Yesterday, I made the trip to Altrincham for a full afternoon’s worth of wrestling – in one form or another!
First up was the Working A Resthold Podcast show – held literally five minutes from where the WCPW card was later in the evening. Originally advertised with one special guest, the affectionately-known WARPODLIVE show ended up featuring four of British wrestling’s hottest names, in the form of Jack “Girly Cocktails” Sexsmith, Jinny, and the back-of-the-room hecklers Trent Seven and Jimmy Havoc.
Largely keeping the format of the usual Working A Resthold podcast, the hijinks involving the guests drew a good reaction from the live audience, which included a sizable contingent of the so-called “Grapperazi” (or the “real world” Internet Wrestling Community, if you’d rather use that label). During the show, the traditional British wrestling raffle was held to raise funds for Cavendish Cancer Care. We’ll tweet out when the live show is available to download, but for a show that’s likely to run to around an hour and a half, it was well worth the £5 admission – with the list of guests resonating extremely well. In a two hour show, with the guests and audience in attendance, this was something that can only be summed up in three words: Love The Graps.
Kudos to Scott, Ric and the entire crew at Working A Resthold for pulling that off (and commiserations to Ric for all those chops), particularly with the spectre of another show just around the corner.
Speaking of… we tweeted a fair bit during the live WCPW show, entitled “True Legacy” (an amalgamation from the main event – Kurt Angle’s “it’s true, it’s true” and the “Legacy” tenure of Cody Rhodes). We’ve taken most of those down since WhatCulture has a “no spoilers” approach; something which I certainly couldn’t hear, since the acoustics away from ringside inside the Silver Blades Arena in Altrincham were woeful at best.
Over 2,000 people were in attendance for the show – an impressive figure, however you spun it, with the majority in the “general admission” seats that were usually reserved for ice hockey games. The make-up of this crowd though epitomised the identity crisis that WCPW faces every week. Just what are they trying to be?
Are they a family friendly show? Well, with crowds frequently swearing and with one of their top stars having a shirt with “d*ck’ead” on it, I’m pretty sure we can cross that off the list.
Are they keen on pushing home-grown stars? Well, they’ve already one on record as saying they don’t see themselves as a British company, so why would they care about that?
Are they looking to be a “super indy” a la PWG? At times, maybe, given the fly-ins they’ve had…
Are they looking to give a nostalgia trip to fans? Maybe not, as Kurt Angle is just about on the edge between “active star” and “legend who tours infrequently”, but given that their top storyline involved a heel General Manager, perhaps their idea is to go for fans who want to relive the old Attitude era?
Don’t get me wrong, the presence of British guys on these shows clearly helps their exposure, but the proof of the pudding here is whether the workers can capitalise on them. It’s all well and good saying “we’re putting talent like Primate and Gabriel Kidd on a highly promoted YouTube show”, but if the number of eyeballs on that show is dwindling (and it looks to have been…) and if those guys aren’t getting other bookings on the strength of this, then clearly, the “highly promoted YouTube show” isn’t as effective as everyone’d make out. Especially when we’ve now been told for two big shows in a row that it’s the imports who are the stars…
As a live experience, the closest I can compare it to is the TNA TV tapings, where you’d be thrown a series of matches with very little to “join the dots”, as it were. For instance, one of the matches on the show saw Martin Kirby take on Big Damo in what seemed to be Damo’s final match before going to NXT. It wasn’t until after the match that we saw what’ll be made clear that Damo had been hired to do a job. In TNA world, we’d have had either the backstage segment played the crowd or at least have had a Jeremy Borash explain the scenario before the match… instead of our ring announcer playing the same old “oooh, can I climb through the ropes without falling on my face?” Dad joke. Before every sodding match.
So, we had nine matches on the card, featuring a tag team title tournament match, a rematch for the women’s title, with streetfight rules (and Melina added as a guest referee… just because), and a rematch from the iPPV between Joe Coffey and Minoru Suzuki. Also on the bill, there was an eight-man elimination tag, on a show that’ll be airing suspiciously close to the Survivor Series, with one of those teams being a pot pourri of a team. As in “why are these guys all teaming together?”, which is a fair assessment of the quartet of Gabriel Kidd, Prince Ameen, Rampage and El Desperado.
The only advertised match going in was Kurt Angle vs. Cody Rhodes – and as long as you managed your expectations, you wouldn’t have been let down. Kurt Angle in 2016 is a far cry from the man who was on a roll 15 years ago… and it’s fair to say that Cody is suffering from being over-hyped after his WWE release. Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t a bad match, just not the best one on the card… and personally, I’d have preferred the main event to have involved the world title, rather than having two big shows in a row where the title didn’t close the show out.
The big take-away from the night was the crowd though, with two spots where collectively, they showed themselves up. During the WCPW title match, two folks in the crowd decided that that would be the best time to start arsing around, including pretending to wrestle and doing Flair flops. As is always the case with action in the crowd, the rest of the building was distracted, and gave nary a care about the match in the ring. What didn’t help was that it seemed to take forever for anyone in a position of power to notice, before a photographer was dispatched to alert security, who finally ejected the pair.
On top of that, during a match involving El Ligero and Pete Dunne, we got a chant of “you’re just a cheap Jack Swagger” aimed at Dunne. Seriously. It wasn’t a one-off chant either, as it went on for a good portion of the match.
I guess for a company that was founded on listicles (“churnalism” as one former employee put it), videos and memes designed for short attention spans, this is exactly what you’re going to get – with a big enough crowd and enough alcohol, you’re going to get people who want to be the show, rather than watch one. When you consider the calibre of the wrestlers who’ve been on the show, that’s just infuriating and sad… they deserve better, no?