Sunday 20 January 2013

PCW More Bang For Your Buck (18/01/13) Review By Aiden O'Brien

My first live show of the year was also Preston City Wrestling's first show of 2013 as on January 18th they presented "More Bang For Your Buck". Coincidentally I closed out 2012 by attending PCW's supershow "Festive Fury" in which PCW presented their first sold out show as 800 fans paid to see names like Eugene, Chris Masters and in his first UK Indy appearance, John Morrison, so I began 2013 with yet another PCW show. The show was entitled "More Bang For Your Buck" as it featured the former TNA and ROH and current PWG, DG USA/EVOLVE tag team, The Young Bucks. This was only their third time in England in 3+ years, and their first time in the north of England. Also it was only six days removed from The Young Bucks reclaiming the PWG Tag Team Title's in DDT4 2013, although unfortunately they didn't bring the belts with them. The main event was all about the PCW Heavyweight Championship as Kris Travis, the third Champion, defended against the original and longest reigning Champion, T-Bone, in a first time ever done in the UK stipulation match of a Bullrope match. The story of the match was told excellently in this video package below:

PCW really have hit oil with their venue, the Lava Ignite nightclub as it's located directly in the city center meaning it's easy for the traveling fan to get there with the train and bus station not far away and near-by parking for the drivers. As mentioned the maximum capacity for the venue is 800, and the venue itself is gorgeous. A large spacious hall with the ring directly in the middle beneath a stunning chandelier and with this being a nightclub there are several large video screens dotted around the venue. You have to walk down some steps to enter the hall and on the other side of the wall the entrance way for the wrestlers also consists of them descending down steps. With this being a nightclub drinks, and cheap drinks at that, are a focus. So this has really helped create a PCW community having the venue be so accessible and also the social aspect of having a few drinks at the wrestling has resulted in a strong and loyal PCW audience who are very vocal. Another aspect that has made PCW such a success of the past year and a half is the PCW's promoter's, Steven Fludder, tireless efforts to promote his promotion, shows and talents through the use of the internet and social media, postering and flyering, advertisements in local newspapers and radio, you'd be hard pressed to be a local wrestling fan and not know of PCW's existence.

Kicking off the show and my first live match of 2013 was The Young Bucks vs Project Lucha, the tandem of El Ligero and Martin Kirby. I can't really think of a better way to begin the year with a match of this caliber as you had The Young Bucks, one of the best tag teams in the world right now, against two guys who have spent six years wrestling one another and I'm sure Ligero had a hand in training Kirby. I wasn't expecting to see this as the opening match so was pleasantly surprised with it's positioning as for fast-paced high-action openers this ticked all the boxes and this was probably my MOTN. Things started gentle with a little comedy as the crowd chose between chanting for tassles (Bucks) and horns (Ligero) and The Bucks heeled it up a little bit by working a horn, wringing it as if an arm and following it up with their trademark team work double ax handles off the top rope before the double stomp onto the exposed horn. The action quickly picked up as both teams began to use both wrestlers in the ring at the same time for some inventive double teams, reversals and reversing the reversals as this match increased the pace and became more of the sprint style expected in modern Indy tag wrestling. Memorable moments include Ligero managing to reverse the More Bang For Your Buck by wriggling free and throwing Matt into Nick in the turnbuckle, crotching Nick as Kirby came charging out of nowhere to leap up onto Matt's back to perform a superplex onto Nick. Nick performed his springboard sitout face facebuster onto Kirby, flipped backwards through the ropes to go for the asai moonsault onto Ligero on the outside, only for Ligero to quickly slid back into the ring through his legs and then perform a suicide dive onto Matt outside the other side of the ring. Considering The Young Bucks have been criticised in recent years for their over-use of superkicks, they were a lot more restrained in this match hitting the Early-Onset Alzheimer's stereo superkicks to a kneeling Ligero, and during the finishing stretch Ligero was once again superkicked (I should note that only a few weeks earlier Ligero suffered a hairline fracture to his cheekbone!) which took him out of the ring for The Bucks to capitalize with their retired friends, The Cutler Brothers, tombstone piledriver with springboard assistance onto Kirby for the three count. Great match and fantastic start to the show as well as the new year.

Next up Joey Hayes defeated Andy Wild with the Teenage Kick. This was my second time seeing Wild and while I thought he was good on initial viewing, I couldn't see why so many people rated him so highly. Last night he again didn't leave a lasting impression but I got a better idea as to why - He's this generations Doug Williams. Please don't get me wrong as that is nowhere near a bad thing to be compared to Doug. But while Andy is technically proficient and has all the tools to be a great wrestler, he's very lacking in the personality and fire department. Fortunately Hayes more recent heel persona allowed him to carry the character portion of the match, but he didn't really do anything overtly heel-ish to warrant a strong heel reaction. If anything his response to cheering for him of "I'm the bad guy!" further fueled that section of the crowd and others to cheer for him more. A very fine wrestling match, but with Wild not giving a strong enough reason for the fans to get behind him against the more local wrestler who was only a few months ago a strong babyface in Preston before his heel turn, the crowd merely chanted for and against Joey. But still I really enjoyed the finishing stretch which culminated with Hayes finally hitting the Teenage Kick for the three count.

Sean Maxer made his PCW debut by beating Bubblegum. The Irishman may be more well known as Shawn Guinness who wrestles for the Japanese company Zero-One and he is currently one half of the NWA International Lightweight Tag Team Champions. I do believe this may have been his English debut as I cannot find any record of him wrestling in England previously although I may be proved wrong on that account. Bubblegum got a much stronger heel reaction than Hayes in the match before - The crowd turning Gum's "Jus' A Rascal" theme music into a chant of "Jus' A Rentboy" - And also attempted to either get out of the match or have Maxer "play nice" with his knee as he is legitimately hurt and awaiting surgery which may bring an end to his active wrestling days. But again with Maxer being unknown to the audience, the match relied heavily on the strength of Bubblegum's heel reaction although Maxer didn't appear devoid of his own personality, he just never engaged the crowd. A lot of the match was dominated by Bubblegum and I genuinely could only count under a handful of wrestling moves done by Maxer as a lot of his offense/defense consisted of kicks and elbows. Still, even with Gum's very real injury, I was surprised to see Maxer to go over as Bubblegum recently defeated ROH stand-out Michael Elgin and is a new found assistant to PCW's top heel in T-Bone. With the win I wouldn't mind seeing Maxer return to PCW as I don't think I got to see enough of him to make a fair assessment.

In the match before intermission Noam Dar faced Dave Rayne's hand-picked opponent in Dave Mastiff. Dave Rayne was due to face Dar for Dar's PCW Cruiserweight Championship after winning a Money In The Bank briefcase at the previous show but the night before the show he was involved in a very real car crash which means he will be unable to wrestle for the next few shows. Rayne has become a beloved figure in PCW which shows the quirky and unique atmosphere in Preston as Rayne is essentially a comedy heel, but the fans love him regardless. In the opening mic exchanges Dar immediately ripped into Rayne's fan support as the crowd in Preston will pretty much cheer for anything. The ref, Des, gets some of the biggest and loudest chants and cheers of the night. The announcer Richard Parker and commentator G-Man all get loud ovations. At the previous show a wrestlers Mom and a Dog both got chants and even though both were missing tonight, they were both chanted for in this segment to further Dar's point. The crowd even chanted for "VHS" at the beginning of the show when DVD's and Blu-Rays were being plugged! But when Rayne finally announced his replacement against Dar, I was over the moon. These two have only faced each other the once (In a PCW ring as well) and I was gutted to have missed their first match which Dar won back in April.

Mastiff is a beast of a man. A genuine super-heavyweight shaped like a boulder so there's no unsightly flab or anything of that nature, so he immediately looks like a dangerous man. Dar while being the Cruiserweight Champion is not your usual lightweight flying all over the ring, he wrestles a more physical, strike and submission based style and tends to ground opponents. Knowing he was out-matched as soon as Mastiff got to ringside he was met with Dar flying right at him with a suicide dive. From there Dar followed it up by flying off the ring apron onto Mastiff with an elbow to the face. Inside the ring Dar was ferocious with elbows, kicks and headbutts, but all it took was one retaliating strike from Mastiff to send Dar down. Mastiff was able to over-power Dar and easily throw him around the ring, but showed breath-taking agility when he hit a high-angle dropkick onto a charging Dar and then perform a kip-up immediately after. Let me give you a mental picture to that - A 5'10, almost 300 pound man performing a kip-up like he was a much lighter man. When Mastiff started ascending the ropes for a moonsault (!!!) Dar kicked his leg out from under him and then Dar's game plan took shape as he repeatedly kicked away at the knee to work at the knee bar submission. Dar managed to apply the hold twice but both times Mastiff was able to power and kick with his free leg out of it. The finish came when Mastiff damn-near killed Dar with a running cannonball splash to Dar in the corner for the three count. Post match Rayne three away his crutches and limped into the ring, briefcase in hand, to cash in on Dar's Cruiserweight Championship. Mastiff, still in the ring and watching the unscrupulous Rayne about to cash in on the defeated Dar decided to see how it unfolded, but strayed too close to Rayne's celebration after hitting Dar with his crutch and inadvertently was struck with an elbow from Rayne as he threw back his arms to pose over the downed Dar. Rayne pleaded mercy with Mastiff but after a long tease the big man eventually took Rayne out with his Finlay Roll/Senton splash combo. After that Mastiff and Dar stared each other down with new found mutual respect for one another and both requesting a rematch. Before Dar left the ring however he pulled down his tights and put his bare ass directly down onto Rayne's face generating a "Deep Fried Asshole" chant.

Before returning from intermission the PCW Tag Team Champions, Fight Club (who were not announced for the show) made their way to the ring, complaining that even as Champions they were not booked and once again PCW booked Americans over UK talents and made a challenge towards The Young Bucks at the merch table busy selling merch. The challenge was accepted but to Kid Fite and Liam Thomson's dismay it was announced as a PCW Tag Team Championship match. The Bucks took an early advantage hitting stereo dropkicks and sending Fight Club out of the ring and then Nick Jackson hit a springboard somersault onto Fight Club that took all three men into the third row. The Jackson brothers controlled the early section of the match but the tide swiftly turned when Kid Fite was able to work his way into the match and then the two Scots kept control of the match by any means necessary. After a lengthy heat section on Matt, Nick exploded back into the ring when he got the hot tag and was incredibly fired up as he hit running clotheslines to both members of Fight Club in opposite corners over and over again for what felt like a few minutes until finally mixing things up with a knee to Kid Fite and then a running bulldog/clothesline onto Thomson combo. The finishing stretch was hot as I did genuinely believe The Bucks could potentially win the belts especially after they were able to break up a low-blow/roll up combo but Fight Club did end up retaining the belts with their Kid Fite powerbomb, Liam Thomson second rope leap back-cracker combo. Another very good Bucks match that had a much stronger crowd reaction due to the face/heel dynamic as opposed to face/face in the Project Lucha match although I would say Bucks/Lucha was the better match of the two. PCW had promised a six match card plus an international mystery match and I don't think anyone in the audience was disappointed that it ended up being a second Bucks match.

In an inter-gender singles contest Carmel Jacobs beat Mad Man Manson when Manson tapped out... To himself. This was a really well done comedy match. Manson initially wasn't interested in wrestling a woman so when Carmel had him placed in a headlock, he merely powered her up to a seat on the top rope. And when she attempted a flying cross body, he merely stepped out of the way. Finally agreeing to wrestle her after seeing she was hell bent on wrestling him he allowed her to place him in another headlock, bounced her off the ropes and then took her down with a shoulder tackle. Running the ropes, Carmel went down to the mat so Manson stopped himself and leapt over her down onto the mat to try and strike up a conversation. Carmel merely jumped over him down onto the mat again. This continued, Manson following suit and attempting to engage her into conversation before finally calling Carmel a rude bitch and then leaping over her again... Through the ring ropes to the outside. Manson attempted his trademark nipple twisting spot, but every time Carmel blocked it and slapped him. Eventually Manson grew tired of the slapping and slapped her back - To his own horror! Going to her aid, Carmel tripped him up and then put him in an indian deathlock. Using Manson's own wrestling gear she tied Manson's foot in his straps while she encouraged Manson to tap out which he did - Without Carmel even physically touching him at the time. Post match Carmel was in the ring alone while the video screen counted back from 10 to announce former WWF/E diva LITA will be at PCW's end of May/beginning of June weekender joining both Steiner Brothers, Chris Masters and Goldust. It looks to have been heavily implied that there will likely be some sort of Carmel/Lita match which if this is the case, this could be Lita's first match in any Indy since leaving the WWE as she's primarily been used as a special ref or guest enforcer in American promotions.

And in the main event, the bloody Bullrope match, T-Bone reclaimed his PCW Heavyweight Championship from Kris Travis after using the bullrope like a noose and hanging Travis from the entrance steps to the venue hall to the point he passed out and the ref had to award the match and belt to T-Bone out of fear for Trav's life. With both being tied together at the wrist they did limit what they were capable of doing somewhat, but Trav was still able to use his kicks and T-Bone was able to power and throw Trav around. The two brawled around the venue several times and the cowbell was built up and used to good effect. Unfortunately when they were brawling around the venue I was unable to see much of the action from my view point, although there were a few large crashes and suitable OOOH's from the crowd. I do believe I either saw a cross body or a hurricanrana from Travis onto T-Bone off the bar. Along with the cowbell two steel chairs were added to the equation along with setting up a table outside the ring propped up against the steel barrier where the fans stand. To my surprise neither man drew blood as both took cowbell and steel shots directly to the head/face. But in times like these that may have been in the interests of health and safety especially after the bloody mess Trav became in his I Quit match against Lionheart last February. Thumb tacks were brought out and in a nod to the aforementioned February match, Trav used his old rival Lionheart's Rock Bottom slam to introduce T-Bone's back to the thumb tacks, deeply embedding themselves in there. T-Bone introduced another chair with plastic legs that unfortunately was so weak when he went to use his foot to kick out the leg, the damn leg broke! He attempted to compensate by draping that part of the table onto the ring ropes then emptied yet another bag of thumbtacks onto the table. Unfortunately the drama did not end there as when Trav was able to fight off Bone from the top rope, the other leg went and all the thumb tacks spilled down onto the mat well before T-Bone was sent crashing from the low and now empty table. Travis looked to have the match won but Bubblegum stopped the ref from counting to three so Trav retaliated by kicking a chair into Gum's face on the ring apron. T-Bone was able to take advantage of the situation and control Trav from that point forward, again taking him out of the ring and towards the previously set up table. Again with it being outside the ring I was unable to see what happened but I know it took two attempts before whomever went through the table. It was shortly after that that T-Bone was visible stood at the top of the entrance stairs with Trav as Trav attempted to kick him over, but it was Trav who was the one to take the fall over the railing. In an impressive feat of strength you could see T-Bone hoist Trav up with the rope around his neck from any angle in the building and he only let go when the ref called the match. A very impressive ending to the match and a very convincing way for Bone to take his Title back without making Travis look weak as it took Bubblegum's interference and T-Bone being willing to kill Travis for him to lose without officially being pinned or give up of his own choosing.

A very good show and start to the year for PCW. Both Bucks matches were very good with the opener against Project Lucha being my match of the night. Dar/Mastiff was great and made me very eager for a third match in their series. And the main event was a great spectacle even if some of the stuff they attempted wasn't pulled off just right. After such a strong show in December with a sold out crowd they kept the momentum going with this show and while the crowd didn't look that big just before the show (Admittedly after December a lot of crowds would look smaller by comparison) but a fair number of fans did join the crowd just before the show officially started. PCW have a very strong year ahead with their February double shot only being two weeks to the day after this show and featuring former WWE stars Brian Kendrick, Paul London and Super Crazy all taking part in a 16-man tournament that will dominate both nights. In April they continue the annual rumble and also features former WWF star Ted DiBiase, former ECW/WWE wrestler Tommy Dreamer and two current American Indy Champions as both ROH World Champion and DG USA Open The Freedom Gate Champion, Kevin Steen and Johnny Gargano respectively. And then the big supershow at the end of May with former NWA/WCW/TNA/WWF legends The Steiner Brothers, former WWE wrestlers Goldust and Chris Masters and in her very first time appearing for a UK Indy, Lita in what could be her first wrestling match in several years. All PCW shows are released with a quick turn around on DVD and Blu-Ray and the production quality is perhaps the best seen by any UK promotion right now.

Special thanks to John Searle for all the pictures used in this review.

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