We take a look at the debut shows from Hungary’s newest promotion – Passion Pro.
Wrestling in the continent of Europe is going through some interesting times. We all know about NXT UK, and how their roster has slowly started to incorporate prominent names from mainland Europe… while the double-whammy of Brexit and the pandemic suddenly made it a lot harder for names to pop over to the higher-profile promotions in the UK for a show here and there.
Obviously the pandemic’s shut down more travel than not right now, which perhaps makes it a curious time to launch a new promotion. Step forward Passion Pro – originally scheduled to launch last year before… you know… the the promotion looks to offer some extra places for guys to work, with Hungarian Championship Wrestling being the main spot in that country.
Starting off with the inaugural Passion Cup, Passion Pro hit Budapest’s Thor Gym on July 4th for a two-show affair. There’s a few familiar names, especially if you watch or follow along with current-day wXw. This show’s currently up for free on YouTube, with English commentary from Dave Bradshaw. Let’s take a peek…
The set-up we’re dealing with reminds me a lot of wXw’s earlier days – where not every show had video walls, and the entrance way was instead scattered with pull-up banners. Except Passion Pro has LASERS, and lasers make everything better!
Passion Cup 2021 Quarter-Final: Maverick vs. Marius al-Ani
We’re dealing with “proper” music here, which means Marius al-Ani isn’t going to work, he’s a warrior here. Maverick’s largely spent his career in HCW, but did appear in the second second of the German Wrestling Federation’s “Who’s Next?” back in 2018.
al-Ani looked to dominate early, but Maverick bridges and crab-walked out of a headlock takedown. Marius builds up momentum though, despite the Budapest crowd’s backing for Maverick, only for Maverick to nearly sneak a win with a folding pin out of a powerbomb. al-Ani quickly strikes back, getting a near-fall… but then the bell rings as al-Ani rolled outside, holding his fingers. The match gets waved off due to injury as staff attend to Marius, who looked to have dislocated a finger, and that’s a surprise spot in the final for Maverick. **
We’ve a glimpse backstage of Marius having his fingers popped back in…
Tamas Szabo vs. Dennis Dullnig vs. Norman Harras
Just about everyone’s got very clap-able themes here…
Dullnig manages to turn everyone against him, while Harras pie-faced Szabo as the Hungarian was getting the expected good reaction here… particularly as Dullnig and Harras spent the early going double-teaming him. A stalling suplex from Harras dumps Szabo, before Dullnig tried to capitalise with a roll-up. It didn’t quite work, as Harras maintained the upper hand before he grabbed a headlock. Szabo pulls Harras out of the ring, then held him in place for a baseball slide from Dullnig as the Hungarian took over.
A legdrop gets Szabo a solid two-count, but Harras is quickly back to break an armbar, only for Szabo to chop his opponents to the outside. Harras tries to recover with a leaping uppercut, but misses… then slipped as he just about to hit it coming out of the corner. With Harras on the outside, Dullnig tries to nick the win with a German suplex, while Harras returned and whiffed on a moonsault.
Szabo manages to hit his move – an Angle Slam – before Harras was caught with a Pedigree. Dullnig snuck back in to hit a gutwrench piledriver… and with the pick of two men to cover, he gets the three count on Szabo for the win. A fun, frantic match that kept the crowd engaged – even if the result wasn’t was what they wanted. **¾
Passion Cup 2021 Quarter-Final: Robert Dreissker vs. Drake Destroyer
Dreissker’s refusing high fives here, so we know who to boo. Like Dreissker, Drake’s wrestled around Europe, so we’ve got two fairly similar levels of experience at play here.
Dreissker takes Drake into the corner from the off, before back-and-forth shoulder blocks saw Destroyer knock Dreissker through the ropes. Back inside, a seemingly embarrassed Dreissker charges down Drake, before he called for a Test of Strength. Drake looked to edge ahead, but Dreissker knees him in the gut, then worked an overhead wristlock before Drake managed to find a way back in with shoulder blocks.
A big back body drop takes Dreissker outside (see, that move always pops) as Freissker then got into a shoving fight with referee Tassilo Jung, who ran like hell when Avalanche looked to shove back. Drake heads outside, but got posted by Dreissker, before he had the rope kicked into him back inside.
Drake looks to head up top, but Dreissker pulls him out of the corner, then met him with a splash in the corner. A real avalanche. That barely drew a two-count though, as Drake then went for a slam… but Dreissker fell on top of him and nearly won the match just like that. The pair trade elbows from there, with Drake finally hitting the shoulder block off the middle rope to take down the Austrian.
Both men get back to their feet, trading strikes, but it’s Drake who pulls ahead again, landing a bodyslam and a suplex as the Swiss native looked to be headed for victory… but Dreissker uses the ref as a human shield, then nailed a low blow behind the ref’s back to score the win. If you like your big lads wrestling, this was perhaps a more scaled back version – you didn’t have Dreissker or Drake knocking lumps out of each other, but this was more a case of making everything mean something – all the way through til the end. ***
Anil Marik, Lyon & Red Scorpion vs. Arrows Of Hungary (Dover & Icarus) & Iva Kolasky
It’s an international trios match, with the German Marik, and the Italians Red Scorpion and Lyon up against the “home” favourites.
Unsurprisingly, the Budapest crowd were hot for this one, as we start with Icarus and Marik trading headlocks. You can guess who got booed. Marik tries some right hands, but he telegraphs them and got folded in half with a back suplex. Ow. Red Scorpion, annoyed, tagged in but got slapped en route to a twisting Fisherman suplex, before Lyon came in to charge down Icarus.
Icarus avoids getting double-teamed for long as he dove in to tag Iva Kolasky. Lyon shrugged his shoulders, and was left aghast as Kolasky flipped around and past him en route to a crossbody… which was caught. The Arrows save Iva as we get a stand-off that quickly broke down.
The crowd chant for it, and they get a dive as Kolasky’s hiptossed from the ring to the baddies on the floor (via the front row). Back in the ring, Red Scorpion clotheslines Icarus from the apron, while Lyon threw in a short-arm lariat for a near-fall. Scorpion’s back for a slam and a knee drop, before Marik took back over with a vertical suplex for a two-count.
Marik tries to stretch Icarus, while Lyon and Scorpion help out, but Icarus finally found a way through with a missile dropkick as he made the tag out to Dover, who ran wild. A standing fallaway slam drops Scorpion, who’s then thrown into Marik as Dover then picked them both up for a simultaneous slam. That stuff’s never not impressive.
Lyon capitalises with a swinging side slam as a Parade of Stuff broke out, leading to a Slingblade from Marik, only for Iva Kolasky’s crossbody to take down Marik and Scorpion. Lyon again goes for Kolasky, but gets met with forearms, before the Crossfire left him down, with Kolasky finishing the job off the top with a moonsault. A fun trios match, with the “home team” doing away with the baddies and their cheating ways. A match made all the easier by the crowd, I suspect! ***
Passion Cup 2021 Quarter-Final: Gulyas Öcsi vs. Senza Volto
Öcsi, known as Gulyas Junior, was another local favourite as he was paired the flying Senza Volto.
Senza’s got some deodorant for Gulyas, and looked to use it before the match to neutralise one of Gulyas’ key weapons. Senza’s taken to the top rope early, but when he gets down he’s able to catch out Öcsi, who returned with a Test of Strength, only to kick away Volto’s wristlock attempt.
Elbow drops from Senza catch Öcsi, but the big lad’s back with a shoulder block, only to miss a back senton as Senza rolled to the ropes… and into the front row. Back inside, Senza floats over Öcsi and kicks out the leg, before a springboard headscissors took the Hungarian to the outside.
Öcsi gets dropkicked off the apron as Senza went for a dive, landing a tope con giro into the entranceway. They scrap around ringside, with chops in the front row before a flip senton back inside got Senza a two-count. A leaping crossbody from Senza’s caught and turned into a slam though, as Öcsi landed that back senton before he charged Senza into the corner once more.
A foot on Senza’s chest gets Öcsi a one-count, before he took the Frenchman into the corner for some choking. Clotheslines follow as Senza gets pulled up, but then he resisted… walking through Gulyas’ lariat as he began to throw some of his own, then an enziguiri before a handspring back elbow took the Hungarian down.
Senza keeps going with a snap Code Red for a near-fall, but Gulyas returns with a pop-up knee and a brainbuster for a near-fall of his own. Gulyas heads up for a superplex, but Senza slips out, only to get caught with a lariat as he went for another handspring. Somehow, Senza’s out in time, but he blocks a suplex as the pair looked to be running on fumes.
A Spanish Fly out of nowhere gets a near-fall, before Senza threw some more superkicks en route to the Eiffel Tower… but Gulyas blocks it, before Senza finally hits it for the win. Some good back-and-forth here, although with both guys seemingly being the goodies here, the crowd didn’t seem to be able to get into this as much as you’d have hoped. ***¼
Passion Cup 2021 Quarter-Final: Aigle Blanc vs. Peter Tihanyi
The main event of the first show sees another France vs. Hungary clash, and this one ought to be a little more aerial… while Tihanyi has a remixed version of Seven Nation Army that could be easily chanted to. Especially if you use the way his name’s said in Hungary…
We open with a lock-up going back and forth in the corners, before Tihanyi pulled Aigle into a Bow and Arrow hold… but let go when Aigle flipped free and went for a pin. Aigle works the arm, but got caught as the pair went back and forth on the mat. Tihanyi finds a way through with a dropkick, before he rolled his way up out of a tombstone for a near-fall.
Aigle keeps the pinning attempts going with a roll-up, but gets lifted to the outside for a tope. The pair trade chops, with Tihanyi pulling ahead on the outside, before Aigle booted him out of the front row. Blanc followed up with a suplex on the floor, before he climbed up a ledge and… got caught. Tihanyi’s kicked into the “upper deck” as Aigle looked to suplex him down, only to get booted away as Tihanyi came back with a tope con giro through the balcony.
We keep up the dives with a springboard flip senton from Aigle to the floor, before he threw in a neckbreaker and a splash back inside for a two-count. Changing tactic, Aigle goes for a double armbar, but Tihanyi’s able to slip free and return with a swinging DDT. A back elbow and a PK followed, before a springboard moonsault drew a two-count, with Tihanyi then looking for a submission of his own.
Aigle got to the ropes, as the pair then resorted to strikes. A ripcord enziguiri from Aigle looked to put him ahead, but the pair trade kicks and knees, until Aigle’s Dragon suplex left Tihanyi in the ropes for a dropkick to the head. Another Dragon suplex followed, but Tihanyi’s back up to spin the Frenchman with a lariat for some back-and-forth two-counts.
Keeping going, Aigle lands a discus elbow, but misses a 450 splash… some headscissors through the ropes drive Tihanyi into the mat, before the tombstone laid out the Hungarian for a near-fall. Looking for the win, Aigle goes up top, but his 450 splash lands in Tihanyi’s guard, and gets caught in a triangle armbar for the quick submission. An unexpected end to a match which certainly was different than the rest of the card, going all over the room before ending on the mat. ***¼
Show One Results:
Passion Cup 2021 Quarter-Final: Maverick defeats Marius Al-Ani via referee stoppage in 5:13 (**)
Dennis Dullnig pinned Tamas Szabo & Norman Harras in 7:18 (**¾)
Passion Cup 2021 Quarter-Final: Robert Dreissker pinned Drake Destroyer in 10:11 (***)
Iva Kolasky, Icarus & Dover pinned Lyon, Anil Marik & Red Scorpion in 9:07 (***)
Passion Cup 2021 Quarter-Final: Senza Volto pinned Gulyas Junior in 15:40 (***¼)
Passion Cup 2021 Quarter-Final: Peter Tihanyi submitted Aigle Blanc in 14:04 (***¼)
This one’s also up for free on YouTube, and was comprised of a four-way main event and some undercard matches. Dave Bradshaw’s on commentary again, after a recap video of the first show’s happenings.
Anil Marik vs. Drake Destroyer
Marik’s still getting booed… and he plays keepaway from Drake to start.
When Drake got hold of Anil… he knew it. Chops lit up the relative rookie, but he’s able to sidestep a knee in the corner before he chopped it out. A DDT to the leg keeps Drake down, before a toe hold kept the big man down. Marik’s crossbody gets caught, as Drake slammed him into the buckles ahead of a stalling suplex, before a diving boot gets Drake the win in a really short outing. **
Gulyas Öcsi vs. Dennis Dullnig
Öcsi narrowly lost to Senza Volto in a quarter-final earlier, and I wonder if that deodorant lasted…
Öcsi makes Dullnig back off to start with, before he grabbed a side headlock to take “Cash” down in the middle of the ring. A big dropkick from Öcsi takes Dullnig outside, before he caught a cheapshot… only for Dullnig to bite his way out of a clothesline. A hammerlock backs Öcsi into the corner, before Dullnig clubbered him from behind, as Öcsi looked to be on the defensive.
A snapmare and a PK gets Dullnig just a count of one, before a kitchen sink knee to the gut spun Öcsi down. Mudhole stomping keeps Öcsi in the corner, before Dullnig came in with an enziguiri as Öcsi had teased a cannonball.
Dullnig slaps Öcsi around, but got caught with some short-arm clotheslines… then a regular one as the Hungarian pulled ahead, following up with a swinging back suplex. The cannonball follows, then a back senton, but Dullnig kicks out at two. He counters a telegraphed brainbuster, then slapped Öcsi, who returned the favour, before a rebound German suplex took Öcsi down for a two-count.
A back body drop gets Öcsi free of a piledriver, before a frog splash crossbody out of the corner took Dullnig down, with a brainbuster again being escaped seconds later. Dullnig called the referee over to check on an injury, but that just masks an eye rake as Dullnig snuck out a win with a piledriver. Decent stuff with Dullnig cheating – if he’s brought back, the day he’s beaten clean will be a glorious one. **¾
Post-match, Dullnig thanks the crowd – and told us he loved Hungary. Way to babyface yourself.
Norman Harras vs. Lyon
Both men were booed by Budapest earlier, so let’s see who’s the least hated?
Harras nails a dropkick in the early going, but he celebrates way too early and gets POUNCED to the outside by Lyon. Back inside, Harras finds form with a clothesline, then one to the front, before he divided his time between jawing with the crowd and working over Lyon.
Harras goes for a crossbody after he spat at Lyon, and like others today, it’s caught and turned into a slam. Splashes and a lariat from Lyon get him a two-count, but Harras fought back with an uppercut out of the corner put Harras back on top.
Jawing with the crowd again distracts Harras as he’s booted in the face, but the German’s right back with a sunset flip, stacking up Lyon for the clean win. Good while it lasted but again, this ran a little short. **¼
The Arrows of Hungary come out next for a promo… my Hungarian is literally non-existant, so I’ll lay out like the commentary did!
Red Scorpion vs. Tamas Szabo
Scorpion heels himself to start, but against Szabo, I don’t think he was likely to get much in the way of cheers.
Scorpion jumps outside to berate the crowd at the bell. When we get going, it’s a headlock takedown from Szabo that gets us going, then another, before Szabo chased after Scorpion. The Benny Hill chase ends back inside, but Szabo finds the upper hand with chops, making the Italian back away into the corner.
Scorpion returned with a dropkick, but got tripped as the pair exchanged punches from above as Szabo gets thrown outside. A poke to the eye sees Scorpion weaken down Szabo and roll him back into the ring for a knee drop, which gets a two-count, before a dropkick cut off Szabo’s comeback for another two-count.
A running flip senton adds another near-fall for the Italian, whose covers were getting increasingly lackadaisical, before the pair clashed heads in the middle of the ring. Szabo gets back up first, landing a side Russian legsweep and a bulldog for a near-fall, before a back body drop frees Scorpion from a Pedigree.
Scorpion tries another running senton, but Szabo got the knees up, then cradled Scorpion for a two-count. A roll-through on a crossbody’s good for another two-count from Szabo, who then had to kick out of a Falcon arrow, before a second Falcon arrow was countered out of, as another exchange of strikes sees Szabo pull ahead, with the Pedigree finally putting the Italian away. Some good exchanges towards the end here, as the pair were fighting to not leave the debut events without a win. ***¼
Maokai vs. Aigle Blanc
Maokai’s just started his second year in wrestling (having picked a heck of a year to debut in, eh?) – and I assume this was a spot freed by Marius al-Ani’s injury in the first show.
Maokai’s gotten the crowd behind him. I wonder what he was doing for the earlier show? Perhaps some monkey business on a sunny afternoon? Aigle restrains Maokai with a cravat early, but ends up getting caught with some headscissors and a dropkick from the newcomer, as the Frenchman was taken outside for a tope.
Aigle took over, dropping Maokai on the side of the ring, before a series of strikes led to a two-count. A roll-up barely got Maokai a one-count, but he keeps going with clotheslines and a crossbody off the top, picking up a two-count from it as well. In return, Aigle Blanc struck back with a Dragon suplex, before Maokai caught him with a roll-up and a ‘rana for another two-count.
A rear spin kick cracks Maokai in the head though, and from there its a simple win for Aigle, as he pulled up Maokai into a pumphandle driver – think the Last of the Dragon – for the three-count. Short, but pretty good for what it was – Maokai looked fine for the time he was in there, and is one to keep an eye on in the future. **¼
Passion Cup 2021 Final: Maverick vs. Peter Tihanyi vs. Robert Dreissker vs. Senza Volto
Dreissker’s still getting booed in Budapest, as it’s clear he’ll be the key threat here.
It looks like we’re dealing with all four men at the same time, so it’s a wild one that started with Maverick getting thrown outside by Dreissker… who rolled his eyes at the Hungarian’s attempt to pull him outside. There was more luck for Maverick back inside as Tihanyi pulled ahead of Senza Volto.
Dropkicks clear Senza and Maverick, only for Dreissker to charge through Tihanyi, before a handspring cutter from Senza took Dreissker outside. A faked-out dive from Senza just led to Maverick throwing him outside anyways, before Maverick followed with a tope con giro. The double jeopardy-style match continued, giving the camera crew a hell of a time, as Tihanyi got pulled off the balcony and popped up onto the apron by Dreissker.
In the ring, Maverick’s back cracker and tornado DDT has Senza down, while Dreissker took a back cracker… which did more damage to Maverick’s knees than Dreissker’s back. Work smarter, eh? Dreissker slows the pace down, Biel’ing Senza across the ring, before we get the back body drop that almost took Senza into the ropes. A big splash follows, as Tihanyi got dragged in amid his attempt to fight back. So Tihanyi gets squashed like Senza, as was Maverick, as we were getting Biels for days…
It’s literally one-on-three, but Dreissker’s able to fight of the smaller guys as they were on their knees, before he opted to stack them up and tease going airborne. Of course he didn’t, as Dreissker just bit a splash into the pile. Eventually though, the other three get back to their feet and land a superkick to take down the Austrian.
Rather than stay on Dreissker, the rest start on each other, with Tihanyi getting rolled away from Senza before Senza’s handspring was caught and turned into a sleeperhold. Dreissker’s back senton was to no avail, but Maverick’s springboard splash broke it up and nearly stole the match there and then.
Maverick comes close again with a Samoan driver as Dreissker shoved Tihanyi onto the cover to break it up. Things head outside again as Senza dove onto Dreissker, while Tihanyi added to it with an Orihara moonsault. Senza and Tihanyi hit the ring, but we’re quickly done as Volto hits a standing Spanish Fly, and that’s your lot! This being a one-fall final kinda made the win a little anti-climactic, but for the ten minutes the main event went, they told a good story of Dreissker trying to overwhelm the field, only for the other three’s quickness to catch him out in the end. ***
The show ends with Senza Volto celebrating with his trophy, as the good guys came out of the locker room joined in afterwards.
Show Two Results:
Drake Destroyer pinned Anil Marik in 4:00 (**)
Dennis Dullnig pinned Gulyas Öcsi in 10:10 (**¾)
Norman Harras pinned Lyon in 6:37 (**¼)
Tamas Szabo pinned Red Scorpion in 11:04 (***¼)
Aigle Blanc pinned Maokai in 4:27 (**¼)
Senza Volto pinned Peter Tihanyi, Robert Dreissker & Maverick to win the 2021 Passion Cup in 10:36 (***)
So, what did I think of Passion Pro? Well, using a lot of names I’ve heard of before helps remove a lot of the uncertainty that comes when you throw yourself into a new promotion. The “two shows in one day” format, coupled with the tournament, naturally makes for some short matches, which may not be to your style, but not every wrestling show needs to be deadly serious. Your style may not work for me, and vice versa, and if you’re running a part of the world that isn’t particularly ingrained in wrestling, “casual” shows like this are your best bet.
Passion Pro have announced a Tristan Archer vs. Axel Tischer match later this month (and Aigle Blanc vs. Carlos Romo), and those kind of Euro graps bookings are always likely to grab my attention. Add in some pretty good production values (clear lenses with steady, gimbal-assisted shots), and English commentary, and you’ve got a promotion that’ll be worth keeping an eye on as they look to grow Hungarian wrestling.