There’s another British kid on the block, in the form of southern England’s FIGHT! Nation Wrestling, who have started to put out a weekly television show on YouTube featuring some of the best British talent.
Originally formed in 2015 as NWA: FIGHT! Nation, FIGHT! Nation Wrestling rebranded themselves earlier in 2016 without the NWA association. With the promotion running largely around the south coast of Britain, they’ve somewhat gone under the radar until they started releasing weekly television shows on YouTube – and yes, we’re a little late to the party…
Their website can be found at http://www.fightnationonline.com/ – sadly, their predecessors have similar website, which is horribly out-of-date, and unfortunately appears above this in their Google search results…
The first episode of Wednesday Night Wrestling is focussed on Josh Bodom vs. Ryan Smile. This is apparently their third match in FNW, with the pair exchanging wins in September 2015 and December 2015. We’re shown clips of these, starting with Bodom’s Lumbar Check (powerbomb into a backcracker) getting him the W in September, whilst Smile’s Six-Star Frog Splash going all the way across the ring for him the equaliser in December.
We get some sit-down interviews with the two of them going back and forth, and apparently tonight’s match is a best 2-of-3 falls affair.
From the title sequence, it looks like FIGHT! Nation are using a lot of guys you’d usually associate with Rev Pro – like Marty Scurll, Will Ospreay, Gideon Grey, Hark Haskins, James Castle, Sha Samuels and the British Young Bloods (albeit under another name).
Our unidentified voiceover guy introduces us to our opening match, which involves the team of Cieran Donnelly and Danny Duggan – aka DND – against “the former boy band members turned wrestlers”, Brucey and Jakey. Here they’re better known as Liquid Dreams, but Rev Pro fans will know them as Kieran “The Bruce” Bruce and Jake McCluskey. What is it with Kieran and horrid nicknames?!
Liquid Dreams have a sitdown interview supposedly to introduce themselves, but that doesn’t really happen as they protest that countries like Guadeloupe and Malta know who they are. Okay then…
Liquid Dreams (Jakey & Brucey) vs. DND (Cieran Donnelly & Danny Duggan)
No entrances here, and thank GOD, the crowd in Weymouth don’t do the “one fall!” shtick. Liquid Dreams jump DND at the bell, tossing them out of the ring, but Jakey’s first dive goes awry as DND moved out of the way, meaning that Jakey collided with Brucey with a tope. Not sure how that was ever going to work… Or whether Brucey was really called “Bruce-key” since the commentator kept struggling with it.
Back inside, DND motion to the crowd, before lighting up Jakey with forearms in the corner, before a step-up dropkick into the corner. A Hart Attack-style leg lariat gets DND a near-fall early on as Brucey makes a save, before tossing Duggan to the outside. Donnelly avoids a bodyslam, but falls to a dropkick from Jakey, and that turned the tide in the direction of Liquid Dreams.
Brucey uppercuts Donnelly before baiting Duggan into the ring, leading to some classic heel shenanigans, and as Liquid Heels pose for the crowd, we go to a commercial break. Which really is a commercial break on YouTube – thank God for the “Skip Ad” button! Clever move there…
A leaping elbow drop from Brucey gets a near-fall, before he tags in Jakey. Donnelly counters an attempt at a back body drop with a roll-up, before Jakey lands a clothesline for a two-count himself. Donnelly lands an enziguiri and finally makes the hot tag to Duggan, who takes down Jakey with a leg lariat. Brucey’s given an uppercut, before a double missile dropkick from Duggan gets a near-fall on Jakey.
DND combine for their finisher, but Jakey pushes free and sends Duggan to the outside, before Donnelly takes a double superkick for a near-fall. Jakey blocked a Codebreaker, before popping up Donnelly into a low blow from Brucey for the win. As a short, TV-style tag match, that wasn’t too bad, and the crowd seemed into it, which always helps! **¾
We get a video package of FNW champion Marty Scurll, including footage against Will Ospreay and – of all people – MVP. Next week, Scurll puts his British Heavyweight championship on the line against Mark Haskins… Marty gets a sit-down interview, and thank God it’s not a clone of the old Big Gold Belt.
Back from break, and we get the same again, except with Mark Haskins. Iestyn Rees and James Castle are the victims here, and then we get Haskins’ sit-down promo for the match. It’s a decent stab at putting over the Wednesday Night Wrestling “brand”, but I’m not sure whether I’d have put these back-to-back.
They replay the video package, and the sit-down interviews, we got at the start of the show to hype up Bodom vs. Smile. Hey, it killed TV time, I guess.
Best Two-of-Three-Falls: Ryan Smile vs. Josh Bodom
Bodom flies out of the traps with a corner dropkick to Smile, then the Lumbar Check gets him the first fall within thirteen seconds of the opening bell. Good job this is a best-of-three-falls match!
The second fall starts with both men on the outside, as Smile takes Bodom into the crowd barriers, then into the ring post. Apparently that steel ringpost doesn’t taste like chocolate, and I immediately have visions of our commentator re-enacting a scene from Dumb and Dumber with it…
Bodom regains the advantage with a chop by the guard rails, before Smile dumps him into the crowd… and then whips him back across the barriers into the ringside area. Smile gets a kick to the midsection before he’s thrown back into the barriers, but Smile uses the apron to sweep around and kick Bodom and remain outside the floor. I think by now some promotions would have waved this off as a double count-out and given a fall apiece to both guys!
Smile levels Bodom with a PK off the apron, before going up top for the Six Star Frog Splash, but all it gets is Bodom’s knees. Josh goes to the corner and clubs away at Smile, before a takedown gets him a near-fall. A snap suplex keeps Smile down, before Bodom gets whipped into the corner… and evades an avalanche from Smile. After another break, Smile’s cornered and takes some chops, and then gets whipped into the turnbuckles, which he takes like a hiptoss. That looked nasty.
Smile gets his foot on the rope after Bodom makes a cover, before Bodom lands a standing moonsault for another near-fall. Bodom goes for a suplex, but Smile switches it into a small package, and that gets him a three-count to level the match at 1-1 after roughly seven minutes of action.
Bodom takes a Yakuza kick in the corner as he argued with the referee, then a suplex gets Smile a near-fall as Bodom avoided an ironic final-fall defeat. The pair trade forearms in the middle of the ring, before a springboard back elbow from Smile gets countered into a back cracker, but he’s still able to kick out before three.
A double clothesline sends both men to the mat, and thankfully they beat the count and resume with Smile slapping the taste out of Bodom. A roundhouse kick from Bodom drops Smile, and he follows up with a small package in the ropes for a near-fall. Bodom goes for the Lumbar Check again, but Smile counters with a hurricanrana that sends him to the outside… and in prime position for a tope through the bottom rope and into the crowd barrier. Smile followed up with a tope con hilo across the turnbuckles and into the aisle.
After throwing Bodom back in, Smile goes up top again for the Six Star Frog Splash, but Bodom rolls away. Smile lands on his feet regardless, and comes back with an OsCutter out of the turnbuckles for another two-count. Bodom cracks Smile with a forearm as he went up top again, then with an enziguiri to the top rope, before Bodom whiffs on a top rope rana. Smile counters with another frog splash – this time to the back of Bodom – and that’s enough for the win. An incredible main event to wrap off a good start to the series. ***½
As my first exposure to FIGHT! Nation, this was a really good show. They largely avoided the usual woes that indie wrestling suffers, with not too much in the way of too little/too much lighting. The one-man commentary of Ricky Slatter (who finally name-checked in the credits at the end) wasn’t too bad; he didn’t try to namecheck every move, or tie everything into random pop culture references, but towards the end it was starting to suffer a little bit with hyperbole, but for otherwise it was the kind of commentary that was there without being noticeable.
One thing I noticed were constant references to this show “being on your TV” and “right in your living rooms”. Given that the matches on this show were taped in April and didn’t appear on YouTube until August, I’d have to wonder if this was taped as a pilot for a TV series, a la NGW? Then again, the presence of a continuity announcer over the top of Slatter to take us into commercial breaks would suggest that this perhaps wasn’t originally taped for TV.
Still, the mixture of British talent, combined with good in-ring action and the lack of patronising booking or commentary makes this one of the better options out there for introducing older fans to wrestling.