You know the drill – you’re clicking around on YouTube, and you find an interesting channel. In this case, an archive from RQW – let’s take a look!
Truth be told, it’s a bit of a misnomer, as the RQW YouTube seems to be a home to a bunch of wrestling-related footage that Len Davies – the former RQW owner – owns. We’ll be taking a look through some of the matches and full shows that Len’s posted, starting with the aptly-named RQW Special Feature. So, what’s in these un-named 50-minute shows? Ohmygodits1PW!
Yep, Special Feature Episode 1 is from 1PW’s Third Anniversary Show in 2008 – a show which was one of the first run by a new ownership that featured Dragon Aisu and El Ligero of all people. This was filmed at the Dome in Doncaster, a venue I frequently attended back in the day… but by this point, I’d long since abandoned the 1PW ship.
They’ve changed the configuration of the venue since the days I’d been going, with a two-screened entrance ramp and a runway being used. Almost like another promotion going today that they’re compared to…
1PW Tag Team Championships: Project Ego (Kris Travis & Martin Kirby) (c) vs. Jonny Storm & Jody Fleisch
I mean this in the nicest way possible, but having seen Storm and Fleisch on the UWA shows we covered last year… and Fleisch in wXw earlier this year, I have a feeling that when the Britwres apocalypse comes, they’ll still be around!
Stevie Aaron is on commentary with Dale Mills, both of whom are flubbing lines all over the place and there’s a banner by ringside promoting “meet the legend, Ric Flair”… for an event which had happened earlier that day. Good lord. Speaking of “Good Lord”, Martin Kirby has hair here… and I feel like I’m in an alternate dimension. Project Ego attack Storm and Fleisch from behind, only to get dropped by a pair of dropkicks as they go to the outside, where Fleisch fakes out a dive… just so Jonny Storm can try for a baseball slide dropkick. The champions bonk into each other on the outside, before Travis goes back in to take a spinning heel kick off the top rope by Fleisch.
A handspring back elbow rocks Travis in the corner – who has his left hand taped up after a footballing accident left him with a cut hand – before Storm puts him on the mat for a springboard moonsault out of the corner. Fleisch tags in and peppers Travis with kicks, before a snapmare and a dropkick gets Fleisch a near-fall – and despite Travis kicking out, Kirby pratfalls into the ring as those video screens finally get turned on.
After some double-teaming from Kirby, he’s finally tagged in to stomp away in the corner for a near-fall. Kirby lands the Scooby Doo “puppy power” shoulder charge, before bringing Travis back in to keep stomping away on Fleisch. A running knee strike leads to Fleisch getting closer than he wanted to Travis, as the champions kept up their offence.
Martin Kirby comes in and takes an enziguiri as Fleisch made the tag out to Storm, who flew into Travis with a springboard dropkick. A second one’s caught as Project Ego pull off a Hart Attack-style Backbreaker for a near-fall, and Travis keeps on top of Storm with some eye-gouging and choking in the ropes.
The champions isolate Storm, before Kirby tries to spit a mouthful of water on Storm… but he switches places and its Travis who gets doused, before Kirby eats a corkscrew plancha on the floor. Travis thinks he’s flipped out of a German suplex, but Fleisch just gives him a second one before a La Magistral cradle gets a near-fall.
Martin Kirby crotches Fleisch on the top rope as he was looking to finish things off, but Jody holds firm from a double Splash Mountain attempt as Jonny Storm rushes in to give Project Ego a Perfect Storm (Spanish Fly off the middle rope). Fleisch is used as a weapon for a release German-come-moonsault onto Travis for a near-fall, before he’s caught in a fireman’s carry facebuster by Kirby for another two-count.
Kirby leaps off the top rope aiming at Fleisch, but he takes a superkick from Storm instead, before Storm tries for the Wonderwhirl (pumphandle driver) on Travis. Kris elbows free, then tries for the pumphandle piledriver, only to lose it as the Wonderwhirl’s hit on the second attempt. The pin’s broken up by Kirby, who then takes a flying ‘rana by Fleisch… but Travis kicks Jody to break up the pin, as Kirby reverses the cover – with the help of an extra hand from Travis – as the champions retain. For an opening match, this was really good – perhaps a little far-fetched in terms of some of the spots (leaping into a convenient superkick etc), but this was a solid, solid way to kick off a big show. ***¼
Pretty much as soon as the bell rang, we’re seguing onto the next match… and as luck would have it, it’s one that was referenced not too long ago…
Chris Hero vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
Oh my God, everyone’s so young here. Joel Allen is the referee, with a massive afro…
The size difference here is similar to Hero/Sabre in 2017, so Hero’s able to bully Sabre in the opening exchanges. They exchange near-falls from roll-ups early on, but Hero grounds Sabre with some headscissors, which Zack ends up flipping out of to a nice round of applause.
Hero grabs a knee and rolls Sabre into a single crab that morphed into a heel hook, before Sabre grabbed an arm and tried for an armbar, forcing the more experienced Hero into the ropes. Sabre flips out of an arm wringer, as he kicks away at Hero, eventually landing a dropkick as another set-up for that armbar.
Sabre takes over with some grounded submissions, almost in a Tequila sunrise, before he just rolls Hero for a two-count. From the kick-out, Zack grabs a hammerlock, but Hero powers out into a fireman’s carry slam and a back senton, as he followed up with some vicious stomps to a downed Sabre. Hero drills Sabre with some knees before a snapmare and a snapping back senton gets another near-fall, as he goes back to some submissions. Hero pins Sabre’s arms behind his back, using his legs to help pin them back as Hero rolls forward to fold Sabre in half for an innovative, and painful submission.
Hero keeps clubbing away at Sabre, who replies with some kicks and an armbar attempt, but yet again, they’re too close to the ropes. So Hero just blasts Sabre with some forearms for a near-fall, before he dumps Sabre on his arse from an inverted atomic drop position. A diving dropkick to Sabre’s only good for a two-count, so Hero goes to a camel clutch to force Sabre into the ropes, as the bullying continues.
Sabre rolls away from a back senton, then gets his knees up to block a second, as Hero comes up short before he takes a springboard enziguiri out of the corner. A spinning back kick and a dropkick knocks down Hero, as a PK gets Sabre a near-fall from a lateral press. Hero returns with a rolling forearm, but Sabre throws one straight back before he wheelbarrows Hero into an armbreaker… but again, the relative veteran makes the bottom rope.
Sabre tries to come off the ropes, but he just takes a big boot, before flopping into the corner for a leaping forearm. A Blockbuster off the middle rope gets Hero a two-count, before he hits a Ligerbomb for another near-fall. The pace quickens as both men frantically go for near-falls, rolling through and through, before Sabre rolls through a side Russian legsweep into a pin for the victory. Sabre was a little unpolished here, but this was really, really good. You can’t be surprised at that, no? ***¾
They hurriedly cut away from that, I guess to mask music, so we’re onto the next match:
Losing Team Must Split Up: Spud & Hubba Bubba Lucha (El Ligero & Bubblegum) vs. Damned Nation (Dragon Aisu, Joseph Hayes & Jon Cameron)
A little background here – the Damned Nation were a nWo-esque group that ran roughshod over 1PW, and had swapped the company’s tag titles with Ligero and Bubblegum during the company’s Underground “B-shows”.
I’ve already made this point with Martin Kirby, but the hair on Bubblegum was unreal. Spud’s wasn’t that far off either!
This is mayhem from the early going as Bubblegum pops up Ligero into a dive to the Damned Nation on the outside, but it’s not too long before Ligero’s isolated, with Aisu and Cameron combining to hit a Russian legsweep/big boot combo for a near-fall. Hayes gets a near-fall from a side slam on Ligero, who them gets double-teamed by the largely identical Cameron and Aisu.
Bubblegum comes in and launches into Aisu, before Hayes attacks him from behind, landing a knee-drop curb stomp for one-count. Aisu tags in and chops Bubblegum down, before Spud rushes in to try and get at the Damned Nation leader, but that just distracts the referee and keeps Bubblegum on the back foot. Cameron almost gets a win with a lariat, but Bubblegum keeps kicking out as the Damned Nation kept on top.
Aisu tries to wrench off Bubblegum’s arm in a crossface attempt, before another hammerlock from Cameron forces a rope-break. Yet again, the babyfaces distract the referee inadvertently, and that just means that they’ve got less chance of tagging in. To his credit, Bubblegum sold the arse kicking well, but when he made the tag to Spud, the crowd seemingly couldn’t care less.
Spud clears house with clotheslines to Hayes, before landing a wheelbarrow bulldog for a near-fall as the rest of Damned Nation broke up the pin. A Code Red gets a near-fall on Cameron, before Ligero saves Spud from a Destroyer… then followed up with a springboard Shiranui to Cameron. Hayes dumps Ligero with a Blue Thunder Bomb, before a leg lariat to the back of the head from Bubblegum pancakes Hayes as this turned into a parade of moves.
Spud gets rid of Aisu with a cross body to the outside, and that’s where we get a ref bump as one of the Damned Nation pushes Spud into the referee. The commentators don’t know what’s going on, and the match seems to freeze for a spell as Ligero and Bubblegum go for the Tidal Wave – big splash/legdrop combo… but there’s no referee, and we get a visual pinfall. The referee finally crawls in and makes a two-count, only for Gabriel Grey and Majik – the other two members of the Damned Nation – to hit the ring and lay out Spud. Ligero eats an assisted flapjack for a near-fall… so the referee gets punched out again. Bubblegum tries for a dive to the Damned Nation on the floor, and somehow his Space Flying Tiger Drop misses four of them!
We’ve got Hayes and Ligero in the ring, but the camera shows someone making a run-in – before quickly cutting away for dramatic effect, so the commentary team can actually acknowledge it. The run-in’s from Ruffneck – Hayes’ former tag partner in Pain Inc – and he dumps Hayes with a spear as Spud hits a frog splash. Ruffneck wakes up the referee, but Hayes kicks out at two.
The near-falls continue: a lariat from Aisu gets a two-count over Spud as Ligero breaks it up… and Ligero just follows up by absorbing some chops from Aisu, before he’s tripped into a crossface as the crowd boos. Bubblegum breaks that up, but he takes a half-nelson suplex and a wild lariat as he’s folded over twice. Another near-fall follows as Bubblegum kicks out and gets caught in another crossface, to the point where he almost passes out… but Spud recovers and fights past Jon Cameron to break that up.
So Spud’s next for some moves as tags are a long forgotten thing, and it’s a Dragon Driver (headlock driver) that gets a near-fall before Aisu puts the crossface onto Spud. By this point I think the crowd aren’t caring as much, especially as Spud teased tapping, then rolled back into a near-fall, before catching Aisu in his own move… and all of a sudden Aisu tapped! This was fine, but the match started stupidly cold for what was meant to be a hot storyline, gained some heat, then lost it again with peak-TNA levels of run-ins. After hearing so much about the storyline, I was honestly disappointed in the finish. **¾
There’s a massive jump cut to get us past Spud’s theme music, and we’re left with the Damned Nation in the ring as they get the goodbye song from the crowd. Cameron slaps Aisu for tapping out, which leads to some shoving as Aisu gets beaten down and left for dead by a death valley driver by Majik.
Considering how high-stakes this match was, and how it was the culmination of a big storyline, the commentary here felt really asinine at times. Things would be called with no heart, or no attempt to convey the meaning of them. As someone who went in with only a passing awareness of the back story, I didn’t feel like anything beyond “hey, it’s the last time we’ll see one of these teams” was sold well… particularly when the obvious wrinkle of “no, it just meant that they won’t be seen together” was called out mid-match.
Taking aside the overbooked, lukewarm blow-off to the Damned Nation storyline, this was a fine trio of matches from the 1PW Third Anniversary Show – even if the group by this point was already a shell of its former self. They’d run for two and a half more years before finally disappearing…
Next up: more from this show!