A UK REVOLUTION OR JUST ANOTHER INDY SHOW?
I am not sure what this article is. It is sort of a hybrid mishmash of a show review, a DVD review and a load of rambling about a trip to London with my mate. I’m not sure anyone has written in this style, probably because it is ridiculous. Hopefully it works mind and gives you the “full package” so to speak. Anyway….
It was billed as the biggest show in Britain for over 7 years, and one that would revolutionise the British Wrestling scene. Standout UK promotion IPW:UK had agreed a deal with European powerhouse NWE to run a one off show on April 28th 2012, in the prestigious Troxy venue in East-London, called “Revolution”. IPW:UK have built up a solid reputation since their debut in 2004, back in the days of “the wrestling channel”, and boast a roster of top UK names such as Marty Scurll, Noam Dar, Sha Samuels, PAC, Zack Sabre Jr, Rockstar Spud and many more. NWE (Nu Wrestling Evolution) are an Italian company, renowned for running large shows across Europe, including ‘that’ show in Madrid, Spain, that featured the return of The Ultimate Warrior. With the phenomenal roster of IPW:UK at hand, the money of NWE to add production value and some top foreign imports to a show being ran in a fantastic London venue, this was set to genuinely be a supershow. But did it work out that way?
I found out about this show through an advert in UK based wrestling publication FSM (the shows event partners) and was immediately excited at the idea of it. However, living in Newcastle upon Tyne makes it difficult to get to shows in London. Time went on and IPW started announcing some of the names that would be brought in for this show: Carlito, Chris Masters, Sami Callihan, M-Dogg-20 Matt Cross and then their final announcement, Kevin Nash. Brilliant! I now know for a fact that I will be going to the show. Not because of the technical master class that is now guaranteed (note: Nash is genuinely one of my favourite of all time, probably because I grew up on WCW and the NWO) but because now I had a plan. Me and my pal had been planning a trip to London for the WWE Raw and Smackdown TV tapings a few weeks before this event was to happen. My mate isn’t a massive wrestling fan, in fact I think he kind of hates it, but he used to be back in the Hasbro action figure days and again for roughly the same period that D-Lo Brown wore that ridiculous chest protector. So with that in mind, Nash was more of a “draw” and an attraction to him than the likes of Brodus Clay. Anyway, he bought into it and we purchased our tickets over Wrestlemania weekend and the trip was sorted.
On a side note (I am about to digress quite a bit here, so feel free to skip this paragraph, dedicated solely to an anecdote) we tried to make this weekend free of charge thanks to Wrestlemania. Irish bookmakers Paddy Power were taking bets on Wrestlemania. That’s right real bets with real money on pre-determined wrestling. Hmmm. I was very excited for this and spent most of my time at work convincing people that work for me that they should spend their hard earned wages on this. Just before Wrestlemania we placed an accumulator of Sheamus, Orton, Punk, Cena and Cody. It would have won us a couple of hundred quid had it came in, which it didn’t, but at least we had fun. Unlike one of the lads on my team who text me after 18 seconds into the first match to informing me his whole £20 bet was off thanks to Sheamus.
The week before the show, I wake up one morning and notice on my Twitter feed that IPW have announced some news about the show. NWE (the ones with all the cash) have pulled out of the show and left them up shit creek. So, good news. As the day goes on, IPW and their entire roster take to Twitter to promote the show and rally fans to support British wrestling. More announcements continue throughout the day, most importantly the fact that the show will still go ahead although it is expected to take a loss financially. Luckily, most of the imported talent committed to still working the show despite the company being forced into offering them revised deals for less money, but then I hear the news I was dreading. Kevin Nash has not accepted his revised offer and is off the show. Fuuuuuuu…my mate was only duped into going because Nash. I give him a call to inform him and he tells me that he had a dream the previous night, in which Kevin Nash cancelled. That’s a bit weird. So now my pal is being vocal about not looking forward to the show and suddenly I’m having flashbacks of a terrible show we went to in a social club a few years back. I had tricked him into attending that one too. Nash was later featured on a shoot interview, in which Sami Callihan mentions he will see him in London next week. Nash replied with “I ain’t going. The fuckers didn’t send me the rest of my money. Thanks for the deposit motherfuckers. I ain’t flying over to London for some guy to say ‘we don’t have the other half of your money’”.
The train ride down was a bit weird. My mate wasn’t excited and the woman next to us looked like the grudge. Getting to our hotel was no better. They had called me the day before to advise that, due to a gas leak, we would have to stay in their flat. I was starting to have visions of getting there and eating falafel with them and their kids in the living room. In all fairness, that would have been better than what we actually got. It was basically a glorified flat, we couldn’t open the room door properly because the bed was in the way and there was dirty underpants hanging up in the shard bathroom. Get me to the wrestling!!!
We get to the Troxy and it is a nice venue, very classy looking, much like an old theatre. That said though, turns out they think it’s acceptable to charge £4 for half a pint. That’s £8 for a proper pint. Even by London standards, that’s ridiculous. Our seats are front row of the 2nd tier and are absolutely superb. Some kids next to us have been separated by poor seat planning, so we swap with them because we are both nice blokes. The ring is set up with scaffolding around it and a large monitor above the stage. In all fairness it looks fantastic for a UK Indy show.
The show kicked off with a money-in-the-bank-style ladder match featuring Noam Dar, Matt Cross, Leon Britanico, Lion Kid, Martin Kirby and Kris Travis. My mate proclaimed that Noam “looked like an underwear model” until Travis came out. Not sure that’s appropriate banter for a wrestling show. The atmosphere was electric at the start of the show, this comes across on the DVD really well, especially as all the entrances are on the DVD. Noam Dar’s little cat-claw gestures to Lion Kid are caught on camera, which is just super. Unfortunately this is about the highlight of his night. Perhaps it’s that he has set his standards so high, or that the match was a bit cluttered, but he seemed to take a background role for the contest. The match itself was underwhelming, given the talent involved, due no small part to the fact that of the two ladders available, one buckled at the start of the match and the other was a one sided ladder which couldn’t stand up without leaning on something. A sneaky trip to B&Q next time guys. There were some impressive high spots as expected, the pick of the bunch being a sick Leon Britanico senton bomb onto the ladder. Kris Travis came out the victor with his tag team partner Martin Kirby holding up the one sided ladder. If this spot was planned then perhaps we will see Project Ego contending for the British tag titles down the line. If not then, mates or not, why would Kirby just watch his pal win the match?
Next up we were treated to a match featuring two legitimate future stars in Mark Haskins and Joel Redman. Former partners now at war, the match was introduced with a video package on the big screen to hype the rivalry. Great idea but the execution wasn’t so good, with cheesy 80’s soft-core porn music spoiling the vibe. The two made up for it in the ring however, with a nice clash of styles and an awesome smash-mouth finish that saw TNA’s Mark Haskins pick up the win. My mate loved this one. It would turn out that this would be Redman’s last match before heading off to Florida to join up with the WWE feeder territory FCW. After the match it was announced the Haskins would be facing Japanese star of DragonGate Akira Tozawa at the next IPW:UK show. I always find that crowds tend to have a lack of enthusiasm for announcements for shows that they may not even be at.
Following this we were treated to a woman’s tag match. Only one of them was fit, until she abused a disabled fan during her ring entrance, then she didn’t seem that fit anymore. At this point I went to the bar for another £8 pint. I didn’t last much longer while watching the DVD either, but did last long enough to hear the commentator come out with this gem: “The Blossom Twins have known each other for their whole lives”. Genius, now skip scene. The next proper match featured the first of two reality TV stars with Hot Like Us’ (a show that was 50% about modelling, 50% about being a good couple and 100% brilliant…or so my missus says) Leroy Kincaide taking on WWE cast off Carlito. Carlito did his usual apple routine before the match, having a decent little verbal spat with Leroy. The match was decent, Leroy is very athletic for a tank of a man and came out victorious with a twisting senton from the top. He left the ring for Carlito to cut a heel promo on the UK (teeth, get a tan, ugly women, you know the drill) and got some heat for telling a fan to “keep it PG…for the kids”.
A short interval gave me time to go and leave some flyers for my fanzine near the bar. What a dick, eh? After the break we had the next, and more recent, ex-WWE guy, Chris Masters, taking on Stixx. You couldn’t fight Stixx, but Chris Masters is HUGE in real life, an absolute beast and totally shredded. The opening minutes to the match were met with chants of “we want Nash”, who was originally scheduled to face The Masterpiece before the NWE drama. I’m not sure what I was expecting from Chris Masters, who in my opinion was a bit of a shock release from WWE last year after really developing into a solid worker over on Superstars. He put in an absolute shift and clearly gave 137% to the UK fans. For a big man match, it was very, very good and turned my mate into the world’s second biggest Chris Masters fan in the world. The bloke who is top of that list was the bloke who chanted “we want Masters” all night, even when Chris Masters was wrestling. Watching this match back was fun because I could see myself in the crowd lots. How sad is that?
6 way elimination match featuring Sha Samuels, T-Bone and Rockstar Spud taking on Martin Stone, Dave Mastiff and Terry Frazier was the penultimate match. The whole match was built around Spud being snide and eventually Mastiff kicking his arse when nobody else was left and taking an absolutely brutal combination finish which may have been the worst 30 seconds of his life. This was also the first time I have seen Sha Samuels who looks like a star and has made me keen to see more.
The main event was a mouth watering contest between Marty Scurll and Sami Callihan. The match was presented with an excellent promo video showing the route both man had taken to this match, which was the final of a tournament to crown a new British Cruiserweight champion. During the pre-match introductions, the ring announcer lists both men’s accomplishments, my favourite being that Marty is the lightweight champion of Denmark. DENMARK, how does that even happen? The match was excellent, seeing both men brawl outside and Marty flipping off the stage, before getting into the ring for Sami to work the leg. Seeing Sami lock the stretch muffler while booting Marty in the head with his spare foot was superb. We had another high impact finish with two harsh looking back suplexes followed by an attempted stretch muffler into a roll-up pin for a Scurll victory. The two men shook hands to a standing ovation for a great match.
After leaving the venue, we went to a bar next door where I was mistaken by a punter for Rockstar Spud. I should have just gone with it. Luckily I didn’t as Sha Samuels came in not too longer after. After the show we went into a taxi “call centre” manned by a man that was the epitome of shit customer service, shouting at people who called and telling them the reasons why there was no point in waiting for a taxi. The next day we experienced the kings cross phenomenon that is “the chase”. The chase is where hundreds of people are waiting at the announcement boards to find out which platform their train is departing from so that they can sprint/fight their way there to ensure they get a seat even though they have bought a cheap ticket. It was intense, but I think we won.
The show was good but perhaps the expectation was too high. Ticket prices had been inflated due to the high expectation of the show from its promoters which could have been a contributing factor to the low attendance. This is even more apparent on the DVD with many ringside seats empty and almost all of the balcony seats unoccupied. The trip was fun, my none-wrestling-fan mate absolutely loved it, it’s just a shame that it left me wondering – what if NWE hadn’t pulled out? Or what if they hadn’t got involved in the first place? What could IPW:UK have done is they had been able to promote it was they wanted to from day 1? Good show, some great talent, London is weird.
Thanks for reading guys, hope you enjoyed it and sorry for not being as active recently as I would have liked. WR’s sister project has eaten up all of my time (i feel a plug coming on) so echeck it out if you like. The Calling Spots Pro Wrestling Fanzine is a magazine (not an internet thing, an actual thing that you hold in your hand and comes with free presents and stuff in the envelope) that has loads of articles, comic strips, banters, drawings, reviews and even some poetry. Its only £2/$3 so check it out at callingspots.com for more details. There is also a competition on there to win a free WWE or Progress wrestling DVD.
Cheers guys – Rich x