After three weeks, it’s probably still too early to make a final judgment on the new WhatCulture Pro Wrestling promotion from the North East of England, but it’s fair to say that the early signs have been mixed to say the least. Let’s see what they’ve learned this week.

#TLDR: A marked improvement on their past shows, the third episode of “Loaded” saw the promotion trade off an abundance of backstage segments for a mass of matches. Five, to be exact, but with the longest only going eight minutes, it was quantity over quality, sadly. The commentary was improved, with “King” Ross Tweddell joined on commentary for the bulk of the show by Adam Blampied in the absence of Simon Miller, although sadly, the commentators kept dancing around the face/heel divide throughout.

The in-ring action was decent, but as these were all TV style matches, there wasn’t really much to sink your teeth into. Martin Kirby’s feud with El Ligero continued with another comedy match, whilst Drake had another losing performance that wasn’t quite a squash match. Big Damo continued his run towards the WCPW title match with his Goldberg-in-a-wig moment, and we saw the other half of that match in action as a rudderless show (at least from the GM’s perspective) saw both men keep their spots in the match to crown an inaugural WCPW champion. Still, this show flew by and didn’t feel like it dragged.

The Full Review: We open with a WWE-esque graphic advising us that the contents of this show doesn’t reflect the views of WhatCulture, and that the characters are fictitious, and don’t reflect the personal lives of the characters playing them. That’s good to know that “King Ross” doesn’t dress like that 24/7…

Oh crap. It’s just King Ross by himself on commentary. Simon Miller’s away “training to be a wrestler” (that’s not a joke, they’re actually doing a video series where he’s at Al Snow’s training school in London). Still, if what Ross told us on Twitter is anything to go by, then if they’re going to make any edits, it’ll be easier with just the one person to revoice. Bar: low.

Straight to ringside, and we’ve got Joe Hendry coming out to the ring, along with his tag partner Joseph Conners. Ross notes that Hendry isn’t booked to wrestle, and we’ve got a Hendry promo. Apparently Hendry’s looking forward to tagging with Conners, but he wants to do one thing for himself: he wants a match with Rampage, with his spot in the title match against Big Damo on the line.

Rampage comes out with everyone’s favourite Eric Bischoff wannabe Adam Blampied in tow. “I’ve got a horrible feeling he’s got something to say”, chimes in Ross. Yep, why else would he come out to answer a challenge? Blampied names himself the “face of”, since WWE’s ongoing struggle is to define “the face of the company”. Joe Hendry calls himself the face of WhatCulture Pro Wrestling, and Blampied initially rejects the challenge, saying that Hendry already lost his title shot.

Hendry reiterates the challenge to Rampage, but Blampied insists that he has control over him. Without any further egging on, Blampied suddenly changes his tune and grants the match, with the threat of broken necks. Blampied says that Hendry will be “Rampage’s local bitch” tonight, and there’s our main event. At least they’re consistent with their WWE logic.

Joe Hendry’s response instantly gets him over by mocking Blampied for how he got into the business, with pissy little videos like “this is how I would have booked Raw”. That got an “amen sister” from King Ross, who seems to have forgotten what side of the face/heel divide he’s on.

Back to King Ross at the commentary table, but he’s joined by Blampied who’s decided to add himself to the commentary team. Well, the quality is going to nosedive isn’t it?

The Primate vs. Joe Coffey
Two weeks in a row of the Primate, and his Scottish Vickie Guerrero wannabe Suzie Kennedy. Last week’s debut was impressive, but too even for a monster debut, if you get my drift.

“He’s an intimidating man with a beard you can set your watch to.” Say what, Blampied?

They start with a tie-up, that breaks off without anything happening. Another lock-up sees Coffey and the Primate go into the ropes, eventually forcing a rope break. Typical mean giy match stuff here, before Primate catches a headlock, but gets shot into the ropes… and the two collide in the middle of the ring. Wash, rinse, repeat with a headlock from Coffey leading to the same result.

Uppercuts from Coffey lead to a striking battle, before they exchange whips and avalanches into the corner. Coffey lands a bulldog out of the corner for a two-count, before scoring a double-leg takedown, only for Primate to pop up and take down the “Iron Man”.

Coffey retaliates with headbutts to the midsection, before a drop toe-hold sees Primate stagger towards the ropes. A schoolboy attempt ends with Coffey locking in a Boston crab, but Primate gets the rope after Suzie Kennedy shoves the ropes nearer to him. Primate follows by dragging Coffey outside the ring, and they brawl around the floor, with Primate taking a whip into the ringpost, then falls through a crowd barrier.

Primate smashes Coffey’s head into the apron, and just about beats the count, before grabbing a wrench from the outside. Coffey ducks the shot, but Primate makes contact at the second attempt, and that’s… a no contest? What is this now, one no-contest a week? The match was alright before the finish, but nothing spectacular **¼

Primate returns to the ring with a steel chair, and proceeds to choke Coffey with it in the middle of the ring.

The referee gets punched down by Primate, who continues to choke Coffey, and we have a monster heel on our hands.

Two questions. Why is one man attacking another with a weapon a no-contest instead of a disqualification? And who the hell is booking this tripe? I’m sure they’ll be properly recognised as the booking genius they aren’t…

On the plus side, King Ross and Adam Blampied weren’t as insufferable on commentary together as I expected. Blampied would be best served toning it down and perhaps not being so eager to swear. Good God, veiled praise… what’s become of me?!

From a fake commercial, we’re back to more action, surprisingly. They got rid of the fixed “match – backstage segment – commentary table” format then? Progress! Oh wait, “Jack The Jobber” is out looking like a lost child again. And he has a microphone…

Jack reckons he’s seen fear in Rampage’s eyes, but he quickly loses track on his promo as a fan heckles him. Damo thankfully grabs the mic and says that Rampage was running scared, before promising to grab the WCPW championship. Jack says he has one last thing to do to induct him… and Damo gets a Pacitti Club shirt. Damo puts it in, and there’s our equivalent of Goldberg in a wig.

Eh, at least the promo was short, but I really could have done without the constant butting in of Blampied from the commentary desk every time they stopped to take breath.

They’re interrupted by Drake, who basically repeats the promo from Joe Hendry earlier, and challenges Damo for his spot in the WCPW title match. There’s even a good point from “King Ross”, who asks where the so-called GM is and why are guys able to make these matches without his say so.

Big Damo vs. Drake
Drake dropkicks Damo into the corner for the jump start, and rams his shoulder into the midsection in the corner. A clothesline to the cornered Damo follows, but another gets caught by Damo who follows up with a Fireman’s carry slam into a back senton… and that’s pretty much it for Drake.

Damo picks up Drake for a powerbomb, folding him in half, then drops the elbow, but Drake kicks out at two! Drake avoids the Ulster Plantation, then drops Damo with a dropkick as Damo struggles to kick-out.

It looked like Drake was going up top for the top rope lungblower, but Damo avoids it and flattens him with a cross body-come-rugby tackle… then the Ulster Plantation, and that’s your lot. Short and sweet, but it’s clear they see something in Drake, as he gets a fair amount of offence in what should really be squashes. **¾

We get our first backstage segment of the night now, with Kenny McIntosh and Jay Lethal. They build up Lethal as if he’d never been on the show, forgetting he was on the first damned episode! Lethal builds up “Built to Destroy” and his ROH title match against Noam Dar on that show. Pretty good promo from Lethal, even if he did slip up on the company name… best backstage promo yet! Kenny sends us “back to ringside”, but I don’t trust his directions after last week.

By the way, since so many people are searching this site for the WCPW theme song, they actually namecheck it here. It’s (imaginatively) called “Let’s Go” by Damien Starkey, and is available on iTunes and Spotify. You can also get it on Amazon Music, if you don’t want to give Apple your monies… it’s your typical nu-metal theme that wouldn’t look out of place in 2002 WWE.

Holy crap, Kenny was right! We are back to ringside, and it’s jobber tag team action, since we already have two guys in the ring.

Mitchell Myers & Ryan Mercer vs. Alex Gracie & Lucas Archer
Gracie, if you remember, was in the three-way match that opened up WCPW’s first show, and he’s teaming with Lucas Archer as part of the “Prospect” stable with James R. Kennedy, and since they have matching gear, they get homophobic chants. Stay classy, Newcastle…

Gracie takes Myers into the corner with a tie-up, before Myers grabs a wristlock and tags in Mercer who comes in with a double axe-handle smash. Things change pretty much immediately after that as Gracie goes into his own corner and tags in Archer, as the Prospect team make use of rapid tags in and out whilst keeping Mercer cornered.

Prospect lay out Mercer with an unnamed double-team move – the Eat Defeat into a side Russian legsweep – before Gracie comes back in to land a legdrop after a sidewalk slam from Archer. The double-teaming continues as Gracie hits a European uppercut, followed up by an elbow from the top from Archer, and then the final double-team move – a facebuster/Flatliner combo that spiked Mercer onto his head, and that’s your lot. **

For a squash, this was pretty boring, I’d have to say. The jobber team made one tag and save for their opening offence, didn’t even have any “hope” spots. If Prospect developed a character, they’d have a chance of evolving past the “shit Dash and Dawson” that they were mocked as being.

Back to the commentary table, and the sound quality seems to take a dip here. Were those microphones plugged in? They recap the show so far, and pass back to the ring. That was a needless segment in fairness…

Martin Kirby vs. “XL Ligero”
Hopefully Kirby’s going to make some effort after his storyline half-hearted effort which led to him interfering in last week’s Ligero/Lethal outing. Something which Blampied calls out on commentary after swapping the face/heel divide once again. Blampied then questions who Kirby is facing, noting that he’d seen the card and he hadn’t seen Ligero’s name on it; only to be corrected by “King Ross”.

Kirby introduces his opponent, but it’s not really El Ligero, just a chubby man in the Ligero gear, who I’m going to call “XL Ligero” for the rest of this.

Kirby kicks XL Ligero in the midsection, and he’s doing the “I commentate my own match” gimmick, except Blampied and Ross talk over a fair chunk of it. A dropkick sends XL Ligero to the mat for a near-fall, before Kirby pulls off a stalling suplex on XL, only to drop him to his feet and poke him in the eye instead.

XL gets taken down with a snapmare for a two-count as Kirby pulled him up again. A running backbreaker gets another two as Kirby pulls him up again, and then pulls off a diving uppercut. Kirby goes outside for a bottle of water, but ends up spitting the drink in the referee’s eyes as XL ducks.

As Kirby tends to the ref, the real Ligero (in a red outfit, as opposed to XL’s green) rolls into the ring and plays possum… Kirby goes for a powerbomb, but Ligero reverses and jack-knifes him for the pin, and that’s the match. Decent comedy, but I guess the referee was red/green colour-blind! **

Just a thought, throughout that match, Adam Blampied was crying foul about how Kirby was making a fool of everyone here, and “killing the promotion”. Isn’t Blampied meant to be a heel in this group… and wasn’t that kind of speech better saved for, I don’t know, the storyline general manager instead?!

We cut to a backstage segment where Martin Kirby (already holding a microphone) runs up to Adam Pacitti and bemoans his loss to “Ligero”. Kirby’s playing interviewer, but Pacitti isn’t interested in his protests.

Back to Adam and Ross on commentary, and yes, their microphones are still switched off. Ross is upset at Martin Kirby’s treatment, whilst Adam calls him out for being annoying… and he now ditches the commentary table so he can “go to ringside” for the main event.

Rampage vs. Joe Hendry
There’s a weird echo on Hendry’s entrance, almost like they tried to dub his theme in over the live recording, but missed it by a second or so. It got annoying fast.

They start with a lock-up, but it comes to nought quickly. Hendry goes for a test-of-strength and struggles before using his speed to take down Rampage with a wristlock instead. Rampage reverses, but is again caught in another wristlock, only to break free with a knee to the midsection.

Hendry lands a clothesline, but Rampage fires back with chops in the ropes, only to be dropped by a jumping knee strike from Hendry. A stalling suplex sends Rampage to the mat for just a one-count, but Hendry stays on top of him with some chops in the corner.

Rampage simply pulls Hendry off the ropes as he looked to climb them, and nailed an elbow drop for a two-count, before hitting a vertical suplex for another two. A grounded headlock follows, as does a stiff lariat as Rampage gets a two-count. Hendry tries to fire back, but he gets kicked down, whilst Ross on commentary openly wonders when Rampage is going to try for the piledriver. Have they already forgotten last week’s storyline that it’s banned?

Rampage hooks away at Hendry’s nose as he lays into him in crossface punches, and yet another hope spot from Hendry gets swatted away as this remains one-way traffic. Hendry fights out of a grounded sleeperhold, and actually drops Rampage with a DDT off the ropes before connecting with a couple of clotheslines and a neckbreaker to boot.

Hendry’s comeback gets cut off with a back elbow, but he catches Rampage with an uppercut in the corner and then the Freak of Nature (fallaway slam), only for Rampage to easily kick out at two. Blampied trips the legs of Hendry as he looked to bounce off the ropes, and from the distraction, Rampage hits a Samoan drop for the win. Wasn’t expecting that finish, but at least we had a half-decent eight-minute match here as Rampage retained his place in the WCPW title match. ***

Hendry is left kneeling in the ring as Rampage exits, and we fade to black… with a promotion for the first WCPW special: Built to Destroy. July 25th is seemingly when they’ll crown a new champion.

From top to bottom, this was a much better show. Things were paced much better, there was no over-kill in terms of backstage segments, and they actually built up to stuff. Granted, Noam Dar getting a spurious ROH title shot off the back of a loss last week was a head-scratcher, but still… more wrestlers, less WhatCulture involvement. Unfortunately, the low crowd was evident by a lack of crowd noise, and I would have easily traded off one of the matches for a slightly-longer main event.

A clear thumbs up show then. Except for the commentary. We still had some inane lines, particularly from Ross in the main event, and less in the way of flubs that could have been redone. Except for the last few segments where it sounded like they’d forgotten to turn the microphones on…

The improved chemistry between Adam Blampied and “King Ross” was evident, but they fell foul of another indie wrestling trope: not remembering whether your character is a babyface or a heel. Having mega heel manager Blampied take the side of El Ligero was just jarring, especially when he had several other spots on commentary as a heel.