3CW returned to action in Northallerton as they crowned new tag team champions, and set up for some rather surprising matches down the line…

Bizarrely, the opening video package features an advert for a camera lens (don’t ask), before picking up to build for the 3CW tag tournament finals which take place tonight. We throw from there to the Forum, where there’s an enthusiastic crowd on hand!

Ace Athletic (Ace Matthews, Benji & David Graves) vs. El Ligero, Liam Slater & Martin Kirby
Yay, it’s been a while since we’ve had obnoxious Ace Matthews! It’s apparently David Graves’ birthday, and Ace got him a card and some presents. Of course, it’s an Ace Matthews t-shirt, a half-eaten protein bar and a cucumber. It’s dangerously close to being phallic for a kid’s show…

The celebrations are interrupted by the good guys, whose names just about fit on the caption, and we get going with Liam Slater keeping David Graves at bay with a wristlock, then with a hiptoss that earned him an early two-count. Ace doesn’t fare much better, as Slater takes him into the ropes for a crossbody, keeping the good guys firmly ahead, with the help of some axehandle smashes to the arm.

Graves turns things around, grounding Kirby with an armbar, before a blind tag out meant that Kirby’s sunset flip couldn’t count for anything. Ace’s squad continue to wear down on Kirby, with Benji throwing him outside… but there’s no beatdown for a change. Instead, we get some attempted double teaming as Benji tries to go all Hardy Boyz, but Kirby catches the step-up leg lariat and Kirby’s able to tag out to Ligero.

A pop-up forearm lays out Benji, as Ace Athletic looked to be in trouble… but the ring fills up as the referee loses control, allowing David Graves to attack Slater from behind as he was about to finish off Benji. The poor waterboy takes a bucket shot to the head by mistake though, as Slater finished him off with a gutwrench powerbomb… but Ace Matthews pulls the referee out just before the three count!

With the ref distracted, Graves drills Slater with a spear that the ref (and the cameraman) misses, before dropping Benji on top for the win. Well, that was a barrel of fun – with Ace Athletic continuing their conniving ways. Last time we saw Ace Athletic, we noted that David Graves seemed to be the better rounded of the trio, whilst Ace has the character down pat. That’s not changed, but I’d like to see these two spread their wings and at least get a crack at some higher profile promotions. As for Benji… well, let’s just say shiny red and black gear doesn’t quite fit with the act, although he does play his role well as the runt of the team. ***

Commentary noted that Ace shoved aside David Graves in his rush to celebrate, as they hint at dissension between the trio.

Prince Ameen’s out next to ring announce to a gauntlet match that’ll crown his next contender. It was meant to be an eight-way with Si Swan, but an ankle injury means he’s out… but we do get to see Luke Menzies, who’s making his debut here. Menzies is a former rugby player who was about to get signed to NXT, but because he’d not wrestled much, WWE couldn’t actually get a visa for him… so he’s building a career in the UK with the hopes of being able to make it NXT. Ameen’s mic work is pretty rudimentary, but it works with this family crowd, as he tells the crowd what a gauntlet is, albeit with the help of a cue card. He introduces Si Swan first… but of course he’s not here, so instead we get the Damned Nation’s Rory Coyle, who’s out with Bás Bán (who isn’t in the tournament).

3CW North East Championship Contender’s Gauntlet
We open with Coyle vs. Gabriel Kidd, who’s built up as someone who’s beaten Cody Rhodes. Technically, that’s true, but still a stretch!

Kidd goes straight for Coyle at the bell, taking him head-first into the turnbuckles. I’m guessing “this one?” is the new “shall I?” in Britwres, as Kidd takes Coyle down with a clothesline. Things turn around when Kidd’s taken into the ropes, where Bán of course throws in some cheapshots, but Kidd fights back and hits a boot in the corner for a near-fall. Bás tries to get involved again – and this time it backfires as Kidd manages to avoid it and get a roll-up on Coyle for the first elimination!

Bás Bán attacks Kidd after the decision, leaving him prone for the next man out: Rampage Brown! Good luck, Gabe! Sadly, we get his WCPW theme as opposed to Hatebreed, so he won’t be heard… Kidd does try to fight back, but Rampage quickly wipes him out with a piledriver. Short and sweet!

The fourth man out is White Tiger, who heads to the ring and lays into Rampage with kicks and knees as he outwitted the big man. A crossbody off the top takes Rampage down, but Rampage just wipes him out with a clothesline before another piledriver leads to another victim. Number five is the debuting Menzies, who goes toe-to-toe with Rampage right from the off.

Brown takes Menzies into the corner, but Luke leaps away from a charge and dumps him with a series of German suplexes. It’s a heck of an impressive debut, with Menzies almost getting an elimination with a belly-to-belly, before he just clotheslined Rampage to the outside. The action doesn’t stop there as Rampage pulled Menzies out with him, as they brawl around ringside… wrecking the entry ramp, and fighting to the back as a double count-out eliminates the pair of them.

Shame, really, but Menzies showed a lot of fire in his brief outing here. Anyway, we needed two new bodies, and they happened to be the final two in the gauntlet: Amir Jordan and Dragon Aisu! Ah, good luck Amir! Especially when Rampage returned to ringside and wipe out Jordan with a uranage… there’s a sore loser there! Another piledriver wiped out Jordan, just in time for Aisu to head out and seemingly pick apart the bones, much to the delight of Ameen.

For whatever reason, Aisu pulls up Jordan at the count of two and decides to choke him with his ring jacket… then in the ropes… before pulling him up again and again, just like you do when you get a little too cocky in the WWE 2K games. Jordan doesn’t stay down though, and he actually makes a comeback, rolling up into a leaping neckbreaker! Amir tries to go up top, but Ameen gets onto the apron to distract the referee, just as Aisu crotched Jordan on the top rope… which means Aisu’s back to the old-school offence.

Ameen accidentally trips Aisu, which leads to a staredown… and Jordan takes advantage with a roll-up for the win! That last fall was a touch too heavy on setting up hurdles for Amir, but overall the gauntlet was pretty fun to watch. I’d have liked to have seen Luke Menzies for longer, and perhaps get a win before the double elimination, but it was what it was, especially as we’re getting Menzies/Rampage in December. **¼

Ahead of the 3CW tag title tournament final, we get a video package highlighting both finalists – including the Rogues Gallery’s tumultuous path there.

3CW Tag Team Championship Tournament – Final: Rogues Gallery (Leon Mercer & Stan Kellitt) vs. Chris Whitton & Kid Richie
Whitton and Richie have named themselves the “Dormo Dynasty”, which is a slight step up from their old name of Team Dormanstown…

Whitton and Kellitt start us off, but it’s the veteran Whitton who drew first blood with a backslide as the pair sparked an exchange of near-falls that seemed anger the teenage Baron Corbin lookalike. That took us to the obligatory tags out to Mercer and Richie, with the latter pulling off a headscissor takedown, only to run into a spinning heel kick as the relative rookies more than held their own.

Mercer survives some double-teaming to drop Whitton with a tornado DDT, before holding him in place for a sunset flip from Kellitt, as the Rogues swapped tags to keep Whitton isolated. A Russian legsweep/headbutt combo gets another near-fall for the Rogues, but they lost Whitton as he was able to make the tag out to a resurging Richie… whose brief offence ended abruptly with a lariat from Kellitt.

Whitton breaks up a cover as the Rogues looked to have the match won – and that led to the finish as Whitton pulled Kellitt off the apron, before hitting the ring to give Mercer a shining wizard for the win. That felt a little abrupt and clunky, but it told a good story in how the rookies let their temper overcome them when it mattered most. **½

After the match, Kellitt refused a handshake from the new champions, who then tried to calm them down by saying they ought to be proud of making it to the finals. Whitton then offered a rematch at the next 3CW show in November… which led to the handshake after all.

We’re shown promos from Ameen and Jordan following the earlier gauntlet – and on 3CW’s November show, they’re facing off for the North East title. The newly-named Dormo Dynasty get a promo too for that same show, as do the Rogues Gallery. Another video package follows hyping up Screwface and Chris Renfrew’s battles in 3CW, ending with the list of possible stipulations: Anything Goes, Hardcore Rules, I Quit, Last Man Standing, First Blood, Loser Leaves 3CW. The “luck of the draw” sees a young boy pick one of the six variations on the theme, revealing that we’re getting a last man standing match tonight.

Last Man Standing: Chris Renfrew vs. Screwface
This one started out as a fight, with Screwface throwing punches at Renfrew from the off, as the match quickly spilled out onto the stage, before Screwface accidentally punched out one of the ring crew whilst throwing shots at Renfrew.

There’s a lot of walk-and-brawling, with Renfrew deliberately hitting the same guy (just because), before Screwface shoved the Scotsman into the ringpost. It’s quite hard to do any kind of hardcore match in front of a family audience, but they try here as we finally get plunder in the form of a NGW-green chair, which Screwy gets thrown into before taking a Stunner. Screwface stirs at the count of eight, and gets back to his feet to keep on the fight, shrugging off Renfrew’s right hands to take him into the corners a la Gabriel Kidd earlier. Just without the “shall I?” style of appeals. Renfrew rebounds with a missile dropkick and a death valley driver though, and that sparks another count, which Screwy beats again.

Renfrew hits another Stunner (or “Stoner” as Stevie Aaron keeps calling it), but Screwface pops up with a big boot in desperation as both men were forced to beat the count… which they do by rolling out to the floor to land on their feet. Back in the ring, they trade punches from their knees until Screwface had his eyes raked and apparently pulled a muscle throwing a jab, which prompted him to stagger onto the stage.

Renfrew drags him back into the ring though, where Screwface lands a lariat with his good arm, but it’s seemingly only a matter of time as Screwy tried to powerbomb Renfrew through a chair…but the lights go out! Is it Sabu? No, it’s the Damned Nation, and the trio of Aisu, Coyle and Bán have a score to settle… they beat down Screwface before Renfrew waffled him with a chair for the win. Well, this was more about the story than anything else, with Renfrew joining the Damned Nation… but I stand by my earlier take: last man standing matches really don’t jive with a family-friendly audience, particularly since they invariably “need” weapons, otherwise it’s a glorified fist-fight, which only works for so long… **

Sammii Jayne vs. Jetta
3CW’s partnership with EVE continued here as we got a rematch from Revolt – but the EVE title wasn’t on show, nor on the line here. Sammii was out with Debbie Sharp as the “Bae Club” messed around with that particular EVE storyline… although 3CW did tip the hat towards the Jetta/Kate Nash feud that’s been building up at the Resistance Gallery.

Debbie Sharp’s presence seemed to annoy the crowd, who were solidly behind Jetta as opposed to either of the Scotswomen, who very much get the “boo” half of the boo/yay appeals.

Jayne takes Jetta down early with a wristlock, and works over the Coventry loudmouth’s arm to start us off… but Jetta escapes through the legs and flips the Scotswoman down into a surfboard stretch. Very basic, olde-school Britwres, but this crowd is eating it up. Jetta rebounds with a Japanese armdrag as she sinks in another armbar, then a satellite takedown for a near-fall. Sammii heads outside, where she tried to use her Bae for help… but ended up diving into her by mistake. Still, the commotion helped Sammii get back on top, dropping Jetta with a suplex for a solid two-count.

Sammii distracts the ref so Debbie can choke away on Jetta in the corner, but Jetta manages to rebound with a neckbreaker, only to get sent into the corner as the EVE champion once again took over, sinking in a rear chinlock in a bid to force a submission. When that doesn’t work, Sammii hits a dropkick for a near-fall, only to get surprised with a release Fisherman’s suplex (ah, the old one-handed suplex).

Jetta leaps over a charging Jayne and followed up with a backcracker for a two-count, before countering a counter to land a Northern lights suplex for another two. A Victory roll nearly does it too, but Sammii isn’t too far behind, despite getting spiked with a Diamond Dust (flip neckbreaker) out of the corner.

Debbie Sharp again gets involved as Jetta went for another backcracker, but this time she’s shoved off the apron… and that ensuing chaos again gives Sammii the advantage, as she’s able to catch Jetta unawares with a Samoan driver for the win. **¾

Jeez, the Bae Club actually upset the crowd enough into throwing rubbish into the ring! Jetta’s understandably annoyed at how Sammii had to use outside help to win, before giving us another nod to EVE by criticising the Scots for not being very “sportsmanship-like”. Oh, so close! It leads to a challenge from Jetta for a match in December in a cage match. The heck?! How’s that going to fit in Hartlepool?!

3CW Championship: Joseph Conners vs. Alex Gracie (c)
They went over 20 minutes here, which is one of the longer 3CW matches that I can remember – so they start off fairly tentatively, going for takedowns and scrappy pinning attempts, but neither man can get beyond a one-count in those exchanges.

Gracie looks to edge ahead with a running back elbow, before shrugging off a backbreaker to drop Conners with a snap sidewalk slam as the pair continue to move at a fast pace… at least until Gracie rolled outside for a breather. Conners refused to give him space, and so starts to work over Gracie’s knee, pounding it against the guard railings, then wrapping it around the ring ropes.

It’s odd seeing Gracie as an underdog babyface, but he played the role well here as Conners continued to target the knee. Out of nowhere, a DDT drops Conners as Gracie looked to get some time to try and heal up – rather than go for a cover. Rather than go back to the knee, Conners throws right hands at Gracie, who willingly replies and catches Conners with Eat Defeat. It barely fazes Conners, who then runs into an overhead belly-to-belly for a near-fall as commentary notes that Gracie’s perhaps not being too smart with his offence here. An attempt at the Fall from Gracie leads to some back-and-forth pinning attempts, before Conners countered a tornado DDT into almost a Sky High powerbomb for a near-fall.

Gracie continues to fight back, rolling up Conners for another near-fall, before a full nelson slam earned the same, as the knee again started to trouble the champion. An aborted stomp off the top doesn’t help, as Conners pounced with a low dropkick to the knee, only to get caught with another Fall From Gracie… and then roll to the outside to avoid being pinned.

Yet again Conners tries to fight back, but he ends up feeding himself for a rope-hung version of the Fall From Gracie… but a shot to the knee ends that and allows Conners to hit a slingshot DDT. A bucklebomb and a lariat almost gets us a new champion – and when Conners tries to hit the Don’t Look Down DDT, he instead opts for a Boston crab after Gracie fought to avoid it. Gracie clawed his way to the rope to force a break… and after Conners stalked him to inflict more punishment, the champion pounced with an inside cradle to snatch the win! A pretty good main event from bell-to-bell, with a sound story… but it’s quite telling that even at the “casual” level, Conners didn’t really get much of a bad guy reaction from the crowd. ***

After the loss, Conners handed Gracie the belt before walking away as the champion celebrated to close out the show.

All in all, Darkest Deeds was a solid show – the tag title tournament finale, whilst short, was decent for what we had, and they also found a way to make us all go from “who’s that guy?” to “I really want to see him wrestle again” with the debuting Luke Menzies. Add in that, and the sudden – yet logical – build for a women’s cage match in December, and you’ve got a promotion that’s putting together a steady stream of good, family-friendly shows.