OTT returned to the Ringside Club for their latest Contenders show… that was exclusively Irish. Almost.

Credit goes to Matthew Macklin and the team for turning this around within 48 hours as they capitalised on the buzz that the main event got live. Aonghous og McAnally and flat cap Tony Kelly are on hand for this, with Tony chewing out Eamonn for forgetting to do him a birthday cake. The one time he forgets… just bake some socks into it next time.

Club Rock Shandy (Clayton Long & Martin Steers) vs. Only True Pros (Liam Royal & Michael May)
Club Rock Shandy got the “no music” entrance, but a hell of a reaction for their unannounced debut. Now that’s what happens when you’ve got a cult following…

Meanwhile, the “Only True Pros” pairing came out to some classic Deep Purple as Dublin wished they were perfect strangers. Michael May starts us off by taking down Steers by the arm, before a blind tag brought in Liam Royal to catch a crossbody and easily land an elbow drop for an early two-count. A slingshot powerslam gets another near-fall as May and Royal exchange quick tags, before a back body drop from Steers got him free… but Long had been knocked off the apron, so he’s nobody to tag.

Royal’s back to keep roughing up Steers, but a springboard cutter has Royal on jelly legs as “Clong” got the tag in. My God, the speed of those kicks that knocked down May, but Clong quickly tagged Steers back in… Long gets shoved off the top rope as May crashed into Steers with a Koppo kick, before a thunderous powerbomb bounced Steers off the mat for the win. Light work from OTP, but Club Rock Shandy looked good for the brief opening they had as they got “please come back” chants. I have a feeling they will… **¾

Justin Daniels vs. Danny Cross
It’s a debut for Justin Daniels, who we saw over in Dublin a year ago when he was just 14 years old. He’s now the youngest to appear for OTT, as I feel decrepit…

Cross and Daniels start off on the mat as they wrestled to an early stalemate, with Cross flying around like it was nothing. Daniels got lifted onto the apron, from where he slingshot back in ahead of a leg lariat for a near-fall, before he blocked a roll-up as a quickfire series of pinning attempts followed. Daniels suckers Cross outside, but his dive’s aborted… he followed in with a PK before throwing Cross back in, only to get caught with a spinebuster for a near-fall. A Slice of Heaven-like kick off the ropes nearly stopped Daniels for the fall, before Daniels kicked his head off in the ropes. An elbow off the top nearly got Daniels the W, only for Cross to respond with a uranage as the pace was kept high.

The moves keep coming as Daniels’ Falcon arrow doesn’t lead to a pin, as he heads up… and crashed and burned with a frog splash as a corkscrew neckbreaker got Cross the win. A hell of a sprint, with Daniels paying for not taking his chances. More like this please! ***

CT Flexor & Woke Queens (Debbie Keitel & Valkyrie) vs. More Than Hype (Darren Kearney, LJ Cleary & Nathan Martin)
Now onto some faces we’re more familiar with… and there’s dissension from the off as the “Woke Bloke” CT Flexor was glad-handing the fans. It’s hard to believe that not too long ago, he was a “forgotten member of the Body Bros”. Yes, it’s nice to hear “Beautiful Life” again.

Flexor and LJ piss around for a bit, which angered Valkyrie because “he wasn’t taking it seriously”, so she comes in and pulls Cleary by the hair. Their hunt for a pinning attempt’s quickly stifled as Darren Kearney tagged in to try and end things… but Valkyrie slips away as the crowd declared their love for “Flex”.

He blind-tags himself in as the crowd got behind him and “Woke-TT”, all while Flexor wiped out Kearney with a double-leapfrog dropkick. Keitel demanded to tag in, as she runs into a drop toe-hold before Nathan Martin tagged into complete the early cycling of tags. Keitel slaps “Psycho Nathan” enough to prompt him into a body slam that left her stunned, as Flexor finally became some use, throwing LJ into the rest of his partners as the Woke Queens took over.

Flexor’s lariat dumps LJ for a near-fall, as Valkyrie and Keitel went to work over LJ’s knee. A wheelbarrow roll through gets LJ free as Martin made a fluid comeback, albeit on the pacey side as he proceeded to smash into CT with a crossbody for a near-fall. Valkyrie tried something similar, but she just crashed and burned horribly as Martin just sidestepped her dive. Ah man… Kearney’s in to hit a stunner before Keitel replies with a German suplex, folding him in half ahead of a lariat. Martin ducks one, before he ragdolled Keitel into a ruinous full nelson backbreaker as the Parade of Moves continued. An ushigoroshi from LJ nearly ends it as the ring filled, just as Flexor began a one-man comeback, stacking up More Than Hype for a… Woke Elbow?

Except he knocks Valkyrie off the apron and gets blind-tagged out as Keitel distracted herself and ended up losing to a small package from Kearney. This might have been a little too pacey for some, but this was an excellent sprint that kept More Than Hype hot ahead of their big weekend in Belfast… while the Woke Queens’ hate-hate relationship with CT proved to be their undoing. ***¼

Logan Bryce & Rick vs. Angel Cruzers (Angel Cruz & B. Cool)
If you thought Logan and Rick were dead… well, so did we! Rick’s been gone since ScrapperMania, while Bryce hadn’t been on an OTT show in almost two years, with the story being that he was missing presumed dead.

We’ve a jump start as Bryce and Rick charged their former/current foes, with Logan’s backbreaker quickly putting B. Cool in the corner. Angel Cruz comes in with some Holy Water to try and get rid of Logan, but it doesn’t quite work… unlike B. Cool’s chops. Angel’s insisting Bryce is a zombie, so he gives B. Cool a chair… which Rick removes as we’re back to the backbreakers. Logan refuses to tag in Rick as he continued to wear down B. Cool with bodyblows, all while Rick continued to throw the mother of all hissy fits on the apron. It worked, I guess, as he charged at B. Cool “for Peter”… and missed. In comes Cruz to go to work as he went after his former security detail by going “Primary School”. It fits.

B. Cool’s back for a brainbuster but Rick counters with a Stundog Millionaire before Bryce’s Vader Bomb flattened Angel Cruz for a near-fall. A second one misses, as Rick ended up eating a brainbuster and a senton bomb for the win. Bryce looked pretty good in this, but otherwise it was a by-the-numbers win for Cruz over some formerly friendly faces. **½

Club Tropicana (Aidan & Captain Sexsea) & The Fabulous Nicky vs. Justy, Sammy D & Irish Warrior (Charlie Sterling)
So, Justy and Sammy D had a mystery partner to go with their new gear. Sammy D’s trunks were all snake-like, while Justy’s trunks went up to his armpits and made him look like a mermaid gone wrong.

Oh yeah, their partner? Everyone was chanting for Finlay, but instead they got the Irish Warrior! Who absolutely wasn’t Charlie Sterling in a mask… being made to sing the Irish anthem… and then messed it up. Those chants of “Charlie Euro” cracked me up, as Club Tropicana got jumped to start the match. Aidan’s fallen for the Irish Warrior stuff, and is beside himself at having to beat him up. It’s a shame the Warrior didn’t feel the same way… Things settled down a little as everyone ganged up on Nicky, featuring Justy’s “super sexy Fish hook” and the Irish Warrior having a Union Jack pulled out of his singlet.

Tags get us back to a starstruck Aidan and the Irish Warrior, which just left him open for a Sammy D superkick as he then proceeded to mock the Slip ‘n’ Slide… but he stopped in his tracks as Sammy D had the Union Jack on his back. Aidan then finds out why the Warrior was so keen on the Union Jack… because he unmasked as Charlie Sterling! Aidan’s beside himself, but he fires up and bounces Sterling across the ring as there’s a paddling for all the bad guys, before a side Russian legsweep/Blockbuster combo got the win. Comedy-heavy, but again, it worked within the context of the match as Club Tropicana outsmarted Justy’s latest ploy. **¾

Scotty Davis vs. Sean Guinness
Business is about to pick up! Guinness is mostly in the fan’s bad books after what happened with Jordan Devlin in recent shows…

Guinness, whose look I compared to a prototype Jay White on the last show, started by powdering to the outside as I started to wonder if he has a fondness of knives. Davis held his own with Guinness early, slapping the gum out of his mouth as Sean tried to mock the youngster, taking him outside ahead of a Fosbury flop. That was the cue for some brawling, before Guinness used the ref as a human shield to avoid a springboard attack, as the veteran began to have his way with Scotty.

A Chaos Theory of all things has Davis back in it for a moment, but Guinness shuts the door again as he began to work over Davis’ eyes, raking them on the top rope. Some grounded headscissors keep Davis in trouble, before Guinness “stuck the knife in Davis’ back”… HMM,. Davis got free and looked for suplexes, only for a DDT to drive him into the mat for a near-fall. Finally Davis got back in with a back suplex as things descended into a striking battle, with Davis connecting with a rear spin kick and a release Dragon suplex… except Guinness got back up and spun Davis with a lariat instantly! A release German suplex followed, as did a Ki Krusher as Davis popped up at one!

Davis comes back in with Gator rolls, before he hurled Guinness into the corner with an overhead belly-to-belly for a near-fall. Some back-and-forth led to Davis rolling Guinness into a figure four deathlock, before Michael May and Liam Royal hit the ring to make Davis break the hold.Davis reapplies the Figure Four, but someone’s ringing the bell, which makes Davis stop… May and Royal  attack him as the match just stops, as our mystery man calls Scotty Davis a joke. The non-finish doesn’t drive me wild, but this was at least a pretty decent match before the brakes were suddenly put on it. ***½

The mystery man’s J Money, who’s not identified by name and is apparently persona non-grata here as he’s shooting on how “only comedy gets chances” in OTT. That drew out OTT booker Joe Cabray along with Paul Tracey to intervene. Still J-Money berates what we’d seen so far as a joke before he punted the mic, as it seems we’ve a new group in OTT: Guinness, May, Royal and Money are here to make things serious again.

Paddy M vs. Martina vs. Terry Thatcher
We’ve a video package as Terry Thatcher builds up his latest chance to get a shot at the Gender Neutral title – a belt he should have won at WrestleRama, had Vicki Haskins not intervened in that match.

We’ve a family feud of sorts here, with Paddy M and Martina coming from the flats, and they don’t team up to take out Thatcher early as Terry quickly had Paddy in a Sharpshooter a la Haskins as the insane pace made this way too fast to call. There’s a hell of a tope from Martina that took everyone into the front row, as we found out that the Ringside Club does a hell of a carvery – I bet that’ll make it the GRAPPL Spotlight’s preferred venue now.

Back in the ring we’ve a nice chain of roll-ups as all three bodies continued to fly all over the place. A springboard kick from Paddy knocked Martina off the apron, before Thatcher sent him outside too ahead of a springboard body press to the floor. Chops from Thatcher led to a big clothesline for a near-fall on Paddy, before Martina came in and tried to set up Thatcher for a Doomsday Device… but Terry rolls through for a near-fall as Paddy crashed and burned on his crossbody attempt. Martina looked to jar her ankle after she floated over Thatcher in the corner. Paddy M didn’t stop to help, as he instead headed up top and ended up being talked down as he wandered into a small package as Martina was shown to have perhaps exaggerated things. Annoyed, Paddy and Martina went hell for leather, with Paddy’s Ricola bomb ending up getting countered into a guillotine, then a suplex that turned into a nasty brainbuster thanks to Thatcher’s spear that dropped Paddy square on the top of his head.

Fortunately, Paddy got back to his feet after the sheerest of sheer drops, as a three-way battle again broke out in the corners. Thatcher takes a breather as Paddy crashes and burns on a senton bomb, while Martina avoids a flying elbow from Thatcher, who then countered a Magic Killer with a headscissor/neckbreaker combo. Paddy and Terry have a struggle with a double-team hiptoss, as Niall Fox then had an awkward admission to make: “I can’t count!” Nah, it’s because they both went for the cover at the same time.

Paddy and Terry go back at it, and quickly crash into each other with crossbodies at the same time, but Martina’s on the floor and unable to capitalise. A senton bomb from Paddy saw him hit first, but Martina’s able to break the count just in time, only to get thrown outside again before Thatcher’s springboard reverse ‘rana out of the corner planted him.

The DeThatched running neckbreaker stops Paddy for a near-fall, as Martina broke it up, before she went after Paddy with the Magistral driver. That’s broken up again as Thatcher stays in it, before he looked to finish off Paddy with a Sharpshooter a la Haskins… Martina returns to break that up with a Seshbreaker, before the Magistral driver – dubbed the Jägerbomb here (as I celebrate it actually having a name) – gets Martina the win. So it’s Martina vs. Haskins in Belfast next week – as Terry Thatcher’s road to the title’s run into a roadblock. Cracking stuff here, again perhaps a bit too fast for some’s liking, but this show has been an absolute breeze so far. ***¾

Calum Black vs. Jordan Devlin
This is non-title as Callum Black’s been given the mother of all challenges here. Can he pick up the upset, or will this be an easy task for the OTT champ?

The pair start with some grappling as the scramble led to a stand-off… before Devlin quickly looked to go for the arm. Black’s counter was quickly escaped, as Devlin goes back to work, looking to control the tempo. Black tries to counter a toe hold by looking for a knee bar, but Devlin blocks that and instead went to a side headlock as Black was proving to be no walkover. An attempted escape saw Devlin just climb up the ropes and flip over Black… and back into a headlock as Jordan clung onto the basic hold for all his might, looking to perhaps embarrass Black with the “day one” stuff.

Shoulder tackles follow, but Black refused to budge, eventually rebounding off the ropes with a shoulder tackle of his own that sent Devlin to the outside. Back inside, Calum is able to build up some momentum, restraining Devlin with a strangle hold… keeping it on every time Devlin tried to step free of it. Eventually Devlin gets out as some criss-cross looked to end with a trip, only for Devlin to have to land a hiptoss to put Black down for a two-count. Devlin keeps up the pressure, dropping Black with a forearm before using the ropes to sling him backwards, as Devlin’s measured shots were wearing down Black. An overhead armbar stretches Black some more, before Black stopped some criss-crossing with an almighty POUNCE.

A running knee and an X-Plex from Black nearly stops Devlin, but the champion’s able to respond with a wheelbarrow into a double stomp as he quickly found his groove. Air Jordan’s next for a near-fall, but it seemed to damage Devlin’s ribs some as he was sucking wind, before his roll-up Destroyer was just blasted away with an Alabama Slam. Devlin spikes Black with a ‘rana, but can’t avoid Black’s roll out into a powerbomb as that swift motion had the Ringside Crowd on their feet. Devlin and Black begin to trade forearms, leaving Jordan in a heap before he flipped over a clothesline… and ended up having to headbutt the upstart. The Spanish Fly’s next for a near-fall, before Black avoids a Devlinside, countering with a knee before a diving lariat took Devlin down… only for Black to send himself to the outside with the momentum of it all.

Black stops to pull down his straps before he storms back in… and it’s a proper slugfest as both men wheeled away on each other with punches. Devlin’s combo proved to be decisive though, as he was able to follow in with a brainbuster for a near-fall, before Calum grabbed the rope to avoid a Devlinside. There’s some more defiance as Devlin’s forced to bust out some Kawada kicks before he yanked Black up for a Devlinside for the win. That was fantastic stuff – Black never felt horribly outclassed, as this wasn’t exactly an easy ride for Jordan. Another loss, but this could well be a star-making performance for Black… even if you’ve got to start wondering when he’s going to pick up that first singles win in OTT, and then propel himself onto the bigger shows. ****¼

A lot of comedy on a show can be taken as being problematic, especially if it’s played for exaggerated laughs (live or on VOD), but fortunately a lot of this stuff landed without feeling overly forced. The “pay-off”, for the want of a better term, of the growth of the Only True Pros group played into it as well, as that worked well as a buffer between the comedy-tinged portion of the card, and the deadly-serious final two matches.

Speaking of that Only True Pros bit, I’m very much torn over how it came across. To those outside of the Ireland scene, I’m guessing there’s a lot of people wondering who the Weird Al Yankovic lookalike was – and yes, I am dating this reference – particularly since J-Money’s never been in OTT, and the whole “we can’t say who he is” bit feels a little excluding. Still, if there’s any kind of follow-up on their two shows in the next month, in Belfast and Cork, then that’ll be forgiven no doubt. Truth be told, this was an absolute breeze of a show to watch. I rather enjoyed the variety of talent on show here, with the “Guaranteed Irish” tag forcing OTT to use some names you’d not see usually. Hopefully this isn’t going to be a “one and done” for a lot of these names, as the Irish scene is really starting to churn out their own stars for the future…