About two years after the UWA’s brief television run came to an end, another British promotion came around to give this television lark a try.
Unsurprisingly, the group also involved Alex Shane, but instead of being on a national television, they opted for the other end of the spectrum, in the form of a local TV station called MyTV. Even with it being a hyper-local station, they were only able to get a 30 minute timeslot, with 11.30pm being their home.
So, let’s take a look at the first few episodes, shall we?
The debut episode kicks off with the title sequence, featuring a lot of fast cuts and flashy moves, featuring “I swear that’s Jody Flash/Fleisch moonsaulting off the wall”, and a lot of other stuff that is cut so quickly it barely sinks in. You do get focus on Alex Shane and Jody Fleisch with title belts, so we get the important stuff, right?
Holy hell, the FWA’s ring announcer is Ross Gordon – a former UWA commentator – and he looks nothing like I’d have imagined. Our commentator here though is Mark Priest, a guy who may or may not know about indy sleaze… Gordon announces the FWA’s debut on MyTV, and this being 2001, there’s a tonne of signs. Apparently this is a 13-week run, so at least we know what we’re in for.
The first few weeks of TV were going to be based around the FWA title tournament – an eight-man tournament. For some reason, Gordon is cutting his promo/speech to a mobiel camera in the ring, except the footage we see is from a hard camera. I guess that mobile camera didn’t turn out alright?
Our tournament matches are: Jack Xavier vs. Alex Shane, “Solid Gold” Scott Parker vs. Guy Thunder, Paul Travell vs. Scottie Rock, and finally Doug Williams vs. Jody Fleisch. Or Fliesch, as they spell it here. Or “Jody Flash” as someone in the crowd had it. Clearly an old UWA fan.
It’s worth noting that this tournament took place at an event called “High Potential” in May 2001. A card that had TWENTY ONE MATCHES on it. Let’s see if the crowd showed any signs of fatigue by the time we got to the end of this one-night tournament…
Gordon’s interrupted by four bouncers, and a rip-off of Disturbed’s “Voices”, which signals the arrival of Alex Shane. It’s hard to believe that that cover in some form is still being used today (for NGW’s Nathan Cruz). Shane’s out with a couple of women, and it’s clear from him being the first wrestler we see on TV, that he’s one of the big names in the FWA.
Shane gets the microphone, and receives some really polite “shut the hell up” chants. We get Shane running through his catchphrases, and doing his “raise my arms slightly” pose. Think the Randy Orton thing, but with much less intensity. Ooh, Alex has a new catchphrase: “we can do two things: nothing and like it”. We’ll hear a lot of that.
All of a sudden, we’re taken to a generic office with the FWA’s Commissioner, Victoria Demonfort. Part of me really wants to correct that to “Demontfort”, especially as some staffer comes in and calls her that… Victoria agrees to Alex’s request of a tournament match “right now”, but only if Jack Xavier can get in the ring. That cut-in just looked odd… given that we were told that the tournament was going on now, why wouldn’t Jack Xavier be around?
We’re taken back to ringside for a “fancam” view, which is just a black and white shot of Alex Shane… and finally Jack Xavier comes out, with a “deer in the headlights” look, as our commentator admits to running over rabbits. I hope not casually! There’s more pointless Fancam footage (it’s literally the mobile camera in black and white) as Xavier walks around the ring.
By the way, the FWA here are using the same style of ring that the UWA used in their final shows – a blue-and-red canvas, with individual turnbuckles. Except here, the only difference is the turnbuckles has FWA on them, and the referee is in an FWA t-shirt. Hopefully that’s the last comparison I’ll be drawing… Alex Shane suggests Xavier forfeits the match, but instead he stays in the ring and we have our match.
FWA British Heavyweight Championship Tournament, Quarter Final: Alex Shane vs. Jack Xavier
Shane slaps Xavier at the bell, before the favour is returned, along with a drop toe hold and a couple of iffy armdrags. Shane just boots Xavier, then lands a legdrop for a two-count. We get a Kevin Nash-esque big boot in the corner, before Shane whips him back and forth for avalanche clotheslines.
Xavier ducks one and hits an enziguiri, then follows up with a tornado DDT. A second one gets blocked by Shane, who follows up with the “Shanesation” – a spinning heel kick that sent Shane outside the ring, knocking Xavier off the top rope in the process.
Shane returns to the ring as we go to a commercial break, and we return as it seems they just paused the tape. Xavier climbs back in and fights back with a sunset flip from the apron, but Shane blocks and lifts him up into a choke bomb. A couple of missed clotheslines follow, before Shane catches Xavier in a Fireman’s carry into the One Night Stand (Samoan Driver) for the win. As a match, this was little more than an extended squash, and really fit into the American “TV match” format, in that we saw plenty of spots, but very little inbetween. **¼
I’ll get this out of the way now… remember my big gripe about the UWA’s heels: which was, “why are heels doing flashy moves?” If Alex Shane’s meant to be booed, then he shouldn’t do anything that would get the crowd to cheer. That “Shanesation” spinning heel kick out of the ring was certainly on the wrong side of that fence in my eyes.
We get a replay of the One Night Stand finisher, before we’re taken backstage with Adam Sands, who’s with Guy Thunder. Holy hell, that’s Leon Martin with a new name! Thunder actually gets to speak, and he says this tournament is a formality because he’s already the champion in his mind. “When thunder strikes, you don’t get up again”
FWA British Heavyweight Championship Tournament, Quarter Final: “Solid Gold” Scott Parker vs. Guy Thunder
Parker’s out with his valet, Angel, whilst Guy Thunder seems to have retained a lot of his MMA gimmick from the UWA. We get fancam footage of Parker jumping out and attacking Thunder at ringside, before we just about see Parker suplexing Thunder outside the ring.
Parker follows up with a plancha, then a missile dropkick, and a standing moonsault that just about brushed Thunder for a near-fall. They counter moves back and forth, ending up with Parker on the ring apron where Thunder Strikes – yes, in 2001, people were doing the spear-through-the-ropes spot. Thunder crashed to the floor with “Solid Gold”, before popping straight back up and onto the top rope, following with a frog splash.
Thunder drills Parker with a powerbomb for a near-fall, before he press slammed Parker out of the ring. We see a slingshot senton to the floor, but Thunder seemingly misses as Parker rolled away just in time. Back in the ring, Parker whips Thunder into the ropes, but a telegraphed back body drop leads to a powerbomb, that Parker countered in turn with a ‘rana. Parker tries for a gutwrench suplex, only for Thunder to work out and drop him with a neckbreaker, before going up to the top rope.
Parker fights away and sees a tornado DDT blocked, instead changing things up for a Golden Arrow (Falcon arrow) for the win. Another short, WWF Metal-style match that really limited what they could do. **½
By the way… Guy Thunder. Heel. Spear-through-the-ropes. Frog splash. Why?
Straight after the match, Doug Williams runs in with a bit of the stage and smashes him in the midsection with it. Williams drills Parker in the ribs with the support, before making his way to the back.
Angel tends to Parker in the ring after Williams left, and that’s the end of our show. It’s a decent enough stab at things, but with only 22 minutes to play with, the FWA was severely limited in what they could do.
Moving onto episode two, we start with a flashback to “last week”, with Scott Parker’s Golden Arrow leading him to victory over Guy Thunder, and the run-in from Doug Williams afterwards.
After the title sequence, Mark Priest introduces us to Mo Chatra who’s entering the ring – a self-proclaimed “sports entertainment genius”. Except he’s been renamed as Kappo Khan, a name that Priest almost laughs at. Khan refers to James Tighe and Mark Sloan as “jabronis” (welcome to 2001) and says that they need to be associated with a winner like himself.
Khan flubs his lines (but hey, changing your name late on will do that!), and we finally see former one-time UWA jobber Mark Sloan along with James Tighe. Apparently they’ve been a team for a while, as they have a name: The ESTablishment.
No sooner had Tighe and Sloan gotten to the ring, we get the FWA tag team champions – Priest tells us that these belts had been around for 18 months, and the New Breed had held them that entire time. As the New Breed were making their entrance, you could hear Ross Gordon doing some sort of commentary in the background, which was just distracting as he clashed with Mark Priest’s own commentary [according to an indy darling, this was a remnant from the live commentary on the show; an injury in a later episode meant that Gordon ended up going to hospital, and the move was made to just re-record the commentary with Priest flying solo]
Speaking of distractions: in the background you could see a table for Strong Style Tapes. There’s a name that British wrestling fans of a certain age will fondly remember!
FWA Tag Team Championship: The ESTablishment (Mark Sloan & James Tighe) vs. New Breed (Ashe & Curve) (c)
We start with Tighe getting slammed by Ashe, before Curve tags in and piledrives Tighe. The match continues as Curve clotheslines Tighe in the corner, before Ashe returns to chop Tighe.
A suplex gets Curve a near-fall, before he went into an Indian deathlock that eventually forced a rope break. Ashe drops a leg on Tighe, before we get a comeback in the form of an armwringer, which gets reversed. Curve comes back in to slam Tighe, then he climbs the ropes for what I think was called “Curved Air” – a springboard elbow drop out of the corner.
Curve keeps up the offence by climbing the ropes again, but Tighe pops up and catches him with a shoulder breaker out of the turnbuckle, then a single-arm DDT that segues into a Fujiwara armbar. Tighe keeps on with a clothesline, before tagging out to Mark Sloan, who’s selling point was that he had no concern for the safety of his opponent. I hope to God that was a work!
Sloan’s like a little Mike Bailey, but with more wrestling moves, as some kicks are followed up with a pendulum backbreaker, then a slingshot senton into the ring for a near-fall. Sloan keeps on top of Curve with a suplex, before tagging Tighe back into the match. Sloan accidentally kicked his own partner, before being dispatched, as Curve dropped Tighe with a DDT for a near-fall. A pumphandle backbreaker follows, before Sloan and Tighe double-team Curve for a spell. The curse of the badly-sold clotheslines return as Curve takes one badly, before dropping the heels (?) with a double clothesline.
Tighe drops Curve with a slam before going up top… but he’s caught and crotched on the turnbuckle, before they go to a commercial break as a top rope ‘rana took Tighe to the mat. Both men tag out, giving us Sloan and Ashe, with the former taking an age to set up for the Angel Wings facebuster, before tagging back out to Tighe. More double-teaming follows, as Tighe set up for a top rope elbow that connected, but Curve makes the save to prevent losing the titles.
Sloan returned to drop Ashe with a slam, before missing with a senton bomb off the top rope. Tighe ran in to try and capitalise, but Ashe countered with a Sliced Bread, inadvertently spiking his own head in the process. Still, let’s not sell, as the New Breed went to the first half of their finish – Total Elimination – as we see fan cam footage of Mark Sloan and Kappo Khan arguing outside the ring.
Back from that black and white footage, we see Tighe set up in the corner for the Breed Cutter – a double-team Ace crusher out of the middle rope – and that’s enough for the New Breed to retain their titles. A decent match given the template they were working to, but I’ll be damned if selling and psychology wasn’t on the menu during this period. **¼
After the match, Kappo Khan orders his troops into the ring as Sloan and Tighe dropped the champions with a suplex and a powerbomb. For some reason, Khan slapped the New Breed afterwards, and he got his instant comeuppance in the form of a steel-chair assisted double-team “Van Breedinator” Coast-to-Coast dropkick from Ashe and Curve.
Was that the introduction and exit of Kappo Khan in a 15 minute segment?
We’re taken backstage to Doug Williams’ promo, who promises “Anarchy in the FWA”. It’s a decent promo by the standards of the time, before we go back to the ring for a different tournament match.
FWA British Heavyweight Championship Tournament, Quarter Final: Scotty Rock vs. Paul Travell
Apparently Scotty Rock is a gypsy fighter. FWA’s words, not mine!
Rock attacks Travell at the bell, and within seconds of the match starting, the lights go out! It’s not a storyline, as a spotlight is quickly shone on the ring, before the power returned. Just in time to see Rock drop Travell with a wheelbarrow DDT.
Travell hits back with a T-bone suplex, sending Rock rolling to the outside, where he is met with a tope suicida. They fight in the aisle, getting closer and closer to the curtain, before Rock whips Travell into the ringpost. Some more shaky fancam footage shows Rock throwing Travell into the crowd barriers, but nevermind, because Paul returns to the ring and is able to shake it off to hit a ‘rana.
A suplex from Travell takes down Rock, as he then climbs the ropes, only for Rock to crotch him up there. Rock follows up with a top rope ‘rana that gets him a near-fall, before he leaves the ring to grab a chair. Travell’s baseball slide dropkick knocks the chair into Rock, and Travell repeats the trick by going out for a chair of his own.
Just as both men return to the ring, the lights go out yet again, as we see the FanCam footage of someone entering the ring. Rock and Travell missed a chairshot on this man, but the lights return to show a monster of a man known as Dominator taking them both down with a double chokeslam. The Spirit of Instinct “and further members of the Dead Cause” joined Dominator as they cleaned house, and this four man crew leads to a no-contest. *½
Well, at least this match was kept short before they had the run-ins, but that was a weird way to end a show.
As a TV product, there’s not much wrong with the FWA’s initial offerings – I could really do without the pointless “FanCam” camera shots, which serve no purpose other than to possibly cover for shaky camera work/poor angles. That being said, it was already clear that the 30 minute timeslot was a real pain. Once you take out adverts, the 22 minutes available to the FWA left them with barely enough room to have two short matches. Add in the need to introduce a new cast of characters, create storylines and promote their product (which to be fair, they did do), and you’re left with a show that had too much to do and not enough time to do it.