I don’t think it’s much of a secret that I didn’t enjoy last week’s debut edition of WhatCulture “Loaded” so much, but let’s give it another go. I’ve given considerably worse promotions more of a chance, plus the card for this week looked good. I don’t really expect them to act on much of the feedback until the next set of tapings, although with that said much of the stuff they taped at the shows was fine. It was everything around it (the pre-taped backstage stuff with the WhatCulture personalities and the commentary) that wasn’t so good. Without knowing their production process, that strikes me as something that you may have more control over week by week.
In the week that’s passed they released a video criticising their own show in an offbeat manner which was fair enough, although I’ve seen a similar format used on Videogamer in response to critics. In that case, its most common form involved reading YouTube comments from their videos, which were inevitably made by awful people, and while that’s presented in a jokey manner after a while it became apparent that there’s some thin skin there. At a point, just ignore what people are saying and get on with it. I hope my review of last week, and this week’s too, are a bit more constructive than a YouTube comment. And on that note, the wrestling.
King Ross and Simon Miller recapped last week’s atrocities in which Rampage Brown murdered a man and liked it. In the ring, the delicious Adam Panini noted that Rampage had broken the security guard’s neck with a piledriver last week and banned the move, so that’s that. This promotion needs a Big Sexecutioner to get that ban overturned.
Adam Blampied, a discounted Jack Whitehall (and that price is being slashed by the day), hyped Rampage Brown up backstage and dubbed their unholy alliance “Blampage”. Rampage looked embarrassed to be there, which seemed to be the intention for the most part. He was playing a role but inside you knew he was dying. Like Bobby Davro on Hole in the Wall.
1. Drake vs. The Primate
This match was quite exciting on paper although that was almost solely reliant on the singer-songwriter Drake participating. He did not participate. This man looked like Josh Prohibition. That’s a troublesome comparison since you’ll probably have to Google Josh Prohibition, and chances are you’ll find pictures of Josh Prohibition with hair anyway. You may as well search “UK Wrestling Drake”, it’ll get you where you want to be considerably quicker. Or just imagine Chris Renfrew but they took away his marker pens. Once I managed to overlook the upsetting Drake revelations, the match was okay. It was pretty quick and Drake mostly got the shit kicked out of him. Primate hit all of the suplexes and won with a spear. “Drake goes back to the… Draking board” was a comment so bad that even Ross had to apologise immediately.
Prince Ameen offered Gabriel Kidd the chance to be his slave boy and revealed they’d be teaming up next. After a graphics swooooosh, James R. Kennedy offered Drake the chance to fight Big Damo for a big bag of money and he seemed to accept it. More swoooooshin’ and nonsense with Miller and Ross. Joe Hendry and Joseph Conners agreed to team up because Hendry decided that aligning himself with a wrestler would be better than siding with a YouTuber. No weird green screen this week, which is good, although I need a canonical reason why they moved out of the castle/love dungeon. Lots of chitchat in this bit.
The next part began with another interview with Hendry and Conners. The last bit was apparently taped last week (which made sense, Conners was selling his injuries) and this bit is current. It did feature significant storyline progression though as Hendry gave Conners some special golden trunks. In tears at the colour coordination, the sign of a good and proper tag team. Jennifer Louise from ICW did the interview, by the way, and my word.
2. Joe Hendry & Joseph Conners vs. Prince Ameen & Gabriel Kidd
They seemed to be having both of these teams bicker, although it was way more obvious with Kidd and Ameen. I think the Joes just clashed because they’re both such bloody good lads and they want to impress the great wrestling fans so much. Ameen is a deeply uninteresting heel. I realise a heel probably shouldn’t do a lot of cool stuff because, y’know, they’re meant to get booed, but everything he does is straight out of a textbook written in about 1985, and not a very good textbook. The moths have been at it good and proper, but rest assured they left the bit about stalling untouched. This match went way longer than it should’ve, mostly because Ameen controlled a lot of it, until Kidd did the good and proper thing by tagging in and taking the Righteous Kill. Hendry blind tagged Conners and got the pin, but he gave Conners a big thumbs up after so everything was fine. It was just banter, Joseph mate. Ameen slapped Kidd after the match. Put that man in the bin.
Martin Kirby confronted Adam Panini backstage with a microphone and was like what the heck man, I wanna wrestle Jay Lethal. The best bit of this was Kirby bringing his own microphone. Noam Dar was chattin’ grapplin’ with Jennifer Louise but was interrupted by Jack the Jobber and Noam said “I’ve seen your videos” like a man under significant duress. Jack assured him that he believed Noam could beat Rampage Brown tonight. They then compared hairstyles. A peculiar segment.
3. Jay Lethal vs. El Ligero
What the heck! Jay Lethal stumbled through a portal to a hellish alternate dimension (Newcastle) and somehow arrived here with his ROH title. Stipulation here was that if Ligero won he’s get an ROH title shot. The commentary, which had either been better thus far or simply easier to ignore (likely the latter), became a bit more annoying during this match. I suspect this was because I knew these two would have a good match and, with relatively high stakes, it deserved better. Certainly better than King Ross asking why Jay Lethal, international wrestling star, wasn’t in the WWE, presuming it was because Vince McMahon didn’t know who he was. The crowd also came across like they were informed enough to be aware of both wrestlers, but only on a very basic level. As a result, after initially going for a good and proper match, Lethal started doing Black Machismo stuff because that’s what the fans wanted. It was fine, it was just a little bit odd to see. Ligero got things back on track with a rolling senton off the apron to the floor, then blocked the Lethal Injection with a dropkick. Lethal is second only to Marty Scurll in the “calling for your finisher” stakes, and both are decorated athletes. A word of advice to all upcoming wrestlers: get a cool finisher, then shout out its name. It won’t work the first three times you say it but everyone’ll get hyped and you’ll probably win a magnificent championship belt.
A legitimately awesome sequence took place involving a lot of forearms and kicks and such that knocked both men out and drew the expected chant, so Ross bemoaned the very existence of a “This is awesome” chant in modern wrestling. There’s a time and a place for that point, my friend. Lethal clamped on the figure four and everyone said “woo” because Ric Flair. Ross then asked if we’d seen that promo between Jay Lethal and Ric Flair. The commentary at times seems to be catering to people whose internet access is limited to the Wayback Machine, or people whose only wrestling experience comes from those articles on normal websites where they’re like “You’ll never believe this weird thing that happened on the wrestling!”. They love Brother Nero along with the rest of us. Ligero scored a nearfall off a cutter but a big boy splash off the top missed. “Fight forever” chant. I’m not employed to do commentary on these matches, nor will I ever if they read these reviews, but that chant seemed a little forced. Then Martin Kirby ran in and stomped on Lethal to cost Ligero the match by DQ. Ligero chucked Kirby out of the ring after the match. Lethal said he couldn’t get clearance from the Lizard Man to give Ligero a title shot on this show but promised him a title match in the future. Fans were yelling all sorts of obnoxious shit during this. They then shook hands. This was an great promo from Lethal, all fired up.
That may have been the worst possible finish to this one, dear God. We, as a wrestling community, need a moratorium on disqualification/no contest finishes until people can work out how to use them properly. If your match is long and really good, don’t end it like that. Nobody’s ever really particularly hyped about an upcoming match when it ends it a DQ, it just makes the 15-20 minutes that have come before feel like a wasted investment. Same with count out finishes (excluding Toru Yano vs. Yujiro Takahashi from New Japan which may be one of the finest count out finishes in the history of wrestling). You watch enough television wrestling, you eventually realise the longer the match, the more annoying the inevitable fuck finish is. And that’s the most frustrating thing: this was a really good match. Aside from the wacky callbacks to Black Machismo, which resembled something you’d see on a house show match, both dudes worked really hard and had a fun match. That’s not a shock, Ligero’s supremely underrated and incredibly reliable, and Lethal’s always good too. I’d love to see these guys wrestle again, and I wanna see Ligero wrestle more big names in general because he’s wonderful.
Joe Coffey and The Primate had a backstage confrontation. Primate was standing mostly off screen and wasn’t facing the camera like he had stagefright or something. This hasn’t been a very compelling build for these two having a big fight.
4. Rampage Brown vs. Noam Dar
Rampage Brown is just Rampage in WCPW, but it’s weird when wrestling promotions do that so I refuse to adhere to it. Take away a man’s surname like that and you dehumanise him. He is not a monster, he is a man, and a ruddy great big man at that. Miller suggested this match might have a horrific finish which got me extremely worried. Ross pointed out that both of these men have WWE experience, as Noam is in the Cruiserweight Classic and Rampage was, um, on the WWE version of ECW. The new breed was unleashed and Rampage was a very small part of this unleashing. This match went just about like you might expect, with Rampage clobbering Noam and Noam firing back. Noam’s comebacks are always top. Adam Blampied got involved to force Noam to break the Champagne Superkneebar, allowing Rampage to hit a spinebuster. Blampied ordered Rampage to hit the piledriver and earn himself a £500 fine and a suspension from the Tyne-and-Wear Athletic Commission, but he hit a big old Batista Bomb for the pin instead. A good main event with a clean finish, what on earth! Blampied seemed annoyed that he didn’t see a piledriver. As kinks go, that’s an interesting one. Big Damo came out and had a brawl with Rampage while Jack the Jobber paced after Blampied. One was slightly more compelling than the other.
A better effort this week, although there’s still a lot of problems that may take slightly longer to correct (if they’re even perceived as problems, I’m just a dickhead rambling to myself on the internet). There were two good matches, one marred by a bad finish, and neither of the other two were terrible or anything. The production still has its moments of being completely baffling, to the point where I’m not sure why they didn’t retape a lot of this stuff, but after the first week I expected far worse, and the WhatCulture personality stuff seemed a bit more toned down on this episode. Anything with Jack the Jobber and Adam Blampied does resemble Vince McMahon and Donald Trump recruiting their close personal friends Umaga and Robert Lashley to fight for their hair for some reason. They may as well not be there when the big lads start throwing down. Overall though, the signs are at least there that they’ve listened to some feedback, and the fact that they booked Ligero vs. Lethal in the first place suggests there’s some awareness of what actual quality wrestling should look like. If they could take the “good wrestling” bit from modern WWE TV and leave the “shitty finishes” bit that’d go a long way to improving things.