Pro Wrestling Chaos: Unleashed (19/8) Review
by Tim Ricketts
Photo Credit: Turning Face
Every show is special at Chaos. They seem to have the knack of making sure that all their cards have a few interesting stipulations, a steaming hot feud or two and usually a barn-burner of a main event. Last time, Big Grizzly earned a long-deserved accolade by snatching the Heir to the Throne briefcase, the experienced and lovable Project Lucha won the Knights of Chaos tag titles (at the fifth attempt) and we had an absolute slew of exciting announcements. Not only do we have the Maiden of Chaos eight woman title tournament to look forward to in October, but more immediately there’s the matter of Chaos’ first Cage match. The Brotherhood and Team H8’s near year-long feud, a guerrilla war that has seen the explosive Sierra Loxton caught in the crossfire and Jeckel put aside long held rivalries to ally with Gideon and Mikey Whiplash, may see some resolution behind 16 foot of grating mesh and unforgiving metal. The Brotherhood’s mysterious boss is still to be identified however, so remains a potentially dangerous wildcard.
The King of Chaos title scene has been at fever pitch too, with champion ‘Flash’ Morgan Webster harried by the predations of Eddie Dennis and Alex Steele (the, now presumably former, Steele Dragons) for the past few months. Alex held the title in his hands for a precious few seconds to no avail last time Chaos visited Yate, as well as winning another chance in a number one contendership victory against Eddie Ryan. Eddie Dennis earned a shot by gaining a non-title victory over Flash, which he claimed at Heir to the Thron3. Despite looking good for the win last month, he was ultimately scuppered by his former partner’s blunder with The Modfather’s crash helmet. Flash, for his part, has ramped up the jeopardy by making their triple-threat match ‘loser leaves town’ for the pinned competitor. New Heir Grizzly has an open challenge scheduled, which could determine how much influence he has on the title match.
The CZW World Champion Shane Strickland is back to reform Project Lucha Underground, from last year’s Match of the Year winning bout, with the Tag Champs. They take on the former Kings of Chaos and ICW Tag Champs Wild Boar and Mike Bird, aided by ‘The Urchin Prince’ Drew Parker who has not been seen in a Chaos ring since the first Heir to the Throne. The Academy versus Academy tag match should give us a good look at some rising stars, as the familar faces of Dragon Pro (Oliver Sudden & Mr Bananas) take on Preston’s best in Viscious & Delicious (Phillip Michael & Sheik El Sham). ‘Bronco’ Brendan White returns after his impressive showing at UnBroLievable to take on debutant Chris Ridgeway (the current F!N British Champion).
However, the potential ‘sleeper hit’ match is the four-way that promises athleticism, between Charlie Sterling, Eddie Ryan, Dick Riley and Paul London. The widely travelled, experienced former WWE, ROH and current Lucha Underground star had one of Chaos’ regular ‘Audience With’ events before the show, but unfortunately traffic issues prevented me from attending so I look forward to when it becomes available on UKWrestlingOnDemand.com.
Cage Match: Three Demon Army (Gideon, Jeckel & Mikey Whiplash) w/ Sierra Loxton vs. The Brotherhood (Nathan Bane, Joe Mezinger & ELIJAH)
The Cage loomed large, the structure imposing itself on the 500-plus crowd. It wasn’t just for good logistics that this match commenced proceedings, it’s mere presence during the pre-show period had caused a stir, as did the Wargames-style staged entry of the competitors once it began. Gideon and the very impressive Nathan Bane made a full-blooded start – two old foes belting hell out of each other – with another athlete released from their handcuff restraints every couple of minutes. First Elijah joined the fray, then Whiplash – who kicked ass and took names corner-to-corner – and the fifth man Mezinger, to stabilise things for the Brotherhood. Finally Jeckel, chomping at the bit, was the last man left to enter. He found his way in via the door blocked, so embarked on a climb to the top-corner of the cage like a man possessed. Barely pausing, the man-monster executed a stunning Superfly Snuka impersonation to splash down on two ‘brothers’ and set the Chaos Club roaring.
Once all six men were in though, the dynamic of the match seemed to change. As well as the obligatory face grinding and body slamming into the unrelenting chain-link mesh – Mikey’s speciality – there was the tactical decision over escape. A wrestler who got out of the cage was one man closer to their team winning, but it also left their opponents with a numerical advantage, so inevitably led to a few indecisive moments and lost opportunities. Bane was the first to take the plunge and get out, shortly followed by Whiplash.
With Gideon groggy and supine on the mat, Elijah and Mezinger synchonised for their signature superb dropkick/crucifix pin combo on Jeckel, which gave the Brotherhood the opportunity they needed. They’d lost the impetus though as Elijah exited, and Joe was faced with the recovering Team H8. Gideon climbed out to leave the honour of finishing Mezinger to his team-mate, but Bane tried to re-enter. Sierra Loxton – armed with Gideon’s scarlet shinai – beat him into a precarious position atop the cage and tipped him onto a waiting table, many feet below. This left the awesome Jeckel to exit and cement his heroic transformation from the villainous days as Pariah Khan’s poster-boy.
This exceeded the already high expectations I had for Chaos’ first cage fight – it had everything you’d want, with sauce – but with the shadow of The Brotherhood’s still anonymous boss in the back of my mind, it lacked the full sense of resolution a big cage-match blow-off normally has… although it did leave me desperate to see what comes of it.
Tournament Announcements & Goodbye to a Legend
With the cage taking a few minutes to tear down, we were kept entertained by the professional patter of MC and commentator Rob Maltman, who was in fine form. Owner Dave Mercy arrived to round-out the starting competitors of the Maiden of Chaos tournament at the double-show in October. Former long-time Pro Wrestling EVE champion Rhia O’Riley and Chaos heroine ‘The Freaky Princess’ Sierra Loxton join Viper, Session Moth Martina, Jinny, Jetta, Jamie Hayter and Dahlia Black. WWE UK champion Pete Dunne is also returning, and the front two rows have sold out before the poster has even been finalised; incredible.
One last visitor to the ring was Referee Mark Rowell, who retired after the show to deal with the serious concern of impending fatherhood. A heartfelt speech was followed by a standing ovation; best wishes to a legend of the striped-shirt.
Four-Way: Eddie Ryan vs Charlie Sterling vs ‘Dirty’ Dick Riley vs Paul London
Whether you love them or hate them, Ryan, Sterling and Riley have had a stand-out 2017 performance wise, without necessarily getting the tallies in the win column that those efforts have deserved. None at all in the case of Sterling, who entered sans-teacup this time, although that didn’t stop the ‘tiny teacup’ chants. Would they be able to improve on their records in the face of former WWE tag champ, Paul London? London struck an early psychological blow with his threateningly menacing entrance crooning, walking around the entire crowd and directing the sinister chorus refrain ‘You’re never too young too die’ toward his opponents in the ring.
The match itself was an extraordinary example of athleticism, as you’d rightfully expect from this fearsome foursome. Whilst it occasionally went crowd-side of the ropes, most of the action happened on the canvas. London pulled out an array of his famous maneouvres, Riley and Sterling engaged in a flip-fest, and Eddie Ryan suplexed anything he could hold on to long enough. The ‘sequence of the match’ (if not the night) was a slingshot from Ryan on Riley straight into a Dick destroyer to a stunned Sterling. Dick rose and immediately slammed Eddie with the Spanish Fly.
London almost had the match with pin attempts on ‘Dirty’ Dick, only to be interrupted, and Eddie, who moments later found himself subject to both Paul and Charlie flying at his prone body from the same top-turnbuckle. Charlie recovered quickly to secure the pin and that elusive overdue win. Awesome agility and electric pace seriously ticks the boxes.
Open Challenge: Heir to the Throne, Big Grizzly vs ???
Grizzly came straight out, paraded his newly acquired case and demanded a mic. He informed us that there was no way the Open Challenge was happening for a host of spurious reasons, tantamount to ‘I’ve got a contract to cash in.’ Whilst still outpouring his rationalisations, the entrance music of NP44’s finest hit. Beano, familiar to Dragon Pro followers, made his way into a Chaos ring for the first time since ‘All or Nothing’ last year. The Chaos Club obviously hadn’t forgotten him, with his “Wa’ you sayin’?” catchphrase ringing to the rafters.
There was however the issue of the significant size and experience gap between the two competitors, Beano determinedly coming back at his opponent time and time again only for the gargantuan Grizzly to slap or slam him back down, even humilating him by mockingly pulling his arm out of pins. Beano did not give up though and took full advantage of Grizzly’s momentary loss of focus – arguing with Ref Paz over an infraction – to get a very cheeky cross-body and pin. Not only that, whilst Big Grizz went back to threatening the official in a rage, the shocked winner ran off with the HTTT briefcase.
Trios match: Project Lucha Underground (El Ligero, Martin Kirby & Shane Strickland) vs Mike Bird, The Wild Boar & Drew Parker
Some people may refer to this as a six-man tag, but to me it was definitely in the realm of a trios match as the notion of tagging was non-existent. Not that it did the bout any harm, the in-form Knights of Chaos – Project Lucha – free-flowing with the smooth-as-silk Shane Strickland; known in Lucha Underground as Killshot. They picked up where they left off, as if the year since The Wrath of Khan was a mere blink of the eye. The four-way earlier had thrown down the gauntlet in terms of athleticism, the reply from these heroes was ‘Hold my Pint.’
PLU were up against more direct opponents this time however, and the tight-knit team of Boar and Bird came at them with a mighty appetite, fuelled by Bird’s long-standing enmity with The Mexican Sensation. More than once, Mike butted heads and slapped chops with Ligero, whilst the most hightened led to them giving their interfering parners a slap too. ‘The Urchin Prince’ Parker may have had a point to prove as well – being absent from Chaos cards in the past two years – and if he did he made it well, mixing with his titled colleagues with poise, precision and astonishing aerial rotation.
The deificly pacey and precise action was too blisteringly hot for a mere mortal like me to do it justice; luckily this was a historic match for more than one reason. The sickeningly talented troupe at Turning Face produced this masterpiece as Pro Wrestling Chaos’ first live broadcast, delivered to thousands of viewers across the globe via Facebook.
Both teams had chances to cinch the win; Bird, Boar and Parker coming closest when The Marauders slammed a cannonball-dazed Strickland with the ‘Mrs Patterson’s Revenge’. It was the tag champs and their partner who came out victorious though, with first a draped splash then an assisted stomp from Strickland that put Boar down for the pin, much to Bird’s obvious irritation. With this and the prior history, I can see the Marauders coming back for the champs carrying a desire for revenge.
I caught up with Shane Strickland after the show, and congratulated him on a great performance. Magnanimously, he replied “It’s easy with team-mates like that.” Pure class.
‘Bronco’ Brendan White vs Chris Ridgeway
Chris Ridgeway is someone I’ve personally wanted to see live for quite a while, his matches in SWA (alongside Chaos in the UKWrestlingOnDemand package) have been a delight, and so is the prospect of him applying his polished striking style in a Chaos ring. ‘Bronco’ Brendan White is another athlete who has impressed me this past year in places like Attack!, Dragon Pro, UPW (another on-demand stablemate) or in his Chaos debut against Sterling and Cara Noir a couple of months ago. His increasingly nuanced reactions and powerful offence have been making a lot of positive strides, so Ridgeway should be an appropriately tough test.
The two men went hold-for-hold from the lock-up, which favoured the toned and inked Ridgeway, who began applying pressure with plenty of submission attempts and snug strikes. White was no slouch in that department though, holding his own for periods, but found his best spells with a different approach. Cracking out the power-game, Bronco grabbed some control with his arsenal of slams and suplexes. Ridgeway continued grinding away in futile frustration, but he couldn’t lift his pinned shoulders after Brendan’s White Out counter-attack from Chris’s springboard. Both guys showed their stuff here, and hopefully we’ll get to see more soon.
Academy vs Academy tag: Sudden Bananas/Dragon Pro (Oliver Sudden & Mr Bananas) vs Viscious & Delicious/PCW (Philip Michael & Sheik El Sham w/’Silent Assassin’ Rio)
A chance to see some familiar faces from Chaos’s Academy allies, Dragon Pro, take on some of their counterparts from PCW in Philip Michael and Sheik El Sham. ‘It’s Happening’ Oliver Sudden is the deliberately literal epitome of a ‘cartoon wrestler’, with the timing and capering necessary of such a role much improved from his debut last year. The family friendly underdog Mr Bananas is, by now, an established member of the roster and on a bit of a hot streak to boot. Philip Michael fended off the incessant but juvenile capers of Sudden and Bananas with demonstrable capability, but it was his partner – the self-assured Sheik El Sham – whose moves looked efficiently crisp. They had their own moment of hilarity too, El Sham caught Ref Paz in the unmentionables with an inflatable banana and Michael tripped on it immediately after.
The comedy belied some excellently timed maneouvres from both sides somewhat, but the telling factor in the match was the ‘Silent Assassin’, the Lancashire lads’ not-so-secret weapon. Sniping from ringside throughout, she finally caught Mr Bananas on the top turnbuckle and sent him headfirst into a Viscious and Delicious double team and a win for the northerners. Despite the ‘Academy’ label there was nothing green here, and the match held its own on this preposterously exciting card.
King of Chaos Three Way*: ‘Flash’ Morgan Webster (c) vs ‘The Pride of Wales’ Eddie Dennis vs ‘Heavymetal Hero’ Alex Steele
*Pinned loser leaves Chaos, non-pinned loser cannot challenge for the title for the remainder of 2017.
All-or-Nothing may be the name of November’s Chaos show, but with the jeopardy Flash’s stipulations have given this title match it could easily apply here too. There were no obvious winners – or losers – on paper; Flash may be off to PWG’s prestigious Battle of Los Angeles but I’m sure he’d love to take the crown to the US with him, Dennis has given up his head-teacher’s post to chase title opportunities like these full-time, whilst the home-town Heavymetal Hero has hitherto fought tooth-and-nail for the recognition of becoming the first English King. At least Big Grizzly had diminished as a potential factor, unless he’d caught Beano backstage.
Understandably, the opening minutes were quite cagey, with former team-mates Steele and Dennis putting aside their recent differences to ally once more against their mutual enemy. That lasted only until the first pin opening when they began squabbling over who should get it. As the match opened up, Eddie demonstrated his massively mobile heavyweight credentials, Alex continued to counter with agility and go on the offence with his high kicks, whilst the nefarious Webster reached his technical peak as champion with dive after scintilating dive.
This balletic grace appeared to be the King’s downfall though, as one flight too many left him nursing his leg at ringside before being helped to the back. Knowing Morgan’s Machievellian history, there was an immediate doubt as to it’s authenticity – but would he really throw his title just to make sure he wasn’t given his P45? The Steele Dragons, Chaos’ first ever tag champs, were left to battle it out. Unsurprisingly, Flash made a triumphant return just as things were starting to look a little one-sided.
Dennis inadvertantly returned the favour of a helmet to the head from last month to Steele’s noggin, but when Flash tried to use it Ref Mark decided to step in. With this being his last match and having nothing to lose, he grabbed the skid-lid, which provoked a KO headbutt from the Modfather. Whilst he was down though, Steele could’ve had a six-count on the King. Paz eventually arrived to try and take control, but – as many times in the past – fearfully found Flash up in his face. He was down quickly too, after he and Alex took six-and-a-half foot of flying Eddie at ringside.
By the time Mark had recovered, Flash had The Pride of Wales locked in The Strangler atop a cornerpost. The retiring ref checked Eddie’s arm once… twice… Three never came as Dennis powered out, turned his opponent’s submission into offence and twisted in mid-air to devastate Webster with a stupendous superplex. A Next Stop Driver dealt with the rallying Steele, and a punch-drunk Flash got the same treatment to leave the determined Dennis with the simplest of choices.
‘The Pride of Wales’ Eddie Dennis pinned champion ‘Flash’ Morgan Webster to become the fourth King, and the first one to have held a Knights of Chaos title too. He left his former friend, Alex Steele, with the lesser of the two evils.
As he recieved his well-earned standing ovation, Eddie was hoisted onto the shoulders of Chaos Club members and thrust his new belt high above his head. He returned the ring to make a heartfelt speech, but finally handed the mic over to the defeated and departing Webster. Obviously emotional, he kept it short and sweet, leaving the arena for the final time to the only unanimously supportive cheer I remember him ever recieving. From “Love will tear us apart, Dave!” to his mob-rule reign as King (via Latvia), Flash truly has touched Chaos like no other.
‘Speedball’ Bailey, Veda Scott and Welsh WWE star Mark Andrews make September’s visit to Thornbury, whilst October’s double show ‘Coalition of Chaos’ will see the first Maiden of Chaos crowned. Tickets available from www.prowrestlingchaos.com
Video on Demand already available from www.ukwrestlingondemand.com
Stunning ringside photography supplied by Turning Face. www.turning-face.co.uk