If you’re a wrestling fan who’s gone onto YouTube, chances are you’ve heard of WhatCulture. Best known for their “Top Ten Whatever” countdown videos and similar clickbait listicles, WhatCulture have grown a decent online following, with an ongoing storyline between two of their staffers, Adam Pacitti and Adam Blampied. Somehow, it’s led to the website forming a wrestling promotion. Because they can. And they did. Here’s how their first weekly show, “Loaded” came off…

So the latest Internet Darlings (that’s not a cheapshot by me, they’re actually part of a WrestleMania event next year called the Internet Darlings Live), and they actually sold out their debut show, the imaginatively-titled What Culture Pro Wrestling (WCPW) then announced a second show. For the day before their original debut. That makes perfect sense, right? Still, they went ahead, and this past Monday night, the results of that first show were broadcast “live” via tape on their YouTube channel.

Filmed at Warehouse 43 in Newcastle, England, this seems to be a rebadged version of the Hull-based New Generation Wrestling – the same group that has a national television deal (of sorts) and also has their weekly shows added to the WhatCulture YouTube channel. With this in mind, I’ll be reviewing this as if it were a show put together by people who have a clue – both promotionally and technically.

So, we open with the generic nu-metal-ish theme song, with the intro song screaming “Are You Ready?”, as the first person to grace WCPW TV is the storyline General Manager Adam Pacitti. That’s two early 2000s references (and a late 90s DX shout-out), and we’ve not even covered a minute of this show! WCPW has two commentators, in the form of video game journalist Simon Miller and WhatCulture’s “King” Ross Tweddell, with both guys seemingly playing the heel, and we may be on dodgy ground before we’ve even seen a lock-up. I’m already annoyed, and “King” Ross has only said “WCPW” a few times in a weird Geordie-trying-not-to-be-Geordie accent.

Pacitti is in the ring with the cardboard WhatCulture title belt (the same one they’ve been using on their WWE PPV pick videos), and our opening segment is Pacitti outlining who he is. At least the WCPW ring has custom ring mats and turnbuckle pads, even if the colour scheme is the cliched WWE black-and-red. Standard fare, with Pacitti promising to unveil the promotion’s title belt at the end of the show, but the annoyance continued as the commentators seemed to be afraid of any dead air, talking over Pacitti and very eager to get “heelish” shots in whenever Pacitti took a breath.

We then go “to the back” for a pre-taped green-screen segment with Stevie Aaron, formerly of 1PW and other UK promotions, with another WhatCulture personality, Jack “The Jobber” King, clad in a Pacitti Club t-shirt. I know we sell one here on BackBodyDrop, but even we moved away from the Bullet Club motif after that became staler than mouldy bread! Unfortunately, the camera was zoomed in too tightly, meaning that Aaron was on the edge of the frame and virtually cut out of shot (and they didn’t reshoot this!), and before Jack could answer his question, the segment was interrupted by Adam Blampied.

“What a first show we’re having so far”, he proclaimed. After zero wrestling and zero non-What Culture performers in the opening five minutes. Blampied mocks Jack, and says that whomever wins between Joe Hendrie and Big Damo, they’ll get beaten by Rampage Brown regardless. As an arrogant heel, Blampied is a good promo, but where’s the pay-off if he can’t wrestle?

We cut back to the commentary table with Simon and Ross, with the latter pitching a fit over not being called “King”. He presents Simon with a crown, and that means both commentators look like idiots, but not quite Goldberg-wearing-a-wig bad. Finally, we’re in danger of having a wrestling match, and a non-WhatCulture personality on this show!

Alex Gracie vs. Gabriel Kidd vs. Joseph Conners
So, it looks like WCPW is sticking with the No Mercy-like trait of showing the wrestler’s entrance video for a few seconds before they come out. That’s going to get old, quick, especially as most of these videos are HD versions of those No Mercy two-frame animations.

This is a triple-threat, elimination match, and we already have bickering commentators. Apparently wrestling imports is something to brag about, as Alex Gracie is a threat “because he wrestled Gangrel”, whilst Joseph Conner’s claim to fame is wrestling Hardcore Holly. After all three men were introduced, we got a pretty cool comic-book style match graphic, hyping the participants. A graphic which stayed on screen for a matter of seconds.

Gracie started off being pinballed between Kidd and Conners, rolling out of the ring after taking a few shots as Kidd and Conners went to work in the ring. Kidd landed a leapfrog, a monkey flip then a “big back body drop” (stop that call now, Ross) on Conners, before landing an inverted atomic drop and a big boot on Gracie. Conners returned to the ring to fly off the middle rope with an armdrag into a roll-up, before Kidd blocked a sunset flip for a near-fall.

A double hiptoss took out Gracie once more, but he came back and kicked away at Conners in the corner, dropping him with a snap side slam for a near-fall. We then saw a nice little three-way spot, as Conners went for a sunset flip on Kidd, who suplexed Gracie in the process. Gracie took a clothesline from Conners, then chopped Gracie in the corner to an ear-piercingly annoying “owww!” from Ross.

Gracie finally gets into things with a suplex on Conners, as Ross name-drops Big E, but Conners takes a dropkick from Kidd as he tried for a reverse DDT on Gracie. Kidd takes an Eat Defeat from Gracie, then a uranage for a near-fall. Gracie then reverses a Kidd suplex into a roll-up for a near-fall, as Joseph Conner slingshots into the ring and DDT’s Gracie to break it up. Not sure why he’d do that in an elimination match…

Conners took down Kidd with a double stomp from the corner, then lands a Righteous Kill DDT (fisherman’s DDT) as Kidd gets eliminated. Gracie sneaks in with a roll-up to try and snatch the match, but Conners kicks out and drops Gracie with a tiltawhirl slam. Gracie’s manager, James R. Kennedy (a WhatCulture writer, for the record), then pops up on the apron for the distraction, which allows Gracie’s tag team partner, Lucas Archer, to run in and deliver a blatant low-blow. That leads to a disqualification (in a three-way?!), with Archer and Gracie then putting the boots to Conners. Archer and Gracie lay out Conners with a Codebreaker/Facebuster combo, and that’s it!

A fairly good match, ruined by the booking of the finish. Why book a three-way elimination if you only wanted one man to take a fall? **¾

As the heel trio of Gracie, Archer and Kennedy go to the back, yet another WhatCulture personality (they must be breeding these guys in a lab), Kenny McIntosh comes out for a post-match interview. Kennedy grabs the mic and decries how the promotion had labelled them “prospects”, thinking that was beneath them.

After one match, I’m seriously tempted to reach for the mute button, and it’s all because of “King” Ross. Simon Miller, on the other hand, is showing signs of promise – perhaps because he’s not as overtly a mark for himself? There’s another early 2000s trope from the indie wrestling scene!

Back from a non-existent commercial break, and we see “King” Ross ironing the WCPW announce table. They play the Bobby Heenan/Gorilla Monsoon schtick, and Ross is proud of his solar-powered dancing Queen. And now to our next match…

El Ligero vs. Martin Kirby
El Ligero is the man whom every British promotion must book at least once. By law. Like Colt Cabana, without having to pay for a plane ticket! Martin Kirby has tagged sporadically with Ligero as Project Lucha, and we’re getting more name-drops as Kirby is tagged as having wrestled the Steiners in the past.

Simple stuff to start off with, as Kirby knocks down Ligero with a shoulder tackle, before doing a lap around the ring. It wouldn’t be so bad ripping off a spot from a WWE preliminary guy, but to ram that point home? Jesus, Ross… And Ligero too, for that matter, for ape-ing the Bo Dallas thumbs up. Back inside, they go back to the headlock spot, with Kirby landing another shoulder tackle before celebrating in the corner. Repeat for a third time, but this time Ligero lands a kick to the midsection, then drops Kirby with a hurricanrana.  Ligero mocks Kirby by posing on the ground, as the comedy continues with the pair laying down next to each other, ending with Kirby leaping out of the ring as he tried to leap over Ligero.

Ligero (and not “Ligario”, “Ligaro” and all the other names Miller kept calling him) brings Kirby back in the hard way, but Kirby lands a back elbow in the corner. After missing a leapfrog, Ligero rolled himself into a ball a la Johnny Saint, which only suckers Kirby into the path of taking a kick to the head. More comedy followed as Ligero made a headstand in the corner, then rolled up Kirby for a near-fall.

An uppercut stunned Kirby, who then tried to repeat Ligero’s headstand, and quickly flopped to the mat. Even the referee helping him didn’t help matters, with the crowd chanting “stupid idiot” (which we just about heard, as the crowd volume was turned down way low in a bid to censor the crowd). Kirby suckered Ligero into taking a drop toe hold into the middle turnbuckle, and he followed up with a shoulder charge into the midsection. After taking a bottle of water, Kirby spat a mouthful of water at Ligero, who took him down with a couple of clotheslines, a knee to the head, then a springboard kick off the middle rope.

Ligero looked to go airborne, at which point it became obvious just how low the ceiling was, so he ended up taking a senton roll instead, as Kirby moved out of the way.  Kirby called for a Sable Bomb (yep, we’re firmly stuck in the late 90s here), but Ligero got out of the way and connected with the C4L (springboard tornado DDT) for the win. The action wasn’t bad, but the comedy (and commentary) was rotten. ¾*

To the back! We’ve another green-screen promo with Kenny McIntosh interviews Jack “The Jobber” with a non-working mic. In walks Joe Hendry (but they didn’t identify him, so unless you knew he was “The Local Hero”, you’re out of luck), and offers Jack a custom-made ring jacket. The sound in this was so low, and yet they didn’t think to re-tape this with the microphone turned on?!

Back from yet-another false commercial break, and Simon Miller fills us in on who that guy was. “King” Ross takes shots at Miller for repeatedly butchering Ligero’s name in the prior match, and we’re taken back to Kenny McIntosh at ringside, where he brings out Prince Ameen. The so-called Prince of Gujarat, India (who has a really strong North Eastern accent, which’d have come from his years on the local indie circuit!) cuts a promo about wanting to see what WhatCulture was all about. What has he heard? And more importantly, how has he heard? This was their debut show for crying out loud! Usual heel shtick, as he berates the fans for not having slept with a girl, before putting his name forward as a potential WCPW champion, and he made a challenge…

Throughout the segment (and for a lot of the show), the crowd kept chanting for Damien Sandow. Really good move to have the crowd chanting for someone who wasn’t even booked!

Prince Ameen vs. Joe Coffey
Coffey gets a good reaction from the crowd here, and he starts by air guitaring in the middle of the ring. Plenty of stalling as Ameen backs away from the “Iron Man”, before Coffey gets a wristlock, taking down Ameen with an armdrag, with the Prince rolling into the ropes early on. An eye rake from Ameen downs Coffey, as they go for the headlock spot, with Coffey taking him down with a shoulder tackle and a dropkick. A corner splash and a bulldog gets Coffey a two-count, before the Iron Man tries a deadlift German suplex, before changing tack and ending up turning Ameen over into a Boston crab. After grabbing the ropes, Ameen returns fire with a spinebuster for a near-fall, before kicking away at Coffey in the corner.

A back elbow cuts off Ameen in the corner, with Coffey getting a two-count from a cross body out of the corner, before setting up for the Giant Swing. Coffey looks to finish off the Prince with a lariat, but Ameen rolls out of the ring and waves off the match as he takes the loss by count-out. A thoroughly unsatisfying finish to this match, which was on track to being something decent. *½

To the back again, with “Sweet” Stevie Aaron now actually in shot, and he’s interviewing Prince Ameen after his walk-out. Again, the audio here is way too low, but Ameen says that he walked out because he only wrestles for titles. It looks like he’s going to hire someone to be his servant, and he wants to hire Stevie. Didn’t WWE do the same thing with Tiger Ali Singh and Babu in the late 90s?

More annoying commentary stuff, as “King” Ross tries to make a turban out of a Finn Balor bandana. And we go to the back once more for another WhatCulture staffer, as Jennifer Louise interviews Joe Coffey after his count-out win. How many different kinds of brick wall do they have in this WCPW arena… or should we say, the green screen? The interview segment’s interrupted by yet another WhatCulture staffer, Suzie Kennedy, and she says that she doesn’t need “a man”, but rather she needs “an animal”. In walks a fantastically bearded, yet unidentified man (judging from the WCPW website, a guy called “The Primate”), who walks through Coffey as we go to yet another fake ad break.

Back again, and another backstage promo from Jack (in front of breeze blocks, this time!), announcing himself as the enforcer for the next match between Joe Hendry and Big Damo – with the winner facing Rampage Brown for the WCPW title. Of course we’re interrupted, as Hendry and Damo come in to bicker, and we go to a video package promoting our main event.

We’re shown Simon Miller and King Ross again, this time playing Monopoly. Why? Miller flips the board over, and we’re now joined by Adam Blampied on commentary, because one insufferable human being on colour commentary just wasn’t enough, was it? Of course, the green screen causes problems as Blampied has to crouch down since the green screen isn’t big enough to get all three of them in shot.

The ring announcer introduces “YouTube Sensation” Jack The Jobber in a tinfoil jacket, which sums up this entire debut show. WrestleCrap, this is prime induction material! Yep, we even have the “one fall” rubbish from the crowd, and we’re into the main event to decide Jack’s “man” for the WCPW title match at an upcoming event.

Big Damo vs. Joe Hendry
At least Simon Miller’s still on commentary to try and keep things grounded. Joe Hendry’s entrance sees him mock Big Damo via the medium of song, which is a fun gimmick, I guess. The music video irks Big Damo to the point where he goes backstage and drags Hendry to the ring, and we start with chops in the aisle… and that God-damned “ow!”.

The chop battle continues outside the ring as Damo shoves Hendry into the crowd barrier, and once they get in the ring, Damo gets a two-count from a spear-come-cross body block. Hendry gets whipped hard into the turnbuckles, as Damo grounds him with a camel clutch variation. After missing a charge in the corner, Damo becomes the recipient of a DDT by Hendry for a near-fall, but Hendry gets taken down with a superplex from the monster from Belfast.

Damo and Hendry trade forearm shots in the middle of the ring, before Hendry drops Damo with a kick to the midsection, only for Damo to knock down the referee as Hendry sidestepped another forearm shot. With the referee down, Hendry impressively picked up the 23-stone (320lb+) Damo and threw him back with a fallway slam, but there was no ref to make the count. Step forward Jack, who came into the ring as enforcer and hurriedly made a two-count… which I’m sure wasn’t meant to have been a fast count.

Damo responded by picking up Hendry in a fireman’s carry, then throwing him down and dropping a back senton for another two-count. After yanking the still-fallen referee out of the ring, Damo grabbed a steel chair from under the ring, only to have it dropkicked into him, as Hendry got a two-count from that.

Joe Hendry then grabbed the chair and went to use it, but the enforcer Jack took the chair away as Damo dropkicked him into the corner. Damo then hoisted Hendry up and drilled him with the Ulster Plantation (Kenny Omega’s One Winged Angel) and scored the win. Best thing on the show, but it was way too short for a match as important as it was meant to have been. ***

More commentary stuff, as King Ross spoofs Jack on commentary, claiming that the match was won via a fast count. Pretty sure that Damo’s win was decisive… We go to the ring now for the main event segment: the title unveiling.

Adam Pacitti is in the ring with the cardboard WhatCulture belt, and a red velvet bag. Apparently the new WCPW title means a lot to the roster, which is saying something because it’s a brand new title with no prior history. It’s your typical indy belt, which looks a little like the old WWF Women’s title… and seems like it would struggle to fit around the waist of either Rampage Brown of Big Damo.

Basking in the moment, Pacitti tempts fate by saying “nothing can ruin this moment”, which is the cue for an arrival, as Rampage (no last name here) – not using Hatebreed as his theme music – comes out with Adam Blampied. Cue the usual heel shtick as the fans try to compare him to Eric Bischoff. Pacitti asks Rampage and Blampied to leave, and that just has Rampage intimidating Pacitti. Security comes in to make the save, but the “security guard” takes a clothesline and a piledriver as the show ends with Blampied ripping up the cardboard belt that was infinitely more valued than the newly-created (and expensive) title belt.

For those keeping score, this show had 12 wrestlers on-screen (including one second, one manager and one unannounced guys), and 9 WhatCulture staffers.  Call me old fashioned, but I like my wrestling shows where the wrestlers are the stars…

For a debut show, this needed to be a blowaway show, or even just “really good”, and unfortunately, the WhatCulture crew didn’t come close to either of them. WCPW has plenty of things to improve on, in and out of the ring. Although they had some good talent booked, this show felt like it was an early 2000s British indie fed, written and booked by somebody whose last impression of wrestling was from the same time. Things have moved on, and although not everyone can be a PROGRESS or an ICW, this just seemed like a creative anachronism.

Apparently the commentary was taped the day before the show went live, which begs the question – was this done in one take, and why did they not stop to correct the numerous flubs? As good as the debutabt Simon Miller was (and as bad as Ross Tweddell was), stopping and redoing phases of commentary would have given this show some extra polish and doubtless would have improved their end product. Likewise with the audio volumes, as the interview segments were pretty much inaudible – again, if the microphones weren’t turned on, why were these not reshot? Some of the action felt like it was phoned in, which makes sense since this “debut” show was added after the original debut sold out, so was likely to have been treated more as an afterthought.

When WCPW was announced, I was heavily critical of the whole concept of the main event storyline of Adam Blampied and Adam Pacitti having proxies wrestle on their behalf. It’s actually worse than that, as everyone in WhatCulture it seems has to have a spot on the show and “their guy” to represent them as well. It’s clunky, and it just serves to weaken those who aren’t “somebody’s guy”.

Whilst it’s good that there’s another place in the UK for guys to wrestle and get a payday, WCPW comes across like your stereotypical money-mark promotion where the stars aren’t the wrestlers, which is a shame since there’s some good talent on the card, but the booking of these guys – and the fact that they’re made to look second-rate behind a bunch of YouTube guys – is just sad. I’m a fair man, and I will give them a chance, and we’ll be coming back to WCPW Loaded in the future to see what tweaks (if any) are made to the format.

For their sake, I hope they’re actually breaking even on the future shows with fly-ins, because this group in the current format of “wrestlers acting as proxies for YouTubers” isn’t going to be long for this world.