So… having read Arnold Furious’ review of OVW’s TV show, my only question was – it can’t be that bad, can it?

In the mid 2000s, Ohio Valley Wrestling was the premier developmental territory for WWE – standing tall and being the breeding ground for several future WWE champions, such as Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Randy Orton and Batista to name just four. However, it’s been almost a decade since WWE severed those ties, and despite a brief tie-in with Impact Wrestling, they’re back to their old status as “just an indy in Kentucky”.

OVW’s still at the Davis Arena in Louisville, but this show opens with footage from their Saturday Night Special a few days earlier. Specifically, the Nightmare Rumble, and the final stages where Bud Dwight (there’s a Southern name if I ever saw one) won out.

The opening credits shows a series of OVW names, so you have a clue of who’s who, but they’re flashed up too fast for anything to sink in. From there, it’s live into the arena as Adam Revolver heads out to the commentary desk… where they complain that they’ve been thrown off because they didn’t get to do ring entrances.

Adam Revolver vs. Sam Thompson
I had to pause the show to figure out who was in this match because commentary sure as hell wasn’t telling us. Apparently it’s Adam Revolver in the ring, with the guy on commentary called Shannon The Dude. Inventive!

Shannon’s got a fake title – the OVW World Radio Championship – and his commentary completely detracts from the match. Still, it means it takes a little longer for me to notice the empty seats on the hard camera side.

Revolver misses a knee drop as Thompson drags himself to the corner and begins a comeback, culminating in a superkick for a near-fall. There’s multiple fans in the front row playing with their phone rather than watch the match, which is a damning indictment of things, but fortunately they’re woken from their slumber as a sleeperhold gets the win for Revolver after the ref does the arm drop gimmick. A TV squash, but not a good one at that. *½

After the match, commentary baits Shannon for a previous match where he was apparently knocked out. He disappears, and we continue as OVW makes good use of a burning flame motif for their wipes. Commentary pitches to an a group backstage. A guy called Houdini locks himself in a cupboard and everyone bangs on the door after him. Now that’s a rabble.

Al Snow plugs t-shirts. Next. A montage of older OVW footage follows as who I think is a sedated Jim Cornette plugs the OVW training school. Next.

Back to live action, in much higher quality, commentator Gilbert Corsey “my guest at this time”s Bud Dwight for an in ring interview. Except we get Michael Hayes instead. No, not that one. The panning shot shows a third man on commentary – it’s Ted McNaler, a guy who had a brief period of fame through a feud with Bryan Alvarez (yes, the same one) for OVW’s developmental group Derby City Wrestling in 2007.

I do dig how the OVW title is sorta modelled on the classic WWF Winged Eagle belt… it’s distracting me from Hayes promo, where he calls Dwight “brittle” because he’s just come back from injury. He gets distracted by the crowd, before going back to the bland promo. Of course, that’s the cue for Bud to come out for his scheduled promo.

Apparently Bud’s had two torn labrums in 3 years… commentary talks over the promo, as Dwight gets distracted too. It’s another cookie cutter, white meat babyface promo, and there’s another interference as a third guy comes out: Tony Gunn. There’s a lot of words and precious little reaction from the crowd. The end result: we get Dwight vs. Gunn with the title shot on the line.

At least we get the local adverts on this YouTube feed. So far it’s the most interesting thing on the show.

Bud Dwight vs. Tony Gunn
We return as the match is joined in progress, with Gunn holding a headlock. Dwight escapes and applies one of his own, but his top knot is an easy target for “Shotgun”, who hits a flapjack to pick up barely-a-one-count.

Commentary – now a four-man booth with Hayes joining it – waffles on about Dwight’s shoulder injuries, and of course Gunn starts to target it with kicks. Some clubbing forearms as Gunn pins Dwight’s arms behind his back follow, as does a single-leg dropkick.

After Hayes gets bleeped out, Dwight starts a comeback with a clothesline, then an atomic drop. The hell? Is this 1990 again? A leaping knee puts Gunn down, as does a running boot, but it’s not enough, as Hayes again gets bleeped with his response to commentary calling some of Bud Dwight’s matches “match of the year quality”. Yeah, I can relate.

They’re going overboard with the bleeps now, just as Gunn catches Dwight in an armbar after he flew off the top… Dwight makes it to the ropes, but he’s taken outside as he’s thrown into the ringpost as they continue to drone on about the shoulder. Gunn manhandles the ref, and there’s the cheap DQ. Yuck. So the story was Gunn wanted to reinjure Dwight more than get that title shot? The match was alright, but the lame ending did not help. **

Michael Hayes leaves commentary to stalk Dwight. Of course, it leads to Hayes throwing Dwight’s arm into the ring steps, then back into the ring post because “shoulder injury”.

More local adverts follow – featuring a heavily-blurred shot of a sports card store. Hey look, there’s a Chris Benoit action figure shown before they go overboard with blurring. Back to the arena, and it’s another match.

Dapper Dan vs. William Lutz
Dan is modelling what I believe is called a “dad bod”, while his opponent here, William Lutz (cheers Cagematch) has 80s fringed tights, sideburns AND pigtails. What a mess.

Commentary talks about how badly Dan beat Josh Ashcraft at the Saturday Night Special as we get the modern equivalent of a TV squash… Lutz tries to get in a crossbody with punches, before hanging up Dan on the top rope. A standing moonsault sees Lutz crash his knees into Dan, a move that surprises commentary… and me too because he’s apparently a Rip Rogers trainee. I thought he hates flips?

Dan makes a comeback after blocking the turnbuckles as commentary brags about adding 40 extra seats to the venue. A Pounce from Dan sent Lutz flying, before a death valley driver seals the win. Splat. ½*

Another backstage segment follows between two guys whose names aren’t made clear. They talk about the Rumble last week, and in walks a third guy who does name himself: Shiloh Jonze. Holy crap, that’s another guy with mid 00s F4W connections. He runs through some of his OVW history with some badly-named tag teams, then wanders away… noting that all of his teams broke up.

More local ads! Back from break, and we have a tag match.

Bro Godz (Colton Cage & Dustin Jackson) vs. Top Guys (Kevin Giza & Adam Slade)
The Bro Godz have a mini entourage, including a guy with a video camera. No idea why… perhaps OVW charges to use their own footage?

Slade and Jackson start us off, with Slade landing what looked like a bulldog before a double-team hiptoss put the Top Guys ahead. Kevin Giza comes in, looking extremely undersized, and the referee falls for a distraction from Jaylee – apparently the OVW Women’s champion – as the Bro Godz took over with some double teams.

A ripcord Rock Bottom from Cage puts Giza down again as the pair cheerlead each other. Meanwhile their camera guy seems to forget how to use the camera as commentary mistakes a Michinoku driver for a “Falcon air-bro”. Seriously?

Jackson misses an elbow as Giza tags out to Slade, whose comeback is a little clumsy. Perhaps its those energy drinks commentary says he’s OD’ing on? Slade manages to bust out an Oklahoma Stampede as Giza flies into Jackson on the Cage outside with a tope… but Jaylee again gets involved to distract Giza as the Bro Godz hit an awkward double-team DDT for the win. This was alright, but very clumsy in doses. A typical TV match, as I start to get the feeling there’s a very low ceiling here. *

Jaylee takes the mic and screeches. Apparently “the director” is scouting for his new movie. Nobody is convinced. Meanwhile, nobody in OVW seems to be able to cut a promo without getting distracted by the crowd. Dubbed in music is the cue for Torey Payne to hit the ring and spear Jaylee, and the two women have a pull-apart. Jessie Belle heads out too to join in, but she’s awkwardly tripped as Jaylee hits a Downward Spiral as I confirm OVW really is stuck in those early 2000s.

Randy Royal makes the save, but he’s quickly overwhelmed by the Bro Godz and their scrawny cameraman. Another guy comes out to help, with commentary calling him Cardinal… and he finishes off the cameraman Dimes with a death valley driver as the bad guys slink to the back.

We cut backstage as the rabble are still trying to free Houdini. He instead walks out of the cupboard, but mumbles his lines as we fade away to another bored Al Snow. Sell those shirts! Such enthusiasm!

OVW Television Championship: Logan James vs. Randall Floyd (c)
Apparently this was built when Floyd eliminated James in the Nightmare Rumble a few days earlier. I’m surprised at that, because he sure struggled taking off his damn t-shirt.

Hey, the OVW TV title looks like the classic WWF Intercontinental title. I sense a theme.

There’s a lot of stalling at the start, as we eventually get going with a test of strength, before James rolls up the champion in order to land a stomp to the gut. Floyd comes back by working over James head and neck, choking him in the ropes before tossing him across the ring.

James blocks a Boston crab and rebounds with a flying forearm, before a suplex out of the corner gets a near-fall. The champion comes back with a forearm of his own before slamming Logan, as he then opted to remove the turnbuckle pad. That distracts the referee, meaning she doesn’t count from a roll-up by James, who turned around into a slam as the ref suddenly doesn’t care about that pad anymore.

A horrific ref bump follows – the old “fireman’s carry but the guy on top pulls at the referee’s shirt” (which apparently inspired a sore neck) – as the ref again doesn’t count from an Angle Slam. The visual pin means nothing because Logan is a dumb babyface, and of course the referee springs into life as Floyd wins with a roll-up and a handful of tights. Such a trash finish with a referee that couldn’t stick to her story. DUD

After the match, Logan gets the mic and moans about the visual pins that didn’t count, before challenging Floyd to a 30 minute Iron Man match next week. I’ll pass.

It’s obvious that OVW is a shadow of its former self. While you can’t compare this current crop of guys until their careers are done, the calibre of workers on this show compared to a decade earlier is night and day. 2008 OVW, just before WWE pulled the plug, featured the likes of Matt Sydal, Drew McIntyre, Shawn Spears (Tye Dillinger), and even had a tag title match on this show ten years earlier featuring Colt Cabana, Paul Birchill and the future Wade Barrett. Compare that mob to 2018 OVW, and it’s just another indy. An indy with a storied past, but one they seem to be unwilling to break away from – both in terms of their legacy and match style.

This style won’t be for everyone… it isn’t for me, and as such, there’s only one word to summarise this: Avoid.