WOS crowned their first tag team champions – and saw a blow-up – as Justin Sysum’s quest for the gold had to negotiate another speedbump this week.
This week’s show – and the rest of the season – found itself with a different timeslot as WOS was moved forward by half an hour. Let’s see how those impact the ratings… Opening with the recap of last week’s battle royal, Crater’s easy handicap match, and a recap of the tag tournament semi-finals, we’re reminded that we have Martin Kirby vs. Joe Hendry “in a war that’ll end in submission.” Insert your imaginary build here.
Alex Shane, So Cal Val and Stu Bennett are on commentary, and it’s straight to action.
WOS Championship: Davey Boy Smith Jr. vs. Rampage (c)
Commentary acted like this was a nice surprise. You bloody advertised this last week!
Rampage, as usual, was out with Sha Samuels and CJ Banks, who got the “who are ya?” treatment while trying in vain to cheerlead for the champion. An early shoulder tackle from Smith takes down Rampage, as the son of the British Bulldog was easing into the lead here. There’s a clothesline from Rampage that gets him back into it, only for him to get caught with a stalling suplex as the baby bulldog was able to pick right up.
Well, at least until he misses a leap into the corner, and there’s your next turnaround as Rampage began to work over the knee, taking him down to the mat in the process. There’s interference from CJ Banks, who threw Smith’s leg into the ring apron, but Smith’s able to rebound by pulling Rampage into the ring post, following up with a back body drop as it was like that leg work had barely affected him. A Northern Lights suplex barely gets a one-count as Smith’s knee gave out, but he was able to get a little closer with a powerslam for a near-fall. Mixed metaphors get us into the corner as Smith looks for a superplex, but first he has to shoo away Sha and CJ, and that ends up costing him as Rampage slips out of a running powerslam effort and DDTs Smith for the win. A little too rushed at the finish, but a decent TV match by the standards. **¾
Post-match, Justin Sysum rushes out to save Smith from a threatened beatdown. Sysum, of course, won a title shot a few weeks back… but Stu Bennett has a change of heart and makes him go through a handicap match in the main event to keep that shot. Yeah, they acted like Sysum never had it to begin with…
Continuity issues, much?
Submission Match: Joe Hendry vs. Martin Kirby
I’ve no idea why this was a thing, given we had no build to this, or indeed a reason why it had to be a submissions match. Anyway, Kirby’s out with his arm in a brace, and with a note from his mum… the best part of the pre-match is Kirby’s facial expressions as he claimed he was injured while styling his hair.
Anyway, we don’t see how, but the match starts anyway as Kirby was dragged into the ring… and we’re quickly into a Benny Hill chase, complete with cowardly facials from Kirby. Back in the ring, Kirby leaps into a punch to the gut before Hendry hits a trio of waistlock takedowns as he looked for the ankle lock. It’s way too soon, and Kirby ends up rolling back to the floor, where he throws Hendry’s leg onto the apron. Kirby works over Hendry’s leg as the crowd get on his back, but a selection of wacky crowd shots get it into the comeback as a monstrous back body drop has Kirby floating towards the corner. Hendry’s quickly tripped into the corner though, where Kirby drives his shoulder into the lower back as he tried to keep Hendry on the mat once more. There’s a nice running pendulum backbreaker as Hendry was left wincing in the ropes, ahead of a camel clutch… and of course ITV aren’t going to touch any of the Sheiky Baby references.
Hendry is somehow able to stand up and back into the corner to break it up, but Kirby rushes out with a leg lariat… and now we’re firmly into the “try and get the submission” part of the match as Kirby drags Hendry down with a guillotine choke. Referee Tom Scarborough does the arm drop gimmick, but Hendry fights back and counters out with a suplex, before he finally grabbed an ankle lock. That ends remarkably quickly via a camera, but Hendry’s able to escape Kirby’s version and go right back to the hold for the submission. Beneath all of the camera cuts and crowd shots there was a decent match… I’d have gotten much more invested in this had there been build. This feud looked fine on paper, but there’s a difference between laying out a three-match story on paper and actually executing it outside of the matches. ***
WOS Tag Team Championship: Kip Sabian & Iestyn Rees vs. Adam Maxted & Nathan Cruz
The finals of our tag title tournament gives us a “heel match”, and thankfully there’s no follow-up to Sabian’s tiff with the ring announcer from last week.
They replay clips of the seeds of dissent between Maxted and Cruz that were planted last week… and it doesn’t help that Maxted was instantly shoved down by Rees. Maxted has more luck against Sabian though, landing a dropkick and a slam before tagging Cruz in for a slingshot senton, before clocking Kip with a roundhouse enziguiri as Cruz tried to get the crowd going behind him. Maxted’s back for a double-team hiptoss facebuster, but Iestyn Rees is able to get in and turn it around as “Alpha Bad” began to isolate things. A missile dropkick from Sabian’s enough for a near-fall, while Rees just drops an elbow on Maxted as he began to crawl for a tag…
A Hart Attack shoulder block from Rees nearly puts down Maxted, but “Flex” is able to hit a clothesline to take Rees down out of the corner, before both men tagged out. Cruz is the proverbial house on fire as he quickly takes down Kip with the Show Stolen for a near-fall, before Sabian’s blind tag out helped him avoid getting pinned. There’s a lung blower from Cruz to Rees, before Maxted gets tagged back in… and we just about see a slingshot Blockbuster from Maxted as the camera work goes a little weird.
Sabian broke up the cover from that, as Cruz went after him… Cruz is thrown into the barriers while Maxted looked to moonsault onto Rees. Kip pulls Rees out of harm’s way, before they finished off Flex with a powerbomb/neckbreaker for the win! This we a well worked tag match, with Sabian and Rees largely focusing on the (relatively) inexperienced Maxted… and with Cruz’s efforts coming to nought, those seeds of dissension are likely to blossom soon. ***½
Well, perhaps not this soon – after hugging Maxted in the ring, Cruz attacked him from behind as the “Bromance” was quickly ended, courtesy of a rope-hanging lungblower. Guess we know what those two will be doing in the final few weeks, but first… adverts!
Justin Sysum vs. Sha Samuels & CJ Banks
So despite already having a title shot in the bank, Sysum’s got to go through a handicap match to keep it, I guess? You’d have to think we’re not getting the same handicap squash we had last week, anyway…
Sysum and Sha start us off, but CJ’s already being like an annoying Yorkshire Terrier (yes, I know he’s not from Yorkshire), distracting Sysum at the bell as Sha’s got an easy jumpstart. There’s a dropkick from Sysum to turn things around as Sha’s sent packing…meanwhile the crowd chant “who are ya?” at the bad guys. Well, they have a point given the character work here! Banks is again being an annoyance that leads to sneak attacks from Sha, before CJ finally got in… and was quickly sent out as he didn’t quite like being beaten up by Sysum. Sha had more luck as he barged through “The Hammer”. There’s more camera cuts as CJ’s back in to pick up the pieces on Sysum, with Sha again providing assistance as he whipped Sysum into the guard railings. It’s all quite one-sided, which should make the crowd explode if we get the storytale ending.
Sha tags back in once more and clotheslines Sysum out of his boots… but Justin’s got one of his own as a flying clothesline had Sha crashing to the mat! He even throws in CJ as he’s had enough of the antagonism from the apron… and now we’ve corner-to-corner splashes from the Hammer! There’s a back elbow from Sha that put the brakes on, but Sysum’s springboard crossbody takes him ahead… before Rampage’s music hits and we’ve a distraction!
A myriad of camera cuts distract Sysum as much as me, and as those two have a staredown Sysum remembers he’s got a match to win… he rushes back in, I guess propelling off of a bent-over Banks to hit the through-the-ropes spear to Sha! Stu Bennett on commentary claims to have never seen it before, but I guess all the camera cuts would hurt my short term memory of this show too… CJ takes a lariat as Sysum heads up top, finishing off Sha with a 450 Splash, and Sysum now has… two title shots? For a main event this was okay – I’m happy they didn’t have Sysum controlling all of the match as you needed to give CJ and Sha some credibility while being Sha’s henchmen. I just wish they didn’t go back to the handicap match well so soon… **½
The show wraps up with Sysum doing the belt motion, as we’re promised a loser leaves town ladder match between Nathan Cruz and Adam Maxted… Grado faces Martin Kirby… and Crater has a three-on-one match. Oh, and they mention a tour, but you have to go online for that so WOS doesn’t get any OFCOM complaints.
So, the big news coming out of this week’s show wasn’t anything to do with the in-ring (although the tag tournament final was the best match) – it was the result of checking the WOS twitter afterwards. WOS Wrestling is going on the road in early 2019 – starting on January 18 in Southampton, then hitting Newport, Bournemouth, Stoke, Blackpool, Aberdeen, Scarborough, Northampton and ending in London’s York Hall on February 3 after three Friday-Sunday weekends’ worth of shows. The fact that a tour is announced is somewhat promising… whether it comes off or not remains to be seen, as you’d expect you’ll need some casual fans to jump in since I’d imagine the spread of the WOS audience perhaps isn’t as wide as the tour is going. It’s also interesting that no talent was announced, which raises some questions – but then again with there “only” being three months or so between the end of WOS and the tour starting, they might be able to have a storyline dangling into the live shows.
Update: the overnight ratings for this episode clocked in at 0.4m viewers, with a 4.8% audience share – a drop of almost half compared to the prior week, although it was on a day where audience numbers were down across the board. That being said, the earlier start time cannot have helped, and it’ll be interesting to see if there’s any growth for the remaining four episodes at this timeslot.