Saturday, 10 May 2008

GPW The Return - DVD Review

This edition of The Two Sheds Review once again sees the debut of another British promotion, and this time it’s the turn of Garage Pro Wrestling. The DVD we’re going to look at is The Return, dating back to the summer of 2004, and headlined by a good old fashioned British-style match featuring World of Sport legends Robbie Brookside and Johnny Kidd. Our announcers on this production are Steve Halfpenny and Mike Groom.
The opening contest sees J.C. Thunder facing “Golden Boy” Cameron Knite. Quite a good little match to start the show with, with both guys putting in good performances, with Thunder in particular impressing this writer, especially with his neck snap/nick breaker combination and his jumping DDT. My only gripe with this one is that at a shade under ten minutes it could probably have done with being a few minutes longer. But then again you can’t have everything, and I was pleased with what I saw. The end looked great, with move for counter move until Knite got the pin after his Knite Driver finisher, a sort of pump-handle into a Michinoku driver sort of thing. Very enjoyable match.
Then it’s on to the Crazy Cruiser 8 match, featuring Danny Hope, El Ligero, Kris Travis, WKD (C Juice and Delirium), Jack Hazard, Spud and Scotty Hexx. Now, although this is meant to feature wrestlers of a certain weight, it must be mentioned that Scotty Hexx is slightly (and that’s an understatement) over the weight limit. Anyway, the rules for this one were simple - all eight men fighting in and around the ring at the same time, with the first one to get a pin or submission in the ring being declared the winner. Basically it’s just one massive spot-fest, lacking any real ring psychology, and although some of the action looked tremendous, some of it looked terribly contrived, especially the moments when Spud, then Ligero, then Travis launched themselves off the top rope onto the waiting crowd below. Towards the end the match was interrupted by a big guy called Roughneck, who went into the ring and attacked Ligero, giving Hexx the opportunity to take the Mexican out with what looked like a spinning diamond cutter. This match could have been a lot better if they’d been given more time, and if there hadn’t been any interference at the end.
Back to singles action next, with Heresy taking on Demo. This match was definitely a mixed bag, with some moves looking great, and some moves looking less the fluidic. I just couldn’t get into this one. It just didn’t have any flow, or any kind of storyline to it, a kind of nothing match with two wrestlers who looked like they didn’t know much about ring psychology. For instance - why wasn’t Heresy disqualified when he delivered a low blow, or when he clobbered Demo with a title belt, both in full view of the referee. In short, this match wasn’t very impressive, and it failed to hold my attention - mind you, Heresy’s long promo before the match probably didn’t help matters either. Thankfully, it eventually ended when Heresy took Demo down with his finisher, a sort of front suplex. In fact the most interesting thing happened after the match, when Heresy placed a barbwire crown on Demo, and held his arms open as if he were being crucified. Very poor stuff all round here.
Tag-team action follows, with Swiss Money Holdings (Double C and Ares) facing the Young Offenders (Damon Leigh and Joey Hayes). Now this was more like it. A very good tag-team match featuring two teams that worked extremely well together with some great and unique double team moves, especially on the part of Ares and Double C, clearly the better team in this one. And we also got a bit of comedy as well! In short, it was a great match, which saw Ares steal the victory after Leigh was distracted by his nemesis Heresy, with Ares getting a roll-up for the pin. A great display of tag-team wrestling by Swiss Money Holdings.
Then it’s on to the best two out of three tables match, featuring “Raging Bull” T.J. Cain against “Middleman” Lee Butler. Now, when you think of table matches, you start to think of certain things, and technical wrestling isn’t one of them. Well, this is what we got at the start of this match. Granted, the action here was good and well executed, but it wasn’t what I was expecting from a tables match. It was only after nearly twenty minutes of this particular segment that the first table appeared, when Cain dived off the top rope onto a prone Butler to send him through the first table. One interesting point about this though - when Cain set up the table, he didn’t set up one of the legs properly, and you could see the prone Butler, as he lay draped over one side of the table, actually put the leg into position properly. Okay it’s not a major thing but it’s something that kind of spoil matches for me.
Then it was back to normal, with more technical action, with no hardcore stuff, until Cain brought another table into the ring, which he had to prop up in the corner because one of the legs was broken. Cain was about to suplex Butler through the table, but Butler reversed the move and put Cain through the table with a dragon suplex.
The third and deciding fall as it were again went back to normal, but when Butler got another table and stood at ringside, it looked like they bodged a move as he tried a baseball slide out of the ring, connecting with the table as Butler held it. Butler no-sold the move, and then went for another baseball slide, with Butler moving out of the way of this one. A few minutes later, Butler, after Swiss Money Holdings returned to distract Cain, put his opponent through the table with a vertebreaker to win the match. I really don’t know what to think of this match. The technical stuff was good, but overall the match was disappointing, and it’s the little mistakes I’ll remember this one for.
Women’s action follows, with Minx taking on Roxi. Having recently been on a staple diet of WAWW, WWW and TNA Knockout matches as far as women’s wrestling goes recently, this match had a lot to live up to, and although it didn’t quite live up to those lofty standards, it was still quite good. Minx played the whinging heel to perfection, and Roxi did well as the sympathetic baby face. The action in the ring was good, with Minx the standout of the two, and after working over Roxi’s back with some questionable tactics and almost getting the win via count out, Minx took Roxi out with an enziguri, getting the three count for the win.
Main event time, with British legends “The Wildcat” Robbie Brookside and Johnny Kidd going at it in a traditional British rules match, fought over six five minute rounds, and the best of three falls. Now this was the one I was really looking forward to. Bringing back memories of the World of Sport era, Brookside and Kidd put on a tremendous technical wrestling match with a very interesting storyline, with the match starting off in an atmosphere of good sportsmanship, but later turning into something of an antagonistic display when both men used questionable tactics against each other, which would eventually earn both men two public warnings apiece. The first fall came as late as the fourth round, with Kidd reversing Brookside’s Irish whip attempt into a schoolboy roll-up. Brookside equalised a round later, using his signature move, the cross-armed iconoclasm, to level the scores. But with the anger between the two men rising, the sixth round was scoreless, so the referee declared the match a draw. This didn’t sit too well with Brookside, and with the crowd chanting for five more minutes, he challenged Kidd to an extra round. Kidd refused, saying he’d only signed for six rounds, but a verbal attack from the Liverpool Lad forced him to change his mind, and it’s an agreement that proved to be Kidd’s downfall, as Brookside quickly scored with a cross body block off the ropes to get the third and deciding pin. Needless to say, Kidd wasn’t too happy with the decision as he went backstage. A hell of a match, mixing great wrestling with great ring psychology and a tremendous storyline. This is definitely one match I’ll be watching again.
In conclusion - my first impression of the Garage Pro Wrestling product is a mixed one. While there were some standout moments on this release, such as the tag match and the Brookside/Kidd encounter, there were quite a few down points, including an eight-man match that was allocated very little time, a tables match that featured the sort of wrestling that didn’t belong in match of that kind. So despite seeing some good action, my first experience of GPW is a mixed one.
With thanks to Mark Sloan of A-Merchandise for supplying a copy of this release. Sadly, A-Merchandise no longer stock GPW DVDs, but if you visit www.crazycruiser8.co.uk, which is the website for GPW’s recent Crazy Cruiser8 tournament, they’re opening an online store there soon, with new and old shows promised. So keep an eye open over there and you might be able to get a copy of The Return.