In the ashes of Caithness Pro Wrestling rose Combat League Wrestling, featuring a unique season concept where teams battle throughout the year to earn the most points to be crowned victorious by the end of the season.
In 2020 the concept began but y’know… that pesky pandemic put the season on hold to the point were it was scrapped entirely and restarted in 2022.
Featuring established Scottish names like Glen Dunbar, Lucha DS, and Logan Smith plus local Caithness talent like Lad Chapman, Connor Rose, and Eric Arkham it has been said that the Caithness scene is a bit of a bubble, wrestlers have a freedom to try something a little different.
Thanks to the team at Combat League Wrestling I’ve been given access to have a gander at a couple of their shows following numerous sledgehammer hints from myself in podcasts.
From what I’ve remembered from previous experiences and of wrestling in Caithness is that the crowds are heavy into wrestling and champ at the bit to be entertained. A dream wrestling crowd.
From the outset I loved that the four sides of the ring have corresponding house colour ring ropes. A very nice touch which is definitely appreciated from this wrestling nerd.
House Raven (Brodie Adler & Lucha DS) defeated House Wildcat (RJ Cash & Logan Smith) by pinfall.
This match was voted January’s best match of the month by the SWN readers so I was intrigued to see if it lived up to that reputation.
The match served as a great introduction to the rule set, with Team Wildcat making use of the Lucha tag rule that meant that if a wrestler exited the ring then their team mate becomes legal. Something that Lucha DS was continually bamboozled by. Suffering several jumps during the match.
Bar that, Lucha DS was the heavy favourite from the outset with the crowd going wild for whatever he was doing.
A 619 from Lucha, Black Hole Slam from Brodie and a Swanton from Lucha had RJ Cash down for the three count.
A lively opener. The star, for me anyways, was Logan Smith. I’ve always ever seen Logan Smith as a white meat babyface. No real charisma but solid in ring, the hand clapper and “c’mon guys” trope. This cocky, smarmy goof was fantastic. My interest was already piqued when he came out wearing Wolverine-esque attire with that yellow, black, and blue ensemble but his crowd interaction, in ring work, and overall package was excellent.
RJ Cash was a new face for me, he needs more seasoning and I’m interested to see how expressive he becomes as he was a little reserved in that regard. I’m not a fan of the impact font CASH on his black and white attire. On one hand I like it shows he has no allegiance to any particular house as he wasn’t wearing any colours, on the other hand it’s not the most striking in design. Although in some mental gymnastics, he stands out because he hasn’t got fancy gear… I’m havering now. For, what I assume is, limited experience in ring in front of a crowd he gave a good account for himself.
House Raven worked well together and I liked that they relied more on physical tags instead of the Lucha element, really enforced that although they’re more experienced in years overall, at least in other companies, they use the rules they’re more familiar with. Good stuff.
Lad Chapman defeated Lucas Craig by pinfall.
Another new face for me with Lucas Craig. He was appearing on some of the final Caithness shows before closure so he’s had a little time in front of a crowd. A scrappy underdog against the more confident and malevolent Lad Chapman.
It was a slow start with Chapman dominating while the gathered support for Craig. I don’t know if there was some confusion because of how the teams were set out. In the opener House Wildcat was clearly the bad guys, and with Craig coming out as part of House Wildcat I found that it took a little time for the audience to warm to him despite Chapman’s being a right unkind fellow throughout.
Chapman brought in a kendo stick that was confiscated by the referee to allow Lad to his Lucas Craig with a low blow and cutter for the tainted win for House Stag. Craig chased Chapman to the back with kendo stick after the match.
Another solid match as far as the in-ring goes and the crowd got there in the end with some coaxing to support Lucas Craig. Plenty room for growth for Craig, he was a little unbalanced at times but as confidence of his work grows he’ll become more surefooted.
House Stag (Albion de Quincey & Taylor Vite) vs House Wolf (Glen Dunbar & Connor Rose)
Before the match started, Taylor Vite and Albion de Quincey had absolute polar opposite reactions but both were wearing lovely waistcoats. No follow up point there, I just liked it. When I wear a waistcoat I look like the fat controller but I appreciate a nice waistcoat.
After a scathing promo from Vite the crowd were rabid to see him taken down a peg, they came unglued when Glen Dunbar came out.
I quickly became a fan of Albion de Quincey with his charisma, colourful gear, and his stunning moustache. His wrestling was fairly safe, no curveballs but he didn’t need to as the crowd went banana for the simplest of moves. He did hit a nice rolling corner splash onto Dunbar which was snazzy.
After a handshake, Dunbar respectfully schooled Albion for a bit before Vite demanded to be tagged in. Vite was victim to some old school moves with an Airplane Spin, flip flop and fly, plus a reverse Atomic Drop for good measure.
Just as it looked like Albion wrapped up the match, Vite tagged himself in but was hit was a spinning neckbreaker from Dunbar then a compacter from Rose for a House Wolf win.
It was one of the lengthier matches on the show but the crowd remained invested throughout even if I’ll admit I was feeling it long. This was the first proper taste of the House dynamic whereby some members of the House are liked and the other being despised in de Quincey and Vite. It worked well. Vite telling the crowd to be quiet and if they were to cheer however, they must cheer for him and not for Albion. An excellent use of language to make sure EVERYONE cheered for Albion when possible.
Eric Arkham defeated Damian Ryans w/Glen Dunbar by knockout.
Arkham attacked Ryans before the bell leaving Ryans to be on defence for the opening exchange. They brawled to the outside for the first use of the extended 20 count, it was strange hearing a referee start counting into the teens.
Finally Arkham punched Ryans in the head before laying in punches to the back of the head on a prone Ryans before the referee declared it was a knockout.
This match was also the first use of public warnings with Arkham picking them up. Ryans did get some offence in but his strikes were a bit too light and hesitant. Hopefully the next time I see him wrestle he’s got a bit more committed on them.
I liked that the House Wolf captain Glen Dunbar accompanied his housemate out to the match. A nice little touch with the veteran Dunbar entering with the less experienced Ryans.
There’s possibly a diamond in the rough with Ryans, he has a good look, understands the crowd side of things, has some charisma, just needs to tighten up the offence and there’s certainly something there.
Wargames Rumble – Winner: RJ Cash
Lad Chapman and Connor Rose opened the Rumble with Rose hitting a nice Gunnslinger on Chapman as the first 90 second portion expired.
For some highlights:
Taylor Vite continued to be the smartest man in the room. Who was the crowd bellowing and cheering for? Lucha DS. Who was the first person Vite went after when he got into the ring? Yep, Lucha DS. Brilliant.
Logan Smith was another who used the situation to add a little something something, every time the countdown reached zero he waited for the House announcement and every time it wasn’t Wildcat he hung his head and carried on pummelling someone while he waited for back up, then when Wildcat was finally called he tried to celebrate but Brodie Adler tried to eliminate him as he was distracted for a moment. Loved it.
Lucas Craig eliminated Lad Chapman to tie up that story nicely. When it looked like Logan Smith was directing traffic for House Wildcat a little too much, RJ Cash, the captain for House Wildcat, snuck over and threw Smith over the top rope in a perfect bit of shitebaggery.
Connor Rose hit a nice Gutwrench Powerbomb to RJ Cash that rightfully got some cheers because it looked brutal.
Eric Arkham brought in a box of Lego and tipped it out in the ring but found himself thrown off the top rope into the pile back first. He who lives by the Lego, dies by the Lego. Which served him right for spending so long asking the crowd who, between Dunbar and Rose, he should use the Lego on.
Glen Dunbar and RJ Cash were the final two with Cash finding himself being slammed on the aforementioned Lego bricks. Just as Dunbar looked to throw Cash out, RJ reversed it and sent Dunbar over the top rope to win.
It’s a Rumble, it was messy, had some story progress, and some Lego. What’s not to like? Cash showed a bit more attitude that was missing in his earlier match. His presentation needs a little work but I’m keeping an open mind and will see how/if it evolves throughout the season. On a positive, Cash hit a nice arm wringer stunner which isn’t something I’ve seen before and it looked good.
There were plenty of highlights on this show, Logan Smith probably stealing it whenever he was in the ring. He fully embraced the villainous side of things and was great. As already mentioned, the crowd were up for everything with very few, and even then they were brief, quiet points on the show.
It was good to see so many new faces for me with the likes of Damian Ryans, Lucas Craig, Albion de Quincey, and RJ Cash being on the show. I’m very interested to see what they’re like when it comes to the finale and how far they’ve come over the course of the year.
A very nice start for Combat League Wrestling’s season. Lots to build upon, improvements here and there that could be made (in my opinion), but it had an invested crowd which made it a quick two hours or so of wrestling. Looking forward to watching the next one.