Tidal Championship Wrestling ‘Silent Nightmare III – Wreck the Halls’ (DVD) review
by Tim Ricketts.
Tidal’s traditional Christmas show ‘Silent Nightmare’ this year comes from the O2 Academy in Leeds, and if the card on the back cover of DVD is anything to go by, then this should be a cracker. The four championship matches stand out on paper, as well as the potentially funny Sexsmith versus Boom, so let’s see how it stacks up in reality.
My initial reaction to the DVD menu and case production is good, apart from one tiny detail in the down-scaling of the menu that leaves the font illegible. That’s the level of the gripe though, so a genuine thumbs-up. Down to the actual video content then.
HT Drake vs Lightning Lewis Howley – Calling Spots Tournament Semi Final
Howley replaces the unavailable Chuck Mambo for this tournament semi-final. The match commences with a good traditional exchange of arm and mat work. The athletes sync-up in a strange way, mirroring each other with bridging double pins. The mirroring continues through a negotiation to roll out and break clean. A sarcastic but affectionate “Holy shit” chant starts from the crowd.
Drake doesn’t let go of Howley’s wrist and arm, working on it for quite a while. As soon as he let go however, Howley explodes in a high-paced high-flying flurry, Drake ending it with a simple kick.
Lightning keeps living up to his name, but HT keeps it slower but powerful. He gets caught up top and bought back to the mat with an impressive FrankenSteiner from Howley. It’s not enough though, with forearms and flying double knees, Drake gets the pin. Good solid opener to whet the appetite.
Drake cuts a promo, as he wants a proper challenge – Seb Strife gives him Jimmy Havoc in February. About as proper as it gets.
TCW Women’s Title Match – Lana Austin vs Little Miss Roxxy vs Ruby Summers
Holder Violet O’Hara comes to ringside and relinquishes her title, as she is not medically cleared. A high paced start, Austin cheap shots Roxxy, getting a crisp rana in reply. Summers takes over the grinding beat down of the Little Miss until she misses a second rope senton. Roxxy only starts her retaliation before Austin is back in to drag Summers out of the way and continue the relentless assault, earning a two-count. Ruby gets momentary revenge on Lana, but that leaves an opening for Roxxy to respond. Lana breaks another pin attempt, keeping the action in this hard-hitting match flowing.
Summers stacks her opponents in the corner ropes, taking them both down with double knees, before getting sent to the outside. Lana Austin makes Little Miss Roxxy taste her own blood, which leads to a vicious response, but it’s Austin who finishes the exchange with a pin. Summers looks as though she’s about to break the count when O’Hara drags her out, assuring Austin of the victory and the TCW Women’s title. Great knife-edge triple-threat, with three on-form athletes.
Dara Diablo vs Kyle Ashmore
Kyle tries to cut a promo, but gets booed down by the crowd, despite Diablo asking them to give him a chance. Dara starts brighter with some strong striking and a vicious exploder suplex, before sending ‘The Hipster’ crashing into the ringside barriers. Diablo should have softened him up a bit more before sending him back into the ring, as he springs back with a stunning enziguri. Brutal stamps and kicks lead to a series of pin attempts from Ashmore, as do a body slam and a senton.
A further corkscrew senton from Kyle collides with nothing but the mat, which lets Dara Diablo back into the match. If it had connected then it would have been game over for the Mexican. The resurgent Diablo responds to another enziguri with a bridging suplex, rolling through to execute a brilliant brain-buster that secures a pinfall victory. Plenty of Strong-style action with tight execution in this match.
JD Boom vs Jack Sexsmith
This match sees one of my personal favourite performers, Jack Sexsmith, take on Tidal’s resident master of the comedy moment JD Boom. The commentary team note that this has been one of their most requested matches, and with the obvious potential for hilarity, I can see why. Sexsmith manages to get in a dig with his ‘onesie’ attire, Boom losing a prior festive gimmick match involving the garment.
The opening of the match is pure camp comedy and fantastic physical acting, every technical execution ending up in an embarrassing stance or grip. Boom’s uncomfortable frustration keeps building until he snaps and starts to beat, then wrap, Jack with a roll of Christmas paper. Sexsmith responds by smashing a novelty plate over his bonce.
A signature stinkface from Sexsmith gives him enough time to pull out ‘Mr Cocko’, his Foley-esque condom hand-puppet, but is deflected by a thumb to the eye. JD spreads his own used prophylactics, thumb-tack-like, on the mat only to be slammed on them by a rallying Sexsmith. A second Mr Cocko appears, this time from the back of Jack’s trunks, to choke JD Boom into submission. Although Puerile-Style isn’t to everyone’s taste, and understandably so, this was an excellent example that literally left Boom shaking.
Loser gets fired 6-man tag – Go Team Sports(Ace Matthews & David Graves) & Gabriel Kidd vs The Service (Sean Only, Dan James & Dan Evans)
Only the wrestler who gets pinned receives the stipulated sacking in this bout, so The Service members are understandably reticent to choose who goes first. Eventually, GTS and Kidd go to work on Evans with lots of quick tags and double teaming. Sean Only makes a save while James is distracting the ref to start the return of service on Matthews.
Graves goes to the top turnbuckle, dropping a huge elbow on Dan Evans, but dodges Dan James’ similar ambush sending him crashing into his team-mate. A free-for-all of suplexes and slams ensues, plus a Gabriel Kidd tope to the ringside Service members. Dan James takes control with a Jarrett-like ‘stroke’, and a sit-out bomb, but doesn’t notice his team-mates being restrained on the apron. With Matthews and Kidd’s excellent teamwork, Graves is free to counter James into a roll-up pin and issue the Service man his P45. Seb Strife, Kidd and GTS really rub it in too. The unusual single-man stipulation gives the classic tag tactics in this fight an intriguing spin.
TCW Open Championship – Liam Slater (c) vs Bubblegum
Man City fan Bubblegum gets in some football-related banter and other wind-up antics with both Slater and the crowd before the bout begins. His delaying tactics don’t phase Liam though, or represent his pace when the match actually kicks off properly. The fast, frenetic tempo and all-action cruiserweight style offer both competitors plenty of opportunity to parry and counter, but it slows back down when Bubblegum sends Slater crashing to the floor with a dropkick.
The experienced mancunian grinds away at the man formerly known as Liam Lazarus, but the champion’s explosive mix of high-flying and high-impact moves has Bubblegum on the run. A flying cross-body and a face-first slam put him away for the 1-2-3. Immediately after his win, Slater is ambushed by a masked man who reveals himself to be Dara Diablo, just as Sean Only comes out with a mic. Eschewing the departed Dan James, he implies that Diablo is now one of The Service with the ambiguous, but not too cryptic “…we are many.”
TCW Championship – Rampage Brown (c) vs Dave Mastiff
These two heavyweight stars prowl around each other and begin a test of strength. Two time and defending champion Rampage has the speed advantage, whilst Mastiff has more weight to throw behind his strikes. Whilst the pace isn’t rapid, every whip, stike, suplex and slam is made to have the maximum impact.
Like a good tennis rally, this fight went back and forth until the spiralling feats of strength left both athletes visibly shattered. A missed cannonball from Dave Mastiff is all the opportunity Brown needs to impressively hoist the behemoth up for a match-winning pile-driver. The quality shone in every manoeuvre of this match, and the quantity was in the power rather than match-length. Big Lads Wrestling at its best.
Ultraviolent Rules TCW Tag Team Title Match – The Proven (Caz Crash & Sam Wilder)(c) vs The New Nation (‘The Primate’ Jason Prime & Alexander Henry)
Seriously enraged by an (unseen) pre-match promo, The Proven send the Nation crashing out the ring a couple of times whilst they set up chairs and crack out the ‘kendo’ canes. The Proven take the fight to ring-side, maintaining control over their opponents, until Alexander Henry flings himself from the entrance stage at them. The follow-through finds him face-first on the floor.
The Primate avoids the carnage, so is able to bounce the dazed Wilder off a chair before delivering a German suplex on the ramp. Back in the ring, more exchanges of visceral string-style continue, punctuated with a periodic chair-shot and pin attempt. Escalating an already ultra-violent bout, Henry called for the thumb-tacks, but that backfires spectacularly for him. A barbed-wire board proves no better for The Proven’s Wilder, as Primate sends him down from the corner-post to claim the pin, the win and the TCW Tag-team titles. Brutal, brutal match.
An excellent Tidal Championship Wrestling release, that couples technically sound in-ring work with good story-lines and high all-round production values. Whilst definitely not PG family fare, it handles its adult-oriented content very well, and I’m already looking forward to what future shows may bring. Whilst the booking and commentary mean that this stands-up as a stand-alone, like most good modern wrestling it is best consumed in context as a serial. With that in mind, the mentioned show, featuring Jimmy Havoc, happened last weekend and I know it ended up with even more exciting developments regarding The Service. Including their high-octane title scenes, TCW Discombobulated on April 1st should be another fantastic show.
TCW DVDs and event tickets can be purchased here (http://tcwrestling.bigcartel.com)