Thoughts on WrestleZone ‘Christmas Chaos: Return of the Cage’

Well hello there, my name is Billy Strachan and on Saturday, December 3rd 2022, I died.

I mean, not really, that is a bit dramatic but I certainly had an out of body experience at WrestleZone’s final show of the year.

Saying that I’ve had the mother of all colds since Sunday but I put more blame into turning up to Danestone Community Centre an hour before doors opened wearing a t-shirt (Aspen Faith of course) and a sleeveless hoody. At least I wore full length jeans so my legs were warm…

Speaking of Danestone Community Centre, trying to find the venue with the “help” of Google Maps was a disaster. This isn’t the first time Google Maps has sent me into a cul-de-sac in Aberdeen while looking for place, starting to think technology is out to get me, maybe I should stop cursing at the Alexa.

I hadn’t intended to be queuing so early but after arriving in Aberdeen, with a stop in Tesco for some snacks (that Tesco has a Subway in it, 6 inch BMT, rainbow cookie, cherry Pepsi, nice) I was reliably informed by Kyle Watt that a queue was gathering so off I went, got lost, drove around and around before finding it. Note to myself for the future, search for Danestone Medical Practice and it should direct you to the Community Centre that is adjacent…

As always, Adam will have an actual review of the show with the moves and that so it leaves me left to my own devices of format and the like. I could write anything I like here.

Boobs.

Right that’s that out of the way let’s actually get on with talking about the show itself.

It was my first trip to Danestone Community Centre, a fairly regular venue for WrestleZone that has held Christmas Chaos in the past, including last years edition of the event. It was a nicely sized hall with a tall ceiling with the amenities required with no stairs required, a very well found venue.

The blue bar cage was in pieces around the hall, the merch table was bursting with wares, of course I made a beeline to pick up another Aspen Faith shirt, card in hand, and exchanged pleasantries with Aspen and a wild Emersyn Jayne. Along with having a stare at Alex Webb’s big, smooth, and shiny, YouTube plaque that was sitting on the table. It was already a good start. Blue Thunder was on commentary duties adorned in a Santa hat and jacket, it’s the little things.

The VIP pre-show match kicked off the event with Tommy Raiden, Chris ArcherTaker, and that fella from the TV, Umar Mohammed, adorned in a snazzy kameez with tinsel boa finish, having a scrap.

A lot of moving parts as expected, Archer’s Undertaker offense is ridiculously smooth, it’s like watching ’01 ‘Taker but far away. There was a lovely high leg drop from standing that was a beaut.

Umar and Archer clashed heads towards the end and the sound, I can still hear the sound, the bone clashing smack that left a mark on both with blood trickling down the head of Mohammed as he locked in The Big Kachowski submission that saw no escape for Tommy Raiden who tapped out.

Last time out I saw Tommy Raiden he was a match or two into the day at the Trinity Centre so to see a refreshed Raiden thrown in against two solid and popular acts it gave me a better look and there’s certainly potential. Once he has a couple matches in front of a crowd he will be golden.

There seems to be a slow, very slow, turn for Chris Archer who avoided some of the opening exchange and scarpered as soon as the bell rang. I think that’s a thread that will be pulled on in 2023.

Umar Mohammed continues to have a fantastic year, he is so animated and plays to the back of the room you can’t help but enjoy anything he does. There was a moment, following being knocked on the outside, that he snuck back into the ring to interrupt a headlock from Archer on Raiden and it was so simple but captivating to watch his antics that he made it a moment.

A very nice match for us with deep pockets that shelled out the extra £3.

As thrifters filled the remaining seats I headed back over the the merch area to get my hands on a that kameez… and see Umar off the telly. Which I did, and it was toight. I am concerned that I stretched that bad boy with my broader frame because it was a two man job to get it both on and off.

I have no tales about the price of the tuck and drinks etc. I snuck in a Monster to keep me going but I noticed folk going past with full tins of Pringles, juice of many brands, and a varied selection of snacks so there’s that.

Onto the main show and it started with the WrestleZone Tag Team Championships on the line, start hot. The Fair City Saints’ though they have only performed individually in WrestleZone, got a really great reaction. Now, that’s either because they are wildly charismatic, or because their opponents have been the biggest bastards in WrestleZone for at least the last 12 months, Bruiser Brad Evans and Ryan Riley of The Foundation of the Future. A little bit of column A, a little bit of column B.

Big lads versus quick lads, a delightful combination. Evans and Riley, as has been their MO for a while now, played spoiler when Webb or Myles gained some momentum, with Brad using chops to start an excavation process through Alex Webb‘s chest, Evans is that unhinged that I’m fairly certain he would’ve ripped Webb’s heart out and ate it if he was given a chance but thankfully that wasn’t witnessed at Danestone Community Centre.

As it looked like Evans and Riley would once again retain, Air Myles was set up for the tandem inverted DDT, but Webb interrupted and during the melee Riley was sent to the outside while Webb and Myles rolled up Evans for the three count.

I can hear you Foundation of the Future fans out there, “who was the referee that allowed an illegal man to assist a pinfall?” no it wasn’t Dennis Law, it was Mikey Innes. I’m keeping an eye on you Michael.

Other than the blatant leniency of the rules, it was a fantastic match with a surprising finish. Evans and Riley had been looking unstoppable since picking up the titles back in May, but the match was an excellent display of two tag teams being tag teams. Lots of duo manoeuvres, and these two teams were great combination. It didn’t take long with The Fair City Saints to make an impact and I look forward to seeing them up in the North East more.

The dodgy finish set up a rematch nicely which I am not against, give me a best of series that escalates as the months go on.

Another tag match was next with The Outfit strutting out following by there opponents, Mr P had his flag flowing but was one upped by Shawn Johnson following behind with a huge flag, I’m sure there is nothing that can be read into that. Mr P passed his to a fan, I’m sure Johnson’s could’ve provided shelter for the first three rows, or a roof for the steel cage.

Mr P got on the microphone and offered The Outfit to have a dance because they are fed up of getting jumped when they fancy a pre-match boogie. I always appreciate a bit of self awareness in wrestling and Mr P is always good for being a straight shooter when he gets on the microphone. Eventually the dance line up was set, Mikey Innes (still watching you Michael), Dino, Mr P, Murphy, and Shawn Johnson (this is important for you to visualise). Just as the music started Dino and Murphy tried to grab Mr P, who ducked and left The Outfit on the backfoot. Excellent.

The Outfit were big heavies, bullying Shawn and Mr P about. There were brief comebacks but The Outfit put in a dominating performance, eventually double stacking their opponents and both pinning the stack.

Ah-hem. *cough*illegal man*cough*.

There was an interesting moment after the match that saw Mr P and Shawn Johnson hang their respective gloves on the middle rope. It felt very final, as I write this the match graphic for their next match is probably getting prepared for being put out in the next few weeks before ‘Station Hotel Showdown’ but it felt like a bit of a goodbye, or a see ya later to the crowd.

Maybe it was just because it was the last show of the year.

Excuse me while I put down my magnifying glass.

The team of Mr P and Shawn Johnson has really grown since their pairing in the first quarter of 2022, but as we move into 2023, and with The Fair City Saints winning the titles in the opener, it is time for The Outfit to force their way into the championship picture. Webb and Myles has entered the land of the giants with Dino and Murphy breenging their way into the conversation. The Outfit has been another team that has used 2022 to really hone themselves as a team considering Dino and Murphy were formed in Ellon back in January. 2023 will be a very interesting time in the tag team division for sure.

First have main event was next and I don’t think I wasn’t ready for it.

Bryan Tucker entered with a tartan bag of possessions on a broom over his shoulder, with Rhys Dawkins flanked by his side. They were showered with “wally” chants. A Christmassy Scotty Swift entered with TV’s Umar Mohammed eh, with his khussa shoes, and a red and gold sherwani, which looked similar (if not the same) to the jacket Scotty would wear during their tandem.

As Scotty entered this match he took a moment to stand in the corner, taking in the whole crowd as ‘Sinister Rouge’ played over the speakers. It was a poignant moment in retrospect.

This was tense with Scotty hesitating to make pins, with Tucker being quick to try take advantage, there was shenanigans with Tucker taking short cuts, Umar would try and stop Dawkins trying to get involved. We got a lovely second rope back elbow from Swift. The match broke down, Tucker tried to bring his broom into the match with Rhys Dawkins finding his way in the ring and striking Swift with his book of Shakespeare. Tucker scrambled to pin and the crowd went silent as the three count was made.

I said I would write a big portion about Scotty Swift and I’ve had a week to try and formulate the words I want to put down here.

Back in 2013 I went to my first WrestleZone event, it was ‘Aberdeen Anarchy’ at the Beach Ballroom. I was going to see Billy Gunn, ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan, along with names I had heard of like Kay Lee Ray, Johnny Lions, etc. when I got to the venue there was a guy wearing red with big red spikes that I had seen on the poster and the amount of kids that had swarmed him for pictures and autographs was really cool to see. He was in a tag team match that night, teaming with Ross McTavish to face Alan Sterling and William Sterling (I think I misremembered in the Christmas Carnage podcast episode and said the six man, which was a year later when he teamed with Mr P and X-Pac… anyways).

The sound the crowd made when Scotty Swift was announced was staggering. Up there with the likes of Gunn and Duggan as far as sheer volume.

As I continued to return to WrestleZone and see Scotty Swift, he was thee man, the fan favourite, Aberdeen’s John Cena. I appreciated that Scotty would remember faces at shows, the consummate babyface and professional, always providing the perfect entertaining moment for the crowd and a lasting memory for every man, woman, and child in attendance.

I’ve had the chance to speak to Scotty over the years after shows, at intervals, before the Evening With Lita Q&A, and even on the short lived OSWtv Podcast, and he’s always been a stand up guy to chat with. I’ve been lucky to have Scotty contribute to the SWN website with this Swift Advice, various written interviews, but I think the moments that I will continue to make me laugh is our ridiculously long SWN Podcast episodes, over nine hours and I’m still not even sure we covered more than five topics over the course of that time.

A fantastic wrestler, a wonderful human, and if that’s the last time I see Scotty Swift in a wrestling ring then I will accept it, but a part of me will always hope that it’s only temporary. Thank you for the sports entertainment Scott.

After I wiped the tear from my eye and sat down following a standing ovation it was a well timed break in the show.

Once it returned it was the Christmas Brawl between Captain Alan Sterling and Caleb Valhalla. I think this was victim to the previous match ending in such an emotional moment as it took a little time to get the crowd making some noise. This should have had a roar with excitement every time Caleb fought past The Outfit to get his hands on Alan but the crowd were emotionally spent, they began to recover towards the conclusion, Alan missed a Boat Drop, with Caleb finally grabbing Alan for a Helride for a decisive pinfall and they were outraged to see The Outfit return and see the trio shave the head of Valhalla.

Thankfully there looks to be at least one more match in this after that finish that will end this feud on a high.

The Christmas items were a bit few and far between this year, from previous experience we’d have big presents to be thrown through, wrapped tables, some silliness, but this had some tinsel on a chair, a sledge, a shovel, saying that there was the best use of the loophole with Dino and Murphy entering with tinsel around their necks and it qualified them as Christmas weapons, fantastic. Once Alan had removed the tinsel to choke Caleb, the referee sent Dino and Murphy to the back which left Alan all alone to be battered.

The match, the content, was all great but because of the crowd still reeling from Scotty Swift’s loss it didn’t get the reaction it should’ve. One more match please.

In the penultimate match it was the WrestleZone Tri-Counties Championship fatal four way. Before we go any further, Ronan King got the assignment when his wrestling gear was that of Christmas wrapping, he truly was ‘The Christmas Gift’ at Christmas Chaos. I was a bit shocked to see Mikkey Vago come out as Mikkey Vago, I was fully anticipating some sort of heavy metal Santa Claus turning up.

For anyone at WrestleZone, or to Vago himself. Has the Tri-Counties Championship been re-plated since ‘Halloween Hijinks’? or had a very thorough polish? or even replaced? because the blue looked like a much lighter shade. Yes that’s the sort of thing I would notice, yes I’m aware no one will care other than myself. Thank you.

Action was the name of the game in this one with Connor Molloy being a highlight reel of high flying, finding himself diving from the top turnbuckle to the outside onto the gathering mass of opponents below which was insane. There was some great exchanges between Connor and Ronan that I wouldn’t be upset to see happen again, and Rhys Dawkins was the de facto powerhouse, muscling Molloy about with relative ease.

All four men had their chance, and they would’ve all been worthy victors, but after a melee of moves, a frog splash from Connor to Rhys, a Curb Stomp from Ronan to Connor, Mikkey Vago swooped in to give Ronan a Skull Crushing Finale, and pick up the pieces of King’s handy work to retain.

I came into this match thinking Ronan King would end the year as WrestleZone Tri-Counties Champion, but as stated I would’ve believed any of the four as champion if they won. It’s a testament to the depth the roster and the WrestleZone Training Academy with all four in this match being products of the school. A great match, plenty of close moments, and a tremendous final flurry. The Tri-Counties division is another one that’ll be very interesting in 2023.

There was a further interval before the main event to allow the WrestleZone crew to build the cage, I took this chance to go see the new WrestleZone Tag Team Champions Alex Webb and Air Myles. As you’d expect, the champs had a fairly lengthy queue but we eventually had a chat and I went back to my seat just before the cage was complete. A flawless job from the crew, and everyone was still in one piece. Except maybe Blue Thunder whose soul dies a little more every time that cage is built.

What a thing of beauty that blue bar cage is, I wasn’t of the age of the blue bar cage with my first memories being the black bar version in 1999. There’s something about the colour that your mind can block it out so it doesn’t restrict your viewpoint during the match as much as a black bar, or certainly a mesh, cage.

It was main event time.

Tense does not begin to explain how I felt during this match, my arse was on the edge of the seat before, during, and it wasn’t even on it afterwards.

Aspen Faith and Damien entered the cage, with Zach Dynamite taking his sweet time. Damien left the cage to start the fight at ringside, Aspen was soon joining in with Bruiser Brad and Ryan Riley once again returning to assist. They brawled at ringside with Damien locked out of the cage while Dynamite took shots at Aspen in the ring.

Damien finally scaled the side of the cage, hitting Zach with a cutter off the top rope as the bell finally rung to start the match.

This was gruelling, Evans and Riley were involved constantly, opening the cage door and interfering, providing weapons for Dynamite to use. It was frustrating to watch, but it worked to maximise the conclusion.

Evans and Riley powerbombed Damien through a table at the entrance way and as they were about to return to the cage, Alex Webb and Air Myles returned to brawl with duo to the back.

A shocked but defiant Zach Dynamite spat in the face of Aspen Faith, who replied with The Darkest Lariat to finally stay down for three.

What an ending to Zach Dynamite’s first Undisputed WrestleZone Championship reign, he, along with Evans and Riley, did an incredible job of being deplorable at every show. Always eliciting a reaction, being hated outright with no shades of grey. 2022 was a year that made The Foundation of the Future not just in WrestleZone but in Fair City Wrestling and Discovery Wrestling. A fantastic trio that have deserved their success.

In saying that…

ASPENFAITHISCHAMPIONHEHGFEJGBFBRALHG;HREGHLREGH;RHOMG

My arse was off that chair and clapping, Aspen Faith was the NEW Undisputed WrestleZone Champion. The first to complete the WrestleZone Grand Slam and Triple Crown. A 12 year journey, and a perfect bookend to 2022. January – Aspen Faith returned. December – Aspen Faith reigns supreme.

After the show it was announced that Damien tore his hamstring early in the match, to know that now and thinking about his match it’s crazy to see him gut through pain to being a contender and remind folk why he was champion for a long time before the pandemic.

It’s been a weird year for Damien, he’s almost been a third wheel in this whole situation, but he’s always been there, he has been involved with the Foundation near every show in some way or form. An underrated piece to the story but integral to make this an incredible 12 months as a wrestling fan.

A rollercoaster of a show, the highest of highs with the opener and main event, coupled with the lowest of lows of Scotty Swift having to step away. It was a beautiful way to close 2022 for WrestleZone as they continue to have some of the best wrestling shows in the country. They continue to provide 2-3 hours of the purest entertainment imaginable.

I’ll no doubt remember something after publishing and add it to this article but 2022 has been excellent, which means 2023 has to top it, and WrestleZone has lain the foundations to make that possible.

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