Thursday, 12 July 2007

The Wrestling Channel International Showdown - DVD Review

This past March, The Wrestling Channel took a massive gamble by bringing over some of the world’s best wrestlers outside of WWE over to Britain. Stars from ROH, TNA and NOAH joined with those from the FWA for International Showdown, held in the Coventry Skydome before a crowd of over 3,000, and released as a two disc DVD set shortly afterwards.
Disc one begins with a promo from the Wonderkid himself, Jonny Storm, Basic hype job for the upcoming four way encounter.

It’s then time for the first bout, as the aforementioned Storm, Spud, Chris Sabin and Petey Williams go up against each other. This is the prefect way of opening the show, a fast-paced, all action affair which leaves you gasping for breath at times. After what seemed like an eternity of break-neck action, Williams picked up the win after taking Sabin out with the Canadian Destroyer piledriver.

Backstage, Tony Giles interviews Spud. Looks like he’s aching like hell. Spud promises to take on his adversaries again.

Next, the match which drew a lot of criticism at the time, as Steve Grey took on “Superstar” Mal Sanders in traditional British rules contest. Despite the bad press this match received, I personally enjoyed this a great deal, and Sanders and Grey showed that despite their advancing years they could still put on a hell of a bout, with Grey winning after a cross body block.

Then it’s time for the legendary Bill Apter to host his “Apter’s Alley” segment, as he attempts to present a lifetime achievement award to Mick Foley. However, the ceremony is interrupted first by Greg “The Truth” Lambert, and secondly by “The Showstealer” Alex Shane. Eventually, Mrs. Foley’s baby boy arrives on the scene, and verbally lambastes Shane and Lambert. After receiving his award and leaving the ring, Lambert and Shane (isn’t that a brand of ciggies?) return to the ring and attack Apter from behind. A nice segment here, but a little too long. Where’s my wrestling, dammit?

Then, we (finally) return to action, as two men who tore up Ring of Honor, Samoa Joe and C.M. Punk, go up against each other. Sadly, I haven’t seen either of their sixty minute encounters, so I can’t compare this match to those. But after the previous overlong segment, it was nice to get back to some wrestling, and these two didn’t disappoint. Punk and Joe had the crowd eating out of their hands and put on a clinic, showing just how good these two are, with Joe getting the pin after the muscle buster, after over twenty minutes of great action.

Backstage, Punk reflects on his defeat, and promises he’ll defeat Joe one day. Not while you’re stuck down in Ohio Valley, my friend.

Then it’s on to the disc one extras, which begin with Jack Xavier, Aviv Mayaan and Ross Jordan taking on Mark Sloan, Stevie Knight and Stixx in the dark match. Sadly, no commentary on this one. I guess it wasn’t important enough for that. A good, if somewhat unspectacular bout, with Knight again proving what a comedy genius he is. Mayaan got the winning pinfall, taking Sloan down with a hurricanrana.

Other extras feature two great Q&A sessions with Mick Foley and C.M. Punk, plus exclusive backstage footage and a music video.

Disc two begins with the six man tag that everyone’s been talking about, as Doug Williams, James Tighe and Scorpio take on Mitsuhara Misawa, Tiger Emperor and Yoshinari Ogawa. The hype for this match, as well as the praise, was wholly justified. A great all round match with excellent showings from all six men, with Williams pinning the Emperor after the Chaos Theory suplex. This match earned a standing ovation, and rightfully so.

Backstage, Nick London interviews the winning team. Tighe looks really battered and bruised. The scars of war, I guess.

Back to singles action next, as Alex Shane takes on Raven at his own game. It’s an arena wide brawl as Raven bleeds for his art, and takes the Showstealer to school in what is probably the best Alex Shane bout I’ve seen. As the referee takes a snooze, Mick Foley runs in and helps out with Mr. Socko, before Raven takes the win after a DDT.

Backstage, Nick London gabs with Christopher Daniels. The Fallen Angel appears very confident as he prepares for his title defence.

Then it’s time for the main event, as A.J. Styles tries to regain the TNA X-Division title from Christopher Daniels. So what can I say that hasn’t been said about these two before? This is possibly as near a perfect X-Division match as you’ll find, over twenty minutes of fast paced action from two of the top stars outside of a WWE ring, with Daniels eventually retaining the title after the Last Rites DDT. Need I say any more?

Disc two extras come in the form of a second Styles v Daniels bout from the Irish Whip Wrestling supershow in Dublin the following day. A different style of match here, showing that these two are more than one trick ponies, with A.J. taking Daniels down with the Styles Clash. Secondly, it’s the Shane v Raven rematch, this time with the FWA British Heavyweight title on the line, at the FWA’s War on the Shore show in Morecombe a week later, again fought under Raven’s rules. Another arena wide brawl here, with a different set of toys, some mysterious powder, and Shane retaining the title after a big boot. If I recall, this was probably the best match on a somewhat lacklustre FWA show.

In conclusion - what can I say? This was touted as the biggest show of 2005, and it didn’t disappoint. I know this is going to sound like an old cliché, but every match was worthy of main event status. TWC, with the help of Alex Shane, did a good job of bringing all of this top talent together, and they should be commended for a job well done.

Production wise, very good, although a few of the camera angles were off at times. Commentators Eamon Darcy and Dean Ayass did a very good job of calling the action, and it’s a shame that Ayass wasn’t used in this role when the FWA had their show on TWC. He would definitely have been a lot better than Tony Giles, Nick London, John Atkins and Dan(n) Read combined.