Wednesday 22 October 2014

Where Have I Been? (part 1)

Disclaimer: It has been one month and three days since my last post.  I've done a lot in the space of time, but one thing I haven't done is blog. So, here we go.

A Wee Bit About - Where Have I Been?
Okay, so I've had a bunch of personal crap going on. Okay, that's all needed said really. If you know me, you can ask me or you probably already know. If you don't, then you're here for the wrestling.

I'm not going to go back and review everything I've seen in the past month. Not going to throw in a ton of videos, pictures and my usual in-depth multimedia fare. Ain't nobody got time for that. The world flows too fast and there are plenty of videos on Youtube and pictures from David Wilson and others if you're that way inclined.

But what you will get is this bumper-sized post detailing basically what I have and haven't liked over the past 33 days, then it is back to business as usual - I'm talking previews, news and interviews, getting back into who is who and why they do what they do.

But first, this is where I have been.

Saturday, September 13th 2014 - Pro Wrestling Elite
"Fallen Angel" event - Facebook

So, this was interesting. My first ever PWE event, first event in Ayr, first time seeing Christopher Daniels live, first time seeing Lou King Sharp live, first ever PWE tag team champions to be crowned, a lot of firsts.

But what I'd really like to talk about isn't a first. It's a double. This event (which is available in full on Youtube) is the reason Noam Dar should be a worldwide superstar. The man had two very different matches on the same card and both were credible candidates for Match Of The Year in their own rights.

Let us start at the start. The crowd was buzzing. The pre-show match was apparently a good 'un (Lewis Girvan and Glen Dunbar teamed up to take on Switch and... someone, I can't remember who, but I hear it went well and Switch gave a good account of himself). Anyway, the show started with a promo video building up Noam and Daniels, and PWE owner Lionheart then came out to announce that, on top of all the other woes (the PWE tag title belts hadn't made it on time, there were some injury issues as well if I recall correctly), there was also no MC for the night. At this point Mad Man Manson appears and some amusing MCing was conducted.

I remember thinking "I've been to a lot of family shows, but this is the first one where the crowd was mostly made up of adults acting like kids". It was pure joy. There was chanting, audience interaction, everyone was just happy and smiling. It was great.

Anyway, the scheduled opener was to be El Ligero vs Joey Hayes, which is a cracker of a match in itself, but after Ligero did the "pretend to lock up with the MC, pretend to lock up with the referee" skits, culminating in a heartfelt hug with ref Eddie Sideburns, Manson announced that he had a third competitor for the match (turns out being an MC in PWE seems to give you booking powers.... probably not a permanent thing....) - Kenny Williams!

What followed was an exciting three-way dance that had me buzzing. Love all three of these guys. There was all manner of triple shenanigans. Handshakes all round, three-way lock of fingers, Joey Hayes cemented himself as the villain by kicking both guys in the gut. Loads of free-flowing, high-flying action including a hurricanrana from Ligero... but I'm not here to give you a full account. You can watch it. For free.

Needless to say I was impressed. Kenny Williams hit his spinning DDT finisher on Ligero, but Hayes snuck in and threw Williams out, stealing the pin for the win. A travesty. A shame. A smart bloody move from Joey Hayes.

Next up was a slight change of plans for the PWE tag title match. It's been written about before, but the gist of it is that instead of Project Ego vs The Coffey Brothers, the initial champions would be the victors of The NAK (BT Gunn and Chris Renfrew) vs the impromptu team of Lou King Sharp and Martin Kirby. LKS put in a confident account of himself, throwing his jacket at Renfrew and all sorts. Even refused to tag out at points. A bullish performance, but an ultimately daft one.

As an aside, I'm a huge fan of that move BT Gunn does nowadays, where he goes to rollup his opponent but instead pushes them away, rolling on his belly and hitting a huge kick from the mat. It's pretty awesome, though I've always marvelled that the almost tennis-player-sounding "yip" he gives never gets any kind of reaction. More on that later.

So back to the match, as I alluded to, cohesion won out. The NAK performed a variety of torturous double-team moves on LKS, such as Renfrew catapulting him into a chop, or holding him in place for a BT senton. With fast tags being exchanged, it was pretty clear that The NAK were in charge and en route to be declared victors. Such a declaration was indeed made, following a BT superkick to Kirby and a Killer Boots to Sharp, with Renfrew getting the pin over Lou.

After the match, The NAK continued to attack LKS. This brought Lionheart out and, with Chris Renfrew placing Sharp's head in a steel chair and threatening to have Gunn leap off the top rope, Lionheart was forced to announce that The NAK were now fully fledged members of the PWE roster. "You don't need to ask me twice" pleaded the distraught Lionheart, but Renfrew coldly replied "I shouldn't have to have asked you once" and gave the signal to BT Gunn to leap from the top rope and deliver Killer Boots, almost decapitating Lou King Sharp in the process.

It was a valiant first time effort from Sharp in my eyes, but his overconfidence was his downfall in the end. Looking forward to seeing more from him, if he survives. He has the right attitude to bring The NAK's reign of terror down once and for all, I only hope he finds the firepower to back him up.

Next up was the first of two amazing matches from Noam Dar against the amazing Christopher Daniels. I am a firm believer that the British companies do not need to bring in foreign talent to sell tickets, but what do I know. That's my pride talking, but at heart I am a wrestling fan and I adore any opportunity to see the stars of America and Japan in person. So long as it isn't taking money from the table of the very deserving talent we have in the UK, I'm all for it. Truth be told, Christopher Daniels was two of the main reasons I finally came along to a PWE show, the other being the fact that Grado was champion and who can resist taking their weans to a show where Grado is champion? Bloke even wore his belt while driving his car it seems, so dedication and all that.

The point is, I was really looking forward to seeing Daniels, and seeing him perform the Best Moonsault Ever. So when the time came, when all was said and done and Christopher Daniels leapt onto that second rope, planted his feet, took away his hands and leapt up to the top and flipped backwards, I should have been disappointed. I should have felt my heart break as Noam Dar lifted his leg and blocked the BME. I should have felt sad as he punched his way up from the mat, struck with an uppercut and kicking combo, then hit that single-hook brainbuster type suplex for the victory.

But I wasn't. I couldn't grudge Dar the victory, and the tarnishing of the BME, because the match that took place before that moment was gripping. It was one of the greatest matches I've seen, I believed every minute, and Christopher Daniels' endorsement of Dar was well deserved. Here was a man whose career is older than his opponent, yet he endorsed Noam Dar as the future of pro wrestling. Amazing.

As an aside, I should never be allowed near wrestlers. Some of you may be aware of my interactions with Kid Fite, Sweet Saraya and my shouting at Devitt to not scratch my car. But that was different. Circumstantial stuff spearheaded by the wrestlers themselves. But when it comes to carrying a conversation with wrestlers, especially imports, I devolve into a gibbering 5 year old. Case in point, I decided Daniels more than deserved the £10 or whatever it would cost to buy his comic book and I truly wanted to shake his hand. Might as well get him to sign it too, right? Right. So the usual pleasant conversation took place. Fan of yer work. The BME is shit hot. Please come back. Then it got down to business.

"Would you mind signing this mate?"
"No problem. What's your name?"
"And how do you spell that? ;P"
"... C... H... R...."
"-_-;; that's my name too!"

And now forevermore I will remember that day as the time I tried to tell Christopher Daniels how to spell his own name.

Anyway, moving swiftly on. The second half began with a battle of the bruisers. Dave Mastiff. Damo. Rees. Mossy. Well, not Mossy. See Johnny Moss has been accused before of taking part in extracuricular activities to maintain his physique. He has been accused of bulking up obscenely. I'm not saying it was steroids, but so the story goes, he failed a drugs test and would not be competing tonight. All this was told to us by Mad Man Manson, so take it with as big a pinch of salt as you can shovel into your hands. At any result, the four-way earthquake of a wrestling match would go ahead, with Manson once again inserting a new man into the competition in the form of Wolfgang.

This was my first time seeing Dave Mastiff live, and I hadn't heard of Iestyn Rees before the event, so I was expecting big things from this match. Now, I'm not a huge fan of "big man" matches. I'm also not a fan of four-way fights which involve tagging your opponents in. It doesn't really compute to me why you would tag in and out in that situation. If you're out you can't win, but if you're in you're getting beaten up. I suppose that's the point right there, but I don't know.

So with all these uncertainties swirling around, I actually enjoyed the match a lot. Wolfgang especially stood out to me. All my notes are essentially Wolfgang being awesome, then Damo tagging in and destroying everything in sight. Mastiff and Wolfgang then blind tag in, and that's when the shenanigans started. Mastiff runs and misses Wolfy, knocking Damo to ringside in the process. Wolfgang hits the spear then goes up top, but Iestyn runs around the ring and tags in without Wolfy noticing. Wolfgang hits that terrifying swanton bomb of his, Rees throws Wolfgang out into Damo at ringside, and steals the win.

The "Alpha Male" may have got the victory, and it was exciting, but it was too much like the first match for me and I just enjoyed the first one better to be honest. Still, great stuff from Wolfgang and Damo. I wasn't hugely invested in Rees or Mastiff, so when Mastiff began a post-match promo I wasn't completely drawn in. To begin with.

Remember when I said the crowd was amazing? Well, while Mastiff proceeded to tell us how angry he was that Grado, a joke of a man not fit to be called a wrestler, had dethroned him, and how he couldn't put away three guys he would normally beat on any given night, well maybe it would be time to quit. A guy in the crowd began heckling Mastiff, who shot back a bit, but then the big man left, sadly, pointedly, with tears welling up in his eyes. I don't know the man, or his career, and I'm not in a rush to seek him out right now if I'm perfectly honest, but by the end of his speech I bought in. I was invested. I felt sad for him. A big scary hairy guy shouldn't have tears in his eyes as a so-called fan shouts abuse his way. Sad days.

Up next was Liam Thomson, screaming at the crowd to shut up, and the man introduced by Manson as "the man who will make Liam shut up", Andy Wild! I was super excited to see Andy back in the ring, and the match had a lot of great wrestling moves, like wrestling moves (sleeper) not spots, but I don't know. I've seen much better matches from both guys and I wasn't super into it. But as I've said before, maybe that is what is needed before the main event. A bit of a cool down.

What heated things right back up however was an excellent 10-count intro for Grado. Really made me feel he was a star. I was buzzing, my girlfriend was buzzing, the kids were buzzing, the crowd were buzzing, Grado was buzzing. The Champ was here, and his first order of business was an open challenge. But who would answer it? Mastiff had quit, Joe Coffey was awol, who else was left?

Well, as Grado played around with Eddie and Manson, and gave us a little chat about his dietary habits and visiting America, a man who was in America with him came out. Noam Dar. Two excellent promos followed, Grado giving patter about not going home without the belt in case his Mum burst into tears, general tomfoolery, a great comedic atmosphere ensued and somehow it became a match. Every kind of comedy spot you have ever seen from Grado was in full effect, but Noam was doing something spectacular. He was matching Grado, and one-upping him.

The young man who had put on a 5* classic earlier in the night was now out-joking the clown prince of Scottish wrestling himself. This was the moment that cemented Noam Dar in my mind. He has the look and the talent, that is unmistakeable, but when he stood over Grado and teased doing the "horsey", he had truly made it. Superior comedy skills are another feather in his cap and I don't really know what else to say. There were moves, but it all had comedy. All of it. A wristlock somehow ended with Grado being crotched, a leglock somehow ended with Noam taking a bite out of Grado's boot. Nuts were slapped, eyes were poked, at some point Eddie got his balls slapped too then Noam hit Grado with a low blow and all three were on the ground with their eyes slammed shut in agony.

I don't even know how to describe this nonsense, but it was quality nonsense. Grade A nonsense. The best of the best. It was Grado shouting STOP and falling to the mat a la Eddie Guerrero. It was attempts at CPR. It was two of the very best Scottish wrestlers arguing every time the ref had his back turned, eyes shut or balls slapped. It was mayhem. It was wrestling. It was great fun.

But then it got serious. Grado said something about how he should have got Christopher Daniels, there was a trading of blows, and The bloody NAK bloody well came out to ruin it all. A perfect contest stopped and declared a No Contest, double DQ, whatever it was officially called. The match was over. The night was ruined. Grado would go home with the belt but maybe not his pride.

First of all, we had the payoff. The moment. The lovely cherry on top of the cake that had just started to sour. Or a better metaphor. You think of one and email me it. What is important right now is Noam Dar's uppercut. It's Grado's wee boot. It's Christopher Daniels joining the heros, heading to the corner and delivering the BME to BT Gunn. I say deliver, what I mean is... atmospheric. This move transcended physical capabilities. Seeing it in person was an experience that speaks to the soul. It was, in a word, beautiful.

Christopher Daniels (that's with a C H R by the way, not a K R) seen us off into the night with a wonderful series of words, putting over everything Scottish from PWE to Grado to fried Mars bars to haggis to the wonder that is Noam Dar. And I can't disagree with him. It is one thing putting on a Match Of The Year contender. It is also one thing performing two full matches in the space of one event. It is something truly special to performer two Match Of The Year contenders in one night. And it is something transcendent to perform them both in two entirely different genres of match. A proper wrestling contest and a great spot of comedy are almost two entirely different things really, and Noam aced them both. I cannot speak highly enough of that feat.

The night in general was excellent. Christopher Daniels is a gentleman. Lionheart put on an excellent show, especially given the mishaps. Manson was an excellent MC, Eddie didn't miss a step in the stripes, there were two MOTYs and another two matches I'd eagerly watch again. Some new faces seen. The kids loved it, the atmosphere was great, and I would definitely go back.

So... this was meant to be a brief run down of the last month, but it sort of turned into a review of PWE. Hope you enjoyed it, and I'll tell you what else I got up to when I return.