Pre-Show – WrestleZone Training Academy Showcase – Evan Young def. Ronan King by Pinfall
The Rejected (Chris Archer & Mikkey Vago) def. Captain Alan Sterling & Caleb Valhalla by Pinfall
Mr P def. Mauler Murphy by Pinfall
Strap Match – Shawn Johnson def. Bryan Tucker by Pinfall
WrestleZone Tag Team Championships – Crusher Craib & Connor Molloy (c) def. The Foundation of the Future (Zach Dynamite & Ryan Riley) by Pinfall to retain
Ted O’Keefe def. Umar Mohammed by Pinfall
Undisputed WrestleZone Championship – Triple Threat Christmas Brawl – Damien (c) def. Bruiser Brad Evans and Scotty Swift by Pinfall to retain
WrestleZone is very much still in the process of getting back into the swing of things, and that’s fine. COVID is still A Thing, so there’s no reason to go all out straight away.
That said, Christmas Chaos
20202021 wrapped up certain corners perfectly, created new ones, and left you with that hook, that bait to goad you into 2022, towards Summerhill Showdown and beyond.
Now, living in Cove, you’d think, “Ach, it’s not bad, a nice easy journey into town and then onwards to Danestone”. Except the bus was late. About half an hour late. In the rain that, for whatever reason, only stopped once I sat down on this delayed bus. No disrespect to the fine folks of First Aberdeen, of course, but rather a reminder I should probably begin those driving lessons…
In saying that, we arrived safe and sound and soaked, astonished by the length of the line, and even moreso by the warmth of the Danestone Community Centre, a typically colder venue from what I remember, though listening back to Kyle and Kayleigh’s review, maybe this was just me sweating my tits off. The usual setup inside, tinsel strewn all over the place, an inflatable Santa in the back of the hall, Christmas jumpers galore, and…a tuck shop! £1 for a standard-size Twirl, though – I feel robbed.
Some 200 words in, it’s about time I actually discussed the show, eh? It started with a hoot, anyway.
Pre-Show – WrestleZone Training Academy Showcase
Evan Young def. Ronan King by Pinfall
Evan Young and Ronan King did exactly what they needed to. They provided a stellar showcase for the WrestleZone Training Academy, all while dropping hints that hey, we might revisit this in the future.
Coming in, I was excited to see what Ronan King was all about. Think early days Lou King Sharp and you’ve hit the nail in the head. He came out in sunglasses (indoors?!?! IN WINTER?!?? Madness) and had music that sounded like it’s probably off of that there TikTok. A snappy entrance, you got a feel for his whole character. Good stuff from the off.
If you’re a regular at WrestleZone events, you’ll know the audience can get quite vocal, particularly at these Aberdeen shows. Bigger crowds, the more noise, etc etc. Evan Young’s mum, though; talk about supportive parenting. She was there, cheering Evan on, and thus, became the target for one Ronan King. It got the crowd involved, which is what WrestleZone is all about, so Ronan gets extra brownie points for doing such a fine job at that two matches in, plus it laid more seeds for that story that may or may not become an actual proper feud in the future.
Ronan controlled a lot of this early on, methodically keeping Evan grounded. He’s been watching the footage back, he knows that, although Evan isn’t your stereotypical high-flyer so to speak, he still enjoys leaving his feet for dropkicks and the like, so by keeping him on the mat, he can stay in control, continue his gloating towards Young’s family, and ease himself into a full capacity crowd.
Well, until Evan Young eventually won with a cheeky rollup.
Again, by not having a decisive finish and instead going down rollup avenue, it left space for a series of matches in 2022 and further afield, which there should be, as this was decent for what it was.
These two, considering they’ve both only just debuted, aren’t the complete package quite yet. Evan Young is still very much the happy-go-lucky babyface who’s whole mantra is being younger than everyone else (made better when he performed a Coffin Drop), and Ronan King, well, he’s got more of a character at least. His facial expressions are great, but they’re not always needed. Think back to when The Outfit first debuted. Dino Del Monte was waaaaaay over-the-top with his. It took nothing away, as he was decent in-ring and had an easy-to-understand character, but once he toned them down, he was a better all-round performer. The same can be said for Ronan King. Just ease up on them, not every little detail needs a wacky emoji reaction face. Save them for the bigger spots, like when you lose. Because he’d dominated for so long, he should appear legitimately shocked at losing, especially when it’s a rollup.
Tedious nitpicking aside, both are indeed a credit to the WrestleZone Training Academy and its trainers, and also provided an entertaining and engaging start to the night. This is what the pre-show should be all about.
A quick intermission followed, as no more than ten folk entered with general admission tickets, all while your favourite Christmas hits played in the background. VIP is where it’s at for these shows. There was no point waiting around to such an extent we started a whole four minutes early(!).
The Rejected (Chris Archer & Mikkey Vago) def. Captain Alan Sterling & Caleb Valhalla by Pinfall
Right, seriously, I need someone, anyone, to sit me down at a WrestleZone event and tell me to stop making up all these possible scenarios in my head. The Rejected, unsurprisingly, didn’t break up here, despite me telling myself otherwise.
The whole reasoning behind this was that Mikkey Vago, friend of the site, unveiled an All About Archer tee in the same vein as Captain Alan Sterling‘s All About Alan singlet design. That’s it. There wasn’t a justified reason for it. Vago was just genuinely pleased for Chris Archer‘s Tri-Counties Championship win. He wasn’t planning an Evolution-esque turn post-match. One day, I’ll get the hang of containing my thoughts to “Oh, this is a good match”.
It was a good match, for what it’s worth. Caleb Valhalla, complete with his beard baubles, was on top form, countering a double Irish whip by yanking Archer and Vago chest-first into each other, but more importantly, he was finally able to remove his famed Alan Sterling faces t-shirt. Something as teeny and tiny as this had been brewing in WrestleZone for so long because it added to the story without you realising, and yes, as I type that, I am indeed a massive nerd for details.
Captain Alan missed a Boat Drop, all while chanting toot toot because he’s Alan Sterling, and all this led to The Underarcher delivering a beast of a diving elbow drop to the former Tri-Counties Champion for the win. The image post-match of Valhalla carrying a lifeless Captain Alan out of the ringside area will one day live in some art gallery as a prized possession.
This followed Evan Young vs. Ronan King wonderfully. Both were hot matches that got the crowd going. They were really behind everyone here; they supported The Rejected all the way as they always do, sat in awe at the sheer awesomeness of Caleb Valhalla being Caleb Valhalla, and lapped up every ounce of Captain Alan Sterling they possibly could. Literally no-one else could get the crowd invested by continuously shouting “I’m winning” whenever they’d done the bare minimum to stay in control, but because it’s Alan, it was smiles all around.
Once more, WrestleZone built this Alan and Caleb story by adding some extra sauce to it, a bit spicy. Caleb Valhalla did literally everything for his team. It was unofficially a handicap match. Whenever there was a slight chance of either Archer or Vago overpowering him, he tagged out. “Slam him again”, he shouted at Caleb, knowing he’d be taking the pin for it. They’re breaking up at some point. WrestleZone is building to it more and more because they know the fans want it. When it happens, the wait will have been worth it and then some.
Mr P def. Mauler Murphy by Pinfall
Oh, Mr P, bless you, you tried.
I don’t want to go on a big rant about Mauler Murphy or anything because he is getting better as he gains more experience, but there was something off about this, and it certainly wasn’t Mr P.
Mauler Murphy isn’t convincing in the big beefy monster role. He walks to the ring without any real aura around him, a single scream to the crowd once in-ring being the single bit of excitement about his entrance. I wasn’t convinced. My partner wasn’t convinced. No one was convinced that Mauler Murphy was going to tear apart Mr P. As I said, I really don’t want to tear into Murphy, as he has done some good things in his short career thus far, but if he’s to be beliavable in a land full of big, over-the-top characters, there’s work to be done.
Mr P just looked like he was trying too hard to pull something out of Murphy that simply wasn’t there. He constantly kicked Mauler up the ol’ arse, flashed underneath his kilt, and evaded him constantly; this was hilarious, as it was Mr P, but it only really works if Mauler Murphy then gets his hands on the former Tri-Counties Champion, decimating him a la Crusher Craib vs. Scotty Swift at Battle of the Nations 2017. He controlled for a while, fair enough, but it wasn’t enough. Murphy was nowhere near as convincing as he needed to be.
Mr P was undoubtedly the star. His diving Crossbody was decent (Murphy’s counter to the initial Crossbody attempt with a fallaway slam was, at least, a solid highlight), while his match-winning Axe Kick was decent as well. Most of what Mr P did worked, but again, it needed that pure annhilation from Mauler Murphy to really get over.
To reiterate a point from Kyle and Kayleigh’s review, Murphy needs to just kill someone, even as early as Summerhill Showdown. Evan Young, Ronan King, Cysto 1, 2, or indeed a rare appearance from 3, send anyone out to be murdered by Murphy. It’s the only way to get him over as this big scary monster who’s more than just a few slams and a bearhug.
Shawn Johnson def. Bryan Tucker by Pinfall
Given the way it ended, Shawn Johnson vs. Bryan Tucker is over. That’s for the best. Their rivalry since 2019 hasn’t been great, particularly when compared to their initial run in 2016. The Battle of the Nations Unsanctioned match and the Christmas Chaos Christmas Brawl were both strong WrestleZone matches for that year.
Their strap match, though, wasn’t quite as good. It was a fine feud-ender (presuming it is the end), but nothing too special.
Tucker, in a similar vein to Mauler Murphy and Ronan King, controlled large chunks of the match, thanks in part to him attacking Shawn pre-match before he was strapped up. The strap in question was, unsurprisingly, used as a weapon all through the match. Bryan whipped Shawn countless times, while Shawn used a more comedic approach, yanking Bryan into each corner of the ring with such force, his poor shoulder. As a side note, words can’t begin to describe the sheer joy when Martyn Clunes confirmed this would follow the traditional rules of a wrestling match (pinfalls and submissions only), rather than being the dreadful touch all corners rule.
Shawn Johnson fought back, ultimately winning off a Michinoku Driver as the match sort of just ended. I’ve never seen Shawn use this to end a match, so it felt like a bit of a flat ending, just as it wasn’t expected and the audience took their time to process it. It followed a key story beat in the match, as Bryan tried to cheat, so it had that extra beef to it, it just needed to be built to a bit more. Perhaps Tucker could have escaped an attempt at the manoeuvre prior to Shawn dropping him to make Taka Michinoku proud.
A fine match, but it needs to end. There’s nothing to warrant another match between Shawn and Bryan unless it’s happening in five years’ time. For now, both must move on to prevent them becoming stale. Maybe have Bryan chase the Tri-Counties Championship for a bit, have Shawn reenter the Undisputed Championship picture post-Summerhill Showdown. Anything other than this, and they’ll be fine.
WrestleZone Tag Team Championships
Crusher Craib & Connor Molloy (c) def. The Foundation of the Future (Zach Dynamite & Ryan Riley) by Pinfall to retain
And here we go, second-half time, which can only mean one thing; another theory.
Zach Dynamite and Ryan Riley entered wearing matching gear. The gear they’d ordered for Aberdeen Anarchy 2020, but couldn’t wear because, well, y’know. Bruiser Brad Evans had posted on Twitter ages back, seemingly confirming he had the gear in his possession. Let’s presume Dynamite and Riley did, too. They hadn’t worn it for Halloween Hijinx, though, insinuating (to me and me only, more than likely) that Christmas Chaos was their night. New Tag Team Champions here, new Undisputed Champion a bit later, why not?
Because I’m always wrong, that’s why.
They failed to dethrone Crusher Craib and Connor Molloy of the Tag Team Championships, though technically, the match should have been restarted. Isn’t that right, Dennis? It’s Aberdeen Anarchy 2018 all over again!
Dynamite and Riley felt like a proper team here. Not only were they in matching gear, they wrestled like a tag team, using each other as a distraction and a partner, chasing Crusher around ringside only for him to be tripped up. It’s such simple stuff, but Zach and Ryan made it look so crisp and fluid. Ryan’s opening sequence with Connor, where he matched Molloy in agility, was something I’d never seen from him. He even nipped up to his feet with such ease. Fair play to him; he’s someone who’s clearly putting the work in behind the scenes. Zach, though, was the main highlight here. Both his Superkick and top-rope elbow to Crusher were fantasic, as was his Crossface on Connor. That was a crucial point of the match, as, at the same time, Ryan held Crusher back from breaking it up. New champions seemed all but confirmed then, until the actual finish.
Crusher pinned Ryan for the finish. A three count was made. Ryan’s foot was on the bottom rope, where it remained even after Crusher and Connor had left. I guess the match can’t be restarted if the champions leg it out before the referee even realises? What made this more intriguing is that Zach, despite a sensational photo from Brian Battensby of him looking utterly disgusted, seemed to be calming down Riley post-match, almost like he had a plan in mind.
More on that in just a bit…
Ted O’Keefe def. Umar Mohammed by Pinfall
This, for me, was the best match of the night. Owing to Umar Mohammed‘s flashy and flamboyant style, it wouldn’t have looked out of place on one of your top British indies because, remember folks, nothing counts so long as it’s in Aberdeen.
Ted O’Keefe came out, hating life and Christmas with his bah humbug hat, his polar opposite in Umar entering thereafter to get the audience pumped. There’s just this natural chemistry around him as soon as he enters, you want to get invested in him because he’s clearly just as energetic about his match than you are. As close to a complete package as you’d need, really.
There was little to rag on. Umar wrestled with such a style that you’d come back up north just to see him wrestle. There’s no-one else in WrestleZone like him, which is what you want; why have three people on the same roster who wrestle exactly the same? No-one stands out that way, but in Umar’s case, he doesn’t need to worry. His Old School tightrope DDT was insane, as was Ted’s Superkick while Umar hung upside down in the turnbuckles. What was great about this, though, is that you believed Umar could have actually been knocked out from the blow. He flopped down from mid-air, rather than the industry-standard falling naturally while holding the turnbuckles. It was brutal.
But poor old Ted O’Keefe couldn’t do any more Superkicks later on, as he tweaked his knee and/or ankle. Bah gawd, that man was liar, as Dino Del Monte, mullet and all, swooped in, rolling elbow to Umar, and Ted won, having magically recovered. The Outfit are back together, Umar Mohammed looked dejected, and a tag team match is presumably now in the books for Summerhill Showdown.
This is very much a WrestleZone story. Umar and Ted couldn’t get along, failed in their Tag Team Championships quest, had a singles match, Dino returned to aid Ted. Simples. Not every story needs to be a blood feud, and WrestleZone understands that better than most Scottish promotions. We’ll wait for an official Summerhill Showdown announcement, but I wouldn’t be opposed to a Tallon Jr. or someone coming up from FPWA to assist Umar, which means he definitely won’t be coming.
Undisputed WrestleZone Championship – Triple Threat Christmas Brawl
Damien (c) def. Bruiser Brad Evans and Scotty Swift by Pinfall to retain
Raffle drawn, it was main event time, the big Christmas Brawl for Damien‘s Undisputed Championship. Both Bruiser Brad Evans and Scotty Swift had entirely different reasons for being in the match, but this only made the match feel more important. Evans, a youngster only a few years into his career, wants to lift the title from Damien, while Swift, a WrestleZone veteran, wanted to teach a bit of respect to the Foundation of the Future member, in doing so challenging for the title of which he previously had the longest reign.
It’s easy to understand, and yet, the match was insane.
What I liked here is that, for a few minutes, Scotty kept getting chucked out. This was beef between Damien and Evans from Halloween Hijinx, Scotty had gotten involved simply because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time at the Training Academy show. It made sense for it to follow this sort of story.
Mahoosive Christmas presents were opened, with Damien finding some sort of Christmas bells, Scotty two massive candy canes, and Bruiser Brad a stuffed Christmas pudding which he ripped to shreds. Stuffing – and not the good kind – laid all over the ringside area, a true murderer was Evans. Naturally, though, he ate attacks from both the bells and the canes, Damien becoming a karate master with the former. A ladder would be introduced later on, as Damien took a backdrop onto it (an all-time f’er of a bump), before the super-close near-falls began, each one getting nearer and nearer. Swift almost won via Granite City Driver atop broken Christmas baubles (broken only by the backs of all three after a Damien cannonball), while Evans almost won, too.
A Fuji dust attempt from Evans ended with him beind blinded, taking a heavy knee strike, and ultimately, a Superkick from Damien, the champion stealing his Piledriver pin for the win to ensure he reaches 1,000 days as Undisputed Champion.
But, the night wasn’t over.
You see, in WrestleZone, the ending of the main event doesn’t mean it’s the end of the night, just like how the watermark appearing doesn’t mean it’s the end of an NXT TakeOver. Fans were eager to leave, even though a Santa Claus appearance had been confirmed and he was yet to appear. Until he did, clotheslining Damien as he was beating up Bruiser Brad post-match. You’re on the naughty list, a young fan bellowed out, as Santa revealed he wasn’t actually ol’ Saint Nick, but in fact, he was Zach Dynamite.
Zach, joined by Bruiser and Ryan Riley, spiked Damien with a DDT, gloated in his face with the Undisputed Championship, and celebrated over his lifeless body. A Summerhill Showdown main event was seemingly confirmed, with WrestleZone having since announced the match for the 22 January event.
An outstanding end to the night. You get the impression that, all this time, Bruiser Brad Evans never wanted the Undisputed Championship for himself, but for the whole of the FOTF. The idea of Zach being this conniving bad guy on top of the company, leather jacket and cronies and all, now stands a firm chance of actually, finally, happening. Summerhill Showdown ideally now ends with the group standing tall as both the Undisputed and Tag Team Champions, which Billy has predicted himself in a belter of an Aberdeen Anarchy predicted matches post. Two SWN writers predicting the same thing? It’s got no chance…
Still, Summerhill Showdown should be grand, eh? Tickets went on sale earlier tonight via Ringside World. An excellent start to 2022 looks to be set in stone.