Review: World Wide Wrestling League ‘Wrestling Showdown: Live and Unlocked Tour’ (4 Dec)

Wrestling. An unpredictable beast at the best of times but World Wide Wrestling League had a fair old turn of it yesterday for their event up in Elgin. Travel issues, van issues, a borrowed ring, which ended up in a big delay to the show starting because of all that.

W3L posted an update earlier in the morning asking people to come around half 3 instead of the scheduled half 2 open time so they did try and offset some of the gathering. I turned up around half 3 and was directed into a smaller hall at the venue that had crowd seated all over the place, kids running about, a little bit chaotic but manageable. Saying that it was the longest 40 minutes of my life…

Queued up, ticket verified, and sat down. I was ready to finally see some wrestling directed straight towards my eye holes.

W3L Wrestling Showdown Championship – 10 Man Showdown – Saqib Ali defeated TJ Rage by pinfall to WIN the W3L Wrestling Showdown Championship.

Kicking off the show in style with a rumble for the vacant W3L Wrestling Showdown Championship. It started off with Saqib Ali and Rhoderick Jones squaring off and every two minutes-ish before the final two competed in a singles match to determine the new W3L Wrestling Showdown Championship. Sounds simple right?

Luke Aldridge entered third and swiftly kicked Jones low and threw him out before the beginning of Saqib Ali’s “making a pal” arc of the afternoon as he tried to make friends with everyone and anyone to gain an advantage. The next entrant Nathan Reynolds wasn’t there to make friends as he battered Aldridge and Ali around the ring. Captain Euan G Mackie appeared in his pirate garb and chased Aldridge (might’ve been Ali) around the hall then disappeared. I’m not even sure if Mackie went over the top rope…

The second half of the entrants stepped it up a gear with W3L Breakout Champion Craig Stephens entering the fray. It’s no secret that I haven’t got into Craig Stephens in the past, the whole thing has never clicked for me. However, he was the stand out in this match. The hammy-ness that had always put me off Stephens was way more subtle, a bit more controlled.

Meyhem Brooks entered with some fire but was soon dumped out before you knew it. So much for having a home field advantage…

Mackie made a second appearance chasing Aldridge around the ring with his sword… then disappeared again.

As we were reaching the closing stretch of the rumble portion, Nathan Reynolds was looking like a beast, bossing the ring with explosive power moves. Taylor Bryden added another layer of athleticism, flying in with some nice kicks. Sure we got a brief moment of The Tormentor coming out but he was immediately eliminated by Reynolds. Reynolds was finally eliminated but was replaced another monster in the final entrant TJ Rage who hit a big spear to introduce himself to the audience.

It was soon down to TJ Rage and Saqib Ali to compete in a singles match for the vacant championship and the match was brief but the finish was a bit messy.

So, as I try to remember the turn of events in order, Craig Stephens was still around ringside after his elimination. He slid the Wrestling Showdown Championship into the ring and distracted the referee. The referee turned around to see Ali hit Rage with the title. The match continued, because reasons, but Rage kicked out and fought back with a couple Superman Punches and an Attitude Adjustment for good measure. Then the referee was distracted again and Ali low blowed Rage, hit a Curb Stomp and picked up the win and the championship.

I’m picking holes in this because I am a massive dork, and very aware of this fact. Going by the reaction of the crowd, they weren’t fussed about the turn of events not making logical sense. I think it only needed a bit more clarification from the ring announcer, they could’ve thrown in No DQ singles match, or winner can only be determined by pinfall or submission, something like that. Again, I’m saying this as a massive dork which isn’t really the target audience for these kind of shows. It’s primarily for families, children, and those that are there for some clean family friendly wrasslin’.

Nitpicking aside, I enjoyed Nathan Reynolds’ performance throughout, the breakout (pun intended) of Craig Stephens from my perspective, TJ Rage looked monstrous, Saqib Ali was entertaining considering he was there start to finish. It’s a rumble at the end of the day, I love a rumble.

Nathan Reynolds defeated The Tormentor by pinfall.

A quick one next with The Tormentor telling Reynolds that he wouldn’t fall for the same mistake twice but suffered a spear and was pinned. Reynolds didn’t even take off his jacket. That’ll do.

It wasn’t pretty but it was pretty effective.

Mike Musso entered in his nifty Wrestling Showdown geansai with the W3L Heavyweight Championship in hand to give a health update and that he is currently suffering from a crushed disc in his back along with breathing issues, apologising to the crowd that he couldn’t wrestle that afternoon but will have a further update once test results were back and to stay tuned to Wrestling Showdown on the W3L Network.

He was soon interrupted by Craig Stephens who retrieved his Breakout Championship from the ringside area, then told Musso that the W3L Heavyweight Championship would be his all whilst backing Musso into a corner. While Musso did his best George Mizanin putting up the dukes impression, Taylor Bryden entered and challenged Stephens to a match later tonight which was accepted.

Simple and effective.

At the break I was reliably informed that The Bulgarian Baker was not on the show, something about Brexit, pandemic, overall terrible news. I blame Boris.

Euan G Mackie defeated Meyhem Brooks by pinfall.

After the quick intermission we returned and the music hit for the first entrant.

And the music continued.

And continued.

Minutes later Meyhem Brooks was seemingly pushed through the entrance way and strutted to the ring. To steal lines from the hit tv show ‘The Scotts’, he looked like a prime Stauner McGregor. Welcomed by a small voice during the silence shouting “you took your time” to chuckles. Captain Mackie was a favourite in the Bishopmill Hall, he’s a pirate. Pirates are cool.

The match itself. Well. There was something off about this one and I’ve tried to pinpoint what it was. Sometimes style clashes work. This was not one of those times. Neither looked to be particularly in rhythm with the other, it just looked like it wasn’t clicking. Usually matches like this would be saved by some Mackie-isms but they were few and far between. An off night it seems.

This could’ve been a lot more with some tweaks. Brooks looked miserable to be there, if only they announced him as from Elgin then let Brooks say he’s from Lhanbryde and Elgin sucks or something and get some old fashioned cheap heat. Little things that could’ve added something, anything. I got the impression that Meyhem Brooks believes that he is a good wrestler, but needs to let loose a little bit, just relax, and embrace the pantomime aspect of pro wrestling, especially in front of your general W3L tour crowd who get wrestling once a year maybe, mostly made up of kids, and their parents are only aware of the big American wrestling and still call it “the WWF”.

I don’t say this often and might not say it ever again… I think this needed inflatable hammers.

Rhoderick Jones defeated Luke Aldridge by pinfall.

In the advertised grudge match we got Aldridge facing Jones. Rhoderick Jones was properly loved by the Elgin crowd who were all behind him in every move. The match itself wasn’t too bad. Not a technical masterclass by any stretch but because they had the crowd in the palm of their hands there wasn’t much they had to do to get a reaction which is a wrestler’s dream probably.

Jones scored a shock roll up pinfall to extend his streak against Aldridge to 2-0 much to the delight of the audience in attendance.

What I find with Rhoderick Jones is, he knows all the moves and the order they need to go in to make a match, and can do them safely, but he just lacks a little finesse to make the moves flow. He looks incredibly excited to be in a wrestling ring which is infectious and the crowd gravitates towards that. Certainly an underdog that you can rally for.

Taylor Bryden defeated Craig Stephens by pinfall.

Our main event of the evening, and if you asked me last time I saw a Craig Stephens match before tonight if I’d be excited to see him main event I’d politely steer the conversation away from the topic but on this night I was game to see Taylor Bryden and Stephens square off.

This was my favourite match of the night (that went over 30 seconds because Reynolds versus Tormentor was grand), the crowd were into it and the in-ring content was lovely. Bryden busted out some really pretty pinning cradles and Stephens kept up with the more agile Bryden in a nice even contest.

Then this big snap was heard when Bryden ran into the ropes and the top rope visibly slumped, which, from my years watching wrestling, is rarely a good thing. Both wrestler adapted quickly and kept to the centre of the ring with only the second rope (Bret’s rope) being used for any high flying. It was really interesting to see them readjust to the situation and carry on.

It got a little messy towards the end when Saqib Ali ran out to try and help Stephens during a very dodgy ref bump but was dragged backstage by TJ Rage shortly afterwards. Bryden picked up the win to send the crowd home happy.

A victim of circumstance perhaps, it feels like the show was changed about on the day due to the travel issues and late start, like the Rumble was to be later in the show but was moved to the first match so that there were less wrestlers needing to change and can get all packed up so they could get the ring down and hit the road again.

The show felt different. There was no groove, and it was a little bit janky. Maybe it was the lack of W3L regalia like the ring apron and the change in set up, again due to outside circumstances. Maybe it wasn’t seeing Stevie Wizard hosting the night and jazzing up the ring entrances. Though it was great to see the likes of Taylor Bryden, TJ Rage, Euan G Mackie, and, in a surprise even to me, Craig Stephens in action again but the atmosphere… something was off.

The crowd were happy, I was hearing parents and kids buzzing about seeing some wrestling action so the job was done. There were no grumbles about the delay, the audience was happy and at the end of the day, that is the most important thing.

All that being said, I came to see some wrestling and I saw some wrestling. I’ve been to nine of these W3L shows in Elgin since 2012 so, like I said in my preview, I’ve seen these shows evolve and they’ve always delivered something that I’ve liked and it did that. It wasn’t ‘Action Academy Unleashed’ which I am forever thankful for but it wasn’t the best W3L show I’ve ever been to.

I’ll still be back next year, hopefully there will be some bread based shenanigans in 2022.

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