After the untimely passing of Kris Travis last week, Back Body Drop takes a look back at some of the matches that made him one of Britain’s hottest prospects.
Kris Travis vs. Martin Kirby (ATTACK! Pro Wrestling, “Press Start 3”, August 22, 2015 – viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqSsW2aVFzs)
ATTACK! Pro Wrestling are a bit like the British CHIKARA, and that isn’t a bad thing! This is a battle of former Project Ego tag team partners, with a difference: ATTACK! is themed like a video game; hell, the ring announcer here is dressed like Toad from Super Mario Brothers, and Kirby comes out in blue trousers and is carrying a red cap with the letter M on it. You can probably guess where this is headed…
Kris Travis comes out in dungarees, a green shirt, and with the classic Italian plumber’s mustache. Yes, he’s Luigi! This is during Travis’ brief comeback after his treatment for stomach cancer, and Travis is going all out. Fake Italian accent (and calling out “Mario” Kirby for his lack of one)… but once the referee signals for the fans to ring the bell (by literally chanting “ding ding ding”), the accent is gone.
They have a standard opening – headlock, hiptoss, leapfrog – with Travis added a Mario “whoohoo” whilst doing said leapfrog. Gotta give him credit for attention to detail here. Kirby rolls out of the ring, then trips up Travis – giving him time to grab a Koopa shell from under the ring. Travis begs for mercy (“no!”) as Kirby threatens to kick the shell into him… but to no avail, as the shell is kicked into Travis’ shins, bringing him to his knees (with a comedy Mario sound effect for good measure!)
As Travis asks “what would your momma say?”, Kirby grabs a side headlock, and Travis performs the next bit of the match on his knees… as he’s little Luigi, see? Mini leapfrogs from his knees barely get Travis an inch off the ground, before he asks the referee to pass him a mushroom… and Luigi’s back to full size! Leapfrog, hiptoss and a dropkick keep Kirby on the back foot, as do a corner-assisted headscissor as someone from the Cardiff crowd shouts “this is the greatest thing in wrestling, ever!”. Can’t say I disagree on the comedy front!
Kirby and Travis take the match to the ringside area, but nothing much happens save for Kirby using the ringpost to hit a 619 around the corner on Travis, and this starts off Kirby’s comeback. A hattrick of legdrops in the ring gets him a near fall, as does a flying back elbow. Kirby grabs the evil plunger of doom, but Luigi/Travis blocks the shot grabs the plunger himself, then sticks it onto Kirby’s bald head.
Still wearing the plunger, Kirby rams Travis’ head into the top turnbuckle, then delivers a backbreaker, but an attempt to come off the top rope comes unstuck, as Travis pops up, and uses said plunger to yank him to the mat. The plunger stayed on!
Luigi’s comeback starts with a clothesline, then a back elbow from the corner, followed by an enziguiri. CM Punk’s running knee into the corner and bulldog out of it comes next, which gets a near fall, and as Kirby tries to get the plunger off his head, Travis goes under the ring for another Koopa shell, which gets kicked into Mario’s nether regions for a two count. Mamma mia!
As Travis goes to remove the plunger, Kirby catches him with a jawbreaker, but Travis sidesteps Kirby’s follow-up rush, and counters with a belly-to-back suplex. The plunger is still on! Travis goes under the ring again and returns with a pizza, which he sets in the middle of the ring and tries to deliver a Pedigree on. Kirby reverses and tries for a Death Valley Driver on the pizza, before finally suplexing him. A Northern Lights suplex gets Kirby a two count, before he’s interrupted by some scary music, and out comes Boo! Mario and Luigi kill Boo with a dual superkick, and the two hug it out, only for Kirby to go for a quick roll-up.
That sneaky attempt only gets a two-count, before Luigi responds with a superkick and a Tiger driver on the pizza, getting Luigi the win That was… interesting. A good showcase for both guys’ talents within a different set of boundaries. Well worth watching if you’re aware of just about any of the usual video game tropes.
Kris Travis vs. Marty Scurll (Preston City Wrestling, Spring Slam, March 30, 2012 – viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zL9t4jsSlB4)
Over to Preston City Wrestling now, and “that venue with the huge ass chandelier above the ring” (aka the Lava & Ignite Nightclub in Preston)… this is “pre-Villain” Marty Scurll, and was a year before his brief run in TNA for those who may remember that. Scurll comes across as a pretty boy heel, and is getting taunts from the crowd for his recent appearance on the dating gameshow “Take Me Out”. Yeah, that villainous character switch was much needed!
Once the bell finally sounds, we have an insane amount of stalling – so much so that Larry Zbyszko would have been proud – and they start with grappling each other to the mat. More stalling follows, before Travis flips out of several snapmare attempts, as the pace picks up, ending with Travis nailing a Spanish Fly on Scurll.
Scurll cuts off Travis with a low dropkick, but that’s only a brief respite, at least until Scurll sidesteps a charge from Travis, sending him flying out of the ring. Back inside, Scurll hoists up Travis with a stalling suplex, which is funny only for the sight of Travis swinging his feet into the chandelier, before getting a near fall from a kick to the head.
Travis blocks two attempts at a figure four, before rolling up Scurll in a small package for a count of two, but Scurll gets lucky on the third try, finally locking in the figure four. After spending too much time taunting the crowd, Scurll misses some double high knees into the corner, and turns into a high kick from Travis, who then follows up with the CM Punk high knee-bulldog combination for a near fall.
Travis catches Scurll on the top rope with a step-up enziguiri, before taking him down with the Ego Trip off the top rope for another two-count. His attempt at a cross-body off the top is caught by Scurll though, who turns it into a Codebreaker in mid-air, before it goes a little spotty as Travis no-sells a tornado DDT for long enough to drill Scurll with a superkick. After getting up to their feet, the pair reach a stalemate in a battle of forearm smashes, before a big boot sets up Travis for a Deathstar Driver attempt, but Scurll escapes and drills him in the back of the head with a roaring forearm for another near fall.
Scurll takes his time following-up though, and as he wastes time setting up a suplex, Travis surprises him with Kenta Kobashi’s Orange Crush (suplex into a powerbomb), then the Deathstar Driver for the decisive win.
Good match, with a lot of stalling and playing to the crowd, but that worked in this setting. Of course, it wouldn’t be their last match together…
Kris Travis vs. PAC (Southside Wrestling, Speed King 2012, April 22, 2012 – viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcn8SqE7W5I)
We head over to Southside Wrestling, and a match from their 2012 Speed King tournament, as Travis took on the man who would later be rechristened as (Adrian) Neville.
PAC comes out to the “Adrenaline Rush” theme that TNA used to use to close out episodes of Impact, which rightly gets him attacked before the bell by Travis, who is all over PAC in the early going, but only gets a one count from a very lewd cover attempt. It seems that dry-humping as a pinfall attempt angered the Geordie PAC, who responds (finally) with a hurrancanrana to take down Travis. PAC’s initial offence then seems to be focusing on the “Speed” part of the show’s name, rather than the high flying that he’s usually associated with.
Actually, scrap that – a standing Shooting Star Press to Travis’ back is followed up with a chinlock, before accepting a handshake and catching Travis in the corner with a spinning leg kick. Travis responds with a leaping Northern Lights suplex, as he rolled through after the impact, before kicking PAC back to the mat. Another aerial attack from PAC is thwarted, as his attempt to springboard into the ring sees him take a kick from Travis and crash to the outside, where he’s met with a tope from the flying “Shooting Star” Travis.
They work a while on the floor, with Travis drilling PAC in the chest with some kicks, before taking it back to the ring where he catches PAC with a high knee in the corner and some more thrusting. Some more trash talking ends in Travis being flung high up in the air and flapjack’d to the mat after coming off the ropes, and from there it’s all PAC, who takes down Travis with a series of back elbows and forearms.
Travis takes a powder to the floor, and ends up prey to a Sky Twister Press that just about catches him. Back in the ring, PAC returns with a springboard cross body for a two-count, but as PAC climbs the ropes again, Travis shoves the referee into the ropes, crotching his Geordie rival in the process, before following up with the Ego Trip (Roll The Dice/Cross Rhodes/whateveryouwanttocallit) from the top rope.
PAC walks into a superkick, followed up by an Orange Crush for another near-fall for Travis, who then sees attempts at the Deathstar Piledriver (Tiger Driver) blocked, before PAC backdrops his way out of it. A deadlift superplex from PAC takes Travis down for another two-count, but his Shooting Star Press gets nothing but the knees of Travis, who quickly nails the Deathstar Piledriver for the win.
A really solid match – it started slowly, thanks in part to the tournament format of the show – but absolutely nothing to fault here. Based on this performance alone, you could tell that Travis was about to go places in wrestling, with international appearances perhaps on the horizon.
Marty Scurll vs. Kris Travis (PROGRESS Wrestling, Chapter 21: You Know We Don’t Like To Use The Sit Down Gun, September 6, 2015 – available at www.demand-progress.com; match starts at around 1:40:00)
We end this edition with what sadly turned out to be Travis’ final ever match, against an old foe in the shape of Marty Scurll. This time, Scurll is the fully-fledged fur coat and umbrella-wielding Villain. Scurll gets some streamers, but that’s nothing compared to the reaction that Travis got for his first appearance in Camden’s Electric Ballroom in over a year.
Eschewing his trademark gear, Travis was decked out in black trunks with “I’M BACK” on them, and started a streamer fight with his opponent… and you can probably guess who the clear babyface here is! Scurll hugs Travis at the opening bell, before they exchange headlock takedowns, and Travis doesn’t look like he’s skipped a beat.
There’s a (not intentionally) comedic spot at the start where Travis gets backed into the corner and covers up as Scurll went to punch his stomach scar, as the crowd replies “don’t be a d***” – the golden rule of PROGRESS there!
They go back to the headlock, before Travis leaps over Scurll and takes him down with a trio of kicks. Scurll skins the cat to take himself to the apron, where he’s met with another Travis kick that sends him to the floor. Travis joins him there with a tope con hilo that sends him (and Scurll) into the fans, before eventually going back in to score a near fall with a suplex. Scurll tweaks the fingers of Travis to escape a fireman’s carry, then gets a near-fall from a bodyslam.
Scurll enjoys a period of offence, working on Travis’ left arm, but when Travis manages to clothesline himself free, he gets a straightforward poke to the eye. A suplex from Scurll sees the pair of them land on the apron, where a high kick sends Scurll back into the ring, where he follows up with the CM Punk high-knee and bulldog for a two count.
Scurll blocks the Deathstar Driver, and takes down Travis with a tornado DDT, only for Trav to pop up and connect with a superkick as both men collapse to the mat. Beating the count, both men trade forearms from their knees, before Scurll floors Travis again with his “Just Kidding” superkick to the knee. Travis immediately responds with a bicycle kick and a German suplex, but his superkick is replied to with a lariat that turns him inside out.
An Orange Crush on Scurll gets another near-fall, but Scurll ducks a kick to the head and locks in the chickenwing submission, before drilling him with a powerbomb and bridging over for a pin that gets only a two-count. Scurll follows up with a reverse suplex and a forearm for another near-fall.
Travis staggers into another chickenwing, but is able to elbow himself free, only for Scurll to catch both arms and transition the move into the Cattle Mutilation (double chickenwing). Travis rolls free, but Scurll switches it into a standard chickenwing. Some elbows free Travis again, who then counters a suplex attempt by Scurll into a small package for the surprise pinfall victory.
Considering that he’d been out of action – and fighting the biggest battle of his life, Travis looked mightily impressive here in what, tragically, turned out to be his last ever match.
In the final months of his life, Kris Travis was a patron of the cancer support charity, Cavendish Cancer Care. To make a donation to Cavendish in his memory, please visit their website: http://cavcare.org.uk/donate/
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