The Pro Wrestling World Cup returned to the place it was announced – as Milton Keynes hosted the round of sixteen, and saw a hat-trick of fantastic matches to boot!

It’s a tournament-only show, with all 16 finalists taking part to decide who’s going through to tomorrow’s quarter-finals in Manchester – and it’s safe to say that there’s some pretty big matches on the card, with Rey Mysterio and Will Ospreay being the stand-out on paper. There was one question going in… and that was “who’s replacing Big Mike?” after Michael Elgin had to drop out of the finals due to the dates clashing with his new CMLL gig.

Dave Bradshaw and James R. Kennedy are on commentary… and they instantly throw to a pre-tape. Which takes its sweet time loading, as we see how Travis Banks and Mike Bailey qualified.

Pro Wrestling World Cup – Round of Sixteen: Travis Banks vs. Mike Bailey
Both men come into this match on the back of losses at Stacked the prior night, but Banks’ attempt to jump Bailey goes awry as he’s caught, then met with a dropkick into the guard rails.

Banks replies with a tope that nearly breaks the guard rails, before he takes a series of kicks as Speedball does what he does. A cannonball into the corner gets Banks a near-fall, as the Kiwi Buzzsaw started to match the Canadian at his own game… but Bailey clings onto the ropes to frustrate Banks, and nearly comes a cropper as those strands look incredibly loose.

The moonsault knees get a two-count for Bailey, whilst Banks’ Slice of Heaven gets him a near-fall, before they go back and forth again, with an inside cradle nearly winning it for Bailey. They exchange kicks on the apron as they continue to match each other, but Banks’ leg sweep crashes Speedball to the floor, where he takes another vicious PK.

An Asai moonsault from Bailey acts as a good counter to Banks’ series of topes, but he misses the shooting star knees, then ducks out of a Slice of Heaven before a standing corkscrew moonsault almost did the job… instead, Bailey falls to a fisherman’s driver for another two-count, before he superkicks away another Slice of Heaven. In the end, the shooting star knees crush Banks, and that’s the win to put Speedball into the quarter finals! A rather surprising result, but a really good match to open the round of 16! ***½

Bailey will face Ospreay or Rey Mysterio tomorrow…

Pro Wrestling World Cup – Round of Sixteen: Bad Bones vs. Penta el Zero M
Bones comes out with his RISE helmet and baseball bat, and Penta kicks away that bat straight away as he flies into the German with a ‘rana, taking him to the floor.

A scoop slam nullifies an attempted dive, as Bones decides that he wants to dive, taking Penta into the barriers. It’s all Bones here, but he misses a leapover and gets caught in the corner for a headstand dropkick. Penta dives next with a tope con hilo, before taking Bones around ringside for some chops by the ringpost… and yes, that means he eventually chops the post himself.

Bones sprung back with a slingshot spear for a near-fall, before some Penta Slingblades get him a two-count, and we’re back to those brutal chops from the Pentagon Man! The crowd chant “chop the ref”, but thankfully Joel’s spared as Penta tries for a Fear Factor package piledriver, but Bones gets free and eventually gets off some rolling Germans (irony!), before a half-nelson suplex gets another two-count.

From the kick-out, Bones goes back to the crossface, but there’s a rope break as Penta manages to follow up with a leaping Destroyer, then a running Destroyer… and of course, that’s a near-fall because Destroyers never win matches! A double foot stomp off the middle rope follows, before the Fear Factor books Penta’s quarter-final spot! Technically decent, but this crowd took their time to get into this. ***

Penta el Zero M faces Angelico or Ricochet in the quarters…

The Prestige (Joe Hendry, El Ligero & BT Gunn) vs. War Machine (Hanson & Raymond Rowe) & Marty Scurll
Non-tournament trios action here, and for some reason BT Gunn’s forgotten his Hardcore title. Of course, they’re playing up Scurll and Hendry going to a no-contest on Loaded a few weeks back… so we start with Ligero trying to stare down Hanson, before tagging in Hendry instead… so Hanson then tags in Scurll.

They’re doing a lot of stalling as Ligero tags back in, and I think there’s been more contact amongst teams than opposing guys!

We actually start with Ligero and Scurll, and Marty quickly gets the upper hand before scaring Ligero with his bird-flapping pose. More tags take us to Gunn and Rowe, with the former failing with chops as Rowe makes light work of slams to the Scotsman and the Mexican. Oh, and to his tag partner too as the stacked-up slams squash the Prestige!

The Prestige try to walk away, but they’re followed as Marty Scurll decides to do his best Rock impression yelling into James Kennedy’s headset. Yes, it becomes a three-way walk and brawl, which is a struggle to capture on camera, but somehow things calm down as Scurll’s triple-teamed by the Prestige in the ring. Back outside again as the guard railing collapses under the weight of Scurll, but the Villain recovers and outsmarts Ligero with a “just kidding” superkick to the calf! Finally he tags in Rowe… who faces a cocksure Ligero, except there’s nobody to tag out to. Fly, Ligero, Fly! Oh, and Gunn too, with a double Exploder!

The crowd boo some more cheating, but Ligero decides to mock Rowe for an inexplicable reason. That gets him a forearm as Hanson tags in to help clear house, and he’s impressively able to do the Forever lariats… with Ligero getting a piggy back at the same time! My God, Hanson is freakishly strong and fit for a man of his size!

A sit-down whoopee cushion flattens Hendry, before a handspring back elbow took down what was left of the Prestige, as Scurll looked to finish things off… an apron superkick to Ligero! A diving kick to Gunn, before a DDT from Hendry takes the Villain down… and things are falling apart once more. Hanson cartwheels away from Gunn’s superkicks, before Ligero’s attempt to low blow Scurll is caught and met with a finger snap!

Scurll looks to drop Ligero with the Bird of Prey, but Gunn makes the save as more triple-teaming leads to the Freak of Nature… but Ligero only gets a near-fall out of it! The Prestige is cleared, as Ligero tries to chokeslam War Machine at the same time. Yeah… Ligs flies with a double chokeslam, before Gunn takes the pop-up powerslam. Duelling dives from War Machine kill the flimsy ring barriers, as we’re left with Scurll and Ligero… the Bird of Prey follows, and Marty gets the win! Breathless action, which can be good and bad, but it was a fairly dominant victory for the good guys. And the Villain. ***¼

Scurll was attacked after the match as the Prestige looked to eliminate him from any kind of title contention – with a low blow evoking memories of Hendry’s turn in the same building six months earlier. The assault, much like the match, dragged on forever, with Hendry grabbing Marty in the Hendry Lock as scattered boos greeted their departure.

Pro Wrestling World Cup – Round of Sixteen: Lucky Kid vs. Hiromu Takahashi
Yeah, Daryl’s here too – and surprisingly, the crowd’s split between Hiromu and Lucky Kid.

The Young Lion’s interested in his feline counterpart, but we finally get going with Takahashi chopping Kid… then running into a ‘rana as they went outside for some dives. Or maybe not! The pair go nose to nose as they try to psyche each other out, but instead they just chop. HARD.

A dive almost breaks those paper-thin rails again as we get some brawling outside with Tanahashi throwing Tarkan Aslan into the guard rails before he could get involved. Takahashi maintains the advantage as it seemed like it was only a matter of time for the Ingobernable, who eventually went back to Daryl… and used him to swipe Lucky Kid to the mat! Some of the crowd actively booed the cat shot as Hiromu plead ignorance, but Kid hits back with an enziguiri, then a shotgun dropkick before nearly getting a win with another dropkick. Another Kid enziguiri’s blocked with a superkick as Takahashi goes for a sunset bomb… and instead just dumps Kid on the apron with a powerbomb.

Still, Lucky Kid won’t stay down, and he elbows out of a Time Bomb before going for Destino… but Takahashi blocks it, only to get strung up on the ropes with a superkick. That signals another Kid dive, then a side slam which ALMOST gets the win… but Hiromu kicked out, before being forced to fight out of a Dragon suplex.

Takahashi cuts off a springboarding Kid, before a Time Bomb’s countered into a wheelbarrow for a near-fall. A handspring from Kid’s countered next, this time into a German suplex, before they started to go back-and-forth with strikes until a sit-out powerbomb shocks Kid for a near-fall. Another attempt at the Time Bomb actually succeeds, but Kid actually kicks out?! Kid replies with a clothesline, then the standing Sliced Bread, but Hiromu kicks out of the move the Destino was based on… More suplexes follow, but Takahashi counters a Dragon suplex into a Time Bomb, and that’s a win! This felt like it went too long for this crowd, but it was enjoyable – and may have done more for Lucky Kid in defeat. ***½

Lucky Kid’ll face either Joe Coffey or the TBA replacement for Michael Elgin…

Pro Wrestling World Cup – Round of Sixteen: Angelico vs. Ricochet
On paper, this should be really good… if they’re both on their game. Winner gets Penta el Zero M.

We start with a grounded game, as Ricochet gradually starts to make things flashy, flipping out of snapmares. Angelico can’t keep Ricochet down, and somehow Ricochet gets the better out of a double dropkick as those ropes keep twanging away. Finally Angelico gets a foothold on things, whipping Ricochet head-first into the top turnbuckle, which seems to put the American on jelly legs for a bit.

The wobbly ropes come into play again as Angelico’s throat violently meets the top strand, before Ricochet grounds him with a figure four headscissors. A leaping neckbreaker gets Ricochet further ahead, but his attempt at a roll-through into a knee strike is met when Angelico decides to do something similar… and a double knee strike leaves both men down!

A strike battle prompts Angelico to pepper Ricochet with kicks, dropping the American with a Capoeira kick for a near-fall. Ricochet escapes a Fall of the Angels attempt, and takes down Angelico with a 619 before a double stomp to the lower back gets the South African a near-fall. Ricochet nearly wins it with a standing shooting star press, and given the low audio, you’d be forgiven for thinking there was nobody here. Yet again, poor crowd mic’ing hurts a match… Angelico escapes a uranage and drills Ricochet with a double stomp for an eventual two-count, before he’s again dragged into the ropes.

The pair exchange chops and boots on the apron, before a leaping neckbreaker dumps Angelico on the apron nastily. Back in the ring, Ricochet hurriedly follows in with a springboard 450 splash, but Angelico kicks out, before he takes a couple of kicks, then a Benadryller… but he countered with a kick of his own at the same time as both men collapse again!

Angelico goes for the Fall of the Angels again, but Ricochet counters into a sunset flip for a near-fall… an elevated Flatliner gets another two-count for Angelico, who then counters a counter of a Fall of the Angels, only to take a reverse ‘rana. La Mistica follows from Ricochet, who then traps Angelico in the Sol Naciente – a wacky strait-jacket cross armbreaker submission – for the surprise finish. That wasn’t how I expected Ricochet to win, but this was a fun match, albeit one held in front of seemingly another cold crowd. ***¾

So it’s Ricochet/Penta on tomorrow’s quarter-finals…

Rather than the next tournament match, we have Joe Coffey coming out, with a microphone. Apparently we were meant to get KUSHIDA/Kenny Williams next, but Coffey wants to brag about having a night off. Yeah, that’s called foreshadowing. Coffey reckons he’ll be WCPW champion, which might involve an awkward meeting with a Prestigious leader, and then demands the referee raise his hand to signal the forfeit.

Of course, WCPW GM Adam Blampied heads out before the bye can be “made official”. They’d done a good job of keeping this a straight tournament until here… anyways, the GM announces he has no bye, as he instead is facing… Joseph Conners! The crowd actually went mental for Conners’ arrival, even if he isn’t Canadian!

Pro Wrestling World Cup – Round of Sixteen: Joe Coffey vs. Joseph Conners
Conners started strongly, beating down Coffey in the corner, before lifting up the Iron Man for a hanging suplex. A tope follows after Coffey had taken him outside, before a slingshot into a roll-up gets the former WCPW champion a one-count… as Coffey then comes back with a bunch of backbreakers.

Coffey takes down Conners with a reverse headlock takedown, and then pulls him up into a wheelbarrow Giant Swing… and this crowd has gone silent again, unfortunately. Conners rebounds with a slam for a near-fall, before a sit-out spinebuster gets a similar result. The Scotsman takes Conners into the corner before springboarding out with a crossbody… that’s rolled through for another two-count, before they go back-and-forth with roll-ups for one-counts.

An attempt at the Don’t Look Down DDT’s countered, but Conners hits a Million Dollar Dream backbreaker, before Coffey’s German suplex gets another two-count. The Black Coffey just about grazes Conners for a two-count, but a slingshot into a DDT gets the WWE guy back in, as the Don’t Look Down succeeded as Conners booked his spot in the quarter-finals! Another decent match, but the crowd going silent for large chunks of this hurt… **¾

Conners gets Hiromu Takahashi tomorrow. That’s an interesting match on so many levels…

Pro Wrestling World Cup – Round of Sixteen: Kenny Williams vs. KUSHIDA
The dream Back To The Future match! KUSHIDA looks baffled that there’s another wrestler who’s inspired by Marty McFly, and this is all kinds of glorious wackiness!

KUSHIDA starts by working over Williams’ arm as his game plan was clear from the off – to keep his foe grounded and try to work over the wrist whenever possible. The pair try for a kick at the same time… so they catch and let go, before going for duelling dropkicks as the mirror match got into effect.

Both guys springboard off the ropes, but where KUSHIDA aborted, Williams fell into an armbar attempt as I laugh myself silly realising that KUSHIDA’s gear has a fake METTAL logo on it. KUSHIDA keeps up on the wrist of Williams, as he wears down the Scotsman some more, eventually taking him outside… but Williams frustrates him by rolling away to buy himself some more time. That tactic draws some boos, as Williams eventually changes things up, landing a springboard spear, before connecting with a tope in the aisle.

A handstand kick from KUSHIDA knocks Williams onto the top rope, before an attempt at a Hoverboard Lock off the top fails. Williams instead takes KUSHIDA down with a huge back elbow off the top for a near-fall, but KUSHIDA gets in a Hoverboard Lock, forcing Williams to crawl to the ropes for safety.

KUSHIDA keeps up with a Pele kick, but Williams comes back with a rebound lariat from the ropes. Back To The Future’s attempted, but instead KUSHIDA lands a spinning DDT before the Back To The Future’s turned into as mall package for a near-fall. A hammerlock DDT follows from Kenny, who rushes in with a diving knee for a near-fall, before a tiltawhirl from Williams gets caught and turned into the Back To The Future for the win! I loved every second of this, and wouldn’t mind seeing a do-over – this one lived up to the hype I’d given it in my tiny mind! ****

After the match, KUSHIDA lets Kenny wear his jacket, before Kenny offers him his self-lacing boots. The Back to the Future wrestling world is collapsing on itself!

Pro Wrestling World Cup – Round of Sixteen: Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Jay Lethal
After a timely break in the stream, we start with the time honoured tradition of a tie-up before Sabre trips Lethal to the match as he started to work over the former ROH champ with some of his wacky submission attempts.

Sabre ties up Lethal with a modified Octopus, but it’s escaped… and this is effortless, beautiful technical wrestling. A leapfrog from Lethal’s easily pulled down into a flapjack as Sabre keeps his advantage, before bending Jay in half with a half crab that he tried to segue into an STF. Lethal manages to get back into it, but Sabre refuses to stay down for even the one-count, and manages to catch Lethal with an Octopus in the ropes.

Lethal chops Sabre off the apron though, then goes for a dive… before having to make fo with a superkick as Sabre looked to avoid it. A low dropkick nullifies a Lethal Injection attempt, and Sabre again goes for the arm, twisting it between his legs. Someone in the crowd tries a CM Punk chant, and gets shouted down instantly.

GOOD!

Sabre again goes for the Octopus, but lets go as Lethal chops his way back in… except that left arm of Lethal’s had a massive bullseye on it. So yeah, Sabre keeps targeting it, as you’d expect.

Lethal again mounts a comeback, dropkicking Sabre off the apron to the floor, before continuing with a dive into those flimsy barriers. A Lethal Combination gets a near-fall, but Lethal takes too long going for the Figure Four, and Sabre traps him in the Article 50 armbar… only for Jay to get to the ropes to break the hold.

Sabre again targets the arm, blasting Lethal with pump kicks before sweeping the leg and firing in a PK for another two-count. More kicks to the elbow just rile up Lethal, who scores with a Dragon screw, before another Figure Four attempt is met with an inside cradle… somehow Lethal nails an inverted Finlay roll, before he heads up top for an elbow drop.

Yeah, Sabre catches him in an Article 50 upon landing, but he escapes into a Figure Four anyway! Eventually Sabre rolls to the ropes to force a break as the tables turn for Lethal, and this match is quickly becoming a case of whose injured body part will give out first? An enziguiri drops Sabre, but he climbs around Lethal… and gets dropped with a TKO for his troubles… only to get caught in an Article 50 out of the Lethal Injection! Sabre clambers around and ties up Lethal in another wacky submission, and that forces the submission! Thrilling stuff, with Lethal pushing Sabre to the limits – and I think we finally have our “killer match” of the tournament! ****¼

Zack Sabre Jr. faces KUSHIDA tomorrow. Oh My!

Pro Wrestling World Cup – Round of Sixteen: Will Ospreay vs. Rey Mysterio
I’m hoping this stays clean, and doesn’t have any storyline-based interference. Joe Hendry, I’m looking at you… Rey’s got a mohawk mask over his usual hood, and we get the expected show of respect between the two. Yep, this is going to be special!

Our ground-based open sees Ospreay take an armdrag as he tried to lift up Rey, and then the temp rises as we get lucha rolls, reversals and all sorts of that flippy goodness. Ospreay flips out of some headscissors, and then we get duelling flips off the ropes as everyone rose to their feet to roar their approval.

Ospreay goes for Rey’s arm, but the veteran takes him to the outside with a low bridge… and then it’s time for… dive! A slide under the bottom rope into a splash to Ospreay on the floor! A springboard legdrop gets Mysterio a two count as Rey stomps Ospreay into the corner for a baseball slide dropkick into the groin.

Some figure four headscissors from Rey get powered out of when Ospreay stands up… but he’s instantly taken down with a schoolboy for a near-fall, before Will gets himself on the ascendency with a senton splash as he starts to work over Rey’s arms… a smart move, since you can’t do the 619 if you can’t swing! Instead though, Will moves into a cloverleaf variant, before targeting Rey’s historically-injured left knee.

Rey rolls to the outside to hobble and get a breather… but Ospreay follows him whips him into the guard rails, before dropping the former World champion knee-first onto the apron. Ospreay takes the Halloween Havoc DDT out of the corner – the moonsault into a tiltawhirl DDT out of the corner, but both men stay down as Rey rolls onto the apron rather than try for a cover.

The West Coast Pop succeeds, as does a springboard crossbody, before Mysterio takes a swift kick to the head for a near-fall. Ospreay returns with a Phenomenal Forearm, but Rey avoids a Rainham Maker and nails a stiff Code Red for a near-fall! Will’s tripped into the ropes, but he avoids a 619, before taking Mysterio into the corner for the Shibata dropkick…. Second time’s not the charm for the 619 as Will catches it, and eventually catches Rey with the Cheeky Nando’s kick for a near-fall!

Will kicks Rey into the ropes, and now it’s his time to ape a hero as he looks for the 619… but of course Rey ducks, and manages to connect with a 619 through the ropes before a handspring overhead kick leaves both men down once again. They head up top, but Ospreay catches Rey… who then frees himself as they tried a top rope ‘rana which is sort-of blocked. Again, they go back up top, and Mysterio finally takes Will down with a wheelbarrow bulldog for a near-fall!

Out of nowhere, Ospreay hits Rey with a standing Spanish Fly… but Rey kicks out at two! He looks to follow up with a Splash Mountain, but Mysterio turns it into a ‘rana… and Will lands on his feet! A suplex gets turned into a ‘rana as Will takes the 619, but he gets his knees up from the big splash that followed as Will gets a two-count, before the Revolution kick and an OsCutter gets the win. THAT. WAS. AWESOME. Exactly what you expected – and Rey’s somehow found the fountain of youth as he’s rolled back the years for the third time in a week in the UK! Yeah, there were some unfortunate slip ups, but this was exactly what you’d have wanted to see once this match was set. ****¼

After the match, Ospreay told a story about how he wanted to meet Rey Mysterio, but his family could only afford nosebleed seats. It’s a familiar, yet humbling story for Rey Rey, as Will told him that he was the reason why so many in wrestling wanted to break out from the pack… and have succeeded. Ospreay thanks Mysterio, and the mutual respect we had at the start was repeated for a feel good moment to end the show. Thankfully, they didn’t feel the need to ruin it either, especially when Rey gave Ospreay that mohawk hook as a memento for their match. Really great stuff to close out a memorable show!

On the whole, the Round of Sixteen was a solid show… but keeping up with the rest of the World Cup’s motif, there wasn’t a killer match to break out from the pack. At least until those final three matches! I’d claim “bad crowd micing”, but given how much noise Milton Keynes made for Joseph Conners’ return, that excuse is out the window!

For all of the times we’ve knocked WCPW in the past, they have to be lauded for the foresight to create – and follow through – with a tournament of this size. Yes, this was the World Cup show that stands above the pack, with nothing close to a bad match, and plenty of good. Hey, it’s free on YouTube – it’s three hours of really good wrestling, so what’s your excuse? Put it on, and get this watched!