Mikkey Vago def. Ronan King by Pinfall
WrestleZone Tri-Counties Championship – Captain Alan Sterling w/Caleb Valhalla def. Chris Archer (c) by Pinfall to win the title
The Foundation of the Future (Bruiser Brad Evans & Ryan Riley) def. Shawn Johnson & Mr P by Pinfall
2 on 1 Handicap Match – Crusher Craib & Connor Molloy def. Caleb Valhalla by Pinfall
The Outfit (Dino Del Monte & Ted O’Keefe) def. Scotty Swift & Umar Mohammed by Knockout
Alex Webb def. Bryan Tucker by Pinfall
Undisputed WrestleZone Championship – Zach Dynamite def. Damien (c) by Disqualification; Damien retains
WrestleZone. It’s for everyone. It caters to all genres and fans.
Throughout Summerhill Showdown, this was paramount. Every match provided something different. There was comedy. There was brutality. There were stories told. There were seeds planted that I’ll look too far into.
It was a whirlwind of emotions that the majority of Scottish, if not British, promotions struggle to achieve. You were left in hysterics at the sheer sight of Captain Alan Sterling, you felt dread as Crusher Craib and Caleb Valhalla collided (big up to the WrestleZone ring), and by the end, you were left either normally happy because you’d had a good night out, or, in the case of myself and a select few other members of the crowd that evening, you had a gleeful smile that nobody dared try to take off your face. More on the reasons behind that soon, but if you know, you know.
Travelling to the show via car for the first time (!) meant finding a good place to park, and soon discovering that the Best Western Hotel, the Summerhill Hotel, the Sure Hotel, whatever you want to call it, is an absolute nightmare to find parking for. One side’s private parking, the other side appeared to be parking for Farmfoods, leaving James, my partner, stressing as we left the car parked, hoping to come back and not find it towed away or with a parking ticket. By the sounds of it, Billy and Kelly had a similar issue, so maybe the private parking was the hotel’s parking. Anyway…
Inside, there was an intimate feeling, with the seating a tad more compact owing to the restrictions in place for a further two days. It was the right sort of atmosphere for the event that was to follow. You felt involved, irrelevant of where you were sat. Sure, maybe not as involved as having Umar Mohammed inches away from being on your lap, but involved nonetheless. On to the event then, yeah?
Mikkey Vago def. Ronan King by Pinfall
These VIP ticket holder matches, often referred to as the pre-show in these previews, are now effectively part of the main card. There can’t have been a single person left standing outside with a general admission ticket, leaving one fan absolutely livid behind us in the queue that there wasn’t reserved seating. Go to the Beach Ballroom for that, or queue for up to four hours, as I’m sure certain regulars did. Fair play to them, I guess.
Anyway, Mikkey Vago and Ronan King had a fun little match to open the card. Ronan’s still sporting the zebra-print tights and a fashionable feather-adorned jacket, fashionable only in the sense that I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Doesn’t always make it a good thing, but it’s a choice that only those cocky enough could pull off. The zebra tights remain a no from me, but it doesn’t matter; you don’t want to mess with Ronan. He’s f’ing amazing, don’t ya know? A slap on the wrist backstage I’m sure.
It was a decent back-and-forth encounter with the match adapting the nature of cocky youngster vs. old-timer, which worked well to get the crowd going. Vago, dungarees and all, was in full crowd control here, getting them involved in the count when he bounced Ronan’s throat off the ropes. A couple decent Lariats were other Vago highlights, while Ronan controlled a large portion of the bout with some rest holds, a nice elbow drop, and generally getting in the former Tag Team Champion’s face. He’s a d*ck. Once more, his whole aura reminds me a lot of pre-Blood Tourist era Lou King Sharp. He swung himself up on the ring apron, he got in the crowd’s face to show off his muscles and all that jazz. It’s a character that works wonders in front of a WrestleZone audience. The Stunner began Mikkey’s 2022 on a winning streak, the Mikkey Vago Fan Club going wild in their masses. He celebrated, until having his hand kicked between the turnbuckle pad and the actual turnbuckle rod(?). Vago sold this wonderfully, belting out a scream that only his beloved rock bands could do in their songs (on a similar note, his new singles music is cracking), leaving him unable to accompany Chris Archer in his Tri-Counties Championship match.
Ronan was once again impressive, my only gripe with him is that he got back to his feet almost straight away. It undersells the impact of Mikkey’s finish and the overall match he’s just participated in. Doing this against Evan Young at Christmas Chaos was fine, it was a rollup finish if I remember correctly, so it’s hardly tarnishing anyone or anything, particularly as Ronan had controlled a large chunk of that match anyway. When he’s taking a proper finisher, though, he should be staying down a tad longer to make it more believable, but that’s just my nerd instinct kicking in. The kicking of Vago’s hand could spell the beginning of Ronan’s first rivalry, perhaps a rematch is in order for the show in Ellon or even the Regal Rumble. A solid match regardless to get things going, you can always count on Vago for such an occasion.
WrestleZone Tri-Counties Championship
Captain Alan Sterling w/Caleb Valhalla def. Chris Archer (c) by Pinfall to win the title
What else is there to say about Captain Alan Sterling that hasn’t already been covered by Billy, Kelly, Kyle, and Kayleigh? The guy is a gem to Scottish wrestling. You’re enthralled by everything he does. He’s stupid, and he knows he’s stupid, but you don’t acknowledge this, you just go along with everything he does and nod your head in appreciation. He was on particularly excellent form here, not thinking about anything too much and thus everything flowed out naturally. Alan and Caleb Valhalla did a little dance, hand in hand, that only Alan could make work. Having watched this Captain character progress over the past few years, it’s likely he thought of this on the spot. He’s a tremendous laugh is Alan. Minus points for the lack of a horse in the building, though.
The match between Alan and triple denim Chris Archer over the latter’s Tri-Counties Championship left you with a post-Christmas Dinner-esque pain in your belly from all the laughing at Alan and Caleb’s shenanigans. If you have a “thing”, then you need to maximise its potential without trying too hard. Alan and Caleb exemplify this; Archer began the match with a flurry of rollups, leaving Alan a tad dazed, and so Caleb explained how the Captain gets dizzy when on-land for too long. Just quick off-the-tongue remarks like that can really make or break a character, especially in a character-centred universe like WrestleZone. All I could hear the whole match was James next to me giggling away at Alan’s antics, which is what you want to achieve. Any sort of crowd reaction is a win. Plus, we got Alan’s comment towards Bryan McKenzie, which was… yeah.
A few nice spots from Archer included a Radio Silence and what was the greatest top-rope elbow drop I’ve ever seen. A thing of beauty that has been captured beautifully by Brian Battensby. The looming presence of Caleb resulted in Alan being in his arms, before they clocked heads during what I thought was the end of the match. Nothing, however, topped Alan’s Toot Toot somersault senton, which he attempted from a standing position rather than the top rope. He never hits it from the ropes, you see. He’ll have a better chance off his feet. He didn’t, naturally, but it did at least provide us with a quality Caleb Valhalla mini-tantrum at Alan saying no to the Toot Toot. Eventually, Alan would regain the title with a DDT, spiking Archer to become a two-time Tri-Counties Champion.
A surprising outcome initially, but the more I thought about it (as is often the case with WrestleZone events), it now sets the road perfectly for what I think they’re leading to at Aberdeen Anarchy. Alan is in the midst of the peak of his Captain schtick. Much like what happened when he was Lord Alan Sterling, he’s putting everything into his performances. He paraded around ringside with the championship (and Caleb) in tow. To compare, this is the stage where Lord Alan’s crown and sceptre were beginning to look a bit worse for wear. On the verge of a big moment, but not quite there.
I almost feel bad for Chris Archer as the Tri-Counties Championship suited him. There was just something about the saltire design with the all-denim outfit of the now-former champion, it felt right so hopefully he gets another run as champion in the future. My theory of a Rejected feud over the title will have to wait for another day…
The Foundation of the Future (Bruiser Brad Evans & Ryan Riley) def. Shawn Johnson & Mr P by Pinfall
It’s crazy how much matching gear can make two guys feel like an actual tag team, rather than two guys who’ve just been lumped together for the sake of it. That’s what was missing when the Foundation of the Future was initially formed, it felt a bit iffy as you had Zach Dynamite in his trunks and kickpads, Bruiser Brad Evans teetering on the edge of Bruiser Brody greatness, and Ryan Riley living his best Kurt Angle life. Now, they’ve all maintained their own styles, but they’ve got a cohesive gold and black colour scheme. You see these guys come out, you know they’re a singular unit.
Plus, Ryan has a headband now, so who’s really the coolest guy in WrestleZone?
They, at times, manhandled Mr P and Shawn Johnson, who themselves appear to be gearing up for a little rivalry. There was little hints here and there throughout to indicate as such, little jabs with both telling the other not to mess up their turn in the ring. This led to the aforementioned manhandling, with Riley and Evans demonstrating some brilliant tag team offence. Their half-nelson backbreaker into a uranage is right up my alley of eff your back. Evans also had a nice slingshot splash at one point, like Bam Bam Bigelow circa-Survivor Series 1988. Brad’s really nailing these callbacks to big beefy boys of yesteryear, even if it wasn’t Bammers he was adapting from. Some apparanet miscommunication between Shawn and Mr P left the latter laid out at ringside, and Shawn taking a neat Spinebuster/inverted DDT combo for the three.
On paper, I wasn’t too sure on this one. A solid match it was always going to be, but why these four guys, specifically? The Mr P and Shawn Johnson pairing probably could’ve just been any other two guys, but with Mr P’s brash aura, he really bounced off well with the Foundation, even if now I can’t take Ryan’s “swimsuit” apparel seriously. As for Shawn, there’s something a bit off with him right now. Maybe it’s just the aftertaste of the long, long Bryan Tucker feud, but I just feel like he’s missing an edge ever since he dropped the Undisputed Championship. He’s a decent in-ring talent, but there’s a clear lack of character direction. Hopefully the Mr P feud – if that is where we’re leading – fixes this.
2 on 1 Handicap Match
Crusher Craib & Connor Molloy def. Caleb Valhalla by Pinfall
There was so much moving parts involved in this that you forget it was only closing off the first half; it very easily could have served as a main event.
The scheduled non-title tag team match quickly turned into a handicap match, pitting Crusher Craib and Connor Molloy against Caleb Valhalla, sans William Sterling. The Sterling brother seemed to break his leg before the match, though it’s luckily since been confirmed as only a sprain. Captain Alan performed CPR on his leg, because of course he did. Wonderful William made a quick, off-the-cuff comment pre-match, saying they’d been found upon the sound of a police siren ringing through the hotel. I said this in my Halloween Hijinx review, too, but he really understands the comedy side of wrestling more than he gets the credit for.
What followed was, no hyperbole, the greatest handicap match you’ll ever see. This was Caleb Valhalla’s Damien at Battle of the Nations 2017 moment. As the match progressed, so did the audience’s appreciation for Big Sexy Caleb (© K&K Wrestle Factory, 2021). It built up so perfectly and so slowly that with each kickout, each slam, each strike, everyone knew what Caleb was all about. It’s what WrestleZone excels at; telling stories. I saw a handful of unfamiliar faces in the crowd that night, but I’ll bet they could all understand the story between Caleb and Captain Alan that’s been building since the former debuted at the 2018 Halloween Hijinx.
You could tell by the look on Crusher’s face that Caleb is a huge deal. Not will be a huge deal; he’s already there. There’s a reason he’s getting booked everywhere. When he collided with the former Undisputed Champion, it was the classic seeing of the immovable object vs. the unstoppable force. Neither guy budged, Crusher even let out a cheeky smile as if to say, ‘Oh, this is how it’s going to be’. When you get that moment in wrestling, it can really make you believe in a character. I can’t remember the last time Crusher faced a challenge like this, someone who could match him like a Jack Jester or a Big Damo. It was made better when Connor Molloy entered the ring, as he was flung about with incredible ease. Don’t get me wrong, the MovieMania winner was a joy to watch in his own right, his flashy arsenal bringing a different vibe to the bout, but at times, it did feel like he was there to act as a punching bag for Valhalla. It’s not a bad thing, either; it made the match ten times better.
The amount of close nearfalls in this was unreal, with Caleb evading pins after all of the Tag Team Champions’ signature offence. Again, this made you believe in Caleb Valhalla as a performer. If he can kickout of the Big Boot that’s put away many a former Undisputed Champion, then maybe, just maybe, there’s a chance he wins the match. I certainly believed so, anyway. When he German suplexed Crusher, the realisation properly set in. This is the next ‘guy’ in WrestleZone. A Helride to Connor, where Caleb caught him mid-flight, was another major highlight worth pointing out. As the match neared its end, Caleb stood between Crusher and Connor. Connor’s taking a boot, isn’t he? Crusher had already shown dissension with him, refusing to tag him in earlier in the match, so perhaps their time as a team is nearing an end. Instead, that didn’t happen. Valhalla ate both a Superkick and a Big Boot, finally being put down for the three count.
A near-standing ovation for Caleb played out afterwards. Every single fan in the Best Western Hotel understood the gravitas of the situation. Crusher helped Caleb back to his feet, offering him a monstrous one-on-one bout for WrestleZone’s return to Ellon’s Victoria Hall on 19 February, with the match graphic having since been released. What Crusher said effectively planted the seeds for what comes next. The hoss showdown is going to rule, so much so that I convinced my partner to go to the show off of that announcement alone, but beyond that, the Caleb and Alan partnership is nearing its peak. That moment, very similar to how Damien emphatically Superkicked Shawn Johnson at Battle of the Nations 2017, will see the roof of the Northern Hotel quite literally blown off. Storm Caleb is going to be rolling through WrestleZone very, very soon. It’s picking up just now. If it all plays out how I think it will, expect gale force winds at the Regal Rumble.
Huge pop, too, for Connor and Crusher being late to the ring because Connor was filming content backstage for Mikkey’s Mosh Pit. Poor Mikey Innes had to chase him down.
The Outfit (Dino Del Monte & Ted O’Keefe) def. Scotty Swift & Umar Mohammed by Knockout
Raffle tickets in hand, Caleb Valhalla and Foundation of the Future t-shirts bought, the second half brought with it the reunited Outfit, Dino Del Mone and Billy’s favourite wrestler Ted O’Keefe back teaming together for the first time since Summerhill Showdown 2020. With Dino rocking the leather jacket, mullet, and earring, he’s looking less Peaky Blinders-ish, and more George Michael. At least he’s got the singles run sorted, should he and Ted part ways.
On the subject of attires, Scotty Swift’s sort-of kameez. Chef’s kiss. He entered originally wearing his trademark jacket, garnering a sigh from myself and I assume Billy and Kyle, too. When he came back, adorned in a red kameez, doing his best to not dance like a certain disgraced Funkasaurus, it was everything you love about WrestleZone in one. Swift is one of those guys who’ll do anything to make a show as well-rounded as possible. If he has to do a hardcore brawl involving Christmas-themed objects, he will. If he has to go out, dancing like a prat, he will. He doesn’t care about looking like a clown. It makes him a solid performer in all aspects.
The match wasn’t a match. It was a fight, Del Monte and O’Keefe taking it to Swift and Mohammed before the bell rang outside the ring. This sort of thing isn’t for everyone, and that’s understandable. I don’t enjoy the Cystos, while others do; it’s about taste. For me, I’ll happily watch your latest technical masterpiece (I dunno, let’s say Mike Bailey vs. Daniel Garcia since that’s in the news at the moment), before diving into a best of CZW glass spots compilation on YouTube, so I enjoyed the brawl for what it was. The crashes and bangs of weapons being tossed off flesh isn’t what you expect from your average WrestleZone match, but this only added to the edge of the show. For example, the mark on Scotty’s back after I believe being hit by a plank of wood was nasty. I did, however, get a chuckle out of Dino taking a suplex on the floor. If you go back to his appearance on a Mikkey’s Mosh Pit (I believe it was his Mixer episode, to be precise), he said he was taking a few floor bumps on his first show back. That’s all I was thinking when I saw the suplex being executed.
Dennis Law, eventually with help from Mikey Innes, finally got the four back to the ring, though and, oh, the match is over. A single Rolling Elbow from Dino to Umar’s head is all it took for the bout to be ruled a knockout win for the Outfit. He was out cold, seemingly legitimately. This didn’t appear to be any sort of angle or anything. Umar was flat out for a good few minutes before coming round. He released a social media statement the day after the event, confirming he’d be good to wrestle at the recent Fair City Wrestling events, but he’ll be taking a break from WrestleZone. How convenient, with a Regal Rumble just around the corner. It’s not like Rumbles are typically full of surprises or anything…
Hopefully, this match can properly happen in the future, as the brawl showed glimmers of what the four are capable of together, but in an actual match, the possibilities are endless. All four are gifted in the ring, particularly Umar. He could have rang rings around the Outfit had he been afforded the chance in-ring. Moving forward, a full-time Scotty and Umar tag team wouldn’t be a bad thing, either. The Swift Sensations? Sensationally Swift? Yeah, I’ll let them come up with a better name in their own time.
Alex Webb def. Bryan Tucker by Pinfall
Time for a WrestleZone debut next, as Alex Webb mysteriously made his way up from Perth to contend Bryan Tucker, a man who, judging by his attire, is going through a mid-life crisis. The tartan tights/jeans/whatever they are isn’t a good look. The scarf was needless. Like Shawn Johnson, Bryan needs something to dig his teeth into before becoming just another guy on the WrestleZone roster. He was incredible to watch back in the day, from his days in the Granite City Hotshots to his initial feud with Shawn in 2016. Since his return in August 2019, though, it hasn’t been quite up to scratch.
That was evident here. Tucker was fine, but Webb was absolutely the highlight. It was as if he’d just watched the latest Spider-Man film all over again right before coming through the curtain, he was riding a wave of energy that even Ian Skinner couldn’t match. Now, despite originally training at removed-incase-of-slander, Webb is a credible wrestler. From what I’ve seen, he’s only gotten better over time. He’s very much an indie wrestler in the sense that he hit a few of the harder hitting moves, the Shining Wizard, the Katsuyori Shibata-esque Penalty Kick, I’m sure he had a Glen-Breaker in there, too, plus he came out in a denim jacket. If that doesn’t scream indie wrestler, then what does?
He was on top of the comedy, too, going so far as to hold Tucker’s arm in some sort of weird, Zack Sabre Jr. tribute, two-footed hold while discussing the former Undisputed Champion’s venture into the world of V-Logs. Not vlogs. V-Logs. Clearly a big Ethan Page guy, is Bryan. The Social Blade ultimately scored the win with a Bullet Kick (a Claymore, to you and I), marking a successful debut in what is hopefully just the beginning of his time in WrestleZone.
I enjoyed this, but nowhere near as much as I thought I would. Put that down to my anticipation for the main event and what was, presumably/hopefully, going to follow it. Alex Webb was delightful here, again he wrestled a slightly different style to what WrestleZone fans are generally used to, but he had that crowd control that allowed him to still get over in front of a more story-centred audience. He, and Bryan for the record, kept the crowd involved for the entire match. That’s what they want, they want to feel as involved as possible, they want you to take them along on that story. I recently listened back to the Mikkey’s Mosh Pit episode that had Martyn Clunes explaining how some people that come in don’t always understand how to do crowd work, but it was no issue for Alex Webb. He’s a regular at Reckless Intent, which has a very similar crowd to WrestleZone from what I’ve seen in that they’re regulars. Expect to see him back soon, perhaps as a Regal Rumble match entrant.
Undisputed WrestleZone Championship
Zach Dynamite def. Damien (c) by Disqualification; Damien retains
The match that had it all. It was as much a story as it was an intense fight. From the very moment Zach Dynamite stepped through the curtain, there was a beat to the story. He sent Ryan Riley and Bruiser Brad Evans to the back. This was Zach’s fight to, well, fight. He had a point to prove to Damien, to the fans, maybe even to himself, that he could become Undisputed WrestleZone Champion by himself.
What I liked here is that, despite the bell ringing, Damien and Dynamite stayed in their respective corners. It immediately put over the importance of the match. Yes, they wanted to beat each other up, but there was a feeling to it. I always enjoy when that happens, it just makes it feel more important than it already is.
When they did begin fighting, though, Christ, it was a fight. They went as extreme as they could without ever risking a disqualification. It was intense, it was hard, it was that side of WrestleZone that only comes out every so often, but when it does, it’s such an incredible thing to witness. Dynamite, for example, was risking everything. He attempted his patented double underhook DDT off the top rope at one point, which would’ve been surreal to see, but when they went to the apron (ThE hArDeSt PaRt Of ThE rInG™), he appeared to attempt the same move. A DDT variant on the ring apron didn’t happen, but Damien did suplex Dynamite across it, Dynamite’s spine landing right on the edge of the wood. The more I write about this show, the more ‘indie’ Summerhill Showdown sounds.
A Zach Dynamite Crossface was locked in for a large chunk of time, before, you guessed it, Dennis Law took a ref bump. Poor guy, he’s always taking feet to the face in an SFW manner. Cue Riley and Evans to return, laying out Damien as a new Undisputed Champion was in sight. That would’ve happened, had Zach listened to Ryan and performed a Frog Splash instead of relying solely on Riley and Evans’ tandem finisher, as Damien kicked out, soon thereafter low blowing Dynamite to get himself disqualified, but crucially, remain the Undisputed Champion.
Wait. What? A disqualification? You mean to tell me that once more, Damien was predicted to drop the Undisputed Championship, and he found a way to retain it? Well I never. On a serious note, though, this was a completely unexpected twist. I, like many others, expected a golden start to 2022 for the Foundation of the Future.
Then It happened.
The moment finally happened.
Every moment, every miniscual detail, every punch and kick and slam, it all built beautifully and culminated in this emotional display, a fanfare almost, to welcome back one of our own. Aspen Faith. The most successful wrestler from the North-East, the guy who does all the fancy graphics and whatnot, that face who many a WrestleZone fan almost instantly latched on to. He was the different guy, the indie guy if you will. He’d built this reputation for himself in WrestleZone, showed everywhere else what he could do, and now he’s back for the first time since the 2019 Aberdeen Anarchy. 1,015 days apparently.
They actually put the lights out, too. In the Best Western Hotel, in front of a reduced audience owing to COVID restrictions, we got a lights out return. And it played as tremendously as you’d imagine. A caper, some may call it. They came back on, Aspen was there, vest and shorts in January in classic Aspen fashion. Boof. Boot to Ryan. Boof. Granite Lariat to Ryan. The reaction was insane. I was sat on the other side of the room from them, but all I heard was Kelly shouting out for Billy. WrestleZone always knew they’d get an insane reaction from certain members of the audience. Just watch the video they very generously posted online to hear the pop for the Lost Boy:
Aspen wants the Undisputed Championship. He wants the Regal Rumble trophy. He wants the main event spot at Aberdeen Anarchy. He wants to wrestle Captain Alan Sterling, which is a must, please and thanks. He’s going to win the Regal Rumble match…
…the day of my sister’s wedding. Bastards.
Yes, my heart sank when the Rumble date was announced, but I suppose it can be forgiven if Aspen does indeed win the bout.
Looking back, what didn’t Summerhill Showdown have? You had comedy with Captain Alan Sterling and Chris Archer, you had intensity and brutality with The Outfit, Scotty Swift, and Umar Mohammed, and Damien and Zach Dynamite, you had storytelling with Crusher Craib, Connor Molloy, and Caleb Valhalla, you had standard, yet perfect tag team wrestling with the Foundation of the Future, Mr P, and Shawn Johnson. Every match provided a different style of wrestling to the card.
That was my major takeaway from the show. Everything was different. It was all unique. There was just something different about this show in general, it felt like with the new year, everyone was trying to up their game a little. It made for an entirely different viewing experience. If that’s the vibe WrestleZone is going for going forward, they’ve absolutely nailed it from the get-go. Here’s to more of that.
A return to the Victoria Hall in Ellon is up next for WrestleZone on 19 February, followed by the Regal Rumble on 19 March and Aberdeen Anarchy on 14 May, both of which will emanate from the Northern Hotel.