Saturday, 30 July 2011

FWA The Art of War - DVD Review

It’s time to delve into the Frontier Wrestling Alliance Season One box set as we go back to June 2010 and the sixth event of the collection, The Art of War.

The show began with the first quarter-final of the Tag Team Championship, as the Leaders of the New School, Marty Scurll and Zack Sabre Junior, faced Project Ego, Martin Kirby and Kris Travis.

This battle between two fan favourite teams proved to be very enjoyable encounter. It had an okay beginning and didn’t really get into top gear until later on when both teams came up with some very innovative moves which you’d be better seeing than having me describe them for you.

In the end it was the Leaders who came out on top. When Travis rolled up Scurll and grabbed a handful of trunks Scurll quickly reversed the move, getting the pin with a handful of trunks himself.

With Bubblegum having to withdraw because of injury Jonny Storm went up against El Ligero, and if Storm won he’d take the now vacant spot in the Flyweight title tournament. However, if the masked man took the win it would count as a victory in the round robin tournament.

As with the opener this was a very enjoyable and entertaining encounter. It began quickly when Storm took Ligero down with a drop kick that sent him to the outside of the ring, with the Wonderkid following him out with a suicide dive.

From there they exchanged various holds and high flying spots, with the action going up a notch towards the end as Storm took Ligero down with his wonderwhirl finisher at the second attempt, earning a spot in the Flyweight title tournament and taking Bubblegum’s points.

After an appearance from Alex Shane, in which he accused WWE of stealing FWA storylines (the original Nexus attacking everyone and all that) before telling the fans that Doug Williams may be late because of his TNA schedule it was back to the Tag Team tournament next as the Daredevil Dragons, Shane Spiral and Flyin’ Ryan, went up against Stixx and Malen.

This was your typical power versus speed battle. Like Storm before them Ryan and Spiral began by taking their opponents down with drop kicks before taking them down with a variety of moves before Stixx and Malen took control, with Stixx looking impressive as he took both of the Dragons down with a suplex on his own.

But after Spiral suffered an ankle injury after missing a splash off the top rope it wasn’t long before Stixx and Malen took Ryan down with their critical condition move to take the winning pin,

Afterwards, while Spiral was being attended to Malen and Stixx returned to the ring to inflict further damage, with Malen wrapping his chain around Spiral’s ankle to increase the youngster’s pain, with Stixx joining in for a little tug of war action a few moments later.

The next match in the Flyweight round robin title tournament followed as R.J. Singh, accompanied by the Bhangra Knights, took on Rockstar Spud, accompanied by his band and his burly security girl. Thankfully I didn’t have to put up with his awful bloody singing this time.

After an evening of mainly all baby face battles we got an all heel battle, although the fans were behind the rock star, the lesser of two evils in their eyes.

These old rivals began with their usual array of moves, with Spud going to the top rope a couple of times, but a battle between the various ringsiders led to both groups being banished by the referee, leaving Spud and Singh alone to battle it out. However, Singh’s director had left his megaphone in one of the corners.

But when a groupie at ringside grabbed hold of Spud none other than El Ligero returned to the ring while the referee’s back was turned. The masked man grabbed the megaphone and clobbered Singh with it.

When Spud was finally released from the woman’s clutches he noticed Singh down in the ring and took him out with his version of the stunner, the spud gun. A three count later and he had the win. He then decided to celebrate his victory by taking his groupie backstage with him.

The second half of the show began with an appearance form British legend Robbie Brookside, and was followed by an exhibition match between Danny Chase and Nate Colt, two British Wrestling Council trainees.

This was basically a short match in which the two youngsters exchanged a variety of holds. It was a little hard to tell them apart because they were basically wearing the same sort of wrestling attire.

The match was interrupted a couple of minutes in by Jon Ryan and his manager Richie West. West basically bitched about not getting much air time, before offering Chase and Colt a spot in his new company, Richie’s International Promotions, as part of his ring crew. When the two rookies turned down his offer he ordered them to take part in Ryan’s five minute challenge.

Needless to say that the youngsters didn’t last very long, with one of them tapping out to Ryan’s camel clutch variation in under two minutes. West then threw out another challenge to Johnny Moss.

Normal service was resumed with the third Tag Team Championship quarter-final as Northern Xposure, Joey Hayes and C.J. Banks, faced Retro Pop, Sam Bailey and Dave Rayne.

The Poppers were slightly more serious this time around. Rayne caught Hayes off guard with his attempted hugging at the beginning before Bailey tagged in and was used as the proverbial punching bag by the NX crew.

Bailey’s early offence looked a little sloppy, but when Rayne was taken out of it, lying on the ring apron Bailey carried the load for his team, pulling off some impressive moves as he attempted to put Hayes away.

But when he applied a cross arm breaker to Hayes Banks came down with a frog splash from the top rope to break the hold, and a few moments later Hayes took Bailey down with the teenage kick for the winning pin.

The main event featured eight man elimination tag team action as the Agenda, World Champion Martin Stone, Dave Moralez, Joel Redman and Iestyn Rees, went up against the Resistance, Sha Samuel and Terry Frazier of the Kartel, Leroy Kincaide, and…..well, Doug Williams never made it to the venue, and his replacement was none other than his British Invasion tag team partner and my old buddy Brutus Magnus.

So the match started, Magnus and Stone circled each other, and were about to lock up when they shook hands, with Magnus taking the microphone and revealing that he shared the Agenda’s view about using British wrestling as a stepping stone to greater things because he’d done it himself.

It was then that Kincaide called to the back for some help, with the baby face members of the roster and Robbie Brookside coming down the aisle, with Brookside saying that he’ll stand up for British wrestling. Stone countered by bringing up Brookside’s time in America for WCW and Germany, telling Brookside that British wrestling, and his career, were dead and buried before ordering Brookside to leave.

To the dismay of the others Brookside left, but then, to the surprise of everybody, Alex Shane came out in his wrestling gear, sending a few choice words in Stone’s direction before taking the vacant spot on the Resistance team, with Magnus leaving the ring.

When the match finally began it was soon evident that this was going to be a highly charged affair, with plenty of back and forth hard hitting action, and good performances from all those involved.

Another element was added to the mix when Nathan Cruz, who had defeated Alex Shane for the right to use the Show Stealer name came down to watch the match. Remember that as it’s going to be important later.

The first elimination came when Rees and Redman used a great looking double team move on Frazier, Rees connecting with a kick while Redman took Frazier down with a back suplex to get the first pin.

Frazier’s Kartel buddy Samuels then took a hell of a beating. All for of the Agenda took him out with their big moves, but whenever they went for the pin they pulled him off the mat, and when Rees and Redman took him down with their kick/suplex move the referee had seen enough. Having already received two warnings via the FWA’s cards system he then disqualified them for apparently spending too much time in the ring while attacking Samuels.

Samuels himself was next to go, not because he was pinned but because he was in no condition to continue, leaving Shane and Kincaide to face Stone and Moralez.

It was then that Nathan Cruz came into the equation, coming down to the ring and grabbing Shane’s leg. They then began to brawl at ringside, but because Shane was the legal man the referee had no choice but to count him out. Shane looked a beaten man as he left Kincaide alone in the ring.

Things were looking good for the Agenda at first, but Kincaide soon made his comeback, taking big Moralez down with a spear for the pin, and it wasn’t long before he took out Stone with a roll-up to win the match for the Resistance.

The rest of the locker room came down to celebrate with Kincaide, only for Stone and his Agenda boys, along with Magnus and Cruz, to tell them that they may have won the battle but they will never win the war.

Extras on this particular disc include episodes from the FWA’s Frontline internet show as well as the aforementioned match between Alex Shane and Nathan Cruz.

In conclusion - I have to admit that while viewing the early stages of this show I began to have mixed feelings, mainly because the action was okay and quite enjoyable, but it didn’t exactly set the world alight.

But all of that changed in the second half, especially with the main event. I’m not going to comment on Magnus’ appearance for obvious reasons, but the performance of Alex Shane did surprise me. I’ve watched him in action on and off for ten years now, and while I haven’t exactly been impressed with his performances in the past this one was one of the best of his career, certainly on a par with his feud with Steve Corino a few years ago.

So for sheer drama, tension and excitement The Art of War gets the thumbs up from this particular writer.

With thanks to the powers that be for supplying a copy of this release. FWA The Art of War is available to buy online either on it’s own or as part of the Season One box set at www.fwauk.com.