Well, this was a weird one. The diametric opposite of CHIKARA, we’ve got some wrestling with the occult. It was murder.

“You lead off, because you’re a voice they’re more used to hearing consistently” – gotta love some open mics as we wait for the show to go live. A WrestleMania weekend tradition! We’re inside a remodelled White Eagle Hall in Jersey City, New Jersey for what I believe was Blackcraft’s fourth ever show.

Kevin Gill and Larry Legend are on commentary as a guy called the Preacher (later ID’d as Doug Bradley) appeared on stage to introduce us at the midnight hour as he got the crowd to call themselves the Unbelievers. So far, so very cult-like… especially because the Preacher offers a fan to be sacrificed and join the cult… and they start by tying the plant to a cross on the stage. Of course, people are taking selfies as the guy has nails hammered into his hands, as he’s left on the stage. Well, that’s a completely different way to open a show. Actual human sacrifice it is then!

Wait a minute, why would the occult care about those championships they have?

Devil’s Den Match: G-Raver vs. SHLAK
Hey, they’ve replaced the ring ropes with CHAINS. A whole new aesthetic… apparently Jimmy Havoc was booked for this, but had to pull out. SHLAK was the replacement, and he almost started by being droplicked through a table.

There’s some fish hooks hanging on the middle chain, which G-Raver sailed over with a tope con giro, before SHLAK silenced the crowd with some eye rakes. Those fish hooks fall off the chain stupidly easy, so much so that ring crew repeatedly are putting them back in the chains. An overhead belly-to-belly dumps G-Raver through a door in the corner, before SHLAK pulled out a plastic bag and went to suffocate his opponent. It’s in keeping with the show so far… G-Raver gets free and cracks SHLAK with a chair, then with another door, before SHLAK just charges him into the door. SHLAK gets charged through a table instantly after that, and then it’s hockey fights… I guess the occult don’t believe in selling.

G-Raver goes for a step-up ‘rana off a chair, but SHLAK powerbombs him onto the chair (which doesn’t give) for a two-count. The plunder continues as SHLAK has tattoo needles hammered into his forehead like they were skewers… then knocked out of him with a chair as the blood is really flowing now, and somehow SHLAK’s able to prop a door (STILL WITH A DOOR KNOB IN IT) across two chairs, and now how it normally goes… and G-Raver puts him into the door with a Meteora off the top for the win. So they didn’t use the fish hooks after all… and if you like bloody death matches, this is for you… but if you don’t, I guess this ain’t the show for you. **

There’s a break as they replace the chain ropes with regular ropes… as we then get VT from their debut show, where Matthew Justice won a ladder match for a chalice. From there, we go to a show where barely more than 20 people were there (cue IPW in New York jokes), where a bunch of Blackcraft druids tore a ring apart to get to Justice, finishing with a curb stomp to the boards. It was a cool visual, even if it could have done with a crowd.

Wait, there’s more – the video takes us to a wrestling ring, outdoors in the dead of night as we move from the metaphor of Justice being buried under chairs in the ring, to being left for dead in the wild. Live, Dave and Jake Crist of oVe hit the ring as we play the “this isn’t on our format sheet” game.

Blackcraft Tag Team Championship: oVe (Dave Crist & Jake Crist) (c) vs. The Crown (Jurn Simmons & Alexander James) vs. The Butcher and the Blade (Andy Williams & Pepper Parks) vs. La Familia de Tijuana (Bestia 666 & Damian 666) vs. The Mane Event (Duke Davis & Ganon Jones Jr.)
So this gauntlet turned into a multi-way tag, which looked to start with oVe against the Crown. Hi Jurn! Larry Legend has no clue who they are, although he does try to describe his history with James without saying the letters CZW.

Okay, all ten men in play at one time is way too much for a tag match. Predictably, the ring clears as commentary doesn’t have a clue how to keep up. Damien and Bestia went after Davis and Jones in the corner… with Bestia dropkicking Davis in the groin. The hard cam intentionally moves away from Jurn and AJ on the floor, choosing to focus on the ring rather than any brawling around ringside… which meant we saw a nice push back into a German suplex on Bestia that got Ganon Jones the pin. The crowd make zero reaction, perhaps thinking it was elimination rules… but no, they’re the new champions. Well, that was an absolute cluster of a match. The effort was there, but when the crowd don’t even know what kind of match it was… well, you’re onto a loser. *

Matthew Justice vs. Gangrel
Justice is clearly Blackcraft’s top babyface, going from the promo videos going in. Some of the crowd react…

Gangrel fits this promotion like a glove, at least in terms of character. He took Justice into the ropes with a tie-up, before Justice took him down with a shoulder tackle. It’s all about the basics here, including a nice back body drop and a plancha as we brawled in the crowd. A clothesline from Justice takes Gangrel down, but they head back inside as Gangrel kicks the rope into Justice’s groin. A slingshot pulls Justice into the bottom rope, before a scoop slam led to a near-fall. Justice manages to make a comeback, but gets crotched on the top rope. He shoves away a superplex then comes in with a big stomp off the top for another two-count, before Gangrel caught him with an Implant DDT.

Justice rolls outside to avoid being pinned, before he nearly won with a small package… only for Gangrel to kick-out and toss him into the turnbuckles with a capture suplex. Another Implant DDT’s countered into a death valley driver… and that’s enough for Justice to get the win. They kept it (mostly) basic, and it worked… but this crowd doesn’t seem to be capable of reacting. **½

The Essence (Harlow O’Hara & Vipress) vs. Kimber Lee & Machiko San
We’re rushing from one match to another here, as you can tell that they’re already pushed for time. This was meant to have been Machiko San and Laynie Luck… but there’s a late change as Laynie Luck couldn’t make it, so Kimber Lee fills in.

Kimber and Harlow start, with Kimber being pulled down into a splits… then run through with a knee. Chops try to get Kimber back into it, as does a headscissor takedown as Vipress and Machiko tagged in, but Machiko absolutely mauls Vipress with a boot and a release German suplex to take the match outside. The tide turns there as the Essence began to isolate Machiko with some ground and pound, before a double-team suplex got Vipress a two-count. A Northern Lights took Machiko too close to the ropes, but she’s able to get a tag out to Kimber Lee… who manages to miss a senton bomb as Vipress struck back with a reverse STO. O’Hara’s next with a DDT… and that’s enough for the win. Not quite a squash, but this felt very one-sided with not too much to stick in the memory. **

For some reason the production crew are avoiding using the mobile cameras at ringside… it’s making this seem a little hokey, especially when you figured out that they DO have other angles apart from the moving hard cam.

Simon Grimm vs. Penta el 0M
Hey, the crowd comes alive when Penta came out!

Penta gets in Grimm’s face from the off, and instantly gets pulled down into an armbar… which he gave up because Penta got to the ropes. A superkick and a slingblade were Penta’s response, as I get annoyed at Kevin Gill saying “Penta om” like he’s meditating. Penta goes for a package piledriver early, but Grimm escaped and hits a lariat for a near-fall. Penta responds by going to the arm, pounding away on Grimm’s shoulder and limbs before we entered the chopping game. Not a good idea, Simon… A superkick stops that, but Grimm retaliated with an enziguiri and a Gotch piledriver for the win. A little sudden as Grimm got the upset, but this quite good for the time they had. Very rushed though. ***

Dick Justice vs. Luchasaurus vs. Matt Cross vs. Mecha Wolf vs. Rey Fenix vs. Teddy Hart
Apparently this is a “666-man scramble”. That ring’s gonna get extra full…

It’s only a six-way, thank God, with the winner getting a shot at the Blackcraft title. Fenix is wrestling in a hoodie, which shows you how much importance is on this match. Luchasaurus blocks some strikes from Dick Justice early and headbutts him, only for Dick to pull out a gun… which got kicked away. Cue a Parade of Moves as those who were capable of flying around did, before we settled down to Teddy Hart and Fenix. More dives follow as Mecha Wolf goes tope crazy, which takes us back to him and Fenix, with Fenix sending him flying with a reverse roundhouse. That’s the cue for hoodie’d Fenix to fly with a body press off the top, before Teddy Hart moonsaults off the top rope. Dick Justice teases going up top, before he just belly flopped off the apron.

Back in the ring, Luchasaurus uses headscissors to ram Mecha Wolf’s face into the mat, before Matt Cross flipped out of a chokeslam to come in with a rebound cutter. Justice wipes him out with a lariat though, before Fenix just bounced off of Dick… he had better luck with a step-up rear kick in the corner for a near-fall, while Teddy Hart just sat on the top rope. Mecha Wolf powerbombs Fenix repeatedly, then popped him up for a low blow before he went after Teddy Hart on the top rope… looking for a superplex, only to get caught with an avalanche Destroyer for the win. Well, for a show mired in black and darkness, it’s apt that the flashiest move of the night wins the match. Decent, but this felt so tired. **½

No Disqualification: Chris Dickinson vs. Masato Tanaka
This could be something special, as long as people still aren’t sleepwalking in and out of the ring.

Commentary tries to tell us that scouts have been watching Dickinson this weekend (right as Teddy Hart wanders onto the stage again). A lock-up has Tanaka on the back foot, before he comes back with a hiptoss ahead of some mounted punches in the corner. Tanaka comes close with a crossbody, taking Dickinson outside, only for them to trade places as an enziguiri has Tanaka loopy on the apron. Dickinson teases a piledriver on the apron… and delivers. Christ. Don’t take a drink every time Kevin Gill says “no apologies” on this show, especially if you value your liver. Anyway, that piledriver’s enough for a two-count, before Tanaka’s trapped with some chops and a suplex for another near-fall.

Tanaka tries to come back, but runs into an awkward death valley driver… but rather than go for a cover, Dickinson pulls a table out from under the ring. To justify this being no DQ. After he wrapped Tanaka’s leg into the ring post, Dickinson pulls Tanaka back into the ring as he teases a Mike Awesome-like crucifix bomb through a table… but Tanaka slipped out and hit a rolling elbow, before Dickinson blocked a powerbomb off the apron, instead dropping Tanaka with a death valley driver through that table. Back inside, Tanaka eventually kicked out before he countered a tornado DDT into a suplex… and the Tanaka comeback continued in earnest as he followed up with a tornado DDT of his own for a near-fall. Dickinson catches Tanaka on the top rope and sent him flying with an avalanche Falcon arrow… then with a German suplex for a two-count. Unprotected chairshots follow from both sides, then a double clothesline as the referee removed the remnants of those chairs.

Dickinson’s come up bloody as we sailed past 2.10am local time with a bunch of elbows from Tanaka. He manages to come back with a powerbomb for a near-fall, before he pulled out a second table, hoping to put Tanaka through it with a superplex… only for Tanaka to counter with a powerbomb out of the corner, shattering the edge of a table ahead of a big splash… but Dickinson popped up at one?! That fire continues with German suplexes back and forth, before Dickinson got caught out of the corner with Diamond Dust and a Sliding D for the win. This was quite fun, until we got to the unprotected chair shots. Don’t do those. **½

Blackcraft Women’s Championship: Maria Manic vs. Saraya Knight (c)
You know when someone’s research is just crib notes from Cagematch when they note that Saraya was trained by Ricky Knight… then left the rest of that untold.

We start with brawling in the crowd, because of course we do, as Saraya is swinging chairs at Manic. It’s a wild brawl as Saraya swings for the fences, before Maria looked to kick the champion out of a chair. It backfires as Saraya uses said chair… and in among this, Harlow O’Hara and Vipress come down to try and attack Manic before the bell. Saraya gets into the ring and orders the match start… and with Maria too busy focusing on beating up Harlow and Vipress, she’s counted out. Well, I liked this as a story, but as a match, this was a DUD.

Blackcraft Heavyweight Championship: David Starr vs. Johnny Blackcraft (c)
David Starr’s Starr of David logo is almost like a Pentagram gone wrong, so he’s a good fit for this show. Yeah, I’m horribly reaching here.

Johnny Blackcraft of course is the once-upon-a-time Johnny Nitro, because he adopts the last name of wherever he works. The hard camera dances around as Starr got his intro, and all that took longer than the match, as Blackcraft took down Starr in a waistlock, then rolled him up for the pin. Yup.

Starr attacked Blackcraft after the match, rolling him to the mat in a rear naked choke as the Preacher appeared on the stage, amid chants of “bullshit”. Well, that WAS the advertised main event.

The Preacher cuts a promo on the champion, only for Matthew Justice to come storming from the back to confront him and demand a title match now. Justice is rejected… as that match is “going to happen over my dead body”. So Justice slices his throat. That seems reasonable… even if the crowd cheer and laugh it off.

Since the Preacher’s now a dead body, Justice rings the bell…

Blackcraft Heavyweight Championship: Johnny Blackcraft (c) vs. Matthew Justice
… then hits the ring and drops Johnny with a Jig ‘n’ Tonic for the win. New champion, although I’m not sure how that’d work if he’s ever caught for committing serious assault with hundreds of witnesses.

In among the confusion, a bunch of names hit the ring, all cheery and like, for our real main event. A battle royal. The VOD’s got less than eight minutes left, so someone really screwed up the timing…

Baphomet Battle Royal
No intros, so Cagematch tells us the entrants were Anthony Greene, Arik Cannon, Atticus Cogar, Benjamin Carter, Casanova Valentine, Conan Lycan, Connor Braxton, Corey Futuristic, Dale Patricks, Dave Dutra, Derek Direction, Gory, John Wayne Murdoch, Justin Credible, Kit Osbourne, Kyle The Beast, Lady Frost, Lord Crewe, Mance Warner, Matt Light, Pinkie Sanchez, Rory Gulak, Royce Isaacs, Sledge, Stockade, Swoggle, Victor Benjamin and Zicky Dice.

This probably should have been the opener, but we needed to start with the no-ropes chain match, so eh. There’s six minutes left when the bell sounds, so of course it’s chaos. I think Frank the Clown was meant to be in, but he just posed on the stage and got twatted by a Kendo stick from Justin Credible. Sweet. A chair’s thrown from the floor, hitting someone in the head as Credible made it to the ring with his Kendo stick, and thankfully the ring’s clearing out quickly. Credible’s gone early, as Anthony Greene gets called out by an old gimmick. Yeah, this is insanely rushed, and then the lights go out. Did someone hit a switch, or was that curfew? It might have been curfew as the house lights went up full. The finish came when un-named guy gets shoved by Riley Madison, with Zicky Dice low bridging him to the outside… and the crowd barely cared. *

Eleven matches was way too much for this, even without what I assume was an NXT-induced delayed start. So far, all four of Blackcraft’s shows have been in different towns, and with little buzz (at least from what I’ve seen), this was a show that was likely attended by those staying local and/or had bought a block ticket. For a show all about the occult, Christ knows that this would likely not have won any new fans over.

An absolute, rushed mess, and a likely contender for the worst show of the weekend. Perhaps next time, don’t book a bloated show with story-telling segments if you’ve got a hard stop…

No apologies. Only regrets.