Saturday, 4 February 2012

Before They Were Impact Players - DVD Review

If I were to mention the names of Doug Williams, Samoa Joe, A.J. Styles, Winter and Christopher Daniels you’d probably think that I was talking about stars currently plying their trade for Total Non-Stop Action, and in a sense you’d be right.

But while these people, and others like them, were trying to establish their names stateside they were also making names for themselves over here in Britain, most notably for the Frontier Wrestling Alliance.

Now the good people at Adrenalize Online, in association with Wrestletalk TV, have brought together their matches from the FWA as well as from Alex Shane’s Showstealer Promotions for a new DVD release, Before They Were Impact Players.

March 19th, 2005: The first match on this collection was the opener for The Wrestling Channel’s International Showdown at the Coventry Sky Dome, a show which brought together stars from all over the world including future World Champions Samoa Joe and C.M. Punk.

This particular encounter saw Chris Sabin, Spud (before he became a rock star), Jonny Storm and Petey Williams in four-way action.

I’ve seen this match a few times before, and while I knew it was good I’d forgotten how good it was.

Fast-paced and high flying action were the order of the day throughout this match. All four flew all over the place at times, putting together sequences that had the fans on their feet and applauding on more than one occasion.

Spud was the proverbial punching bag for all three men at one point before it broke down into four way action with moves that were so fast I’m surprised the commentators had a chance to call them.

In the end it was Williams who came out on top, taking down Sabin with his awesome Canadian Destroyer piledriver for the winning pin before the crowd gave them a standing ovation.

Oh, and it was great to hear Dean Ayass on commentary again. He’s definitely one of the best Brits to wear the headset in recent years. Certainly a lot better than me!

13th October, 2002: It’s off to the famed York Hall in Bethnal Green, a venue more known for it’s boxing than it’s wrestling, for the FWA’s British Uprising show as “The Anarchist” Doug Williams faced Jerry Lynn.

Ten years ago this was considered a dream match, and it probably would be today as well.

It was an absolute master class, a top notch match pitting two of the best technical wrestlers against each other, and it’s one of the best matches I’ve ever seen on a British show.

The sequences these two were breathtaking as they went back and forth, each man pulling out the stops as they went for the win.

In the end it was Williams who came out on top, finally taking the American down with his Chaos Theory suplex.

17th May, 2003: It’s another York Hall encounter, this time at the FWA/ROH Frontiers of Honor show, with Samoa Joe defending the ROH World title against the Zebra Kid.

The Zebra Kid is the eldest son of “Rowdy” Ricky Knight, owner of WAW, the company I used to work for, and it’s for that reason I won’t be reviewing this particular match. If you want the full story click here.

28th April, 2007: It’s the last match from the first round of the only King of Europe Cup, a two day tournament held at the Liverpool Olympia with representatives from 16 promotions all around the world.

This particular encounter saw the future Desmond Wolfe, Nigel McGuinness, representing Ring of Honor, going up against TNA’s representative Rhino.

A distinct difference in styles could have made for a difficult match, but these two pulled off something special.

Even though it began in the ring it wasn’t long before an all-out brawl broke out which saw McGuinness holding his own against Rhino’s brawling style, taking them up a flight of stairs to the lower balcony where McGuinness eventually pushed the War Machine off the ledge and through one of the merchandise tables below.

It took a while for them to get back to the ring, but when they got there there was no let up in the action. McGuinness went back to his technical wrestling style but soon found himself on the receiving end of Rhino’s gore.

Remarkably the Brit kicked out, taking the win seconds later with his unique springboard lariat off the ropes. Afterwards he grabbed the microphone and praised his opponent.

18th October, 2003: It’s back to the York Hall, this time for British Uprising 2 as Jack Xavier takes on Homicide.

If you’ve only ever seen Homicide competing in the Impact Zone then this encounter may surprise you a little.

Xavier took control early with some nice crisp moves, but it wasn’t long before the Notorious 187 came back into the match with some hard shots, particularly the double face wash in the corner.

A brief brawl outside the ring followed where Xavier ended up suplexing his man on the wood before they moved back into the ring where Homicide unloaded with the heavy stuff again in preparation for the Cop Killer.

The move never happened. Xavier rolled his way out and took the visiting American down with his Xavierator (have I spelt that right?) move for the three count, with the beaten Homicide raising the hand of his victor in a great show of respect.

17th May, 2003: The only non-tournament match at FWA/ROH Frontiers of Honor show saw the cult-like Family stable, accompanied by Greg Lambert, taking on Alex Shane, German star Ulf Herman, and the future Winter, known here as Nikita.

This match began with all of the Family members attacking Herman, Shane and Nikita until the big guys used their size to send them running for cover. The referee then ruled that those not involved had to leave ringside, leaving Paul Travell, Scott Parker and Brandon Thomas to fight for their cause.

With the sides evened up it settled down into a regular match, with Nikita showing that she was just as tough as her male counterparts. It wasn’t long before it broke down though, turning into a brawl that took in the entire hall.

We saw numerous weapon shots, mainly from Herman, Shane putting Thomas through a table from the stage with his One Night Stand, Travell taking Shane out with a tornado DDT after jumping off the entrance rigging, and the best of the lot, Nikita diving down from the balcony when the other two Family members, Ian Dasciple and Ash came down to help their fellow cult members.

Underhand happenings saw the Family take the victory. After the referee took an accidental hit Dasciple, whose clothes and haircut were similar to that of Travell, came into the ring and took Nikita out with an aeroplane spin into a slam. As the interloper made the cover manager Lambert revived the official. A three count later and it was over.

19th March, 2005: The main event of TWC’s International Showdown event saw A.J. Styles challenging Christopher Daniels for the TNA X Division title.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen these two against each other over the years, and you know what? I never tire of it.

Just a few days after Daniels defeated Styles for the title at the Destination X pay-per-view these two put on another awesome encounter. This is one of those matches where it would be easy to go into hyperbole overdrive when describing all of the great exchanges and moves between the two best wrestlers the X Division has ever produced.

It was breathtaking, lasting over 20 minutes and with plenty of near falls, with Daniels kicking out after the Styles Clash and taking the pin after taking Styles out with the Last Rites, with both men getting a standing ovation from the fans.

The bonus feature comes in the form of an FWA match never released before on DVD before with Doug Williams and Jody Fleisch taking on Christopher Daniels and Jonny Storm.

In conclusion - boy did this bring back some pleasant memories. Dean Ayass proving what a great commentator he was, John Atkins doing his ring announcing thing long before he became a YouTube sensation with his ukulele, Greg Lambert beginning his career as the hated heel manager. But enough of trying to suck up to some of my Facebook friends.

I know that we’re not that far into 2012 and I haven’t reviewed many DVD releases but this is by far the best I’ve seen this year, and that’s probably because of it’s personal nostalgia value as far as I’m concerned.

It was great to see these matches again as they brought back fond memories of following the FWA in it’s heyday and a TWC-sponsored show filled with the best talent that wasn’t under contract to the mighty WWE at that time.

In fact this DVD is so good that given the video archives from the likes of the FWA and Showstealer Promotions I’d be more than happy if they released a similar DVD showcasing other overseas stars that have visited these shores.

So before going into overdrive if you’re a fan of TNA and you’d like to see what happened when some of their top stars visited these shores then this is the DVD for you, getting the big thumbs up from me.

With thanks to the powers that be for supplying a copy of this release. Before They Were Impact Players can be purchased online by visiting www.fwawrestling.co.uk.