Another week, another (adjusted) timeslot as WOS gave us ITV’s first mixed tag team match – and a big announcement.
The customary recap shows how Nathan Cruz lost his ladder match to Adam Maxted, before they tell us that this week: size matters. Alex Shane, So Cal Val and Stu Bennett remain planted at the commentary table, with Stu promising a big announcement at the end of the show.
Viper vs. Ayesha
This “next contest” is for a shot at Kay Lee Ray’s title… I guess this wasn’t originally meant to be an opener? There’s some wacky jump cuts in here as Ayesha’s billed as someone who “defied orders” to appear when she shouldn’t. Kayfabe is dead, isn’t it?
We start with some schoolyard back-and-forth before Viper took Ayesha into the corner with a hair-assisted tie-up. The crowd chant for Viper throughout this, as she throws a knee into Ayesha before they went for shoulder charges, but it’s Ayesha who edged ahead with forearms and a charging shoulder into the corner.
Viper responds by throwing Ayesha’s head into the buckles, before some boot choking forced the referee to separate them. Ayesha tries to charge back, but she’s caught in a Million Dollar Dream, which she tries to escape with a Fireman’s carry… which just earns her a back senton and a diving splash as Viper tried to force her way to victory. The Viper’s Vice – the renamed Million Dollar Dream – is reapplied, as Ayesha’s radgolled… but she gets free and tries to headbutt her way into the lead, only for her to change tactic and land a shoulder tackle that sent both women to the mat. The pair trade clotheslines and right hands, but it’s Ayesha who edges ahead with an avalanche into the corner before she manages to shock Viper with a Fisherman’s suplex for a near-fall. After kicking out though, Viper took Ayesha into the corner for a cannonball, getting a near-fall – and some frustration – so Viper heads up and teases a Banzai drop… but Ayesha stands up and counters back with an attempt at a powerbomb.
A punch puts the brakes on that, as Viper signalled for the end with the Viper Driver… and that’s her road to a title shot complete. This was alright, but you never really got the sense that Viper was in any real danger. **½
After commercial, we’ve a promo with Viper vowing to take out Kay Lee Ray.
Kay Lee Ray & Stevie Boy vs. Bea Priestley & Will Ospreay
Billed as the first ever mixed gender tag team match, I’m surprised ITV didn’t go all the way and call this a Mr. and Mrs. Match, especially since they’ve not exactly been subtle about “real life” stuff in this “fake” world (or indeed, any kind of synergy with other ITV shows!)
There’s no mixing and matching, so we’re looking at WWE-style intergender stuff, as Stevie Boy opened up with a shoulder tackle to Ospreay, who responds with a ‘rana as the pair worked up in the duelling dropkicks as the pair tagged out. Bea tried to charge at Kay Lee Ray, but it backfires as the women’s champion went ahead with a running forearm into the corner and a missile dropkick for a near-fall. Of course, referring to Bea Priestley’s adopted homeland just gave Alex Shane the chance to crack some Dad jokes, with So Cal Val willing to join in…
Kay Lee teases a Gory Bomb, but Bea escaped and locks in a sleeperhold, only to get back up into the corner. Bea replies with a back suplex before she set up for a running knee in the ropes… which we see via the medium of crowd shots, because ITV. There’s another missile dropkick out of Kay Lee Ray, which led to both women tagging out as Stevie Boy charges into Ospreay, but Will’s enziguiri puts a stop to that as we go back-and-forth. The over-the-top 619 caught Stevie in the ropes, but Stevie nails a Falcon arrow as the director overdoses us on replays. We’re also OD’ing on crowd shots too as Stevie and Will traded elbows to the head, but that just coaxes in Bea and Kay Lee as all four participants were in for a switcharound that led to a pair of Cheeky Nandos kicks. Ospreay looked to finish off Stevie, but the Scotsman gets up and cuts him off with a top rope ‘rana… but Ospreay landed on his feet! Of course, there’s a replay… and that misses some head kicks that brought in Bea and Kay Lee to dish out German suplexes and topes.
There’s been no tags, but Bea and Kay Lee Ray end up brawling on the outside, before Ospreay and Stevie hit the ring with a springboard forearm from Will. We keep on going as Kay Lee nails a reverse ‘rana to Ospreay, setting up Stevie for a Destroyer as Bea returned to break up the cover. Bea keeps Kay Lee tied up in the ropes with a modified headscissors, and that left Will free to finish off Stevie Boy with the Storm Breaker. This was a fun change of pace from what’s been the norm on WOS – perhaps a little too frantic at times, but a rather deserved win in the end. ***¼
Iestyn Rees vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr.
Keeping up the powerhouse theme for the episode, we’ve got one half of the tag team champions in action against “Great Britain’s very own British Bulldog Jr.” – I never knew we annexed Calgary…
Much like with the female powerhouses in the opener, we start with the pair taking each other into the ropes, before a headlock takedown and escape just led to a posedown. They have another tie-up, this time from a knuckle lock, but Rees ends up tripping the Bulldog as he tries to pin him from the hold. Neck bridges save the Bulldog, as does a backwards roll as he’s able to eventually work free and into a release Northern lights suplex.
Clobbering boots are next as they both kicked each other to the mat, worrying Kip Sabian who was with his tag partner at ringside… but it’s the Bulldog who comes back with some near-falls off of a suplex, before Rees turned back and threw him shoulder-first into the ringpost. Rees repeats it, sending Smith to the outside, before we got some crowd shots in lieu of some stomps in the ring. An armbar gives the Bulldog something else to fight out of, before Rees crowdshots his way to another stomp on the arm and shoulder. We do get a nice aerial shot of an elbow drop from Rees, but the Bulldog rolls up and into an armbar… with Rees instantly in the ropes for safety. Rees rebounds with another lariat for a near-fall as he goes back to the armbar, but Smith escapes and lands a German suplex, before he caught Rees on the top rope with some headbutts.
Smith brings Rees down with a superplex, almost getting the win after a delayed cover. Rees again scales the ropes, but misses a flying clothesline as Smith hits some more German suplexes instead, getting yet another two-count. Somehow Rees comes back with a spinebuster, but can’t quite put away the Bulldog, before he runs into a kick as Smith nails a powerbomb for a two-count of his own. Rees looked to be on jelly legs, but he’s able to nail a spear for a two-count, before a suplex was countered into a small package, then a running powerslam as the Bulldog got the win. Normally I’d be like “why are they having a tag champion lose?”, but the tag division hasn’t exactly been a focal point since the tournament… and Davey Boy Smith Jr. is perhaps the biggest name they have who isn’t in the title picture. ***¼
Our main event is a “tribute to a classic WOS moment” as we’ve a mask vs. mask match. Let’s not mention both these guys have frequently wrestled without one!
Mask vs. Mask: Robbie X vs. Crater
You win by removing your opponent’s mask, rather than it being “on the line” in a regular match. They recap Crater losing in that four-way (or was it a three-on-one match? We’ll never know) last week, and we start with Robbie trying to stick and run.
An early attempt at the X-Express is caught and turned into a backbreaker, prompting the Saltire-masked flyer to scramble into the ropes. A bear-hug brings us back to the days of Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks, squeezing the life out of Robbie… but he lets go as Robbie went for his mask.
An enziguiri knocks the big man into the corner, where Robbie continues to blast into him with running forearms, but bloody hell the big guy leaves his feet for a dropkick – prompting the pre-recorded roar to play! They replay the dropkick as well they should, before Robbie lands a chinbreaker and some kicks in a bid to get back into it. Another enziguiri sends Crater to the outside, where Robbie followed with an Orihara moonsault, but his follow-up tope’s swatted away with a forearm. Back in the ring, Crater loomed over Robbie, repeatedly walking over him… somehow, Robbie manages to hit the X-Express out of nowhere… and then he pulls off Crater’s mask, revealed a bald, beardy bloke who quickly covers his face! Crater grabs his mask, puts it back on and leaves… and without the clear face-shot, that was rather anticlimactic. Still, it was an okay match given the limitations. **
The show ends with the announcement from Stu Bennett, who teases saying his WWE-trademarked catchphrase, as “Breaking News Bennett” has a “completely unique, never seen before type of match” that’ll involve the entire WOS roster. Just the men, though. The winner gets a title shot. Ooh, maybe Justin Sysum’ll win and get his third shot and cash it in!
Next week: Viper challenges Kay Lee Ray in the penultimate episode of the season, and then we figure out what on earth that match is. Royal Rumble?
So, with another short-notice timeslot change (so short notice, in-fact, that some of the roster were still tweeting the 4.30pm start time rather than the new 4pm start), WOS hit a new low in terms of the ratings, drawing 0.3m viewers and a 3.9% share. Sure, it’s not apples-to-apples, but the last few weeks seems to be equating to a drop of 100,000 viewers for each half hour it’s brought forward.
That being said, WOS does have a late night replay (this week, at 11.45pm) and a Sunday morning replay, so it’s not all doom and gloom. Reports this week suggest that WOS has a second series all sorted – we’ll wait for the official confirmation on that – but I do struggle to see the product in its current format and editing style remaining on ITV’s flagship channel for a second series. While the quick cuts and overall style are something you can just about get used to, I do have to wonder how many fans were pushed away with the lack of character introductions…