So as anyone who has more than a passing interest in UK Wrestling knows, new promotions are ten a penny nowadays. It seems like anyone can hire a ring, stick it in a Social Club, pull together a bunch of “wrestlers” and say they’ve got themselves a show. But as we all know, a good wrestling show is so much more than this. Bearing this in mind, Pro Wrestling Kingdom had their debut show recently and were kind enough to furnish me with a press pass. So, did PWK manage to achieve what so many others fail to do and put on a show that leaves people wanting to see more?
ProWrestlingKingdom – MAC Birmingham 26/07/2013 – “The Road to the Golden Kingdom”
I guess the first thing that goes in PWK’s favour is that they’ve promoted the hell out of this show and all the promotional material they’ve produced looks swish. So swish in fact that my girlfriend was persuaded to come check out her first wrestling show in over a year based on how professionally everything seemed presented on their website (http://www.pwkingdom.com) and Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/PWKingdom). That may not seem like a huge compliment, but it takes a lot to get my good lady to get interested in going out to a local show with me, so well done PWK!
I’ve also got to give props for the PWK promoters for their choice of venue. The MAC is NIIIIICE. It’s pretty easily accessible from Birmingham City Centre (a 10 minute bus ride), and walking into the venue blows away any preconceptions you may have about wrestling events having to be held in dingy Social Clubs.
Right, I’m gonna take a second here to make a shout out to the lovely Bev who was on the door for the show. Bev’s the wonderful lady who created me my own knitted Lucian L. Jones (it’s on my Facebook page if you’ve never seen it), quite possibly the loveliest person you’re ever likely to meet and she’s promised she’ll actually read her first ever wrestling review if I namedrop her in this one. So there you go Bev, consider your name well and truly dropped!
Admittedly the room in use for PWK that night was a little intimate to say the least (it looked to have seating for around 100 tops), but I feel it added to the overall effect. I’ll also say that it looked a damn sight more professional than a lot of other shows I’ve been to. There’s none of the usual catching wrestlers peeking at the show from behind the curtain, or hearing folks in the backstage area during lulls in the crowd noise. Overall the presentation and first impression when I walked in was excellent. We even had proper guard rails that went all the way around the ring. I know it’s only a small touch, but it’s these details that turn good presentation into great presentation. I managed to get a panoramic of the room when I first arrived, take a look for yourselves:
So I’ve taken my seat, picked up a leaflet that’s letting me know that Pete Dunne has returned from Japan and is now running wrestling training of his own, and it suddenly strikes me. The wait music before the show ISN’T Heavy Metal. I could get used to this!
But it’s all well and good me talking about how nice the layout looks, what you want to know is how good the matches were, am I right? Well the first thing you need to know is that there are no matches at PWK, oh no. We have “battles” round these parts, which is another one of those small touches that makes them different to your standard run of the mill promotions. Hell, even Ring Announcer Simon Brown came out reading his notes from what appeared to be an iPad. Very swish indeed.
So after a short introduction from Mr Brown, we’re firmly on The Road to the Golden Kingdom and the first battle is ready to get underway.
Nathan Daniels vs. Sebastian Radclaw (accompanied by The Spirit of Uncle Egbert & ScatMonkey)
Nathan Daniels is out first and is currently under the Pro Wrestling Kingdom “Young Lions Initiative”, which I personally think is a great way of giving some of the less experienced guys their chance to learn the ropes. Although admittedly, for the first wrestler out on the first ever PWK show, Daniels looks suitably nervous. And now making his entrance (to goddamn Scatman John no less) is Sebastian Radclaw. And the Spirit of Uncle Egbert. And ScatMonkey. You may well wonder what a ScatMonkey is. Well wonder no more, as this is ScatMonkey:
I know what you’re thinking, and yes that is a weird monkey/teddy/alien hybrid thing. But he also appears to be Sebastian Radclaw’s confidente, best friend, and occasional bodyguard. You know what, I actually really like Radclaw’s eccentric gentleman routine. I could get behind that gimmick, and I did by the end of this match. Although the match is barely seconds old when Lord Graham Thomas interrupts and cuts a promo about how he refuses to allow this garbage to happen. Which (as is the way these things generally go down) turns this into a triple threat match.
Forgive me for not going into the details of the ins and outs of all of the night’s battles, but if I did that there’d be no need for you to buy the DVD of this show when it’s released, would there? What I will say is that this was a solid opener, although the crowd were fairly reserved until we started to get into the final stretch of the match. I also understand that the opener is supposed to get the crowd hyped for the rest of the night, but man was there ever a lot of suicide dives in this match. Like, too many really. Especially when you can be pretty certain that there’s gonna be even more later in the evening.
Anyways, the finish boiled down to Daniels being taken out and LGT & Radclaw fighting it out on the top rope, only for ScatMonkey to prove his usefulness by scaring LGT into falling from the top turnbuckle and allowing Radclaw to hit the Frogsplash for the win. As weird as it sounds I’m actually intrigued by Sebastian Radclaw and his crazy gimmick. I hope to see more of him, ScatMonkey and the Spirit of Uncle Egbert in the future.
4 Team Tornado Rules Elimination Match
Celtic Alliance vs. Team Next Level vs. Dan Moloney & Chris Brookes vs. The Hunter Brothers
Straight away this match upped the tempo of the evening. I’ll be honest, there was that much going on here that I had trouble keeping track of everything. What I didn’t have trouble remembering was some of the innovative spots used in this match. Ever seen 6 people dropkick the same guy at the same time? I have and it was ace. As was 6 of the competitors all locking together in one long Russian Legsweep, only for Jim hunter to dash across the backs of them all and plancha to the outside. Seriously, it’s worth checking out the DVD of this show for that moment alone.
Eddie Dennis looked like an absolute beast during sections of this match, and for the most part Celtic Alliance bossed the early stages of this match, even getting the first elimination by disposing of Team Next Level. In fact, following the first elimination the tempo kicked up another notch with The Hunters (in my opinion the best tag team in the Midlands, if not the country) hitting a series of their tried and tested spots such as the big swing/dropkick combo. There’s another multiman car crash with a Tower of Power out of the corner involving all 6 men and from what I can tell the crowd were really into this match.
The next elimination is Brookes and Moloney taking out the Celtic Alliance via a Superkick/German suplex combo, and perhaps most impressively young Dan Moloney deadlifted the German Suplex like an absolute beast. Moloney is another of PWK’s Young Lions and one of my personal picks for one to watch for the future. The kid is young, yet already turning into such an absolute beast in the ring. The only way I can describe it is that he comes across like a younger Dave Mastiff. Anyone who knows Dave Mastiff knows how intimidating a prospect that is.
I was also really impressed with the teamwork on display here, not just from Brookes & Moloney and The Hunters, but by all 4 teams. This really was a great Tag Team match and the crowd absolutely lapped it up. As we headed into the finish we got more bombs being dropped, such as The Hunters hitting their neckbreaker/double foot stomp combo to “oohs” and “aahs” from the audience. We even got a sneaky false finish with The hunters hitting the Tiptonite Crunch, only for Moloney to somehow get his foot on the ropes. During the following confusion Moloney manages to get the sneaky pin on Lee Hunter and that’s all she wrote. Your winners of a hard fought battle are Chris Brookes and Daniel Moloney, although I’d love to see some combinations of the 4 teams going at it again over the next couple of shows.
Damien Dunne vs. Ryan Smile
I was feeling hyped from the previous match, and judging from the crowd reaction, it wasn’t only me who’d suddenly found my voice. With an increasingly energetic crowd finding their voice, we headed into the match to cap off the first half of the show, Damien Dunne vs. Ryan Smile. What a lot of you might not know is that I’ve worked with both Dunne and Smile before, back in the days where Damien Dunne was a long haired rocker called Omen and the All Day Star in The City was simply Tucker Smile. So as you can imagine I was very interested in seeing how far these guys have progressed since I last saw them, and they did not disappoint.
We got a nice slow chain wrestling start to this match, which admittedly worked really well at cooling the crowd slightly after the dives and death defying in the previous match. Both guys worked really well together and you can tell that they’ve worked together several times before. It’s at this point that I realised Damien Dunne has turned into one hell of a heel. The way the dude carries himself, his ring presence, his disdain for the crowd and his opponent. I’m not entirely sure exactly what “it“ is, but Dunne apparently has “it” and it’s ridiculously entertaining to watch.
In fact, Dunne’s offence looked all the more effective by Smile selling moves like he’s been KILLED by them. There was a great moment where Dunne crashes a knee clean into Smile’s face and Ryan kinda collapses from the legs up. I’ve seen guys give it “jelly legs” before, but never a “jelly rest of the body” to go along with them. In fact this was just a really good old school match, it started slow, built nicely with some excellent heel work from Dunne, before exploding out into a bomb-dropping finish (Smile’s “Sparta Kick” in particular stuck out as a great moment). And the finish. Wow that finish. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dirtier looking Shining Wizard! It was pretty much just a straight knee from Dunne to Smile’s face, and there’s no way ANYONE is getting up from that kind of shot. Dunne wins, but I’ve gotta give props to both guys for rounding the first half in an excellent fashion. Oh, and Smile staggering from ringside looking like something from Bambi on Ice was a nice touch too.
Mark Andrews vs. Kris Travis
I’ve heard a lot about both of these guys, but I’ve not managed to catch any of their work in person yet. Sure I’ve watched a few YouTube videos of them both, but it’s not the same is it?
Unfortunately I missed the beginning of the second half (because my girlfriend wanted cake and crisps from downstairs), but managed to get back just as they rang the bell to start this match. Jesus, how much oil does Kris Travis wear? Answer is A LOT. I dunno what it is about Travis, but there’s something kinda equal parts slimy and smarmy about his character which makes me instantly want to see him get his ass handed to him. But then I guess that’s a good thing for a heel, so good work Travis!
I was admittedly a little worried about Mark Andrews, I’ve heard nothing but good things about his high-flying abilities, but I also noticed the lighting rig seemed a little low, so would we be able to see Mark pull out the crazy moves? Turns out I had nothing to worry about, Andrews flew like a mad man in this match, busting outstanding moonsaults, all kinds of springboard arsenal, and (in my favourite part of this match) attempted a springboard Hurricanrana to the outside, only for Travis to catch him and swing him into the security barricades. I don’t care what you say, that move looked like it HURT.
And once again both guys dropped bombs for the finish. Andrews hit a spectacular looking high crossbody, which he followed up with a standing Spiral Tap. While Travis hit a sweet catch German Suplex, as well as a devastating looking double underhook powerbomb. It all boiled down to Andrews hitting a big Shooting Star Press for a hard fought win in another great match. I get the feeling this isn’t the last we’ve seen of Travis vs. Andrews, and PWK could develop a cracking little rivalry here. I like both these guys, and actually feel a little guilty for laughing when finding out Andrews’ nickname is White Lightning. I mean come on, that’s cheap cider isn’t it?
Bubblegum vs. Morgan Webster
Hey Bubblegum!! I remember Bubblegum! Fresh faced young guy, always played the babyface fighting up from underneath, right? Nope. Bubblegum’s a heel now, and admittedly it’s kinda great. I’m loving the whole “chaved up” gimmick he’s running with at the minute, and immediately he started riling up the audience which was pretty damn hilarious to watch.
I’ve not seen anything of Morgan Webster before, but as soon as they announced him as “The Modfather of Wrestling” and saying he hails from “A Town Called Malice”, I was sold. That is seriously such a great gimmick idea that I want to see more of this guy.
I’ve gotta give Bubblegum his dues for the start of this match. He ragged on Birmingham (because he’s from Manchester, as his Man City ring gear attests to), which straight away got the crowd immediately behind Webster. Which is a VERY smart move to get heat without even starting the match. Bubblegum threatened to walk out, which straight away caused the crowd to get on his case with the “Na na na na, hey-ey-ey goodbye” stalwart. It was all just really effective heel work to get the crowd involved in the match.
And then when the match did start, yikes! Really early on Bubblegum hit a big running chop to Webster in the corner which made literally every person in attendance go “ooooh”. Not even “woo” just “ooooh” and the sound of lots of air being sucked through teeth. It’s actually a little surprising how much a good yob Bubblegum makes. You can tell right there is a guy who enjoys what he’s doing.
Webster looks good too, he kind of reminds of Brian Kendrick a little, all hairflicks and pomp, but then he starts busting out these great moves. Webster hit a slingshot Hurricanrana to the outside that was a thing of absolute beauty, and spent this entire match trading off and going back and forth with Bubblegum. In fact the longer this match goes, the more it looks like Webster’s gonna be the one to get the win.
That is until we get some sneaky heel shenanigans from Bubblegum, who begs off behind the ref, before hitting a low blow on Morgan behind the ref’s back. Once that happens the crowd go off, as Bubblegum hits a nasty as hell looking double footed Kerbstomp on Morgan to get the win.
As if that wasn’t enough Bubblegum starts to offer random members of the crowd out, until one of them takes him up on the offer and he chickens out spectacularly, like the magnificent bast*rd that he is. Great stuff.
PWK Championship Match
Pete Dunne vs. Wild Boar
So here we are, the main event of the evening, and the crowning of the first ever Pro Wrestling Kingdom champion. I’m pretty sure it was an old AWA title masquerading as a PWK Title, but give them chance it’s only the first show and good belts are expensive!
I’ve heard lots of good things about Pete Dunne, but I’ve never had chance to properly check his work out (even though he wrestles EVERYWHERE) so I’m quite hyped for this. Same thing with Wild Boar, never saw him live myself, but heard lots of good things.
First impressions are that Wild Boar looks like a madman, he’s all hair and snarls and missing teeth. Here’s a dude who looks like he’s been in a fight or two in his time, which instantly gets my interest. We’re gonna have a classic technique vs. power story here and that’s exactly how it starts out. Pete Dunne showing off some nice skills (at one point channeling Johnny Saint (or El Ligero) with the rope trap evade) and managing to evade the clubbing impact hits that Boar is looking to land. In fact Boar only seems to get more and more enraged the more Dunne makes him miss. The crowd chanting “Boar’s a Hobbit” probably isn’t helping matters either!
Once the Boar finally does get his hands on Dunne, the expected beating is devastatingly dished out. At one point Pete got trapped in the corner and Boar hit a dropkick with such force you could hear the air leaving the lungs of Dunne. I have no idea how he kept going after that one. This match actually had some great stuff in there, Dunne fighting up from underneath (and showing off a little of the Japanese fighting spirit he’s picked up from his travels), while Boar continues to drop bombs but can’t keep the man down.
One moment that genuinely had my heart in my mouth was Pete Dunne superplexing Boar from the top rope in the smallest amount of space I think I’ve ever seen. How they missed the lighting rig is beyond me?! From there the guys head into the final stretch with a Snap Brainbuster from Boar for a nearfall, before Dunne manages to hook Boar up in a Tombstone Piledriver for…a two count?! I wasn’t the only person in the crowd to wonder how Wild Boar got a shoulder up, but Pete Dunne isn’t one to be deterred. If a normal Tombstone doesn’t work, how about hitting a jumping version? Pete nails it, gets the pin, and ladies and gentlemen your 1st ever Pro Wrestling Kingdom Champion is “Dynamite” Pete Dunne!
So there you have it, all in all a cracking first show that put down a solid foundation for PWK to build from. Would I recommend that you go check out a Pro Wrestling Kingdom show? Yes. Yes I would. And I’d also recommend trying to get your hands on a copy of this show when it’s released, because that 4 team tornado match was something else in my opinion. If they give us more matches like that then I’ll be there!
I’ll see you down the front!