NORTH’s last show of 2017 was typical fare as a rowdy Newcastle crowd saw Dom Black get a surprise chance for some retribution in on Liam Slater.

Hey, NORTH’s on Cagematch now! That’s my life made easier… we open up with Andrew Bowers and ring announcer Stevie Aaron in the ring to hype up the crowd. As ever, Tom Campbell and Matthew Gregg (Maffew from Botchamania) are on commentary, and they react with incredulity as Spike Trivet interrupts Bowers.

Spike Trivet vs. Amir Jordan
Spike’s spraying his “Prosecco” as usual, while Amir Jordan’s on hand to improve the mood of the locals with the magic of Bhangra… before Stevie Aaron rattled off a long list of nicknames for him. I think it’ll catch on.

The Newcastle crowd launched into chants of “kill the Tory” as the bell finally rings, with Jordan and Trivet starting a feeling out process that quickly saw Amir taken down. When he gets back up, Jordan’s forced to cartwheel out of a wristlock as he keeps it basic while keeping the crowd engaged before breaking out into more dance. Trivet heads outside, where he uses a fan as a human shield to stop Jordan from diving into him, and that leads to some brawling outside as Spike takes Amir into the ringpost – after a sly dig on commentary from Maffew at the camera angles – before continuing to light up Jordan in the corner with some chops.

Amir tries to launch a fightback, but some knees quickly snuff that out, as Trivet traps Amir in a chinlock on the mat, before another kick gets him a near-fall. It’s almost like Spike’s looking for a knock-out, but Jordan’s still throwing punches back, only to get backdropped from the ring to the floor as Spike stayed one step ahead. Jordan barely drags himself back into the ring in time, but he’s put straight into a Tree of Woe as Spike goes sprays some Prosecco in his face… and that’s the last straw as Jordan bursts into life with chops and enziguiris, before rolling up into a neckbreaker! Amir tries to finish it off the top rope, but Spike gets up and crotches him… only to get sent back down as Jordan connects with a high-angle senton bomb for a near-fall – Spike barely gets a foot on the ropes in time!

Straight after that, Spike catches Amir with the Birthright – a butterfly backbreaker – and that’s enough to keep Amir’s losing streak going. A solid opener, with Trivet’s character work clicking well in the north east, as you’d expect given the political leanings. **¾

Post-match, Trivet gets the microphone and introduces the Landed Gentry ahead of our next match – that’s the name given to the pairing of Benji and Zeo Knox, who are still using Dance of the Knights for their ring music. Their three-on-one beating of Amir is quickly stopped by the in-ring arrival of England’s Hardest Men – Lou Nixon and Shreddy Brek, who quickly clear the ring.

Landed Gentry (Zeo Knox & Benji) vs. England’s Hardest Men (Lou Nixon & Shreddy Brek)
When the bell goes, the Gentry attack Shreddy from behind as they’re pretty much limited to two-on-one attacks and cheapshots in the early going.

Benji tries to put the boots to Shreddy, missing a knee drop in the process, but we’re pretty much waiting for the inevitable comeback… even more so when Zeo rakes the eyes of Shreddy to keep the beatdown going. A missed dropkick provided a glimmer of hope as Shreddy’s able to make the tag out to Nixon, who connects with kicks to Zeo and Benji, before waffling them with a double clothesline.

Shreddy’s quickly tagged back in as he charges into the Gentry in the corners, but his attempt at a powerslam to Benji’s thwarted when Gavin Lewis – the Sunderland fan from the last show – pulls Benji away before punching out Shreddy. Zeo returns with a superkick as Benji tries to finish off with a top rope legdrop that squashes Shreddy… but it’s only enough for a two-count! “Some fans” make the save – later identified as Joseph Biggs and Lewis Ryan – and run off Lewis as Shreddy recovers to press slam Benji, before a kick to the head from Nixon and a running elbow drop gets the win. Pretty basic stuff, but given their gimmick England’s Hardest Men shouldn’t be doing anything fancy, or going long in matches. I bet that Benji legdrop off the top sucked though… **

After the match, Shreddybrek gets oiled up… because he used to be a professional bodybuilder. Fair enough…

Robbie X vs. HT Drake
It’s a NORTH debut for Robbie X, who is one of those names who seems to have been around forever while seemingly plateauing. Drake’s a good guy here, so this is a babyface match for some reason.

The feeling out process starts with Robbie grabbing a wristlock as Maffew tries to paint this on commentary as a north vs. south proposition – which it is, depending on where you put that divide! Robbie counters another wristlock with see-saw kip ups and scores a headlock takedown, but there’s an escape as Drake jaws with someone in the crowd who reckoned he was too old… and this crowd heckling seems to take everyone out of their zones as the match became very stop-start.

Robbie X heads into the corner and pulls off a headstand on the top turnbuckle, a la Jack Gallagher in the modern day, and it works too as he’s able to cartwheel out and into a dropkick to put Drake into the corner. Just like that though, Drake flies back in with a springboard spinning heel kick as he begins to work over the Lincoln native, who knocks Drake off the apron with another dropkick.

Some inventive offence sees Drake catch Robbie between the ring apron and the bar, before walking around ringside in a suplex as he dropped Robbie onto the edge of the apron! Somehow it remains back-and-forth as Robbie X hits a neckbreaker and a standing shooting star press for a near-fall, before wrenching away on Drake’s arm as he tried in vain to maintain an advantage.

Of course, Drake hits back with a dropkick and a roll-through Northern Lights suplex into a stomp, before the two jockey over a suplex and decide just to throw forearms instead. Duelling headkicks leave both men laid out, and we fight back to a vertical base while throwing more chops and forearms, until an attempted handspring stunner from Robbie’s blocked… so he throws in dropkicks instead.

Robbie keeps up with a springboard back elbow into the corner before landing a standing moonsault, then a powerbomb as the X-Clamation (springboard stunner) gets him just a two-count… Robbie’s gonna need something, erm, extra here, I guess? A snap German suplex from Drake quickly turns the tables as he follows up with the Drake’s Landing (bridging German) for another near-fall. An attempt at a superplex is stopped as Drake’s shoved down, but he recovers to land an enziguiri, before going Coast to Coast and following up with a top rope lungblower for the win. A solid match, although it did seem at times that the commentary was more excited about the match than the crowd – but nevertheless, this was a match that Robbie’ll add to his burgeoning CV for if/when that breakout happens. ***¼

Sons of Ulaid (Rory Coyle & Bás Bán) vs. Sweet Jesus (Pastor William Eaver & Chuck Mambo)
Last time out, the Sons of Ulaid had a weird match against each other after their scheduled match against CCK was cancelled due to injuries. There’s a slight bit of shade thrown on commentary, as the crowd branded the Sons as “Sick Boys”, with chants much like CCK get.

Eaver and Coyle did meet back at NCL.2 a year earlier, so this seems to be becoming a bit of a Bonfire night tradition. Mambo tries to play volleyball with Bán, but Chuck’s awful at it, and when Bán catches the ball… Rory Coyle takes it away out of disgust. Good, we all know what kind of trouble those beachballs can do with live crowds! That’s apparently a tag, and we get the two Pastors in, with Coyle – who dressed up like one – took on Eaver… but took a headbutt as Eaver looked to make him pay.

Some Pope-ish hammers and a clothesline take Coyle to the outside, and he joins them there with a plancha after a tope con giro from Mambo was caught by the Sons… and it’s the Sweet Jesus tandem who’s standing tall! Back in the ring, Sweet Jesus double-team over Coyle, with a backbreaker and a pair of knees keeping Coyle down… and to be fair, it’s Rory who’s taking all the offence.
There’s parts of the crowd that didn’t seem to like that, and they actually cheer when Coyle gets in a back suplex after Eaver’d gotten himself distracted, and Bán tags in as he’s sent shoulder-first into Eaver in the corner. Yep, it’s pretty basic offence from Bán, as you’d expect with his character, restricting himself to kicks, punches, chokes and the like.

What, you expected a masked simpleton to know leglocks and the like?

Bán pulls off an airplane spin at the order of Coyle, who throws a forearm after the Pastor’s let go… Eaver quickly gets the tag back out as Mambo cleans house, again to a chorus of boos, with a Blockbuster taking Coyle down… followed by the Reefbreaker (Meteora). There’s more boos as Sweet Jesus work together with double boots to Bán, and we’re going all Mega Powers as the Pastor gets a leg drop, before a top rope elbow from “Macho Man” Mambo.

Coyle makes the save to break up the pin, and he stays in the ring to help Bán with a double chokeslam for a near-fall on the Pastor. Another save has to be made by Coyle after Bán is caught in a Blockbuster-assisted crucifix for a near-fall, before Coyle distracts Sweet Jesus by wearing the Pastor’s vestment… they turn around into a big flying clothesline from Bán, taking both men out, before a clothesline-assisted Samoan drop gets the Sons of Ulaid the win. Well then… I was not expecting the crowd to back these guys as much as they did, but it seems the whole CCK debacle has babyfaced the “sick boys”. As for the match, once we got past the shenanigans, this was quite entertaining, and perhaps the best the Sons of Ulaid have looked in NORTH. As to where this heads in 2018 remains to be seen… ***¼

After an interval, we’ve got a speech from Andrew Bowers, but he’s interrupted again as he’s about to put over their crowd of 200. Danny O’Doherty’s out as Maffew wets himself with excitement. Danny’s got a story for us, which I gloss over as he wheels out Saxon Huxley for his NORTH return after a show away.

Apparently Danny’s back because it’s his birthday, and it’s also Roxxy’s birthday as well, so they’re going to party together. Yeah, despite being local, she’s the bad guy here… despite a female fan planting a kiss on her, which didn’t go down too well. There’s black balloons, and a chocolate birthday cake… which ultimately gets thrown into the stagehand’s face as Roxxy was insulted by the lack of a candle.

Ah well. Never celebrate anything bad, is what I say!

Saxon Huxley vs. Erin Jacobs
In the midst of this, Erin Jacobs runs out and grabs Danny O’Doherty in a chokehold… Huxley breaks it up and we finally have a match among the balloons and cake crumbs!

Jacobs, who was last seen at NCL.6, losing to HT Drake, quickly dumps Huxley with a back suplex, before using the top rope to break Huxley’s finger. It’s not quite as satisfying as that finger snaps what other bad guys do…

Jacobs quickly gets distracted by the various bodies at ringside, and that helps Huxley flatten him with a kick before pulling Jacobs into a cobra clutch’d backbreaker. It’s pretty much one-way stuff for the “Muscle Cat” here, only for Jacobs to break free and plant Saxon with a spinebuster for a solid two-count. For some reason Jacobs turns his attention to O’Doherty, but the Benny Hill chase just leads him back into the ring as a waiting Huxley tries to finish him off… but Erin escapes and lands a second spinebuster as Roxxy puts Huxley’s foot on the ropes just in time.

Still, Erin’s in control, knocking Huxley off the top rope as he still spent time getting distracted… and then for some reason O’Doherty hits the ring to try and attack Erin. That’s not a DQ for… reasons, as Danny tries to pay-off Jacobs with money and jewelry. Of course they’re not accepted, as Erin plants Danny with another spinebuster, before Roxxy comes in and jumps on Erin’s back. How’s this not a DQ yet?

Erin shakes her away, before Huxley returns to jump him from behind, landing a Canadian backbreaker for the win. I wasn’t too enamoured with that finish, but I guess it prolongs the story with Jacobs and O’Doherty. The match was, there, I guess, with too much in the way of shenanigans to let this run properly. **

Liam Slater comes out next in a Pro Wrestling World Cup shirt – and there’s plenty of cheapshots at how his former friends at WhatCulture are out of work (granted, they were in the inbetween bit before the launch of Cultaholic). Liam’s got some churnalism for us, with a top ten list – complete with graphics on why they should sack Dom Black.

1. He didn’t invent “kick him in the c***” – Liam Slater did (and they have video evidence of that)
2. He came to the ring in a Delboy jacket and a rose
3. His tiny trunks
… we don’t get number four as Dom Black interrupts.

Okay, this was funny – especially with the video and image choices! Anyway, this leads to a match, which Liam Slater apparently picked the rules for: no DQ, no count-out, no holds barred, falls count anywhere – Five Minutes of Fame.

Liam Slater vs. Dom Black
The bell rings, but Slater instantly goes for stalling tactics as he demands that the ref check Dom, then him for any contraband. Of course, the time’s ticking away, and Slater’s in no rush – and he’s more than eager to play up to the crowd’s chants.

Slater rolls outside instantly as we’ve wasted a minute, but Black finally gets a shot in with a cannonball off the top rope! There’s brawling in the crowd as Black then throws Slater back in the ring for… reasons, only for Liam to catch him back inside with a punt to the balls. We suddenly get a picture-in-picture of a countdown for the final minute, which is spent with Slater taking his time setting up Black in the corner, but a Shattered Dreams is stopped as Black teases retribution… but instead he trips Slater before time runs out? Dom lets go because he’s a bumbling babyface, and he doesn’t get a low blow in as Slater just hits a high-angle gutwrench powerbomb before leaving through the crowd. Well, that did a whole lot of good for Dom, who looked like a goof for not taking his chances here. (NR)

Slater came back with the guard rail he had for Dom Black last time out, and he teases a crucifix bomb into it after it was set up in the corner… but then music hits as Primate makes an appearance! Of course, Slater scarpers, and Primate takes the mic so he can issue a challenge to Slater… for a “Primate Rules” match in January. Or, as he so eloquently put it to Slater, “you’re fucked”.

That was a very verbose promo from a man whose usual mic work is grunts…

Dave Mastiff vs. Eddie Dennis
Another debut here sees Dave Mastiff take the main event against Eddie Dennis – in the third time these guys have met in singles action, with Mastiff taking wins in PROGRESS and Rev Pro, whilst Eddie has a PROGRESS win under his belt from ENDVR 14.

There’s rough-housing from the off as Mastiff took Eddie into the ropes, before Eddie starts to work over a wrist as he tried to restrain “the Bastard”. Both guys exchange holds in the early going, before Mastiff escapes some headscissors as we started all over again. From the restart, it’s pretty tentative stuff as Mastiff tries to work the arm, taking Eddie to the mat, before the “Pride of Wales” returns the favour. It’s pretty weird stuff to see two big guys working the arm, but it’s a welcome change of pace after the shenanigans of the last match, as the pair took their time before they started throwing shots, which Eddie breaks up with a ‘rana as “Eddie Mysterio” broke out.

Mastiff returns fire with a dropkick as he almost took home the win, but he then goes back to a chinlock as he tries to wear down the Welshman some more, throwing up a cross-legged stump puller as we get throwbacks to Giant Haystacks and, erm, Doink. Eddie hits back though, taking Dave out for a tope con giro, before ducking a chop as Mastiff hits a supporting column.
As is tradition, the pair take the fight onto the riverside, with Mastiff going through a guard rail, before taking Eddie towards the riverbanks, as Eddie tries to throw Big Dave in the Tyne!

It’s blocked and reversed, as Eddie’s crotched on the rails. Eventually they head back inside and into the ring, where Mastiff traps Eddie between the ropes and almost decapitates him.
Mastiff builds up to an Earthquake-style sit-down splash as he looked to edge ahead, but Eddie fires back and tries to slam Big Dave… and actually succeeds with a swinging side slam! Hey Maffew, big thumbs up there for the Gunn-Slinger shoutout!

On the drop of a hat though, Mastiff comes back with a delayed German for a near-fall, before he’s caught up top by Eddie as the Severn Bridge crucifix bomb smashed Mastiff into the mat for another near-fall. Eddie keeps up with some corner elbows, but Mastiff punches away and tries for a deadlift superplex, succeeding with ease as the Welshman crashes back into the ring.

From the mat, both men trade right hands as they get back to their feet, but Mastiff edges ahead with a cross body and a trio of back sentons. Mastiff tries to put an exclamation point on with a cannonball, but it comes up short as Eddie eventually builds up to a Next Stop Driver, eventually hoisting up the Bastard for the win! A rather different take on the big lads’ match, but enjoyable stuff as NORTH closed out their year in style. ***½

After NCL.6 was effectively salvaged, this was a show that saw NORTH wrestling back on form. Sure, there’s no title belts, but there’s plenty of stories in play – from Amir Jordan’s losing streak, to Liam Slater being a dick, and whatever’s going on with the Sons of Ulaid. Like all of NORTH’s prior shows, this is up for free on YouTube, and is well worth your time if you’re on the hunt for some “undergraps”.