An unfortunate injury led to a deflating main event as controversy marred an otherwise enjoyable World Cup qualifier, that saw two more names make it to this summer’s tournament finals.

Coventry’s Skydome was the host for the latest leg of WCPW’s World Cup qualifiers, featuring talent from Mexico who were looking to join Will Ospreay, Zack Sabre Jr, Joe Coffey and whomever’s replacing Drew Galloway in this summer’s finals. The show opened with a video package from the prior evening’s No Regrets show (this aired around a week later), where Martin Kirby won a Rumble match to take the WCPW title off of Drew Galloway.

Matt Striker and Dave Bradshaw are on commentary – they tell us that the unseated champions of WCPW are facing each other tonight, with Drew Galloway’s farewell match being against Cody Rhodes. We’ve also got Stu Bennett as a guest commentator after his fantastic outing at No Regrets… although in the week between taping and airing, they just recycled the stock WCPW graphic, rather than the World Cup font.

Before we get going, the Prestige head to the ring – or at least, Travis Banks and Joe Hendry. It’s promo time, with a lot of “sshing” from Hendry, who reckons that Banks’ win over Penta el 0M should get him an Internet title shot. That sets Hendry off on one, moaning about how he lost a triple threat without getting pinned… before pinning the WCPW champion and yet isn’t the champ. They threaten to hold the show hostage until management sort it out…

Eventually WCPW GM Adam Blampied (using that name, rather than the other one they’re using elsewhere… you know, the one that makes you think of marshmallows). Blampied books Banks vs. Rampage, before throwing in Kirby vs. Hendry for the title later tonight. The GM’s invited into the ring for a handshake, but of course it’s a trap as he’s pulled into a Freak of Nature arse-crack-showing fallway slam.

Hey guys, why is your canvas still so baggy? Either pull it taught or (stupid idea), iron it. A loose canvas is just begging for a slip or even worse, an injury.

We’ve got the usual pre-match promos – with subtitles (where needed), and the tales of the tape. The first nugget of the day comes from Penta, who tells us that he knows “that Rey Fenix is a strong opponent, and I know him very well because he’s my brother”. Touche.

Pro Wrestling World Cup – Mexican Qualifier – First Round: Penta el Zero M vs. Rey Fenix
Fenix has no time for Penta’s “zero miedo” nonsense, as he grabs an arm and takes down his brother, only for it to get countered into a roll-up for an early two-count. A bridging Indian deathlock follows from Fenix… but Penta replies with the hold Eddie Guerrero called the Lasso from El Paso back in the day.

A lot of missed kicks sees the pair launch into a lucha-style series that saw the brothers square off, before our first dive saw a corkscrew plancha from Fenix taking Penta into the aisle. They wander around the ringside area for a bit as Penta’s thrown into the ringpost, and we get a really bloody obvious series of jump cuts (at least on the on-demand version) as Penta throws Fenix back into the ring.

Penta chops his brother before landing a back cracker out of the corner for a two-count. A superkick rocks Fenix, but he comes back with a cutter for a near-fall, then with a spin kick in the corner as he rolled up Penta for a superkick and a frog splash series… yep, another near-fall! A rebound out of the corner just sees Fenix get killed with a pumphandle driver, but Fenix pops back with a ‘rana off the top rope, before a tiltawhirl combined into a Destroyer gets Fenix a near-fall… Penta comes back with a Destroyer off the middle rope, before the Fear Factor package piledriver gets Penta into the next round. Pretty good for a tournament style match – perfect fare for an opener without having to be all flippy. ***½

The next round of promos has Drago speaking in Spanish. His opponent, el Ligero, just shrugs, and bats his passport in his hand. It’s a British passport. AWESOME.

Pro Wrestling World Cup – Mexican Qualifier – First Round: Drago vs. El Ligero
Oh just bugger off Matt Striker. If you want to “one fall”, go sit with “us marks” behind the barrier, as far away from the microphone as you can.

We start with Drago landing a ‘rana to Ligero, before rolling him into an Octopus-style hold, but Ligero was too close to the ropes and was able to break with ease. Ligero replies by catching a kick from Drago and spinning with the leg into the referee’s hand en route to a leg sweep and a standing moonsault for a near-fall.

A diving dropkick gets Ligero a near-fall, but Drago comes back with an avalanche in the corner and a powerbomb attempt… but Ligero escapes, only to fall into a la Magistral cradle for a near-fall as Drago goes back to the Octopus. Ligero hits a boot in the ropes as he mounts another comeback, finishing with a pumphandle facebuster for a near-fall.

We get our next dive as Drago lands a tope into the aisle, before he returns and hits a spinning running blockbuster on Ligero. The Dragon’s Tail gets him a near-fall, but Ligero replies with a pop up forearm and a C4L for the win out of nowhere. That was quite the outing, but a lot of the crowd seemed to be indifferent to this match – decent, but a weird finish. Ligero will face Penta in the second round for a spot at the tournament finals… **¼

Hardcore Match: Scott Wainwright vs. Primate
The “what do we give Scott Wainwright to do whilst Will’s away” tour continues… with a hardcore match to play up the feud with WhatCulture’s king. Thankfully he wasn’t on screen here, nor did Primate come out in a trollied cage, and the pair start fighting in the aisle, which was better lit than usual.

Primate tries for a piledriver in the aisle, but he’s backdropped out of it as Bea Priestley throws in a few boots for the hell of it. A baking sheet gets wrapped around Primate’s head, and now Wainwright pulls out a bunch of chairs from under the ring so he can set up a pair of them next to each other. Before he can use those though, he places Primate on a chair then cannonballs into him off the apron.

Primate recovers by dropkicking Wainwright off the apron, sending him into those chairs from earlier, and the bell finally rings as the pair entered the ring. Priestley enters the ring and takes down Primate with her women’s title, but Wainwright only gets a near-fall. That prompts him to head into the unlit ringside area to get a bag of something… which he has trouble opening. Eventually Scotty opens the bag and pours some thumbtacks onto the mat, but Primate counters with an Exploder into the corner to get as far away from those pins as possible.

Primate grabs some chairs from the outside – and they’re school chairs, rather than the folding kind – before the pair sit down and punch it out. A Primate headbutt rocks Scotty, who then gets some thumb tacks poured into his mouth, before they’re punched out for a gruesome visual. We barely see Bea get involved, as she attacks Primate before Wainwright’s death valley driver gets a near-fall, before a release German suplex flips Wainwright inside out.

Scotty rolls to the outside as Bea decides to try and attack from above… her ‘rana attempt is caught… and she’s the one who takes the powerbomb into the thumbtacks. Wainwright leaps off the top and gets speared into the tacks, and those two brutal moments are enough for Primate to win. For a hardcore match, this was fairly pedestrian until the finish. **

Pro Wrestling World Cup – Mexican Qualifier – First Round: Alberto el Patron vs. Rey Mysterio
This was interesting – coming a day after Alberto missed the No Regrets show due to illness, this match tipped them over the 100th time they’d faced each other in some form (thanks Cagematch!)

For some reason, WCPW used Alberto’s old Twitter handle (he’s @PrideOfMexico these days), but at least they had Stu Bennett keep up the old League of Nations act for those of us who like consistency. There’s a lot of playing to the crowd before Alberto pulls Rey down from a tie-up, then poses for the hell of it.

Rey flips off Bertie after he’s mocked, and we’re back to the tie-up throwdown as Patron goes to his knees to mock Rey some more. Mysterio fires up with dropkicks before tripping Patron into the ropes for an early 619 attempt. Rey follows him to the outside with a West Coast Pop to the floor, but his leg is chopped as he tries to climb the ropes, putting him briefly in a tree of woe.

Patron tries to rip off Rey’s mask, but that just sets him back into the tree of woe as Patron misses a charge into the corner. Rey replies with a diving headbutt for a near-fall, but he too is sent into the corner as Patron then slides Mysterio out of the ring and onto the floor. They fight in the aisle where Patron grabs a baseball cap from Joe Atherton (he gets everywhere…), then rolls Rey back in so he can land something off the top rope, perhaps an axehandle?

The pace slows down even more with a rear chinlock, before yet another tree of woe leaves Rey prone to some shots to the chest… but he’s thrown to the mat with an overhead belly to belly as Patron went for the double stomp. Another West Coast Pop follows from Rey, who rolls out of a sunset flip and kicks Patron for a near-fall.

Mysterio rolls through and out of the armbar, before sending Patron into the ropes for a 619… Alberto hits a tiltawhirl backbreaker first though, then a superkick for a two-count, before Rey tries again for the 619, and this time hits it without slipping off the ropes. A top rope splash follows, and that’s enough for Rey to make it through. This felt really sluggish to start off with, but it picked up a lot by the end – and given the manner of events over that weekend, I’d not be shocked if this was the last time we saw Patron in WCPW for a while. **¼

Pro Wrestling World Cup – Mexican Qualifier – First Round: El Hijo de Dos Caras vs. Juventud Guerrera
The shortest of all of the tournament matches here gave us barely five minutes, and we start with a lot of armdrags and flip ups, before a headscissor takedown takes Caras to the outside. Juvi follows up with a tope, before kicking Caras off the apron and leaping into him… but it’s countered into an apron powerbomb. Back inside, Juvi’s caught in a rear chinlock that he’s forced to fight out of, but a diving knee puts the veteran down for a near-fall.

Guerrera counters a waistlock and lands a ‘rana, rolling through into a basement dropkick, before Caras rolls up into a clothesline that leaves both men on the mat. A spear comes next from Caras, but Juvi kicked out at two, before another headscissors took down Caras for a running knee to the head… and that’s all. Well, this wasn’t good – and going on form, I cannot blame Juvi for this at all. When you’ve got the commentary pointing out that you’re blown up two minutes into a match, perhaps cardio needs to become your thing? Juvi and Rey will face off in the second round… *

We get a video recapping Gabriel Kidd’s first win at No Regrets – a victory that earned him the Internet title from Cody Rhodes. That leads to Gabriel Kidd coming out to ringside, who still doesn’t have his own music back for some reason, alongside Prince Ameen (who’s wearing that Brandi Rhodes tee… because, reasons).

Prince Ameen does Kidd’s promo, saying that this is a celebration of 9 months of hard work for Kidd. Gabe gets “you deserve it” chants, before thanking the crowd, then tells us that he was questioning his career choice during his losing streak. He recalled getting a text being told he “wasn’t needed” for some shows in August last year, then bemoaned being originally left off a PPV in Nottingham… and the recent WCPW trip to Orlando. Travis Banks spoils the party by hitting the ring and laying out Ameen with the Internet title, before kicking Kidd low.

Banks sets up to hit Kidd with his own title belt, but then Rampage’s music hits, and our scheduled match starts without a ref!

Travis Banks vs. Rampage
Rampage catches a kick and throws Banks down with a slam, before a clothesline knocks the Kiwi off the top rope to the floor, where the two exchange chops and strikes around the ringside area.

Eventually Rampage rolls Banks back inside, but Travis throws himself back out into a tope, before deciding against taking a count-out victory, rolling Rampage into the ring so he can follow up with a diving dropkick for just a count of one. Rampage explodes out of the corner with a clothesline, then with another one off the middle rope as his methodical beatdown continued. Banks tries for the Slice of Heaven springboard enziguiri out of the corner, but it’s caught and turned into a spinebuster for a near-fall, before Travis escapes a piledriver and throws in a diving dropkick for a near-fall of his own.

At the second try, the Slice of Heaven connects, but Rampage kicked out at two and rolled to the outside where he’s joined again by Banks, who has a chair in hand… but Gabriel Kidd’s back and stops it. Banks finds himself between Kidd and Rampage, before Rampage takes him back inside for a back suplex attempt… Banks avoids it and lands a diving clothesline for a two-count, before he’s just thrown into the air as he went for a piledriver. Rampage hits it with no problem, and that’s all he needs for the win. Decent enough, but this crowd is having a hard time reacting to just about anything tonight. ***

By way of a video segment, they announce a “small change” for next weekend’s Canadian World Cup qualifiers, which’ll have Michael Elgin, Davey Boy Smith Jr, Rene Dupree, Brent Banks, Tyson Dux, Mike Bailey, Frankie the Mobster and Kyle O’Reilly – that’s Bailey in, Tarik out, for those who are keeping track. Yes, they fade away from the announcement while the guy’s still talking… how does that happen on a post-produced show?!

Brandi Rhodes is out next to ring-announce the next match – and smartly decides not to bait Jerry McDevitt by leaving out the last name!

Cody Rhodes vs. Drew Galloway
Billed as Drew’s last match for WCPW (so I guess his spot in the World Cup’ll be going to someone else… perhaps a penalty shoot-out is in order?), this got a “this is awesome” chant. From a handshake. It’s going to be one of those matches…

We start off rather methodically, with shoulder tackles and bodyslams being the order of the day, before Cody clotheslines Drew to the floor for a springboard body press to the outside. Back inside, Drew throws Cody with an overhead belly-to-belly out of the corner for a near-fall as Galloway enjoys the upper hand, before he heads outside for a table… and it’s not one of the typical wrestling tables either!

After setting the table, Galloway heads back in, but gets caught on the top rope with a superplex by Rhodes, before a scoop slam gets a near-fall. A Disaster Kick follows, but Galloway stays on his feet, and manages to rebound by grabbing Cody in the ropes with an inverted Alabama slam. Cody counters a Futureshock DDT into a figure four, but eventually ends up rolling into the ropes as Drew looked for a break.

Galloway avoids a leap off the top from Cody, then snapmares himself free from a Cross Rhodes as a Claymore kick gets the Scotsman a near-fall. Drew shoves away referee Joel Allen as he was pulled up from some ground and pound, leading to Brandi getting on the apron for some reason, which led to her taking a Disaster kick from Cody – who was of course not aiming for her.

A big boot from Drew sends the Rhodes off the apron and through that table – with only part of that snapping on impact. Should have gotten a proper table, lads! Back inside, Drew hits his spider belly-to-belly suplex before we get another ref bump as Drew’s airplane spin to Cody sees Rhodes knock down Joel using his feet. A double crossbody leaves both men laying shortly after that, and now because we need comedy relief, Drake comes to the ring to stomp down Cody and Drew.

That angers Stu Bennett on commentary, who comes in and delivers a Bullhammer elbow to Drake, who started from the bottom… and he’s still there.

The match resumes with trading strikes, before another Cross Rhodes gets Cody a near-fall as Joel stirred. From there, a backslide from Cody is countered into the Futureshock for another two-count, so Drew tries for a top rope Samoan drop… Cody escapes, before Drew tries for a sunset flip… Cody sits down on it, and that’s enough for Cody to get the win with the modified SummerSlam 92 finish! This was pretty good, and a completely different style to everything else on the card. I wasn’t thrilled on the Drake run-in (just… why?!), but hey, WCPW can’t help themselves at times. ***¾

After the match, Cody gets the microphone and puts over Drew’s hard work – one that ultimately culminated in him returning to WWE. The pair shake hands and embrace as Drew bade farewell to WCPW… but not before he said a few words, thanking the fans and pledging to be the first “British World Heavyweight champion”. Depending on how picky you are, Magnus might have a word to say about that!

Pro Wrestling World Cup – Mexican Qualifier – Second Round: El Ligero vs. Penta el Zero M
A brief “final” of sorts here started with Ligero flipping off Penta’s offer of a handshake, before connecting with an enziguiri that leads to a faked out dive from Ligero… who just flips off Penta again.

Yep, Ligs is insane. They head outside where Penta takes a forearm, then gets thrown back in for a near-fall. More forearms soften up Penta for a suplex, before Ligero mocks Penta’s “cero miedo” hand gesture, sparking the Pentagon man back into life. A swift kick blocks a back body drop, with a Slingblade following for a two-count, before Ligero avoids a Fear Factor.

Penta ends up taking a springboard cutter from Ligero, before landing a superkick, then a leaping Destroyer off the middle rope, only for Ligero to hit a Destroyer of his own off the ropes. The pair head onto the apron for some back and forth chops, ending with Ligero ducking one and instead getting caught with a Fear Factor on the apron. That’ll take the horns off you! They head back in where Ligero again flips off Penta, which earns him a superkick and a Fear Factor as the Pentagon Man booked his place in the finals. This was fine, maybe a little short and slow-paced, but I’d much rather something like this than something flippy with a lot of fails. ***¼

After the match, Ligero finally offers a handshake… but Penta flips him off. What’s good for the goose, and all that!

The post-production curse continues as they fade out from a plug for their magazine too soon. Does nobody watch these back and, you know, take notes on things like that?

Pro Wrestling World Cup – Mexican Qualifier – Second Round: Juventud Guerrera vs. Rey Mysterio
This was the first singles match between these two in over sixteen years, after a no-contest on WCW Thunder back in September 2000 (a week after Juvi beat Rey to be number one contender for the Cruiserweight title, for those who are counting)… speaking of belts, Juvi had one with him for some reason.

Matt Striker, who was verging on the insufferable all night, told us that these two “had heat”. Yep, there’s a reason a lot of people don’t like him as a commentator, and it’s more than the “one fall” bollocks. Juvi throws a fit because the crowd are pro-Mysterio, but he shakes hands anyway before they lock-up, and they start with a lucha special with monkey flip teases and the like, before Juvi just grabs a headlock.

Some good stuff here see both men try for covers, but not even get a one-count, before the pair continued to go back and forth, leading to Rey baseball sliding to the outside, only to get swept on the apron as Juvi sent Mysterio down hard. Mysterio finally blocks a tiltawhirl backbreaker from Juvi, then comes back with an eventual tiltawhirl into an Octopus hold, only broken up when the pair fell into the corner.

A Michinoku Driver from Guerrera turned things around quickly, before he went up top… and got caught by Rey, getting sent down to the mat as Mysterio then did the same trick, as Juvi crotched him on the top rope. Juvi brings Rey back into the ring with a top rope ‘rana, before throwing in a frog splash for a near-fall. Guerrera looked for an Electric Chair drop, only to get shoved into the ropes as Mysterio finishes him off with a 619, then a frog splash – and there’s our second finalist!

Another brief match, but this was solid – especially considering how much these two had worked against each other in the past, it was as if they’d not missed a beat. ***¼

Another pre-taped segment now, with an update on the Japanese leg of the World Cup Qualifiers, with Hiromu Takahashi and BUSHI being added to that show in Manchester in July. Yes, they faded away too early…

WCPW Championship: Joe Hendry vs. Martin Kirby (c)
“That dreadful droning sound” heralded the entrance of the challenger. No, it’s not Matt Striker’s commentary – it’s the trademark Prestige air raid siren themes. Kirby mocks Hendry from the off, as the pair work over each others’ arms before Kirby scored with a tiltawhirl headscissors takedown as he went back to the armbar. Hendry scores a fireman’s carry as he grabs Kirby’s boot, before falling for a high five as Kirby rolls him into a modified version of the Jushin “Thunder” Liger seated surfboard.

The wandering camera plays up as Hendry is taken to the outside, then into the guard railings for some chops, before Hendry puts on the brakes and sidesteps a charge as Kirby dove head-first into the crowd barriers. Kirby’s left laying for an age, with referee Steve Lynskey helping to stall as the referee refused to even start the count-out. There’s not even the a of medical help being forthcoming as Hendry just drags Kirby back into the ring before dishing out a suplex to the prone champion.

Finally someone comes out with a first aid kit (I kid you not) to tend to the concussed Kirby. In the meantime, Steve Lynskey gets some water for Kirby, but Joe Hendry decides to tower over the medic before whipping Kirby back into the guard railing. Yep, that’s a good idea – repeat a version of the spot that caused the injury! Hendry throws away the first aid kit for the hell of it, then boots away the referee who was covering Kirby.

Hendry rolls the champion back in and kicks him… and I can see why some people thought the injury wasn’t legitimate. Why did nobody call an audible and have Hendry just make the pin, rather than continue some semblance of a match? Kirby tries to fight back, but he’s on jelly legs, and this is a case of a match that really did not need to continue. Still, Kirby keeps up, rolling up Hendry into a neckbreaker that hurt both men, to the point where Hendry resumed offence first, slapping Kirby around the head.

Kirby keeps kicking out as Hendry tries to end things, but Kirby’s so helpless he crumples to the mat as he was whipped into the corner. Things are made worse when Kirby’s trapped in the middle rope and repeatedly thrown into the canvas from a shortened tree of woe, which leads to everyone on commentary berating the referee for not stopping the match… and it’s only when Steve Lynskey steps in the way of Hendry as he went for a punt kick that the match was finally waved off – with Hendry announced as the new champion after deflating main event.

It’s one of those things, and I get that the people in charge at WCPW were in a pinch, but I do have to wonder, if this weren’t the main event, would this have been handled any different? Yes, Martin Kirby tried to fight through it and put on a performance, but this was a serious collective lack of judgement from everyone involved. I’m glad that Kirby wasn’t too seriously hurt, but in 2017, knowing what we all know about head injuries, this match should have been stopped there and then. Storylines be damned. Was there nobody else in the back who could have called an audible and replace the previously *unadvertised* main event? The “ideal” scenario couldn’t have taken place as Drew had already had his final match and farewell, so the “rematch” from the Rumble couldn’t have happened, but almost anything would have been better than the awkward mess that ended up being broadcast.

For the most part, there was some really good booking on here, in terms of who goes through to the tournament finals… and although none of these qualifiers have yet to have a single blow-out match, they’ve all been easy to watch. Well, save for El Hijo de Dos Caras, but that stinker wasn’t exactly unexpected given his matches in WCPW to date. The concerning nature that the main event injury was handled aside, the bug-bear of these shows with me is that the camera work seems to have taken a marked downturn in quality. Whilst miscues are expected on a live show, there’s little excuse for things like seeing the camera wandering to the next spot, or wandering to the floor of the arena when the show is out six days later. Maybe I’m spoiled by the camera work done by PROGRESS, but it’s the little things that matter. I’m not looking for cinematic masterpieces, but it’d be nice to see matches shot by people who don’t seem to be frequently taken by surprise when a wrestler hits a trademark move.

When we reviewed No Regrets just over a week ago, we commented on how they’d filled the show with a lot of names that were expecting to be on the (since postponed/cancelled) World of Sport taping. None of those new names were there here… but there has been movement on the other front, with WCPW announcing weekly dates. Yes, from next month, Loaded returns every Friday from June 2nd at the Bowler’s Exhibition Centre in Manchester – going live every week bar one (with the Japanese World Cup Qualifiers on July 7 being the odd one out) until August 18. Further dates for Newcastle, Milton Keynes and Altrincham are also due to be added, with that last one being a bit strange, given that it’s only 22 miles from their Manchester venue… After several misfires, it looks likes WCPW’s getting back together – but please, get the camera work sorted before June!