Pro Wrestling Chaos – Sweet Dreams (29/4) – Review
by Tim Ricketts
Photo credit: Turning Face
Chaos welcomed ECW legend Tommy Dreamer and the delightfully sleazy Joey Ryan to the West-Country for the appropriately titled ‘Sweet Dreams’, with a fully-stacked card and a fully-packed house in Yate. As usual when a notable international traveller comes to visit, there was an additional pre-show ‘Audience with…’ event, this time drawing on the immense breadth of Dreamer’s wrestling knowledge.
The announced matches included a King of Chaos championship bout between reigning Mod monarch ‘Flash’ Morgan Webster and a potential banana skin in ‘Heavy Metal Hero’ Alex Steele. Although he may not have the kind of national exposure enjoyed by other members of the roster, Steele has the skills to back up his strong support amongst the Chaos Club and the local high-flyer is a credible contender. Not to forget that he would be looking for revenge after being deprived of the Heir to the Throne briefcase a year ago, illegitimately, by the Modfather.
Flash’s allies, The Modern Culture, were defending their Knights of Chaos tag championships against the current Insane Championship Wrestling tag title holders The Mauraders, comprising of two former Kings, Mike Bird and Wild Boar, in a winner-takes-all match. In two of the other singles matches, Alex’s Steele Dragons partner Eddie Dennis faced Charlie Sterling, whilst Big Grizzly was set against the returning Mikey Whiplash. Much travelled PWG and Lucha Underground star Joey Ryan had tweeted that he was bringing his Ironman Heavymetalweight championship with him to the UK, and he was scheduled to take on the similarly sleazy former Magnum, ‘Dirty’ Dick Riley, and Attack 24/7 title holder, Nixon Newell.
The Brotherhood make their contracted début against ‘The Red Emperor’ Gideon, and possibly his former Team H8 team-mate Jeckel, in a handicap match after months of torment. But before Tommy Dreamer’s match against the borderline psychotic Eddie Ryan (still angry at anything Chaos), the ECW original had a little something else to attend to…
An Audience With Tommy Dreamer
Yet again, host Benjamin Allen kept the interview section of this up-close and personal event flowing, however the most striking thing about hearing Tommy talk is his breadth of experience in all aspects of ‘the Business’. Of course his in-ring work is well known, but also includes stints behind the scenes in ECW’s back office, as well as agent in WWE and booker of One Night Stand. Now he owns his own House of Hardcore promotion which he mentioned is soon heading to Australia.
Not constrained by being on ‘The Network’ for a behind-the-scenes interview, he talks openly about his stint in TNA as well as ECW and WWE, and their relative attributes. In addition to the amiable recounting of a few familiar tales with a new spin and more esoteric subjects like the price of trestle tables, he also fielded questions from the audience that ranged from tips on getting started in ‘the business’ to HoH’s tour plans. All good stuff, fantastic to experience in person and will be well worth checking out via UK Wrestling On Demand as and when it becomes available.
A set of Meet & Greet photos and a bite to eat later, I headed in for the evening’s main show. Coming out for the introductions, dapper MC Rob Maltman’s sartorial choices prompted a ‘Butlins’ chant, as his bright scarlet tuxedo triggered a few flashbacks to former owner Pariah Khan. Luckily, he brushed it off in good humour like a true pro.
‘The Pride of Wales’ Eddie Dennis vs Charlie Sterling
Eddie’s new theme music was well received by the crowd, in stark contrast to Bristolian Sterling’s subsequent disrespect of Dennis’s Welsh flag. It gave us the unusual dynamic of a local lad being derided, but add in the normally divisive England versus Wales aspect too, and it shows how well regarded Dennis is at Pro Wrestling Chaos. It pre-empted a slow start, as the wrestlers paced the ring and tentatively felt each other out. As the match picked up it spilled to the ringside, Dennis came back up with a bloodied nose after taking a knee to the face.
The taste of blood added some fire to Swansea’s finest and some impetus to Charlie as the back-and-forth exchanges built. Sterling walked the tightrope of cockiness, pleasing his spattering of fans with a mix of high-flying and impactful catch, but with several of his trademark flips missing their mark, ‘The Pride of Wales’ steadily established a familiar commanding presence on the match. Like a rolling snowball that turns in to an avalanche, this match picked up pace to an irresistible crescendo. The pumped Dennis kicked out of a pile-driver at one, much to the crowd’s delight and Sterling’s disgust, to finish Charlie with the Next Stop Driver and earn a standing ovation.
It seems like a ‘benchmark setter’ has become Chaos’ trademark for an opening match, with Sterling involved in two such humdingers now this year. Dennis always has his A-game on for PWC, be it in singles or tag, but it was both of these guys who earned that reaction.
The Brotherhood (Nathan Bane, Joe Mezinger & Elijah Dahl) vs Team H8 (‘The Red Emperor’ Gideon & [possibly] Jeckel)
For the past six months, the anarchic Brotherhood of ‘forgotten’ potentials have made it their mission to blackmail an opportunity by force. Enraged at seeing others get the opportunities that they felt they had earned, Mezinger, Dahl and Bane made their first stand at ‘Let Them Eat Chaos’ only to be dealt defeat at the hands of Gideon and the flying Henchmen (yes, really). Subsequently, they targeted Gideon and Jeckel, and to a lesser extent Sierra Loxton, until last month when owner Dave Mercy finally put them on contract in order to mete out official punishment. Only one question remained: would Jeckel acquiesce to Gideon’s spurned advances of a Team H8 reunion?
Gideon entered to his usual Chaostron video, but paused on the ramp as it changed to Team H8, reconciliation confirmed with ‘Bodies’ by Drowning Pool blasting out as Jeckel joined him. Personally, it felt good to give ol’ grumpy guts a cheer for a change. I’ve given him raucous boos and an occasional bit of stick, as The Man They Call Jeckel has been a fantastic bad-guy, but he makes an awesome bad-ass as well.
The new era of H8 started well, with a stunningly smooth sequence of double team moves which belied the four years since their last match together. With the obvious talents of the Brotherhood however, Bane experienced, Mezinger calculating and Dahl ferocious, the surge couldn’t last forever. Gideon proved his hardiness as he took a licking and kept on ticking in the face of the retaliation though. Once he had received the hot-tag from his partner, Jeckel was explosive and imperiously cheeky, giving Ref Paz a feint by pointing at the gantry and yelling what I think was ‘Ref distraction!’ in order to deliver a low-blow. The numbers-game of this handicap tag match was always going to take its toll though, and Jeckel fell to a triple-team power-bomb. Despite the disappointing result, the reunion was solidified by an after match fist bump.
This match showed what these teams have to offer Pro Wrestling Chaos (obviously a good thing for The Brotherhood) and that is largely stylish brutality.
‘English Lion’ Eddie Ryan vs ‘The Innovator of Violence’ Tommy Dreamer
On paper, this match-up was a bit of a clash-of-styles. Famously, Tommy Dreamer is a distinctly hardcore wrestler, albeit with great technical grounding from Johnny Rodz, whilst Ryan usually employs a strong heavyweight style with a bit of solid brawling. Whose style would dominate? After a few moments, Dreamer made it a moot point. Grabbing Maltman’s mic’, he declared ‘People didn’t come here to see me wrestle… they came to see me fight!’ and demanded a No-DQ, falls-count-anywhere stipulation. With the weight of popular opinion urging him on, Ref Mark agreed as Eddie Ryan anguished.
Out came an archetypal dustbin of hardcore tools, but it was ‘fans bring the weapons’ as Dreamer grabbed two cans of beer off the front row to sandwich Ryan’s head in a mini-tribute to his ECW compadré, the Sandman. Another notable tribute were his yellow polka-dot trousers in a nod to the late, great American Dream. ‘The Innovator of Violence’ continued with the novel weaponry too, utilising the ring-bell on ‘The English Lion’s nether regions.
Back in his preferred territory of the squared circle, Eddie Ryan was able to use his abilities more, and demonstrated why he considers himself to be deserving of the big matches. Despite some wrestling breaking out mid-fight, he showed he can still effectively use the statutory hardcore steel chair… he wasn’t so lucky with the ladders however. He took too long to set them up against the corner-post, and Dreamer delivered Eddie a clattering backdrop to the steel steps instead, shortly followed by a Dreamer DDT and the victory.
Tommy climbed the ladder propped on the turn-buckle, and sincerely thanked the packed throng in a humble turnabout on the treat he’d just given us. In one last moment of jeopardy, the ladder started to slip until Ref Mark came to the rescue. Incensed, Dreamer slammed the steps with a chair, dragged them to the centre of the ring and delivered an elbow that would have made Dusty happy. The ladders have demanded a rematch.
Truly an honour to witness this legend in person, whilst Eddie Ryan stepped up to the plate to match the occasion.
Three-Way match: Nixon Newell vs ‘King of Dong Style’ Joey Ryan vs ‘Dirty’ Dick Riley
Considering that ‘Dirty’ Dick Riley, Chaos’ resident master of all things sleazy, was forged in the gutters of Soho and Joey Ryan is sponsored by a well-know purveyor of pornography, this menage-a-trois had the potential to push the proscriptions of the notional PG rating. Newell, ‘The Girl with the Shiniest Wizard’ soon to be off to the WWE, was going to be stuck in the middle of it all during her Chaos début.
Attack 24/7 holder Nixon entered, only to be ambushed from behind by Dick for him to nab the title (the second time it has changed hands on a Chaos show), whilst Joey came out with the similarly stipulated DDT Pro Ironman Heavymetalweight championship. Riley proudly paraded the his newly acquired belt too… not often all three members of a triple threat enter with a title, even if two of them were the same one.
Dick began well, with his athletic crowd-pleasing assaults effective as usual, until he seriously miscalculated an Atomic Drop on Ryan, damaging his knee on that groin of steel. That particular part worked hard, as Dick met his anatomical namesake in the form of the credulity-stretching but incredibly entertaining PornPlex. First Riley, then Ref Paz dodged the shiny red lollipop Ryan had retrieved from his trunks, only for a recovering Nixon to get it square in the mouth and setting up some further molestation known as a ‘Boobplex’. In between these hilariously well-timed, Bottom-esque, comedic moments were spots of exhilerating athleticism that showed these competitors weren’t just there for the giggles.
Newell’s jaw-dropping Welsh Destroyer was the deciding factor in this match, and seeing as Nixon devastatingly applied it to Joey, her follow-up pin won the Heavymetalweight Championship too. In one last gasp moment of pure underhand sleazy glory, Joey Ryan shook Dick Riley’s hand, tugged him off his feet and rolled him up for the Attack belt.
Winner takes all: ICW Tag-team Champions, The Marauders (Wild Boar & Mike Bird) versus Knights of Chaos, The Modern Culture (Danny Jones & Edwin Ricci)
Titles from four different sanctioning bodies on one card is a rare occurrence (and beats Chaos’ previous record of 3 last April), but scholars of the wrestling form book would note that a definitive result from a title versus title bout is even more scarce. The upshot of this trend though is the often dramatic and scandalous finishes to these matches in the headlong charge to retain at all costs. Both teams have appeared in ICW and their members are Chaos mainstays, so there was possibility of dual holders. Modern Culture, known to the Chaos Club as ‘The Nerds’, have a history of interfering in their opponents’ singles matches against their lord-and-master Morgan Webster, which added plenty of spice to this match up. The Chaos Club added some heat to the action too, winding up Jones and Ricci with packets of Nerds confectionery (thanks Darren).
Despite this being The Marauders’ Chaos début as a tag-team, they have been working together for years, so their supreme corner work and slick double-teaming on tags was no surprise. Their stylistic similarities synchronise and their subtle differences compliment their tactics. The Modern Culture, however, are still forging their partnership, but demonstrated moments of potential in this bout. In particular, their signature 3D-like double-team face-buster on Mike Bird was brutal. Boar and Bird, the Nerds’ former Dragon Pro trainers, always seemed to have the measure of their rogue pupils though.
When it broke down to a ringside brawl the writing was on the wall. Ref Mark counted to ten as the four men obliviously continued to beat hell out of each other, and upon hearing the ring-bell realised what had happened. Apparently happy to escape, the Nerds grabbed their belts and ran. The former Kings of Chaos weren’t so chuffed about not getting Mrs Patterson’s Revenge on them though, so grabbed a hapless member of the ring-crew to punish instead with their devastating finisher. If any other guys did this, they’d get booed out of the building but these two are pure heroes to the Club. Just to add to the grandstanding, Bird and Boar took some packets of sweets and used them in a hilarious Stone Cold Steve Austin Beer-smash style celebration.
A fantastic opportunity to see lots of shiny title belts, with enough historic and contemporary significance to give it the possibility of a definitive result, but it was not to be. At least it sends Mike Bird into next month’s match with Matt Riddle with a win.
‘The Necromancer’ Mikey Whiplash vs Big Grizzly
At All or Nothing, last time out in this big venue with a crowd of around the 500 mark, Mikey Whiplash ended up opposing Big Grizzly in the staggeringly significant eight-man face-off between the forces of Mercy and Khan. Grizzly came off on the losing side that time, and also last month against Pete Dunne, but other than that has been impressive in Chaos over the past year, so he’d be looking for revenge. It didn’t take long, as he sprinted out during Whiplash’s entrance to send the occult-influenced star sprawling.
Grizzly continued the relentless beat-down around ringside, softening Mikey significantly before the match could officially start. Back in the ring, Whiplash threw his body into (off-of and over) everything he could in a bid to make back any ground on the dominant Welshman. Any sign of recovery was repeatedly crushed, so it was a feat of superior experience and remarkable conditioning when, still against the rub, Whiplash cheekily rolled up Grizzly for the three-count. Unfortunately, that only made things worse for the winner as Grizzly went nuts, totally mauling him.
I have a massive soft-spot for both of these guys and they way they apply their styles, so it pleased me to see both another monster Grizzly performance and a win for Mikey.
King of Chaos Championship: ‘Flash’ Morgan Webster (c) vs ‘Heavy Metal Hero’ Alex Steele
It might not be the Sixties, but we still had a Mod versus Rocker May-day weekend battle here. Home-town hero Steele unsurprisingly received the more favourable reaction from the Club, but ‘Flash’ Morgan Webster entered with egotistical swagger alongside Jones and Ricci anyway. The action began brightly and competitively, so it wasn’t long before Modern Culture tried to swing things towards their ally by interfering. Ref Mark was in a no-nonsense mood and exiled the Nerds from ringside, on pain of forfeiture.
This opened the match up again with Steele providing a stern test for Webster. This was, perhaps, the first time that the champion had defended his title on a level playing field and duly rose to the occasion, with the high-tempo, high-impact exchanges well executed. Whilst this title-worthy battle unfolded, Mark became caught in the crossfire so fellow referee Paz ran out to check on him. Flash took the opportunity to retrieve his signature moped helmet for a villainous swipe at Steele, but Alex ended up holding the skid-lid in bemusement just in time for Paz to turn and assume the worst. The Ref’s call for a DQ ring-bell prompted Dave Mercy to make his presence felt, the promotion’s owner demanding a restart and this time as No-Disqualification.
The whippet-like Steele reacted to the restart quicker than a Flash, with a smash of the helmet, a slam and a swift pin that sent the crowd into raptures. I was so invested by this point, I probably popped as hard as anyone, but whilst the Home-town Heavy Metal Hero celebrated with the belt in front of his fans, the two referees were engaged in heated discussion. The recovering Mark had spotted an infraction: Webster’s foot was under the rope during the three-count, which obviously provoked yet another restart.
This time Flash was prepared and zeroed-in on Steele’s well-known weak-spot, an almost literal Achilles heel, with a piece of lighting gantry. Direct, effective and shockingly brutal, Alex finally yielded, but yet Modern Culture still came out to put the boot in the minute Webster’s victory bell sounded. Mercy alerted Eddie Dennis, who sprinted out to make the save of his Steele Dragons partner. He grabbed the King of Chaos title belt in the process, and held it aloft with pride before tossing it disgustedly at the Mod King.
A tour-de-force of athletic action and high drama, technique and technicality, with a Dusty finish included. Pro-wrestling doesn’t get much better than this.
The main event proved that Flash deserves his title without benefit of the numbers game, but also that both of The Steele Dragons probably deserve to remain in the title picture too. Next month sees Chaos going back into Bristol for UnBroLievable at the Newman Hall, where Mike Bird gets to entertain a combat sports phenomenon in Matt Riddle and Project Lucha get another crack at the Knights of Chaos championship, this time against current holders, The Modern Culture. We’ve yet to see if the Brotherhood will be happy with the point they’ve made, or whether Team H8 have unfinished business. Eddie Ryan and Big Grizzly have both been touting claims of main-event level superiority, so they’ll be looking to get back to winning form soon.
Tickets, DVDs and some kick-butt merch’ available from ProWrestlingChaos.com