It feels like I repeat myself at the end of every year, but wow, what a great year it’s been for WrestleZone (little reference there for all you Cultaholic Wrestling Podcast watchers/listeners). In my opinion, 2018 still remains their best year yet, but 2019 saw everyone involved at WrestleZone go above and beyond to ensure each and every show they produced was one to remember. As is always the case, they had numerous stories throughout the year, which is something they do best – tell stories. The whole Damien against Sterling Oil thing from 2017-2018 remains one of my favourite things I’ve had the chance to write about.
Before they kick off another huge year with 2020, let’s take a look back at what 2019 meant for the Granite City promotion!
Johnny Time, One Last Time
If you listened to Stephen Louch’s Tuck of the Draw podcasts at the end of 2018 where he travelled to and from WrestleZone’s Christmas Chaos show alongside Johnny Lions, Andy Wild, and Jason Reed, then you’ll have heard Johnny state that he would be winding down his in-ring career during 2019. That was followed up by a video posted by ‘The Tenacious One’ at the start of March, as he said he hoped to end the year having captured the WrestleZone Tag Team Championships alongside Scotty Swift as he headed into retirement.
The pairing began the year with Swift adamant that they weren’t an official team, but rather two singles wrestlers coming together to get some gold. They had two opportunities to win the tag titles at the start of 2019, with their Summerhill Showdown bout against then-champions The Kings of Catch ending in a Double Disqualification due to the interference of the recently reunited Blue Thunder and William Sterling, followed by a Triple Threat Match between those three teams at the Regal Rumble ending in a No Contest when referee Dennis Law was unable to keep the action under control. As a result, WrestleZone board member Len Ironside scheduled a rematch between the three tandems for Aberdeen Anarchy. However, this wouldn’t be just any old match – the ring would be surrounded by a steel cage to keep the action within the squared circle.
This was another of Johnny’s career goals, to compete inside a steel cage, so it’s nice to see he got to do so not once but twice, as we’ll get on to a bit later on. Come April 13th when it was Aberdeen Anarchy day, Swift and Lions were on top of the game, with ‘The Red Haired Warrior’ one of the first to escape the blue structure. After dropping Lewis Girvan with a Lion Cutter off the top rope, Lions would then be successful in climbing over the bars to escape the cafe, winning the Tag Team Championships in the process. The roof nearly came off the Beach Leisure Centre following this, with the entire crowd in full support of The Swift Lions as the reigning and defending WrestleZone Tag Team Champions going forward.
With the gold around their waists though, Swift and Lions had a huge chip on their shoulder – not only were challengers adamant to win the Tag Team Championships from them, but some were also rather keen to end the in-ring career of Johnny Lions, seeing as Lions revealed he would be retiring whenever they lost their titles. The Outfit and the team of Thunder and Sterling both technically achieved that goal, with the Granite City gangsters besting the champs at Battle of the Nations while the former Thunder Buddies appeared to lift the gold at Halloween Hijinx. However, both victories came via nefarious means – Ted O’Keefe struck Johnny with a pair of brass knuckles, leading to the match being restarted after the referee was made aware, whereas Sterling whacked Lions with a crutch during the annual Halloween Brawl. Seeing as it wasn’t a Halloween-themed item, the decision was reversed, and The Swift Lions remained the Tag Team Champions.
Thunder and Sterling were, however, granted a second crack at the straps at Christmas Chaos, with the steel cage being brought to the Danestone Community Centre for the first time. The tension was palpable for the duration of this one – Johnny had stated he would be retiring at the end of 2019, and seeing as he had pulled out of his official retirement match against Jason Reed the following week at a Fair City Wrestling show, it made this one feel that extra bit special as it was entirely possible it would be the last time ‘The Tenacious One’ ever laced up a pair of boots. By the end of the night, it would indeed be Johnny Time for the final time, as Blue Thunder and William Sterling both escaped the cage before Scotty Swift could pull his partner out the door. After the bell, as expected, a massive uproar of appreciation from wrestlers and fans alike as everyone in the building showed their respect and admiration for one of the men who helped build WrestleZone from the ground up.
It simply won’t be the same without Johnny Lions strutting around.
Crusher vs Connor
I mentioned in the intro that the main thing WrestleZone does best is tell good stories. That was exactly the case for the entire year, as WrestleZone veteran Crusher Craib went on a collision course with young upstart Connor Inglis from January right through to December. Without a shadow of a doubt, Connor has gone on to become one of the perennial fan favourites in WZ as a result of the fire he’s shown since his first match all the way back at Summerhill Showdown.
Yes, January 19th. A huge night for WrestleZone, with the announcement that PAC would be coming to Aberdeen Anarchy. ‘The Creator of Carnage’ issued an open challenge that evening, but seeing as no-one from the locker room was brave enough to answer the call, he instead handpicked a member of the security team for that evening. Connor Inglis reluctantly accepted the match, and almost immediately, the crowd erupted into a chorus of cheers for the rookie. Although Crusher dominated the bulk of the contest, Connor very nearly scored one of the biggest upsets in WrestleZone history, but would eventually succumb to his larger adversary. What a first night in the ring for Connor though – a debut to remember.
Although he wasn’t officially a full-time member of the WrestleZone roster at this point, management were impressed enough by Connor’s performance that they offered him the final spot in the 2019 Regal Rumble Match. Was Inglis merely there to fill up the numbers? Not exactly, as he shocked the audience in attendance by eliminating Crusher Craib from the match just moments after the former three-time Rumble winner had entered the squared circle. Following this, Connor would go on to cost Craib quite a few matches, interfering in his Triple Threat Match at Aberdeen Anarchy that saw Bingo Ballance hand Crusher his first pinfall loss since returning from injury more than two years ago, while also costing him a shot at the Tri-Counties Championship. Seeing as the tension was rising between the pair, a match was made for Battle of the Nations.
What perhaps no-one saw coming was when Connor Inglis pinned Crusher Craib’s shoulders to the mat for the three count, albeit it was with a rollup, which Crusher claimed made it a fluke victory. So, with Connor on an all-time high after scoring his first pinfall victory in a WrestleZone ring and Crusher reeling off the back of one of his most important losses to date, what was next for the pairing? A rematch at Halloween Hijinx, which Connor would again go on to win, but it was ruled as another fluke as he once more utilised a rollup. With two pins over the former two-time Undisputed Champion in his pocket, Inglis offered his hand to Craib post-match as a sign of respect, receiving a complimentary big boot and steel chair mauling for his troubles.
Following Crusher and Alan Sterling being victorious over Connor and Damien at a live event in Newtonhill, a challenge was made for a fourth and final singles bout between the duo, this one being fought under the rules of a Christmas Brawl. After quite the battle between the arch-rivals that saw Christmas baubles and tinsel-wrapped kendo sticks used to inflict pain, Connor busted out a frog splash as he pinned Crusher yet again, this time using an actual move as opposed to a cheeky rollup. Thus, Crusher finally accepted the handshake of the rookie sensation following the bell, bringing an end to this rivalry once and for all.
Even though they’re not brawling any more, Connor and Crusher are still seen together, with the former adamant to get Crusher in the festive spirit to no avail. 2020 should be an interesting one for these two lads, no matter what they’re doing – I’ve got some hunches, but only time will tell what lays ahead.
As we entered 2020, Damien stood firmly on top of WrestleZone as the reigning Undisputed Champion, having toppled former pal Shawn Johnson at Aberdeen Anarchy X the previous September. Successful defences opened the new year, firstly against both Jack Jester and Krieger in a Triple Threat Match at Summerhill Showdown, and then against Zach Dynamite in singles action. Things were looking positive for ‘The Revolutionary’ heading towards April’s Aberdeen Anarchy event, until we reached the Regal Rumble that is.
The March 16th event saw Damien firstly losing to Jason Reed and Zach Dynamite following the interference of Ryan Riley, before the champ took a seat at the commentary desk to oversee the annual Regal Rumble Match that would determine his challenger for the main event of Aberdeen Anarchy. It was anyone’s game – well, maybe not Lord Mr Malice seeing as Caleb Valhalla destroyed him in one swift motion, but that’s besides the point. In the end, it would be the returning RUDO Lightning who stole the win, dumping out both Dynamite and Johnny Lions at the same time. RUDO would invite Damien into the ring after his victory to seemingly have a simple staredown ahead of their championship contest, before blasting him with the Regal Rumble trophy, and making some comments about Damien’s daughter that led ‘The Revolutionary’ to accept RUDO’s challenge to make the title match happen right there. A ref bump allowed Lightning to use the championship belt as a weapon without being disqualified, resulting in a new Undisputed Champion being crowned in truly shocking scenes. The road to Aberdeen Anarchy 2019 was no longer as clear as it first was.
RUDO Lightning vs Damien would still go on to main event Aberdeen Anarchy and the Undisputed Championship would still be on the line, but only if RUDO got his way. He got to handpick a referee for the bout, opting to choose one of his GPWA students in the form of Austin Osiris to don the stripes for the match. As expected, ‘Big Money’ did everything he could in a bid to stop Damien regaining the title once again, whether it meant pulling on the challenger’s hair or using his belt as a weapon. After all, he was the official for the match – who was exactly going to put an end to it? Well, regular referee Mikey Innes did his best, spearing Osiris out of his boots to send him packing back through the curtain, leaving Dennis Law to count the three as Damien usurped RUDO Lightning to once again become the Undisputed Champion.
Now that Damien was once again the man to beat in the Granite City, he saw off a challenge from Zach Dynamite and Liam Thomson at Battle of the Nations, before being ambushed by Austin Osiris after his victory. Osiris, who had defeated Mikey Innes earlier in the night. With the 2019 Halloween Hijinx set to mark day 1,000 of Osiris’ undefeated streak, he made a challenge for the October 26th show as he vowed to challenge Damien for the Undisputed Championship at the Kincorth Community Centre. It seemed entirely likely that the hated Glaswegian was en-route to a victory – you don’t get to 1,000 days of being unpinned and unsubmitted without having a plan in mind each and every time. Osiris did indeed win the title, even if it was through nefarious means, however, Damien’s foot was on the ropes during the pin. Therefore, the match was restarted, with Damien remaining the champion to hand Osiris his first pinfall loss. ‘Big Money’ has since claimed the undefeated streak relates to Wrestling Experience Scotland’s Five Pound Wrestling shows, meaning he’s still actually undefeated. As I said, he always has a plan in mind.
A successful victory over both Andy Wild and Bingo Ballance, both of whom are former Undisputed Champions in their own right, at Christmas Chaos meant Damien will head into the new decade as the champ. Who will step up to challenge Damien as the first two-night Aberdeen Anarchy edges every closer?
Make WrestleZone Great Again
At Battle of the Nations 2018, Jason Reed debuted a new look after months of being ridiculed by the WrestleZone faithful for his uncanny resemblance to Donald Trump. ‘The One For The Future’ had a plan in mind to make WrestleZone great again, a plan he took into 2019 as his crusade for a better WrestleZone continued with Agent W by his side.
Two victories were scored over Shawn Johnson at the start of the year, with Reed being one of the favourites to win the Regal Rumble Match in just his second appearance in the match’s history. He was the fifth entrant into the match, and actually made it to the final four before Johnny Lions saw him off. Reed was so close to earning himself an Undisputed Championship opportunity on the biggest platform possible, but instead, he found himself as one of three challenges to Mr P’s Tri-Counties Championship as he, Shawn Johnson, and Andy Wild all challenger for the strap at the April extravaganza. Clearly, Jason Reed came in with a plan in mind as he saw Wild flatten P with DA BOMB, before eliminating ‘The Dad Bod God’ from the equation to take the pinfall for himself. Just like that, we had a new Tri-Counties Champion as the mission to make WrestleZone great again took the next big step.
Reed was a hugely successful champ, being victorious in challenges against the likes of Alan Sterling, Bradley Evans, and Mr P, while also being unsuccessful in his quest to lift Andy Wild’s UEWA European Heavyweight Championship at Halloween Hijinx. As we headed into Christmas Chaos, it was announced that Jason would defend his title against three men who were intent on lifting their first taste of singles gold in WrestleZone – Ryan Riley, Alan Sterling, and Mikkey Vago. In fairness, this was technically a Triple Threat Match, seeing as Reed was laid out for the majority of the bout, but upon re-entering the fray, he was laid out courtesy of a stunner from Vago. Sterling was also nailed with a stunner, leading to him falling on top of the defending champion to win the championship through absolutely no fault of his own.
He may not be the Tri-Counties Champion anymore, but Jason Reed remains a top pick to win the 2020 Regal Rumble Match. Please?
All About Alan
Following the dissolution of Sterling Oil at Aberdeen Anarchy X, Alan Sterling seemed to completely lose himself, with his first match back being a loss to Cysto not doing too much to help him out. However, after unveiling Caleb Valhalla as his new bodyguard at Halloween Hijinx 2018, he’s proclaimed it’s all about Alan, resulting in 2020 being one hell of a year for the Sterling brother.
Although he may have been forced to put some soap in his mouth after losing to Andy Wild at the Regal Rumble, Alan later cost Grado his bout with Crusher Craib that same night, with a match between those two being scheduled for Aberdeen Anarchy. Heading into Anarchy, Grado was undefeated at the event, a streak that was broken at the hands of Alan Sterling with the assistance of Valhalla. Perhaps the biggest victory in Alan’s career at that point, as Aberdeen Anarchy was indeed all about Alan.
Going forward, Sterling unsuccessfully challenged for both Jason Reed’s WrestleZone Tri-Counties Championship and Andy Wild’s UEWA European Heavyweight Championship at Battle of the Nations and Halloween Hijinx respectively. In November, Alan would, for some reason, don a sea captain’s hat and become “Captain” Alan Sterling, with his first two voyages seeing him pinned by Damien in a Falls Count Anywhere Match in Huntly before he teamed with former Sterling Oil partner Crusher Craib as they defeated ‘The Revolutionary’ and Connor Inglis in Newtonhill. At Christmas Chaos, Alan became the new Tri-Counties Champion as he dethroned Jason Reed in a Fatal Four Way Match that also included Ryan Riley and Mikkey Vago. What an end to the year for Captain Alan as HMS Sterling sets sail into 2020.
After not being seen since Aberdeen Anarchy X, Shawn Johnson made a surprise return at Christmas Chaos 2018 after being called out from the crowd by Jason Reed, with his official return to in-ring competition coming the following month as he lost to the Fifer at Summerhill Showdown. A few appearances would come here and there for Johnson, including an unsuccessful challenge for the Tri-Counties Championship, but business really picked up for him in the summer.
At the WrestleZone Training Academy, Blue Thunder and William Sterling ambushed Johnson, challenging him to find a partner to face them in a tag team match at Battle of the Nations. Who would answer Shawn’s call? None other than his former Granite City Hotshots partner Bryan Tucker. At the Northern Hotel event, things seemed to be going swimmingly, until Tucker decimated Johnson with a steel chair before the match could properly get underway. In his first WrestleZone appearance in 11 months, Bryan Tucker was out to make a name for himself once more at the expense of his former Tag Team Championships winning partner.
After refusing to speak to the WrestleZone media team, Tucker finally explained his actions at Halloween Hijinx, claiming that everyone forgot who he was when he suddenly disappeared from the roster. He was looking for a fight that evening, and after making some comments about Shawn’s newly-born child, he got exactly what he was wanting. A match between the duo at Christmas Chaos was declared a no contest by Dennis Law, seeing as the match failed to even get in the ring. All around ringside, backstage, and outside the venue the fight went, but not within the ring itself. Law had no choice.
I for one am excited to see what comes next for these lads in 2020. Their rivalry in 2016 was exceptionally good, so let’s hope that’s the same thing this time around.
Training Academy Successes
We can’t speak about WrestleZone’s 2020 without mentioning the continued success of the WrestleZone Training Academy graduates. This year saw two new names debut on the full-time roster, with Connor Inglis (who we’ve already spoken about in-depth) debuting in January at Summerhill Showdown and Mauler Murphy having his first match at July’s Proving Grounds event.
As for the previous graduates, perhaps the most imposing figure of them all is Caleb Valhalla. Even though he made his first few appearances at the end of 2018, Caleb didn’t actually have his first match on a main WrestleZone card until February of this year, where he and Alan Sterling defeated Andy Wild in a Handicap Match in Caleb’s home of Montrose. As far as I’m aware, Valhalla is yet to be pinned or forced to submit since making his debut, with victories coming over the likes of Robbie Solar, Kaden Garrick, and Lord Mr Malice’s body ever since. Poor Malice, all he wanted was to make a return in the Regal Rumble Match, but Caleb clearly had other plans in mind.
Aside from him, another trio of impressive graduates is The Foundation of the Future – Zach Dynamite, Bradley Evans, and Ryan Riley. Dynamite and Evans reunited at Aberdeen Anarchy X in 2018, being joined by Riley at the Regal Rumble to officially form the FOTF. While Zach may have debuted several years ago, he’s still one of the most underrated performers, with his Aberdeen Anarchy match against PAC remaining one of my personal favourite matches of 2019 as a whole. The trio’s 2019 was dominated by unfortunate failures in championship matches as well as a fierce rivalry with another three graduates of the WrestleZone Training Academy in the form of The Rejected. Chris Archer and Mikkey Vago were joined by Kaden Garrick at Halloween Hijinx as Kaden snapped his losing streak in a six man tag team match, eventually being declared an official prospect of the group at Christmas Chaos.
While the WZ Training Academy continues to prosper thanks to the likes of The Outfit and Mr P proving why it’s one of the best places to train, we also saw a few rising stars from the rest of Scotland make their up to the northeast throughout 2019. The likes of Austin Osiris, The Sam Barbour Experience, and Umar Mohammed all left a lasting impression on the WrestleZone faithful over the last 12 months. 2020 will only see that list grow.
A sensational year for all at WrestleZone. 2020 is already looking lovely for the company, with Summerhill Showdown (featuring the WZ debut of Joe Hendry) set for January 25th at the Sure Hotel in Aberdeen (formerly the Summerhill Hotel), their first of many shows live from the WrestleZone Training Academy on March 7th, and the two-night Aberdeen Anarchy extravaganza scheduled for May 15th and 16th at the Northern Hotel. This time next year, I’ll probably be repeating myself by saying it’s been another great year for them. In fairness though, it most certainly will be.
78 Singles Matches
17 Tag Team Matches
2 Six Man Tag Team Matches
3 Triple Threat Tag Team Matches
9 Triple Threat Matches
4 Fatal Four Way Matches
1 Christmas Brawl
1 Falls Count Anywhere Match
1 Halloween Brawl
1 Halloween Switcheroo Match
2 Handicap Matches
1 Regal Rumble Match
2 Steel Cage Matches
1 Wash Your Mouth Out With Soap Match
Out of 23 Title Matches
The Undisputed WrestleZone Championship was defended 8 times, with 2 title changes (RUDO Lightning once and Damien once) and 6 successful defences (Damien six times)
The WrestleZone Tri-Counties Championship was defended 8 times, with 2 title changes (Jason Reed once and Alan Sterling once) and 6 successful defences (Mr P three times and Jason Reed three times)
The WrestleZone Tag Team Championships were defended 7 times, with 2 title changes (The Swift Lions once and Blue Thunder & William Sterling once) and 4 successful defences (The Kings of Catch twice and The Swift Lions three times)
The UEWA European Heavyweight Championship was defended 1 time, with 1 successful defence (Andy Wild once)
Undisputed WrestleZone Championship
Damien – September 1st 2018-March 16th 2019
RUDO Lightning – March 16th 2019-April 13th 2019
Damien – April 13th 2019-Present
WrestleZone Tri-Counties Championship
Mr P – December 8th 2018-April 13th 2019
Jason Reed – April 13th 2019-December 7th 2019
Alan Sterling – December 7th 2019-Present
WrestleZone Tag Team Championships
The Kings of Catch (Aspen Faith & Lewis Girvan) – October 27th 2018-April 13th 2019
The Swift Lions (Scotty Swift & Johnny Lions) – April 13th 2019-December 7th 2019
Blue Thunder & William Sterling – December 7th 2019-Present
“Captain” Alan Sterling – 6 wins, 6 losses
“The Dad Bod God” Andy Wild – 3 wins, 6 losses
“The Lost Boy” Aspen Faith – 1 win, 2 losses, 2 draws
“Big Money” Austin Osiris – 1 win, 1 loss
“The Zenith of Zero-G” Bingo Ballance – 1 win, 1 loss
Blue Thunder – 10 wins, 6 losses, 2 draws
Bryan Tucker – 0 wins, 0 losses, 2 draws
“The Mad Dog” Bradley Evans – 3 wins, 11 losses
Caleb Valhalla – 10 wins, 3 losses
“The Outcast” Chris Archer – 7 wins, 10 losses
Connor Inglis – 6 wins, 4 losses, 1 draw
“The Creator of Carnage” Crusher Craib – 7 wins, 9 losses
Cysto – 0 wins, 7 losses
“The Revolutionary” Damien – 11 wins, 4 losses
Dino Del Monte – 7 wins, 8 losses
Grado – 0 wins, 3 losses
“The Bone Collector” Irving Garrett – 0 wins, 3 losses
“The Big Ride Machine” Jack Jester – 0 wins, 1 loss
“The One For The Future” Jason Reed – 7 wins, 3 losses, 1 draw
“Tenacious” Johnny Lions – 7 wins, 4 losses, 2 draws
“The Doric Destroyer” Kaden Garrick – 3 wins, 9 losses, 1 draw
“Scudmaster Sexy” Krieger – 0 wins, 2 losses
“The Renegade” Lewis Girvan – 0 wins, 2 losses, 2 draws
“Bad Boy” Liam Thomson – 0 wins, 1 loss
Lionheart – 0 wins, 1 loss
“”The Greatest of All the Malices” Lord Mr Malice – 0 wins, 1 loss
Mauler Murphy – 3 wins, 1 loss
Mikey Innes – 0 wins, 1 loss
The Heavy Metal Hooligan” Mikkey Vago – 3 wins, 14 losses
Mr P – 5 wins, 11 losses, 1 draw
“The Bastard” PAC – 1 win, 0 losses
“The Scottish Luchador” Robbie Solar – 0 wins, 1 loss
RUDO Lightning – 3 wins, 1 loss
“Inspirational” Ryan Riley – 4 wins, 13 losses, 1 draw
“The Most Handsome Man in Scottish Entertainment” The Sam Barbour Experience – 0 wins, 1 loss
“The Red Haired Warrior” Scotty Swift – 7 wins, 9 losses, 2 draws
Shawn Johnson – 1 win, 4 losses, 2 draws
The Super Executioner – 0 wins, 1 loss
Ted O’Keefe – 8 wins, 7 losses
“The Baroness’ Favourite Disciple” Thatcher Wright – 0 wins, 1 loss
“The Asian Sensation” Umar Mohammed – 0 wins, 1 loss
William Sterling – 9 wins, 3 losses, 3 draws
Zach Dynamite – 6 wins, 10 losses, 1 draw
Alan Sterling & Caleb Valhalla – 0 wins, 1 loss
Alan Sterling & Crusher Craib – 1 win, 0 losses
Blue Thunder & William Sterling – 4 wins, 2 losses, 2 draws
Caleb Valhalla & Zach Dynamite – 0 wins, 1 loss
Connor Inglis & Scotty Swift – 0 wins, 1 loss
Damien & Connor Inglis – 0 wins, 1 loss
Damien & Mr P – 0 wins, 1 loss
Damien, Mr P & Shawn Johnson – 0 wins, 1 loss
Damien & Shawn Johnson – 1 win, 0 losses
The Foundation of the Future (Bradley Evans & Ryan Riley) – 1 win, 3 losses
The Foundation of the Future (Bradley Evans, Ryan Riley & Zach Dynamite) – 0 wins, 1 loss
The Foundation of the Future (Bradley Evans & Zach Dynamite) – 0 wins, 2 losses
The Foundation of the Future (Ryan Riley & Zach Dynamite) – 1 win, 0 losses
The Granite City Hotshots (Bryan Tucker & Shawn Johnson) – 0 wins, 0 losses, 1 draw
Jason Reed, RUDO Lightning & Zach Dynamite – 1 win, 0 losses
Jason Reed & Zach Dynamite – 0 wins, 1 loss
The Kings of Catch (Aspen Faith & Lewis Girvan) – 0 wins, 1 loss, 2 draws
The Outfit (Dino Del Monte & Ted O’Keefe) – 4 wins, 2 losses
The Rejected (Chris Archer & Mikkey Vago) – 0 wins, 6 losses
The Rejected (Chris Archer & Kaden Garrick) – 1 win, 0 losses
The Rejected (Chris Archer, Kaden Garrick & Mikkey Vago) – 1 win, 0 losses
The Swift Lions (Johnny Lions & Scotty Swift) – 5 wins, 3 losses, 2 draws
Unless otherwise credited, credit for all photos used goes to Brianbat Photography.