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At the start of this year I made myself a promise: I was gonna make an effort to go to more live wrestling. More specifically, twelve shows in twelve months. Prior to last November there’d been a seven year gap where I hadn’t attended any shows. My experiences with PROGRESS and Revolution Pro, plus an NXT show in Sheffield, were extremely positive and I wanted more. The plan was to go to all of the PROGRESS shows in Manchester, the Super Strong Style 16 tournament, plus RevPro whenever I could.

As it turns out, as the year has gone on I’ve watched more British wrestling and discovered that there’s quite a lot more out there that I wanted to experience live. One of those promotions was ATTACK!, a promotion that runs primarily in Bristol and Cardiff, with upcoming dates in Wolverhampton too. That’s a bit more difficult for me to go to normally but the strength of the roster (comprised of a lot of unusual gimmicks and a strong core of local talent) and the general atmosphere convinced me I had to give it a go. Comparisons to CHIKARA, a promotion I’ve followed quite closely in the past, are intended in an entirely positive way; just as CHIKARA was clearly heavily influenced by Michinoku Pro and Osaka Pro (themselves influenced by lucha libre), ATTACK! draws a lot from mid-2000s American independent wrestling and combines a lot of those aspects with modern British wrestling. Those are two of my favourites periods of wrestling so, when it’s laid out like that, checking out a show was a no brainer.

The show I chose to check out for my first ATTACK! experience was “(Thank God It’s Not Called) Winter Slam”, their latest show at the Walkabout venue in Cardiff. This was a really cool venue for a live wrestling show, with the ring set up at the lowest level at the far end of a massive bar area. The place also has a LOT of video screens, which were ideal for the post-show Summerslam viewing sesh but also got used for entrance videos and my personal favourite, the Virtual DJ. They put on a gigantic montage of Wild Boar package piledriving the heck out of a million dudes and I was sold on the concept entirely. ATTACK! is probably the perfect promotion to throw a load of random clips up in order to convey what they’re all about so I love that idea.

Flash Morgan Webster, pro wrestling hero and king of podcasts, was the master of ceremonies for the show, still recovering from Zack Sabre Jr. breaking his entire body earlier on in the year.

1. ATTACK! Pro Title Tournament Semi-Final: Mike Bird def. Los Federales Santos Sr. with a Black Tiger Bomb to advance to the final.

A hot opener to the show, I enjoyed this a lot. It’s sad to start on a bad note but Mike Bird has shaved his wonderful ginger hair off (for Botswana apparently, they hated his old look and wanted it gone). He was the firm fan favourite here against the newly deputised Santos Sr., no longer representing the longstanding tradition of barrel-chested wristlockin’ egomaniacal Mexican men. No. He now wrestles in the Anti-Fun Police uniform, all black everything, which was quite the look. His daddy on this occasion was Chief Deputy Dunne, his superior in the Anti-Fun Police, who provided moral support (and the occasional bit of outside interference). There was a funny moment when Santos repeatedly slapped the mat while Bird had him in a chinlock or some other hold that only weaklings would submit to, and while he insisted that he had not given up we all knew the truth. Bird was able to overcome the numbers game and get the win to advance with the Black Tiger Bomb. There would be more to come from the Anti-Fun Police later on in the show after this bad start.

Before the next match they announced that instead of having four wrestlers in one match we’d have six, hooray! Considering we only knew three of the original four that meant three magnificent and potentially celebrity guests!

2. Club 100 Six Way: Drew Parker def. Chris Ridgeway, Panda Cub, Splits McPins, Brendan White and Danny Jones with a flying double foot stomp.

I have a confession. I love scramble matches. A well done scramble match with lads flip-flopping around the ring at a breakneck pace (figuratively) is far more appealing to me than a hell of a lot of other styles, and they were definitely the sorts matches I liked to watch the most when I first got into independent wrestling (lots of SAT, Special K and Backseat Boys matches). It’s nonstop action that escalates until one participant is fortunate enough that everyone else is sufficiently dead and the match can end. It’s not a match style that is ideal for showcasing all sorts of wrestlers (you wouldn’t want a scramble with a load of lads who’ve just been watching their RINGS tapes outside of perverse curiosity) but when you’ve got a selection of guys who can do a lot of spectacular stuff this is the perfect way for them to make a big impression. This match lacked Izzy, Dixie and Deranged but it was bloody good anyway, one of my favourite matches of the night.

There weren’t any fabulous celebrity guests but there were a few debuts. Panda Cub is one of those weird gimmicks that looks ridiculous but then when he actually started wrestling he’s fucking awesome. Flipping about and running around at speeds that a panda quite frankly cannot reach, very unrealistic. This was the first appearance of Splits McPins, a new masked wrestler and an avid ten pin bowling enthusiast, and he became an immediate fan favourite, particularly when he launched his bowling ball into a selection of wrestler genitals against their will. He also got a “BOWL FOREVER” chant which was the best. The Bowling Thunder is precisely what it sounds like. The structure of this was exactly what you’d expect, winner stays on rules with wrestlers rolling out after getting hit with big moves, a big dive sequence and finally Drew got the win with a big ol’ double footstomp off the top. Drew’s dive was the pick of the bunch as he used referee Shay as a stepping stone to the top rope before diving onto the pile on the floor. Ridgeway, who I just saw live a few weeks ago in FutureShock, also looked good when he was in, even though he seemed to commit mega mass suicide on a tope into the guardrail which was very scary. Everyone seemed to love this (and I definitely did, I loves me some fast flippy wrasslin’) and from the sounds of things we’ll see more of these dudes.

3. Pete Dunne def. El Ligero with the Drop Dead.

Shock of all shocks, this match was awesome. This was actually my first time seeing Ligero live as a babyface as all of my prior experience with him has been as a heel in the Origin and what a great wrestler he is. He’s one of the most reliable wrestlers around, whatever role you need him to portray, and he makes it look easy. I’ve never seen him half arse it either, and he did some wild stuff here, including a flip dive off the sound booth to the floor. Ligero got the better of Pete at several points during the match and at one point embarrassed him by encouraging referee Shay to schoolboy Dunne for a Ligero-counted uno, dos, tres (more on that in a bit). Pete was appropriately scummy in response to him, biting him, torquing Ligero’s fingers and even targeting his lovely, lovely, lovely little horns. Pete’s constant biting encouraged Ligero to give cannibalism a go himself, applying the theory that in order to defeat a monster you yourself must also become a monster, but he was unable to cover for the win after hitting his C4L DDT. After Ligero had evaded it a few times Pete was finally able to hit Drop Dead (his pumphandle facebuster) for the pin.

After the match Pete attempted to continue his reign of terror by going to murder referee Shay, or at the very least get his win back. Before any grievous bodily harm could occur Shay was saved by ATTACK!’s regular ring announcer Jim Lee (himself a victim of Pete’s wrath a short time ago) who plugged directly into the babyface fire force and sent Pete packing. Jim said that one day he’d meet Pete in the ring and they’d have a bloody big fight and everyone cheered, hooray! This was a really hot end to the first half. Pete’s a fantastically scummy heel in ATTACK!, as he basically is everywhere, but here he’s like the promotion’s resident supervillain. He is the big dog and he’s kind of a jerk about it. Even the other rogues don’t particularly like him. There’s something I like about a main event heel picking on so many non-wrestlers that eventually one of the lads stands up and challenges the heel to a fight in which they may very well be bodied to a permanent end. I hope Jim lives. He took over the ring announcing duties after this. Would’ve been a bit awkward otherwise.

There was a raffle at the intermission. I didn’t win this raffle. Absolutely furious. Attempts at starting chants for individual raffle ticket numbers did not catch on either.

4. ATTACK! Pro Title Tournament Semi-Final: Eddie Dennis def. Wild Boar with an avalanche-style Next Stop Driver to advance to the final.

Absolutely insane match that saw both dudes brawl around the venue after Wild Boar attacked Eddie during the intros and smashed him with a couple of topes. The biggest moment of the match came when the action spilled over near the bar and Wild Boar delivered his signature package piledriver on the floor. Eddie made it back into the ring when Shay started his count but Wild Boar was clearly the favourite from that point on, dominating to majority of the match and even hitting Dennis’s own Next Stop Driver for a nearfall. Wild Boar is such an underrated wrestler and it seems like only ATTACK! and Fight Club: Pro use him to his strengths, at least of the promotions I watch. He’s a great stocky brawler and a very believable bully. The easy (and kinda lazy) comparison for him is Rhino since he isn’t the tallest but he definitely has the look and works with an intensity that allows him to believably dominate a taller wrestler like Dennis. It’s the combination of power moves and speed (such as the aforementioned topes and the corner cannonball he does), dude’s really good. The finish saw Boar take Dennis to the second rope in an attempt to win the match, only for Dennis to grab him in a fallaway slam position before switching to a Next Stop Driver on the way down for the pin. Mental finish.

Eddie went to embrace Wild Boar after the match but ended up getting attacked from behind and punched right in the nadgers which was very upsetting for us all. Mike Bird will wrestle Eddie Dennis and his devastated testicles at some point to decide the first ATTACK! Pro champion.

Also of note was the 24/7 hardcore title match that broke out in the crowd between four Steve Austins and a 1999 Chris Jericho, officiated by a fifth no nonsense troubleshooting referee Steve Austin. There was also a Papa Shango in the crowd but he seemed quite content with the action in the ring but his voodoo works in mysterious ways.

5. The Anti-Fun Police (Chief Deputy Dunne & Officer Banks) def. The Brothers of Construction (Jim Construction & Lee Construction) when Banks fouled Jim to win the ATTACK! 24/7 Title.

This was the great betrayal. After promising us that Travis Banks would not be at the show, Chief Deputy Dunne was proven to be telling the truth. Travis Banks wasn’t there. Officer Banks, the latest member of the Anti-Fun Police, was. This match was really quick, with Banks kicking Jim low and pinning him to win the belts in a matter of seconds.

Unable to tolerate the police brutality we’d just seen, rogue fugitive and disgraced former police officer Ryan Smile hit the ring and we got another match!

5a. Ryan Smile & Lee Hunter def. The Anti-Fun Police (Chief Deputy Dunne & Officer Banks) when Ryan pinned Banks to win the ATTACK! 24/7 Title.

This was wild from start to finish, as you might expect after what had preceded it. Ryan Smile was back to himself after leaving the force, as shown when he hit a VERY fun somersault plancha over the ringpost onto a pile of bodies. After being thwarted a few times Lee hit the pedigree, everyone in attendance hailed, and Ryan got the pin to win the 24/7 title. The whole Anti-Fun Police thing is one of my favourite acts in wrestling at the moment and there’s some potential in Ryan Smile building a pro-fun faction, although it will surely end in lengthy incarcerations for all involved. Lots and lots of action in this one, they really sprinted through it, and as a taster of things to come in this AFP vs. Smile feud I suspect there’s a lot more of this to come.

6. ATTACK! Tag Team Title TLC Match: #CCK (Chris Brookes & Mondai Lykos) def. Bayside High (Mark Andrews & Nixon Newell) to win the titles when Brookes retrieved the belts.

If you’ve seen the ladder match between these teams from earlier this year it’ll be no surprise to hear this was a bit of a beautiful car crash, as all TLC matches should be. Lykos took some absolutely insane bumps here, as he often does, including a super frankensteiner from Andrews that sent him somersaulting head first onto an unfolded steel chair. Lykos is one of my favourites in ATTACK! and the whole dynamic between the #CCK members is tremendous. Chris Brookes is the clear leader and a bit of a jerk who doesn’t really respect Lykos as his equal, but Lykos is a willing foot soldier who will be a complete nuisance and, if required, get absolutely bodied to help the team, so he’s worth keeping around. There was a funny moment in the middle of the match where Nixon and Shay really struggled to set up a table, leading to the legs getting broken and some DIY repairs involving a chair and the middle rope. Not that Nixon should have bothered; an attempted super frankensteiner of her own saw Brookes superbomb her through the mess. It wouldn’t be British wrestling if the furniture didn’t fight back.

Lykos’s propensity to take wild shit did work to #CCK’s benefit on this occasion, as Andrews set him up on a table on the outside before diving through it with a somersault senton. Just as Lykos had been eliminated from their ladder match after a tumble to the floor, this took both Lykos and Andrews out of the match for the remainder, which was not long. Brookes rapidly climbed up the ladder, knocking Nixon out again to buy himself some time, and he grabbed the belts to win the belts back. It’s good to see that ladder matches on the independents have moved away from the early-to-mid 2000s thing where you seemed to get a lot of insane bumps through ladders, onto the sides of ladders, as if the promotion had a surplus of the things and just needed to get rid of a few by launching their employees through them. I’m thinking of those CZW matches where Joker and Chris Cash would have ladders and tables and more ladders and fall through them from a great height. There’s not so much of that anymore. The matches between these two teams have some big spots but (a) there’s not a million of them so they’re easier to remember, and (b) they build and build until the biggest spot of them all is the last one of the match. As with the ladder match earlier this year, when that big spot occurred the match did not go on much longer and run the risk of outstaying its welcome. It might be an odd thing to praise but it’s nice to see wrestlers working these stipulations on the independents who seem to have a clue how to have a memorable match without breaking every single bone in their bodies. A really exciting main event for a really exciting show!

Overall I don’t think I could have had a more positive first live experience of ATTACK. Every match was entertaining with some real standout moments and a lot of variety across the card. There was hard-hitting stuff, high flying, comedy, and the main event brought a more hardcore style. The area of the crowd I was standing in was so much fun all night and made for a fantastic atmosphere. I was absolutely exhausted by the end (to the point where I completely zoned out of Summerslam for the hour or two I watched) but this was such a good time that I’m definitely gonna do it again. I started this by noting that my original goal was to attend twelve shows in twelve months across the entirety of 2016. This show, and other recent experiences with promotions like Fight Club: PRO and FutureShock Wrestling, mean I’ll probably hit that show total in the last few months of the year alone.

Love the graps.

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