Four matches (technically) in an hour made for a rushed episode of Loaded as the fall-out from the World Cup continued.

First up, we have a recap of the Prestige punishment from last week – you know, where the GM booked matches that he probably was going to have booked anyway. From there, we’re taken back to Manchester as Dave Bradshaw and James R. Kennedy throw to the ring… for more Prestige!

Travis Banks vs. David Starr
On paper, this should be all kinds of greatness. Starr tries to work over the ankle, but Banks quickly grabs the ropes as it’s clear that we’re not starting thick-and-fast – especially when “Davey Wrestling” plays to the crowd for cheers.

Starr trips Banks – much like he usually does – and indeed, we get a receipt as they exchanged near-falls, before a spot of “shall I?” for a kiss led to Banks punching Starr instead. He’s channeling the Anti Fun Police here, and quickly gets the inverted slam… then a peck on the cheek from Starr! You know what that means – expressive Travis Banks face!

Starr channels Stone Cold with a spot of mudhole stomping, but then a side headlock brings things to a halt as Banks trips Starr into the corner for a massive cannonball! Problem is, they’re way too close to the ropes, so it counted for nought. Another spot of Stone Cold gets a two-count for Starr as he gets a Thesz Press, before dumping Banks onto the apron and dropkicking him to the floor. Very unlike Stone Cold! As was the follow-up tope attempt, but an enziguiri stops the dive as Banks eventually takes a clothesline off the apron!

Somehow Banks sneaks in a PK off the apron before wiping out the guard railings with a series of low-pes, but the third one’s caught and turned into the Cherry Mint DDT onto the apron as Starr followed up with a plancha of his own! Both men returned to the ring to trade punches from their knees, leading to Starr shrugging off a superkick and hitting a German suplex before a Sharpshooter attempt almost led to him getting rolled up.

More rolling elbows rock the other as they trade spinning lariats and big boots as the crowd applauded. Once both men got back up, Starr avoided a Slice of Heaven and went to work with a Violence Party instead en route to a superplex… but Banks instantly popped up and snapped off a Kiwi crusher for a near-fall!

The back-and-forth continued with Banks landing a springboard stomp to the back for another two-count, only to get caught with a Destroyer and a Blackheart Buster that almost won the match. Starr tries to follow-up with the Product Placement German suplex, but instead has to waffle Banks with some rolling elbows before some indy’riffic roll-ups lead to the Slice of Heaven… which is good for just a one-count!

Shocked, Banks doesn’t change course, and just follows in again with a second Slice of Heaven for the win. Pretty good, although in this environment it may as well have just been an exhibition as there’s nothing leading from it… ***¾

We go backstage as Prince Ameen’s having a heart-to-heart with Gabriel Kidd. Ameen’s fed up of being treated like a joke, and he’s taking offence to RJ Singh being picked as the World Cup entrant for India. Ameen hits a locker, and out falls a baseball bat… which I guess belonged to Bad Bones, who walked into shot. Of course, Bad Bones smashes his bat into Ameen, before telling Kidd he needed to pick better friends.

Can’t disagree.

A music video recaps the brief Drake/Angelico feud, and we’ve got our blow-off next!

Falls Count Anywhere: Drake vs. Angelico
We start with Angelico taking Drake to the outside as a somersault plancha saw the South African take the fight to Drake early on.

Angelico smashes a bottle of water into Drake for the hell of it, then grabs a plunger that Drake had found… and makes Drake wear it. I wonder if Martin Kirby showed them that tape of him doing this?

The plunger stays on as Drake throws Angelico into the guard railings, before he tries to clear the crowd… only to get backdropped into the crowd. They continue to brawl up to the stage, as Angelico teases a Fall of the Angels off the stage, before Drake slipped out, kicked him low and hit a snap suplex instead.

Drake pulls a ladder out next, as commentary breaks the fourth wall by saying he builds these rings… but he doesn’t get to use it as Angelico instead backdrops him into the propped up ladder, getting a near-fall out of it. Angelico grabs a chair from the crowd afterwards, places Drake in it, before a missile dropkick misses as Drake kicks it into Angelico instead. A DDT out of the corner gets Drake a near-fall, before he threatens to use the chair on Angelico in the corner. That’s escaped as Drake instead eats the Fall of the Angels, before rolling to the outside, where he cuts off a dive and hits a draping DDT onto the apron for a two-count on the apron! Well, that’s certainly innovative!

Drake grabs a ratchet strap from under the ring as he looks to use it as a noose to hang Angelico… and with no prospect of escape, referee Joel Allen waves the match off. So… that was certainly innovative, but this match felt cold as hell. Perhaps it’s that all three matches took place in around a month; or that the “blow-off” happened in the space of a week, so nobody would have seen the build up? Aside from that, this was a by-the-numbers match with some innovative stuff, but if the crowd’s not on-side, you’ve got an uphill struggle. **¼

We’re backstage next with Will Ospreay, who builds up to his match with El Ligero by announcing that “his future’s calling”. That segues into a video package recapping the Alex Gracie/Martin Kirby feud, and that means we have Alex Gracie next…

Alex Gracie & Bad Bones vs. Martin Kirby & Gabriel Kidd
Kidd and Kirby rush the ring here as Kidd’s settling the score for what happened earlier when Bad Bones blasted Prince Ameen with a baseball bat.

Things settle down as the bad guys took over, but Kidd’s able to take Gracie into the corner with a Fisherman’s suplex before Bad Bones tries to use the baseball bat. That distraction just lets Gracie hit Kidd with his nunchucks, as a spear from Bones takes down Kidd… just in time for Martin Kirby to chase away the bad guys with the bat.

That spear seems to be enough to have this match stopped as crew hit the ring to check on Gabriel Kidd… but the match isn’t waved off, as we instead have a 2-on-1 handicap match instead now. Well, I guess it fits with what happened when Scott Wainwright was injured during a tag match last time WCPW was in Manchester… Kirby’s left to fight alone then, as Gracie and Bones went to work, with a sunset flip taking Kirby into the turnbuckles for a two-count. An enziguiri from Kirby manages to turn things around slightly, as a series of clotheslines have the bad guys rocking ahead of a hiptoss and an accidental dropkick by Gracie.

The accidents continue as Kirby slingshots Gracie into Bad Bones’ bits, before dumping Gracie with a Sable Bomb for a near-fall. Bones retaliates with some German suplexes, then a half-and-half suplex, before a Fall from Gracie proved to be enough for the win. Well, I guess Gracie got the win, but this did nothing for nobody… except weaken Gabriel Kidd as he has an Internet title defence soon-ish? **½

El Ligero vs. Will Ospreay
The fact that we barely had 5 minutes left of the show when the bell rang should tell you everything…

Ligero mocks the crowd clapping, as the two had a brief stand-off. Then the lights go out… and return as the rest of the Prestige filled the ring. Ospreay gamely ties to fight, but it quickly descends into a mugging… and yeah, we’re not getting the match.

The South Coast Connection’s theme hits – to literal silence – as Ashley Dunn and Kelly Sixx hit the ring to try and even things up, as they send the Prestige packing with dropkicks… only to get caught out as they went for dives, and they too end up getting wrecked by the guard railings.

Had the South Coast Connection been more established with Ospreay (and indeed, had more than one shot in the company before these tapings!), this may have had a reaction… but it is what it is! Ospreay gets held down with a dual crossface/ankle lock from BT Gunn and Joe Hendry, as Ospreay and his friends were left in a pile, with a Prestige shirt ominously draped over them as the show ends…

Next week: Zack Sabre Jr. challenges Gabriel Kidd for the Internet title, the Young Lions take on Johnny Moss & Liam Slater, and the aforementioned South Coast Connection take on Joe Hendry and El Ligero.

Four matches in an hour was always going to make things feel a bit rushed, but you get the sense that WCPW isn’t on any particular course right now. The Drake/Angelico feud at least did something for Drake and made use of Angelico whilst they had him over for the World Cup, but having the build and blow-off in the same week when few (if any) people could have seen it was a weird call.

With the World Cup over, the next set of Loaded tapings in October should signify a new direction for the promotion, free of any awkward booking that may have been forced by having names that wouldn’t usually be part of the scene. That being said, I sense that there’s a big rebuilding job to be done here as precious little seems to be building. Sure, we have Ospreay/Hendry, Gabriel Kidd/Zack Sabre Jr and War Machine/Young Bucks in the near future, but aside from that, what else is bubbling away? If you’re always looking to the present, the future can be very bleak indeed…