Two jabs and a body blow – could best be how you could sum up yesterday’s hattrick of bad news on the UK scene.
We’ll start with the straightforward stuff: OWE UK’s postponement of the tour they were meant to have held in London and Liverpool later this month. In hindsight, it’s way too easy to suggest that the cards presented were too heavy with imports… a quick Google search shows that OWE UK were going to bring in a myriad of imports from around the world – including Strong Hearts of CIMA, El Lindaman, T-Hawk and Shigehiro Irie, Rekka, Hyper Streak, T-Cool, Monkey King, the Gym Nasty Boys (White Mike & Timmy-Lou Retton), the International Superstars (Joey Osbourne & Blanco Loco), the Arrows of Hungary (Icarus & Dover), along with AEW’s Private Party (Isiah Kassidy & Marq Quen) and the pairing of Luchasaurus and Marko Stunt.
Add in the likes of Rampage Brown, Marius al-Ani, Senza Volto, More Than Hype, Chris Ridgeway, Scotty Davis, Martina, and so many more… well, this was always going to be an expensive show when it came to talent. Yet, in deleted tweets, OWE UK pointed the finger for the delays towards visa issues… before removing their social media channels entirely (at time of writing). Whether we get new dates remains to be seen, but with the socials gone, I’m not going to hold my breath.
Hours later came the news of the postponement of Breed Wrestling’s Starrcave, with licensing issues being cited. While Breed are looking to reschedule, the relatively-late postponement brings back memories of the days of rival promoters sniping at each other, which is to the benefit of absolutely nobody. Not that I’m saying that’s happened, but two late cancellations in a row for Breed certainly suggests bad organisation or outside forces. Having had tickets to both Starrcave and OWE’s London dates, I’ve got a vested interest here. There was a lot of talent on those shows I’d not seen live, and given the situation, may not see live for a while. Especially not in a cave (unless Daniel Makabe’s somehow able to make the dates work out…)
Then came the third strike… the news that Southside was shutting up shop after their 9th anniversary show next month.
Southside generally aren’t a promotion we have been covering on this site. However, we have been to a few Southside shows, and can say without much doubt that their closure is going to leave a huge hole in the UK scene. While Internet fans generally poo-poo the kind of line-ups Southside have been putting on, their formula was drawing packed houses in towns that usually don’t get much traction, with Stevenage, St. Neots and Huntingdon (alongside Sheffield) being home bases.
From the announcements put out on Wednesday night, it would seem that Southside are “rolling up” into Rev Pro – so while their 9th Anniversary Show, ominously titled “Thank You and Goodnight”, is their last, it’s expected that the promotion’s remaining dates for 2019 in Sheffield, Bedford and St. Neots will end up becoming Rev Pro events. Which presents a new challenge…
On the surface, the two products on offer couldn’t be any more different: Rev Pro’s largely a sports-like, straight-laced product, while Southside put on a much more casual product, featuring names you’d have seen on TV in the past or present. Thing is, if Rev Pro end up copy-pasting their efforts from (say) Leamington Spa and Chelmsford, things could go badly wrong. If the intention was to keep the audience along with the buildings… Likewise, if the Southside model of booking names from Impact alongside indie and ex-WWE names is cloned to (say) the Cockpit… well, that could go awry too… and that’s before you even begin to consider the affect it’ll have politically with New Japan.
On top of that, what effect will Southside’s loss have for the proverbial “pipeline” of talent from the undergraps to the “top tier” of promotions? Southside – for many reasons – used more talent who haven’t quite had their breakouts to the “next level”. Will the reported Rev Pro shows in the old Southside venues still use the likes of Chris Tyler? Brady Phillips? Ricky Knight Jr? (Kelly Sixx will be an interesting case since he used to be a Contender in a past life…) What about women’s wrestling? Rev Pro have been rightfully derided by fans for their lack of women’s matches as (by the time of their next Cockpit show in October), it’ll have been almost THREE MONTHS since they had a women’s match on any of the cards that make tape. Compare that to Southside, who have been mixing it up with women’s matches and intergender stuff (using names not yet seen in Rev Pro, such as Kanji, Lana Austin, Jayde and Nightshade), and there’s either potential for change… or a clashing of heads, depending on how much Southside influence carries across.
The loss of any wrestling promotion is typically a bad thing. Southside, however maligned they were, will leave a bigger hole in the scene. Unless Rev Pro or another promotion step up to fill the gap in those parts of the UK for “casual fans”, there’ll be no path to the indies for fans whose only prior exposure to wrestling comes from what they see on TV. In a time where the BritWres landscape is in the midst of changes, with allegations of license sniping and what not, remember that the high profile, internet darling promotions are not always the ones that will leave the biggest mark behind.
- It goes without saying, if you’re a fan of any of the talent who’ve had dates pulled from them by what’s happened this week… buy their merch. Not everyone will be able to find replacement dates, and most of them will have t-shirts and whatnot advertised on their social media. Every little helps, and all that…