The nights are drawing in, so let’s take a look at one of the more different shows of the year. How about some open-air wrestling from Brighton in August?

Riptide’s one of those promotions that gets a lot of buzz from a certain section of fans in the UK for their live shows, and buzz from another group for their excellent production values. We’re guilty of skipping over a lot of their shows, but this was one we wanted to dip into – if only for the novelty of outdoor graps.

We open with a promo from Mike Bird, telling us he’s here to show his ability, and that someone else being your favourite doesn’t mean they’re better. Riptide’s started subtitling all of their promos, which is a fantastic step for making the product accessible for more people. Then it’s off to the ring…

We’re at the Brighton Open Air Theatre – think of a venue “in the round”, but outdoors, because obviously. The BOAT looks glorious, as you can see from this shot as Riptide bust out DRONES for recording. Think about that – a promotion the size of Riptide can use drones for outdoor shows, whereas others have only just cottoned on about cleaning their damned lenses. By the way – the version of the VOD we’re watching has no commentary, but there is an alternative audio track for those who want it.

Cassius vs. Mike Bird
Cassius is exactly the sort of guy you want to be opening an outdoor show with. Especially in this sort of weather. His personality is infectious… especially against a foil like the miserly Mike Bird.

Bird tried to ground Cassius early, but all he got was frustration as Cassius tried to pass some of his positivity over to him. Cassius is a very vocal wrestler, as you’d hear from his screams… although they were justified as Bird press slammed him from the ring to the floor. Back in the ring, Bird stretches Cassius with a Romero special, then dumped him with a suplex, before Cassius finally began his fightback, going airborne with a crossbody before returning some chops.

Bird tries to slap down Cassius, but gets taken down instead with headscissors as dives follow… only for Bird to get back in with a powerbomb. He misses a swandive headbutt though, and gets caught with a wheelbarrow roll-up as Cassius was clutching at whatever opening he could force. The longer the match goes on in the blazing sun, mind you, the worse it’ll be for the “Ginger Jesus”, for obvious reasons… and when Cassius kept going for flash pins, it was only prolonging things, as Bird came in with a superplex and a Sharpshooter… which got the win after Bird leant too far back. A decent opener, but the hot weather is gonna play a part, I fear… **¾

After the match, the ring announcer interviews Cassius (with subtitles), telling us that Candy Floss has had to pull out of the Pride of Brighton tournament. We fade to another captioned promo, this time from Candy Floss, who tells us that she’s picked Cassius to replace her in the tournament. Of course he accepts. I bet he wished they’d told him BEFORE his match…

We then fade to Mike Bird being sarcastic…

Veda Scott vs. Gene Munny
Veda’s looking very summery, while Gene Munny… oh man. Who forgot to tell him we were dealing with temperatures of 30 degrees Celcius?!

Yes, the coat was a very bad choice. Especially when you’re ginger… and “built like milk”. Gene tries to “stay hydrated”, but Veda chops the water out of him at the bell as Gene tried to do as little as he could. Flipping for a ‘rana wasn’t good in this weather, before Gene just collapsed through exhaustion. Veda tries to roll him over, and eventually gets a two-count, before she… dropkicked him into a dry moat.

Veda mocks Gene by spraying water at him, before he reached into his fur coat for some sun cream. Of course, he sprays it in Veda’s eyes, then proceeded to slam her ahead of the Gammonball. Eventually someone’s got to sell the hot canvas, haven’t they? That sun cream works against them as it makes it hard to keep a hold on… although Veda’s able to Fisherman’s suplex Gene off the top turnbuckle for a near-fall. Gene’s slingshot spear connects… but the moonsault doesn’t as Veda capitalised instantly with a roll-up for the win. A fun little match, with the pair working well with the heat. **¾

We get another promo starting with Kurtis Chapman “obnoxiously singing his own music” and failing to find Jordon Breaks on Cagematch. Yes, it’s THAT promo. If you’re not on Cagematch, you’re not real…

Riptide Pride Of Brighton Championship Tournament Semi-Final: Kurtis Chapman vs. Jordon Breaks
In Riptide, Kurtis has been an obnoxious little shit who uses keyboards as weapons. The human embodiment of Twitter, some may say. Meanwhile, Jordon Breaks has been bubbling along as a very World of Sport-inspired grappler who’s waiting to hit the next level. He’s also keeping the theme going of PALE WRESTLERS IN EVERY MATCH today.

Chapman begs off from the start, before he was bamboozled by Breaks early on, as Jordon was effortlessly getting the better of him. Chapman uses headscissors, which were effective until Breaks got free and landed a crossbody for a near-fall. More World of Sport stuff confuses Kurtis on the way to a roll-up, prompting Chapman to powder and sulk in the entry way.

Cue a Benny Hill chase when Jordon ran after him, but again Kurtis makes a hash of it until he countered a sunset flip with a stomp for a near-fall. Chapman stays on Breaks after a little breather, sending Jordon back into that dry moat before he put another stomping on hm back inside.

Chapman trapped Breaks with an Octopus stretch outside as he tried to snatch a count-out victory, but he beats the count and again went after Chapman’s arm. Cue piercing screams as Kurtis tried to get free, eventually doing so before falling to a reverse DDT that nearly won Jordon the match. An eye rake opened it up for Chapman again, who pulled his way into a flying lungblower out of the corner, before he smashed a keyboard over Breaks’ head for the win. How the hell does the ref not hear or see the ring littered with keys and call something? Lauren’s lost Ctrl… a good match, and I’m surprised that Rev Pro haven’t gotten their claws on Breaks given their fondness for that style. ***¼

After the match, Chapman – and busted keyboard – is interviewed about beating the “hometown boy” Breaks. He’ll face Chakara or Cassius in the final.

Another promo now, with TK Cooper taking exception to being put in a three-way with Mike Bailey and Cara Noir. TK’s got beef with the “goose man”, and how he “rode PAC’s coat tails”, while he’s stuck making stars, like “CandyFloss off the network” and Impact star Chuck Mambo.

TK Cooper vs. Mike Bailey vs. Cara Noir
The streak continues! Bailey’s keeping up the sorta-pale theme, but Cara Noir knocks it out of the park. Granted, it’s face paint, and wisely, Cara’s left his mirror mask behind. Don’t want to be starting any accidental fires with that thing…

We start with a creaky ring and a three-way knuckle lock, once Cara’d gotten done dancing, before we saw TK taken into the ropes by Bailey. Those two focus on each other for a spell, until Cara came in and hurled TK into the corner. TK bails, so we get Cara Noir working over Bailey’s legs, which Speedball escaped from ahead of a ‘rana as the action flowed well.

A trio of ‘ranas left everyone down again, but it’s Bailey who dropkicked Cara to the outside before TK cut off a dive with a slam inside for a near-fall. That gave TK the opening to go after the “dumb goose”, slamming him outside the ring… then inside as TK took time out to ensure Bailey couldn’t get back into the ring. It sorta backfires as Cara went for the Blackout sleeper, which is easily escaped ahead of a Swan Woo dropkick into the corner.

A second one finds its mark too, but Bailey comes back in with a running corkscrew press on Cara Noir, before he got crotched up top by TK. Both Bailey and TK get hung in Trees of Woe, with Cara Noir deciding to go after TK. Bailey got free to avoid a licking, as he unleashed with kicks to both opponents… only to find that TK’s Samoan bonce was resistance to kicks. And good for headbutts. In the end, Cara and Bailey work over TK with kicks before they removed his boots and socks… so they could slap his feet? Eh, if it works…

With TK away, Noir and Bailey trade boots, but get distracted as TK’s climbed to the top and slips with a spinning heel kick. Well, I mean, he’s not used to barefoot graps! Drone cam shows off Bailey’s triangle moonsault to the floor, but he’s quickly caught with TK’s springboard corkscrew leg for a near-fall, before a rope-hung Tongan Twist nearly put Bailey down.

Cara Noir breaks the cover with another Blackout sleeper attempt, but it’s Bailey who breaks *that* up with a thrust kick. Undeterred, Cara kicks him back outside, then went for the Blackout sleeper again, ragdolling TK to the mat before Bailey returned with the moonsault knees to break it up this time. Bailey tries to build momentum, but he’s caught on the top rope, only to recover with a Ultima Weapon as TK had Cara in a Fireman’s carry. I fear for Speedball’s knees in a decade or two’s time. That kneedrop just riled up Cara Noir, who bit all of the little piggies to stop Speedball going to market, before a Swan Woo from Cara saw him land in the path of a big splash from TK, who snatched the win out of nothing. LOVED that finishing run – sometimes these three-ways can feel overly contrived, but this felt like a real battle that TK stole at the end. ***½

TK gets a backstage promo afterwards about his win… he crows about living up to his promise. We then fade to Cassius who’s interviewed about doing double duty this afternoon. He’s got his ribs taped up, but he’s looking to grab that second chance.

Riptide Pride Of Brighton Championship Tournament Semi-Final: Cassius vs. Chakara
Despite the bad back from the Sharpshooter in the opener, Cassius is still in bright mood. Chakara was a little cocky, having beaten Cassius in the first round of the tournament back in June… so yeah, Cassius got the lucky loser treatment. Like Darlington in the FA Cup all those years ago.

Chakara hit Cassius with a Widow’s Peak for a two-count at the bell – calling back to how she beat him in the first-round (which the preceding video package helpfully clued us in on!), before Cassius tried to chop his way into the match. A springboard crossbody’s more effective, as he gets a two-count, before he took Chakara outside into the surely-hot fake lawn around the ring.

Back inside, Chakara turned it around with a back cracker in the ropes, before she stretched Cassius ahead of some Sheamus-like crossface punches to the fella. Resisting Chakara’s bullying, Cassius took her into the corner as I get dizzy with the spinning drone shot. Perhaps Chakara did too, as Cassius seemingly knocked her down with a feather, following up with an axe kick before he ran into a spinning forearm. Chakara keeps up with an Exploder for a near-fall, before she ripped off the tape from Cassius’ ribs. A kid in the crowd screams “Oi! He needs that!” at Chakara, and I have to hit the pause button to breathe. Why is it the kids who defend the obvious the best?

Cassius is back up and gets slapped, but he no-sells it before he waffled Chakara in response, starting a clothesline-heavy comeback as a Northern Lights suplex drew a near-fall… because Cassius’ back gave out. From there, he hits a DDT for another near-fall, only for Chakara to fight back, putting a kicking to Cassius before her attempt at a Sharpshooter was countered with a small package as Cassius snuck out with the win! I liked how Cassius learned from the opening match, while Chakara’s arrogance throughout backfired on her. ***

Hang on… was that Dave Benson-Phillips celebrating with Cassius? (spoiler: it was)

Schadenfreude (Chris Brookes & Kyle Fletcher) vs. Medusa Complex (Charli Evans & Millie McKenzie)
There’s a lot of gold in the ring here, as we’ve got the (then) Fight Club Pro tag team champions against the (then) Sendai Girl tag team champions.

Kyle accidentally let out a swear, which led to Chris trying to suffocate him to stop him from doing it again on this family show. We started with Brookes frustrating Millie McKenzie with his general lankiness, which led to Millie not-exactly breaking clean in the ropes before she looked to outwit Brookes. A ‘rana off the top took Brookes down before Fletcher came in and took a dropkick. In comes Charli, whose diving crossbody gets a two-count, before he caught a kick and looked to slam Charli… who ends up taking an elbow for her troubles. Kyle keeps trying to find a vaguely-family friendly swear, before he just slammed Charli once more. Millie’s back to help with a pair of superkicks, before Brookes ran in and found himself held for a low dropkick.

Kyle turns it back around with a slam on Evans for a two-count, before Brookes looked to wrench back on Charli with an armbar. That turns into an arm and leg stretch, but Charli’s free leg gets to the ropes as Schadenfreude looked to isolate Charli. Millie’s knocked off the apron and into the dry moat, but she gets her own back, throwing Brookes down there while Charli countered a suplex from Kyle back inside.

Eventually Millie and Brookes tag in, as McKenzie surged ahead… but a butterfly superplex got Brookes back level before we returned to Kyle and Charli. A Violence Party from Evans has Kyle in the corner, where she’s caught with a superkick… only to return with a Destroyer for a near-fall. The back-and-forth continued as Kyle came close with a Michinoku driver, before she ‘rana’d out of a powerbomb attempt. Millie’s back to spear Kyle for a near-fall, but Charli’s again cornered as the match neared its finishing stretch… Charli’s powerbombed into a kick on the way down for a near-fall, then taken into the corner with a lawndart as a slingshot cutter from Brookes nearly ended things. Brookes goes for a stuff Praying Mantis Bomb, only for Charli to get free, following up with a short ‘rana to spike Kyle into the mat as a German suplex from Millie turned the momentum around.

A short-clothesline and a cutter from Millie looked to get the win, only for Brookes to fly in and stomp apart the pin, but in the end it’s a Praying Mantis Bomb and a hammerlock tombstone from Brookes and Fletcher respectively that end this. For my taste, this went a little long, but this was a cracking little match that worked well with the crowd, playing up the intergender stuff almost at a schoolyard “boys are better than girls” “no they’re not” level. ***¼

We cut to a Chuck Mambo promo about his bucket list of dream opponents. He’s wrestled all but one of them… but Rampage Brown is the last name. He gets him tonight, in Brighton, which is easily Mambo’s toughest test as champion yet.

Riptide Brighton Championship: Rampage Brown vs. Chuck Mambo (c)
Needless to say, this was Rampage’s Riptide debut, but his reputation preceded him here.

Mambo ducks an early chop, but his response just angered the former PROGRESS champion, who began to connect with his chops and a running uppercut that dumped Mambo to the mat for a two-count. A mid-air slam’s next as Rampage began to assert himself on the match, taking Chuck into the corner for an almighty stomp. Mambo fought back, taking Rampage into the corner before landing a missile dropkick that barely got a one-count. Still, Mambo stays on Rampage, taking him into the apron for another dropkick, following up on the outside with a big double sledge off the top, only for Rampage to take over with a suplex when they got back inside.

Rampage picked his shots as Mambo was again cornered, before he found his way free with a suplex of his own. Strikes from Mambo pinned Rampage back, before the champion leapt over a charge as Rampage sent himself to the outside, where Chuck followed up with a double-jump flip senton that was more impressive than I describe it. A Blockbuster comes next for Mambo, earning him a near-fall, but Rampage is back on the offensive… or at least he tried to.

Superkicks from Mambo stop that, ahead of the Reef Break Meteora for a near-fall, only for Rampage to fire back in with a superplex that nearly won him the belt. Mambo tries to come back with a springboard, but Rampage side steps him and looks for a piledriver that Mambo manages to counter into a Chuck You, then finished off with a frog splash for the win. The Brighton crowd didn’t want to boo Rampage, who didn’t particularly lean into being a bad guy… which in turn made for a solid match that never really threatened to go into a higher gear. ***¼

After the match, Mambo thanks the crowd for coming to watch him get his arse kicked, before he turned his attention to Spike Trivet – who had a title shot to use whenever he wanted to. Spike’s group – Money vs. Everybody – had an extra body apparently, but Mambo’s not threatened by it, only for Shay Purser and Damon Moser to hit the ring and put a beating on him. Spike’s out next, finding a new way to upset the crowd…

He’s got water too, which he spits at Mambo, before he told Mambo he was going to cash in his title shot at October’s Brighton Spirit weekender, as the show ended with TK Cooper running off Spike and co… because he wanted to be the man who defeated Mambo. That set up an Escaping The Midcard vs. Money vs. Everybody match on the evening show, and that was that for an afternoon of graps in the baking sun.

As a promotion, there’s a lot to like about Riptide – even if you don’t follow their storylines, a lot of their general ethics and operations can’t help but raise a smile. Things like “cheat sheets” to let new fans get up to speed with wrestling… or being one of the first promotions to get on board with wider social issues, be it through pushing back on discrimination or encouraging fans to be more environmentally friendly. Heck, the freebie in their 2020 season tickets of a steel cup that gives you a discount on drinks at shows is a move a lot of promotions would be wise to look into…

If you sit down and watch a Riptide show, regardless of whether it’s from a new venue like the BOAT or their regular home in the Brighthelm Centre, the first thing you’ll notice is just how beautiful the show looks. For a small indie company, their product is shot a lot better than it has any right to. The cinematic style has become Riptide’s calling card, and makes their product a lot easier to watch than a whole number of “point the camera vaguely at the ring” indies.

Yes, the first half of Bank Holiday Wrestling may be the antithesis of Riptide’s usual dark cinematic vibe, but it’s still a hell of a fun watch.