By Alan Boon fof F4WOnline.com
A lot of promotions enjoyed a Christmas break this week, but while things don’t really wake up until the middle of January, there were still things going on in the UK. Here are five things you need to know about British wrestling this week:
1) The time for talk is over.
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For the last few years, British wrestling fans – although not necessarily fans of British wrestling – have had their own TV show on Challenge TV every Sunday night. WrestleTalk TV, which follows TNA on the mostly-retro quiz channel, is a discussion show, mostly concerned with the mainstream promotions, and TNA. Most of the interviews, given WWE’s embargo on all but the most valuable (to them) outlets, are with former-WWE stars or current TNA wrestlers, and for fans of that kind of thing it’s been a weekly staple of varying interest. This week, however, Challenge TV announced that the show was cancelled, although producer Alex Shane was quick to claim it would appear on another channel soon. In it’s place – although the exact time slot is yet to be determined – will be another Shane-produced wrestling show, but this time a quiz show more in fitting with the rest of the channel’s output.
As well as the main show, there was a monthly British Wrestling Round-Up show, which followed late into the evening, but mostly featured footage from just the one promotion, New Generation Wrestling from Hull. Nothing has been announced as to the future of this show. While it wasn’t everybody’s cup of tea, the show did at least maintain a visibility for something other than WWE & TNA on British TV, and for that alone it’s loss should be noted with some disappointment.
2) Even on a quiet Christmas Day, you can still watch British wrestling.
For many years TV was seen as the be all and end all for British wrestling companies, and more than one promotion killed itself trying to make that happen. The last few years, however, have seen an explosion in online on-demand channels, made possible by advancements in broadband speeds and editing software available to even the tiniest promotion. The upshot of all this is that there is plenty of quality British wrestling to watch, whenever you want to watch it. The main leaders in the field are Insane Championship Wrestling and PROGRESS, who have mobilised their hefty fanbases into subscribing to on-demand channels. As well as recordings of live shows, both promotions offer exclusive footage only available to subscribers, such as ICW’s Friday Night Fight Club and the excellent Jimmy Havoc Q&A on Demand PROGRESS. Both channels utilise Pivotshare software, and are available through all the usual platforms.
Many other promotions – and I’ll try to list them later – offer a different model, whereby you pay for access to one or more of their shows to stream or download. Some host their own shows, while others are available through third party sites like Your Fight Site and Wrestling Store, and use a variety of different platforms, although Vimeo is popular. Among the major promotions to use this model are Revolution Pro-Wrestling, Preston City Wrestling, Southside Wrestling Entertainment, and IPW:UK, but there are also shows from Grand-Pro, Pro-Wrestling Chaos, LDN, NGW, FutureShock, and many more out there. In addition, RevPro offer a weekly show on their YouTube channel, the first 2016 taping for which is this coming Sunday and it is a stacked card.
All this means that, if it happens in the UK, you can pretty much see it within days on one platform or another, and makes it very easy – and enjoyable – to be a fan of British wrestling . Nothing comes close to the live show experience (and there are still a couple of promotions who offer nothing but that experience) but having it beamed live to your living room is the next best thing.
3) Joey Ryan’s penis is stronger than we thought.
So how was your Christmas? Yeah, mine too. Oh, did you get to see Joey Ryan replicate his famous spot with Danshoku Dino, only in a sleepy Cambridgeshire market town instead of Tokyo, and with five other men instead of a Japanese sex pest? You didn’t? Oh, man. So, yeah, Joey Ryan came to the UK last week, and of course he played up on that spot. At Southside last Sunday, at the sold out Season’s Beatings in St Neots, he competed in a six-man Giant Lollipop On A Pole match, which also featured Rockstar Spud and Martin Kirby, and a ton of brilliant comedy spots that had me crying with laughter. Spud won the match – does it matter? – but all six men (and referee Joel Allen, who played his part, too) deserved a standing ovation.
Southside are one of the UK’s second-tier promotions, never grabbing the big headlines but putting on solid shows with a good roster and a sprinkling of the more interesting imports. Already for 2016, they’ve announced Sami Callihan, Angelico, Timothy Thatcher, and Leva Bates, but the main focus is placed on their British stars, which include Will Ospreay, Jimmy Havoc, and el Ligero. Ligero main-evented Sunday’s show, in a Loser Leaves Southside match against Kay Lee Ray, and even though the result was slightly spoiled by Ligero appearing on the poster for February’s show, the match was well-worked, hard-fought, and painful-looking (if a little overbooked).
Also on the show, Stixx continued his battle against Joseph Conners’s Righteous Army, and Nixon Newell defended her Queen Of Southside title. While the likes of ICW, PROGRESS, PCW, and RevPro get the major headlines – and rightly so for the most part – Southside (and promotions like them) are really worth checking out if you get the chance. They’re not “my” brand but I’m never disappointed by their shows.
4) PROGRESS are HUGE teases.
With all their shows for 2016 seemingly announced and a stunning amount of season tickets already sold for the London shows, you might be forgiven for thinking that PROGRESS can sit back and just roll out whatever they’ve got planned for the year as it comes. On Tuesday, however, they tweeted that they would be announcing HUGE news on New Year’s Day, and their fanbase exploded into speculation. The big guess was some kind of TV deal, what with a test being filmed at their last London show, but that was quickly shot down by management with promoter Jim Smallman repeating his opinion that TV wasn’t necessary for a promotion to be a success in 2016. Other guesses have included a tour (ICW run two successful tours a year in the UK), a live webcast of a show, and a big show at a bigger venue than the 700-seaters they traditionally run. Like a lot of “announcements” in this most carny of industries, it could turn out to be a damp squib but I’d lay money on it being something really, really interesting. Check your Twitter feed on Friday at midday to find out.
5) Shows still happened.
Although live action was thin on the ground over Christmas week, it wasn’t entirely absent. As well as the Southside show reported above, and a few shows at holiday camps open to seasonal vacationers, New Generation Wrestling ran Hull, and WrestleForce promoted Witham Town Hall. At NGW’s Eternal Glory At Christmas show, NGW champion Nathan Cruz defeated Matt Myers to keep hold of the title he’s worn since July, although Zack Gibson – who added Zack Sabre Jr on this show to his list of recent conquests – will be gunning for him in the new year. Also on the show were Mark Andrews, Bubblegum, Rampage Brown, and el Ligero, as well as a host of other NGW regulars.
The promotion have already announced their big show for next year, May’s Ultimate Showdown, and will be hoping to capitalise on a nationwide tour in the spring. WrestleForce’s Festive Fury, held in the Essex town of Witham, featured all their usual characters, some of whom may or may not also be regulars in the RetroFutureVerse of Lucha Britannia. Former WWE developmental prospect The Zulu Warrior retained his International Championship, seeing off the challenge of Joey Ozbourne, while the team of Peace & Brad O’Brien sent the fans home happy with a victory in the main event over the evil Voodoo & Damien. Also on the show were Richard Parliament, “Blackbelt” Tom Dawkins, and a good shout for rookie of the year 2016, the Punjabi Prince (Malik Waseem), and – as always at WrestleForce’s slightly surreal outings – a fun time was had by all.
Next weekend sees us rocket into 2016 with shows from three of the big names of British wrestling.