Onto our backlog now, with a trip to Newcastle for NORTH Wrestling’s first show of 2018: I’m Tapped!

As ever, we’re at Newcastle’s Riverside, with Tom Campbell and Maffew Gregg your commentators. We open with NORTH’s owner, Andrew Bowers, who comes out with a title belt as he announces a scramble match to crown a champion. He massively telegraphs what happens next by dropping an F-bomb…

Out comes Chief Deputy Dunne, who threatens to close the bar, and we’re into our opening match!

Chief Deputy Dunne & Kip Sabian vs. Team WhiteWolf (A-Kid & Adam Chase)
There’s already signs of dissension from the off as Dunne had a word with Sabian for being too enthusiastic and having “too much fun” with his introduction. I’m dying!

It’s a debut for Team WhiteWolf here, and although this was only January, you could tell that the Spanish pair were doing to be breaking out across the UK this year.

Dunne starts with a wristlock to A-Kid as the pair worked on the mat early, but Kid’s back in with an Octopus stretch before missing a standing moonsault as he seemed to be having too much fun (ahh). Sabian comes in and tries to elicit the “Supertwat” chants he gets elsewhere, but Newcastle isn’t biting as Adam Chase runs rings around him and nails a leaping calf kick to take Kip to the floor.

Dunne’s out there too as we get duelling topes from the Spaniards, before Sabian gets a little help from Dunne on the apron to turn things around. Frequent tags kept Chase on the back foot, as he was forced to kick out from a Northern lights suplex before his tag out to A-Kid was thwarted when Dunne pulled Kid down.

Some headscissors helped Chase get free as he makes Sabian accidentally DDT Dunne, before Kid comes in for a swinging neckbreaker, before Chase’s slingshot splash kept the action fast. Chase tried to make a pin when he wasn’t legal, and has to come back for a save as a doomsday powerbomb almost put Kid away before all four men get laid out with boots.

A springboard from Kid gets smashed by a dropkick, but Kid’s back with a tornado DDT before he nails a Spanish Fly as Sabian played to the crowd, as a pair of superkicks put away the Anti-Fun Duo. An impressive debut from WhiteWolf, who are already making waves across the UK this year. ***

Post-match, Sabian walked out on Dunne, calling him a “bad friend”. That’s deep!

Thanks to us not exactly being quick in reviewing this show, we’re watching everything from this point on after we’ve seen NCL.9. There’s a lot of overdubs as we’re in the copyright protection era here.

Little Miss Roxxy vs. Shax
A rematch from NCL.6, as the originally advertised three-way was brought back to a singles match as Millie McKenzie ended up working for Rev Pro on the same day instead.

Shax started by taking down Roxxy with a headlock, but Roxxy escapes with headscissors as they went back-and-forth on the mat. Danny O’Doherty’s cheerleading Roxxy as she makes a comeback, hitting a jawbreaker before taking Shax into the corner for some choking.

Shax rebounds with a springboard crossbody out of the corner, but Roxxy quickly cuts her off with some knees, before trapping her in the ropes for a dropkick. After a snapmare, Roxxy tries to force a submission with the ol’ Axel Dieter Special, only for Shax to get to the ropes… before she caught Roxxy with a lungblower out of the corner to nearly get the flash win.

The two trade shots, with Shax taking the lead, only for Roxxy to kick back and go for a sunset flip, which led to some indy’riffic pinning attempts. A shotgun dropkick takes Roxxy into the corner as Shax demolishes her with a running double knee strike to collect another near-fall… O’Doherty appears on the apron with a chair for, reasons, but it provides a distraction for a hook kick and a back cracker from Roxxy.

Roxxy argues with O’Doherty over the need for the distraction, and eventually whacks the welly-wearing O’Doherty with a chair, before Shax took advantage with a swinging Fisherman’s neckbreaker for the win. A decent enough outing, but I wasn’t a fan of how much the O’Doherty stuff overshadowed the match at the end. **¼

Robbie X vs. Amir Jordan
Entrances are clipped here, as Amir Jordan was still in search of his first win. Robbie X didn’t know what Chicken Cottage is, which makes me wonder… what is there in Lincoln?!

We’ve another technical opening as Robbie tried to restrain Jordan with a headlock, only for things to get reversed as Robbie was forced to scoot his way to freedom. Some back-and-forth armdrags led to some pinning attempts before they furiously went at each other until they hit a stalemate with dropkicks!

A test of strength takes Robbie down to the mat, but he avoids being pinned by bridging up, before monkey flipping Jordan across the ring as the pair put on some great bursts of action as Jordan tried to wear down the relative veteran. Robbie’s right back with a lucha-inspired armdrag, before cartwheeling into a dropkick as Jordan started to slip a little, getting crushed with a back senton as X nearly gave it to him.

Jordan gets in a hopeful enziguiri, before his slingshot from the apron gets wiped out with a knee from Robbie… that looked like it sucked. A handspring kick takes Amir to the outside, where he’s quickly met with a tope before Robbie’s German suplex gets a near-fall – and almost another loss for Jordan. Amir blocked Robbie as he went for the X-Clamation, before rolling him up from a second one for a near-fall, and countering a third with a neckbreaker as Amir seemed to be out of ideas.

Amir’s forced to block a superplex, before his roll through neckbreaker’s countered into a death valley driver, with Robbie quickly hitting a Shining Wizard for another near-fall. A deadlift suplex from the apron’s stopped as Amir finally gets that rolling neckbreaker, spiking Robbie before a top rope senton almost earned him the win… prompting Jordan to beg to the ref in disbelief.

Sensing victory, Robbie comes in with a backfist and the X-Clamation, before his standing shooting star press gets nothing but knees… and after Amir almost snatches the win with a cradle, Robbie X quickly capitalises with an O’Connor roll with a handful of tights to nick the win. A cheap finish, but it builds up the story – and this is definitely a match you want to go back to see. Robbie X may not work in promotions that gets a lot of buzz, but his matches almost always never disappoint – this was another one that you ought to hunt down. ***¾

After the match, we see Amir Jordan go backstage, where he runs into NORTH owner Andrew Bowers. Jordan’s angry at not winning, but after being talked into one more match, he demands to face the best… else he’ll leave.

No Disqualification: Primate vs. Liam Slater
Also known as “Primate’s Rules”, this was the last time we’d see Primate in NORTH, as he’d break his jaw weeks later – leading to his enforced retirement.

Liam Slater joins us from the balcony, prompting Primate to run up there after him… and this is going to be a wacky one to follow. Slater’s game of cat and mouse sees him make it to the ring as Primate got to the balcony… but Slater has a chair ready when Primate returned, and after an inopportune slip, Slater gets met with a spear as he couldn’t figure out the chair.

Primate gets some plunder, but a loose baking tray gets intercepted as Liam Slater uses it on him… to little effect at first. Slater’s offence quickly ends as he’s given an Exploder suplex into the corner, before Primate heads outside to grab a Shax 8×10” from the merch table… and uses it to cause some papercuts. He’s spent way too much time around Jimmy Havoc…

They tease a paper cut to the nipple, and deliver it, as Liam Slater finally mounts a comeback by way of a low blow. A rebound lariat just angers Primate, who nails a release German and a massive pop-up powerbomb, before following Slater on the floor with a baking tray shot… but they head up towards the bar as Slater finds the guard rail he used to try and restrain Dom Black a few shows ago, and looked to throw Primate through it…

…except Slater bridged it between the ring and the stage, as the pair then brawled to the outside, where we see referee John Myers slip on some ice by the banks of the River Tyne. Ah well, it’s not like NORTH are going to do anything like replay that forever more. They tease a suplex into the river, but they rethink things and after a back body drop onto the ring trailer, they head back into the building instead.

Slater’s introduced to the bar again, but back in the ring Primate’s caught with a low blow by a masked fan… and it’s Jack King, formerly of WhatCulture (and now of Cultaholic). For once he’s getting a reaction, as the former DDT Iron Heavymetalweight champion holds up Primate for a plastic mace shot to the chest, earning the disdain it deserved from commentary. Jack The Jobber becomes D-Von as he plays hard man and grabs the table… but he can’t lift it up, and so needs Slater to help him get his own table… but Primate kills Jack with a spear, before Slater uses a chair, then a gutwrench powerbomb onto a chair for a near-fall. From there, Slater’s half-crab gets broken by way of a chair from Primate, who tried to finish off with a powerbomb, before he’s instead cracked through the table in the corner with a death valley driver for barely a one-count!

That enrages Primate, who returned fire with an uppercut before back body dropping Slater through that guard rail from earlier. That looked NASTY. Primate’s got Slater’s fanny pack, in which there’s… thumb tacks. Uh oh. Slater fights out of a powerbomb onto the tacks, but his flying ‘rana’s stuffed and turned into a powerbomb anyway, and that’s his lost! A pretty solid brawl, and while I could have lived without the interference, this was a fun match that ended this feud – either by choice or otherwise – as Slater said he was done as he walked to the back. ***

Clint Margera vs. Gavin Lewis
At NCL.6, Lewis turned on his tag team partner Lewis Ryan, and thus got the easiest response you could get – a Sunderland fan getting booed in Newcastle. God bless football rivalries. Hopefully his wrestling isn’t of League One standard (as I sob into my keyboard…)

Margera and Lewis trade shoulder tackles early as commentary remarked how weird it was seeing Margera in a “normal match”… Clint’s cheered as he took Lewis into the crowd with a dive, but Gavin took over with a cheapshot, taking Margera into the ropes for some choking as he put the boots to the death match worker.

Problem is, aside from the football-related hate, Lewis didn’t seem to be doing too much to get the crowd’s boos. Margera tries to get a tornado DDT out of the corner, but instead Lewis blocks it before throwing him to the mat ahead of a nice scoop slam for a near-fall. All of a sudden, Margera reverses a reverse DDT, then followed up with a Falcon arrow before heading up top for a Tennessee Jam legdrop, but Lewis was able to kick out at two.

After a poke to the eye, the pair battle back and forth with fireman’s carries, before Zeo Knox comes out to Prokofiev’s Dance of the Knights. Lewis’ll be at home there. The match grinds to a halt as Benji came out with a croquet mallet, but he misses Clint and nails Zeo with it as Margera finishes off Lewis with a top rope rolling death valley driver for the win. This was fine, given Lewis’ inexperience, but I do like the feint ties between him and the Landed Gentry all because of their shared love of that song. **¼

HT Drake vs. Screwface
There’s a tentative start between these two, with Drake trying to snatch a win early with a roll-up, while Screwface took the match to the ground with some headlock takedowns.

A quick slap from Screwface put the brakes on Drake’s offence, but a caught kick led to a spinning heel kick from Drake, who ends up springboarding back in from the apron with another spinning heel kick as he kept on top of Screwface… literally. Screwface heads outside, but not for long as he gets taken down with a sunset flip back inside, before replying with a Blue Thunder Bomb for a near-fall on Drake.

Screwface retains the upper hand with a suplex, getting a near-fall, before a springboard moonsault out of the corner nearly gets Drake the win. Another flurry from Drake ends with a kneedrop for a near-fall, but he just ends up leaping into a spinebuster as the momentum swung back and forth, while somehow struggling to keep the crowd’s attention.

Drake does mount a comeback as he escaped a powerbomb with a ‘rana, before a second ‘rana was turned into a buckle bomb, but Drake’s right back in with knee and a Quebrada as he gets a near-fall. Another pump kick looked to set Screwface up for the Cross Rhodes, which he hit for a near-fall, before a second one was countered with a roll-up for a near-fall.

Out of nowhere, Drake lands a springboard lungblower out of the corner for a two-count, before he’s caught in the ropes as Screwface pinned him between the top and middle ropes for some kicks. A rope-hung Cross Rhodes follows, before Screwface rolled him back to the mat with an Anaconda choke for the submission. This match was fine, but it fell really flat with me – it all seemed to be the proverbial “trading of moves”, without any sort of interaction with the crowd. Audience reactions can make or kill a match, and here this was pretty much the latter. **¼

The “Shredabration” follows as England’s Hardest Men – complete with overdubbed music – appear. I’m not sure what they’re celebrating, nor was Lou Nixon, who seemed to be resigned to his fate here. Still, at least they had streamers and balloons! They look to celebrate, but they’re interrupted by Rory Coyle, who’s stabbing balloons on his way out. Coyle’s disappointed that he didn’t get an invite to this, and that somehow segued into him looking for Shreddybrek’s girlfriend and the rest of his family. Rory’s mouth gets him into trouble, as he threatened Shreddys’ girlfriend… just as Bás Bán kidnapped her. This ended up being Rory Coyle issuing an open challenge to any tag team in the world for March 10… which was apparently already answered by Aussie Open. The crowd liked that announcement!

Rampage Brown vs. Nathan Cruz
Somehow this was Rampage’s debut in NORTH – a bit of an oddity given how closely linked to the north Rampage is.

I must say, NORTH’s overdub of Rampage’s theme is the better of those currently being used…

Cruz has to use his smarts to try and outwit Rampage early, but some rope running ended up with a leapfrog getting turned into a big slam as Rampage took his fellow former PROGRESS champion into the corner ahead of a wicked dropkick. Cruz powdered to the floor as he tried to wrap Rampage’s legs around the ringpost, but he’s pulled into the post instead as the pair fought around the floor, before Cruz snuck back in with a springboard dropkick after a sneaky eye rake.

They’re back outside as Cruz chops Rampage, ahead of a slingshot senton back into the ring that gets nary a one-count. A whip into the corner for Cruz sees him recoil out into a back body drop, before an elbow gets him a quick two-count on the Professional Cruz. Nathan uses the referee as a human shield as he snuck back in with the Thanks Tully slingshot back suplex, before raining down punches on Rampage.

A snapmare and a knee gets Cruz a near-fall as he tried to break down Rampage, scoring with a Triple H-ish jumping knee. He perhaps went for Show Stolen too soon, as Rampage slips out of the Fireman’s carry and lands a uranage in response. Chops put Cruz on the ropes again, but he nearly nicks the win with a roll-up… forcing Rampage to propel him skyward from the kick-out.

A Falcon arrow bringing Cruz back in from the apron’s enough for a near-fall, but Cruz popped him up out of the corner before getting shoved to the outside as he went for a figure four. More chops from Rampage follow on the outside, before he gets caught on the top rope as Cruz looked to take advantage of his unfamiliar placement… only to get knocked down for a flying bulldog!

Somehow Cruz kicked out from that, and took Rampage back up top for a ‘rana, before nailing Show Stolen for a near-fall. Cruz keeps putting the boots to Rampage, but that just earns him a flapjack and a lariat as Rampage almost took the win… right as someone in the crowd begged for a piledriver. Instead, Rampage has to counter Show Stolen with a roll-up, before Cruz stole the win by sitting down on a sunset flip – grabbing the ropes for good measure. A sneaky win for Cruz, and a very unpopular one too, as Rampage’s NORTH debut ended in defeat after a pretty good showing from both men. ***½

Post-match, Rampage declared that he was out for the title… and out comes Screwface to provide the metaphorical roadblock as the show faded to black.

I’m Tapped was a pretty solid show from top to bottom, with pretty much the entire card looking to solidify their place in the scramble match on the next show. Amir Jordan’s performance in defeat stole the show – and it’ll be interesting to see the next few steps of his story. It’s a little weird that a few folks who lost on this show got into that match, but it’s nice to see that there were teases to future matches on here – as we saw progress further in NCL.9…