3CW returned to Hartlepool last May as they wrapped up their title tournament in shocking fashion.
We open with a video hyping up the Rogues Gallery’s quest for a victory, Si Swan’s bid to get revenge on Prince Ameen after losing his North East title last time out, and of course, tonight’s tournament finals. All set to Saliva’s “Click Click Boom”. Ah, I miss the early 00s…
Prince Ameen & Amir Jordan vs. Si Swan & White Tiger
Ameen is now calling himself the Indian Dream, and instead of granting a rematch for the title, he decides to grant him a tag team rematch. I think Ameen doesn’t know what “rematch means”…
He’s got a new tag partner for this show, in the form of Amir Jordan – someone who’s made a bit of a name for himself elsewhere in the north-east with NORTH Wrestling. There’s already some dissension between Ameen and “Your Naan’s Favourite Wrestler” Jordan, who’s doing Ameen better than he ever has. Si Swan’s not happy at being denied a rematch, and he’s got a partner too – White Tiger! We’ve only reviewed him once before – for Southside’s “Let’s Kick Cancer To The Curb” show in 2016 – but he was a regular for 3CW back in the day… and had last appeared for them 10 years prior.
Tiger and Jordan start us off, with Jordan flipping free of a wristlock before getting in some dancing. Yeah, Ameen’s not too pleased with that! White Tiger swaps armdrags as he dances with Amir, but White Tiger swings and misses with a PK before landing a standing moonsault for just a one count.
Swan tags in and keeps up on Jordan’s wrist, dropping a leg on the arm for a two-count as the youngster was kept isolated. Heck, Ameen was watching from the floor at times, like this was a handicap match! Having seen Ameen’s prior matches here, it’s definitely for the best!
More armdrags keep Jordan down, as do shoulder tackles, as Swan gets distracted with Ameen on the floor… which leads to Ameen whipping him into the ringpost. Of course, Ameen now wants to get tagged in so he can pick up the pieces… but all he does is rake the eyes and tag Jordan back in. A crossbody’s caught and turned into a Samoan drop as Swan obliterated Jordan… but Swan barely misses the tag out as Ameen pulled Tiger off the apron.
Ameen comes back in and tries a Pedigree, but he’s backdropped out as we go back to Tiger and Jordan… a ‘rana takes Jordan into the corner for a missed set of double knees. Those are shaken off as Tiger lands a high kick before Ameen made a blind tag in to drop Tiger with a spinebuster for a near-fall. Another Pedigree attempt is countered as Swan and Tiger hit a pair of Thunder Drivers, and that’s enough for the win! This may as well have been a handicap match given how much Ameen was involved, but that’s no bad thing. **¾
After the match, Ameen shoves Jordan back into the ring, but instead of fighting back, Jordan gets into a dance-off, much to the chagrin of Ameen.
We’re treated to a to-camera piece from Stevie Aaron and 3CW’s Mike Groom – against what looks suspiciously like a green screen. They run through what happened at Revival as they built up to today’s tournament as the Damned Nation had a 50-50 chance of leaving with the promotion’s title.
3CW Undisputed Championship Tournament – Semi Final: Dragon Aisu vs. Chris Whitton
Aisu’s out with Gabriel Grey and the Sons of Ulaid (who don’t get a namecheck, so there you go – Rory Coyle and Bás Bán), which makes me fear for an interference-riddled match. Through ring announcer Stevie Aaron, Aisu plays the Tracy Smothers card… c’mon, I don’t want to go through the usual Dragon Aisu bashing. This is the only place he wrestles these days… I feel bad labelling him an anachronism.
Aisu offers Whitton an easy way out, telling him to go home because “he’s out of shape and looks like crap”. Nope, I’m not going there. Instead, Whitton incites the Addams Family chants before whacking Aisu with the microphone as we have a jump start! Aisu’s knocked to the outside, where he’s joined by the rest of the Damned Nation… and gets leapt into by Whitton.
Brawling ensues as the pair brawl up onto the stage by the title belt, with Aisu and Whitton trading fierce chops before Aisu’s thrown into the guard railing. Gabriel Grey whacks Whitton with his cane as he’s getting into the ring, and that just sets up for some double-teaming as the Sons of Ulaid work over the knee as Grey has the ref tied up.
Back in the ring, Aisu works over the left knee with spinning toe holds and the like, before throwing Whitton clumsily to the outside where – yep – there’s attacks on the outside as the referee is badly hamstrung by the numbers advantage… and what the actual hell? Aisu hits a running blockbuster for a near-fall?! My jaw hits the floor there… Whitton tries to fight back, but the knee is once again targeted, with Aisu again going after the leg before Gabriel Grey grinds the cane into knee.
This is very much wash-rinse-repeat stuff, with Whitton fighting back, Aisu cutting it off, and this time he throws in a t-shirt choke for fun. The pair escape chops – with Aisu’s chops impressively ringing around the Borough Hall – before the pair ran the ropes as they ended up clotheslining each other. Whitton manages to sneak in a Sky High for a near-fall, but his follow-up Shining Wizard is blocked as Aisu does more damage to the knee with a Figure Four.
Whitton flips over the Figure Four to reverse it, but Rory Coyle comes in to flip it back over as there’s yet more distraction. It’s beyond the point of inane as Coyle grabs hold of Aisu to add some leverage, before coming in and laying into a helpless Whitton with forearms, all with the referee distracted. When John Myers does around, he sees Whitton flat on the mat, and all that’s left is for him to do the arm drop gimmick… and Myers throws out the match as a DQ. Well, take away the massively-overdone interference, this was quite decent – they could have done with one less go around that particular merry go round, but this was perhaps Aisu’s best match in this run. **½
After the match, Aisu takes Whitton to the corner for a ringpost figure-four, and it seems that 3CW doesn’t have much security to speak of as there’s very little help offered when Whitton takes a chairshot to the knee for good effect.
We get another music video to build up to our second semi-final – El Ligero vs. Alex Gracie in what’s apparently a first-time-ever match. In 3CW yes… Southside in 2016 say hi!
3CW Undisputed Championship Tournament – Semi Final: Alex Gracie vs. El Ligero
Alex Gracie being any part of the Damned Nation is just odd. He’s out with the Sons of Ulaid, but there’s nothing about this character that remotely fits with the Damned Nation “ethos”. As if they have one. Anyway, if Gracie wins, it’s an all Damned Nation final… and given that the Sons of Ulaid are at ringside, that’s a very realistic threat.
Gracie takes Ligero into the ropes from the off, as commentary tells us about both these guy’s finishers… with Stevie Aaron wandering from incredulous (“oh, he’s calling it the Fall From Gracie”) to the almost-kids-TV-presenter esque. Ligero starts to work over Gracie with a simple toehold, before some switcheroos led Ligero into a roll-up for an early near-fall.
Some armdrags take Gracie to the outside, where he regained his focus by staring at the title belt… and he then ordered the Sons of Ulaid to leave as he wanted to win the match the right way. When they resumed, both Gracie and Ligero ran through a rapid-fire sequence of takedowns and near-misses before Gracie finally took a slight lead with a hiptoss. A flapjack follows for a near-fall as Gracie manages to string together some offence, dropping Ligero with some Snake Eyes in the corner, then following up with a diving uppercut for a near-fall, before Ligero mounted a comeback, punching Gracie in the ropes ahead of a missile dropkick.
Bizarrely, the crowd tried to get an El Ligero chant going… to the tune of kids TV show “Bob The Builder”. Even more bizarrely, it picked up some steam…
Ligero keeps up with some chops in the corner, eventually knocking Gracie to the mat, but he comes back with some body blows before dropping Ligero with an Eat Defeat and a full nelson slam for a two-count. An attempt at Fall from Gracie is shoved off as Ligero rolled up Gracie for a near-fall – and another enziguiri allows commentary to continue to tease that Gracie could get knocked out.
Instead, he sits down on a sunset flip and stars a see-saw effect for a load of near-falls, before Ligero countered a Fall from Gracie into a big forearm. Gracie slips out of a backslide, only to get met with a cutter and a Mexican Wave… but somehow Gracie kicked out at two, which seemed to be the cue for Rory Coyle to head back out. Likewise, Bás Bán waddled out as the ref was distracted, but Gracie stopped the masked guy from waffling Ligero with a chair!
Ligero kicks the chair into Bán, before Gracie accidentally knocked Coyle off the apron… but in the end a missed C4L allowed Gracie to hit the Fall from Gracie and book his spot in the final. This was really good in parts – having Alex Gracie eliminate outside interference early on was a good thing for those who care about credibility (especially given how he was used elsewhere at the time). However, it does mean that we get Gracie/Aisu in the final, and I sense shenanigans. ***½
After the match Gracie shakes Ligero’s hand and I guess babyfaces himself?
We get another Saliva music video, this one set to “Always”, recounting the Rogues Gallery’s search for a win… which continues in our next trios match.
Ace Athletic (Ace Matthews, Benji the Waterboy & Sid Scala) vs. Rogues Gallery (Leon Mercer & Stan Kellett) & Screwface
Ace Matthew’s gimmick has now morphed into that of a grating loud-mouth, totally dropping any hints of a good guy. Especially when he openly baits Hartlepool after its football team was relegated from the Football League…
Ace introduces his stand-in tag partner for the day – Sid Scala (someone who can best be described as wrestling’s answer to Only Fools and Horses’ Del Boy), complete with the faux sheepskin coat and flat cap. Matthews was perturbed by Scala’s lack of size, whilst I’m more confused as to why the Rogues Gallery would pick Screwface as a partner. He’s not exactly shown himself to be on the side of the good guys everywhere else…
The Rogues Gallery have new gear, but the matching tights and singlet combo somehow makes them blend into their surroundings. Anyway, we get going with Benji trying to run away from Screwface, before we finally get started with Ace Matthews and Leon Mercer, with Mercer’s early dropkick getting him a two-count.
Kellett comes in next with a headbutt for a near-fall, before Screwface tagged back in… sending everyone else scurrying away. So we go back to Mercer and Sid Scala, with the Savvy one taking a beating as he’s double-teamed… whilst commentary mentioned that Scala had recently wrestled Vader. Yeah, we’re trying to erase those memories of last summer! Scala misses with a crossbody before being blind tagged by Benji… who tried to mount Kellett with a sleeperhold, which actually worked. Once Scala dropkicked the knee out as the smarmy bad guys took over. Saying that, I’m not too sure how effective it was to have the smaller pair stamping on Kellett in the corner…
An eye rake from Scala keeps Kellett at bay in the corner, before Ace picked up a near-fall as Kellett was kept as far away from a tag as possible. A missed splash from Scala gives Kellett some hope… and he finally tags in Screwface to clear house with clotheslines. Matthews and Scala get slammed onto each other, before Screwface almost slipped off the middle rope into a clothesline.
Benji misses when he tries to trip Screwface in the ropes – but manages to recover before he’s dragged into the ring by Screwy. Scala and Matthews beat down on Screwface as the brief 3-on-1 is quickly thwarted, ending with a ripcord big boot by Screwface to Ace. Scala tries to interfere and attack Screwface with his own chain, but that’s stopped… as Screwface no-sells a water bucket shot from Benji.
Yeah, the ref had his back turned for… reasons. Screwface picks up his chain and threatens the waterboy with it until Leon Mercer comes in to try and talk sense into Screwface. Kellett shoves Screwy, and that just makes him snap as Screwface hits ripcord big boots on both of his partners, and that’s a no-contest. Err, why? There’s been plenty of cases where someone’s turned on their partner and it’s not been the decision… still, it means that the Rogues Gallery are still looking for a W, and Screwface… fresh meat? **¾
Benji nearly gets decapitated with a bucklebomb after the decision before Scala and Matthews left him for dead as Screwface took a piledriver for afters.
We’re backstage next with Prince Ameen and his 3CW North East title. He’s defending the belt in June against an “international star”… Grado. Ah yes, I’d forgotten that. Ameen doesn’t like that Grado’s popular because he makes people laugh, before calling himself the Big Dog. Boo… wait, kneejerk reaction!
Another music video follows for the 3CW on demand service, which is now a series of clips looping at an increasing pace as opposed to a long series from a match.
Backstage again now with Gabriel Grey outside Alex Gracie’s locker room. Gabe’s proud of Gracie for becoming a soldier… but he reminds Gracie that “foot soldiers lay down their lives for the glory of their generals”. Ooh, they’re teasing a fingerpoke of doom! Gracie, predictably, isn’t happy with that…
Sons of Ulaid (Rory Coyle & Bás Bán) vs. Gabriel Kidd & Kid Richie
Coyle and Bán were introduced as part of Damned Nation, who again had Gabriel Grey with them at ringside. This group’s a little overexposed on this show now, and they’re in the main event too, so… yeah.
Kidd and Richie were billed as the “Kidd Connection” on the entrance caption, but received separate entrances, and still found time to take a couple of selfies with fans as they went around the ringside area. They’re jumped by the Sons of Ulaid, but recover to take down Coyle and Bán with dropkicks… something that Bán clapped for as he seemed really happy at that. Ah, the demonic simpleton!
Richie hits the pair with a tope before Coyle’s thrown back into the ring as Kidd and Richie take shots at him. Coyle’s takes a scissor kick to the back of the head for a near-fall, before Richie and Kidd combined to hit a flip senton/legdrop combo for a near-fall. Usually in the veteran/rookie team, it’s the rookie who’s doing the flippy stuff, but this is a nice change. Richie keeps up the offence with a running Blockbuster to a sitting Coyle, who squirms out of an O’Connor roll as Richie stopped short of Bás Bán… which means that the masked man has a chance to attack him from behind before he’s tagged in. Simpleton clapping follows, as Bán works over Richie in the corner with the help of Coyle.
Coyle enjoys a little offence on Richie as the Damned Nation pair run roughshod, whilst commentary talks up the idea of Damned Nation having their own promotion. Didn’t they run some shows under that name back when 1PW was a thing? I digress… Anyway, Bán tries to slam Richie, but he works free and tags in Kidd as Bán and Coyle end up losing despite having a two-on-one advantage.
For those who don’t like me calling Bán a simpleton – take aim at commentary as they flat-out called him stupid here, although I doubt that a genius would be able to avoid some corner chops. The Gabriel Kidd comeback continues with a flying clothesline to Bán, before taking Coyle into the ropes with a drop toehold so Richie could hit the 01642. Or the 619 to those who aren’t familiar with area codes…
The Sons of Ulaid bounce back though, shoving Kidd into the corner to crotch Richie on the top rope, and that’s where the Damned Nation quickly get the win as Bán’s gutwrench suplex to Kidd was followed up with a slightly off DDT for the win. This was quite enjoyable – it’s clear that Kidd’s being positioned for something, but there were spells where his inexperience poked through at inopportune times. Overexposure aside, this part of the Damned Nation works. ***
Gabriel Grey stayed in the ring as the 3CW title tournament final was next… he orders ring announcer Stevie Aaron out of the ring to get the title belt, as Grey’ll be handling the announcements – during which he really hypes up Dragon Aisu as the next champion.
Gracie comes out to no music, which is the best he’s ever fit the Damned Nation up to this point. He looks extremely pensive, almost reluctant, as commentary all but tells us this is going to be a screwjob. This is now under “Damned Nation Rules”, which is effectively no-DQ, as Aisu and Gracie are made to shake hands.
3CW Undisputed Championship Tournament – Final: Alex Gracie vs. Dragon Aisu
Grey pulls rank and orders Gracie to lie down for Aisu… but the Sons of Ulaid head out as Gracie refuses. Faced with the prospect (hah) of a 4-on-1 beating, Gracie disrobes, then puts himself on the mat.
Aisu gets the cover, but Gracie sits up at two, before laying down as Aisu threatened a belt shot. Another kick out means Gracie gets that belt shot, but he again kicks out, just in time for El Ligero, Gabriel Kidd and Kid Richie to hit the ring and clear away the Damned Nation.
A superkick from Ligero puts down Aisu, who then gets up with the belt so he can hit Gracie again… but he ducks and schoolboys Aisu for a near-fall! Gracie dis-arms Aisu, but it leads to a ref bump, then a belt shot from Gracie, who gets the world’s slowest two-count from the ref.
Aisu drops Gracie with a low blow before hitting the Headlock Driver… but the ref’s still groggy, and so Gracie is able to kick out just in time. Another Headlock Driver is teased onto the belt, but Gracie switches it into the Fall From Gracie, and that’s enough to win him the title! Not much of a match, but it told the story of Gracie giving the proverbial middle finger to the Damned Nation. *
Gracie celebrates with the title – along with Gabriel Kidd, Kid Richie and El Ligero. So I’m guessing that his refusal to go along with orders was the face turn? Well, he stood out like a sore thumb in the Damned Nation, so this is by default a better option!
This show had two things going for it – the one-night tournament finals, and that Damned Nation self-contained storyline. I’m actually glad that they didn’t go through with the Fingerpoke of Doom-ish finish, and break away from the Damned Nation-rules-all story that could have been fresh in a “what’s old is new” style… but actually sets up for something much more intriguing given that Alex Gracie will more than likely have to fight through his former stable mates to keep the title. I tell you what though… hearing chants of “Alex Gracie” without any other suffixes is really odd!
3CW’s Enthrone was a much better card than their Christmas show, and they’re on the right path. Running on a bi-monthly (ish) basis, 3CW’s yet another option for a part of the UK that had been experiencing a wrestling drought… and whilst 3CW isn’t likely to grab too many headlines, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable slice of the scene that ought to get some more eyeballs on it. Next up for them was June’s “Revolt” show, which keeps several themes going, before their July show in Middlesbrough which bizarrely features the likes of Matt Riddle and Jeff Cobb. I say bizarrely, because once you become used to seeing names like Ace Matthews and the Rogues Gallery, those two are hardly names you’d expect to be anywhere near a 3CW bill. But it happened.