Last week, we covered the eighth episode of the current series of the NGW “British Wrestling Weekly” show, and we were left on a cliff-hanger as the show went off the air with a match still in progress.
Currently archived on YouTube, we still have the old “season premiere voiceover to start the show, and a new “don’t try this at home” video, featuring footage of NGW of old – back from when their set seemed to be a throwback to the old days of WCW Saturday Night… and some footage of Jody Fleisch doing a shooting star press from the top rope and getting nothing but with some stage steps. I kinda remember that bump – Fleisch broke his own jaw doing that, whilst his opponent, Ryo Saito, got off lightly. I’m pretty sure nobody should try to do that last one, either at home, or even in the ring.
Cue the TV show intro (don’t worry, you’ll see it plenty of times in and out of commercial breaks if you miss it!), and we open with the usual shot of an empty ring, and the fans cheering. Err, whatever happened to picking up where the match left off last week? Dave Bradshaw on commentary plugs the appearance of the Insane Fight Club as they defend their tag titles against opponents of their own choosing.
They now throw to the conclusion of that match… personally, I’d have just had a hot start, or at least show some graphics and not the crowd and an empty ring, to avoid any jarring changes.
Rampage Brown vs. Nathan Cruz (continued…)
As we went off the air last week, Nathan Cruz had just taken a DDT from Rampage Brown after a distraction, but they pick up a little earlier that that, with Rampage giving Cruz a snapmare out of the corner, then dropping an elbow. They then morph back into the corner for the same spot. Cruz kicks out from a lateral press, but we don’t see any kick-out… what the heck’s happening to the editing?!
Cruz is caught on the mat in a rear chinlock, before his attempts to work free get him a knee to the midsection and a couple of chops. Rampage gets the feet up to avoid an avalanche charge, but gets sent to the outside by an enziguiri from Cruz as Rampage had made it to the top rope.
Rampage rolls back in and starts trading shots with Cruz, but Cruz lands the slingshot belly to back suplex for a near-fall. Cruz went for the Show Stolen, but the Proven come out for a distraction, only to be taken out by a plancha from Cruz… back inside, Rampage drops Cruz with a lariat, then a DDT, and we’re up to where we were last week. So five minutes into the show and now it’s new content, with recycled commentary. “As a new viewer”, I’d have been confused as to why the show was ending so early, given that all the commentary referred to was “we’re running out of time in this week’s episode”, but I digress.
Cruz blocks a piledriver and counters into the Cruz Control (Texas Cloverleaf), as we get a graphic saying that this is “off-air action”. Rampage makes the ropes with relative ease, before they go back to trading strikes, but it takes a flapjack from Rampage to drop Cruz to the mat.
Rampage then goes to the outside, where Richie West and the Proven finally find a chair for him. The referee stops Rampage from using the chair, and he turns around into the Show Stolen for a near-fall as Richie West apparently broke the count. We don’t see a replay just yet, but nevertheless, the Proven run in to turn this into a three-on-one beating, as they deliver their finisher – the Point Proven – a Fireman’s carry dropping into a cutter.
The Proven drape Rampage over Cruz’s body, but he found a way to kick out, and the referee ejects the Proven from ringside. Inside the ring, Rampage swings and misses with the chair, but the referee turns around to climb back into the ring just in time to see Cruz grab the chair and smash it on Rampage’s back… and there’s the DQ finish. I quite liked how the referee turned around just in time to see the DQ, although I don’t get why the replay of it freeze-framed the chairshot, like an early morning WWE show.
The shenanigans at the end were a dampener on this, but the match and the story it told were pretty good. That being said, the way this was stretched across two episodes, complete with the confusing recycling of commentary and the somewhat hokey “hey, this is off-air stuff!” kind of spoiled the complete package for me. ***¾
They recap last week’s segment with Zack Gibson being offered a spot on the Control’s team… and now a commercial!
Back from commercial, and we have a studio segment with Francesca Wood, Alex Shane and Ollie Davis. They mention the impending appearance of team Insane Fight Club, before recapping the ending of the Cruz/Rampage match, then hyping up the “Battle for Control” of NGW, with the Team Warfare match (War Games) and additional stipulations.
Alex Shane does a pretty good job of explaining the rules of Team Warfare, and why Rampage winning the advantage mattered. Another recap of the Zack Gibson angle, and Francesca Wood mentions how the possible title matches out of the Team Warfare match would be Rampage Brown vs. Zack Gibson or Nathan Cruz vs. Doug Williams. Apparently that last one was rumoured, but God knows where…
You know, in a studio setting, being somewhat sedated and not having to hype stuff up, Shane does come across as a decent “expert”/talking head. This segment felt like those conversations you overhear in the queues to get into wrestling shows, but without the camera randomly showing a host who wasn’t speaking for a lot of the time.
Francesca pitches to a video package where they reveal that Team Insane Fight Club had made demands before they’d appear on NGW again. Their stipulations – firstly, the three-man team will work under the Freebird Rule (any two members of the team can defend the titles); secondly, NGW will have to pay for any lost/damaged title belts (eh, I’m not so crazy about that one); thirdly – Team Insane Fight Club pick their own opponents. Cue a conveyor belt of nothing but scrubs!
Another commercial break, and we return to footage from last month where Stixx and Colossus lost their NGW tag titles to Team Insane Fight Club. Stixx lands a spear on Joe Hendry, but Kid Fite distracts the referee as Joe Hendry hit Stixx with the title belts, and there’s your title change! Cut to a sit-down interview with Ace Matthews and David Graves, and it looks like these are your first “hand picked” opponents.
Joe Hendry cuts a heel promo beforehand, which continues the jarring “hey, isn’t this guy a babyface in….?” trend that pervades throughout British wrestling. They introduce “Team Sports” as one of the best teams in the world as their opponents… they’re trainees from the NGW academy, coming out with a rugby ball in hand, and they’re both wearing captain’s armbands. Not quite as generic as that time that Shane Douglas came to the ring with a skateboard but never used it, but at least it’s a gimmick.
NGW Tag Team Championship: Team Insane Fight Club (Joe Hendry & Lionheart) (c) vs. Ace Matthews & David Graves
Lionheart starts with a wristlock on David Graves, who reverses it… as we go to a commercial break. Seriously?!
We’re back and they’re still working over wristlocks, and Alex Shane is shocked that during the commercial break, they’ve been wrestling. Well, what else would they have been doing? Reading the newspaper? Going to the toilet? Playing Hungry Hungry Hippos?!
Lionheart takes down Graves with a snapmare, then goes to a rear chinlock, before taking him down with a waistlock. Ace Matthews tags in, and they plug for next week: Liam Slater vs. Joseph Conners, in a match where Conners will be suspended if he doesn’t turn up. Okay…
Matthews scores a couple of headlock takedowns on Lionheart, then a waistlock takedown into a front headlock. After working free, Lionheart tags out to Joe Hendry, who immediately goes into a waistlock takedown, and then back to the front headlock. A dropkick from Matthews sends Hendry to the mat, and the “impressed” Local Hero gives Matthews a thumbs up, but it’s really just a ruse for him to turn around and get punched in the head by Lionheart.
Hendry stomped away on Matthews, and then tagged in Lionheart as the joking around part of the match officially ended. Matthews hit a back elbow off the ropes to Lionheart, before Graves and Matthews hit a double team elbow-drop for a near-fall. Joe Hendry tags back in, as the heels start to make use of frequent tags, before Lionheart drops Graves with a Yakuza kick in the corner.
Graves pulls himself back to his feet, and hits a back elbow to Lionheart, and lands a cross body off the middle rope for a two-count, before Joe Hendry runs in and tries for a fallaway slam. Graves escapes, but misses a shoulder tackle in the corner, before getting two feet up to block Hendry… who still manages to land a fallaway slam, as Lionheart follows up with a frog splash to retain the titles. A pretty enjoyable glorified squash match, as the story of Team Insane Fight Club holding the titles hostage continues. ***¼
Post-match, Lionheart grabbed the microphone for heel promo part two, and he promises that no team will ever take the titles from them. Cue the music for Stixx and Colossus, and they’re out, prompting Joe Hendry to do a runner. No such luck for Lionheart, as Ace Matthews held onto his foot, and that left Lionheart all alone in the ring… Black Hole Slam from Stixx, and Colossus follows up with a Vader bomb to flatten Lionheart as Joe Hendry sits on the stage with the tag titles, presumably waiting for Lionheart to get helped to the back.
Another two-match show, and whilst I wasn’t thrilled about how they recycled a lot of commentary from last week, they still produced a really good show. At 43 minutes long, minus adverts, and this just breezed along. A solid thumbs up from me, even with the commentary flaws previously laid out, and those weird snafus where we opened with a live crowd and no wrestling, before jumping into some awkward video edits.
It’s just a shame that, where I live, I can’t get this easily on TV without fiddling around with my Sky box (something that NGW do help you to do with guides at http://www.ngwuk.com/television.php) – otherwise, I guess waiting for it on YouTube is the way to go.