WOS’ tricky second episode saw them crown a women’s champion amid another breathless hour of action.
We open with a recap from last week, with “the people’s champion” Grado having lost his WOS title… this week, the WOS tag title tournament continues, and there’s a three-way match to crown a women’s champion. We’re still inside the (nameless) arena, with So Cal Val, Alex Shane and Stu Bennett providing our three-person commentary table… and it’s Stu who opens up the show by announcing that women’s title match. Apparently he drew inspiration from the multi-way match last week for that one… and then he introduces a “championship celebration.”
Out comes Rampage, Sha Samuels and CJ Banks. Sha starts the talking on the wonky-angle mid-cam, declaring Rampage a “proper champion”, and that the entire locker room is gutless. Instantly that’s the cue for Joe Hendry since we have to be edited to death… it’s weird seeing the smiley Joe Hendry of old here, when he’s playing an obnoxious bad guy virtually everywhere else in the UK. Apparently Hendry wants to become WOS champion, and amid a sea of canned crowd noise, Stu Bennett makes the match.
WOS Championship: Rampage (c) vs. Joe Hendry
Before the match even starts, Alex Shane’s alluding to shenanigans in this one… Hendry starts with a headlock takedown before he has to escape the counter as they keep it simple on the mat in the opening moments.
A shoulder tackle gets Hendry a one-count as Rampage powders to the outside… where Sha and CJ provide a distraction (much like the endless crowd shots, am I right?!), allowing Rampage to attack Hendry from behind. We get a replay of a suplex as Rampage got a near-fall, and again we’ve interference as Sha makes a cheapshot as Rampage had the referee distracted. Rampage grounds Hendry in a sleeper hold… but the challenger gets free and manages to sneak in some pinning attempts for a bunch of near-falls, until Rampage bulldozes through him again. Heck, Rampage leaps onto Hendry’s back with a sleeperhold, complete with some mugging for the camera… but Hendry quickly turns it into a back suplex to get himself free.
A clothesline and a back elbow from Hendry begins the comeback, along with a neckbreaker for a near-fall, before the fallaway slam (not called the Freak of Nature… I guess because “freak” isn’t a good word for Saturday teatime?) followed. Hendry keeps going for the ankle lock, which is branded, but CJ Banks leaps onto the apron to provide another distraction… which works as Hendry lets go and gets caught with a Rampage DDT for the win. Basic match, but good for the time they had. **¾
If you’re wondering “why the camera cuts”, by the way… watch what they’re cutting away from. It’s WWE’s Saturday Morning Slam all over again. No head drops!
As I sit through the ITV Hub adverts, I note that the commentary on this feels a lot like “what movies think wrestling is”… and we’re back as Joe Hendry does the mandated “don’t try this at home” ad. Good God. We’re back from commercial and the ring is full. NO entrances?! They at least tell us we have a ladder match to retrieve a briefcase,
Ladder Match: Liam Slater vs. Robbie X vs. Gabriel Kidd vs. Lionheart
Kidd and Slater have new gear, with Kidd looking like a boxer in his robe. Again, everyone’s in the ring, and save for the ring announcer saying their name and home town, these are literally just four guys to the untrained eye.
ITV can do character defining video packages for “Phil from accounts” when he warbles on X-Factor, but they can’t do this for WOS? It’s a joke.. So the action starts thick and fast, as Robbie and Kidd stay in the ring while Stu Bennett vaguely talks about the “big opportunity” they’re fighting for. Robbie X clears the ring, but his dive’s cut off by a dropkick from Lionheart, who keeps up on Robbie (who, despite his mask looking like a Saltire, isn’t Scottish), before he heads up the ramp to bring down a ladder.
Except by the time he’s back, Gabriel Kidd tries to interfere, but Lionheart overcomes that as commentary actually builds in some history by tying together a “don’t try this at home” piece with Lionheart’s broken neck from several years back. A ladder’s propped in the corner, but it’s Lionheart who’s slingshotted into the ladder… except they cut away from the impact. So why do a ladder match at all then? Surely that’s not something the crew found out after they taped it? Common sense (and a history of WWE editing away from this) should have come into it.
Anyway, Slater’s back in against Kidd, scoring with a clothesline before he went for the ladder… but Lionheart plays Tug of War with it, ending up with the pair crotching Robbie X in the top rope. That gave us a delayed sell from the crowd… as delayed a sell as Jinder Mahal! The action keeps going as Slater hits a side suplex on Lionheart, before he looked to scale the ladder… with the briefcase not exactly in the middle of the ring. Kidd cuts him off with a waistlock takedown, before he heads up the ladder… and launches off the top for an elbow drop. With nobody else in sight, why didn’t he go for the win?!
Robbie X returns to impress with a dropkick on Lionheart, before he climbs the ladder nowhere near the briefcase… so he can hit a sweet moonsault off the top. Which we get a replay off the second he lands on the mat… the springboard cutter’s next for Robbie as he’s got a clear path to the top, but he suddenly suffers from Wrestler Ladder Climbing Fatigue and gets shoved to the outside by Lionheart.
Liam Slater’s disappeared to grab another ladder, but Lionheart’s ready and waiting for him as he starts to climb. Slater’s ladder is bigger, but he ends up climbing into the path of “a move made famous by the highest paid actor in Hollywood right now.” That’s right, the Mark Wahlburg Driver off the ladder! No, it’s the Rock Bottom, but I guess we’re not acknowledging names still. Lionheart gets back up the ladder, but Wrestler Fatigue sets in as Gabriel Kidd heads up… climbing even slower, just because, before he shoves over Lionheart’s ladder and grabs the briefcase. He perhaps was the least highlighted man in the match, but at least it’s a new plot device for down the line. ***
So, what’s in the case? Kidd instantly opens it and grabs the piece of paper as the generic TV show music plays, and he’s instantly stopped by Rachel Stringer (I think, since there’s evidently little budget for on-screen graphics apart from the commentary team this week) who interviews him. He gets the “talk us through that one” interview that you usually get on Gladiators and Total Wipeout… but they don’t tell us what he’s won.
WOS Tag Team Championship Tournament – First Round: Adam Maxted & Nathan Cruz vs. HT Drake & Doug Williams
Cruz and Maxted have “an incredibly close relationship”, and are representing a “New Generation of British Wrestling.” Subtle. The NGW drop, I mean, not the vaguely “Billy & Chuck” act…
This is a big deal for Doug Williams as he’s finally on British TV… but the bell rings the second he does his wrist pose. Cruz starts by taking Doug into the ropes, before blowing a kiss… that earns Cruz a strait-jacket strangle hold, as he’s pulled over Doug’s back… but he flips out to reverse the hold.
They burst into a series of pinning predicaments as Williams and Cruz rolled around the ring, before Doug grabs an armbar after a replayed armdrag. Just because. A nice springboard crossbody out of the corner’s good for a near-fall for Williams, who goes back to the arm, before he makes the tag out to Drake… whose name was barely mentioned as he was taken into the other corner. Adam Maxted “of Love Island fame” gets more of a shout as Drake scored a ‘rana, then a drop toe hold, as the good guys swapped frequent tags.
Cruz tries to break up some double-teaming, but eats a hiptoss only for Drake to get caught by a Maxted dropkick as he’s distracted by Cruz on the floor. That’s good for a near-fall, but it’s not long before Cruz dumps Drake with the slingshot backbreaker (“Thanks, Tully”, in a world where things are branded) for another two-count. Drake again tries to fight back, but Cruz pulls Williams off the apron as he was about to tag in.
Second time’s the charm as Doug gets the hot tag in, back body dropping Cruz before handing him an Exploder for a near-fall… with Doug moving away as he lets Maxted elbow drop his own man. Drake and Doug hit another double-team, but Maxted’s back to break up the cover before a Codebreaker from Cruz gets rid of Williams. That left Drake alone, and despite nearly winning with an O’Connor roll, he’s left in there for a springboard neckbreaker from Maxted that allowed Cruz to take the pin. A nice finish from Maxted, and a decent match to boot. Way too many cuts, with what I’d envisage several moments also ending up on the cutting room floor, but this was good for what it was. ***
Hopefully this isn’t the last we see of Doug in WOS… One more “don’t try this at home” warning, and this time it’s CJ Banks who delivers the news.
WOS Women’s Championship: Kay Lee Ray vs. Bea Priestley vs. Viper
Okay, so everyone got individual entrances (good), and vague descriptions of their character… except Bea Priestley was tagged as “the real life girlfriend of Will Ospreay.” I feel this is an argument that’s already been had, but enough of this… even if you follow it with “she’s not living in his shadow”, the fact that’s the first thing you say really means it is.
We shockingly don’t start with the revolving door trope as Viper tries to overcome everyone on her own… and she’s pretty effective as she drills Bea with a forearm and a slam, before slamming Kay Lee Ray onto her. Viper’s offence comes to an end when she misses a charge in the corner, but she quickly regains the upper hand when she powerbombed Kay Lee into Bea in the corner.
Priestley’s left down on the mat and gets squashed with a Vader Bomb for a near-fall as Kay Lee Ray makes the save… then gets thrown to the outside. One crowd cut later, and Ray’s back up… but she’s caught in a cobra clutch and a clothesline as it was Bea’s turn to break up the cover. Everyone saves each other from Viper before they worked together… and hey, there’s a new camera angle from the crowd as Priestley and Ray combine to finally take down Viper!
Priestley tries to work over Kay Lee, but she’s cut off on the top rope… then makes a save as Kay Lee’s caught in the ropes for a massive double stomp. Somehow, Ray kicks out at two, and comes right back with a Gory Bomb… only for Viper to break up the cover with a huge back senton. Ow. Viper tries to fight back into it, but strikes from Kay Lee Ray left her down for a sliding Flatliner… which draws a near-fall, but Bea’s back to stop Kay Lee with a gamengiri and her version of the Fernando’s kick… but she’s quickly charged into the corner as Viper crashes into the pair of them with a cannonball. In the end, Viper hits a Michinoku driver on Kay Lee Ray for a near-fall, as Bea hits a PK to break it up.
They head outside as Bea Priestley tries a ‘rana off the top rope to Viper, only to get powerbombed on the floor. Ray fared better though, hitting a tope before throwing Viper back in, landing a superkick and a Gory bomb for the win! A really good main event in spite of the cuts… although with a little more TV time this could have been more impactful. ***
The show ends with Kay Lee Ray celebrating with the belt, before we pitch to next week. More Joe Hendry as he faces Martin Kirby… we find out that Gabriel’s Kidd “big opportunity” was something to be taken literally, and Rampage is back too.
So, knowing what last week was like, the second episode of WOS was… fine. The in-ring work was a marked improvement (on the whole) from last week, but sadly all of the issues from last week in terms of the camera work persist, and will remain since the entire series has been edited and apparently can’t be touched without having to go through ITV’s legal team.
I “get” the need for multiple camera cuts to try and appease/avoid OFCOM complaints… but the endless crowd cuts to hide bits of matches being removed will sadly remain. In terms of the format though, given that this isn’t a show that’s building to anything (like an end-of-season special or a pay-per-view), four matches in the product’s 40-minute slot is way too much. Shoehorning everything into the limited time means nothing stands out as special. Nobody gets to stand out… and especially for the lower-card guys, we rarely find out much beyond their names. It’s easier to say in hindsight, but this really should be three-match shows, with at least one or two video packages to introduce characters. Otherwise, all we’re seeing are “just guys, doing stunts” to the untrained eye… and everyone on here deserves so much better than that.
The overnight audience for this episode represented a drop in viewers compared to week one, which isn’t a good sign, but similarly isn’t cause to run around panicking. However, if this trend continues, then there’s every chance this may suffer the same fate as 2005’s Celebrity Wrestling… and again, everyone involved in this production deserves better.