Fight Club: Pro’s penultimate show of the year presented Chris Brookes with his biggest challenge to date.

Since it’s Hallowe’en weekend, we’ve a lot of fancy dress. Even the ring posts and the stage are joining in!

Flash Morgan Webster vs. Kay Lee Ray vs. El Phantasmo vs. Stevie Boy vs. Eddie Dennis vs. Jack Sexsmith vs. Shay Purser vs. Dan Moloney
May as well get the traditional multi-man match out of the way first, eh? We had the debuts of El Phantasmo and Stevie Boy in Fight Club: Pro. Shay Purser was also meant to be in, but as came out to Steve Austin’s music, he attacked from behind by Dan Moloney (who’s finally ditched the jeans for proper gear)

So, we have our one clear bad guy in this match, and the craziness begins! The picture-in-picture is instantly turned on, which I thoroughly loathe (not the picture-in-picture, just the fact it’s needed), especially when we get two angles of the same spot!

As for the match, it’s what you expect from Fight Club: Pro multi-mans – so much stuff you can’t keep track of, with Jack Sexsmith going for Mr Cocko early on Stevie Boy. Kay Lee Ray saves him, before she’s forced to take down Eddie Dennis with some satellite headscissors as the match settled into the two-in, everyone-else-out formula. Eddie dumps Kay Lee with a crucifix powerbomb before Dan and his new shiny trunks came in, just in time for El Phantasmo do hit a rope-walk ‘rana.

I’m sorry ELP, but every time you do that now I can’t help but think of the time you walked into a light fitting…

Everyone tries to superplex ELP, before Dan pulled it apart and ended up becoming the victim of a Tower of Doom. It’s all frenetic stuff that the crowd laps up, especially Webster’s “Hand’s Up” headbutts. But Dan doesn’t fall for it and just kicks him low instead, just in time for… Brock Lesnar’s music to hit?! Oh God, Shay’s dressing up as Brock Lesnar, chest tattoo and all!

We’re off to Suplex City courtesy of Shay, and if this match wasn’t ridiculous before, it is now. Moloney tries to powerbomb Shay to end it, but he’s caught in a Kimura, which everyone else breaks up… because it’s a deadly hold! After offering himself up for a crucifix bomb to the outside, Shay became part of the pile as El Phantasmo went for a dive, hitting a rope-walk into a top rope moonsault.

Back inside, we get a Parade of Moves, ending with… Shay hitting an F5-ish to Eddie Dennis?! Dan boots Shay out of his skin in response, before finishing him with a powerbomb for a near-fall as the break-up was late. More moves follow,until Jack Sexsmith got the win with the BDSM on Stevie Boy, with everyone else just too late to break it up. Entertaining stuff to get us going, and if this is what’s gonna be a Fight Club: Pro tradition, then I’m fine with that. ***

David Starr vs. Mark Haskins
Good to see Fight Club: Pro are sticking with Crobot. That reminds me of when Haskins had pretty much universal buzz behind him… aah, 2016.

Things are kept on the mat early as Starr tried to work over Haskins’ knee to prevent those kicks, but a missed Thesz press opened the door for the former PROGRESS champion as he fluidly trapped Starr in an armbar. For a second at least as the back-and-forth eventually led to a warmly-appreciated stand-off.

That led to Haskins going to his kicking game though, rattling Starr with shots to the back and chest, before one’s caught and shoved away, which naturally takes us to Starr throwing himself into Haskins on the outside, as the man of a million nicknames started to take control.

Forearms and chops had both men rocked, but Haskins managed to sneak in a leaping back kick to take Starr down, only to get caught in a brief Violence Party in the corner. Haskins mounts a comeback though, kicking Starr in the ropes before going for the Star armbar… but David rolls to the outside, where he’s instantly dived into as Haskins temporarily wrecks the guard rails!

A second dive’s caught and turned into a Cherry Mint DDT as he looked like nicking victory, but it’s back to the tit-for-tat strikes until Haskins shoved down Starr and grabbed a single leg crab. It’s escaped, and Starr works back to hit Haskins with a Product Recall, before forcing him to Look At It with a Shining Wizard for a near-fall, before Haskins fought out of a Product Placement and rolled into an ankle lock.

Starr nearly rolls him up for the pin from there, before blasting in a knee strike, a forearm and a Blackheart Buster, but it’s still not enough… and despite getting caught with a DDT second later, he’s able to find a new way to roll up Starr into a Sharpshooter for the submission. This was wonderful stuff – playing to Haskins’ strengths, whilst Starr… is a star. Sorry (not sorry). If only we could have some confidence that this was going to lead to something other than it being one in a list of “really good matches”? ***¾

Apart from David Starr being overly-eager to kiss folks who’ve beaten him, that is?

Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher) vs. Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate)
This match was really good when they met at Lucha Forever about three weeks earlier (yes, we need to go back and review that), but you’d have to imagine it can only get better in front of a more partisan crowd?

Well… a LONG spell of duelling chants before they even touch raised expectations further.

We start with a high-five of doom from Dunkzilla, taking Trent to his knees, before he asked for a “no chops” truce. This is looking familiar, I have to say… Trent breaks his own rule, and gets the chops back with plenty of interest. Timberrr!

The fun continues as Bate and Fletcher tag in, mirroring each other until Bate suckered the Aussie into a Koppo kick as we finally had someone threatening to take an advantage. Poor Kyle gets chopped in the back by Trent, who’s done with his own truce, and the poor Aussie Arrow’s left in the ring for a long time as Moustache Mountain isolate him.

Finally Kyle tags out, and in a bid to make a save Trent misses with a crossbody as Davis goes hell for leather with chops and leg lariats in the corner… before ducking a punch from Bate as the comeback surged on, with Tyler getting flipped over by a release German suplex.

A caught chop from Trent gives Davis the opportunity to bust out that one-armed powerbomb again, before Bate ate an assisted top rope cutter for a near-fall. Things turn around in favour of the “home” team, at least until Davis hit a wacky split-legged Asai moonsault… and I’m wondering what the actual hell I’m watching here!

Everyone exchanges kicks on the outside before Tyler rebounds using his shoulders on the bottom rope to drop Davis with a lariat into the front row. Well, that’s different!

We’re back to the duelling chants as everyone slugged it out in the ring, before Tyler Bate took a double stomp to break up the bridging German suplex he’d given Dunkzilla. A floatover-gone-wrong nearly gave Tyler a really wacky pinfall on Fletcher after a powerbomb/back suplex combo, but overconfidence almost cost Moustache Mountain as their usual finishing sequence was thwarted.

With Trent thrown outside, Tyler tries to chop himself to victory, but he just gets superkicked down to the mat as Davis pulled him up into the “Close Your Eyes And Count To Fuck” piledriver, before Trent makes the save after a Fidget Spinner. In the end, the Aussies looked for dualling superplexes only for Kyle to get knocked to the outside as Trent hits a Burning Hammer on Dunkzilla, before Tyler worked into his Tyler Driver 97 for the win. Enjoyable stuff, but from memory perhaps not reaching the same heights as Lucha Forever… but if it works for a live crowd, can you really complain when you’re watching it in a bubble a week or so later? Probably not… ***½

Travis Banks vs. Rey Fenix
Travis Banks’ run to (presumably) title contention continues here with what was announced as an “international match”. For the New Zealander, surely every match here is international for him?

Banks and Fenix start off tentatively, using a test of strength that worked into wacky pinfall attempts until Banks hit a wacky lucha corkscrew armdrag. Not wanting to be outdone, Fenix returned the favour, only to abort a dive and get taken out with one from Banks… which earns the natural response: really hard chops!

Thing is, on paper the hard hitting X lucha mash-up could have gone badly wrong, but the styles worked well as long as it was in an ebb-and-flow kind of structure. Banks’ kick to the back, followed by a leaping ‘cutter from Fenix, for example… but there were some moments where it didn’t look as crisp. For instance, when Fenix was tripped into the corner, he took it so hard he bounced out of it before taking the cannonball, but he made up for that moments later when he (again) bounced from being crotched on the turnbuckles.

A long back-and-forth moment led to the lights going out for some reason. Fortunately, it wasn’t a Sabu appearance, as the lights came back on just in time to see Fenix plant Banks with a crucifix bomb, before he worked up into a double stomp on the Kiwi. That favour’s returned when Fenix’s baseball slide dropkick missed, leaving him open to a stomp when he crawled back into the ring.

Eventually, Fenix’ speed was used against him again as he was popped up into a flapjack, ahead of a Slice of Heaven… but he kicked out and instantly trapped Banks in a grounded Octopus stretch before nailing a sit-out tombstone. Still, that wasn’t enough, so he goes for it again, only to get countered into a Kiwi Krusher for another ultra-close two-count, as Banks switches into a Lion’s Clutch.

Fenix escaped and rushed in with a reverse ‘rana as the near-falls kept coming, with a Spanish Fly from Fenix almost getting the job done! In the end though, Banks mustered up enough for one last flurry, with a Slice of Heaven and a Kiwi Krusher proving to be enough – and that’s now three wins in his last four singles matches for Banks, who’s on the opposite path to where he was a year ago! ***¾

Omari vs. Pete Dunne
Well, if this isn’t the biggest test in Omari’s career to date, tell me what is! Before the match, Pete Dunne cut a babyface promo saying that wrestling in the Midlands is now something special… and that he wanted to face the next person to come out of there and take on the world.

The turn came when Dunne called Omari a “charisma vacuum”. Well, that has been one of the main knocks on him, but perhaps shouldn’t have been vocalised… further insults lead to Omari jumping Dunne, only to be taken into the easily-wrecked guard rails. Unfortunately, a lot of this was a dimly-lit blur on VOD, since the Starworks isn’t well lit outside of the ring, and for whatever reason the mobile cameras’ feed was interlaced.

When they did return to the ring, Dunne just paintbrushed Omari, eventually earning himself a forearm… but that just seemed to wake up the Bruiserweight even more as the pair went tit-for-tat. A slingshot tornado DDT from the apron took Dunne outside, but it was clear that even with these odd flashes of hope, Dunne was on a completely different level from Omari.

There was a hopeful spot where Omari dropped Dunne with a facebuster as a set-up for the O-Zone… but some biting put paid to that briefly, as Omari again fought back, taking Dunne outside for a flip tope and a Doctor Bomb. It wasn’t enough though, and when Dunne caught him with an Iconoclasm and a double stomp, you sensed the end wasn’t going to be too far away… but Omari lasted a little while longer.

A reversed wheelbarrow roll-up almost does it, as Dunne’s then planted with the O-Zone, but he’s able to grab the bottom rope to stay alive. However, a German suplex off the middle rope sent Omari down hard, before a pair of Bitter Ends put him away. So much heart from Omari, but from the off this was always going to be a “looks better in defeat” kind of match for him. As good as Omari is bell to bell, I just wish they hadn’t called out “hey, our biggest home-made star doesn’t have a character”… ***½

Next up, we had the Callous Hearts out… they were quickly interrupted by the Anti-Fun Police, who didn’t want them to have any more fun death matches. That was an order from the newly-promoted Directors of Health and Safety… that angered Havoc and Margera, who wanted to take on the Anti-Fun Police, despite the four-on-two disadvantage. They even opened up the offer to anyone in the back who wants to join in.

Cue another go of AFI’s “I Hope You Suffer”, some interlaced mess, and the debut of… the Session Goth! Well, they did threaten it…

Callous Hearts (Clint Margera & Jimmy Havoc) & Martina vs. Anti-Fun Police (Chief Deputy Dunne, Los Federales Santos Jr & Brothers of Obstruction (Leigh Obstruction & James Obstruction)
The Session Goth ran at the Anti-Fun Police before celebrating with Havoc – and this quickly became a one-sided arse kicking to start with. In a cool touch, the promoted Directors of Health and Safety are now in shirts and ties, which makes them even more un-fun…

Martina threatened to go Old School on Chief Deputy Dunne, but she did need help getting to the top and staying stable for the rope-walk! The comedy continues as she went under the ring for a bag… but this time it’s all about the sweets, including a nasty, pointed Toblerone. Yeah, those things sting.

You know what else also stings? Topes from big men like Santos Jr…

That turned things in the Anti-Fun Police’s way, with Havoc getting quadruple-teamed as Santos built up to an Earthquake-sit-down splash, complete with the pre-splash tremors, but he’s low-bridged to the outside as Margera took a beating instead. Martina makes the save, with the Session Goth dumping Chief Deputy Dunne with a chokeslam, before she struggled doing the same to Santos.

No wonder!

Santos obliterates Martina straight away, and threatened to do worse as she’s held up for him to go airborne… but instead Havoc and Margera make a save and build up to a trio of ripcord beer sprays, as Martina built up to the latest move people are hating for the hell of it: the Wombstone. Yes, it’s what you think it is: a tombstone, with the other guy’s head trapped in her trousers. It’s enough to put away Chief Deputy Dunne, and that’s our shits and giggles over with, eh? **½

Not quite… Martina asked for the DJ to play some Goth music… and got Avril Lavigne’s “Sk8er Boi”. I’m dead.

Fight Club: Pro Championship – Penta el Zero M vs. Chris Brookes (c)
Oh poor Christopher. His arm… it’s at risk of becoming like the wolf’s. I do like how they added extra fancy spot-lighting for the main event – anything to make things stand out when appropriate always gets a thumbs up in my mind.

Brookes played dress-up too, and since he’s here (from Camden, apparently) to be booed, it may as well have been a low-effort mask at that!

Brookes flipped off Penta at the bell, and instantly gets kicked, as you do. He retaliated by booting away the masked man, but the favour’s returned as they attempt dives, with Brookes’ tope con hilo succeeding as they then went on a tour of ringside, tearing apart those awkward barriers in the process.

It’s a very evenly-fought contest, with neither man seemingly able to chain together any kind of offence, before Penta scored with a PK off the apron as they went back around the ringside area, where Brookes takes a hiptoss into the crowd. We finally get some lighting too as Penta went around to help kick him while he was down. Jesus helped too, as Penta found a fan dressed up to help perform the Last Rites and some chops.

Sadly, whomever was on the hand-held camera seemed to be intent on making sure we couldn’t see all of Jesus…

Through darkness, we did get to see Penta chopping Brookes around the ring, before he ducked and let Brookes chop the ring post in a neat twist on that trope. Lykos gets involved to stop Penta going after the arm, but for whatever reason it isn’t a DQ… so Penta goes after the Wolf’s healing arm instead.

With Penta distracted, Brookes takes over and starts aiming for the arm, before missing a charge into the corner and getting a backcracker for his troubles, followed by a series of swift kicks to the quads. It seemed early, but Penta goes for the Fear Factor package piledriver, but it’s escaped as Brookes rushes off an elevated neckbreaker to almost get the win.

Back-and-forth chops give way to a Penta superkick, but the two remained even, even clonking each other with head kicks at the same time… but Brookes nearly gets ended with a powerbomb onto the knee, then again with a Destroyer – although he did have Lykos to thank for that save. You can guess what happens next…

Lykos begs off with the broken wrist, but he hits Penta with the cast instead! Fenix comes out to make the save, feeding a wolf to his brother, who kills Lykos with a Fear Factor on the apron. Ouch. Brookes teased a roll-up, but Penta rolls through and hits a half-nelson driver for a two-count, before the champion surprised him with a wheelbarrow roll-up out of nowhere for the win! Perhaps one of the biggest singles wins of Brookes’ career, but this felt muted – maybe by the fact it was almost midnight when the match ended?

Either way, this was a solid main event, if not one to hang any hats on… ***½

Day of the Dead was a solid, yet unspectacular show from Fight Club: Pro, who are now gearing up for their end-of-year Infinity tournament and all of the preparations for 2018… Going into Infinity a year ago, the story was crystal clear: Travis Banks was looking to prove himself, and despite not having ever won beforehand, winning Infinity was his watershed moment. This year, what’s the deal? Aside from Banks, whomever winning is going to be “out of left field” since the past few months of shows haven’t built any obvious names.

Ahh, Fight Club: Pro. I like you, but there’s a few things that’s stopping that crossing the line into loving you. The easy knock is “you don’t do any bloody storylines”, making them the Wolverhampton equivalent of Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, or whatever your supercard-only indy of choice is. If that sort of thing is “your graps”, then great – but I can easily see how this’d be a turn-off…