Southside Wrestling Speed King 2014 review

Martin Kirby

Martin Kirby poses with his Speed King title

Southside Wrestling held another Speed King tournament on Saturday night in Nottingham, and boy was it incredible.

The show itself was sold out, with people packing in right up to bell time. More chairs were bought in and at the start of the night there were over 370 people packed into the Rushcliffe Arena, West Bridgford, Nottingham.

The show started off slowly with Pete Dunne taking on Scotland’s Noam Dar in a slow, technical affair and El Ligero facing off against Kay Lee Ray in another slow-burning match. Dunne and Ray advanced to the final.

Petey Williams Robbie X

Petey Williams and Robbie X lock-up

Then came one of the big-name imports on the show; Petey Williams. The master of the Canadian Destroyer faced Robbie X, a great young British talent who eventually bested Williams in a match that really started to get the crowd going.

Martin Kirby vs Dean Allmark was next with the current Speed King champion Kirby ambushing Allmark before the bell rang to get a head start. Kirby ended up winning and advancing to the final which already contained Robbie X, Pete Dunne and Kay Lee Ray.

CZW’s AR Fox vs Kris Travis was next and what a match these two had. It had comedy, it had emotion, and it was fast paced and hard hitting. The crowd came alive for this one, thanks on the whole to how over AR Fox was. His moveset combined with Travis’ heel mannerisms made this match the best of the night… So far. Fox beat Travis to advance to the final.

The final match before intermission was Will Ospreay vs Mark Andrews, two of the UK’s highest flyers. These two had a great high flying match which received a standing ovation from the crowd. A fantastic way to send the crowd off to the intermission to recover and recollect. Ospreay advanced into the final.

Prince Devitt

Prince Devitt as Anti-Venom

During the intermission, fans, including myself had the chance to take a photo with the main attraction on the card, New Japan Pro Wrestling star Prince Devitt. Irish native Devitt is famous for painting his body to look like many different comic characters and at Southside’s Speed King he chose Anti-Venom.

The experience was fun and Devitt seemed like a very nice guy. The set-up ran smoothly and ensured all fans got some brilliant photos and memories during the short intermission.

Post-intermission saw Prince Devitt face Mark Haskins for his Southside Heavyweight Title. Devitt got the match started early and set a high tempo which continued throughout the match with brutal kicks and some risky dives into the crowd. Devitt and Haskins had match of the night and got a well deserved “this is awesome” chant from the crowd in attendance.

Devitt’s future now hangs in the balance with many thinking he is WWE-bound. Only time will tell on that one.

The Speed King finalists get technical

The Speed King final was the final match of the night and saw Pete Dunne, Robbie X, Kay Lee Ray, Martin Kirby, AR Fox and Will Ospreay competing in a 6-person elimination match for the Speed King Title. Fox and Ospreay provided the high-octane moves while Kirby tried every underhanded tactic in the book to keep hold of his title.

Fox was the fans clear favourite to win but when it came down to Martin Kirby and Kay Lee Ray as the final two, the fans got firmly behind Ray. Ray and Kirby went back and forth for a good ten to fifteen minutes and had a hard-fought singles match which saw Ray kick out of everything Kirby threw at her. In the end, Kirby retained his title but Kay Lee Ray went home as an even bigger star than before thanks to her excellent showing.

So while the show started off slowly it built into a fantastic showcase of the British wrestling scene. Every match from AR Fox vs Kris Travis to the Speed King final had a shout at match of the night and all received standing ovations from the crowd in attendance. The inclusion of Prince Devitt to the roster gave the card a true boost of star-power thanks to Devitt’s current success in New Japan but wrestler’s like Robbie X, Will Ospreay and Kay Lee Ray shone brightly on a great night of British Wrestling.

All images courtesy of Brett Hadley.

Post-WrestleMania RAW ushers in a new era

Daniel Bryan WWE Champion

Daniel Bryan begins his championship reign.

The post-WrestleMania RAW has become a focal point of the WWE calendar over the past few years and this year’s edition really felt like the start of a new era in WWE.

The post-WrestleMania RAW in 2012 saw The YES Movement begin, 2013 saw the crowd Fandangoing and 2014 saw the crowd embrace the new era.

The crowds are always incredible at these shows. High on WrestleMania, the post-WrestleMania RAW crowds are full of passionate fans from around the world and they always create a special atmosphere.

Firstly, the spearhead of the new era: Daniel Bryan. After winning the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania, Bryan came out on RAW to a huge reaction and a sea of YES chants, much like the night before. Adored by the fans, he spoke from the heart and thanked these fans for bringing him to where he is today.

Paige wins Divas Championship

Paige after pinning AJ for the Divas Championship.

Secondly, the introduction of the NXT stars to the main roster. NXT Women’s Champion Paige debuted on RAW, winning the Divas Title from AJ Lee. This moment was something special, as Paige got a crowd reaction not seen for the Divas since the Lita and Trish Stratus era. While AJ Lee is the most talented Diva in the WWE, Paige is equally as talented and these two could now have a feud similar to Lita and Trish Stratus if booked correctly.

Alexander Rusev also debuted, squashing Zack Ryder with a great display of power, strength and athleticism. Rusev is a big, athletic guy and could be a great foreign heel in 2014.

Bo Dallas and Adam Rose had vignettes aired during RAW which will lead to debuts in a short while. Dallas has a wonderfully annoying Bo-lieve gimmick, which sees him play a frustratingly positive heel and Adam Rose, formerly Leo Kruger plays a camp party-goer who is surely going to catch on with the singing and dancing WWE crowds.

Paige’s debut was a huge, shocking moment and the vignettes aired showed the WWE crowd what to expect in the coming weeks. NXT is full of stars and they seem to be slowly infiltrating WWE TV as WWE under Triple H’s command looks forward to the future.

Cesaro

Cesaro and the Andre the Giant Trophy.

Thirdly, Cesaro. Cesaro won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at WrestleMania 30, scooping up The Big Show in a moment strikingly similar to Hulk Hogan slamming Andre at WrestleMania 3 and on RAW he had the penultimate spot on the show, getting a rub from Hulk Hogan and then aligning himself with Paul Heyman.

Heyman’s ‘guys’, apart from Brock Lesnar (Ryback and Curtis Axel), have faltered in the past and have led to them being separated from the mastermind that is Paul Heyman. Cesaro should buck the trend, though, as he has all the skills to be a top star in the WWE. Only time will tell, of course, but all signs seem to point to Cesaro being a major player in the coming years.

The Shield

The Shield look menacing.

Finally, The Shield turning face and The Authority faltering. 2014, so far, has been the year of The Authority. They have kept Bryan under thumb and ruled WWE TV. At the end of RAW, however, The Shield finally snapped and attacked Triple H, leading to Bryan and The Shield standing tall as RAW went off the air.

While this moment may not seem as big as Paige’s debut or the start of Bryan’s title reign, The Shield turning face mean they now have a fresh load of match-ups and storylines against The Authority with Bryan leading the way of champion. Expect The Shield and Bryan to be some of the top stars for the rest of 2014.

The rest of the show saw some great crowd reactions, which you can see below:

All photos courtesy of WWE.

 

WrestleMania 30 review: The end of The Streak

WrestleMania 30 will go down in history as one of the most shocking of all time thanks to one event: The Undertaker’s legendary streak was ended by Brock Lesnar.

Undertaker WrestleMania 30

Undertaker walks to the ring.

The first two hours of the show were pretty much perfect. WrestleMania 30 was kicked off by the host, Hulk Hogan, who cut a promo putting over the importance of the night. It felt special and it felt right. Then Hogan was joined by two more legends; Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. It felt even more special. Three of the biggest stars ever in WWE in one ring at the 30th WrestleMania. A true WrestleMania moment that made the fans laugh, smile and most likely get goosebumps.

Then came the match of the night – Daniel Bryan vs Triple H. The fans were electric for Bryan, and the sigh of 70,000+ people all chanting ‘YES!’ in unison is one I won’t forget in a long time. The match itself was lengthy and told a great story with Triple H working on Bryan’s already-injured shoulder to further stack the deck against Bryan in the main event later in the night.

The Shield dominated the team of the New Age Outlaws and Kane in under 5 minutes. Possibly a waste of potential but at least The Shield won dominantly and furthered their babyface turn.

The Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal was a little messy (when is it not with 30 men in the ring at the same time?) but once the field thinned out it provided us with two great moments. The first being Kofi Kingston’s near-elimination spot, a spot he is now famous for in Royal Rumble matches. Kofi flew over the top rope and ringpost and somehow landed with his back on the floor and feet still on the steps. An incredible show of athleticism that may have stuck in the mind longer had it not been for the Swiss Superman Antonio Cesaro providing us with the modern re-enactment of Hogan slamming Andre by hoisting up The Big Show and eliminating him. The comparison was uncanny and hopefully Cesaro is on his way to Hogan-like success in the future.

Cesaro Andre The Giant

Cesaro wins the Andre The Giant trophy.

Cena vs Bray Wyatt was also a good match as it provided us with another dimension to John Cena’s character. Cena was forced to do things he normally wouldn’t and question his morals to beat Wyatt, who put on another stellar performance at PPV level. Wyatt is really a fantastic wrestler and one to take WWE into the future.

Then WrestleMania 30 cemented itself as one of the most shocking ever. The Undertaker lost to Brock Lesnar. The Streak, which stood at 21-0 before WrestleMania 30 went to 21-1 as Taker failed to kick out of a third F-5 delivered by Lesnar. Fans in attendance were stunned to silence for a long while as they watched the legendary Phenom lie motionless on the mat as Heyman and Lesnar celebrated. A truly shocking moment that I and everyone at the SuperDome never thought they would see.

The match itself was a slow affair as Undertaker was not in the best of shape and got even worse early on when Taker suffered a concussion. He was taken to the hospital immediately following his match.

At first, shock and disappointment took over as I believed The Streak should never have been broken but since recollecting my thoughts I respect The Undertaker for his decision and for creating such a shocking moment. The Undertaker is a certified Hall of Famer and what he has done in the wrestling business is nothing short of phenomenal. As fans, respecting his decision is a compliment that Undertaker deserves.

Undertaker 21-1

The Undertaker lies motionless after being defeated by Brock Lesnar.

AJ Lee retained her Divas Title in a throaway Divas Invitational which was merely used to let the fans recover from the shock of Undertaker’s match before the main event. AJ Lee retaining was the best decision as there is really no other Diva on her level.

Then came the main event. The moment fans had been waiting for for months was finally here and it did not disappoint. There was a huge announcers table spot which saw Bryan get Batista Bomb/RKO’d through the table and stretchered out, there was The Authority intervening to try and screw Bryan again and there was near-falls for a cocky Batista, who the fans definitely did not want to see win. At the end of the day, Bryan finally prevailed and became the WWE World Heavyweight Champion and what a moment it was.

Confetti, fans chanting ‘YES!’ and Bryan standing tall at WrestleMania 30 all made for an epic emotional moment similar to when Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit won the titles at WrestleMania 20 ten years prior.

Daniel Bryan WWE World Heavyweight Champion

Daniel Bryan celebrating after his match.

There really wasn’t anything bad about WrestleMania 30 except for The Undertaker’s match. Partly because it was hard to watch one of the greatest of all time wrestle in bad shape and partly because Undertaker lost. Everything else on the card contributed to making WrestleMania 30 a great show, culminating in Bryan celebrating to close the show. WrestleMania 30 will certainly go down in history.

Behind the scenes videos from WrestleMaina 30 can be found on WWE’s YouTube channel here.

Revolution Pro Wrestling: High Stakes Review

Revolution Pro High Stakes

Revolution Pro Wrestling returned to York Hall, Bethnal Green on Saturday 15th March for High Stakes 2014 which featured fantastic matches, singing and dancing and the legendary Sting.

Entering York Hall I was bubbling with excitement; my first Revolution Pro show and the card was looking great; some of the UK’s top stars such as Kris Travis and Marty Scurll joined by some of the best the American indy scene has to offer in The Young Bucks and the Inner City Machine Guns.

Young Bucks

Myself with The Young Bucks

The anticipation built to a fever pitch in the arena and by the time the first match kicked off the fans were well and truly ready for a good show.

Opening match: Josh Bodom vs Jay Lethal. Lethal and Bodom put on an entertaining opening match with Lethal working the crowd as his Black Machismo gimmick. Nothing to go out of your way to see but a good way to kick start the show with fan favourite Lethal. Bodom picked up the win, however.

Sha Samuels vs Mark Andrews was next with Andrews attacking Samuels with fast paced offense before Samuels was ready. This allowed Andrews to score a near-fall but then led to Samuels dominating the match for the rest of proceedings. Andrews won by DQ after Samuels smashed Andrews over the head with a chair on an attempted suicide dive. The crowd went crazy for the big chair shot and it was just a sign of things to come.

Next up was the Swords of Essex (Revolution Pro Wrestling’s tag team champions Will Ospreay and Paul Robinson) facing off against the Inner City Machine Guns (a team comprising of Dragon Gate’s Open the Dream Gate Champion, Ricochet, and Rich Swann.) This match was the best of the night. From Inner City Machine Guns all-singing-all-dancing “All Night Long” entrance to the comedic opening of the match to the frankly insane crescendo, this match was incredible fun. All four guys put on a fantastic display of athleticism, speed and strength which, by the end of the match, had sent the crowd into an absolute frenzy. The Inner City Machine Guns picked up the win and became the new RPW Tag Champions. (SPOILERS: They lost them at the show the night after in Sittingbourne.)

Inner City Machine Guns

Intermission then allowed the crowd to calm down and regain themselves before the next match: Project Ego (Kris Travis and Martin Kirby) vs The Young Bucks (Nick and Matt Jackson.) This match featured one of the best UK tag teams against one of the best US tag teams and did not disappoint. It was a great match in its own right, but was following such an incredible match and intermission, so felt a little flat. No doubt that Matt Jackson’s hand injury also hindered the Bucks slightly, but they were still able to turn the crowd’s volume up when the superkicks started to fly. The Bucks picked up the win.

Then it was showtime. Sting, filling in for Ric Flair who cancelled due to personal reasons, came to the ring to speak to the Revolution Pro Wrestling Fans. Cutting a promo no more than 5 minutes long, Sting kept it short and sweet, thanking the fans and putting over the great wrestlers and matches seen on the night.

Main event: Colt Cabana (Revolution Pro Wrestling’s Heavyweight Champion) vs Marty Scurll. This match was a 30-minute Iron Man match, and was eventually won 3-2 by Marty following interference. The match itself was a scrappy affair, choosing story over the fast-paced action seen earlier in the night but a lot of that story was hard to see from the floor with each wrestler being thrown into the crowd and outside of the ring multiple times.

Overall, RPW put on a fantastic show that will encourage first-time RPW visitors such as myself to visit again and again in the future. There was a good mix of UK stars and US imports, which meant there were great matches across the board and the crowd were loud all night long. Pun intended.

Royal Rumble: Analysing Roman Reigns’ performance

Image credit: WWE.com

Roman Reigns had a great Royal Rumble match. The Shield member entered at #15 and lasted for 33 minutes 58 seconds, eliminating 12 superstars. Roman Reigns beat Kane’s record of 11 eliminations in one Royal Rumble match that had stood since 2001.

In his time in the match, Reigns eliminated Kofi Kingston, Dolph Ziggler, Kevin Nash, The Great Khali, Goldust, El Torito, JBL, Luke Harper, Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, Antonio Cesaro and Sheamus before being eliminated himself by the Royal Rumble winner, Batista.

Breaking Kane’s record is symbolic for Roman Reigns, who is in the infancy of his WWE career. Over the past two years he has dominated huge stars as a member of The Shield and since Survivor Series 2013 he has been receiving more and more attention for his fantastic in-ring work.

Fellow Shield members Ambrose and Rollins are often talked about as the fan favourites of The Shield, mainly due to their time on the independent scene and, especially in Seth Rollins’ case, in NXT. Reigns, however, should not be overlooked. He is a member of the Anoa’i family which features Samoan wrestling greats such as The Rock, Rikishi, Yokozuna, Umage and The Usos. He has a great look; Reigns stands at 6 feet 3 inches of pure Samoan athleticism and even has the Samoan sleeve tattoo to match.

In the ring, Reigns has been increasingly impressive since eliminating four out of five opponents at Survivor Series (tying the record), utilising an impressive arsenal of moves which include a devastating spear and a highly unique superman punch.

Reigns looked at ease during the Royal Rumble match, showing off his power and athleticism at numerous times during the 33 minutes he was in the ring for. He entered the match after delivering a running dropkick to CM Punk who was hanging over the bottom rope, going on to spear Cody Rhodes and then launched Kofi Kingston over the top rope to eliminate him. It was an emphatic start and it got better from there for Reigns as he dominated the competition.

Reigns’ dominance shows a sign of faith from WWE. The Shield looks to be teasing a separation soon and it looks like Reigns could be getting a good solo push following the split. While many will clamour for Ambrose or Rollins to be pushed, Reigns looks to be the first in line.

Roman Reigns seems extremely capable of going far in WWE. Can he reach the heights of The Rock? Only time will tell.

WWE Live in Nottingham review

Daniel Bryan and CM Punk. #wwenottingham

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WWE returned to Nottingham on the 13th November and put on a great show in front of a 9,000 strong crowd.

The card opened with The Prime Time Players facing off against Hunico and Camacho, who surprised most people that they were even there. PTP got a good reaction to start the night and the match was good enough fun to get the ball rolling.

Ryback then beat Justin Gabriel in what was NOT a squash match. Gabriel got in some good high-flying offence while Ryback countered with some power moves and in the end Ryback got the win with Shell Shocked. Ryback got some good heat, especially after ripping up a sign and then squaring up to a WWE VIP ticket holder on his way to the ring.

Next, the Divas were in action as AJ Lee faced Brie Bella in a non-title match. The crowd were fairly quiet for this one but most were shocked when Brie got the victory.

The Great Khali beat Heath Slater in a squash match which was no fun for anybody.

Bray Wyatt drags his rocking chair to the ring. #wwenottingham

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Paul Heyman then made his way to the ring with clients Ryback and Curtis Axel in tow. Heyman cut a promo on how both CM Punk and the WWE Universe were responsible for Heyman’s injuries. Cue Punk, who got a huge reaction from the fans, cutting a promo on how Ryback and Axel should walk away and let Punk beat Heyman with a kendo stick. They did, surprisingly, and left Punk to do the beating. Then the famous, eerie music hit and The Wyatts had arrived. Being in an arena when that chilling theme song hits and everything goes dark is quite an experience and had me chilled. The Wyatts cornered Punk and began attacking him until Daniel Bryan rushed to the ring to a massive cheer from the crowd. Bryan and Punk then faced Harper and Rowan in the best match of the night that had the crowd engrossed from start to finish.

CM Punk #wwenottingham

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-INTERMISSION-

The Usos beat Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre in a match that the crowd really weren’t that in to despite the Usos’ popularity. I think people were still making their way back from intermission at this point.

R-Truth then shocked the crowd into life, rapping and dancing his way to the ring to face Curtis Axel for the Intercontinental Championship. This was probably the third best match of the night with R-Truth getting the crowd going and Axel even throwing in a few mocking dance moves of his own.

Curtis Axel #wwenottingham

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Main Event: Alberto Del Rio vs John Cena for the World Heavyweight Championship. Del Rio drew heat from the crowd and had fun while doing so too. He taunted some crowd members, got one woman to rub his back and even jumped five rows deep at one point to escape Cena’s grasp. Cena got the biggest reaction of the night with everyone clamouring to see him and the two put on a good back and forth match with Cena picking up the victory.

John Cena #wwenottingham

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Overall, a solid card with some really good matches. The wrestlers did seem a little rushed in getting to the back after their matches though. Usually they would spend a little more time high-fiving everyone or signing programs/t-shirts. Nevertheless, an enjoyable night yet again from WWE.

WWE return to the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham on Saturday 17th May.