Well, they did it. WhatCulture was on iPPV for their “Refuse To Lose” offering from Newcastle, with very mixed results – technically and creatively.

Going in, this was a veritable “huh?” of a show – with Kurt Angle and Joe Hendry main eventing, this seemed to be a card that tried to be all things to all men: Jim Ross and Jim Cornette alongside the sometimes-wretched Alex Shane on commentary, whilst the trend of random fly-ins continued. Joe Coffey vs. Minoru Suzuki? Fair enough, but if that’s not a sign of throwing in a random name for the “smart” fans they’ve not previously catered to, I don’t know what is!

Pandering to the core audience sees the group put on a streetfight between Rampage Brown and YouTube “star” Adam Blampied, with the stipulation of Blampied having to win to keep his job in WCPW. His job of… being a heel manager, I guess? A heel manager with no charge since Big Damo left… Doug Williams vs. Cody Rhodes has had the longest build to it, in that it was featured as part of Noam Dar’s farewell two months ago, but sadly it was lost in the shuffle as Cody’s match in Altrincham against Kurt Angle two days later got more coverage.

You see where we’re coming from? Two big shows in three days equals a nightmare when it comes to promoting line-ups… but let’s see how Refuse To Lose fared. We didn’t watch this live, but from checking social media during the show, it seemed like the iPPV feeds lived up to their notoriety – those who paid extra for FITE’s service were able to see some of the show. Unfortunately, if you’d paid for WhatCulture’s own Extra service, you were out of luck, as their stream buffered, crashed and skipped repeatedly. Still, it made for some good comedy… especially when you found out that the commentary crew barely mentioned the Extra service!

#REFUSETOSTREAM

For some reason the editors of the Extra service thought it’d be best to start the “replay” of the show with almost ten minutes of the company logo on loop before we get to a video package hyping up tonight’s card.

Jim Ross opens up the show with Jim Cornette and Alex Shane (who has a “toilets” sign above his head, which is quite apropros). Alex looked like a third wheel right from the start, and when his microphone was broken from the start, you knew it was going to be a long night.

Bret Hart came out at the start to a remake of his WWE theme song, which had the fans chanting “holy shit”. Did they not see the adverts on the last tapings? Bret does his speech with his back to the main camera, and it’s your standard boiler-plate promo that puts over guys in the back. The Hitman promises “the best show of the year here tonight”… oh boy.

Bret makes an announcement that the company is going to crown new tag team champions. That hadn’t been advertised at all… but it turned out that the announcement was just going to be the creation of the tag team titles. Stevie Aaron brings out the new belts, and I’m wondering: does WCPW have a tag team division to speak of??

There’s an uncomfortable pause, which leads to the arrival of James R. Kennedy… and the rest of Prospect. Without their Mexican masks. Kennedy’s microphone doesn’t work, so he ends up taking Bret’s instead. Prospect have new gear which seems to be inspired by the Young Bucks, with a catchphrase “sometimes a prospect becomes a legend” on the waistband. They tease a 3-on-1 beatdown from Prospect, but Liam Slater, Johnny Moss and Gabriel Kidd rush out to make the save… as Alex Shane says “this is NGW’s… this is WCPW’s tag division here”. And strike one for verbal diarrhoea on a live mic!

Prospect exit stage left, and that’s Bret’s involvement done for. Onto our first match, with Jim Cornette building up Minoru Suzuki as one of the founders of MMA, but it seems we have a new ring announcer in the form of So Cal Val.

Joe Coffey vs. Minoru Suzuki
Apparently this is under “NOAH rules”. Erm, what? Twenty counts a-go-go? Oh, piledrivers are legal too it seems.

Jim Cornette runs down Minoru’s CV, and yes, Suzuki is out with El Desperado as part of Suzuki-gun comes to Newcastle. Unfortunately, Alex Shane all but calls Desperado a “young boy”. That’s the six-year veteran, El Desperado…

They start by trading wristlocks, before Suzuki slaps Coffey in the ropes after a tie-up. Coffey tries for a kimura, but ends up taking Suzuki into the ropes, before he gets a leaping shoulder tackle. Desperado leaps onto the apron for some reason as Suzuki blocks a suplex into the ring from the apron, before Coffey’s discus lariat’s caught and turned into an armbar over the top rope.

They go out onto the floor, where Suzuki smashes a bottle of Sprite over Coffey’s head. Nice product placement! Desperado gets involved as he attacked Coffey as the referee dealt with Suzuki, but it’s obvious that nobody on the commentary team had a clue who he was, or even bothered to do research. Am I surprised… not really.

Desperado gets chants of “shit Sin Cara” from the crowd, as someone fed Alex Shane his name, and back in the ring Suzuki again goes for the Kimura. Coffey gets a rope break, then lights up Suzuki with chops, before the Japanese veteran goes for a front facelock submission and switches it into the guillotine.

Coffey reverses the guillotine into a suplex, before a springboard top rope cross body gets him a near-fall. Suzuki replies with a PK for a two-count, before they go back to giving and receiving forearms. The discus lariat gets a two-count for Coffey, before he throws out of a rear naked choke, and falls back into the submission hold. After releasing the hold, Suzuki goes for the Gotch-style piledriver, and after holding Coffey upside down in the hold, he connects and gets the three-count from it. A pretty good opener, with Coffey not looking too weak in defeat. ***

JR, Cornette and Shane talk about the newly created Internet title – which they’re lauding as an upgrade of the old TV title. We get a video package that started with silence then had a massive bump in volume… the package featured Jay Lethal vs. El Ligero from the early days of the promotion.The storyline was that they’d already booked a Lethal/Ligero rematch for the ROH title, but Lethal had lost the ROH title… and then had to be pulled from the card. So instead of burying that backstory, they pushed ahead with Alberto el Patron as the “replacement”, and Travis Banks as the late addition. Interestingly, they cut out the bit of the video with Eric Bischoff saying that the Internet championship matches should be on “free TV”…

Stevie Aaron is back as the ring announcer. They only paid So Cal Val for one match?!

WCPW Internet Championship: Travis Banks vs. El Ligero vs. Alberto el Patron
Cornette puts over Ligero as a big-time worker – for the number of matches he’s had in 2015 and 2016… Alberto’s out in a t-shirt and a bit more wrist-tape than normal, perhaps covering up bruises from an apparent stabbing?

El Patron starts by taking Travis Banks to the corner, as JR slips in an old “Alberto Del Rio” reference, with Ligero joining him in the corner for a two-on-one assault. This quickly descended into a typical three-way, with Ligero getting a near-fall on Banks with a standing moonsault, before Banks catches Ligero with a bridging German suplex as Patron breaks up the count.

Banks briefly worked over Patron, before an enziguiri from the former WWE champion knocked the Kiwi to the floor, but Banks and Ligero combined to post el Patron. Back in the ring, a springboard Ace crusher gets Ligero a two-count, before Banks kicks out the leg of Ligero and gets a near-fall out of a diving dropkick.

Banks chops Ligero in the corner, before a running forearm knocks Ligero down… but el Patron runs in and drops Banks with some clotheslines and a tiltawhirl backbreaker. Ligero gets one too, before he retaliates with some headscissors out of the corner on Patron. Travis Banks tries to superplex Ligero, but falls to a backstabber off the middle rope from Patron, before Alberto gets the knees up to block a Mexican Wave splash from Ligero.

A schoolboy roll-up from Ligero gets a two-count on Banks, who gets a near-fall moments later from a springboard roundhouse kick, before Patron switches a suplex from Banks into an armbar. Ligero breaks that up with the Mexican Wave for a near-fall, before a C4L attempt on Patron is missed.

Banks tries for another roundhouse kick from the corner, but Ligero ducks, and snatches the win with the La Magistral cradle to take the Internet title! A weird ending, but somewhere Zack Ryder is weeping that his Internet title gimmick got ripped off. A good match that didn’t stick too rigidly to “Triple Threats 101” ***½

Another video package here, building up “Mr Brexit” Doug Williams, with the catchphrase “Vote Doug, Take Control”. There’s more of the wildly inconsistent sound levels… and a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shot of my shoot work office. They play clips from Noam Dar vs. Doug Williams, with the stipulation that if Dar lost, he’d be out of WCPW. Jim Ross asks for some background on what Brexit it… something we still don’t fully grasp today. I’m guessing the commentary was played over the house microphone, as the crowd cheered when Jim Cornette said he’d move to the UK if Donald Trump became President…

Doug Williams vs. Cody Rhodes
Hey, So Cal Val’s back! They tease “Cody Rhodes’ personal ring announcer”, but instead of Brandi Rhodes, they get Kenny McIntosh, who’s universally loathed. McIntosh talks down Williams, and points out that he too was once an import “in Orlando”… and Cody’s using the Rhodes surname here. I’m guessing Jerry McDevitt hasn’t reached Newcastle yet?

Williams takes Rhodes into the ropes, before he works over a wristlock. Rhodes reverses it as the crowd gets a chance to chant “Brexit wanker” and “you shagged Thatcher” at Williams. Doug uses the ropes to hang Rhodes’ arm to get free, before leaping into a punch to the midsection.

Doug gets a period of offence, with a near-fall from a knee drop, before a sunset flip out of the corner gets Cody a two-count too. Williams hooks away at Cody’s mouth and nose, before he gets caught on the top rope by Rhodes, and is superplexed back down. After the pair got back to their feet, they traded punches, before a flying forearm and a series of lariats keep Williams down. A big back bodydrop takes Doug down again, before the Disaster Kick knocks Williams off the apron, and into place for a springboard plancha.

The crowd chanted “you’re just a shit William Regal” at Williams, whose attempt at a Chaos Theory was blocked. Rhodes misses a moonsault, and was set up for the Bomb Scare kneedrop, which connects for a near-fall. Cody avoids another Chaos Theory, but gets a kneelift, before drilling Doug with the Cross Rhodes for the win. A solid, but unspectacular match – one which wouldn’t have felt too out of place on a WWE TV product. So far, “indy” Cody Rhodes hasn’t been that far removed from what we saw in the E. ***¼

Next up: a video package building up to Adam Blampied’s impending doom. Yet more volume issues… seriously guys, this is amateurish. At least the video package was funny, even if it was a replay of what we saw on Loaded last week…

Street Fight: Adam Blampied vs. Rampage
Blampied comes out to Ric Flair’s old music, and looks like he’s just about to step into his first day in the office. Suit, briefcase, the lot. Adam takes the microphone and says he’s not going to fight, but instead he’s going to do “business”. And stare into the hard camera. A lot.

Adam’s “business” is apparently to offer Rampage some money to not take the fight. £643, to be precise. That’s someone’s iPPV cheque… Rampage slaps away the briefcase, and Blampied cowers away in the corner.

Blampied bounces off Rampage with a shoulder tackle, then takes a clothesline and gets disrobed for a massive chop to the chest. Well, they’re giving us the pay-off of seeing the YouTuber get murdered. Rampage goes for the piledriver, but Prospect return to make this a 4-on-1 match, but Adam’s got a kendo stick, which gets no-sold. Adam dives out of the ring as Prospect mugs Rampage, before a weak kendo stick shot to the ribs takes down Rampage. Somewhere in all of this, Adam ripped his trousers badly, and then Mr Tighty-Whitey gets the microphone… in the middle of this, Rampage clears out Prospect, before Blampied turns around into a clothesline.

A body slam almost takes Adam out of his trousers, before Rampage clears out Prospect at ringside. The crowd calls for tables, and they get one! But first… Big Damo makes a return?! He’d been fired, and had been tweeting as if he was in Florida, but he was actually in Newcastle…

Rampage and Damo brawl in the ring, which leaves it open for a low blow from Adam to Rampage, and this turns into a 5-on-1 assault now. Damo runs into Rampage with a back senton, before that dreaded red IKEA chair comes into play… and is used as Damo sentons onto it.

Adam Pacitti comes out onto the stage, grinning like he’d seen his first adult magazine, as Liam Slater, Johnny Moss, Gabriel Kidd, Joe Coffey and Moustache Mountain flood the ring to even things up. We’re left with Adam Blampied in the ring by himself, as he takes a kick to the nuts, before the referee sets up the table as Adam’s powerbombed through it… and he’s done.

More sideshow that anything else, but what’d you expect? ¾*

WCPW Women’s Championship: Kimber Lee vs. Nixon Newell (c)
They start with wristlocks back and forth, before some headscissors from Newell forced Kimber Lee to make the ropes.

Armdrags from both women lead to a foot stomp by Kimber Lee, then a hanging suplex for a near-fall. Newell catches a kick from Lee and sweeps it back – forcing her to land in a splits – before a knee strike to the head gets the champion a near-fall, as does a hanging neckbreaker.

Newell chops on Lee in the corner, but the challenger fires back with some quick-fire chops and a pump kick. They reverse waistlocks, before Kimber Lee nails a release German suplex… then gets dumped on her head immediately afterwards. Lee no-sells that, before they connect with simultaneous head kicks.

Newell and Lee trade forearms as they fight to their feet, before a leg lariat from Lee gets her a two-count. A jawbreaker from Newell leads to a Welsh Destroyer that goes into a sunset flip, before a Tiger suplex dumps Lee on her head… and she’s then rolled-up for the win. There was an awkward pause at the end as they waited for Newell’s music, which led to Lee powerbombing her and using a chair on the back of Newell. Nixon wins by pin, but by God the end of this was awkward as all hell. I’d dare say any rematch would be better, because both women here were simply not on the same page tonight **¼

Before the title match… we get a video package announcing some future shows: November 30 in Nottingham and December 1 in Newcastle… “Broken” Matt Hardy is coming to town. By then, the gimmick might have just jumped the shark, especially if they keep doing Final Delete Wars or whatever in TNA.

Then we get a segment with “Jack The Jobber” with a bunch of flowers, as he’s still trying to get laid. JR and Cornette bury him, as they should. They forget to turn So Cal Val’s mic on as Jack tries to ask her out. This is incredibly awkward, but hey, someone in the back’s popping for this. Val calls Jack a boy (and let’s ignore that SHE IS WEARING A WEDDING RING ON HER HAND).

Val says she wants someone who can take control… and with that cue, out comes Primate. Jack gets speared by the Primate, as Suzi Kennedy leaps to Jack’s defence. Primate turns on her for that, and she gets choked out for her troubles. Two YouTube guys removed in one segment… this is starting to look more like a proper promotion!

With that distraction out of the way, we’re taken to a video package for the first of our two main events, featuring Martin Kirby’s rise from a joke act to a world beater. Yes, they messed up the volumes again. There’s some footage of Kirby’s past, including his tag matches with Kris Travis, and just about stop short of saying he’s dedicating this match…

WCPW Championship: Martin Kirby vs. Joseph Conners
The match starts with a fist-fight, and Kirby goes for the Sable Bomb early on, but instead Conners goes to the outside as Cornette accidentally calls Kirby “Travis”.

Kirby works a wristlock over Conners, before a leapfrog and hiptoss keeps the champion down. They trade hammerlocks, until a headscissor takedown takes Kirby into a sunset flip and then a dropkick as not-the-Nintendo-character has the lion’s share of the offence here.

A dropkick after a stalling suplex gets Kirby a one-count, before Conners takes Kirby into the corner for some back elbow strikes. In the middle of this, the two Jims sneak in a Terry Funk impression, straight out of JR’s podcast, before Kirby again gets the stalling suplex – holding it for almost a minute – and finally ends it with an eye poke!

Conners backdrops out of a Sable Bomb, but meets a shoulder charge through the ropes, before Conners drags Kirby in over the top rope and into a slam for a two-count. Kirby gets taken onto the apron as Conners lays into him with forearms, before a push-down double stomp in the corner takes Kirby down once more.

A fallaway slam from Conners gets a near-fall, as does a short-arm lariat, before Kirby fires back with right hands and a couple of clotheslines. The Scrappy-Doo shoulder charge and a Slingblade gets Kirby a two-count, as does a reverse neckbreaker. Kirby calls for another Sable Bomb, but he’s thrown into the middle rope and into a Falcon arrow. Kirby kicked out, but fell to a diving dropkick as Conners called for the Righteous Kill DDT.

They reverse back and forth, with a small package getting Conners a two-count, before they work a series of rolling pins back and forth for a load of near-falls. Kirby throws Conners to the outside and almost Cesaro’s himself with a tope, before a Famouser gets him another near-fall.

Conners elbows out of a Fireman’s carry, then slingshots into the ring with a DDT and drills Kirby in the corner with a bucklebomb. A stiff lariat drops Kirby for a two-count, before he countered a push-down stomp with an enziguiri… and goes up top. Conners crotches Kirby on the turnbuckles though, but Martin counters whatever Conners was doing with a gutbuster off the top rope!

Conners kicked out at two, as the two started trading shots from their knees, with one of those shots drawing blood from the champion. Conners takes Kirby into the corner and overwhelms him with some avalanches. Kirby’s thrown down as he tried a tornado DDT, before backdropping out of a DDT… and then Kirby accidentally superkicked the referee.

With the ref down, Conners goes for the Righteous Kill DDT, but Kirby escapes it and kicks Conners low. Kirby finally gets the Sable Bomb… but there’s no ref! Instead, Kirby climbs the ropes for the Zoidberg Elbow, but Adam Pacitti runs out and shoves Kirby off the ropes. A hail of glowsticks hits the ring as the crowd react to yet another heel GM storyline.

With Kirby distracted, Conners hits a low blow, then the Righteous Kill DDT, and that’s it. The crowd chant bullshit, and I have to agree. The match was fine, but a lot of that’s down to Kirby rather than Conners – I don’t know what it is, but this character seems to be a black hole of charisma, and the in-ring stuff isn’t helping. Especially when he only retained his title because of a YouTube geek… ***¾

A promotion founded by a website that buries WWE for repeatedly going back to hackneyed “screwjob” and heel GM storylines, goes to that well themselves? Yep, makes sense…

Jim Ross and Jim Cornette start to talk up the main event… but they’re cut-off by a video package, which starts with Adam Pacitti announcing the Kurt Angle Invitational Rumble. Yep, have your newly-turned GM in his old role as babyface (via video package) just 30 seconds later… to be fair, it was a good video package that charted Joe Hendry’s somewhat meteoric rise in his 3 year career.

Joe Hendry vs. Kurt Angle
Hendry’s custom entrance was a take off of “Born in the USA”, called “Not as Good as Joe Hendry”… and like all of his custom stuff, was pretty funny.

Unfortunately at this point, my on-demand feed went to hell. Joe Hendry’s entrance became an unintentional slideshow, and recovered in time to see Kurt Angle’s knock-off of his WWE theme. Instead of coming through the curtain, Angle slid between the video screen and the framework, which was… weird.

They started with a lock-up as Angle took Hendry into the corner for a clean break, before Hendry grabbed a wristlock, which got reversed with ease. Both men reverse a load of waistlocks, as Hendry floats into a front headlock, before he’s pushed into the ropes for another break.

A shoulder block from Hendry sends Kurt to the outside, but Angle grabs a leg and drags the Scotsman out with him, before going to a rear chinlock back in the ring. Hendry takes a nice flip bump from a shoulder tackle, before Angle goes back to the rear chinlock.

Hendry countered an Angle slam with an armdrag, before knocking Kurt down with a clothesline. A DDT from the “Local Hero” gets a two count, before Kurt avoids the bridging fallaway slam and counters it with some rolling German suplexes. The second attempt at the fallway slam succeeds, but Hendry only gets a near-fall out of it, before he falls into an ankle lock.

Hendry rolls out and catches Angle with an Angle Slam for a two-count. From there, Hendry goes up top, but gets caught as Kurt brings him down with an Angle Slam off the top… but Joe kicked out! The straps come down for Kurt, as he goes straight to the ankle, but Hendry rolls through again and gets an ankle lock himself! Kurt teases tapping, but instead he rolls through to reverse it, and ties up Hendry with the bodyscissors as the Local Hero’s left with no choice but to tap.

Eh, in the words of the Figure Four guys, “it was a match”. There was no chance Angle was losing, and I was disappointed that this turned into a “mirror” match with Hendry mimicking Kurt’s moves by the end of it ***

So, let’s summarise. We had a three-man commentary booth that sounded good, but lacked sorely when it came to product knowledge (with even the hometown guy flubbing on the promotion’s name!) – and at times, it really did just seem like JR and Cornette were just being charitable in letting Alex Shane join in at times.

On one show, we had three of the YouTube “stars” wiped out, yet the GM of the promotion turned heel… so we’re back to that hackneyed story then, eh? What’s stopping him from rescinding other storyline stuff from tonight? Like a certain firing…

Overall, this was a decent show, but not spectacular… and when you add in the stream issues, this was about the bare minimum that WhatCulture could have gotten away with without losing goodwill. Sure, they took some flak when they launched their Extra service (and of course, Sod’s law dictated that that had to be the service that failed!), but for the live streamers, this was a nightmare they could have done without. Curiously, on the show, “WhatCulture Extra” was never mentioned once, whereas FITE TV was throughout the show.

On top of those stream issues, we had a load of production flubs, from JR and Cornette being cut-off by video packages, to EVERY video package starting quiet and going loud before normalising… Who thought it was a smart idea not to do any dry runs, even for the sake of switching between video packages and live stuff?

If I had to compare this to anything, it’d be the early WWE UK pay-per-views. Which is ironic, since the Refuse To Lose logo borrowed heavily from the old Rebellion logo! The crowd was hot all night long, but sadly the matches were nowhere near as good as you know these guys are capable of.

Ah well, it’s out of the way now… let’s see where they go from here, and what slew of imports are used for random matches next time!