Newcastle got its first taste of World Cup qualifying action, as WCPW brought the Rest of World entrants to Tyneside for the final set of qualifiers.

It’s another cut-down, tournament-only show that barely lasting 90 minutes – as a peaking Dave Bradshaw and James R. Kennedy are our hosts. These shows have been so much more bearable since Matt Striker stopped being used.

Pro Wrestling World Cup – Rest of World Qualifier – First Round: Travis Banks vs. Mark Davis
This is a pretty special match to start off with. Mark Davis has only had one match in WCPW, but has made a bit of a name for himself elsewhere since that match against BT Gunn. Poor Dunkzilla (who’s introduced as such), with the hardest draw… Stevie Aaron is back as ring announcer, although that could just be because he’s introducing the Prestige’s Banks, who was making his first appearance here in almost three months.

Davis is quickly clobbered with a tope as Banks puts the boots to the Aussie before he even got to the ring. They brawl around ringside, where we see the infamous “toilets” sign that pointed at Alex Shane back in the way, and now the bell goes as Davis tries to fight back in the ring.

He effortlessly flapjacks Banks and lands a big powerbomb for a near-fall though as the pair trade wild chops in the corner, before Banks gets turfed across the ring with a biel throw for a near-fall. Banks comes back with some uppercuts before he runs into a uranage a la Samoa Joe out of the corner, but it’s not enough to keep him down, as Banks trips him into the corner for a diving dropkick, then a cannonball.

Davis keeps getting his licks in, sliding into a downed Banks with a forearm before pulling him up by the feet into a piledriver! Good God, that was impressive against a smaller man like Lykos – and it loses none of that charm here either! Banks kicked out though and starts to pepper Davis with kicks, before a Slice of Heaven is caught… but Banks flips it into a Destroyer before finally hitting the Slice of Heaven for a near-fall. Straight from the kick-out, Banks locks in the Lion’s Clutch, and that’s all folks! A hell of a sprint, and an enjoyable opener to boot! ***¾

Pro Wrestling World Cup – Rest of World Qualifier – First Round: Tom LaRuffa vs. Jurn Simmons
Nope, Stevie Aaron’s here all night, which is a head scratcher for anyone who remembered him turning heel a few shows back. LaRuffa used to be NXT’s Sylvester LeFort, or Basile Baraka in TNA for those who watched last year. Jurn’s got a different song to his usual wXw theme, which means that he’s switch his entrance routing too… it’s a skeleton compared to the gloriousness it usually is, but needs must!

LaRuffa flips out of a wristlock as the pair worked a grounded style to begin with, with the Frenchman grabbing a rear chinlock… only for Jurn to throw free of it. Armdrags follow from the Dutchman, before a third one is stuffed and turned into another chinlock as the already-quiet crowd went even quieter. Again though, Jurn powers out and shows some of his typical gyrations as the crowd started to warm to him. Those chops helped!

A simple throw takes down LaRuffa once more, but he rolls away from an elbow drop as Jurn ended up getting dropped with a clothesline for a near-fall. In the end though, an Oklahoma stampede gets Jurn a two-count, only for LaRuffa to get a side Russian leg sweep as the tit-for-tat continued…

Simmons lands a uranage for another near-fall, before another clothesline set up LaRuffa for a top rope splash that almost ends it… LaRuffa somehow gets free of a piledriver as Jurn instead knocked him down with a diving knee, as that piledriver succeeded at the second attempt for the win. This wasn’t too bad, but without being too unkind, you could tell these two were at different stages of their careers. **¾

Pro Wrestling World Cup – Rest of World Qualifier – First Round: RJ Singh vs. Flash Morgan Webster
We find out that Malice is in Wales, whilst Singh is representing India as commentary acknowledges his long history on the British scene. This was a first-time meeting, which saw Singh ground Webster early on with a wristlock as the pair ended up squaring off as neither man was able to get a foothold in things.

Singh grabs a double armbar as he looked to wear down on Webster’s surgically-repaired shoulder, turning the hold into a stranglehold that was broken when Webster backed into a corner. An armdrag’s stuffed, then succeeds at the second go as Webster flew back into action, squashing Singh with a Special Brew Flip for an early near-fall.

Singh takes Webster outside with a knee strike, before flying into him with a PK off the apron, before Flash caught him in a Stranger on the floor, which RJ quickly broke by taking him into the barriers. Another move off the apron, this time a flying ‘rana by Webster, follows, before a moonsault back inside gets a two-count as Webster was in the ascendency.

The Strangler’s reapplied in the middle of the ring as Singh again breaks it by charging Webster into the corner, but Singh comes back with a version of an ushigoroshi then an inverted Go To Sleep to almost nick the win. Webster slaps away a BHF, before tricking Singh into a hand’s up headbutt… next up, Webster hits the Brit Pop Drop after blocking a Singh-ton Bomb, before launching into the Strangler as RJ tapped! An enjoyable match, which got Webster over huge with the Newcastle crowd, which is perhaps what the doctor ordered given how things have been stuttering elsewhere? ***½

Pro Wrestling World Cup – Rest of World Qualifier – First Round: Icarus vs. Angelico
This isn’t the Icarus you’re probably thinking of – instead of CHIKARA’s Winged Ring Warrior under a fake nationality, we’ve got a Hungarian who’s getting perhaps the biggest break of his career right now.

Icarus holds his own against Angelico early, as the opening exchange saw a lot of misses as they went move-for-move. However, it was Angelico who looked to edge ahead, whipping Icarus hard into the corner as he started to work away on the Hungarian, but Icarus came back with some chops… only to eat a vicious knee to the face as the crowd barely made a peep, as Angelico’s upkick drew nary a polite applause.

Angelico keeps up the pressure with a double stomp that left Icarus frozen on the mat. He’s able to escape a Fall of the Angels, before blasting Angelico with a forearm to knock him to the floor… where he followed him down with a moonsault off the top rope! Another top rope move sees Icarus land a senton for a near-fall, before a ripcord Roaring Elbow kept the South African rocking ahead of a Michinoku Driver for a near-fall.

Angelico comes back when he avoids a superplex by flipping over the Hungarian, but that just left Icarus in prime place for another Fall of the Angels attempt, which he kicks away from, as Icarus shoved him down for another senton bomb… but it all goes pear-shaped as Angelico blocks it with the knees, before walloping Icarus with some more knees and then landing the Fall of the Angels as Angelico booked his final against Flash Morgan. This started off roughly, but that’s the risks when you bring in a load of first-timers for this tournament. By the end, both guys looked good for the time they had, and I wouldn’t be averse to seeing Icarus again. ***¼

Pro Wrestling World Cup – Rest of World Qualifier – Second Round: Travis Banks vs. Jurn Simmons
The crowd had really warmed up to Jurn for his second match, and he had to be alert as Banks tried to launch into him from the off… but this time his low-pe was blocked as the Dutchman just threw him into the crowd with ease.

After bringing Banks back into the ringside area, the Prestige member found himself on the back foot, taking chops before the match entered a bizarrely-stained ring. I’m guessing something happened for Loaded that led to the canvas no longer being pristine. A delayed suplex follows for Banks, who just dropped to the mat as Jurn opted to pose rather than fall with him.

Simmons followed with a chokeslam for a near-fall, before referee Steve Lynskey was used as a human shield as Banks roared back into life, cheapshotting the Dutchman, who returns the favours before charging the Kiwi down with an Oklahoma Stampede for a near-fall. Banks resurges though with a head kick and the diving knee that sets up for the cannonball, but it’s not enough to put Jurn away… and the Dutchman snaps back in with a spinebuster after catching a Slice of Heaven!

Banks somehow kicked out from that, but his latest comeback ends in a near-fall after a Fisherman’s driver as the crowd roared behind Jurn… who zombie’d up and sent the Kiwi flying with a huge lariat. A gutwrench powerbomb leads to another near-fall as Simmons was left frustrated, and open for a Slice of Heaven as Banks finally landed the kick and qualified for the August finals. Well, this show made a star of Jurn in WCPW… and just imagine how big it’d have been if he’d been able to do the full entrance! This was a pretty good match, and can be added to the list of “eh, imagine if this was done without the tournament restrictions!” ***½

Pro Wrestling World Cup – Rest of World Qualifier – Second Round: Flash Morgan Webster vs. Angelico
Webster tripped Angelico early a she looked to end the match early with a 450 splash… but instead he had to make do with a tope con hilo as the South African went to the outside.

Webster keeps breaking the count as he takes Angelico around the ring, only to take a flapjack onto the apron after he was popped up – and that ring’s looking very lonely right now! Angelico slides in… to use the ring as a platform for a tope con hilo that managed to take down Webster, but back in the ring the match gets more even as Angelico eventually fell for a hand’s up headbutt.

The Brit Pop Drop gets a near-fall, before a neckbreaker almost lulled Webster into a false sense of security as Angelico eventually scored with a kick for a near-fall of his own. An attempt at the Fall of the Angels is escaped as Webster tried for a headbutt… it’s punched away before Webster turned the move into a ‘rana into the corner as he launched into a comeback.

A senton bomb to the back of Angelico nearly did the job for Webster, who instantly went back in with the Strangler guillotine choke… Angelico manages to get to the ropes though, before hitting a wild superkick as Webster was mid-moonsault. Another Fall of the Angels is countered into a ‘rana for a near-fall, but Angelico kicked out and turned it into a sunset flip for the win! This was enjoyable enough, but like most tournament matches, would have benefitted away from the confines of guys having to wrestle twice in one night. The crowd actually booed the result, but I have the feeling that Flash came off better in defeat… ***½

The big risk for the Rest of World qualifiers was that you’d either have a load of names that the crowd didn’t know… or you’d have a load of worked nationalities. Thankfully it didn’t sit in either basket, but you could argue that there were perhaps one or two names there who were so unknown to this crowd that it was a negative. WCPW did get two new stars in Jurn Simmons and Flash Morgan Webster – one of them perhaps more likely to be a recurring character than the other!

This show, much like the Japanese and USA qualifiers before it, was fine, but lacked any break-out match – perhaps with the Loaded tapings sandwiched in the middle taking precedence? We shall see… With the tournament bracketing complete, we’ve now got an 16-man tournament stretching over three days later this month, we’re in the home stretch and with Loaded back on air later this week… it’s going to be business as usual for WCPW, you’d think!