Fight Club: Pro’s latest visit to their new Wolverhampton home was a bit of a special one – especially if you’re a fan of big lads wrestling…
Subtitled “Big Men. Big House”, it was pretty clear what you were getting for one of the promotion’s signature events… which they’ve spread out over two shows. Part two’s coming later this month, with Fight Club: Pro having a double-header over the August Bank Holiday – starting in Wolverhampton before moving to London on the Saturday.
Kyle Fletcher vs. Mark Haskins
So we start with two guys who are decidedly not big men! Haskins starts by going over Fletcher’s arm as he took the Aussie down for an early crossface – and you could probably guess what the gameplan was.
Fletcher tried to make a comeback, but a missed standing moonsault left him prey for a Fujiwara armbar as Haskins quickly got back into things… before throwing Fletcher to the floor for a tope. Given how close those barriers are to the ring, those sorts of dives are a lot higher risk than they used to be!
It’s a rather more brutal Haskins than we’re used to seeing, and he’s easily a step ahead of Fletcher, whose charge into the corner misses and leaves him open for a slingshot dropkick. More fightbacks are quickly curtailed and met with more brutality from Haskins, who blasts the Aussie with a PK, then a series of kicks to the chest… and that finally wakes up the Aussie Arrow.
Repeated forearms and superkicks finally take Haskins down, allowing Fletcher to throw a series of forearms into the corner… but Haskins tries to come back, and earns himself a knee to the gut. A double stomp to the back follows, as does a Michinoku driver for a near-fall, before they trade kicks briefly before Fletcher dumped Haskins on his neck with a back suplex for another two-count.
Haskins gets back in, tripping Fletcher out of a German suplex and rolling him up into a death valley driver for another near-fall, as a superkick to the head gets a similar result. The crowd were really behind Fletcher despite him taking a pasting, especially when Kyle surprised Haskins with a running Destroyer!
A big boot and a brainbuster almost had Kyle snatching the win, but another attempt at a Destroyer’s blocked as Haskins came back with a Falcon arrow… for a one count! Trading superkicks just fires everyone up some more, with Haskins eventually rolling Fletcher into the high-torque Sharpshooter for the submission. A heck of a sprint for the opening match, one which clearly set out Haskins as the better man whilst Fletcher got enough in to show that he wasn’t too far behind in that pecking order. ***½
Oh my God, Fight Club: Pro dug out the library music that Jordan Devlin used in the WWE UK tournament! Yes, I’m a nerd about those things… Devlin’s out to pick a bone with FCP management, in particular over the promo image they released for this show with Devlin’s face, along with the tagline “Big Head. Big House.” The crowd drown him out with boos, at least until he gets out a tape measure so referee Joel can measure his bonce. The official verdict? “Massive”.
Big cheer. Sadly, Jurn Simmons didn’t come out to keep the theme going, but Devlin did ask for someone big to come out. The crowd chanted Keith Lee… they got Spud. For those who don’t know the gimmick, Spud took a bang on the head and thinks it’s 2002, he’s a trainee, and he’s looking for opportunities. Hey, he’s even fitting into his old gear from back then! Devlin’s still not happy, so out comes Mark Davis to add to the “big lad” quotient… Jordan corrects himself, as he wants a “bigger name”, and instead gets a big… left hand to the massive head of his.
Jordan Devlin vs. Spud vs. Mark Davis
Spud hugged Davis from behind out of celebration, but he’s quickly knocked off and to the outside as Devlin and Davis get going.
Devlin takes a heel kick to take him outside, but Spud stops the Aussie as he wants to do the dive instead. Mark lets him, and so Spud hits – and celebrates – a picture perfect tope con hilo. Perhaps shaking Davis’ hand was a bad move, as Davis crushes Spud, who rebounds with a satellite headscissors to take the big guy to the outside… only for Devlin to trip him up.
After stomping on Spud for a bit, Devlin’s taken to the outside for a dive from Davis, as we settled into usual triple-threat fare. You know, people cutting off each other’s moves, in this case Devlin who backfired into a 619 with he and Davis, as Spud went from corner-to-corner with charges to the Irishman and the Aussie.
Davis stands tall after a round of forearm shots, before popping up Spud into a flapjack and then powerbombing the “rookie” onto the pesky Devlin. A diving forearm to the big ‘ead leaves him down, but Devlin rebounds by taking Davis up top for a… Spanish Fly? That wasn’t anything I was expecting out of him… but Spud makes the save as the match would have ended there.
Spud throws in a satellite DDT to Devlin for a near-fall, but Davis pulls the straps down and tries to piledrive Spud… who gets a Code Red instead for a near-fall before Devlin pulls him into a German suplex. That only gets a two-count too as Davis pulled him away by the legs, and its the Lykos-special piledriver! More broken pins follow, as Davis goes for Splash Mountain… only for Spud to turn that into a top rope ‘rana instead! Awful waffle ensues, but Devlin shoves Davis out and literally steals the pin for the win. A fun three-way, but save for the W, this did little for Devlin I feel. ***¼
Extra Talented (Aaron Solow & Ricky Starks) vs. #CCK (Chris Brookes & Kid Lykos)
This was the first of two matches these teams would have against each other this weekend (and the middle of three in a month, for those keeping track!). However, it’s a heel vs. heel match, since #CCK are demonstrably bad guys here, and Extra Talented go out of their way to not endear themselves.
Brookes won the FCP title last time out, so it’s a little odd that his first order of business here is… a tag match? Fair enough! #CCK launched into Extra Talented at the bell, taking them to the outside for some brawling around that incredibly cramped ringside area.
Lykos gets whipped into a guard rail, but we miss it since there’s barely enough room for a cameraman to be there, let alone turn around and capture it, before the wolf recovered to drop Solow on the apron with a standing Sliced Bread. On the other side of the ring, we see the wolf fly into the crowd courtesy of a back body drop from Starks, who threw himself over the guard rail with a double axehandle as we veer dangerously close to the new FCP trope of brawling through the crowd… with no camera coverage.
Thankfully they head back into the ring, where Brookes catches a springboarding Starks and plants him with a spinning neckbreaker, before trapping the “Stroke Daddy” in an Octopus ahead of a wet willie. Juicy! The Starks beatdown continues as the crowd railed on Lykos, to the point where he initially refused to even try for a brainbuster… before Starks got in on the act and called for a suplex. That didn’t work either!
Solow tags in and gets the Essa Rios chants as he had Brookes on the back foot… allowing Starks to return to help with a dropkick-assisted Downward Spiral. Everyone ends up outside, finishing with a Starks tope and a tornillo from Lykos, whose next brainbuster earned him a DDT and a senton bomb for a near-fall… with a save that knocked the mobile camera out!
We recover as Lykos flips out of a top rope ‘rana from Starks and switches into the Full Moon on Solow in the other corner, before Starks blocks the elevated Codebreaker and superkicks #CCK into an accidental German suplex. The neckbreaker/Dominator combo sees Extra Talented put #CCK onto each other for a near-fall, before Brookes wiped out Solow with a “F-Bailey” big boot.
A springboard knee from Lykos keeps the parade in full flow, as does a Million Dollar Kneelift… only for Lykos to go a little short on his Vertigo DDT, which Starks saves before taking the bump. Starks and Brookes trade some increasingly-vicious slaps which looks like Suzuki on acid, before Lykos leaps in for the wheelbarrow-dropkick… and all that’s left from there is the elevated Codebreaker/back senton… but Solow makes the save at two!
Lykos makes him pay with a Vertigo DDT from the inside to the apron, as #CCK finish off Starks with the Ink Bomb… but somehow “Stroke Daddy” kicks out! On his own, Starks fires back with chops and a double clothesline before dropping Brookes with a sit-out F5 of sorts. Lykos leaps off screen as he tried to take out Solow, only to be brought back for a superkick-assisted Angels Wings on the apron for another two-count.
The wolf tries a comeback, and manages to get in a tornado DDT as Brookes pulled Starks to the outside so Lykos could hit an Asai moonsault into the aisle! Lykos throws Solow in so Brookes can finish him off, with some Angels Wings (or whatever he’ll call it) drilling Solow for the win. Another good match between these two, and for all the times you can pick out minor slips… you can’t argue the fact that they work well together. ***¾
Oh, hello loose bottom rope – good to see you’ve migrated from SHINE to FCP!
#CCK hang back in the ring as some familiar music hits. Heck, it’s about the only place we’ll hear AFI… it’s Jimmy Havoc and Clint Margera! They’re out with some cans of Carlsberg, but they’re not looking for a fight… tonight. Havoc’s annoyed that #CCK have the CZW tag titles, and since he won CZW’s Tournament of Death, the two British entrants are looking to team up add some more CZW plaudits to their CVs… by way of a death match for those belts on the first night of September’s Project Mayhem double-header.
It’s safe to say the crowd’s happy with that! That threatened to bleed into an EVOLVE trope, but Havoc and Margera offered an open deathmatch challenge for next month instead, as they race to the bar for a free shot instead.
After interval, we’re back to bask in some glory. Yep, Keith Lee was in the (big) house, but he didn’t have an opponent… until now. The Big House… meet the Big O!
Keith Lee vs. Omari
Omari’s tall, but he’s not what you’d call big… especially next to someone like Keith Lee, who showed off his impressive agility in the opening moments with leapfrogs and lucha rolls!
Omari refuses to bask in Keith’s glory, instead throwing some forearms, only to keep coming up against metaphorical brick walls, particularly when a tope con hilo to the outside’s caught as Lee catches the rookie and dumped him on the apron with a powerbomb instead. That Keith Lee is scary powerful.
A brief fightback from Omari ends with a headbutt and a powerslam… but the kid kicks out at one! So Lee tries to paintbrush him with slaps, before a lariat’s countered with one from Omari… who then throws a headbutt as he went to work, eventually chopping down the proverbial redwood with a leg lariat. Lee blocks a Fisherman’s suplex but can’t avoid a roundhouse kick as Omari got the suplex off for a near-fall.
Lee tries for a Spirit Bomb, but instead has to make do with a choke bomb after Omari’d slipped out, and it’s back to offence as Omari almost gets the shocking win with a double arm DDT. Superkicks just annoy Lee, who then smacks Omari to his knees with a double-handed chop before almost Pouncing Omari out of the ring!
After putting Omari on the top rope, Lee just throws a nonchalant forearm smash, only for Omari to headbutt his way free and take down the big man with a crossbody. Superkicks lead to an impressive German suplex, before he tries for the O Zone… but Lee elbows free and engages in another forearm battle. A Benadryller-esque forearm followed in Omari’s future, before a Spirit Bomb left Omari in pieces.
Somehow, Omari kicked out at two, so Lee drags him into the corner for a moonsault… which actually connects, for yet another two-count! Enraged, Lee picks up Omari for the Ground Zero, but Omari switched the death valley driver slam into a small package… and there’s your shock! This was a perfectly fine match, worked at a delibrate pace rather than the sprints we’ve been used to seeing Lee in… but I can’t help but feel this was a case where Omari may have been better served losing a narrow, hard-fought match than eke out a shock win. ***
Barely Legal (Martina & Shay Purser) vs. World’s Cutest Tag Team (Joey Ryan & Candice LeRae)
On the last Fight Club: Pro show, Shay shed his skin and became a man… after being awakened by Martina. So they’re now a wacky tag team, although I’d dare say that Shay might think Martina’s just got a thing for refs…
Shay, like Martina, came out in his pyjamas, this time to Steve Austin’s theme with two bottles of water. Aw, bless. I’m guessing that ref’s shirt is the only thing he owns too, as this is going to be like those football games where one side’s tops clash too much with the ref’s. Can’t we just give him a yellow bib to put over it? Ah, nevermind, he’s got his own shirt for the Barely Legal team. He’s excused, although he perhaps shouldn’t have worn something so loose as those PJs. They don’t hide certain things well…
Their opponents here are the World’s Cutest Tag Team – an act I’m aware of, but can’t recall ever seeing. Perhaps if I were more of a Joey Ryan fan… Indeed, we start with Joey’s shtick as he gave away his lollipop to a far-too-eager Warren. It takes all sorts, eh? Thankfully, Warren didn’t want the oil. I think.
Yeah, this was played for comedy from the off, from Martina begging to start so she could touch Joey’s junk, to Shay denying her and trying for a more serious hold. Except Joey reverses a wristlock and tries to force some junk touching as Shay tried to teach him about consent. Instead, Shay knees him, only to get a sore one as an atomic drop doesn’t work on Joey’s junk. Is it Samoan?
LeRae tags in and tries to whip Shay into Joey… only to switch it up as he knocks Martina off the apron. An uppercut knocks down Candace, and gets Shay some boos, just in time for Joey to come in and slap the piss out of his mouth. Martina makes a save, but her Bronco Buster’s blocked with a big boot as Joey pulls out another lollipop from his trunks, only for Shay to accidentally intercept it. Eew.
Eventually everyone ends up brawling around the aisle, meaning that we get dives… Candice tries, but she’s blocked by a pinata, spilling sweets onto the floor as Ryan shoves Martina into Shay ahead of a Boobplex as Joey finally got his wish. Sexual assault! Yeah, he makes Shay touch it again of a Penis suplex for a near-fall.
Candice brings in some of Haribo’s finest as Joey looked to finish things, but Martina stops it and gets that Bronco Buster instead. She’s pulled off by Candice, who then takes her into Joey’s crotch with a drop toe hold, before Shay tries to fly and gets knocked off. Instead, he’s met with a Tower of Doom, taking a superplex into the Haribo! Martina responds by getting some Toblerone (Duty Free’s finest), ahead of a brainbuster onto the triangular chocolate… and yes, that looked like it hurt!
Joey comes back for another Penis suplex, and Shay decides to join in with an image that I’m surprised hasn’t wound up Jim Cornette. Still, Martina reverses it and sends both guys flipping, before Candice hits a not-a-Ballsplex of her own as Ryan superkicks a lollipop out of Shay’s mouth for the win. This was a real Marmite match – you’ll love it or you’ll hate it… for me, it was alright, but it was so not what I expect out of Fight Club: Pro.
For some reason the bell kept ringing after the match, perhaps as a cue to give Shay some ice for his groin? Anyway, everyone bar Martina left for… reasons. She finally gets the microphone to ask for some more music, and she starts grinding in the middle of the ring for some fan.
The fun ends when Dan Moloney hits the ring and boots several shades of you-know-what out of Martina. That’s what’s called “getting your heat back” after what happened last month… he empties the pockets of his exceedingly-tight jeans, then powerbombs Martina. Finally Shay comes back out to make the save, but it’s a little too late, as all he can do is cart his lover away.
British Strong Style (Pete Dunne, Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) vs. Travis Banks, Jeff Cobb & Low Ki
The British Strong Style trios tour continues! Is it even a tour when it’s in sort-of your home territory? I digress… the original opposition was to have been the trio of Travis Banks, Low Ki and Davey Richards (THERE’S a weird trio), but Davey’s semi-retirement meant that they had to find a replacement.
In hindsight, we probably should have guessed, given that Jeff Cobb had been advertised but didn’t have a match! Low Ki came out in the suit as Hitman – or “that costume that led to him being fired from New Japan back in the day”… and we’ve got over 40 minutes left in the video, so, this is going to be a long one!
After making a rather unpleasant hand signal at Jeff Cobb, Dunne tried to run, then opted to lock-up and just get on with it. It’s remarkably easy early, with Cobb getting dropped into an armbar as Dunne flipped off Cobb’s partners using his own hand… but after taking him down for a cover, Cobb just powered up and threw Dunne across the ring in from a waistlock.
Cibb continued to toy with Dunne like he was nothing, sending the WWE UK champ out with a waistlock before tagging Trent in. Travis Banks comes in for a chop-and-kick-off, as the British Strong Style trio teased throwing the towel in jest. A diving kick from Banks takes Trent into the corner, but Seven gets the first shot in with some machine gun chops as the hard-hitting continued with exactly the vigour you’d expect.
Yes, this wasn’t one of those BSS vs. three-randomers match that was played for comedy, it’s safe to say.
Low Ki and Tyler Bate were next, with Bate taking down Low Ki and working over body parts. Surely Low Ki could have just grabbed one of the guns from his holster and ended the match there? Just tell Joel to look the other way, and it wouldn’t have been a DQ… although Jill would have been far from happy! They continued to go back and forth until the rest of British Strong Style stormed the ring and grabbed a bottle of water so they could play Paul.
Back inside, Low Ki and Travis kick away at Bate, before he gave up… and ate a standing moonsault from Jeff Cobb, who was showing that it wasn’t just Keith Lee who was an agile big man there. We then enter the outside-the-ring brawling portion of the match, with PICTURE IN PICTURE VIEW. That’s when you know there’s too much going on…
After Travis’ tope, we sadly don’t get a Cobb corkscrew as Bate punches him away, then throws him outside for a plancha! Dunne throws in his middle rope moonsault to the pile, and then they head into the crowd… where Low Ki joined them with a flying double stomp.
With them going into the crowd, the only thing I can really make out is Chris East’s GOOD Wrestling t-shirt before picture-in-picture returns to catch them going through the crowd. It’s a compromise, but how about we don’t do walk-and-brawls if the venue isn’t suitable for it being filmed?
The full picture resumes as we find Tyler and Low Ki by the merch stand, and something happens. Back to the hard camera of an empty ring, and I feel for those who’ve paid to watch this in the venue – it’s becoming a bit of a trend at the Starworks… We cut to Low Ki’s double stomp to… somebody on the other camera view. Something’s happening over there,and yes, that sounds awesome.
The camera pans back towards the entrance where Dunne and Seven worked over Banks, throwing him into a guard rail head-first with such unsettling vigour. It’s like the reverse of the Mankind cage door spot from Chyna… For some reason we only get picture-in-picture of Banks throwing Trent through the guard rail as a receipt for earlier, and then the crowd cheer. Why? Because they finally went back to the bleeding ring!
Bizarrely, we’re still picture-in-picture as Banks charged into the corner, before normal service resumes as he piles up British Strong Style into the corner ahead of all three of them taking a cannonball at the same time. A sit-out X-plex sees Dunne quickly turn things back around for a near-fall, before he stomped away on Banks’ knees for a spell, as British Strong Style looked to dissect the former champ.
A new addition to the “playing Paul” game was Bate’s Triple H-ish high knee, before Dunne went in with the Triple H spinebuster and the not-Triple-H kick to the head. Trent tried a Pedigree, but Banks escapes… and actually manages to bring in Low Ki who cleared house! An axe kick to Bate is quickly followed up with a double stomp after Dunne’d sling shotted Low Ki into the corner… but a backfist from Trent ends that as Seven makes the foolish choice to stand up to Cobb.
Jeff succeeds for a moment, but turns around into some superkicks as the match degenerates into a multi-way strike-fest, then our favourite Parade of Moves! Bate shows his freaky strength with a deadlift German to Cobb… who popped up and tried to return the favour, but instead just suplexed British Strong Style. AT THE SAME TIME.
ALL THE STARS.
The Parade continues when Cobb’s superplex is followed up with a Low Ki double stomp and a Coast to Coast from Banks, then a trio of Fisherman Drivers for some near falls. We settle down again to Dunne and Low Ki trading blows, before Low Ki accidentally drops Banks with a roundhouse… which allows Trent to hit a kick-assisted piledriver to Banks, before Tyler Bate’s spiral tap gets the win! A weird and wacky match… we’re not quite in the “seen one, seen em all” territory with these BSS trios, but we’re not too far off, I’m sad to say. Take out the walk-and-brawl, and this would have been really good, but since I couldn’t see a lot of it… ***¾
After the match, Low Ki cuts a show-ending promo, referencing British Strong Style “going up north”, before telling Peter that although British wrestling was on the rise, he’s “a champion in a sports entertainment company… not a wrestling company”. The mic cuts out a bit, but I just about make out that Low Ki told Dunne that BSS had earned his respect… Low Ki then promised to come back with his usual back-up… and I guess there’s a rematch of sorts down the line… but it could just as easily be between Banks and Low Ki, as the two had a tense staredown after Low Ki blamed Banks for the loss.
The saddest bit is, those guns still never left Low Ki’s holders!
Coming out of the show, there were some questioning over prior booking: like why Travis Banks dropped the title when the next few shows weren’t likely to feature singles matches with the new champ… but it’s wrestling. We trust the system, question things that look odd, and enjoy it when it pays off. That being said, the British Strong Style trios tour is quickly starting to lose its lustre… especially when the travelling show is something that we’re able to see wherever it goes thanks to the magic of video on demand. Whilst their involvement in next month’s King of Trios for CHIKARA will be about the first time the tour makes sense, some are surmising that it may be the proverbial sunset for that particular act.
When Fight Club: Pro held their Dream Tag Team Invitational earlier this year, there was a head’s up that the DVD/VOD would be a little more expensive. International Tekkers (part one?) got a similar bump, and I’ve no reason to think that the August shows will be any different. That’s not a criticism, unless you want to get into the argument over “paying £10 for VOD of one promotion when other services give you a lot more for that every month”. Or indeed, the fact that the entire main event was pretty much unwatchable for the walk-and-brawl segment… but then again, compared to the Fight Club: Pro that started getting hype a year ago, it’s fair to say that we’re no longer watching the FCP of old.
Comparisons to super-indys like PWG will continue to be made… not just because they booked Joey Ryan and Candice LeRae! In the last few months FCP’s started to move away from regular storylines and towards spotlighting shows like this? That’s not to say that’s a bad thing, but other companies will tell you – you can only do dream matches and the like for so long! At least we know FCP are capable of storylines and the like, but this current phase of the company is one that I’m on the fence over right now.