Southside held their annual Speed King tournament at the start of October – and it was a memorable night to say the least!

The town of West Bridgford, just south of Nottingham, played host to the one-night tournament, which featured six qualifiers then a six-way to crown a new Southside Speed King champion – unless Will Ospreay could win the whole tournament, that is!

Speed King 2016 – First Round: Robbie X vs. Martin Kirby
Robbie X had a kendo stick with him, but his night started with him having to work out of a wristlock as he and Kirby started off with the basics. The promotion busted out a crane camera, which is mightily impressive for a company of this size, and it caught Robbie X getting an early advantage, before Kirby took him down to size with a diving shoulder tackle for a near-fall.

Kirby trapped Robbie in a weird submission, which resembled a hammerlock with a Rocker dropper, before a dropkick earned Robbie a near-fall. Robbie choked over Kirby in the corner, before we got a leapfrog and a rolling snapmare as Kirby made a really brief comeback. After getting only a one-count, Robbie X undid his wrist tape, but didn’t use it to choke his foe, instead going for a suplex onto the ropes, and then a dropkick to send Kirby to the floor.

Robbie tried to throw Kirby into the crowd – but they were ultra hesitant in moving away – and in the end it was just a ruse. The time Robbie wasted doing that was enough for Kirby to launch a comeback, hitting the “Puppy Power” rolling shoulder block into the corner, before a Fireman’s carry Facebuster got him a near-fall. After absorbing a series of forearms, Robbie raked the eyes and drilled Kirby with a suplex into an over-the-knee neckbreaker for a close two-count.

Kirby ducked a roundhouse kick, before elbowing out of a waistlock, and nailing an enziguiri… Robbie then bust out of a Sable Bomb and hit his roundhouse kick, before snatching the win with the roundhouse kick. A fun opener, nothing too explosive, but given one of these guys had another match, we’re going to be in for a lot of this. ***½

Speed King 2016 – First Round: Chris Tyler vs. Matt Cross
Also better known as half of the Southside tag team champions, it’s fair to say that Stixx won’t be in this!

Tyler and Cross work wristlocks back and forth to start off with, before working up into a headlock and the eventual shoulder block takedowns. Cross took Tyler around the ring, sending him into the turnbuckles, before landing a handspring back elbow and missing a springboard crossbody.

They go outside as Tyler runs down the apron and nails Cross with a moonsault off the middle turnbuckle onto the floor, eventually getting a near-fall. Tyler actually enjoyed a period of offence on the veteran Cross, grounding him with a sleeperhold, only for Cross to fight up and flip out. A series of lariats decks the 19 year old, before a springboard crossbody ended up more like a springboard forearm for a near-fall. Tyler succeeds with a roundhouse kick on Cross, before being turned inside out with a lariat that earned Cross a near-fall, before Tyler superkicked Cross in the corner as a set-up for an X-Factor out of the middle rope. A 450 splash from Tyler fails, as Cross got his knees up, but he only earned a near-fall out of a small package from that.

Tyler kicked out again after Cross springboarded off the top rope using his shoulders en route to an Ace crusher, before headbutting Cross off the top turnbuckle. The youngster looked to end things with the Time Lapse – a springboard Phoenix Splash – but Cross moved away, before firing back with a springboard double stomp and a 450 splash to earn his place in the final. They started slow, but this quickly became fun – and even managed to convince me that the not-exactly-established Tyler could have won this. ***½

Speed King 2016 – First Round: Stevie Boy vs. Mark Haskins
Haskins started off by blocking a waistlock takedown from Stevie, and eventually took down Stevie with an armbar. Stevie tried a headscissor takedown, but Haskins landed on his feet before firing off a suplex, only for the resulting exchange to see Haskins take out Stevie with a tope.

Haskins set up Stevie in a chair on the outside, but the Scotsman surprised Haskins with a drop toe hold into the chair, before hitting a backheel to the head of his opponent whilst on the apron. The Scotsman turned up the heat with a tope con hilo, and then worked over Haskins back in the ring with shoulder charges in the corner, before grinding his forearm into Mark’s head.

Stevie kept chopping away at Haskins in the rope, but the fightback started with a series of back and forth forearms, ending with Haskins getting an overhead kick to knock his Scottish opponent down. A leaping forearm into the corner was followed up as Mark countered a ‘rana into a Stretch Muffler, but Stevie made his way to the ropes. The comeback continued with a push into the ropes as Haskins hit back with a snap bodyslam and a crossface, again with Stevie Boy breaking via the ropes.

Stevie tried to end things with a moonsault press out of the corner, but Haskins side-stepped and immediately grabbed his Star Bar (armbar) upon impact. Yet another rope break followed, and Stevie tried a comeback with an enziguiri and a Falcon arrow, earning a two-count, before landing a flying DDT off the middle rope for another near-fall. Looking to end it, Stevie tried for a piledriver, before backflipping out of a pumphandle driver from Haskins, as they went back and forth with superkicks and pump kicks. In the end, Haskins was successful with the roll-through sharpshooter, leaning all the way back to force a submission. If you’ve seen much of Mark Haskins, you’ll not be surprised by just how good this was! ***¾

Speed King 2016 – First Round: Chris Ridgeway vs. Bubblegum
Before the next match, Ridgeway took the microphone and demanded to go face-to-face with Bubblegum to “tell him something to his face”. It was a straight right hand as a bridging German suplex almost got him a win out of the gate.

Bubblegum backdropped out of a piledriver attempt, before rushing Ridgeway into the corner and landing a bulldog. A ‘rana sent Ridgeway into the ropes, but Chris escaped the 619 and just kicked Bubblegum onto the apron. Ridgeway jabs a thumb into Bubblegum’s eye as he tried to springboard back into the ring, and they ended up in the crowd as Ridgeway did a Robbie X and faked out throwing Bubblegum into their seats.

Ridgeway smashed Bubblegum in the corner with some uppercuts, before they briefly went back outside the ring. “Smashmouth” Ridgeway kept up the offence with a kick to the head after he choked Bubblegum, but the Mancunian tried to make a comeback, and landed a double-stomp to the back of Ridgeway after gingerly climbing up top. Things took a nasty turn when Bubblegum’s suplex on Ridgeway was suplex, leading to both men taking a spill over the top rope and down to the floor. Sadly, the impact of that bump was quickly killed with the crowd counting ahead of the ref (and tossing in a “Moose!” chant), but they managed to beat a ten-count and get back to the ring.

Bubblegum knocked Ridgeway back outside with a handstand kick into the ropes, before trying – and missing – another double stomp off the top. A standing double stomp connected for a near-fall, before getting a back elbow in the corner from Ridgeway, who went back to some eye rakes. An overhead kick put paid to that, but Ridgeway snapped back with a German suplex and a superkick to the head.

In shock as Bubblegum kicked out, Ridgeway went for a PK and a powerbomb, floating over into a cover for another near-fall as Bubblegum refused to die. More fish-hooking followed as Ridgeway went for a reverse DDT, but Bubblegum flipped out and came back with tornado DDT out of a tiltawhirl, before the 619 connected. A PK followed, and that was enough to make Bubblegum the fourth match in the final. Well, this match certainly didn’t follow the “save the best stuff for the final” template – really impressive stuff from Bubblegum and Chris Ridgeway! ***¾

Speed King Championship: Speed King 2016 – First Round: Lio Rush vs. Will Ospreay (c)
Much like they did with the Queen of Southside title, Will’s having to defend his Speed King title as he goes along… Ospreay had his Southside belt, along with his British Triangle Championship – you know, that six-man title that doesn’t appear to have been defended anywhere?

Ospreay launched into Rush with a shoulder tackle at the bell as the pair had a frantic start, ending with Ospreay cartwheeling out of a ‘rana from Rush. They flip each other off as Rush kicks Ospreay in the back, but the defending champion fought back with chops in the ropes before being taken down with a ‘rana and a dropkick from the ROH star. Rush slid out with a baseball slide, but was met by a boot from Ospreay, before a ‘rana off the apron was blocked… before Rush missed an Asai moonsault and ended up returning to the ring as the defending champion rushed back in. No pun intended.

Back inside, Ospreay grounded Rush with a leglock, and took the opportunity to drill Lio with forearms whilst doing so, forcing Rush to scramble for the ropes for some respite. Will kept taking shots at Rush, who tried to hit back with some combinations, before rolling up and landing an enziguiri. Ospreay retaliated immediately with forearms in the ropes, but he was thrown outside as Rush repeatedly went flying with topes, sending Will into the third row.

After being thrown back in, Ospreay tried to knock Rush off the top rope, and instead went for a Cheeky Nandos – a kick that Rush blocked and countered with an enziguiri for a near-fall. Rush kicked away at Ospreay’s chest, at least until one of them was caught, leading to Rush being flipped back onto an injured knee, before Lio turned a tiltawhirl into a tornado DDT for another two-count. Another forearm from Rush dazed Ospready in the corner, but Will hit back with a back elbow and a boot, before nailing a roundhouse kick and a pumphandle driver for a two-count. Rush avoided an OsCutter and blocked the Spanish Fly, before the pair exchanged bicycle kicks… until a slap from Rush enraged Ospreay into a corkscrew diving kick, sending both men to the mat.

More forearms from Rush only earned him another slap, but the youngster went to the well one too many times and tried another roundhouse kick, which saw him rolled up and then caught in a single leg crab. Rush kicks away from the hold, before they both attempt kicks – with Will’s up-kick from the canvas setting up for an OsCutter. That missed, as Rush connected with a reverse ‘rana, only to see his frog splash attempt get nothing but the knees of Ospreay. From there, it was just a matter of an OsCutter, and Will booked his place in the final. Pretty good match, they didn’t go as balls-to-the-wall as you might have expected, but this was a really good outing from both guys. ****

Speed King 2016 – First Round: Sami Callihan vs. Rey Fenix
A shoulder tackle from Callihan at the start was instantly shrugged off by Fenix, as the pair quickly went to back-and-forth ‘ranas in another frantic opening. Another exchange ended with both men clobbering each other with clotheslines, before Fenix’s handspring was caught by Callihan, eventually leading to a guillotine legdrop as Fenix was suspended in the ropes.

Callihan flew afterwards with a low-pe, before Fenix upped the stakes with a tope con hilo into the aisle. Another low-pe from Callihan followed, and Fenix replied to that with a springboard tornillo to the outside. Fenix looked to string two dives together, but he ended up faking out as Callihan moves away, before running down the apron and launching into a ‘rana on Sami instead. A springboard senton into the ring’s caught by Sami, as he turned it into a sit-out powerbomb for a near-fall, before a stiff clothesline knocked Fenix inside out. It’s all Callihan for a spell, as he looked to rip off Fenix’s mask, and then switched to more psychological warfare with a spittle-laden chop to the chest of the luchador.

Fenix’s attempt at a comeback ended when Callihan kicked a leg away, sending Fenix face-first into the turnbuckles, but Fenix hit back with a series of superkicks, only to be matched move-for-move as a pair of head kicks saw the duo crash to the mat simultaneously. Back to his feet, Callihan connected with some palm strikes, before a leg sweep took him down as Fenix hit a roll-through into a frog splash, then a standing moonsault for a near-fall.

Callihan hit back with a slap, and then a Dragon Screw before locking in a figure four on Fenix, eventually forcing the luchador to grab the ropes for a break. Sami kept up the pressure with a Samoan driver after catching another roll-through from Fenix. The next stop from there was a trip to the apron as a teased piledriver ended up being blocked as the pair went back and forth with pump kicks, before a roll-through into an Ace crusher saw Fenix dump Callihan to the floor.

Back in the ring, Fenix sent Callihan flying from corner-to-corner with a springboard rana off the top rope, before a Yakuza kick and a frog splash almost booked him a place in the final. Fenix went for a tombstone, but Callihan reversed it into a package tombstone for a near-fall. Another reverse ‘rana gets Fenix a two-count as Callihan got his foot on the rope, but Fenix ended up getting caught on the top rope as Callihan used the mask to set up for a package tombstone off the middle rope… finally getting the win. Another good match, with Callihan breaking out the big guns to get his spot in the final. ****

HC Dyer & Joseph Conners vs. El Ligero & Brian Cage
Dyer is the former “Pledge” from Joseph Conners Righteous Army – and he’s got a briefcase after winning Southside’s Money in the Bank back at Retribution 7 (you know, the show with the fire alarm?). Interestingly, Dyer’s taunting his former stablemate, who came out to a very disappointing reaction for a heel champion.

We had a lot of stalling at the start, teasing the upcoming Ligero/Conners match, with Conners grabbing a chair from the merchandise stand and throwing it in Ligero’s face, as “it’s what you’ll need to beat me”. Ligero refuses to use the chair, and instead flips him off as the match gets underway. Brian Cage was tagged in early, leading to some double teaming as Cage wheelbarrowed Ligero onto the champion. Cage continued with a series of corner lariats to Conners, before a stalling, one-armed suplex took Conners down for a two-count.

Conners blind-tags out to HC Dyer, who took a couple of armdrags and hiptosses from Cage, before we almost got a Sabu moment as Dyer barely rotated on a back body drop and scrambled to take the move as a flapjack. That was scary… Conners rushed in to buy Dyer some time, as Dyer took several goes to take a clothesline over the top and to the floor by Cage. Dyer took a back suplex onto the apron as he and Cage worked around the building, whilst Conners and Ligero exchanged chops by the ring. We got a rather unique split-screen view as Southside tried to show us all of the action – which is something indy groups need to do more of if they’re going to book matches that’ll have two things going on at once – although it did show us Ligero getting tossed into some chairs as Dyer recovered to throw Cage into the merch table.

The pictures-in-picture view continued as Cage and Dyer exchanged uppercuts, ending with a Cage suplex on the floor, whilst Conners got thrown into a chair as well. Conners and Ligero fought in the crowd, with Ligero doing a lap around the ring as a set-up for a leaping senton into a seated Conners.

Elsewhere, Cage was rammed into the wall by Dyer repeatedly, whilst Ligero took a backdrop suplex on the apron. Yeah, I have a feeling this should have been billed as a no-DQ match, as this one should have been a double count-out a long time ago! Ligero dropped Conners face-first through a table as the action went backstage… with the camera following it, to the surprise of a warming up Kay Lee Ray.

We eventually returned to a single-picture view as Ligero threw Conners into the ring, but a Mexican wave splash was aborted, before Conners got a release suplex on Ligero for just a two-count. Cage and Dyer finally returned to ringside as this once again resembled a tag match, with Cage saving Ligero from the Trophy Kill and instead decks Dyer with a backbreaker and a swinging neckbreaker combination. The former Righteous Army members end up in an impressive sequence as Cage places Dyer into a Fireman’s carry on Conners, before giving the pair a German suplex. Yeah, it may have looked a little contrived, but you can’t deny how impressive that looked.

Cage sets up Conners for a superplex, but Dyer made the save with a powerbomb out of the corner for a near-fall as Ligero broke up the cover. Ligero throws Dyer to the outside, before blocking a stomp from Conners, only for Dyer to return and set up Ligero for a Doomsday Device. Ligero wriggles free and shoves Dyer into his partner, and then succeeds with a superplex… holding on and adding an Ace crusher after landing, only for Dyer to make another save.

Dyer kicks Ligero away from a C4L attempt, before Cage comes in with a boot to the head. A discus clothesline from Cage is ducked as Conners gets one of his own, before a crucifix bucklebomb dazes Ligero. There’s more back and forth, but Ligero pulls out a Cody Rhodes Disaster Kick as all four men crash to the mat.

Dyer – who was repeatedly called by his old name on commentary – tried unsuccessfully for a Blue Thunder Bomb on Ligero, who then fell into a slingshot DDT from Conners. Cage rushed in with an F5 to Conners, before Dyer’s German suplex on Cage earned him an immediately discus lariat from the monstrous Californian. Conners reached for his title belt from the corner and targeted Ligero… but a superkick cut it off, as Ligero connected with a C4L on Dyer.

Cage dropped Dyer with a sit-out pumphandle facebuster, before a Mexican Wave from Ligero on Dyer completed the win. This started out a little sloppy, with Dyer in particular looking shaky, but they recovered from that and managed to turn this into quite a decent brawl. ***

Alex Windsor & Kay Lee Ray vs. Nixon Newell & Melina
Thanks to the order we’ve reviewed this Southside weekender, this was actually Melina’s first match – of any sort – in almost a year, and only her 14th since leaving WWE in 2011, despite the Southside crew’s attempt to paint this as her first time “in a physical ring” since leaving WWE.

We start with Newell and Windsor, but Nixon immediately teases tagging out to Melina… but Windsor attacks Nixon from behind before she can make the tag out. Newell’s cornered by the heels, with Windsor working over her with forearms in the corner, before Newell makes a comeback with a series of kicks to Ray. Newell takes Ray into the corner and lands a leaping elbow, before a snapmare and a kick to the back earned Nixon a near-fall. Melina gets the tag in and launches into Ray, before a takedown and a curb stomp sent the champion scurrying for a tag… but Alex Windsor got more of the same, including a pair of dropkicks into the corner.

Melina Matrix’s away from a Windsor clothesline, before a hair-assisted facebuster gets her a near-fall. Kay Lee tries to sneak attack Melina, but that distraction leads to Windsor knocking the former WWE Women’s champion down, before the heels combine with a pair of PKs to Melina’s front and back. Ray and Windsor land a double suplex on Melina for a near-fall, as Windsor seemed to struggle with the concept of a tag, with referee Joel Allen repeatedly admonishing her. Melina countered a second double suplex into a DDT, before tagging in Newell, who cleaned house with a series of forearms. A Shining Wizard knocked down Windsor, but Kay Lee ran in with a savate kick as all four women took turns to lay into each other with kicks in the ring.

Eventually, Melina and Nixon dropped their opponents with duelling kicks, as Windsor was left in the corner to take some corner clotheslines, before a Doomsday Device-esque seated senton earned Melina a near-fall, as Kay Lee broke up the pin. Windsor hit back with a a cannonball dive off the apron to Newell, as all four women ended up on the outside, with Melina’s top rope dive making her the final entry on the floor.

The action stayed outside the ring as Nixon and Kay Lee brawled towards the merch table, and through the leisure centre, despite the protests of the referee. Alex Windsor almost knocked the bar over by drilling Melina through it, as the camera picked up Nixon Newell brawling… to the swimming pool?! Thankfully the pool was closed, because it wasn’t too long before Kay Lee took a superkick into the pool. Alex Windsor shoved Newell into there, and took a bump in there herself courtesy of a kick to the back of the head from Melina.

Melina then undid her furry ring boots and threw herself into the pool… just because… Referee Joel Allen again insisted that all four women made their way back to the ring… and he took stripped off, which made me want to bleach my eyes. Allen dived into the pool in an attempt to restore order… and splashed water in everyone’s faces. I think they broke every rule of swimming pool safety going. Eventually they left the pool, but Nixon Newell took an Irish whip into some lockers, as Melina and Windsor dragged themselves back towards the ring. We saw the sight of Alex Windsor clinging onto the commentary team, who’d gone mobile in a bid to follow the faction… they eventually ended up in the locker room, and this was ruled a no-contest.

Well, it was a fun distraction – not much in the way of wrestling, but I’m pretty sure this is the first time in a long while that a British wrestling match involved a swimming pool. Given the number of shows that used to be held in leisure centres… that’s a surprise. ***

Speed King Championship: Speed King 2016 – Final: Robbie X vs. Matt Cross vs. Bubblegum vs. Sami Callihan vs. Mark Haskins vs. Will Ospreay (c)
So, with Will Ospreay in this match, he’s got a chance of retaining his title, but he may need to pin five other men in this elimination outing. Unfortunately, by the time all of the entrances were done, we had barely 13 minutes left on the show, so this may well be an all-action rush-job.

Interestingly, they recalled his Will Ospreay came into this tournament last year… and lost the title. Will it be two years running? (If you’ve read our other Southside reports, you’ll know the answer!) Once the bell rang, we started with a trio of bicycle kicks, and yes, this was the fast-and-furious start we expected. Way too much to call, as the opening sequence ended with a trio of missed dropkicks before a six-way stand-off. Robbie X shoves everyone around, and earns five bicycle kicks as we were left with Cross and Callihan in the ring. Cross gets a springboard double stomp and a standing moonsault for a near-fall, before tripping Haskins.

Robbie X played to the crane camera by ripping at Bubblegum’s mouth in front of it, before Ospreay cartwheeled out of a ‘rana from Haskins and getting too cocky for his own good, falling into a triangle armbar. Will escaped, and connected with a dropkick as Bubblegum came in and hit a handspring roundhouse to the defending champion. Robbie X came in briefly once more, as he was low bridged by Will, who then took a massive dropkick off the apron by Bubblegum, who flew out of the ring in doing so.

Haskins faked out a dive, but connected at the second attempt, only for the rush of dives to continue, with a Space Flying Tiger Drop from Matt Cross to take out the pile on the floor. Will Ospreay snuck back into the ring and decided to add to the carnage with a springboard plancha, leaping like a dolphin before letting gravity do its job. Robbie X tried to add to the dive, but he got caught in a Tree of Woe by Callihan, and was left there as Bubblegum was set up for a superplex… which ended up coming off as Robbie X sat up and gave Callihan a German suplex to aid that superplex. A springboard forearm from Ospreay, then an OsCutter put paid to Robbie X, whose elimination ensured that he was still waiting for his first Speed King tournament win.

Matt Cross decked Ospreay and Haskins with a combo DDT/Flatliner, before Haskins returned fire… and ate a shoulder-rebound Ace crusher from Cross, who landed into the path of a double stomp from Bubblegum as Matt Cross was the second man eliminated. Bubblegum ran into Callihan in the corner and took a Samoan driver for a near-fall, but Sami quickly followed up with a package tombstone piledriver to eliminate Bubblegum, as Ospreay leapt in straight away with a corkscrew diving kick onto Callihan.

Mark Haskins shoved away Callihan as he was about to take an OsCutter, and instead dropped the defending champion into a Star Bar. Ospreay looked to hold on, but Callihan recovered and pump kicked the arm that was being stretched, forcing Will to submit – so we’re going to have a new champion, and it’ll either be Sami or Mark! The pair traded forearms on the ground and fought their way up, before Haskins decked Sami with a pump kick, only for a suplex to get turned into a package tombstone… but Haskins kicked out at two.

A clothesline from Callihan’s caught and turned into a crucifix for a near-fall, before Haskins rolled out of the corner and locked the Sharpshooter on Callihan, then leaned back all the way to force the submission. Mark Haskins wins the match, and takes the Speed King Title! ***¾

As a match, it was all-action, but this really was really hurt as it barely broke the ten minute window. I get that everyone’d already wrestled, but when you see tournaments like BOLA where guys wrestle three times in the same night – for almost an hour all told – it seemed weird to have such a prestigious tournament have a rushed final. Ignoring that though, it was good for what it was, but I’m not a fan of rushed elimination matches.

After the match, Callihan looked to hug it out with Haskins, before giving the new champion a low blow and a kick to the head, setting up a match for down the road… a match that’d have to be a long way down the road, thanks to injuries. Haskins demanded Callihan come back out… and Sami slid back into the ring as we ended with Haskins getting a receipt and a visual pin to send everyone home happy.

In short, this was a fine show with nothing close to a bad match on the card, and it was yet another enjoyable night’s wrestling for those who’d made the trip to the outskirts of Nottingham. As a group, Southside may have their detractors, but there’s no doubting that their formula works: good wrestling, with some basic storylines, held in front of a loyal fanbase… what more can you ask for?