Two months is an incredibly long time in wrestling – and two months after WinterSlam, ATTACK! is finally back, with an eventful Friday night show in Cheltenham.

It feels like it’s been way, way, way too long.

Tyler Bate vs. Evil Uno
Uno’s on a bit of a tour of the UK, with this seemingly being his first stop, and yes, he’s confused by the “We Hate Shay!” bell replacement service.

Tyler impressively lifts up the larger Uno and places him onto the turnbuckles, before the evil one tries a wristlock, which Tyler easily escapes. Realistic? Perhaps not, but the crowd loved it so… it was that. Uno asks if he can give it a go, and of course, he flops hard initially, then gets a helping hand up with a kip-up.

It’s a ruse though, and he viciously DDT’s Bate to start a series of frustrating pinning attempts. We get the “ref accidentally holds Tyler’s foot” spot ahead of a neckbreaker, but Bate finally mounts a comeback with a diving uppercut before throwing some in the corner… and then catching a leap from Uno, turning it into a massive Exploder.

That was impressive! As was the deadlift German, but Bate’s comeback quickly gets squashed as his dive to the outside is caught and met with a tombstone. Evil, living up to his name, refuses to do a flip for the crowd, and instead dumped Tyler with a brainbuster as he continued his search for a win.

It became apparent here that whilst the Evil Uno character would fit into ATTACK! really easily, there’s a big reliance on people knowing his work overseas. The pace didn’t seem to settle at times, which hurt things… until Uno just threw arms and leathered Tyler with some slaps. Eventually though Bate was able to get him rocked with Bop and Bang before a Tyler Driver secured the win. Fairly short, but this outing didn’t sell me one bit on Evil Uno. This wasn’t bad, but it just didn’t stand out. **¾

ELIJAH vs. Ryan Smile vs. Wild Boar vs. Eddie Dennis
We’ve got new music for the Boar, as the Mad Capsule Markets song gets laid to rest. I kinda liked that wacky Japanese electro-punk. ELIJAH cringing at the opening bars of Andrew WK was a good sell too, as he must have expected being the token guy that Eddie throws around for fun here.

Oi, G-Man, stop it with the camera-cuts in time to Party Hard!

It’s quite frenetic early as Eddie Dennis started out on top, having to deal with ELIJAH and Boar after Smile’d been powerbombed out of the match, but the numbers game quickly tells as the tables turned… just in time for Ryan Smile to negotiate the low ceiling with his missile dropkick! An accidental DDT puts Ryan in charge – and with a much better reception than what he had last time out – before he planted Boar with a springboard cutter.

Eddie fights the low ceiling next as he tried to superplex Smile – which didn’t go quite to plan – so we ended up with a Tower of Doom as they landed into the Boar. Instead, Eddie tries to do a dive, and we know how that goes: Shay stops it, and is forced by Eddie into throwing himself to the outside. That’s bullying! As was Eddie powerbombing him to the outside, but at least Shay knew what to do.

Back inside we get a Parade of Moves, with Boar spiking Eddie with an Emerald Fusion – leading to a wacky image of the shortest man in the match dumping the tallest on his own dome, leading to all four trying to boot each other at once. This motif keeps up, but at least ELIJAH doesn’t restrict himself to going after the good guys, almost winning with a Slingblade on Boar.

Another rapid-fire Parade sees Eddie eat a package piledriver, before ELIJAH went after Smile with a crucifix bomb, leading to him hitting a Fisherman’s suplex that flipped into a sit-out powerbomb for the win. A huge win for ELIJAH, but one that didn’t get much of any reaction. It’s weird, but when he was collecting trophies of ATTACK! props, he was getting reactions beyond “where’s the passion gone?”… In-the-ring, ELIJAH’s growing, but the character seems to have gone a little generic as of late. ***

Mike Bird vs. Mike Bailey
This one got a LOT of love from the folks who were there live, with some pretty lofty reviews of it. It’s another debut as Mike Bailey opts to walk on the shoulders of the crowd to get him into the ring, which is quite the way to go. Add Speedball to the list of those confused by the replacement bell.

Bird looked to work over Bailey’s legs early as the feeling-out process kept things pretty even. We then went to the striking portion, as Bird and Bailey threw chops and kicks, before the spilled outside, where Speedball decided to make use of a moonsault instead.

Back inside, Bird obliterated Bailey with a running death valley driver into the turnbuckles, and kept up the beating, wearing down the Canadian with a chinlock, before deciding to just throw fists. Bailey really was having to use his speed to outwit Bird, but those moonsault knees of his certainly helped! Bailey reverted to type with some kicks and a corkscrew press for a near-fall, throwing those feet to rock the Ginger Jesus, who eventually recovered with a crucifix bomb. More strikes saw the pair trade heavy forearms on the apron, before upgrading to stinging chops as the two Mikes seemed hell bent on lighting the other up.

More kicks from Bailey put him in the driver’s seat, only until Bird landed a clothesline to keep things even. Bird comes back with a Judo throw into a chokehold, but despite Bailey making the ropes he’s rolled into the centre of the ring as Bird tries for the submission… and of course, Bailey fought out, breaking the hold with a kamikaze dive that took both men to the outside.

Okay, I laughed. That drew chants of “don’t be dead”.

They weren’t dead, but Bird damn near killed Bailey with a piledriver back in the ring for a two-count, before back-and-forth strikes led to Bird eating a roundhouse and a shooting star kneedrop… for a one-count?! The heck?! Not the matter, another couple of kicks did the job, as a decapitation kick put Bird on his back as Speedball picked up the win. Did this live up to the hype? Probably not, but it was a really good match – and that’s from someone who’s not a fan of Kick Spam Bailey. ***¾

Chris Brookes vs. Mark Andrews
Chris Brookes is a good boy now, so the weirdness we had last time out in Cardiff looks to be for real. There’s no water spitting, and when Mark Andrews hit the ring to provide opposition, there was all apologies. Seems Brookes is on a path to redemption with an unwilling Lykos, and was full of remorse for binning the Junior CD he was given way back when… oh, and that time he turned Nixon Newell against him.

Yeah, there’s a LOT of apologies coming here. Someone had a good memory!

The Dirty Wolf attacks Andrews when the pair shook hands… prompting Brookes to grab him by the hair and throw him outside. It seems the wolf is going to have a harder time changing his ways, I guess? We get going with a “clean wrestling match”, with lots of holds, and what I can only say was some uncertainty as the crowd took this babyface match as a comedy outing.

Brookes blocked Andrews’ armdrag routine, and instead flattened him with a big back senton for a near-fall. Out of habit, Brookes went for a wet willie, prompted by Shay doing his best Leslie Grantham on a webcam impression (DON’T look that up at work), but he resists and instead just stomps on Andrews’ neck.

That probably did more damage than the wet willie would have.

Lykos again tries to interfere, and gets told off for it, before Andrews tried to make a comeback, moonsaulting out of a sunset flip as he drilled Brookes with a superkick instead. Back inside, Brookes nailed Andrews with the Whiplash rope-hung swinging neckbreaker, but it’s only good for a two-count, and we end up going into a nice and even spell.

Andrews looked to knock Brookes to the outside, but he’s caught with a springshot cutter, then a deadlift German. More Lykos interference actually works as he tripped Andrews – which Shay willingly turned a blind eye to. Brookes didn’t though, as he whacked Lykos with the baking tray as punishment, before Andrews found that the low ceiling caused him to change his usual offence, leading to him getting caught by a Brookes wheelbarrow roll-up for the win. Bell-to-bell this was fine, but this crowd really hard a hard time getting used to babyface Brookes. That’s two ATTACK! shows in a row now where Brookes has had a weird reaction… hopefully the next one will be much more clear-cut now he’s flat-out been portrayed as a good guy. Regardless of whether the crowd trust him! ***½

Veda Scott vs. Chief Deputy Dunne
Where Speedball goes as of late in the UK, Veda Scott isn’t too far behind him. Can’t imagine why… It’s not exactly the same relationship between Chief Deputy Dunne and Los Federales Santos Jr, but they seem to be a right pair as well. It’s a weird one, seeing Dunne go from losing the title last time out to his first match being a random intergender outing, but here we are.

Veda doesn’t want any trouble, but she can’t help herself from laughing at Santos. It’s a common reaction. Dunne’s mad that she’s having fun, so he hits her with an enziguiri before the bell, which led to her getting double-teamed as Chris Roberts reverted to his bumbling, easily-distracted form.

As you’d expect, Dunne dominated large parts of the match, at least until Veda hit a Stunner from out of nowhere, then a clothesline off the middle rope as Dunne was stunned. This time around, she refused to freeze for him… and when Santos tried to interfere, he ate a German suplex too. Both men ended outside again as Chris Roberts gave Veda a helping hand for a body press to the floor, and it seemed that like one of the mobile cameras, Dunne needed to recharge his batteries too, especially when his springboard lungblower didn’t get the job done.

Instead, Dunne followed it up with a rope-hung DDT that Veda countered out of, before hitting a Snapmare Driver for a near-fall as Santos pulled his boss onto the ropes. That distraction allowed Dunne to come back with a headbutt, before the elevated DDT put away Veda. No fun at all. This was alright, but ATTACK! do have a weird way of handling their former champions… ***

ATTACK! Tag Team Championship: Bowl-a-Rama (Splits McPins & Lloyd Katt) vs. Brothers of Obstruction (James Obstruction & Leigh Obstruction) vs. Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) (c)
Bowl-a-Rama have new gear – and new nicknames too – “The Perfect Game” Splits McPins and “The Daddy of Bowling, the Bowling Daddy” Lloyd Katt. That may need some working on… The Brothers of Obstruction were making a list, which included “no outside brawls” and “no diving”. Yeah, we’ll see about that.

The Aussies threw them outside before the bell, so we had Bowl-a-Rama against the Aussies to kick us off, with the two good-guy teams doing their best to keep the Health and Safety fanatics away. Katt “runs” the ropes against Davis, before clattering into him with a crossbody as the Brothers hit the ring for a clear-out.

Naturally, everything ended up outside as one of the Brothers was sent sliding down a stair bannister by Bowl-a-Rama. That looked fun. Back inside, things disintegrated into a three-way without tags, as Mark Davis finally used one of his high fives as a lethal weapon in a match!

Problem was, one big tornado match meant that this was effectively a long Parade of Moves – allowing for some innovation as Mark Davis ignored a wristlock from one Brother to powerbomb the other… which led to Shay deliberately holding up the count. I’d forgotten how annoying that spot was. Davis punches him out, so we’re lawless as one of the Brothers launched into a hard-hat assisted suicide dive to the outside. I thought they specifically said “No Diving”? Hypocrites, the lot of them!

An insane spot followed as one of the Brothers superplexed Splits into a waiting pile on the floor, but it was the Aussies who threatened to take over again as they hit a Fidget Spinner, only for Bowl-a-Rama to quickly work up into a Package Meltzer Driver on Fletcher. Except nobody’s thought to get a replacement ref, so by the time Chris Roberts came out, Shay Purser’d recovered to attack Chris.

The shenanigans continued as Santos headed out to protect Shay, then go airborne with a tope. Hey, this Anti-Fun Police love breaking their own no-fun rules… so much so that Dunkzilla punishes him with a piledriver. Chief Deputy Dunne returns to hit a springboard lungblower on Davis, and this is now the Anti-Fun Police vs. the world.

The Brothers just about gets Katt up for a double-team elevated DDT, but Katt barely kicks out of it. The Fat Katt then picked up BOTH Brothers for a double Finlay roll as the former champs gave us a version of More Bang for Your Buck, but this time it’s Dunkzilla breaking it up. So he gets More Bang for Your Buck, or at least half of it, as Davis gets his knees up and helps with a double-team cutter before Fletcher’s Destroyer kept things going.

Splits gets killed with the pull-up piledriver, but just as the Aussies went to finish him off with another Fidget Spinner, the Brothers slide in and get a pair of roll-ups… two extremely fast quick-counts, and we have new champions. Utter, utter garbage, at least in terms of the cheapness of the finish. Live, this match undoubtedly was fun. But on tape? It came across as a three-way where so much happened, it became hard for any of it to really land save for the screwjob. **¾

ATTACK!’s first show in two months was solid, but didn’t really shine for me. Bird vs. Bailey was fun, but the main event was a massive let down. Especially in a cramped venue, three-ways are hard to do without resorting to the “let’s do a load of moves” formula – and when you have that, there’s little room for breath. It wasn’t a lack of effort, but for me this show did not connect well with me. Just when you thought the Anti-Fun Police had been dealt with, we’re back to square one with the fast-counting shenanigans.

ATTACK! return this weekend in Bristol for their annual Hallowe’en-themed Goosebumps show – where things should return to form.