WhatCulture Pro Wrestling kicked off their new year with a YouTube-special – in the form of KirbyMania.

Not to be confused with the Southside show from 2016 with the same name, this show was based around celebrating Martin Kirby’s first show as the storyline GM of WCPW; having unseated Adam Pacitti on the group’s final TV show of 2016. Going in, only three matched had been announced: Marty Scurll vs. Gabriel Kidd, Zack Sabre Jr. taking on Cody (Redacted) for the WCPW Internet title, and Lana Austin vs. Ivelisse.

A note before this review – all of this was written as the show took place, based off of the live YouTube feed that I was, at times, fighting against. By the end, this show did have some good points, but by the end, a run of overbooked matches and technical issues had soured me on this big time. So if you’re into star ratings, or think this is a review for the sake of being a contrarian (or whatever this week’s buzzword is), take a pinch of salt with it!

A stupidly loud music video chronicles the fall of Adam Pacitti and the rise of Martin Kirby to power… I’m not going to lie, it was a good video, except it meandered all over the place in terms of timeline. This would be a familiar story by the end of the night…

Martin Kirby comes out first in a pink suit, and although the on-screen logo is pink, as are the ropes, they still had red guard rail logos. He’s quickly interrupted by Bully Ray, who gets heel heat by bursting a pink balloon. Bully tells Kirby that he doesn’t take orders from someone in a pink suit, and he’s making this show BullyMania.

Bully wants a title shot, but before Kirby can reply, Drew Galloway comes out… and Dave Bradshaw tells us that Galloway vs. Bully Ray is on next week’s Lights Out special. So why is Bully moaning? Galloway says that everyone’s put up with Bully’s overbearing, obnoxious voice, before saying that breaking his neck and recovering in 2 months proves his toughness… Bully drops a reference to TNA, before saying that Drew couldn’t hack it in WWE. That angers Galloway, and they go head-to-head, before Kirby gets shoved down by an angry Drew. The Swords of Essex come down to interrupt Kirby again, and this turns into a 3-on-2… before Slater and Moss make the save. There’s your main event: Bully Ray and the Swords vs. Drew Galloway, Liam Slater & Johnny Moss.

Either the volumes are all over the place here, or we have one dead crowd in Liverpool tonight.

Joe Hendry vs. Drake
Hendry is a little angry that he’s not able to get a one-on-one shot at the WCPW title… so he’s going to win matches to earn the shot. His opponent here tonight: Drake. At least he’s got James Kennedy by his side…

Hendry takes Drake to the corner with uppercuts at the bell, and it’s all one-sided until Hendry hits the Freak of Nature slam… but Joseph Conners comes into the ring in a hoodie and attacks Hendry from behind. Drake exits sharply, and they play it WCW style by saying Conners “has signed a contract somewhere else”. Basic match, but not much to it. *

Conners threatens to end Joe Hendry tonight in a No Holds Barred match. Now the crowd react! I bet Hendry wins to send Conners out of the territory… Cue speculation that Mark Andrews is replacing Joseph Conners in WWE UK with all this.

Prospect are backstage watching the Orlando promo video. Then the screen goes black. The picture returns as they’re mad they weren’t on the video. Again, the sound is badly low, so I can’t hear half of this… and we go to Gabriel Kidd and Prince Ameen. Ameen is giving Kidd a massage, and he present Gabe with some new gear.

Marty Scurll vs. Gabriel Kidd
Scurll’s using his old, non-ROH theme here… again, we have a dead crowd as Kidd starts with headlocks and wristlocks. They square off, as Kidd slaps Scurll and lands a big boot to knock down the ROH TV champion.

Scurll takes Kidd to the outside and lands an apron superkick, before trolling the fans by asking them to move. They take a while to, but eventually Scurll throws Kidd back into the ring… a spot that’d be more effective had wrestlers been thrown into the crowd regularly before. They trade forearms and chops in the ring, before Scurll rakes the eyes of Kidd, which finally gets a chant out of the crowd. Scurll misses as he slingshots out of the ring, and lands on the apron then the floor, before getting back to the ring to take an uppercut from Kidd. After being whipped into the corner, Kidd rebounds and knocks down Scurll with a clothesline, before hitting a Yakuza kick in the corner.

Kidd tries for a reverse DDT, but Scurll rolls through for a near-fall and we start getting chops from the Villain. A Finlay roll and a middle rope moonsault gets Kidd a two-count as he keeps trying to cause the shock. The Villain crotches Kidd on the top rope then goes for a superplex… which he lands, but Kidd rolls up on impact and gets another shock two-count.

More chops from Scurll knock Kidd into the ropes, before a Just Kidding superkick knocks the youngster down… but Kidd pops up for a death valley driver, and a lifting reverse DDT for another two-count. Kidd and Scurll trade clothesline and elbows, before a second Just Kidding is caught and turned into a DDT for yet another Kidd near-fall.

Marty goes for the finger snap – which we barely hear – before a powerbomb and a superkick gets Scurll a two-count… and now the crowd’s starting to react again. From there, Marty goes for the chicken wing, but Kidd flips back and gets a near-fall from an out-of-position referee. Another Finlay roll is followed up by a missed moonsault, which leads to yet another chicken wing, and Kidd finally taps. A decent match, not helped by a horrible/horribly-mic’d crowd. ***

We go backstage again for a silent (at first) segment with James Kennedy giving Drake a massage. The sound is still way too low as Prospect enter the room and ask if they’re going to Orlando… they’re not, and Prospect don’t take it too well. I assume other stuff was said, but I’m not getting into a race between their sound levels and my speakers to hear what’s going on.

Another backstage segment is a little louder now, as Joe Hendry replies to Joseph Conners’ challenge. Hendry says that he’ll kill Conners’ presence in WCPW once and for all… hint, hint!

Scott Wainwright, Paul Robinson and Bea Priestley come out now – Bea’s got Nixon Newell’s WCPW Women’s title… but Nixon’s in Japan, so… yeah. They’d be going on commentary if they had headsets, so we’ve got our women’s match next?

Lana Austin vs. Ivelisse
Austin lost to Bea Priestley on an episode of Reloaded (one of the off-cuts from Loaded tapings). The crowd boos as the referee doesn’t feel Lana’s backside before the match… what the hell?

Austin starts with a wristlock on Ivelisse… in front of a silent crowd. Yep, this is a theme. Some polite applause as Ivelisse reverses it and sends Austin into the corner, but she recovers with a backslide for a near-fall. Sunset flip gets Austin a two-count, before Ivelisse replies with a series of rolling suplexes, ending with a Fisherman’s suplex for a near-fall.

Ivelisse kicks away at Austin, before a snapmare gets a near-fall, followed by a rolling headlock that is turned into a guillotine… but yeah, that’s getting a rope break. Sorry if this report sounds bored, but even the Japanese crowds make more noise than this – and that’s because their silence is respectful!

Ivelisse grounds Austin and grabs a Cloverleaf, but Lana crawls towards the ropes and grabs a break. Austin comes back with a Russian legsweep as the crowd makes a little murmur, before both women engage in a chop battle. A series of clotheslines drop Ivelisse, as Austin goes up for a crossbody and gets a two-count.

Lana takes some clotheslines and big boots next, and that seems to have been the signal for Bea Priestley to leave. She goes to the aisle and motions to the ring, but that distraction easily fools Ivelisse, and Lana gets a two-count from a schoolboy, just before a kick from Ivelisse gets her the win. A decent match, not helped by a horrid crowd and horrid, sub-Jerry Lawler-on-Divas-matches commentary. **½

We get a video package now… something on January 23rd. A new character?

Ben Potter’s backstage with Travis Banks… he asks Travis how Pete Dunne’s departure from WCPW will affect his career. Banks says that before Pete Dunne, he was an eight-year, well-travelled veteran, and he doesn’t need Pete.

Another pre-tape fails as we see footage of Stevie Aaron in an empty ring, then shots of a confused and poorly-lit Dave Bradshaw. We then see him again with no sound, and I guess we missed a promo from Joe Coffey? You’d think these guys haven’t produced a live show before…

Travis Banks vs. Joe Coffey
Hey, this match should be good if they get time!

Banks takes down Coffey at the bell, before the Scotsman grabs a wristlock… only to be tripped by a log roll by Banks, who then gets a La Magistral for a near-fall. Coffey hits a front facelock giant swing, then a double underhook suplex as Doug Williams made his way to ringside.

Coffey takes down Banks for some chops, but the Kiwi returns the favour, before taking a series of uppercuts. A roundhouse kick knocks down Coffey, who recovers and hits a wheelbarrow giant swing, only for Banks to roll him up for a near-fall. More uppercuts and headbutts from Coffey get cut off by a reverse legsweep from Banks, who then capitalised on a slip-up from a crossbody to score a near-fall.

Coffey headbutts Banks on the top rope and shoves him down, before succeeding with a missile dropkick for a near-fall. Banks misses his roundhouse out of the corner, but dropkicks Coffey and follows in with a cannonball as Coffey heads to the outside… where Banks joins him for a tope that nearly broke the guard railings.

An uppercut in the corner gets Coffey back on top, as he then brings Banks into the ring with a deadlift superplex for a near-fall. Banks lands a lariat to counter the Black Coffey for a near-fall, only to leap into another uppercut from Coffey. One Black Coffey later, and Joe wins a match that’s had the most reaction all night. Solid work, shame about the crowd. ***¼

Doug Williams walked out pretty much instantly after the match… so was he looking at Joe or Travis?

Backstage again and we see Drake watching a video of him hitting a middle rope lungblower from someone. Prospect walk in and there’s no sound. Then we get horrible sound, and I have no idea what just happened.

Another horridly-mic’d backstage segment comes next with James R. Kennedy walking into Martin Kirby’s office. We have low sound here, and again, I have no idea what’s going on. Apparently Kennedy was begging for a Prospect showcase here, but that’s the limit of what I could make at low volume… but hey, at least we know what the WiFi password is at the Liverpool Olympia! Now Dave Bradshaw booms over the silent backstage segment. It’s Martin Kirby and someone unknown vs. Prospect next.

Prospect (Alex Gracie & Lucas Archer) vs. Martin Kirby & El Ligero
Kirby comes out in his trunks and a pink tie, and acknowledges the technical issues. He blames Adam Pacitti for them. Pacitti comes out with a new theme song, as “Adam Parmesan”, dressed as a lump of parmesan cheese, handing out glow sticks. Okay, I popped.

Kirby then asks the fans to throw the glowsticks at Pacitti… so we get that spot again, but little reaction as he scarpers to the back. The ring fills with glowsticks as Kirby asks who his tag team partner is… shouldn’t the GM know? It’s El Ligero!

Kirby’s unhappy with his partner, but he and Ligero try and hug it out, only for Prospect to jump them. Gracie misses a corner charge on Ligero, who replies with a dropkick to the head. A double senton from Kirby and Ligero follows, as the feed cut out when Kirby went for a figure four.

My feed returns to see Kirby do the hanging vertical suplex and an eye poke… and my feed craps out again (thanks Chromecast!). It returns as Jack The Jobber comes out to answer a phone call. Kirby answers a call supposedly from Jennifer Aniston, as the mobile phone was microphone’d better than anything else in the entire show!

Kirby hangs up as Ligero takes a double back elbow, before Lucas Archer tries for the Worm. In 2017. The crowd actually popped for that, but of course, Archer misses. Ligero finally tags out as he drops Prospect with clotheslines and Slingblades. We get an accidental slingshot as Archer was sent into Gracie’s groin, and Jack The Jobber comes out with some post.

Kirby has a poster in the mail – and it’s a Sable poster… but James Kennedy comes in and rips it up. Kirby tags out to Ligero so he can chase after Kennedy, but Prospect still find a way to screw up as Ligero hits a lucha-style roll-up on Archer for a two-count. Ligero then goes up top, but misses as he falls into the path of Prospect’s Flatliner/STO combo for the pin. Which was greeted with utter silence. Massively overbooked tripe, with a wrestling match buried somewhere in there. ¾*

Looks like they’ve ditched backstage stuff now, as we’re straight into the next match!

WCPW Internet Championship: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Cody Rhodes (c)
They mixed the Bullet Club theme into Cody’s indy theme… something not even New Japan did.

Finally the crowd properly wakes up to chant for Cody and Zack, who starts by taking Cody down with a wristlock, which gets reversed as they try and wrestle Sabre’s style of match. Cody takes down Sabre with a shoulder block, before Sabre manipulates the former Intercontinental champion into an Octopus hold for a split second. I’m not looking up the long name for that amount of time!

Cody busts out a Gory Special on Sabre, but Zack rolls out into a pinning attempt to get a near-fall. Sabre works an Indian deathlock on Rhodes, before grinding his elbow into Cody’s thigh, and finally bridges back to increase the pressure on the joint. Eventually Cody gets the ropes and rolls to the floor, where Cody picks up enough steam to Too Sweet a few fans.

Back inside, Sabre works over Rhodes’ wrist and ties him up with a hammerlock in the ropes, then wrenches back with a scissored armbar that looked nasty – but drew little response. Another double armbar from Sabre adds the pain to Rhodes, who’s rolled back for another near-fall and some polite applause.

Seconds after that, Cody comes back with some jabs, but Sabre again targets the arm and sends Cody into the corner… but he avoids a charge and hits a sunset flip for a near-fall. A wonky-looking Side Effect follows, before a missed PK sees Cody go for a spinning Alabama Slam… but Sabre works free into a Guillotine, then another armbar.

Rhodes somehow works free of that and drapes Sabre onto the top rope for a draping DDT. Sabre bounces back with a prawn hold for two, then a half-and-half suplex for two, before a PK gets another near-fall over Cody. More PK-like kicks rocked Cody, but he stood tall, before catching another and turning it into a Figure Four. Cody wrenches back on the Figure Four, before finally relinquishing the hold.

Cody goes for it again, but Sabre catches him in another arm bar, then a cross armbreaker, but Cody rolls up Zack for another near-fall. A superkick drops Sabre, but he recovers to counter a Cross Rhodes into a rolling prawn hold for another near-fall, but Cody kicks out and hits it anyway for the pin. The jet-lag from the Japan flight and a silent crowd didn’t help, but this has to have been on the lower end of Sabre’s recent work. The bloom is well off the Cody rose by this point… **

Next week on WCPW Lights Out, it’s Cody vs. Ricochet for the Internet title. Surely that has to be better with Cody having something resembling a decent night’s sleep between matches (and no flights from Japan!)

Cody gets the microphone after the match, and tells the crowd that he’s been on a 17 hour flight from Japan to wrestle here. He calls himself not a WCPW regular, but a WCPW champion. He leaves with a request: an alcoholic drink… and now my feed freezes again! Cody toasts Kirbymania and the Liverpool fans.

No backstage segment, and we’re going to our “main event” six-man tag.

Bully Ray & Swords of Essex (Paul Robinson & Scott Wainwright) vs. Drew Galloway, Johnny Moss & Liam Slater
Bully gets pelted with glow sticks and a Coke can as he took shots at the crowd. Cue “we want D-Von” chants, then “Gillberg” chants for Paul Robinson, which they acknowledged on commentary.

Robinson and Galloway got us underway, but Galloway ragdolled Robinson with ease. Wainwright gets the same treatment via a big boot, before Bully Ray refused to tag in… to the point where he walked up to the stage and burst some balloons. Bully comes in against Slater, who had no answer for a bunch of crossface punches from Bully, before Johnny Moss comes in and we get even more stalling.

Moss reacts to some chops from Bully Ray by firing back with some more chops in kind, only to be knocked down by the former TNA champion. The other former TNA champion in this match, Galloway, came in but found himself cornered by the Swords, as some double-teaming gave way to a chinlock from Wainwright. Robinson came in, but was chopped to the ground by a kneeling Galloway… and then Moss came in to send the Swords flying with overhead belly-to-bellies. Slater’s double crossbody takes down the Swords, but his top rope headbutt’s cut-off as Bully crotches him on the top strand.

Bully, erm, bullied Slater some more, before Wainwright takes over, then Robinson for some more violent stuff that earns him a “Gillberg” chant. All of this seems to bust Slater’s nose, and he makes a hot tag out as Galloway comes in to clean house on the Swords. Robinson takes a Last Ride powerbomb, but Wainwright resisted and ended up taking a blind tag to Bully Ray… who was immediately taken to the corner by Galloway.

A Futureshock DDT is avoided, but Galloway comes back with a big boot for a near-fall on Bully. Robinson bumps around like a madman again, as Johnny Moss gives a German suplex to Wainwright… before Robinson and Wainwright team-up for an assisted back-cracker.

Slater and Robinson whiff on a double dropkick, before Moss gives both of the Swords a double back suplex. Slater follows up with a swandive headbutt to Robinson, before missing a tornillo to Wainwright outside. The camera misses Bully Ray using a chain, and Robinson gets the pin on Moss. That was abysmal. No faulting the effort of these guys, but this was a plodding, drawn-out mess. Like Bully’s theme. ½*

No Holds Barred: Joseph Conners vs. Joe Hendry
Conners went straight at Hendry as he made his entrance, as the match started on the stage. They head to ringside where Conners chops Hendry by the crowd barriers, before a suplex is reversed by the “Local Hero”.

Conners turns things around by throwing Hendry into the barriers again, but again Hendry switched things up with some more chops and then a running big boot as Conners was knocked out of a chair. The tide turns yet again when Hendry’s crotched on the guard rails, and now we get “you sold out” chants towards Conners. This isn’t quite Goldberg/Lesnar from WrestleMania XX heat… but at least this match is better.

They enter the ring and the bell finally rings, so those last two paragraphs were superfluous. Hendry takes the upper hand as he lands a superplex, then a second one, before a third superplex is blocked, with Conners fighting free and shoving Hendry down for a crossbody… but it’s caught, only for Conners to rake the eyes to avoid a Freak of Nature fallaway slam.

A series of short-arm clotheslines rocks Hendry, before some running forearms into the corner daze the Scotsman further. Despite all of that, Hendry comes back immediately with a Dominator-like move for a near-fall, before the two start trading uppercuts back and forth. Hendry gets a clothesline, then some back elbows, before a reverse neckbreaker somehow ends with Conners counting a DDT with a roll-up for two.

Hendry finally gets that DDT for a near-fall, before my feed drops again. I pick it back up as Conners tries for a Freak of Nature, but Hendry gets out of it and grabs an ankle lock, only to hit his Freak of Nature for a near-fall. He looks to follow up with Conners’ own Righteous Kill DDT, but Conners fights out and runs into a dropkick, before Hendry landed a Freak of Nature off the middle rope.

Conners rolled to the outside after the impact, and then it becomes no holds barred as Conners grabs a steel chair and hits Hendry with it… but Hendry quickly swerves a shot and grabs the ankle lock again… and finally Conners taps. That was underwhelming, but that’s been the story of this show. **½

Bradshaw and Shane hurriedly sign-off as we then crash to a black screen as Joe Hendry’s left in the ring… we don’t even see him celebrate! So yeah, that was something.

What Worked: Fortunately, the wrestlers turned up and put in a shift, regardless of the reactions they received. We finally got the Hendry/Conners singles match to blow-off their feud, but this crowd barely seemed to care about anything.

What Didn’t: The Production! This was WCW/TNA levels of bad at times, with some errors that made me wonder if they’d hired an all-new crew who had never worked on anything live before. The crowd seemed to largely not give a damn about anything (whether that was bad micing or otherwise), and with some of the stuff on offer towards the end, I can’t blame them.

Thumbs: Down. Southside did this better. I’m not even going to make the joke about “they kayfabe had a bad show to show up the new GM”, this was just bad with some decent stuff hidden throughout. Sorry guys, you’ve done way, way better than this… I just hope this was an off-night.