So this time 12 months ago, we were all freezing our bits off watching a weather-emasculated card. Fortunately, a year later there’s about as much sign of snow as there is of Jack Sexsmith’s push. Prior to the show WALTER completely kills kayfabe by getting out of the same cab as Shigehiro Irie. They could at least have dropped WALTER off round the corner or something. The other notable incident before bell-time is that several individuals bring copies of Smallman’s book for him to sign. Jesus H. Christ. If ever there was an argument for Waismann’s ‘open texture’ theory – the idea that when we introduce a concept into a natural language, it is never limited in such a way that there is no room for doubt whatsoever as to its correct application – this is it, as surely whoever coined the term “mark” surely couldn’t have anticipated this development. Matchtimes as ever lifted from Twitter.
Ilja Dragunov vs. Travis Banks – Fun opener: Dragunov is super over, and Banks is a great worker. Low blow followed by Slice of Heaven (Maasachi Mochizuki’s rope-climb enzuiguri) sees Banks go over at 13.34.
Mark Haskins vs. Mark Andrews – A slightly awkward match in terms of booking: a cold, babyface match whose sole purpose was to facilitate a run-in. But they put on an enjoyable ten minutes, before Haskins made Andrews tap to the Sharpshooter at 10.02. After the match the new J.O.B. Squad of Trivet, Mambo and Eaver run in an attack both men (and Haskins’ wife). Eddie Dennis makes the save, then there’s a “Dennis is now babyface, but he and Andrews still have issues” moment. Zzzzzz.
Chris Riddy vs. Paul Robinson’Chain Match’ – The only real clunker on the show. In order for a chain match to work, you need to come up with some creative spots that make use of the gimmick (which isn’t the greatest to begin with). These guys didn’t, an a pedestrian ten minutes ends with Riddychoking out Robinson with the chain. Sheer filler that not even Robinson’s heel charisma could save.
British Strong Style vs. Chris Brookes, Jonathan Gresham & Timothy Thatcher – As Rainer Wolfcastle might put it, the perfect blend of action und comedy. The man that really held all this together was Thatcher, whose straight laced approach provided the perfect contrast to the shenanigans that surrounded him. A plethora of nearfalls finally ends at 24.07 when Bate hits AJ Styles old Spiral Tap on Brookes. After the match everyone beats up the referee; said ref gets colour.Indy-riffic.
Toni Storm vs. Jordynne Grace – Miles better than the Jinny vs. Kai match that headlined the previous Sheffield show. In a mild upset, Grace pins Storm with a barrel-roll Michinoku Driver at 10.11.
WALTER © vs. Shigehiro Irie – This was something akin to semi-squash: the fact that Irie had zero credibility as a title challenger hurt the bout somewhat. However, it was entertaining enough, mainly because WALTER beat the tar out Irie for most of the match. The latter taps to the former at 13.41 via STF. Someone starting singing Cena’s entrance tune as WALTER slapped on the hold. Still, if the cross-face can be reclaimed, I’m sure the STF can.
L.A.X. vs. Aussie Open © – An enjoyable tag scrap ends the show. At one point hit an Arabian Press to the outside, which for a main of his size is extremely impressive. Double-team wrist-clutch Michinoku on Santana at 19.14.
Overall – Not as good as the Dec 2016 Sheffield show, but better than Chapters 59 and 71. No classics: but an enjoyable card with only one misfire.
Picture Credit: PROGRESS Wrestling