Saturday, 28 May 2011

FWA New Frontiers - DVD Review

In it’s first incarnation it was responsible for some of the biggest British wrestling shows of the 21st century. It was home to the likes of Doug Williams, Paul Burchill, Hade Vansen and Katie Lea/Winter. Stars such as Steve Corino, Colt Cabana, A.J. Styles, Jerry Lynn, Christopher Daniels and C.M. Punk made flying visits.

The company in question is the Frontier Wrestling Alliance, and they returned to action in August 2009 with the show we’re going to take a look at now, New Frontiers.

Tag team action began the show as Northern Xposure, C.J. Banks and Joey Hayes, took on the Leaders of the New School, Marty Scurrll and Zack Sabre Junior.

As the first bout of the new era this one had a lot riding on it. It took a while to get going but when it did it was very well executed and filled with great action.

We got the inevitable mass brawl towards the end, before Scurrll  and Sabre pulled out their finishing move on Banks, the see you later, a drop kick into a michinoku driver, for the winning pin.

The next three matches saw wrestlers attempting to qualify for the FWA World Title tournament, beginning with Bubblegum taking on Dave Moralez.

The last time I saw these two in action was when I reviewed one of the Pro Wrestling NOAH European Navigation Night 2. They were in separate matches, and I remember that I wasn’t exactly impressed with Big Dave’s match against Takeshi Morishima.

As a speed versus power battle this wasn’t too bad. Bubblegum played the part of the plucky underdog extremely well, using hit and run tactics until the Human Hate Machine caught and overpowered him.

No matter what Moralez did though he couldn’t put Bubblegum away, although it was an impressive display of power.

But in the end Bubblegum came back time and time again, taking the upset win with a body block off the top rope.

Moralez was none too happy about the outcome. He ended up slapping the referee and proving what a sore loser he was.

Then it was on to Joel Redman, accompanied by his manager Gilligan Gordon, as he went up against Terry Frazier, accompanied by his tag team partner Sha Samuels.

Before the match began Gordon complained about Samuels’ appearance at ringside, mainly because he didn’t have a manager’s licence. The referee had no choice but to send him to the back.

These two had competed against each other countless times before, and it showed in the work they put in here.

It was a good back and forth encounter, with both guys looking great in the ring, with Gordon using his skills to interfere on more than one occasion.

The end saw Frazier take Redman down with his version of the rock bottom, but as he went for the pin Gordon put Redman’s foot on the bottom rope.

This brought Samuels back out, and after he chased Gordon out of the ring he clobbered Redman. The referee called for the bell immediately, giving Redman the disqualification win and ending what was a very enjoyable encounter.

After an in-ring confrontation between injured masked star El Ligero and “the Bollywood Dream” R.J. Singh it was on to the next match as Pac took on Leroy Kincaide.

This was another interesting speed versus power battle. It’s been a while since I’d seen Pac in action, and the man the gravity forgot pulled off his usual high flying moves, getting a great reaction from the audience.

Kincaide, for his part, was up to the task, and after countering Pac’s spiral tap attempt by raising his knees he matched his opponent with a dive over the top rope.

That was enough for both of them, as neither man could beat the ten count, with the referee declaring the bout a draw, despite the protests of both combatants.

It was back to tag team next as Retro Pop, Sam Bailey and Dave Rayne, faced Stixx and Paul Malen in a special challenge match.

Stixx and Malen attacked their foes as they made their entrance, taking out Rayne and leaving Bailey on his own against the two powerhouses.

Bailey put in a plucky performance, but it just wasn’t enough as his opponents simply obliterated him.

Rayne eventually made his way into the ring, putting on his own plucky performance before falling to Stixx and Malen’s power bomb/reverse DDT finisher.

After an in-ring segment involving wrestling great Tony Scarlo and former butler Andrew Simmonz it was back to the qualifying matches, this time for the Flyweight title tournament as Mark Haskins, Rock Star Spud, Jonny Storm and Jody Fleisch competed in four way elimination action.

Before I mention the match I must make mention of Spud’s extravagant entrance, and his performance of Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer”. Let’s just say that even Jillian Hall has a better singing voice, and I’m betting that Sam Knee won’t be using his version of this classic for his next HEW show.

Back to the match. Fleisch and Storm had appeared on the FWA’s very first show way back in 1999, and since then they’ve torn up rings around the world with their high flying rivalry.

This was a very good match, and saw all four men putting in pretty good performances. Spud and Haskins did a pretty good job of spoiling the fans anticipation of the Fleisch/Storm confrontation, although Spud’s mannerisms in his musical guise will take some getting use to.

The eliminations didn’t come until the end of the match. Fleisch took Haskins out with his 720 DDT, only for Spud to roll him up with a schoolboy seconds later.

Storm then took Spud down with his wonder-whirl finisher, only for the rock star to escape by putting his foot on the bottom rope. Spud then used the ropes a second time, putting both of his feet on them to get extra leverage as he pinned the Wonderkid.

The main event was another qualifier for the World title tournament as Martin Stone went up against TNA star Doug Williams.

This was the match I was looking forward to the most. Williams came out to a great reception from the fans, until he grabbed the microphone and told them that he was no longer the Anarchist but an international TNA star.

A tremendous encounter saw Stone and Williams fighting on the stage before they made their way to the ring, and once they got there they put together some great sequences.

Williams heeled it up to perfection, busting Stone open early on. Later, the Guv’nor looked like he was going to get the win after his London Bridge DDT. One problem though, the referee was taking a snooze at the time.

The official finally recovered to see plenty of near falls before a third London Bridge from Stone put Williams away for the pin.

Afterwards Williams took to the microphone once again, saying that if it wasn’t for the fans he wouldn’t be where he was today.

The extras for this two disc set come in the form of the FWA Unsigned show, featuring Rampage Brown versus Johnny Midnight, Dave Breaks versus Kaleb Hughes, and Lethal Dose versus Retro Pop.

In conclusion - over the past ten years I’ve seen a lot of FWA version 1.0, from various DVDs and videos to their show on The Wrestling Channel. I even went to one of their shows once! So I think I’m in a pretty good position to compare both versions.

FWA Version 2.0’s first show was pretty good, and although the match quality varied they all delivered, especially the main event between Stone and Williams, and once again I can see why WWE have apparently taken such an interest in the Guv’nor.

Production-wise it compares favourably to their past product. Dave Bradshaw and Greg “The Truth” Lambert did a good job of calling the action, although it did seem strange seeing an FWA show without a certain announcer shouting “bloody hell Tony!”

So in all New Frontiers gets the thumbs up. The mixture of FWA originals and up-and-comers made this a must see show, even if you know next to nothing about the FWA’s storied past.

With thanks to the powers that be for supplying a copy of this release. FWA New Frontiers is available to buy online, either as a single release or as part of the Season One box set at www.fwauk.com.