Fight Club: Pro are getting used to these weekenders – and this time, they’re celebrating their eighth birthday in style.

How do we know it’s their 8th birthday? There’s a massive helium balloon in the shape of the number 8 in the aisle, which Chris Brookes bursts as he came out to brag about having a night off. Well… that’s what he thought, when his wolfen friend’s broken wrist meant that they were excused from tonight’s death match.

After bragging that there’s be no #CCK except for at the merch table, Fight Club: Pro’ promoter Martin Zaki came out for what I think was his first on-screen appearance. He demands a title match right now… and out first: Shane Strickland, whose three existing title belts eventually come into focus! Also: Flash Morgan Webster, who came out to “A Town Called Malice”, which fit quite well… even if it’s not “In The City”. Oh, and just like every TV infomercial: wait, there’s more! Former champ Sami Callihan was added to the mix too! With his own number 8 balloon!

Fight Club: Pro Championship: Chris Brookes (c) vs. Shane Strickland vs. Flash Morgan Strickland vs. Sami Callihan
After Sami chased away a skittish wolf, our mini-scramble got going in rapid form, with Strickland dropkicking Callihan to the outside, only to get an early wet willie from the champs.

Brookes can’t stop taking armdrags from Flash, and we’re well into the “two in, everyone out” revolving door format. For some reason the lighting seems a little off on the mobile cameras, as there’s a massive dark spot in the aisle… which is where all the dives occurred.

Callihan gets the corpse of the 8 balloon and uses it to choke Brookes with, before grabbing Lykos’ #CCK baking tray. Yes, Chris gets it… as does Webster on the outside as things go back to Sami and Shane in the ring, leading to a wacky spider superplex spot that Webster capitalised on with a senton onto Callihan for a near-fall.

Flash becomes a makeshift Lykos for that tag-move-with-no-name, then gets Brookes thrown into him courtesy of Callihan. That seems to spark our usual favourite, the Parade of Moves, ending with Flash cracking Brookes with a headbutt! The champ gets up first to keep it going, using the off-the-ropes neckbreaker on Sami, before Flash caught him in a Strangler, then whatever-he-calls Destino. Strickland’s slingshot flatliner left Flash prey for a brutal double stomp, before Callihan picked away the pieces, ultimately tying up Strickland in a Stretch Muffler.

In the end though, the end did come from that hold – albeit not as you’d expect, as Chris Brookes slid in and rolled up Sami – and that was enough for the win. Death By Roll-Up. Get used to it! A fun way to get the show going, but as we’d find later, there was more stuff to snatch the headlines! ***¼

Millie McKenzie vs. Jessicka Havok vs. Kay Lee Ray
Still in the area of “unadvertised matches”, we’ve got one of Fight Club: Pro’s newer breakouts in Millie McKenzie here. Unfortunately, her opponent was Jessicka Havok, but once the bell rang, we would find out that “that’s not all!” – cue loud as hell air raid sirens, and a new challenger enters the fray in Kay Lee Ray!

Millie may not die quite yet!

Or maybe not. Kay Lee Ray’s initial round of chops just angered Havok, who threatened to make light work of them with boots into the corners. A missed legdrop let the little ‘uns get back in, with Millie being Gory Bomb’d onto her for a near-fall before keeping Havok at bay. At least for a little while. It’s a fun Goliath vs. David story, as Kay Lee and Millie were shown that they would be forced to work together to stand any chance of surviving this.

Problem was, it led to a lot of pace changes, with Havok working well at her speed, which needed the match to slow down once Millie and Kay Lee were done with their exchanges. Kay Lee’s superkick to Havok only aided an Air Raid Crash, before she gets thrown out of the ring… allowing Millie to keep the theme going. Death by roll-up, McKenzie wins! A fun story, but the pace was all over the place – a nice feather in the cap for Millie nevertheless. **½

After the match, Havok challenges Kay Lee Ray to a match on the second night, and she vows it’ll be her last night in the UK. Because she’s killing her. Well, it’ll help her live up to that “Havok Death Machine” nickname.

Jordan Devlin vs. Travis Banks
Irish wrestling’s answer to Brian Clough is up next, against former Fight Club: Pro champ Travis Banks, and these two started off on fire, going for those indy’riffic pins early on after taking a moment to figure out what the hell the crowd were chanting. I still can’t figure it out.

After a Victory roll didn’t get Devlin the win, he used his big head to drop Banks, who eventually Zombie’d up into life, crushing Jordan with a cannonball and a PK for good measure. Devlin sneaks in a moonsault to keep the Kiwi down, but a second one misses in the ring as Banks gets in a Kiwi Crusher for a near-fall.

The back and forth sprint continued as Banks eats a Tiger suplex that almost turned into Cattle Mutilation, before brainbusters and Spanish Flys saw Devlin no nearer the win. A swandive headbutt sees Jordan crash and burn, before that massive head took some more pounding courtesy of superkicks. If a DNA test shows he’s even 0.001% Samoan, we have an instant gimmick.

Despite missing a Slice of Heaven, Banks came back with a springboard double stomp for a two-count, before teeing off with a series of kicks after catching the Irishman in a Tree of Woe. One Coast to Coast and a Slice of Heaven later, Devlin still kicks out, but finds no way out from the Lion’s Clutch and has to tap. A hell of a fun sprint here as Travis Banks slowly builds his way back up towards an assumed title shot. ***½

Apparently that was the end of the first half?! We’re blowing through this…

Aussie Open (Mark Davis & Kyle Fletcher) vs. Scarlet & Graves (Zachary Wentz & Dezmond Xavier) vs. OI4K (Jake Crist & Dave Crist) vs. Black Coffee (Omari & Joe Coffey)
There’s one team name I’m not touching with a bargepole…

We start with one half of each team circling each other before deciding to dive instead, and the match instantly becomes one of those “how the hell do we follow this with one mobile camera?” deals. Easy: picture in picture!

The early insanity saw the guard rails get wrecked courtesy of an Irish whip that sent Xavier into the steel, whilst Jake Crist gets a wheelbarrow giant swing into a facebuster from Joe Coffey. Once they remembered they had a ring to play with, things didn’t calm down much either, with Omari and Xavier having a brief flurry among each other, before Fletcher damn near kicked off Omari’s face off from a low dropkick.

The revolving door continues, with the Crists targeting Wentz… who managed to shove them into each other, forcing Dave to get crotched on the top rope, landing, as he put it “right on my bell end”. Joe Coffey busted out a somersault plancha that nearly showed us too much, and that starts our dives as Dave Crist bust out a sweet moonsault off the top rope before Xavier’s Sasuke Special put a bow on it.

A handspring double knee and a springboard tornillo from Wentz wrecked Jake, but the head of an Iron Man quickly put paid to him… before Fletcher’s attempt to get involved ended with him getting deadlifted off the mat into a sitout gutwrench powerbomb. Poor Omari’s powerbomb almost earned him a lift-up piledriver, but Omari counters with a reverse ‘rana as eventually everyone took a breather.

Coffey and Omari worked well together… at least until OI4K killed Omari with a pair of superkicks, prompting Coffey to squash them with a crossbody. Poor Wentz took the pull-up piledriver from Dunkzilla, that needed everyone to break up the pin on, but in the end, Fletcher eats a Cross Rhodes onto the apron through the ropes, before a spike tombstone gave OI4K the W. Fun stuff, even outside of the isolation that a lot of these shows seem to exist in. Utter, utter madness – and I guess we may as well start every half off with a mad scramble! ***½

Dan Moloney vs. Shay Purser
Spray painted jeans and all, Dan Moloney’s here to feel the wrath of Shay Purser, who’d been kept away from refereeing tonight so he could have a shot. Glass shatters,and out comes Stone Cold Shay and Martina, who he’s fighting for.

It’s insane to think that these two have a combined age that’s not too far from mine. I feel OLD.

So whilst Shay’s dancing in his Despicable Me pyjamas, Dan kills Martina with a big boot, before clotheslining Shay to the outside. The big bully’s winning… especially when Shay’s windmilling forearms in the darkness of ringside have no effect. Poor Martina tries to make a save, but she gets powerbombed onto the apron, then has Shay powerbombed onto her.

This is, erm, remorseless?

As it should be for “wrestler vs. referee”, Moloney’s absolutely killing Shay, but it seemed that ripping off a shirt was enough to make Shay snap. And get snapped. Chop, big boot, that’s Shay down… but Dan pulls him up at two time and time again. Eventually, Shay fights back, kneeing his way out of suplexes before getting one himself!

A crossbody is a bridge too far though as Dan catches him and turns it into an ushigoroshi, before dumping Shay on his head with a German suplex as Martina tried to get involved. More booing as Dan pulls out an ear-ring (from Martina’s head, not his pocket or anything like that), but we get the save with a tiltawhirl DDT outta Shay.

A top rope Seshbreaker from Martina leads to her revealing a ref’s shirt – I guess somewhere in here, Joel got wiped out – and after a stunner from Shay, she quick counts the win! Well, it was a thing… but I have no idea where on earth you go from here with Dan. If this was the blow-off, he’s taken a hell of a loss, and it’s going to need a LOT of work to get him back as a killer. Not when you’ve lost to a ref. **½

British Strong Style (Pete Dunne, Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) vs. Team Dragon Gate (CIMA, Eita & Masaaki Mochizuki)
Our “official main event” (since the other match is “non sanctioned”) was the first half of the Project Mayhem trios matches, featuring Dragon Gate! I’ll admit here, I’m a novice when it comes to Dragon Gate, so feel free to yell at me…

CIMA goes all Dude Love on us for… reasons, and the dream match gets going with Pete Dunne instantly snapping his fingers. They keep it on the mat, with Dunne making a point of wrenching on CIMA’s wrist, until he fought up and lands an enziguiri to free himself. Tags bring us to Trent and Mochizuki, who lay into each other before Tyler Bate in and boots off Eita’s face… which takes us to the Over Generation duo of Eita and CIMA working over young Master Bate as the Dragon Gate trio caught their British opponents in a trio of submissions.

Poor Dunne gets held upside down like this for an axe kick. Yeah… not going to be comfortable, is it?

He retaliates by biting Eita as he went to do a dive, and that left Dunne with the chance to keep going back to those wrists. Trent comes in for an Arn Anderson-esque DDT, dropping Eita as he thought he’d ducked a chop, as poor Eita’s left isolated far away from being able to tag any familiar faces. Especially when Trent goes all Kenta Kobashi/Satoshi Kojima with machine gun chops. Good job that bread’s vegan, eh?

Finally CIMA comes in and slams Trent onto Tyler as tags now become a novelty item, whilst Dunne has a go with Mochizuki. Who PK’s him through the chest. Ouchie. A parade of moves breaks out amongst all six men, ending with Dunne stomping away a cover from a Tiger suplex from Eita nearly had Bate pinned. Moments later, a spike tombstone nearly pinned Eita, as another parade of moves broke out.

Still, at least this had the novelty of the Dragon Gate guys to stand out from the two other scramble-ish matches we’d had tonight.

CIMA and Eita snap into an assisted moonsault that nearly gets the win over Bate, as the Over Generation tandem flew in with some of what I assume is their usual offence, ending with a sit-out Fisherman’s driver and a spin-out suplex for a near-fall. Then BSS get their stuff in, with a trio of bop/bangs and their finishers for some two-counts, before the Dragon Gate trio flip the script and hit three Pedigrees! In the end, Mochizuuki hits an enziguiri out of the corner, and that’s enough to put Bate down for the count! A pretty good trios match, but I’d have enjoyed this far more had I an appreciation for Dragon Gate… and not seen two scramble-ish matches on the same show! ***¾

Afterwards, the two sides shook hands and showed respect for each other… with Peter of course teasing snacking again.

Death Match: Rickey Shane Page & Drew Parker vs. Callous Hearts (Jimmy Havoc & Clint Margera)
You know how wrestling is heavy on the visuals? Live, the build to the death match saw the #CCK replacements of Rickey Shane Page and Drew Parker come to the ring… then AFI’s “I Hope You Suffer” hit for the Callous Hearts. Who didn’t come to the ring, as instead a curtain dropped in the arena, to reveal Fight Club Pro’s old ring… and this array of brutality in waiting. The Death House. Complete with the Heras fencing, just to make this look like the olden days at the Planet Nightclub.

Sadly, fans somehow managed to capture this better than the camera crew.

So, everyone piled into the newly-revealed annex for the cluster-in-waiting, and Jimmy wearing white may have been a tip-off as to what’ll be happening.

Yeah, if you aren’t into death match wrestling, this match is NOT FOR YOU. Turn off your VOD, otherwise, keep watching and see things like: RSP rubbing a grater into Jimmy Havoc’s crotch! Then Rickey getting suplexed onto a guard railing wrapped in barbed wire, before Jimmy went for one of his 8x10s so he could give Drew Parker some papercuts. Hey, it’s an unusual method of self-promotion.

If you’re wondering what those things were on the ropes: they weren’t light tubes. They were carpet tack strips, which Page and Parker dive through before they had them pushed onto their backs. Meanwhile, the Callous Hearts get whipped onto barbed wire in a trade-off that I still can’t figure out whom got the worst of.

Don’t worry, there were light tubes, and glass… a sheet of which Page carefully placed in the ring before getting some light tubes. Yeah, he gets one, as Havoc headbutts it into him, all whilst the cheery fellow in the blue hi-vis jacket in the background wonders how he’s gonna clean this all up with a brush!

Page and Parker get gouged with shards from broken light tubes, and yes, the red stuff is flowing now. Of course, there’s a bag of something, which turns out to be drawing pins. Because tack strips and broken glass aren’t enough! Drew walks on his hands into those pins, before Page’s attempt to block a wheelbarrow facebuster just ends with his head getting stomped into the pins too.

Gunshot-like sounds greeted everyone getting thrown into panes of glass, and even the camera crew get involved when Margera ducks a swinging light tube, meaning that we lose our mobile camera man. Good grief! The crowd screeched more for that than just about anything else so far in this, which shows you… desensitisation?

By this point the ring’s so full of junk that even Joel refuses to get in there and count. In his words, “there’s so much fucking glass… a living nightmare”. Quite! All that glass that Drew Parker gets thrown into shards of, before Jimmy’s favourite axe comes out! Even that is a step too far for guys who’ve been thrown into things, as Drew climbs that handily-placed scaffold to avoid the goddamned axe.

Meanwhile, Margera’s setting up some chairs down below, propping a barbed wire board across it all. In the end, it didn’t work out for poor Drew, as Clint heads up and leaps off the scaffold with a death valley driver through the board, and we’re still not done. More glass!

This time, it’s Rickey who’s teasing it, as Clint gets a buckle bomb to a table covered in light tubes, before a light tube Rainmaker and an Essex Destroyer into a pane of glass got the Callous Hearts the win! And nearly lost Jimmy’s pinky finger, judging by his reaction after that move… JESUS FECKING CHRIST. This was visceral brutality. No other way to put it. A scene that was best (if that’s even the word) witnessed live, but came across really well on tape.

How anybody survived this match is a mystery. Life shortening? Career shortening? An epic? It’s certainly memorable, given how few of these matches the UK sees… and it damn sure makes other “hardcore matches” where people bat each other with baking trays looks awfuly quaint in comparison.

As a show, the first half of the Project Mayhem weekender was a little bit of something for everyone – and that could be taken as a positive and a negative. For me, the abundance of scramble matches (and matches that turned into scrambles) was wearing on me by the end, but let’s face it… by the end of it, all you’re going to remember is the insanity of the death match. Well worth the £10 for the VOD just for the sheer spectacle of it all.