Lucha Forever hit the road again and returned to Manchester for their latest outing – with some fantastic action and an outstanding main event!
You don’t even need to have a Lucha Forever/Pivotshare account to see this show, and you’re getting all six matches… including the Pete Dunne match which many thought would be edited off. “A Mod, A Kiwi and an Assassin Walk Into A Bar” is a particularly unwieldy title, but we’ll go with it. Manchester’s Britannia Sachas Hotel is the venue – a late change, but it didn’t seem to be too big a deal. Rob Maltman’s your MC, whilst the first choice commentary team of Mark Adams and Harvey Dale are also on hand.
Bubblegum vs. Cara Noir
Cara Noir was a late substitution for Chris Ridgeway, as the rematch from the first Manchester show was scrapped. Bubblegum doesn’t seem fazed by Noir, at least until Noir just slapped him in the corner.
Sachas has a load of mirrored columns in the venue, which makes for a rather unusual visual as guys run the ropes… into the mirror and back again. That’s going to make dives rather awkward! Bubblegum’s headscissors take Noir into the ropes, but he evades a 619 and starts begging off… but it’s a trap as an up-kick knocked Bubblegum away. Chops from Noir left Bubblegum reeling, but they’re quickly returned with plenty of force before a suplex gets reversed for a near-fall as Noir starts choking away on Bubblegum. A big long lick gets the crowd – and Bubblegum – riled, as the hometown lad came back with a roll-up into a facebuster for a near-fall on the unusual Cara Noir.
The back and forth continued as Noir landed a superkick for a two-count, before Bubblegum’s springboard roundhouse took Noir into the corner for a tiltawhirl… that he blocked and met with a kiss. Noir tried for a package piledriver, but lost it as Bubblegum landed the tiltawhirl DDT anyways, then a 619 and a Sugar Rush kick for the win. Pretty good fare for the opener – nothing too flashy, but then again, the venue is going to restrict a lot of that. As we’ll see later… ***
Why in God’s name is a commentator wearing a jacket with tassles?!
Hardcore Match: Drew Parker vs. El Ligero
In ATTACK!, Parker is Extremely Confused. Here, he’s the Urchin Prince, and he demands a hardcore match instead. We don’t get regular Ligero at first, as Fat Ligero breaks out from WCPW to Lucha Forever, with a prepared statement for Maltman. Fat Ligero is “an El Ligero” who was sent out to stall while regular Ligero put on his streetfight jeans.
Finally regular Ligero appears in his jeans, and shuffles between the awkwardly-tight gap between the ring and those mirrored columns. Yeah, those mirrors may be at jeopardy!
Parker knocked Ligero off the apron for a tope con hilo as we started out strong, but we quickly suffered the curse of small venue, as the cameras struggled to keep up with Parker getting crotched by a crutch. Try saying that ten times fast! They exchange chops around ringside before heading to the commentary table, then the merch table where Drew took a slingshot to the underside of the table.
They get lost in the crowd as the camera picks them up by the bar as Ligero offered up Parker for some chops from the fans. Eventually they make it to the entrance ramp, where Ligero lands an impressive flip senton off the slightly-raised ramp onto Drew… who pulled out a decorator’s ladder from under the ring to do the Terry Funk spot.
We get a test of strength with the ladder as Ligero gets sandwiched in the corner with it, before a dropkick drove the ladder into Ligero’s, erm, Ligeros. He recovers to cut-off Drew’s hunt for plunder, instead knocking Parker into a seat before a wild Joe Atherton appears to lend a hand… or his wheelchair, in fact, to drive Ligero into Drew. Except the chair malfunctioned, so Ligero just pushed Joe and knocked Drew off his chair… thank God it’s a hardcore match!
A sheet of wood appears in the ring, which the fans note “that’s not a table”, but it gets propped in the corner as Drew goes all violent… and gets backdropped into the table. Which bent, rather than cracked! A hiptoss into the table doesn’t do the job, so Ligero turns the wood around and reacts to a spit by dumping Parker through it with a uranage.
Finally, I am sort-of the table no more!
That gets Ligero a near-fall somehow, so he gets some chairs from the crowd as the pair decide to slug it out from the posh seats. Eventually, Parker gets dumped to the outside and is left hanging in the ropes with a chair as Ligero drags up a load of wet floor cordons ahead of a teased Destroyer. Drew fights free and tries for a death valley driver before instead dumping Ligero into the pile of plastic for a near-fall!
Drew wanders away again and comes back with a shaker bottle full of drawing pins. That’s certainly a novel way of storing them… just don’t confuse them with a protein shake! They get sprinkled on the mat liberally, then tries for a top rope Destroyer… instead Ligero blocks it and gives a belly to belly superplex into the tacks as a pierced Drew takes the fall. Once we got past the crowd-stuff, this was a fun hardcore match – a really odd niche of the death match genre! ***¼
Flash Morgan Webster vs. Will Ospreay
Ospreay’s got new music – which could come in handy in certain promotions if they rescind a particular stipulation. It’s “Elevated” by a band called It Lives, It Breathes, and it’s better than some of the generic tracks that have flooded the scene lately.
Will runs into Webster with a bicycle kick as the pair started going back and forth with forearms as they shot out of the proverbial blocks like a gunshot. Webster tries to dive, but his baseball slide is caught, only to wheelbarrow Ospreay onto the ring apron.
Ospreay shoves him into the ring post before doing a lap of honour en route to a dropkick through the turnbuckles to Webster, who’s then thrown into one of those mirrors. Thankfully, Flash isn’t going to have seven years of bad luck from that! Back in the ring, Webster takes over with a snapping suplex, before landing a snapmare driver for another near-fall… but Ospreay comes back with a handspring into a kick that almost left Webster with a bloodied nose.
A Shibata-esque basement dropkick gets a near-fall, but Webster comes back with a bicycle knee before falling to a corkscrew moonsault for a near-fall. Webster tried something, but had to avoid a Cheeky Nando’s kick before headbutting Ospreay and landing the Brit Pop Drop for a two-count. The pair trade forearms back and forth, followed by a Yakuza kick that rocked Ospreay ahead of a top rope ‘rana that Ospreay flipped out of!
After landing, Ospreay flips out of a clothesline before getting nothing but knees from a corkscrew moonsault – and these two continue to go move-for-move until a tornado DDT allowed Webster to roll Will through into the Strangler… but Ospreay slips over for a near-fall… only for Webster to keep the hold on! Somehow Ospreay powered back to his feet, but his suplex attempt is turned into a ‘rana by Webster as these two continued to out-counter each other!
Webster tries for a Destino, but Ospreay kicks away before hitting a standing Spanish Fly… for a one-count! More kicks to Webster follow, including the Revolution kick, then an OsCutter that dumped Webster onto his head for the win. That was a work of art – and one that was a joy to behold! Plenty of flips, sure, but these two more than matched each other and put on a masterpiece – had the venue not had such a low ceiling, they probably could have done a little more in terms of flips. Nevertheless, this was well worth the watch! ****¼
We get a video package for the Ultimo Battle show in London in October – featuring the UK return of Naomichi Marufuji!
Rob Maltman started talking about how Lucha Forever were having fun in Manchester… and as if he needed any cue, out comes Chief Deputy Dunne! This time he’s accompanied by Detective (April) Davids, with Dunne hoping that she’ll do better than Viper did for him.
Dunne tells us that Toni Storm – who missed the show through injury – was in custody because “using your bum as a weapon is too much fun”. I cracked. Chief Deputy Dunne’ll be providing the law and order for the next match too…
Special Referee: Chief Deputy Dunne; April Davids vs. Bea Priestley
With Dunne still injured, this is the latest stop gap, but at least he’ll not have to face Bea’s sais!
Bea swipes away Dunne’s siren/megaphone gimmick, and tries to rile her up by shoving her, and we get going with David landing an armdrag, only to get caught in the ropes as Priestley followed up with an elbow, then a running knee strike! Dunne claimed it was an illegal knee, but Priestley ran past him and into a back suplex that she landed awkwardly on.
Davids works over Bea’s legs in the ropes, before working over a surfboard stretch as Dunne screamed “give up” using his megaphone. April gave as good as she got with forearms to Bea in the corner, but Priestley came back with a sunset flip that Dunne refused to count for, as Davids went back to that Romero special. A running forearm into the corner keeps the pressure on Bea, but she finally mounted a comeback with a kick to the head, then some forearms of her own, before hauling Davids into a German suplex. Out of nowhere, Priestley rolled Davids off the ropes into a Rings of Saturn, which Dunne tried to break up by blasting Bea with his siren, before she finally reached the ropes.
Davids comes back with a gutwrench suplex after Dunne provided a distraction, but Bea managed to come back with a Cheeky Nando’s as Davids went up for some corner punches. A double stomp was attempted, but missed, with Bea hitting the low roof on her leap down, before she found herself rolled into a knee-bar that was broken up after Bea rolled into the ropes.
Dunne slow-counted the rope break, then tried to cheap shot Bea by rushing at her with the megaphone… but she ducked away just in time for April to take the shot instead. A head kick takes down Dunne as Bea left the Anti-Fun Police laying… a running kick into the corner ended up getting Bea the win as a replacement ref sprinted to the ring to make the count, and that’s how you overcome a heel ref! A fun outing here from Bea and the Anti-Fun Police, and they’re slowly getting past the problem of Bea being a good guy when she’s hated elsewhere. ***
April Davids screamed at Dunne after the match for that miscue, then dumped him on his head with a German suplex. She left with the megaphone gimmick, so hopefully that’s the last we see of that!
Kip Sabian vs. Pete Dunne
Sabian gets some unfavourable comparisons to Chris Brookes, and thankfully he’s interrupted by Pete Dunne – and his WWE theme – before he can say anything else. Peter gets a hero’s welcome in Manchester, and chases after Sabian as he tries to shoehorn his usual promo in here.
Dunne even gets a crutch from a fan to try and use on Sabian, but instead he kicked Kip low and laid him out with a Pedigree as the bell went. Peter gets a drink and spits it out a la Triple H as he leaps into Sabian on the outside, then takes him to a fan to help pull apart his fingers. We get a lengthy shot of the ring rather than anything that’s happening on the floor… before we finally get a visual as Dunne uses that crutch on Sabian, then lifts up a fan to use as a battering ram on “Superbad”.
The referee gets used as a similar battering ram, but the camera crew struggle to keep up with the action taking place behind a mirror’d column. Joe comes into play again, as Dunne wheeled him into Kip before the beatdown continued, with Dunne stomping Sabian’s head into the turnbuckles. Finally Sabian gets back into it with a running knee to Dunne, then with some nose hooking back in the ring. Despite having his fingers bitten, Sabian pulls down Dunne into a grounded Octopus hold as the match entered something of a lull, with a Northern Lights suplex almost winning it for Kip.
Dunne hits back by countering a suplex into an X-plex, but the pair end up going back and forth with shots that left Sabian the worse for wear, until he countered a Bitter End into a DDT. You know you’re back on the indies when people are routinely countering that! A tope attempt from Kip’s caught and turned into an X-plex on the apron as Dunne… just heads backstage randomly.
He returns with “brother” Chief Deputy Dunne, and now I’ve seen everything as he uses Damian as a battering ram for fun. A low-ceiling avoiding double stomp misses as Sabian almost won it with a crucifix driver, but Dunne just zombies back into a series of strikes and sent Sabian flying with a single forearm into the corner.
More back and forth ends with Kip being sent flying with a lariat, before Kip dealt out a trio of forearms. Another one from Dunne rocks him, and all that’s left is the Bitter End as Peter got the win! This was more fun for the live crowd, with the crowd brawling not really working on VOD, but this was all sorts of fun… especially when Dunne dumped the ref after the match with a Pedigree! ***½
Lucha Forever Championship: Mark Haskins vs. Travis Banks (c)
This is only the second time these guys have faced one-on-one, and it was Haskins who was the early aggressor, taking Banks down in search of various leglocks as he tried to neutralise the Kiwi’s kicks.
Banks tried to get a surprise cover with a La Magistral, but Haskins sat on it for a near-fall as the pair remained remarkably even, before they eschewed technical stuff for just kicking the hell out of each other. Haskins turns it up some more, throwing Banks to the outside for a tope, before Banks returned the favour as the tethered cameraman cursed his position.
Banks puts on the brakes on another dive as Haskins hid behind the mirrored column, and then we were back in the crowd as Banks got placed in a chair for a series of chops which were of course returned. With interest! They headed back towards the ring where Banks took a back suplex onto the apron, before Haskins utilised an outside-in dropkick to leave Banks feeling for loose teeth. Haskins then trapped Banks with a version of the Bromission, then a crossface with a knee in the small of the back for extra torque, but Banks refused to give up.
A sidestep to a charge sets up for a Banks comeback, with a backcracker in the corner and a cannonball keeping Haskins down for a near-fall. Eventually Haskins replies to some kicks to the chest with back-and-forth forearms, before scoring with a PK after Banks thought he’d flipped out of a shin-breaker. Banks looked to block a roll-up into a Sharpshooter, but he was caught in a STF instead, before sending Haskins into the corner again with a shotgun dropkick. Some mounted punches and a monkey flip follow from the Kiwi, but his attempt at a Slice of Heaven is caught and turned into an ankle lock before Banks slipped out into the Lion Clutch (Gargano Escape).
The back-and-forth submissions continue with Haskins’ Star Bar attempt, but again Haskins gets out and applies the Lion Clutch as Haskins rolled through into a near-fall. Banks hits a knee, but Haskins rebounds into a roll-up death valley driver, before a superkick misses with Banks hitting a Fisherman driver for another near-fall – these two continued to hit harder and harder, with no end in sight!
Banks looked to finish off Haskins with a buzzsaw kick, then a series of stomps to the back of the head, but the challenger comes back with a knee into the corner, before running into the boot as Banks threw in a shotgun dropkick… then a Coast to Coast! More back-and-forth kicks leads Haskins into a rolled-up Sharpshooter, then a rolled-up death valley driver, but Banks refused to stay down… even after a superkick!
With Banks almost like a ragdoll, Haskins looked to go for another Sharpshooter, but he stopped and went to pick up the belt instead, teasing a belt shot… but he has second thoughts and ends up giving Banks enough time to get back to his feet for a Slice of Heaven for another near-fall. From there, he slipped into the Lion clutch as Haskins’ moment of weakness ended up costing him a marvelous main event that delivered exactly what you expected. ****½
Save for the hardcore match and stuff with Chief Deputy Dunne, the usual Lucha Forever was toned down here – but it didn’t make any difference to this show. Five shows in, and for whatever issues are being presented to the live crowd in terms of venue changes and timings, the final product is certainly looking extremely polished – and fun!
Whilst this show as free via https://luchaforever.pivotshare.com/ at time of writing (which makes me feel like I’ve robbed this group after this show!), and all upcoming shows seem to be being made available via that platform, which’ll be worth dipping in and out of as this group continues on course to its big show in October at London’s Coronet Theatre… although it does seem that their fables trios title tournament still remains somewhat embryonic, it’s not a deal breaker or anything… but it’d be nice to have something finalised with regards to that particular wrinkle.