It’s a match that went down in infamy. It’s been talked about for years as perhaps one of the worst matches in wrestling history, and it came from merry old England. April Fool! (is the guy reviewing this…)
Kriss Sprules vs. Cage Tyler (OPWO Scorn, March 4, 2003 – viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LUMuX8MIkk)
Yes, it’s come to this. The first annual April Fool’s Day Random Review and we’ll be looking at a different horrible match (on purpose) every year. The village of Wesham, in north-west England is the unsuspecting host of this bout, which took place in Sprules’ Original Pro Wrestling Organisation promotion. At least he didn’t book himself as champion or put himself in the main event!
Sarcastically billed as “The Big ‘un in Wigan” by Tom Campbell’s commentary, given that it’s nearer, perhaps “The Fools in Blackpool” would have been a better name, but I digress. I’m just trying to avoid pressing play on this, having very vivid memories of this match back from the days of the old Ringside Live podcast, where myself and the late Adam Firestorm spoke of this abomination.
This being 2003, nu-metal is the order of the day as Sprules goes through the doorway en route to the ring, along with his valet Melicious, who seems to have glued her hand to her head. Either that, or she’s got a really bad migraine coming on. Sprules’ opponent, Cage Tyler, comes through the crowd (“obviously didn’t take him that long!”) rather than the entrance (door)way. Both men are clad in black, with Tyler going for the trunks and vest combo, as opposed to Sprules’ dark jeans and tank top.
The match starts with some light shoving from both competitors, with Tyler going for the lock-up into a waistlock, and we’re already suffering from the curse of the indies, as Tyler’s second move is a full nelson submission (granted, this is a few years before Chris Masters used it as a finisher, but still…). Sprules wiggles out and catches Tyler in a full nelson of his own, but Tyler pops out and applies something approximating an armbar.
Sprules works out of the armbar, and looks to be trying for a side Russian legsweep, but it turns out that he’d gone for a headlock instead. The headlock didn’t last long as Tyler goes back to a waistlock that gets switched around quickly, as Sprules looks like he’s copping a feel rather than working a waistlock. Tyler gets out of the hold and sinks to a knee, in order to take down Sprules, who clumsily goes to the mat from the single-leg takedown, before applying a headlock to the grounded Sprules.
Sprules fights up to a knee, and ohmyGodthatelbow! Sprules basically taps Tyler in the midsection with an elbow to break the ever-loosening hold… andanotherelbowtap! Holy God, I seriously doubt if either of these had been trained at this point. Especially since Sprules followed up those elbows with an Ace Crusher (I guess it was meant to be a Stunner, but c’mon!). Instead of pinning him with one of the better known finishers of the modern era, Sprules then takes two attempts at a surfboard, after trapping Tyler’s legs in a crossed position. Following a few seconds in the hold, Sprules then relinquishes it, and drops down to place Tyler in a butterfly lock (full nelson whilst face-down on the mat).
Tyler makes the ropes after Sprules charitably loosens the hold, leading Sprules to argue with the referee, who audibly tells him to “just concentrate on the match”. I think concentrating in wrestling school may have been a better idea, in all honesty! After pulling himself up using the ropes, Tyler receives a stiff looking elbow for the forehead, followed by a punch and a roll-up that gets a two-count.
Literally seconds after mocking Tyler for not being able to get to his feet, the two men have a staredown, with Tyler acting first with a series of European uppercuts. Tyler takes Sprules into the corner, then bunny-hops into a dropkick that sends Sprules to a knee. Then, for some unknown reason, Tyler stands in the opposite corner, waiting for Sprules to get up… and then takes an Avalanche charge into the corner from Sprules. How on earth did he not see that coming?
Sprules tries to whip Tyler into the corner, but it gets reversed, and Sprules come out to hit the Big Daddy belly bounce that sends Cage Tyler staggering into the ropes. Another whip into the rope follows, and Sprules brushes Tyler to the mat with a blunt knife-edge chop. That gets followed up with a Hulk Hogan-like legdrop, which looked like he slipped on his way down, but like with the Ace Crusher earlier, Sprules opts not to try for a pinfall after hitting a modern era finisher, and instead lifts Tyler to his knees so they can hug it out.
It turned out that that hug was actually a front facelock, and the pair end back up on their feet so that Sprules shows us that he can actually deliver a proper knife-edge chop. Tyler sells it like death, and once he decided what to do, Sprules goes for the worst figure four since Hulk Hogan! Ripping a page out of Ric Flair’s notebook, Sprules and his (until now) anonymous valet combine using the ropes for assistance. Somehow, Tyler manages to roll over and reverse the hold (which you’d not know by Sprules’ selling), but rather than crawl to grab the ropes, Sprules stands up and hops his way towards the ropes. Well, I’ve not seen that reversal broken in that fashion before!
Tyler gets a couple of one-counts from some really sloppy pinfall attempts, before picking up Sprules in order to hit a DDT. That gets a near fall as Tyler telegraphs the next move, which is Sprules reversing it into a sunset-flip-style pin, but sadly neither man was athletic enough to pull off a Rob Van Dam/Jerry Lynn-esque reversal sequence, but they try anyway.
Tyler slumps into the ropes as Sprules motions at him, and we go to another staredown, which results in Sprules whipping Tyler into the ropes for a clothesline. As Tyler is on all fours recovering, Sprules taps him in the upper body with a kick, before sitting on his opponent’s chest (I said sitting!) for a two count.
Sprules’ half-hearted pinfall attempt sees him rolled onto his front, as Cage Tyler grabs a knee and rams it into the mat, before grabbing an Ankle lock as we continue the tour de force of modern day finishers! Sprules makes the ropes though, but he slips as he walks towards the corner (either that, or he was trying to duck) as Tyler charges at him. Tyler shoves Sprules again, then connects with some right hands, before sending Sprules into the ropes, as Sprules ducks one clothesline, and falls down from what I can only assume was meant to have been the clothesline that was never thrown, but was meant to have connected. That phantom clothesline gets another two count.
As Tyler watches Sprules get to his feet, Tyler then turns around to let himself get distracted by Melicious, and he’s caught by Sprules who holds him against the ropes for a dull knife edge chop, before Tyler ducks one clothesline and goes down for a second clothesline that’s actually thrown this time.
Sprules goes back to his Big Book o’ WWE Finishers as he attempts the Sharpshooter, seemingly pulling off the move based on one man’s horrible description of it, and despite Sprules not even starting to sit down in the move, Tyler manages to reverse it as the pair land in a heap by the ropes. Tyler follows up with some stomps to the grounded Sprules, then picking him up for two blocked efforts at a piledriver, before hitting a Pedigree.
Back to their feet, Tyler elbows Sprules a few times and locks in a front facelock, but his effort at a DDT is blocked as Sprules (eventually) hits the Roll of the Dice/Cross Rhodes. Yeah, that went about as well as you’d expect given his performance thus far, and that’s all you get, as Kriss Sprules gets the win.
That match ticked just about every box for a bad indie wrestling match. Finishing moves as throwaway spots (long before Dolph Ziggler and the Young Bucks bastardised the superkick)? Check. Comically bad striking? Check. Inconsistent selling? Check. Repeated “deer in the headlights” looks? Check.
Giving these guys the benefit of the doubt, as booker, Sprules should have known better than to have booked himself on his own show, given the little experience he’d had. Some of the stuff on show here was beyond “first day of wrestling school” bad, especially those damned elbows and the myriad of finishers that became nothing more than minor spots. This just stank of guys playing as wrestlers, rather than being wrestlers. But that was (and still is) par for the course with smaller independent groups – bookers putting themselves and their mates on shows they run, sometimes even becoming champion… because they can.
All I can say is thank God for Tom Campbell’s commentary – otherwise this would have been even more unbearable!
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