Based out of Wolverhampton, England, the Fight Club: PRO promotion has been a bit of a hidden gem for most of us.
Despite having ties with CHIKARA, and co-promoted shows with the American group in 2015 and 2016, it’s only really been this year where Fight Club: PRO have made something of a name for themselves. Their early-July show, entitled “Rage Against The Death Machine” was headlined by a fly-in, and going by the name of the show, it shouldn’t be too much of a shock to learn that Sami Callihan was involved!
At time of writing, this show is available via the promotion’s Vimeo channel for the low price of just four of your English pounds. Or whatever Vimeo converts it into for the rest of the world…
We’ve got the show the traditional indy-style “we’ll cut out the entrances and just show the wrestling” format, and the Fixxion Warehouse that was used as the venue here really does evoke images of underground fighting. Which is undoubtedly what they were shooting for.
Travis Banks vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
Banks gets some expected abuse for his surname (what rhymes with…) at the bell, and after a brief bit of circling around each other, they lock up in the middle of the ring, with Banks grabbing a waistlock, only for Sabre to reverse it into a front headlock, and both men eventually back off into the corners.
Banks tries for another facelock, but Sabre takes him down and works a leg grapevine, and turns it into what could have been a Jushin “Thunder” Liger-like seated surfboard, except it’s an arm-crank. Sabre pops up and grabs an armbar, and although he loses it, Banks’ headlock is quickly turned into some headscissors by Sabre, and they stand-off again.
Sabre reverses a waistlock and goes back to the headscissors, cranking up the pressure n the New Zealander and pulling back on the leg almost like a modified Tequila Sunrise. Sabre then works a bow-and-arrow hold, and slips back to a front facelock, but Banks counters with a headlock and yet again Sabre spins his way free, and ties up Banks with a seated abdominal stretch with extra joint manipulation!
Sabre goes for an armbar, but Banks works free into a hammerlock, only to be taken down with a drop toe hold, and then he finally catches Sabre in an armbar of his own. Banks backs off, and they start from the corners yet again. This time, Sabre grabs Banks from behind, but Banks takes him down with a wristlock, and shoves him back down when Sabre tried to kip up out of it. A kick from Banks is swerved by Sabre, and another stand-off.
Banks grabs a headlock, and Sabre works free and takes him down with an armbar, but Banks works himself up, leapfrogs over Sabre, and scores a springboard hiptoss into a roll-up for a near-fall. That may have been the first pinfall attempt of the entire match! From a knuckle-lock, Sabre hooks away at Bank’s mouth, then slowly pulls him down into an Octopus hold, forcing Banks to reach for the ropes to break the hold.
A dropkick from Sabre follows to the seated Banks, and they briefly trade forearm shots, as Sabre won that little battle. Sabre kicks away at Banks in the corner, then works a neck spin on the mat to crank Banks’ neck a little more, before going back to the corner with uppercuts on the New Zealander.
Banks drops Sabre with some kicks, but only gets a one-count, and they go back to the European uppercuts, with Sabre again winning out. Sabre stomps onto the back of Banks’ head, and lifts him up on something I can only describe as a crossface, but with the legs instead of the arms, whilst Sabre pulled back on Banks’ legs so much he rolled into the ropes. To a more mainstream audience, a lot of these submission moves would be a waste of time, even at the half-speeds that Sabre was working them here.
Banks erupted out of the corner with a slap, and took another European uppercut from Sabre, before he locked in a guillotine choke, The New Zealander broke free by drilling Sabre into the corner, and he returned fire with a forearm, before taking a dropkick from Travis “Don’t Call Me Sasha” Banks. A series of running uppercuts in the corner sees Banks finish things off with a cannonball dive, but Sabre counters a Fisherman’s suplex with an overheard kick, and then latches onto Banks with a guillotine.
That guillotine is powered out of, and Banks drops Sabre with a suplex, before both men slowly climb back to their feet and back into a striking battle. Sabre leaps up for a triangle armbar, but Banks lifts him up and dumps Sabre into the corner, before missing a springboard roundhouse kick. From there, Sabre connected with a penalty kick for a near-fall.
A Dragon suplex gets Sabre another two-count, before Banks kicked out of a second penalty kick after sitting up at just the wrong time. More uppercuts and chops follow, but Banks sweeps the leg and connects with a low dropkick to Sabre, then the springboard roundhouse kick for a near-fall, as Sabre kicked out at the last second possible.
Sabre gets booted off the apron, then Banks goes flying with a tope that took them almost to the back of the building. Back inside, Sabre ducked another roundhouse kick, then countered with a sitout powerbomb for a near-fall, before rolling up from the kick-out into a double armbar, cranking back for the forced submission. This, was amazing. At almost eighteen minutes long, this was a style of wrestling different to what you usually get – no two-counts and near falls for the sake it it until the end of the match, a lot of grappling, and a lot of wrestling. Like MMA with reduced striking. This was different, and I loved it… and this was only the opening match?! ****¼
That earned both men a thunderous standing ovation from the crowd, before they slinked away to the back,
No Disqualification: Chris Brookes vs. Clint Margera
The Tipton-born Brookes gets abuse, whereas the hometown boy Margera gets the expected cheers. Margera cuts a promo before the match and suggests that this be turned into a no-DQ match – and that suggestion sees Brooks race across the ring with a dropkick… and we’re underway!
Margera kicks away a back body drop attempt, before Brooks slides out of the ring for cover. Margera follows him, but gets whipped into the ringpost, and the favour is returned as they brawl around the ring. Like with most indies, a lot of this is hard to see, but we do see a fan chop Brookes, before Margera chops him.
Brookes’ head gets smashed onto the apron, and this is already dragging, as the small venue gives them little room to maneuver. Seriously, most of the brawling is just them exchanging punches and forearms around the perimeter of the ring. Still, Margera smashing a can into Brookes’ forehead was a nice brawling spot.
Brookes recovered after being tossed into the ring, and with Margera playing to the crowd he tried to counter with a suplex into the ring, only for Margera to back drop him to the outside, and… then see a tope attempt met with a bit boot. Brookes caught Margera in the ropes and took him to the floor with a draping spinning DDT. That was an impressive spot, if not awkward to pull off in such a small setting.
Brookes rolls back into the ring and sits in the corner as the referee starts the count. Margera rolls back in, and gets choked across the middle rope, before Brookes catches him in a camel clutch. From there, Brookes leans back and pulls out – of all things – a screwdriver from his boot and jabs it into Margera’s forehead. Brookes does it again, and Margera’s bleeding hardway from that, but he kicks out at two from the attempted stabbing.
Margera fights back and lands a neckbreaker, then cuts off Brookes with a back elbow in the corner before he gets caught in a Tree of Woe. Brookes then goes under the ring for a lemon, and squeezes the juice of it into his mouth, and spits it over the bleeding forehead of Margera. All we need is salt now!
Margera writhes around in pain as the crowd decries Brookes as “worse than Hitler” and a “citrus w**ker”. Brookes then grounds Margera in a hold I can only describe as that full nelson from Zack Sabre Jr earlier, but using your legs instead of your arms. Some kicks to the head are thrown in as Brookes rolls free, only to get met with a forearm from Margera, as they start trading shots back and forth.
Margera takes Brookes to the corner and lands the Diamond Dust (Masato Tanaka’s old finisher, the headlock in the top rope, then flipping over into a stunner), before launching into a forearm in the corner. Brookes misses a Yazuka kick, and takes a roaring elbow to the back. After a near-fall, Margera goes to the outside and grabs a bag of drawing pins, and empties them into the ring.
Margera picks up Brookes for a body slam, but Brookes works free, only to take a forearm in the corner. Margera climbs up top, but gets caught and tossed a la Ric Flair into the pins. Brookes gets a two-count from a superkick to the head, and then rolls to the outside to get some more goodies from under the ring, in the form of some chairs.
Brookes sets up the chair on its side, and then looks to slam Margera through it. Clint works free and throws another chair into Brookes’ face, before going outside for more toys: this time some more drawing pins, which he whacks into Brookes’ back. Some raw lemon juice is squeezed onto the fresh wounds, and now Margera sets up two chairs on their side…
Brookes blocks a slam onto the contraption, and then slams Margera into the side of the two chairs, and that’s your match. The polar opposite to what we saw in the opener, and whilst this would have been a fun spectacle live, this was tough to watch – both in terms of being hard to stomach, and also because of the lighting. **¼
We come back to MK McKinnan in the ring, and his promo is fairly short and sweet. He tells us he’s meant to have wrestled Nixon Newell for the FCP title tonight, but he’s having to vacate the title. Unfortunately, this was framed as a standard promo, so he got heckled until he announced that he’d been diagnosed with a heart condition and was going to have to retire.
Trent Seven comes out and shakes MK’s hand, then hugs him. McKinnan tries to speak, but then Metallica’s “For Whom The Bell Tolls” plays, and a few people start chanting for Jim Smallman. With all due respect, what we got was an upgrade, at least in wrestling ability: Sami Callihan!
Callihan hugs MK as well, just to underline that this isn’t an angle. McKinnan then suggests that the two men in the ring who can wrestle fight for the belt tonight. And there’s the main event: Trent Seven vs. Sami Callihan for the Fight Club: PRO title (that looks suspiciously like the old ECW belt, but at least it’s a decent looking belt!)
Callihan grabs the mic and runs down the list of titles he’s held. This somehow ends with Callihan kissing Seven on the lips, and the crowd chants “sexy strong style” as both men head to the back holding hands. To make sure this doesn’t go all Jack Sexsmith, they had a pull-apart in the entranceway
Dan Moloney vs. Lee Hunter
Hey, there’s only one of the Hunters today. No need to worry about which one is which! Lee and Dan have a jump start, and they lay into each other with punches, before Lee hits a jawbreaker and a dropkick to send Moloney out of the ring.
Lee follows with a tope, then a plancha, but even though he’s caught, he still slips behind and shoves Moloney into the ringpost. Back inside, Moloney catches Hunter on the apron with a chop, then goes back to the floor for some more chops, with one sending Lee back into the ring.
Moloney clubs away at Hunter, tries to fight back from his knees, before Hunter fires back with some slaps, and then a flying forearm. Hunter hits an enziguiri to send Moloney into the corner, then an avalanche clothesline – and the same fans who booed Tipton in the last match are now chanting for the Tipton-born Hunter.
Moloney catches a leapfrog from Hunter and charges him into the turnbuckles, then lands a headbutt, before taking Hunter to the top rope and landing a floatover superplex, quickly followed by something which Hunter switched into a reverse ‘rana.
A back suplex from Hunter sends Moloney down, but as Lee looked to climb to the top, “Wild Boar” Mike Hitchman runs in to shove him down and there’s your disqualification. The match was alright while it lasted – basic, but there’s nothing wrong with that! ***¼
Hitchman and Moloney double team on Hunter, but only briefly as the other Hunter (Jim) comes out to make the save with a somersault splash to the outside. Jim pounds away on Hitchman in the corner, before they trade forearm shots. Hitchman sends Jim into the corner with a German suplex, then follows up with a cannonball dive, before Lee runs in to break up the Trapper Keeper package piledriver by smashing a plastic “wet floor” sign over his head… which then flies into the front row. Ironic health and safety!
The Hunters then wipe out Hitchman with a neckbreaker onto the knees, and the brawling continues, as Hitchman’s sent to the outside before they slowly fight to the back.. But not before Hitchman grabbed a Hunter and delivered an out-of-focus Trapper Keeper through a table. All of this post-match stuff was confusing – I was never quite sure whether this was one of those Teddy Long “we’re turning this into a tag match” deals, particularly since the post-match stuff kept going on forever.
Pete Dunne vs. Tommy End
Despite being somewhat local, Dunne isn’t the favourite here, and he charges at End to begin the match, before getting rolled up in a wheelbarrow takedown for a one-count.
A series of knees take down Dunne, and End aborts an aerial attack as Dunne goes to the outside, where he suckers in End into an uppercut – but the Dutchman replies with a big boot to drop Dunne. End rocks Dunne with a kick to the chest, and we’re back in indie wrestling “we can’t see this” territory for a while.
End takes Dunne back inside, and gets a two-count from a suplex, before the two of them trade forearms and knees to the midsection. Another kick sends Dunne into the corner, where he takes a lariat, and then another knee to the midsection as End stays in top. Dunne backdrops him onto the apron, then DDTs him back into the ring for a two-count.
Dunne stomps onto the forearm of End, before a third attempt sees End kick Dunne in the face, which just serves to punctuate Dunne’s offence briefly. A rear chinlock keeps End grounded, and even after he elbows himself free, End just gets kicked into the ropes as Dunne works the finger joints.
Dunne and End trade forearms in the middle of the ring for a spell, before an enziguiri drops End to his backside for a near-fall. End pops up with a lightning fast combination of kicks to drop Dunne to the mat, but Dunne gets up to drop End going to the top, before the Dutchman misses a double stomp.
More kicks from End get him a near-fall, but Dunne catches a penalty kick and tries for a pumphandle facebuster. End gets out of that and lands a low dropkick to Dunne, then pulls off the top rope double stomp and a roundhouse kick for another near-fall.
End debates the count with the referee, which happily doesn’t lead to a distraction finish, as he instead waits for Dunne to get up. A waistlock gets elbowed out of, before both men connect with strikes, ending with a bicycle kicks in the ropes from End, and a release suplex from Dunne for a near-fall.
Dunne bites away at End’s fingers, and gets a knee to the face, before Dunne hits a lariat then a sit-out powerbomb for a close two-count, and Dunne lunges at the referee in disbelief. Dunne locks in an Octopus hold after a few slaps, but End gets a near-fall, then a kick, before Dunne rolls him up for another two-count.
Another slap from Dunne drops End, before the referee got in the way of End as he looked to mount the ropes. End turned around straight into a pumphandle facebuster, and that was that. Decent match, but a little too kick-heavy, and that finish… a great way to turn the referee heel! ***½
Fight Club: PRO Championship: Sami Callihan vs. Trent Seven
This is for the newly-vacated title, which Sami Callihan is looking to add to his other titles, including the AAW and Rockstar Pro Wrestling belts. We see Trent Seven cutting a promo to a camera in the ring, but not the promo itself… that’s odd.
Callihan jumps Seven at the bell with a pump kick, and chokes away in the corner on “Moustache Mountain”. A boot into the corner is cut off as Seven hits a lariat that turns Callihan inside out, before his attempt to fake a dive is blocked as Callihan hits an uppercut in the ropes anyway.
Callihan connects with a kick, then a springboard clothesline to take Seven into the front row, and then it’s dive time, or maybe not, as Callihan leapt onto the apron to deliver a superkick from there. They go back through the crowd and into the land that lighting forgot, where Callihan spits on his hand and runs into Seven with a spittle-laden chop. Seven then gets placed onto a chair, and Callihan takes a run up for another chop, before a kiss of death from Callihan leads to both men trying – and missing – chops, as they both hit the ringpost.
Seven’s placed into a chair again by the entranceway, and Callihan does a lap around the ring, before launching himself into Seven with a cannonball dive. Callihan grabs another chair and slaps Seven back into it, and a second lap of honour ends with Seven getting out of the chair and meeting Callihan with a knee strike, then a back suplex onto the apron.
With Callihan still outside, Seven launches himself with a tope, sending Callihan into the front row. At this point, I noticed that Callihan had JML written on his wrist tape, which I guess wasn’t a shout-out to a British TV shopping channel… Back in the ring, Seven goes after Callihan with a Rainmaker, but he misses and gets a clothesline on the second attempt, followed by another Rainmaker for a two-count.
Seven misses a clothesline in the corner and gets squashed by Callihan’s running knee strike, before he landed a pump kick to the arm, and then a Samoan drop for a near-fall. Callihan ran into Seven with a forearm, and had the favour returned, before delivering another pump kick. The pair traded strikes and left each other dazed, until a series of double clotheslines eventually dropped both men to the mat.
From their knees, the pair continued to light up each other with forearm smashes, then clotheslines, before they rebounded off the ropes with pump kicks and forearms, almost like a Newton’s cradle! More pump kicks from Callihan were met by roaring elbows, before a half-nelson suplex was no-sold by Seven. Callihan no sold a back suplex, then Seven popped up from a German and returned the favour.
Both men collapsed to the mat again, before Callihan again kissed Seven and got a lariat in reply. He didn’t want to be loved, I guess… Callihan pulled the referee in front of him to protect from another clothesline, and instead kicked Seven low before hitting a piledriver for just a one count!
Seven popped up from there and went into another piledriver, before reversing out into a Dragon suplex, and a piledriver of his own… and this time it was Callihan who kicked out at one! Back to their feet, Seven set up for a knee to the head, but Callihan countered and landed another bicycle kick, then a knee to the head, and finally a sit-out powerbomb… but only for a two-count. From the kick-out, Callihan switched into a crossface, which Seven rolled up into a pinning predicament for a count of two.
Again from the kick-out though, Callihan rolled back into the crossface, and with Seven having gotten himself further away from the ropes, he was forced to tap out. A fine main event, befitting the promotion’s name. ***¾
As a show, this was pretty good from top to bottom. Zack Sabre Junior and Travis Banks tore the house down to start the show, and it kept going from there. Whilst the Margera/Brookes death-match wasn’t my cup of tea, it seemed to work live, and the rest of the card stayed pretty hot.
For four pounds, I can definitely think of worse things to buy, especially if you’re looking for a good wrestling show!