It was all change at WCPW’s second iPPV, as an import-heavy card came to the internet live from Nottingham, headlined with a triple-threat in a steel cage.

Going in, we knew there’d be two matches on the card from guys who’d not even appeared on the promotion’s Loaded show – in fact, only one of those four had even wrestled for the company before, and even he wasn’t there! Yes, despite “Adam Pacitti getting one over Martin Kirby” being the prevalent storyline on Loaded, here it was usurped by something that had never ever been mentioned on TV: that Matt Hardy was coming to “delete WCPW. Chance would be a fine thing.

So yes, on this night, the other storyline was that Adam Pacitti was scared that Matt Hardy was going to end WCPW, so he’d hired Bully Ray to fight his corner. Elsewhere, we had Alberto el Patron (last seen at True Legacy) scheduled to face a debuting Johnny Mundo… except flight delays meant that Alberto wasn’t able to make it.

Anyway, we’ll recap later. But for now, we’ll start with the two pre-show matches, including a number one contendership match for a title that’d be decided later on…

Strong Style Collective (Pete Dunne & Travis Banks) vs. Prospect (Lucas Archer & Alex Gracie)
Yep, Dunne got the “cheap Jack Swagger” chants, for those of you hoping that a different city meant a better crowd. Dunne started by grounding Archer and snapping back on the arm, before biting away on Archer’s foot as the commentary team acknowledged his PROGRESS title win. And he’s on the pre-show here. Hmm…

After Archer rolled to his feet, Dunne replied in the best way you can to someone dabbing: by biting their hands. Alex Gracie then tagged in and pulled down his trunks to reveal a second pair with his own face on them – something that Dunne quickly became familiar with, as Archer shoved his head into Gracie’s rear end.

Travis Banks came in and took down Gracie with a kick to the chest, as Dunne then grabbed his nose as the Collective went in for some double-teaming. Gracie countered a suplex with a double-neckbreaker, before Prospect did some double-teaming, leading to Archer getting a near-fall from an elbow drop. Dunne replied with a snap German suplex, then a release suplex, before Banks returned to club away at Archer.

Dunne and Banks finally hit their double suplex for a near-fall, which led to Dunne keeping Archer away from his partner. Dunne looked to hit a double axehandle onto Archer, but instead… he just bit his arm, before Archer finally made a comeback with a tiltawhirl DDT. Finally Gracie made the hot tag, and took down Banks with a low side slam, before low-bridging Dunne to the outside.

A leaping leg lariat off the middle rope took Dunne down again, before Banks’ attempted crossbody out of the corner came up short as Gracie stepped away a la Samoa Joe. Another blind tag saw Archer return with a missile dropkick to both members of the Collective, who kept going back and forth as Dunne took the Eat Defeat from Gracie, who then fell to a diving clothesline from Banks. The Collective accidentally took each other out when Banks was placed across Dunne’s shoulders in a tombstone position, before double low superkicks finished the piledriver off nicely, but he was able to recover and make the save. Prospect looked to finish off Banks, but the Collective recovered as Banks flattened Archer with a cannonball.

Gracie tried to grab onto Banks’ leg, but the ensuing exchange saw Archer go airborne instead… only to knock down Gracie with a plancha. That left Archer alone to take a spike elevated DDT for the win. A pretty good pre-show match, but I’m hoping this crowd wakes up in time for the main show! ***

During the first match, they acknowledged that Alberto el Patron wasn’t there, and that his match with Johnny Mundo would change – but with no news on who his new opponent would be.

WCPW Internet Championship & Global Force Wrestling NEX*GEN Championship: Cody Rhodes (GFW) (c) vs. El Ligero (WCPW) (c)
Ligero took Rhodes into the corner at the start of the match, before wrenching onto him with a headlock. An early C4L attempt was blocked as Rhodes then went for Cross-Rhodes, leading to a stand-off… and I think the audio on the Facebook feed is a little ahead of the video.

Rhodes cheapshotted Ligero from a handshake and kicked him in the ropes, but Rhodes then misses a Disaster Kick and gets sent to the outside – where he promptly receives a tope con hilo.They brawl around the ring, which leads to Cody taking a hiptoss onto the entrance ramp, before returning to the ring to take some chops. Ligero gets reversed back into the corner for some more chops, but then whips Cody into the turnbuckles chest first, a la Bret Hart. Rhodes falls into the ropes and takes a 61-knee for a near-fall, before a low dropkick got a similar result as our commentary team were deleted! Nah, it’s just an audio issue…

Cody returned to catch Ligero on the top rope and hit a stalling superplex, leading to a standing ten count (and yes, this crowd saw NXT…), before the pair traded shots back and forth. Another comeback from Rhodes ended when his Cross-Rhodes attempt kept being rolled out of. Rhodes almost took the Shattered Dreams after Ligero caught him in the corner, with Ligero going full Goldust… before ending with a back kick to the chest after the referee stopped the move. Cody then sprung out of the corner with a Disaster Kick for a near-fall, before spinning Ligero around in an Alabama Slam position, before sitting down for a near-fall.

More near-falls followed, as Ligero again countered the Cross Rhodes and followed up with a pair of Ace Crushers. The Mexican Wave followed across the ring for a near-fall, before some kicks were caught, allowing Rhodes to catch Ligero in a figure four… but Ligero managed to make the ropes to break the hold. The end came when Ligero tried to hit back with a wheelbarrow roll-up, but Rhodes caught him and finally landed the Cross Rhodes for the win – taking home both the WCPW and GFW gold. A good match, better than Cody’s True Legacy match, that’s for sure! ***¼

Swords of Essex (Scott Wainwright & Paul Robinson) & Bea Priestley vs. Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) & Nixon Newell
Priestley and the moustachioed Newell started us off, but Bea quickly fled the ring as Newell went for a pick… and it became clear there that this wasn’t going to give us man-on-woman action.

Paul Robinson tried his luck against Trent Seven, and found himself become a parcel for a pass-the-parcel suplex between Sevem and Bate… and Newell too! Yep, that was mighty impressive! Newell completed the suplex for a near-fall, before tagging in Bate, who quickly was overwhelmed by Robinson’s thug-like offence. The match picked up again when we had Newell and Priestley in again, ending with a cross body off the top to Wainwright before Newell drilled Bea with a headbutt. Eventually, all of the Swords were piled in a corner, as Trent Seven forced Wainwright to slingshot Robinson into Priestley in another innovative spot.

The match again went outside, leaving Newell and Priestley in the ring, but Wainwright returned to break up a pin from a Shining Wizard. From there, the guys double-teamed Newell with a double stomp-assisted death valley driver, before dropping Priestley on top of the prone Newell for the win. A decent undercard match, but nothing memorable aside from establishing the Swords in the company. **½

Dave Bradshaw on commentary continually pushed Moustache Mountain’s losing streak – which would suggest something of a change is in their future?

They again acknowledge that Alberto el Patron couldn’t make it to the show, but up next: Johnny Mundo vs. a mystery replacement! Speaking of, without many video packages to build up these matches, this feels really awkward as a live show. Perhaps if we actually had storylines rather than “hey, these are imported guys you want to watch!”

Johnny Mundo came out and addressed via crowd via a microphone that didn’t seem to feed to the production truck properly; so all we heard was the echoes from the arena. Mundo read out a “text” from Alberto putting down Nottingham… which seemed to get a comedy reaction from the crowd rather than any heel heat. It takes something special for an import to get booed by casual fans… this wasn’t it. Mundo then went to leave, but Prince Ameen’s music hit… and out came Ameen to issue a challenge. Not for him, but for a hometown kid: Gabriel Kidd.

Hey, this is the match they should have booked originally, especially after Kidd’s performance on Loaded last week. Also, there was a nice subtle change in the “master/servant” story, as Ameen referred to Gabriel as his “protege”…

Johnny Mundo vs. Gabriel Kidd
Like Moustache Mountain, Kidd is carrying the losing streak gimmick here too, but he’s at least the home-town here.

Mundo sought to cheat at any opportunity, poking the eye to free himself from a wristlock, before doing a backflip and… mooning the crowd. Kidd repeated the spot, then went after Mundo, scoring an inverted atomic drop and a clothesline.After Kidd scored a near-fall, Mundo scurried to the outside, and used Prince Ameen as a distraction before dropping both of them with superkicks.

Mundo hit Kidd with a chair behind the referee’s back (somehow, we didn’t see what unsighted the referee), and got a two-count from it. A backbreaker and a Russian legsweep get Mundo another two-count, before Kidd countered an axehandle off the top with an uppercut. Those bloody “ten!” chants returned as the referee gave a standing ten count, but Gabriel kept up the pressure with a dropkick and a corner clothesline, before a double underhook suplex almost earned Kidd the win. A death valley driver off the ropes gave Kidd another near-fall, but Morrison came back with an enziguiri off the ropes, before slipping on a springboard and recovering to connect with a spear. That slip-up woke the crowd from its slumber! Mundo hit back with a Disaster Kick and a running knee strike for a near-fall, before Kidd grabbed of a leg to block the Starship Pain.

Kidd then went flying with a somersault plancha to the outside, then followed up with a Finlay roll and a moonsault to come even closer to victory. However, Mundo instantly hit back by blocking a superplex, shoving Kidd down and hitting the Starship Pain for the win. This started painfully slow, but once they got going, it became pretty good – but Kidd needs to get his win sooner rather than later, given how “losing streak” gimmicks have gone down in history. ***

We then get a video package building up the Primate vs. Rampage story, and the start of the best-of-seven trials series.

Lumberjack Match: Primate vs. Rampage
Your lumberjacks, by the way, were Pete Dunne, Travis Banks, Doug Williams, Drake, Alex Gracie and Lucas Archer. I wonder how they’re going to lean… especially as the lumberjacks lined up in the aisle to stop Rampage from coming down. It didn’t work, as Primate burst through the crowd as they fought in the aisle to start us off.

In the ring, Rampage flew out of the blocks in an attempt to get an early win, but as soon as he was sent outside, the lumberjacks beat up on Rampage then sent him into the ring post. Primate picked up the pieces with some release German suplexes. During the match, they mentioned on commentary how at Refuse to Lose, Rampage beat Adam Blampied… who’s apparently been in hospital ever since. Nice try at kayfabe, except he’s appeared on plenty of videos on the very website this show is on!

The pair trade headbutts, before Rampage turned a spear from Primate into a tope to the outside as the tables turned. Primate had to kick out at two from a uranage, then again from a sit-out powerbomb, before Rampage was sent to the outside for more muggings from the lumberjacks. Primate tried to attack from the top, but Rampage instead hurled him to the floor a la Ric Flair in 99% of his attempts on the top rope. Drake, Archer and Gracie broke up a cover after a (banned?) piledriver, but Rampage quickly got rid of them, before Primate grabbed a rear naked choke for the quick submission. A decent match, but purely storyline with the constant lumberjack interferences. **¾

Primate refused to relinquish the hold after the match… until Primate’s angry monkey mask seemed to calm him down.

In lieu of any video packages or anything to build up the next match (because, you know, they didn’t do anything on TV), we had Alex Shane trying to convince us that the company could close after the next match if Matt Hardy succeeded in “deleting” WCPW. I guess they couldn’t get Matt or Bully to record something and turn that into a video for Loaded? Or even have Adam Pacitti refer to this storyline ONCE during those shows?!

Bully Ray came out for the next match in an ECW baseball jersey, getting ECW chants… which turned into boos when Adam Pacitti accompanied him. Matt Hardy got a brief promo before the match, calling Pacitti an “obsolete mule” who must be “deleted”. Ah, the love of new material. Have I missed all of Matt’s threats to delete WCPW? Pacitti seems really mad at them, whilst playing the character of an angry maths teacher pretending to be a GM. Bully then rounds on Pacitti as a “YouTube Wanker” and a “mark” – far from the first time either of those insults have been hurled his way. Pacitti then scurried to the back as Bully threatened to put him through a table.

Chants of “TLC” ring out as soon as Bully then brings up their wrestling past… before suggesting that this turn into a no-DQ match. And we’re on!

No Disqualification: Bully Ray vs. Matt Hardy
The match started out fast with Hardy laying into Bully with “delete” chops in the corner, before Bully elbowed out of a Side Effect as a clothesline took both men to the mat. Chairs come into play as they smash the chairs into each other, before some Dusty punches ended with a side slam for a near-fall. On the outside, Hardy rammed Bully’s head into the ring, before going up the aisle as the fans yelled “delete” for everything. A ladder then was dragged from the back, which Matt quickly used on his opponent.

Bully went to the ropes to crotch Matt on the top rope, as another chair came into play to soften up Hardy for a superplex. With a bloodied nose, Bully had a lightbulb go off, which he capitalised on by going outside in search of a table. It’s set up in the ring, and we instantly get a ref bump as Bully shoves away a Side Effect, sending Matt into the ref, leading to visual pinfalls for both men. Adam Pacitti returns to low blow Matt Hardy – because of course he did – before Bully Ray got a low blow in as well to win via a roll-up. A horrid finish; pure Attitude Era trash, but it fits this promotion’s MO and target audience, so I guess it worked here. *¾

After the match, Bully Ray got another one of those knock off t-shirts. Paging New Japan…

We get a video package recapping the tag title tournament – the finals are next!

WCPW Tag Team Championship Tournament Finals: Johnny Moss & Liam Slater vs. The Coffeys (Joe Coffey & Mark Coffey)
Mark Coffey started by taking Slater into the corner with a tie-up, but the Leeds youngster replied with a takedown and a start of a heel hook before Mark reached the ropes.

Slater sent Mark flying with a monkey flip, before Joe blocked a similar move, forcing Slater to tag out to the veteran Moss. Joe Coffey tried to break a neck bridge from Moss, only to fail as his knuckle-lock was broken by a monkey flip. A Japanese stranglehold kept Moss at bay, but Joe was helpless when the move was reversed, and had a similar fate when he tried to exchange chops with the Cumbrian.

After an impressive leapfrog, Moss sent Joe overhead with a belly-to-belly suplex, before dumping Slater with a front suplex onto Joe for a near-fall. Joe Coffey swung Slater around with a backslide, then a front facelock, getting another two-count, before the Coffeys combined to take down Slater once more. A miscommunication saw Mark knock Joe off the apron, before Slater tagged back out as we saw a bunch of suplexes from Moss, who then ducked a Black Coffey lariat. Slater took out both Coffeys with a dive off the top rope, before Moss’ somersault plancha added to the impressive dives on show. Joe Coffey caught Slater with a Giant Swing and a Boston crab, but Moss broke it up and took a double suplex from the Coffeys.

Slater eats a pop-up uppercut from the Coffeys, before a Giant Swing wheelbarrow and facebuster got Joe another two-count. Moss had to make the save after a Black Coffey, before Slater ducked a second and tagged in Moss… who slingshotted his way into an uppercut. Moss quickly turned the tables with a Fisherman brainbuster on Joe Coffey, before Slater tagged in for his swandive headbutt off of Mark Coffey for the title win. A good match involving two teams who should have had a touch more of the spotlight. ***½

We get a video package recapping the Martin Kirby/Will Ospreay series of matches, and Ospreay’s recent heel turn. They even show Adam Pacitti’s weak slaps… and yes, that best-of-three-falls match is next!

Best-of-Three-Falls: Will Ospreay vs. Martin Kirby
Yes, despite being part of the “Pacitti Club” and wearing knock-off Bullet Club shirts, they still announce Will as a member of the “CHAOS faction in Japan”. I will always shake my head at that last bit until they tell us why it’s relevant in this group!

The match started with Kirby clotheslining Ospreay to the outside, before Will was sent into the crowd with an Irish whip that sent him over a conveniently uncoupled crowd-barrier. Just like we had at True Legacy, the crowd brawling didn’t come with a mobile camera, but they spent little time out there as Kirby clotheslined Will back into the ringside area. They return to the ring, and Will snatches the first fall with a roll-up with his feet on the ropes. A cheap first fall to build heel heat for Willy boy!

The second fall opened with a tope from Kirby, knocking Ospreay into the crowd barrier, as we resumed with some chops on the outside. Kirby hits his “d*ckhead plex” – a hanging vertical suplex that ends with a poke to the eye – before countering a handspring off the ropes by dropkicking Ospreay’s hands.

Kirby went for the Zoidberg Elbow, but it’s immediately cut-off as Ospreay lands a forearm to knock him to the floor. Ospreay set up for a dive, but instead headed out – learning the lesson that heels shouldn’t do cool moves! Back in the ring, Ospreay tied up Kirby with a modified cloverleaf, except it was too close to the ropes and Kirby easily made a break, before firing back briefly with a forearm and a couple of clotheslines.

A Slingblade took Ospreay down, but he rolled onto the apron… so Kirby pulled him down and followed up with a dive, only for an enziguiri on the apron to block it. Will went up top, but he missed a move and was taken down with a tiltawhirl backbreaker before countering a Sable Bomb with a knee to the face. The counters continued as Ospreay tried to avoid a Sable Bomb, but Kirby ended up scoring the equalising fall with a backslide.

Ospreay attacked Kirby during the supposed rest period, flying into him with a Yakuza kick in the corner, before the match again spilled outside with Kirby being thrown into the crowd barriers. Will followed up by pulling down his knee pads and landing a running knee into the side of Kirby’s head, but the resulting count-out attempt was ruined by the crowd doing their “TEN!” chants.

Kirby eventually beat the count at nine, but managed to hit Ospreay with an enziguiri out of nowhere as he looked to score the final fall. Will got caught with his own Cheeky Nando’s, before Kirby went flying with a top rope rana for a near-fall. A Famouser dumped Will on his head for another two-count as an amazing sprint from Kirby almost won him the match. Ospreay countered a Sable bomb with a headbutt, before unsuccessfully trying to keep Kirby down with chops. A bicycle knee worked, before an OsCutter set-up was interrupted, and another knee got Will another two-count. From the kick-out, Kirby took the OsCutter, only to kick out – something that was telegraphed badly on commentary. Undeterred, Ospreay grabbed his Essex flag and looked to choke Kirby with it, before calling for the Rainham-Maker – only for Kirby to counter it into a pop-up Sable bomb.

Kirby again went for the Zoidberg elbow, but Ospreay grabbed the baton and used it after a ref distraction… again for a near-fall, before a second OsCutter proved to be enough. A great match – not on the level of their first one, but much better than the second match from a few weeks ago – helped by Will Ospreay changing up his routine to suit his new persona. ***¾

As much as I dislike some of the booking here, credit has to be given to how Will Ospreay has switched things up as a heel. Heels should never do flippy moves or stuff that makes the crowd cheer – and this run could well help Will wrestle without aggravating his much-storied injuries.

Adam Pacitti came out with the Swords of Essex, Bully Ray and a table after the match, and this turned into another mugging. Bully Ray set up the table, then whipped Kirby with a steel chain, before Matt Hardy made the save with a chair! Will Ospreay wore a chair on his head, then took a Twist of Fate whilst wearing it, before a Bully Ray-style powerbomb saw Kirby drop Ospreay through the table. Hey, it’s exactly the kind of stuff this crowd eats up, so it worked…

After all that, Matt Hardy went into the front row in search of WhatCulture’s “Jack The Jobber”… he grovelled as he was the face of some videos that buried the “Broken” Matt Hardy act. Matt “bit” Jack and left him bloodied in a weird spot.

There was a lengthy break as they set up the steel cage – I’ll fast-forward through this!

Steel Cage Match for WCPW Championship: Joe Hendry vs. Drew Galloway vs. Joseph Conners (c)
No custom entrance for Hendry here, who got busted down to being a bridesmaid after having been built as the bride for this feud until the final minutes of the go-home show.

Massive thumbs up to WCPW, as they bought and used a classic “blue bar” steel cage from the 80s-era WWF here… and the match starts with Galloway and Conners fighting outside. A leap from Conners is caught, as Galloway swings Conners into the steel cage, as Hendry comes out to try and convince Galloway to stop brutalising Conners and actually start the match. Eventually, Conners climbs into the cage to escape the punishment… and with Joe Hendry waiting in the ring, it turned out to be the worst decision he could have made.

The bell finally rang, and Conners tried to escape as he was quickly dragged into a two-on-one beatdown by his challengers. Hendry looked to take down Conners with a crucifix powerbomb, but Conners grabbed onto the cage and tried to escape, before Galloway used the cage to hit a Doomsday Device as Hendry had Conners on his shoulders. Why didn’t Drew just climb out?

The partnership here broke down as Galloway broke up Hendry’s pin and replied with a knee strike, before Drew threw down Conners with ease. With Galloway eyeballing Conners, Hendry tried to climb out, but Drew stopped him and ended up getting crotched on the top rope as Conners went into the ascendancy. Hendry took a hiptoss into the cage, allowing Conners to keep choking away on Galloway using the bottom rope, only for the “Local Hero” to come back with a neckbreaker.

Conners countered a Freak of Nature fallaway slam and landed a push-down stomp in the corner before making an attempt to exit – but Galloway dragged him back in. The three-way stuff continued as Galloway knocked down Hendry; but that only created an opening for Conners to make a comeback on Galloway as the crowd seemingly quieted down. Hendry came back with a super Freak of Nature, with Galloway popping up at the last minute to give Hendry a German suplex as Conners went flying. All three men got to their feet and traded shots once more, before Galloway eventually took a Freak of Nature… but Hendry couldn’t make a pin, and took too long before making an escape attempt.

With Hendry on the outside, Conners lifted up Galloway for a Righteous Kill DDT – threatening to break Galloway’s neck if he dropped to the outside. So Hendry decided to climb back in… but Galloway reversed the move and hit a double-arm DDT and scored the pin just before Hendry’s feet landed on the floor… either way, we had a new champion, and it was declared as Drew Galloway! The crowd popped for the result, and hopefully Drew’s sticking around to be a champion, rather than appearing for these specials. A decent main event, but a good chunk of the crowd didn’t seem to be into anything but the stars… ***

Another good show from WhatCulture Pro Wrestling, with (largely) good wrestling, and with the screwy booking kept to a minimum. Good stuff for the short-term, but there are – as always – long-term questions. The fact that WCPW had two import vs. import matches booked speaks volumes for the confidence they seem to have in their own product and their own roster. Whilst I get the appeal of guest appearances, such as WWE’s usage of Jushin “Thunder” Liger against Tyler Breeze on NXT Takeover: Brooklyn in 2015, those matches at least had some reasoning behind it on TV.

The Hardy/Bully and Mundo/el Patron matches nary got a mention on TV aside from the card-listing video packages. Until the pay-per-view, we didn’t even know why these matches were taking place – from the outside, these matches existed, just because they could. Call it “spotlighting”, call it import booking, call it whatever you want – it seems to be de rigeur with this promotion. Refuse To Lose and True Legacy had Kurt Angle and Minoru Suzuki; Stacked had EC3 and Moose. Guys who appear on the big show, but aren’t around week-to-week. I have no reason to believe that Matt Hardy, Bully Ray or Johnny Mundo will be around after this series of tapings are done. Nor do I have any reason to believe that things will change for their next iPPV in February – which I fully expect to be more of the same: good action with the homegrown guys, but overshadowed on the card by imports.

If that’s your bag, as opposed to being more focused on the “home team”, then WCPW is definitely for you. But judging by the lack of chatter on social media during the live show, I’ve a feeling the attraction is waning…

Phew. We got through that entire review without even mentioning the hypocrisy of WhatCulture booking a guy and theming an entire show around a guy whose act they initially lambasted in July as “terrible entertainment” and “a desperate act of publicity”. I doubt the end game was a brief two-minute spot at ringside, so all I can say is… D’OH!