When “new content” is thin on the ground, can the recordings from a forgotten Kickstarter fill the void?
“Wrestling fans are bored. The same tired production. The same tired storylines. The same tired characters. As someone once said, ‘Enough is enough and it’s time for a change.’” That was the pitch made by Jeff Katz made in May 2011, when he asked for $100,000 to film and produce a season of a new wrestling product. Originally titled Wrestling Revolution, the campaign met its goal (with just under $500 to spare), and pushed ahead with tapings in October of that year. The show was initially meant to be broadcast via Justin.tv (the website that eventually became Twitch – now THAT’S dating this entire project). Tickets for the show were a Kickstarter perk, although tickets could be bought separately for $15 or $30 a day, with a three-day “table” ticket going for $75. Table ticket? We’ll get to that.
The shows went ahead, with a litany of talent attending – in spite of Fergal Devitt (Finn Balor) and Shawn Spears having to miss out because of visa issues. Still, current-and-future stars such as Timothy Thatcher, Chris Masters, Amazing Red, Colt Cabana and Joey Ryan all made the tapings, under a variety of new characters… all of which would have been released online. Except… they weren’t. Years passed, and save for a video released in 2013, nothing more was heard from the tapings. A second set of tapings in 2012, called “The Underground” were held, with one photograph teasing the Young Bucks, MVP and Joey Ryan-without-a-moustache… but those too never saw the light of day.
Until March 20, 2020. As the world was dealing with Covid-19, out of nowhere, a YouTube channel called “Pin The Virus” popped up, followed by a tweet on the WRP account that essentially was another mea culpa about the whole project. Apparently the plan was to upload them in full, but due to a state-wide lockdown all that could go up at first was the raw, watermarked footage. So, we sat down and took a look through some of it. First, the names.
Chase Walker… yeah, that’s Joey Ryan. The “Grand Old Predator Tommy Lee Ridgeway? Adam Pearce. Faris Gotch? Shawn Daivari. “Cornerstone” Scott Carpenter? Kenny Omega. The Johntourage – John Ricker and John Cage. Yep, that’s the current Eli Drake and Brian Cage.
It gets weirder. “From Cardiff… Bryce Baxton-Collins”? Out of all of that, the only vaguely Welsh name is Collins – with the Bryce and Baxton parts being of Scottish descent. Add in that the entire name seems to have been wangled together so they can use the logo of the BBC on the trunks of man behind the character: Timothy Thatcher. While the YouTube descriptions have been a bit geographically wonky, labelling BBC as the “Yorkshire Ripper” and the “Titanic Terror of the Thames”, at least Thatcher wasn’t the only one relocated… Emil Sitoci made an appearance here as “das Nihilist” Klaus Kessler, with the Dutchman having been rebranded as a Berliner here.
Oh yeah, the tables from earlier? The arena set-up seems to be a mixture of a classic WCW 90s PPV, with the raised walkway… and a dinner function, as some fans sit on a raised stage, level with the ring, placed around tables. There’s chandeliers around the arena too, which
So, what of the matches? Here’s a look at some of the matches uploaded – in raw format, with some of them having no commentary or additional polish. The “star” commentator would be Nigel McGuinness, under the guise of Vyvyan “Vyv” Edmondson – taking cues from Bottom, eh?
Bryce Baxton-Collins vs. Chris Hyde
This was the featured match of the evening, whatever that means. From looking around, of the knocks on Timothy Thatcher at the time was that he was perhaps being a little too similar to Steve/William Regal… which totally comes across here with his pompous ring jacket and sneering to the crowd.
Chants of “change the channel” perhaps weren’t what they should have been going for, but what the hey… Chris Hyde’s largely had his act untouched – save for the last name. He’s the good guy here, except to that one fan who clearly yelled “you look like my wife”. Post-production polish should deal with all of this. When we get going, BBC and Hyde trade holds, but it’s Bryce who had control with a hammerlock… only for Hyde to get out for a side headlock. BBC goes back to the wrist and arm, only for Hyde to grab another headlock as chants of “Kill the Limey” broke out. Jesus!
Hyde hits back with chops and right hands, as the mobile camera was having a hell of a time keeping track. A back senton lands for a two-count, but BBC ends up in the corner for chops before a single-arm DDT dropped Hyde. It’s back to the armbar, as the camera floats around… Hyde goes for headscissors, but BBC floats out and back to the armbar, before wrapping Hyde’s arm around the ropes. Hyde rubs his forearm in BBC’s face to try and break free as a standing armbar/chinbar subdued him… and after getting free again, a right hand had BBC in the ropes. Briefly, until an arm whip had Hyde in the corner for some stomps. A hammerlock on the mat and uppercuts in the corner follow as the momentum swung all over the place. Like the camera did when it missed a cyclone kick from Hyde that almost won the match.
A leaping forearm clocks BBC in the corner, before a discus forearm knocked out Bryce for the pin. A decent enough match, but my God, this camera work was not good – even by 2011 promotions had largely figured out how to keep track of the moves! ***
Speaking of Timothy Thatcher and Emil Sitoci, they were building up to a feud with Dios Dorado (Amazing Red) and Faris Gotch (Shawn Daivari) – which culminated in a tag match that was mask or citizenship vs. hair. There’s a promo in the batch which saw Dorado getting attacked by Bryce-Collins and an English accent that evoked THOSE British Bulldog promos outside arenas. After we get assaulted by a white balance snafu, we see Kessler attacking Dorado before Kessler and BBC walked off. The accent, unintentionally hilarious, as Kessler and BBC went on to form a team: the European Union.
Muncie McGee vs. Lord of War
McGee would go on to get some fame as Pat Buck (thankfully shedding the “Liberal Redneck” character), while the Lord of War had more luck elsewhere as MVP. This match has got graphics and commentary… and a referee who on lower resolution looks like OTT’s Niall Fox’s American cousin.
McGee’s tripped early on as the Lord went for ground and pound, throwing down elbows that had Muncie all loopy. Muncie tries to fight back, but he’s taken down with a Judo throw as the Lord of War went back to kicks and a belly-to-belly for a two-count, before a running boot and a back suplex kept things one-way. Again, Muncie tries to fight back with uppercuts, but Lord of War responds with another hiptoss, before he rolled McGee into a crossface that ended in the ropes. McGee looks for an Exploder, but gets dropped with a neckbreaker instead before Lord of War went back to a STF… rolling him over as our Matt Striker-sound-alike called it a FTS, which led to the submission. Very squashy, but it got Lord of War’s big moves over.
You know, in 2020 those lower thirds look mighty generic. Like CZW-2019 generic, for those who were watching as they seemingly cycled through templated lower thirds…
Champion’s Grail: Concrete vs. Scott Carpenter
Or Chris Masters vs. Kenny Omega in an alternate universe. At the time of the recording, Masters was literally just out of WWE, having last appeared for them in August 2011 (and would go on to appear for Ring Ka King after this), while Omega was already carving out a name for himself in Japan, having worked in the All Japan Junior Heavyweight League and New Japan’s Best of the Super Junior earlier in the year, in addition to being a former tag team champion in New Japan and DDT.
The Champion’s Grail tournament looked to be a round robin deal, kind of like the G1. Both guys got cheers from the crowd here, so we shouldn’t have any of the crappy heckling we’ve seen on prior random picks. Oh wait, “we can’t lose” chants are just as bad. We open with Concrete shoving away Carpenter into the ropes, before using an atomic drop to throw Carpenter into the corner. Clearly, it’d be a game of stick and move for the Cornerstone. Instead, Carpenter kicks Concrete in the gut, and gets one back in return before Carpenter hit a dropkick and a legsweep. Which we mostly saw. Damn this camera work.
We’re too zoomed in as Carpenter lands a splash in the corner, before a standing corkscrew press for a near-fall. Concrete’s back with a nice pendulum backbreaker as Carpenter came off the ropes, before some knees to the back had Carpenter in the corner. Someone calls for a back body drop as Concrete hits a legdrop for a near-fall, and I’m convinced someone’s just drunk and yelling out move names. Forearms from Carpenter looked to get him back in, but he’s just caught with a slam for a rather quick two-count, before another pendulum backbreaker led to a stretch. Concrete keeps up with a forearm to the lower back, which had the Cornerstone staggering into the ropes before he hit back with an elbow of his own. Back-and-forth chops follow, before Carpenter came back with a clothesline and the Kotaro Krusher.
A Finlay roll follows as does a standing shooting star press for a near-fall, before Concrete charged him into the corner. Carpenter floats over to escape a charge, but gets lifted onto the apron as he has to come back in with a crossbody, landing it for a near-fall before he looked for a One Winged Angel. The mobile camera aims at nothing in particular as Concrete got free before hitting a Sky High powerbomb for a near-fall. In the end, Concrete looks for a brainbuster, but Carpenter slips out and rolled him up for barely a one-count, before a roll-up out of another suplex attempt got the win for the future Cleaner. A pretty good TV-style match, save for the slip at the end… ***½
Champion’s Grail: Father Dante vs. Killshot
Dante’s better known as recent AEW signee Luther (you know, the original death dealer…) and Killshot is the Good Brother Karl Anderson. There’s no match here as he talks Anderson into walking out and forfeiting the match via count-out. This perhaps shouldn’t have been uploaded “as is”…
Muncie McGee vs. Klaus Kessler
“Das Nihilist” Kessler – better known as Emil Sitoci – actually revived the Nihilist gimmick in 2019 for wXw, with the same jacket and hoodie combo. Except he wasn’t German… but I think he might have been given a few F-bombs by the fans then. We’ve no commentary here…
Kessler charges at the corner as he peppers McGee with shoulders, elbows and clubbing forearms, before an old school atomic drop had McGee wobbling. More clubbing elbows keep him staggered, as Kessler worked the left arm, dropping knees onto it as McGee kept trying to fight back. Those were shut down again as he’s taken into the corner for a forearm, as a side Russian legsweep led to an un-Bret Hart-like springboard moonsault, which got nothing but McGee’s knees. Muncie tries to fight back, but he’s quickly cut-off as a front kick has him on the mat, ahead of a fireman’s carry gutbuster and a sliding lariat for a near-fall… because Klaus pulled him up. Elbows follow in the corner before Muncie fought back again, but he goes for an Exploder and ends up eating a snapmare driver instead as Kessler left with the win. So from these matches, it’s clear that McGee’s got his Exploder, but never hits it as he puts up a brave fight and comes up short.
Artrelle Burt vs. Chase Walker
By this point Walker – as Joey Ryan – had won the Battle of Los Angeles and had made some appearances for ROH and Wrestling Society X, having just completed his first decade in wrestling…
Burt was one of the many “already in the ring” jobbers, which tells you where we were going. Walker had a valet, Aphrodite. There’s no lollipop yet for Chase, who starts with a lock-up, only to get clubbed down by Burt. A ‘rana and a Japanese armdrag provide an instant response, as does a dropkick… before a comeback from Burt was swiftly ended with a scoop slam. Walker looks for his finish, but Burt counters with a neckbreaker, before some back-and-forth right hands gave Walker the platform to slide under and land a pumphandle fallaway slam. A superkick decapitates Artrelle seconds later, and that’s the win – a fun TV squash, which WRP seemed to be full of…
Speaking of Walker, in this drop there’s a promo of him responding to “the actions of the Illuminati” – the tag team of Stan Shooter and Bobby Hollywood (aka Kenn Doane and Kevin Matthews). Those “actions” were Hollywood outing Walker as being gay… with the choice of words from Hollywood a) definitely not flying in 2020 and b) being preceded by Nigel McGuinness saying “I don’t know about this…”
Walker’s response to being outed was shockingly measured, talking about how it’s unacceptable for bigotry to exist in 2012 “because wrestling (is thought as) low brow entertainment”. Whether this really would have been played off for shock value, nor how it’d have been received, is something we’d never know…
From the matches we spotlit here, Wrestling Retribution Project could well have made some sort of a dent in the marketplace had the material been turned around in a timely manner. That being said, the production values on show weren’t exactly stellar – sure, the “dinner function” table setting for the crowd looked different, but it kinda highlighted the spartan crowd… and in it’s purest, rawest form (which we got to see here), didn’t exactly help the product come across well. Of course, just dropping individual matches and segments in no particular order robs us of any kind of context, and denies us the “creative logic” that would have been on show. So while we can see from the content drops that WRP was looking to play out the modern day equivalent of the Barry Horowitz “jobber gets a win, becomes a thing” story, just how they were going to portray that in commentary and other segments mean that what we have with this content drop is a jigsaw that may never get completed.