Thoughts on WrestleZone ‘Aberdeen Anarchy 2022’

After the events of Saturday, I really wasn’t going to write a “review”, honestly it was because I knew there were so many really talented writers, and podcasters, that would do a great job and anything I add would just be echoing their words just with a different accent.

But I need to write some things down. So this won’t be a review as such, if you want that then the good folks and K&K Wrestle Factory will have your hook up for your eyes and ears, and Adam Morrison will have a fantastic write up as always in the very near future.

If you want to see my emotional state after the event, I have some footage in Friday’s SWN Podcast where I recorded a segment about 10/15 minutes after the event where I ramble for bit while my pizza got cold.

Anyway, here are my thoughts on the show:

The opener between Air Myles and Alastor Kharon was a really great start, a very difficult task for both because a vast majority of the WrestleZone audience aren’t probably aware of wrestling outside of your major US promotions, WrestleZone, and an outside shot at ICW, so to come in and produce a very entertaining match that got the crowd invested and making noise is credit to both men. I haven’t seen this version of Alastor Kharon before, and it’s a very unique look and the crowd bit straight away. Myles was a very easy fit for WrestleZone with his flashy moveset and the sure possibility that we’ll have Alex Webb return up to the North East for a Fair City Saints run is a mouth-watering prospect. The fact that, from previous matches I’ve seen, that this isn’t even all that Myles can do just makes it more exciting to see him come back up and wrestle on a show that has a higher ceiling to bust out some more of his high flying offence. Both put in a showing worthy of a return match on a main show.

The VIP “main event” between Blue Thunder and Rhys Dawkins was WrestleZone in a nutshell. There was audience interaction aplenty, Dawkins looked very comfortable in the ring, even if his heart was beating double time on the inside, he looked calm and collected in his offense, made sure to be in the zone throughout the match, if there was a lull in the crowd noise he was quick to bust out some Shakespearean patter to bring on the boos. He kept shouting that he was a genius and the most intelligent wrestler this side of the globe but he truly put in a shift to prove that. Using the canvas of the ring to create art, entertaining art. Blue Thunder might just be the finest wrestler that many people outside of Aberdeen haven’t had the pleasure to see. His timing, whether in the ring or for shear entertainment value, is at such a high level. If you had a dream to wrestle for WrestleZone, or any family based wrestling promotion, there are few better to nail those qualities down which are very important if you want to have the crowd in the palm of your hand. The little things, like Rhys replacing the turnbuckle pad after smashing Thunder off it, were done so well that you wouldn’t think this was his first time in front of a crowd.

I thought the big cheer at the start of the pre-show was loud but when the main card started, heralded by snappy dressed Martyn Clunes, it was almost deafening how loud the crowd got inside the Northern Hotel. It’s key venue for WrestleZone, and although it doesn’t pack in the over 1,000 people that the Beach Ballroom did, it sounds loud, rowdy, and just as raucous.

The main show started off hot with The Foundation of the Future against the WrestleZone Tag Team Champions, Crusher Craib and Connor Molloy. Coming into this one there was such an air that something big was going to happen. Bruiser Brad Evans and Ryan Riley winning was almost secondary as they are such a polished team it was more of an ‘when’ than an ‘if’ they would win the titles. Seeing the evolution of The Foundation of the Future since they aligned back in 2019 has been joyous to watch. They look like a proper team, they wrestle like a proper team, even though Brad Evans is mulleted to the max, broader than a house, and has this erratic demeanour, it’s almost the complete opposite of Ryan Riley’s inspirational confidence, and, I suppose, snootiness to those he deems beneath him. It just works. Although I was cursing their name (under my breath) after the show ended it’s wonderful to see guys go from their original incarnations, find their footing and become one of, if not thee best, Scottish tag teams around today.

That’s not even mentioning Connor Molloy, who has went from the skinny kid, looked like he was scared to make eye contact with the crowd to this confident, shoulder shimmying, beefy lad. Throwing his body around with reckless abandon. He is a fantastic prospect that should be on the cusp of popping up all over the place.

With all that being said, a big moment did happen and it wasn’t as expected. At least not by me. Crusher teased something in the post match, there was a tension that was hanging around. Was it to be Crusher smacking Connor about, would Connor take the chance to beat down Crusher for losing? Neither happened as Crusher Craib announced that that was his final match, he was retiring and leaving WrestleZone in the capable hands of the young guys like Connor Molloy.

If you told me before the show that this was to happen I would’ve maybe been dismissive. It’s wrestling after all, nobody retires forever. Hearing Craib cite the reasons for retiring, the emotion in his voice, the dropping of the monster reverb. It felt real, it felt emotional, I even got a lump in the ol’ throat as I stood with many for a standing ovation.

Another guy that was hidden up in the North East for too long, underrated and underappreciated in the wrestling scene. In an age of small athletic guys jumping around, Crusher Craib was a perfect foil. In not even wrestling the smaller guys, I always recount the story and matches with Jack Jester in 2014 as one of the best storylines that I have witnessed in wrestling. There are big shoes to fill in WrestleZone with Craib bowing out. I said it on Twitter and to him after the show but thank you Crusher Craib.

After all that emotion, it was a tough task for Krobar and Chris Archer to come out and tear it up. It was one of those, aye the match is solid enough but with no connection to the why it was happening it felt very emotionless. Archer had been on a wave of momentum behind him from winning the Tri-Counties Championship at Halloween Hijinks, only to lose it at Summerhill Showdown, to then be floating around. This might’ve been a different story if his original opponent, Jackie Polo, was available because Polo has this established aura about him and beating him would feel like a big deal. Beating Krobar doesn’t really boost Archer’s standing, and it doesn’t help that I don’t really have a strong affinity to watch Krobar wrestle in general.

With the show rattling on we were treated to the Aberdeen Anarchy debut of Evan Young, whose face told it all. He looked hyped to be wrestling at the event that introduced him to WrestleZone, against what could be considered a WrestleZone legend in Bryan Tucker. The added cherry on top of an already large cake was the return of Johnny Lions. Wrestling, as a whole, missed the infectious tenacity of Johnny Lions and I didn’t even realise it until he made his entrance. The sheer joy to be in front of a crowd was so evident, Johnny Lions man, plus the guy is even more ripped than he was when was active and the beard is a very nice addition to his grizzled veteran status. What made this match even better was, despite Johnny Lions being this larger than life character, and he got plenty shenanigans in, it didn’t detract from Evan Young putting on a clinic of crispy smooth wrestling. We also got Tucker being the chaotic pest, hiding a tie under his tartan troos to choke Evan, stealing Lions’ moveset to try and get a rise out of Johnny was perfect. It gave enough Easter eggs and callbacks to those that come to every show without needing to explain everything to the new eyes at the event.

Everyone played their part on making this a really great watch. Evan Young is that guy the kids can literally watch, and they can imagine themselves be in the ring because he doesn’t have the size physically, but has the spirit, and the confidence to stand up to the bigger wrestlers without backing down. A really solid role model to have in the family friendly world of the wrestling.

The little Lion Cutter tease from Johnny to a scarpering Bryan Tucker was lovely addition, especially given that the crowd audibly sounded disappointed that we didn’t get a Johnny Lions cutter. In the words of Captain America, “Patience”.

The first half main event is possibly one of the best Aberdeen Anarchy matches, definitely creeping into my top 10 anyway, in history. If Evan Young is the role model, Ronan King is the complete opposite. He’s brash, cocky, arrogant, he’s the guy that tries to bully the Evan Young’s of the world so you always come in wanting to see his comeuppance. I won’t be the first to say this, but Ronan King is bloody talented. He’s had a handful of matches but you wouldn’t think it from his in-ring work and certainly from his online persona. He’s making sure his name is being bandied about at any opportunity. His entrance, dressing like his opponent Mikkey Vago, even going as far to enter to Vago’s music and entrance video, could’ve just been that one note but he went the extra step by heading back to put his own gold bedazzled jacket on, putting on his oversized sunglasses, and made sure he did his own entrance to maximise all the boos that he could grab. It’s a move that is certainly wise beyond his years and is a credit to his ideas but to those that allow him the creativity to do that. It feels natural.

Since the birth of Mikkey’s Mosh Pit, it’s been nice to see the more human side of Mikkey Vago. Sure he had done promos in the past but the Mosh Pit really got an insight into Vago himself. It adds that relatable aspect that can be difficult if you’re only seeing a wrestler for 10/15 minutes once a month. It added a load of new fans, and even though he’s putting all the credit to his attire, he is definitely in tremendous shape. Harking back to his first Aberdeen Anarchy by entering in the camo gear, most wrestling fans would equate it to The Dudley Boyz, or more specifically for this callback, one of Vago’s first opponents in D-Von Dudley, it was a nice touch even if it may’ve been unintentional.

This had everything you would expect going in with the hard Singapore Cane shots rippling throughout the building. Nothing quite hits the ear canals like the sound of a taped multi-stick of bambo vibrating. Ronan’s errant moonsault into a cane shot to the face was incredible as was the finish, Ronan using the guitar he entered with to channel a certain King of the Mountain to smash Vago over the head to create a talcum powder explosion. Less said about Ronan throwing the guitar behind him that ended up hitting a girl in the front row on the elbow eh? The hazards of being front row at a wrestling show.

As the WrestleZone crew struggled to sweep the powder in the ring, such a struggle lost a broom as it snapped mid-sweep, big Kev saved the day by not only snapping the broom at the bend but also returning with another broom to speed up the process. It gave us a bit of time to unpack the first half that had so many emotional points. Oohs, aahs, laughter, and even a tear or two. If the first half was anything to go by the second half was going to be a rollercoaster. Plus I got to add another of many awkward human interactions with wrestlers, this time it was Aspen Faith at the merch stand. It’s tradition at this point.

Once the crew cleared the worst of the powder, we returned to the action and it was one of the big matches scheduled for the evening, the big six man tag team match.

The big mystery was who the third man would be, who would be replacing Lee McAllister? When the match was put into place at the Regal Rumble there was only one man, I thought, that would be perfect to link up with Umar Mohammed and Scotty Swift but I’ll get back to that.

WrestleZone have been very clever with there tag teams, The Outfit were a really good team in its initial incarnation but as Dino evolved, he almost outgrew his tag team partner, certainly by a character standpoint. No longer was Dino the peaky blinders tribute act but the self proclaimed best striker with a nasty looking rolling elbow to boot. His evolution and handle on the character allowed him to elevate Murphy, who was in dire need of an overhaul which this change has certainly provided. The inclusion of a tag team veteran in William Sterling adds some experience to add some further credibility to the tag team dynamic. Speaking of Sterling, he entered wearing one lone boxing glove for reasons that would become clear later on.

The arrival of Scotty Swift and Umar Mohammed rocked the Northern Hotel, with The Asian Sensation plucking a certain podcasters phone to declare Anarchy to be sensational which was amazing. Swift sure rocks that snazzy jacket.

Umar Mohammed. If you told me way back after Action Academy that this guy would be one of my favourite wrestlers I’d have been that Pikachu face meme in real life. He’s such a star, carries himself so well. Speaking of carrying, where did all that muscle come from? Umar was looking jacked (to steal a line from Lou King Sharp). He’s buffed out and looks incredible but hasn’t lost that agility in the ring.

The third man, of course it was Johnny Lions, my original hope, for one final match. The place went unglued. We got the classic Johnny Lions moves, including a Lion Cutter which shook the room, and I loved every second. There may not be a more charismatic trio to exist, and even if it’s only for one night, to see Swift, Lions, and Mohammed team up against three dastardly bad guys. Beautiful.

Sterling smacking Swift with the boxing glove, loaded with the Dundee pay packet (a baggy of pennies) added fuel to the impending rematch in August with McAllister involved. Sold.

This was everything it needed to be and more. From the showcase of Dino being the power, Sterling being the crafty git, Murphy Murphying about to the good guys putting all the spotlight on Umar whilst also being damn entertaining in their own right.

The hits kept coming with the tag team match between Mr P and Shawn Johnson against Lou King Sharp and Krieger, and I don’t mean Shawn slipping on his arse in front of us during his entrance.

I’ll keep saying it until the cows come home to fight the sheep, but Lou King Sharp is one of the best wrestlers in the world. Such a sharp mind, pardon the pun. Around Europe, and even the UK, he’s ‘The Blood Tourist’, or the dungaree wearing madman, but in WrestleZone he’s his old school skinny jeans wearing would-be lothario persona along with Scudmaster Sexy himself Krieger. No need to introduce a new character to proceedings, Sharp knows what works with the crowd here and plays it to the maximum. Your Mother’s favourite wrestler, the sexy dancing, the whole shebang.

Mr P has been a godsend to Shawn Johnson, who has been a bit bland since the return of WrestleZone late last year, get the lad a kilt and suddenly Shawn Johnson is this charisma machine. The weird, but hilarious, added touch of their own sexy dancing being part Peacemaker dance, part ceilidh was inspired.

This was a riot to watch, everyone was in pure entertainment mode which was delightful and didn’t outstay its welcome. Even with the sexy dancing going on a beat too long added to Shawn’s insistence of having ‘Dad/Dads’ in their yet unconfirmed tag team name. Fathers of Chaos. Send your cheque in the post.

If felt like a forgone conclusion that it would be Mr P and Shawn winning when Evans and Riley nabbed the titles in the opener but it makes sense with Mr P being the Foundation hunter and Shawn tagging along for the ride. This will be a lot of fun at Battle of the Nations.

Before the main event we were welcomed by big sexy Caleb Valhalla, who was without an opponent due to the Tri-Counties Champion Captain Alan Sterling catching COVID while out at sea (sad toot). I would’ve loved a little video of the Captain on the night but alas it wasn’t to be.

We got a William Sterling return with The Outfit in tow to announce that he and Alan had reunited and had formed an alliance with Dino and Murphy. Sterling Oil 2.0? An interesting development, if it leads to them guiding Dino to the top then I’m very much interested in seeing where this goes. Anyway, Sterling and The Outfit attacked Valhalla until Caleb entered God Mode and took the upper hand.

Lord Mr Malice appeared out of nowhere, resurrected once more only to be sent for a Helride. Let’s all take a moment to breathe a sigh of relief that Malice did not end up being launched over the top rope again. Moment done.

Blue Thunder came out to try and settle matters but was hauled over the head of Valhalla, taking a nasty landing. Two skinny lads on the crew got ran through and even referee Dennis Law was taken out, which meant that he would’ve been out of commission for the main event, boosting Aspen’s chances…

With the Creator of Carnage retiring to open the main show, Caleb put in a shout of taking up the mantle with the path of destruction he left behind. Would I have preferred to see Captain Alan get thrown about like a wet trackie? Absolutely. Does this make me more excited to see it in August? You’re damn right it does. If I was the newbie to WrestleZone and saw this muscle bound God destroy eight folk with relative ease and he has a match at the next show, my money would’ve already left my pocket.

It was funny to go from that to “well anyway, now is time for the raffle”. Didn’t win. Fix.

All of that lead us to the main event. An epic triple threat match with the Undisputed WrestleZone Championship on the line. First out was co-winner of the Regal Rumble Zach Dynamite, initially flanked by the new tag team champions Evans and Riley. Dynamite sent them to the back, a callback to Summerhill Showdown in that Damien challenged him to face him on his own. The other co-winner, Aspen, entered next all alone. One of the firm favourites in the room, well especially in the corner I was sat in.

During the in-ring announcements, the tension was palpable. Even when Martyn Clunes attempted the ring introductions, the mic kept cutting off to the point where he threw down the microphone and demanded another. To see a usually cool, calm, and collected Clunes snap for a moment added to the enormity of the main event.

The Champion, Damien, entered last with a subdued entrance, looking focused and ready for a war. He brought his daughter into the ring to hold the title. Such a sweet moment. Damien’s daughter has been an absolute star during his title reign. She believes in her Dad, never wavering support, always shouting and cheering for him. It’s truly a love that is so heart-warming.

The match was the aforementioned epic. Dynamite exited the area at the start but returned just as the lock up between Faith and Damien began to cause spoiler. All three men had the close calls, the 2.9 counts, the moments. I’ve mentioned callbacks throughout this, what has now turned into review, and Damien pointed one out on the Twitter machine.

Him using the Tyler Driver ‘97.

The night that Damien left Sterling Oil and started his march towards the Undisputed WrestleZone Championship with the fans on his side. The night that the crowd embraced him after his hard fought loss to Tyler Bate in the same venue.

An excellent point to go back to.

Aspen hit a couple roaring Tombstone Piledriver’s that made me almost made me shriek but they could only garner near falls as my heart leapt into my throat. Which would explain the state of my voice in the days after the show.

It had a ringside a brawl, Damien diving off the bar, Aspen landing on my lap, Dynamite striking anything that moved. Artistry.

We got Aspen busting out a well controlled military press on Dynamite, throwing Zach onto a standing Damien. He even threw in a second rope moonsault for good measure. A scary moment occurred when the turnbuckle was once again exposed and Dynamite sweeped the legs of Faith on the second rope cause Aspen’s neck to snap back on the turnbuckle. Time stood still in that moment.

Of course it wouldn’t of been a Zach Dynamite main event without Evans and Riley returning to cause some havoc. As my arse was on the edge of my seat, hoping and praying for some faith. Referee Mikey Innes ended up being knocked down and with Dennis Law being wiped out by Caleb before the match there was no replacement to slide in.

A chair was introduced and Dynamite took aim at Aspen, chair shot after chair shot until Aspen just stopped moving. A brutal display by an unhinged maniac, desperate to win. Dynamite used the chair on Damien to pick up the win as I slumped back into my chair emotionally spent.

From a logical brain perspective it was an incredible main event. From the heart in felt like I’d witnessed a massacre. Dynamite, in my head felt like the worthy successor to Damien, but in my soul I still wanted to believe that Aspen Faith would walk out with the belt, turns out he wasn’t even walking out on his own volition.

Dynamite and Evans shoved their belts in my face after the match, telling me that it was the closest Aspen would get to it. Incredible bastardry. They are wicked, they are disgustingly talented, but they are bastards.

For a main event with high expectations, they surpassed them and then some. Three of the absolute best in creating a story that grabs everyone, from the back row to us in the front. Everyone was drawn in. They watched as Zach Dynamite dismantled his opponents, they booed when the three count was completed. Even some left in disgust right afterwards, a true mark of a convincing bad guy.

I loved it. Not the final result being an Aspen Faith Guy (TM) but the match made me feel so many emotions and that’s what effective wrestling does. It’s a show, it’s an art, it’s watching something creative take your mind and eyes in directions that you might not have thought possible.

I know I bang on about this promotion at any given opportunity, I know that it can be a bit much, but to have a company weave so many stories, add so many moments, give back to those paying attention, provide it all in the space of a couple hours once a month is nothing short of amazing.

This show was evident that the future is now with all the new faces picking up wins in their respective matches, Rhys Dawkins, Evan Young, Ronan King, all putting in great showings to earn their place on the card and to hopefully use these wins to push themselves further.

If you take anything away from this ramble/tirade it’s that the wrestling up here is bloody good. The characters are big, they are colourful, and they are entertaining. There is something for everyone and it doesn’t take long to find a new favourite wrestler after spending an hour or two here.

Thank you to all the team at WrestleZone for continuing to provide me with another joyous few hours of entertainment.

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