You know what they say about first impressions and all that, well my first impression of Tidal Championship Wrestling is that there is a hell of a little indie promotion running shows just 20 minutes away from my house. The only glitch on a fun night of wrestling was a half hour delay of the show starting due to reported technical issues with the venue’s PA system.
(1) “The Bollox” Kenny Williams vs. “Righteous” Joseph Connors
Connors won in a good 10 minute opener. Crowd were into Kenny, who has been doing some solid work this year. Connors had a good presence and is a very believable sinister heel. Match was your basic, babyface shine, heel heat, face comeback sort of affair. There were a couple of nice near-falls, with Williams hitting a Nigel-style Busaiku Knee and Connors using the Michinoku Driver. Finish saw Connors avoid a shoulder block in the corner and Williams took the ring post spot; Connors followed up with a Hammerlock DDT to get the pin.
(2) Bete Noir vs. Ruby Summers w/Special Guest Referee, Lana Austin
Bete over in about 7 minutes. This wasn’t very good at all, however Bete worked her heart out trying to get a decent match out of the very green Summers. Bete jumped Ruby at the bell for the immediate heat. Ruby tried a crossbody off the ropes which went all kinds of wrong, but Bete did her best to cover it up by quickly applying the Stretch Plum. Bete hit Ruby with a Death Valley Driver for the finish and heel ref, Lana Austin counted three even though Ruby had her foot on the bottom rope. Lana laid Ruby out with a DDT afterwards. I don’t mean to sound like a pig, but the best thing about this match was Lana Austin’s referee outfit. Although, Bete Noir deserves a lot of respect for holding the match together just enough that it didn’t completely fall apart.
(3) Sean Only vs. “The Global Hero” Joe Hendry
Only won in around 9 minutes of decent action. Hendry worked as the heel even though the crowd were into his wacky entrance song and his act. It was back-and-forth early then Hendry necked Only on the top rope to start the heat. They had a strike battle and Only made a brief comeback but Hendry countered a standing guillotine into a deadlift Northern Lights. Finish saw Only win with a School Boy out of nowhere and considering the booking later on, it made sense to put him over here.
(4) “Pastor” William Eaver vs. Peace
Eaver won in about 6 minutes. This was basically a comedy match. Fans loved Eaver and hated Peace, which they declared with “Peace of Shit” and “Fuck him up, Jesus” chants. There were more religious based chants from the crowd throughout and Eaver won with a Splash Mountain/Crucifix bomb. Something about a babyface preacher just seems totally alien to me, however Eaver was over big time so what do I know?
(5) Intergender, Barefoot, Fans Bring the Lego Death Match: Addy Starr vs. JD Boom
Starr won in about 19 minutes of absolute insanity. This was pretty much as crazy as it sounds. Boom came out with Bear slippers on and said nobody specified the spelling of “bare”. Addy pointed out that it in fact did on the poster and she removed the goofy slippers. I’ve seen Addy work a couple of these Lego Death Matches and she has it down to an exact, albeit bizarre science. Some fan threw a giant homemade penis, made out of water bottles and newspaper, into the ring and Boom promptly proceeded to simulate a sexual act on Starr, however Addy would give Boom a receipt in the form of some stiff kicks. They did a multitude of moves and suplexes onto piles of Lego, all of which looked highly uncomfortable. In particular an overhead German from Boom which saw Addy land awkwardly on her head. Addy tied Boom up in the Tree-of-Woe and completely buried his face under a mound of Lego then delivered a running dropkick. She followed up with her trademark, Curb Stomp into the Lego. Finish saw Addy hit a powerbomb out of the corner onto a pile of blocks then she wrapped her arm in Lego and smashed Boom with a Sliding D forearm to get the pin. It was a preposterously fun spectacle.
(6) Falls Count Anywhere: Dave Mastiff & T-Bone vs. Big Damo & Wolfgang
Mastiff & T-Bone won a wild 12 minute brawl. Four huge, scary men beating the shit out of each other, what could be better? Well nothing on this show, because this was the match of the night. They started brawling immediately and went all around the building. Wolfgang and Mastiff fought their way out the door and a bunch of people followed them; they were gone for a good 3 minutes. Damo and T-Bone brawled up to the balcony area right in front of me and teased throwing each other off. It was here that I noticed I was stood right next to Maffew of Botchamania and we exchanged a few words about how awesome this match was. Mastiff and Wolfgang returned and all four men brawled in front of the bar, which had to be “shutdown” for the “safety” of the bar staff. It was really just so Damo and Wolfgang could suplex T-Bone into the metal shutters on the closed bar, but it made for a good story and added to the out of control atmosphere. Mastiff acquired a huge disco ball which he launched from the balcony down the stairs and wiped out everybody. They eventually fought back into the ring for some near-falls and Mastiff nailed Wolfgang with his cannonball for the finish.
(7) El Ligero vs. “The Armbar Superstar” Dan James
Ligero won in about 16 minutes. This was a solid match with some really good storytelling. James cut a promo beforehand about what he did to Ligero’s “girlfriend”, Ruby Summers on the last show and said he made Ruby his “bitch.” Ligero defended his woman’s honour and kicked James’ ass for about 4 minutes, until James posted Ligero’s arm and worked it over for the heat. Ligero made his comeback and they did some nice near-falls: They teased a ref bump, which allowed James to land a dirty kick to the dick. Ligero came back with a superkick and an Air Raid Crash. James delivered a double-knee armbreaker and applied the Fujiwara armbar but Ligero got to the ropes. James got frustrated and brought a hammer into the ring; Ruby Summers ran out to make the save and grabbed the hammer, but James knocked her off the apron. Ligero took advantage and gave the heel a taste of his own medicine with a low blow then hit his Tornado DDT for the finish. Post-match, Ruby slapped James and gave her man a kiss.
(8) The London Riots (James Davis & Rob Lynch) vs. The Proven (Caz Crash & Sam Wilder)
London Riots over in around 15 minutes. Match was decent, nothing special. There was a lot of stalling early, with the Proven making jokes about Rob Lynch looking like Kevin Owens then the fans chanted “Sami Zayn” at James Davis, which prompted the Riots to do the Forever Hooligans spot of pretending to fight each other only to hug it out. Wilder sold for the heat and Crash ran wild off the hot tag. They did a few near-falls and the Riots won with an assisted double-team spear. Basic tag action.
(9) Last Man Standing Match for the TCW Heavyweight Championship: Liam Lazarus (C) vs. Rampage Brown
Lazarus retained at about 18 minutes of a hard-hitting encounter. Rampage drilled Lazarus with a powerbomb immediately and continued to kill him with power moves for 5 minutes or so. Lazarus landed a dive off the post and they brawled around the building. Rampage gave Lazarus a front suplex off the balcony into a disability access lift; the fans had been baying to see lift brought into play all night and they went crazy when it finally was used. Liam beat the 10 count and did another dive off the stage which only kept Rampage down for a count of 8. Rampage fired up like a madman and beat the crap out of Liam in the corner then delivered a piledriver for a double-down. The fans were into the match big time, however Sean Only, who was at ringside supporting Lazarus, nailed Rampage with the TCW title belt behind the best referee in the North, Dan Eagles’ back. Eagles counted Rampage out and Lazarus was declared the winner. The interference made for a flat finish after such a thrilling main event, however Only turned on Lazarus and laid him out with a Curb Stomp on the championship belt; giving the fans a new title feud to look forward to. It also set Only up for a potential match with Rampage on his way to challenging Lazarus and left the door open for the Rampage/Lazarus program to be revisited at some point in the future. So the interference finish wasn’t as short-sighted as it might appear if you weren’t paying attention.
Overall the show was a lot of fun. Pretty much every match on the undercard had something going for it in one way or another and the top three gimmick matches were all very good. The Lego Death Match and Falls Count Anywhere Match lived up to my expectations of craziness and ferocity, plus the Last Man Standing Match was a fittingly intense main event. I spoke to a regular at TCW shows in Leeds and he told me that there was “easily double” the amount of people in attendance for this show; I estimated about 150-175 people in total, which is of course fantastic and I hope the promotions continues to grow. The new fans, like myself, were treated to a great night of wrestling with some home-grown northern talent along with a nice mix of bigger names on the UK scene and that formula could be the key to TCW’s future success. The real test will be if Tidal can draw new fans in and keep them coming back for more, but as long as the promotion keeps putting on great shows, the fans will do their part in spreading the word and creating a buzz. Obviously it won’t happen overnight, however stacked cards like “High Tide” are a huge step in the right direction.