Main photo by J Krystal Flores
Here’s 5 things you need to know about British wrestling this week:
1) CHIKARA brought comic book action to the UK.
I don’t usually write in this column about the promotions from over there that come over here, especially when they’re just trying to leech off the strength of the UK scene because they can’t draw a crowd back home. But this week saw visits from 2 overseas promotions who very much integrated themselves into the local scene, and with fantastic results.
First up was CHIKARA, the strange & wonderful promotion formed by Mike Quackenbush in 2002 to reflect his twin loves of lucha libre & comic books, making their 2nd visit to our shores after last year’s successful tour. The 2016 version sees them here for 2 weeks, and week 1 kicked off with a show in Newport, with assistance from local promotion Dragon-Pro, and a main event featuring Wales’s own Nixon Newell. Newell faced Kimber Lee for the CHIKARA Grand Championship to top a card which also featured Moustache Mountain (Tyler Bate & Trent Seven) defeating The Colony, Mike Bird & Chris Brookes both seeing action in four-way matches with some of CHIKARA’s best, and Pete Dunne beating Eddie Kingston. There was also an All-Wales Championship match, won by Big Grizzly over Danny Jones, Matthew Horgan & Panda Cub.
The next night, at Fight Club:PRO’s new home in Wolverhampton, it was the turn of local heel stable KYS – Damian Dunne, MK McKinnan & Pete Dunne – to take the main event spotlight, against a team of Newell, Kimber Lee & Heidi Lovelace. The undercard saw Dan Moloney don the facepaint to join The Batiri against Clint Margera & The Hunter Brothers, Trent Severn beat Eddie Kingston, and a smorgasbord of other contests featuring Travis Banks, Tyler Bate & Chris Brookes take on the CHIKARA regulars.
On Sunday, the tour moved to London, and to the beautiful Bush Hall in Shepherd’s Bush. The main event once again saw Moloney (rechristened YENOLOM) team with the Batiri, this time to take on Moustache Mountain 2.0, which consisted of Tyler Bate and guests Drew Gulak & Travis Banks. Eddie Kingston continued his series of defeats to homegrown fellas, going down to MK McKinnan, and Chris Brookes failed to dethrone Kimber Lee as CHIKARA Grand champion. Amongst other fantastic nonsense, The Hunter Brothers beat The Colony, and the tour continues this weekend with dates in Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle & Glasgow.
2) The Japanese girls invaded the British Empire.
At the same time that CHIKARA were having fun over in west London, there was joshi action south of the river in Tooting, as British Empire Wrestling opened the doors of their regular Tram & Social venue for a joint show with the Japanese women’s promotion Stardom. On something of a European tour, the Stardom girls landed in London for a card which was built around an 8-woman International Grand Prix Tournament, featuring Mayu Iwatani, Nixon Newell, Santana Garrett, Danielle Hunter, Kirsty Love, Diosa Atanea, Dragonita & Ayesha Ray. After Garrett had advanced to the final, a time-limit draw between Iwatani & Newell in the other semi-final saw them both take their places alongside her, and Garrett won out to take the IGP honours.
Photo by Mark
The sell-out crowd got to see 2 title matches, with ABC Women’s champion Heidi Katrina beating Laura Di Matteo (the former Elizabeth) to retain her title, and the Stardom triple crown champion Io Shirai just about coming out on top against Kay Lee Ray to keep hers, and the card also featured a wild tag-team brawl which spilled out onto the streets of Tooting between The Alpha Female & Kairi Hojo and Toni Storm & Dahlia Black, as well as men’s elimination bout which saw The Buffet Club beat Team BEW. British Empire Wrestling return to Tooting on July 10th with Coronation Of The Empire 2.
3) Our guys & gals are still kicking ass & taking names in the rest of the world.
As a result of their performances at the BEW/Stardom show, Kay Lee Ray & Toni Storm were announced as special guests on an upcoming Stardom tour of Japan. KLR has been out there before, in 2012, but Storm – an Australian based in the UK – will be making her Japanese debut. Stardom has used British talent before – the London-based German Alpha Female is a regular over there and Viper was on a tour earlier this year – and this is a great opportunity for both girls to cement their growing reputations.
Also in Japan, of course, is Will Ospreay, although his Best of the Super Junioprs campaign is not going well so far. He lost his first 2 matches, against Trent Baretta & the unfancied Chase Owens, and it may be a case of building him slowly from the ground up because the 2-year contract they signed him to clearly shows they have faith in his ability. His non-tournament, multi-man tag matches have been mixed, with a win in one and a defeat in the other, although his sequences with Volador Jr in the latter were something to be seen, and reflect well on the training he received from Garry Vanderhorne & Greg Burridge at the London School of Lucha Libre. You can follow Ospreay’s progress on New Japan World.
As well as Ospreay, Marty Scurll, Mark Andrews & Drew Galloway all boarded long-haul flights, to Los Angeles for Pro-Wrestling Guerilla last weekend. Scurll beat Andrews in a match that wowed this site’s Dave Meltzer, leading him to declare that Scurll is “a master performer live, a complete package and one of the most underrated workers in the business,” and Galloway defeated Michael Elgin, who worked double-duty to cover for the absent Brian Cage, Galloway’s original opponent. This show should turn up on DVD sometime in the next hundred years.
4) Jimmy brought Havoc to Chaos!
Although he is sidelined with a bad knee injury, Jimmy Havoc hasn’t been idle. As well as bringing in Joseph Conners to defend his IPW:UK title for him, and occasionally doing commentary for ICW, he turned up in Bristol last weekend at Pro-Wrestling Chaos’s Total Chaos event, and declared himself the new Chaos General Manager for the evening! Given that the event was built around random matches decided by the Chaos Generator™, this just made things even more unpredictable, to the delight of a very healthy crowd.
Jimmy Havoc photo by Turning Face
After the show opened with Alex Steele beating Colt Cabana, Havoc made his presence felt for the first time in the evening when, beer in hand, he declared that el Ligero & Martin Kirby – the tag-team Project: Lucha – would not face each other, as the Generator had decided, but would instead face the London Riots in a Knights of Chaos tournament match. Project: Lucha advanced in the tournament and the Generator threw up a title match next, with Wild Boar defending his King of Chaos championship against Johnny Gargano in a wrestling clinic which earned a standing ovation.
After two more random match-ups – Mike Bird versus Gideon (which involved Havoc introducing a heel referee) and Eddie Dennis versus Big Grizzly – left just two announced participants without a match and the Chaos Generator duly spat out Jeckel against Mikey Whiplash, with Havoc making his final appearance of the night to declare it a Last Man Standing match. Jeckel’s friends in the People’s Republic, led by Chaos owner Pariah Khan, interfered with aplomb, and it was all too much for one man as Dave Mercy made his return to Chaos, after losing a Loser Must Retire match a year ago against “Flash” Morgan Webster. Mercy declared he’d bought enough shares to become a co-owner of the promotion and a heated civil war is bound to erupt. The People’s Republic versus #nWk (No We Khan’t) kicks off at Chaos’s next show, featuring Chris Hero, on July 23rd.
5) The Bakewells are history (and other stuff happened).
Still running twice-monthly at the Resistance Gallery in Bethnal Green, results from Lucha Britannia’s latest show made their way into our world from the RetroFutureVerse. The show last Friday opened with the obligatory Lucha Chaos match, a multi-man, anything-goes affair, with the winner being crowned the King of Chaos and usually receiving a title shot down the line. This time it was former Lucha Britannia champion Cassius, now firmly back on the side of the angels, who triumphed over Fug, el Nordico Fuego, el Hombre del Rocko & Mardukh Malik.
Payaso Pesadilla & Diablesa Rosa photo by Jamie MacFarlane
The show, which also saw Lagarto de Plata beat Pure Britannico & Santeria in a three-way, was headlined by a Lucha Britannia title match, in which champion La Diablesa Rosa downed the nightmare clown Payaso Pesadilla. Most newsworthy, though, was the bout between the stars of TNA’s British Bootcamp, the Fabulous Bakewell Boys, the loser of which would have to leave Lucha Britannia forever. As it happened, they both failed to answer Grandpa Bakewell’s standing ten-count and thus are both banished! Lucha Britannia return on June 3rd.
Preston City Wrestling made a second visit to Liverpool on Saturday for a daytime affair at the Fusion nightclub. Calm Down, Calm Down! was main-evented by a PCW Heavyweight Championship match between Sha Samuels & Grado, won by the champion, which followed on the heels of a bout between Lionheart and PCW co-General manager, Dave Rayne, furthering the battles between talent & management which have become a staple of late. Noam Dar, making possibly his last Liverpool appearance before his WWE sojourn, beat John Morrison in the opener, and the show also featured Bubblegum, Dave Mastiff, Joe Hendry & Viper. PCW return to their home city on June 4th. PCW are hoping to have their revamped On Demand service up & running soon.
Showing that wrestling shows don’t need to be held in traditional venues like theatres & leisure centres, Fight!Nation borrowed the facilities of My Skate World in Eastbourne on Saturday for their latest show, Lethal Lottery, named for the guest of honour, ROH champion Jay Lethal. Lethal defeated Josh Bodom in a non-title match and the rest of the show was dominated by a three-team, round-robin tournament, the winners of which – James castle & Psycho Phillips – going forward on August 20th to compete against one another to decide the number one contender to the Fight!Nation championship. The current champion, Mark Haskins, headlined the show – which also saw Lord Gideon Grey cheat to beat Jonny Storm – by retaining his title against Joseph Conners. Fight!Nation return on August 20th at Weymouth Pavillion.