Saturday, 25 October 2008

FWA v All-Star - DVD Review

I will always have a soft spot for the British Inter-Federation Cup. First contested in 2005 by the founders, the World Association of Wrestling, and their arch rivals in the Frontier Wrestling Alliance, it was thought of as a way of bringing the much fragmented British wrestling scene together. Sadly, it didn’t really work out like that. But why am I so fond of this tournament? Because I was the one who came up with the name!
But anyway, getting back to the matter at hand. After the FWA defeated WAW in the first tournament in May 2005, the FWA defended the cup against All-Star Wrestling a few months later, and lost. So the DVD we’re going to take a look at in this edition is the re-match, FWA v All-Star from May 2006, and available to buy from A-Merchandise, one of the sponsors of my website.

The show begins with a non-tournament tag-team match, Mark Sloan & Ollie Burns facing Retro Pop, Dave Rayne and Chris Egan in a battle of the FWA training schools. There’s an unfair start to the match with Sloan and Burns throwing powder in their opponent’s eyes at the beginning of the match, which for some reason doesn’t earn them an instant disqualification. Sloan and Burns then spent a great deal of time doubling up on Egan, before Rayne got the hot tag and began to clean house. But while this is going on, All Star’s captain Robbie Brookside comes down to the ring, grabs the microphone, and proceeds to heavily criticise the match while the rest of Brookside’s team surround the ring. Egan and Rayne then challenged the All-Star team, and proceeded to get the crap beaten out of them, while Sloan and Burns decided to leave them to it. The carnage only stops when the FWA team come down to save their boys. Not a bad match to open with, even though it had a few sloppy moments, but I couldn’t help that the lack of an ending harmed the match a little.

Then it’s on to the tournament, beginning with the four singles matches, with the winner getting two points, and the wrestlers getting one point each for a draw. The first match features All-Star’s Five Star Flash and the FWA’s Spud. This was a great match to begin tournament proceedings with. Flash, who competed as Mark “Five Star” Belton for the FWA, is portrayed as a turn coat here for competing on the All-Star team, against the loyal Spud, having just returned from a stint with Ring of Honor. Spud’s high-flying game is top notch, and there are times where Flash is more than a match for the little guy’s tactics. So after a ton of great action, Flash got the pin, taking Spud out with a power bomb, and then getting the pin with his feet on the ropes. FWA 0, All-Star 2.

Match two sees All-Star’s “Xtreme” Dean Allmark against the FWA’s Jonny Storm. American readers may remember Allmark from his TNA appearance as part of Team UK against Team Mexico in the World X Cup a few years ago. Also, let’s not forget that Storm competed in TNA a while back as well. The second great match in a row sees two wrestlers who are pretty evenly matched putting on a wrestling clinic, mixing the high spots with some good old fashioned chain wrestling. Plenty of false finishes towards the end of the match, and with the fifteen minute time limit rapidly approaching, Storm got the pin following his wonder whirl finisher to even the scores. FWA 2, All-Star 2.

Match three sees All-Star’s Robbie Dynamite take on then-FWA Champion Hade Vansen. More background info for you here; Dynamite was also a part of Team UK in TNA, while Hade Vansen is currently on a developmental contract with WWE. Vansen is also accompanied by Nikita, aka current WWE Raw Diva Katie Lea. At the time Vansen and Nikita were heels, and feuding with Jonny Storm over the FWA title, but for this match he’s the hero, battling the invading wrestlers. While this isn’t as explosive as the first two matches, it’s just as good, with some good, solid, wrestling action mixed in with a few high sports, with Vansen showing just why WWE were so interested in him. Dynamite is more than able to match up to Vansen. So after a ton of great action, Vansen came out on top, taking Dynamite out with his South City Drilla, his version of the DDT. The score now - FWA 4, All-Star 2.

The final singles match is a battle of the team captains, with All-Star’s Robbie Brookside taking on the FWA’s Stevie Knight, the man with an ever-growing list of nicknames. So when you’ve got two wrestlers of this quality against each other, you know you’re going to get a quality match. Brookside is at his heelish best here, doing everything he can to annoy the FWA faithful in attendance, as well as his opponent, and I can’t help buy like this version of Brookside, having seen his goody two shoes act over the years. Knight is as solid as always in his performance, the sign of a true veteran. Brookside spent a great deal of time working over Knight’s knee and ankle. But Knight was able to make a comeback, and eventually the action spilled outside the ring, and as the brawling began, both wrestlers failed to beat the twenty count, meaning that both wrestlers earned a point each. But things didn’t end there, as Brookside clobbered Knight’s injured limb with a steel chair, hoping to put him out of the rest of the tournament. Good stuff here, with two solid performances, and a nice way of rounding off the singles matches. The score now - FWA 5, All-Star 3.

Then it’s on to the final eight-man elimination match, Team FWA v Team All-Star. Despite his injury, Stevie Knight makes it to the match. The rules for this one are simple - two points are given to every wrestler who remains at the end of the match, so if All-Star had two men left over, they’d score four points, taking their total to seven. I think you get the drift here.

The eliminations started early, with Brookside taking out Knight with a British figure-four leg lock.

Spud was the next man to go, having passed out to Dynamite’s guillotine choke, making it four v two in favour of All-Star.

Dynamite then got counted out, after accidentally getting clobbered by Allmark, and then super kicked by his own team-mate.

Allmark was then immediately eliminated himself, with Storm taking him out with a lionsault, making it now two on two.

Vansen then eliminated himself. Having tagged Storm after the Wonderkid had taken a beating at the hands of Brookside and Flash, Vansen began to clean house, attacking the All-Star men, then attacking Storm with the South City Drilla. As Nikita tried to stop him from leaving, Vansen clobbered her, and while all of this was going on he was counted out, leaving it Storm against Brookside and Flash.

Brookside was then disqualified, for taking Storm down with a tombstone piledriver, a move banned in the FWA.

This meant that it was down to Storm v Flash. Flash went to work on the groggy Storm, having taken a DDT variation and a piledriver. But as Flash went to the top rope, Storm inadvertently crotched him when he used the ropes to help himself up. He then took Flash down with a hurricanrana off the top rope, before finishing him off with his wonder whirl finisher, with Nikita, who had returned to ringside to support her team, stopping Brookside from trying to interfere. This is the best match on the show by far, filled with tons of great action and drama. The final score - FWA 7, All-Star 3.

In conclusion - this is a great example of the different styles that have crept into the British wrestling business. Pitting the FWA’s American indy style against All-Star’s more British-based action could have led to a hotch potch of matches, but thankfully it didn’t. Apart from the somewhat confusing opening tag-team match, which only really served to establish the heel credentials of the All-Star team, this was a good show, filled with drama, tension, and great action throughout the tournament matches. Given my fondness for this particular tournament this is one DVD I’d be more than happy to watch again. But given the fact that the British Inter-Federation Cup seems to have gone into a sort of limbo at the moment, I doubt if we’ll see many more releases like this in the future.

With thanks to A-Merchandise for supplying a copy of this release. “FWA v All-Star” can be purchased online by visiting www.a-merchandise.co.uk
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