As August turns into September, it’s perhaps time to get a few thoughts out of my head and onto the keyboard, since we’re in a relatively quiet time!
Back when I started Back Body Drop last December, my main aim was for it to not become “another newz site” – to the point where I actively avoided posting anything that was news, since there’s already more than enough news sites out there. And Twitter. Which somehow seems to be ahead of the curve on a number of stories. That being said, there’s been plenty of stories I’ve had my takes on, but not to the point where there’s been enough to put together a whole article on.
So, in the first of what’ll probably be the first of many “pot pourri” columns… here we go!
2016 really has been the year of Will Ospreay. He started 2016 as a guy whose shot at the big time was seemingly limited to being “a local guy on TNA’s annual tour of the UK” (and speaking of, they’ve seemingly killed that tradition for 2016!). Except he ended up signing a deal with New Japan, and the rest, as they say, is history.
In a series of interviews throughout the year, Ospreay had made no secret of his injuries: slipped discs in his back, seven concussions, shoulder injuries, heel fractures, sciatica… for a 23 year old, with only four years in the business, he’s all banged up. Perhaps with an eye on how Japan treats their talent, Ospreay started dropping hints at perhaps restricting himself to tag team matches, specifically six-man tags; which is a bit of a turn-up, given how rare six-man matches are in the British scene right now.
This past weekend, Ospreay took that idea a step further, with the unveiling of the new British Triangle Championship – a trios title that he, Paul Robinson and Scotty “Essex” Wainwright have given themselves.
In the launch promo, IPW:UK, RPW, Southside Wrestling and PROGRESS were named as “potential places that the titles could be defended”. They’ll be defended worldwide, and the only mis-step was that they were unveiled in a promo that looked like it was shot in a park outside someone’s house. Yeah, I know it was likely filmed after an outdoor show for the RCWA promotion in Essex, but you know what the internet is like – jumping on all the little things, and ignoring what fits!
So, the idea of a trios title is certainly intriguing. From a cynic’s perspective, it’s a great way for Will to get booked, work less and get two of his best friends bookings at the same time. However, you’d have to wonder where they’re going to be defended? Years ago, in the crossover period between eras of British wrestling – between the dying days of the FWA and the rise of worldwide popularity from PROGRESS, Rev Pro and the like – there was another title that floated around, that wasn’t tied to any particular promotion, in the form of the BWC Scarlo Scholarship title. If you followed the early days of PROGRESS, or read our #BACKFILL reviews, you may have seen that title float around, before it quietly shuffled away.
Initially granted to the winner of a legit scholarship at a wrestling school, the title remained low-key before it faded away from the limelight, without any major promotion behind it. I fear the exact same thing will happen to the new British triangle title, particularly if/when it leaves the hands of the reunited Swords of Essex. As much as the British wrestling scene in particular has made strides to co-operate more amongst themselves, there is some massive skepticism in terms of “who’s going to promote a belt that they don’t own”? All it’ll take is one promoter to have plans wrecked by another – say, a promotion building up a trio to challenge, and perhaps win the titles, only for another group to swoop in. What if another promotion books said challengers differently – and what happens if/when the belts change hands? Since a promotion usually has custody of title changes, are the Swords the bookers of the belts? If so, that could lead to some very sticky situations…
Speaking of… much like Will Ospreay labelled himself as in the aforementioned title unveiling, PROGRESS has developed a reputation for going against the grain. In July, the company split up two teams: the Dunne Brothers (Pete & Damian), and Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate). At the time, it was a curious choice from PROGRESS, made even more so barely three weeks later when Seven and Bate teamed up to win CHIKARA’s Campeonatos de Parejas (tag team championship). Heck, just a week later, I saw Trent Seven at the small Cockpit show for Rev Pro having to brush off some boos from fans who’d been at PROGRESS to see his heel turn.
PROGRESS have made a point of tweaking characters to fit their needs: for instance, Marty Scurll had his theme changed when he turned heel, since having a crowd sing along really doesn’t fit the character. Likewise, PROGRESS seems to be the only place on earth where El Ligero is a heel,
I appreciate that there’s only a certain amount of things that you can do with a character, and if a group is intent on giving everyone a storyline, then you can quickly find yourself hamstrung, or worse, at risk of being labelled a copycat. So if Mark Haskins, say, is being booked as a massive babyface en route to a title-shot in one company, it’ll look very odd if he’s booked as an undercard guy who loses more than he wins. Particularly if it’s in the same part of the country, where there’s likely to be a big cross-over of fans who attend both promotions’ shows…
WhatCulture’s wrestling group seems to be morphing ever more into the successor of the fabled 1PW, as their next run of shows in October features an increasingly-bloated line-up. Cody Rhodes, Kurt Angle, Jay Lethal were already booked for in-ring action, whilst the company’s first-ever iPPV on October 6 has also seen them fly in Jim Ross and Jim Cornette to handle commentary, since we all know how well flown-in commentary teams do with little research! WCPW’s also added another name to the three-day run, in the form of Bret “Hitman” Hart.
Now, Bret was one of my favourites growing up as a kid; heck, he was the first wrestler I ever saw in a match… but what sort of role will they have Bret fill? Wrestling is off the table, as is pretty much anything bar the “hey, there’s some real good guys in the back” and “let’s follow the future of wrestling” schtick. Speaking of… is anyone else concerned that the increase in fly-ins for matches that, on the face of it, won’t build up to anything is going to reduce the chances given to home-grown guys?
While we’re talking about WCPW, at time of writing, they’re in the middle of changing their broadcast schedule, after eight episodes (over ten weeks). The first “season” saw the group flirt with different lengths of shows, whilst the second “season” saw them persist with two-hour shows, for better or for worse. Two evenings’ shows ended up being split into three separate broadcasts, which was to have been followed up with the “Stacked” special… which didn’t happen. Don’t worry, it’s been taped, but much like how season one followed up with a week off, we’re getting the same here.
Perhaps some better planning could have gone into this? Knowing how many shows you’re taping and when your future tapings are would mean that you’d have content every week, rather than breaking viewing habits and risk damaging live ratings. Clearly, the very mistakes TNA were bashed for weren’t learned from here…
Next April, of course, is WrestleMania. There’ll be hundreds of wrestling fans from the UK (and many thousands more from across the world) converging on Orlando. As has become the tradition now, there’s an array of shows being held that weekend – with the WWN Live crew holding their usual EVOLVE and WWN Supershows. In addition though, they’ve roped in other promotions: SHIMMER and Kaiju Big Battel carry over to this year, whilst there’s new arrivals in the form of the Rhode Island-based Beyond Wrestling, as well as CHIKARA and PROGRESS. Yep. PROGRESS. They’ll be doing a show in Orlando, and will be part of the “Mercury Rising” event, which is going to have an EVOLVE vs. PROGRESSS theme.
Not wanting to be left out, Revolution Pro Wrestling are also making the trip over to Florida, taking part in the WrestleCon events, alongside CZW and the New Jersey-based WrestlePro promotion. WrestleCon’ll also have a women’s only show and their traditional supershow. Now, this is obviously great exposure for both PROGRESS and Rev Pro, appearing in front of what should be rabid crowds, and with (you’d expect) most of their usual talent, given that one of the main reasons they don’t run shows over WrestleMania weekend is because all of the best talent is Stateside.
Without wanting to seem partisan, whilst I understand PROGRESS making the trip – after all, they have a somewhat established fanbase in the States, I don’t get the Rev Pro association. The biggest knock on that group is their “supershow” style of booking, with a core of British guys and an ever-changing roster of fly-ins… what exactly is there here to differentiate between a standard RPW show and the Florida show? If the answer is “it’s in Florida”, then I guess the point’s been missed entirely. There’s a difference between this and a New Japan or an ROH coming over, with their worldwide appeal. Perhaps I’m missing something, but on the surface, there’s absolutely nothing that’d separate this from, say, the WrestleCon Supershow, apart from “we’ve got a few British guys”.
Hopefully I’m proven wrong!