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.

Kris Travis on being the UK’s #1 pro wrestler

Kris Travis in action at Southside Wrestling. Photo courtesy of Brett Hadley.

Kris Travis in action at Southside Wrestling.
Photo courtesy of Brett Hadley.

Kris Travis recently stormed the annual Fighting Spirit Magazine Awards, winning UK Wrestler of the Year, UK Tag Team of the Year and UK Pro Wrestling Match of the Year 2013. I spoke to Kris Travis himself to ask him what it means to win such an award.

“It’s so ridiculous. Every time I’m in a magazine I keep the magazine. It’s a massive mark-out moment.”

Travis described winning UK Wrestler of the Year as a cementing of his skill, passion and desire for his craft that he has applied himself to over the past 12 years: “All of the people who have looked at it as a joke can look at this magazine and see that I share the same pages as the guys who they consider the ‘real’ wrestlers.”

Kris Travis is referring to a number of people who saw his career choice of a pro wrestler being a joke in the early years. He told me his friends often joke around and call him Hulk Hogan, but a select few thought Kris’ decision to pursue wrestling was a bad one.

After 12 years of performing and honing his skills, which Kris admitted to being generic and rubbish at first, he has now reached a level which he can be happy at: “I’m seen to be one of the top in the UK so I’m just happy being at that level and hopefully making a bit of money from wrestling because it’s not a glamorous world.” Shoulder and neck injuries are just a few nagging pains 30-year-old Kris Travis deals with on a day to day basis when at the gym maintaining the fitness level required to be at the top of his game.

Kris Travis.  Photo courtesy of Brett Hadley

Kris Travis.
Photo courtesy of Brett Hadley

Digging deeper, I asked Kris to explain his character and his pretty boy look. “I’m pretty much the person who you would see on a night out and think ‘what a dick’.

“He loves himself, he thinks those girls are gonna fancy him. He thinks everyone loves him.”

Travis said he does this to wind people up. Another thing he does to wind the crowd up is wear bright pink: “Pink is kind of associated with being a bit of a girly colour so it automatically makes people dislike you.” Travis must be doing something right as even though he tries his very best to annoy the crowds he wrestles in front of, they still voted in great numbers, with Kris Travis scoring 28% of the votes in the Fighting Spirit Magazine Awards, 5% more than second place Zack Sabre Jr.

“It’s given me a lot of fans and a lot of pleasure.”

Not only did Kris scoop the solo award, he also won UK Tag Team of the Year alongside Martin Kirby as Project Ego, with the pair garnering 51% of the votes: “Kirby’s an amazing wrestler. I rate Kirby as higher than me, as better than me; especially in the tag format.” Travis and Kirby were first placed together as a team on a small show in Rotherham at what Kris described to me as a “shitty working men’s club.” Since then the team has gone from strength to strength, mixing charisma with athleticism to form Project Ego: “We just work as a team.”

Rounding off his treble, Travis won UK Pro Wrestling Match of the Year for his match against former WWE star Chris Masters on June 1 at Preston City Wrestling. Travis said: “I go out there and have some of the best matches and take some of the biggest risks.” Watch Travis vs Masters below:

While Travis has done a lot in his 12 years of wrestling, he still holds a dream of one day making it to the WWE: “I have always said to myself I’ll be on WrestleMania next year. If I’m looking at it from an honest point of view, I don’t think I’ll ever make it to WWE/TNA but that’s not going to stop me trying.”