1. London School of Lucha Libre showcase: Bacon Jr, Cassius & Buffalo Soldier vs Kraken, Dr. Hurtz & Tengu
Before the show kicked off proper we were treated to a showcase match from the London School of Lucha Libre, trainer Greg Burridge introducing his six colourful students to the crowd. This was a really fun little match, all six guys had strong characters and combined well for some fast paced and often inventive lucha libre tag action. Bacon Jr. was a big hit with the crowd, and it was his team that emerged victorious ahead of a big match at Lucha Britannia this coming Friday that will see the first Lucha League champion crowned. More information at: http://www.luchabritannia.com/
2. Jody Fleisch vs Tiger Ali
A really solid contest here that saw the veteran Jody Fleisch pick up the win after flipping out of a German suplex and then leaping into a leg-clutch hold for the three count. This was a relatively sedate affair compared to some of the insanity that was to come, but it was a good match all the same. Tiger Ali (a regular in 4FW making his XWA debut here) did a good job controlling the match and kept cutting Flesich off just as the high flyer built up a head of steam, but let the crowd’s taunts get to him and was ultimately outwitted by the more experienced Flesich.
3. Lion Kid vs Jonny Storm vs Greg Burridge vs James Castle vs Lance Whizzkid vs Lord Gideon Grey
Next up a “six-way clusterfuck”, which is as appropriate a way to describe the match as any! Lion Kid, a family show mainstay, wanted to make the most of this ‘over 18’s only’ experience, but couldn’t bring himself to swear until later on when he was on the receiving end of a low blow. The match broke down entirely when Lord Gideon Grey decided to head up to the balcony/backstage area, declaring “I WANT TO BE A .GIF!!”. Will Ospreay tried to talk him down, but Gideon shoved him away and climbed over the railing. However, with a heady drop before him he returned to his senses and was helped gingerly down, only to end up crotched on the ropes below. Burridge insisted on having a dance off to YMCA, which ended in low blows for everyone and in the end he’d roll up Lion Kid for the three cut. Utterly ridiculous, in the best possible way.
4. Pro-Wrestling: EVE Championship: Rhia O’Reilly (c) vs Sammii Jayne
A big EVE: Championship bout that saw long-standing champion Rhia O’Reilly defend her belt in a brutal No-DQ match against the impressive Sammii Jayne, fresh from a defeat to the legendary Meiko Satomura in this same venue at Pro-Wrestling: EVE last month. After their match at the XWA show in Colchester the previous night went to a no contest, this one picked up where that left off with the action spilling straight to the outside. Jayne rocked the champion with a trio of tope suicidas and then proceeded to take O’Reilly on a tour of the venue. Back in the ring the challenger made use of a chair, but Rhia fought back and went upstairs to get her own weapon: Kota Ibushi, who floored Sammi Jayne with a chop before bowing politely and leaving. The match picked up in intensity as thumbtacks and a number of tables were brought into play, Rhia going through one, before powerbombing Jayne through the other on her way to defending the EVE championship. This was an excellent brawl, very heated and hard hitting and the crowd loved every minute of it. Great work and an impressive outing for both champion and challenger, even more so as it turns out Rhia fractured her ankle on the very first move of the match! Wishing her a speedy recovery.
5. Kota Ibushi & Gota Ihashi vs Jimmy Havoc & Cara Noir
The previous night in Colchester Kota Ibushi (the hottest free agent in the world of wrestling today) made his UK debut against Gota Ihashi, bringing a little bit of the wacky side of DDT to our shores as he raced down the aisle on a bicycle and then staged an impromptu boxing match. On this night, however, he brought his own signature brand of chaos to London and we were treated to a taste of the insanity DDT Pro often stages in their infamous ‘Anywhere’ or ‘Street Pro-Wrestling’ series of shows. Ibushi was teaming with Ihashi here (who was wearing his Ibushi-alike ring gear, hearkening back to his early days as an Ibushi superfan who cosplayed as his idol), taking on the duo of ‘King of the Goths’ Jimmy Havoc’ and ‘The Artist Formerly Known as Tom Dawkins’ Cara Noir, who’s Black Swan inspired entrance put me in mind of a super creepy Dalton Castle. Noir creeped out Ihashi big time when he trapped him in a corner and began licking him, while Ibushi had a good exchange with Havoc before being caught with an Acid Rainmaker, only for Ihashi to make the save.
Havoc, after almost getting caught with a dragon suplex from Ibushi, stopped the match and grabbed the mic, saying he’d had enough of this shit and that he’d “seen DDT, so let’s take this to the street!”. The wrestlers brawled out of the ring and out of the door and the crowd followed suit, spilling out into the Bethnal Green back alley to watch as all hell broke loose! Havoc got behind the wheel of his car and tried to run Ibushi and Ihashi down, but they dodged out of the way and Cara Noir smashed onto the bonnet, his elbow cracking the windscreen! Ibushi, deciding things just weren’t insane enough as it was, climbed up on the roof of the car and produced his favourite toy: fireworks! After launching numerous fireworks into the sky (and inadvertently at a passing train), he turned the firework cannon on himself just to punctuate his lunacy, before hitting a picture perfect moonsault onto Havoc & Noir. After trying to get back in via the wrong door, the wrestlers returned to the ring, the crowd reassembled and the match continued only a few minutes longer. Ibushi brawled with Noir up to the balcony, before throwing him off and hitting another huge moonsault. Gota Ihashi followed up with a giant frogsplash on Noir and that was that. Won’t be forgetting that any time soon. What a match.
— LARIATOOOO!! (@MrLARIATO) March 12, 2017
6. Will Ospreay vs Penta El Zero M
Main event time saw another highly anticipated bout with ‘The Aerial Assassin’ Will Ospreay taking on Penta El Zero M (formerly Pentagon Jr) in something of a dream match that the crowd, still buzzing from the insanity that had just transpired beforehand, were well up for. A big ovation for both men with the fans evenly split as the action got started. Although Penta isn’t as high flying as some of his fellow luchadors, he’s more than well versed in the style and put Ospreay through the paces with some early lucha exchanges on the mat. Ospreay held his own and brought his speed and agility into play to take control, but couldn’t hit the OsCutter to put Penta away. Some devastating chops from Penta turned the tide in his favour and he should have had the match won after catching Will with a Destroyer, but as Penta set him up for the package piledriver Ospreay somehow managed to squirm his way free and caught Penta with the OsCutter for a big victory in a great main event. Post-match Penta shook Ospreay’s hand and asked for a rematch, which I’d love to see sometime as while this was a good match it also felt like they hadn’t reached top gear. Ospreay gave a good speech about the venue, as he trained here as a young wrestler at the London School of Lucha Libre, to close out a great night of action from XWA.
Overall this was a hugely enjoyable show that more than delivered on the promise of a unique experience in an intimate venue with an atmosphere like no other. All the matches were entertaining and provided something different, be it comedy, technicality, high flying or just sheer madness and chaos, there was a little bit of everything here and some hugely memorable moments that I’m so glad I got to see live. XWA at the Resistance Gallery has an endearing rough around the edges, DIY style to it and by placing huge international stars such as Kota Ibushi, Manami Toyota, Meiko Satomura and Penta El Zero M into that setting they’re offering experiences that you just won’t find elsewhere. Incidentally, XWA announced that for their next show at the Resistance Gallery on July 22nd they’re bringing over Daisuke Sekimoto for his UK debut! Tickets are already available from xwatickets.com