OTT’s first big show of 2018 saw them in a new location, as they headed across town into Suir Road for a fantastic card headlined by their first ever cage match.

The “Arena” on Suir Road is very reminiscent of “leisure centre wrestling”, and is like night and day from the Tivoli… The pre-show stuff for OTT’s now being handled by William J. Humperdink, with Don Marnell having left for warmer climes, and Aonghus Og McAnally. The show opened with something that you could loosely describe as “card subject to change” – Pete Dunne was originally advertised for the show, but was otherwise occupied with WWE. Trent Seven, his replacement, was meant to have faced Ryan Smile, but Ryan’s seeming retirement from wrestling meant that Trent had to issue an open challenge…

Some folks cheered a little too loud for the thought that Ryan was “no longer here”.

Trent Seven vs. LJ Cleary
The call was eventually answered by LJ Cleary, who’s been transitioning away from the Contenders shows into the main roster… and was more than a little brave in taking shots at Trent before the match, calling him the “least relevant member of British Strong Style” and “Tyler Bate’s fat dad”.

A spinning backfist from Trent’s the answer to that, along with a load of chops, including one that saw Trent hit the post early on. Cleary does the same thing as commentary notes that they’re working a 20-count outside the ring, just as the pair decide to shake their chop-weary hands. Comedy! Back inside, Cleary unloads on Trent with right hands, and actually has a brief spell on top, decking Trent with a spinning, sliding head kick… but he misses a charge into the corner and promptly eats some chops from Seven, who was looking to remove LJ’s nipple from his chest… and then went for a DDT instead.

Cleary’s back in with a diving boot for a near-fall, as he looked for a Rainmaker. You what? It hits, but it barely budges Trent, who laughs it off and hits his version for good measure. LJ escapes a Pedigree and countered into an ushigoroshi for another two-count, before he decides to try for a Pedigree… which goes as well as you’d think, as Trent counters into an Alabama Slam, before putting away the “little shit” with a piledriver for the win. A fun opener, with LJ putting up a fight, but he’s got a while to go to be competitive here. ***¼

After the match, Trent gives Cleary a Pedigree, just because…

We get a backstage promo with Mike Bailey… Keith Lee interrupts, but they’re both interrupted by Humperdink, who says the winner of their match tonight gets on Scrappermania later in the year.

Adam Brooks vs. Mark Haskins
Brooks was fairly early into his European trip here, and was coming in on the buzz of a match with Will Ospreay in PROGRESS in January.

Brooks jumped Haskins before the bell and caught him unawares with a kick off the apron, then a lowpe as the “Loose Ledge” quickly paid the price for trying on Haskins’ jacket… as he was kicked outside and met with a misdirection tope that looked to catch a few folks out! Haskins keeps up with kicks on the outside, along with a receipt for that apron PK before he pump kicked the Australian in a chair.

It’s almost like that ring is just there for decoration! Finally they make it in, with Haskins working over Brooks’ arm, but the Australian again takes over when he kicked Haskins off the apron, and started to target Haskins’ lower back instead. A back senton gets Brooks a quick near-fall, as he looked to wear down Haskins with a head-and-arm choke, before standing on Haskins’ hair. That fired up the former PROGRESS champion, but they both had the same ideas as they crashed into each other with a crossbody at the same time.

Haskins comes straight back with kicks and forearms, before some uppercuts in the corner kept Brooks at bay. An attempted comeback from Brooks was quickly snuffed out when his roll-up was countered into a crossface, then a Rings of Saturn, but Brooks gets a foot to the rope to keep his chances alive. More kicks from Haskins follow, as Brooks tried to steal a win with a wheelbarrow roll-up, as a slingshot DDT took Haskins back down for a near-fall.

Brooks keeps up with a backpack stunner out of the corner, but Haskins is equally quickly back in with a rolling death valley driver before going for the bridging armbar… but Brooks rakes the eyes to get himself free. A shotgun dropkick’s next as Haskins crashed into the corner… but he’s able to get his knees up to block a senton before rolling Brooks through into a Sharpshooter for the submission. Lovely stuff, with the fast start, but it was clear from the commentary that this was more of a rebuilding match for Haskins as he began his path back to the NLW title. ***¼

There’s some afters here too, with Brooks turning down a handshake from Haskins so he could kick him low.

OTT Gender Neutral Championship: B Cool vs. Angel Cruz vs. Chuck Taylor vs. Martina (c)
There’s been a bit of a gap in our OTT watching… but at last year’s Being The Elite show at the National Stadium, OTT debuted a new title, which is pretty much an Intergender title. They even had a customised belt made – which was won by Martina, making her a dual champion while the women’s title picture was put on ice for a while.

The Angel Cruzers tried to win the belt by having B Cool pin Cruz… but every time they tried it it was broken up as the latest spin on the fingerpoke of doom was cut short. Chuck Taylor was in a similar bind, as he refused to lay a finger on Martina, so they went to shoulder tackles, only for Martina to get pulled to the floor. Angel Cruz kept thinking he was wrestling Chuck Palumbo, and that was before he was rocked by a missile dropkick as we were firmly in the Revolving Door Wrestles. Angel Cruz throws Taylor out through the fire exit, so I guess we’re down to three, as the Angel Cruzers again looked for an easy win… but a blinded B Cool gives Angel Cruz an airplane spin, all while Martina watched on with a can.

Cruz and his security team randomly walked around the floor… just so they could catch a dive from Martina, right as Chuck Taylor found his way back into the building. Taylor’s all over the Angel Cruzers, as he suplexed Angel into Cool in the corner, as Martina came back to demand that Taylor hit her. That’s not what a Kentucky Gentleman does… and after being slapped, he walked away.

The Cruzers try again against Martina, but B Cool accidentally punches Angel… and now Angel’s mad… but they kiss and make up pretty quickly. There’s a wacky spot where Martina brought the Cruzers and Team Prick into the ring “the hard way” at the same time, before we got a quartet of Bronco busters, with Martina’s fun being stopped by the arrival of…

Chucktina Taylor? He’s back out in a blonde wig and a leopard print onesie, a la Martina, and “Sesh-y Chuckie T” is all about stomping mudholes in everyone. That onesie quickly get too hot, as he unzips it and looks for a moonsault… but Taylor crashes and burns, as Angel Cruz gets some help for a Shield powerbomb on Taylor, before throwing B Cool on top for the near-fall. Angel keeps up with the WWF stuff, taking Martina for some Old School rope walking, but Chuckie’s back to German suplex Martina, sending Angel soaring in the process!

Just when Chuck went for a tornado DDT, Martina counters into one of her own, before Angel takes a Sesh-breaker and a crossface… and despite being able to break it up, B Cool went for a brainbuster on Taylor, only for Cruz to furiously tap just before the three-count could be finished. After a decent comedy match, I liked the finish, even if it teases a split-up between the Angel Cruzers, but I’ll ask the question that had already come up… do we really need a blatant Intergender title, and did this match need to be for it? **

Travis Banks vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
They’ve dug up Banks’ Defiant music and video, rather than toss a coin between “Fight Club: Pro or PROGRESS music?”, while Zack as all about Mother. Banks and Sabre have had several huge matches in the past eighteen months, and this was no different.

There’s a frantic start as Sabre tries to take down Banks, but the Kiwi is quickly into the ropes whenever Sabre was able to grab a body part and wrench on it. They quickly move into kicks as a knucklelock had tied up the other’s hands, but it led to a brief stalemate as Sabre moved into a cravat.

After escaping, Banks starts to throw the chops, with a rather unamused Sabre just taking those before a forearm knocked him loopy into the ropes… only to return in kind as Sabre grinded Banks’ head into the mat. A kick from Banks is caught as Sabre countered into a heel hook, but they’re again in the ropes, which gave Banks the chance to try again, throwing forearms before he trips Sabre into a La Magistral for a near-fall. More chops trap Zack into the corner, but he charges out with some wicked uppercuts en route to a neck snap, which he holds on as we go to the mat for a heel hook… and another rope break. This feels like a small ring… or Zack’s just being really unlucky with his ring positioning.

We’re back to duelling forearms and uppercuts, quickly giving way to submissions as Sabre locks in an abdominal stretch, dragging Banks to the mat… but yet again, they’re too close to the ropes as Banks gets his feet there. Another comeback led to Banks taking down Sabre with a diving knee, following up with a cannonball in the corner… only for Sabre to come right back with an overhead kick to the arm as he goes back to the heel hook.

That hold turns into an ankle lock, which Banks rolls out of as he returns fire with a shotgun dropkick and a springboard stomp to send Zack onto the apron, following him outside with a tope. Back inside, Sabre escapes a Slice of Heaven and takes Banks down with another set of headscissors as he rolled into a triangle armbar… but the ropes again provide a break and a source of frustration.

Zack mocks Banks with kicks, drawing the expected response as forearms sent Sabre back to the mat, ahead of some more kicks… but Sabre catches one and sparks a slap fight ahead of a Dragon screw and another PK… only for Banks to cut him off with a lariat! Yep, this is getting good, as you’d surely have expected! Sabre’s right back in with a low dropkick and a PK as he tries to go for pins instead of submissions… but it backfires as Banks nails a German suplex and the Slice of Heaven! Instead of the pin, Banks goes for the Slice of Heaven again, but gets caught and dragged into a triangle armbar, only for Banks to powerbomb his way free!

Still doggedly going for the submission, Zack’s back in with a guillotine, only for it to get countered into a Kiwi Krusher for a near-fall, before Banks switches into the Lion’s Clutch… which Zack countered into more submissions, ending in a brutal Lion Tamer for the quick submission. Absolutely glorious stuff here – back-and-forth, keenly-fought, and a match that ended away from any of Sabre’s usual finishes. Stick this onto your “watch now” piles! ****¼

Mike Bailey vs. Keith Lee
Earlier in the show, we were told that the winner of this match would get a spot at ScrapperMania. I’ll try not to look at the card for that, which’ll have happened by the time we post this!

The crowd was hyped for this, and we started with Lee restraining Bailey in a test of strength, using just one hand to put him in his place. Bailey tries his usual game – kicks – but some shots to the leg only anger the big man, who returns some dropkicks in kind as the Dublin crowd were left aghast.

Speedball refused to bask in his glory, and after pie-facing him he sees a kick charged through before another sent Lee onto the apron and to the floor. Bailey joined him outside for a moonsault off the apron, squirming away when it was caught before shoving Lee into the ringpost as more kicks left the Limitless one on his knees, ahead of a corkscrew Asai moonsault! Back inside, Bailey keeps up with kicks, to the back and front of Lee, as he had another way of basking in glory… a way that Lee didn’t appreciate, as he shrugs off chops and countered a handspring with a standing release German suplex. Yikes.

Lee keeps on top of Bailey with some clubbing forearms, as he imposed himself on “Speedball”, tossing him across the ring with a Beele throw for a simple near-fall, before he crushes Bailey with an avalanche in the corner. Bailey barely escapes the double-hand chops and mounts a comeback with an axe kick and a pop-up dropkick to put Lee on the back foot, only to get met with a regular chop once Keith’d had enough of those kicks.

Lee invited more kicks to the chest, but was able to reply with chops as they teed off on each other, leading to Bailey taking Lee down for the standing moonsault kneedrop that drew an emphatic kick-out-at-two. More kicks from Bailey led to rope running and a pop-up chokeslam from Lee, but we’re not done yet, as Bailey gets up and gets rocked with a series of forearms as the pair continued to unload with strikes.

A pop-up discus forearm rocks Bailey, but he has enough left in him to take Lee into the corner for a discus roundhouse, only for Lee to charge out with a massive POUNCE into the opposite corner. Yep, I liked that one very much! Another flurry of shots turned Lee into a human punching bag… one that headbutts back as a double handed chop made Bailey collapse to the mat! Bailey tried to ‘rana out of a Spirit Bomb, but despite getting caught he’s able to come back with another standing moonsault knee drop, then a standing corkscrew press and a PK as both men were starting to run on fumes… which led to Lee catching Bailey with a variety of gutbusters and a nasty discus lariat for a near-fall. Speedball again tries to use his feet to fend off Lee, successfully knocking him down for some shooting star knees, but still Lee is powering out of those covers!

Lee responds by ducking some kicks, but he can’t avoid a third as Bailey plays along to the squat chants… only to get met with a Spirit Bomb! Somehow he kicks out from that, before countering Ground Zero with a reverse ‘rana! Good Lord, they’re still going… with Bailey going for another shooting star press, only for Lee to catch him and obliterate him with Ground Zero, and that’s finally the end! PHENOMENAL. There are no words. In spite of the size difference, Bailey came achingly close, only for Lee to finally put him away with the high-impact offence. ****½

Post-match, Bailey dragged himself back to his feet – and into the ring – just so he could take a handshake and a hug.

A video plays for the May 12/13 ScrapperMania 4/Contenders double-header. Matt Riddle, Jeff Cobb, Keith Lee, Will Ospreay, Zack Sabre Jr. and some New Japan names were highlighted: Tomohiro Ishii and Minoru Suzuki. The crowd lost their minds for those! You’d better have Kaze Ni Nare’d, Dublin…

NLW Heavyweight Championship: Timothy Thatcher vs. Jordan Devlin (c)
Oh hi, rock-music RINGKAMPF theme! Devlin won the NLW title at the Being The Elite event at the end of 2017, which we might go back to since it’s on HighSpots at time of writing, but we’ve been burnt badly by those Bullet Club love-in shows.

Anyway, back to Devlin – a man whose rise from “just being the guy who beats the imports” to OTT’s figurehead has been quite astronomical. So the debuting Thatcher (yeah, I couldn’t believe that part either) was perhaps one of the bigger threats he’s had, especially since Thatcher was in the midst of a European resurgence here.

We’re underway with Devlin and Thatcher trading places in the ropes, but we do get a clean break, rather than the match instantly going scrappy. A Judo-style throw from Thatcher puts Devlin down, but the champion’s more than equal to it, as he tries to fight back, only for Thatcher to grab an armbar. It remained even and keenly-thought as the Dublin crowd correctly pointed out that Timmy wasn’t Terry Thatcher… and so we curse indy guys with similar names!

Thatcher gets on top and throws some slaps as Devlin scrambled for the ropes at the first sign of a submission attempt, before coming back in with a headlock takedown as the champion tried to keep it simple. Except Thatcher escapes and goes for a cross armbreaker, as the scrappy submission stuff continued, with a bow-and-arrow hold coming next. Thatcher keeps Devlin down with a chinlock, but that too is escaped as Devlin slips free and grabs an armbar, torquing the arm back as he pinned Thatcher to the mat as the video goes a little fuzzy, almost like an oil painting for a spell. When the picture stabilises, Thatcher takes the match outside and slaps the taste out of Devlin’s mouth… with Jordan replying in kind before rocking Thatcher with a dropkick and a diving knee when they made it back inside.

A RINGKAMPF belly-to-belly suplex offers an instant response for Thatcher, but it only garners a one-count as Devlin had plenty left in his tank… even if Thatcher was still laying into him with kicks and clubbing forearms. Devlin mounted a comeback with some running double knees and some kicks, before landing a uranage… as the follow-up moonsault is blocked with Thatcher again taking over. Devlin’s caught in a deep single-leg crab, but he’s able to get to the ropes, only for Thatcher to keep throwing those shots while almost laughing off the replies.

Eventually Devlin fires back with repeated forearms, sending Thatcher into the corner, before nailing a back cracker in the ropes and some more boots as he started to have Thatcher on the defensive. Just as I say that, Thatcher catches a kick and turns it into an ankle lock, before hauling Devlin up into a German suplex for an eventual near-fall. We’re back to the ankle lock as Devlin dragged himself into the corner for freedom, and then returns fire with a Shotgun dropkick, then a brainbuster as he started to edge closer to victory.

Devlin’s back in with kicks, but a backhanded chop is taken down into a Fujiwara armbar, forcing another rope break as they go back in with strikes until Thatcher teases a butterfly suplex. He finally pulls it off, scoring a near-fall from the move, but Devlin outlasts it and manages to work into a moonsault, crashing into Thatcher… who rebounds with another Fujiwara armbar as the back-and-forth escalates yet again. A RINGKAMPF German is countered in kind, before some running knees left Thatcher wobbly for a package piledriver as Jordan Devlin racked up his second… and final defence of the NLW title. This streak of hot matches continues unabated, and unless the main event is a real stinker, this is going to be the best OTT card I’ve ever seen. ****¼

Yes, I did say “final defence of the NLW title”… after the match, William Humperdink entered the ring with a velvet bag. That’s usually the sign of a new title, and sure enough, the NLW title was retired, and replaced with a beautiful, new-look OTT world heavyweight championship belt. Hey, it even has their lucha mask-inspired logo on it, making it look truly like an OTT belt, rather than the prior strap that had bounced around the likes of Heidenreich, Rene Dupree and Daivari.

Zack Sabre Jr. ruins the party though, coming in to admire the shiny new trinket, and give Jordan a kiss of death on the forehead.

There clips from the tag title match at Being The Elite, where the Kings of the North beat the Rapture in a finish the British trio found a little off. The Rapture are the trio of Zack Gibson. Sha Samuels and Charlie Sterling – a group that had been rather vocal about their hatred of the Irish scene… and this has led to OTT’s first steel cage match. Which is our main event.

Steel Cage Match for OTT Tag Team Championship: Kings of the North (Bonesaw, Corvin & Duncan Disorderly) (c) vs. The Rapture (Zack Gibson, Sha Samuels & Charlie Sterling)
I’ve not been a fan of OTT doing trios matches for their tag titles, but holy crap the height of that cage!

The old school cage looked like something you’d easily get tetanus off of, and judging from the way it’s been built, climbing opportunities will be at a premium… which is going to be tough since the only way to win this is to have all three team members escape the cage!

The Kings have become beloved figures in OTT since we last touched upon the promotion, although anyone against Zack Gibson and co would get cheered. Of course, Gibson had a bone to pick with the cage, which he felt wouldn’t pass “English Health and Safety” laws. What is he now, the Anti-Fun Police? Fortunately, the Kings left the cage and brawled with them on the floor, as we saw the Rapture getting bounced off the cage before the match could start properly.

There’s a lot of crowd brawling, which makes sense because, well… you try and get all six of those guys inside of the cage! The camera crew keep up with the action as the Kings laid out their opponents with cannonballs into the crowd as the commentary crew struggled, as gradually all six men started to make their way to the ring… but not before Corvin takes a powerbomb into the side of the cage from Gibson and Sterling. They finally make it in as there’s a three-on-one beating on Bonesaw… but the match hasn’t started, and not just because the bolt on the cage door’s damn near fallen off the door. The Rapture try to chain the door closed, to stop Corvin and Disorderly from making a save… but it’s just delaying the start, and really hampering the champions’ chances of retaining.

Bonesaw made a brief comeback, but gets overwhelmed as the Rapture repeatedly fends off the attempts of the rest of the Kings to climb the cage. A spike piledriver to Bonesaw looked to be the exclamation mark, but then the Kings return with another way into the cage: a ladder! Well, the Rapture can’t shove them off that, and they weren’t able to get out through the door as Corvin scaled the ladder, then the cage, before crashing into the Rapture with a MASSIVE crossbody off the top of the cage!

Jesus Christ, why is that cage so high?! Dunkan Disorderly is in next with a Jimmy Snuka-like body splash off the top, and finally the match is underway! Now, everyone’s just got to get out…

We start properly with brawling, leading the Rapture to attempt to scale the cage… but they’re caught and brought down off the top rope with a chokeslam, a DDT and a release German suplex! That was nuts! Speaking of nuts, a trio of low blows put the Rapture back in it, as the Kings get thrown into the cage with such speed that the wall almost came free from the ring.

A version of the London Riots’ old District Line powerbomb keeps the Rapture ahead, as Charlie Sterling finds the key for the padlock… and now the door’s open! Sha’s out first… as is Zack Gibson, but Charlie was dragged back in as he was thrown to the proverbial wolves, as the Kings of the North turned the tables, padlocking Sterling in the ring for a 3-on-1 beatdown.

Somehow, Gibson cut his hand in that – I’m guessing that cage door was as lethal as it looked – and it meant that there was little chance of Gibson climbing the cage to make a save. All Gibson and Samuels could do was watch on in disgust from the floor, and hope that they could make a comeback when the Kings tried to escape… but first there was a prolonged beatdown on Sterling, as he’s wheelbarrow’d into the cage for good measure.

The Kings decide not to unlock the door, and instead try to climb out of the cage while Sha’s smashing the cage with chairs… before opting to climb back down and unlock the door. Duncan and Bonesaw head out, but Sterling decides not to slip out of the door as he instead superplexes Corvin off the top of the goddamned cage! Meanwhile the rest of the Kings are sent into the crowd as the Rapture try to will Sterling to victory… even if it meant turning him into a human tug of war… and it worked as Corvin lost grip of Sterling as he was pulled to the floor for the rather abrupt finish.

That didn’t look like the planned finish, but it worked as the Kings lost their belts by the skin of their teeth, ending their fourteen month-long reign. This was a wild match, with the segement from end-to-end being gripping viewing… but my God, I still cannot get over the sheer size and danger of that cage! ***¾

Well then. When we stopped regularly covering OTT, it was largely because we’d gotten sick of the same faces in similar roles, and the heavy reliance on imports. While OTT still have a fair number of imports, I’m happy to say that they’re now using more and more locals – with LJ Cleary here, and many more appearing on their Contenders shows. It doesn’t feel as “forced” as it was before – although the lack of those British Strong Style trios matches certainly helps!

The Homecoming – seemingly a try-out for an alternative venue in Dublin as there’s question marks over the future of the Tivoli – was a home run of a show. If you have OTT’s on-demand service, this is well worth signing up for, as the promotion looked to be heading into an even better 2018.