Liverpoolʼs TNT Extreme Wrestling has always had a strong fanbase. Every show theyʼve ran, no matter the names listed on the card, has always had a strong turnout at their usual home at the Fusion Nightclub. Thatʼs because the fans know that they are going to witness a fantastic (and some times bloody) Thursday nightʼs worth of grappling as little treat just before the weekend.
So when TNT announced its first ever death match tournament in late 2018, tickets almost sold out immediately and the date 31st January 2019 was already been circled down in peopleʼs calendars. Nothing like this had ever been presented in their neck of the woods, so they couldnʼt possibly miss out on this particular show.
It was a bitter, icy evening as I joined the growing queue outside the Fusion. But the TNT faithful were in good spirits. Drinking their Captain Morgan’s, chatting to their friends and showing off the weapons they brought for the advertised matches, it seemed as though the cold didnʼt phase them. Soon, the doors opened for Meet & Greets and everyone was herded in. The flashy, new set design was very striking. As was the beautiful trophy on display just by the entrance way. On hand were St Johns Ambulances finest, First Aid kits and Gloves at the ready for whatever stitches were required or caucuses to carry out of the building.
All eight Tournament participants were on hand for group photographs taken by the legendary Tony Knox. They too were in good spirits as one by one, fans popped over for a chance to meet the men who in a few moments time, were going to put their bodies and their health on line in hopes of making sure they were sent home happy.
With the Meet & Greets wrapped up and with the fans fine tune, TNTʼs Master of Ceremonies, ‘Mad Dog’ Mike Angus was ready to introduce the first combatants.
Dead Or Alive Quarter Finals: Dog Collar Match – Jack Jester vs HT Drake
The opening match in the First Round pitted Newcastleʼs HT Drake (originally scheduled to be Primate) vs ICW Mainstay Jack Jester, in a callb6ck to the classic Dog Collar Match between Rowdy Roddy Piper and Greg Valentine from Starrcade 1983.
It was a very tentative start from both men, vying for control of the length of chain keeping them together in order to gain the early advantage. However, the action would quickly spill out of the ring with the two men still bound to one another. Jester looked to deliver a chop to Drake, but instead found nothing but a solid, iron ring post. Drake took control of the match from there, tying Jester to the ring post with the chain, squeezing all the breath out of Kinky Jackʼs lungs, as well as bashing Jester with his chain wrapped fists, but the former ICW World Champion would eventually find his way out to continue the brawling around ringside all the way to the DJ Booth just looking over the ring. Finally, the two combatants returned to the ring where Drake once again took control, continuing to batter his opponent with the chain and this time bringing a steel chair into the mix. The climax came as Drake positioned Jester on the chair whilst he ascended to the top rope. But Jester, using the length would yank Drake off the top rope with the latter somersaulting back first onto the Steel Chair. Jester would then follow up with his signature Tombstone Piledriver to secure the one, two, three and the first spot in the Semi Finals. A solid encounter to kick off the nights festivities.
Dead Or Alive Quarter Finals: Fans Bring the Weapons Match – Krobar vs Mikey Whiplash
Krobar (one of half of The Purge) came in as a late replacement for the injured Chris Ridgeway, and he’d have a tough task going up against the satanic Mikey Whiplash. All the weapons that the fans brought to the show had been gathered by the TNT staff and placed into a box waiting to be put to good use. These weapons included a mop, a toy parrot, cucumbers, a bag of flour, a WWE replica belt, a flower pot, drawing pins glued to a wet floor sign and a board with CDʼs/DVDʼs stuck on them. You really do have to admire the creativity of wrestling fans, not just in their chants, but also in their choice of weaponry. The most memorable spot of the match, and the first scary moment of the night came with Krobar dodging Whiplash armed with the flower pot who would strike one of the ring posts instead. The pot disintegrated into shards and Whiplash received a very bad cut of his hand, which was patched up the Medical Staff immediately. The finish came with Whiplash delivering a DDT to Krobar onto the Pin Glued Wet Floor sign ending a somewhat sluggish but nevertheless, bruising fight.
Dead Or Alive Quarter Finals: Home Appliances Match – Rory Coyle vs Jimmy Havoc
This was my first time viewing Rory Coyle, who has built his name on the Scottish independent scene and only recently has started plying his hardcore trade South of the Border.
His opponent, Jimmy Havoc. One of the most beloved figures in British wrestling today, and the undisputed king of the death match. for a company like TNT to bring in a huge name like Havoc for this inaugural event gives the company and the tournament instant credibility. Most people would consider this, the worst possible draw of the First Round for Coyle. But for him, it was a glorious opportunity to prove his worth against the biggest name in the death match circuit. Unlike the first two tournament matches, both men straight away went after the home appliances drafted in as weapons. Starting off immediately with the kitchen sink, followed by an Ironing Board and a mop leftover from the FBTW match. After several minutes of brawling ringside, Coyle would bring the action back into the ring dumping Havoc back first onto a steel chair with a side walk slam. Next Coyle, showing some ingenuity, would trap both of Havocʼs hands into two VCRʼs and proceed to whack them over and over again with a Mannequin arm (the least likely item you’d find in your household). And then, looking to finish off Havoc once and for all, Coyle would bring out his trademark VHSʼ, laying them down on the canvas, reminiscent of the old Thumbtacks spot. But Havoc had enough presence of mind to counter what Coyle had planned, and sending him crashing down on his collection with a Samoan Drop. A microwave and a HD TV were introduced into the closing stages of the match (with a bit of biting on various limbs and organs), before Havoc nailed his acid rainmaker for the victory. A predictable outcome, but it was most certainly entertaining. Coyle had nothing to be ashamed of. Coming into Dead Or Alive as the least known combatant. But in defeat, he opened a lot of fans eyes (including mine) with his gimmick, his creativity and his moveset.
Dead Or Alive Quarter Finals: Drawing Pins Match: Drew Parker vs Clint Margera
The last Semi Final slot would now be determined between two of the brightest, upcoming death match stars on the UK independent scene. Both Parker and Margera have built a great connection with the TNT faithful through their previous performances at the Fusion. As a result, the crowd was split 50/50 for both men. Duelling chants of “Letʼs Go Parker” and “Letʼs Go Clint” echoed throughout the match. Buckets full of Drawing Pins had been positioned in each corner prior to the match, just waiting to be used. But Margera and Parker would start off with some nice back and forth wrestling before both of them would pull out some unique pin-esque weapons from under the ring. MMA gloves decked with Pins on the knuckles, and both would provide to proceed to batter each other as if it was a Hockey fight. But soon Margera would gain the upper hand by introducing a pin covered cricket bat, grinding the face and lower back of Parker. The Urchin Prince had to dig in deep in order to turn the match in his favour, which he did avoiding a cricket bat shot which got stuck in the top turnbuckle pad, followed by some Lucha Libre offence. At last, the buckets full of Pins were spread across the mat. Eventually, someone had to the bad landing. And it was Margera who looking to deliver a Finlay Roll to Parker from the middle rope, but Parker fired back with strikes sending Margera crashing down into the pool of Pins. And Parker would hit his shooting star press for the victory. But his victory would be short lived, as Mikey Whiplash would attacked Parker from behind. Indicating who Whiplash would be facing in the Semi Finals. Whiplash would finish his assault with a Cradle Brain Buster onto the leftover Pins before revelling in his work.
Dead Or Alive Quarter Finals: Falls Count Anywhere Match – Drew Parker vs Mikey Whiplash
After a brief intermission, the first Semi Final match looked to be in doubt as Parker, still reeling from Whiplashʼs post match attack was persisted by the TNT staff not to compete in his current condition. Even TNT Owner Jay Apter pleaded with Parker not to risk further injury. But ever the plucky underdog, Parker refused medical help and entered the ring, only to beaten down once more by the well-rested Whiplash. The crowd were instantly behind Parker at this point and were so throughout the match. Whiplash continued to maim the ‘Urchin Prince’ on the outside, before the Prince fought his way back. Parker would a roll of duct tape and begin taping Whiplashʼs hands to a nearby railing. As Whiplash tried to free himself, Parker would ascend to the balcony just above him. And when they saw what Parker had in mind, the TNT crew rushed in to try and help free Whiplash. But soon as Whiplash was freed, Parker delivered a somersault dive onto him and the unfortunate TNT staff caught in the crossfire. The crowd erupted in delight, and the famous “Holy Sh*t” chant rang out with everybody down. After both men had recovered, they began to trade Singapore Cane shots to the head with Parker winning the exchange. But after Parker missed a Shooting Star attempt, Whiplash was back on top. And if Parker wasnʼt already sick of the sight of Drawing Pins that night, a Piñata sitting in the corner was revealed to be full of them. However, it was Whiplashʼs turn to take the bump onto the pins. Realising that he was one final big move away from the Dead Or Alive Finals, Parker went for the killer blow, only to be caught and powerbombed onto the pins not once, but twice. Then Whiplash, using his upper body strength, positioned Parker onto his shoulders into a Firemanʼs Carry and driving him head and neck first into the top turnbuckle. And he would then book his place in the finals by planting Parker onto the Pins once more but with his second Cradle Brain Buster of the night. A fantastic performance by Drew Parker saw him receive a well earned standing ovation from the crowd as the ring crew assisted him to the back.
Dead Or Alive Semi Finals: Barbed Wire Tables Match – Jack Jester vs Jimmy Havoc
With a chance to face Mikey Whiplash in the inaugural Dead Or Alive Finals, two of the UKʼs most recognisable Masters of Hardcore went for broke early. Dishing out their big moves as well as bringing steel chairs, chains and a barbed wire baseball bat in the ring. And much like the drawing pins match from the First Round, the fans were split evenly in support of both combatants. Havoc would be the first one to go for the table, bringing it into the ring and positioning it in one of the corners. Jester tried to block an Irish whip attempt into the table, but to no avail. This would send Jester crashing down to canvas with the barbed wired table falling on top of him. Leaving him at the mercy of the ‘King of Goths’, who would then grab a steel chair and proceed to bash the table and Jester over and over like the proverbial railroad spike. Jester however, would nearly snatch victory away from Havoc when he blocked a superplex attempt onto the table and launched Havoc off the top rope, only for Havoc to narrowly miss the table. From there, Jester would follow up raking Havocʼs face with the bat and planting him with a side walk slam onto the edges of two steel chairs. Looking to finish off his opponent, Jester moved the table to the outside and left the prone Havoc on top. But Havoc recovered just in time to stop Jester from ascending the top rope with a Shoryuken. And then, after a few tense moments of both men fighting for position, Havoc sent Jester flying from the top rose all the way down, through the table for the victory. There was a brief moment of concern afterwards regarding Jesterʼs condition after taking such a nasty fall. The TNT crew, the medical staff and even Havoc all gathered round Jester. But thankfully, he was back on his feet, and the two bloody veterans embraced to cap off a terrific contest.
Kingdom of Catch (Aspen Faith, Lewis Girvan & Sammi Jayne) vs Session Kings (The Kings of the North & Session Moth Martina)
The penultimate match of the evening featuring these six individuals was a very light-hearted affair. And after all the blood and carnage that was on display for the whole night, and with the best of it still to come, this was a much needed breather. The shenanigans started even before the bell rang, as the beloved Martina got hold of the microphone to announce that today was Sammii Jayneʼs birthday. To celebrate the occasion, Martina presented Jayne with a little birthday cake before indulging into a dance and singing happy birthday with the crowd joining in for the singing. But Girvan and Faith, eager to start the match would strike the first blow to Martina, resulting in KOTN throwing punches too. There were plenty of creative spots in the match like Jayne blocking a Corvin superplex attempt from the shoulders of Bonesaw who was on the outside her, only to nail a sliding German suplex to Corvin whilst hitting Bonesaw with a Baseball Slide. And there were also great comedy spots like Martina hitting Aspen Faith with a bronco buster, only for Jayne to one up Martina with her own Bronco Buster to faith. Leaving poor Lewis Girvan (also set up for a Bronco Buster) out of the picture. There was some nice double team action and back and forth exchanges towards the end of the match. But it would be Martina dropping Jayne with a tombstone piledriver, face first onto her own birthday cake to seal the win for her team. KOTN and Martina are also among the most beloved stars in TNT, so it was a very positive reaction from the crowd. And they would all celebrate some booze, dancing and birthday cake.
Dead Or Alive Finals: Death match – Mikey Whiplash vs Jimmy Havoc
Finally, it was time for the match the crowd had waited for (a few of them perhaps, deep down dreaded). Out of the eight men who had entered the field, two of them had proven themselves to be the sickest, most insane out of the pack. Surviving two other matches across a variety of stipulations. Did they have enough intestinal fortitude to go through hell one last time? Before the match however, Havoc grabbed the microphone to say that since he and Whiplash had known each other for a long time, and that they both were about to brutalised in mere moments, maybe they should a pre-match beverage. So they grabbed a beer and two chairs, and that’s exactly what did. And then the punches started to fly, and things got out of hand pretty quickly. Staplers, Singapore canes, chains and chairs were brought in the frey. And then came the old death match favourite, the light tubes. At one point, Havoc bashed a tube over Whiplashʼs head and bit a chunk of the remains, a ghastly visual. Then Whiplash would bring out a bunch of Lemons in he squeezed onto the wounds of Havoc. And if things couldn’t get anymore nauseating, Havoc would pull a pack of kebab skewers, planting them into Whiplashʼs skull and drilling him with tilt-a-whirl DDT, onto his head. But the best and craziest moment of not just the match, but the whole night would be saved for last. Havoc brought into the ring a table made completely of light tubes and had something truly awful in mind as he went to the top rope. But Whiplash rose to his feet to cut off Havoc. And then, from the middle rope, delivered a piledriver right through the light tube covered table for the 1-2-3. A phenomenal effort by both men saw the TNT faithful show its appreciation by giving their loudest “THAT WAS AWESOME” chant and their longest applause of the night. The minted DOA trophy had been standing in the shadows all evening, and at last, it was presented by TNT owner Jay Apter and ring announcer Mike Angus to the winner. Whiplash was now guaranteed a title shot at BT Gunnʼs TNT Extreme Division championship at TNTʼs next show, Merseyside Massacre on 21st February. All he could do now was raise the DOA trophy high above his head with great pride, knowing that his will be forever remembered as the first ever Dead Or Alive death match tournament winner.
Final thoughts, for its first ever showcase, the Dead Or Alive tournament was an astounding success for TNT Extreme Wrestling. The crowd were very vocal throughout the show, which helped every match. And the matches themselves, each having their own stipulation made them stand out from one another. But the match of the night, in my opinion, would have to go Mikey Whiplash vs Drew Parker because it told the best story. A classic tale of the good looking, young upstart bringing the fight to the satanic, season veteran. From Whiplash attacking Parker post-match in the first round, to Parker fusing to forfeit the semi final and then match itself where Drew demonstrated what a great Babyface he is called upon for that role. I think there will most certainly be a Dead Or Alive 2020, and when it takes place, it will be bigger and badder than the first inception.