Returning for their first show of the year, Grand Pro Wrestling held their annual Back With A Bang event, Friday Night in Hindley, Wigan.
The show opened strong with a Fast Track Four-Way match featuring Cyanide, Isaiah Quinn, Nicholas Cartier and Sexy Kev, the winner of which would receive a title shot at any time of their choosing. Cyanide picked up the victory in what turned into a hot opening match, with a big splash on Sexy Kev.
Next Martin Kirby would answer the challenge of his former boss Sheikh Rizzy Khan, who introduced Nick Maguire as the first of what will be a series of his “investments” intended to take out Kirby, who he blames for costing him his fortune. Kirby would pick up the win with his Sable Bomb (yes, the move “popularised” by WWE’s Sable) in a short match, in which Maguire, who does a lone wolf character akin to (and pre-dating) WWE’s Baron Corbin, looked good in defeat.
After the match Kirby was attacked by the Sheikh (using the deadly weapon of his sandal no-less) putting more heat on a programme where Kirby has real momentum, having became one of the more popular acts in the company. The eventual match between the two, should prompt a big reaction from the GPW faithful.
For the last month Nicky Barnes and Drill, the Bad Lads have been threatening to unleash a “big” mystery third man on their team. Enter Big Joe, a gym rat Crash Holly style character, small in stature, but massive in his own (and the Bad Lads) mind. Big Joe would go on to lead the three man team to victory against GPW stalwart Joey Hayes, the Native American – Chief Wahoo Thunderfoot and GPW British Champion Jimmy Jackson, pinning Thunderfoot with a “huge” Earthquake style splash off the top rope.
Following the match, Cyanide would cash in his Fast Track title opportunity, attacking a prone Jackson. Before he could take advantage however, Joey Hayes distracted Cyanide, luring him to the outside long enough for the referee to count Cyanide out and give Jackson a count out win. Cyanide would attack Hayes after the match appearing to setup a longer term programme between the two.
After intermission, fresh off his appearance in the WWE UK Tournament, the former “RJM” Sam Gradwell took on beloved GPW veteran Bubblegum in the clear match of the evening. In a slick, fast-paced back and forth encounter, a level above everything that preceded it, both men looked at the top of their game, Gradwell particularly coming off strong as a hated villain here in GPW. Gradwell picked up the win clean in the middle with a diving headbutt off the top.
After the match, Lana Austin announced a forthcoming “Woman Stays On” all-female tournament, before being interrupted and attacked by Natalie Wild whom was accompanied by Austin’s former boyfriend T-Bone. Wild claimed to be taking Austin’s place in the tourney which will begin next month.
Next, in a surprise, The Island Brothers team of Rio & Tabu defeated Tag Team Champions The Hate League of Danxig and Soner Dursun in a solid semi-main event that took a while to build and bring the crowd in after the match proceeded it, but delivered with the big finish. All four men are ones to watch, but Dursun particularly looked great in defeat. Expect to see great things from him in 2017.
Finally in a chaotic main event, Ashton Smith took on GPW International Champion, Dylan Roberts in a wild match, which had great drama, as the men brawled all around the Rose Club. In a hot finishing stretch, with close calls, interference from Roberts manager Alan AA Tasker and a referee bump to boot, it was Roberts that would take advantage with multiple belt shots, locking in his “Son Of A Bitch” Camel Clutch finish, for a win by stoppage. Roberts would refuse to let go of the hold after the match however, with the decision subsequently reversed, to declare Smith winner by disqualification. Roberts is increasingly comfortable and poised as the top heel of the promotion and it’s good to see Smith, who is an underrated talent, featured at the top end of the card. The two had to be separated after the match, and with the disputed finish it seems likely there will be further matches down the road.
A fun show and a great way to kick off Grand Pro’s 14th year of operation. The company returns on Friday March 24th for Northern Soul 2 featuring Sam Gradwell vs Pete Dunne in a rematch from the WWE UK Quarter Finals and the beginnings of the” Woman Stays On” Tournament.