Southside Wrestling held a three-day run of events in late September/early October, culminating with KirbyMania – a card to celebrate Martin Kirby’s century of matches in the promotion.

That same weekend run featured the SWE Speed King and Queen of the Ring tournaments, which we’re hoping to get to at some point!

SWE Speed King Championship: Bubblegum vs. Mark Haskins (c)
Haskins won the title 24 hours earlier at Speed King 2016, winning a tournament that included defending champion Will Ospreay. The story of the match here was that Haskins was trying not to emulate Robbie X – the last man who completed Southside’s “triple crown” (world, tag and Speed King titles) – by losing in his first title defence.

Haskins and Bubblegum open up with a series of kicks, before Bubblegum handsprings himself into a Fujiwara armbar. They quickly end up outside where Haskins runs the length of the crowd to dropkick Bubblegum on the apron, before he countered a ‘rana into a Stretch Muffler. Bubblegum’s comebacks kept getting cut-off by Haskins, who kept targeting the leg. A DDT attempt from Bubblegum got turned into a suplex, before Bubblegum went for a Shiranui and ended up Rolling the Dice on Haskins.

Another handspring attempt goes awry for Bubblegum, as Haskins capitalises by rolling him up off the mat and then drilling Bubblegum with a death valley driver for a near-fall. A half-and-half suplex sees Bubblegum go down, before he immediately replied with a Pele kick and an enziguiri in the corner.

Bubblegum’s missed shooting star press sees Haskins immediately roll him up into an armbar, before Robbie X made an appearance and clocked Haskins with a kendo stick to the head. The referee missed it as he was tending to Bubblegum, and a 619 from Bubblegum ended up getting him the win – and the title- A pretty good opener, which made a lot more sense in hindsight with the Southside storylines and Haskins’ injury. ***½

Stevie Boy vs. Matt Cross
They call Stevie Boy the boyfriend of Kay Lee Ray – hopefully there’s more to this gimmick here, as that can be a bit of a death blow.

In the early going, Stevie tried to sneak his way past Matt Cross, but it wasn’t long before the Lucha Underground star clotheslined his foe to the outside, where a hanging baseball slide awaited him en route to a tope. Cross posted Stevie on the outside, before using the same ringpost for a flagpole elbow drop – showing off his agility and strength with the same move there.

After some brief offence from Stevie, Cross gets a near-fall from an inverted atomic drop, before finding himself cornered yet again as the Scotsman choked him in the corner. Cross almost grabs the win with a crossbody, before he blocks a superkick and hits a backbreaker for another two-count. Stevie uses the tights to stun Cross, getting a near-fall out of a Falcon arrow, but the tables turned yet again as Cross used his shoulders to springboard off the top rope, and land an Ace Crusher, only for Kay Lee Ray to come out and put her boyfriend’s leg on the bottom rope.

That’s not a disqualification for some reason, neither is the low blow that Stevie Boy hits, but Cross manages to kick out from the roll-up. Referee Joel Allen shoves Stevie back into the corner after an argument, before Stevie ends up stealing the win by sitting down on a sunset flip, with added help from Kay Lee. A decent match, but I’ll reiterate the comment at the start – rightly or wrongly, history’s shown that guys in wrestling who “rely” on their other half to win don’t tend to have much of a shelf life… ***

So before this match, I spotted a fan in a New York Jets shirt, and several familiar names…

SWE Tag Team Championship: The Models (Joey Hayes & Danny Hope) vs. Stixx & Flips (Stixx & Chris Tyler) (c)
Plenty of stalling from the Models to begin with, as Stixx removed Hope’s glasses before… putting them on and doing the Fargo strut! Of course, that leads to Stixx being attacked, and it’s not long before Stixx makes use of this size, laying into Hope, then Hayes, with chops.

A wheelbarrow suplex sees Stixx dump Chris Tyler on Hope, before we get a pair of leg splitters from the champions onto the Models. The challengers take advantage of a missed charge in the corner from Tyler, with Hope choking away on Tyler for a spell as Stixx could only watch on from the apron. That was pretty much the story of the match, with the Models keeping Tyler isolated in the ring, at least until a roundhouse kick from Tyler knocked down Hope. Stixx gets the hot tag and dropped the Models into the corner with corners and crossbodies, before Hayes took a TKO for a near-fall.

Tyler low bridges Hope to the outside, then followed up a moonsault off the apron. Hayes nearly won it with a roll-up, before Hope snuck in with a DDT that earned a similar result for the challengers. Stixx ends the match with a Black Hole Slam on Hope, before Tyler finishes him off with a 450 Splash. A decent tag match, but at no point did I feel that the Models were a serious threat. **¾

It seems that we’ve done away with match graphics, at least for the time being, as we just cut to the next entrance…

Robbie X vs. Travis Banks vs. Chris Ridgeway vs. Brian Cage vs. Lio Rush
One of these men is not like the others… as a five-way, this had potential to be a car crash of a match. Robbie, Banks and Ridgeway looked to set up a union, but Robbie X was left alone to get murdered by Brian Cage at the start, with Lio Rush throwing in some extras for fun. After Chasing the Dragon (superkick-assisted suplex), Robbie rolled out for cover as Rush and Cage worked together for a fairly even David and Goliath offering.

Travis Banks tries his luck and just gets thrown in an inverted backdrop from Cage, landing on his belly, before a wheelbarrow neckbreaker seemed to kill the Kiwi. Ridgeway swaps out and takes a chokeslam from the monstrous Cage, and finally the three heels co-ordinate themselves and jump Cage in the ring.

Lio Rush comes in and gets pinballed between Banks and Robbie, until a handspring back elbow takes them both down. Rush takes a back elbow from Robbie, before kicking Travis Banks off the apron as it becomes his time to shine, with a quartet of topes… except Cage caught his and nonchalantly powerbombed Rush into the ringpost.

More from Cage as Robbie X took a buckle bomb whilst a handful of fans in the crowd seemed hell bent on doing the Kenny Omega/Terminator clapping rhythm. Travis Banks gets planted with a German suplex, powerbomb and a brainbuster over the knee by Robbie X for a near-fall. Chris Ridgeway was next to kick the you-know-what out of Rush, but Lio turned the tables briefly before taking a roundhouse kick.

We get a period of no-selling as Rush’s reverse ‘rana is met by a pump kick and a German suplex from Ridgeway, but Rush gets up and hits the Spanish Fly onto Ridgeway, then Banks… but Cage catches it and lariats him instead. Rush somehow gets a death valley driver on Cage for a near-fall. A spinning Next Stop Driver gets Ridgeway a near-fall over Rush, before Robbie returns with a kendo stick… only for Mark Haskins to rush out and stop it, fighting with Robbie to the back. Can you say “future match”?

So we’re left with a four-way, with Cage drilling Banks with superkicks, then a buckle bumb, and finally a move that was best described as Death (a Gory Special mixed with a Flatliner)… and it’s that brutal thing that got the win for the monster. This’ll be a marmite match, depending on how you like wrestling, but he right man won for the sake of believability. ***½

BT Gunn vs. Sami Callihan
Hey, the graphics return! Gunn is perhaps better known for his work in ICW, as a former champion there. Sami Callihan… I don’t think needs any introduction.

They start by trading chops, with Callihan getting chopped so hard he went to the back! He eventually returned to give Gunn a spit-chop… and then got another receipt from the Scotsman. Instead of a chop, Callihan responded with a straight right hand, then an enziguiri on the apron, before Gunn slid out and tried to powerbomb him into the crowd. After a series of averted spots, the pair punched each other simultaneously, before a run-up into a chop saw Callihan get the post. Gunn’s hand tasted steel too, before the pair took two fan’s seats into the ring and engaged in a sit-out slug-fest. Eventually, some duelling kicks knocked the pair out of their seats, and this turned into more of a wrestling match.

Gunn gets his legs kicked out as he sailed into the middle turnbuckle, before Callihan lands a Samoan driver for a near-fall. They tease each other with German suplexes, before Gunn gets a two-count out of a springboard cutter. Callihan almost snatched the win with a small package, before upgrading his offence to a knee strike, as Gunn reverses a suplex for another near-fall.

Gunn finally takes his long-sleeved t-shirt off as the pair go back to giving and receiving chops. He takes a package tombstone piledriver after Callihan had looked to go for a reverse DDT… and after kicking out, a lariat from Callihan ended up getting the win. Really entertaining, and really even – a match I wouldn’t mind seeing again, that’s for sure! ***¾

They traded more chops back and forth after the match, just because…

Pete Dunne vs. Rey Fenix
This is the same Fenix that appeared at Battle of Los Angeles… just he’s had to tweak his name after leaving AAA. Copyright! They started at a fast clip, with Dunne catching a Fenix kick, before returning with a rolling forearm.

Some simultaneous strikes knocked both men down, before Fenix rolled up into a cutter, before being dragged outside as Dunne threw him into the second row. A teased dive from Dunne was met by an enziguiri by Fenix, then a springboard corkscrew armdrag back in the ring, as Dunne then cut-off the offence with a lariat. An apron suplex was next on the agenda for Dunne, as Fenix was left in agony outside the ring. Dunne kept up the pressure with a wristlock, then some finger manipulation, and finally… biting. Or at least, an attempt at it!

Fenix fought back with a springboard dropkick out of the corner, then a tope, before another dive saw Fenix hit a tope con hilo that wiped out one of the projectors that Southside uses. A corkscrew forearm’s met with a regular forearm from Dunne in the ring, before a piledriver got him a near-fall.

Another handspring cutter sees Fenis follow-up with a variant of a Dragon sleeper, which was only broken up when Dunne got his foot on the rope. Dunne countered a reverse DDT by rolling out and biting Fenix’s hand, only to be caught with… a kick to the head, then a ‘rana as Fenix held onto a support beam on the ceiling. That’s one of the beauties of smaller buildings – you get quirks like this that can be used organically in matches!

A leap over in the corner gets caught by Dunne as he drills Fenix with a tombstone piledriver for a near-fall… he follow that up with a second tombstone, with a third one being countered like a Code Red as Fenix got a tombstone himself, then came close to the win with a frog splash. Fenix drilled Dunne with an inverted DDT that rolled all the way back to a tombstone piledriver, but Pete rolls back up and hits a tombstone himself, before the Drop Dead – on the first attempt, no less – earned the win. Fantastic stuff, particularly with the tombstone sequences at the end. A relatively short bout, but enthralling nevertheless. ****¼

Kasey Owens, Viper, Alex Windsor & Kay Lee Ray vs. Leah Vaughan, Jessicka Havok, Nixon Newell & Melina
Viper had to help Windsor to the ring after being eliminated from the Queen of the Ring tournament due to injury earlier in the day. Seems a little masochistic to book her hours later then! Kay Lee Ray needed the rest of her team to drag her to the ring, for reasons I’m sure would have been clear had I watched the tournament!

Melina came out with the SWE Queen of the Ring title, a belt they’d put up in the tournament much like how wXw do with their World Tag Team League.

We start with a jump start as the women paired off, with Havok obliterating everyone… including her partners! Viper and Leah end up together, but after failing with some kicks, a lariat from Viper takes down Vaughan… who then tags in Havok for what I guess would be some big lasses wrestling. A straight right from Havok knocked down Viper, who returned fire herself as we ended up with shoulder tackles knocking down almost everyone – even those on the apron. Only the referee didn’t sell it for… reasons. Melina and Kasey came in next, with a sunset flip backbreaker stunning Owens, before Nixon and Havok combined to use Kasey as a jump rope for Vaughan and Melina. Viper uses the human jump rope, but slips and squashes Owens, who’s then swung into the Scotswoman for added comedic effect.

After it calmed down, we got Newell in there with Viper, with the latter missing a cannonball, before Newell tripped Owens, sending her into Viper with a cannonball instead. Vaughan dives off the top rope into the pile on the floor, with Melina doing the same… which just left Havok. Who actually lept off the apron with a body press.

In the ring, Havok went in to pick up Alex Windsor off the turnbuckles and powerbombed her into the pile, before Havok went airborne again with another running dive off the apron. We return to Newell and Viper, with the latter handing out a Michinoku driver, before a pump kick from Havok wiped out Viper. Windsor actually succeeds with a DDT, before this gets a little spotty with a parade of moves, featuring a Gory bomb from Kay Lee Ray to Melina, before a Welsh Destroyer from Newell took out Ray.

Viper mauled Newell and caught her in a sleeperhold… before Havok cut her off with a sleeper, and we ended up with a Human Centipede-like chain of sleeperholds… which turned into a 7-way stunner thanks to Nixon Newell. Melina tags back in and tries to take down Viper with a Code Red, and after some delay, finally gets it for the win. Eh, this was ridiculous at points, but entertaining nevertheless. **¼

So, for Martin Kirby’s 100th match – a main event against El Ligero. His first match was in 2010 against Val Kabious for the (then) NBW Southside title, and has since seen Kirby go on to face the likes of Finlay, Nigel McGuinness, the Hurricane and his late tag team partner Kris Travis in the promotion. Of course, Kirby got a hero’s welcome.

Before the match, Kirby suggested that Ligero put his number one contender’s spot on the line in this match… and in lieu of a verbal response, they shook hands.

El Ligero vs. Martin Kirby
We start off with some of the basics – waistlocks, wristlocks and the like – with both guys trading early pinfall attempts.

Kirby catches Ligero with a seated surfboard stretch briefly, before rolling through into a two-count – and the pace they’re going at suggests that this is going to be a long match. Ligero works a headlock that grounds Kirby before the latter catches an enziguiri and flips the masked man to the mat.

Kirby gets an outside-in rana, that ends up with both men rolling through as Kirby scored a two-count with a kick, before catching the masked luchador in a Boston crab. Ligero wriggles out of a Sable Bomb attempt and drops Kirby with a kick from the mat. A boot from the corner gets Ligero a near-fall as the number one contender stayed on top, before he’d miss the Mexican Wave off the top.

The comeback started with Kirby connecting with a Slingblade for a near-fall, but Ligero rushed back with a back elbow to counter a shoulder charge. Nevertheless, Kirby regained the upper hand with a powerslam for a near-fall, before another Sable Bomb attempt led to a series of near-falls for both men.

A wheelbarrow facebuster gets Ligero a near-fall, but his C4L attempt’s turned into a backbreaker as Kirby once again tries for the Zoidberg Elbow… but it’s not successful as we end up with some teased dives, before someone rushes out from the crowd, and we see it’s Joseph Conners who causes the DQ. That means Ligero wins and retains his title shot. The match wasn’t bad, but given how deliberate this was, we were either going for a long match, or some shenanigans… ***

Kirby and Ligero go after Conners on the outside, before Paul Malen comes out to even up the numbers. The former members of the Righteous Army take down Ligero and Kirby, before Conners takes the microphone to declare that it’s the end of the show. Unsurprisingly, the crowd don’t leave, and Kirby offers up a tag team match as an impromptu main event gives us Kirbys’ 101st match!

Martin Kirby & El Ligero vs. Joseph Conners & Paul Malen
The match starts with Ligero chopping Malen out of a chair as they brawl amongst the fans, as Malen then gets thrown into a wall by Kirby, who then throws a full rubbish bin at him.

Ligero gets choked on the bar by Conners, as Malen and Kirby go through the gimmick tables, before a trolley’s pushed into Malen’s shins. They finally head back towards the ring, where Conners takes a dropkick after some double-teaming from Ligero and Kirby. Malen reverses some offence as Ligero gets hiptossed into several rows of chairs – and they’re not the “kinder” folding chairs you’d see in most other promotions either!

We hear some exclamations – but totally miss what happened as I can only assume that Joseph Conners got thrown into the commentary team, taking them out of action for a while. In the ring, Kirby drops Conners with an enziguiri, before Conners gets a near-fall by pulling Martin off of the top rope. Ligero finally resurfaces and fights off Malen and Conners, but he takes a knee lift in the ropes before Ligero’s thrown into Kirby. A big boot-assisted Russian legsweep gets Conners a near-fall, as Malen throws Ligero out of the building via a fire exit. Well, that’s a new one!

Conners grabs the microphone to mock Kirby, and sets him up for a “birthday punch” from Malen. Another present comes in the form of a boot, then a sidewalk slam, as this quickly turns into something dangerously close to the comedic commentary that Jerry Lawler used to do. In squash matches.

They continue to taunt Kirby, but he finally makes a comeback and connects with a dropkick to the heels. Malen backdrops out of a Sable bomb, and we end up with the Trophy Kill (shoulder breaker/neckbreaker combo) for a near-fall. A second attempt sees Kirby push away, as El Ligero somehow gets back into the building with a ladder – fitting, because of the Ligero/Conners TLC match down the line.

Conners and Malen taste the ladder, before Ligero climbs it and dives off the ladder with a somersault flip into the pair who were joined in the pile by an unassuming Gabriel Kidd. Back in the ring, Conners tries for a powerbomb which gets reversed, before we get a ref bump. Kirby gets his Sable Bomb, but there’s no ref… and a second one slides in, only to be pulled out and punched down by Paul Malen.

The camera man misses Ligero hitting a big splash as he gets a near-fall on Conners from a revived Joel Allen. Ligero gets a crossface on Conners, but Paul Malen’s arrival forces Ligero to break it up. Malen had brought in the belt, but Conners accidentally smashes his tag partner with it, which leads us to the final straight – a Sable Bomb, then a frog splash as Kirby and Ligero take the win. A fun “something for everyone” main event – it did go a little long, and ended up prioritising the SWE title match over the whole Martin Kirby celebration, but otherwise, a perfectly acceptable main event for the live crowd. ***¼

As a show, this was the culmination of a long weekend for Southside that featured two title tournaments, and on this showing, KirbyMania didn’t show any signs of being the “last show on the tour” as you would. For me, Dunne vs. Fenix was the stand-out from this show, whilst the Sami Callihan vs. BT Gunn match was entertainingly brutal. Perhaps not a “show of the year”, but definitely an absorbing evening of wrestling that should put Southside top of your list of promotions to see if you’re in the area.