Monday 13 January 2014

“The Way I See It ….” Part Two. The Year That Was And The Year To Come By Matt Bayliss (@MattMatt316)

Left: MK McKinnan, photo credit to Brett Hadley

For me 2013 started off with some great shows and experiences. Early in the year I went to AWW headlined by Brian Kendrick vs Mark Andrews – although the show was stolen by the best women’s match I have EVER seen! Emi Sakura vs Shanna – Sakura was a late replacement but they tore the house down, a load of false finishes, some big moves and the finish was a spectacular 450 splash by Sakura which bought the crowd to their feet. Main event was great too, good seeing THE Brian Kendrick who is a great performer taking on one of the best up and comers on the UK scene. Overall this was a good card with a good mix of matches and really well put together.

I also got to sit ringside or the TNA Maximum Impact tour in Nottingham. Was extremely pleased with myself for getting front row seats but discovered there is a real downside to it – people just think they can come and stand in front of you! I couldn’t believe it; it wasn’t cheap by any stretch of the imagination so to constantly have to try and jostle for position was a bit disappointing. Particularly so when returning to our seats after the interval and we couldn’t even get to our seats until security came and moved people! That aside, it was a good show, as TNA always tends to be when they come over here. Great to see Spud, Marty Scurll and the Blossoms in a TNA ring and to see a cage match up close and in person.

My only real road trip of the year came early too, as I mentioned in Part one I went down to Sittingbourne for RevPro. Another great card featuring El LIgero, Haskins, Project Ego, The Hunter Bros, MK McKinnan, Zack Sabre Jnr, Colt Cabana, Dave Mastiff and headlined by Spud vs Scurll. The venue was great; the crowd packed in pretty tight to the action and really up for it. The only real problem with the show was that the PA system was barely working and cut out more than it worked, leaving Andy Quildan to shout his ring announcing duties more than anything. The other issue this day was the atrocious weather – hammering down with rain on the long journey down then a snow storm on the way back which makes the road trip “interesting” to say the least! On the up side got to stop off at a service station on the way back and chat with Spud, Mastiff, McKinnan and The Hunters. With regards to the action that night there wasn’t a bad match at all. McKinnon and Sabre Jnr probably the best match but would be a close call. This was my first time seeing Project Ego live as a team and was impressed; they certainly lived up to all I had heard about them. I have seen them a lot since and they never fail to impress as a team or individually.

The rest of my wrestling year was spent mostly around Birmingham – time and finances preventing getting too far away. I went to see SLAM Wrestling at Eddies Nightclub in Birmingham city centre, unfortunately for some reason hardly anybody showed up, however we still had a great time as it was like having a personal wrestling show with tonnes of interaction between our small group and all of the performers. I don’t think I have ever laughed as much at a show, it was genuinely great entertainment and worth every penny! I know the promoters obviously weren’t happy and came out to apologise after but it was unnecessary as we had had a great time. If you haven’t seen a match where a mask switches between wrestlers and the referee picks up the win then you haven’t watched enough wrestling! To be honest Tukay did a great job as referee that night having seen him wrestling previously at AWW has a cheeky heel, definitely somebody who has real potential to get over and is always developing. I recently got to watch a couple of his matches from Wutech Wrestling, one of which in particular was very good all around, the other was against Jonny Rose which was great fun – most of the match was rose talking to people in the crowd!

AWW have put on some great shows in Wolverhampton and pulled in some great talent, one of the many highlights being Jay Lethal vs Nathan Cruz (who was wrestling with a huge gash above his eye from the previous day) this was a great match to cap off a great card.

The start of the summer saw the beginning of two new promotions in Birmingham. Kamikaze Pro Wrestling and Pro Wrestling Kingdom. PWK run by Ryan Smile is designed to offer a highly professional live show showcasing some great British talent. PWK put on two great shows at central Birmingham venues – The MAC and The Crescent Theatre – and they looked amazing. Due to outside factors both these shows unfortunately had fairly poor attendance, but were really great and I suggest that anybody who has not already done so should firstly check out the matches on YouTube then give PWK a follow and get along next time. The first show had a very solid card from top to bottom including a four team tag match which had some truly unique spots. The 2nd show had great atmosphere and some amazing action. Bubblegum vs Kay Lee Ray and Eddie Dennis vs MK McKinnon were the highlights but the whole card was solid including a great tag match with The Hunter Bros (who may get their own episode sometime soon taking on the team of Corey Johnson and Chris Ridgeway. Johnson is constantly improving as a talented big man and this was the first time seeing Ridgeway and I was very impressed, I have seen since that in a lot of places he is being tipped as one to watch and I have to agree.

Kamikaze Pro has been pretty prolific since their first show. Focussing on UK talent but have made great use of Uhaa Nation and Sabu who have been in 3 of the best matches I have had the privilege of seeing this year – not to mention Uhaa Nation having the single greatest entrance music in the history of wrestling! Nation has made two appearances, firstly against Eddie Dennis then against MVK Valkabious, both matches were all out wars with each participant showcasing their ability and throwing everything at each other. Nation is a huge man but moves and can fly like any cruiserweight.

Two of my years highlights came from Kamikaze pro, first getting a picture in the ring with Sabu – I got him to put me in a camel clutch and I can assure you he didn’t hold back! The second highlight was Eddie Dennis, such a nice guy and a great heel and great wrestler, the crowd were always over him for being Welsh, making sheep noises at every opportunity, I ended up taking an inflatable sheep (Eddies Baa-tner) which ended up getting thrown and kicked around by Eddie before being used as a weapon against him by Uhaa Nation – on the dvd commentary its described as a sheep shot!

The Hunter Brothers are a staple feature of Kamikaze and never fail to impress, a real tag team and always crowd favourites. I can’t mention Kamikaze Pro without mentioning the likes of Ryan Smile, Damian Dunne, Pete Dunne and Robbie X who seem to get better and better every time I see them.

I made the short train trip to Nottingham for HOP:Evolution in September having seen and heard some great things about their first two shows including a bare boards match between Clint Margera and Jack Jester. HOP:E was a quality show with a really good mix of matches, styles and action as well as progressing storylines very well. Myself and partner in crime Rob have agreed it’s the one show that we probably wouldn’t want to watch back on DVD, not because it was a bad show - it was really good in fact – but because we were drunk and front row and most likely louder and more obnoxious than we remember! I also won the raffle at this show, first time ever at a show despite buying lots of tickets! I scored myself the DVDs from the first two shows and tickets to the next show which unfortunately never happened as Harvey Dale was unfortunately having a lot of issues and getting affected by outside influences – I don’t know the ins and outs of it but really hope he can bounce back. We had a great time at the show and if or when HOP:E returns I will certainly be going back.

The year ended with a trip to Dudley for night 3 of ATTACK! Pro Wrestling’s Under the Mistletour. This was a great fun night with some quality action and comedy all wrapped up in a nice Christmas gift. I was meant to attend their show earlier in the year but got taken out by a migraine on the day, from what I have seen of what they do they go all out to entertain but use some of the best wrestlers in the county.

Star of the Year – Eddie Dennis

Shows of the Year – Kamikaze Pro – Rise of Uhaa (purely for personal reasons, banter with Kid Fite, stalking Eddie with a Sheep and the main event Eddie vs Uhaa) and PWK – The Howling of the Kingdom

Match of the year – Too many to choose from but Kay Lee Rae vs Bubblegum, Eddie Dennis vs Uhaa Nation, MVK vs Uhaa Nation, Emi Sakura vs Shanna and Jay Lethal vs Nathan Cruz are definitely in the top few

I know I have rambled on a lot about the year that was, the year to come I cannot wait to see more of the talented wrestlers this country has to offer and I really want to get to Southside, PCW and Progress all of which I have seen on the internet and on DVD but would love to get there in person. More locally I want to get to SWA who I hear very good things about and have been told by Simon Brown the owner that they have some real big things planned so I recommend you check them out! I also want to get back to Hull for NGW at some point this year. My ones to watch for 2014 would have to include Dan Moloney, Tyler Bate, Lana Austin, Robbie X and Damien Dunne. Also please keep an eye out for Craiguss Corleone who has been filming, editing and producing some great DVDs for shows in 2013.


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