Friday, 19 August 2011

FWA Hope & Glory - DVD Review

It’s time to delve into the Frontier Wrestling Alliance Season One box set again, and this time we’re going back to August last year for the seventh event, and a filmed segment that caused a great deal of controversy and consternation in the British wrestling business at Hope and Glory.

The show began with triple threat action between Marty Scurll, Sam Bailey and Kris Travis.

This one had a rather strange beginning. Scurll and Travis seemed more intent on arguing about the ending of the match between their respective teams at the last show than actually wrestling, with Travis complaining that Scurll pinned him with a handful of tights. They completely ignoring Bailey. When the action finally began the argument continued, until they decided to actually compete in a wrestling match.

The action itself was okay, short in time but full of fast paced action. Travis looked a little sloppy at times but along with the others he acquitted himself quite well, gaining the win by pinning Bailey with, ironically, a handful of tights.

The round robin Flyweight title tournament continued next as R.J. Singh, accompanied by the Bhangra Knights, took on Jonny Storm.

The Wonderkid started his evening’s work fighting Singh in the aisle before jumping into the ring and taking out Singh’s director with a suicide dive. The director tried to gain a measure of revenge, but ended up clobbering his charge in the process before being sent to the back by the referee.

Singh and Storm then put on a very entertaining encounter. Storm may have slowed down a little in the past few years but he’s still a hell of a worker, while Singh is really growing on me.

Singh tried to use his final entourage member, Adil Khan, as interference, but he ended up being sent to the back by the referee as well. When Singh returned his attention back to the match he saw Storm complaining of an ankle injury. Easy pickings, or so Singh thought, as Storm suddenly leapt to his feet and took him out with the wonderwhirl, sealing the pin and making it mathematically impossible for Singh to win the tournament.

Needless to say that Singh was none too happy with his back up as he gave them a severe tongue lashing afterwards.

We then moved away from the action with a segment between Head of Content Alex Shane and World Champion Martin Stone. The two engaged in a rather heated exchange in which the apparently injured Stone said he wouldn’t be competing in the main event before lambasting the British wrestling scene once again, with Shane responding in kind. Basically it’s one of those worked shoot style segments that a certain other company has been putting out lately. But then again Shane would have you believe that a certain creative team have been stealing his ideas recently.

It was then that Stone’s Agenda buddies came down, intent on attacking Shane. This brought Sha Samuels and Terry Frazier, the Kartel, attempting to even the scores. Samuels then grabbed the microphone saying that they wanted their Tag Team Tournament quarter final against Agenda members Joel Redman and Iestyn Rees there and then. It was a request that Shane readily agreed to.

This was more of a fight than a wrestling match. Samuels and Frazier doubled up on Rees to good effect at the beginning, but it wasn’t long before the Agenda boys came back into the match, and with all four men continually breaking the rules the referee waved his yellow card a number of times before deciding enough was enough, disqualifying both teams as the match turned into an all out brawl, with security have to storm the ring to break up the action.

Then came the video segment everyone was talking about. Daily Star reporter Patrick Lennon, reading out a statement written by TNA’s Doug Williams, spoke of a conspiracy, detailing how an unnamed international company was trying to orchestrate events so they could take over the world of professional wrestling.

It’s basically a long, drawn out statement which includes talk of WWE stealing storylines from the FWA (the Nexus was apparently a rip-off of the Agenda, etc, etc.), and even mentions the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a bit far fetched, and the thing they don’t show you here is the live crowd absolutely crapping on this, demanding wrestling action. I have to admit that I kind of agree with them.

The wrestling action finally returned with an XWA Adrenaline guest match, six man action with the team of Dave Breaks, Axl Rage and Dave Fury taking on Danny Chase, Nick Riley and Max Angelius.

Sadly commentators Dave Bradshaw and Greg Lambert seemed more intent on discussing conspiracy theories instead of putting these workers over, which was a shame, because the action here was quite good, even though I didn’t really know who was who to begin with.

Fury ended up getting disqualified early on for choking Angelius, turning this into a handicap match before Riley pinned Rage after an abdominal stretch into a slam. Nice stuff, shame about the commentary.

After Len Davies was introduced as the guest ring announcer it was back to the Round Robin Flyweight title tournament as El Ligero went up against Rockstar Spud, accompanied by his burly female security guard and his groupie. Thankfully he didn’t sing during his entrance.

This was played strictly for laughs early on before both men took on a more serious demeanour, and when this happened the action improved greatly as these two put together some tremendous sequences, once again proving that they’re two of the best in Britain at the moment.

We saw tons of fast paced and high flying action with countless near falls before Ligero connected with a cross body that sent both men out of the ring.

It was then that Spud’s groupie jumped onto the ring apron to distract the referee while his security guard helped him back into the ring as Ligero lay on the floor. Seconds later and it was all over as the Rockstar took the count out win, meaning that he only needed a draw in the final match against Jonny Storm to win the title.

Ligero’s night was far from over though as his old rival R.J. Singh attacked him as he was about to go backstage. As Singh went to cut off one of the horns on Ligero’s mask with a pair of scissors Ligero was saved by Spud, but as Spud clobbered Singh the scissors inadvertently went into Ligero’s eye, with Singh showing genuine remorse at what had happened.

Then it was on to the main event as the Agenda team of Dave Moralez and Joel Redman, accompanied by World Champion Martin Stone, went up against Leroy Kincaide and his mystery partner, TNA star Doug Williams, which was ironic considering that Williams’ British Invasion partner Brutus Magnus had turned against Kincaide and the FWA at the last show.

A couple of stipulations for this one. If Kincaide’s team won then old Leroy would get a shot at the World title at European Uprising, but not against Martin Stone. But if Kincaide’s team lost then old Leroy wouldn’t get a title shot for a year.

Before the match began Stone took to the microphone and introduced none other than British legend Drew McDonald, WWE’s main talent scout in Europe. McDonald took the seat at ringside that had been reserved for his old rival Robbie Brookside. Brookside’s name had been brought up all evening because of his no-show.

Once again messrs Bradshaw and Lambert spent a great deal of time arguing about the conspiracy theory rather than actually commentating on the match, which, once again, was a shame because it was a pretty decent battle.

Moralez and Redman looked good as a team as they used Williams as a human punching bag. But the action wasn’t always in favour of the Agenda boys, as Williams and Kincaide did a good job against their opponents.

But after the inevitable four way brawl Williams took Redman down with his chaos theory suplex, pushing Kincaide into the ring so he could finish the job with his spear for the win.

After the match Williams grabbed the microphone as McDonald got up from his seat and conversed with the Agenda boys. Williams was about to spill more beans about the conspiracy when Redman, Moralez and Iestyn Rees attacked him, with Rees and Redman holding Williams down while Moralez splashed him. They would have caused more damage if  the FWA locker room hadn’t emptied to save him.

It was then that McDonald took the microphone, warning those in the ring that if they attacked him or the Agenda boys then it would cost them their possible futures in the American wrestling business.

Alex Shane then appeared in the crowd with a couple of familiar faces, the formerly absent Robbie Brookside and former FWA British Champion Flash Barker, saying that as far as the Agenda was concerned resistance wasn’t futile, leaving the arena as the show came to an end.

Only one extra on this disc, Alex Shane’s Grapple Group Interview, which was previously available on YouTube.

In conclusion - I have to admit that, for the first time, I’ve got mixed feelings about an FWA version 2.0 show.

The action was great. Can’t really complain about that much, although a couple of things left me scratching my head wondering what those involved were doing.

But then we have this conspiracy thing. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen anything about this storyline. I’ve been following this since this show happened last year. I’ve seen numerous YouTube videos and read numerous articles and Facebook posts from Alex Shane and others, and this hole angle just seems too far fetched. Worked shoot storylines are all well and good, but this sort of thing should be left in a Len Deighton novel.

But perhaps the most annoying this was when commentators Lambert and Bradshaw were more interested in discussing the storyline instead of commentating on the matches in the ring. It’s the commentator’s job to put over those in the ring, and Lambert and Bradshaw were derelict in their duty as far as this was concerned.

So at the end of the day while the in-ring action in this release gets the thumbs up the conspiracy theory storyline and everything about it gets the thumbs down.

With thanks to the powers that be for supplying a copy of this release. FWA Hope & Glory can be purchased online, either on it’s own or as part of the Season One box set at www.fwauk.com.