64 men… all boiled down to the last man standing as WCPW’s inaugural Pro Wrestling World Cup climaxed in Newcastle on Saturday night.

We open with a panning shot of the trophy before going to the crowd, as Dave Bradshaw makes a nice save when going through the four finalists. Before the opening match, we see a brief video of how everyone got there – at least in this week’s finals… Oh hey, Stevie Aaron’s on ring announcing again. Since this isn’t Loaded, we’ll try not to fall through that gaping plot hole that’s been left unattended.

Pro Wrestling World Cup – Semi-Final: KUSHIDA vs. Joseph Conners
There’s huge chants for Conners, but equal volumes for KUSHIDA as Newcastle were in fine voice here. KUSHIDA starts by going after Conners’ wrist early, but ends up getting taken down in a headlock as the pair worked on the mat early.

KUSHIDA almost frustrates Conners early, sending him outside with a low bridge before a seated senton off the apron put the Righteous one down. Back inside, Conners just about takes down KUSHIDA with a scoop slam for a near-fall, before the former WCPW champ started to wear down KUSHIDA with clotheslines. The ring post comes into play as Conners stretches KUSHIDA around it, and that actually draws some boos out of the crowd.

KUSHIDA chops his way back into it, then lands a hiptoss/dropkick combo, before catching Conner’s slingshot DDT and turning it into the cross armbreaker! An attempted Hoverboard Lock follows, but Conners makes the ropes… and suddenly gains a big target in the form of his left arm.

The slingshot DDT succeeds at the second attempt, but KUSHIDA rolls outside instead… and into the path of a big tope! A snap backbreaker and a back suplex gets Conners a near-fall, before he’s forced to kick out of an O’Connor roll as KUSHIDA surged back. A sunset flip gives way to some indy’riffic near-falls, but KUSHIDA countered away form the Don’t Look Down by grabbing a Hoverboard Lock!

That gets countered into a Falcon Arrow, but Conners’ attempt to go airborne just gets him a dropkick to the gut… and out of nowhere Conners lands the Don’t Look Down hammerlock DDT for a near-fall! Despite looking out of it, KUSHIDA recovers to batter Conners with a handstand kick, then again in the corner as he slams Conners down off the top into a Hoverboard Lock… and despite his best efforts to resist, Conners can’t get free and Steve Lynskey waves off the match! A really solid opening match, with KUSHIDA continuing his impressive run to date… and he’ll have either Ricochet of Will Ospreay in the finals later on. Oh my! ***½

Pro Wrestling World Cup – Semi-Final: Ricochet vs. Will Ospreay
When these guys were in the same side of the original bracket, we should have seen this coming! Their latest tussle started with Ospreay trying to shock Ricochet with an OsCutter as soon as he hit the ring, before Ricochet tried for a Benadryller as the pair started off flying around in their ring jackets!

If you’ve seen any of their matches before, you know what they can deliver – a lot of too-fast-to-keep-up-with offence that’s easy to watch and absorb.

Ricochet knocked Ospreay back into the aisle with a massive tope, before heading onto the stage where Ospreay’s dumped with a brainbuster as Ricochet looked to claim the count-out win. Thankfully, Ospreay’s able to stagger back towards the ring… only to get met with another tope as Ricochet takes him back in for a springboard 450!

Some chops keep Ospreay on the back foot as Ricochet grabs a handful of hair for his bow-and-arrow/facebuster combo, before a clothesline puts paid to some flippy do’s from Will. It seems that Ricochet was a step ahead the whole time here, countering a handspring back elbow with another dropkick for a really nonchalant near-fall.

A 619 in the corner looks to revive Ospreay, who gets off his handspring overhead kick, before tripping Ricochet in the corner… but his Shibata dropkick is avoided as counters counter into a reverse ‘rana by Will! The springboard forearm connects from Will, who then tries for a Rainham Maker… only for a discus clothesline from Ricochet to put him down! Ricochet teased a top rope Benadryller, but he’s forced to escape a Cheeky Nando’s instead as he delivered a Codebreaker out of the corner for a near-fall. Out of nowhere, a Spanish Fly and an Essex Destroyer nearly force the win… so Ricochet throws in some rolling German suplexes, releasing Will into the air on the third go around!

Ospreay collapses to the mat to handily avoid a Benadryller, before trying to ‘rana out of a suplex… the counters just lead to a lifting reverse DDT that nearly ends the match. Ricochet pauses before booting Ospreay in the head, almost like the famed “I’m sorry, I love you” moment… but it’s a ruse as Ospreay absorbs yet another kick and turned Ricochet’s uranage into a snapping wheelbarrow for the win! Perhaps not as flashy as their matches before, but this was really really good, with the story of Ricochet perhaps getting a little too arrogant, costing himself the win. ****

Well, we have a rematch of this year’s Best of Super Juniors final… and if Ospreay and KUSHIDA come close to matching that, then we’ve got a hell of a main event on our hands!

Mike Bailey vs. Penta el Zero M
Well, you can guess how Speedball showed no fear. Kicks! Lots and lots of them, pinning Penta against the ropes with a LONG series of rapid-fire kicks to the chest, eventually drawing cheers from the crowd as Penta rolled to the outside.

Bailey tries a ‘rana to the outside, but it’s caught and turned into an apron powerbomb instead before Penta unloads with some chops. From there, the Pentagon man goes after Bailey’s legs with some kicks of his own – a sound bit of offence – but a running dropkick ends Penta’s offence with a hurry.

A running corkscrew press from Bailey gets a near-fall, but his handspring off the ropes is quickly squashed with a dropkick as the match remained incredibly even. Bailey avoids a Fear Factor and takes Penta onto the apron to tease a German suplex… but instead he trips Penta and goes for the moonsault knees… which miss and earn him a knee to the face instead!

Bailey manages to get in a corkscrew moonsault to the floor, before blocking a leaping Destroyer back in the ring. Penta takes some knees and kicks instead for a near-fall as the pair descended into back and forth shots… and now more kicks from Bailey. Traded superkicks left Penta down, but he superkicks away a shooting star knee attempt before catching Bailey in the Penta Driver (pump handle driver) for a so-close near-fall.

Bailey tries to escape a Fear Factor by rolling up Penta for a near-fall… but they end up on the apron… and a leaping Destroyer absolutely plants Speedball on the apron! Back in the ring, Penta teases another Destroyer off the top rope, but Bailey avoids it, then brings Penta down with a top rope ‘rana… only to crash and burn with the shooting star knees! One superkick and a Fear Factor later, and Penta gets the win! A fun match once you got beyond the kicks – and one of the more attractive matches you could have generated from the eliminated/available guys from the finals week. ***¼

An advert follows for Refuse To Lose 2017 – there’ll be a big match announced later for that October iPPV…

Rampage vs. El Ligero
Ligero’s Magnificent 7 briefcase was on the line here, which like any other temporary briefcase in wrestling is already battered hollow. Ligs tries to be all Mike Bailey with kicks, but that goes about as poorly as you’d expect, as does a ‘rana… which makes the Prestigious Masked Man celebrate… and get bulled to the outside.

Ligero tries another leaping ‘rana, but Rampage shoves him away and falls for his time-out request before kneeling to give Ligs a free shot. Instead, Ligero’s diving crossbody is caught, as his second attempt is just blocked with ease. A quick game of cat and mouse ends when Rampage can’t be bothered chasing, and just boots Ligero as he finished a lap of honour… yeah, Ligero’s barely making a dent here.

A flying sunset flip’s blocked as Rampage just picks up and clotheslines Ligero, before a uranage keeps Ligs down… and now he’s diving over for the briefcase whilst flipping off the fans. Ligero chickens out of hitting Rampage with it, but as the ref’s dealing with the case, Ligero punts Rampage low and rolls him up. This just never got going, and whilst it got Ligero over as a chickenshit, it did pretty much nothing else. *¾

Adam Blampied heads out next to announce the first match for Refuse to Lose – it’s for the WCPW tag titles and it’s War Machine versus… the Young Bucks?! Dear Lord!

Alex Gracie vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
The winner gets a shot at Gabriel Kidd’s Internet championship. I probably shouldn’t have read the Loaded spoilers, eh? Gracie comes out with some nunchucks, then wanders backstage so he can change into a Nottingham Forest football shirt. That got a scarily non-existant reaction in Newcastle… which shows you either how little they care about football-based heat (Nottingham Forest beat Newcastle in a cup game earlier in the week), or about Alex Gracie. Take your pick.

We open with ground-based stuff as Sabre starts to bull Gracie into the ropes, before trapping the former Prospect member in one of his wacky submissions, this one based from a headscissors. Gracie ends up in the ropes and tries to break free aggressively… but that shoving match plays into Zack’s game, as he tripped Gracie and started bending bones for fun.

Gracie punches Sabre in the ropes as he grabbed an opportunity to sneak ahead, stomping and slapping away at a grounded Sabre before getting a near-fall out of a suplex. The snap side slam gets another two-count, as does a leg lariat out of the corner… but Sabre mounts a comeback, sweeping the leg of Gracie before missing a PK… the Article 50 cross armbreaker follows, but Gracie gets too close to the ropes.

Gracie tries a PK and misses as he gets a couple from Sabre, who almost gets shocked with a rolling guillotine! Sabre counters out, but again Gracie makes it to the ropes, and then ends a strike battle with a high knee. The Fall from Gracie’s attempted, but Zack switches into an Octopus hold… which Gracie then countered into a belly-to-back piledriver for another near-fall. Alex tries for the Fall from Gracie again, but he’s pulled down into a rear naked choke that segued into another wacky Sabre submission – and there’s the tap-out. A fun spot of wrestling, but this would have needed something pretty shocking for Gracie to have picked up the win. ***½

WCPW Championship: Jack Swagger vs. Joe Hendry (c)
Huh… Not even an FKA or anything. Well, that’s not a surprise, but Swagger is pretty over in Newcastle. Unlike Hendry, who gets the “you’re shit, and you know you are” chants.

Swagger’s all over Hendry early on, with gutwrench takedowns before having to fight out of a Freak of Nature attempt. A shoulder block knocks Hendry down, whose attempt at a leap frog gets caught… and turned into an ankle lock as a clothesline sent both men to the outside.

Hendry takes over there, whipping Swagger into the crowd barriers, before using endless Irish whips into the corners as Hendry slows things right down. Swagger powered out of a sleeper, but again we’re back to the whips into the corner, and those cost Hendry as Swagger sidesteps one and followed in with some avalanches!

A spinebuster slam takes Hendry down with ease, but again Swagger’s attempts for the Patriot (ankle) Lock prove to be his undoing, before finally grabbing the hold. Hendry counters with his own ankle lock, and now the pair have duelling ankle locks on! After letting go, Hendry countered a gutwrench powerbomb and hits a DDT, before the Freak of Nature gets him a near-fall as Hendry looked to get the win with a sunset flip… but he ends up in another Patriot Lock!

Swagger pulls Hendry away from the ropes as the champ grabs the ring apron to break free… whilst the ref was sorting out the apron, he pokes Swagger in the eyes then rolls him over into a Boston crab that was billed as a double ankle lock, eventually forcing the submission. Well, this was better than the usual Joe Hendry defence, but it still feels like the crowd are booing out of politeness rather than anything that’s being done to incite the reaction. ***

Pro Wrestling World Cup – Final: KUSHIDA vs. Will Ospreay
Randomly, Will Ospreay comes out with the South Coast Connection in tow – Ashley Dunn & Kelly “Here Comes The Wall” Sixx. Not sure why, but hey ho!

Ospreay opens up with a Space Flying Tiger Drop after taking KUSHIDA outside early, and it’s clear Will wants to end this quick… but his shooting star press lands in KUSHIDA’s boots, and now KUSHIDA follows up with a flip senton to the outside. So THAT’S what the SCC were there for!

Back inside, KUSHIDA locks in a crossface, then drags Ospreay into the middle of the ring so he can turn it into… Cattle Mutilation! The double chicken wing doesn’t draw a submission, so KUSHIDA relents and rolls him up for a near-fall instead before starting to slowly target Ospreay’s left arm as the IWGP Junior champion put on a dominant performance.

Ospreay ducks a handspring and follows up with a handspring overhead kick instead, before plenty of aborted dives on the outside lead to KUSHIDA taking a big boot… and following with a STO on Ospreay into the guard railings. KUSHIDA grabs a chair from the front row… and I think we know where this is heading! Except Ospreay throws him into the crowd, and now the SCC follow after him to help clear the area… so Ospreay can hit a High Fly Flow into the crowd!

Back in the ring, an Essex Destroyer plants KUSHIDA for a near-fall, but a 450 splash has to be aborted as KUSHIDA rolls away and plants Will with a roll-through into a DDT. Instead of going for a cover, the Hoverboard Lock follows, as does a bridging suplex, as the pair descend into tit-for-tat strikes. Out of nowhere, a Spanish Fly dumps KUSHIDA, but Ospreay can’t make a move, and when he does get back to his feet, KUSHIDA catches a springboard out of the corner and locks in a cross armbreaker! That switches to a triangle choke with elbows to the head, but Ospreay hangs on and powerbombs his way free… albeit wiping out Steve Lynskey in the process.

For some reason Bea Priestley runs out and grabs KUSHIDA’s ROH TV title belt, but Ospreay stands in the way and stops his girlfriend from “helping” him. He wants a clean win… and that just earns him a tilt-a-whirl into a Hoverboard Lock as KUSHIDA capitalised on a distracted Ospreay… but Ospreay’s able to dive to the ropes to force a heavily-cheered break! The crowd seems to turn on KUSHIDA’s dominance, especially when he grabbed Ospreay’s hair to help with some more kicks. A headbutt leads to a Rainham Maker from Ospreay.. And just like someone else, he’s kept hold of the wrist! KUSHIDA’s held by the arms as Ospreay stomps away at the chest… but KUSHIDA gets free and grabs another Hoverboard Lock!

KUSHIDA tries to roll Ospreay into the middle of the ring for the Back to the Future, but it’s countered into a Stundog Millionaire. A Cheeky Nando’s connects next, but KUSHIDA catches Ospreay up top and teases a Back to the Future… which is blocked and met with a springboard OsCutter off the top for another near-fall! Another OsCutter follows, but KUSHIDA rolls back… and keeps Ospreay hooked for a Back to the Future… and just like that, KUSHIDA wins the tournament!

A hell of a main event – I wasn’t struck on the “sports entertainment” moment, but thankfully it was kept brief. KUSHIDA and Ospreay never seem to fail to have a cracking match, and this was no exception. A fine ending to an exceptional finals week. ****¼

After the match, Steve Lynskey and John Myers carry the Big Arse Trophy™ to the ring, but Will Ospreay grabs it so he can present it. Heck, even Bea Priestley shakes hands, despite her attempt to swing the result earlier in the match…

The show quickly crashes to an end just after the trophy lid falls off… and that’s all! Let’s be realistic, this show you watched only for the tournament matches, and maybe the Swagger/Hendry match. To be fair, this wasn’t a bad show, as long as you skipped the briefcase match which… I don’t know what they were aiming for, but that seemed to do nobody any favours. Storylines aside, the WCPW World Cup can’t be painted as anything other than a success – just like with all tournaments, there were names who were there to make up the numbers, some surprise packages, and perhaps a letdown or two on the way to the glory at the end. All three of this week’s finals shows are worth your time… and they’re for free on YouTube. So get to it!