Another Aberdeen Anarchy event has come and gone, and WrestleZone, once again, knocked it out of the park when it comes to delivering pure entertainment. You had moments to cheer, boo, laugh and cry all amalgamated into about three hours of family friendly wrestling.
It was only a few weeks ago where I sang the praises of WrestleZone for their Regal Rumble event seamlessly setting up everything for Aberdeen Anarchy with only a few weeks between, all due to securing former WWE Cruiserweight Champion and AEW’s PAC which meant moving Aberdeen Anarchy from June to April. We got logical reasoning for matches, a little chaos and plenty of anticipation. A lesser company would have panicked at the task to join the dots and not to just throw matches about willynilly but WrestleZone triumphed to give us one of the best Aberdeen Anarchy events that I have ever seen.
Having been at the Beach Leisure Centre before for WrestleZone I had some concerns. First, the meet and greet. For Christmas Chaos (Comes Early!), in order to meet Mick Foley we were herded into a staircase that was rife with body odor and farts before eventually making our way to the top to meet Mick Foley. The meeting was grand but the queuing experience was not a highlight of that day. Thankfully the meeting and greeting took place in the event hall itself which was a hop, skip and jump away from the entrance with staggered entry which let everything go smoothly. There was plenty of time to meet PAC, browse the merchandise tables and chat with fans before vacating the venue to attempt to kill time. Every year I do this, and every year I say to myself that I’ll miss the meet and greet and take my chances before or after the show… but, in the words of Aerosmith, “I don’t want to miss a thang”.
I chatted to PAC about the Dragon Gate Open The Dream Gate belt that he had with him, a belt that I had strangely had a hold of before back in 2014 when Ricochet came up to Inverness. Chatted that, talked about this being the furthest he’s been North to wrestle, random stuff and things. Probably the most coherent conversation ever had with a special guest for Aberdeen Anarchy. Don’t think I said anything that will keep me awake randomly at 3am in the morning when the brain goes “pssst… hey, Billy, remember when you said…”
It was so well set up that it wouldn’t be totally out of the realm of possibility to extend that further. I know that the last few years the meet and greet has been set for 2-3 hours but everyone seems to go in the first hour leaving the remaining time empty, so this year the meet and greet was an hour with additional opportunities before and after the show itself. If there was a way to make it like a convention day before the show begins that would be pretty cool. Depending on what they can do with the guests, it would be cool to have a “press conference” sort of thing either with the guests involved in a Q&A or with the WrestleZone wrestlers. It could be streamed on their Facebook page and maybe some further storyline developments can happen. This is all off the top of my head so that’s without thinking about the logistics, time, media reach etc. Even have showcase matches with WrestleZone Training Academy trainees, fairly certain I’ve stolen that suggestion from Mark Leslie so he can take credit for that idea.
Time was killed with a visit to Smyths to see that they had replica WWE Cruiserweight belts on clearance, them sly dawgs, my wallet almost leapt out of my pocket but returned sulking shortly afterwards. Before heading back to the venue I had my, now annual, pre-show Burger King. A disappointing king bacon box meal that I attempted to get last year but slow queues ruined it. It actually saved me. I shouldn’t expect much from £4.99 but it was pretty measly to look at. Before I delve deeper into my eating habits once again, I’ll just move on to the pre-show.
PAC was once again on hand for the meeting and the greeting as the VIP ticket holders made their way in for the pre-show. There were a lot of VIP entries, with the majority, from my perspective, of the crowd coming in at this time. The ghost of Lord Mr Malice manned the production desk, which was haunting, flashbacks from his death at The Regal Rumble flooded my mind once more. After a quick introduction from MC Martyn Clunes, just noticed that Martyn’s initials are MC making him born for such a role, we kicked off with the first match.
The entrants to the advertised triple threat piled in, we had “The Bone Collector” Irving Garrett, this being the first time I would see Garrett wrestle live, I was quite interested to see him collect some bones. We had Kaden Garrick, who has made sparing appearances over the last year or so, and Alan Sterling’s God-like bodyguard, Caleb Valhalla. All three squared up but a voice stopped proceedings with former WrestleZone Tag Team Champion Krieger turning up. One of the most underrated talents in the country right now, Krieger is an entertainment machine, he makes towns and scuds clowns. After a bit of talking, Krieger added himself to the match to make it a fatal four way. We got some twisting and hyperextensions from Garrett, the explosive power of Garrick, the sheer brute strength in Valhalla then Krieger who’s a dab hand at everything. Plenty of action kicked off the pre-show portion with all four having fleeting moments that could have gained victory. Garrett would take any chance to grab body parts and twist, while Krieger would initially seek an alliance with Caleb Valhalla which didn’t last too long. Valhalla was an impressive beast, a bit rough around the edges, but a little time will smooth that out. He certainly has the look to be a star. All of this was taking place while PAC looked on from the meet and greet area, nothing like a little extra pressure to get the adrenaline flowing. Garrick hit a thunderous spear but was soon hoisted up by Valhalla and swung out for a side slam for the win. If he’s looking for names for the move I’m thinking Stormbreaker or The Mighty Mjolnir.
An entertaining and action packed bonus bout with very little wasted motion. Garrett threw out some things that I have never seen before, with submissions coming out of thin air, and I’m so excited to see where Valhalla goes from here. More ring time and his alliance with the always entertaining Alan Sterling will really tap into the potential that is bubbling just above the surface. I predict big things in the future for Caleb Valhalla.
It was a joyous surprise to have Krieger appear out of nowhere, he’s a special breed that has all this charisma, size and is pretty good in the ring to add to it. I’ve no idea what it would take to get Krieger from being a guy on the roster to being the guy closing the show but he has something to offer, something between him and Valhalla would be fantastic.
After the VIP match, the general admissioners filed into the venue. Due to the capacity of the event hall, the crowd was smaller than previous 1,000+ sell outs of Aberdeen Anarchy events from The Beach Ballroom but there was still a good few hundred in attendance with no noticeable empty seats. The lower numbers didn’t stop there always being noise, be it cheers, boos or murmurs, coupled with the echoy event hall, there was a buzz in the air throughout the evening.
The show kicked off officially with the triple threat number one contendership tag team match that I forgot from the SWN Live! preview show, an omission that saw many messages come my way from the competitors in the match pretty much telling me that they’d give me something that I wouldn’t forget. They weren’t wrong.
Coming into this you had the former WrestleZone Tag Team Champions, Chris Archer and Mikkey Vago of The Rejected, the relatively new Ted O’Keefe and Dino Del Monte of The Outfit, plus the fresh team on the block Ryan Riley and Bradley Evans forming The Foundation of the Future only 28 days prior. All of the competitors in the match came up from the WrestleZone Training Academy which is a testament to the work put into the match along with the creativity of the characters, styles and what each brought into the match. Bradley Evans is morphing into Bruiser Brody with each passing show, his furry boots were a sight. I think I’ve said in a past review that if Evans made some tweaks to be an enforcer then it was his ticket, and I think he’s punching that ticket right now.
The action was thick and fast with each team showing creating chances to gain victory. The Foundation of the Future were very slick for being such a new team, chalk and cheese character-wise but they took control at several points. Mikkey Vago busted out an impressive moonsault, picking up some moves from his tag team partner. The Outfit were on another level, Dino Del Monte threw out a lovely piledriver on Chris Archer than was smooth like butter while O’Keefe had an incredible Arn Anderson style spinebuster to rattle Archer who took some beating in this match. The Rejected and Bradley Evans had a brief team up to deliver a triple powerbomb to Ted O’Keefe that almost knocked him out of his fetching waistcoat. The Outfit took every advantage presented and downed Vago with a Magic Killer to secure themselves a tag team championship match at Battle of the Nations.
A convincing showing from The Outfit that have been on the up since their debut less than 12 months ago. As the months go by, O’Keefe and Del Monte have really been improving at a rapid pace. It shouldn’t come much of a surprise at this stage when it comes to talent from the WrestleZone Training Academy.
A fantastic opening contest for the main card, three unique teams putting everything out there to really fight to become the top contenders in the tag team division. You really felt that each team wanted to end it early which lead to little downtime with at least one member of each team being present in about the action for the majority of the match.
A high intensity encounter followed by Alan Sterling‘s quest to break the Aberdeen Anarchy undefeated streak (4-0) of fan favourite Grado. Grado stepped into the ring having defeated the likes of Scotty 2 Hotty, teaming with Chris Masters, Rikishi, and Santino Marella, to say his past Aberdeen Anarchy encounters have been high profile would be an understatement. Alan entered with a recently reborn attitude following the break up of Sterling Oil this past September, he has the behemoth Caleb Valhalla in tow and is making it “All About Alan”. Alan was all business coming into the match.
The crowd was loud for everything Grado would dish out, we got the classic Grado moves from the dead weight German Suplex counter, that even had Valhalla enter to try and assist Alan to no avail, to the Roll N Slice, numerous trip ups and the bionic elbow. Thanks to Valhalla’s push into the ring post, Sterling took control of Grado for a large portion of the match. Alan Sterling threw everything and even attempted a Swanton Bomb, which didn’t connect. Thanks to Valhalla’s intervention, Sterling rolled up Grado for the three count to shockingly break the undefeated streak.
The crowd were stunned for a moment, not since WrestleMania 30 had such a monumental streak been broken. Grado got the last laugh by hitting Alan with the RGradO then to Caleb Valhalla for good measure while the beast was removing his snazzy shirt that was covered in the face of Alan Sterling (a must buy, surely it’ll be sold at events soon). It finished as this whole story began with Grado shoving soap into the mouth of Alan to get everyone cheering.
A really fun match that had a really good mix of comedy moments but Alan Sterling looked really aggressive in his offense. Sterling has this mix of being able to be a total buffoon but also be absolutely solid in the ring. There’s many in WrestleZone that are now branching out across the country but Alan Sterling seems to be one that’s missed. Whether it’s down to his own personal wrestling goals, he could very well be happy in WrestleZone and doesn’t want to fill every weekend with wrestling but he’s good enough to do it. As I said in the first match, his experience and charisma is perfect in molding Caleb Valhalla into the total package. God help Alan Sterling if he mistreats the beast and has a rampaging Norse God coming towards him.
We rattled through the first half with our first title match, Mr P defended the WrestleZone Tri-Counties Championship in a fatal four way against former champion Andy Wild, a man on the cusp of being the first grand slam champion in the modern WrestleZone era Shawn Johnson, and finally the ever present Jason Reed who was on a quest to make WrestleZone great again.
Much like the matches that proceeded it, you had to keep your eyes darting about to take in all the action. Andy Wild was always on hand to throw someone about, whilst Jason Reed took as much downtime as possible. It was nice to see Shawn Johnson bust out some of his Hotshots offense, though after his incredible run in Sterling Oil it was almost jarring to see him out of the black and red and once again in the blue colours of The Granite City Hotshots. Agent W couldn’t escape the action as he found himself military pressed by Andy Wild over the top rope and onto the other combatants below. It looked like Wild would finally end his Aberdeen Anarchy curse with a big Vader Bomb onto Mr P seemingly wrapping up the victory but a last second kick from Jason Reed saw Wild taken out and Reed winning his first singles title. Jason Reed accomplished his goal to become WrestleZone Tri-Counties Champion and celebrated like any scoundrel would, blowing his nose on Mr P’s Scotland flag.
The one match I was absolutely positive in the result beforehand. No doubts at all. Jason Reed is proof of taking an opportunity and making it something incredible. Thanks to the chants from the WrestleZone crowd, he molded such a detestable character. His Trumpesque character is so easy to hate, his swagger and overall smugness just aggravates anyone that comes into contact with him. A character with seemingly no redeeming qualities is often missing from wrestling, there’s very little flash to Reed’s moves but he approaches it with such cockiness that you can’t help but boo. Brilliant.
Before we headed for a breather, it was time for the first half main event. A triple threat with the returning Bingo Ballance, current ICW World Heavyweight Champion Lionheart and the unpinned (in WrestleZone) monster Crusher Craib. Coming into this match it was so great to see the Lionheart-Crusher motivations stemmed from their match from their clash in Insane Championship Wrestling late last year. Out of all the matches on this show this was possibly the closest to “thrown together” with no real reason to have Bingo Ballance other than giving Craib more challengers. Not that I was complaining, Ballance always puts in a big performance especially when it comes to Aberdeen Anarchy.
Crusher entered with some creepy purple face paint, no idea what/if it was in reference to but once the half mask was removed my first thought was a Sentinal from that their X-Men. A big near-unstoppable giant machine seemed fitting. In a beautiful piece of storytelling, Connor Inglis was at ringside manning security. Of course Connor has been subjected to unprovoked attacks from Crusher which increased in frequency after Connor eliminated Crusher in seconds at the Regal Rumble. Craib mauled Connor, who stood up for himself for the most part, at ringside leading to him being carried out.
Lionheart and Ballance spent a large part trying to take Crusher out of the match so that it could be one on one. The fleeting minutes of the two facing off was slick and fantastic. A singles match surely must be down the line. Crusher would barrel in to cause carnage. With Lionheart taken out it looked like Craib was going to add to his unpinned streak but young Connor Inglis made his way to the ring and delivered a big springboard forearm to Craib which allowed Bingo to scoop him up for a Samoan driver to hand Crusher his first pinfall loss in WrestleZone since Aberdeen Anarchy 2016.
An excellent way to cap off the first half of Aberdeen Anarchy. A huge moment for Connor Inglis to deliver some revenge to the monster. This is far from over. There was plenty intrigue to come of it with possible scenarios involving all three combatants plus Connor in the future. I can certainly see Bingo and Connor teaming up for a high-flying combo before the final showdown between Connor and Crusher at one of the big events like Battle of the Nations.
During the interval I made my way to the never ending queue at the toilets while the big blue barred cage was constructed. As I left, Lord Michael of Graham made an appearance. Technically he hasn’t been eliminated from last years battle royal but that’s by the by.
By the time I had returned, the cage was constructed and it was time for the second half to begin with the match I was looking forward to the most. Coming into the match we had the makeshift duo of Scotty Swift and Johnny Lions, the reformed Thunder Buddies William Sterling and Blue Thunder, and the WrestleZone Tag Team Champions Aspen Faith and Lewis Girvan of The Kings of Catch. A hotly anticipated match where anyone could’ve conceivably walked out as champions.
As you’d expect from a cage match there was plenty of carnage and OMG moments. The escapes started early with William Sterling being the first to crawl out of the door, I was surprised that Sterling exited so early especially due to his past crazy antics. Maybe leaping off the cage was a step too far. Aspen attempted a moonsault off the top of the cage that grazed the group below, Adam has already used the leap of Faith pun, which is a cracker. Faith took the full force of the landing onto his knees which, when looking back, seems insane that he was still walking around much less scaling the cage to escape. Scotty Swift was next to escape but not before receiving a double superkick while he was standing on the top turnbuckle courtesy of The Kings of Catch. Johnny Lions showed no regards for his own body when he hit Lewis with a top rope Lion Cutter before adding a BEST LEGDROP EVAH from near the top of the cage onto Girvan below while Thunder was tied up in a tree of woe.
We were down to a race to the finish with Blue Thunder crawling to the door as Lions and Girvan made their way over the top of the cage. Much like last years steel cage ending, Lions pushed Girvan’s leg between the cage bars to trap him as Lions dropped to the floor to crown new WrestleZone Tag Team Champions.
My heart was racing throughout, it stopped for a good minute when Faith went for that moonsault. It had it’s moments but it was paced well to let the big moments breathe so it was less balls to the wall that I went into expecting. What was interesting was the reaction to The Kings of Catch leaving, a round of applause in unison from the crowd while Lewis Girvan looked forlorn, almost like it was a goodbye, hopefully it isn’t the last we see of The Kings of Catch in Aberdeen.
So with Scotty Swift and Johnny Lions, the team that now really needs a name, on a collision course with The Outfit, it sets up an Old Skool versus Nu Skool vibe that should be interesting in the months leading to Battle of the Nations. The straight laced Swift and the possibly insane Lions continues to work well as a team and they are a popular pairing. I was gutted to see the Kings lose but not surprised.
Our penultimate contest was the one that many had paid their money to see, Zach Dynamite entered flanked by Ryan Riley and Bradley Evans, The Foundation of the Future were in full force. Dynamite looked confident as PAC made his way through the curtain to a big reaction.
PAC is ridiculously good, like, he’s incredible in the little movements he makes to make something look even better. There was an awkward moment early on with some miscommunication on a running headscissors saw PAC land on his head causing him to roll out of the ring. Referee Mikey Innes was quick to follow and check on him, giving plenty of time for PAC to access if any damage was caused before starting the ten count. When PAC re-entered he looked even more annoyed that usual as he unleashed a barrage of kicks to Dynamite. Riley and Evans tried their best to distract PAC which saw Dynamite take control but they soon overplayed their hand and were thrown out by Innes which allowed PAC to fight back which included a beautiful moonsault from the top turnbuckle onto the outside into the groggy body of Zach Dynamite below.
With the distractions out of the way we really got to see what Dynamite can do, a couple sling blades and Frog Splash almost wrapped it up for Dynamite but PAC held on. PAC kicked Dynamite below the belt while the referee was otherwise engaged and finished with a stunning Black Arrow to win.
I’m going to compare this to a match that happened in 2017 for how monumental it was in shaping a career. At Battle of the Nations 2017 we had one of the best matches in WrestleZone history in Damien versus Tyler Bate. A match that saw Damien’s stock rise and he was soon Undisputed WrestleZone Champion. This match was that for Dynamite. In the past I have blew hot and cold about Zach Dynamite, some matches he looks like a million bucks and the next time he’s solid enough but hardly lighting the world on fire. On this night he put on a hell of a performance, he showed why he was picked to face someone of PAC’s calibre. He didn’t look out of place, he looked like he should be the guy taking on PAC and did himself proud. This is up there as one of the best singles matches in Aberdeen Anarchy history.
PAC is so talented, it’s shocking that WWE couldn’t work it out with him to keep him on the their books. He makes everything look so easy. For those curious about the headscissor head bang, I spoke to him after the show and other than being shaken up initially he was fine.
After the emotional roller coaster so far we still had the main event to come. First to enter was the special guest referee Austin Osiris, in wrestling gear and a cropped referee shirt. If you weren’t sure if he was someone to boo then his entrance confirmed that straight away. The challenger, Damien entered his second Aberdeen Anarchy main event in a row chasing the Undisputed WrestleZone Championship. Finally, the Undisputed WrestleZone Champion RUDO Lightning made his way to the ring for his first Aberdeen Anarchy.
28 days. That’s all it took to create an incredible main event story that had everyone on the edge of their seats. The addition of Austin Osiris was a masterstroke as he promised to be fair prior to the show, however, his first act was to give RUDO more public warning chances over Damien. The challenger dominated the bulk of the action in the early going but thanks to the intervention of the referee Damien didn’t have a chance. Osiris did everything in his power to help his coach take any advantage from hair pulls and mysterious injuries when counting the pinfalls for Damien.
As the shenanigans continued Damien finally snapped, hitting Osiris with a superkick right in the face to the cheers of the crowd. Mikey Innes took over referee duties but was soon dragged out by Osiris leading to a brawl between the men in stripes that saw security jump in. It got wild with Innes and Osiris brawling, Lightning and Damien trying to gain an advantage and chaos all over the place. Just as it looked like RUDO was going to use the Undisputed WrestleZone Championship to lay out Damien, much like he did at the Regal Rumble, senior referee Denzil Law ran out to stop Lightning which lead to Damien hitting a codebreaker from the second rope and once again becoming Undisputed WrestleZone Champion.
A drama filled main event that was gripping throughout. It was tense, chaotic and everything you would hope to have at the top of the show.
What a show. WrestleZone once again pulled out all the stops to provide a fantastic night of professional wrestling. Twists, turns, surprises, championships changing hands, comeuppance, what more could you want from a wrestling show.
The only odd thing was that folk left before the main event. Every year a handful of fans leave after the special guest or Grado appears, whichever comes last. Sure there’s probably a good percentage that only come to see the former WWE guys or Grado but with the shows that WrestleZone put on I’m disappointed to see so many leave and miss the end of the event.
Bar that tangent, WrestleZone once again put on an incredible show that once again saw the landscape change. All the titles changed hands, you had career making performances from the likes of Caleb Valhalla and Zach Dynamite, and new faces making an impression like the wholly dis-likable Austin Osiris.
Once again Anarchy was delivered.