More Than Hype wrapped up 2019 in OTT with a little touch of festive cheer…

We’re at the Ringside Club, with Aonghus og McAnally and Tony Kelly on the call. They finally get Tony some socks for Christmas, but he tosses them aside. So ungrateful…

Club Rock Shandy (Clayton Long & Martin Steers) vs. Liam Royal
One day, these lads will get music… they originally prepared this as an Open Canvas match, but instead it’s an outing for Liam Royal. A spinebuster, a stalling suplex and a pair of powerbombs flatten Clong and Steers… and that’s all. SPLAT.

Christmas Death Match Of Death and More Death: B Cool & Amy Allonsy vs LJ Cleary & Katey Harvey
B Cool’s banned from OTT, but he managed to nag More Than Hype into booking him. He’s still doing the documentary, and bullies kids into cheering him… on pain of no Santa Claus. There’s a LOT of digs, and B Cool’s given a God-like reception as usual… problem was, he was in the ring against a bunch of people he’s pissed off in the very recent past.

So our death match started with a knuckle lock as Allonsy and Cleary tricked each other early on, before things calmed down with LJ working Amy’s arm… only for B. Cool to run in and break it up. He’s right about one thing: it’s no DQ in a death match… Amy and B dish out Dusty punches to LJ, before they dance way too long as Katey Harvey came in… and made B almost crap himself. She grabs his beard, but lets go after being told she has a present. It’s boxed and all that, but the present is an arm brace. An arm brace that looks a little worse for wear. I’d be furious if I’d gotten that…

She breaks the cast over B. Cool, much like how Doink broke his cast on Crush back in 1993, before Amy Allonsy came in with a present for Katey. It’s the unicorn she’d gotten for the cameraman, but LJ tries to punt it away. Amy gets mad and tosses LJ out, before B Cool came in with some mistletoe… Katey’s none too pleased with that, before LJ came in and found himself in a similar predicament… and took a kiss. Ah well.Katey lays B Cool out with a wrapped present, and now it’s time for the suspiciously-wrapped plunder. A gift-wrapped Kendo stick fell into Allonsy’s hands, and promptly found its way to LJ’s leg, before a badly-wrapped chair proved to be a resting place as LJ took a Rocker Dropper.

B Cool stole the pin from Amy, then got thrown into her… cue the wrapped Kendo stick again, but B low blows his way free as a brainbuster again backfires. A Randy Orton-esque scoop slam works, as the crowd tried to get B to go all David Starr. He’s stopped by… wrapped up nunchucks as Katey went wild… but Amy’s got some more too as we got the wrestling equivalent of Bart and Lisa windmilling themselves into each other. LJ stops it all with Kendo sticks, before an ushigoroshi on B Cool drew a near-fall… LJ tries to go up for the Activate Destroyer, but Katey has a better plan. She’s got a plan B… some Christmas holly! B Cool panics and sends himself outside to avoid a 3D onto the holly, before Amy went wild with a Christmas tree, swinging wildly ahead of a swinging neckbreaker on LJ onto the baubles! B’s back to go for a brainbuster, but it’s cut off as Katey puts him away with a Gory bomb onto the holly, and that’s a rather spiky end for B Cool. Sadly, there’s no death, but I’m sure Katey’s happy to get some small measure of payback on B. **¾

Danny Cross vs. Calum Black
Danny’s back after impressing at the last Contender’s show in July, but he’s instantly overpowered by Black, who took him down with a waistlock.

The pair scramble into the ropes, before Cross came back with an enziguiri… then a pop-up ‘rana as Black was having trouble dealing with Danny’s speed. Cross tries shoulder tackles, but he runs into a big clothesline before a uranage backbreaker dropped him. A side chinlock keeps Cross down, but he’s able to escape a powerbomb before he got ragdolled into a sit-out gutwrench powerbomb for a near-fall. Cross somehow survives that and made a comeback with some leaping clotheslines and a neckbreaker for a near-fall. Black quickly responds with Snake Eyes and a lariat, but Cross wasn’t done, as he countered a Burning Hammer into a DDT. A spinebuster quickly follows, as Cross looked to push on with a springboard enziguiri… then with a cravat neckbreaker, but it wasn’t enough to put Black down.

Cross tries to eke out the win with a senton bomb, but comes up short as Black quickly squashed him in a corner with a clothesline, before a Burning Hammer… got countered into a crucifix on the mat for a near-fall. From the kick-out, Black hurriedly puts Cross away with a suplex/uranage, and that’s all folks. A brave effort from Cross, but Calum Black’s going to have a monstrous 2020 if things go well! ***¼

Only True Pros (Liam Royal & Michael May) & Paul Tracey vs. Club Tropicana (Aidan & Captain Sexsea) & The Fabulous Nicky
Liam Royal’s out with two bottles of Rock Shandy, having stolen them after he killed Club Rock Shandy in the opener. Only True Pros were joined by Paul Tracey here, playing off a storyline where Club Tropicana had kidnapped his nan in a bid to get ransom monies to pay off their debts.

They needed some help before the bell as Captain Sexsea’s rip-off pants got caught in the rafters… but luckily they were able to get them back. Liam Royal started out with “the fat one” as he wanted to get some revenge on Aidan, who unwisely brought that up… and quickly rolled away as tags brought in Paul Tracey to decimate Sexsea. Nicky comes in to give Michael May a back body drop, before some chops were responded to with an arm whip. Does a NXT UK debut count if the bell didn’t ring, by the way? It remains one-way traffic as Liam Royal stole Nicky’s Santa’s hat, before Tracey came in to wear down Nicky with a nerve hold. A shotgun dropkick from Tracey keeps Nicky down before a moonsault misses… which opened the door a little for Sexsea to superkick Tracey from an Electric Chair position, as Club Tropicana tried to turn it around.

Then Sexsea’s crossbody got caught by Royal, as the True Pros hit the old World’s Greatest Tag Team splash, ahead of a fireman’s carry gutbuster and a ripcord lariat from Tracey. Aidan broke up the pin there, before he got dumped by a Fisherman suplex from Tracey. Some team-work from the Club saw Sexsea get propelled into Royal, before the Slip ‘n’ Slide awaited… Royal shrugs it off and began to turn into a Terminator again, laying out Aidan as a big ol’ Parade of Moves broke out. A headlock driver from Tracey took out Sexsea, before Aidan fought back once more, only for Royal to swiftly put him away with a powerbomb for the W. Well, Club Tropicana tried, but in the end they were more than outclassed… **¾

After the match, Royal snapped an oar over his knee and got a little carried away with his showboating as Club Tropicana left with their tails between their legs.

Justin Daniels vs. Terry Thatcher
Justin Daniels is SIXTEEN. This match will make most of you feel ancient…

From the opening lock-up, Thatcher’s taken into the ropes before he had to hold on to block an O’Connor roll. Leg sweeps and roll-ups keep the pace high, before Daniels got caught with a dropkick through the ropes… he shrugs it off and hits a PK on the apron, then took Thatcher back inside, where a sunset flip was rolled out of as Thatcher hit back with a big spinebuster. Off come the braces as Thatcher worked into a Curt Hennig neck flip, following that up with a neckbreaker for a near-fall. Daniels hit back with a series of chops, before he ducked a Thatcher chop and got DDT’d. Not to worry, Daniels was quickly back in with a German suplex, and a series of clotheslines before a Samoan drop had the veteran rocked.

A diving European uppercut off the middle rope gets Daniels a near-fall as the crowd were getting behind him… but Thatcher’s response saw him lift Daniels all the way down to the floor, following him out with a body press off the top. Thatcher goes for a crossbody of his own, but it’s caught, swung around and turned into a nice Samoan drop for a near-fall. Daniels fell to a discus lariat as Thatcher continued to test him, before Justin collapsed just in time to avoid the DeThatched. Of course, it’s a ruse as he hits a neckbreaker of his own, then a powerbomb for a two-count… and I doubt Terry will be as lenient next time. An avalanche Falcon arrow almost got Justin the win, before he whiffed on a frog splash allowing Thatcher to hit a reverse ‘rana and DeThatched for the win. A hell of a performance from Daniels, as this was a simple case of lack of experience being his undoing. Keep Justin’s name in your minds – he’s almost a lock to be a star in the years ahead. ***½

After the match, Sammy D came out to steal the spotlight… he’s hissed by the Dublin crowd, before he came out to complain about how his 12 years wrestling hasn’t gotten him squat from the crowd. He claimed he’s hated because he doesn’t follow the fans on social media, before he called 2020 the year of Sammy D. Let’s see…

OTT No Limits Championship: Omari vs. Scotty Davis (c)
Omari’s quickly become a fan favourite following his OTT debut earlier this year – but up against another home favourite, Omari is going to be in for a rough ride.

Scotty’s giving up a lot of size to Omari, but he doesn’t hold back as he went in for a takedown, rolling on the mat before Omari grabbed the bottom rope to prevent Davis from grabbing a body part. Davis picks him up and lands some Gator rolls, before a Pele kick caught Omari off guard… some kicks from Scotty get caught, as did a ‘rana, but Davis escapes a buckle bomb and came back with a crossbody. Omari misses a leg lariat and gets suplexed into the corner via an overhead belly-to-belly, which got Davis a near-fall and put Omari in a world of hurt. Another Gator roll drops Omari like a sack of spuds, so of course, Scotty keeps hold of the neck… then lets go as both men were showing some mercy.

Davis switches tactics, bridging into a Muta lock, before a release suplex dumped Omari in the ropes. A cravat from Davis was blocked, but Scotty just ends up targeting the arm as he rolls Omari to the mat, before they rolled back up as the big man hit a release slam that was more like an X-Plex than anything else. He hits it again, and goes for a delayed two-count, before yet another release slam drew an even more awkward landing. Davis tries to come back with a mounted sleeper, but Omari just throws him off and hits an axe kick for the hell of it. The O-Zone’s escaped as Scotty went back in for a rear naked choke… and rolled backwards into a Japanese leg clutch for a near-fall. A Quebrada gets a near-fall, before they reverse each other endlessly.

Omari drops to a knee to avoid a Gator roll, but Davis countered back with a Snow Plow for a near-fall. A reverse ‘rana’s turned into a modified fly swatter from Omari, as the pair proceeded to trade forearms back-and-forth, until Davis boots Omari into the corner… a superkick from Omari lands, before Davis’ moonsault out of the corner was turned into a gutbuster that went a little low for Scotty’s liking. Davis pulls himself up onto the apron, but he’s met with a boot before he sprung back inside to hit a Chaos Theory on Omari, who hit back with a GODDAMN leg lariat that spun Scotty inside out. A flying stomp crushes Davis for a near-fall too, ahead of a deadlift gutwrench powerbomb… but it’s still not enough!

An attempt at the O-Zone’s countered into a crucifix pin for a near-fall as Davis builds up with a clothesline and a standing moonsault, before he rolled Omari into an omoplata, then a Rings of Saturn that ended in the ropes. Omari rolls outside, but is followed outside with a crossbody off the ring post from Davis. Still on the outside, Scotty fought out of a gutwrench apron bomb and proceeded to spear Omari into the crowd as the 20-count rolled on. They beat the count, and proceeded to beat each other some more, with another Omari superkick rocking Scotty… who retaliated with an accidental low headbutt as Omari went for another leg lariat… and there’s the call from the ref. Niall Fox had ruled the earlier low blow as an accident… so he ended up waving this off as a no-contest, and there’s the disapproval from the crowd. As a match, this was sound up until the finish, but it felt like there was some juice lacking as you’d sometimes get from a babyface match… let these two have a rematch, and with the story from this match in their back pocket, they’ll have an absolute cracker. ***½

Akira vs. Sean Guinness
Akira’s been doing the rounds on the UK indies, and is between tours of All Japan… so he’s not exactly lacking in experience. Meanwhile, Guinness is back after his most recent tour of Japan, and I’m wondering if he’s still a True Pro…

Akira starts by working the arm of Guinness, but there’s a quick escape as Guinness grabs a side headlock and clings on. After getting free, Akira hits a springboard armdrag, before he slipped around Guinness a la Taiji Ishimori on the way to an armdrag out of a Gory bomb. They eventually stop and get the crowd’s cheers, but Guinness is right back out with chops as he knocked the Italian down. A dropkick from Akira surprises Guinness, but he’s caught in the corner with a nasty Dragon screw as the Irishman began to take control. Guinness adds a shinbreaker to the mix, then wraps Akira’s knee in the ropes ahead of a cross-legged abdominal stretch which just looked brutal. That’s turned into a crucifix pin for a near-fall as Akira began to chop his way back, but a pin-point dropkick to the knee led to him getting dragged towards the ring post, as the leg work continued.

Guinness’ ring post figure four almost gets him DQ’d, as the focus remained on Akira’s left leg. A half-crab keeps the pressure up, but Akira lands a desperation enziguiri ahead of a Meteora that took Guinness into the opposite corner. Akira builds up a fresh head of steam, landing a diving Slingblade for a near-fall before they headed onto the apron, where a German suplex attempt was elbowed away. Guinness mule kicks at Akira’s knee, but some misdirection led to Akira hitting a 619 on the apron, taking Guinness back down ahead of a low-pe into the front row. Back inside, Akira’s shoved off the top rope and caught in the corner again with a Dragon screw, before his leapfrog was caught and turned into a gutbuster for a near-fall. From there, Guinness spikes Akira with a brainbuster, then went up top for a frog splash, flattening the Italian on the way to a near-fall, as Akira seemingly had one last comeback in him.

Superkicks stun Guinness, who redirected another kick towards the ref as he regained control… only to run into a leaping knee. A wheelbarrow stomp rocks Guinness ahead of a twisting Fisherman’s suplex, but that’s still not enough. Akira heads up top, but Guinness shoves the ref into the ropes… how’s that not a DQ? Regardless, Akira recomposes himself, but takes a Widow’s Peakfor a near-fall, before an ankle lock targets the bad wheel, with Guinness holding on after Akira tried to enziguiri his way free. Akira manages to roll free, before he rolled out of a pin following a powerbomb, only to get caught with a sunset flip as Guinness squeaked out the win. This did a lot more for Akira than it did for Guinness, I felt, despite the Irishman getting back on the board. I’d not mind seeing Akira back in OTT, as I could see him breaking out more in Europe in 2020. ***¼

More Than Hype (Darren Kearney & Nathan Martin) vs. Moonlight Express (MAO & Mike Bailey)
Well, it’s their Christmas party, so it’s only fair that More Than Hype get to main event it…

Speedball tries to calm himself before locking horns with Darren Kearney, as everyone got chants before they even touched. Even the ref… despite not knowing what roshambo was two matches earlier… Kearney clings to the ropes to avoid running into a kick from Speedball early on, before he ducked another kick and went for a half crab, that forced Bailey to crawl into the ropes. Tags take us to MAO and Martin, and they turn the pace up, exchanging armdrags, roll-ups and the like as Bailey had to run in to break up a pinning attempt. That just earns him some double-teaming, which then got directed at MAO before Kearney faked out a dive.

A pair of baseball slide dropkicks connect from the More Than Hype lads, before MAO out-foxed them as the double-teams began to backfire. Martin finds himself isolated as Bailey and MAO cornered him with kicks, silencing the Dublin crowd briefly… and Nathan too, as he got winded. MAO’s in and makes things worse for “Psycho Nathan” with a double stomp in the corner, following up with a knee strike for a quick two-count as the pace was again turned down. Bailey’s back to work over the legs, but Nathan rolls through and gets the tag out as Kearney slingshotted himself into the match with a crossbody.

An overhead belly-to-belly from Kearney surprised Bailey ahead of… a Ricola bomb? Nah, MAO cuts it off only to get pancaked and used for a step-up shotgun dropkick. Kearney comes close with a scoop slam, before Bailey landed a fallaway moonsault/slam and a PK after getting caught from a crossbody. MAO’s back, but he’s rolled up into a half crab… and out of it as MAO grabbed a Bully choke. There’s a rope break, but just sparks a Parade of Strikes that almost put MAO away, only for him to raise up ahead of a pair of springboard dives to the outside. Somehow Darren Kearney got so high he hit the lights… MAO and Kearney return to the ring, but MAO’s dropkick hits its mark before getting caught with a superplex. Except MAO doesn’t register it, and he’s right back with a ‘rana before Kearney just dropkicked him in the goddamn face. Tags get us back to Bailey and Martin, and I’m getting Minoru Suzuki vibes off of Nathan… just minus the hair. Bailey chops him, but good God Mike, he’s survived Pentagon, your chops are feeble in comparison.

The chops wake up Nathan, so Bailey goes back to the kicks ahead of a corkscrew press for a near-fall, before MAO’s slam and split-legged corkscrew senton flattened Martin. Kearney saved Martin from the Moonlight Express finish, but ended up taking some superkicks for his trouble, before Speedball resumed his focus on “Psycho” Nathan with more chops. MAO gets in on the act too, but Nathan just fires up as his chest gets marked, eventually dumping MAO with a lifting reverse DDT before Bailey countered a powerbomb with a back body drop and the moonsault knees. Kearney returns to hit a superkick-assisted Angel’s Wings for a near-fall, before he went for the Ricola Bomb again, instead spinning it into a suplex… only for Bailey to counter into a guillotine as Martin tope’d into MAO on the outside. The powerbomb comes off eventually for Kearney, getting him a near-fall, before a frog splash forces MAO in to break up the cover once more. MAO holds Kearney’s arms behind his back as Bailey landed a pin-point head kick, before duelling dives saw Bailey come up short… while Kearney kipped up to hit a superkick for good measure.

MAO’s back to double-team again ahead of the Fidget Spinner, but Nathan Martin flung himself into the ring to break THAT up. A double-handed chop from MAO sent himself and Martin to the outside, while Bailey had another crack as Kearney… only for his Ultima Weapon to land in the knees of Kearney as More Than Hype went to work. Psycho Nathan hits a goddamn DEADLIFT DRAGON SCREW as they target Bailey’s legs, handing him off to Kearney for another half crab, but Bailey’s able to crawl to the ropes before he rolled free. Kearney didn’t let go though, and after MAO got suplexed onto Bailey, the half crab’s reapplied… and Speedball taps! A frenetic main event, with More Than Hype getting the clean sweep as they prepare for what could be a momentous 2020. ****

After the match, Bailey and MAO shake hands as I worried that Speedball had done a Vince McMahon and torn his quads. He’s staggering to the ropes and gets carried to the back as the More Than Hype lads wrapped up the show… with LJ Cleary challenging David Starr to a title match on February 1st next time they’re here. Well, that’s gonna be a way to force the crowd to genuinely pick a side, but that’s for another day as a wrestling show in Dublin ended with everyone dancing to “All I Want For Christmas”. For the second time this year…

Commentary said it themselves – these Contenders shows almost turned into OTT’s defacto “regular” shows in 2019… but it hasn’t stopped OTT from focusing on the less established talent. In fact, Contenders in 2019 has helped propel the likes of Calum Black onto the “main” shows, and is giving us all an exciting glimpse of the future… even if it comes with a big pang of depression when you realise you’re probably old enough to be their da’s. Back when we first started watching OTT, our big criticism was that they’d had to focus way too much on fly-ins. That’s massively changed, to the point where OTT have been able to run shows with minimal fly-ins – and beyond, with names the wider crowd would call “OTT’s own” (even if they’re Fight Factory guys) are breaking out of the island of Ireland… and on the evidence we’re seeing here, it’s not about to slow down any time soon!