We take a look at the final ever show in WrestleGate’s history, complete with Rampage Brown’s first (and only) defence of the WrestleGate title.
The OJMO pinned Carlos Romo & MAO in 11:00 (***¼)
Open Gate Championship Tournament Semi-Final: Robbie X pinned Soner Dursun in 9:30 (***½)
Malik and Brady Phillips pinned TK Cooper and NIWA in 9:50 (***)
Lucas Steele pinned Bad Bones in 7:40 (**)
Myles Kayman and Nathan Cruz pinned Joe Lando and Maverick Mayhew in 10:00
Open Gate Championship Tournament Semi-Final: Callum Newman pinned Jody Fleisch in 11:50
Rampage Brown pinned Chris Ridgeway in 11:00 to retain the WrestleGate Heavyweight Championship
We open with a recap of the last show’s Open Gate Championship Tournament matches. By recap, I mean “they play the closing moments of the matches with stirring music dubbed over it”… followed by recaps of the remainder of the show. It’s good to have these, but twelve minutes of recaps felt needlessly long.
For what looks to be the final time, it’s back to the Rushcliffe Arena on the outskirts of Nottingham for this WrestleGate show. Dave Bradshaw and Joe Hendry are on commentary.
The OJMO vs. MAO vs. Carlos Romo
The original card was meant to have seen Carlos Romo teaming with Addicted 2 Adrenaline to take on More Than Hype, while MAO and the OJMO were lined up to face Senza Volto in a three-way to crown a top contender for the yet-to-be-filled Open Gate Championship.
We open with some three-way spots as a stacked-up side headlock gave way to some flash pinning attempts, before everyone ducked head kicks en route to a stand-off. The OJMO looks for a half crab on Romo, but MAO kicks it away, then took Romo outside as we began the revolving door gimmick. OJMO’s back with a ‘rana and a dropkick. Out goes MAO, in comes Romo, who lands a leg lariat on OJMO for a two-count. A sunset flip from OJMO’s countered into a knee strike from Romo, who then changed his focus to knock MAO into the guard rails with a baseball slide dropkick, before a high knee to OJMO nearly won it.
Romo slows the pace down as he ties up OJMO, before a series of PKs to the back drew a one-count – with MAO running in to break it up. The pair trade elbows as OJMO recovered in the corner, but while MAO pulled ahead, OJMO turned the tables, knocking the pair outside ahead of a Fosbury flop to the outside. Back in the ring, OJMO catches Romo with a dropkick by the ropes, and then catches Romo and MAO in half crabs. They both manage to push free, with MAO first after OJMO… but he’s caught with a leaping knee to start a three-way Parade of Strikes. MAO tried to pull ahead by going up top, but Romo pulls him down before OJMO pushed him head-first into a Tree of Woe-laiden MAO.
More dropkicks from OJMO keep them in the corner, but MAO punches him on the top rope as he was staggering out of the corner, still holding the family jewels. Romo capitalises with a step-up superplex that should have won, but MAO narrowly broke the pin up with a moonsault.
MAO’s still nursing himself as OJMO rolls him into a half crab, but Romo breaks it up with a cutter before he threw in a Spiral Tap onto OJMO for a near-fall. Yes, MAO broke it up, before he dumped Romo with a Michinoku driver for a two-count of his own. From there, MAO goes up for a 450 splash, but that misses as OJMO returns to the fray… superkicks get rid of him as MAO went back up for a split-legged corkscrew moonsault… that misses, but OJMO’s frog splash from the other corner didn’t, and that’s enough to put away Romo. A pretty fun opening three-way, albeit a little too cliched at times – and it got a reaction from the Nottingham crowd too. ***¼
Wrestle Gate Open Gate Championship Tournament Semi-Final: Soner Dursun vs. Robbie X
Robbie got some pyro for an early Christmas present here, and we have an intense lock-up as Durson charges Robbie into the corner.
There’s a clean break, before Robbie returned the favour, rolling out of the corner before Dursun came in with a side headlock. That leads to an obligatory shoulder tackle, before Robbie came off the ropes with a tijeras to take Dursun outside, with a faked-out dive making Soner take a step back. Back inside, Dursun keeps going on Robbie with a springboard crossbody for a two-count, then a suplex, before Robbie X flipped away and found a way back in with a hiptoss and a low dropkick to take Dursun outside. Dursun drags him outside though, and finds the mark with a dropkick before they went back inside to collect a two-count.
Dursun keeps on top of Robbie, whipping him into the buckles before dragging him out with a Dragon screw. An elbow drop to the knee’s next as Soner tried to ground Robbie, and it worked somewhat as Robbie got free, but stumbled into the corner. More Dragon screws keep Robbie down as the crowd started to get behind him, and it sorta works as Robbie took Dursun onto the apron, then knocked him off with a handspring kick. A boot off the apron followed, before Robbie caught Dursun in the ropes, taking him down for a shooting star press for a near-fall. Another trip up top lead to an aborted dive, with Dursun following in with a dropkick to the head, then a release Tiger suplex for a nearfall. Robbie rolls outside, where he eats an Orihara moonsault, before returning inside for a frog splash that’s aborted.
Robbie makes a comeback with a handspring overhead kick, before a Spiral Tap drew a near-fall… with a German suplex getting a similar result for Robbie X. An Xclamation’s called for, but Dursun counters in the ropes with a dropkick before a slingshot neckbreaker on the apron turned it around. Dursun tries to follow up with the frog splash, but he stops short, only to get rolled up by Robbie for a two-count. From there, Robbie X hits back with an Xclamation, and that’s all! Pretty good for the time they got, with Dursun showing plenty against the veteran – but at the end of it all, the game plan to stop Robbie flipping around didn’t quite come off. ***½
Brady Phillips & Malik vs. South Pacific Power Trip (NIWA & TK Cooper)
Malik and Phillips were a makeshift team on WrestleGate’s last show – but forged a bond by the end of the match. Here, they’re up against a slightly-more familiar team, at least in terms of “they’ve had a couple of matches together elsewhere” as this was a debut in WrestleGate for Cooper.
Handshakes and fist bumps are exchanged before the bell, as Cooper and Phillips start us off… but out wanders Kosta K for the hell of it as he joins commentary. He snatches the headset off of Dave Bradshaw, and is seemingly cool with working with Joe Hendry, despite everything that was said on the last show. In the ring, Phillips tries Cooper and went for a trapped-leg armbar, ending when TK grabbed the ropes. A side headlock leads to TK shoving free ahead of an armdrag and an armbar, but Phillips takes it to the corner for a break. Cooper’s whipped into the opposite corner as they end up scrambling, while a dropkick from TK looked to be for nought as Malik had blind-tagged in.
NIWA does the same, with TK then eating a dropkick before Malik got bulled down with a clothesline and a tiltawhirl backbreaker. The Kiwis exchange rapid tags as they looked to work over Malik’s left arm, before TK faked him out with a forearm smash instead. Malik floats out of a suplex and tags in Phillips, who flies in with a missile dropkick before he put the boots to NIWA in the corner. A chop from NIWA offers a fightback, but he’s trapped between quick tags as Malik chopped him down for a pinning attempt. The “makeshift team” keeps that going as they continue to isolate NIWA, following up with a double-team suplex for a two-count as TK remained little more than an onlooker.
Phillips whips NIWA into the corner, but ends up taking a dropkick off the middle rope, but has to push away Malik before tagging in TK, who was a house afire with a Kotaro Krusher/shotgun dropkick combo that left commentary agog. A pop-up Flatliner drops Malik as the Kiwis worked well together, with Phillips eating a springboard corkscrew legdrop and a Quebrada for a near-fall. Malik’s taken outside for a tope from NIWA, before TK’s scissor kick to Phollips misses…. He’s lifted up for an accidental Codebreaker/back cracker combo by Phillips, before a dropkick-assisted Electric Chair almost put TK away. They keep going, sparking a Parade of Moves as all four men were in the ring, but in the end the spike Jig ‘n’ Tonic’s enough to get Malik the pin over TK as the “makeshift” team won out again. Pretty solid stuff, even if this felt a little rushed in parts. ***
After the match, Kosta K leaves for “some extra business,” as he hits the ring to regurgitate his promo from last time out. He’s still mad about veterans “hogging the spots,” as he derided the four in the ring as “curtain jerkers.” Yay for inside terms on promos! Kosta brings up a buzzword that hasn’t particularly aged well, then suggests that they join him and “become the main event.” Nobody shakes his hand, except it’s a ruse as Phillips and Malik shake the Kiwis’ hands, then attacks them from behind before leaving with Kosta.
John Klinger vs. Lucas Steel
Well this was a bloody odd one. Announced as a singles match as Steel looked to bounce back from losing the WrestleGate Heavyweight title tournament final… and we started with the pair charging into each other at the bell, wheeling away with punches and chops, before an errant spear from Klinger wiped out the referee.
A clothesline takes both men outside, and with no referee, this turned into a brawl. Chops around ringside have Steel on the back foot, while Klinger went under the ring for chairs. He repeatedly flings it at Steel as the referee remained motionless in the ring. They head back inside to duel with chairs, but they knock them out of their hands before Steel went for a chokeslam. Klinger somehow slips out and wipes out Steel with a chair, before directing one towards the referee. Just because. The crowd wanted more, but Klinger just flipped them off as he proceeded to head up top for an elbow drop onto a chair… but Steel throws the chair into Klinger’s path to cut him off.
Steel goes for a Stand Out powerbomb, but Klinger lifts him to the outside as a counter. A punch knocks Steel off the apron, but he’s able to cut off a low-pe as he went for a legdrop off the middle rope onto the apron – which didn’t look pretty, but damn sure seemed to be effective. Back inside, a chokeslam followed, before Steel woke up the referee to make a one-count. Klinger rakes the eyes of Steel before landing a slingshot spear back into the ring, with an over-the-knee brainbuster coming next for another one-count. The ref’s hit again for his slow counting, and then grabs onto the chair as Klinger went for a chair shot. Steel dropkicks it away and hits a Stand Out powerbomb… and that’s your win. I don’t get why they didn’t just announce it as no DQ, because all of the stuff attacking the ref gave the officials no credibility. **
After the match, Klinger lays out the ref with a chair shot as he went to the back. Earlier in WrestleGate’s history, Klinger was suspended for attacks – and I guess the plan was for a similar suspension, had WrestleGate run again?
Nathan Cruz is out next, back in his typical tights. He’s out with Myles Kayman and pyro, and it’s promo time. He reminds us of the speech from “Nathan Cruz, the man” on the last show, before stopping to berate a fan who threw a streamer at him. Apparently nobody took up Cruz on his offer of “basking under the learning tree,” as everyone’s too entitled… but Myles Kayman did. That led to an open challenge…
Myles Kayman & Nathan Cruz vs. Addicted 2 Adrenaline (Joe Lando & Maverick Mayhew)
The original card was to have seen Cruz take on Scotty Davis – instead, we get a new form of Addicted 2 Adrenaline, with Maverick Mayhew now partnering Joe Lando.
Cruz and Mayhew start things off, with Cruz taking Mayhew into the ropes with uppercuts early on before Mayhew hit the ropes… only to get popped up into a chop. Kayman tags in after Mayhew was cornered, and instantly unloads with forearms before missing a charge, allowing Mayhew to hit an armdrag and an armbar out of the corner. Lando tags in and hits a flying stomp to Kayman’s arm, which briefly became a focal point. A spinning heel kick knocks Kayman down, before Mayhew returned to help with double-team hiptosses and mid-kicks for a two-count. Cruz is clearly annoyed as Kayman’s isolated away from him, left in the corner for a cannonball as Lando picked up a near-fall.
Cruz tries to knock Mayhew off the apron, but it’s thwarted… he manages to shove him off the top rope as Kayman raked away at the eyes of Lando. Cruz tags in and dumps Mayhew with the Thanks, Tully for a near-fall, before a snap suplex from Kayman yielded a similar result. Kayman gets a little too cocky, and ends up having his suplex reversed… but Cruz pulls Lando off the apron before a tag out could be made. Instead, Cruz gets back to his corner to tag in as they continue to wear down Mayhew. A second Thanks, Tully is flipped out of, but Mayhew has to leapfrog Cruz to make a tag out, with Lando clearing house with a dropkick before he ‘rana’d Cruz into an accidental DDT from Kayman. Still, Cruz annoys by clinging onto Lando’s leg on the apron, but it’s kicks away as a springboard moonsault from Lando took out the pro and his protege.
Back inside, Mayhew and Lando double-team Lando with a back cracker and an Asai moonsault for a near-fall. Cruz tries to make a save, but eats a leaping knee before he pancakes away Mayhew. A small package from Mayhew nearly leads to the upset, before Cruz just dumped Mayhew onto Lando with a spinebuster. Kayman low bridges Mayhew to the outside from there, as Cruz almost took the win with a Show Stolen on Lando, before a Doomsday something or other was avoided. Mayhew’s back to clear house, dumping Kayman with a brainbuster before Lando missed a corkscrew press. Cruz gave a jacket to Mayhew in among all that, before he dumped Mayhew into the ropes with a suplex… Cruz then distracts the referee as Kayman used the jacket to dump Lando with a reverse DDT for the win. I don’t get the jacket thing, but I guess it’s cheating – and a win for the pro and his protege. A pretty good tag match, with Cruz being the spoiler among the younger flippy guys. ***½
Wrestle Gate Open Gate Championship Tournament Semi-Final: Callum Newman vs. Jody Fleisch
This generational clash should be a bit of a proving ground for Newman, who’s been getting a fair amount of buzz both before and during pandemic times. Fleisch has been wrestling longer than Newman’s been alive, which speaks volumes.
From the opening lock-up, Newman takes Fleisch into the corner, where there’s a switcharound before the rather terse break. A wristlock from Newman grounds Fleisch, but it’s countered with another one as the pair went hold-for-hold in the early going. Fleisch’s snapmare takes Newman down, but he’s back up as they swap snapmares, looking for a pinning attempt that saw the pair accidentally mow down the ref. A knee from Newman takes Fleisch down, before some blocked and ducked kicks led to Fleisch hitting an enziguiri and a poison ‘rana that spiked Newman hard. Newman cuts off a dive, taking Fleisch outside before his Sasuke special misses… but an Asai moonsault did not!
Rather than roll Fleisch back in, Newman took aim with some chops on the outside, before he ran into a kick as Fleisch instead rolled back in and waited for the count-out. Newman easily beat it, but got caught with a sunset flip as a set of pinning attempts broke out between the two to troll the ref. They’re left dizzied, then go back into a small package that rolls around to troll everyone some more. Getting back to their feet, the pair swing and miss with kicks, but there’s a lot of ducking and not a whole lot of connecting until they find form with enziguiri kicks. A flying ‘rana takes Newman off the top as Fleisch followed up with a leap up top for a shooting star press… it misses, as Newman threw in a cutter on the way down.
Both men get back up and it’s back to the right hands and chops, with Fleisch looking to pull ahead until he ate a leaping uppercut off the top from Newman. A running shooting star press is next for a near-fall, before Newman went back up top for something… but he aborts a shooting star press as we’re swinging and missing until a standing one man Spanish Fly from Fleisch landed for a near-fall. Fleisch calls for the Phoenix DDT, but Newman ducks and charges in with a roll-up for a near-fall, then another, before a pumphandle driver spikes Fleisch for the win. Callum Newman puts away the veteran after a hit-and-miss outing in what’d have to be an upset. ***
WrestleGate Pro Heavyweight Championship: Chris Ridgeway vs. Rampage Brown (c)
The match that’s taken me ages to get to because of faulty DVDs and equipment (thanks to the guys at WrestleCrate for providing me with a good copy of the former!)… the final WrestleGate match, and it was the first defence of the WrestleGate title.
We’ve a tentative start as Ridgeway looked to take Rampage’s waist, but ends up having to defend a wristlock before he looked to go for Rampage’s leg. It quickly ends in the ropes. Rampage takes him into the corner for our next break, before Ridgeway looked to sting him with some kicks to the leg. Shoulder tackles offered little as Ridgeway tried to move Rampage, with Rampage taking his challenger down with a single tackle in return. A leapfrog from Ridgeway’s deftly turned into a slam, before a chop took him down. Uppercuts knock Ridgeway to the outside, so Rampage heads out and joins him for some more chops… and tries more of the same back inside, but Rampage quickly has to defend a guillotine choke.
Rampage tries to suplex his way free, but eventually tosses Ridgeway aside, before the challenger hooked the leg… but it’s too early as Rampage kicked free, then chopped Ridgeway back to the mat. A slam followed too as Rampage controlled the pace, throwing in a backbreaker as well for a two-count. Ridgeway’s pulled out of the corner as he gets dumped with a suplex, but Ridgeway dares Rampage to throw some more offence… which he gets via a series of kicks. More kicks from Rampage get caught as Ridgeway looked to strike back with a series of palm strikes, before he pulled Rampage down in an armbar.
It’s quickly escaped, so Ridgeway goes for an ankle lock, grapevining the leg as well as Rampage eventually got to the rope for a break. Rampage retaliates in short order with a spinebuster, before he teased a piledriver… which Ridgeway blocked, then countered as he rolled Rampage back into an ankle lock. He tries to go for a German suplex as Rampage fought free, but Rampage just switches out for a sitout powerbomb that almost secured the win. From there, Rampage went for another powerbomb, but Ridgeway slips out and lands a barrage of strikes to Rampage’s midsection. Kicks weakened the champion ahead of a German suplex, before a PK drew a two-count. We’re back to the kicks, with Ridgeway countering a catch by applying another guillotine, but Rampage threw his way free before landing another clothesline for a near-fall.
Ridgeway pops back up, but has a kick swatted away… he counters a piledriver into a roll-up for a near-fall, before Rampage just went “eff it” and finished him off with a piledriver. That’s every match on this show that finished at the top or the bottom of “the minute” (seriously, I wasn’t estimating times!), as WrestleGate closed out with a decent, but short main event. ***
Post-match, Kosta K, Brady Phillips and Malik hit the ring to go after Rampage… he knocks Phillips and Malik off the apron, before Joe Hendry left commentary to make the save. Except he didn’t, he just punted Rampage low and joined in the beatdown as the show ended with Rampage being left laying. Hendry even does the “you want to know why?” promo, claiming that he’s part of the current generation of wrestlers who’s been overlooked, feeling rather sour that he’s the “biggest star in the world” and he’s sat on commentary. Except the story there was that his ROH contract wasn’t allowing it.
Hendry craps over star ratings, and tells us he’s all about “eyeballs on the product”. He’s taking charge of WrestleGate… and his first act is to shut it down! I made that second bit up. After Hendry said his piece, Lucas Steel ran out and clotheslined Malik and Phillips before they exchanged an uneasy stare. Where this would go… we wouldn’t know. As I write this in January 2021, their website has been taken offline “for maintenance”, with an article in November 2019 to promote a match that was meant to have been on this show was the last thing they put up there. Their social media’s fallen dormant, information on past events and their roster have been removed, and while they have a VOD service, it’s missing this show.
So, if Companies House is anything to go by, that’s it for WrestleGate – and given that those who led it at the start have moved their efforts onto a new promotion in WrestleCarnival – what is the legacy of this promotion? Six shows in twelve months in the same venue makes for a rather steady line-up – but there is a marked change in the tone of the shows about six months into the run. Gone were the exotic fly-ins, replaced with home-grown names and potential up and comers… which kind of took away their main selling point. Still, WrestleGate did give the UK scene some unique shows – after all, it’s very rare that All Japan names like Shuji Ishikawa and Joe Doering appear on these shores – and was the backdrop for a big angle in the early days of AEW… but that’ll probably be about it for them, a promotion that seemed to have big ideas, but never seemed to draw too much attention beyond the local area.