It’s the season finale of WOS Wrestling – and Justin Sysum finally gets his shot at Rampage’s title!
Alex Shane voices a “so far” recap package that covered all of the storylines this season: Grado losing the WOS title, Kay Lee Ray’s reign of supremacy in the women’s division, Joe Hendry and Martin Kirby’s feud… oh, and Will Ospreay being his usual excellent self in the ring. Oh yeah, and they only show Justin Sysum’s last win for a title shot (and airbrushed out the other two times he earned it!)
Alex Shane and So Cal Val open up from the commentary table, with Stu Bennett in the ring to hype up the “Ultimate Showdown”. He also sets up a tag title defence, with “a team the entire nation has fallen in love with” getting a shot. Well, maybe a niche within the nation…
WOS Tag Team Championship: Davey Boy Smith Jr. & Grado vs. Iestyn Rees & Kip Sabian (c)
I’m not quite so sure on those viewing figure claims… but we’ll go with it.
This was the champion’s first defence of the titles, but first we crash to adverts, then a “Don’t Try This At Home” alert before we finally get the action underway. Except Kib Sabian’s been standing there during those ads it seems. The champions tried a jump start, but Grado and Davey Boy Smith Jr. were wise to it, and they take control early as Smith slammed Grado onto Kip in the corner. Iestyn Rees gets involved on the outside, giving a distraction as Sabian hits a springboard enziguiri to take Grado to the outside, and we’ve got a myriad of crowd shots as the champions turn things around.
Grado’s crashed into with a slingshot leg drop as Sabian puts the boots to him. Rees does the same, as he came in and grounds the former WOS champion with a side headlock… but it leads to Grado firing back, only to get elbowed down to the mat for a two-count. On commentary Stu Bennett claims that promotions around the world want the WOS tag team champions on their show. We’ll see… Sabian and Smith tag in, but the hot tag has Smith on top… and more crowd shots as boots to the gut are apparently a no-no. A flying knee in the corner’s fine for the censors though, as was an overhead butterfly suplex that prompts Rees to come in and make a save. It didn’t quite go to plan.
We cut away from the live action as an overlay plugs the main event… and we return just in time for Smith to trap Rees in a leg grapevine right by the ropes. There’s an instant rope break as Smith follows up with an enziguiri, before both men tagged out again, with Grado launching into into Sabian as he built up into a cannonball for a near-fall. Again, Rees makes the save, but he promptly earns himself a Bionic elbow. Sabian’s superkick catches Grado unawares, and the tag team champions are again back on top… and in search of their powerbomb/neckbreaker finisher. They hit Grado with it, but the Scotsman barely gets his shoulder up at the count of two.
Kip Sabian tries to keep the Bulldog on the floor, but his slingshot plancha is eventually caught and turned into a slam, leaving both men down as Grado caught Rees with a cutter out of nowhere for the win. A rather out of nowhere win, but a crowd pleasing result nevertheless – and Grado seemed to get the respect of Stu Bennett by the end of it as we wrapped up that storyline. **¾
After another commercial, we had a video package to build up the main event, focusing largely on last week’s Buzzer Battle, rather than the remainder of Sysum’s chase for the gold.
WOS Championship: Justin Sysum vs. Rampage (c)
We’ve got 25 minutes left on the video here, so this is quite probably going to be the longest non-gimmicked match in WOS’ brief history.
Rampage was out with CJ Banks and Sha Samuels, while commentary tells us that this match will go “as long as it takes”. Like TV time limits had been an issue this season! The bell rings, and there’s instant distraction as Sysum was attacked from behind by Rampage. He shrugs it off with some forearms before a leapfrog and a dropkick showed off the challenger’s agility. Rampage tries to whip Sysum into the corner, but it seems nothing’s working for the champion as Sysum springboards out with a crossbody for a near-fall as we get a shot of CJ Banks antagonising the crowd.
A suplex gets Sysum a two-count… and my God, they are going overboard with the replays here. I’m half expecting to see a replay of Sysum breathing anytime now… what we do get though, is Rampage firing back, catching a leapfrog and turning it into a spinebuster for a near-fall… and yeah, replays.
That spinebuster has Rampage firmly in the driving seat, and we’ve more crowd shots to mask blows to the head. Rampage looks for a piledriver, but Sysum counters with a back body drop as Rampage was sent to the floor… with Sysum’s attempt to follow up stopped by Sha and CJ acting as a roadblock. They don’t actually do anything, but they get thrown out, which lets us see CJ’s crazy eyes.
Rampage is recovering while Sysum’s focused on the ejection, and it leads to the champion getting the second wind as he catches Sysum unawares, throwing him into the ring post. A count-out tease leads to Sysum getting back barely in time, but Rampage is back on top of him with a short-range lariat that decked the Hammer, giving Rampage a bunch of near-falls. Some chops keep Sysum down, but another lax cover almost backfires as Rampage gets rolled up for a near-fall.
Another spinebuster reasserts Rampage for a near-fall, but Sysum again dropkicks his way back into it as we cut to one last break. Oh, and a Grado “don’t try this at home” trail. We return as Sysum’s comeback is in full effect, mostly comprising of clotheslines that had Rampage rocked, ahead of a Stinger splash and an Exploder out of the corner. A discus lariat from Sysum’s side-stepped, and Rampage is right back in with a standing uranage for a near-fall, and Rampage is back on the offence, clubbing away on Sysum before going for a huge superplex.
Commentary claims that the superplex broke the ring – although saying “look at that lump in the middle of the ring” when Rampage is the only person there is not good timing (even if the boards in the ring were visibly loose)! They go back outside for a walk and brawl, with Rampage pulling out the wooden ring steps… and Sod’s law dictates that it’s Rampage who takes them, as he’s knocked onto the stairs then clotheslined off of them.
Back inside, Sysum dumps Rampage with a sidewalk slam onto those loose boards, before he headed up top in search of the 450 splash… but CJ Banks is back out. He’s quickly dispatched with a right hand, but that distraction gives Rampage enough time to get back on top. For some reason Rampage pulls CJ onto the apron to hold Sysum, but that ends as you expect with Banks knocked off the apron, before Sysum hits the discus lariat…
…and it’s a near-fall as Banks pulls out the referee. Which we need a highlighted replay for! CJ argues with the referee and ends up eating a tope from Sysum. He’s back inside, but Rampage dumps the challenger with a running Samoan drop for a near-fall. We’ve a ref bump as Sysum accidentally hits a leaping forearm into Steve Lynskey, and now you know we’re in main event territory.
The ref’s still down as Sysum gets a long visual pinfall from a Fisherman’s suplex, and here comes Sha Samuels back to beat down Sysum. Sha removes the turnbuckle pads, but Sysum stops whatever was planned with another discus lariat, only to turn around into an implant DDT as Rampage… only gets a two-count! In frustration, Rampage throws out the groggy referee as his temper gives way again, prompting him to bring in the title belt… only for a second referee to appear. Tom Scarborough disarms Rampage, just in time for Sysum to hit that discus lariat and a 450 splash… and we’ve a new champion! Cue hysteria, celebrations and pyro (ALL OF IT) as Justin Sysum closes out the season as champion. Perhaps a little overbooked at the end, but this was an enjoyable heavyweight affair – at least within the bounds of what WOS was able to present. ***¼
Stu Bennett hits the ring to try and give the title belt to Sysum… but Rampage shoves him away. Cue the Bullhammer elbow from Bennett, who then shakes Sysum’s hand and gives him the belt as we end the season with rather hurried celebrations.
The final episode of the season closed out with a reported overnight audience of 200,000… although I suspect there’s some rounding at play here, that’s an almighty tumble from the peak of 1.1m viewers who tuned in during the opening week. So… was this a success? Well, WOS was more of a result of the British scene getting hot, rather than a cause – but at its very least, Britwres had a TV show featuring a bunch of wrestlers who got visibility that they almost surely wouldn’t have had elsewhere. No matter how small that win is, that’s got to be taken as a positive.
As for the series itself, well, the dangerous thing here (in my opinion) is that this series was written like a TV show that felt like it was uncertain from the off about whether it was going to get a second series. Even if we do get the second season (with or without the Alan Partridge “smell my cheese” pleas), what’s the hook to bring you back? We saw Justin Sysum’s battle against the odds to actually get a title shot… Grado’s fight to get the respect of Stu Bennett… and Kay Lee Ray conquering the women’s division. The upcoming tour in 2019 – along with any new season will almost surely be self-contained – which presents further issues. Wrestling isn’t something that’s meant to be consumed in a vacuum – it’s meant to be something ongoing, only wrapping everything up when they know for sure that things are coming to a definite end.
Is that a Freudian slip, or just a nod to ITV’s demands? We’ll see if/when WOS season two returns!