Terry Thatcher found himself in the main event of the latest Contenders show, as he looked to cause an upset and dethrone Mark Haskins of his GN title.

We’re back at the Ringside Club in Dublin for the first Contenders show since January. Aonghus og McAnally and Tony Kelly are on commentary…

More Than Hype (LJ Cleary, Nathan Martin & Darren Kearney) vs. Club Tropicana (Captain Sexsea, Aidan & Fabulous Nicky)
Paddles and nunchucks are legal… Nicky’s now a fully fledged member of Club Tropicana, and sadly there’s no Jose Idle here again.

Both team swing their weapons of choice, but it was Darren Kearney who landed the first blow as he cracked Captain Sexsea in the thigh with the nunchucks. Silly bugger shouldn’t have thrown away his paddle… the ring fills as everyone swings and misses before a wrestling match broke out.

Sexsea tries to make LJ tap to a wristlock. Yeah… When that didn’t work, Sexsea slaps everyone with gloves, which led to a rather one-sided duel as Martin snapped on him. Having a paddle to the arse stops Martin in his tracks, and broke him into tears… seemingly forcing him into “retirement”.

Of course it was a ruse, as Martin returns with nunchuck shots for all, before More Than Hype began to target Nicky. A springboard dropkick from LJ drops Nicky for a two-count, with him kipping up and into a superkick before Aidan tagged in and broke a paddle over Darren Kearney’s rear end. Oh boy. There’s more paddling for the Bleh Boys as Nathan took a paddle to the groin, and yes, it smashed off again.

LJ put a stop to the paddling with a dropkick before Darren Martin pulled out a swimming cap – as More Than Hype mocked the Tropicana Slip ‘n’ Slide. They couldn’t quite pull it off as a superkick turned the tide, allowing Sexsea to hit a slip ‘n’ slide headbutt, only for Aidan to go from being a launch pad to being pinned, after he was rolled up for a quick three-count. This was fine for a comedy opener, but you just know there’ll be some who aren’t thrilled with the new direction for More Than Hype. **

Then again, if the running gag continues to be “everyone beats Darren Kearney’s arse”, then why not?

Calum Black vs. Chris Ridgeway
This was a bit of an acid test for Black, who’s been getting a bit of buzz from his prior Contenders performances.

Ridgeway rolled Black to the mat early on, but couldn’t grab a body part initially… before he went to work on Black’s arm. Some mid kicks from Ridgeway had Black back on the mat, where a PK to the back and some more leg work really seemed to be stifling Black, who just couldn’t get into gear.

Black finally retaliates with some slaps, before elbows took Ridgeway into the corner for a running knee as an X-Plex almost put him away. A Dragon screw gets Ridgeway back in as he rolled Black into an ankle lock, torquing the knee and ankle at the same time, evenually scissoring the leg as Black got to the ropes.

More kicks from Ridgeway seemed to sharpen Black, who tries to strike back, instead landing a pair of pop-up powerbombs for a near-fall as the Dublin crowd bought into him being able to put away Ridgeway “just like that”. We’re back to the strikes as Ridgeway again peppered Black with kicks before a lariat took him down. More clubbing strikes from Black led to him POUNCE-ing Ridgeway across the ring.

Ridgeway instantly comes back with a Saito suplex and an axe kick for a near-fall, before a thunderous PK gave Ridgeway the opening to force a stoppage with a rear-naked choke. A strong showing in defeat from Black, who was perhaps underestimated here by Ridgeway… but he left with his respect, if not the win. A fun sprint. ***

Connor Andrews is introduced for a coronation, and not an Open Canvas session – something that was “closed down” by Andrews last time out. Andrews demands Aonghus McAnally come to the ring to crown him, but they’re interrupted by Amy Allonsy. There’s some burns from Connor, who told Amy to go back to the merch table after accusing her of being part of the reason that Katey Harvey wasn’t wrestling… she doesn’t exactly leave, so we have ourselves a match?

Connor Andrews vs. Amy Allonsy
Amy kicks out of a roll-up… then does Andrews with a La Magistral for the win!

After the match, Andrews grabbed Amy by the hair, but she switches places and throws him out. Ah well.

Backstage, Liam Royal and Michael May are waiting as Nathan Martin and LJ Cleary made their way in… the More Than Hype lads were dismissed as jokes, as we crossed back to ringside.

Valkyrie & CT Flexor vs. Session Moth Martina & Sugar Dunkerton
The pairing of Flexor and Valkyrie were at odds from the off, with Valkyrie audibly wanting to have been tagging with Debbie Keitel instead. Meanwhile, Martina and Sugar Dunkerton couldn’t have been happier…

Valkyrie demanded that Flexor start, because he needed to “prove himself”, which came in the form of holds that Sugar vocally expressed his discomfort in. Dunkerton gets free into an armbar which he used to make CT dance in, before we broke into a World of Sport-like pinning attempt, with both men having to force shoulders up to avoid a double pin.

More dancing is stopped by Valkyrie, whose protestations were eventually overcome by Martina, before another match broke out. Valkyrie ends up taking quite a few knees and kicks from Martina, including an enziguiri before a Twister led to a near-fall. Some quick tags helped Valkyrie back into it, as CT uses her for an assisted legdrop for a near-fall, before Martina caught CT with a move I can only describe as an abdominal stretch driver. Seriously, it’s nuts.

Flexor struck back before Sugar Dunkerton tagged in, lighting up CT with a punch before a “brainbuster 450” instead turned into Valkyrie accidentally DDT’ing Flexor. Dancing with Valkyrie turns into some clotheslines on CT, before a death valley driver gets Sugar another near-fall…

Martina’s back with a headbutt, only for CT to catch her with a dropkick as the bad guys went for a Tower of Doom. Sugar saves Martina before Valkyrie screamed at the threat of a dive… Flexor actually flies, crashing into Sugar, while Martina completed the set with a cannonball senton off the top. Back in the ring, Valkyrie catches Martina with a leg lariat, before Sugar caught one and turned it into a backbreaker.

The Parade of Moves continued with Martina throwing CT outside again, before she caught him with a satellite DDT and a brainbuster. A double-jump Seshbreaker followed, but apparently CT wasn’t legal… which we found out as Valkyrie rolled up Martina for the pin. This was fun in parts, even if a little rough, but I don’t think we’ll be seeing Valkyrie in this team again. **¾

Gavin Fitz vs. Curtis Murray
Fitz was out with the rest of his Mongrels buddies, despite their falling out on the last Belfast show. Meanwhile, Curtis Murray had his own back-up, in the form of Steven Carvel, who had his own bedazzled jacket.

Murray tried to win with a roll-up from the off, which had Russell Dempster beside himself as Fitz wasn’t exactly getting support from his buddies. Fitz kept yelling at his own partners as Murray rolled in and out of the ring, ahead of a Test of Strength… which is where the crowd threatened to turn on this something fierce.

Murray worked a hammerlock and a nerve hold on Fitz, before a chop to the chest looked to lead to some rope walking… except Murray slipped on the ropes, as did Fitz, before Murray came to another roll-up for a near-fall. A slam/suplex variant drops Fitz next, before some paint brushing swipes left Fitz loopy ahead of a hanging neckbreaker that got a near-fall.

Forearms from Murray led to him just standing there, as he was hell bent on slapping Fitz silly. A death valley driver from Fitz surprised Murray, as did a suplex/cutter and a handspring kick off the apron… but Fitz lacked any kind of urgency here, as he sauntered into a PK on the apron before rolling Murray back in.

Fitz looked to head up top, but a leaping enziguiri from Murray stops him before Fitz slipped out of a superplex and shoved Murray into the Mongrels on the floor. Murray’s thrown back in for a frog splash for a near-fall, before Murray flipped out of the Peace Keeper – a ripcord punch – and eventually took Fitz down with a whirlibird neckbreaker.

A neckbreaker he spun so fast on, he fell out of the ring through dizziness. That seemed to be the cue for Dempster and Stone to tease a walk out on Fitz, still smarting from being used as a crash pad earlier… and with the ref distracted, Murray’s able to low blow, then powerbomb Fitz into the crowd. That sounded like it sucked.

Back in the ring, Murray crashes into Fitz’s head with a missile dropkick for a delayed near-fall, before he pinned Fitz’s hands behind his back and stomped on him some more. We then get a close up of Murray pulling out Fitz’s contact lenses, and that leaves Fitz totally blind… but he’s able to counter a pumphandle tombstone into a headscissor tombstone. Sega Megadriver, eh?

Still unsighted, wandering like he was in a blindfold match, Fitz finds Murray and caught him with a Peace Keeper. Somehow he’s able to follow Murray outside before landing a springboard cutter back inside… only for Murray to kick out and get the win with a crucifix pin. This felt painfully slow – starting with Fitz supposedly rowing with his stablemates, who then just blended into the background. I kinda get what they were going for, but this was agonisingly slow to watch and felt like they lost track of the story. *½

…especially because the Mongrels abandoned him again after the match because he “didn’t try hard enough”.

Hyperstreak vs. Scotty Davis
Originally I thought Hyperstreak was a throwback to the days of random luchadors that OTT used to use, but no, this guy’s apparently got ties to CIMA’s OWE…

Davis starts by looking for Hyperstreak’s legs, as we’ve got some ground-based grappling early on, building up to a test of neck strength for both guys. A German suplex attempt from Davis is flipped out of, before Hyperstreak cleared the crowd so he could have a nice long run-up for a bicycle knee to Davis on the apron. Which Scotty quickly replied to with a tope con giro as Hyperstreak was celebrating on the outside.

Back inside, Davis retained control as he threw the masked man around with gutwrenches, only to get flipped inside out as Hyperstreak returned with a German suplex of his own. Some charging knees don’t help, nor does a shotgun dropkick as Davis is forced to kick out… but he’s quickly retaliating with a slingshot into a German suplex, only for Hyperstreak to keep him at bay.

An Irish whip takes Davis into the corner, but he’s able to boot his way free… only to get caught with a step up enziguiri and a death valley driver as Davis was really struggling here. Roll-ups from Hyperstreak get a near-fall before Davis clocks him with a lariat as the match seemed finely poised, with both men staying even… until Davis leapt up and superplexed Hyperstreak.

The pair exchange right hands until Davis rolls Hyperstreak to the mat in a trapped-arm armbar. A roll back almost pins Davis as Hyperstreak comes back in with a Trailer Hitch submission, only for Scotty to roll into the ropes ahead of a Gator Roll-infused comeback. Hyperstreak gets free and boots Scotty one more time in the knee, which had been a constant target, before he leapt back out of the corner and into a German suplex for a near-fall.

A head kick catches Scotty, but he’s able to Matrix out of another boot and catch Hyperstreak with the Supremacy for the win. This was fine, but didn’t ever threaten to break out of the pack – like there was something off between the pair, or whether they were pushed for time. Another win for Scotty, but the performances have been a little off as of late. ***

OTT GN Championship: Terry Thatcher vs. Mark Haskins (c)
Thatcher won this shot back at OTT’s last Belfast show, having been on a bit of a losing streak since losing the NLW title at the end of 2018.

We’ve a frenetic start to proceedings as Thatcher and Haskins scrambled for any kind of advantage on the mat, with Terry having to sneak in a roll-up for a one-count amid Haskins’ search for a submission. The Dublin crowd’s solidly behind Thatcher as he continued to struggle with Haskins, taking a back elbow in the ropes before a PK-like kick left the Irishman down.

Thatcher manages to retaliate, taking Haskins into the corner with strikes, before opting to leap onto Haskins as the champion rolled outside for what he thought was respite. Keeping the match around ringside, chops keep Haskins at bay… only for the tables to turn as Thatcher was chopped into a seat, before he cut off a charging Haskins with a diving boot.

Haskins comes back with an apron PK, then with a running dropkick onto the apron as the challenger looked to be in an awfully familiar position. He’s dragged back towards the back of the room as Haskins tried to force a double count-out, going late into the 20-count before charging into the ring… only for Thatcher to narrowly make it back in himself.

Back in the ring, Haskins went back to work on Thatcher with a series of kicks for a near-fall, as Haskins continued the aggression. A sneaky roll-up looked to give Thatcher a break, but Haskins just flowed seamlessly into a crossface, dragging his challenger away from the ropes, before a Rings of Saturn eventually ended in the ropes.

An enziguiri from Thatcher seemed to stagger Haskins, as did a side Russian legsweep as Thatcher finally found an opening. A shotgun dropkick keeps Haskins in the corner for a running dropkick, before he countered what looked like a desperation kick from Haskins into a spinebuster for a near-fall.

After that, it was time to Brace Yourself… but Haskins catches Thatcher with a mid kick and a running Falcon arrow for a near-fall. That put Haskins back on the familiar track, as he looked to finish off Thatcher off the top rope… but the challenger fought free of what looked like an avalanche death valley driver, before he shoved down Haskins for a massive top rope elbow!

Haskins rolled outside to keep his title alive though… which led to a sweet Asai moonsault from Thatcher as he tried to force the issue – albeit at the cost of him cracking his knee on the landing. A tornado DDT off the apron keeps Thatcher ahead, as the ref started the 20-count.

Both men made it back in, but Haskins shoves the referee into the ropes as Thatcher was poised to leap off the top. To make it more obvious, Haskins got in the ref’s face as he seemed to be begging for a DQ, before he caught Thatcher with a superplex… that turned into an inside cradle on the landing as the challenger nearly snatched the win.

From there, Haskins went for a Sharpshooter, before looking for the roll-up death valley driver… but Thatcher counters with a crucifix pin and we’ve got a new champion! A heck of a main event there, with Thatcher having been on the defensive throughout at the hands of Haskins’ onslaught… and just as I was about to wonder “who’s pulling Terry by his hair”, the question’s answered. Panic over! ***½

All’s well that ends well, right? Well… no. Everyone forgot that Mark Haskins had his Golden Contract from last year’s ScrapperMania… and he rushed to the back to get that briefcase. We’ve a cash-in!

OTT GN Championship: Terry Thatcher (c) vs. Mark Haskins
Having already laid out Thatcher with the briefcase, Haskins looked for a quick win, but found himself caught in an inside cradle before a Thatcher superkick looked to have the new champion set. Except Thatcher’s knee buckled… and got worse when he missed a springboard, as Haskins capitalised by him rolling him into a Sharpshooter for the quick tap-out.

So, just like an episode of The Simpsons, the storyline change was for nought as Terry Thatcher’s brief joy was quickly ruined. Just like Moe. Haskins quickly exits to the back as Thatcher was left alone, belt-less, in the ring, with only the fans applause to help him with his sorrows.

Until the main event, this had been a very skippable show, with most of the card being throwaway even in terms of obvious storylines… save for the continuation of Mark Haskins’ underhanded ways, and Terry Thatcher in his “always coming up short” character. It’s a dead horse, but OTT’s uncertain future when it comes to regular shows means that the promotion are having problems starting new storylines – if only because they don’t know how many stops the journey’s getting.