Tetsujin Beauty in Combat Second Stage
February 9 2018
We’re in Liverpool at Hanger 34. I saw the first Tetsujin show and it was an interesting concept, albeit trailing in the wake of wXw’s AMBITION shows. The best matches on the card weren’t great, they were merely good so I wasn’t particularly hyped for Stage Two but talking to Matt Richards at FCP got me excited to see it, along with hype for Sabre-Starr in the Superfight. Let’s check it out…
Brookes vs. Bird
Banks vs. Omari
Haskins vs. Fletcher
Ridgeway vs. Kollins
No pinfalls, no time limits. Submission or knock out only.
Chris Brookes vs. Mike Bird
I like how the Tetsujin record appears onscreen. So Brookes is 2-1 based on his performances in the first tournament. The crowd was weird for the first Tetsujin show because no one knew how to react and that’s similar here. The crowd is quiet, only responding to strikes when they land or applauding good technique. There are rope breaks in this but each competitor is only allowed three each. Demonstrated ably by Ginger Jesus in the early going. Referee here is the hulking Des Robinson. He does a fine job of not distracting me like Joel Allen or Chris Roberts might. Brookes gets to show off a lot of his technique here, which isn’t always the case in normal wrestling where he goes for more fanciful holds. Here he goes for the kill. Maybe that’s what’s missing from his pro wrestling persona. Bird runs out of rope breaks and Brookes leglocks him to advance. Solid start to the show.
Final Rating: **1/2
Kyle Fletcher vs. Mark Haskins
Haskins is hugely aggressive here, catching Kyle by surprise and almost getting a tap immediately.
Haskins is considerably more creative than Brookes or Bird, transitioning from one submission attempt to another and bending Kyle’s limber Aussie body into all manner of positions. He’s fast, inventive and tenacious. The tournament was made for him. Kyle rarely looks in the fight, which is indicative of his inexperience. The only time Haskins gets into trouble sees him quickly into the ropes. Fletcher uses up all his rope breaks.
There’s a secondary threat though as Kyle tries some defensive kicks and Haskins comes back with some vicious leg kicks of his own. Fletcher just isn’t prepared for this level of ruthlessness. Kyle perhaps sells a little too much for what’s supposed to be a shoot, lingering too long in holds instead of trying to desperately grab the ropes like Haskins did. Eventually Kyle gets knocked out and Haskins advances. Excellent performance from Haskins. Best performance in Tetsujin since Jack Gallagher in the quarter final last time.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Craig Kollins vs. Chris Ridgeway
Kollins might seem like an odd choice but he’s wrestled Ridgeway before so they’re comfortable with each other. Same home town too. Probably known each other for a long time. Kollins gets Ridgeway into position and becomes the first to hit a suplex. It’s all about getting that base and from there it’s all power. Kollins is short and stocky. Perfect for throws. They both try to throw strikes but Kollins adds in an MMA style takedown, which is a nice touch. Kollins seems intent on burning through his energy with impressive power moves. Ridgeway lands a spin kick and poor Des Anderson doesn’t know what to do. He’s out mate! He’s unconscious. Good job this wasn’t an actual shoot! The trouble with Kollins here is he came in trying to look cool and that didn’t make sense. Not in a tournament setting. Plus the ref royally fucked the finish.
Final Rating: **1/4
Omari vs. Travis Banks
This is the last Quarter Final match up. This seems like an ideal setting for Travis Banks (as well as Ridgeway and Haskins). Omari is clearly lacking in experience compared to his opponent.
He does however have a huge size advantage over everyone in this tournament bar Brookes. It’s clear the style of wrestling suits Banks better than Omari. He’s quicker and sees weaknesses. Omari, like Kyle is too focused on making sure he sells stuff, which isn’t what the shoot style is about. With shoot style you have to be subtle in your selling or just tap out. Keep that realism. The approach here isn’t right and it’s a learning experience for Omari rather than a good match and I’m aware Trav kicks the fuck out of him too. So it’s a painful learning experience. The weird thing is that if this was a pro wrestling match, rather than a shoot-style contest, it would arguably be the best match on the card but it doesn’t fit into the setting its in. It feels like it’s from a completely different show and that’s an issue. Like Travis hitting a bunch of suplexes and the Slice of Heaven. Then them treating that as a KO. It’s all very silly. If this was on any other show I would have loved it (around ***1/2) but on this show? No.
Final Rating: *1/2
Mark Haskins vs. Chris Ridgeway
Given how both men attacked their quarter final matches I’m excited for this one. It could easily be the final as I reckon they’re the two guys who know their shoot style and live it. Ridgeway does exemplary work here, almost ignoring Haskins’ speculative early kicks. It gets to the point where I’m asking myself; is this actually a shoot? And that’s good shoot style. The match even incorporates some of the issues with MMA itself, like grinding away in side control and rolling around trying to look for the smallest of openings. It’s why Pro Wrestling is so great. They don’t have to worry about making it look real. They only have to make it entertaining. But in landing that shoot style here Haskins and Ridgeway are entertaining. I wouldn’t recommend having this match in front of a big crowd, or in a big promotion, but it’s fascinating. It’s during this match that the crowd really comes into the action too, chanting for both men and all eyes are glued on this. Haskins is the first to crack and resort to using wrestling style stomps, perhaps out of pure habit.
Then they resort to elbowing each other from their knees, which is a daft pro wrestling spot too. Ridgeway catches Haskins with the big roundhouse and Chris wins via chokeout moment later. Easily the best match of the tournament, only slightly coming apart in the closing sequences.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Chris Brookes vs. Travis Banks
Kid Lykos has been Brookes’ cornerman tonight and while everyone else has a cornerman it’s notable that Lykos seems more involved in the process. Everyone else’s is perfunctory. Travis can’t help himself and starts this off with a John Woo, called by the entire crowd in a beautiful moment.
Travis continues to work a dumb pro wrestling style, goes for Slice of Heaven, and gets caught in an kneebar on the way down for the speedy submission. And that’ll teach you for doing all that flippity nonsense in a shoot!
Final Rating: *
David Starr vs. Zack Sabre Jr
Live reports had this as the outstanding match, which would make sense as neither man has to save energy for another match. Starr is hugely underrated as a technician. His mat skill is incredible. Those expecting Sabre to steamroller him may be surprised. Early exchanges are there to demonstrate parity, to a degree, with Sabre looking for his usual dominance but Starr slipping out of everything.
Sabre freaks everyone out, including Starr, with his ability to be completely fluid. Just sliding around Starr’s leg and not releasing the hold but not being tied down either. It’s terrifying, frankly. Starr does a terrific piece of selling here, trying to shake off a leg kick while at the same time showing how much it hurt. Contrast that to what Omari and Kyle Fletcher were doing earlier and it’s different class. Starr gets to look extremely strong, challenging Sabre on the mat in ways that just doesn’t happen. It forces Sabre into his most creative offence. Starr busts out a few suplexes here but it’s far more realistic than the other instances of it on this show. Mainly because of how lightweight Sabre is. Of course you’d throw him. Sabre gets a bit upset about that and starts into the strikes. The slaps are a delight in this. These guys are swinging for the fences. I love how it pans out with Starr thinking he can take it to Sabre in the stand up, only to get crumpled. Not many people knock Starr about either. It’s a strength of Sabre that often gets overlooked.
Starr gets caught in the end, trying to kick his way out of a kneebar. Sabre grabs his other leg and stretches out that groin too. Instant tap out. Great match. It did occasionally waver away from the purity it was aiming for but I loved the style on show. Especially Starr stepping up to Sabre’s game. Brilliant.
Final Rating: ****1/4
Tetsujin Stage 2 Final
Chris Ridgeway vs. Chris Brookes
It’s a big ask to hold people’s attention with the shoot style for an entire night. Especially as the show peaked with the last match. That said Brookes brings some tremendous counters here to keep the crowd alive. This is Brookes enjoying himself. His pro wrestling style has little bits of shoot style in it but this is Pure Brookes. He sneaks in the Octopus Stretch here, having mentally held off on it all night. Ridgeway perhaps uses a few too many throws here and Brookes is more direct, always looking for the finish.
They throw in a few suplexes but Ridgeway smartly counters one right into the choke and Brookes passes out mere inches from the ropes. Good finish, decent main event.
Final Rating: **3/4
This was an improvement over the first Tetsujin show. They ironed out a few wrinkles and it was a stronger field. The superfight delivered big time with Starr and Sabre understanding exactly what was expected of them. The biggest disappointment was Travis Banks’ night. He came in and had two pro wrestling matches, doing the same things he does in any other promotion. Not wanting to modify his approach to help showcase shoot style. It was a very weird performance. His match with Omari would have been fine in any other promotion but the whole point of Tetsujin is it presents a different kind of wrestling. Maybe he didn’t get the memo.