The final night of Fight Club: Pro’s inaugural Dream Tag Team Invitational weekender was the cherry on top of the cake as London was treated to a home-run of a show. I’ll say it: this is almost surely the UK show of the year.
We open with a familiar song, as “My Time” (once used by Triple H) heralded the arrival of British Strong Style to the ring for our opening match, which pitted the home-town team against Sami Callihan and two TBAs. Who were revealed separately as not-Jim-Smallman but Sami Callihan, and Marty Scurll – blowing the roof off of Bush Hall.
British Strong Style (Trent Seven, Pete Dunne & Tyler Bate) vs. Sami Callihan, Marty Scurll & Jimmy Havoc
Callihan’s crew were dressed in waistcoats, almost like they’d just come here from being the best men at someone’s wedding. They were the defacto babyfaces given that they were in PROGRESS’ home turf, where everyone was used to booing them… so that’s where the loyalties laid.
And yes, this is the OPENER.
From the jump start, we have Scurll and Dunne in the ring whilst Callihan and Havoc end up outside, watching as Peter mocked Marty’s chicken taunt, earning him a poke to the eye in the process. We went through the usual two-in, four-out format as everyone cycled into the match, ending with Marty giving Tyler a good old fashioned back rake!
Trent goes flying with a low-pe after Marty delivered an apron superkick to Tyler, before Sami threw in a low-pe too, only to get knocked flying by a tope con hilo from Tyler. Peter flew again with his moonsault off the middle turnbuckle, before Havoc completed the set with a tope into a tornado DDT.
On the outside, Pete and Jimmy play “got your nose” before Dunne’s finger biting ends with a water spit from Callihan, before we have a completely nuts series around the ring which sees the camera completely miss a series of chops from Marty. That’s the problem when you only have one mobile camera! Sami’s lap-of-honour sees his partners land a trio of big boots to their opponents, before Marty grabbed a kid and used him as a battering ram!
You know the Josh Bodom fan from Rev Pro? His shows came into the mix as well, before Callihan led a conga line of his team mates… only to run into a series of BSS uppercuts as the bad guys got a mouthful of water (with Trent sucking some spilt water off the mat… eew) so they could do the Triple H Tribute – complete with Tyler nonchalantly kicking the water bottle away.
That all led to the first “proper” use of umbrellas in modern-day wrestling, as Sami and co blocked some water spitting, before the umbrellas got jammed up Tyler’s rear end. The strong style stuff continues unabated, until a series ends with a double Rainmaker from Havoc onto Tyler and Pete… but the sequences just never ended as this hard hitting, breathless match continued to deliver.
Tyler rebounded off the top rope, shoulders-first, into a clothesline a la Matt Cross, before a German suplex to Havoc almost won it… until Marty Scurll’s double stomp broke the bridge. Marty’s chicken wing was absurdly telegraphed, but he caught a punch from Tyler and turned it into a finger snap… only for Havoc to press the pause button so he could dish out some papercuts before the finger snap. Well, they’ve found a way to make a gruesome spot even tougher to stomach!
One double spike package piledriver later to Tyler, and we get a near-fall thanks to some umbrella shots breaking. Sami’s crew tried for a trio of superkicks, but they keep running into punches, before deciding to change their gameplan with a trio of “Just Kidding” superkicks. They call for a trio of superkicks, but they’re cut-off with a trio of Pedigrees, and that’s all folks. Good God almighty, Fight Club: Pro do it again, knocking the ball out of the park. With the very first match. ****½
Afterwards it’s all fun and games as Marty congratulates Trent on his “good progress”, with similar gags for “you built this on the Underground?” “A lucha one!” and something about honour. In the end though, they all agree that wrestling is sick, before the offered handshake is turned into a trio of low blows, with Pete Dunne getting Shay low ahead of the eventual curtain call.
Good luck following this guys!
Dream Tag Team Invitational 2017, Semi-Final: The Hunter Brothers (Jim Hunter & Lee Hunter) vs. #CCK (Chris Brookes & Mondai Lykos)
Plenty of nonchalant water spraying got me a thorough soaking… cheers Chris. Someone else who looked to get a soaking were the Hunters, although one of them ducked a spraying as Lee went to work over Lykos whilst the crowd realised that Tipton baiting probably wouldn’t work when ¾s of this match came from that allegedly-fictional town.
The Hunters combine for a giant swing/dropkick on Brookes, before Lykos eats a spin-out back cracker as the crowd begin to abuse the Dirty Wolf. Poor, poor Lykos, with everyone piling on him until he scored a headscissors takedown to take Jim into the ropes. That takes us to Brookes’ trademark wet willie, but this time Lykos wanted in as well as both of Lee’s ears got fingered.
Lee finally managed to tag in Jim to make a comeback, catching Lykos’ wacky attempt at a brainbuster and just throwing him into Brookes. Given that Lykos was jumping off the top rope, I can only imagine that “brainbuster” is part of a wolf’s limited vocabulary, along with “shut up”. He did manage a double stomp, before Jim caught an outside-in moonsault and planted Lykos with a brainbuster, with Lee following up with a powerbomb for a near-fall.
Brookes turned things back in his favour with some Dragon screws, before diving off the apron into Lee Hunter. Lykos comes back with a reverse ‘rana and a tope before a Michinoku driver almost gets the #CCK win. From there, #CCK accidentally attack each other as Brookes is superkicked into a German suplex on Lykos, before Brookes takes a Blockbuster onto the knees as the Hunters’ resurgence continued.
Lykos tried to babyface himself with a yell of “Tipton’s shit”, but that barely helped things… at least until Lykos scored with a Lo Mein Pain as #CCK finished off with the elevated Codebreaker/back senton combo to book their place in the finals. Another really solid match as #CCK continued their path to the finals, absorbing abuse from inside and out of the ring yet still succeeding. ***¾
Dream Tag Team Invitational 2017, Semi-Final: Lucha Brothers (Penta el Zero M & Rey Fenix) vs. FSU (Mark Andrews & Eddie Dennis)
There wasn’t the room to swing a cat inside Bush Hall, let alone bring out a bicycle for an entrance, but there was plenty of room for the Lucha Brothers to swear. At the biggest man in the match.
Andrews gets sucker-kicked from the opening handshake by Fenix, as the pair launch into a blisteringly-hot opening series. Eddie tags in and promptly pulls out a mask from his tights to become Eddie Mysterio and give us his unique style of Welsh lucha! Which is mostly armdrags, headscissors and flips, pulled off pretty well for a big guy… but Penta seems to be in a foul mood tonight, as he kicks Eddie leg out of his leg for having the temerity to wear a mask.
With that, I think I shoehorned that Owen Hart line into all three days!
Penta continues with some Slingblades, before a top rope ‘rana from Andrews briefly put him in his place, as did a satellite headscissor takedown. Fenix’s dropkick puts the brakes on a dive, and the series continues with another satellite DDT from Andrews setting us up for a tope con hilo to the outside. Fenix joins in with a tornillo, before Eddie’s attempt at doing a flip is stopped by spoilsport Shay… who just gets powerbombed to the outside! Eventually Eddie flips with a tope con hilo into the second row (oh,hi!) beefore returning to give Fenix a crucifix buckle bomb… with an added Andrews superkick too.
A crossbody/suplex gets a two-count as Penta kicks off Andrews’ head, then slaps the taste out of his mouth, and it’s clear that pissed-off Penta is here! Hey, Fenis is fucked off too, so we get incredibly loud superkicks and chops that poor Edward Dennis has no choice but to absorb, before Penta gives Fenix a wheelbarrow facebuster onto Eddie gets a near-fall.
The satisfying smacks of superkicks eventually leave everyone laying, before Eddie takes Penta’s Destroyer off the middle rope – crumpling in a heap on impact. Andrews gives Penta a receipt for his friend, only for Fenix to rush in with a Destroyer, before Eddie gives one too. Yes. He. Did. What the hell am I watching?!
Penta and Andrews start chopping each other to death, before Andrews leaps into a pumphandle driver for a near-fall. Eddie gets another chop, just in case he forgot about it, before superkicking Penta for a Next Stop Driver. Fenix breaks that cover up, then rolls through into a cuter for a two-count as a shooting star press breaks that up. Andrews tries for another satellite DDT, but has to make do with a Stundog Millionaire, before he misses a shooting star press and has to have Eddie superkick him free of a Fear Factor.
Double stomps from Fenix kill Andrews as Eddie tries for another Next Stop Driver, and instead gets more slaps as a stuff Fear Factor book the Lucha Brothers their spot in the final. I LOVED this match – hard hitting, flippy and a joy to watch. Every time I see strikes sound as good as they look, you’ve got a winner with me, and this scored on every front. I just wish it could have gone longer! ****¼
Fight Club: Pro Championship: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Travis Banks (c)
After what we just saw, we’re due a technical masterclass, as Zack Sabre Jr. tries to add a fourth belt to add to his increasing excess luggage fees. These two had a barnburner back at the Fixxion in July, and as such, they had a really high bar.
They smashed it.
As you’d expect, they start out grappling on the mat, as Banks tries to subdue Sabre at his own game, but for both men it seems that the ring wasn’t big enough, as we had plenty of rope breaks in the early going. An attempt at a bow-and-arrow lock from Sabre was instantly flipped out of by Banks as the pair squared off, leading to a brutal exchange of strikes, which Sabre just mocked by standing up and inviting more of the same.
Of course, Banks was eager to oblige, booting Zack into the corner before picking him up for more forearms and kicks. Sabre caught one of them and pulled Banks down into a single-leg crab, then threw in some kicks whilst holding the ropes, turning him heel in front of these fans… which sparked one fan into thinking it’d be a really good idea to goad Sabre by shouting “you’re a Tory and so was your dad”.
If you like living… don’t throw any political taunts towards a man who makes a hobby out of contorting men.
That seemed to give Sabre the impetus to go after Banks, using some headscissors to catch him in increasingly-wacky submissions, including one that almost crossed a cloverleaf with a headlock, before kicking the hell out of the Kiwi champion. Banks returned those favours, only to fall to an overhead kick to the arm as Sabre proclaimed his loyalty to Suzuki-gun.
With the greatest of ease, Sabre traps Banks in another triangle choke, only for the pair to roll into the ropes before Banks went for the Gargano Escape. Of course Zack escaped and monkeyed into a guillotine choke, but this time Travis suplexed his way free before unloading with some more kicks to the chest. Zack returns those with gusto, before busting out a Ligerbomb for a two-count, as the match sprinted towards an end, with Sabre catching a Slice of Heaven and turning it into an armbar.
Banks finally powerbombs out of an armbar attempt, before the pair sat up and started slapping each other for the fun of it. Sabre pops up and stomps on Banks’ head, but Travis powered back with a kick and a German suplex, before finding a Slice of Heaven didn’t even get a one-count. Banks followed in with a second, and went straight to the Gargano Escape… but Sabre fell limp, and that was enough for the referee to wave the match off. That was beautiful – none of the “exhibition” stuff from the prior night was in, as Sabre actually looked like he was contesting a match to win it, rather than (at times) kill time. Glorious stuff, and this is a show that looks like it’s sailing into the discussion for those show of the year awards… ****½
Angelico vs. Shane Strickland vs. Mark Haskins
Well, you could tell this crowd was ready after intermission as they sang along to “Ain’t Nobody” with great gusto. This, on paper, could easily have been a throwaway three-way, but gladly it was anything but – and by the end, this probably would have been the match of the night on just about any other show.
Haskins and Strickland work really smoothly together, but that’s not to say that Angelico is “just there”, as the South African more than plays his role. Some Dragon screws put Haskins firmly in front, before Angelico blocks one and lands a stomp as things flow. We get some flying as Haskins throws a couple of topes towards his opponents before he changes tack and works over Strickland’s knee.
That didn’t go too well as Strickland was still able to slingshot his way into a Cutter, before scoring with a PK off the apron as Haskins’ head almost became disconnected. Angelico popped back up to score with a tope con hilo after knocking Shane to the floor, then returned to score with a Capeoira-esque kick for a near-fall as Haskins was forced to make a save.
Angelico launches Strickland into a corner dropkick on Haskins as the tempo raised, featuring bicycle knees and kicks before Angelico broke up a Star Bar on Strickland with a leaping stomp. From the kick-out, the trio trade forearms amongst themselves, with Haskins edging ahead before he took two forearms at once. Serves him right for raging up!
They tease the Fall of the Angels as saves are made as if the move would kill a man, before Strickland’s Roman Reigns-esque Superman Punch misses… and earns him a Fall of the Angels. With Strickland down, we were left with Angelico and Haskins… but out of nowhere, Shane rolls up into a cutter on Angelico, before Haskins planted Strickland with a roll-up death valley driver into the Star Bar for the submission. Really good stuff, especially when the bar was set stupidly high from the rest of the show. ***¾
Ahead of the next match, our ring announcer for the night, Vicki Haskins (yes, she is) is trying to gee up the crowd, only to be interrupted by Jack Evans. This time he’s insulting Vicki as being “incapable of announcing him”… she flips off Evans in return. Jack’s mouthing off about all and sundry, eventually ending up at Will Ospreay… which pops one fan in particular. You probably know who.
That prompts Will to sneak up behind Jack – right as Evans swore that he’d be able to beat him. Of course, Evans does a 180 – literally and figuratively – and we get going!
Jack Evans vs. Will Ospreay
Ospreay punches out Evans and flings him into the ropes for a dropkick… it misses, and it looks like Jack’s going to do commentary as he still has the microphone. Oh wait, it’s dropkicked away from him, and he’s quickly turfed to the outside so Vicki Haskins can get her revenge… and she duly slaps him upside the head.
Back inside, Evans fires back with a quebrada before giving Will the top turnbuckle… by grinding his face into it. More dropkicks follow as Evans prepares for a standing corkscrew moonsault for a near-fall, before he launches himself into a headbutt to Will’s rear end.
Yeah, that didn’t look so good!
What did look good was a handspring overhead kick as Evans tried to throw Will out of the ring, but Jack still didn’t learn his lesson, continuing to mouth off like a kid as Ospreay continued to blast him. A diving dropkick into the corner gets a two-count, before Evans springs back with a Blockbuster for a two-count of his own.
Ospreay flies again with a Space Flying Tiger Drop after throwing Evans outside, which wiped out a chair… and they weren’t the cheap plastic ones either! Inside again, Will busts out his double moonsault/shooting star press sequence, before both men flattened each other with duelling big boots! Things pick up again with a springboard bulldog from Ospreay, who then tried to follow with a Rainmaker, before settling for a standing Spanish Fly.
A leaping German suplex out of the corner sees Evans dump Ospreay on his neck, as he followed up with a Phoenix Splash for another near-fall. Evans shoves the ref, but Shay fights back and then catches a kick, before putting it down and instead opting to ‘rana and clothesline Evans, who sold like a champ! This crowd is popping like a madman for Shay, who threw in some tiltawhirl headscissors before deleting Evans with a Twist of Fate…
Good Lord, he goes the whole hog by taking off his top and going for a senton bomb… but Evans rolls away and tries to springboard onto him, only for Ospreay to cut him off at the pass with an OsCutter, and that gets the win! A really good match considering how banged up both men were – and I’d love to see a rematch with both men at 100% (or as close to it as they can get these days!) ***½
After the match we get a now-customary dance-off to the tune of Uptown Funk… with Will roping in the locker room – including a disgusted Pete Dunne – for the obligatory conga line. Hey, there’s Chuck Mambo too!
A jump cut teleports the DTTI trophy into the ring – and it’s time for our finals!
Dream Tag Team Invitational 2017, Final: #CCK (Chris Brookes & Mondai Lykos) vs. Lucha Brothers (Penta el Zero M & Rey Fenix)
Hey Chris, cheers for “getting me” with the water again… Poor Lykos was being taunted by chants of “kill the wolf”, and given his Penta handled some Welshmen earlier, I’d dare say he’d rip off the other masked man’s head!
Well, they came close… some water spraying ended with superkicks from the Lucha Brothers, who then cut-off a pair of dives with kicks from the apron as poor Chris Brookes drew the short straw for some Penta chops. Complete with the sign of a cross beforehand, as Fenix followed up by Owen Hart’ing Brooke’s leg, as the brothers tried to end things really early.
In the middle of that, as Penta hit the ropes for the wheelbarrow facebuster with Fenix, the top rope broke, which prompted some slick covert action from the Hunter Brothers who snuck out to go under the ring in a bid to fix it. Meanwhile, Lykos takes a diving dropkick to the arse, but Brookes rushes in to stop the pin and take some Fenix chops as the pair were forced to adapt to life with a wobbly top rope… so Penta decides to Owen Hart the Dirty Wolf’s hind leg. I almost felt sorry for #CCK, such was the audible beating they were taking from the Pentagon Man, but they managed to recover and get a near-fall after Lykos moonsaulted from a powerbomb onto Penta.
They head to the outside next, where Brookes took a Nestea tope through the ropes, before Lykos did a corkscrew splash off the middle rope to the floor – presumably so they could try and fix the ring. Whatever they did do was probably undone seconds later as the Lucha Brothers threw each other into a Tree of Woe’d Lykos for a near-fall, before Brookes got clocked with a series of kicks from Fenix, who followed up with a death valley driver for another near-fall.
Mondai Lykos doing a Dragonrana. Did NOT expect to see that EVER. Of course, Penta broke up that pin, then kicked the wolf’s head off after he mocked a cero miedo, before powerbombing him onto a knee just to make doubly sure of death. Another Fenix double stomp compressed Brookes, before Penta decided to keep up his track record of wolf-killing with an APRON DESTROYER. Does Penta just hate people who wear masks?
The insanity continues as the Lucha Bros stack up a Fear Factor on Lykos with a Gory Special/Stunner on Brookes. AT THE SAME GODDAMN TIME… but somehow, #CCK kicked out! Out nowhere, Lykos reverses things as Penta gave Fenix a Destroyer after leaping off the middle rope, leaving him free for the elevated Codebreaker/back senton combo… but this time Fenix kicked out! Lykos decides to go all Space Flying Tiger Drop on Penta to keep him outside, before springboarding back into the Ink Bomb as #CCK took home the trophy! ****¼
This weekend was seriously the coming out party for #CCK – a tandem that proved that they were more than sidekicks and comedy foils. They hung with two of the world’s best, hard-hitting luchadors. They hung with some of the UK’s most in-demand stars… and not only that… they prevailed. Maybe with bruised chests and a lot of bruises, but they came out as winners. Who knows what doors that has opened now (and in the future), but these performances will have opened plenty of eyes to a tandem that were tapping on that glass ceiling beforehand.
From a personal note, I attended this night just days after a show that left me oh-so jaded on wrestling. This show took me right back into where wrestling should be: fun! If night three doesn’t win show-of-the-year, it’s going to be right at the top of those ballots – and if there were an award for tournament of the year, this would be high up in that ballot too. Hey, perhaps there will be a Tournament of the Year award, given how many we’ve had thrown on us in 2017?
Some may have balked at the £35 total cost of the VODs/DVDs for this show – but in my mind, this was easily worth it for almost seven hours of explosive wrestling featuring some of the best of Britain… and beyond.