If you are a wrestling fan, you may have heard that WWE held a pay-per-view show on Sunday night which didn’t go down too well. Spoiler alert; turns out there’s only so far fans will go on a nostalgia trip with their favourite late-1990s WCW legend, and that is when said legend squashes the much-respected incumbent champion in under 30 seconds to win the top title and coast invincibly into the Wrestlemania main event having wrestled in singles matches for a grand total of under TWO MINUTES in the past 12 years, taking no bumps and verging perilously close to gassing out along the way.
At least CM Punk got twenty minutes against the Rock in 2013, eh?
Why am I talking about this? Well, the retort I saw online in the aftermath was ‘there’s a whole world of wrestling outside of WWE – why not try that if you aren’t happy with WWE right now?’ A very wise proposition, and less than 24 hours later we got a show from WCPW that was everything WWE Fastlane was not; well-booked, exciting and fresh. And the main event not only went over 30 seconds, but was perhaps one of the very best matches I’ve ever seen in the promotion.
More on that later. For now, let’s get down into the Best Of Seven:
1. Workhorse Rhodes vs Breakout Slater (+)
Cody Rhodes’ Internet Championship reign has become what the Intercontinental Championship was for the longest time in WWE; the place where high-workrate high-action matches live. We got another corker here as Liam Slater, fresh from a huge win over Zack Sabre Jr on Loaded this past week, continued his breakout performances with another stormer. A bout that started with Slater hitting his finisher and nearly getting the win inside 20 seconds (that only works for old WCW guys, Liam) and refused to slow down its relentless pace after that, this was really enjoyable from bell to bell. Slater dropping a Too Sweet salute to the American Nightmare post-match was the icing on the cake.
2. An Excellent Debut for The Prestige (+)
Last Monday on Loaded, newly-heel Joe Hendry formed a new posse that reminded me a LOT of CM Punk’s Straight Edge Society, featuring Joe Coffey (Gallows) and Travis Banks (Joey Mercury). At Exit Wounds they debuted as The Prestige, and in one night they a) dropped a salvo of savage pipebombs on the crowd, b) beat El Ligero and Gabriel Kidd in a tag match, c) beat up Doug Williams and menaced Matt Striker, d) revealed BT Gunn as a member, then finally e) destroyed Martin Kirby AND the new General Manager. Hands down this has to be one of the best debuts in WCPW history; if you watch one of their three segments from this show, make it their opening promos; from Hendry shooting on ‘disrespectful’ fans, Coffey mocking fans for paying for WCExtra, and Banks stating ‘this company fucking SUCKS’, this was a worked shoot that touched on just enough reality to make it absolutely exceptional.
Considering a month ago we had Pacitti Club as the top heel stable in the company, this is a HUGE improvement, and the unit could make WCPW must-watch television on their own.
3. The New General Manager Is…Not That Adam, The Other One (/)
Speaking of the new General Manager, it was revealed on this show that the person stepping into the shoes vacated by Kirby would be…Adam Blampied.
My first reaction? ‘Well, at least it isn’t King Ross.’
I’ve said before on this blog how WCPW has had previous problems with putting over the WhatCulture youtube channel and personalities ahead of actually being a wrestling show, so bringing in arguably the figurehead of WhatCulture itself as new GM looked initially like a step backwards. However, the reason why this isn’t a negative is that I’m actually willing to give Blampied a fair crack of the whip. His opening promo was far away from the smug heel we saw getting powerbombed through a table five months previously; this was humble, babyface Blampied, who was quick to put over the wrestlers in the locker room as the most important and best part of WCPW – not the Youtube personalities. This, alongside guys like Pacitti and Jack the Jobber being phased off television recently suggests to me the company is looking to focus more on the PW part of WCPW going forward, and rightfully so.
(fun fact; between the Rampage beatdown five months ago and eating a Superkick and a suplex in the beatdown from the Prestige on this show, non-wrestler Blampied has taken at least three times as many bumps as Big Bill has since his return to WWE.)
4. Rampage Wins With A Match to Spare (+)
Lot of positives for this show far, and they continue here as Rampage and Primate’s Best Of Seven series concluded with a match to spare in characteristically brutal fashion. Given Rampage went in to Exit Wounds with a 3-2 lead, Primate levelling it up was the expected outcome, so this was a nice twist; and the match we got was probably one of the best of the entire series, one which has sometimes dragged (particularly last time out at True Destiny). The original Chains stipulation went out the window when Primate tore the chain clean off his wrist, and after that the match opened up into an absolute slugfest; piledrivers on the apron, monstrous suplexes, chairshots (including one comically awful one from James R. Kennedy), table spots and blood. It was pure human carnage, and perhaps ending the series early before someone gets killed is the best course of action. Both men come out of the series with reputation enhanced, and former PROGRESS Atlas Champ Rampage moves on to a title shot at WCPW’s Orlando show against…well, you’ll find out later.
5. SPOILER ALERT: Viper’s Gonna Interfere (-)
On Loaded, the clingfilm-thin Women’s Division was finally bolstered with the arrival of the formidable Miss Viper as new champ Bea Priestley’s enforcer. Awesome. She played a factor in the finish of Priestley’s title defence on this show too, as she helped Bea retain against the excellent Kay Lee Ray – except the match graphic shown at the start totally spoiled this by showing ‘Bea Priestley w/ Viper’ as if she was supposed to be at ringside the whole time. Announcers Dave Bradshaw and Striker worked around this admirably, but ultimately this has to go down as a negative as it telegraphed the finish a mile off.
(Note; this ISN’T a negative on the match itself, which was pretty damn good!)
6. Showcase Matches Lack Heat (-)
Really, none of the negatives for Exit Wounds have anything to do with the in-ring quality, which was solid all night. In this case, the two showcase matches – one for Ring of Honor ft. Silas Young and Delirious, and another for Revolution Pro Wrestling featuring Marty Scurll and David Starr – completely lacked heat, and similar to the Lucha Showcase match at True Destiny, seemed to struggle to gain any momentum. The RPW match did better mainly as Scurll is super over with the WCPW audience, and everyone involved worked hard to get themselves over, but you know the current match is struggling when an announcement drops for a match on a future PPV midway through – as what happened in the ROH showcase when Adam Cole was confirmed to defend his ROH World Title vs ZSJ on March 21st. A huge announcement, but it didn’t say much for Young and Delirious’ efforts.
7. The Best Main Event In WCPW History (+)
I slept on that statement, thought about it some more over my morning cup of tea, and I stand by it. Exit Wounds’ main event match, pitting Drew Galloway vs Will Ospreay for the WCPW World Championship, is the best main event in WCPW’s short history. From the great long-term build (the seeds for this match were first sown in early January) to the pre-match video packages, promos packed full of menace and intensity from both men, and the match itself bell-to-bell, THIS is the match you show your friends to convince them into being WCPW fans.
Five minutes in I had abandoned live-tweeting, closed my laptop and was loudly swearing at my television in absolute joy as the match ratcheted up; by this point Ospreay had already been hurled into the crowd by Galloway, before recovering to hit a plancha off a production desk, then a splash off the top rope OVER THE BARRIER.
It only got better from there.
The reversal of roles which saw a high-flyer as the heel and a big powerhouse as the face gave this contest a fascinating extra dynamic, and the match swung back and forth as any attempts to predict the winner went out the window. The finish looked to be coming as Bea Priestley ran down to assist her boyfriend, only to eat a wicked headbutt from Galloway for her trouble – allowing Ospreay the opportunity to hit the OsCutter, an almost guaranteed winning move. The resulting near-fall made for a phenomenal false finish, Ospreay’s stunned face mirroring John Cena at Summerslam 2016 and fans roaring in suspended disbelief. The eventual climax of Ospreay’s second OsCutter attempt being countered into a tornado swinging FutureShock DDT by Galloway for the win was a fitting conclusion to an absolutely sensational match. I was applauding my television at the final bell, and even recapping it now, I’m getting chills. This is the sort of match that either makes you a fan of wrestling for life or reminds you why you became a fan in the first place. It was THAT good.
Final rating: Positives 4-2 Negatives
A really solid show top to bottom with consistently good in-ring work all night, pushed into must-watch territory by The Prestige’s segments and THAT main event worthy of any promotion around the world. Disappointed by Fastlane? Go watch Galloway vs Ospreay, or Hendry’s pipebombs, or Rampage and Primate battering the snot out of each other, and remind yourself how thrilling, visceral and unpredictable wrestling can be.
The future isn’t nostalgia for the Monday Night Wars. The future is now.