Main photo by Robyn Goding
Here’s five things you need to know about British (and European!) wrestling this week:
1) Ibushi took the XWA viral
Former New Japan star Kota Ibushi was one of the few remaining talents who can attract a crowd on his name alone that hadn’t visited the UK, and that changed last week when he finally made his debut for the Essex-based XWA.
Appearing twice — once at the promotion’s regular base in Colchester, and again the next day at the home of their new “exclusive” series of events, the resistance gallery in Bethnal Green, Ibushi left no one who saw unaware of just what a special talent he is.
Ibushi and Ihashi go toe-to-toe — photo by Chris Wiles
Joining him from Japan, and from the DDT promotion where they both began their careers, was Gota Ihashi, an unlikely-looking opponent who, too, proved his worth as a headline attraction. Their bout in Colchester, part of the promotion’s annual Gold Rush event, included a bicycle, some boxing, and huge dives that thrilled the crowd, a large proportion of whom would have been unfamiliar with either man.
The next day they teamed, to fight Cara Noir & Jimmy Havoc, in a match that spilled out onto the streets of east London, and involved fireworks and a car. Needless to say, footage of that spectacle has gone viral.
Aside from getting thrown through a car windscreen at Please Don’t Die 2, Cara Noir was very much the focus of Gold Rush, engaging his nemesis Lion Kid over the XWA Heavyweight title in a no DQ match. After fighting all over the Charter Hall, Noir — formerly known as Thomas Dawkins — received some outside assistance from a mysterious, cat-masked ally to retain the title, only for matchmaker Dann Read to strip him of the belt and put it up as a prize in the main event Gold Rush Rumble.
Lion Kid and Cara Noir tussle in the title match — photo by Chris Wiles
Noir triumphed in that, too, again with the help of his hooded friend, and Read announced that he — and the man in the mask — would have to team against Lion Kid at the next Colchester show — and that Lion Kid would team with his former Dragon Gate UK compadre CIMA! Noir last eliminated Jody Fleisch in the rumble, who was going for his second title of the night, having pinned Doug Williams in the opener to lift the Frontier Sports Championship.
Alongside Ibushi as a headline attraction in Bethnal Green and Colchester was the former Pentagon Jr., Penta El 0M. He won a spot-filled four-way at Gold Rush and then engaged in a super sprint with Will Ospreay to close proceedings the following day. Pro Wrestling EVE Champion Rhia O’Reilly also defended her belt on both days, coming out of two matches against Sammii Jayne still holding her belt.
XWA announced that their next “exclusive” at the Resistance Gallery, on July 22nd, would feature Daisuke Sekimoto.
2) wXw’s 16 Carat Gold delivered in every way
One of a handful of tournaments worldwide to be held in such prestige that fans will travel internationally to see them, Westside Xtreme Wrestling’s 16 Carat Gold — held in Oberhausen, Germany — is big enough that it transcends this column’s usually tight remit to cover the British Isles only.
Although it was stripped of its usual UK representation by a combination of other bookings and WWE UK contracts, a large contingent of British fans and reporters did make the trip, alongside a handful of visitors from the US.
They were witness to the triumph of Ilya Dragunov, who came into the weekend as an outsider for the tournament, but who delivered a stunning performance in the final — against WALTER — to lift the trophy. Dragunov earns a shot at the wXw title, which changed hands over the weekend in another super bout, with Jurn Simmons gyrating his way to stripping Axel Dieter Jr. of the belt.
That capped a bad weekend for Ringkampf, who not only had to suffer those losses for WALTER and Dieter Jr., but also saw Timothy Thatcher lose the final of the AMBITION shoot-style tournament to Matt Riddle.
Dragunov chops WALTER, hard — photo by The Ringside Perspective’s Oli Sandler
Match quality across the four-day event was high, from the low-key Inner Circle 3 show on Thursday, through Saturday’s AMBITION 8, and up and down the three days of 16 Carat Gold. The tournament attracted regular wXw visitors, like Thatcher and wXw Shotgun Champion David Starr, but also some lesser-seen talents like ACH, Donovan Dijak, Paul London, Jeff Cobb, and Koji Kanemoto, as well as providing Cody Rhodes with another tick on his post-WWE bucket list.
Starr defended his Shotgun title outside of tournament matches, winning a four-way on day two but falling in another on the final day to Emil Sitoci, marking his wXw return after three months away. The wXw Tag Team titles were also on the line in a gauntlet match, but A4 managed to see off the four challengers, the last of which was a gold-hungry Ringkampf team.
The tournament is already available to watch on the promotion’s on-demand service, wXwNow, and will be shown “as live” this weekend on FloSlam. It comes heavily recommended.
3) ICW made more towns on their Friday Night Fight Club tour
Picking up where they left off last month, Insane Championship Wrestling hit the road again with Friday Night Fight Club this past weekend with another three dates in England ahead of their return to the show’s usual home at the Garage in Glasgow this Sunday.
Stopping off first in Liverpool, they added Pete Dunne to their roster, possibly as part of the WWE UK deal, and he beat Chris Renfrew to set up a strong weekend for the Bruiserweight.
The show was main evented by ICW Heavyweight Champion Trent Seven, who was scheduled to take on Drew Galloway but instead faced fellow WWE UK competitor Jordan Devlin when Galloway withdrew for personal reasons. Devlin impressed, and will surely be invited back, but only after the head wound he received hitting the O2 Academy floor has healed!
The next night, at Bristol’s Motion club, Seven took on Jack Jester, but the show was more notable for the ICW debuts of Modern Culture, the young tag team of Danny Jones & Edwin Ricci, who were accompanied by their mentor Flash Morgan Webster for an unsuccessful tilt at Polo Promotions.
ICW Zero-G Champion Kenny Williams defended his belt on all three nights, seeing off Davey Blaze, Flash Morgan Webster, and Martin Kirby.
Champion Trent Seven faces three of the best — photo by Adam Kinghorn
On the final night of this leg of the tour, at the O2 Academy in Leeds, Trent Seven again put his title on the line, this time in a four-way against Chris Renfrew, BT Gunn, and Pete Dunne, and again emerged supreme. Square Go! winner Joe Coffey looms large in his future but he’ll face Mark Coffey this Sunday in Glasgow.
Friday Night Fight Club can be seen on ICW On Demand, as well as Italian TV channel Nuvolari and the Fight Network in the US and Canada.
4) GBH made their presence felt on Southside’s latest weekend swing
Established at Southside Wrestling’s last multi-show weekend in Nottingham and St. Neots, the Guilty by Habit stable of Damian Dunne, Robbie X, and Big Grizzly wasted no time in securing gold with two big wins at the end of the promotion’s latest weekend swing.
Not only did Robbie X & Big Grizzly team up to take the Southside Tag Team titles from PJ Black & Nixon Newell in the opener of Raw Deal 6 in Stevenage last Sunday, but Damian Dunne — with a great deal of assistance from his cohorts — outlasted five other men to steal the Speed King Championship in the main event of the same show.
HC Dyer hits Joseph Conners with a dropkick — photo by Brett Hadley
The weekend started with an all-woman show, All Hail the Queen, at Corporation in Sheffield, headlined by a no disqualification match between Kay Lee Ray and Candice LeRae. The eponymous queen, Southside Women’s Champion Melina, also appeared on the show but was absent from the rest of the weekend after suffering a dislocated knee in a tag team match against the Owens Twins.
The show also featured wins for Viper, Martina the Session Moth, former TNA star Jade, and Nixon Newell, and many of those women were also present throughout the weekend, facing each other and some of the men on the roster, with mixed results. Notably, though, Martina beat Alex Gracie at Saturday’s Risky Business, and Nixon Newell continued her farewell series against Chris Brookes when she teamed with Candice LeRae to take on the Inter Coastal Violence Factory.
Southside Heavyweight Champion El Ligero defended his title in Sheffield and Stevenage, beating Damian Dunne and Jeff Cobb, respectively, and Rey Fenix once again stole the show with some super matches against Ethan Page, Bubblegum, and as part of the six-man scramble which Dunne won to take the Speed King title.
There were also wins for Bubblegum, Chris Tyler, HC Dyer, PJ Black, Ethan Page, and the British Invasion, and Southside return on April 1st in Nottingham.
5) Soner Dursun and Travis Banks tore it down again for FutureShock (and other stuff)
After turning heads with an Adrenaline title match for the promotion a few weeks ago, FutureShock Wrestling wasted no time in booking another Soner Dursun vs. Travis Banks bout to co-headline Uproar 93 at Stockport’s Guildhall last Sunday. The two tore the house down with a match one of our correspondents described as “Match of the Year” quality, and it will be available to watch for free on FutureShock’s YouTube page soon.
The actual main event brought dissent in the heel camp as James Drake & Zack Gibson were not on the same page in a loss to Sam Bailey & Danny Hope. There were also wins for John McGregor, April Davids, T-Bone, Bobby Cage, and the promotion return in May.
New Force Wrestling, a small promotion running just outside of London in Middlesex, celebrated their first anniversary last Saturday with a show at Iver Village Hall. The main event was a ladder match for the APW (Portugal) Championship between two of the PROGRESS Freedom’s Road roster, David Francisco and Connor Mills. The show also featured talent from the London School of Lucha Libre, the Wrestling Institute of Northampton, and IPW:UK’s training school.
One of the many promotions running Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Main Event Wrestling presented Why Aye Mania last Friday, with a strong lineup from some of the north’s top talent. The show was headlined by an MEW Championship match between Jason Prime and the Assassin, which Prime won only to be confronted by his New Nation tag team partner Alexander Henry, who demanded a title shot and took the belt from his erstwhile pal.
The MEW North East title was successfully defended by Liam Slater, who saw off the challenge of El Ligero, Martin Kirby, and HT Drake, and the show also featured Prince Ameen, Little Miss Roxxy, Adam Maxted, and WWE UK’s Saxon Huxley.