Sunday 18 November 2012

SouthSide Featuring CZW Halloween Havoc Review By Adam Joyce

You know it's odd in this game how some promotions seem to flourish easily and some get by with barely any recognition. My last review was for the last EWW show was an example of a fed who, despite being around in some form since 1998, seem to have gained less recognition as time has gone on. In stark contrast this one is on the recent show from Southside whose popularity seems to have done nothing but grow over their two years in business. More impressively it doesn't seem to be down to the imports they've brought in, which includes names like Fit Finlay, Davey Richards and Colt Cabana. Seemingly, barring the possible exception of Nigel McGuinness' last match, the main talking point of their shows certainly seems to be the homegrown talent which is a feat in itself. For me personally the draw for this show wasn't the CZW guys who came over but rather the Mask vs Mask no ropes match between El Ligero and Ego Dragon. The hall for the night was packed out with rumours of people being turned away at the door. The tiered seating that Southside has used in the past was folded away which was a shame as it probably would have given me a better view of the action. There was a small but noisy and boisterous House of Pain contingent on one side of the ring who would keep intermittent chants throughout the night.

The first guy to come to the ring after everything had kicked off was 'The Man With the Golden Tongue' Harvey Dale who came out to a positive reaction from the HOP crew, and general distain from everyone else. He went on about how dominant the House of Pain were which brought out their leader. Stixx got on the mic and proclaimed that he was the Southside champ but was only representing the HOP guys in the audience. He also said that last time T-Bone was in the ring with him he cost Bone 4 months of his career and this time would be no different. This brought out T-Bome who said since they were both in the ring why not start the match now. And with that the first match of the night became the title match. The match himself was a hard hitting back and fourth affair between the two but was cut short when the Predators ran in as T-Bone gained the advantage, causing the DQ. As a result the announced last man standing match between Stixx and Mark Haskins will now be a title match.

Next up was the only all CZW guest match on the card featuring DJ Hyde against Greg Excellent. I've no idea on anything CZW so this was an introduction to the brand for me. I know they are famed for their Death match style, but with the main event that wasn't the most feasible option. I don't know if it's just where I'm looking back at it after having seen the rest of the event but I can't say I was that sold on the match. That's not to say there was anything wrong with the match. As second match on the card it's there to settle the crowd down and it did just that. There was nothing wrong with the match technically, there was some great comic and crowd interaction moments worked in by Excellent. One thing I will say though is I don't know who did it first but doing the gimmick of stripping to his underwear before hulking (excellenting?) up for the win just makes him seem a bit like a second rate Eric Young. When trying to push your company to prospective new fans that is certainly something you could do without.

The first crossover match was next featuring Max Angelous taking on Masada. Like I said before CZW is not my area of expertise but I am aware he holds the CZW title, although he didn’t bring it with him to the ring tonight. I’ve a high opinion of Max. I’ve thought he always had a star quality about him and he just needs to find that something to bring it out. The current HOP storyline where he’s being forced to be part of their stable against his will could well help with that. The match itself was a fair match there were some good sequences but chain wrestling doesn'’t seem to be Masada’s strong point. Through out the match Harvey kept trying to interfere against Max’s wishes, and a couple of times ended up accidentally distracting the ref when Max had a pinfall. At a point when it looked like Max had the winning pinfall the ref was even trying to escort Harvey backstage. This led to a distraction for Max which Masada capatilised on for the win.

The last match before the interval was the Speed King title 4 Way between champ Marty Scurll, Martin Kirby, CZW's Jonathan Gresham and Robbie X. It seems a little odd looking at Gresham as a CZW guy as he is fairly familiar with the Southside fans, making his 5th appearance here, impressing every time and here was no exception. The match was supposed to be under tag rules but somewhere around the middle that all broke down leading to Gresham and Kirby being eliminated in quick succession by Robbie and Marty respectively. The rest of the match was a traditional Marty Scurll affair. I don't mean that in any negative sense, Marty's a great talent, I'm just trying to convey the quality of the latter half of the match as it built up both guys great. Marty playing heel was also a nice touch, not just because it meant that Robbie X's pop was better when he won, but because it was done with subtlety and came across like the fans turning on him because they didn't like what he was doing instead of him doing things just to upset the crowd. After losing Marty cut a promo on how Robbie had improved and deserved to be champ. It's fair to say there's some truth in that. Other then having a face that reminds me of the squeaky voiced teen in The Simpsons Robbie has really started to physically grow into a wrestler shape over the last 6-8 months. The only thing is there are times in the ring, mainly brawling spots, where he is not believable in what he's doing because he doesn't look like he believes it. Something I also noticed in his heel work in UKW. Hopefully his new title reign will make him try and step up and improve. After a year of being 'Jobbie X' making it look as if he truly believes what he's doing could make a stark difference now he's holding the Speed King strap.

The first match after the interval was The Predators in their first defence against OI4K. The match itself was sound, they tried to play around with the standard tag match system with the face OI4K getting most of the heat on the Predators. Eventually the Predators got the advantage though and scored the win through just being more vicious. It makes a change to see that too, seeing every heel as cowardly or cheating does irritate me a little, having one team who are hated because of the amount of pain they inflict on the faces makes a nice change to the formula and I think that’s part of what is getting the Predators noticed so much lately.

In the last crossover match Mark Haskins went up against Alex Kolov. From where I stood this was the best crossover match, not counting the 4 way, with Haskins working his arse off and Kolov doing well to keep pace. It was a little slow to start with but that didn’'t last long. The House of Pain faithful picked up on how Alex bared a resemblance to Alex Shane (if Shane had shrunk in the wash) and so
there were some intermittent Alex Shane chants during some of the early parts of the match. After some great back and fourth action as well as some close near falls Haskins got the win with his Cradle to the Grave finisher. After the match Harvey Dale came out and cut a promo on Haskins claiming he would lose to Stixx at the Nottingham show at the end of November. This was met by two kicks to the face. While there is something very dis-likable about Harvey Dale I do question the wisdom of always having him beat on by the faces. Surely with his irritating ways it would work better to have him built up as someone who always gets away meaning that when the faces do get him it means more unless they are building him up for a match, which would probably spark some interest but again it would build more if he stopped getting beat up so much. That was the only real problem I had with this segment though.

If there was match that drew me to this show other than the main event it would have to be the next match; Mad Man Manson against the Invisible Man. When I first got involved in wrestling one thing I was taught was that you need to make yourself irreplaceable. That's certainly something Manson has done. Before the match we had an interesting quasi-shoot promo from Manson claiming that He was only doing this farce of a match because Southside were too cheap to bring in an opponent for him. Whether he meant it or not I don't know but the crowd looked at it all as one big joke anyway. So the Invisible Man came through the curtain and made his way down the ramp or so everyone was led to believe. Once the curtain opened we were all just following Manson's cues. As the combatant(s?) circled each other The Predators came out and claimed they were putting a stop to the charade, before laying a beating on Manson. Afterwards Manson got on the mic to thank the Invisible man for trying to help him and challenged The Predators to face them at the next show.

During the raffle the ropes were taken off setting up for the main event between El Ligero and Ego Dragon. The match itself was a train wreck ala your standard TLC style match. There was a mix of some solid psychology, like Ligs handcuffing Dragon to the post and whipping him with a belt as a form of redemption from their previous encounters, as well as a lot of crazy high spots from Ligs diving off the folded up bleachers to some table spots to Ligs being suplexed off a ladder through a table covered in drawing pins. The thing with gimmick matches is there are times where guys can often over look the gimmick and go straight for the high spots, here I felt that they could have played the gimmick up more. There's a lot I could probably pick apart about the match if I was to look at it from a purely from a smark perspective, for instance after the aforementioned drawing pin table spot Ligs quickly picked up the win via submission, but the real story of the match was the aftermath. As per stipulation Ego Dragon was forced to unmask revealing that under the mask was Ligero's good friend Martin Kirby. It's very rare that a hushed silence is a good reaction from a crowd but nearly everyone in attendance was in disbelief. The reaction itself is a tribute to just how well Kirby has played his role as even The smart fans in the crowd seemed shocked by the reveal, which is surprising as I've seen several forum posts alluding to the Dragon's identity, the way Kirby threw himself into the role really highlighted the professionalism in professional wrestling. After the reveal Kirby grabbed the mic and proclaimed it wasn't over, which is arguably a better promotional tool then just announcing another match as it adds a certain intrigue as to where the story goes from here. I've also gotta give credit to Ligero for his selling of the reveal. I know he's worked under a mask for the last decade but his reactions came across really well, without having to be OTT about it the crowd could read just how he felt about the whole thing by the look on his eyes. That takes a lot of talent.

It is certainly a change to see a promotion go into an anniversary show already promoting the next one. Although with the heavily promoted main event it still had a major show feel. Having the CZW guys on the card didn't really do a lot for me. Not trying to take anything away from them but while Gresham impressed me and Kolov looked good I wasn't that impressed on the whole. It’s not necessarily a knock on the CZW guys, more just a credit to the level of competition of the guys in Southside. The main thing with this show is it did what every good show should do. It gave you a reason to come back. Whether it’s for the last man standing match in Nottingham or just to check out the next Cambrigeshire show to see what is going to happen next between Kirby and Ligero and that is what every promoter should be doing. All in all another great effort from the team at Southside, with the announcement of Colt Cabana and ROH’s Mike Elgin for the next show I only see that continuing.

Due to various reasons this review has come out about the same time as the DVD release. If you want to check that out log on to for all the info.

You can also hit me up on twitter @el_j where you can give me unending praise for my efforts.

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