Jordan Devlin. Shane Strickland. There’s Unfinished Business and a real showstealer of a match as OTT prepared for Homecoming later this month…

We’re inside the Europa Hotel in Belfast, with Butch playing host as Aonghus og McAnally wasn’t here live. Nor was Tony Kelly, so the crowd were happy, as those two ended up doing commentary on tape.

Michael May & Sean Guinness vs. More Than Hype (LJ Cleary & Darren Kearney)
May and Kearney start us off, at least they will once the chanting dies down, as we had May dragging Kearney down in a headlock for an early pinning attempt.

A Greco-Roman knuckle-lock follows as a Test of Strength has May down on the matas we go to some more pinning combinations ahead of another headlock takedown from May. LJ tags in and scores a two-count from a sunset flip, assisted by Kearney’s dropkick, before Sean Guinness comes in and just blasts through LJ with a shoulder tackle. A lucha-inspired series ends with LJ ducking an enziguiri en route to the double dropkick standoff, before a cheapshot from Guinness led to him being tripped and dropkicked by More Than Hype. Guinness replies by dropping LJ into the ropes before some chops dropped him as May and Guinness settled into a groove.

Guinness took control with his experience edge, raking Cleary’s eyes with his boots before he’s sent outside… Kearney comes in to take flight with a tope con giro into the front row, before he returned to dump May with a T-bone suplex and a running shooting star press. May hits back with a Northern Lights suplex for a two-count, but a waistlock slam from Kearney and a LJ frog slash turns it back around as More Than Hype got a near-fall, only for May to come right back as he rolled up Kearney out of nowhere for the win.

That was a bit of a flat ending, with Guinness having pulled out Cleary to stop any save… something tells me that perhaps wasn’t the plan, but commentary did throw in a line over Guinness perhaps breaking his finger, so maybe this the best of a bad situation? ***

Steven Carvel vs. Tucker
Carvel debuted on the last Contenders show, and I still don’t get what “The View” means. Is he a fan of US daytime TV? He’s again accompanied by Curtis Murray ahead of this match with former NXT UK star Tucker, and Carvel leaps into Tucker with a jumping heel kick at the bell.

It’s all Carvel early on, only for Tucker to land a back elbow out of the corner, before a leaping Superman punch flipped Tucker inside out for a delayed two-count. An elbow drop’s next, before a ‘rana from Tucker takes Carvel into the corner, only for Tucker’s springboard back in to get caught and turned into a fireman’s carry gutbuster for a near-fall.

There’s a big back body drop from Carvel next, as he stretches Tucker on the mat with a double arm stretch. A second back body drop’s flipped out of as Tucker’s back with another ‘rana, before a Miz-like clothesline in the corner and a missile dropkick put Carvel back on the mat. Some chops and forearms redden Carvel’s chest, but the newcomer hits back with a German suplex that took Tucker into the corner. A stunner stops Carvel, as Tucker’s back with kicks to the chest, before he goes for a roll-through into an enziguiri out of the corner for a near-fall.

Tucker heads up top after he avoided a German suplex, but he crashes and burns on a senton before a cobra clutch suplex dumped Tucker on his head for a near-fall. That looked nasty and very GIF-able..

Curtis Murray slides in his sunglasses to distract the referee, but it comes to nought as Tucker instead hits a springboard swinging flatliner from the apron, only for Carvel to roll to the floor. Murray gets involved again, but gets slung into the ring for a Tucker superkick as Carvel waits for a missed Tucker plancha on the floor before another cobra clutch suplex dumped Tucker into the crowd.

I forget about OTT’s 20-count rule here as Carvel and Tucker drag their way back to the ring… but while Carvel makes it back in, Curtis Murray clung onto Tucker’s leg under the ring, and that’s enough for the count-out win. Eh, this had some good moments, and some scary ones (that cobra clutch suplex… ), but this never really clicked with the Belfast crowd. **¾

Terry Thatcher vs. Scotty Davis
This one started on the mat as Davis instantly went to the suplex well, going for a deadlift gutwrench suplex.

We’re quickly into Gator rolls as Davis wasn’t even letting Thatcher get out of neutral, sending him outside before a moonsault off the apron missed, as Thatcher found his way into the match with some forearms. A chop from Thatcher finds the ring post, before Davis charged himself into the crowd.

Back in the ring, Thatcher uses a camel clutch to try and wear down Davis, before a vertical suplex dropped Scotty for a two-count. Davis tries to fight back, but he just charged into a kick on the apron before a slingshot sunset flip and a powerbomb drew some two-counts for the more experienced Thatcher. Thatcher misses a double stomp off the top rope, then gets a belly-to-belly superplex as Davis instantly hit back, before they duel with elbow shots. Chops are next as Thatcher edged ahead, taking Davis into the corner with an enziguiri, only for Davis to hit back as he teased a Gator roll off the apron. Fortunately, Thatcher blocks it, only to charge into Davis’ shoulders as he’s taken down with a Chaos Theory German suplex back in the ring. Just like that, Scotty’s turned it around!

Davis goes all boxer with body blows before some kicks sent Thatcher down for a two-count, only for Terry to dump him with a big spinebuster ahead of a Sharpshooter attempt. After getting to the ropes, Scotty’s right back in with a Saito suplex that brought back memories of ROH commentary screaming DANGEROUS, only for Thatcher to come back with a 450 to the floor as Davis had been sent outside. More suplexes follow back inside as Davis rolls together some Dragon suplexes for near-falls, before a Fisherman buster dumped Thatcher for yet another two-count. A backslide from Davis is good for a near-fall before one more Gator Roll dumped Thatcher for the win. A really good outing, as Scotty Davis again show’s that he’s living up to the hype and the potential being shovelled onto him. How is this guy only 18? I demand to see his birth certificate for proof! ***¼

Valkyrie vs. Martina
Valkyrie’s out with Debbie Keitel as their partnership continues to grow. Remember, on the last Contenders show, Keitel pinned Raven Creed in that handicap match… so this is all about strengthening Valkyrie’s own credentials, I guess?

Keitel jumps Martina before the bell, and as soon as she leaves the ring the match starts, with Valkyrie charging Martina into the corner. Martina responds by taking Valkyrie into the opposite corner for some running forearms, before a big boot and a clothesline off the middle rope drew our first two-count of the match. A shoulder tackle from Valkyrie keeps the momentum swinging, before the pair exchanged forearms in the ropes.

Martina slides outside, bringing Valkyrie with her as we’ve some brawling around ringside, largely consisting of forearms from Martina, who then suplexed Valkyrie into the front row. That looked like a bad landing, as Martina made things worse with some beer mist for Valkyrie, only for Debbie to interfere… and get headbutted. A second beer spray misses as Valkyrie comes back with an enziguiri as she began to rough up Martina back inside the ring.

A Violence Party of forearms and chops sees Martina fire back, as a second enziguiri leaves both women down on the mat. Valkyrie misses a charge into the corner, but Keitel gets involved, grabbing onto Martina’s leg on the apron… but once the referee gets it free, Martina’s able to catch Valkyrie in the ropes for a middle rope Seshbreaker that flipped Valkyrie over.

More forearms and kicks follow until Martina lands another headbutt, before a DDT and a suplex looked to end it… only for Keitel to drag Valkyrie to the outside. The referee threatens to call for the DQ, but Martina stops him as she instead threw herself out into the pair of them with a tope, before a double-jump Seshbreaker ended up getting the win. This was fine – but with the focus being on Keitel at ringside, this didn’t do much for Valkyrie… other than perhaps set up a match down the line with the roles being reversed? ***

The Rapture (Zack Gibson & Charlie Sterling) vs. Angel Cruzers (Angel Cruz & B Cool)
This was Gibson’s first appearance in OTT since last July, and he brought his NXT UK tag team title belt with him as well. Oh, and Charlie Sterling, as the Rapture were sort-of reunited.

Ah, the indy booing of Zack Gibson promos. I’ve missed you. Gibson rightly takes aim at a fan with a belt… and as soon as he spoke about jokes, out come the Angel Cruzers. Angel vows to “bury” the Rapture “dead”, before throwing out a plea for a NXT contract. Maybe when NXT Ireland is a thing… just don’t try and get a TV show, OTT.

Gibson starts on the apron, still in his ring jacket, so it looks like he’s in no hurry to get involved. Sterling takes B Cool into the corner from the off, before the favour’s returned as B Cool eventually came back with a dropkick. B Cool avoids a hammerlock by sending Sterling diving to the outside, before Angel Cruz came in and demanded to face Gibson. That’s not happening, as Sterling goes for a side headlock, only for Cruz to return with a leg lariat as the Cruzers took over with axehandle smashes out of the corner.

Sterling switches around as B Cool climbs up and down the ropes, eventually leaping over the pair of them before monkey flipping Sterling into a PK from Cruz. After powdering outside, Sterling tagged out to Gibson… but it’s not legal because Sterling was on the floor, something that Gibson protested. In the meantime, Sterling works over B Cool’s arm before Gibson tossed him into the crowd.

Back inside, B Cool slips out of a slam from Sterling before they end up outside for a Benny Hill chase. Sterling cuts that off as he slips in to dump B Cool with a cutter for a two-count, before B Cool again fought back, bringing Cruz back in. Angel sidesteps a Whisper in the Wind and goes for the Old School… with Zack Gibson briefly interfering in the rope walk for some more comedy, only for Cruz to finish off with a flying chop anyway.

A brainbuster’s next from B Cool, before Cruz goes all Jeff Hardy on us with a senton bomb, only for Zack to put Charlie Sterling’s foot on the rope. We’ve a ref bump as Sterling’s shoved into Niall Fox, which was the cue for Justy to appear and finish Angel with an Alabama slam. Love the Doug Williams shoutout there Justy… and just as Justy headed back into the crowd, the ref woke up as Gibson came in, took his jacket off and pinned Cruz while wearing the belt. Ah well, the joke was there, but this was solely a match which continued the storyline with Justy and B Cool. **

They announce a comeback to Belfast on March 24… with Will Ospreay appearing for what could be the last OTT show there for a while if the eejits negotiating Brexit mess things up.

Backstage, Club Tropicana’s looking for their partner… they’re interrupted by the Fabulous Nicky, who fits their aesthetic perfectly.

Mongrels (Eddie Stone, Gavin Fitz & Russell Dempster) vs. Club Tropicana (Captain Sexsea & Aidan) & Fabulous Nicky
Ooh, the Mongrels have some glow-in-the-dark facemasks a la Joe Gacy from CZW a few years ago. Sadly, Club Tropicana were without Jose Idle here…

Nicky and Fitz start us off, heading into the corners as what sounded like a fire alarm was beeping in the background. Nicky wants a kiss, but Fitz backs off and brings in Dempster as Captain Sexsea tags in too. Sexsea’s got a glove, which he used to slap Dempster with as the gentleman’s duel ended with a lot of rope running as Sexsea tested the big man’s cardio. It worked, as we then got tags to bring in Aidan and Stone, with Aidan landing a nice forward roll into an elbow drop on Eddie for a two-count. Fitz is back in with right hands to Aidan in the corner, before the rest of the Mongrels rushed the ring to join in the beatdown. Stone dumps Dempster onto Aidan with a death valley driver for an easy two-count as the local lads kept up their dominance in front of a rather hushed crowd.

Aidan finally makes a comeback, clotheslining Dempster (and accidentally setting off a DDT to Stone in the process) before making the tag out to Nicky who’s back in with some Rock-like uppercuts to Fitz. An enziguiri follows, as does a lip lock for all of the Mongrels, before a trio of superkicks took the Mongrels outside.

Well, all of them apart from Dempster, who was caught in the corner for a Bronco Buster and a slip ‘n’ slide combo for a near-fall. Fitz is back to try and turn it around, but his ripcord whatever’s countered into a roll-up as Aidan nicked the win. This was another comedy outing, but the bell-to-bell wasn’t up to much. Still, at least the Club Tropicana gimmick’s over, so this didn’t feel like a total bust. **¼

Shane Strickland vs. Jordan Devlin
From one end of the spectrum to the other… and a rematch from Contenders 3, in a match that commentary called the best match in OTT history.

Devlin, of course, is on a collision course with former friend David Starr later in the month, in a match that’s gotten everyone geed up… but he’s got to overcome Shane Strickland in order to keep his momentum a-going. Duelling chants signal the start of the match, before Devlin looked to work over Strickland’s arm… only for the favour to be returned as they went at it at a rapid clip. Headscissors on the mat restrain Devlin, at least until he rolled free and caught Strickland in a single leg crab, which then turned around as Strickland had to try and push his way free. Devlin keeps hold of the foot, twisting Strickland in a toe-hold before a scramble put Strickland on top, flipping Devlin into the ropes as he went for a cross armbreaker.

Devlin tries his luck again with a bow and arrow hold, which sees him stretch Strickland… only for Shane to escape and pull his way into a trapped double armbar, a la ZSJ. Jordan tries to stand up, but he can’t pull ahead as a headscissor takedown and a dropkick from Strickland took Devlin outside… only for Jordan to counter a dive out with a back suplex onto the apron. The pair exchange strikes around ringside, with Devlin again charging Strickland into the apron before they headed back inside, with Devlin continuing to target on Strickland’s back. A PK to the spine leaves Shane down, as does a mid-kick as Strickland was sent into the ropes. They’re back into the crowd, as Devlin kicks Strickland in the front row, before a second one’s caught and thrown into the ring post.

Devlins’ down, clutching his leg after that, not helped by Strickland using an elevated single leg crab as he looked to win this by count-out, before he instead opted to roll Devlin back inside. More kicks to the hamstring keep Devlin grounded, as did an inverted single leg crab that forced Devlin to reach for the ropes.

Strickland keeps up the pressure with chops, sending Devlin back into the corner as the crowd seemed to be pro-Strickland… cheering as a dropkick caught Devlin’s leg in the ropes. The pain’s increased when Strickland traps Devlin in a leg spreader, but Jordan tries to slap his way free, only for Strickland to hit back in kind… and that just wakes up the Irish Ace.

Palm strikes rock both men, as they upgrade to forearms and body blows, with Devlin finally edging ahead as he had Strickland on the jelly legs. A uranage and a standing moonsault follow for a near-fall, before Devlin countered a chop to the knee with a standing Spanish Fly, taking Strickland outside… but he can’t get running on a dive. Strickland sneaks back in, but gets thrown out again as Devlin instead nails an Asai moonsault off the middle turnbuckle to the floor. Devlin lowers his knee pad as he tries to increase the blood flow to the bruised-up body part, but it just shows a visible target for more kicks from Strickland. A rolling thunder cutter’s blocked by Devlin, who instead eats a knee lift as Strickland started to ease back into the match. Leaping up top, Strickland positions for a Swerve Stomp, but Devlin rolls away, only to have his leg thunderously swept away from him once more.

Devlin and Strickland swap forearms and elbows next, with increasing ferocity, before a discus lariat from Strickland was countered with Devlin flipping over for something that’s also countered, only for Devlin to nail a headbutt as he fell onto Strickland for a near-fall. Strickland sandbags himself to avoid the pull-up Saito suplex, but he instead countered it into a Code Red before another fake out swept the leg away from Devlin as a hook kick and a cutter has Jordan down once more.

A Swerve Stomp’s next, but Devlin’s able to kick out somehow… but surely his proverbial tank was running on empty now? Strickland’s in a similar position, as he took his time getting back up before he kicked out Devlin’s bad knee… but somehow Devlin’s got a wheelbarrow roll-up into a double stomp. The camera shows a nasty landing as Devlin misses a moonsault, and that opens the door for Strickland, who stacks him up with a powerbomb for a near-fall, before rolling into a Stretch Muffler.

Devlin breaks it in the ropes, before he headed up for a moonsault… Strickland caught it, but a second one’s countered with a tombstone driver (or Kurtis Chapman’s Sega Mega Driver), before Devlin rushed into a package piledriver for the win. Simply beautiful. Devlin squeaked out a result in the end, but the bigger story is how this plays into Homecoming 2, as Jordan Devlin heads in with massive target on him in the form of the knee and hamstring injury. Something established in the last few shows… and that’s made that match wide open. Those who thought that the Import Killer just had a blip against WALTER may well see that the blip continues on the big stage. As for this match… go out of your way and watch this, as Jordan Devlin continued to steal the show in 2019. ****¾

They air a video package recapping WALTER’s epic win over Bonesaw the last time OTT were in Belfast back in December. We didn’t review the whole show, but it’s well worth a watch, as it played into the Kings of the North potentially in peril as the OTT champion WALTER looked to become a two-time champion.

OTT Tag Team Championship: RINGKAMPF (WALTER & Timothy Thatcher) vs. Kings of the North (Bonesaw & Damien Corvin) (c)
Needless to say, the Kings were the heavy crowd favourites, with the Irish fans travelling north of the border backing the tag team champions, who were jumped at the bell… but they quickly toss Thatcher to the outside as WALTER ended up going the same way too.

Bonesaw gets lifted to the outside by Corvin, as he wiped out RINGKAMPF, which led to some clubbering on the outside as the Kings edged ahead. An enziguiri from Thatcher misses as he ended up taking some chops from Bonesaw, then a cross-chop to the throat as the pair fought with all their might.

Corvin’s in next, booting Thatcher after an inverted atomic drop before WALTER’s bid to get involved saw him booted off the apron. Thatcher stops Corvin’s dive with a European uppercut, before he drove some knees into the midsection as RINGKAMPF took the lead. A chop drops Corvin, as WALTER was in the familiar position of standing tall, with Thatcher returning to continue bombarding Corvin with uppercuts.

A deadlift gutwrench suplex from Thatcher dropped Corvin for a two-count, as he kept Corvin in the corner ahead of a tag to WALTER, who just put a boot through him on the mat. Frequent tags gave Corvin little chance of tagging out, with Thatcher back in for a slam and an elbow drop that gets a near-fall, following up with a cross armbreaker, with Bonesaw having to come in and break up the hold.

Corvin finally gave himself some hope, booting WALTER out of the corner, but his follow-up missile dropkick’s caught and turned into a Boston crab, then a STF as Corvin had to reach to get to that bottom rope. WALTER follows up with some crossface punches in the ropes, weakening Corvin some more… or so he thought, as Corvin caught one and managed to turn the tables as he dished out some punches of his own as WALTER was caught in the ropes. Thatcher tries to help… but Bonesaw stops and dishes some out too!

RINGKAMPF head outside, but into the path of a massive hands-free plancha from Corvin as Bonesaw eventually joined in with a cannonball off the apron into WALTER. Just like that though, WALTER hits back with chops before he grabbed some chairs from the front row… and these weren’t folding chairs, either! Bonesaw avoids a suplex onto the chairs, instead reversing it as WALTER landed on the floor before Thatcher stood on the chairs and caught Bonesaw in a rear naked choke.

Back inside, Thatcher maintains the momentum with a single leg crab on Corvin, before WALTER came back to help out with a cracking chop. Corvin tries to fight back, but the numbers game proved overwhelming before he flipped away and brought in Bonesaw… who only had eyes for WALTER.

CHOP! goes Bonesaw, who wheeled away on WALTER in the corner, only for the referee to break it up as WALTER’s allowed to come back with a shotgun dropkick and a powerbomb for a near-fall. Thatcher and WALTER double-team Bonesaw in their corner for a spell, as the Kings again looked to be in trouble, with Thatcher mounting Bonesaw and raining down palm strikes as they were back in the habit of double-teaming.

Bonesaw thought he’d fought free, but WALTER pulled Corvin off the apron to stop the tag as the crowd continued to get behind Bonesaw. Corvin protests to the referee and ends up distracting the ref as WALTER comes in to chop Bonesaw. I howled at Thatcher pretending the chop was his…

A second WALTER chop misses as he takes out his own man, allowing Corvin to tag in and begin the one man comeback trail, dumping Thatcher with an uranage from the apron before ducking a WALTER lariat, taking him down with a death valley driver instead. The Kings target Thatcher with a wheelbarrow lungblower before Thatcher grabbed an armbar on Corvin as just like that… RINGKAMPF seized control.

Duelling Gojira clutches kept the Kings on the mat, but they powered back to their feet and were able to escape, shoving Thatcher to the outside as WALTER had to beat the numbers game by himself. Corvin tries for a German suplex, but it’s elbowed away… so he just German suplexes RINGKAMPF. At the same time. Wow.

From there, a Falcon arrow from Corvin looked to win it, but WALTER pulled out the referee before dumping Corvin with a German suplex of his own. WALTER brings in the title belt and tries to swing with it… Corvin clocks Thatcher with it before the Kings landed another wheelbarrow lungblower, then a swinging Flatliner… and despite the referee needing to be rolled back in to count, it was enough to put away Thatcher. A weird finish in a way, with WALTER storming to the back on his own afterwards, but a popular win for the Kings as they leave Belfast with their titles. ***¾

Unfinished Business was a solid show, helped by a final two matches that took the card to that proverbial next level. The post-produced commentary, while good, lost all of the bombastic nature that Aongus and Tony usually have live, and as such didn’t do much to lift up parts of the show that naturally flat live, like the crowd not caring about the Mongrels losing their unbeaten streak.

To be honest, that may be the only hole in OTT right now – while they may not be putting a foot wrong when it comes to the top of the card, but there are a few places lower down the card that aren’t just clicking. No promotion is totally perfect, but OTT’s showing that they’re in a rich vein of form that’s got them on fans’ lips in the discussion of “who’s the best” right now.

OTT’s next big show is next weekend in Tallaght, with PAC vs. WALTER headlining… but it’s Jordan Devlin vs. David Starr that’s taking all of the plaudits going in, thanks to the incredible video package the promotion released earlier this week.