Last week, we reviewed Southside’s KirbyMania show… so we’ll step back a few hours and take a look at their afternoon show, where they held an all-women’s wrestling tournament.
As a part of their early-October weekender, Southside held their first Queen of the Ring tournament, to complement the Speed King tournament that was also taking place that weekend. Featuring eight women, including former WWE star Melina and defending champion Kay Lee Ray – whose belt was on the line in this tournament – it was certainly an intriguing situation.
The show opened with the brackets: Melina vs. Lana Austin – Leah Vaughan vs. Alex Windsor – Viper vs. Havok – Kay Lee Ray vs. Nixon Newell. There’s some interesting matches, and that’s just in the first round!
Queen of the Ring 2016, Quarter Final: Lana Austin vs. Melina
We get a somewhat awkward start to the match as Lana flirts with Melina before trying to shock her with a roll-up out of the gate. She then teases kissing Melina, but gets a slap and a roll-up as the match starts proper.
Another schoolgirl roll-up sends Lana into the ropes, before a dropkick from Melina takes her to the floor. Melina joins her outside with a baseball slide, but that allows Austin to mount a brief comeback, before returning to the ring to continue with some punches in the corner.
Melina’s thrown to the mat by her hair as Austin gets a near fall out of it, and the match turned into more of a grounded affair as Lana gets a rear chinlock. A missile dropkick off the top sees Lana crash and burn as Melina meets her in mid-air, and the former WWE star keeps up her comeback with a spinning heel kick for a near-fall.
After catching Lana in the corner, Melina quickly drapes her across the middle rope and smashes through with a double knee strike for a near-fall. Lana comes close after a kick to the face, before Melina hits the Sunset Split (legdrop-assisted reverse DDT) for the win. This was Melina’s first singles match in over four years, and she didn’t look to bad in it. The only negative is that this match does look out of place given how much progression the women’s scene has had in her absence… **
After the match, Lana got her kiss, to the delight of her… and most of the men in the audience.
Queen of the Ring 2016, Quarter Final: Leah Vaughan vs. Alex Windsor
This was Leah’s second women’s tournament in as many days, having worked in wXw’s Femmes Fatales tournament in Oberhausen the previous day. The match started as Windsor launches into Vaughan with a shotgun dropkick at the bell, before a hair-assisted armdrag took the Canadian into the corner.
It’s all one-way traffic, at least until Vaughan gives Windsor a drop toe hold near the bottom turnbuckle – but she ends up on the mat, rather than in the turnbuckle. A knee-lift and a clothesline keeps Windsor at bay, before Vaughan ran Windsor into the turnbuckle as a set-up for a crossbody. Windsor kicked out at two from that, but quickly recovered with a pair of clotheslines before stretching out Vaughan on the mat. A curb stomp follows as Windsor gets another near-fall, but her next move saw her take too much time as Vaughan yanked Windsor off the top rope for a nasty-looking bump.
Windsor pulls herself up, but takes a dropkick to the knee and rolls outside to recover. Upon her return, Vaughan drops Windsor with a Meteora (double knee strike) to the back of the head, only for a Fireman’s carry to be turned into a Blue Thunder Driver by Windsor for another near-fall.
Vaughan rocks Windsor with a Yakuza kick and a spear, but again the native of Norwich kicks out. Another Fireman’s carry follows as Vaughan gets a Finlay roll, only to miss a resulting moonsault as Windsor follows up with her Windsor Knot submission (sharpshooter) for the win. This was a lot better than I was expecting, but Windsor looked extremely rattled following that bump off the top rope. **½
Queen of the Ring 2016, Quarter Final: Jessicka Havok vs. Viper
Without being too unkind, this is “big lasses wrestling”, and I don’t expect this to be softly-softly either!
Viper tries to avoid Havok at the start, but she throws the first bomb with a forearm… that barely fazed Havok. She tries to shake her hand to make amends, but instead Havok returns fire as this escalates quickly. They exchange onrushing knees to the midsection against the ropes, before Viper baseball slides her way out of the ring as she tries to get a breather… only to sucker Havok to the outside with her.
They exchange more strikes around ringside, before Havok accidentally chops the ringpost, and gets thrown back into the ring by Viper. Back inside, Viper drops Havok with an Earthquake sit-out splash, then a diving low crossbody for a near-fall – moves that quite possibly would have won matches against anyone else in this tournament.
We go back to the battle of forearms, before they crash into each other with big boots. After getting to their feet, Viper gets squashed in the corner, before she takes a running knee. A second one misses as Viper responds with an avalanche and a hip attack, before a cannonball sends Havok out of the corner. Viper tries to finish her off with a back senton, but Havok kicks out at two.
Viper’s attempt to go up top proved to be her undoing though, as Havok picked her off the top rope and drilled her with the Air Raid Crash for the win. Good stuff, and I think that makes three matches so far with totally different styles. **¾
Sheffield Streetfight for the SWE Queen of Southside Championship – Queen of the Ring 2016, Quarter Final: Nixon Newell vs. Kay Lee Ray (c)
That’s a bit of a mouthful… yes, this is a streetfight for Kay Lee Ray’s title, and it’s also in thre tournament of the same name. Sadly, Nixon didn’t come dressed for a streetfight…
Newell got the match underway by flying into Ray with a tope, and they brawl around the entrance way. Finally they climb into the ring as the bell sounded, but they didn’t last too long as they traded headbutts before Newell went flying with another tope. Ray gets chopped in the audience, before Newell accidentally chopped a steel girder in the building. Newell gets extra familiar with the bar, as she’s whipped into it, and she then gets thrown into the toilets. They trade more forearms as they fight towards the exit… and the fight spills out into the streets of Sheffield, walking past some surely confused resident pushing a bike outside the venue!
Ray gets an Irish whip into a steel gate for a nearby building, as Newell grabs a headlock and takes Ray into a fire door, only to be thrown into a steel shutter elsewhere in the venue. A lot of the crowd actually followed the match outside, much like an old fight at school, as they then saw Newell slam Ray in the middle of the road.
After a kick to the back, Ray takes a forearm smash before she fights out of a suplex, eventually throwing Newell into a door. They eventually amble back into the building, and into the merchandise tables. Ray gets whipped into the bar, as Newell flies off the bar with a cross body. Eventually they head back towards the ring, but not before Ray drops Newell with a Gory bomb across the apron. That’s a new one on me…
Ray goes under the ring for some handily-placed baking trays, but Ray hits the ring post with one before Newell grabs a second tray and uses it on the Scotswoman. A third tope from Newell’s cut-off with a baking tray, which gives Kay Lee a chance to get some more plunder from under the ring.
As Newell sells, Ray sets up a trio of chairs in a makeshift platform, which looked to be a landing zone for another Gory bomb. Newell fought free though, and suplexed Ray into the trio of chairs for yet another nasty-looking bump. The chairs get used again as Ray gets her hand up to try and block a chairshot to the head, before a second chairshot saw Newell hit the ropes and then hit herself on the rebound.
From there, Ray and Newell traded superkicks each, before Newell rolled the dice and got a near-fall. She grabs a bag under the ring and spreads out a few handfuls of drawing pins (thumb tacks for any Americans!)… and with the drawing pins on concrete, Newell goes for the Welsh destroyer, only to be backdropped onto the pile.
Newell kicks out after that backdrop on the concrete, before Ray launches into Newell with chops. They’re quickly returned as Newell gets a suplex, then a series of superkicks and a Shining Wizard as she got another near-fall on the champion. As Newell went for another Welsh Destroyer, Stevie Boy ran out and hit Newell with her own move, and that’s enough to get Kay Lee Ray the win. Well, it was a street fight, and whilst I wasn’t enamoured by the finish (particularly in the bigger picture, as I mentioned in my KirbyMania review), this was an entertaining match. Easily the best thing in the first round, but given who’s involved, that wasn’t a shock. ***¾
So, our semi-finals are Melina vs. Alex Windsor and Havok vs. Kay Lee Ray. Ouch. Well, at least, we thought it would be those pairings, but Alex Windsor struggled to drag her way to the ring, and immediately took the microphone.
Windsor says that Melina screwed her in a match against Jessicka Havok… she threw her in a swimming pool (on the Speed King show the prior day… and yes, we’re looking forward to covering that particular spot!). Windsor claims to be injured, so she pulls out of the match rather than have Melina think she’s better than her. Instead, Windsor’s not going to give her a bye, she’s got a replacement: Viper!
Queen of the Ring 2016, Semi Final: Melina vs. Viper
Windsor stays at ringside for the match, and we start with an avalanche by Viper, who overwhelms Melina early on. Windsor chokes Melina as the referee gets distracted early. A slam gets Viper a two-count, before Melina fights back with some right hands, and then a dropkick that barely moves the Scotswoman. Second time was the charm as Viper briefly went down, before Melina charged into her in the corner. Another dropkick seemed to connect, but a forearm from Viper had more effect.
Viper follows up by missing a charge into the corner, before Melina got distracted again by Windsor… who got knocked off the apron as Viper looked to charge into Melina once more. From there, Melina rushes into Viper with a delayed Thesz press, and that’s enough to book the former Divas’ champion into the final. This was short, and not really good – but at least it built up a continued story between Melina and Windsor. *¼
SWE Queen of Southside Championship – Queen of the Ring 2016, Semi Final: Jessicka Havok vs. Kay Lee Ray (c)
Ray jumps Havok in the aisle as she was making her way down, and I’m starting to wonder if the show was running long at this point…
Ray uses a crowbar on Havok, but since the bell hasn’t run, it’s all legal for the defending champion. The assault continues on Havok as Ray throws her into the ring post, then into the third row of the crowd. Finally, Ray throws Havok into the ring, but only gets a one-count after all that violence. Havok shoves Ray away, but Kay Lee kicks back and proceeds to choke her across the ropes. Ray chops Havok in the corner, before missing a charge and getting avalanched by Havok instead. A series of running knees in the corner follows, before a Saito suplex dumps Ray on her head.
Havok looks for a tombstone piledriver, but out comes Stevie Boy for a distraction… which sees Kay Lee stupidly try for a Gory bomb. Not going to happen, and Havok works out at Stevie slides into the ring. He swings and misses with a crowbar, and ends up taking a chokeslam from Havok, but the ensuing referee distraction allows Ray to use the crowbar and get the win. Again, a short match, but this was about the only believable finish given the massive size difference. *¾
So, Kay Lee Ray vs. Melina is our final, but first we’ve got a non-tournament match…
Ruby Summers vs. Kasey Owens
Owens earned some fame about two years ago with the TNA British Bootcamp series – but after making the shortlist, she lost out to eventual winner Mark Andrews. Recently, Owens has done a tour of STARDOM in Japan, which is quite the step up!
From the opening lock-up, Kasey trades wristlocks with Ruby, who matches her in the early going. A monkey flip sees Summers take down Owens, as does a double underhook suplex, before she forces a break by going to the corner. Owens fought her way back into it, only for a dropkick from Summers to take her back down. A codebreaker attempt from Summers is blocked, and Owens kicks away some more before choking Ruby in the ropes. After a sidewalk slam, Owens gets another one-count, so she decides to trap Summers with a hanging armbar in the ropes.
The submission attempts continue as Owens stretches Summers and pushes her off into a faceplant for a near-fall, before a suplex gets a similar result. After a series of chops, Summers finally fights back with forearms, but she’s quickly cut-off in the corner as a series of knee strikes almost got Kasey the win.
Summers fires back once more with a clothesline, before a missile dropkick took down Kase again. Owens takes some running double knees, then a Fisherman’s suplex for a near-fall as Ruby tried to snatch a victory. A Codebreaker takes Owens into the corner, but Summers follows her up and goes flying with the Diamond Dust (flipping jawbreaker off the middle rope) for another two-count. After kicking out, Owens mounted another fightback with a flapjack and a Shining Wizard, and that’s enough for the win. Not too bad, but the match took a while to get going. **¼
Owens cuts a promo after the match, but we couldn’t hear most of it because of feedback. I think Owens was mad at not being in the tournament at all, let alone as an alternate, and she’s challenging the eventual winner.
SWE Queen of Southside Championship – Queen of the Ring 2016, Final: Kay Lee Ray (c) vs. Melina
There’s no jump start here, but Ray does start by taking Melina into the corner for a series of shoulder charges.
Melina launches a comeback with a neckbreaker and gets a near-fall from it, before an armdrag leads to another near-fall from a roll-up. Kay Lee turns the tables by chopping Melina in the corner, before a floatover suplex only gets her a one-count.
An attempt at the Sunset Flip sees Ray duck away and follow up with a kick to the ribs of Melina as she was stuck in the splits. Ray takes over from there with a rear chinlock, before Melina shoved her into the ropes and nailed a snapmare driver to get a two-count out of the champion.
Melina follows with a facebuster out of the corner for a near-fall, before Ray sidestepped a knee strike off the middle rope. Another comeback saw Melina hit a Thesz press off the middle rope for another two-count, before the pair traded forearms back and forth, Kay Lee Ray surprises Melina with a Gory Bomb for a near-fall, so Ray heads outside to grab a chair. Referee Joel Allen grabs it off her, but there’s nothing coming from the distraction apart from a DDT as Stevie Boy again runs out to pull the referee out of the ring. Ironic, the camera picks up the back of his hoodie, which reads “fuck winning clean”.
Allen’s distracted by Stevie Boy as he tries to eject him, and in the process Ray hits a Gory bomb before going up top, connecting with a senton bomb. Melina kicked out again though, which prompts Stevie Boy to enter the ring and go after Melina. Out comes Nixon Newell for the save, knocking Ray off the top rope before a Welsh Destroyer takes out Stevie Boy. Newell side-stepped a dive from Ray, who took out Stevie Boy with a tope, before Newell added one herself. Melina completes the set with a dive off the middle turnbuckle, catching Stevie in the head with an errant knee too! Stevie and Newell fight to the back, leaving Kay Lee Ray and Melina in the ring… but the referee’s again distracted and misses Viper, who uses Ray’s belt to smash Melina with.
Melina still kicked out after all that, so Viper rolls in and tries to hit her with the belt once more. Joel Allen gets bumped as he tried to stop her, and the two Scottish women combine for a Gory Bomb off the middle rope – which looked brutal as all hell. The referee awoke in time to count another two-count, as Jessicka Havok came out to dispatch of Viper. Ray goes for another Gory bomb, but Melina switches out and ties her up in an Indian deathlock in the middle of the ring… and Kay Lee taps! Melina wins the tournament and the title! As a match, this felt like TNA central in terms of the number of run-ins, but it made sense in terms of the arc they were playing with here. **¾
As a tournament, I liked the stories told – Melina making her comeback to singles action after over four years out… how long could she last? When she made it to the final against the defending champion, could she overcome ring rust and the champion? Apart from the massively overbooked final, this was a good tournament – you were in the wrong place if you were looking for classic matches, but as entertaining wrestling, you couldn’t really complain.