Thursday, 24 January 2008

The Best Of Premier Promotions - DVD Review

It’s been a while since I’ve taken a look at John Freemantle’s Premier Promotions, one of the oldest companies in Britain at the moment. So what better way to have a gander than through The Best of Premier Promotions DVD compilation, originally filmed by Figure Four Films.

But before I begin my review, a little background info on Premier. For those who don’t know, Premier are the only promotion in Britain where all of their matches under contested under the rounds system, with each match fought over three falls. While other promotions are now heavily influenced by the American, and in particular American indy style, John Freemantle prefers to stick to the old fashioned ways, and good on him for doing so.

And speaking of Americans, the first match is a true classic, as current WWE developmental star Colt Cabana takes on British legend Johnny Kidd. This match was featured on the now defunct Wrestling Channel’s UK Round-Up show, and the visitors of the now defunct 1 Stop Wrestling website voted it as their match of the year. Cabana is a true student of the British wrestling product, and it showed here. He worked the crowd perfectly, and matched Kidd move for move, as was evident in the first fall. After a quick series of exchanges, Kidd got the opening fall with a simple roll-up. Cabana equalled things up with a backslide the following round, following another great exchange and a series of forearm smashes from both men. And after two more rounds of move for move, counter for counter action, Cabana got the winner with a roll-up and bridge. This match is a great example of British wrestling at it’s best, even if there is an American in it, and the sad thing is that we’ll probably never see another Cabana match like this when he makes it to Raw of Smackdown.

Match two features two of the top stars in Britain at the moment, “The Anarchist” Doug Williams against Roy Knight, better known to us mere mortals as the Zebra Kid, in the final of the 2004 Worthing Trophy tournament. Williams, of course, is known around the world for his stints in Ring of Honor in America and Pro Wrestling NOAH in Japan. I’ve seen these two against each other numerous times before. All of those were great matches, and so was this one. Knight was in full heel mode here, using all the old tricks in the book as he tried to put Williams away, with the Anarchist not backing down one bit. Knight’s tactics won over in the second round, scoring with a super kick to get the first fall. After some of Knight’s rather dubious tactics saw Williams get a public warning in the second, Williams came back in the third, getting the equaliser after an Ace Crusher. The final call came when Knight called his old man, Ricky, down to the ring. The rowdy one got on to the ring apron, and a miscommunication saw son collide into father, with Williams then getting the winning pinfall with a roll-up. This was a tremendous match between two wrestlers at the top of their game, and one that will definitely go on the “to watch again” list.

Next up it’s a battle of the generations if you will, with the legendary former World Lightweight Champion Steve Grey taking on “The Wonderkid” Jonny Storm, two of the greatest lightweights Britain has ever seen. Despite being firmly entrenched in the veteran stage of his career, Grey was more than able to keep up with the young whipper-snapper in a match that had a tremendous amount of action, and quite a simple storyline. Grey spent a great deal of time working on Storm’s leg, and even when the momentum went in Storm’s favour, Grey would always go back to work on Storm’s leg. However, it wasn’t enough to stop Storm getting the opening fall in round four, scoring with a moonsault after a great series of moves. Afterwards, Grey went straight back to work on Storm’s injured leg, and soon scored the equaliser, reversing a cross body block attempt to get the pin. The sixth and final round began with Grey returning to the injured leg, followed by countless near falls from both men as the clock ticked down. But sadly, there wasn’t enough time for either man to get the winner, and with the score at one fall apiece, the match was declared a draw. Another great bout, and the best of the DVD so far. This one will definitely go on the list I mentioned earlier.

Then it’s on to another British legend and former tag-team partner of William Regal, “The Wildcat” Robbie Brookside, as he takes on Japanese star Kendo Kashin. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the masked man in action, and he certainly was impressive in this one, playing the visiting foreign villain to perfection. Brookside, as always, was class, and these two had a great chemistry in this one. It was Kashin who got the first fall. Having used an illegal submission hold over the top rope, he turned it into a victory roll to get the first pin. He tried the same tactic in the following round, but Brookside was wise to his tactics, and scored the equalising fall after his cross-armed iconoclasm move. This only served to enrage Kashin, and his temper soon earned him a disqualification. With Brookside spread-eagled in the corner, referee Steve Grey (yes, the same one) stopped him from making the offending move. However, Kashin then grabbed hold of Grey and whipped him into the corner, using the referee to make the move for him, and earning him an instant disqualification. Out of all the matches on this DVD so far, this was by far the most intense, which added to the overall drama.

The final match of the collection sees two wrestlers who have already featured going against each other - Jonny Storm and Doug Williams. These two can never fail to have good matches against each other, and this was another example of that. Tons of great chain wrestling hear, with Williams getting the first fall with a roll-up, although Storm complained that his shoulder was up. This was the beginning of Storm’s slow heel turn, as he began to argue with the referee a lot more, as well as using dubious tactics, which included clobbering Williams with a bucket while the referee was repairing a corner pad. These antics were enough to get Storm the equaliser, reversing a roll-up attempt in the fourth round to get the pin - with a handful of Williams’ tights. After this, the pace of the action went up a notch, move for move and all that, before Williams caught Storm with a high knee. He then climbed to the top rope and came down with his Bomb Scare knee drop, which was enough to get the winning pin, a great way to end a great bout.

Sadly, not much in the way of extras here, just the promo film used to advertise this release on the internet.
In conclusion - it’s not often that I find a DVD release or a show where I enjoyed and can find absolutely no fault with every match, but The Best Of Premier Promotions is one of those rare occurrences. From top to bottom this is filled with outstanding wrestling action, and is a great advertisement not just for Premier Promotions, but for the British style of professional wrestling. Mention must also be made of the fans on here as well, probably the most vocal fans I’ve ever heard since the WWF’s Canadian Stampede show eleven years ago.

So if you’ve never seen a Premier show, or can’t get to a live show, then get this DVD. You’ve got no excuses.
The Best of Premier Promotions is currently available online via www.highspots.com. Other Premier Promotions DVDs can be purchased from one of my website sponsors, A-Merchandise, at www.a-merchandise.co.uk. And for all the latest information, including news on their upcoming shows, visit www.premier-promotions.co.uk.