The second show of the 3CW reboot takes us to Thornaby for a pre-Christmas fight!

At the “Encore” comeback show a month earlier, we saw Prince Ameen lose his North East title, whilst we set-up a trios match for tonight as Chris Whitton, Kid Richie and Gabriel Kidd challenged the rather-odd trio of Dragon Aisu and Prospect’s Lucas Archer and Alex Gracie. We open with a recap of that show, and some names for tonight’s card, including a mis-spelled “Joseph Connors”.

The Thornaby Pavilion is host to what some’ll unkindly dub “leisure centre wrestling”, as there’s badminton court marking clearly visible as Prince Ameen heads out to declare himself the richest man in wrestling and yada yada ya. He reckons he’s still 3CW’s North East Champion, because he insisted that his open challenge wasn’t for the belt… and he holds the show hostage until he’s declared the champion again.

Ameen threatens to cancel Christmas until he’s North East Champion again, but we’re saved by Joe Hendry – and his WCPW song. To be fair, he does use his ICW-version in NGW, but this feels a little weird, almost like 3CW is “developmental” for WCPW? Hendry leads the crowd in a chant of his own song, which sort-of works, before suggesting that their scheduled match for later is brought ahead… to now! Out comes a referee, and we’re underway!

Prince Ameen vs. Joe Hendry
A fairly basic opening sequence sees Hendry kip up out of headscissors whilst Ameen struggled to do the same, reaching for the ropes to break free. Hendry looked to try for the Freak of Nature fallaway slam early, but Ameen slipped out before taking a back elbow as he came off the ropes. A clothesline sent both men to the floor for a spot of crowd brawling, which featured the crowd screaming as Ameen tried to whip Hendry into their seats.

Pro-tip: if a wrestler tells you to move… move!

Back in the ring, Ameen dislodges a turnbuckle cover and flat-out says he’s going to whip Hendry into it. Of course he fights out, only for Ameen to ground him with a rear chinlock. It’s standard fare that’d normally get the crowd going, but this is somewhat of a tough crowd it seems. Hendry’s thrown to the outside, and Ameen’s looking for a count-out despite saying moments earlier he wanted to teach him a lesson. More chopping in the crowd excites the kiddies in the front row, before they headed back to the ring as Ameen’s offence earned him another near-fall.

Some snap pinning attempts get Hendry a couple of near-falls until he’s caught by a Samoan drop by Ameen, who at this point looks a lot more blown up than you’d expect. They tease sending each other into that exposed turnbuckle, before Hendry just punches him and gets a neckbreaker, then a DDT for yet another near-fall.

Another attempt at the Freak of Nature’s blocked when Ameen grabs the ropes, before the Prince nailed Hendry with a spinebuster… and oh my God it’s the rapid-counting ref again. Did nobody pull him aside after Encore to tell him to slow those things down?!

In the end, Ameen goes for something, before slipping out of another Freak of Nature, ten shoves Hendry into the exposed turnbuckles. A schoolboy and a quick three-count get the win, and that was perhaps the right place for something like this. Nowhere near as bad as Ameen’s match at Encore, but still no great shakes. **

The Art Of War (James Scott & Caz Crash) vs. Rogues Gallery (Leon Mercer & Stan Kellitt)
So James “Darkside” Scott is back here, but in a tag team with Caz Crash – currently one half of the Proven in NGW. Their opponents are the Rogues Gallery – Leon Mercer and Stan Kellitt – who are looking to go a little better than they did at Encore, where they took a beating against Dragon Aisu and Chris Renfrew.

We start off with Mercer and Scott, the latter working over Leon’s left arm… before the crowd start clapping as they realised the eerie silence they were sitting in. Mercer comes back with a headscissor takedown to Scott, who found himself cornered as Kellitt tagged in to resume working the arm.

Caz Crash makes a blind tag in and starts powering through Kellitt with shoulder blocks. The rookies hit back with some good double team moves, including a clothesline/Russian legsweep on Crash for a near-fall, before Scott just about low bridges Mercer to the outside as he went to the ropes. A dropkick from Crash means that everyone’s on the outside, with the Rogues getting drilled into the ringposts, and that’s where the Art of War took over.

Crash grounds Kellitt again with a chinlock, before Scott comes in to try and keep Stan away from his partner. The isolation continues for a while, but this crowd really isn’t buying into anything that’s going on – with Kellitt’s clothesline to freedom barely raising a murmur. He finally tagged in Mercer, whose double crossbody took down Scott and Crash, before he flew into them with forearms.

The rookies then took down Scott with a back suplex/neckbreaker for a near-fall as Crash broke up the cover, before a double stomp-assisted death valley driver left Mercer down and out. Kellitt mounted a comeback with a double DDT, but instead of going for a cover he waited for Scott to get back to his feet for a clothesline… which was ducked and met with a German suplex, then a superkick-assisted Dragon suplex for a fast-count pin. A decent enough, basic match for these newcomers, but my word this Thornaby crowd aren’t buying what anyone’s selling tonight. **½

After the match, James Scott gets the microphone and labelled Kellitt and Mercer the future of wrestling – and assuming they keep up getting dates, I have no reason to believe that’s not going to be the case.

So, after two matches with a rather muted crowd, what do you do to get them going?

Martin Kirby vs. El Ligero
This isn’t meant as a slight on any of these guys, but Kirby and Ligero are masters of working these sorts of crowds. Kirby’s sort-of playing the bad guy despite this being 20-odd miles from his hometown, but I guess when you’re against Ligero, you’re going to be a de-facto bad guy!

This was Ligero’s first match for 3CW since dropping the title in 2013 – of course, he wasn’t around for the return show, Encore. Ligs “borrows” a fan’s toy WWE belt, which seems to inspire Kirby to raise the stakes a little… the winner gets to stay in the ring and do photos with the fans. For some wrestlers, that’s a curse! It actually gets the crowd invested, but that doesn’t surprise me given the calibre of these two.

Kirby gets us going by attacking Ligero as he posed for the crowd, but Ligero quickly gets back into it, ramming Kirby’s head into the turnbuckles, before he found himself thrown to the outside. After throwing Ligero back in, Kirby’s slingshotted back in the hard way as the comedy continues with Ligero avoiding a drop down, which leads to the Frogger spot where they do drop downs over each other… until Kirby sends himself flying out of the ring. It’s simple stuff, but it works!

Once Kirby’d been pulled away from a fan he’d sought solace in, he finds himself accidentally chopping the ring post as Ligero ducked. Ligero then gets the fans to slap the sore hand… this is hammy stuff, but it works with a crowd that had largely been silent spectators beforehand.

Somehow, Kirby gets back into it with a stalling suplex… into an eye poke, which showed great accuracy going through Ligero’s mask, before an attempt at a tiltawhirl went badly wrong, as Ligero landed on him almost with a crossbody. Kirby throws a tantrum and hurts himself kicking the ropes, before grabbing a fan’s bottle of sparkling water and spits it onto Ligero. I concur with Martin… who the hell drinks sparkling water on purpose?!

That wakes up Ligero though, who hit a superplex to get Kirby off the top rope, before scoring with a diving kick to take him into the corner again. Ligero scores with some Sliced Bread for a near-fall, but Kirby comes straight back at him with a neckbreaker before trying for a Sable Bomb. He has to make do with an X-Factor instead, as the pair trade roll-ups to give the fast-counting ref a workout.

Ligero slips but manages to recover a springboard Ace crusher, as he followed up with a Mexican Wave splash for another two-count. An attempt at the C4L gets side stepped as Kirby chained together a German suplex and a superkick to come close, before another Sable Bomb attempt was backdropped out of. One C4L later, and the quick count gets Ligero the win… so all the fans get to have their photos with their favourite hero. Isn’t that nice?

This was a pretty good match, perfect for the ultra-casual crowd that was present… and heck, this was easily the most they reacted too! ***¼

We go backstage now, with Joe Hendry being asked what his plans are for 3CW in 2017. He bemoans Prince Ameen’s cheating ways, before hinting at going for the gold. That fades out to another promo with the Rogues Gallery, with Kellitt and Mercer licking their wounds. Their plans haven’t changed, as they feel they’re getting closer to a win. Yet another crossfade leads us to a promo with James Scott, who also wants to win the 3CW title.

Back from (presumably) intermission, it’s a rematch from Encore! Ace Matthews has a wireless headset as he heads to the ring, dishing out Christmas cards to various fans. It’s a nice spin on the gimmick, but for some reason Stevie Aaron talks over him so he can make the ring announcement. Ace again messes up the hometown, then teaches the crowd how to be “Ace, just like me!”… which involves buying his merch, of course. He’s got a special Christmas gift, which of course is Santa Clause… who comes out with a box of lollipops for all of the kids in the crowd. And some of the older ones too!

In response, Ace goes to offer Santa a mince pie, but he decided to chastise Santa for being overweight. Never fear though, Ace is going to help Santa lose weight, and he’s not going to wrestle until Santa’s lost a stone. We’ll be here a while… except Screwface heads out to spoil the fun, and perhaps get a present from Ace?

Screwface gets a chair, which forces Ace to defend himself by throwing presents at him… Screwy throws a chair, and the bell rings!

Hardcore Match: Ace Matthews vs. Screwface
It’s cat and mouse to start with as Ace runs into Santa… but Saint Nick only ends up distracting him as Screwface started clobbering him with forearms and uppercuts. He finally digs out a present… a baking tray wrapped in paper? Ace hits Screwface with it several times, before the tables turn courtesy of a baking tray shot to the head that knocks Ace loopy.

Ace grabs a box and smashes it over Screwface’s head, before getting a pumpkin… which he stops short of using because it’s not Hallowe’en. Comedy! Screwface takes Ace throughout the venue, throwing him into a wall but Matthews replies with more box shots before they disappear under the ring… with Ace getting dragged back under. Cue some loud noises, as Ace rolls out the other side, supposedly battered.

Screwface finds a chain from his entrance gear and stalks Ace with it, but Ace takes the initiative and pulled Screwface into the ringpost with it. He grabs a “Santa, Stop Here” sign and smashes it across Screwface’s back, then gets a tinsel-covered chair… but Santa stops him, and gets knocked to the ground. Ace is getting coal!

An elf comes out to beat up Santa, randomly, as Ace tries for that chairshot again… but Screwface ducks and hits a ripcord bicycle kick. The elf comes in to try and save Ace from a chairshot, but instead the elf gets thrown down as Ace hits Screwface with a low blow… then a chain… and that’s enough for Ace to get the win. Yet the Screwface video played… hmm? This was a bit of a confusing mess, it has to be said, I get the whole “shoehorn a Christmas themed match” thing, but the execution was off and it just dragged. If you can’t do a “proper” smoke and mirrors hardcore match at a family show… why book it? *½

There’s a trailer to “see the full matches on demand now!” – with a load of flippy goodness and loose ropes from the first go around of 3CW. Featuring Britwres ladders, and not a clue what matches or shows I’d have to watch to see these moments. It’s not so much a trailer, but a long music video that was really feeling like it’d never end.

Joseph Conners vs. Liam Slater
Conners was no longer the WCPW title by this point, having recently lost the belt to Drew Galloway… which meant that this match wasn’t going to be quite the foregone conclusion it’d have been days earlier.

Conners started the match by betting the crowd they couldn’t keep up a chant… and whilst it’s still bribery, it’s a fairly novel way of keeping a reaction going! When that didn’t go to plan, Conners had had a pop at various members of the crowd, and started throwing things on the ground, a fan flipped him off. That’s not PG! So much filler here, you’d think they had their own bet to see if they could get the crowd to react!

Anyway, we get going with a test of strength that leads to Slater doing the finger dance, and then Conners jumps him. Slater immediately responds with an armdrag as he again asks the fans if they like to party, which makes Conners flip out. He’s brought back into the ring “the hard way” as Slater keeps up with a monkey flip to bring Conners out of the corner. Conners takes over from there though, grounding Slater in a sleeperhold as he took shots at some hecklers, but Liam fought free and dropped Conners with a full nelson facebuster for a near-fall. A push-down stomp out of the corner turned things back in Conners’ favour, following up with a series of clotheslines into the corner as he continued to mock Slater.

The fast-counting ref ended up causing confusion when Slater sat-down on on a sunset flip for a near-fall, before a small package seconds later got him the win. I’m not sure whether it was good acting, but when your guys are unsure that their pins are pins, something’s off. Not a bad outing, and at least they got the crowd going… even if they had to bribe them! ***

James R. Kennedy interrupts Stevie Aaron on the big screen before the main event. Kennedy opted not to be in Thornaby, saying he doesn’t do rinky-dink little towns. Why’s a manager getting heel heat when he’s not there? Apparently he trusts his charges to succeed without him, but he still has to put down Richie, Whitton and Kidd.

Dragon Aisu & Prospect (Drake & Lucas Archer) vs. Chris Whitton, Kid Richie & Gabriel Kidd
It’s a different version of Prospect this time as Alex Gracie was booked elsewhere. Aisu’s still painting his face white, which is a weird look when you’ve shaved your head. It’s almost like a Young Kenny tribute act from Phoenix Nights… Meanwhile, Whitton, Kidd and Richie come out to that Pigbag song, so they like to party… but they aren’t shoving it down our throats like Liam Slater!

Aisu gets the mic because it’s cheap heat time – he tells the crowd to shut up or they’ll leave. Sadly, he doesn’t leave, so instead he goes all Tracey Smothers and threatens to kill everyone.

We finally get going with Lucas Archer scarpering as the crowd chant “chicken” at him. Ah, that great British schoolyard insult! Archer’s taken aback when Whitton slaps his rear end, before tickling Archer as he complained of a hair pull. One fan in the crowd summed this up great: wrestling! Kid Richie comes in and lays into Archer with a forearm in the corner before a slingshot senton onto Lucas gets a near-fall. That turnbuckle that Prince Ameen dislodged in the opener’s still loose, but it’s in the good guy’s corner here so it shouldn’t be an issue as Archer’s kept firmly cornered and away from any tags out.

Of course, just as I say that, he escaped and tagged in Drake, who instantly mocked Richie’s lack of height by teasing a test of strength. Instead, he gets kneed in the gut as Richie sped into the ropes with a headscissors and armdrags as Drake had his turn to take a beating. He just about made it over from a monkey flip as Kidd scored with a big boot for barely a two-count, before Aisu was tagged in to slow the pace down and light up Kidd with some chops.

The crowd clapped along to the Addams Family theme for Aisu, who took some chops in return before Kidd hit a diving dropkick to force him to tag back out. Things fall apart as everyone hits the ring, with Whitton and Richie doing a doe-see-doe to send Drake and Archer into each other. Aisu gets the mic and says that they’re going home, so they head to the back… and the babyfaces chase them to keep the match alive.

Whitton rolls Drake into the ring as everyone else brawled on the outside… a missed dropkick put Whitton on the back foot, as Aisu comes back in to take shots, and hit a nice flipping neckbreaker for a near-fall. He quickly tagged Drake back in though as Whitton found himself isolated, nearly losing to a double suplex from Prospect. He’s able to bring in Richie though, who hits a nice ‘rana on Archer for a near-fall, before getting knocked to the floor as he went for a springboard.

Drake comes back with a back elbow to Richie, then a grounded chinlock to try and get a submission out of him, before Aisu uses his size to drill Richie with a back suplex for another near-fall. A back rake? Sure, why not. The bad guys do the fake tag routine to cycle through each other, only for Aisu to get dropkicked into the ropes for a 619 from Richie.

A slingshot senton back in from Richie’s blocked by Aisu’s knees, as Prospect tag in and out for the final sprint, battering Richie with dropkicks and clotheslines, before finally making the hot tag to Gabriel Kidd, who cleaned house and took down Archer with something close to a Samoan drop. Aisu eats a Stunner that leaves him flat on the floor, before Archer took an X-Plex…. Drake returns and dispatches of Kidd, but Whitton’s suddenly legal as he stacks up Prospect for an assisted moonsault double knees… wait, Aisu’s legal again as he dumps Whitton with a snapmare driver, before going after Kidd with a crossface… and the video on Highspots just stops! According to 3CW’s own site, the good guys won, but how will remain a mystery! What we saw was alright – Aisu was streets ahead of where he was at Encore, working in shorter bursts, but it was a pretty iffy experience to just have the feed stop abruptly! **¾

My word, this was a tough crowd. Not helped by the opening matches, but this Thornaby crowd were almost refusing to play along – which in turn dragged some of the matches down. It’s hard to feed off a crowd that isn’t giving you anything. Compared to Encore, this was a step down, both in terms of match quality and crowd engagement. For family shows, the first is neither here nor there, but with little in the way of storylines other than the Rogues’ Gallery and their journey to victory, there’s not much to sink your teeth into. From what I hear though, that changes as 3CW hits 2017… with something harking back to a decade earlier.