After YouTube’s monetization policy forced WCPW to cancel their Loaded show, what was meant to be their first show of a long run in Manchester was the site of their Fight Back special.

Taped on June 2nd and released for free on YouTube a day later – causing a loss for WhatCulture, thanks to those policy changes – Fight Back promised us a last man standing match as Martin Kirby sought to regain his WCPW title… whilst we also had a tag team gauntlet match to get a shot at the titles currently held by Scott Wainwright and Will Ospreay.

We opened with Dave Bradshaw in the ring for a minute’s silence for the Manchester attacks. From there, it’s a rather jarring cut-away to the opening video which framed tonight’s show – placing the blame squarely on YouTube for forcing WCPW to change their way of doing things.

The show opened with Adam Blampied coming to the ring to give the live version of the rallying cry we just saw. I get that this show is for a cause (albeit a self-serving one), but I sure do love my wrestling shows opening with back to back lectures on the topic! Especially when it featured a death stare aimed at someone who’d claimed that they’d not been paid… There’s a call to sign the petition to YouTube to get wrestling back on the monetisation train, and then Blampied asks for a round of applause “for the respect of professional wrestling”.

The sentiment was there, but when I watched this live I had a feeling it’s not going to make one jot to the bean counters at YouTube… and indeed it did, as YouTube jumped on this show like a tonne of bricks, immediately taking down the replay due to “spam and deceptive practises”, with this nebulous phrase perhaps tripping them up: “if the main purpose of your content is to drive people away from YouTube and onto another site, it is likely to violate our spam policies.” That also blocked WCPW’s ability to livestream for the next few months, which, on the surface, could impact future events.

Adam Blampied then introduced Prince Ameen to the ring… and he’s jumped by Sha Samuels! Sha had tweeted earlier in the week about pay (or the supposed lack of it), and the two brawl around ringside as Ameen’s entrance video continued. Once they entered the ring, Ameen speared Samuels, before barely getting off a fireman’s carry slam. A Samoan drop worked at the second attempt, before Sha caught him with a spinebuster.

Ameen gets whipped with Samuels’ braces, and apparently this isn’t a match. Yet the referee’s making mannerisms like he is officiating one. The brace-assisted sleeperhold leaves Ameen out cold, and now Sha gets the microphone, telling us that his “issue with WCPW isn’t about money”. In the end, Samuels left a message for everyone, including the “YouTube presenters”, which probably would have had more gravity a year ago when WCPW first started and those sentiments were flying around!

Steve Lynskey has moved from being a referee to an MC for the night. So, where’s Stevie Aaron?

Viper vs. Kay Lee Ray
We start with a women’s match, and this time Viper’s accompanied by Bea Priestley as the “Gatekeeper” to the title had another challenger.

Kay Lee decks Bea with a forearm as she tried to interfere straight away… and it’s Ray who flew immediately with a tope to Viper on the outside as they started out hot. Bea gets in the ring and somehow that’s not a DQ, but it is a distraction that allows Viper into it, decking Kay Lee with forearms. An overhead suplex takes Ray down again for an eventual cannonball into the corner, and yet again Bea’s looking to get involved, as she puts her foot on the top rope… but Viper ends up taking it as things go awry.

That sparks a comeback for Kay Lee, quickly ending with a Viper clothesline and a back senton… but Ray somehow kicked out at two. A sliding flatliner takes down Viper, as Ray followed up with a Koji clutch, which was broken as Priestley shoved the ropes towards her bodyguard. From there, Ray’s forced to kick out from a Michinoku driver, before she chained together a Gory Bomb on Viper with a tope to Bea… leaving the path clear for a senton bomb… but Bea pulled out the referee and floored him.

A belt shot from Bea accidentally takes out Viper, before Bea’s dropped onto Viper with a Gory Bomb, and that’s enough for Kay Lee to win. Well, they went full circle with the shenanigans here, but without all that it was still a pretty decent outing. **¾

We get a replay from the Scottish World Cup qualifiers as they showed BT Gunn qualifying for the Scottish finals… but not him losing to Drew Galloway in the finals. He’ll be getting another shot to qualify at Built To Destroy after Drew left for WWE.

BT Gunn vs. Mark Davis
Gunn’s shaved off the straggly bits of his hair, so he’s got a crew-cut mohawk, which is… a look, I guess. This was Davis’ WCPW debut, after it was delayed due to bad weather in Edinburgh the prior week. Davis is from Australia, and he’s the latest in a long line of Antipodeans giving it a shot over here… but that cover of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” needs to go!

Davis launched into Gunn with a series of shoulder tackles, before nearly shocking Gunn with a sit-out powerbomb. A tope sees Davis go flying, as does a missile dropkick, but Gunn recovers and starts kicking out at Davis in front of a crowd that struggled to care it seemed. The pair exchange kicks to the head, as Gunn edged ahead with a release German suplex… but Davis popped straight back up into an airplane spin, before a diving elbow took down the Scotman.

Gunn flips out of a back suplex, before delivering a big boot, only for Davis to snap back at him with a piledriver for another near-fall. An inverted death valley driver gets another near-fall as Davis impressed, before Gunn delivered a pair of superkicks, then an OsCutter and a sheer-drop brainbuster for… another near-fall!

In the end though, a variation of the Sister Abigail out of nowhere is enough for Gunn to get the win, but Davis looked mighty impressive in his debut. Hopefully it’ll be a springboard for him to get other bookings elsewhere? ***¼

Next up is a clip of Kenny Williams’ win over Joe Hendry at those Scottish World Cup Qualifiers. So does this make him Kenny a contender for Hendry’s title? Nah, it just gets him a second chance against BT Gunn in two weeks’ time… and a match here!

Aaron Echo vs. Kenny Williams
We’ve got another debutant here, in the form of the Scotsman Echo, who’s probably just going to be cannon fodder for Kenny Williams.

Fairly simple stuff early saw Williams pratfall Echo for a near-fall, before being wise enough to stop taking one himself. Echo managed to hit a neckbreaker to get back into it, before knocking Williams to the floor as he tried to skin the cat… and that took us to some brief brawling outside the ring.

Kenny’s mind games got him back into it, as he was thrown into the ring… and rolled all the way across to the other side as he slingshotted back in with a spear, before a clothesline took Echo to the outside for a tope. A flying back elbow off the top rope almost wins it for Kenny, before he’s forced to fight back from a powerbomb to hit a hammerlock’d Flatliner, then a tiltawhirl DDT for the win. Another basic outing, but again, the lack of response from the crowd – especially for the debuting Echo – really harmed this outing. **½

After the match, BT Gunn hit the ring and superkicked Williams… and then we saw a replay from last week where Drake beat Sha Samuels with the help of a monkey wrench. This segued into him and Adam Blampied booking Drake in a hardcore match with Primate… which is next.

Hardcore Match: Drake vs. Primate
James Kennedy’s still moaning about how Primate’s “associating himself with King Ross”. Yet the fool in a crown’s only been seen with Primate once, so maybe this is just jealousy to the nth degree? Primate’s got a garbage can full of weapons, and we’re looking to jump back almost 20 years to when this was a regular theme of the Attitude era!

Primate looked at his hand as if he had a splinter in it during his entrance, and he was shocked with a modified lungblower early as Drake looked to end things before weapons could be a thing. A tope took Primate into the barriers, before he’s taken into the ringposts for some decidedly non-hardcore brawling.

Back in the ring, Drake knocks Primate into an open chair, then lands a diving knee to get him out of it, only to spend too long climbing the ropes as Primate leapt up to hit a top belly-to-belly superplex for a near-fall. Aside from a chairshot, this has been decidedly a PG-era hardcore outing, especially when we get Primate putting Drake into a bin for a baseball slide dropkick. Some chairshots to Drake in the bin earned Primate a near-fall, but Drake uses the remnants of that bin for some shots to further cut-up Primate, with a Coast to Coast dropkick sending Primate rolling to the outside.

Drake threw a chair towards Primate, who looked confused by it… but that was just an opening for Drake to use a frying pan on Primate. To no effect. Ditto with a pair of baking trays, before Primate was given a cuddly toy… which he was enamoured with so much, he fell to another monkey wrench shot.

A springboard dropkick from Drake’s cut-off by a swinging chair as things continued to swing back and forth, before Drake flipped out of a German suplex into a chair… then used it for an assisted Codebreaker for a near-fall. Just like that, Drake heads up top, but his dive is caught and turned into a spear, and Primate gets the win after one of the most pedestrian hardcore matches I can ever remember. Yet another “monster push” for Primate, but these hardcore matches are doing absolutely nothing for me. *

Adam Blampied heads out after the match whilst Drake and Primate were down licking their wounds. He’s got an announcement… we’re back to the Attitude era, as the constant booking of hardcore matches has led to a hardcore division, and a hardcore title. That woke the crowd up. They reveal Jack the Jobber with a duffel bag, which contains a new title belt: the WCPW Hardcore title.

It bears more than a passing resemblance to the old WCW Hardcore title, and it’s going to the winner of a hardcore match at Built to Destroy on June 16: Primate vs. Jimmy Havoc.

WCPW Internet Championship: Zack Gibson vs. Gabriel Kidd (c)
Zack Gibson’s NGW music is perhaps the least memorable song he’s got… and I even count his new PROGRESS theme! Kidd’s still got the Prince Ameen song, but at least he’s gained a shiny satin ring jacket!

They do the Zack Gibson promo, but the crowd’s so badly mic’d their booing is barely background noise. It led to a jump start as Gibson beat down and stomped on Kidd in the corner. The match hadn’t started, but when it did, Gibson hit a hammerlock DDT for a near-fall as James Kennedy broke his character of “not following sports” after Dave Bradshaw tried to crack a funny over a Gibson win “being the first title Anfield’s seen in some time”.

Kidd survived Gibson’s early offence and hit back with a series of strikes, then a clothesline as he threw down his shiny jacket… and missed a leap off the top rope. A Finlay roll succeeds, but Kidd missed a moonsault and left himself open for the Shankly Gates, but Kidd managed to power up into a Fireman’s carry… and eventually land a death valley driver for a near-fall.

Gibson tries to soften up the arm for the Shankly Gates again, punching away as he then ran in with the Ticket to Ride (Codebreaker) for another near-fall. The pair exchanged forearms for a spell, before Kidd edged ahead with a headbutt to the gut and a clothesline, only to block a Helter Skelter twisting brainbuster and almost win it with a La Magistral. Zack rolled to the outside for a breather, but Kidd decided to follow up with a moonsault off the turnbuckles to the outside – with Gabe’s shins coming hard across the barriers!

Back inside, Kidd hits a missile dropkick, then a moonsault as Gibson again kicked out, then targeted the arm again by throwing Kidd into the ringpost shoulder-first. A double-knee gutbuster gets Gibson another near-fall, but his insistence on going for the Shankly Gates almost cost him. In the end though, it was another of Gibson’s finishers that cost him, as a Helter Skelter was countered with a small package, as Kidd picked up another fluke – and I now wonder if we’ll see him progress into someone who can beat anyone cleanly? There’s gotta be NGW trainees in the area for these shows, no? Another decent outing, but I’m no fan of a champion winning by fluke all the time. ***¼

They replay the post-match segment with Prospect from Hendrymania, where Lucas Archer announced his impending retirement. I guess it’s gauntlet time!

Tag Team Gauntlet: Glaswegian Culture (Kid Fite & Lou King Sharp) vs. Liam Slater & Johnny Moss vs. Kings of the North (Bonesaw & Damien Corvin) vs. Polo Promotions (Jackie Polo & Mark Coffey) vs. Prospect (Lucas Archer & Alex Gracie)
The winner of this match will get the next WCPW tag title shot – once Will Ospreay’s back from Japan to reunite with Scotty Wainwright! We open with the former champions in Moss and Slater against the Scottish tandem of Fite and Sharp…

The first fall opened with Sharp running away from Moss, but Kid Fite had little luck, missing a dropkick before escaping a German suplex. Fite brings in Lou King Sharp, who leaps into a nonchalant fallaway slam, then a back body drop as Moss just tore him apart. In comes Slater, who hit a delayed Northern Lights suplex, before the Glaswegians started to isolate Slater for a while.

A double stomp from Fite to Slater gets a near-fall, but he’s finally able to bring Moss back in… who just stands as Sharp tries to punch him. In the end, Kid Fite abandoned the ring so Moss could chop away on Sharp, before a crossbody x powerbomb eliminated the Scotsmen… and brought out the debuting Kings of the North and their really close copy of their Prodigy theme!

It’s just a shame nobody on commentary actually bothered to give their names!

Moss holds down Corvin with a tie-up briefly, before the pair traded shoulder tackles as Moss hits a low dropkick… in comes Bonesaw as neither Bradshaw nor Kennedy seem to know who these guys are beyond the one-liner of “they’re making waves across Ireland!” Bonesaw flew across the ring with an overhead belly-to-belly, before a Liam Slater dropkick kept Bonesaw on the back foot.

Corvin takes a stomachbuster from Slater, before getting a near-fall over Bonesaw. A big boot from Bonesaw dropped Slater, but Johnny Moss made sure there was no count made as Bonesaw’s backbreaker got him a near-fall. Some taunting from Corvin brought Moss back inside, but Slater finally gets a dropkick “on both those two men” before bringing Moss in for some clotheslines and chops. The Kings elbow out of a double back suplex, but they take too long to follow-up as a crossbody from Slater eventually earned him a pop-up cutter.

Finally Dave Bradshaw gives a name as Bonesaw landed a spinebuster, before Corvin ran into a full nelson slam that the cameras missed, as we saw Liam Slater throw Bonesaw into the guard railings… and that’s enough for the Kings to be elimination. Poor Damien Corvin, having a whole match without a single namecheck!

Next out were Polo Promotions – Jackie Polo and Mark Coffey – as this ICW tandem looked to make waves in their debut. They started with a series of forearms on the former champions, but Moss singlehandedly overwhelms them with chops and overhead suplexes, at least until Mark Coffey pulls the referee out to stop a count. Coffey gets taken out with a Liam Slater tope, and with the referee distracted a low blow from Jackie Polo leaves Moss open for a roll-up – with the feet on the ropes – as the former champs went out. A really short “match”…

Out last were Prospect, with the Lucas Archer retirement tour starting… a double shoulder tackle set up Archer for a slingshot splash, then a Gracie elbow for just a one-count. Gracie gets down so Archer can try and dive, but Mark Coffey cuts that off and starts to work on Archer’s injured knee. The Scottish pairing keep up on Archer, with Polo wearing down Lucas with a toe hold.

Eventually he manages to bring in Alex Gracie with a hot tag, with Gracie landing a leg lariat off the middle rope onto Coffey for a near-fall, only for Polo Promotions to land a double-team back suplex to nearly win it all. The end came when Coffey went for a Fisherman’s suplex, only for Gracie to turn it into a small package as we had another banana peel finish… with Prospect getting the tag title shot in two weeks’ time! A decent string of matches, but given what was announced last week, the result was pretty much clear! ***

After the match, Polo Promotions returned to beat down Prospect, before Slater and Moss returned to make the save.

Joe Coffey vs. El Ligero vs. Dave Mastiff vs. Rampage
This number one contender’s match will determine who gets the next shot at the WCPW title… although it does raise the spectre of what happens if we get a Prestige vs. Prestige match.

It’s a regular four-way, and we start with Coffey powdering out of the ring as Mastiff and Rampage squared off. After swatting away Ligero, the two went at each other, before Joe Coffey came in to throw in some avalanches as he then missed a double-jump crossbody off the top.

Ligero tries to wind up Mastiff – and it helps as he takes down Rampage before a flying ‘rana took Big Dave to the outside… only for Coffey to return to deliver a pop-up uppercut and a superman punch to the masked man. The Travelodge room card spot backfired for Coffey, as did Ligero’s ‘rana as Mastiff caught him and threw Ligero into Coffey on the outside.

Mastiff throws Ligero down by the horns as Coffey looked to capitalise on the damage, before Rampage uranage’d his way back into it, taking down Coffey and Mastiff to leave the ring shaking. A leaping double clothesline left Rampage standing tall, but Mastiff’s Yakuza kick and clothesline turned things back around.

Ligero flips out of a German suplex from Mastiff, then throws in a Code Red to pick up a two-count on the one-time King of Banter. A modified Giant Swing into a facebuster gets Coffey a two-count of his own on Ligero, before the three big guys tried for a Tower of Doom, leaving Coffey in prime place for a Mexican Wave splash to leave everyone on the mat.

The parade of moves continues as Mastiff waffles Ligero with another Yakuza kick, before eventually taking a C4L, then a Mexican Wave… but Rampage breaks up the count and piledrives Ligero to steal the pin and become the number one contender. A decent four-way – with plenty of interaction between the big lads’… but perhaps this telegraphs the result of our main event? ***½

Last Man Standing for WCPW World Championship: Martin Kirby vs. Joe Hendry (c)
They added a stipulation to this, where if anyone in the Prestige came in to help Joe Hendry, he’d lose his title. Hendry tried to back out of the match, saying he’d already beaten Kirby twice, before offering a reward to anyone in the back who could “fix this problem”.

Out comes Dave Mastiff to apparently solve things and join the Prestige. That’s just a distraction as Joe Coffey and BT Gunn hit the ring, as Hendry uses the loophole of “the match doesn’t start until he hits the ring” to try and avoid the title stripping rule. Out comes Adam Blampied again, who brings out the cavalry in the form of Ligero, Primate and Rampage to clear the ring.

Martin Kirby flips into the pile who were fighting in the crowd, and after Kirby drills a shoe into Hendry, he’s thrown into the ring… and finally we’re underway! A drop toe hold starts our first ten-count of the match, which Hendry beats… so they head into the entrance way as Kirby hunts for the pinky-red steel chair, which of course, Hendry uses on him. “The Prestigious One” does his best impression of EVIL as he puts the chair on Kirby, then throws him into the ring post, before grabbing a pair of scissors to remove the turnbuckle padding.

They’re back outside as Kirby gets Irish whipped through the guard railings, before he’s dragged back into the ring as a neckbreaker saw Hendry look for the ten count. Kirby gets up… into a DDT as Hendry looked to capitalise on the recent concussion, following up with a Freak of Nature fallaway slam that kept Kirby down for a count of seven.

Hendry calls back to the way he beat Kirby for the belt, but that Tree of Woe ended with Kirby sitting up and landing a Stunner as Hendry tried to pull him out of the corner. A Slingblade takes down Hendry, but Kirby found himself acquainted with a chair that’d been wedged in the turnbuckles. Kirby accidentally superkicked the referee as Hendry pulled the official into harm’s danger, and all of a sudden we see Coffey and Rampage entering the stage… shouldn’t that be an instant DQ and title loss? Where’s the GM to enforce his ruling?!

It seems that it needs a referee to make the call, but it seemed to backfire as Coffey accidentally levelled Hendry with a Black Coffey before Rampage added a piledriver as everyone else brawled to the back. This leads to Kirby setting up for a Zoidberg elbow, but a low blow from Hendry stopped that in its paces.

They find a pile of chairs handily placed under the ring, and they quickly get thrown inside as chairs cover the better part of the canvas… somebody watched that ECW moment, didn’t they? Wrestling Logic rears its ugly head as Kirby’s attempt at a moonsault to the floor ended with him getting pushed into the pile of chairs, but somehow Kirby beat the standing ten count.

Hendry teases suplexing Kirby through some opened chairs, but in the end Kirby escapes and lands an enziguiri, before threatening to deliver a Sable Bomb onto those chairs. Instead, Hendry lands a back suplex to wreck a chair, only for Kirby to beat that ten count and slingshot the champion into the exposed turnbuckle.

Another Sable Bomb attempt succeeds, as Kirby again calls for the Zoidberg Elbow, but Hendry gets to his knees to avoid it. He begs off as Kirby wielded a chair, but to no avail as Hendry took the shot, but now Dave Mastiff and El Ligero come out as Dave looked to make the save. Mastiff slips on the floor but recovers to throw Ligero into the barriers, then into the ring, where he grabbed a chair…

And nailed Kirby in the head! El Ligero’s gone bad! A C4L onto a chair keeps Kirby down, before he offers a hand to Hendry – who gladly accepts as that ensured he beat the ten-count and retained the title! That was a fun main event, with a really unexpected twist at the end of it as El Ligero – wrestling’s perennial good guy (except for that run in PROGRESS) revealed that his true colours were in the form of a Prestige shirt stuffed in his knee pad! Now, where does the Prestige go with their latest, mute member, and can that help Joe Hendry retain against Rampage in two weeks? ****

The show quickly faded to black as another decent show was quickly overshadowed after the conclusion of the “as live” airing. WCPW posted the full show for on-demand viewing, but this was almost instantly taken down by YouTube, sparking an even-bigger backlash. Sure, trolling YouTube as they did perhaps wasn’t a smart move, especially as it may exacerbate the monetisation issues that have already forced WCPW to move away from the WWE-esque “weekly show plus big event” format.

WCPW returns in around a fortnight with their second annual “Built To Destroy” show, but it’ll not be until after the Pro Wrestling World Cup wraps up in August where we’ll find out where the regular product goes from here.