3CW Midsummer Showdown
July 21 2017
We’re in Middlesbrough, in the grimy North-East of England. I used to watch a lot of 3CW shows but their recent output has been difficult to fit into my already crowded schedule. However when they got Matt Riddle and Jeff Cobb in for a show. Well, I had to see that. Hosts on commentary area Mike Groom and Stevie Aaron.
Hubba Bubba Lucha vs. Chris Whitton & Kid Richie
I’ve not seen HBL in a long time. This is the semi-final in the 3CW Tag Team Championship tournament. The tag belts have been inactive since the companies first run ended in 2013. The last champions were Chris Cannon and GBH, two local lads mainly based in 3CW. They’ve both stopped wrestling so a tournament is required. Shame really as they could lay claim to one of the longest tag title runs, ever. Everyone is a hand-slapping babyface. Ligero is more famous nationally but Whitton & Richie were the cornerstone of 3CW’s tag team division. The benefit of having a babyface tag is that it doesn’t slip into formula and both teams get the chance to showcase themselves. It’s well paced too, making sure the crowd doesn’t drift away. It’s a good mixture of stuff too. Whitton does a fine job of ‘cleaning house’, Richie works from underneath, Ligero and Bubblegum bring both classy teaming and lucha-inspired high spots. Richie gets the pin with a senton and the local boys advance. Whitton was struggling a bit at the finish but Richie is as good as ever.
Final Rating: ***3/4
Liam Slater vs. Ace Matthews
Ace’s entrance music is “The Touch” by Stan Bush so I naturally love him. Ace is all about the heel heat, at the moment anyway. He gets the crowd riled with his Ace Athletic branding. Liam is a good old fashioned blue-eye. The match is very basic. Slater feels like a speedy technical wrestler who works within himself on these child-friendly promotions. As Ace is content to be all character, it allows Liam to do the same. The match is somewhat clunky, although it occasionally threatens to hit a higher gear. Sometimes it flummoxes commentary when things don’t go according to plan. Ace Athletic use the numbers game to cheat, which is fine by me because I can hear Stan Bush again. The joy of Stan’s dulcet tones echoing around the building while Liam gets a shoeing is literal music to my ears. Martin Kirby makes the save, calling Ace Athletic “dickheads” in the process.
Final Rating: *3/4
Martin Kirby vs. David Graves
Graves was the interfering member of Ace Athletic. He sometimes tags with Ace as “Team Sports”. Kirby is way further along than him. This match has a similar structure to the previous one only with a superior talent in Kirby lifting it up. Graves is one to watch. He proves he can do the basics here but has potential to be better. His timing needs work before he should consider venturing outside of his local area but he also needs matches. It’s a tough decision to make. Ace remains at ringside, cheating, but he gets caught and is ejected. Graves manages to hang with Kirby, highlighting him as a guy who could be useful for promotions looking for fresh blood. The match structure isn’t one of my favourites with a ref bump leading to Ace coming back down. The heels bugger it up, Slater runs in to help and the Sablebomb puts Graves down. I enjoyed this, for the most part, and Graves looks solid. He could use more depth to his gimmick.
Final Rating: **3/4
The Sons of Ulaid vs. The Rogue’s Gallery
This is the other semi-final in the 3CW tag title tournament. Rogue’s Gallery, Leon Mercer and Stan Kellet are youngsters breaking in. I’ve only ever seen them in short squash matches. Sons of Ulaid are Bas Ban and Rory Coyle. They’re more established. Rogue’s Gallery will be out of the promotion if they lose. Sons of Ulaid are part of the Damned Nation stable but Gabriel Grey isn’t at this show and neither is Dragon Aisu. So the youngsters are merely left with an uphill battle against an experienced team and the uncontrollable monster Bas Ban. I really like Coyle. He’s got a good look, which hasn’t been taken from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The young boys take a horrible thrashing. Mercer is roughed up in the ring and Kellet takes a chokeslam on the apron for good measure. The heels collide and Mercer gets a cheeky roll up for their “first ever win”. The stipulation with the Rogues being out of the company if they lost rather telegraphed this upset. It would have been a better match without it.
Final Rating: **1/2
Si Swan vs. Joseph Conners
Swan has been 3CW’s talisman figure after returning to wrestling when the company re-launched. He used to wrestle as Lance Thunder, which was daft when his real name is made for wrestling. He never used to be a big lad but he is now and he overpowers Conners with ease. Conners works heel and seems at ease in the role. Si still has signs of ring rust, after missing a huge four year chunk of action. The match is at its best when they beat the crap out each other. The chops are nicely intense and it allows the bigger, slower Swan to look competitive.
This is another prime example of how much I dislike Conners punches, as they feel completely out of place in the middle of the otherwise intense action. Repeated punches feel fake, especially if they look fake. Also his slingshot DDT always looks dodgy. He struggles with it here because the ropes are a little loose. Conners finishes with a modified version of Righteous Kill because Swan is too tall to take the normal version. This was fine but better when they were going to war. Swan didn’t appear to have the stamina to keep up with that, unfortunately.
Final Rating: **3/4
Matt Riddle & Alex Gracie vs. Jeff Cobb & Rampage Brown
This is the match that got me in the door (technically speaking). Gracie is 3CW’s champion so that why he’s in here but he’s here to prove a point. He wants to show he belongs with the big guns. When Riddle takes his shirt off half of Middlesbrough faint. They don’t have men of that physical calibre up there.
Riddle and Cobb are friends and worked a blinder in Progress not so long ago. They do some antics here but Riddle can switch gears in an instant. He’s so fast and so technically awesome. Riddle isn’t going full bore here though and tags out after Cobb hits him in the face. The two Americans don’t go all-out. If you go in expecting a repeat of their Super Strong Style match you’ll be disappointed but it’s a fine example of how to work in front of a smaller crowd without losing the grip on what makes a star a star. Especially Riddle. Cobb leans slyly heel, taunting Gracie by carrying him just out of reach of a tag. Gracie has good intensity and has potential to be a star in the UK scene but finds himself outsized here. Of course Travis Banks, Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate are all small wrestlers who’ve overcome this. Gracie struggles to impose himself on his larger contemporaries. Riddle does a good job of coordinating everything and getting Gracie into position for cool stuff. Riddle is definitely the star here. His treatment of Rampage is startling. Even when he beat Brown for the Atlas title in Progress he didn’t look this dominant. Gracie, try as he might, can’t get onto Riddle’s level, evident at the finish where they double team. Gracie gets to pin Cobb to legitimise himself. Meanwhile Rampage attacks after the match to create a title contender regardless. This was jolly good. Naturally Riddle and Cobb weren’t doing Electric Ballroom levels of awesomeness but Riddle carried himself like a star so that was enough.
Final Rating: ***3/4
I was at 3CW’s comeback show in 2016 and it felt too kid-friendly. This was a better balance. The storytelling was there. The quality in the ring was better. The two big-name imports didn’t hurt and their quality was hard to get near for everyone else but the opening tag match was superb. That’s the kind of thing that can happen in regional promotions. You can bring in big stars and integrate them with local talent who don’t work anywhere else and sometimes magic can happen. For example Kid Richie is one of the best little wrestlers of the past ten years who you’ve not seen. If it wasn’t for his stature and stint in the armed forces he could have been a huge star in British Wrestling. He’s hardly wrestled at all for a decade and yet he looks like he’s never been away. This show is available on 3CW’s on Demand service but is also on High Spots wrestling network. I’d recommend the opener at the very least and also the main to get a look at Matt Riddle in a different environment to usual. Just to confirm what an absolute star he is.