After a rather tumultuous week behind the scenes, Loaded stayed on-course for next month’s Refuse to Lose with a rather surprising turn of events between some former tag team champions…

Before we get going, let’s address the elephant in the room. This past week, WhatCulture announced the departure of half a dozen staff members, all of whom have been instrumental in WCPW in some form. Adam Blampied, Adam Pacitti, “King” Ross Tweddell, Sam Driver and Jack King were abruptly announced as “leaving to pursue other projects” – taking away a huge part of the promotion’s staff, be it from the more mundane stuff like setting out chairs, to actually editing the show (Driver), to being the on-screen GM figures (both Adams). If you believe internet speculation, that new venture is a competing website known as Cultaholic, whose online presences were registered in late July.

These current set of Loaded tapings were recorded before these departures were announced, so we’d not expect much to happen in terms of replacements being announced. WCPW has posted a teaser video for… something. If that’s of any significance, we’ll tack it onto the end of this review.

We open with a recap of the end of last week’s Loaded, where Will Ospreay was jumped by the Prestige, before we go to the opening titles and the screaming crowd in Sheffield. Dave Bradshaw and James R. Kennedy are on commentary, building up to Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Gabriel Kidd for the Internet title.

They take us back to last week where Bad Bones attacked Prince Ameen with a baseball bat, before Gabriel Kidd’s midsection was wrecked by a spear and nunchucks. He’s not 100%, but he’s still gotta wrestle later tonight.

Bad Bones vs. Prince Ameen
This ought to be a squash! Ameen was apparently “showing no outward signs of the injury” whilst repeatedly holding his ribs. Make your mind up Dave! Bones spears him at the bell, and spends time working over Ameen’s midsection, with knees to the gut and repeated Irish whips into corners. German suplexes put Ameen down for a near-fall… and the Indian Dream fires back with a Samoan drop, then a spinebuster, which seems to be enough for him to do his Magic Carpet dive. Except Bones press slams him out of the corner then superkicks him as a spike double underhook DDT does the job. Well, it was competitive, but an enjoyable squash. **½

After the match, Bones drapes the “magic carpet” on Ameen and drills him with the baseball bat for the hell of it.

They play the teaser video from YouTube – the one that’s 4 lines down and 3 across like a weird game of Tic Tac Toe. September 22 is the date… which is today, as I’m writing…

Young Lions (Tarkan Aslan & Lucky Kid) vs. Johnny Moss & Liam Slater
Steve Lynskey skipped the call for “die Jungen Löwen”, which I don’t blame him for at all. Slater and Moss’ entrance video still has them throwing around Tyler Bate and Trent Seven… ah, remember when they were running riot in that tag title tournament?

Moss makes light work of Tarkan Aslan in the opening moments, then again with Lucky Kid, as the Germans really struggled to get into the game. Commentary painted these teams as mirrors of each other, in terms of teacher/student relationships, but for some reason they just couldn’t find a way into it as frequent tags from Slater and Moss helped keep them in the driver’s seat.

Lucky Kid gets a sniff, but Slater easily takes him down again with a hiptoss as normal order was restored. Just as I type that, the Lions finally string together some offence, with some knees getting Lucky Kid a two-count, before working over Slater – who of course received backing from his fellow Yorkshiremen.

A combo of a big boot and an apron enziguiri gets the Lions a near-fall, before Slater fought back with a full nelsons lam before tagging Moss back in for the comeback. Despite taking a missile dropkick, he was able to dump Lucky Kid with a fallaway slam. The Lions rebound with a tope from Aslan, before Moss eats an enziguiri ahead of the Lions’ teasing their Circle of Life finish… but Moss fights free and dumps the Lions with a double back suplex, before his attempt at a German suplex to Lucky Kid’s thwarted as his elbow gave way… a quick tag out allowed Tarkan Aslan to capitalise with a bridging German to Liam Slater – and that’s enough for the win! That was a real come from behind win for the Lions, as Johnny Moss’ injury-riddled year continued. ***

Slater gets the mic and asks for some help for Moss… before tearing into his mentor always getting injured. It got to the point where Slater told Moss that he shouldn’t be wrestling… so he’s slapped, and apparently that’s what Slater wanted all along. He issues a challenge for the Refuse To Lose PPV, and I guess that may be Moss’ farewell given that he’s meant to be retiring.

A plug for WhatCulture’s new Attitude-era book follows. That’s a time capsule given those departures!

We cut to Alex Gracie in the ring at the tail end of a promo where he’s trying to get the crowd to chant “legend” at him. He talks about how he’s beaten down Martin Kirby, but he’s angry that the fans still won’t chant for him. Perhaps if you were likable? The lights go out and of course, that’s the cue for Kirby, who takes the mick out of Gracie as part of the build to a newly-announced trios match on Loaded next week.

Kirby makes a load of dick jokes, then challenges Gracie to put something else on the line: winner of the trios match can pick stipulations for the Refuse to Lose matches. I always love vagaries in my wrestling, especially when it comes to nonspecific matches! Jack The Jobber appears with a contract in hand… that was quickly written up!

They keep the WiFi password gag from the London shows going, and the contracts get signed. So, non-specific trios match with the winners picking stipulations for non-specific matches at Refuse to Lose. Of course, Jack’s out to take some punishment, which was a superkick to the gut. Martin Kirby doesn’t seem too bothered as he got the crowd chanting, and we fade away…

Another replay of the South Coast Connection trying to save Will Ospreay from Loaded last week follows. It might be me, but these would look less repetitive if we had a new voice-over, rather than play the same VT we had earlier.

The Prestige (Joe Hendry & El Ligero) vs. South Coast Connection (Kelly Sixx & Ashley Dunn)
Commentary notes that other members of the Prestige in Joe Coffey, Travis Banks and BT Gunn were suspended for the night. I wonder if that counts for next week’s show too? Anyway, the relative rookies are taken to the outside for a spot of brawling before the match starts in the ring with Kelly Sixx taking some double-teaming.

Ashley Dunn has a similar fate, before he’s backdropped into a ‘rana on Ligero as the Southerners strung together some offence. Not sure why they’re billed from the South Coast, but we’ll go with it… Joe Hendry dumped Sixx on his head with a big clothesline, and the Prestige took over from there, isolating Dunn in the corner. Hendry drags Dunn down for a near-fall as he’s kept as far away from a tag as possible, before he slipped out of a Freak of Nature and managed to tag in Sixx. The sometimes-Josh Wall lands a double stomp out of the corner, before superkicking the back of Ligero’s head as a roundhouse kick/Finlay roll combo put the Mexican Sensation down.

Although Sixx and Dunn had some good combination moves, they seemed to be undone by clotheslines, as the Prestige once again took over, leading to Hendry again teasing a Freak of Nature… but the lights go out, and resume with Will Ospreay appearing on the apron. That distraction ends up costing the Prestige, as Sixx rolls up Hendry – and that’s enough! Eh, I’m not a fan of distracting finishes, but this was a pretty good match until then, and it built the Hendry/Ospreay stuff in a new way so… good stuff! ***½

They run through the Refuse to Lose card to date: Slater vs. Moss, Hendry vs. Ospreay for the WCPW title, War Machine vs. Young Bucks for the WCPW tag titles, Kay Lee Ray vs. Bea Priestley for the WCPW women’s title (yes, it exists, as does the second e in Bea’s surname…).

WCPW Internet Championship: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Gabriel Kidd (c)
Zack won this title shot by beating Alex Gracie on the World Cup Finals show – and this is technically a rubber match as Sabre beat Kidd in a hell of a match back in January (one we gave **** to), whilst Kidd earned a win in his first ever title defence as part of the Canadian World Cup qualifiers in Toronto in May.

Kidd’s got some tape around his ribs, alluding to the injury he suffered on Loaded last week during that tag match against Alex Gracie and Bad Bones, but Sabre doesn’t make a beeline for it. Instead, Zack looked to keep Kidd on the mat, or at least at close quarters so he could run through his usual array of holds. When trying to twist Kidd’s head off like a bottle top (with a cravat) didn’t work, the champion actually was able to get something going, taking down Sabre with an Indian deathlock… before a Muta lock somehow saw him lose the initiative.

Sabre goes back to his playbook, wrenching away on Kidd with a stranglehold, which gets reversed back and forth, as Sabre maximises things with a headlock… as the pair continued to go hold-for-hold with each other. A big boot from Kidd knocks Sabre down, but the champion stays in it despite Sabre’s attempts to get back into the match, with a simple abdominal stretch forcing Kidd to lunge towards the ropes.

That hold seemed to put Zack in front, as he started to target Kidd’s arm, before booting away on Kidd so much that he almost got shoved out of the ring! It’s all becoming rather nonchalant for the challenger, who started to make his class show with a series of uppercuts, before diving into one from the champion.

Kidd rebounds with a belly-to-back flapjack, then a Yakuza kick… only for a Finlay roll to get stuffed as Sabre climbed around him and into a front guillotine. Somehow Kidd escapes with a suplex for a two-count, but again ends up trapped in a submission as a triangle choke ends up being broken via the ropes.

They go back to slapping each other silly, with Kidd winning out briefly, before he gets off a brainbuster for a two-count… but Sabre again rebounds with a shotgun dropkick and a PK… which gets a two-count. So he goes back to his wacky submissions, with a modified, grounded abdominal stretch forcing another rope break as Kidd managed to get a hand to the bottom rope.

It’s back to the slaps as Sabre keeps the pressure up, finally going after those ribs, only to run into Kidd’s diving knee… but Sabre kicks out at two, only to get a lifting reverse DDT for another near-fall. Kidd tries to finish things with a moonsault, but he only lands into another triangle choke, this time in the middle of the ring… and despite lifting Sabre up, Kidd’s caught instantly in a grounded Octopus as elbows to the ribs leave the champion with no choice but to submit! We have a new Internet champion, and I guess ZSJ can call himself Zacky Three Belts once more!

Compared to the January match, this was a shade below that – albeit the crowd being hotter in January had a hand in it. Still, a really good main event as WCPW crowns its fourth champion of the Internet. Or however that works! ***¾

We go off air with Sabre celebrating with his newly-won belt, before they announce another new match for Refuse to Lose: David Starr vs. Mike Bailey for the next shot at the Internet title. Next week on Loaded, we’re getting KUSHIDA vs. Bailey, Primate defending the Hardcore title over Penta el Zero M, Will Ospreay vs. El Ligero, and a non-specific trios match Martin Kirby’s team vs. Alex Gracie’s team, with the winner picking the stipulation for their match at Refuse to Lose.

This was a much better episode of Loaded compared to last week – when WCPW keeps the focus on the in-ring stuff, their shows tend to be streets ahead. The Ospreay/Hendry feud feels a little different, but on the whole we’ve got a lot of stuff that’s looking promising for the here and now… but not much for after that.

That being said, it’s a shame that there seems to be a cloud over the promotion now after the WhatCulture staffing announcements earlier in the week. There’s one more Loaded episode in the can before October’s PPV and subsequent tapings – but with so much up in the air, it remains to be seen if WCPW stays the course or heads in a new direction since we’re back in the familiar position of having nothing on deck after this current round of tapings…