3CW’s first show of 2017 took a while – they didn’t run until April after their Christmas card – but they returned with a Revival of their old championship.

Yes, it'[s yet another tournament, with this one being held for the promotion’s vacated/newly created 3CW title, depending on how you want to look at their old Triple Crown title. El Ligero, Martin Kirby, Chris Whitton, Gabriel Kidd, Kid Richie, Liam Slater, Alex Gracie and Dragon Aisu are competing in today’s quarter-finals… whilst Prince Ameen wants a rematch for his North East title. With a lot of echo!

We’re inside the Forum in Northallerton, and everything is orange for some reason. Before Kid Richie’s opponent enters for the opener, we’re interrupted by a video announcing that “our nation will rise again” and “the carcass of 3CW belongs to us”.

Groom tells us that this is huge… but as the music of the former/returning Damned Nation hits, out comes Rory Coyle, to tell us that James R. Kennedy is no more in 3CW. Coyle’s taken over Kennedy’s clients, including the Damned Nation’s latest footsoldier – Alex Gracie. I’m not entirely sure how to take the revival of the Damned Nation… I’d missed most of their run in 1PW, and having seen how that paid off in a Random Review earlier this year, it’s going to need a lot of polish to get this looking shiny again.

3CW Undisputed Championship Tournament – Quarter Final: Kid Richie vs. Alex Gracie
Of course Richie uses Kid Rock’s Bawitdaba as his theme… and hey, we have (muffled) commentary on this show, provided by promoter Mike Groom and ring announcer Stevie Aaron.

I’m not quite sure why Alex Gracie – who’s been a Prospect and a sexual pervert in other promotions like WCPW and Southside – is now part of a demonic stable, especially as the character and mannerisms don’t initially change.

There’s an insane amount of stalling as Gracie takes down Richie with a shoulder block, before rolling to the outside. Back in the ring, Richie targets Gracie’s arm, rolling through a hammerlock as Gracie made the ropes then rolled to the floor for more time wasting. Back in the ring, Richie continued to out-wrestle Gracie, before launching into him with a forearm in the corner as a ‘rana took Alex into another corner.

Gracie then takes advantage of referee John Myers admonishing Richie by attacking his opponent from behind, then throwing Richie into the turnbuckles. Richie hits a jawbreaker out of a rear chinlock, then throws Gracie into the turnbuckles too, with Alex bumping like a champion. A Downward Spiral surprised Gracie for a near-fall, but he gets his knees up to block a senton bomb.

Gracie nearly wins it from there with a full nelson slam, before an attempt at an Unprettier leads to a sunset flip. Alex kicked out though, then followed back with Eat Defeat and an Unprettier to get the win. Basic, but decent as an opener… I’d have liked Gracie to have been a bit more Damned Nation-ey… **¾

How is it possible that the ring announcer sounds better on the hard camera microphone than on commentary?!

Hey, we get brackets for this tournament! Gracie will face the winner of Liam Slater and El Ligero in the semis, whilst the winners of Kidd/Aisu and Whitton/Kirby form the other semis. Apparently that Whitton/Kirby quarter-final will have no time limit, since they were the last two 3CW champions.

Up next, we’ve got a video package on how the Rogues Gallery nagged their way into 3CW. There’s some weird audio choices, but this package felt distinctly unpolished

Ace Athletic (Ace Matthews & David Graves) vs. Rogues Gallery (Leon Mercer & Stan Kellitt)
Ace Matthews still has his wireless mic, and is botching town names. He’s bringing his first signing with him, David Graves – and thankfully, this is a more fleshed out act than what they’ve done on TV for NGW… which was “we play sports!”. They’ve also got a water boy too, called Benji, who just stands there holding “high protein Easter eggs” that Ace and David hand out to the kids.

Ace Athletic jump the Rogues at the bell, but they come back with a pair of atomic drops before battering David Graves with a pair of clotheslines for a near-fall – just as the bell rang once the ring’d cleared. Kellitt and Mercer work over Grave’s arm, but there’s a cheapshot from Ace as Mercer’s charged into the corner… and into the path of a forearm. The waterboy gets involved too, choking Mercer on the ropes, as Graves is able to get back into things with a suplex for a near-fall, keeping Mercer on the mat and away from his partner.

Ace returns to land a Vader bomb for a near-fall as Mercer remained isolated, and just as I type that, he low bridges Ace to the outside before going to make the tag to Kellitt… who was pulled off the apron by Ace just in time. Just in case you weren’t sure, Ace Athletic are here to be booed!

There’s more devious tactics as Ace Athletic distract the referee to prevent him from noticing Mercer’s tag out, but at the third try he’s able to make the hot tag to clotheslining Kellitt… who then teamed up with Mercer to shake Matthews off the top rope… by crotching him repeatedly! Ace gets involved from the outside to prevent a Hart Attack, and with Kellitt chasing Ace, the ref’s distracted… allowing the waterboy to smash Mercer with a bucket as Graves stole the pin. Decent, but simple fare, with Ace Athletic’s heel shtick not impressing one fan in the front row! **½

This commentary’s blatantly recorded in post, but did we really need to go into the archetypal heel/face roles?

After the match, Joseph Conners hit the ring and threw down the Rogues Gallery. A few people in the crowd chanted for him, which led to Conners running down his prior title runs, and moaning about how he wasn’t involved in the title tournament. He threatens to kill the Rogues Gallery with chairshots unless he’s entered in the tournament, and of course, management relent.

They replay a clip from the end of 3CW’s first run where Chris Whitton beat Martin Kirby on their last show. Apparently they were jointly recognised as the final champions, which doesn’t make any sense…

3CW Undisputed Championship Tournament – Quarter Final: Martin Kirby vs. Chris Whitton
Kirby goes straight to the old-school shtick as he complains of a hair-pull… there’ll be none of that as even the referee’s sporting a chrome dome!

Once that’s sorted, Kirby hams up the reactions to a wristlock as Whitton keeps things on the mat, before resorting to armdrags as Kirby ended up getting into it, scoring a shoulder charge in the corner before a leg lariat dropped Whitton for a near-fall. The pair head outside as Whitton chops away on Kirby, who responds by chopping the ringpost before his arm gets thrown into the post again for good measure.

Kirby somehow responds with a hanging suplex into a poke to the eye as his hand suddenly got better, allowing Kirby to wrench away on Whitton’s neck. A sunset flip nearly wins it as Whitton freed himself, but Kirby instantly hit back with a backbreaker, before the Zoidberg Elbow of course misses. Whitton tries to capitalise with Shining Wizard, but Kirby ducks as both men laid each other out with a double clothesline instead.

Whitton recovers to hit Kirby with a Sky High powerbomb for a near-fall, but Kirby hits a Slingblade before kicking Whitton in the head for another two-count. A Sable Bomb’s easily countered, as Whitton comes back with the Angel’s Wings for another near-fall… and Stevie Aaron on commentary really wants to see a Ligerbomb! Instead he gets a neckbreaker from Kirby, who then gets crotched up top as Whitton brought him back down with a superplex. Another running knee actually connects, before the Ligerbomb gets Whitton through to the semi-finals out of nowhere. Pretty decent stuff this, although I wasn’t a fan of Kirby chopping the post and instantly forgetting about it. ***

3CW Undisputed Championship Tournament – Quarter Final: Dragon Aisu vs. Gabriel Kidd
They’ve added a black and white effect for Aisu’s entrance – but not his name plate – as he’s joined by Rory Coyle and Drake from the Damned Prospect… Nation, I mean Nation! Apparently flipping off kids is PG-friendly these days!

It’s cheap heat time from Aisu, who channels Tracy Smothers again as Gabriel Kidd leads the crowd in singing the Addams Family song. The threat of walking out of the match if the crowd don’t stop singing just leads the crowd to sing even louder… they’re smarter than I thought!

When we get going, Aisu pulls the “he pulled my hair” spot that Martin Kirby did in the last match. Bald jokes are only funny the first time… the Damned Nation get involved early as Drake and Coyle try and trip Kidd, but it doesn’t; work as he ends up going outside to brawl with Aisu around the ringside area. Aisu complains about getting something in his eye, which ties up the referee as Drake and Coyle attack Kidd. That allowed Aisu to headbutt some of his make-up onto Kidd, who fought back to the point where Coyle and Drake cowered in fear. That… was an odd choice.

The crowd brawling continues as Aisu and Kidd head to the other side of the guard railing, but it’d Kidd who again forces Aisu to beg off, which is again a weird thing to see from supposedly your number one heel group. Finally Drake and Coyle get involved, but they get ejected as they tried to hold back Kidd from returning to the ring.

With the outside interference gone, Aisu resorted to blatantly choking at Kidd, then cranking the neck before suddenly channelling Mr. Perfect with a snapmare and a neck snap for a near-fall. It’s back to the punches as Aisu then misses a charge into the corner, allowing Kidd to score a dropkick to leave both men laying.

More strikes follow with Aisu chopping away at Kidd some more, but Gabe tears apart Aisu’s t-shirt to give some receipts, finishing him off with a Yakuza kick in the corner for a near-fall. He teases a suplex, but Aisu fights out and tries to take down Kidd into a crossface, but Kidd escapes and hits a Stunner for a two-count!

Kidd then manages to get a slam off as he went up top for an elbow drop for a near-fall as Drake and Coyle returned to ringside to pull the referee out. How’s that not a DQ, especially after the ejection? Kidd throws himself into the invaders with a tope, but that just gave Aisu time to recover and kick the rope into Kidd’s crotch (at the second attempt, mind), before hitting the Dragon Driver (snapmare driver) for the win. This wasn’t good, I’m afraid. So much smoke and mirrors here, and it barely covered what it was trying to hide. *¾

I just don’t get why the Damned Nation has to exist in 2017. I’m guessing it’s the “what’s old is new” mentality, but in defence at least half of the new group sort-of fit the image. Drake and Gracie… not so much.

A heavily-reverbed video from the Encore reboot show play here… this is unwatchable, and it’s not just because Ameen’s in it! They show clips of Ameen losing the 3CW North East title to Si Swan, and apparently we have a rematch tonight.

3CW North East Championship: Prince Ameen vs. Si Swan (c)
Apparently the North East title was the last belt that Swan needed to “complete the set” in 3CW, so to speak, having held the tag titles in 2007 as part of the North East Bulldogs, as well as being the inaugural 3CW champion.

Before the match, Stevie Aaron announces that the North East champion will be facing “a worldwide star” at the June show, “Revolt”, with the challenger’s identity being revealed after the match. Why not just make the whole announcement then?

We get the holiday camp stuff with Ameen grabbing the title “as his own” before the bell, and we start with a lock-up (for a change!), with Ameen being taken into the corners to force a rope break. A shoulder tackle from Swan forces Ameen to head outside for a breather, but he returns into the path of a hiptoss and a series of clothesline as Swan keeps up the pressure, sending Ameen flying with a back body drop out of the corner.

A clothesline sends Ameen to the outside, where he’s again accosted by some kids who scream stuff at him. Eventually Swan lifts Ameen back into the ring by his hair, with Ameen instantly calling for a time-out. Like this match needs to be slowed down anymore! An eye rake blinds Swan, who’s able to recover quickly with a dropkick as he then goes to an armbar as Ameen continues to absorb a load of offence.

Swan chains together a slam and a flip senton for a near-fall, then again from a crossbody out of the corner, but Swan gets thrown to the outside as Ameen tried to use the floor and gravity as his best move, before using the ring post as his finisher. Did we really need two matches back to back with the similar motif of “bad guy can’t wrestle, needs to use the surroundings to get ahead”?

They take it onto the short runway between the stage and the ring, with Ameen teasing a Pedigree, but he’s back body dropped into the ring with ease, as Swan connects with another crossbody off the top for a near-fall. Swan misses with a top rope legdrop, allowing Ameen to come back with a spinebuster that gets him a two-count.

Swan again nearly gets the win with a roll-up, but Ameen’s kick-out sends him flying into the ringpost, before Ameen shoved the ref aside… so he could hit a low blow, then schoolboy Swan with his feet on the ropes for the lame finish. Add in outside interference, and this is a carbon copy of what we had in the previous match. Still, at least Si got to complete his proverbial sticker album of titles! *

After the match, Stevie Aaron went to reveal who Prince Ameen would be defending the title against in Darlington in June. Once Ameen declared he too was a worldwide star, it was revealed… it’s Grado! I try not to pre-judge, but I’m sensing anti-snowflakes! Especially as aside from one guy dancing on camera, there was minimal response.

Before the bell could ring for the main event, with Liam Slater and El Ligero in the ring, Joseph Conners came out and revealed that he had a clipboard! He’d been given a contract to give him entry into the tournament. He’d waited all this time to cash it in, but he wanted someone to leave so he could take their place in the eight-man tournament…

Conners wanted “Lig-ear-oh” to withdraw so he could replace him. Of course, Ligero refused, and Conners shot down the idea of a triple-threat match too. Slater gets the microphone and cuts a babyface promo to get the crowd to decide, as they can apparently overrule whatever contract Conners has… in the end, the referee opts to over-rule things and we get a three-way elimination match as our main event!

3CW Undisputed Championship Tournament – Quarter Final: Liam Slater vs. El Ligero vs. Joseph Conners
Liam’s got new music… which means he can’t finger-point in time to the Vengaboys anymore. It doesn’t stop him from trying though… bless.

Stevie Aaron buries the typical “one fall” triple threat format, which I whole-heartedly agree with, before going on to tell us that Conners is upset at having gone from being at WrestleMania weekend… to not even being in this tournament. There’s a lot of stalling as Conners still wanted this to be a singles match, but this almost ended with a quick elimination as Slater schoolboy’d Conners for a near-fall.

In the middle of this, Aaron tries to stitch together the storylines in NGW between these three in an admirable effort, but didn’t touch on why Slater’s a slave to Conners in NGW but not here. Some attempt is better than none, I guess! We get a miscommunication early as Ligero’s shoved into Slater, which allowed Conners to get some early offence, but then there’s a switcharound that goes awry, as Conners just about gets taken down by a monkey flipped Ligero.

Slater lands a Dudley Dog to Conners before going after Ligero with a half-crab, but there’s an easy rope break as Conners snuck back in with a tornado DDT to claim another near-fall for himself. He sneakily dropkicks Ligero out of the ring to continue clubbing on Slater for a while, until Ligero returned to blast his friend and enemy with uppercuts in the corner. Conners is forced to fight out of a superplex from Slater, but Ligero throws in a Pele kick to rock Conners some more until Slater returned for a Tower of Doom to leave everyone laying.

Ligero and Slater trade off on forearms again as the crowd cheer each one, until a Northern Lights suplex gets Slater another near-fall on Ligero… but Conners returns from the apron and tried for a slingshot DDT, only to get caught by a sunset flip from Ligero as a rapid-fire series of pinning attempts ensued.

There’s some innovation from Conners as he tried to score a double pin, rolling over Slater and Ligero as they struggled on a backslide attempt… but both men kicked out to stay alive. Slater accidentally knocks out Ligero with Conners’ legs in a fireman’s carry, but the masked man sprung back with a cannonball to Conners on the outside, then hits a springboard cutter to Slater as we’re still waiting for that first elimination.

Conners punches Ligero as he went for the C4L on Slater… which allowed Conners to slip in and hit Slater with the Don’t Look Down hammerlock DDT… and there’s our first elimination! We’re down to Conners and Ligero now, with Conners stomping down on Ligero, only to get caught with an enziguiri. Ligero quickly gets caught with a back elbow that turned into a backbreaker of sorts for a near-fall, which allows Conners to head outside to grab a chair for the hell of it.

Slater’s not left though, and he disarms Conners as Ligero nearly snatched the win with a small package off the ropes. A springboard enziguiri then a Mexican Wave follows, and that’s enough for Ligero to get the crowd-pleasing win – and a spot in the semis! I really enjoyed this three-way, mostly because it didn’t have any of the usual tropes of “everyone breaking up everyone else’s pins” and all of the nonsense that three-ways really don’t need. ***¾

For some reason, after the match Joseph Conners tries to sneak attack Ligero… but Conners gets taken out with an Ace crusher before Prince Ameen randomly wanders out, and is quickly dropped into the ropes for a 619. Just because.

Three shows in, and aside from saying “it’s for the casuals”, there are times where I struggle to tell who 3CW is aimed at. The action in the comeback shows so far have been meandering at times, yet full of “holiday camp” style crowd interactions…and that’s before we mention foam fingers!

As much as I’ve not been a fan of the return of the Damned Nation, particularly as it feels like a retread of 3CW past. Still, credit has to be given for 3CW sticking with the same crew and avoiding the temptation of rotating their rosters heavily to feature flavours of the month or any imports… although that is changing later this year as Jeff Cobb and Matt Riddle head to Middlesbrough for their July 21st show.