firmly in his corner. Galloway had a number of near falls, before a ref bump gave the returning Jack Baron a chance at a modicum of revenge. He attacked Drew from behind before being easily knocked back down. The distraction was enough, as Dar locked on the ‘Champagne Super Knee Bar’ for a big submission victory. This was the real highlight of a fantastic weekend for Dar, who seems ready for something BIG in PCW next year.
So finally we arrived at the main event, Mastiff vs Cole. Let’s get straight to the point. This match was good, but not a patch on their 2014 effort. The actual wrestling was great throughout, but the crowd seemed switched off for large parts of the match. While personally I was quite engrossed, a lot of people around me where having a chat and playing with their phones. Especially in the first two thirds of the bout. The worst part of this whole scenario was that most of the falls took place in this section. Cole took an early 2-0 lead within the first 8mins, but Mastiff snatched 2 back by the time the match before going 3-2 ahead. While this opening 20mins was frustratingly low on crowd reaction and intensity, the final 10mins was a different story. Feeling much more like their previous bout, Cole and Mastiff stepped it up to the next level. Big strikes, a series of excellent reversals and Cole working over the leg of The Bastard before locking on the Figure Four (while Mastiff sold everything perfectly). The closing moments were hot and frantic, with Cole winning a final fall via the Suplex dropped into Neckbreaker on his knee to bring the bout to 3 falls a piece. A draw? Was that it? Not exactly. The match went into sudden death, and these two guys went hell for leather, seemingly doing anything and everything in their playbooks to secure the victory. It felt like the whole of Preston was on the edge of their seats for this section of the bout, eager to see who truly the better man was. Sadly, everyone was robbed of that defining moment when Sha Samuels came out and attacked Cole and Mastiff to cause a double DQ. That was it. No second restart, just a hand shake and a thank you goodnight. While it seemed an odd way to end the bout, it did the desired job of getting a tonne of heat on Samuels. I can only assume he’ll be chasing a PCW heavyweight title shot in 2016.
Another night of mingling at the bar ensued post show three (personal thanks to Silas Young for a long and engrossing chat about life and our mutual love of World of Sport), and a second hangover show would round off the weekend the next day. Show four was a more light-hearted than the previous three shows, and it felt like a fun thank you to the fans who stuck around for the weekend. While it was an overall solid card featuring some fun matches, it felt a little less important than the previous three shows. However, the show was not without incident. For example, Kenny King vs Cedric Alexander. An overall solid match, which allowed both competitors to showcase their abilities perfectly, started off in a strange but hilarious fashion. During the wrestler’s entrance and introductions, PCW ring announcer Richard Parker accidently started to announce Alexander as “Kenny”. This broke the crowd and talent alike. King and Alexander got the crowd chanting “racist”, while a number of references to Hulk Hogan were made. Finally, Chris Brooker (from the commentary position) quizzed RP over the house mic on who was who in the ring, and the match got started. This was a fun and energetic encounter. Both King and Alexander had put in solid performances all weekend, but this was there real chance to shine.
The second stand out moment of the afternoon was a tag match that had to be changed at the last minute. Originally scheduled to be War Machine vs The UK Hooligans, Roy Knight came to the ring alone. Grabbing the microphone he explained that his brother Zak had legitimately injured himself while drunk the previous evening. It turned out that he had damaged his ankle ligaments and would not be able to compete for the rest of the year. So who would partner Roy? Tbone. That’s right, the Friends With Benefit member who is currently a part of the PCW tag team champions …T-Bone. This added a cool dynamic to the match, as the two enemies attempted to team up against the established ROH team. As you would expect from those involved, this was a wild encounter littered with big bumps and chaos outside the ring. Obviously, T-Bone and Roy could not co-exist, and eventually this was their downfall. War Machine picked up the pin, and we seemingly had a perfect set up for another Team Single vs UK Hooligans match in 2016.
The final highlight of the weekend happened to be the match that rounded it off. This saw Roderick Strong take on Jay Lethal in a non-title match. Now, anybody who has followed ROH closely in 2015 knows that these two have produced some stand out matches (especially their 60 minute time limit draw from Death Before Dishonor XIII). The match was different to their previous, very serious encounters as it perfectly blended comedy and serious action. Both competitors did all they could to put on an entertaining match, building on the comedy elements at the start into a more serious encounter. In the end, Strong got the win via submission (with the ‘Stronghold’). After the match Lethal grabbed the mic and gave an impassioned promo about how much the ROH talent had love the weekend, and putting over PCW in the process. Strong echoed these sentiments, before calling out the ROH roster to share the crowd’s approval in the ring.
That was the end of the weekend. Talent and fans alike had a blast from start to finish, and I’m sure everyone involved will be back for more shows in 2016. As Jay Lethal stated “This isn’t a wrestling show, it’s an experience”, and you know what? When it comes to PCW, he’s absolutely right.
Paul Cosgrove, Director of Slobber Knocker Box @SlobberKnockBox