FIGHT! Nation returned with a pair of debuts, as the fall-out from the Lethal Lottery tournament continued – sort of…

We’ve got a changed up roster this week, with the return of Paul Robinson, whilst the main event tonight features Josh Bodom against Psycho Phillips. First, we’ve got a sit-down interview package with two debutants: Scott Star and Chris Ridgeway. Ridgeway wants a shot at the British title, whilst Star wants to earn opportunities…

FIGHT! Nation is at a new location this week, with the Westgate Hall in Canterbury, Kent being the venue. It’s not as visually-pleasing as the skate hall that was used for the Lethal Lottery shows, and for some reason we’ve got a white ring apron along with the “pillowcase” turnbuckles.

Chris Ridgeway vs. Scott Star
It’s a slow start here, as both guys take it in turns to take the other into the corner, before Ridgeway reaches for the ropes to break a waistlock from Star. From a headlock takedown, Ridgeway reverses into some headscissors, which Star handstands out of as the pair square off.

Ridgeway gets dropped by a leg lariat from Star, then a dropkick, before Star lands on his feet from a standing moonsault… and then follows up with a moonsault off the apron as Ridgeway’d rolled to the floor. Star goes for a springboard dropkick back into the ring, but he misses and takes a clothesline from Ridgeway, before he’s thrown to the outside.

By the apron, Ridgeway lays into Star with some kicks to the chest, before the “Wrecking Ball” gets chokes in the ropes after he returned to the ring. Ridgeway snapmares Star out of the corner, before a kick to the spine gets him a near-fall, and then follows that up with some legscissors, effectively trapping the head in a sleeperhold.

Star bridges up for a near-fall, nearly pinning Ridgeway in the midst of a submission, but he fights free only to run into a kick to the midsection. Ridgeway dumps Star to the floor briefly, as Star returns and staggers Ridgeway with an enziguiri to the ribs. Ridgeway backdrops Star onto the apron, but he springs back in and takes down Ridgeway with a monkey flip.

After a couple of forearms, Star drops Ridgeway with a tiltawhirl DDT for a two-count. Star ducks a bicycle kick, and hits a hurricanrana, then a running shooting star press for a near-fall. Ridgeway replies with a bicycle kick and a German suplex for a near-fall of his own, before a Saito suplex dumps Star to the mat for another two-count.

Ridgeway wraps up Star in a single-leg Boston crab, but Star finally grabs the bottom rope in spite of Ridgeway throwing some kicks during the hold. Star counters a suplex into a stunner, then he gets a standing Shiranui – known as the Falling Star – but instead of going for the pin, he drags Ridgeway into the corner.

Star climbs up top in search of an exclamation point, but Ridgeway shoves the referee into the ropes. That crotches Star, who takes a Yakuza kick whilst on the top rope. Star backdrops out of a Tiger bomb, and gets a near-fall as he bridged up into a pin, but at the second attempt, Ridgeway nails the Tiger bomb, then jack-knifes over to secure the win. Impressive stuff from both men, with Ridgeway in particular looking good – although I’m not overly keen on the need for everyone here to have nicknames! ***½

We return from a break as Paul Robinson’s got a sit-down interview, as does his opponent, Lewis Howley. Lewis apparently looked up to Robinson, with Paul promising the FIGHT! Nation crew that they’ll regret bringing him back.

Paul Robinson vs. Lewis Howley
Robinson starts by punching Howley in the midsection as they went for a tie-up, before he’s spat at. Howley gets thrown to the outside, and he takes a knee and a punch from the former kickboxer.

Back inside, Howley backdrops Robinson onto the apron, and then again delivers a back body drop in the ring. A calf kick sends Robinson into the corner, as Howley continues the offence with a crossbody off the middle turnbuckle for a near-fall. Robinson takes an uppercut in the corner, before he fires out of the corner with some windmill punches and an utterly nonchalant cover that gets him a two-count.

Robinson bites away at Howley’s ear, before continuing to pound away at Howley across the middle rope. Howley makes a comeback, but a sunset flip earns him a few right hands from Robinson, who mocks the crowd’s “Lightning Lewis” chants. A roundhouse kick knocks Howley down for a near-fall.

Howley gets a jawbreaker, but Robinson keeps on top of him, gouging his eyes on the top rope, before pulling away at the youngster’s ears. A back elbow rocks Robinson, as does a big boot, before Howley tries another comeback with forearms to the head of Robinson. Multiple clotheslines knock Robinson down, as does a springboard European uppercut, which gets Howley a near-fall.

A dropkick into the corner gets Robinson the advantage again, before the former kickboxer goes up top and lands a crossbody for a near-fall. Robinson tries for a Triple H-like knee to the face, but Howley turns it into a Blue Thunder Bomb for a near-fall (nearly apt, given Howley’s nickname is “Lightning”!)

Howley calls for a brainbuster, but Robinson floats over and distracts Steve Lynskey by… pointing at something in the crowd? That lets Robinson hit a low blow, before a curb stomp gets the win. Pretty good match, but my God that finish keeps up the gimmick of “stupid referees are stupid” ***¼

Next week: Mark Haskins vs. Zack Gibson! That cannot be anything but great, can it?

Another sit-down promo with Josh Bodom ahead of his main event tonight with Psycho Phillips. Bodom’s annoyed at Phillips having a shot at becoming the number one contender. Phillips’ promo is a lot more measured than his promos during the Lethal Lottery matches, as the act has steered away from the cliched shrieking mad-man persona. Our main event (and Josh Bodom’s out-of-date photo) is next!

Josh Bodom vs. Psycho Phillips
Phillips shrugs off a fan who shouts “you’re shit” at him as we get going here, and Bodom starts by being taken into the corner, before he cowers at an attempted shot. A bicycle kick starts a mini flurry from Bodom, as he lays into Phillips with forearms, before a shoulder tackle sends Bodom flying across the ring.

Phillips rolls Bodom around, but gets caught with an enziguiri that sends him to the outside, before a trio of topes from Bodom keep the painted one at bay. On the outside, the pair trade forearms, before Bodom’s thrown head-first into the commentary table, then the ring apron. Bodom fires back with a chop, but Phillips just throws him into the crowd barriers, then the ring post.

Phillips tensed up for some more chops by the apron, before he catches a kick from Bodom… and throws him back into the barrier. The crowd here are firmly behind Bodom, which you can tell annoyed Phillips, who at last check was meant to be a babyface here.

Finally back inside, Bodom takes down Phillips with a dropkick, but he ends up being whipped into the corner as Bodom lands on the turnbuckles. Phillips drops Bodom with a forearm, and then we get a rear chinlock from Psycho, but Bodom lifts up and hits a backdrop suplex to free himself.

A dropkick to the head takes Phillips down for a near-fall, but Psycho recovers to stamp on Bodom’s hand, which has little effect as Bodom takes Phillips into the corners for some more chops. Phillips retaliates in kind, then goes for a suplex, but Bodom slips out and hits a kick to the head, before Phillips gets his suplex after all.

Back on their feet, Phillips beats Bodom to a punch, before a roll through leads to an Ace crusher from Phillips for a near-fall. Phillips calls for a TKO, but Bodom wriggles free and pop-ups Phillips into a knee strike, before connecting with a high dropkick in the corner. A standing moonsault hits, but a middle rope moonsault misses, only for Bodom to land on his feet and go for a roundhouse kick anyway.

Phillips kicks out from the roundhouse, and actually invites some more shots, so Bodom obliges. They go back and forth with slaps, before a rolling chop sets up Phillips for a chokeslam. Bodom backflips out of it and drills Phillips with a superkick, but a clothesline turns Bodom inside out, before Phillips lifts up Bodom from a fallaway slam position into a sit-out powerbomb… and that gets him the win as Bodom kicked out just too late! ***½

A nice main event, as Bodom pushed Phillips all the way – and with Phillips being one of the main contenders to the British title, he sort-of had to win here, right?

Five episodes in, and I think we can safely slot FIGHT! Nation in the same bracket as NGW in terms of what their target market is. Whereas their predecessor tried to aim for an older, perhaps smarter audience, FIGHT! Nation is going for newcomers without being so patronising that it turns people off. The commentary here is the polar opposite of, say, a Mauro Ranallo, in that the inane-yet-saccharine play-by-play calls pretty much zero moves, and instead focuses on the story that the wrestlers are telling. Inoffensive, yes, but endearing? Perhaps not…

Looking up the results of these shows is really weird – when FIGHT! Nation did the Lethal Lottery tournament, you sort-of understand the same guys appearing multiple times on the card. Today’s show was culled from a taping in Canterbury in late July, which had Lewis Howley in the opening match (which was second on this TV show), before returning in the third match in a tag team affair with Sid Scala. Eh? If you’re going to have folks pull double-duty, either have it lead to a run-on match, or space them further down the card!

Still, it’s worth your while watching, and with next week featuring a match that’d main event anywhere in the UK: Mark Haskins vs. Zack Gibson!