A WCPW title match, and an Invitational Rumble? The first Loaded of the Joseph Conners era was shorter than usual… and that’s definitely a good thing.

#TLDR: A shorter – but swifter – episode of WCPW’s Loaded saw new champion Joseph Conners defend his title against El Ligero, and we also found out who’ll be wrestling Kurt Angle on their first ever iPPV.

The Full Review: We’re going back to the “normal” numbering of WCPW here, so this is the start of the “third” season, but really this is episode 8 of Loaded.

In the name of recycling, WCPW use an old title card for the hell of it, and we start off backstage with Joe Hendry and Jennifer Louise. I’m guessing this was “after last week”, but Hendry talks about how much mental and physical pain he’s going through. Hendry scares Jennifer as he gets angry over how Joseph Conners tried to end his career last week. Jennifer leaves, and we’re off to the ring.

Joseph Conners comes out in his gear, and he takes the microphone. He’s got a mixed reception, and starts out by saying that Joe Hendry should have seen him as an enemy from the start. Conners was fed up of being made a fool of, and he accepts the lone fan’s chant of “you deserve it”. They’re laying the signposts for the obvious Conners/Hendry match at some point, but first he’s laying out an open challenge for his title. The crowd chant “Moose”, but instead we get El Ligero!

WCPW Championship: Joseph Conners (c) vs. El Ligero
Conners rushes Ligero on the stage, and they fight on the entranceway for a bit. Conners goes to the back and grabs a “steel chair” (it’s plastic, Dave “Bradshaw” Layfield…), but misses a shot. Ligero sits Conners in a chair, but the champion gets up, only to take a wheelbarrow bulldog onto it.

Conners spills off the entrance ramp, and the pair exchange chops around ringside. Ligero tosses Conners into the crowd, then demands that the crowd spread… so he can get dumped onto the barriers by the champion, before Ligero’s forced to knee his way out of a suplex into the chairs… only to take a hiptoss into them.

Their pair go by the bar, then through towards the stage, as the cameras catch Ligero leaping off the crowd barriers with a senton onto Conners. They finally go to the ring, with Ligero dropping Conners with an overhead kick, before a top rope splash gets him a near-fall. Conners blocks a C4L by catching Ligero in an electric chair and dropping him on the ropes, but Ligero fires back with a cruficix pin for a near-fall.

A double stomp out of the corner gets Conners some breathing space, but Ligero works out of a powerbomb, before a double underhook suplex lets Conners segue into an armbar. Ligero rolls him up for a near-fall, before an Ace crusher drops Conners. Both men get back to their feet, and exchange chops, before Conners takes Ligero into the corner and lands a slingshot DDT for a near-fall.

Conners intentionally decks the referee after Ligero kicked out, and then grabs the WCPW belt… Ligero ducks a belt shot, and then uses it himself on the champion. A second Mexican Wave splash sees Ligero get a near-fall after the referee woke up. Ligero goes for the C4L, but Conners catches him and turns it into the Righteous Kill (DDT with a hammerlock) for the win. A really good opener, with Ligero really pushing Conners to the edge. ***¾

As an aside, the canvas here was absolutely filthy, with several remnants of what I assume were Liam Slater’s blood from Stacked. Has nobody at WhatCulture heard of a staph infection?!

At some point in the live feed, they played a promo with Adam Pacitti announcing the group’s signing of Alberto Del Rio. For a show this coming Thursday (September 15th), where tickets had already been slashed to £5. Good job they announced the rechristened Alberto El Patron, because by the end of this show they had announced no other names for those tapings…

We’re in the back as Prince Ameen does a promo building up tonight’s main event: the Kurt Angle Invitational. Ameen’s thrilled at being named… except he isn’t Jennifer Louise walks in on the promo and tells Ameen that he’s not in the match, but Gabriel Kidd is.

More promos here for the Invitational Rumble, featuring Moose, Pete Dunne, and El Ligero. Who has Jennifer Louise pretty much do all the talking. Oh wait, we’ve got some more: Drew Galloway, who promises that Galloway/Angle III will happen. Galloway reckons his Royal Rumble experience will help. Travis Banks and Rampage round off the set.

James R. Kennedy is out next, and he’s still angry with Prospect still being suspended from the promotion. Isn’t Kennedy part of Prospect too? Kennedy calls Newcastle a dump, and runs through the list of international names that WCPW’s bringing… and Kennedy’s got some “prospects”: Lucha Archer and El Drako, Los Perspectivas! Or Los Perspectiva, as their entrance video says. Yes, it’s Lucas Archer and Drake in lucha masks, played for comedy, which worked, especially as Lucha Archer completely flubbed the lucha-style roll in, and just took a back bump.

Los Perspectiva (Lucha/Lucas Archer & El Drako/Drake) vs. Prince Ameen & Gabriel Kidd
They’re still doing the man-servant storyline, with Kidd giving Ameen a piggyback around ringside. Ameen and Kidd do the boo/yay cheers, and they’re wearing WhatCulture t-shirts, specifically a shirt for former commentator “King” Ross, which features the old WWE scratch logo. Wonder how Jerry McDevitt feels?

After some quasi-racist commentary from Alex Shane, we finally get going. Kidd starts with a wristlock on Lucha Archer (who is apparently “Archerio” to Dave Bradshaw; c’mon, keep the gimmick right guys!). An inverted atomic drop and a clothesline knocks down Archer, before Kidd goes for the Eddie Guerrero trio of rolling suplexes.

El Drako tags in, and gets a clothesline for his troubles, then a body slam. Alex Shane puts Drako over as a former “King of the Super Triple Crown Junior Tortilla Weight Champion”, and finally Ameen tags in as he works over Drako with a wristlock. Seconds later, Kidd tags back in, and back out, as Ameen keeps the wristlock on. Ameen grabs the ropes to block an O’Connor roll, and Drako just about does a lucha thing – a rope-assisted armdrag!

Drako drags Kidd into the heels corner, allowing Archer to choke away as Ameen barely looked interested. Kidd drags the lucha guys into each other, but Los Perspectiva drop Kidd with a double-team back suplex for a near-fall. And then Kennedy grabs the microphone…

Kennedy suggests that they cut a deal, and the match stops as Kennedy suggests that Ameen order Kidd to lay down. Ameen orders it, as Alex Shane likens it to the Fingerpoke of Doom. Don’t joke…

Kidd kicks out at two as Archer made a cover, then flipped off Ameen. Wash, rinse, repeat, this time with Kidd kicking out after a boot was placed on his chest. Kidd says he’ll never lay down for Ameen, but Ameen threatens to fire him if he doesn’t go through with it. For a third time, Kidd lays down, and a single finger from Archer gets the pin for Los Perspectiva. Or “Los Perspectivo” as the ring announcer says it. C’mon, keep the joke consistent folks!

This was a complete joke from start to finish, but it was at least played as one. I never like matches which have you invest in them, only to get a cheap finish, and this was no different, I’m afraid. *¼

Back from a “break”, we have more backstage stuff. EC3’s promo for the Kurt Angle Invitational was nothing but him saying “I beat Kurt Angle for the World title”. Effective. Joe Hendry gets one, as does Martin Kirby, Joe Coffey, Doug Williams (who notes he’s already booked against Cody Rhodes on October 6), Marty Scurll and Rampage. Who blows off the interview with Jennifer Louise.

Adam Pacitti heads to the ring to do the initial ring announcing for the Kurt Angle Invitational Rumble. Just because. Pacitti announces the rules, it’s a Royal Rumble with pinfalls and submissions. Like the ones I used to do in TNM7…

Pacitti announces the first participant, “oh God” – Martin Kirby! Number two is El Ligero! Twice in one show? I guess in a 15-man rumble, they had to have some people work twice, I guess. At least Ligero’s selling his match from earlier.

Kurt Angle Invitational Rumble – Winner Faces Kurt Angle on October 6’s “Refuse To Lose” iPPV
Ligero and Kirby started off, reigniting their feud from earlier in the promotion. Kirby saved himself from an early elimination, before a testicle grab helped Ligero stay in. Travis Banks was number three, and he makes a beeline for Ligero after eyeballing Kirby. Ligero gets held up in a stalling suplex for about 20 seconds, ending with an eye-poke, with Banks’ attempt at mimicking him ended with Kirby pulling down Ligero and poking Banks in the eye.

Kirby dives out through the middle ropes, before catching Banks who’d gone over the top… and chooses to save Banks by throwing him back into the ring. Number four is Marty Scurll, who pokes away at Kirby and Banks, and he gets name-checked as PROGRESS’ champion. That usually doesn’t bode well… Scurll misses a dropkick to Ligero, but he counters into a DDT on Kirby, then chops away on the rest of the crew. A poke to the eye rocks Ligero, but Kirby gives one of his own, as Banks and Kirby team up to try and get rid of Scurll. With no luck. Number five is Drew Galloway, who starts by giving an overhead belly to belly on Kirby into Ligero.

Ligero gets powerbombed onto Scurll by Galloway, but Travis Banks gets surprised by Kirby who lifts him up and dumps him to the floor. Kirby gets eliminated seconds later as Banks slides in and tosses him out, and somehow that stands. The pair fight to the back, whilst Scurll works over Galloway. El Ligero’s gone missing, and number six is revealed as Gabriel Kidd. Well, it would have been, as Kidd lands a couple of uppercuts on Ligero, then a diving uppercut off the second rope before Ameen comes out and invokes the servitude contract by ordering Kidd out so he can take his place. With the threat of firing. The same angle twice in one night? So, number six is really Prince Ameen, and he works over Ligero with some punches in the corner. Alex Shane makes a ha-ha over TNA’s issues with running shows in India, and we’re already up to number seven, who is Joe Coffey.

Coffey heads for Ameen, and fights out of a Pedigree attempt, before going for a Giant Swing. A slingshot sends Ameen into the corner, before the Black Coffey discus lariat gets him a pinfall to eliminate Ameen. Fair enough. The two Scots go after each other, and although Galloway gets the advantage, he’s eliminated as Scurll snuck up from behind and tosses him. Another countdown, as number eight is Pete Dunne, whose entire video for his brief entrance is just a burning candle. Couldn’t they have cut those down for this Rumble?

Dunne and Coffey go at it with shoulder blocks, almost like a Newton’s cradle, before Coffey changes direction and drops Dunne with a leaping shoulder tackle. Scurll slaps him into the corner, before Dunne and Coffey receive slaps from the Villain. Dunne tosses Scurll out over the top rope, which has to be a surprise. Number nine is Doug Williams. Who comes out with a chair and a copy of the Daily Mail. Doug sits by ringside and just reads the paper, which made me pop at least, given his “Mr. Brexit” gimmick here. Clearly wanting to read about a campaign to ban microbeads in cosmetics, Williams gets interrupted by Ligero, who grabs the newspaper and tries to rip it up. Ligero stops and just whacks Williams with it, and gets some forearms for his efforts.

Ligero throws Williams in, and then takes Doug’s seat by reading the newspaper. Someone in the crowd chants “you can’t read” at Ligero, so he makes a sad face. I must say, this Daily Mail intervention is better than most of the comedy in wrestling these days… The tenth man out is Joe Hendry, who gets another custom theme that I cannot make out for the life of me. Hendry goes after Williams, and lands a clothesline whilst Ligero finally appears from the floor and whacks Pete Dunne with a rolled up copy of the Daily Mail.

Coffey rips up the newspaper after shoving it in the face of Dunne, and Ligero tries to read a few pieces of it before giving up and throws Dunne into the corner. Number eleven is Rampage Brown, whose caption appears before he even is seen on screen, and Rampage clears house on everyone in the ring. A back suplex dumps Coffey onto the mat, before the Scotsman pops up to take a savate kick. Dunne eats a sit-out powerbomb and gets pinned for the elimination.

Rampage drills Ligero into the mat with a Samoan drop, before Coffey and Hendry’s heads get rammed into head other. Number twelve is Moose, except for the second time tonight we have a switch-a-roo as Big Damo and Los Prospectiva attack him on the stage and take him to the back. So Big Damo takes Moose’s place, and Rampage goes straight for him, only for Los Prospectiva to make it a 3-on-1 beatdown. Nobody else helps Rampage, who gets tossed to the outside by Damo, who then is dragged under the bottom rope.

Rampage dumps Los Prospectiva over the barriers, as he and Damo go through a fire exit and disappear. Number thirteen comes out as EC3, who slides in and out of the ring, before leaning into the crowd barriers and breaking them. EC3 does a lap around the ring, then returns in to square off with Hendry. After shaking hands, EC3 throws Hendry out through the ropes, then Carter stomps away on Ligero and Williams for a bit.

Carter misses an avalanche in the corner, then rolls to the floor after a diving clothesline from Coffey. Another entrant comes out, with number fourteen being Liam Slater, who seems to be an odd choice this late in the match. He tries to roll-up Ligero for a near-fall, before he gets caught by Coffey in a Giant Swing. Ligero leaps onto Coffey, so he picks him up as we get an Airplane Swing/Giant Swing pairing, before a Boston crab on Slater is broken up with a springboard kick. Slater just about drops Ligero with a gutwrench powerbomb for a near-fall, before Slater and Coffey take a Flatliner/reverse DDT from the masked man. As the clock ticks down for the final time, EC3 tosses Ligero out, and number fifteen is revealed as Primate.

Slater gets tossed with a pair of German suplexes, then a double underhook suplex, and a spear which breaks Slater in half. Primate follows up with the headscissors with repeated elbows, and the referee waves it off as Slater gets eliminated to save his life. Coffey and Primate trade strikes, before an awkward spot sees Hendry sidestep Primate as he spears Coffey. At least, that was the plan.

Hendry holds on after Williams tried to throw him out, before a mule kick from EC3 leads to the One Percenter on Hendry. Another spear from Primate knocks down Coffey as we have another pinfall elimination, but Primate’s attempt to follow up leads to him missing a shoulder charge in the corner, which allows Hendry to pick him up and eliminate him with a fallaway slam that sends Primate over the top and to the floor.

The tempo picks up as Williams rushed Hendry, who held on to avoid a Chaos Theory rolling German suplex, but Hendry nails a DDT for another pinfall elimination. We’re down to Joe Hendry and EC3, with some fans still chanting Moose. Not today, guys!

Hendry holds on as EC3 throws him over the top, before returning with elbows and clotheslines in the ring. Carter hits a series of shoulder blocks, then a spin-out powerbomb, and we’re getting Ethan Cena here, with a Five Knuckle Shuffle, before Hendry blocks an Attitude Adjustment, only to get a spinebuster. We’re getting Ethan Rock now, as that spinebuster turns into the People’s Elbow, but Hendry rolled out of the way and lands an Angle Slam, before tossing Carter for the win! That final sprint was fun, and overall this was pretty good as far as Royal Rumbles go. It was a long match, at over half an hour long, and my word, we even ended with Hendry’s proper theme music. Which is always a thumbs up.

I wasn’t so keen on some overbooking here. Two switch-a-roos (Kidd for Ameen, Damo for Moose)… either Damo wasn’t in the match, and they just counted all eliminations regardless of who was in the match, or we could have something between Damo and Hendry ahead of the Angle match? Just a thought, if all of these storylines are going to be kept tidy. ***

This week’s Loaded only ran for 90 minutes, which is much more manageable than the two-hour shows that WCPW put out recently. A fun show doesn’t fix the issues, and aside from the Alberto El Patron/Del Rio spot, there was zero mention of this week’s TV tapings, nor any of the talent booked for it. Perhaps that budget’s being spent on a new ring canvas and ensuring October’s iPPV doesn’t suffer from the usual technical issues.

Still, we’ve got a month until the next WCPW special, and I’d hope that the upcoming episodes of Loaded build up to some longer-term storylines, rather than the load of one-and-done specials we seem to be getting. Ah, who are we kidding, it’ll probably be more stuff to put the imported guys at the top of the agenda, right?