After five months off, Loaded returned as WCPW looked to get back to some semblance of normality – with a surprise title change and a solid main event.

Despite cancelling their planned relaunch in June, WCPW managed to shoe-horn in some Loaded tapings during World Cup Qualifiers – and with the show now airing on YouTube, Twitch and their own subscription service, it’s assumed that this format is somewhat more viable than before. We’ve a new set of red-and-black opening titles, using the “Fight Back” song that was originally meant for this show, but then used for the YouTube special after the cancellations. The crowd in Manchester is loud as Dave Bradshaw and James R. Kennedy are on commentary.

The show opens with WCPW GM Adam Blampied to give the opening “we’re back” promo. He addresses the ad revenue situation, saying that it’s not impossible, “just difficult” before he was interrupted by the Prestige. Ah yes, I forgot these guys were all over WCPW shows back in the day. Today Prestige is represented by Joe Hendry, Joe Coffey, BT Gunn and El Ligero – the latter of whom has the “pink briefcase” guaranteeing him a title shot (after beating Martin Kirby for it… minutes after the concept was created).

Coffey threatens Blampied (who runs to the back) as Hendry gets the microphone… apparently Travis Banks has an Internet title shot next week. I tend to tune out for Joe Hendry’s promos, I have to say… Blampied returns and says that Prestige haven’t exactly beaten everyone, as tonight’s Marty Scurll vs. Kyle O’Reilly main event will now be for a shot at Hendry’s title.

We then have an impromptu eight-man no-DQ match…

Prestige (Joe Hendry, Joe Coffey, BT Gunn & El Ligero) vs. Martin Kirby, Primate, Gabriel Kidd & Rampage
The graphic actually lists Kirby’s quartet as the Kirb Crawlers, and we have a jump start as all eight men pair off and start brawling around the ringside area.

So we’re starting with one of those “too much to cover” matches, but they do finally use the ring as Gunn nearly beats Kidd with a leaping Flatliner… but Kidd low bridges him back to the outside as we built up to a moonsault off the middle turnbuckle to the pile outside.

Prince Ameen – who was out for the fun of it – gets his stuff in as he does the Magic Carpet Dive, before Kidd and Gunn got back into the ring as a parade of moves started. A spear from Primate led to a briefcase shot from Ligero… which Primate no-sold, before taking some kicks to the head from Gunn as that parade continued.

Coffey and Gunn land topes to the outside, before Gunn and Primate brawled to the back, somehow leaving Kidd alone for some 3-on-1 triple-teaming. Rampage gets some, but fights back before booting Hendry’s head off as we went back to Ligero and Kirby – the latter hitting a roll-through into a FIsherman’s suplex on Ligero.

Coffey impressively catches a wheelbarrow and gives Kirby a giant swing as a DDT and a wheelbarrow suplex put the former GM down for a second, as he came back with a spinebuster ahead of the Zoidberg Elbow. He didn’t hit it, as Coffey turns it into a slam for a near-fall before Coffey’s latest springboard attempt was caught in the corner and turned into a Sable Bomb by Kirby for the win. This had its moments, but it was a chaotic eight-man tag that at times felt like they’d meshed several matches together. **¾

They announce another iPPV – “Stacked” – on August 22 in Leeds. Yep, WCPW’s hitting new towns, and they announce Ricochet vs. Rey Mysterio for that show. Good to see their spotlighting philosophy hasn’t changed!

A video package airs of what happened at Built to Destroy with Prospect losing their tag title shot… before Alex Gracie turned on Lucas Archer afterwards.

Alex Gracie vs. Matt Riddle
Commentary informs us that Stevie Aaron was suspended as a ring announcer. I’ll not even try to figure out timelines given Aaron did ring announcing for one of the World Cup Qualifiers after his heel turn…

Matt Riddle was Gracie’s surprise opponent here, and his offer of a handshake’s ignored… so Riddle quickly takes him down and looks for an armbar early on as Gracie rolled into the ropes. Gracie tries to get his sticks out, then throws them away as it just proved to be a ruse to attack Riddle from behind… but Riddle recovers with some forearms into the corner and an Exploder out of it.

Grace blocks a back senton with his knees as he took Riddle into the corner with a kick to the back… which seemed to be the cue for him to start clowning around. That costs him as Riddle gets back up and throws him around with rolling gutwrench suplexes, Riddle connects with the back senton, but this feels very much like a TV match – slow-paced, with plenty of short-cuts as Gracie took Riddle outside and threw him into the ring post.

Gracie shoos away the crowd as he throws Riddle into the seating area… Riddle barely beats the ten-count and picks up Gracie for a Bro To Sleep, but it’s caught as Riddle eventually gets an overhead kick in. Out of nowhere, Gracie drops Riddle with Eat Defeat before sinking in a crossface… but RIddle escapes and connects with a running knee for a two-count.

A full nelson slam gets Gracie a near-fall, before Riddle tried for a Destroyer out of the corner, but it goes awry as they carry on, with Gracie hitting a belly-to-back piledriver moments later. They go back to chops before Gracie elbows out of another Bro To Sleep, then tries some German suplexes. They never learn!

Riddle comes back with a Fisherman buster for a near-fall, before the tombstone slam gets another two. Another Bro to Sleep leads to a ref bump and a low blow, before Gracie connects with a Destroyer… that Riddle pops up from! Gracie scurries to the outside for those sticks from earlier, but he can’t find them as he then rakes the eyes to escape another tombstone as the Fall From Gracie (Unprettier) connects. Referee Steve Lynskey takes some time to stir, but when he does he’s able to count the three was Riddle ate a loss in rather unusual circumstances. This wasn’t quite as bad as I’d been told it was, but there’s something about the optics of Alex Gracie beating Matt Riddle that doesn’t look right. Still, at least they’re building something with Gracie… **½

War Machine are debuting… next.

WCPW Tag Team Championship: War Machine (Hanson & Rowe) vs. Swords of Essex (Will Ospreay & Scott Wainwright) (c)
Before the match, Ospreay takes the microphone and compares belts to War Machine. Ospreay then said that the WCPW tag titles were on the line… despite the ring announcer already saying that.

Rowe kills Wainwright straight out of the gate with a leaping forearm, before dragging Wainwright into the corner to tag in Ospreay… who wants Hanson. He’s lost his mind. Ospreay tries a Superman punch, which barely registers as Hanson just throws him across the ring with a Biel throw as War Machine went to work on Will.

With Wainwright pretty much out of action on the outside, War Machine were free to do whatever they wanted on Ospreay, with Hanson rubbing his beard into Will, before dropping him across the top turnbuckles for a series of clubbing forearms to the chest. Hanson gets charged into Ospreay in the corner as Wainwright returns to get slammed… but he’s thankfully saved from having War Machine thrown onto him.

The Swords try to take over with a little bit of cheating with Ospreay choking Hanson in the ropes, before Wainwright lifted up Ospreay for an elevated back senton… but Wainwright dropped to the outside, injuring his ribs in the process as referee Joel Allen and some ring crew came out to check on Wainwright.

That distracted the crowd as Hanson hit a handspring back elbow to knock down Ospreay, as Rowe’s forearm and a German suplex started to rack up some near-falls for the challengers. A handspring overhead kick from Ospreay buys him some time, but Wainwright’s all but out on the floor, and so it a was only a matter of time. Ospreay manages to kick out from a clothesline-assisted German suplex, before surprising Hanson with a Spanish fly off the middle rope!

Rowe gets a Cheeky Nando’s in the corner but Hanson quickly drops him with a slam… but he takes too long going up top and gets a Cheeky Nando’s of his own. Hanson’s taken outside and is sent into the crowd with a tope as Wainwright was taken to the back, meaning that Ospreay really did have to do this by himself… and nearly succeeded with a shooting star press to the back of a rope-hung Rowe before a High Fly Flow knocks Hanson down again in the crowd!

An OsCutter follows to Rowe… but he kicked out just in time! Some more kicks from Ospreay just seem to wake up Rowe, who headbutts back into it, before kneeing Will in the face ahead of a pop-up slam that earned War Machine the titles! A really good match, despite the unfortunate circumstances that made this a handicap match – and a nice surprise title change to perhaps kickstart the tag division here. ***½

After this was taped, Wainwright announced on social media that he was stepping away from wrestling due to health reasons – in a similar way to fellow Sword member Paul Robinson.

War Machine cut a promo backstage after their match celebrating their tag title win and their continuing world domination.

Kyle O’Reilly vs. Marty Scurll
Earlier in the night, this was ruled as a number one contender’s match, and we start with O’Reilly kicking away a “too sweet” offering as he instead went to work on the arm of Scurll.

Marty escapes and takes O’Reilly into the ropes for a mockingly-clean break… which Kyle returns the favour on, much to the dislike of the crowd. Scurll tries to break a sunset flip with a finger snap, but O’Reilly makes it to the ropes just in time as Marty instead chops him down to the mat.

The Villain keeps up the offence with an apron superkick to O’Reilly before he mugged off a fan… but O’Reilly’s nowhere near done, as he kicked out of a low dropkick at one. O’Reilly’s comeback saw him trap an arm as he started to work over Scurll’s left arm, teasing his Arm-ageddon submission, but Scurll’s able to powerbomb his way free of the hold.

Scurll tries to fight back with forearms and chops, eventually dropping O’Reilly into the ropes a la Stone Cold, before blasting Kyle with a “Just Kidding” superkick. Marty looks to go for a chicken wing, but O’Reilly’s wise to it and kicks him away before a side slam lets the Canadian lock in a knee bar as he looked for a submission.

The pair slap away at each other as the hold’s kept on, with Scurll eventually freeing himself, only for both men to collapse to the mat. They get themselves back to their feet to resume their strike battle, before Scurll locked in a chicken wing and switched it into a stunner variation. Marty keeps up with an over-the-knee brainbuster, before going back to the chicken wing… but he doesn’t hook it in, and instead grabs O’Reilly’s outstretched fingers… but Kyle prevents a finger snap and instead drops Marty with a knee strike.

O’Reilly locks on a front facelock that looked to have put Marty out… but instead he lets go and hits a brainbuster for a near-fall before going for Arm-ageddon, which Scurll eventually breaks via the ropes. Kyle keeps up on the arm though, before he wags a finger in Marty’s face for too long… and gets it snapped as Marty then shocks him with the Mouse Trap cradle for the win! A pretty good main event, albeit one that didn’t provoke much in the way of loud crowd reactions, as the story being told is that Scurll’s now going for the Prestige – and Joe Hendry’s title. ****

After the match, Joe Hendry tried to sneak attack Scurll with a belt shot… Marty’s wise to it and ends up grabbing the belt as the champ had left it behind. Pretty standard thwarted-heel stuff.

The show ends with a backstage segment though, as Gabriel Kidd is arriving with his luggage. I have no clue where this falls in the timeline – was it earlier in the day? Was it a completely different day? Anyway, he’s attacked by Travis Banks, whom was established as not being there… Banks leaves him laying before draping a Prestige shirt over him as we get the end credits.

Next week: Marty Scurll challenges Joe Hendry for the WCPW title… the Kings of the North take on War Machine for the tag team titles… and of course, Gabriel Kidd defends the Internet title against Travis Banks.

For a comeback episode, this was pretty solid – at 90 minutes long, it’s just about manageable for a weekly view. I’m hoping that the Prestige stuff doesn’t over-run the shows like it was earlier in the year, but for a first show back they didn’t overwhelm us with too much in terms of storylines or stuff that otherwise would have fallen flat. Next week is a title match-heavy episode, so let’s see where that goes as Loaded tries to build fresh momentum.