Sunday, 10 February 2013
PCW Road To Glory Night 2 Review By Aiden O'Brien
After such a strong showing the night before I was really looking forward to Night 2 and the final night of Preston City Wrestling's Road To Glory tournament. In the three quarter finals Martin Kirby faced Brian Kendrick, Noam Dar faced CJ Banks and Super Crazy faced Bubblegum with the winner of that match to face Joey Hayes in the semi-finals as Hayes got a bye due to the no contest between Mastiff and Manson the night before. To go along with the tournament as per the actions of the previous night T-Bone was set to put his PCW Heavyweight Championship on the line against the man he almost had to kill to retake the belt two weeks and a day ago, Kris Travis. Their previous two matches had ever increasing brutality in stipulations so this match was declared to be a straight up singles match between the two to potentially resolve their feud. Unfortunately due to the EVE show over-running I missed the Dave Rayne promo used to open the show as he came out with The Owen Twins and his newly won PCW Cruiserweight Championship. But I did make it to my seat right before the opening match which was a stroke of luck.
Super Crazy defeated Bubblegum in what may have been Bubblegum's last ever match. As noted in my review of the previous nights show Bubblegum has a very public injury to his knee right now which is waiting on surgery and it is unknown right now whether he will return to a wrestling ring after the surgery. So in facing an international star with the experience of Super Crazy in his last ever match is not a bad way to go out. Before the match began Bubblebum asked, as a parent, for Super Crazy's autograph. Even though Crazy swore at him - Repeatedly - He still turned his back to sign an autograph only for Bubblegum to attack. Crazy was irish whipped to the corner so hard his head hit the buckle and he somehow went flying out of the ring. Bubblegum dominated Crazy until Crazy was able to roll through a sunset flip and hit a dropkick onto a seated Bubblegum, following it through with his standing moonsault and at that point T-Bone attempted to climb into the ring and as a result he was ejected from ringside. Crazy was in the drivers seat and even brought in a chair to plant Gum face first onto it for his running dropkick, but Bubblegum was able to cheat and sneak his way back into the match, posing triumphantly at the head of a downed Crazy only for Crazy to snare him with a victory roll for the pinfall. Good opener to the show and a high profile match for Bubblegum to bow out on if it comes to that.
In the next quarter final match Brian Kendrick beat Martin Kirby. Very good match the two were evenly matched on the mat exchanging wrist locks and holds, the pace increasing to hip tosses, eventually Kendrick getting visibly frustrated as Kirby managed to stay with him every step of the way, if not get the better of Kendrick on occasion. Things escalated after Kendrick attempted to school boy Kirby with the tights as then Kendrick began to work the arm in various submission holds but Kirby refused to give it up, constantly coming back his STOP! Enziguiri kick being a highlight and he did find a way to work a variety of kicks to rattle Kendrick. Towards the end of the match Kirby was desperate to get the pinfall with repeated backslide attempts and in the end it was all a matter of weight and positioning as Kendrick rolled Kirby up with an oklahoma roll and also had his hands free to hold down onto Kirby's heels to ensure he wouldn't be able to kick out. Very good match, Kirby was able to stay in there with a former WWE superstar and not look out of place at all to show why he is rated so highly on the UK scene. Brian Kendrick may have teased a little heel-ish nature with holding the tights and cutting corners when necessary but it showed he had to go to those lengths in order to beat Kirby and move on to the semi-finals to face the winner of Noam Dar vs CJ Banks.
With only three quarter finals due to Joey Hayes having a bye, Pro Wrestling EVE put on a guest exhibition match between Emi Sakura and April Davids. Sakura had only the Pro Wrestling EVE Championship a few hours earlier and Davids is a student of Sakura when she travels to Japan so this match was announced with a 10 minute time limit. So a 10 minute draw with a mentor/student relationship seemed like the natural result and with nothing on the line, no Title belts, no animosity, these two just went out there to have a back and forth wrestling clinic and to show the strength of womens wrestling today and they did that with some nice technical wrestling exchanges including a mexican surfboard exchange from both women, Sakura bending and contorting David's in ways a normal body should not be put through. Sakura's chops were still as hard as they were in the Storm match and David's trademark running yakuza in the corner found it's mark with Sakura's face as a receipt for the stiff chops. Davids worked towards an armbar submission whereas Sakura hit a variety of backbreakers onto April. Sakura stretched out April's back but when she went to plant her face first into the mat, April was able to reverse and from there the intensity increased as Davids went hell for leather with suplexes and it really seemed like the match had moved beyond friendly exhibition by the time that the 10 minutes expired. The crowd was very eager to see another 5 minutes but Sakura declined saying she was tired and then ran around ringside slapping the fans hands before leaving, the cheeky monkey. Great little match.
Noam Dar vs CJ Banks was everything I love about pro wrestling. It was intense, it looked stiff, it was heated and believable that these two really were going above and beyond to get the victory. It's been said that Banks is underrated and some people do genuinely believe him to be one of the best in England but in every time seeing Banks I've never got it. Good, but just nothing mindblowing. This match was an eye opener as this was an out and out war in which he faced off against someone I consider one of Britain's best and he more than held his own. After the sneak attack the night before from Banks to Dar which then resulted in Dave Rayne being able to steal away the PCW Cruiserweight Championship from Dar you knew this was going to be heated, but it started off with a bang as Dar came flying out at the ring onto Banks during his entrance. Dar didn't spend long in charge of the match as Banks stepped up his game considerably and matched Dar strike for strike as these two battled for supremacy with hard hitting blows and a multitude of suplexes, Banks snap german suplexes really reminiscent of the fabled Dynamite Kid. The previous night also came into play as Wild softened Dar up for his boston crab finisher and Banks main offense focused on the back all leading towards his texas cloverleaf finisher. This was the best CJ Banks match I have ever seen and it shows that when presented with the opportunity Banks can stand toe to toe with anyone in the battle of strikes, suplexes and submissions. But while Banks was having the performance of a lifetime, this was still Dar's knight as he destroyed CJ's knee with the double stomp from the top rope and then the kneebar submission in which it had only just been applied when Banks immediately had to tap. Fantastic little match and one I would love to see a rematch. If Banks could show this fire, this intensity and face off against wrestlers bound to bring out these qualities from him then he could get work anywhere up and down the country.
In his first semi-final match of the night Joey Hayes was able to defeat Super Crazy in the semi-finals in order to be the first man to take his place in the finals. After defeating Paul London the night before Joey Hayes was on a career high as he was able to make Crazy tap to the crippler crossface. A good little match but honestly a week later not that much remains in mind other than Crazy's language and getting frustrated with the ref, picking a fight with Dave Rayne on commentary and Joey Hayes being able to use Crazy's own chair spot against him as this time it was Crazy to go face first into the chair and then have it kicked into his face for further insult. Crazy hit a standing corkscrew elbow splash that for a man of his size was an impressive sight. But then all it took was the one teenage kick and then a dogged refusal to let Crazy escape the crossface before he could tap to give Hayes yet another massive win over a former WWE superstar.
A man who is considered "wrestling's future" in Noam Dar took the remaining spot in the finals when he managed to pin Brian Kendrick. This was similar to Dar's match against John Morrison in December in that he stood toe to toe with a big name import but this time Dar finally got the win. In 2012 he spent the year facing the best America had to offer in regards to former WWE stars like John Morrison and ECW legend Jerry Lynn, current TNA mainstay AJ Styles and American Indy stand out's like Davey Richards and Sami Callihan and the re-occurrence in each of those matches was that Dar lost them all. On this night, in 2013 it was a different year and a different story as he was finally able to get that big name victory that had eluded him for so long. Like the Kendrick/Kirby match they started off with a feeling out process before they came to blows, most notably outside the ring. Kendrick went up top for a move but Dar ran towards him with a dropkick which knocked Kendrick completely out of the ring and then Dar was able to follow that up with a suicide dive. The two had a great back and forth match with Dar once more going for the knee and Kendrick again kept the pressure on Dar's back with a full nelson camel clutch. In the end it wasn't a kneebar that took the victory for Dar for a change as a fisherman buster was able to put Kendrick down for a three count and Dar advance to the finals.
The advertised T-Bone vs Travis match ended up as more of a bait and switch to further advance the feud and hatred between the two men. Travis came out to the ring ready and fired up for the chance to regain the PCW Heavyweight Championship but T-Bone came down to ringside with both Shanna and Alpha Female holding his Title belt in tow. T-Bone said that he would not wrestle Travis on this night as planned, but that he fully intended to honour their match later down the line. He claimed that the two women in the ring had worn him out the night before so he was in no fit state to compete - Especially Alpha Female, the sexual freak. But as a sign of good faith he offered Shanna to Travis for the night as a peace offering between the two but Trav rather than less politely declined the offer of T-Bone's "sloppy seconds". Shanna was understandably irate by that remark and began mouthing off at Travis, enough distraction for Alpha to blindside Travis with the heavy Title belt with busted Travis open. And he was bleeding like a stuck pig within a matter of seconds. T-Bone then decided at that point that a Title match would occur tonight after all, but was surprised with a rock bottom from Trav which got a near-fall. With the blood loss it was only a matter of time before T-Bone was able to take control of the match and he did so with a massive clothesline that turned Travis inside out and sent blood flying. Miraculously Trav was able to find an opening back into the match but when he went to the top rope he was crotched by Shanna. T-Bone then followed it up with a DDT with Travis hanging from the feet on the top rope and then a big powerbomb to retain the belt. Post match T-Bone gloated and posed over Travis, but Travis still had fight left in him as he was still trying to get back to his feet as T-Bone left the ring.
Before the main event Lionheart made a brief return to PCW in order to draw the PCW raffle, make shots at Dave Rayne and his taking the Cruiserweight belt from Noam Dar, his involvement in TNA gut check and to make a vague mention of an offer the PCW promoter extended to him in order to return to the ring down the line. He didn't answer the offer on this night but said when he makes his reply, he will make a statement in doing so.
And in a very worthy main event and a match that will strongly be considered for an all UK MOTYC down the line, Noam Dar beat Joey Hayes to win the Road To Glory tournament and a future PCW Heavyweight Championship shot. Joey Hayes had an easier route to the finals only wrestling the once before that night but on his way there defeated two former WWE superstars in Paul London and Super Crazy. Noam Dar had a harder slog defeating perennial rival Andy Wild the night before, CJ Banks in a hard-hitting war and then finally getting that elusive victory over an American import in Brian Kendrick. So both were on career high's going into this match and it definitely had a main event feel about it. With the toll of the previous matches affecting both men they were very cautious in the early going, neither man affording to make a mistake so early in the match but that only changed when Dar dropkicked Hayes from his seated position on the turnbuckles and then hit an incredible suicide dive. The same fisherman buster that put Kendrick away wasn't able to keep Hayes down and then Hayes got back into the match by hitting a piledriver in which he twisted his body on the way down. That just looked plain lethal. Dar was able to survive and then managed a top rope suplex onto Hayes. Hayes then returned the favour with a top rope falcon arrow that knocked a few lights loose from the chandelier. Dar managed his top rope double stomp onto the knee, but Hayes leg was on the second rope so it looked even more nastier than usual. Dar had the kneebar firmly locked in but Hayes refused to give up, rolling both of them out of the ring and onto the hard floor. Noam was relentless with the kneebar and only released when Hayes tapped out, but with it being outside the ring it didn't count. Hayes was then able to lock Dar into the crossface until he tapped, but again it was still outside the ring. The two then climbed back onto the ring apron and exchanged elbows, kicks and then Hayes hit another twisting piledriver right down onto the frame of the ring apron. Nasty, just plain nasty. Dar was able to break the 10 count outside the ring and Hayes got him with a teenage kick but Dar kicked out at one and the crowd went mental! Dar climbed back to his feet and in an act of defiance he gave Hayes the finger only for Hayes to grab the arm for a crippler crossface. From there the two fought and clawed with reversals between the crossface and the kneebar but neither man gave it up. Dar returned to his feet and fired kicks at Hayes, kicking his knee out in the process and then hit a fisherman buster and then locked in a kneebar for the submission victory in an incredible, epic contest that will strongly be remembered by all in the audience that night. This really is a match for you to go out of your way to see and was the best match I have ever seen Joey Hayes in. I know he's had some much talked about matches in 2007 and 2008, but this is the first time I've seen him in such a high-profile match and he delivered on all levels. This tournament was all about Noam Dar and really showed why so many consider him one of Britain's best as he was in four great matches through the weekend, this being the best match I have seen live in 2013 so far.
The Saturday night show ended up with every single match reaching it's potential and while the Friday night show was good and better than expected for a Night 1 show, the Saturday night show has to be seen by all fans of BritWres. If both shows get released together on DVD it's well worth a purchase if only to see Dar/Hayes as that could be the match to write Hayes ticket to be seen on a much larger scale. This could end up being a strong competitor for UK show of the year by a UK promotion as it'll take something truly special to beat it.