(Photo credit to John Searle)
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There was a buzz around Fight Club: PRO on Friday the 24th of August. The tweeters got to tweeting, and the facebookers did some facebooking, and the general consensus was that International Tekkers had the potential to be the “biggest” event they had ever presented. With a Davey Richards here and a Johnny Gargano there, the fans were inclined to believe the hype, but were they left disappointed or with their expectations exceeded?
Jonathan Gresham vs. Johnny Gargano - DGUSA Open the Freedom Gate Championship Match
Two Jon Gs came together to make it impossible for me to refer to them by anything but their surnames. Gresham is always a perennial favourite in what has been dubbed his spiritual UK home. Gargano on the other hand hails from Dragon Gate USA, a company which he finds his likeness plastered all over due to the matching championship in his possession. Each brings a reputation to the table and said reputations are placed on the line as this match is for the Open the Freedom Gate Championship. Quite a mouthful, but also quite an honour to head a promotion that is growing more and more popular, a fact that would hopefully ensure a match in which each competitor brings their best.
Gresham received the expected ovation and a surname chant, but Gargano received a mirroring treatment which confirmed that many DGUSA fans had been brought to the FCP that night. As the two shook hands, the crowd showed excitement and anticipation by loudly banging on the fence that surrounds the Fight Club: Pro ring. The two competitors began by showing off their technical attributes, each performing expert holds and counter holds in the early going. Fans quickly found it easy to get caught up in the technically sound efforts which were reminiscent of World of Sport Wrestling at its best. Each successful effort was met with applause and whenever the two came apart, the fans encouraged them to square off again with plenty of noise. Holds, transitions and reversals grew more clever and interesting before the pair got more physical. The crowd moved up a level and Gresham followed suit, showing the best of his style; A dropsault, a fake dive to the outside, a top rope moonsault to the floor. Gargano also gave his shine, supermanning Gresham into a turnbuckle before locking in an intricate submission that impressed all. The two then displayed more outstanding technicality with their countering before Gresham could match Gargano’s submission. He followed with creative maneuvers that are always a welcome sight, and brought perfect execution to unique approaches. Gargano did regain his control however with dives to the outside and a fantastic slingshot spear, from the apron and through the ropes onto Gresham. There were now nearfalls a plenty, each kick out surprising the crowd and each following move amazing them. After a fantastic and lengthy pin exchange, the pair showed they could trade strong blows before their latest string of moves garnered a well-deserved ‘this is awesome’ chant. More great sequences developed before Gresham managed his best offence with a 450, which he quickly transitioned into a submission, but Gargano would earn his victory with a superkick and two full nelsons into reverse STO's.
It was a top notch match that set an outstanding precedent for the night ahead. Gargano put in a champion’s performance, and left no one doubting why he was the atop the DGUSA mountain. Gresham however still looked strong inspite of the loss, having turned in one of his finest performances in the FCP arena. As the pair shook hands post match there was great applause, a buzz on whether the match topped ‘FCP best matches’ lists, and there was a great adoration for both men’s performance and ability.
A little context leading into the next bout– the night actually started with The Rockstar Spud, Dave Williams and Dan Ryder hitting the ring. Spud displayed his famous theatrics on his ring entrance before gaining the mic and expertly operating with the crowd. He chastised the crowd for banging the cage which ignited an incredible response from those gathered, reaching great volumes to spite the Baby Jesus of British Wrestling. A simple comment of refusing to speak while they hit the fence ignited an incredible response from the audience who made Spud eat his words with a lengthy cage banging session. Spud continued to antagonise the crowd with his wit so that every fan there could enjoy the interaction, whether it be by taking part or just watching. Finally Spud got to business and the business was eliminating one of his crew, and when Dave Williams failed to have a ‘smoking hot wife’ he was punished for his sins and made to apologise on his knees before receiving a beatdown from Ryder. It was this that summoned Clint Margera to the ring, siding with the fans on complaining about Ryder and Spud. before calling for a match.
Dan Ryder vs. Clint Margera – Falls Count Anywhere Match
The match is made all the more interesting by the pair’s history, which saw them entangled in a bitter rivalry that culminated in Margera’s call for a hardcore match which would impress the FCP fans and take Ryder out of commission for several months. Now they go at it again with expectations of topping themselves. The fans disdain for Ryder makes him a great figure for the threat of violence, while Margera’s hardcore history ensures a lot of violent content. Fans look to this match with hopes of seeing Margera break Ryder once more and in more impressive fashion.
Ryder uses his trademark technique of soaking fans with the contents of his water bottle upon his entrance, to which he is met with a resounding splashback from a pocket of fans. Ryder then retreats to the back and returns with jugs of water which one assumes he needs to douse the heat that the crowd has for him. His display of chasing down the culprits and drenching them is an entertaining one before he hits the ring. Margera then meets with great ovation, and no sooner has hit the ring before he clotheslines Margera to the outside. The two collide with no hesitation, beating each of fences, walls and between the fans gathered around the arena. As the two moved to the bar area, most fans rushed to get a view of the hardcore display which had moved from ringside. Margera made the most of his new locale, bouncing Ryder off the merch stand and launching himself from the top of a stairway. In time the two head back to the ring, allowing fans to reclaim their original positions, but the pair continued to an aptly placed stage area which Margera then saw himself backdropped off of. The word to describe the aftermath hasn’t been invented yet, ‘painful’ can only provide an idea. While many feared it to be the end of the match, Margera did manage to reach the ring again with Ryder and collect toys such as chairs, chairs wrapped in barbed wire, and a wooden board. As fans call for blood the pair each experienced tough times. Margera was brought down forcefully onto his barbed wire chair, while Ryder received a death valley driver from the top rope and through an impromptu table. In a creative display, Margera wedged two chairs together then lay them on their side and looked set to drop an interfering Rockstar Spud on them, before a big unknown man made an appearance and brutally powerbombed Margera onto the chairs that had no give in them. That was enough to end the match.
One has to appreciate everything that Margera goes through for the fans of Fight Club: Pro. His endurance of punishment is unparalleled and has established him as, and I mean this in the nicest way, a lunatic. The man received a great ovation as he was helped from the ring. Ryder leaves with the great lump of hate he has earned, and with a new and fearsome member to his faction with the Rockstar Spud. This leaves questions and many avenues for the future of the trio which is a solid hook to keep fans interested when they return to FCP.
Trent Seven vs. Davey Richards
Speaking of rematches. Speaking of all times bests. Seven/Richards numero uno was a prime example of FCP’s capabilities to bring in a highly regarded star and stick five stars on the quality of a match. Richards previously entered The Planet roughly a year ago as the ROH champion and is arguably the biggest star to ever grace their ring. Seven, who had little trouble holding up his British strong style as the then FCP champion, came up short in his shot at the ROH championship, but left the match with a lot of respect from the audience. The mere thought of the two colliding again is exciting, and if Fight club: PRO makes like a good postman and delivers as usual, another instant classic was to follow.
Holding the accolade of greatest theme song to grace The Planet, Seven receives a great reception upon his entrance. Richards manages to pull a good reception himself, seemingly having gained the support of the DGUSA fans. As two should when they have already tested each other, the two quickly collided with strikes in the early going. What makes a strong impression is Richard’s presence, an animalistic one to match his American Wolf nickname. The Wolf showed his expertise with his kicks and then his creative submission holds. The most impressive thing about Richards is his mindset when wrestling, and how he transitions from move to move, never letting up on his opponent and never wasting a moment. Seven makes his comeback and the pair trade stiff for stiff much to the crowd’s joy and disbelief as chop and kick sounds echo around the venue. It took a superplex being reversed into a dead lift suplex by Seven to ignite the crowd’s second ‘this is awesome’ chant of the night. Seven started to show his strength, and the two can reeled off great efforts to hit nearfalls. The intensity increased as Seven took a lead, demonstrating his signature piledriver and frogsplash before he locked in a cloverleaf of his own. Amidst another ‘this is awesome’ chant, the crowd erupted with shock and cheers as the former Ring of Honour champion was made to tap out.
Richards is a topflight superstar and Seven showed he can still hand with those on the topflight. Davey Richards has a case for being Fight Club: PRO’s greatest import, and impresses more with the fact that he brings his A-game to a little night club in Wolverhampton. Seven has shown that is one of top home talents and is still a don in FCP, the Super Don as some like to say. The two presented the expected classic and after drawing it one a piece they now ignite excitement that they may clash again, and everyone and their dog should come down to see Richards/Seven III.
MK McKinnan vs. Prince Devitt – Fight Club Pro Championship Match
Accolades speak volumes and Devitt’s list of accolades is very impressive. He holds title after title in country after country and is highly regarded in professional wrestling. McKinnan on the other hand is the newly crowned Fight Club: PRO champion, fresh off a victory against Eddie Edwards, and holding this promotion squarely on his shoulders, leaving him with much to prove in his first title defence. Knocking off the likes of Devitt does wonders for a title reign, but the Prince surely isn’t one to take it lying down. This is your main event.
The crowd is tired from an astounding show but are able to pick up their noise for the entrance of the FCP champion. Devitt, with respect from the DGUSA fans and even some of the FCP alumni, managed to edge the cheers, and what began was a duelling of chants in support of those gathered. The crowd has managed to get amped for their last match. The two felt each other out with technicality, slowly building to what would surely be a raging climax. The two bounced of each other very well, each showing themselves as slick technicians and giving fairly impressive display in the early going. Devitt took the early shine, flipping to the outside and then getting all of McKinnan’s face with a dropkick. A chopping session quickly brought red to Mckinnan’s chest but that was enough to ignite a flurry from McKinnan which did him well until Devitt was able to knock him from the top turnbuckle and into a trainwreck. Devitt manages to exude the fact that he is something special in all that he brings to the ring and he looked stronger than The Future, MK McKinnan. Then, a dominating ‘let’s go Future’ chant wakes him, and ignites another flurry of signature kicks, before Devitt once again gets the last word. Fans were kicking the fence into extinction with excitement as the pair turned out the many weapons in their arsenal. A diving footstomp for Devitt, a cannonball to the outside for McKinnan, a lift into inverted DDT for Devitt, a shining wizard for McKinnan. Nearfalls all round. With minutes left on the time limit, Devitt hit a match finishing move which saw McKinnan knocked out the ring, saving him from what would have surely been a three count. Then McKinnan made his last comeback before the two exchanged pins and strikes as the seconds ticked out to a time limit draw.
There was disappointment in the lack of finality to the main event, and some dismay over the lack of a convincing title defence. McKinnan had put in a showing of good ability but his lack of offence in the bout made him seem almost lucky to hold onto the title. Devitt had shown his strong talent, and was appreciated despite coming up short. As he took to the mic to give props to his opponent, many gave respect to McKinnan for outlasting an opponent of such calibre for thirty minutes. Applause was given as the two departed, wrapping up the event.
This is the part where I say FCP put on a great show for great value and that you’re an idiot if you don’t go. What I’ve done is skipped that while subtly still saying it, but this time I have something else to say. It’s going to be in debate, but Fight Club: PRO’s International Tekkers may have been the best event they have delivered, thanks to the roster and their performance. And that was without the great trials and tribulation of Chris Brookes. That was without a fun and fiery performance from the Hunter Brothers. That was even without the impressive monster that is Dave Mastiff. Fight Club: PRO has so much to offer, and they cram everything they can into four matches with the simple intention of bringing the best show they can. Their cup runneth over and next month on the 29th of September, they offer up their third anniversary which is sure to be a spectacle. Their motto is ‘Train. Fight. Win.’ but the true motto is ‘Buy Tickets. Watch FCP. Win.’ Don’t miss it.
You can find Fight Club: PRO on both Facebook and Twitter for updates regarding their next show.
For a great podcast that covers indy news both from the UK & US check out http://theindycorner.podbean.com Recently the show has featured interviews with Johnny Gargano, Davey Richards & Prince Devitt. The show is also on Itunes - just search for The Indy Corner, there you can leave the show a review and a rating.
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