3CW made their Darlington debut back in June, as they presented their most loaded card since their reboot.
This is apparently 3CW’s 100th ever show… and it opens with a series of to-camera promos building up matches for tonight, including Prince Ameen vs. Grado. Oh boy. We’ve also got Alex Gracie making his first defence of the 3CW title.
Ace Matthews, Amir Jordan & Benji the Waterboy vs. Rogues Gallery (Leon Mercer & Stan Kellitt) & Liam Slater
Ace Matthews continues his obnoxious act by thanking the crowd in Hartlepool. Except they’re in Darlington… it’s not quite New York/Boston, but it’s quite the insult. He begs for a big thumbs up on Facebook, but is more likely to get the angry face.
Ace has made a cake to celebrate the 100th show. Yeah, we all know what’s going to happen, right?
This time, Ace is joined by Amir Jordan who’s left Prince Ameen for this. Eh, it’s an upgrade! Speaking of an upgrade, Liam Slater’s got his old music back, so he can do the Vengabus. Benji the Waterboy starts out against Stan Kellitt, and doesn’t do so well in a chop battle, as an argument with he and Ace almost cost his team the match early on.
Kellitt works over the arm for a spell before bringing in Mercer as the Rogues worked over Ace with some good double team offence. Benji gets knocked off the guard railing by Mercer, but that puts Ace in front, before both men tagged out as we went to Liam Slater and Amir Jordan… who did the finger dance. Yeah, that leads to a dance off – which was still somewhat in vogue then!
Of course, this leads to Stevie Aaron sounding the whitest he’s ever sounded… as the good guys do the 2 Cool dance, with referee John Myers playing the role of Rikishi, Thankfully, fully dressed…
The bad guys jump the dancers as they threaten to use the water bucket, but Jordan stops them as the bad guys still stay in control regardless. Jordan’s hammerlock keeps Slater at bay, before Ace’s suplex gets a near-fall. Eventually looks set to make a tag out, but the Ace Athletic pair of Matthews and Benji pulled the Rogues Gallery off the apron, so the “Lazarus Kid” is forced to stay in.
Finally Slater makes that tag out, with Kellitt taking down Ace with a pair of clotheslines before a side Russian legsweep/clothesline combo gets the Rogues a near-fall. Matthews comes back with a back suplex, but Kellitt tags in Slater… whose crossbody counts for nought as Benji’s got the ref distracted. That lets Ace get the water bucket, and a shot to Liam’s head with it gets Matthews the win… with Amir Jordan completely nonplussed by the dirty tactics.
That was a pretty satisfying opener, considering 3CW’s target audience. Decent in-ring work, and enough to keep the crowd interested too. **¾
After the match, James R. Kennedy slow claps on the video screen for the Rogues Gallery. Apparently Kennedy;s the new “managing commissioner of 3CW operations during live events”, and even he takes the piss out of how unwieldy that name is. It’s the closest we’re going to get to having a Director of General Managing Commissioner, I guess… Kennedy notes that they’re winless in 3CW, but they’re going to be given a pass into the 3CW tag team title tournament which starts in July. With one caveat – if they don’t make the finals, they’re gone from 3CW.
You know, for a Scotsman who’s supposedly living in Orlando, Kennedy’s awfully concerned with the wrestling scene in the North East of England, eh?
Next up is Stevie Aaron and Mike Groom – this time seemingly somewhere in the venue as opposed to the green screen. They discuss Kennedy’s new role, before previewing the main event, followed by the upcoming match, which gets a music video, with suitably creepy Damned Nation inserts. I swear Gabriel Gray had a distorted sneeze in there… or just tried to do a Linda Belcher impression.
Drake vs. Kid Richie
You know, in the current climate in 2017, the Damned Nation’s opening line “we do away with your kind” is a little touchy… Drake’s out with Gabriel Grey, Rory Coyle and Bás Bán, and Drake isn’t quite as odd a fit to the Damned Nation as Alex Gracie was. Stevie Aaron on commentary notes that Richie’s on his own as Gabriel Kidd and Chris Whitton aren’t here, so this could easily become a mugging.
Richie eventually gets going with some forearms in the corner, then a ‘rana out of it as he took the fight to Drake in the early stages. We get a ripcord back suplex from Richie – there’s a move that probably didn’t need a ripcord added to it! – but then the interference starts as Bás Bán shoved Richie off the top rope.
Drake keeps control for a spell, driving knees into Richie’s midsection as he looked to put the veteran down, and of course, there’s more interference from the masked simpleton on the outside. Richie fights back from an abdominal stretch, but is quickly put in place with a tiltawhirl backbreaker, before Drake busts out a Liger-esque Romero special!
A fightback from Richie leads to a satellite DDT on Drake, which prompts Gabriel Grey to try and involve himself… but the distraction backfires as Drake misses a charge into the corner and takes a Sliced Bread #2! Rory Coyle and Bás Bán then try to get involved in front of the ref, but fail, as a flying sunset flip off the top is enough for Richie to sneak the win! This was Keystone Cops stuff with the Damned Nation, who were able to get some digs in but not do the job as Drake’s losing streak continued. A decent, basic match, but this crowd isn’t biting to any of the Damned Nation’s stuff it seems. **½
A Prince Ameen video follows, and yes, I’ve got to try and not be judgmental here…
3CW North East Championship: Grado vs. Prince Ameen (c)
We’re sticking with indy canon here, as Grado was the happy, hand-slapping babyface – as opposed to the bad guy he briefly was in ICW. Ameen grabs a tiara from someone in the crowd, to keep the Princess Ameen gag going, and Grado’s going all DX as he crotch chops Ameen as he poses to the crowd.
Grado’s got his own belt – the bum belt (or the “fanny pack”, as he called it here) – and they pose with their straps to boos and cheers. Yeah, it’s going to be one of those matches, and we start with a teased belt shot from Ameen, who misses and finds himself struggling with a wristhold. He ducks attempted punches to escape, then playfully chops Ameen to the mat…
Ameen’s clotheslined to the outside, where the chops continue, as Grado then offers Ameen up for some chops from the crowd… whilst one kid just opts to thump Ameen repeatedly in the gut. A woman in the front row gets a kiss from Grado as the meet and greet went a little too far, before Ameen rolled away from a big splash, only to take a regular splash for a very quick two-count.
Ameen tried to give Grado a German suplex, but he can’t get him up. Because he’s too fat, geddit? Except commentary tells us that both men weigh the same, so… I don’t get it? A butt bump frees Grado from another German suplex attempt, before he leaves the ring to watch Ameen run the ropes until he collapses through exhaustion.
For some reason, despite noticing Grado was in the front row, Ameen starts running again, and collapses again. So Grado leaves his seat and goes back to try and snatch the win… or rather, deliver CPR. Ameen kicks out at two, and then we get the world’s most telegraphed ref bump as Ameen pulls off an airplane spin that sends the official flying.
With the ref down, Ameen pulls out a toothbrush. Oh, the perceived violence! Instead, Ameen shoves the brush into his armpits, then his groin, then finally his arse crack, before he tries to force Grado to use it. Of course, that’s blocked, and Grado grabs it… before shoving the brush into Ameen’s mouth!
The R-Grado follows, but the referee is still kneeling, so the visual cover doesn’t count. Ameen grabs his belt as Grado checks on the ref… but the belt shot’s ducked, and Grado uses it instead. A second ref pops in, and John Myers counts the pin… but yes, it’s a Dusty Finish. Original Ref saw the belt shot, and disqualifies Grado. Your milage is going to vary, but this was exactly what I expected, and not in a good way. *
Things take a turn after the match when Ace Matthews and Benji the Waterboy hit the ring to console Grado. They’ve got the cake that Ace made, and you can guess where this heads. Ace wants Grado in Ace Athletic, and even offers him the entire cake… before making a fat joke. Apparently Grado’s got to lose some weight before he can have it all… and in the background, Liam Slater, Amir Jordan and the Rogues Gallery come out to surround the ring. In the end though, Grado shoves Ace’s face into the cake, before Benji takes a Rock Bottom into what’s left – something that Mike Groom on commentary sells like death.
A video announces their July event… featuring Matt Riddle and Jeff Cobb?! Yep, 3CW’s Midsummer Showdown has some names that you really wouldn’t expect.
We’re back to Stevie and Mike at the commentary table, and they build up the next match, which is the first time they’ve had a women’s match since their reboot. It’s for the Pro Wrestling EVE title too, as Aaron tells us how Sammi Jayne won the vacated title in a tournament at Bethnal Green’s Resistance Gallery. We even ge video of it all – the first time you’ll see me on any 3CW shows! It also says something when 3CW has any sort of video package of that tournament before EVE did…
Pro Wrestling EVE Championship: Jetta vs. Sammii Jayne (c)
This was Jetta’s first appearance in 3CW for over a decade – having last appeared in June 2006 in a trios match. Commentary is at pains to point out that they’re not making the women’s division a “sub-division” or that they’re not going to look down upon it.
Sammii clubs Jetta with a forearm… then falls for a misdirection as Jetta’s got her nose! Hey, it seems to work in Darlington, as Sammii runs into the corner and pratfalls over Jetta for a near-fall, who followed up with a tiltawhirl into as mall package as those pinning attempts kept coming.
It’s all Jetta here, as she chops Sammii in the corner, but Jayne sidesteps another charge and snaps back in with a suplex as the pace started to quicken. A diving double knee drop squashes Jetta for a near-fall… and the champion firmly gets herself in the driver’s seat from there, racking up the near-falls as she kept Jetta down on the mat.
Jayne misses a dropkick and a crossbody as Jetta fires back in, landing an Exploder before chopping Jayne hard in the corners. A backcracker gets Jetta another two-count, as does a dropkick to a hung-up Jayne, but Jetta tries to get in a Cobra Clutch…and at the second try, Jayne counters by lifting her into a Samoan driver for the win. That was decent in parts, but did have moments where it felt a little clunky. Still, not a bad debut as champion for Sammii Jayne. **¾
Chris Renfrew vs. Screwface
This was “unsanctioned”, which was basically no DQ or no count-outs… which begs the question, why do these guys have music, a referee, an entrance, etc? Sure they threw in “3CW won’t be held responsible”, but I’m guessing that John Myers (as ref) would have some responsibility in kayfabe land if things went south?
Renfrew’s brought a trough of weapons out with him… whilst Screwface just has his spikey shoulder pads and what I can best approximate to a lunchbox. They start by trading blows, and of course, the ref shouldn’t be involving himself… but almost out of habit he tries to take them out of the corner before stopping himself. Back-and-forth blows led to Screwface booting Renfrew, before he throws the Scotsman into the ringpost.
Renfrew replies by throwing a chair at Screwface, before trying for a Pedigree on the floor… only to get back body dropped on the padding. Chairs get thrown at Renfrew as commentary tells us that the padding is more or less just for decoration before Screwy uses one of the ring crew to throw at Renfrew, who hits back with a back suplex on the floor, before suplexing Screwface into a chair!
After he ducks a Singapore cane shot, Screwface powerbombs Renfrew onto the apron, only for a chairshot from the Scotsman to swipe away Screwface as he dives out of the corner… and somehow that’s only good for a two-count. So Renfrew uses the chair to beat Screwface down, only for an attempted whatever onto a chair to get countered as a back body drop plants the Scotsman.
Screwface gets the chair next for more shots to the back, before he’s thrown into a chair in the corner by Renfrew… and this is quickly becoming a match where purists are going to sob into their hands as weapon shots get devalued. A stunner gets a near-fall for Renfrew, before a second is blocked as Renfrew’s shoved chest-first into the turnbuckles before a series of knees and boots get Screwface the win. That was a rather abrupt end, but a decent enough brawl – especially given the auspices of a family-friendly promotion. **¾
Elimination Match for 3CW Championship: Dragon Aisu vs. Martin Kirby vs. El Ligero vs. Alex Gracie (c)
Of course, Aisu has the rest of Damned Nation menagerie with him at ringside. Kirby’s suddenly a good guy in 3CW world, as commentary mentioned his time as “Mr Bad Attitude” is in the past, which means we’ve got three good guys against Aisu, since Gracie’s heel turn in WCPW a week earlier wasn’t carrying over into this dimension.
Everyone messes around with ring gear, as the ref’s made to wear Ligero’s cape and Gracie’s sparkly jacket, before he does the Prospect strut and dab. Yeah… that’s for the house! Gabriel Grey demands that Alex Gracie be disqualified because the ref was blatantly biased, and that’s the cue for Aisu to peddle the Tracy Smothers inspired shtick. It gets a reaction from the kids, so the only intake of air was me yawning…
Aisu threatens to go to the back, but instead he goes for Stevie Aaron on pseudo-commentary as these guys have time to kill. It seems this elimination match is under tag rules too, and we eventually get going with Kirby grabbing the wrist of Gracie as they wrestle to begin with. Despite what commentary said, it looks like Kirby’s still playing the bad guy as he and Ligero go at it, before Aisu’s tagged in… only to take a dropkick to the back as Aisu quickly tags out to Gracie.
Gracie and Ligero flash through teases of their finishes, but they’re avoided and we get a handshake as we then have tags out to Kirby and Aisu. The pace slows down, but once Aisu chops Kirby, Ligero drops off the apron… but Kirby’s able to shove Aisu into Ligero for an accidental tag. Hey, they’re finding ways to keep Aisu out of the match, which is something I won’t argue about.
Kirby shakes the hand of Aisu as he tags back in to wrench away on Ligero’s neck, before Kirby returns to pull off the stalling suplex… eye poke on the Mexican Sensation. It settles down into Aisu and Kirby exchanging frequent tags as they wore down Ligero, who finally outsmarts them and brings in Gracie, who levels Kirby with a leaping knee and a short-arm clothesline. A leg lariat out of the corner – a la the Rough Ryder – gets a two-count, as does the Eat Defeat/Sole Food on Kirby.
Kirby shoves away from the Fall From Gracie and forces another accidental tag, but Ligero’s first move is to hit a Code Red for a near-fall as the action kept up at a rather brisk pace. A C4L is blocked and met with an enziguiri as Kirby looked to have turned the tide, but a forearm into a rope-hung uranage leaves him on the mat… only for Aisu to shove down a Mexican Wave attempt and tag himself in.
Aisu tries to shove the ref into the way of Ligero’s C4L, but the bump’s avoided… only for Aisu to punt Ligero low and hit his headlock driver as Ligero’s the first man out! So Alex Gracie’s pretty much two-on-one down now, but he goes toe-to-toe with Aisu briefly before Kirby attacked him from behind. There’s further interference as Drake chokes Gracie as Aisu and Kirby had the ref tied up… but it’s not too long before Kirby gets shocked with a roll-up as Gracie takes us down to a rematch from the tournament final!
Gracie’s eagerly awaiting that – despite all of Damned Nation circling the ring… and of course, they climb up onto the apron to provide multiple distractions. Aisu tries to order Gracie to lay down, but – ever the valiant babyface – Gracie fights through, and sends the Damned Nation packing… and even sidesteps Drake’s charge as Drake takes out the rest of the crew… who are then ejected from ringside. All that’s missing there was the Benny Hill saxophone track!
Gracie leaps into Aisu with a knee as Damned Nation went to the back… but the ref’s not watching as Aisu gets a low blow and headlock driver… only for Gracie to kick out at two! Aisu starts a strike battle, which Gracie wins out with some machine gun chops, before a diving knee gets another near-fall.
Aisu fights the Fall From Gracie and counters into a crossface in the middle of the ring, but Gracie holds on through the “lift the arm” check and makes his way to the ropes to force the break. Gracie nearly snatches the win with a schoolboy as Aisu argued with the ref, and we end up with a ref bump as Aisu shoved out of the Fall From Gracie, sending the champ clattering into the official.
Another low blow – in slow motion – was blocked as Gracie hit one of his own, then a full nelson slam… but there’s no ref. I absolutely loathe that spot when babyfaces do it – especially if they were responsible for the ref being down. Gracie looks to the ref, but Aisu’s gotten the belt… and that’s a belt shot! This time, there’s no chance of a Dusty finish, but Gracie still kicks out! So Aisu kicks the ref down again…
Gracie ducks a second belt shot, and gets in the Fall From Gracie – just in time for the ref to turn around and make the count! Alex Gracie retains… and that was a fun four-way that I was not expecting. Yeah, it slowed down a bit in the final fall, but even then it was an enjoyable match that helped solidify Gracie as the guy to beat in 3CW. ***½
At this point I’d argue that Aisu probably shouldn’t be booked if he’s away from the title picture – but having seen the line up for July (and the advertised cards for the future) it seems that is the case. Whether that means the Damned Nation reverts to being a Keystone Cops-esque group with Drake and the Sons of Ulaid remains to be seen…
On the whole, this was a pretty solid 3CW show – one that kept things in place ahead of the following month’s megashow in Middlesbrough. I still don’t know how they managed to get Jeff Cobb and Matt Riddle on the same bill, but it happened!
In an era where indy wrestling is notoriously light on storylines, I’m enjoying the slow burn with the Rogues Gallery – although the new stipulation of them having to win on the next show or be done kinda means that that’s going to come to a head sooner rather than later.
- 3CW Revolt is currently available to stream via the HighSpots Wrestling Network, or via 3CW’s own On-Demand service.