In one of our prior commentaries, we talked about one company that is leading the way in British wrestling – at least as far as having a television outlet goes. NGW’s got a weekly television show, produced and commentated on by Alex Shane. The former “Showstealer”, when he was an active wrestler. As for this show, taped as a part of NGW’s 8th anniversary event, is Alex going to steal it, or ruin it?
#TLDR: The televised version of NGW’s Eighth Anniversary show got underway with a stellar technical match between Zack Gibson and Pete Dunne, and the first part of an all-out war between Nathan Cruz and Rampage Brown as the company built up to the main event of that anniversary show, with a War Games-style match for control of the company. It wasn’t all rosey though, as a great in-ring product was all-but-ruined by a commentary act that at times was patronising to all but the most novice of fans.
The Full Review: At time of writing, this video is up on WhatCulture – who seem to be archiving this for now – at https://youtu.be/4FRJTuDTaQU
First things first, I’m not a fan of the title: “British Wrestling Weekly” – a show that focuses on just one promotion. I get why – it was seemingly the life’s goal of Alex Shane to get British wrestling on national TV. And in fairness, that has happened. This NGW product is available on local broadcast TV around the UK (well, mostly in the north of England!), and is also up on YouTube to boot.
We get going with an advert for Fighting Spirit Magazine. Good coverage for them… bad in that Alex Shane’s voice is announcing that “the season three premier of NGW British Wrestling Weekly is proudly sponsored by Fighting Spirit Magazine”. Except this is episode 8. Two months to remove or edit the voiceover, lads…
There’s a futuristic-looking title, and we immediately throw to the Hull City Hall, which looks packed. NGW’s building up to the second Davey Boy Smith Memorial Cup, which their graphic confusingly calls “The Davey ‘Boy’ Smith Cup Tournament II”. If it’s a cup, it’s already a tournament, is it not? Extra words for the sake of it, methinks. We’ve got Pete Dunne and Zack Gibson in a tournament match today, and they immediately cut to a sit-down promo with Liverpool’s Zack Gibson, who credits the tournament for creating some new fans for himself. Gibson apparently wasn’t meant to be in this tournament, but he argued himself back into it to defend his cup. They namecheck Marty Scurll and Jack Gallagher as guys who were “made” in the tournament. Hmm… I must say, it’s fairly jarring seeing a babyface Zack Gibson.
I must say, this segment was really good at building this up as a big deal, and looked really professional (compared to other promotions)… but I’m not keen on promotions taking credit for guys being made, particularly when they’ve worked elsewhere.
Davey Boy Smith Memorial Cup Tournament Match – Pete Dunne vs. Zack Gibson
This match was taped on July 16 and aired a week later? Really good turnaround there guys!
Alex Shane is on commentary with Dave Bradshaw, who sounds like he’s trying to be the stereotypical American announcer, but without the accent. Shane sells Pete Dunne as an underrated British talent. To some sections, perhaps. Let’s be generous and say that the hyperbole continued with Shane trying to say that Zack Gibson’s first match terrestrial television made him a star.
They flash up the match graphic again (after both men had made their entrance), and we’re underway. Gibson immediately rolls up Dunne from an abdominal stretch attempt, then went for the Shankly Gates as they went for a frenetic start… which genuinely gave me a headache thanks to the shaky camera and camera cuts. After several aborted attempts to grab an early advantage, they squared off.
Alex Shane namechecked Pete Dunne’s appearance in a WWE Cruiserweight Classic qualifier, as Dunne worked a wristlock on Gibson, who uses a judo throw to take Dunne down into a grounded headlock. Gibson tried for a roll-up but Dunne popped up, but only into a backslide for a one-count as Gibson rolled some more into a half-crab.
After freeing himself, Pete Dunne went to the outside and snapped the top rope into Gibson’s eyes to blind him – that’s a unique spot, I must say! A clothesline decks Gibson for a two-count, and we go to a commercial break… with the YouTube version showing adverts for another online subscription service.
Back from the advert, and Dunne’s stomping away at Gibson’s arm… then removes his gumshield and bites away at Gibson’s hand. You know, that spot from every Pete Dunne match, but it’s sold as something nobody’s seen before. Sigh.
Gibson avoids another stomp to the arm, but his comeback gets cut-off by an eye rake. Dunne locks in a rear chinlock, something he releases so he can hit a forearm strike to Gibson for a near-fall. More forearm strikes cut-off Gibson as he becomes a babyface in peril, and he fights to his feet to trade forearms and uppercuts that send Dunne outside, before joining him with a tope. That’s something I’ve not seen from him before.
Back inside, Gibson hits a pumphandle into a back suplex for a near-fall, and then launches into Dunne with a series of uppercuts in the corner, but Dunne again cuts him off. Gibson lands the Ticket To Ride from the top rope (a top rope lungblower, or BUSHI’s MX)… and they do the annoying “oh, that’s over, Gibson wins” spiel as Dunne kicks out.
Gibson grabs the arm for the Shankly Gates, but Dunne counters with a roll-up for a near-fall, then an enziguiri and a release suplex for a two-count. You know, that move Dunne does in just about every one of his matches, but Alex Shane proclaims “it’s been years since I’ve seen that done in British professional wrestling”.
Gibson tries to kick back, and again has his fingers bitten by Dunne, who then moves to stomp at the Scouser’s head. Dunne picks up Gibson and tries for a pumphandle facebuster, but Gibson reverses it and bites the hand… and gets a stiff forearm to the head. They go back and forth, but Gibson turns Dunne inside out with a lariat, and lands a spinning suplex for a near fall… then grabs the arm for the Shankly Gates and Pete Dunne taps out. That was a fantastic match, but would have been even better on mute. ****
I’ve had rants about horrible commentary before, and this is going to be another one. This was a match that was hurt badly by the commentary of Alex Shane. I get how you might want to be insular and try not to acknowledge other promotions… but even WWE is getting away from doing that these days, with references to New Japan and Ring of Honor on their main TV show this year.
Pretending that “nobody else in British wrestling has done a release suplex since Jack Xavier (of the FWA)” is amateurish, especially when you realise the connections between the FWA and the commentator saying it. Same again when a wrestler’s signature spots are treated as brand new or never-before-seen. Those same spots that everyone else can see on YouTube or by following other promotions in Britain. Should the voices of your product be treating everything as new, and acting like this is the first time they’ve seen this?
In 2016, you can’t get away with this insular attitude, especially on a product that is available worldwide. Yes, you can pretend that you’re appealing to the masses… but when your show is on a series of low-level TV channels where ratings details aren’t available, and your YouTube show gets around 20,000 views a week, you have to stop kidding yourself.
You may be aiming for the mainstream, but you’re hitting the same internet fans that everyone else is. I’m not saying you suddenly have to turn into a Mauro Ranallo and reference every other group, but find a happy medium. Don’t pretend your audience are idiots.
Back to the show now… Zack Gibson’s still in the ring, but he’s interrupted by The Control – a NGW faction. Rampage Brown (of the Control) is out with his manager Richie West, and they go to another ad break. Just a nit pick, do you need the same video to play you out and back into a break?
Zack Gibson shouts down Richie West as he tried to speak, before letting Richie get his words out. They’re building up a match down the road involving The Control, and it looks like West is out to recruit Gibson to replace the injured Mark Haskins. Gibson rejects the offer, but after West offers him a future title shot… if Rampage Brown beats Nathan Cruz for the NGW title. Gibson walks away without the control, but it’s clear he’s mulling it over.
West stays out and challenges a member of the NGW team, with the winner getting a man advantage. So, for the NGW version of War Games, it looks like we’re getting Rampage Brown vs. Nathan Cruz right now? Nope, another commercial break…
We’re sent to an interview with Lionheart instead, along with Kid Fite and Joe Hendry as the Insane Fight Club mention that they’re not going to leave Scotland and return to NGW to defend the titles until their demands are met. And now our ad break.
Back in the arena, we see Nathan Cruz walking towards the entranceway, then they cut to his entrance video and his full entrance. Well, I say full entrance, Rampage Brown jumps him in the aisle, and a referee comes out, so…
Rampage Brown vs. Nathan Cruz
Cruz throws Brown into the apron, as the brawling around the ring sees a staffer at ringside tossed out of his chair. Brown headbutts Cruz then goes to toss him into the post, but instead, Brown gets posted and then tossed into the ring.
Cruz hits a high knee to Brown, before landing a back elbow and a springboard cross body off the middle rope for a near-fall. Brown fights off a superplex effort, then rakes the eyes before landing a diving clothesline before pounding away on a grounded Cruz.
Brown pulls away at Cruz’s hair as he’s slumped against the ropes, and then takes him onto the apron so he can drop the leg onto Cruz. Meanwhile, the commentary team is more concerned with the as-yet incomplete NGW and Control teams for the big showdown, as Brown and Cruz go to the floor once more.
Cruz gets dumped onto the apron by Brown, and once both men return to the ring, Brown continues the beatdown. A snapmare and an elbow drop gets Brown a near-fall, then grounds Cruz with a rear chinlock as we’re promised the remainder of this match next week if we run out of TV time…
Out of nowhere, Cruz lands an enziguiri to Brown as he’s knocked off the top rope, and Cruz lights up Brown with punches back in the ring, before a flapjack takes down Rampage again. Cruz hits the slingshot back suplex for a near-fall, but the spotlight turns to the entrance-way as Sam Wilder and Caz Crash – a team known as the Proven – try to run in, but get taken out by Cruz.
As Cruz was distracted, Rampage attacked him from behind and hit a DDT, and the credits are rolling… we have a non-finish as this match bleeds into next week. Well, what I saw was pretty good, but I guess I’ll have to watch next week to get some closure, eh? [not rated]
The NGW product, as a TV show, is a game of two halves. The in-ring product on display this week was fantastic, and the roster they’ve got is amongst the best in British wrestling… but that commentary. I’ll be reviewing next week’s show (and probably the rest of this 8th Anniversary card that was split up for TV), but I can only hope that I can learn to tolerate the commentary stylings of Alex Shane.