Saturday afternoon saw us make the trip up to Nottingham for our first taste of Southside Wrestling – and it was a big change from our usual fare!

“Leisure centre wrestling” can get a bad rap at times, particularly from those who have vivid memories of “UK Undertaker” and the ilk. I still shudder at the thought of shows with fake X-Pacs, Rocks and the “Legend of Doom” from back in the 90s…

Anyway, if you’re not familiar with Southside… they’ve been running shows since 2010 in the UK, largely concentrating on towns and areas that the “big boys” don’t usually run, such as Nottingham, Stevenage, St. Neots and Sheffield. We’ve covered some of their back catalogue before, and it’s quite decent stuff at times. They use a wide variety of talent, including a number of Impact Wrestling fly-ins (to their detriment, sometimes, when the former TNA pulls the rug from under them).

This weekend’s shows featured fly-ins in the form of Colt Cabana, Ethan Page, Andrew Everett, Eddie Edwards, Rosemary and Melina, along with mainstays like El Ligero, Joseph Conners, Nixon Newell and Kay Lee Ray. We’ll get to those last two at the end!

We’ll feature full reviews of these shows (“Day of Reckoning 14” – which would have been impressive on the GameCube, no doubt; and “Sucker For Pain”) when they drop on Demand Southside (their Vimeo channel); but some key notes:

  • Joseph Conners’ new gimmick is that he’s believing he never lost the company’s title at their 6th Anniversary show (we’ll be reviewing that soon enough!)… so he’s wearing a kid’s version of the old WCW world title (which the Southside belt is based on), which has a sticker with “SOUTHSIDE CHAMP” written on it. Easy heat, but believable given the character
  • Colt Cabana worked a pair of comedy matches as he nursed an ankle injury. That’s massively underselling it though; Colt’s matches engaged the crowd for a long period, and in the case of his afternoon show match, likely made a kid a fan for life after accepting his sign’s offer of “tag me in”… so the kid came in, went after Damian Dunne, then tagged back out. Great stuff that you’d struggle to see on most shows.
  • In the evening show, Stixx had his final match, where he dropped the company’s tag titles to Damian Dunne and his mystery partner, Robbie X. On their final show of 2016, they ran an angle where Dunne was auditioning partners for this match, with Alex Gracie and Marshall X teaming up “to impress” Damian. Thankfully, they went with the X who wasn’t treated as a joke…
  • Speaking of Alex Gracie, he was what you could best describe as a “loveable pain in the arse” in the evening shows, acting as a commentator, before becoming a ring announcer and getting kicked in the balls by Melina. He then returned to take the fall in the 5-way match, before going back on commentary and ending the night getting superkicked by referee Joel Allen. Sure, he’s not won in Southside since 2013, but he’s at least getting his face out there in more than one way here.
  • Dunne, who wrestled in a comedy match against Colt Cabana on the afternoon show, looks to be part of a new faction with Robbie X and Big Grizzly called Guilty By Habit, complete with nWo-inspired shirts. To my knowledge, this was Big Grizz’s first appearance in Southside, so the whole stable seemed a little… surprising to me?
  • Least of all when Southside’s sort-of got another heel team in the Intercoastal Violence Factory (aka CCK, no hashtag) in Chris Brookes and Travis Banks. Their afternoon match was mostly played for comedy, including a spot where Bubblegum “killed” Brookes with an enziguiri, but they were exceedingly great here. In terms of wins and losses, they’re often on the wrong side, but hey, Travis Banks is one of my favourites right now, and Chris Brookes is fast approaching the same territory (* only because I’ve hardly seen him live before this year!)
  • Speaking of GBH, they ran in on a “surprise” title match between El Ligero and Eddie Edwards; a match that was fine, but felt like it was spinning its wheels until the run-in. Hopefully they can have a rematch soon without any threat of a run-in…
  • Stixx’s send-off was the non-wrestling highlight of the show, with his friends and family (and a sizeable contingent from his House of Pain training school) present. His tag match saw him beaten down by Big Grizzly beforehand, before he made a hero’s return to save Chris Tyler from a continued 2-on-1 beatdown. After losing in the last NGW show of 2016 (which we’ve covered in our NGW TV reports already), this was Stixx finishing up his commitments in the “time honoured tradition”.
  • We’ll save some for our full review, but I’d be remiss to not talk about Ethan Page. He’s someone who gets a bit of a bum rap in EVOLVE (primarily for not being a workrate heavy guy, like you’d expect there). His two outings – vs. Robbie X on the afternoon, and as part of the five-way in the evening – were fine enough, although the over-analyser in me questions throwing two imports into a five-way match, but there you go. Hopefully this isn’t the last time All Ego’s in the UK!
  • The evening show’s main event was, in a word, insane. Advertised as a “fans bring the weapons match”, it certainly didn’t disappoint. Crutches, vacuum cleaners, baking sheets, wet floor signs, cycling helmets, and Martin Bentley’s box of Ferrero Rocher were used as weapons – the latter creating an impressive visual effect when the plastic box was thrown into the head of Nixon Newell. At times, it was a little tough to watch, particularly when Alex Windsor came out with a bag of drawing pins… and when they took a suplex through a table… before they Terry Funk’d it up and filled the ring with chairs en route to a Gory Bomb and a Welsh Destroyer off a ladder in the ring.A brutal main event, but one that I hope will translate well into tape, because that was a hell of a spectacle.

If you’re anywhere near where Southside run shows, get yourself along, especially for the double headers. £25 for tickets to two shows is exceedingly good value, particularly with the rosters Southside run with.