We’re going back a fair bit for this one – what happens when Kota Ibushi, Will Ospreay and Pentagon Jr. come to play in Bethnal Green?
Dr. Hurts, Tengu & Kraken vs. Bacon Jr., Buffalo Soldier & Cassius
So the curtained off area that usually acts as the locker room has been removed, so you see the guys at the top of the stairs waiting for their music to hit before they come down. We’ve a whole lotta masks here, and live commentary too!
Bacon and Tengu start, and we’re instantly in with a leapfrog that Bacon slips on, before a hiptoss almost spelled doom for Tengu. Buffalo Soldier’s in, as is Dr Hurts, with the clown-masked doctor choking away on the Soldier before Buffalo wall-walked into an armdrag on Hurts. A tornillo’s next from Buffalo for a one-count, as Cassius seems way too excited to tag in, but he’s got plenty to surprise Hurts with, as some satellite headscissors took him down.
Kraken kicks Cassius in the ropes as the bad guys turn it around, at least until Cassius slingshots Tengu into Kraken’s, erm, krakens in the corner. Bacon Jr’s tagged back in as he goes mad with clotheslines, before he press slammed the Kraken off the top rope and into Dr. Hurts. Kraken slips out of a Bacon Buster as all hell breaks loose… and it’s almost surely dive time as Cassius and Buffalo Soldier throw themselves into topes to the outside. Bacon Jr’s got one too – but Tengu trips him before returning to the ring with some palm strikes. Bacon quickly responds with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex that threw Tengu to the pile outside, only for Dr. Hurts to trip him up ahead of another dive.
We enter a Parade of Moves as Kraken catches Buffalo Soldier with a F5, only for Cassius to land a DDT… move move move, and in the end a Bacon Buster leaves Tengu down ahead of a wheelbarrow splash from Cassius, and an elbow off the top from Buffalo Soldier for the win. This was fine for trainees – fortunately the opening slips didn’t set the tone, but this was way too short for almost anyone to stand out. **½
Tiger Ali vs. Jody Fleisch
There’s no commentary from here on in, since in-ring commentary’s a part of the London Lucha League brand… Ali was an alternate for the original WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament, but since then has been mostly restricted to 4FW shows. For some reason the generic bell dot MP3’s been replaced with 80s WWF Bell dot MP3, which catches the crowd out…
Ali tries to ground Fleisch early by working a toe-hold, before his plan B looked to see him take Jody down with a wristlock as he threatened to snap the veteran’s fingers. It doesn’t happen though, as Jody flips free, only for Ali to counter with some headscissors… which Fleisch handstands out of as we reach a stalemate. Fleisch outsmarts Ali by cartwheeling past him, following up with some armdrags before Ali just shoved him down… with one more armdrag catching him off guard. Ali tries to throw Fleisch out, but he skins the cat before Jody took to the sky, slinging himself into Ali on the floor with a plancha. They fight around the crowd, with Ali getting thrown into a wall, but things turn around back in the ring as Ali kicks Fleisch’s leg in the ropes, as the Iranian began to ease into an advantage.
A back elbow off the ropes gets Ali a two-count, before he started to pull away at Fleisch in a camel clutch. The ref breaks it up, as Fleisch hits the rope for a sunset flip, only for Ali to hit back with a knee breaker out of nowhere. Someone mocks a Peter Griffin meets Bugs Bunny laugh as Ali traps Fleisch in a single leg crab, releasing the hold to drive Fleisch’s knee into the mat. A leap off the top rope sees Ali land on Fleisch’s foot ahead of a mucho-delayed Flair flop that the crowd popped huge for. Simplicity, eh? It gave Fleisch enough time to recover as he bursts back into life with leaping forearms, before a head kick from the apron led to a 720 DDT that Ali blocked.
Fleisch gets caught with a forearm in the corner, but responds to catch Ali with a ‘rana off the top for a near-fall as the match became finely poised. Some strikes from above looked to soften Fleisch for a German suplex, but he flips free and catches Ali out of nowhere with a prawn hold for the win. Perhaps not as flippy as you’d have expected out of Jody Fleisch, but this was a classic face/heel match with Ali cheating throughout only to get caught out by Fleisch’s experience. Based on this, I’m stunned as to why Tiger hasn’t had more chances. ***¼
Lion Kid vs. Jonny Storm vs. James Castle vs. Lance Lawrence vs. Greg Burridge vs. Lord Gideon Grey
I’m surprised the Lion Kid didn’t cry when he heard the match announced as a “clusterfuck”… but he was too busy stage diving, so perhaps he’s not as wholesome as you all thought! He relishes the chance to say some naughty words, but he can’t bring himself to say any of them. Perhaps Jonny Storm’s throwback FWA theme may trigger some reaction from him?
Lord Gideon Grey was the last man out and unusually gracious on the mic, but he’s quickly cut off as James Castle dropkicked him into the corner… and this is where the clusterfuck begins! ALL THE MOVES!
Jonny Storm throws Lion Kid to the outside, before he charged at a screaming Greg Burridge, which then sparked a chop battle, then some wacky rope-running before both men started trading sunset escapes. Both men get their arses out, much to the annoyance of James Castle, who takes down Gideon with a knee, before Lion Kid hits a German suplex as we’re back to the revolving door aspect of the match. A leg sweep from Lance Lawrence helps him take down Lion Kid for a near-fall, only for Jonny Storm to spark a series of eye pokes and nipple twisters. Gideon takes advantage of the no-DQ nature of things, celebrating a low blow on James Castle, who responded in kind as things got very Three Stooges like. Lion Kid goes low with a duel low blow to them, prompting the crowd to make up their own chants as the match seemed to grind to a halt as everyone sold their aching bodies.
Everyone’s back up as we had a Human Centipede of chinlocks, only for Lion Kid to break it up by setting off the domino effect Stunner. An eventual Flair flop from Lawrence looked to set up for Lion Kid going up top, but Grey and Castle stop him… only for the move to be turned into a Tower of Doom, following off with a 450 splash that crushed Castle for a near-fall. Lawrence heads up top again, but he’s caught with a German suplex off the top by Storm… in the middle of this, Gideon Grey climbs up onto the balcony because he had grander ideas: he wants to be a GIF! Perhaps Will Ospreay wasn’t the best person to talk him out of it, but he does eventually come down off the balcony, before slipping and crotching himself on the top rope.
For some reason, YMCA hits again so we have a dance-off as Gideon’s left nursing his crotch on the top rope while bobbing his head in time. James Castle attacks everyone dancing, just as Gideon headed up for a crossbody because he wanted to dance too. There’s your GIF! In the end, Lion Kid surprises Gideon with a powerbomb as another Parade of Moves breaks out, ending with a hiptoss/neckbreaker from Burridge, then a uranage on Lion Kid for the win. Yeah, if you wanted to analyse this, there were a few ropey spots, but it sure as hell lived up to its name. All the stars!
No Disqualification for Pro Wrestling EVE Championship: Sammii Jayne vs. Rhia O’Reilly (c)
There’s a jumpstart to this one, as Sammii dropkicks Rhea off the apron before the champion even got into the ring… and that’s the pot where Rhea broke her ankle on the landing.
Sammii throws Rhea into the ring and keeps up the beating with a snapmare and some double knee drops, but it’s clear something’s wrong as Rhea’s moving very gingerly. A German suplex gets a near-fall for Sammii as the crowd’s pretty silent here, although they do wake up a little when Sammii grabs a chair from under the ring. The chair’s wedged between the turnbuckles, but Rhea puts on the brakes and instead dishes out an Exploder suplex to take Sammii into the chair for a near-fall. From there, Rhea sets up for a curb stomp, before following up with a second one onto a chair… then a third, but somehow Sammii gets up and pushes Rhea to the outside as the champion played to the crowd.
From there, Sammii goes wild with a trio of topes into the crowd, but the third one’s blocked by a chair as the pair brawled towards the bar. Cue motion sickness as the cameraman repositions himself, and then loses all hope as Rhea sandwiches Sammii in a door. Back in the ring, Rhea gets a two-count, before she set up the chair for a DDT… only for Sammii to escape and hit her with a suplex that narrowly missed the chair. Instead, Jayne uses the chair in a more conventional way, hitting O’Reilly across the back for a two-count, before Sammii again takes her to the outside.
A neckbreaker hangs up Rhea in the ropes, with a flying double knee bringing her down with a bump for another near-fall… so Sammii goes under the ring for a table. The crowd bemoan the referee for helping her set it up, especially when a top rope ‘rana sent Sammii through the side of the table for a near-fall, prompting Sammii to freak out. Sammii brings out some drawing pins, but just as Sod’s law dictates, she’s German suplexed into them, before a back senton from Rhea adds more pain for a two-count. Rhea leaves the ring and heads up to the locker room for some help… in the form of KOTA IBUSHI?! He’s thrown into the ring to blast Sammii in the chest with a forearm, before bowing and leaving. I howled.
That’s not the finish though, as Rhea’s got a second table, with the referee evening things out as he set up this one too… and Rhea gets revenge as she powerbombed Sammii through the table and into the remaining drawing pins to get the win. This was an odd one – it started off almost deathly-quiet, but when it got going the crowd got into it; a hell of a thing considering Rhea O’Reilly wrestled the entirety of the match with a fractured ankle. ***
Right, onto the match you may have seen on the mainstream media back in 2017…
Cara Noir & Jimmy Havoc vs. Gota Ihashi & Kota Ibushi
Originally advertised as Tom Dawkins, we got one of the first sightings of Cara Noir here – and it was for the better as we got four solid characters in some really wacky outing. It was Cara’s first appearance as XWA champion too, having won the match in a Gold Rush the prior night.
Gota Ihashi must have sprinted to the ring, because the cameraman barely caught him on the apron as he prepared for the arrival of Kota Ibushi, who somehow had a harder time taking his shirt off than Ihashi, as we ended up with a jump start. The camera focuses on Jimmy Havoc blasting into Ibushi in the corner, before he quickly got his comeuppance with a kick to the chest. Cara Noir gets some too, as Gota Ihashi splats into him in the corner before Kota and Gota jump onto him so much so quickly I can’t even keep up. Ibushi then decides to throw Cara Noir into a wall while Jimmy Havoc does the corny “swing for a chairshot, miss, hit the rope and have the chair bounce back at you” spot for giggles.
Said chair then got used as an awkward landing point for Havoc, who took a double-team hiptoss, before Cara Noir came in and… lucked his way through Ihashi. They focused on what some called “Kota’s jolly fat mate” for a while, with a PK and a double stomp getting a near-fall, before Kota came in and bumped onto his neck from an Acid Rainmaker for a near-fall. Havoc takes the mic and says that he’s taking some inspiration from DDT – they’re taking it to the streets! So… outside we go, as they brawled in the back alley of Poyster Street with Cara Noir holding Ibushi and Ihashi so Jimmy Havoc could… run down the street for a poke to the eyes!
Jimmy mutters something about car keys as the brawling continued, heading further up the street as Jimmy… got in his car and ran them over?! The plan to run over the DDT duo backfired as there was a big Cara Noir-shaped dent in the windscreen, before Ibushi and Ihashi chokeslammed Jimmy onto the front of his own car for a near-fall! What the hell? Someone gives Kota a bag, which has fireworks in it… he’s got a lighter too, and there’s your mainstream media moment of Ibushi showering himself in fireworks. I can only imagine what any passing by train drivers overhead would have thought! Ibushi puts the firework down to do a moonsault off the car, but the firework had one more shot in it, fortunately not causing a direct hit.
Ibushi gets confused and tries to use the wrong door as Havoc gets whipped into some security shutters. Everyone finally heads back inside, where Havoc’s quickly caught in the corner and met with some Shattered Dreams from Ihashi… because Cara Noir and Kota Ibushi have climbed up onto that damned balcony again. Noir’s punched off the balcony as he falls into Havoc down below, quickly followed by a moonsault from Ibushi, which sent him backflipping into the ropes, before he picked himself up for some slams as Ihashi heads up for a bullfrog splash that gets the win. Well, this was certainly a spectacle; if you treated this as a standard match, then it’s not that great compared to what Ibushi’s capable of, but in terms of what they did spectacle and entertainment wise, then this was a whole heap of fun. ***
Will Ospreay vs. Penta El Zero M
How the hell do you follow a hit and run, and a man showing himself with fireworks? Good luck Will…
We start with Ospreay sending Penta flying with armdrags and dropkicks, catching him off guard right out of the gate, before beating him into the corner with some forearms. Ospreay looked for the Shibata-ish dropkick, but Penta superkicks him onto the apron instead, only for Will to rebound with some headscissors. He tries for a Quebrada, but has to make do with a tornado DDT instead for a near-fall, before Penta tried to chop his way back into things.
A series of Slingblades keep Will down for a near-fall, as Penta seemed to have his number… at least until Will shrugged off a kick and met him with a forearm. They trade thrust kicks before duelling head kicks sent both men to the mat, before they got back to their feet and traded more forearms. Ospreay’s handspring enziguiri sees him edge ahead as does the springboard forearm and a standing shooting star press, but Penta’s up at two.
Some palm strikes keep Penta in the ropes, but he’s smart enough to counter another handspring by superkicking Ospreay almost to the outside. Will’s able to counter out of a package piledriver and respond with a Falcon arrow for a two-count, before going up top for a shooting star press that lands on Penta’s knees. Penta gets a near-fall from a roll-up from that, before a pumphandle driver’s countered into a reverse ‘rana from Ospreay. Will followed that up with some Kawada-style kicks, before his Oscutter’s turned into a pumphandle driver as Penta came the closest he’d been to winning, following that up with a Destroyer off the middle rope, only for Ospreay to hit back with an Essex Destroyer and an OsCutter for the win. That was well under ten minutes (Cagematch listed it at 7:12), and a hell of a sprint to close out the show – these guys needed to bust out something different after the insanity of the Kota Ibushi, and it worked.
I’m not sure who, or how we’d get it, but it’d be nice to see a rematch between these two in 2019 – because Ospreay alone has changed so much in the intervening time. ***¾
Quite rightly, the Kota Ibushi tag match stole all of the headlines when this happened almost two years ago, but you’d be remiss to skip the rest of the show. While the Ospreay/Penta match could be seen as disappointingly short, it was a refreshing sprint – and one that left you wanting much, much more. Hunt this one down on the EVE VOD service, along with a few other choice matches from the XWA.