Okay, so WCPW’s Kirbymania show was last night from the Liverpool Olympia, and given I’m sat nursing a hot Lemsip drink and a throat infection, let’s improve my mood slightly from ‘bear with very sore throat’ to ‘bear with slightly less sore throat’ shall we?
This show was both a) a place to fill time whilst WCPW Loaded is off the air, and b) a trial-run for Loaded itself going live from March onwards. And in that respect it felt like a house show with some cameras rolling and a nice chance to progress some storylines a little bit and hype some things up for WCPW’s next PPV, Lights Out, happening a week today. And on all those fronts, it was mission accomplished, bar a couple of awkward technical issues which didn’t damage the pace of the show too much.
First, let’s get Match of the Night out the way; Cody Rhodes vs Zack Sabre Jr. This was the one match hyped up going in, and it delivered well in spite of Rhodes flying direct from Wrestle Kingdom 11 in Tokyo around 36 hours previously. ZSJ’s style of mat wrestling is somewhere between Verne Gagne’s vision of wrestling and a grapple-heavy MMA fight, but he reeks charisma and unlike some, I’ve never found myself bored by his work. Rhodes played his part and proved to everyone why his post-WWE career is going from strength to strength. He is the ideal big-name attraction for indie promotions; someone who has all the name and star power which comes with being a former WWE guy, but unlike many who are more battered and checked out mentally once they’re done in WWE, Rhodes is still in his prime physically, versatile in-ring, and oozes loveable rockstar charm and big-match hype. Never mind that he had gone from wrestling in front of many thousands at the Tokyo Dome to several hundred in the Olympia, he still brought his A-game and his post-match promo necking a beer in the middle of the ring capped off a really good match.
The other two notable matches were both set up early on; an opening promo exchange between Pacitti Club (sigh) and GM Martin Kirby and WCPW World Champion Drew Galloway led to a six-man tag between PC’s Bully Ray & the Swords of Essex vs Galloway and WCPW Tag champs Moss & Slater, then in the first match proper Joe Hendry was assaulted by old rival and WWE UK Tournament entrant Joseph Connors, handing Prospect’s Drake a win and setting up a no-holds-barred match for the main event in what is almost certainly Connors’ farewell match for WCPW. The 6-man tag (Teddy Long ‘holla hollas’ approvingly) was a fun match, with all three members of the face team being great fun to watch in-ring; Moss’ German suplexes were Lesnar levels of awesome. The heels got the win in a pretty naff finish (again, sigh), but given Bully Ray is facing Galloway for the WCPW World Title at Lights Out, this match furthered the build towards that.
Connors vs Hendry was far better, and gave me vibes of Sami Zayn/Kevin Owens’ ‘Fight Forever’ match from Battleground last year. It wasn’t quite as good, but had a similar feeling of two old rivals finally blowing off this brutal, hateful feud and brawling to a conclusion once and for all. Given the news that WWE wasn’t allowing UK Tournament competitors to compete in WCPW, and that WhatCulture themselves had put a video out announcing the departure of Connors as well as Pete Dunne and Moustache Mountain, him being on this show at all was a big surprise, and after an entertaining match he tapped to the Ankle Lock and put over Hendry on his way out. Good stuff.
Elsewhere we had Ivelisse of Lucha Underground fame vs Lana Austin in a good match more dominated by Bea Priestley sitting at ringside with the WCPW Women’s Championship belt – when she isn’t actually champion. Okay then. As well as that, now-solo Travis Banks faced Joe Coffey in an entertaining match, and an impromptu comedy tag match was set up featuring Prospect vs GM Kirby and a surprise teammate found by Jack the Jobber, El Ligero. Essentially this match boiled down to a mix of comedy spots (normally featuring Jack asking Kirby to do GM stuff whilst mid-match) and Kirby and Ligero, former rivals in this promotion, acting like WCPW’s own version of Sheamus and Cesaro – which I’m TOTALLY DOWN FOR, by the way, if they want to continue this. Finally we had a scratchy match between the excellent Marty Scurll and Gabriel Kidd; both men didn’t quite click together, but Kidd’s story of underdog coming so close time after time is engaging and hopefully leading to a satisfying conclusion. Plus Scurll is never anything short of great fun to watch; I want to see him and Kevin Owens in a ‘Last Man Jawjacking’ match.
So a show of not great consequences, and more of what you expect from WCPW by now; the ‘We’re WhatCulture so we do self-referential internet comedy’ schtick that’s hit or miss mixed with very entertaining British style wrestling. Onwards to Lights Out – and for me, onwards back to bed with a bottle of Covonia. Let me know below, and on social media (@AJV1Beta on Twitter) your thoughts on this one.