Lucha Forever Dawning of Forever
April 17 2017
We’re in Birmingham, England, for the first Lucha Forever show. Magic Mark Adams and Harvey Dale. We have a 400 sell-out but more importantly we’re live on FloSlam.
HOPE Wrestling King of Flight Championship
Kip Sabian (c) vs. Ashley Dunn vs. Kelly Six
Sabian tries to make a name for himself right off the bat, christening himself “your girlfriend’s favourite wrestler”. He also calls this match a “spot fest”. Sabian heads into the crowd to ask for other potential opponents, including Mo Chatra, which makes me laugh. One of the ‘fans’ volunteers and the fans chant “let’s go That Guy”. Which is the name he’s introduced as. “That Guy”. This has a lot in common with lucha. In that they do lots of flips that look terrible. “That Guy” is a skinny kid in a t-shirt. He looks like he literally got hauled in from the crowd. Some of the bumping and spots are outright bad. Six and Dunn do some decent tag spots but in general the standard of wrestling is poor. Maybe not so much the high spots but the transitions are ugly and they struggle to give off a facial expression beyond ‘mentally preparing to hit a spot’. When they get stuck into the pre-planned sequences, and of course there’s a fucking Canadian Destroyer, the match is significantly better. Sabian pins “That Guy” after Ashley Dunn’s Destroyer.
Final Rating: **
Alex Windsor vs. Toni Storm
This promises to be a significant improvement. Windsor is Ryan Smile’s other half and he’s one half of the creative team so it makes sense that she’s booked here. Dahlia Black, with a crutch, jumps Toni on her way to the ring. Clearly blaming Toni for her broken leg at Progress. Which means we’re assuming this Lucha Forever universe exists in the same reality as Progress. Toni gets counted out. Is that legitimately the match? With Storm injured Nixon Newell turns up to wrestle.
Alex Windsor vs. Nixon Newell
Having bad matches must be catching because Nixon makes a couple of mistakes right at the start. It’s Alex who brings balance to the match by slowing it down and heeling it up. It takes the pressure off Nixon beautifully and gives her a little time to gather herself together.
Then they slowly build back up again and the match is tidy. The aim is clearly to get Windsor over by using Nixon’s popularity, and departure, as a means to that end. Windsor kicks out of the Shiniest Wizard and hits the Canadian Destroyer for the pin, adding insult to injury. Hang on, the first two matches had the same fucking finish! What the hell? I get the move theft but when the first match finished as it did they surely should have switched to the Shining Wizard. Surely.
Final Rating: **1/2
Post Match: Nixon puts Alex over, thus wrecking her heel character because moments after flipping the crowd off Alex is weeping openly and hugging her opponent. “You can break that fourth wall every once in a while” says one of the commentators. This is literally the promotions second match. Third if you include the one before it that didn’t officially start. This is Nixon’s last UK Indie show so she gets another standing ovation and that’s entirely appropriate but the angle made a mess of the actual match.
Omari vs. Jigsaw
If you want to make up for dodgy booking then hire Omari and I’ll get distracted by his broad grin and passion for the business. There’s nothing quite like the Fight Club Pro spirit. Seeing him outside of the Fixxion is a bit odd and he looks almost ungainly at times. He is, of course, very inexperienced and Jigsaw covers for any issues by making the youngster comfortable. This allows Omari to work his way back into the match and his class shines through. His bridging fisherman suplex is beautiful. He has power moves, strikes and he’s agile and he can bump. Fight Club Pro bring through some terrific talent. Jigsaw gets caught coming off the top and ended with the O-Zone (End of Days). Omari looks better every time I see him. This was especially true here where he looked a little off the pace to begin with and settled into a rhythm, getting back into his game.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Sami Callihan vs. Will Ospreay
Sami is in no mood to get overshadowed by Ospreay and starts hard and fast.
While Callihan has issues as a worker his appearance here, combined with Ospreay’s star power, marks a switch in pace for the show. Everything before this was moderately paced and sensible. This is crazy dives and breaking chairs. Sami has this spot where he runs around the ring and Ospreay chases him. I’ve never seen anyone mess with Callihan’s running around the ring spot. I appreciate the hard-cam guy pulling the shot on Ospreay doing the Rainmaker pose. That’s very cool. Obviously an Okada fan. Callihan rather ruins the effect by completely no selling the Rainmaker. He didn’t even bump it. Ospreay is a man with a huge arsenal of spots and if the opponent can keep it, it’s usually a great match, almost by default. Sami can keep up and he’s capable of taking the bumps, just as Wil is capable of trading with him. The match takes a turn for the strange when Sami accidentally pulls Will’s trunks down to reveal “Uptown Funkers” trunks on underneath.
He is predictably perplexed by this turn of events. A dance off? Huh? Ospreay drags Shay Pursor into a lariat with an invisible whip. Turnaround is fair play and Sami uses Shay as a weapon. Shay seems to be doing a lot of dives for a referee! Shay gets into it with Sami and Ospreay switches places with him. Shay hits a senton and Will counts the pin. Shay Pursor beats Sami Callihan. Wait. What? Crowd chant “you deserve it”. This was peak ‘Will Ospreay fucking around’ stuff. The locker room empties out in a conga line around the ring in an attempt to get Sami Callihan to dance. He ends up doing the tango with Ospreay.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Fight Nation Championship
Mark Andrews (c) vs. Chris Ridgeway
This is from a completely different show. They decide to spice up the intermission by showing a match instead of nothing, which is an interesting tactic. This was the main event of the Fight Nation show in Canterbury from way back in February. It’s a jarring experience as the audio and action are not synced up at all and sometimes the audio echoes loudly. It’s a pity because the match ticks along nicely and Ridgeway isn’t far from becoming a breakout star. Ridgeway does a solid job of controlling the pace, feeding Andrews his comebacks when he feels the Welshman deserves them and generally being a dickhead. I really enjoy Ridgeway, especially as a heel. Sometimes you need that contrast to make guys like Andrews feel special. He provides it, in spades. As the match rumbles on it occurs to me that this is quite a long intermission. I wonder if it was specifically timed to allow this match to air? The match is peaking nicely, with Ridgeway going after the leg, when a ref bump occurs. I’m not a fan of ref bumps. This one allows James Castle to run in and give Ridgeway the title belt. He uses it and Mark still kicks out. What was the point of all that then? They bump the ref again, much to my irritation. Sammy Smooth runs in, to save Andrews from Castle, but instead turns heel and this time the belt shot puts Andrews down for the three. I was enjoying this until the various false finishes and bullshit ref bumps, which totally killed it for me. It would probably be better if the commentary wasn’t three minutes behind throughout too.
Final Rating: **
The intermission continues for a further twenty minutes, giving us an almighty intermission of around forty minutes. When we re-start the ring announcer tells us it’s been fun and that means Chief Deputy Dunne because apparently Lucha Forever exists in the same universe as Attack too.
Chief Deputy Dunne, Chris Brookes & Kid Lykos vs. El Ligero, Drew Parker & Bea Priestley
There is a trios tournament later in the year and this is a qualifier for it. The babyface trio is a truly bizarre line-up. As is picking Dunne to partner Brookes & Lykos when Travis Banks exists. True, it’d ruin the main event but I like logic. Lykos is one of the breakout stars of 2017. He’s got a great character, of a dirty wolf who can’t do a brainbuster, and his team with Brookes has been such a highlight that I think Rev Pro might have erred by not using him. The trios stuff almost all pans out well with Lykos at the heart of everything that entertains.
It’s certainly not the commentary, which stinks during this match. Especially during Brookes’ wet willy spot where he claims he’s done worse but “consensually”. And that was the babyface. Dunne throws himself into his spots to complete a trio of good heel performances. The faces, already a weird unit, are less convincing although I’m pleased that Bea just get on with the intergender stuff without drawing attention to her femininity. Although she’s far better positioned as a heel. Ligero gets to be a star, although it’s the bumps from the heels that make him so. Like Dunne being superplexed to the floor and Brookes getting caught in an accidentally Lykos poison rana. The heels isolate Parker by cuffing Ligero to the ropes and bashing Bea with Dunne’s megaphone. Triple teaming puts Parker down and a fun trios contest is concluded with the better team winning.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Post Match: Joel Allen lays out Damian and calls him a dickhead. The referees on this show are getting over huge. He operation hits Mickey Mouse territory as they announce Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate will in the ring for photo ops after the show.
Toni Storm vs. TK Cooper
Toni is upset she didn’t have a match earlier so she calls out Dahlia, broken leg and all and gets TK Cooper instead. There’s serious issues with antipodean types here. New Zealand shouldn’t be the heels though, surely? Toni is too adorable to be the heel though. TK’s reactions are tremendous. Toni calls him a “little bitch” and his reaction is priceless. It’s a shame for all concerned that TK and Dahlia have to go back to New Zealand with their visas expiring. TK does a marvellous job of bumping around and putting over women’s wrestling, which he’s been doing since he got to the UK. Between his work with Dahlia and his work with Travis he’s managed to do great things for women’s wrestling and tag team wrestling. This is decent throughout with Toni wrestling underdog and TK being a total asshole but somehow justifying himself because Storm broke his girlfriend’s leg. TK knows his wrestling memes and when Toni goes to headbutt him it has no effect because “I’m Samoan”.
Toni brings the Fighting Spirit in incredible ways and ends TK with a piledriver after he spends entirely too long snogging Dahlia in the middle of a People’s Elbow. The graphic helpfully reads “Shane Strickland” when Toni is announced as the winner. Toni drops Dahlia with a piledriver for good measure and that’s not exactly the send-off you’d expect for the poor departing South Pacific Power Couple. Good match though. One in a string of good TK Cooper matches of late.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Post Match: they literally do the raffle on FloSlam. Good lord.
Lucha Forever Championship
Shane Strickland vs. Travis Banks
Shane Strickland comes out to “Ain’t Nobody” by Chaka Khan. I have to respect that. These two had a banger for Fight Club Pro. The chemistry is there from the opening seconds. The whole show has been a bit strange so it’s all built to this being the match to blow-away everything else. Travis being announced as “Fight Club Pro champion” draws a huge “Fight Club Pro” chant.
Travis Banks has been building a reputation as one of Europe’s best wrestlers, even if he’s from New Zealand and Strickland is building that same reputation by leaving the States to prove himself. Shane is in the mood to make himself the star of this promotion from the get-go. This includes a tremendous dive over the rope into a handspring off the apron. The difficulty level of Shane’s work is impressive in it’s ambition but the fact he then nails those spots is even more impressive. I’m struggling to understand how someone as talented as Shane Strickland is part of the US Indie scene and yet is not on the radar of any top tier promotions. Lucha Underground made a canny signing when they picked him up and yet you could argue LU hasn’t been the best place for Strickland, who has a lot of upside. It’s also proof that CZW has become a breeding ground for talent recently. Strickland’s ambition outstrips his body as he develops an ankle issue during the match. It doesn’t appear to be planned and Travis doesn’t pursue the injury. Travis Banks is so good at the little things. Like not looking at the referee when he’s pinned. Even when the match goes wrong, with Strickland out of position for the Slice of Heaven, Travis makes up for it by selling. When you’re able to improvise on the fly, that’s the difference between a good wrestler and a great one. This match is a showcase for both Shane’s wicked moveset and Travis’ capacity to take a beating. Travis Banks is excellent at selling that he’s beaten before that last gasp kick-out. The only issue I take with the match is the double referee bump, which seems to serve little purpose. Slice of Heaven doesn’t get it done but Travis hooks a crossface and that does finish. This match was very exciting and structured to be epic. Travis Banks is going to have to get used to holding belts aloft I suspect.
Final Rating: ****1/4
I’m not sure about Lucha Forever as a promotion. The main event was that of a Super Indie and it was great. Some of the hijinks on the undercard were a bit juvenile but at the same time fun to watch. The ‘lucha’ aspects were there with a trios match and I’m sufficiently interested to see where they go with the promotion that I’ve bought a ticket to their May show. What I would like to see is a reduction in the amount of referee shenanigans. I was fine with Shay Pursor winning a match but then to have Joel in an angle as well and two ref bumps in the main event was overkill. Plus they need to sort out the organisation here, with the first two matches having the same finish. Otherwise it was an enjoyable evening.