Category Archives: Europe

(04/26) Tommy End (c) vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr.

Turbinenhalle (Oberhausen, Germany)
wXw Unified World Wrestling Championship 

Tommy End might be the Ricochet of Western Europe.  I say that because Tommy End – like Ricochet – has transformed himself from a pro wrestler with obvious upside but few tangible results, to a wrestler on the brink of putting it all together.  Their wrestling styles are far different, but both Ricochet and End have (at times) during the first 4+ months of 2014 felt like wrestlers on the cusp of something bigger.

End enters this match just a couple of months shy of the one-year mark as the wXw Unified World Wrestling Champion.  Davey Boy Smith Jr. is the most well-known of End’s title challengers to date – a list that includes several wXw regulars and a trio of mediocre junior heavyweights with international resumes (Ricky Marvin, Zack Sabre Jr., and Jonathan Gresham).  The son of the British Bulldog has maintained a relatively low profile since leaving WWE.  He has found himself largely relegated to the tag team division in New Japan and is an infrequent presence elsewhere, only popping up from time to time in random promotions in the US and Europe.

On paper this match was intriguing to me because End works a kick-boxing, submission style that he has progressively become more adept at.  Smith Jr. trained with the late Billy Robinson and has additional grappling & submission training experience even if he rarely shows it off in New Japan.  There were all the makings for a strong stylistic pairing here.

Sure enough they do just that, beginning with a lock up that leads to some grappling and jockeying for position.  It was all very smooth and fluid.  The match ends up on the ground in short order with Davey Boy largely controlling things.  There are a couple of standoffs thrown in for good measure and End bails out of the ring at one point to pout.

One of the reasons End appears close to putting it altogether is that he has developed a strong character and heel persona.  “Angry Dutch kick boxer” might not seem like much of a gimmick but it totally gels with End’s look and wrestling style.  I completely buy him as this jaded, wannabe, self-trained kick boxer who washed out of that scene, turned to pro wrestling out of necessity and now finds himself cursing his bad luck that it is Peter Aerts pulling in a $28,000 per match salary from IGF when it could be him.

The match goes to the outside but for only a brief moment.  End slams Smith’s knee on the apron before he getting a taste of his own medicine.  Back inside, Davey Boy goes for a stomp to the midsection and feels a tweak in his knee as he does so, which he gets across with a great subtle sell.  Smith’s knee becomes something of an irregular target for End the remainder of the match.  This is not a limb work match at all but End tends to attack Smith’s leg when the opportunity presents itself.  Smith does the same with End’s arm.  The selling from both guys is exactly where it needs to be given the match layout.

Smith locks on a nice rolling arm bar at one point that End might have stayed in for too long.  For the stretch run of the match, Davey Boy pulls out his simple but effective array of power offense (slams, power bomb, and things like that).  This is the one part of the match I was not completely enamored with although to be clear, it was perfectly fine.  The crowd wasn’t really buying that Davey Boy – one of several outsiders working this Superstars of Wrestling card – was going to win the title.  As a result, the attempted near falls didn’t register much of an impact and probably could have been downplayed some as a result.  The ending was well-executed and the match ended at a good spot length wise.

I want to watch this again because I won’t dismiss the idea that some of my enjoyment came from the fact that they more or less wrestled the style of match I hoped they would.  However, on first viewing I liked this quite a bit.  It was a solid heavyweight match which is a rare commodity these days outside of the top promotions.  The match felt like one that you could stick almost anywhere on a past or present WCW or WWE PPV card and the event would have be better for it.

Singles Title Match | Watch It | Quality

(03/15) Tommy End (c) vs. Jonathan Gresham

Turbinenhalle Oberhausen (Oberhausen, Germany)
wXw Unified World Heavyweight Championship

This match had a lot of hype from fans that witnessed it live and I could definitely see why. It wasn’t quite the MOTYC that some have made it out to be, but I enjoyed it quite a bit in spite of some of its flaws.

They actually billed Gresham at 5’2 or 5’3 (I don’t remember exactly which one) which in the world of professional wrestling worked heights and weights stands out for its accuracy. Poor guy really is so small – even by US indie standards – and far more solid than spectacular that you can see he would struggle finding regular gigs. He is extremely solid and well-rounded but if you are just eclipsing the five-foot mark you likely need more than “well-rounded” on your resume in order to stick out.

The bulk of the match is worked cat-and-mouse style with Gresham using his quickness advantage to get spurts of offense while End cuts him off in short order each time Gresham starts to get something going. End is hit or miss for me. I thought he was off versus Zack Sabre Jr. in January but this was a much better showing from him. His kicks generally looked good, his cut-offs were on the mark, and both guys worked a smart match. The mat work at the beginning was basic but effective. I thought all of Gresham’s dives looked good and were well placed within the body of the match.

They probably would have been better off stretching the mat work for a few extra minutes because the final few minutes of the 19-minute match got a little kick out and pop up happy. The cat-and-mouse sections worked well because you look at the two – End much bigger with a kickboxing arsenal and Gresham as the small but technically proficient wrestler – and that dynamic makes a lot of sense. Gresham taking copious amounts of punishment, shrugging it off, and hitting his own offense fits the visual expectations of this match up far less.

On the positive side, they could have gone much further with it. Like the Hero/Styles match from the following week, the match ends quickly via submission just when the match seems in danger of veering way out of control. I don’t know if sudden submission endings are turning into a new thing, but I would certainly welcome that trend on the indies over long kick-out fests.

US Indie | Worthwhile | Quality & Hype

(01/03) Dean Allmark (c) vs. Robbie Dynamite

All-Star Wrestling
Floral Pavilion (New Brighton, Merryside, England)
ASW Superslam Championship

Dean Allmark and Robbie Dynamite rarely have bad matches versus each other. They had a number of good singles and tag matches (with the equally good Rampage Brown as Dynamite’s partner) in 2013, including a surprisingly good tables match late last summer (“surprising” since table matches generally stink). This was another good match between the two that fits right in with their larger bodies of work.

As per usual with ASW matches, the crowd interaction and crowd reaction adds so much to the atmosphere of this match. Dynamite telling the crowd – comprised of many kids – to “shush” in order to get them even more riled up works like magic. To me, Allmark in ASW is one of the best (if not the best) babyfaces anywhere in the world today. He gets a crowd behind him so easily, can get them to chant support or jeer the opponent on cue, and works a very solid, traditional babyface style.

Dynamite doesn’t do much in this match besides setting up Allmark’s offense and comebacks, but that is all he needed to do. He goes to a chin lock often, but almost always at the correct time to rally the crowd behind Allmark. Allmark was really crisp in this one hitting all of his hope and comeback spots perfectly. I know the headstand in the corner spot is nothing new in British wrestling but it is such a great spot. Poor Dynamite falls for it yet again, having not yet learned that charging at Allmark while he is standing on his head on the turnbuckle is only going to lead to a boot to the mouth.

Your typical solid Dean Allmark and Robbie Dynamite match. This match – and these guys – are proof that you don’t need to constantly reinvent the wheel in wrestling. They work similar matches basically all-year around in the same towns, using the same spots. They have a definite formula but because that formula is a good one, it works no matter how many times the fans see it.

British Singles | Common | Quality

(01/25) Dean Allmark & James Mason vs. Dave Mastiff & Doug Williams

All-Star Wrestling
The Hexagon (Reading, Berkshire, England)

The first ASW match of the year to show up online is this tag team match pitting perennial baby faces Allmark and Mason versus the veteran Doug Williams and Dave Mastiff. I could really watch these ASW matches all day long. I love the theatre settings and the increased interaction directly with the crowd that comes with it. Allmark and the other ASW regulars really have the basics of controlling a crowd and weaving a simple match around it down to a science.

This match is a good example of how basic the matches can get, but how even with the simplest of formulas they are still really fun. Allmark and Mason spend 90% of the match selling and/or leading the crowd in chants. When they aren’t, they are pulling out some good basic moves as part of their comebacks. The heels, Mastiff and Williams, might not have done anything other than choke their opponents (usually around the ropes) and jaw with the crowd. The lack of moves doesn’t matter – it all gets the desired reaction from the fans that are all too happy to play along.

Admittedly, if all ASW matches were this simplistic it would become stale rather soon, but then again that is true for most styles. That doesn’t matter because they do a great job varying match types and styles, all of which are usually pulled off extremely well – this basic tag team match included.

Southern Tag | Watchable | Quality

(01/18) Tommy End (c) vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

Westside Xtreme Wrestling
Turbinenhalle (Oberhausen, Germany)
wXW Heavyweight Championship

I watched this match twice because I really did not know what to think of it the first time.

First time through, I really dug the opening 5 minutes of mat work and got all giddy hoping the match would build off of the early groundwork and turn into something great. The transition from holds to the true body of the match was accomplished via what I thought (and still think) was sort of a neat, if not perfectly-executed sequence. End and Sabre Jr. traded forearms and kicks at ringside before the ref told them to get in the ring. They moved to the apron, where they again traded strikes. The ref again admonished them, so they got in the ring where they continued going at it. It was played for half-comedy and half ramping up the action from holds into something more heated.

From that point on – as the match moved into near falls – it was not as good as the first few minutes, but at just about 10 minutes total match time, it never really felt apart either. I watched it again later hoping I would enjoy it more the second time, but got less out of it the second go-around. Sabre Jr.’s weak strikes (forearms and uppercuts) stuck out to me more, especially in relation to how stiff he worked in the opener. The opening mat work did less for me the second time around as well, perhaps because this time I could no longer hang my hope on the match blossoming into something even better in the second half.

These two had a fine match in the finals of the 2013 16 Carrot Gold Tournament last March would I would seek out well before this one where something – like most of the matches from this card – was just a tad off.

Nondescript Singles | Skippable | Title Match