With British wrestling having gone from “never being on TV” to having had several cracks in 2018… we’ve another promotion making TV in 2019.
Hopefully looking to go one better than Rev Pro, World of Sport and 5*, IPW’s joining an ever-growing list of promotions who are getting airtime on the UK’s version of the Fight Network, alongside the likes of Impact, Preston City Wrestling, Smash Wrestling, Championship Wrestling from Hollywood, Championship Wrestling from Arizona and some MMA promotions.
This pilot/preview show features matches from IPW’s “One Year In MK” event – and going forward, those shows at Milton Keynes’ Unit Nine look to be getting culled for the TV show. If you’ve got Highspots, the first episode is currently up to stream now (at time of writing), so let’s give it a go… Ricky Slatter is on commentary – since Fight Nation took over IPW in late 2016, he’s been kept on as the promotion’s lead commentator, with Dean Ayass returning for some of the big shows. Hopefully Ricky’s gotten more fond of dead air since we covered those Fight Nation shows a few years back…
Anyway, from the opening titles, we’ve no airs and graces to tell us anything about IPW or the wrestlers, as we’re taken straight into the introductions for our opening match.
David Starr vs. James Castle vs. Kurtis Chapman vs. Sid Scala
Starr’s the only one who gets an introduction here as the other three got the “already in the ring” treatment.
We start with Starr and Scala tripping people, taking them outside for dropkicks before turning their sights onto each other. Sid’s in his Del Boy rip-off character here, rather than “The Business” or “Dwight Schrute” character we’re getting elsewhere, which might explain the “four way fatal” chants here…. There’s some waistlock switches before a buffering pause masks Scala heading up top for a flying something, but it’s really some misdirection as Scala eventually flies in with a Bionic elbow to Starr.
Scala tries to roll up Castle, but he’s blocked as the Anarchist lands an enziguiri and a leaping double stomp to keep up the revolving door thing. Chapman replaces Scala as he tries to wrestle Castle into a crucifix, eventually getting a one-count, before an enziguiri finds its mark. A suplex from Chapman tags Castle outside, but David Starr sneaks in as they trade some roll-ups for near-falls, only for Starr to land a Pretty Pumped.
A springboard clothesline keeps Scala on the outside as Castle’s caught with a Product Recall… but Chapman blocks the hattrick as he turns a pull out of the corner into a lungblower. Chapman takes down Starr with a Dreamcaster, but Castle flies in with his double double stomp to the pair of them, leading to Scala re-inserting himself into the match as he eventually lands a knee. Chapman keeps the momentum going with European uppercuts, but everyone just gangs up on him before Starr elbowed everyone. Sid’s back with a tornado DDT to Castle, before he’s caught with another trip-up lungblower by Chapman… who then ate a superkick and a Blackheart Buster as Starr dumped Chapman upside down. James Castle nicks the pin though, kneeing Starr and throwing him outside before stealing the pin as our opening sprint came to a close. A good “blind and you’ll miss it” opener, but they perhaps were TOO breathless – especially if you consider that was meant to be an intro to the product for new fans. **¾
A backstage promo from Mike Bird tells us he wants to go through Chris Ridgeway after “what happened at the Super 8”. You can barely hear Mike over the crowd noise, which is annoying…
Ariel Grace vs. Bobbi Tyler
Bobbi Tyler was the IPW women’s champion when this was taped – problem is, she lost the title since this was taped, so we’re already somewhat out of date. Our commentator tries to apologise for telling us this was going to be a title match… except that got edited out.
Ariel Grace looked to be the proverbial warm body for Tyler, and the champion started out with a knee to the back before she eventually got Grace in a Dragon sleeper. By the time we figured out what it was, Grace taps out. That was quick.
Ricky Slatter tells us what we just saw, before pitching to an “exclusive interview” with IPW’s CEO, Billy Wood. It’s an in-ring segment as Wood gets his own music and entrance as he’s out with the Z-Force division title belt. Slatter tells us that Jack Sexsmith’s apparently injured, so are they vacating the belt? Ricky interjects in pretty much every bit of dead air here, as we find out that Billy is retiring the Z-Force title… and replacing it with a new junior heavyweight championship.
Billy went to unveil the new belt, but Jack Sexsmith’s here and lays him out with a chair. Literally the second Jack’s chairshot hits, Rob Sharpe’s music plays as Jack has to run to grab his old belt and leave through the crowd to avoid facing his former tag team partner. Rushed… and then some. They spent more time on Billy Wood selling the chairshot than on Jack being run off…
We’re backstage as David Starr tries to promo through the crowd noise. He’s upset at how he’d had the four-way match won only for James Castle to steal the pin. A challenge is issued for down the line…
Mike Bird vs. Chris Ridgeway
We’re up to our main event, which was a rematch from the first round of the 2018 Super 8. It’d have been nice to have had a video package or even clips fromt hat atch as a warm-up, but here we are…
The two lock up to get us going, as you got the sense that someone finally told commentary to try and fill in the blanks, only for us to be told to “check us out on IWN”. Sadly, if you Google IWN, you’ll be clicking for a while to find the answers… As for the match, Bird is rolled up early on as Ridgeway tried to play some mind games, following up with a toe hold on Bird, who easily got to the ropes. Bird tries to fight back with a waistlock, but Ridgeway counters into an armbar, taking Bird down to the mat before rolling him into a one-count.
Bird tries for a front facelock, but again Ridgeway escaped as the pair grappled on the mat, leading to Ridgeway stomping on Bird’s elbow, only for Bird to respond with a waistlock takedown as he had a bit more success this time around. A surfboard stretch is next from Bird, but Ridgeway slips underneath and counters with a front facelock that transitioned into a STF. Again though, Bird’s right by the ropes, and gets free pretty quickly.
Bird tries for some body scissors, but Ridgeway rolls through into a seated surfboard as he looked to have the Welshman’s number, even begging him into his guard… but instead Bird cartwheels past him and slips in for a one-count. More grappling ends with another front facelock from Ridgeway, then again in the ropes as Bird escaped yet another ankle lock. How small is this ring?!
Ridgeway changes tack, throwing kicks that sent Bird powdering to the outside, before he returned and… grappled into the ropes once more as he had to escape another ankle lock. Eventually Bird strikes back and dumps Ridgeway with a brainbuster for a two-count, following up with a grounded abdominal stretch as we faded out for a commercial break. We’re back as they’re still in the hold, which Ridgeway escaped as he threw some more kicks.
Bird ducks a head kick, but instead eats a palm strike and a Dragon screw, before he’s left by the ropes for some more kicks to the chest. More mid kicks leave Bird down for a near-fall, before Ridgeway goes back to the knee bar, but yet again… yeah, the ropes. On his knees, Bird’s met with yet more kicks, but this time he stands up and blocks the kick, before returning with a clothesline!
A superkick’s next for a near-fall, as Bird followed up with a sit-out crucifix bomb as his desperate attempt to snuff out Ridgeway didn’t quite work… he stays on top with some forearms to the head, but Ridgeway just walks through them and returns the favours, before going back to the kicks and palm strikes. A rear spin kick nearly finishes Bird, who kicked out after Ridgeway slumped on top of him, before Bird looked to go for a tombstone, only for him to have to punch his way free as Ridgeway again went to the ankle.
Ridgeway hits back with a Dragon suplex that dumped Bird on his head, before a PK should have had it won… but Ridgeway heads up top after a bit of a delay, and gets caught with an uppercut. Ridgeway tries for a Dragon sleeper on the top rope, but he’s forced to break the hold as Bird caught him with an avalanche tombstone that somehow didn’t end the match! Instead, Bird doesn’t follow up, and Ridgeway catches him with another ankle lock, which proved to be enough to get the win. An enjoyable main event, but I’m sure it’d have been buoyed if you had some understanding of their back story. ***¼
As a TV show, this was a solid episode… if we were talking about a product that was established. Problem is, this was supposedly the first episode of the show, and for fans not well versed in IPW, it was barely anything other than “hey, here’s stuff we taped and edited together.” Everything was just thrown out and left for you, the viewer, to comprehend what was what. There is a second preview episode that’s floating around, which we’ll review later in the week. On this form, I’ll probably be left longing for a Liquid Dreams promo…
- Good news! Not to give away spoilers or anything, but IPW held a new set of tapings for this TV show – which debuts this coming Friday (February 8) at 9pm on the Fight Network in the UK!