This week’s pair of FWA reviews cover the aftermath from the mass-turns on Alex Shane – who came within seconds of being set on fire.
Episode 25 opens with Alex Shane’s security guards, then Justin Richards turning on him from last week’s show, before the teased fire incident led to the New School making the save. We’re then taken to a backstage spot with Mr Blonde/Flash Barker celebrating with Dino Scarlo, and now we’re told Mr Blonde’s real name – Phil Barker!
A new set of opening titles follow, and it’s straight into action… with a hard camera revealing a sparsely populated upper deck in Acton for “Lights, Camera, Acton”.
Kruiz vs. Hade Vansen
Life after the New Breed starts here for Kruiz against a debuting Hade Vansen – the answer to a spot of WWE trivia, as he’d go from having a solitary vignette teasing his debut to being released within five weeks.
According to Cagematch, this was only Vansen’s second match, having beaten Ross Jordan (the future RJ Singh) in the only match from the High School Hell event that didn’t air on TV.
Kruiz starts by taking Vansen to the corner for some chops, before Vansen switches places and issues some receipts. Vansen misses a legdrop, but was able to recover and hold off Kruiz for a little while until a missed axe kick left him open for the Kruiz Control (swinging side slam) as the former New Breeder took the win. Way too short to be anything, but decent for what it was. *½
The New Breed come out next for a promo – and after some clipping, they issue a challenge to “The Boyz” – two of Alex Shane’s former security guards. Apparently that was a reiterated challenge from “after we went off air last week”… and sure enough, the Boyz come out, identified as Creed and Slash. Two more of the security guys, Stixx and Pliers come out to attack the distracted New Breed – and if you’re wondering, yes, it is the same Stixx who retired at the end of 2016.
Stixx and Pliers dump Ashe with a double-team facebuster, before Curve takes a double-team elevated DDT as the Boyz stand tall with the FWA tag titles in their hand.
Next up is a backstage promo from Scott Parker, but Ulf Herman interrupts him immediately and tells “Solid Gold” that he’ll kick his arse next week. Short and sweet, eh?
We’ve got another FWA title card as we go into the break, and we retrun for our second match.
FWA All England Championship: Mark Sloan vs. Paul Travell (c)
No James Tighe with the challenger this time – instead he’s got a trainee in Chris Justice by his side, whilst Travell’s brought out Gary Hayward with him… Hayward’s not been on this show before, so Mark Priest has to fill in the blanks.
Travell brings out a bunch of bananas to play up to Mark Sloan’s “monkey” taunt from the crowd, and Sloan starts with a double-leg takedown on the champion. For a technical specialist, Sloan really started by brawling!
In the ring, Travell drops Sloan with a suplex, before the “Specialist” hits back with a sunset flip for a near-fall. Sloan reverses a wristlock by flipping off the top rope, before sending Travell to the outside with a leaping kick. When Travell returned, Sloan got caught climbing the top ropes, but he flipped out of a Dominator and landed a Northern lights suplex for a near-fall.
Travell tries to leap over Sloan in the corner, but he lands into a mule kick as Sloan kept control, landing a release German suplex, before Travell propelled himself to the outside as Sloane went to clothesline him out. Sloan waits for Travell to return to continue the attack, but a powerbomb is countered with a T-bone suplex from the champion… only for Travell to get sent back outside again with a back body drop.
Sloane teases a dive, but thinks better of it… but this time when Travell returned to the ring, he took over with a Northern Lights suplex and a quebrada for a near-fall. Travell backflips off the top rope as the back enters its final moments, which saw Travell sent outside yet again, and this time Sloane uses the rope to hang the champion on his way back in.
Travell looks to go airborne again with the Travellator – tornado reverse DDT – but he can’t make the cover. Both men fight to their feet, but Travell misses a charge in the corner as he then takes a sit-out powerbomb for a near-fall. Sloan distracts the referee – which allows Chris Justice to come in and land a moonsault off the middle rope which Sloan gets a two-count from. Travell replies with a spinebuster as Justice gets into it with Raj Ghosh outside the ring. In the middle of it all, Sloan hits the Speci-Driver – a double underhook piledriver – then gets his feet on the rope to score the pin. A decent main event for the time, but this match was way too patterned with “throw Travell to the outside” and an interference-laden finish for the sake of it. **¼
In “stuff that’ll interest nobody” territory, this episode must have aired on a multiple-month delay (this show was taped in December 2001), since Mark Priest namedrops the WWE – whose name changed in May 2002.
Mark Priest celebrates whilst Paul Travell rages as the show comes to an end. Onto episode 26 now, and it’s a one-match show!
The Old School open up as Dino Scarlo, Drew Galloway, Robbie Brookside, Flash Barker, Justin Richards, Dean Ayass and Alex Shane’s former security team make their way to the ring. Scarlo cuts a promo on Alex Shane – it’s hard to hear, but the gist is that Scarlo doesn’t like Shane as a storyteller, and that the only men who can help in his fight are actually against him. Thankfully, this wandering promo ends with the returning Victoria DeMontfort, marking the FWA Commissioner’s return to TV after many weeks off.
Unfortunately, this being 2001, wrestling wasn’t quite used to the idea of female authority figures – hence cat-calls from the crowd who then took the other meaning of Drew McDonald’s threat to “handle her for good”. McDonald says that the Old School will stand tall no matter what happens, but Victoria promises that Alex Shane will have his way…
Cue Shane’s entrance, and his usual catchphrases. He’s not dumb, so he stays in the aisle to make Viagra jokes at the Old School, then gay jokes at his former security team. Yup, Alex is a comedian as he rattles through the Old School, ending with shots at Drew McDonald and Flash Barker. Seems that’s going to be a future main event: McDonald and Barker vs. Shane and… his mystery partner “straight out of Tough Enough”: Chris Harvard. I wonder what his takes would be on the chairshots we’ve seen on FWA TV? Speaking of, the real life Chris Nowinski comes out with a pair of chairs as he and Shane charge the ring – and the Old School scurry.
After commercial, we get to our wrestling match – but first, a recap of the brief promo from last week where Ulf Herman confronted Scott Parker.
Ulf Herman vs. Scott Parker
Herman grabs a table from under the ring before the match can even get going, as a lot of the pre-match stuff was focused on the crowd chanting “5-1” towards Herman, in recognition of how England beat Germany a few months earlier in a football match.
We start with Herman kicking down Parker, then hitting him with a clothesline off the ropes. Parker ducks a second one and takes Herman into the corner, before landing a crossbody for a near-fall. A second crossbody is caught and turned into a slam, as Herman dumps Parker with a wheelbarrow facebuster. Herman throws Parker to the outside, but “Solid Gold” skins the cat and grabs a headscissors to take the German to the floor, where he’s met with a tope known as the “Gold Rush”. In response, Herman throws Parker into the guard rails as he looks to set up the table on the floor… but Parker hits back and gives Herman a receipt before throwing him back inside.
Parker looks to suplex Herman from the ring to the table, but the German fights out and shoulder tackles “Solid Gold” off the apron… which leads to Parker taking a corkscrew bump through the table for some reason. Herman returns with a Kendo stick, and that’s used on Parker to continue to soften him up. A dropkick from Herman misses, but Ulf recovers and hits a powerbomb. Parker comes back too with a back body drop after sending Ulf into the corner, as he then lands the Golden Arrow for the win. That was a bit of an “out of nowhere” ending, but for a five minute match, there’s not much else you could have done. **¼
After the match, Herman dumps Parker with a back suplex out of the corner, but Parker ends up sending Herman to the back by grabbing a chair. Yep, another anticlimactic finish that suited a live show better than a TV show!
An improved pair of shows here, at least in terms of storytelling – however, the 30-minute timeslot (really 26 after commercials) really are restrictive to the format of the show. Short matches get people on TV, but that’s about it – but aside from that, everything’s having to take place at such a clip that barely anything sinks in.
A shame, but at least this gave folks experience on TV – experience that they hoped would pay off in the end.