Lucha Forever – The Dawning of Forever (April 17, 2017)

Lucha Forever’s debut show was quite the spectacle – with plenty of good wrestling, a fantastic main event and a great foundation to build on.

Announced earlier this year, Lucha Forever raised quite a lot of intrigue, especially given some of the bookings they’d made. Heck, for a new promotion to get signed to FloSlam for their debut show is quite a feat, and with the promotion capitalising on the likes of Shane Strickland and Sami Callihan being in the UK, you’ve got a loaded line-up.

Still, it’s not all fly-ins, with plenty of names you may not be aware of on the bill to – Ashley Dunn and Kelly Sixx, who had that blowaway tag team match for WCPW earlier in the year, are on the bill, alongside Kip Sabian and Connor Mills… so this really is an eclectic mix of names from around the scene. Hopefully all in lucha masks!

Splits McPins vs. Elijah
A pre-show match courtesy of ATTACK!, I joined this in progress via the Lucha Forever Facebook page, just as Splits was taken down with a Slingblade-like attack in the ring. Lloyd Katt was at ringside as a fun cheerleader for his bowling buddy, and tried to assist by giving him the bowling ball to throw into a cornered Elijah.

Referee Shay Purser took it away and took so long to dispose of the ball that the Bowlarama pair managed to hit More Bang For Your Buck behind Shay’s back. However, Elijah withstood that and landed a crucifix driver for a near-fall, only to end up falling to a spin-out facebuster for the win. What I saw was good, and very much in keeping with what you’d expect from these two at an ATTACK! show.

The main show opened with a shot of the ring with the Lucha Forever title belt in the middle of it, before we hear the warm-up masked by a holding screen. There’s an EVOLVE count-down, and we are live! Harvey Dale and Mark Adams are your commentators, and Southside’s ring announcer Rob Maltman is your MC here.

HOP:E Wrestling King of Flight Championship: Kip Sabian (c) vs. Ashley Dunn vs. Kelly Sixx vs. Connor Mills (That Guy)
Kip’s HOP:E Wrestling’s King of Flight champion, and he’s putting the belt on the line here. Alrighty then! Sabian boos the crowd for booing him despite not knowing him… he gets a promo to introduce himself, and with the shoulder strap, he looks like a shrunken Chris Brookes. Kelly Sixx has done some stuff for Rev Pro as Josh Wall, but I guess he wanted a less generic name away from the land of the Contenders?

Sabian gets annoyed that his “spotfest challenge” only had three men involved… he puts out an open challenge for more names, and wanders around the crowd. Someone tails him as a blatant plant, and this segment’s dying. The crowd chant “let’s go that guy”, who actually climbs into the ring, and yes, That Guy is wrestling. WRESTLING!

“That Guy” is actually Connor Mills, who rips off his tracksuit bottoms to reveal his trunks, and it’s an entertaining, if not rough-around-the-edges spotfest, as advertised by Sabian. Dunn low-bridges Sabian to the outside, before Mills lands a double back elbow to Sixx and Dunn. Sabian comes back into it with a springboard dropkick to Mills and Dunn, then gets a springboard ‘rana with a bit of stalling for a near-fall.

Sabian thinks he’s suplexed Dunn, but Ashley landed on his feet as the other three land superkicks to leave them all laying. Dunn and Sixx work together to take down Sabian and Mills, then the match just seems to stop as they head out to do something to “That Guy”… Sabian pulls them down to stop a double springboard, before “That Guy” hits a tope con hilo after being coaxed into it by Sabian.

We get that tope con hilo from Sabian after all, before he escapes an ushigoroshi and knees Dunn in the head instead. Sixx flies in with a double stomp off the top, before That Guy hits an X-Plex to Sixx. Dunn comes back with an underhooked Destroyer, but Sabian throws him to the outside and steals the pin. Well, this was alright, a little rough around the edges, with some whiffed spots, but this wasn’t “superbad”. **½

Alex Windsor vs. Toni Storm
The hell? Dahlia Black attacked Storm from behind with a crutch as Toni made her entrance… so that’s payback for the injury at PROGRESS a few weeks ago? The bell rings anyway despite Storm not coming close to the ring, because referee Shay Purser’s useless here, and Windsor takes the cheap count-out win.

So instead, Toni Storm’s taken away, and we hear B*Witched… Nixon Newell’s here!

Alex Windsor vs. Nixon Newell
Windsor glares at Nixon as she made her entrance, and yes, this is an impromptu match. Newell launches into Windsor with forearms, before they exchange armdrags and dropkicks en route to a square-off.

A kick and a neckbreaker take Windsor down, but she rolls to the outside ahead of a tope to the floor. Windsor takes over in the ring, pulling Newell up by the ear, then rakes the back to keep in touch after having to kick out of a bridging fallaway slam. Nixon’s forced to withstand a cross-legged surfboard stretch, but she fires back with a corner uppercut and a crossbody off the top for a near-fall.

Windsor heads outside to troll the crowd by threatening to throw Newell into the seats, but that just gets her a kick off the apron after throwing Nixon back inside. A Destroyer’s attempted on the floor, but Newell’s backdropped to the floor, before they go back and forth with headbutts again. They beat the count from a double clothesline, but that just leads to a running chokeslam from Newell for a near-fall, but Windsor replies with a Blue Thunder Bomb for a near-fall of her own.

Newell almost wins it with a wheelbarrow roll-up out of a double chicken wing, before she sees another Destroyer blocked. Windsor hits the Dodon facebuster for just a one-count, and we’re back to chops and headbutts before a Shining Wizard connects for another two-count for Newell! From the kick-out, Nixon goes up top for a Houston Hangover legdrop that misses, allowing Windsor to capitalise with a Destroyer of her own, and that’s a surprise win for the woman labelled here as the “Beacon”. A fun outing despite the crowd being a little on the quiet side – and since Windsor’s staying around, it’s good to see them building… ***½

After the match, Nixon gets a microphone and tells us she’s moving to the “next chapter” (wink wink). Newell puts over Windsor despite her “being a dick”, and Windsor’s visibly tearing up as the pair hug it out.

Omari vs. Jigsaw
Jigsaw works the wrist early on, taking Omari down repeatedly after working out of a cravat from the rookie. A spinebuster with a jack-knifed cover gets a near-fall for Jigsaw, as the pace picks up a little with armdrags and ‘ranas. Jigsaw’s kicked to the outside and almost gets his head kicked off via a through-the-ropes dropkick from Omari… and then the feed pixels out.

It recovers as we see Omari blasting Jigsaw with forearms, but the masked man retaliates by whipping him into the corner as a set-up for a modified armbar that sees Omari work free and nearly get a cover out of it. They keep going back and forth with forearms and headbutts (stop it guys!), before Omari hits a leg lariat in the corner and a deadlift gutwrench suplex!

A fisherman’s suplex nearly gets the W for Omari, who tries to follow with a swinging side slam. That’s avoided and turned into a half-and-half suplex for a near-fall by Jigsaw, who then captialises on Omari getting hung up in the ropes, landing a double-stomp off the top for another near-fall. In the end though, it was Omari who took the win by catching Jigsaw off the top into the O Zone (a swinging side slam into a Flatliner). Again, if Omari’s going to be a part of the regular roster, good stuff giving him a win over an international name here! ***

Sami Callihan vs. Will Ospreay
Callihan’s jump start sees him drop Ospreay with a clothesline and a tope… but Will’s thrown back in and replies with a tope of his own. Ospreay makes the same mistake, but recovers with a Space Flying Tiger Drop as that ring’s not about to feel any love.

Callihan takes Will to the back of the building as they brawl around, then drops him on the apron with a back suplex, before throwing Will into the front row for… a spittle-laden chop! A cannonball to a seated Ospreay wipes out the first few rows, then Sami goes for his lap of honour… but Will’s snuck free and counters him with a dropkick, and now we return to the ring!

Ospreay kicks Callihan in the corner before slingshotting back inside, following back with a Shibata corner dropkick for a near-fall. Callihan kicks away Ospreay’s leg to send him cannonballing into the corner, where he follows up with some big boots, only for Will to pop back with a bicycle kick. More kicks and clotheslines send Will inside out for a near-fall, but it’s not long before a springboard forearm gets Ospreay back into it… and yes, the cameraman figures out how to do the Rainmaker camera zoom!

Callihan barely registers an attempted Rainmaker from Will, and the pace quickens a bit from there as Ospreay takes the sit-out powerbomb then a Stretch Muffler from the kick-out. A standing Spanish Fly sees Will cut-off Sami’s offence and buy himself some time…

It worked, sort-of, as Sami spat at Will to spark some back-and-forth strikes in the ropes, before Sami drops to his knees and pulls down Ospreay’s trunks to reveal his Uptown Funkers trunks. Cue some music, a hip thrust to Callihan’s face, and now we’ve got a very reluctant dance-off!

Referee Shay gets “caught” and thrown into Sami Callihan… who tries to repeat the spot, and this is beautiful nonsense. Shay clotheslines Ospreay three times, sending him to the outside, and oh my God, Shay Purser hits an Undertaker-esque tope onto Will Ospreay! Shay removes the “belt” he’d had around him, which prompts Sami to kill him with a forearm… Shay flips out of a DDT and does his Matt Hardy shtick, hitting a Twist of Fate, before missing the senton bomb.

Ospreay returns to hit an OsCutter, before beckoning Shay to go up top. Will’s putting on the shirt and counts the pin after a senton off the top! They announced Shay as the winner… and now I’m all sorts of confused! Uptown Funk plays again, so Shay crotch-chops Sami, and now we have Sami going to the back, where he returns with a conga line. Hey, I think this is familiar, with Sami playing the role of Pete Dunne, sitting in the ring cross-legged and disgusted! ***¾

Finally Sami Callihan gets dancing as the conga line surrounds the ring, and this is all sorts of ridiculousness, ending with Sami literally dragging Will out of the ring and to the back!

During the interval, FloSlam aired a match from FIGHT! Nation between Mark Andrews and Chris Ridgeway from February. I skipped this one live – we’ll cover it if the on-demand still has it, since we used to cover FIGHT! Nation, but yes, it had the same commentator we had the love-hate relationship with last year. It’s somehow even worse as there’s a time lag with the audio, so what we’re seeing is several minutes ahead of the audio, which continues after the pinfall had happened.

Apparently the live crowd got a different match: Pete Dunne vs. Tyler Bate. Damn those WWE UK deals!

Rob Maltman starts the second half by asking if we’re having fun… you know what that means! Here comes “No Fun” Damian Dunne (or Chief Deputy Dunne, depending on what they wanted to call him), and load of “fun” chants towards him. Damian cuts a promo via a megaphone and microphone, which makes me wish for him setting up a chain of those things a la the Simpsons.

Trios Championship Qualifier: Chief Deputy Dunne & #CCK (Chris Brookes & Kid Lykos) vs. El Ligero, Drew Parker & Bea Priestley
Brookes has some water, and yes, there’s a Brookesing! Yes, that opposing team does look a little weird, we’ll go with it…

The Anti-Fun trio spray the good guys with water before the bell, but Drew Parker comes back quickly with a headscissor takedown. Things cycle through as Bea Priestley faces off against the wolf, and Lykos quickly gets booted in the head before another headscissor takedown plants him. Lykos tries for a brainbuster, but that doesn’t work and he gets thrown into the turnbuckles as we end up with a Human Centipede in the corner!

We get a trio of chopped posts after the bad guys drag their opponents to the floor, and they get payback courtesy of a load of corner uppercuts and forearms. A triple suplex takes down the fun-hating trio, but they quickly come back with the elevated Codebreaker/back senton combo for a near-fall over Parker. Drew takes a wet willie, and now the crowd have spotted that Dunne’s got “no fun on his dick”. Ah well.

Ligero nearly wins it with a Code Red on Lykos, then again with a leaping cutter on Dunne, before Bea Priestley leaps in with a crossbody to take down #CCK. A neckbreaker to Brookes somehow DDT’s Lykos, and that leads to Bea going off the top rope with a plancha to the Anti-Fun trio on the floor. Lykos retaliates with a corkscrew plancha, but celebrates for too long as Parker hits a tope con hilo, before Ligero superplexes Dunne into the pile on the floor.

Things shuffle through until Bea gives Dunne a Cheeky Nando’s kick, before a springboard enziguiri off the ropes turns another elevated Codebreaker into a nasty-looking reverse ‘rana on Brookes. We get another parade of moves with a Benadryller from Parker, who then eats a slingshot cutter from Brookes, who then takes a tiltawhirl DDT into a Kimura from Priestley… which somehow leads to Ligero grabbing a crossface as Dunne used his megaphone to will Brookes to not tap.

Ligero escapes a brainbuster and takes out Lykos with an Awful Waffle… but his leap to the top rope is stopped as Dunne handcuffs Ligero to the turnbuckle! Genius! With the referee down, Bea’s smashed with the megaphone, but Drew Parker’s attempt at a 1-on-3 comeback ends with a springboard Codebreaker from Dunne, and the Ink Bomb from #CCK as they win their qualifier. There was some good stuff here, but some parts fell flat… ***

After the match, Dunne uses his megaphone… and gets superkicked by Joel Allen, who then follows up with a Stunner. Hey, it’s improving with practise!

The live show featured a plug for £10 in-ring photos with Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate… the evils of doing live shows on PPV! Before the next match can happen though, Toni Storm marches out with Shay Purser (and we get the “it’s not on my runsheet” crap from commentary…). Toni’s grabbed the microphone and challenges Dahlia Black to a match… Dahlia comes out with her crutch, and a microphone. Of course, despite being in gear, she’s not wrestling, and in comes TK Cooper to punch her from behind. Yep, there’s our match!

Toni Storm vs. TK Cooper
TK calls himself “the undisputed king of women’s wrestling”, so he’s doing the Andy Kaufman shtick? Cool! Cooper bails to the back, but the bell’s already rung… and Toni grabs the microphone to call him the “bitch of the relationship”.

Our match starts again then, with some ground and pound from Storm, before a tope sends Cooper into the front row! They brawl around ringside, with TK taking a hip attack through a chair, before returning to the ring for a German suplex. More hip attacks, and I think TK liked it, as another German takes him to the floor.

Toni looks to take out Dahlia with a tope… but TK Cooper lands a Drive By kick, because he’s Samoan (not really) to swat Storm out of the air. Back in the ring, a superkick knocks down Toni for a near-fall, before TK backchats with the crowd for a spell. For some reason, commentary asks why TK hasn’t given Dahlia a ring… and we get some rather off-colour stuff too. Ah well, I’ll save that for the end.

Dahlia attacks Storm from behind, but Toni comes back with a powerbomb, then some forearms, before a headbutt dazes Cooper. Except, he’s Samoan, so it doesn’t work, but neither does Cooper’s 450 Splash. That lets Toni come back with an Okada-esque neckbreaker slam for a near-fall.

Dahlia gets involved as she tries to stop Storm flying off the top… she’s shoved down though before TK manages a Spanish Fly off the top for a near-fall. Toni Storm will not die! TK follows up with a spinebuster as he continues to rip off his “Samoan heritage” with a People’s elbow… but he stops to kiss Dahlia on the way, which just lets Toni get back to her feet, before shocking TK with a piledriver for the win. That was quite satisfying, as was the post-match stuff where Toni blocks a crutch shot and gets a piledriver for her troubles too. ***½

Lucha Forever Championship: Shane Strickland vs. Travis Banks
We start with mat-based stuff as Banks and Strickland work over each other’s arms, before Travis tripped Shane off the ropes and followed with a La Magistral for an early near-fall.

Plenty of flips as Strickland takes Travis to the floor with a dropkick, following up with more of the same before a PK’s caught and turned into a leg sweep. Banks gets his PK in though, then chops Strickland for a bit, then sinks in a side headlock as they returned to the ring. Strickland flips to the outside as Banks tried to throw him out, before deciding to head out there anyway with a Space Flying Tiger Drop into the aisle.

Strickland surprises Banks with a cross armbreaker, but the Kiwi’s able to get to the ropes, before a double armbar sees Strickland go all Zack Sabre Jr in a bid to win the belt. Banks comes back with a leg sweep and a diving knee before he sweeps the leg again to cannonball Strickland into that corner… where he took another cannonball seconds later.

A roll-up into a cutter gets Strickland a near-fall, but he tries to follow up off the top rope… only for Banks to crotch him up there and attempt a superplex to the floor. Instead, Strickland works free and hits a double-stomp to send Banks onto the apron as they teased a double count-out.

After beating the count, Strickland slaps away at Banks… who fires back into it with forearms before popping right back up from a snap German suplex. More buzzsaw kicks from the Kiwi follows, before he lands a modified Michinoku driver for a two-count. The back-and-forth continues as the springboard roundhouse out of the corner’s blocked, but he switches things up into a tombstone off the top… Strickland escapes and drops him with a DDT out of the corner!

Strickland connects with a double stomp off the top rope to almost snatch the win, but again Banks comes back… and accidentally kills the referee with the springboard roundhouse that’s now christened the Slice of Heaven! With Joel Allen down, Banks hits the modified Michinoku driver off the top before Shay Purser slides in to make the two-count. They end up on the apron where Banks eats a death valley driver, before a tope from Travis goes awry as he hits a fan’s knee. Another death valley driver then a top rope stomp kills Banks, who then takes a JML Driver… but somehow he kicked out!

Referee Shay takes a corner dropkick from Strickland, and we’re out of referees! Somehow, Banks is bleeding from the chest, but he manages to catch Strickland with a spinning torture rack before a pair of Slice of Heavens earns a slow near-fall… but from the kick-out Banks gets the Crossface, and there’s the submission! Travis Banks wins the first Lucha Forever championship in a hell of a main event! ****¼

After the match, Banks asks for a handshake, but Strickland takes his time in accepting it as the show ended with Banks celebrating with the belt…

The commentary on this show was a little weird – the first have was just noise, but for some reason in the second half it got notably worse. To the point where silence was preferable. I’m guessing there was a miscommunication between the talent and the commentary, as they went out of their way to avoid acknowledging any swearing from the crowd.

For a debut show, this was quite the card, with a HELL of a main event – the crowd maybe were a little quiet at the start, but they got into it when they needed to. All involved should be thrilled with this initial effort, and the fact that the stream (largely) held up is a massive banana skin that was avoided. So, great first impressions all around, with the only negative being commentary, which is easier to change! Lucha Forever return to FloSlam on May 25, back in Birmingham for a show currently headlined by Pete Dunne vs. Matt Riddle. Let’s see on that!