XWA recently returned to the British wrestling scene after a two year absence, and with a new man at the helm – Dann Read, who had recently run Pro Wrestling EVE, and was formerly the UK-based promoter of ChickFight. With this change came a relocation, leaving Morecambe behind (with Greg Lambert now involved with P.A.I.D. Promotions), and moving to the east of England.
With the XWA relaunch, Read intended to start on a smaller scale, and following the first two shows last month in Sudbury, Suffolk (the former long-term home of EVE) and Colchester, the third show “We Need A Hero” found them in Chelmsford, at the Evoke Nightclub. As the new XWA is still very much in its formative stage, a small but enthusiastic crowd turned up, mainly to see the US indy star Chris Hero in action, but there were also some EVE fans in attendance, as the women’s promotion has been repackaged as XWA’s women’s division – and even with Hero on the card, it would be EVE providing the show’s main event, and the biggest talking point of the evening.
The show got underway with four way “flyweight” action, featuring two men very familiar with each other both as a tag team and as rivals in both PROGRESS and IPW:UK – Paul Robinson and Will Ospreay – as well as Robbie X and “Blackbelt” Tom Dawkins. Ospreay was all taped up following a nasty landing from off the top rope on a Wardust Wrestling League show the week before, and despite a big PROGRESS show coming up, he didn’t slow down in this contest, with all four going at the expected super-fast pace. I had not seen Dawkins before, and I will need to see him in a singles contest to properly judge him, but he was fine here. Robinson would take the match with his Shooting Star Press.
Jonny Storm took on Danny Morocco in the next contest, with Storm playing the heel this time round, insulting everyone from Essex in his opening promo. It was a pretty All-Star family show type affair, but done very well considering Storm as a ring veteran. Morocco put on a good effort, if not making himself totally memorable, before Storm put him away with a low blow and a Liger Bomb.
Pro Wrestling EVE action was next up, with British Boot Camp’s Kay Lee Ray facing “The All-American Canadian” Addy Starr in a first-time matchup. The match took a bit of time to get going, mainly because Starr was adjusting to wrestling with a broken hand, which she had suffered the previous week at Tidal Wrestling. Once things clicked. KLR and Starr proceeded to have what I felt was the best match on the show, with Starr continually grinding Ray down, until Ray found an opening where she could execute her high-flying moves to the outside. Starr came close on several occasions, but at the third attempt, KLR was able to hit her Gory Bomb to get the win over the All-American Canadian.
Sam Slam is a former XWA British Heavyweight Champion from the Morecambe days, and here he took on Vic Darko, again someone I’m not familiar with. This was not my type of match, as mostly everything they did came off sloppy and uninspired, and they needed several smoke and mirrors such as crowd brawling, a table spot and the use of drawing pins. There are matches where the use of such spots are great, as they’re built up to and used in the right way. In this case, it was hardcore for hardcore’s sake. The best part of the match was XWA’s resident saxophone player, donned in a lucha mask, who decided to play during the match, and had most of the crowd’s attention rather than the match. However, Slam’s 450 to win the match was very well executed, so at least the match finished off on a high point.
Chris Hero continued his three week long European tour with a challenge of Big Damo O’Connor for the XWA British Heavyweight Championship. Seeing Hero in front of a small crowd by his standards was a little sad, but it was a fun intimate atmosphere for his match. Given the two men, it was the expected hard-hitting big man battle, with Hero landing big kicks, but wasn’t able to knock Damo out with his patented rolling elbow. Instead it was Damo putting Hero out for the count to retain his title, and also earning Hero’s respect.
The main event saw Nikki Storm defend the Pro Wrestling EVE Championship that she had held since February 2013 against Rhia O’Reilly in a No Disqualification match, eighteen months in the making following Storm getting herself disqualified against O’Reilly in a match for the title on the last full EVE show in May 2013. The match started fast and heavy, with the two SHIMMER veterans brawling around the building from the start, spending a lot of time around the bar. But once they got back to the ring, O’Reilly went down with a knee injury, and referee Rob Brazier Jr. decided to award the match to Storm. This would have been a very anticlimactic way to end the show, but thankfully Storm and O’Reilly were able to improvise, and the match restarted. As it was a legit injury, however, the match was over almost as soon as it was restarted, with O’Reilly hitting her Rhiadjustment DDT on Storm onto the Pro Wrestling EVE Championship belt to win the title, becoming EVE’s seventh champion. It would have been more ideal if Storm and O’Reilly had their originally planned match to lead to this moment, but they had to make the best of a bad situation, where others less experienced would have panicked.
Overall, “We Need A Hero” was an OK show, and a nice excuse for a quick trip into Essex, but it certainly isn’t must-see, unless you were a fan of Pro Wrestling EVE and wanted to see the title change, in addition to a very good KLR/Starr bout. Hopefully XWA are able to find out what has worked well from their shows so far, and is able to build on them. More options anywhere across the UK are totally welcome.