It was all change again for 3CW as they returned to Hartlepool for the finals of their women’s championship tournament.
Echoey Stevie Aaron introduces us with clips from last year’s event, as they draw comparisons – last year 3CW crowned a new champion, this year they’ll crown their first ever women’s champion.
3CW Women’s Championship Tournament Semi-Final: Charli Evans vs. Jetta
Our opener was the first semi-final, and it started with Jetta exchanging wristlocks with Charli, then hammerlocks, as the Aussie was showing her frustration early on.
Evans tries to springboard out, but Jetta just steps back and allows Charli to crash to the mat, before a missed charge led to a pratfall, as Coventry’s loudest was firmly in control of things… until she gets dragged into the middle turnbuckle by Charli, that is. Eventually Charli goes for a cover, getting a two-count, before taking Jetta into the corner for a face-washing boot. A camel clutch follows as the crowd tried to get behind Jetta, and it works as Jetta’s back up and into a neckbreaker on Charli, who’s left helpless as a Fisherman’s suplex almost ended the match. Evans is right back with a roll-up of her own as she tried to fight back, absorbing a lungblower before a tiltawhirl into a roll-up earned Jetta another near-fall.
Charli rolled through a strangle hold and nails Jetta with a head kick, but it’s still not enough, and even cheating doesn’t work as Charli’s roll-up with the feet on the ropes is spotted. Jetta comes right back with a back cracker into the Jetta lock, and that stranglehold gets the win. Decent enough for the opener, Charli’s a completely different proposition as a bad guy, and it’s kind of a disposition that has more longevity in the UK. **¾
HT Drake vs. White Tiger
This was White Tiger’s first match in 3CW since he was part of that gauntlet for the North East title shot in September… it’s a weird booking in the greater scheme of things.
The pair start exchanging holds, with Drake working into an armbar on Tiger, only for it to be reversed, as they keep things basic until Tiger spun Drake around for a ‘rana and a dropkick as we get a little flashy! A whip into the corner sees Drake roll onto the apron as he returned back in with a springboard dropkick, before Tiger loses his footing with a tornado bulldog, getting the move off in the end.
Tiger slingshots himself to the floor with a plancha, wiping out Drake, before using the apron for a 619 back into Drake… only for Drake to rebound instantly in the ring with the Drake’s Landing full nelson into a German suplex. That was really out of nowhere, and he goes for the move again, but it’s countered into a roll-up as Tiger got the W. This was alright, but when commentary’s saying that there’s no grudge or anything on the line here, it was always going to be hard to get into. Save for the kids popping for Tiger’s flying, this was what you’d expect. **¼
They recap the tournament again, with Stevie Aaron again sounding like he’s inside an empty aircraft hangar…
3CW Women’s Championship Tournament Semi-Final: Sammii Jayne vs. Little Miss Roxxy
Winner takes on Jetta in the final later tonight, and with Sammi Jayne having had a bye this far, you have to wonder…
Sammii tries to impose herself on Roxxy early, but it’s quickly stopped as Roxxy grabs a headlock, before a lucha-style rolling pin gets a head-fall ahead of a headscissor takedown. An Emerald Fusion gets Sammii a near-fall as she fought back, landing a double knee drop as she continued to wear down on Roxxy… who replies with a rolling neckbreaker to swing things around, only to get caught in a wheelbarrow facebuster.
Roxxy again tries to fight back with a flying tornado DDT off the top rope, and she’s back up with clotheslines to keep the Scotswoman at bay, following up with the wheelbarrow bulldog for another near-fall. A crossbody off the top is a step too far it seemed, as Sammi caught her, only for Roxxy to counter into a crucifix driver for another two-count, before another quick turnaround saw Sammii come close with a baseball slide German suplex.
A hook kick and a Code Red keeps the back-and-forth going as Roxxy comes close, before she hits a Victory roll to come even closer. The shotgun dropkick puts Sammii back in the corner though, but another tornado DDT is caught and countered into the Samoan driver, and that’s all. A nice back-and-forth match, where both women went to the proverbial well once too often. Roxxy brought the big guns, but it wasn’t to be. **¾
There’s a backstage promo from the newly-WWE-signed Amir Jordan… he’s due defend the North East title against Ace Matthews. He reckons that no matter what Ace throws at him, Prince Ameen will have his back and outsmart Ace Athletic. Amir’s out first, which is always a bit worrying, especially when he found the one guy who wanted no part of his entrance. Commentary mentioned rumours about Ace’s fitness, and when he eventually came out on crutches, it would seem we’d need an early substitution. It didn’t help Amir’s case that Prince Ameen wasn’t there because he was at a wedding… so prepare for a mugging, even if Ace Athletic were at half strength. The good news, they weren’t fat enough to wrestle (or fit), but with nobody senior able to wrestle, they tried to leave… but Benji tried to talk his way into the match. When they didn’t listen, Benji just walked past them and took the match.
3CW North East Championship: Amir Jordan (c) vs. Benji
Ace Matthews butt bumps down the stairs as David Graves just hobbled his way to the commentary area, and we’re off with Amir dancing his way out of a wristlock.
Jordan’s all over Benji in the opening moments, but Benji’s shockingly able to mount a fight back, until he’s stopped by some dancing as Amir comes close with a slam. Some headscissors from Benji took Amir into the corner, before a tiltawhirl DDT left Amir in more trouble… but a wheelbarrow suplex turned it back around as again as Jordan looked to impose himself. A Northern Lights suplex barely earns Amir a near-fall, prompting Ace Athletic to interfere, with David Graves holding Amir… but Benji throws away the bucket as he wants to do it himself!
Problem was, Amir fires right back with Polish hammers and an enziguiri, before Other Benji tried to interfere. It didn’t work as Jordan’s roll-through neckbreaker earned him a near-fall, before Amir crashes and burns from a senton bomb, allowing Benji to come back yet again, hitting a wheelbarrow roll through, before a running knee almost earned a shock title change.
Ace Matthews was becoming a pain at ringside, trying to “coach” Benji, and Jordan almost won with a roll-through… but Other Benji distracts the referee, allowing David Graves to come in and roll over the small package for the win! That’s… a massive upset, and a shenanigan-laden finish that some could point as being a way to protect Amir for… reasons. The match itself was alright, but the wider story was Ace Athletic taking the title for themselves. **½
Ahead of the next match, Nathan Cruz came to the ring along with Joseph Conners and Rampage Brown – labelled the Professionals here. Cruz was meant to have been wrestling Luke Menzies for the 3CW title, but instead he’s handed over his title shot to Rampage Brown so he can have a rematch. Instead, the other members of the Professionals now have an impromptu tag match…
The Professionals (Nathan Cruz & Joseph Conners) vs. Lucas Steel & Joe Hendry
It’s a 3CW debut for Steel, who’s been branded the “Stand Out”. Bold. Claim. Like how “huge” Joe Hendry’s return was, when he’d only made one appearance for the company 18 months ago.
Hendry and Cruz get us going, with Cruz trying headscissors on Hendry, only for the “Prestigous One” to headstand out. It’s odd seeing him play the good guy here, but he’s on the defensive as Conners tags in… and for a change Conners is showing some fire. Except Hendry overcomes it and tags in Steel… to little reaction. Steel overpowers Conners as commentary is all over him, like he’s the second coming of Luke Menzies. There may be a reason for that, but when you’re six years in and have barely worked for the company you trained with, regardless of reason, there’s a red flag there. Conners gets taken into the corner for some knees, but he gets a boot up to Steel, who returns fire with a side slam and a suplex.
The Professionals head outside to regroup as Steel just stands around, and with Rampage Brown appearing on the apron to distract the referee, we get some double-teaming on Steel. Rampage gets thrown out for that, and Steel manages to get in a slam before he and Cruz tagged out. Hendry keeps the fire with a neckbreaker, before he’s taken outside as Steel played dumb babyface, distracting the referee as the bad guys tore apart Hendry.
Cruz is back in with the Thanks, Tully slingshot back suplex for a near-fall on Hendry, who’s kept isolated from Steel. A nonchalant boot to the gut looked to get Hendry free, as he finally scurries in to the hot tag to Steel, who shoulder barges and Snake Eyes his way ahead. Another suplex from Steel drops Conners, before he popped up Cruz into a gutbuster – that looked nice – as a jack knife powerbomb almost got the win… but Conners breaks it up.
Cruz has to save Conners from another slam before they both hot shot Steel onto the ropes, as a lungblower from Cruz almost put away the “Stand Out”. Steel again fights out of some double teaming to tag in Hendry, who dumps Cruz with a Freak of Nature, then rolls through Conners into the ankle lock. Nathan Cruz tries to come in for the save, but Steel gets rid of him with a Cactus clothesline, as Conners was forced to tap. In a bubble, this was pretty fun – I’m not sure why Hendry was brought back as a babyface when he’s playing the bad guy everywhere else, and I’m nowhere near sold on Lucas Steel… but give him time, eh, particularly since he’s only been back in the business for six months. ***
A video package recaps the debut of Dara Diablo in 3CW and his skirmish with El Ligero. This’d have worked better had everyone seen their feud in NGW, or at the very least, had we been able to see clips of it.
Dara Diablo vs. El Ligero
Ligero was here on the back of being announced for the WWE UK tournament… but in 3CW land, he’s still hot at how Diablo cost him in that elimination match for the 3CW title last time out.
Diablo’s killing time on the outside, trying to get under Ligero’s skin, and when he did come in… he ran into a superkick from Ligero as the match instantly spilled to the outside. Ligero has time to high-five a kid in a home-made Ligero mask as he heads up towards the stage with Diablo, before dragging him back down for some more chops around ringside.
Finally back in the ring, a leaping kick knocks Diablo down, before he’s caught with a hiptoss neckbreaker as Diablo hits back. They’re back outside as Dara clocks Ligero with uppercuts and axehandle blows, but inside the ring Ligero’s able to get ahead once more, only to get hot shotted into the corner and back suplexed out of it as Diablo turned up the aggression, grounding and pounding Ligero until the referee pulled him away. That’s not a stoppage, as Diablo keeps up on Ligero, before grabbing the house mic… which doesn’t originally work. He’s then drowned out by kids, before we finally hear Dara tell us that he’s fed up of people thinking he’s been left behind by his former tag team parter… so he’s going to make Ligero’s life a misery.
A clothesline from Ligero drops Dara, who gets taken into the corner before Ligero suckers him back in for a missile dropkick, getting a near-fall. Dara blocks a slingshot Ace crusher and comes back in with a back suplex… but Ligero counters it into a crossbody before running into a cross chop as Diablo’s Blue Thunder Bomb got a near-fall. Dara tries to unmask Ligero, but gets rolled up for a near-fall, before Dara rushed in with a running Flatliner… and that’s the win. A few boos greet that, and in my mind this match felt as rushed as the feud (if you look only in the 3CW bubble). This could have grown a little, but in under ten minutes you can only do so much, especially when you’re factoring crowd brawling and in-ring promos. **½
Ligero got a round of applause in what you could say was a farewell for him… let’s see.
Video package time again, and this time it’s a potted history of the 3CW tag title scene, focusing on Euphoria where the Dormo Dynasty lost first in the tag team gauntlet, which was eventually won by the new pairing of Rory Coyle and Dragon Aisu – the Sons of the Damned. In that match, Stan Kellitt landed awkwardly on his leg, but he’s fine, and will be back in action for the next tag title match… which is becoming a three-way because the Dormo Dynasty wanted to claim a rematch since the champions didn’t beat them to win the belts. Fair enough.
Elimination Match for 3CW Tag Team Championship: Dormo Dynasty (Kid Richie & Chris Whitton) vs. Rogues Gallery (Stan Kellitt & Leon Mercer) vs. Sons of the Damned (Rory Coyle & Dragon Aisu) (c)
Kellitt was shaking his leg out on his way to the ring, reminding us that his knee perhaps wasn’t 100%. Since their losing streak culminated in winning the 3CW tag title tournament, the Rogues have somehow been part of every single tag title match since… and I’m not sure that paints a picture of a healthy division.
Whitton and Mercer started us off, with the latter breaking out with some dropkicks as the Rogues started on a high, double-teaming Whitton… then Richie, although their delayed double-team suplex ended up being a set-up to drop Whitton onto Richie. The champions just sat on the apron, waiting for the other two teams to wear themselves down, as you’d expect them to be. Almost, erm, ungovernable?
Richie’s able to turn things back around, ripcording Mercer into a back suplex for a near-fall, before Coyle tagged in… and just watched on as Whitton choked Mercer in the ropes. Aisu’s in not too long after that as he blasted through Mercer with a suplex and a chop, but it’s Coyle who’s back in to do the lion’s share of the, erm, staring, as Whitton blind tagged himself in too.
All of the bad guys take their turns in wearing down Mercer, but inevitably tempers frayed as the champions shoved down the Dormo Dynasty, allowing Stan Kellitt to roll up Whitton for the first elimination. Was he even the legal man? Eh, does it matter… probably not, as we go to our scheduled match after all, while the Dormo pair can still claim they’ve not been pinned by the champions. For now.
Kellitt and Coyle start by trading forearms, but Aisu throws us back to last month as he sweeps Kellitt’s leg on the apron, causing it to bend awkwardly like it did before. The match continues as Coyle wraps the leg around the ring post, with Aisu goading the referee into disqualifying them… and the expected work over the knee continues, with Coyle, erm, biting the knee?
Mercer tries to make the save, but he’s taken outside by Coyle as Aisu continued to wear down on Kellitt, trapping him in a Figure Four. Leon Mercer doesn’t come in to break it up, rather standing there forlornly holding an arm out while Rory Coyle wandered at ringside… which looked odd on the camera angle they showed. Coyle finally pulled Mercer off the apron, and with no help forthcoming, Kellitt faded away as he was pinned by the Figure Four. I loved that finish, a throwback to Ric Flair beating “Macho Man” Randy Savage for the WWF title back in the day. Hey, it worked, even if some of the camera angle choices were weird… hopefully this means that the Rogues Gallery will be doing something else on the next show, and not be in yet-another-tag-title match after this emphatic loss. As a match, it was alright, but like a lot of what we had tonight, it felt pretty rushed for an elimination outing. **½
Post-match, the Dormo Dynasty returned to the ring and snatched the house mic so they could beat down on the Rogues, blaming them for “ruining everything”. Yeah, they’re targeting Kellitt’s knee, and by the wording, it seems we’ve a Loser Leaves Town match incoming between those teams.
3CW Women’s Championship Tournament Final: Sammii Jayne vs. Jetta
A nice bit of happenstance here – a little under six months previously, these two were meant to have faced off in a steel cage match in the same venue. Jetta’s broken wrist put paid to that, but now they’re in a match with higher stakes: to become the first 3CW Women’s champion. Or 3CWomen’s champion, depending on how you phrase it.
Jetta charged into Sammii from the bell, instantly throwing her into the corner with an overhead Fisherman’s suplex. A baseball slide dropkick sees Jetta follow Sammii to the outside, before she threw the Scotswoman into the front row as they got across the “blood feud” aspect of this very well.
Antagonising Sammii, Jetta uses a couple of kids in the front row as a battering ram, which is a nice touch, before some chops by the ring post kept Jetta ahead. It’s so weird watching her like this considering her character elsewhere… but a missed chop turns things around as Sammii then throws her arm into the ring post, and now it’s business as usual as Jayne worked over Jetta’s healed-up wrist.
A snap suplex from Sammii puts Jetta down as a double kneedrop to the arm and wrist got her closer to a win, but Jetta mounts a comeback and shoves Sammii into the turnbuckles, then puts her in a Tree of Woe for a nice dropkick to the midsection! It barely gets a near-fall for Jetta though, as does a roll-up, but straight from the kick-out Jayne grabs a Fujiwara armbar, again targeting the wrist, rolling through as Jetta tried to escape.
Another roll-through just sees Sammii get up and stomp the wrist once again, before Jetta nailed a back cracker and a neckbreaker… but it’s not enough as she looked to be heading up for the Jetta Lock… but she’s backed into the corner and placed into the ropes for the Shadowfax baseball slide German suplex. Sammii tried to follow up off the top rope, but Jetta press slams her to the mat instead, tweaking her wrist in the process. It’s enough to stop her getting in the Jetta Lock at first, but she manages to counter out of a TKO into it… but the wrist gives out again and her bid to get it back in led to the Samoan driver again as Sammii almost won out, before she goes back to the bridging armbar, forcing Jetta to tap. A bit of an anticlimactic finish, but this was a really solid match that told a good story – with Jetta fighting in vain, only for her wrist to become her downfall. ***¼
That’s Sammii Jayne winning the inaugural 3CW Women’s title. Which definitely isn’t the old 1PW Openweight title with a paint job…
3CW Championship: Rampage Brown vs. Luke Menzies (c)
Originally Menzies vs. Cruz, we’re getting a call back to the feud these two started late last year – except now the WWE-bound Menzies has a title to defend here.
From the opening tie-up, Menzies shoves Rampage into the corner, before the pair rolled into the ropes. Rampage took the upper hand with some elbow strikes, before a whip into the corner just saw Menzies rebound out with a clothesline and a slam, as the champion looked to pick up his first win over Rampage. An overhead belly-to-belly from Menzies surprises Rampage, but he’s only able to get a near-fall as Brown rolled to the outside in a bid to escape the champion.
Rampage suckers Menzies onto the apron for a leg sweep before charging him back-first into the turnbuckle. Back inside, Rampage charges in with knees to the gut and some rope-burns to the eyes, as the challenger started to dominate the champion, using a grounded sleeperhold.
A shoulder tackle off the middle rope keeps Rampage ahead for a near-fall, as does a back suplex, as the much more experienced Rampage had Menzies’ number, barely giving him a look in as a side Russian legsweep gets a near-fall before he went back to that sleeperhold. Eventually Menzies escapes the sleeperhold with a back suplex, before sidestepping a charge as Rampage collided shoulder-first with the ring post.
Undeterred, Rampage gets back up, but Menzies knocked him down en route to a tiltawhirl slam as he almost retained, then again with a spear after his attempt at a jackhammer was countered. We get a ref bump as Menzies spun Rampage in a Fireman’s carry, catching the referee’s head before Rampage slipped out and just shoved the champion into the official. With no referee, a standing uranage dumped Menzies before Rampage headed out to grab the 3CW title belt… Menzies ducks a belt shot and hits a jackhammer, but there’s only a visual pin as we’re still without a ref!
Out comes Joseph Conners – while Nathan Cruz falls down the stairs – as Menzies has to fight off a huge numbers game, eventually falling to an implant DDT as the referee woke up to make a delayed two-count. Menzies back body drops out of a piledriver, but he’s quickly clocked with a belt shot from Cruz as the Rampage piledriver led to the win. Shenanigans abound, but an expected result as 3CW hit the reset button of sorts in a decent main event. ***
Post-match, Joe Hendry came out to make the save and seemingly challenge Rampage for the belt – a challenge that was accepted as the show ended with Hendry asking the crowd to show their appreciation for Menzies in a farewell of sorts.
As a show, 3CW’s Enthrone was fine, but largely unspectacular. Nine matches in a show that went a shade over two and a half hours long was always going to lead to some rushed matches. This show was tagged as being focussed on the women’s tournament, which was the case, but in the end it was almost overshadowed by what felt like an enforced trio of departures up and down the card.
There is an issue I do have with the show, and unfortunately it’s my favourite – the old chestnut that is commentary. Since they started doing live commentary here, 3CW’s been using Tom Campbell (of Heart Radio in the North East of England, and also of groups like NORTH Wrestling), while promoter Mike Groom and ring announcer Stevie Aaron have been swapping co-commentary duties for each half of the show, with largely successful results. My issue here though, is the “cute” way certain issues were discussed. On a show where you had the likes of El Ligero, Amir Jordan and Luke Menzies – two of whom had been very publicly announced as WWE signees in the days running up to the show – it became annoying how they’d talk about “a certain American company” or “a particular performance centre” before outright naming it. Not acknowledging the news would be stupid, but dancing around it then just diving in felt weird as a viewer.
All in all, 3CW’s recent booking may cause some issues – taking the title off of Rampage, then putting it back on him does look a little wonky for the group of the Professionals, but there’s well-established reasons for that. Ditto the seemingly-aborted Ligero/Diablo feud, which was never given a chance to get settled before it was rushed off. Still, this show is worth your time, if only for the women’s tournament final, which was a good example in paying off a simple story.