The Dream Tag Team Invitational rolled onto Manchester as Fight Club: Pro found out who’d be going for the trophy in London on a show loaded with great action and lots of fun!

That same trophy, by the way, was in the aisle to start us off… after a couple of dark matches were clipped out of the show. Futureshock Wrestling’s Chris Brooker is the ring announcer today, with Matt Taylor-Richards on assignment elsewhere. Either that, or Chris threatened him with some bread.

Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Angelico
With both the Leaders and Los Gueros del Cielo knocked out of the invitational, we’re able to get this rather unique match, which allowed Chris to crack a joke about SPLX. Whilst its founder was right on his shoulder.

We started with plenty of grappling, as both men looked to work the other’s arm, but instead we ended at a stalemate. Angelico tried to change tack, but his reverse figure four instantly ended with a rope break as Sabre tried for some headscissors, which ended much the same way, before Angelico replied with a modified figure four as the pair seemed to have vowed to not leave their feet.

In many ways, this was a typical Zack Sabre Jr match, with Angelico being like one of those wrestling buddies for a while, taking punishment but unable to offer anything back until he managed to pull out some Dragon screws. An inverted cloverleaf follows from the South African, which he then scissors to drag Zack to the mat before another rope break followed. Sabre responds by starting up his striking game, but that goes badly as it led Angelico to a Fall of the Angels attempt… which was escaped and met with some pinning attempts for another near-fall.

Sabre counters what looked to be a One Winged Angel attempt by monkeying around Angelico into a guillotine, but that ends by way of a charge into the corner… so Zack just slaps Angelico. Then sits down like he’s Shibata to invite some chops, and nipple tweaks? Fair enough. Like a heartless being playing with its prey, Zack mocked Angelico with some kicks, before he slipped out of the Fall of the Angels and ties up Angelico with another wacky submission attempt.

From there, Angelico returned the favour by snapping into another figure four, before finally succeeding with a Fall of the Angels that snapped Zack’s neck back. He tried to follow up off the top rope, but Zack twists Angelico’s ankle to stop him, then catches a leap into a double armbar to finally force the submission. A solid match as you’d always expect out of Zack, although this did feel in points like an exhibition of Zack’s wacky submissions. ***¾

Dan Moloney vs. Mark Andrews
So, instead of a regular Mark Andrews entrance, we got FSU Andrews, with Eddie Dennis joining him and cancelling their entrance. In place of that, we got a throwback to over a decade ago as Limp Bizkit played… with Eddie Dennis riding a bicycle. Unfortunately, the opening stages of this didn’t get caught well on the VOD, but at least this show has been a damn sight more watchable than night one!

Fed up, Moloney stormed into the crowd to beat up FSU, turning his attentions to Andrews as referee Joel Allen took care of the bike. The match took a while to get even close to the ring, as Mark went for another ride, with Eddie pedalling him on a bike into his foe. When they do get close to the ring, Andrews dropkicks Dan off the apron, then ‘rana’s him into the chairs, and in position for a tope into the front row!

Another tope’s caught and turned into a flapjack on the apron after Andrews looked to get spiked on the floor, but once Mark hit a top rope ‘rana back inside, the bell FINALLY rang. Moloney gets fed up of working as a base for Mark’s flips, and plants him with a sit-out Samoan driver and a bicycle knee for a near-fall, before his efforts at blocking a Cop Killa/Vertebreaker/Kudo Driver ended in a ‘rana for another near-fall. From there, we get a rather sudden ending, as Andrews tried for a reverse ‘rana out of the middle rope, only to get caught and planted with a sit-out powerbomb as Dan gets the win. I liked the out-of-nowhere finish, but if you go from bell-to-bell, this was really short! ***

Fight Club: Pro Championship: Mark Haskins vs. Travis Banks (c)
Well, the run of “really good challengers for Travis Banks” shows no signs of abating here, for a first time ever singles match too.

Haskins is forced to roll away from a stomp as the pair swing and miss at each other, before they try to tie each other up on the mat, but unlike the opener which felt like an exhibition of submissions, this one felt like the pair were actually fighting for a prize, especially when the pair ended up outside to light each other up with chop – a series that ended with Travis wiping out a row or so of chairs with a tope, before Haskins decided to join the fun. A death valley driver to Banks on the apron leaves both men flat-out on the floor, before Haskins picks himself up to get a delayed near-fall.

After Haskins tries to kick him to pieces, Banks launches into a comeback, elbowing out of a headlock, only to get his leg kicked out of his leg. Yes, I’m making the Owen Hart reference again! Haskins folds Banks in half with a toe-hold/headlock combo, forcing the champion to inch towards the ropes for a break. A cannonball followed after Banks kicked Haskins’ leg as he climbed the ropes as we headed into a sprint, but featuring Haskins attempting to force a submission by way of a crossface and a double armbar, before they traded bicycle kicks… until Banks caught one and delivered a Busaiku diving knee… which prompted Haskins to rebound off the ropes and roll into a death valley driver on the champ.

These two make this wrestling lark look so effortless!

A diving clothesline from Banks and a Fisherman’s driver almost gets him the win, before Haskins grabs an ankle lock, only for Banks to roll out and into the Gargano escape as the pair traded submissions, going from the Star bar to the Gargano escape and back, before a pumphandle driver almost snatched the win for Haskins once more. Banks’ reward for kicking out is some knees to the ribs, and another pumphandle driver, which his attempt to block ends up turning into a Sharpshooter attempt before a couple of Slices of Heavens gets some near-falls… so Banks grabs the Gargano Escape and forces the submission.

Just sublime. We had two of Britwres’ best putting on a clinic, with a baying crowd appreciating every move, giving us easily the match of the weekender thus far. This could easily have been a “sit-on-your-hands” outing with two babyfaces, but the crowd bought into both men and the contest as a whole. Add this to your “must watch” list of matches from 2017. ****½

After the match, Zack Sabre Jr. comes out with his belts and confronts Travis. He wants a fourth belt… and the pair end up trading blows and holds as referees Shay Purser and Joel Allen try and break it up. Somehow, I think the chant of “take your belts and fuck off” was aimed at Sabre, whose character is quickly becoming more and more dick-ish. That’s the set-up for their title match in London the next night, in a rematch of their thriller at Rage Against The Death Machine last July. Where they tore the house down in the opener!

Dream Tag Team Invitational 2017, First Round: #CCK (Chris Brookes & Kid Lykos) vs. Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate)
Well, this is a rare chance to see Trent and Tyler as a tag team without having to boo them… and it led to a lot of easy cheers as Trent and Tyler work around… passing a towel among themselves, before building up to the Triple H water spit. #CCK just spit water in their opponent’s faces, and I don’t think we’ve even had ring announcements…

Oh what the hey, Moustache Mountain chop #CCK and we get going as Trent uses the Dirty Wolf for a game of pass the parcel, which ended with a suplex for an early two-count. Tyler then slams Trent onto a stacked-up #CCK, and that seems to leave Lykos stuck… so they slam referee Shay onto the pile and that does the trick. In comes ring announcer Chris Brooker now, but Lykos gets up and orders him outside, before he turns around into a pair of superkicks. Am I watching Fight Club: Pro or ATTACK!? Either way, this is glorious nonsense.

#CCK took over with their elevated Codebreaker/back senton combo, before Trent found himself exposed for a wet willie, which referee Shay Purser managed to throw a look of disgust and admiration for at the same time. Lykos followed up with a noogie to Trent, before his call for a brainbuster ended up being turned into a small package for a near-fall. Trent even blocked a double brainbuster, and reversed it into a double suplex as #CCK found themselves on the back foot.

Somehow Lykos rebounds with a tornado DDT before Tyler catches his elevated Codebreaker attempt… then threw the wolf back to Brookes and punches him out. Another bop/bang to Brookes leads him to accidentally give his best friend a German suplex as #CCK then take an airplane spin and giant swing combo. That will never not be impressive from Bate.

Tyler slingshots Lykos into a punch and a piledriver from Trent for a near-fall, before Brookes returns the “accidental” favour by making Moustache Mountain give each other Dragon screws. Lykos comes in with a reverse ‘rana that Tyler popped up from and returned fire with a double clothesline, before Lykos got a foot up from a Trent Seven double footstomp.

#CCK almost won it with a Magic Killer to a stunned Seven, before Tyler punches Lykos into the corner . A superkick party puts Moustache Mountain down briefly, as Trent hits a pair of half-and-half suplexes – AT THE SAME DAMNED TIME! In the end, an outside-in tornado DDT from Lykos should have gotten him closer to a win, only for Bate to reverse a brainbuster for a near-fall, before a Doomsday Device was avoided by Lykos, allowing #CCK to hit a super elevated Codebreaker/back senton for the win. That was really good stuff – #CCK really came into their own this weekend, and a not-at-all-fluke-win helped give them that something extra that they needed. ****

Shane Strickland vs. Jack Evans
Shane had his usual “Ain’t Nobody” theme after whateverthehell they used on night one, whilst Jack Evans bust out a football pun, asking “if Manchester city could be united”. Ba-zing. He then called “Mancs” the real problem with this world… and told them that he “could help Manchester be… Liverpool”, firmly cementing himself as the man to boo right here. As “a shit Zack Gibson”, before badly singing along to his “anthem” of You’ll Never Walk Alone.

This is GREAT. I always love when an import does a little bit of research and goes the extra mile to stand out. I still remember when Disco Inferno came to Newcastle for the WWA back in the day, getting an insane amount of heat for nonchalant stuff like announcing the “Sunderland debut of the Village People’s elbow”.

Anyway, Strickland offers to protect the honour of Manchester with a dance-off… and that is what we got. From looking at the crowd, you get the impression that perhaps not everybody was on board with this… at least until Evans blasted Strickland with a roundhouse kick to get us going.

Evans threw himself through Strickland and out of the ring with a handspring in the opening stages, before Shane handsprung over him to the floor to start a series of chops against the apron. Evans then got offered up for some fans to chop him, which always has the potential to suck to be on the receiving end of!

When they returned to the ring, Evans decided to go straight back outside with a Space Flying Tiger Drop, but Strickland catches that, only to take a tornado DDT onto the floor! Jack gets some liquid refreshment from a fan, which apparently shows him up as a lightweight after a mouthful of beer makes Jack drunk. He’s still able to duck some stuff from Shane though, and almost wins it with a flip senton before throwing a variety of headbutts for another near-fall.

Eventually that drunkenness sees him miss a crossbody that probably would have been a Cactus clothesline to the floor, allowing Strickland to hit his Space Flying Tiger Drop with ease. Back inside, he rolls up into a cutter, then rolls that through into a brainbuster for a near-fall, before Evans turned things around to almost win with a Phoenix splash off the middle rope. In the end though, Evans celebrated a little too early from a top rope reverse ‘rana as Strickland landed on his feet, before Shane dove in with a double stomp for the win. A really enjoyable outing and a completely different style to just about anything else on the card. ***¼

Dream Tag Team Invitational 2017, First Round: Lucha Brothers (Penta el Zero M & Rey Fenix) vs. Bruisercats (Pete Dunne & Sami Callihan)
The night two main event decided the final semi-finalist, with the Lucha Brothers taking on the reunited/rarely-teaming Bruiser Cats, with the pair sporting painted-on whiskers. As bad as the pun is, I still want them to be called Young and Litter…Penta announces the Lucha Brothers, I guess because he’s fed up of Chris Brooker, and we get going with some dual biting as the Luchas went for the cero miedo taunt.

This remained high-paced, although referee Shay inexplicably stopped some dives as the Bruisercats snuck back in to attack the Luchas from behind, leading to Fenix landing on his head from a Callihan clothesline. We don’t seem to bother with tags, as Shay’s more interested in checking for a submission than ejecting anyone when both of the Lucha Brothers were caught in a single crab.

Penta responds with a swift kick and a couple of Slingblades after freeing himself, before Callihan became the latest target. His response to an overhand chop was a stiff clothesline that Penta fell like a tree for, and then we got some dives as Fenix vaulted over Shay with a tornillo to the outside! Even Peter flew, nailing a moonsault from the middle turnbuckle to the floor, before Shay decided to sod it and go aerial himself, flying into the pile with a senton.

I guess if you take out everyone, that’s still impartial officiating, right?

The fight stays outside the ring, with Dunne introducing Fenix to the front row, only for the younger brother to break some chairs by cannonballing Peter through them. Back inside, brother Penta takes a Destroyer and a Pedigree, only for Fenix to break that up with a stomp off the top rope, then follow with an OsCutter as the pace increased yet again.

Callihan snaps back with an Air Raid Crash for a one-count as Penta just kicked him really hard to break up the count, which earned an almost-immediate receipt with some boots in the corner. A pumphandle driver gets Penta a near-fall after throwing away his other glove, before a series of kicks left the Bruisercats down for a wheelbarrow splash by Fenix for another near-fall.

More strikes leave everyone teetering until a double cutter from Fenix takes down the Cats, who promptly reply with a pair of forearms as Fenix took a Bitter End for a near-fall. A spike package tombstone kills Fenix for a near-fall… but his brother makes the save, and does so again to powerbomb the Cats out of a double superplex attempt. A stuff Fear Factor follows for a near-fall on Peter as everyone hates their necks, before Callihan takes a standard Fear Factor then a Fenix Destroyer as the Lucha Brothers qualified for the semis! This was a tremendous main event, fast-paced and all-out fun – and after two shows, Fight Club: Pro’s DTTI has been an unabashed success.****¼

We’re two for two in good shows this weekend, and having seen night three live, it ended up as a clean sweep. Anyone who was concerned by the camera work after night one had those fears put to bed straight away as we had the usual good work on production here, which only helped the high-quality in-ring product to shine further. So, going into the London finals we knew that #CCK, the Lucha Brothers, the Hunter Brothers and FSU would be fighting for the inaugural Dream Tag Team Invitational trophy… how would that end? Find out in our review of the final night, which’ll be up… tomorrow!