Looking Ahead… to the World Cup

This Tuesday (March 21), WhatCulture kicks off their inaugural Pro Wrestling World Cup with the English qualifiers in Nottingham.

Since the press conference in Milton Keynes last month, WCPW haven’t revealed too much in the way of new details, save for the brackets for the England and Scotland ties… and a slight tweak to the Mexican field, with Juventud Guerrera replacing Caristico (formerly Sin Cara).

So, what can we expect to see in the English leg? Well, we know what the four first-round matches will be:

Will Ospreay vs Martin Kirby; Rampage vs Nick Aldis; Marty Scurll vs Zack Sabre Jr; Jimmy Havoc vs Zack Gibson

  • Ospreay/Kirby, if you recall, was a show-stealer during the early days of the Loaded, and they’ve had a couple of rematches since the, so this should be (at worst) a solid match.
  • Rampage vs. the former Magnus, Nick Aldis, is an intriguing match, given that this would be (to my knowledge) their first one-on-one encounter; aside from a tag match on Global Force Wrestling’s 2015 tour of the UK, and another tag match for All Star in 2008, they’ve not been in the same ring, which makes for an interesting pairing.
  • Marty Scurll against Zack Sabre Jr is a match that by rights will be good, and as other commentators have noted, should be kept pretty compact as this is only a first round match. What will hurt here is that WCPW’s age means that we’ll be relying on the crowd knowing both these guys’ history from the LDRS all the way through to where we are now where they’re sort-of teaming and sort-of feuding, depending on the promotion they’re in. I’ll be calling this the match of the round, no questions asked.
  • Finally in the first round, we’ve got two debutants as Zack Gibson faces off against Jimmy Havoc, in what I believe is another first-time outing. Again, this match should be good, although the bigger questions surround how much leeway Havoc will have, and also how much heat the Zack Gibson act will get in Nottingham.

In round two, the Ospreay/Kirby winner faces the winner of Rampage/Aldis, whilst the winner of the clash between the LDRS takes on either Havoc or Gibson, with the winners of those two matches going into the summer’s finals in Newcastle. As for my picks, I’ve a feeling we’ll be seeing Will Ospreay and one of the LDRS in the Newcastle finals.

Two days later, WCPW’ll be heading to Motherwell for a show that’ll feature the Scottish brackets, featuring a slew of debutants to the promotion:

Drew Galloway vs. Mark Coffey; BT Gunn vs. Lewis Girvan; Joe Coffey vs. Liam Thomson; Joe Hendry vs. Kenny Williams

This is the bracket where we’ll see some issues, I fear. WCPW’s Edinburgh last January seeing the crowd produce concerningly-little reactions for most of the Scottish talent not called Joe Hendry or Drew Galloway. In the first round, the Galloway/Mark Coffey match should be good, but the question mark surrounds reactions, given that Mark’s WCPW brief stint came as a tag team partner with his brother, ending with a forgotten heel turn at the end. BT Gunn and Lewis Girvan fall into a similar bracket, as Gunn’s only had four matches in WCPW as of time of writing. Sure, Gunn’s now part of the Prestige faction, but that’ll need a lot of “local knowledge” and crowd working to get much of a response, I fear. Likewise for the Joe Hendry/Kenny Williams match, although Kenny does have that World of Sport appearance to add to his bow.

The second round will feature Galloway/Coffey vs. Gunn/Girvan then Coffey/Thomson vs. Hendry/Williams

Sadly, since most of these guys are going to be new to WCPW, I fear that those first round matches may be played in front of indifferent crowds before they wake up for the semi-finals. As for my picks, I’ve a sense that we’ll have a Prestige-heavy line-up, as I’m picking a Galloway/Gunn and a Coffey/Hendry semis… and from there it’s a crapshoot. My gut’s telling me that Galloway isn’t going through, so I’ll toss a coin and pick BT Gunn and Joe Hendry to make the finals.

A month later, WCPW’ll be holding the Mexican qualifiers. In Coventry. Arriba! This is where we’ve had a change, as Caristico has been pulled and replaced by Juventud Guerrera, as we have these brackets:

Penta el 0 M vs. Fenix; El Ligero vs. Drago; Rey Mysterio vs. Alberto el Patron; Juventud Guerrera vs. El Hijo de Dos Caras

Like the Scottish ties, this may be a line-up that could be plagued by indifferent reactions… except the brackets should give us some matches where the crowd will at least react to the stars, if not the matches. Penta and Fenix should be a hoot, whilst El Ligero and Drago should at the very least be enjoyable. My confidence isn’t as high on the other side of the bracket, as Mysterio/Patron will at best be “there”, I fear, whilst El Hijo de Dos Caras will be looking to shed the nightmare that was his performance against Drago at the True Destiny show in February.

Penta/Fenix vs. Ligero/Drago and Mysterio/Patron vs. Juventud/Caras will provide the two Mexican qualifiers. From those line-ups, I’d be picking Penta el-whatever-he’s-called-by-then to join the finals, along with whomever wins between Mysterio and Patron. I’m shocked that was actually put in the first round, but it is what it is.

Still to be announced are the brackets for the German qualifiers – for which the competitors are already known as “Bad Bones” John Klinger, Axel Dieter Jr, Crazy Sexy Mike, Cash Money Erkan, Juvenile X, Pascal Spalter, Lucky Kid and Tarkan Aslan. Without knowing the brackets, I’d guess that the pairing better known from wXw would be the favourites, but we’ll see.

Canada’s SMASH promotion still has to announce their competitors and brackets, whilst the USA, Japan and that “rest of world” group, which I’d imagine will include names like Travis Banks, also remains TBC.

Qualifiers for WhatCulture’s Pro Wrestling World Cup starts this Tuesday in Nottingham, with footage from those matches – and the entire World Cup – being posted on their YouTube channel… then reviewed by us shortly afterwards!