It’s unlucky thirteen for the UWA… or is it? They finally moved locations for their latest TV tapings, featuring a UWA title match between Doug Williams and Drew McDonald.

The show opens outdoors, for once, with Steve Lynskey and his infamously-bad American accent in front of a rollercoaster. Apparently we’ll be looking at the next UWA champion, and I’m thinking there’s a fair chunk missing from this promo!

After Dan Berlinka previews the upcoming show, we’re taken to a replay that hideous chair shot from two weeks ago from the Stevie Knight/Phil Powers match. We’re shown Knight and the UWA’s Sorcha backstage – and quite logically, Knight and Cabrero raise the prospect of special referee Paul Sloan not being impartial. Knight wants this to be a no-DQ match, but we hear nothing from Sorcha either way.

Oh God, it’s another Phil Powers promo. We’re taken to the ring, and at least in the new arena we’ve got the blue and red stripes going horizontally. Ross Gordon is back on commentary, which makes me happy, although the minimal crowd reactions for Phil Powers during his entrance.

He’s got a new title belt, and Powers quickly tells us the obvious: he’s the champion, and offers a fight “right now” if Knight thinks he’s the champion. Another fired-up yet bland-as-all-hell promo from Powers, who I swear was a prototype of John Cena. Knight makes an appearance, walking past oodles of empty seats… and once he enters the ring, he’s quickly backdropped out of it.

Kerry Cabrero runs in and tries to give Powers the Flatliner, but it’s turned into a pinning hurricanrana, as Paul Sloan runs in to make the count. What the hell was I watching? It wasn’t a match, so why did Sloan come out? Did he need to learn how to count to three?

Ross Gordon links to comments from Sorcha – instead of Dan, for a change – and we learn through a very stilted promo that the no-DQ match has been rejected… but they will make it so that a title change can occur via disqualification. I’m guessing at this point, Mick McManus had long since severed ties with the group, since he’s not been seen in weeks?

Justin Richards vs. Danny Royal
They go to the corner from the opening lock-up, before Royal grounds him with a hammerlock. It’s reversed back and forth, with Royal turning it into a slam, before Richards dropkicks him into the corner.

A springboard elbow out of the corner sees Richards get some offence… which is quickly stopped via a big boot. Royal decks Richards with a tiltawhirl slam, before a crash-landing suplex and a straight-forward press slam takes Richards to the mat. Royal gets a slow-motion Fisherman’s suplex, then a Blue Thunder Bomb, but he doesn’t go for a cover.

Instead, Royal picks up Richards for the “Beef Bomb” – a full nelson slam – and that’s enough for the win. Short and sweet, but my word, they cut away from that as soon as the bell rang. We’re back to the “to the back!” moments, I see! **

After a commercial break (with the obligatory Dan Berlinka link), we’re back to the ring, as Alex Shane and Leon Murphy are in action. Without either of their first names. Shane gets the microphone, and declares his annoyance at wrestling every week without getting a tag title shot. Would that be because you aren’t a winner?

The audio here is awful, but then again, most of the in-ring audio has been in the UWA. Shane’s looking for a new tag-team name, and he comes up with one – Double Impact. Admittedly, but blatantly ripped from a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie. Shane then rips into Leon Murphy for his physique, and presents him with a “pair of PVC pants”… Murphy throws them down as Shane mutters something about “goddamn respect”. Because he’s a heel, and all heels here apparently don’t have enough respect.

Double Impact (Alex Shane & Leon Murphy) vs. The Death Squad (Duke Lynch & Mark Myers)
They show footage from “last week” where Jody Flash & Big Papa T won the tag titles. You sure about that? We then see some footage that was really from “last week” where Flash and Papa lost the tag titles to 2 Far Gone. Mark Myers gives Shane & Murphy another tag team name – Dumb & Dumber. Duke Lynch then brings up the story where they were putting their bike on the line, and apparently fire regulations meant they couldn’t bring it to ringside… so instead, we have the keys and the paperwork to the bike on the line instead.

Myers starts with an armbar on Murphy, which gets reversed, but Murphy gets taken down and has a leg dropped across his arm. Murphy punches Myers, which allows him to tag out to Alex Shane… who immediately begs off of Duke Lynch.

Lynch throws Shane’s head into the mat, before a clothesline and an uppercut sends Shane into the ropes. Murphy attacks Lynch from behind, which allows Shane to hit an enziguiri, then an elbow off the middle rope. Shane and Murphy combine for a double suplex for a near-fall, before the camera quickly cuts away from Murphy struggling to slam Lynch.

They blatantly shill some live events without telling us where they were, as Murphy whips Lynch into the corner. A legdrop from Alex Shane, a Vader Bomb, then a top rope splash from Shane gets a near-fall as they plugged the UWA Hotline. Jesus, where’s Mean Gene in all of this?!

The Tiny Girl who is there leaps on the apron for a distraction, and of course, Shane falls for it as he’s taken down with a tombstone piledriver, before the Sheffield Hammer gets the win. Leon Murphy didn’t even try to make the save for that, or the post-match powerbomb from Myers… and why do all tag teams in the UWA not try and save their partners when they’re about to lose?! Decent match, but again, there’s a lot of guys in this group who were nowhere near ready for TV exposure. **¼

There’s an obvious jump cut from Myers’ post-match promo to Shane and Murphy in the ring, where the pair argue, ending with Murphy shoving Shane into the corner. Which is totally not sold by the commentary team.

We’re taken backstage to Paul Tyrell and Steve Morocco who are talking about someone called Dane Erikson? Standard heel stuff because they complain about a lack of respect, and it’s a way to build up some newbie, I guess.

After a commercial, Ross Gordon tells us that the next live event “will be in the area of the M25” and will be a “homecoming of sorts”. All whilst “The Viking” comes to the ring. I’m guessing this is “that Dane, Erikson”?

The Viking vs. Paul Tyrell
For some reason, they throw in here that Tyrell used to be a former tag team partner of Phil Powers. Oh God, not only is Powers the British John Cena (some six years before his time), but he’s also Poochie!

The Viking works over Tyrell’s left arm early, but it’s easily reversed back and forth. Viking hotshots Tyrell over the top rope, but he falls to a dropkick after returning to the ring. Tyrell slams the Viking, then climbs the ropes for a missile dropkick, before Steve Morocco interjects himself for the sake of it.

Viking makes a comeback with a pendulum backbreaker, and stays on top of the tag team champion with a jawbreaker. Tyrell fights back and shoves down the Viking, who ends up outside where Morocco throws him into the crowd barriers. Back in the ring, Viking gets lifted onto the top rope, as a top rope rana gets the win for Tyrell. I could take it or leave it, but what on earth is a heel doing winning with a flashy (for 1999) move?! **¼

We’re back to Dan in the studio who pitches to a brief segment with Doug Williams, who threatens to beat Drew McDonald like a dog.

UWA Championship: Drew McDonald vs. Doug Williams (c)
McDonald easily shoves down Williams at the bell, before Doug successfully resists McDonald briefly with a headlock. Williams back body drops McDonald for an early near-fall, before Doug falls back during a bodyslam attempt and nearly gets pinned as we go to a break.

We return to see McDonald throwing Williams to the outside as they fought around ringside. Williams surprises the challenger with a suplex on the entrance ramp, but McDonald pops back up and goes back to a hammerlock in the ring, which Williams flips out of, before a cross body sends both men over the top rope and to the floor.

Williams tries a leaping ‘rana off the apron, but he’s caught and powerbombed on the floor, which somehow makes Ross Gordon go into a fit of rage because the match continued. Williams gets thrown across the timekeeper’s table, and somewhere in this, McDonald got a cut to his nose, as blood was streaming from there.

They return to the ring, where Doug takes a side slam for a two-count, before McDonald locks in a camel clutch on the champion. McDonald moves to an armbar, before he scoops up Williams and lands a tombstone piledriver, which gets Steve Morgan to utter “here comes the pain” long before Tazz had even heard of a Brock Lesnar!

McDonald slams Williams to the mat again, then he goes up top – but Williams catches him and brings him down with a superplex for a near-fall. Williams then hits a bridging German suplex, but Steve Lynskey pulls Doug’s leg out to stop the pin.

In the midst of this, Lynskey removes the turnbuckle cover, but McDonald just powerbombs Williams instead of using it. Out comes Danny Royal as Lynskey’s still distracting the referee (and earning a “worst manager” award for missing his man getting attacked!). Royal whips McDonald into the exposed corner, then slams him as Williams hits a Quebrada for the win. ***

A bit of a wonky finish, but a lot of this is down to what I’d call inexperienced referees… Lynskey and McDonald just went straight to the back, without arguing, as they replayed the finish. Doug Williams shrugs off the help that Royal had given him, and then declares that “Anarchy is going to rule the UWA” as the show wrapped up.

This first show from the Blackpool tapings certainly felt fresh. They ditched the “clearly filmed elsewhere” live event updates with Paul Martin, and instead inserted those plugs into commentary.

We also had a noticeable reduction in the number of in-studio links from Dan “The Linker” Berlinka, which made this feel more like a WWE/WCW-style show, and less of a World-of-Sport clone (a format which after twelve episodes, was getting predictable and tired), whilst he return of Ross Gordon to commentary seemed to be hit-and-miss from times. Gordon did add an air of credibility to things, he veered into hype-man territory from time to time, like a mixture of Jim Ross and Gene Okerlund – which didn’t work at points.

All-in, this felt like a new product after the last month’s worth of tired, by-the-numbers shows. A thumbs up from me, even if the in-ring was limited…