This week on WOS… Grado in a suit, Joe Hendry gets revenge on Martin Kirby, and Gabriel Kidd finds out why reaching for the brass ring can be a bad thing.

We recap last week, where Gabriel Kidd won the “huge opportunity”, and Kay Lee Ray’s winning of the WOS Women’s title. This week, we’ve got Justin Sysum getting a title shot after he demanded it for several weeks… but we don’t see that. What we do see is Grado storming into Stu Bennett’s office, demanding another shot… but Stu doesn’t think he’s championship material. Grado disagrees, and grabs his cr… bum bag. He gets another chance, as long as he’s “serious”.

Grado vs. Sha Samuels
Serious Grado equals “wrestling in a suit.” Everyone’s scripted to be disgusted at it, while his opponent (who gets a random glass shatter effect, just because) just laughs.

The mandatory crowd shot shows three people in a row in Sha Samuels gear. I guess he’s more of a merch-seller than Grado judging by crowd shots! Sha takes aim at Grado’s cheap suit and tie as I think they’re gonna slide out of the ring. Yeah, it’s the wonky semi-hard camera… Grado says he’s been walking his dog more often, which prompts canned crowd noise. Either that or the folks in Norwich are all trained ventriloquists!

The bell goes as Sha gets slapped, then bonked with a Bionic elbow… but he returns with a body slam before the match is taken outside as Grado’s thrown into the guard rails. After pulling himself up, Grado’s shoved off the apron again as Sha takes him onto the ramp… only to get back body dropped so hard it kills the screen momentarily! Grado fires up… and wanders over to a child who gives him a Grado baseball cap. It’s the same non-plussed kid from week one who’s been won over, and now the “old Grado” is back! Off comes the shirt and jacket, because Grado’s left his singlet on… and here’s the comeback! Clotheslines, Dusty punches, and a Bionic elbow (with a point to Stu… which is replayed, because why not?!)

A cannonball into the corner crushes Sha, before the East End Butcher climbs the ropes… and leaps into a cutter as Grado gets the win. It was a match of two halves, but not anything overly spectacular. **

Next up… wait. The ITV budget didn’t stretch to spell checking?!

Martin Kirby vs. Joe Hendry
Hey, why is the ring announcer happily swaying along to Joe Hendry’s lip sync’d music? You’re meant to be impartial! This is a match that’s been built up… hardly. Martin Kirby did the dastardly thing of walking out on Hendry during their tag tournament match. At least it’s better than nothing!

Kirby’s already scurrying to the ropes as he plays the cowardy bad guy… and the recipient of bald shaming chants from the crowd. He offers Hendry an easy start as he gets on all fours for some “amateur wrestling”… by which Hendry used a rolling waistlock to take him to the outside. A shoulder tackle sends Kirby right back there, and after a Benny Hill chase, Kirby manages to catch Hendry with a dropkick before he works up to the Scooby Doo shoulder charge.

There’s a vicious backbreaker next for a near-fall, as Kirby seemed to be in control, taking Hendry into the corner… before running into a reverse crash-zoomed dropkick. A sunset flip nearly puts Kirby away, as does a roll-up, before cuts off the Scotsman with a spinebuster. That perhaps got Kirby a little too cocky, as he went for the not-Zoidberg Elbow, which of course misses as Hendry mounts a fresh comeback, rolling through a cross body and countering it into the Freak of Nature fallaway slam for a near-fall.

Kirby’s again begging off, but he’s caught up top with a Ric Flair-like press slam as Hendry… runs into a jawbreaker. A Rocker dropper’s next for a near-fall by Kirby, who manages to slip out of another Freak of Nature before seeing a Kirby Bomb get countered into an ankle lock. Again, Kirby gets into the ropes as he screams about his ankle… but it’s a ruse as he suckered Hendry in for a roll-up with his feet on the ropes, and Martin Kirby snatches the win! This was quite decent within the confines of the show – Kirby again showing himself as a crybaby bad guy who can actually get the job done… and it’s yet another loss for wrestling’s answer to X-Factor. ***

WOS Tag Team Championship Tournament – First Round: BT Gunn & Stevie Boy vs. Brad Slayer & CJ Banks
Gunn and Stevie are wearing the face paint that the Coffeys had in the pilot… and are a pair of happy go-lucky good guys.

Hang on, if CJ Banks is in so tight with Rampage and Sha Samuels, why are neither of them his partner here? Brad Slayer is a guy who’s mostly wrestled for WAW, and if this is the first you’re hearing of him… I don’t blame you!

Banks starts out well against BT Gunn, kicking away a back body drop before he runs into an armdrag, as Gunn worked back into it, landing a missile dropkick for a near-fall. In comes Stevie Boy, which prompts So Cal Val to drop a hot scoop on commentary about who he’s dating. STOP THAT. This sort of “celebrity scoops” bollocks does nobody any good, even if the pie in the sky plan is a Ospreay/Priestley vs. Stevie/Kay Lee match, which I bet would give ITV’s lawyers an aneurysm.

Gunn and Stevie start to double-team CJ, working in a snapmare and a low dropkick for a near-fall, before they exchange frequent tags as Stevie gets suplexed onto CJ for a near-fall. So far, Brad Slayer is exceedingly ineffective as a tag team partner… but when an uppercut knocks Stevie to the outside, Brad gets involved, charging Stevie into the apron. Slayer’s tagged in, as he slams Stevie… then tags out as Banks hits a snap suplex for a near-fall. Brad’s back to duck an enziguiri, before he allowed BT Gunn to tag in… and Gunn’s a house on fire! Chops for all, before a series of kicks take Slayer staggering into the ropes. Brad tries to fight back with a TKO, but that’s slipped out of as he takes a pair of enziguiri in the corner before he’s hoisted up for a Doomsday Device for the win. Another perfectly serviceable match, but the lack of any kind of chemistry between Banks and Slayer perhaps suggests that that wasn’t the original planned team? **½

Literally the second the three count was made, they flashed away to the tournament brackets… the Scotsmen will face Iestyn Rees and Kip Sabian in the semi finals.

Gabriel Kidd vs. Crater
Kidd won a ladder match last week to get a “big opportunity”, but rather than it be the wrestling trope of a title shot, it’s the 36-stone Crater. SWERVE!

The joke’s hammered home with all the subtlety of WWE, and when we get going Kidd has to fire himself up… but he’s easily shoved aside by the much bigger man. Alex Shane tries to say that this is the most heinous thing he’s seen by a wrestling executive… which cannot be true.

Anyway, this is a squash, as Crater repeatedly charges through Kidd, then tosses him across the ring as Stu Bennett tries to say he’s toughening up Kidd. In the meantime, a granny in the crowd’s smiling at it all. A bear hug drains Kidd some more, but he clings on despite the arm drop gimmick (which’d have been nice if commentary had explained it), before Crater lets go and dumps him with a back elbow.

An avalanche in the corner squashes Kidd, before he’s dragged into a chokeslam, then a big splash for the win. This was like one of those WWF Superstars squashes from the early 90s… just about twice as long as it needed to be. Splat.  They bring in a stretcher as Gabriel Kidd’s carted away. Again, edited so tight that those stretcher bearers had to have been hiding behind the cameramen to get there as quick as they did.

After commercial, they replay Gabriel Kidd being stretchered out… but it’s time to forget that as it’s main event time!

WOS Championship: Justin Sysum vs. Rampage (c)
At the top of the show we were told that Sysum had been hounding Stu Bennett for this title shot.

Rampage is out with Sha and CJ, both of whom were feeling the effects of their exertions from earlier in the show. The champion starts by clubbering away on Sysum, throwing a knee and some body blows, before Sysum came out ahead with a dropkick after a long spell of rope running.

After wrestling Rampage to the mat for a one-count, Sysum again found himself on the defensive, forced to hit a springboard moonsault to get over Rampage… but after hitting a back body drop and a sidewalk slam, he’s able to go up top… and here’s the interference. Rampage distracts the ref as CJ Banks shoves Sysum off the top, allowing Rampage to hut a uranage for a near-fall. The crowd barely bit on that one. Rampage goes into a bear hug as he tried to drain the life out of Sysum, before nailing a spinebuster as Sysum refused to stay down. A short-clothesline from Rampage dumps Sysum for a two-count, and after Rampage tried for a banned piledriver he finds himself countered into a slingshot as Sysum mounts a comeback.

Clothesline from Sysum had an effect, as did a leaping lariat and a Stinger splash, before an Exploder suplex had Rampage on the back foot… after telegraphing a back body drop, Sysum shrugs off Rampage’s boot and hits a Cactus Jack-like clothesline to take both men to the outside. The camera catches CJ Banks sliding under the ring as Rampage and Sysum exchanged blows… and CJ appears just in time to grab Sysum’s leg, stopping him from beating the count as Rampage retains! **¾

That’s another dubious finish for Rampage as commentary peed and moaned at how Stu Bennett was so blatantly biased. But hey, there’s no time to discuss that as we have to crash into a package for next week’s action, starting with Will Ospreay vs. Martin Kirby. If this is anywhere near as good as their WCPW match was a few years back, it’ll set tongues going. If anyone’s still watching, that is… oh, and Kay Lee Ray defends against an unnamed woman. Rampage defends again, and there’s more Crater. Add in an assumed tag title tournament match, and I sense next week is going to be another breakneck five-match show.

If four matches was too much for 45 minutes, then of course five is even worse – even if one of those is a squash. Less is more! In terms of the WOS roster, it’s pretty clear who is being portrayed as the big in-ring stars, going by how much they’ve been factored into the show: Rampage and Joe Hendry. Yeah, your champion probably should be on the show every week (I just wish they did the same for their women’s champ!), while Joe Hendry’s cheesy, twee entrance works here, even if the music number does look a little odd in the editing.

We’re not going to keep on with the dead horses, as all of the issues the show’s had persist: the lack of character development, the hair-trigger on the edits… it is what it is, and unfortunately the presentation is having an effect in terms of audience. The viewing figures continue to slide for WOS, from the first week number of 0.9m viewers, down to 0.5m in week three – with the audience share also sliding from 8.7% to 4.9% in the same period. Like we’ve said in the past, I don’t know what ITV is looking for from the show, but I would dare say that “being the lowest-rated show on Saturday evening” isn’t it.

Those not familiar with British TV may have their eyes glazing over here, but for comparison: a repeat of quiz show The Chase, airing straight before WOS, drew 946,000 viewers and a 10.2% share of the audience on the same channel. Other shows in the evening that drew more include a repeat of the sitcom Dad’s Army (aired at 7pm and drew 993,000 viewers/6.4% share), BBC News bulletins (aired 5.10pm, drew 2.21m viewers/21% share) or how about Japandemonium, a cheap and cheerful clip show of Japanese game show bits? That drew an audience of 1.22m of a share of 9.1% of the audience, airing after WOS and ITV’s news bulletins. Heck, going head to head, BT Sports’ coverage of Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Everton drew a similar audience to WOS, which is good… until you realise BT Sports is a subscription service (as opposed to the terrestrial/network station ITV). Sure, there’ll be some degree of people watching the football instead of the wrestling, and ITV would have accounted for that… but it’s still not a good look when the audience figures continue to go downhill.

We’ve said it every week, but those involved deserved better. The actual wrestling, whilst “not for us hardcore fans”, hasn’t been bad… but the overall packaging has been ruinous.