Main photo by Stefan Auf Der Lauer
1) There was success overseas for Drew Galloway & Zack Sabre Jr.
Zack Sabre Jr is having a bit of good 2016 so far. Fresh off finishing as a regular in Japan for Pro-Wrestling NOAH, the Essex-born grappler has been collecting titles since the turn of the year, including the Revolution Pro-Wrestling & Pro-Wrestling Guerilla Heavyweight straps, and last weekend travelled to Germany in expectation of making a splash at Westside Xtreme Wrestling’s annual 16 Carat tournament, alongside fellow Brits Will Ospreay, Marty Scurll, Drew Galloway, and Tyler Bate.
Bate competed in the multi-man matches that accompanied the tournament (although he’ll be a contender in the main event soon enough), but the others all took their places, with mixed success. While Scurll was eliminated in the opening round by the heavily-fancied Axel Dieter Jr, the others all made it through to the quarter-finals, where Ospreay fell – to Sabre Jr.
In the semi-finals, Galloway bowed out at the hands of Dieter Jr, but Sabre Jr beat Sami Callihan to face the German in the final… and won! Sabre Jr is the first Brit to win the tournament, which has been won in the past by Chris Hero, Tommy End, and Sami Zayn. The shows will soon be available with English-language commentary by F4W~!’s own Alan Counihan.
Galloway didn’t have to wait too long to get over his disappointment, however, as a quick flight to Florida saw him cash in his Feast Or Fired briefcase at the live TNA Impact On Pop show on Tuesday evening, coming up trumps by pinning Matt Hardy to lift the title. Galloway has promised to be a fighting, touring champion, and many a card in the UK should see a TNA title defense in the coming months.
Also on the TNA show, Grado earned a contract, and will continue to be a highlight in the coming weeks.
2) There’s something to “Discover” in Edinburgh on a Thursday night.
There’s a few bigger companies in Scotland and a whole load of smaller ones, but almost all of them run at the weekend. One company that bucks that trend for most of its shows is Discovery Wrestling, based in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh. Bucking the trend that mid-week shows draw poorly – at least in school time – they’ve run a series of successful shows at the Jam House, culminating in last week’s Lucha!, featuring some of the stars of Lucha Underground, as well as their regular roster.
The show was headlined by one of those matches you’d never think of putting together but, when you see it done, makes for intriguing viewing, as Big Damo took on Ricochet, with the Ulsterman coming out on top against the sometime Prince Puma. Also on the show from The Temple were Shane “Killshot” Strickland, who competed in a Y Division three-way with Lewis Girvan & BT Gunn, and Angelico, who faced Joe Coffey.
After Coffey defeated the (not so much on this tour) high-flying daredevil, he demanded a shot at Y Division interim champion Girvan on the next show. Instead, Discovery management announced Coffey would face Jay Lethal for the ROH World championship on April 10th.
In other matches on the card, Chris Saynt beat ICW-mainstay Chris Renfrew, Sammi Jayne downed Lucy Cole, Aspen Faith defeated Michael Chase, and Lucha DS overcame the challenge of Kenny Williams, Massimo & Theo Doros in a four-way. Discovery return on April 10th at a bigger venue, the Corn Exchange, and there is plenty of footage of the action on their YouTube page.
3) Tidal isn’t just a vanity project for Jay Z.
I’ve written about Tidal Championship Wrestling in this column before, and if they continue to promote fun, value-for-money shows, I can’t see that changing any time soon. This past weekend saw a double-header – Friday in Darlington, and Sunday in Leeds – that cemented their position as one of 2016’s promotions to watch, presenting some class imports and the best of the UK’s talent on well-booked, entertaining cards.
For this double-shot, they brought in Chris Dickinson (who is winning fans all over the UK on this jaunt), and supplemented Sunday’s show with Chuck Taylor and one half of the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag-Team champions, Ricochet.
At Spring Storm, in Darlington, both Tidal singles’ championships were on the line, with el Ligero overcoming Martin Kirby (for my money, one of the most underrated wrestlers in the UK) for the TCW title, and Liam Lazarus pinning champion TCW Open champion Dan James to win the title in a four-way which also included HT Drake & Perfect Purdie. Dickinson took on the fast-rising Jason Prime, and the show also featured women’s action as Ruby Summers beat Lil Miss Roxxy.
Ricochet & HT Drake photo by Mike Mess
Two days later, in the penultimate show at Leeds University Student Union, Tidal presented Best Laid Plans. With el Ligero competing in a non-title four-way won by Ricochet (and also featuring HT Drake & Chuck Taylor), the show was main-evented by a clash of the big men, Rampage Brown overcoming the challenge of Chris Dickinson in a fitting contest to close the card. Although Ligero did not defend his title, Lazarus did, and saw off Joseph Conners to keep the belt going into April 24th’s All Crime Is Legal, which will feature ROH’s Dalton Castle. Tidal’s shows are released pretty quickly on DVD and you should check out their online store for details.
4) The Paul Robinson & Wild Boar feud went up a notch.
With the next main roster chapter still two weeks away, PROGRESS opened the doors of The Garage, in Highbury Corner, London, on Sunday for the latest instalment of ENDVR. While you don’t have to watch both brands to fully enjoy either, there is some crossover, and with the Natural Progression Series nearing its climax (the final will be held on April’s main roster show), attention was particularly focussed on whether possible future finalists Pastor William Eaver & Damon Moser could get along as teammates in a six-man which also featured Chuck Mambo, Darrell Allen, Earl Black Jr, and TK Cooper.
Moser got the pin for his team, although he did elbow Eaver aside to do it, in the show’s best match and a good showing for all involved.
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If Eaver & Moser didn’t get heated, the same can’t be said of Paul Robinson and Wild Boar, who’ve been feuding for the best part of a year, with some violent encounters along the way. On Sunday, Robinson beat Boar’s friend & mentor Mike Bird, continuing to attack him with a steel chain long after the bell, which brought out Boar to make the save.
During Boar’s match later in the show, Robinson attacked Boar’s opponent with a steel chair, causing Boar to be DQ’d, and leading to a pull-apart brawl during which the same steel chain was fought over. PROGRESS co-owner Glen Joseph decided enough was enough, and booked a Steel Chain match between the two for May’s ENDVR 16. Tickets are on sale now.
Jack Sexmith’s Gimp photo by Graeme Burley
Also on the show, which featured Leva Bates, Jack Sexsmith (who tagged with his gimp!), and the PROGRESS debut of IPW:UK Tag-Team champions DnD, the tension between Jinny & her PA Elizabeth rose, with Elizabeth refusing to do her boss’s dirty work once more, and this one is certainly one to keep an eye on going forward. PROGRESS is a storyline-heavy promotion and none the worse for that, and you can keep up with the action on Demand PROGRESS for a reasonable monthly fee.
5) There were more shows than you could shake a stick at.
Warming up for next month’s supershow (which will potentially feature both a ROH World title defence by Jay Lethal and a TNA World title defence by Drew Galloway, a fitting replacement for the unfortunately unavailable Young Bucks), Pro-Wrestling Chaos promoted The Chaos Awakens at the Hanham Community Centre in Bristol, in front of a sold-out crowd. The show was headlined by a wild no countout, No DQ King of Chaos championship match between Wild Boar and Jekkel, which ended in a double knockout. This feud must continue!
Also on the show, which had a Star Wars theme running through it and featured Leva Bates, Eddie Dennis, Martina Kirby (which is exactly what you think it is), “Flash” Morgan Webster, Zack Gibson, and el Ligero, the Hunter Brothers beat the Henchmen in tournament match for the Knights of Chaos championship. Chaos return on April 9th with Lethal & Galloway and a whole lot more.
Last seen at Dawley Town Hall, on the outskirts of Telford, VII Pro-Wrestling returned to their home venue, The Hive in Shrewsbury, on Friday night. Branding the show as episode 2 of VII Underground, the stand-out contest was a British Lions title defence, as Chris Brookes saw off his erstwhile tag-team partner Nixon Newell, tying her in the Calamari Catch King’s usual knots.
VII-Pro champion Ryan Smile teamed with Chuck Taylor & Ethan Silver in the main event, to take on Pete Dunne & The Facesmashers, Wild Boar & Dan Moloney. Earlier in the show, which also featured Chris Ridgeway, “Flash” Morgan Webster, and Mike Bird, Damian Dunne again took on an opponent from New Zealand, having better luck this time out against Travis Banks. VII-Pro return to Dawley on April 22nd, and a DVD of Friday’s show should be available soon.
2016 will be a big year for IPW:UK, with a huge 12th anniversary show planned for September (unfortunately clashing with PROGRESS’s big day at the Brixton Academy), and their 200th regular show coming along in June. Before all that they will hold their 3rd Supershow in two weeks’ time and also found the time to promote an academy show, Future 16, at the Snodland Community Centre on Saturday.
Despite technical difficulties, overcome with some ingenuity, the show saw some terrific action, and was headlined by a six-man featuring Chris Brookes & The Dunne Brothers versus IPW:UK All-England champion Sammy Smooth & the IPW:UK Tag-Team champions DnD, with the Midlanders coming out on top.
Also on the show, IPW:UK Women’s champion Tennessee Honey beat New Zealand’s Bea Priestley (is there anyone left in NZ?), academy students Alpha Dreams & Jack Clover failed the Chris Masters’s Masterlock Challenge, and RJ Singh continued his comeback with a win over Garry Mitchell. This show, as with all IPW:UK events, will soon be available on their On Demand service.