Review: WrestleZone ‘Battle Of The Nations 2019’ | Big Money, Swift Lions & Hotshot Betrayal OH MY

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FULL REVIEW ALSO AVAILABLE ON THE BABYFACE APP

WrestleZone celebrated ten years of events at the Aberdeen Northern Hotel, for me I’ve had the pleasure of heading to venue for the last five years, it’s always produced some of the most incredible nights in wrestling. I’m going to try really hard to not use the word emotional to excess as it has been a place that has left me in tears of joy and sadness, I’ve spent journeys home gushing about the events that have proceeded. Honestly, if it’s not Aberdeen Anarchy that you go to pop your WrestleZone cherry then any event at the Northern Hotel is a must. The atmosphere created in that echoey hall is something else.

In a change from the norm, the VIP doors opened three whole minutes before the scheduled time. That extra time was spent finding a great seat to watch the action.

VIP Ticket Holders Bonus Match
Mauler Murphy defeated Kaden Garrick by pinfall.

We kicked off proceedings with the VIP ticket holder match which regularly features someone from the WrestleZone Training Academy. On this occasion it was Mauler Murphy, who recently made his debut at Proving Grounds but this would mark his first Northern Hotel event. I didn’t know what to expect from Murphy, he towered over everyone, had a big grimace and had this deep booming voice, like Nailz but y’know, much less creepy. He faced Kaden Garrick who didn’t look to take his opponent that seriously, pfff-ing the attempts at intimidation from Murphy. His nonchalant attitude was soon for naught as Murphy battered Garrick from pillar to post, dominating the former two time WrestleZone Tag Team Champion. Garrick managed to slam the big man but was planted with a vicious samoan drop when attempting the spear. It was soon over for Garrick as Murphy squashed him with a banzai drop for the win.

Pardon the pun but it was a mauling from Mauler Murphy. On Garrick’s current run in WrestleZone he had little right to be so cocky at the start of the match and paid the price. Murphy was certainly rough around the edges, with his bin bag trousers and the tag hanging from one of his elbow pads for the majority of the match, but he showed so much promise. He has a character, he isn’t shy about having a mean face and being vocal. Attire tweaks, maybe someone Whippleman-esq like Manton (not Winchester) as his mouthpiece to add another part to his act and there could be something very special. The WrestleZone Training Academy has been churning out some fantastic talent recently like Caleb Valhalla and The Outfit (more on them later) and with some time in front of the crowd then we could have a new monster to rival Crusher in the future.

Kaden Garrick has fallen so far down the pecking order that it would take quite a bit of character rehabilitation to put him into any sort of title picture at this stage. Muscle in a faction would probably be his safest bet but even then with so many big lads like Caleb Valhalla, Bradley Evans, Andy Wild, Crusher Craib and, now, Mauler Murphy about then he’s an even smaller fish in the pond. Still has a cracking entrance theme though.

Connor Inglis defeated Crusher Craib by pinfall.

The proper show started with one of the most hotly anticipated bouts. Crusher Craib entered all big and bad, like a silverback out to oust a young pretender (I think that’s right, I’m not David Attenborough). He entered wearing a black and purple singlet, which mirrored the gear worn by Connor Inglis who burst through the curtain wearing purple and white tights. Whether it was intentional or not, it was cool to see that light and dark balance in this fight between good and evil.

Coming into this you would’ve expected a quick swatting of Connor, I mean, he had done everything to rile up Crusher on the road to Battle of the Nations and Craib is a hulking mass in comparison, but Inglis kept fighting back. Crusher went for a full nelson early in the match but couldn’t get the job done. Inglis was a Billy Whizz around the ring when he built a bit of momentum, rocking The Creator of Carnage on multiple occasions. With every punch, kick and dive landing, the roar from the crowd really made Inglis look like he could vanquish the beast and even when Crusher would cut off the attack it didn’t stop the crowd being behind the youngster. Crusher countered a wheelbarrow bulldog attempt with a lovely back suplex that turned Connor inside out and smacked him about the Northern Hotel. A Black Hole Slam couldn’t finish Inglis as it garnered a long two count and shocked the beast, so Crusher slapped on the full nelson again. Inglis stepped up the ropes and rolled over Craib to catch him in a three count for a shocking victory.

An unexpected twist to kick off the main portion of the show. Crusher couldn’t believe it, Connor couldn’t believe it, the majority of the crowd couldn’t believe that the monster, the former Undisputed WrestleZone Champion, was pinned by the smaller and much less experienced Inglis.

It was a classic big man versus little man match. Inglis tried to chop down the big Scots pine tree and being knocked down but fighting back, never giving up before David caught Goliath with some quick thinking and snatched victory.

Connor Inglis really showed his worth against Craib but this feud looks to be far from over. If he survives another couple rounds with Craib then you have a ready made star ready to step into the Tri-Counties title picture.

Craib stomped around the ring in disbelief before exiting. I think this experience has only made The Creator of Carnage more unhinged…

Austin Osiris defeated Mikey Innes by TKO.

Match two was another big grudge match, Austin Osiris entered to his not so adoring public. Dressed like a Poundland Macho Man and throwing fake money around, he was very, very easy to dislike and an absolutely perfect fit for WrestleZone, big character, big money and a big mouth. He goaded the crowd before senior referee Mikey Innes made his entrance, messy hair, shorts and a crazed look in his eye… I dubbed thee Super Humman Mikey Innes and he was fighting for all the juggalos and jugglettes in the Northern Hotel.

Much like the previous match I wasn’t expecting it to be so competitive even Osiris looked a little rattled about how aggressive Innes was coming into the match after a quick small package that was due to Innes seemingly taking up Osiris’ offer of $10,000 to lie down. If this is an advertisement for Damien’s training then it’s done a job well as Innes was on fire when he got some offence in, I suspect there was a few Grado matches watched as we got a Stunner and some of Grado’s trademark trips and shenanigans in the early going. Osiris did dominate the majority of the match though, as expected, but there were some blistering chops traded in the corners. Innes even landed a super kick after many attempts much to the delight of the crowd as Osiris folded to the ground but it wasn’t enough to finish the job.

Osiris hit Innes with a Pedigree but referee Denzil Law had a moment of empathy for his fellow referrer and refused to make the three count, much to the joy of the crowd and anger of Osiris who spoiled the jubilation by slapping on a Million Dollar Dream until Innes passed out.

Osiris continued the attack on Innes after the bell was rung which brought out Damien to chase him off.

It was less Earl Hebner and more Shane Sewell when Mikey got into the match. Osiris is so deplorable that supporting Mikey is the only logical option. Was it a technical classic? No way, but it was thoroughly entertaining and I can see Osiris being a regular in WrestleZone because of it. His introduction in WrestleZone from before Aberdeen Anarchy and beyond (which we’ll talk about in a bit) has been fantastic.

With the resiliency of Innes during the match, my only fear going forward is that he will go back to being knocked down for five minutes from a whiff of contact but that’s for future Billy to no doubt whinge about.

WrestleZone Tag Team Championships
Swift Lions (Scotty Swift & Johnny Lions) defeated The Outfit (Dino Del Monte & Ted O’Keefe) by pinfall to retain.

The first half main event was the first of three title matches, and the one with the most riding on it. If Johnny Lions lost, he would not only lose the WrestleZone Tag Team Championships but also retire from WrestleZone. It was a nerve wracking match for that reason alone. The Outfit started with some introductions by revealing the combined age of their opponents was 120 (I’m sure combined they’re a sprightly 106) which had the champions on the attack. These four gelled together so well, two really well oiled machines with plenty of tandem moves to keep the match interesting. Scotty Swift had a determined look, he was all in on keeping Johnny Lions around for as long as possible. This was all about the conclusion. Dino Del Monte brought in brass knuckles which Denzil Law spotted but while he was distracted Ted O’Keefe had his own pair of brass knuckles and drilled Johnny Lions in the face. The Outfit picked up the tainted win which silenced the rowdy crowd in the Northern Hotel.

Everyone stopped, Martyn Clunes held the ring bell aloft and hesitated to strike it while the official decision was made. The bell rang and it looked like The Outift were the new WrestleZone Tag Team Champions as the chants of “cheat” filled the room.

As the dust settled, Law spotted the second set of brass knuckles and declared that the match was to be restarted, if The Outfit didn’t return to the ring then they would lose their championship opportunity. After a brief argument Dino took charge and slid back into the ring only to eat a Lion Cutter while Swift held back O’Keefe as the three count was made. Lions survived this time.

What a match. The emo… feelings that were conveyed throughout were excellent. Thankfully it might not be the last time these two teams collide as the match was really slick with plenty of twists and close calls. The Outfit are a hidden gem up in the North East and hopefully more get to see these two in the future.

With the determination and desperation that Scotty Swift has throughout to keep Johnny Lions around, I’d be interested to see if that is delved into further and if Scotty would start taking a shortcut or two in order to retain not only his title but his best friend.

During the break I had to get a photo with Johnny Lions, a guy that I saw wrestle on the first indie show I went to in 2012, seeing him on countless occasions but never actually getting a photo with Teeeeenacious. Johnnyyyyyyy. Liiiiiiions. So I did just that. It’s on the SWN Instagrams and Facebook if you want to see the strangest trio to never make it to Chikara.

WrestleZone Tri-Counties Championship – Triple Threat Match
Jason Reed w/Agent W defeated Andy Wild and Alan Sterling by pinfall to retain.

Back from the break we got the second title match of the event, the WrestleZone Tri-Counties Championship. Alan Sterling entered without his muscle in Caleb Valhalla which left many disappointed that the Norse God was not in attendance, but it was All About Alan and he looked unphased about not having back up. Andy Wild entered as the firm fan favourite (and smelled incredible as always) while Jason Reed shoved Agent W out of the way as he entered as Tri-Counties Champion. Reed immediately squared up to the biggest guy in the fight, Andy Wild, showing no fear and confidence that surpassed arrogance a long time ago but he backs it up with victories on his never ending quest to make wrestling great again.

A lot of this was Sterling and Reed taking turns to pound on Andy Wild. Anything Reed could do, Alan would also do. A game of one-upmanship that only Alan was playing. A quick match, as the Tri-Counties 10 minute time limit really condenses the action, lots of suplexes either by or to Andy Wild but it wasn’t long before the tentative alliance between Reed and Sterling broke down. Wild placed Reed on top of Sterling and headed to the second rope (Reed was actually pinning Sterling for a good three count but I digress…) but Reed moved and Wild squashed Alan with a Da Bomb, Wild was bundled out and Jason Reed took the victory for himself to retain.

A quick but solid match from these three which had very little downtime, brisk and a great watch. Jason Reed takes any chance to win and relishes the hate that the crowd rain down on him.

Man, Agent W is just not required now is he? I actually forgot he was there for a lot of the match. He doesn’t really add anything to Jason Reed now, especially if this Reed Cabinet is never revealed. Even if it is, Reed doesn’t need a bodyguard, he’s not a cowardly bad guy anymore and has outgrown having Agent W around. He’s Jason mother flippin’ Reed and he will tell you how great he is while booting your face. He’s kept the Trumpism of Make WrestleZone Great Again but has evolved it into a newer, meaner incarnation of Jason Reed. He carries himself as a superstar.

The lack of Caleb Valhalla really sold into Sterling’s “All About Alan” mindset, especially if he’s thinking that he beat Grado all by himself at Aberdeen Anarchy with no intervention from the Norse East Monster. I’m kind of hoping that this begins a slow split between the two and Valhalla breaks out on his own into 2020.

I can see Reed and Wild having a few more tussles around the country over the Tri-Counties Championship. It’s no secret that they are very familiar with each other outside of the ring so chalking up a best of five across a couple promotions over the title would be something fresh and cool to see.

Blue Thunder & William Sterling vs The Granite City Hotshots (Bryan Tucker & Shawn Johnson) ended in a no contest.

There was a voice in the back of my mind saying something bad was going to happen but my heart was all like “shut up nerd, looking at all the negatives, who are you? Jim Cornette?”. Alas the voice was right. Let’s talk about what happened just before the betrayal. William Sterling and Blue Thunder entered and once again Thunder waved off the team name The Thunder Buddies, I do like that little detail. They aren’t buddies, they are using each other for their own gain. Anyway, the familiar tune of Written In The Stars blared out with Tucker and Johnson arriving in their blue gear, it was throwback time.

The match started with Thunder and Johnson ready to lock horns with Tucker staying in the ring, standing in the corner before he grabbed Johnson and clotheslined him, in a flashback to November 2015 when Johnson did the exact same thing to break up The Hotshots to begin with. Sterling and Thunder looked shocked as they witnessed a mugging, Tucker stomped on Johnson again and again. Bringing out a chair to smash Johnson’s ankle over and over again until Johnson could no longer get to his feet of his own accord.

Y’know what I enjoyed in a slightly disturbed way? No one helped Shawn Johnson, no one saved Johnson. He had spent the last three years burning every bridge, destroying every friendship he had to be Undisputed WrestleZone Champion. Sterling Oil had disbanded and the former members were otherwise engaged, he wasn’t Russell’s golden boy anymore, Johnson was at his weakest.

Johnson’s rise started when he clotheslined Tucker at Christmas Chaos (Comes Early!) in November 2015 and Johnson’s fall began with the disbanding of Sterling Oil and loss of the Undisputed WrestleZone Championship in September 2018. The end of Sterling Oil was thanks to Team WrestleZone which included, that’s right, Bryan Tucker. Tucker had been out of action, biding his time, he had helped rid WrestleZone of Sterling Oil but there was one loose end and that was Shawn Johnson.

We now enter the Hotshot feud reprise with the roles reversed. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

WrestleZone Tag Team Championships #1 Contenders Match – Triple Threat Match
Blue Thunder & William Sterling defeated The Rejected (Chris Archer & Mikkey Vago) and The Foundation of the Future (Bradley Evans & Ryan Riley) by pinfall.

Before the match started William Sterling and Blue Thunder returned to insert themselves into the match which was accepted by way of a knee into the side of Sterling’s skull courtesy of Ryan Riley. Welcome to the party pal.

This broke down very quickly with a rule not often seen, one member of each team was active throughout the match so it was a constant triple threat rotation which kept the action going. I liked it.

The Rejected and The Foundation busted out tandem offence time again while William stopped Thunder from diving through the ropes, ironically citing Thunder’s physique as a factor to not do it. They bickered throughout the match as per usual while the other two teams concentrated on the matter in hand, booking their spot into a WrestleZone Tag Team Championships. Thought teaming the shortest amount of time, The Foundation of the Future were a well oiled machine. We know what to expect with The Rejected, a mix of brawling then Chris Archer unleashes some high flying attacks which has been a tried and test method that has seen them become four time tag team champions. Evans and Riley had the win in their sights after finishing off Chris Archer with another double team move but William Sterling barged his way in to steal the pinfall.

A chaotic match with plenty of moving parts. Of course it was Sterling and Thunder grabbing the shot at Swift Lions, the team holds two wins over Swift Lions in two on two competition and now holds the ticket to not only take the titles but also get rid of Johnny Lions. A battle of WrestleZone originals in the midsts. It’ll be an interesting journey to their showdown, which I guess will be Halloween Hijinks, the same event that Sterling and Thunder won their first WrestleZone Tag Team Championships back in 2013. It’ll be The Foundation of the Future’s time very soon and The Rejected will be that constant, the regulators of the tag team division in WrestleZone. Plenty of good stuff coming out of this one.

Before the main event Martyn Clunes announced that Aberdeen Anarchy 2020 would return to the Northern Hotel for two nights in May (15th and 16th), eight years since the last Northern Hotel Aberdeen Anarchy. A bit of a back to basics scale but at the same time it’ll be the first two night Aberdeen Anarchy. As I’ve written many times, the Northern Hotel is an atmospheric venue, it reverbs every noise and you can feel the tension in the room. It’s had guests like Jay Lethal, Sonjay Dutt, Colt Cabana, and Doug Williams among others. It’s a highly historic venue for WrestleZone and I’m looking forward to seeing how this is set up and who will be part of Aberdeen Anarchy 2020. I plan to be there both nights, haven’t missed an Aberdeen Anarchy since 2013, ain’t planning to stop that streak now!

Undisputed WrestleZone Championship – Triple Threat Match
Damien defeated Liam Thomson and Zach Dynamite w/The Foundation of the Future (Bradley Evans & Ryan Riley) by pinfall to retain.

The show concluded with the Undisputed WrestleZone Championship match. Damien walked into tough defense, Zach Dynamite entered with his cohorts Bradley Evans and Ryan Riley while Liam Thomson entered to a big reaction for his first WrestleZone appearance since 2012. What followed was an incredibly even contest with all three having their chances to win. Damien and Liam Thomson showed a little bit of grappling and going hold for hold. Evans and Riley were on hand to try and keep Dynamite in with a shout but were taken out by a senton from the top turnbuckle to the outside from Damien. After a big frog splash onto Liam Thomson it looked like Zach Dynamite was going to walk out with the title but Damien threw Dynamite out of the ring and nabbed the pin and retained his Undisputed WrestleZone Championship.

Damien didn’t get long to celebrate as Austin Osiris burst through the leaving crowd and jumped the champion, locking on the Million Dollar Dream until Damien was out for the count. Osiris taunted Damien as he held the Undisputed WrestleZone Championship aloft. He challenged Damien to defend his title against Big Money at Halloween Hijinks which would mark his self proclaimed 1000th day undefeated in wrestling. 1000 days unpinned, with one of the only black marks being a (highly debatable in the eyes of Austin Osiris) loss to Damien in The Drew Galloway Invitational last year. Once Damien recovered he accepted the challenge from Big Money.

Osiris stole the show from a character standpoint, he delivered a smug and dastardly performance that left you begging for his comeuppance, which is impressive as he’s only appeared on two WrestleZone events and this was his first actual match for the company. Much like his coach RUDO Lightning, he caused that much of a ruckus that some old dolt attempted to take a swing at Big Money. Can we not attack the wrestlers please and thanks? Treat the show as entertainment, shout and boo at the villains, make signs, be part of the crowd.

WrestleZone really rewards those that are keeping up with their shows with subtleties for the regulars whilst making things super clear for those that are maybe attending their first show. The storylines aren’t convoluted messes like “we’re fighting because your father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate wronged me grrrr”, it’s simple linear storytelling that people of all ages can understand and follow.

To steal a line from my friends at OSW Review, “Dammit D’Lo”. All the triple threat matches ended in a similar manner. One guy hit the other with a big move and the third guy bundled them out and stole the pinfall. Once is fine, twice is a bit shaky but three times? Saying that, it is my only criticism of an otherwise stellar event from WrestleZone.

As always WrestleZone knock it out of the park with great in ring content, riveting stories and giving you edge of your seat moments to remember.

Enough of my rambling, we’re on the road to Halloween Hijinks, October 26th, Kincorth Community Centre with stops at Turriff, Balmedie and Inverurie on the way.

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