Wednesday, 30 January 2019

RE-POST: WAW Fightmare, April 2001 - Live Show Review

In years gone by, it has been said by many British wrestling fans that home-grown wrestling shows...well, they basically sucked. I admit, I was one of those people. But last night, my opinion of British wrestling changed - for the better.

The World Association of Wrestling Fightmare event had been hyped up in the local press and television for close to a month. WAW owner and promoter Ricky Knight had told everyone who would listen of his dream to see British wrestling once again with a regular slot on British television. He wanted to make home-grown stars as popular and familiar as those from across the pond.

Well, yours truly did his little bit to promote the show across the Internet via his column, and with ringside seat firmly in hand, I made my way to the Norwich Sport Village, in eager anticipation of the night's events. What I was hoping to find - I had no idea.

As I joined the line to get into the building, I could see from the literally hundreds of people in the line that it was going to be a packed house. Many of them had turned up in the hope of getting tickets on the night. I had no idea how many of these were successful.

My first encounter with a WAW official was as I entered the building, as senior referee Dave Marshall stood there by the entrance, enjoying a cigarette. I began to think - you would never see Earl Hebner outside Madison Square Garden taking a drag!

I could feel the atmosphere as I entered the small but packed arena. The first thing that struck me was the size of the ring. Having for years become accustomed to the size of WWF and WCW rings, this one seemed tiny! So, having purchased my program from a vendor, I searched for a ringside seat. Critique here - even though I had paid for a ringside seat, I had to put up with one in the third row! Oh well, at least I was in front of the main rostrum camera!

Before the event started, I had to take a leek! I had no idea I would soon have my second encounter with someone from WAW. Coming out of the cubicle, who did I bump into but some big fella dressed in a Yankees shirt and with black and white face paint. None other than WAW star Bash! Again, I began to think - you would never have seen Steve Austin waiting to use the public toilet at MSG!

The MC, sadly, I can't remember his name, came to the ring, and welcome everyone to the event, asking us all to make some noise! Then, we were in for our first treat - THE DYNAMITE DOLLS! Three lovely ladies coming down to the ring to dance for our pleasure! Okay, some of the dancing wasn't exactly in time to the music, but who cares! We had eye candy! (All feminists please direct your abuse to the above e-mail address!)

Our MC then introduced the announcers for the first two contests - Sweet Saraya and Robbie Brookside. Everyone booed Saraya (except me!), and cheered for Brookside. Last time I saw this man he had short blonde hair, now he looked more like a totally awesome Edge-alike! After badmouthing the locals, Saraya left to go to the commentary position with Brookside.

Then, the contests were about to begin.

JIMMY OCEAN V BATTLE KAT
I remember Jimmy Ocean wrestling when I was a kid. Some may say he's a little past it. This may be the case, but he and the Kat put on a good show. Lot's of high-flying action throughout from both men. These two must be at the top of the WAW Cruiser weight division.

After both men missed several high spots, Ocean won at 11:30 with a Half-Boston Crab. Throughout, Ocean received a great amount of heel heat, apart from a select few. Hey! We can cheer who we want to, can't we? Even if they do insult us!

Still not sure about the whole Battle Kat gimmick though!

Interesting point - Ricky Knight came down to the ringside table in the middle of the match, to discuss something with the timekeeper. Not sure what all the fuss was about - all I could hear Ricky saying was twenty f***ing minutes!

DALE PRESTON V JAMES MASON
To be honest I had no idea who these two were, without looking at my program. Preston came down to a small amount of heel heat, which seemed to grow when Mason came down. A man in front of me, obviously an old friend, called out to Mason. Mason then returned the favour.

The main heat Preston earned was because of his physique. Let's just say he wasn't exactly chiselled. A bunch of kids in the adjoining section began a chant of "Belly's gonna get you!", which really annoyed Preston.

This was also a good match. There was the old routine where Preston offered Mason his hand in a fake gesture of friendship, which Mason fell for. However, he soon recovered and gained the win with a flying body press at the 8:40 mark.

Even after the match, the belly chant for Preston continued. I began to wonder, would they be doing the same thing for The Bulk later in the evening?

Our MC then returned, and the Queen classic "We Will Rock You" began playing, as Drew MacDonald came down to the commentary position.

HOTSTUFF(c) w/ Crystal Clear V RICKY KNIGHT w/ Sweet Saraya - British Title Match
The Rowdy One and his lovely manager and wife came down to the ring first, both getting heel heat for once again insulting the locals. Then, the obvious fan favourite, British Champion Hotstuff, looking like he came out of the Hardy school, came out with his manager, Crystal Clear.

Like Ocean before him, some have said that Ricky is past it. I'm not going to comment on this, mainly because this was also a damned good match! Saraya showed that she isn't just a babe by really taking it to Hotstuff a number of times, even body-slamming him on the floor one time! Man that woman was strong, and I don't mean in the Chyna sense. I kept wondering if Crystal would come to her man's aid. Well, if I was confronted by Saraya, I wouldn't step on her toes!

Midway through the match, the ref got hit. This allowed Ricky and Saraya to double-team Hotstuff somewhat - until a mysterious man in a long-coat came down to ringside to distract Ricky. This man, who I later learned was called the Terminator, gave Hotstuff the time he needed to recover, and with the ref coming to as well, Hotstuff gained the pin at 9:12 after a moonsault. Again, a good match.

BIG DAVE WATERS V LEE MAXX Table Match
This did seem a bit of a mismatch, as one of Britain's strongest men went up against the WAW Junior Champion.

Early on in the match, after having a moved reversed, Dave put Maxx through a table which had been set up in the corner. Many of the people in my area began to ask why the match wasn't stopped. This was a table match after all! Anyway, the match continued.

Also early in the match, Maxx hit a Van Terminator on Dave, drop-kicking a plastic folding chair. Quite an impressive move!

I did have a feeling the following would happen though - as Dave's brother The Bulk came down to the ring, and with the ref distracted, Bulk slammed Maxx through two tables, which had been set up at ringside. Maxx was then power bombed through four plastic folding chairs to get the pin (a pin in a table match?)

Our interviewer for the night, a gentleman by the name of Double M came down to the ring, and introduced one of the men in the world title match, P.N. News. Coming down to the ring with two of the Dynamite Dolls, News cut a promo, bad mouthing the locals. As he spoke, Bulk and Big Dave came down to the ring. Big Dave told of how annoyed he was, because a local man wasn't fighting in the main event, and that they had to bring a couple of Americans in. The two huge behemoths then attacked News, double-teaming him, attacking News' knee.

This brought Ricky Knight out, as he and several other wrestlers helped News back to the locker room. The world title match was now in doubt.

THE BRIXTON BRAWLER & DANNY ROYAL w/ The Beast from the North East v JOHNNY STORM & PAUL TYRELL
What first struck me about the Brixton Brawler, coming down to the ring in his green overalls, and looking like one of the men who collects my rubbish every Thursday, was tat he seemed bemused by everything. Storm and Tyrell, also straight out of the Hardy School of Heartthrobs, came down to the ring to a tremendous ovation, mainly from the ladies!

I had my doubts about this match, mainly upon seeing the Brawler for the first time, but this soon changed. Brawler may have looked like a middle-aged bin man, but he could wrestle!

Of course, we had the usual outside interference from the fat man from up north, but Storm put paid to that by somersaulting over the top rope onto all three of them.

We were also treated to a Dudley-like WAZZUP from Storm and Tyrell. This got a huge pop from the crowd.

A Storm body press followed by a Tyrell body check against the Brawler earned the pin at 12:45. Another good match.

The match was almost ruined by some idiot throwing debris into the ring. Our MC warned against this.

Double M then returned to the ring, asking Ricky Knight to join him for an update on P.N. News. Ricky announces that News will be unable to compete in the world title match because of his knee injury. After an idea from Double M, Ricky announces that Big Dave will face Tiger Steele for the world title.

Then, with We Will Rock You playing again, the Dynamite Dolls return! Hubba hubba!

ZEBRA KID(c) w/ Sheena Summers V JODY FLASH British Cruiser weight Title Match - Ladder Match

Before this match began, while we waited for the Zebra Kid to come down to the ring, some moron came into the ring, took off his shirt and challenged Flash. Security was called, and the moron was dumped from the ring. He earned some cheers, but our Ricky earned even more by stating that "wankers like him can set British wrestling back ten years!" I couldn't agree more.

For me, this was THE match of the evening. There always seems to be something about ladder matches that makes the wrestlers raise their game a bit more. There was some great high-flying action from both men. Neither of them played the heel. Each got some great pops!

As I looked around the arena, I saw by the entrance way that nearly all of the WAW roster had come out to watch the event. It seemed like they were proud of Kid and Flash.

Zebra Kid retained the title at the 15:32 mark. Our MC then praised the efforts of both men. Everyone cheered wildly! They should have received a standing ovation for their efforts. Perhaps I should have started one!

While the debris was cleared from the ring, our MC announces that British Champion Hotstuff would be doing some announcing. He then called for security to come to the bar. Seemed like some mindless morons were trying to spoil it for us again.

DREW MacDONALD w/Emma V ROBBIE BROOKSIDE Falls Count Anywhere

To the chants of  "slimfast", and with a Daffney look-alike, Drew received the usual amount of heel heat, the exact opposite of Brookside. I then remembered that it was Brookside that was Steve Regal's tag partner in that match with Kendo Nagasaki a few years back!

The match spilled out to the ring, and as the action went over to the other side of the arena, I looked at my watch, and decided that I should telephone the taxi firm and put the car back thirty minutes.

While looking for a public telephone, I saw Jody Flash asking where the showers were. I began to wonder - at Wrestlemania V, did Bret Hart wander around Trump Plaza looking for a shower?

I returned to the arena to see Drew unleash a Stone Cold Stunner on Brookside for the win at the 12:35 mark. Apparently there was some outside interference from Emma. Brookside protested, and demanded a re-match at a later date.

THE BULK V POISON Hard-core Match
Upon seeing the two men in this match, I began to wonder - where was our Hard-core Champion, Skull Murphy, who had been advertised for this event? Oh well!

After a vicious shot, Bulk was busted open early on. Later, as the massive man lay prone in the corner, Poison pulled off a move I had never seen in a hard-core match before. Getting a crash helmet from his shopping trolley, he put it on and dived into Bulk's nether regions. I wonder if this would give Rhyno any ideas?

Anyway, power soon prevailed, as Europe's largest wrestler won with what I'll call a Bulk-driver (like the Rikishi driver) at the 7:10 mark. A good contest, which continued after the bell.

Do you think Bulk remembers the time I sat behind him on that bus all those years ago?

SWEET SARAYA & NIKKI BEST V SHEENA SUMMERS & JULIE STARR
As Saraya and Nikki came down to the ring, a cry of "Who let the dogs out" began to sound. Yours truly did not join in for obvious reasons!

My one critique of this match was that it was a little too long. Still, it did have many good point. These days women's wrestling seems to be put on mainly for eye candy purposes, but in this bout, Saraya showed that she has some great wrestling skills. Ricky Knight obviously trained her very well. As far as skill goes, I would have to put her on the same level as a Molly Holly, and just below a Lita.

One good point in the match was when Saraya was hooked up in a corner, Sheena head locked the ref and used him as a battering ram! Memories of the Bushwhackers came flooding back!

Ricky Knight returned to the ring as the heel character to attack Sheena and put Saraya on top of her. Then, our old friend The Terminator then returned and Tombstoned Saraya! Sheena then got the pin on the 12:46 mark.

As the old chant starts again, Saraya gives us all the two-finger salute. Hey Saraya! I wasn't booing!

Our old friend Double M returned, to tell us all about the exiting arrangements.

BIG DAVE WATERS V TEXAS TIGER STEELE World Title Match
Upon seeing Steele for the first time, my first thought was "what a big MF!". This 7'2" monster seemed very much in the Kevin Nash mould.

Big Dave then came out with his brother The Bulk to a great amount of heel heat. Dave Waters is a huge man, but standing next to Steele, he looked dwarfed!

This was a typical power battle between two big men. After the ref was taken out, there was a double clothesline, and as both men lay prone on the mat, Bulk got into the ring and attacked Steele.

This brought out the injured P.N. News, hobbling down to the ring on a metal crutch. Getting into the ring, News assaulted both big men with the crutch as Steele came to.

Now fully recovered, Steele got the pin after taking Dave down with his version of The Big Show's Spinal Tap move at the 9:10 mark. Not a classic match, but still highly enjoyable.

News then grabbed the mike and cut a promo, insulting the locals (again, to cries of "who are you?), and demanding a title shot against Steele. Steele accepted the challenge, and thanked the people of Norwich to a great cheer.

News then continued to insult the locals, and the moron returned! (Why wasn't he thrown out of the building?) News challenged the moron to a match, but the moron ran away as fast as he could!

More trouble seemed to break out in the bar area, as News went berserk and trashed the timekeeper's table.

BATTLE ROYAL
After the great matches of the evening, this seemed a little bit of a letdown. I honestly think that perhaps this match would have been better off at the beginning of the show, instead of at the end.

The man who used the toilet after me, Bash, won the match, and then challenged the Zebra Kid to a Cruiser weight title match.

Fans were then offered the chance to have their photo taken with Tiger Steele for the sum of £5, but I had to decline the offer. It was getting late, my taxi was waiting, and I had to be up early for work the next day.

In conclusion - with the stakes very high in this event, everyone on the card, from the beginning to the end, seemed to raise their game to the next level. They were really pulling out all the stops.

If any show is good enough to put British wrestling back in the shop window, then it's this one. After years of watching the various American products, I was expecting something of a let down. I was wrong. Everyone who took part in this show should be proud of their efforts.

I would like to congratulate all at WAW & NRG Films, and in particular, to Martin Marshall and Ricky Knight, for putting on a great show. I would like to wish you all the best of luck in your attempt to gain a television contract. You deserve it, fellas, and yours truly will be there, on the sidelines, cheering you on, and telling everyone via the Internet, and by word of mouth, of your efforts.

As I said in an e-mail to Martin Marshall earlier today - you've made an old Internet hack very happy, and you've restored my faith in British wrestling!

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