Review: WrestleZone ‘Christmas Chaos 2022’ – It Happened

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You’d think by now that us WrestleZone superfans (see: needlessly and unhealthily obsessed) would stop creating impossible scenario after impossible scenario in our minds by now. You see, WrestleZone’s 2022 Christmas Chaos didn’t feature Chris Archer rejecting Mikkey Vago, nor did it see Umar Mohammed smacking Scotty Swift into early retirement. It doesn’t matter how far out we may have played out the events in our head; it’s not happening.

But that’s why WrestleZone is the single greatest promotion in Scotland. They leave you guessing, they leave you surprised, they leave you excited, and, in some cases, they leave you feeling like you got more than your money’s worth. Christmas Chaos encapsulated all of these feelings.

It was a return to a cold Danestone Community Centre for the annual Christmas festivities, a venue with nightmare parking opportunities if you turn up even a minute too late. With a big Tesco just around the corner (the best Tesco in the north-east, don’t @ me) and a tuck shop inside, it had everything you needed and more for a night at the wrestling. An ice-cold Barrs bubblegum and a Freddo that lasted all of fifteen seconds out of the wrapper were my selections for all you foodies who care about that sort of thing.

Inside, the blue bar cage surrounded the walls, Blue Thunder looking on nervously incase it moved even slightly. That thing is going to trigger a heart attack or something in him one day, poor guy. There was also what felt like less Christmas decorations, there was a Christmas tree in the corner but that’s about it. As has been proven with their in-ring quality throughout 2022, it feels more and more like they’re moving slightly more away from the New Generation Era style, there’s still the big characters and simple-to-follow storylines, but there’s an emphasised focus on the in-ring work, too.

There’s my two cents anyway. On with the matches…

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VIP Ticket Holders Pre-Show – Triple Threat
Umar Mohammed def. Chris Archer and Tommy Raiden by Submission

The Very Important People of Christmas Chaos were treated to another Triple Threat match on the pre-show, courtesy of TV’s Umar Mohammed, TV’s Chris Archer, and Tommy Raiden. Raiden was particularly an intriguing prospect here, of what I’d seen at Trinity Takeover I personally wasn’t too convinced but then seeing what he did against Mr P at the WrestleZone Training Academy, he’s got something. I don’t know what it is. But definitely something.

Everything flowed smoothly here which was nice. Archer appears to be embracing the 2001 Undertaker schtick as each show passes, come Aberdeen Anarchy he’ll be entering on a motorbike as Rollin’ blares in the background. Both he and Tommy Raiden were sent a few years closer to the retirement line thanks to an Umar Mohammed double knees to the back. I was in pain just watching it. Raiden had a couple of nice spots as well, including a slingshot takedown of sorts, but he ultimately was felled by the Big Kachowski submission. Some bridge on that from Umar, fair play.

It was just a good match, wasn’t it? You know you’re always going to get that in WrestleZone, but to see Tommy Raiden, who’s only two official (in front of a paying audience) matches in, performing at such a level already is a testament to both his skill and the coaches of the WrestleZone Training Academy. He’s put the work in so it’ll be good to see what comes of him in 2023, yet another exciting addition made to the regular roster.

Umar Mohammed embraced him afterwards, but Chris Archer was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps he was gearing up for a big turn on Mikkey Vago, right? Christmas Chaos was the night, here we go, Archer vs. Vago…what’s that? It’s just another of those lol-that’s-never-happening scenarios? Cool. Cool cool cool cool.

Anyway…

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WrestleZone Tag Team Championships
The Fair City Saints (Alex Webb & Air Myles) def. The Foundation of the Future (Bruiser Brad Evans & Ryan Riley) (c) by Pinfall to win the titles

Main show time and boy howdy what a fun way to start.

The Fair City Saints have both had singles debuts in WrestleZone during 2022 but now they were together, united as one to chase The Foundation of the Future’s WrestleZone Tag Team Championships. Chase they did, as Bruiser Brad Evans and Ryan Riley weren’t eager to let them make frequent tags, cutting the ring in half and reminding everyone how golden and straightforward tag team wrestling can be. So simple, so effective, so elegant. Less elegant was their wheelbarrow splash, a complete flattener for the unfortunate recipient.

Air Myles impressed most here. I feel he often gets overlooked in The Fair City Saints, with many turning to certified YouTube sensation Alex Webb. Myles held his own, though, flying around the ring with ease as he performed Moonsaults, Crossbodies, back elbows, and all sorts, a charcuterie board of high-risk offence. He paid for it like; Brad absolutely killed him with an NSFW Lariat. Jeezo. It’s here for anyone interested. What I liked was that he didn’t really budge while performing it. He just stood there, lugging his arm up for the move like it was a tree log. It probably hurt more than a log but that’s one for Myles to answer.

The Fair City Saints nabbed the win after evading a second elevated inverted DDT, stacking up Evans for the win to claim the WrestleZone Tag Team Championships. The crowd were there for it, erupting at the thought of Evans and Riley no longer being champions, not because they were bored of the Foundation lads, but because they’d done such a grand job at making people detest them. Sterling Oil could have reformed to defeat them and it would’ve received the same reaction, the fans really, really love to hate The Foundation of the Future.

This does also mean more of The Fair City Saints in WrestleZone throughout 2023, with their first defence being confirmed to happen on 21 January at Station Hotel Showdown. A low roof in there, so Air Myles may want to tone down his usual style.

A hot start to the show that really set the course for the night ahead.

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The Outfit (Dino & Murphy) def. Mr P & Shawn Johnson by Pinfall

There was something odd about this next one. As Billy pointed out in his review, this felt like a farewell for Mr P and Shawn Johnson. Mr P took his flag off its pole during his entrance rather than hand the fan the pole itself, they took their time to leave after the match, and they left an elbow pad each on the ropes. Either Mr P was about to batter Shawn Johnson or they’re calling time on something.

The former didn’t happen. It very much feels like a goodbye, whether permanently or temporarily. Neither features on the Station Hotel Showdown poster either, for all that’s worth.

So, if it is a goodbye, what a way to cement The Outfit as the next ones to watch. They battered the pair of former WrestleZone Tag Team Champions into Christmas, Dino knocking both out with his Roaring Elbow, a move that never fails to amaze. Stacking the duo on top of each other, it was a dominating, convincing, and star-making performance from The Outfit.

Don’t get me wrong, the match wasn’t as quick as it sounds and there was still the usual Mr P and Shawn Johnson shenanigans, including Dino, Murphy, and referee Mikey Innes being invited to join a Dad Dance™pre-match. That only ended with Murphy accidentally clobbering Dino, though from my point of view it looked as if this was actually Murphy officially turning on Dino which…no. Just no.

As good a performance as it was for The Outfit, commendation must be given to Mr P and Shawn Johnson, a pair of shining lights for 2022. I don’t want to be the guy that says Mr P breathed life back into Johnson but, well, he did. A disastrous and disappointing feud with Bryan Tucker was doing him no favours. He took his time to get into the groove of being Mr P’s partner but when he got there, it was the perfect WrestleZone tag team. The Dad Dance™always got a laugh. Mr P always got a laugh. Shawn Johnson always got a laugh.

All the best to both of them if that’s it.

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Loser Leaves Town
Bryan Tucker w/Rhys Dawkins def. Scotty Swift w/Umar Mohammed by Pinfall

From a potential retirement to an official one.

Scotty Swift. Bryan Tucker. Loser leaves town. Tense doesn’t even begin to cover the feeling in the Danestone Community Centre here, everyone had their eyes glued to the ring.

Bryan Tucker made his entrance carrying a tartan bag with his belongings. The best character development of 2022. Going from unbearably cringey to doing God’s work by screaming at referee Dennis Law (we love you really, Dennis) to this, a man so defeated, both figuratively and literally, that he’s almost forecasting his own retirement by entering in such a manner. Scotty Swift, for what it’s worth, entered as normal, high fives, a smile adorning his face, the Scotty Swift we’ve all become used to since the literal beginning of WrestleZone.

Hmmm.

The match itself wasn’t about the wrestling acumen of the two. It was about the story, it was about Scotty Swift hesitating to make pinfalls, about Bryan Tucker being so desperate that a count out victory would suffice, about the involvement of Rhys Dawkins and Umar Mohammed at ringside. You needed several sets of eyes to keep yourself in the loop with the match. And then it happened. Referee distracted, Rhys Dawkins wandered into the ring, cracking Scotty in the skull with a Shakespearian book. One. Two. Three. Scotty Swift is done.

I’ll preface this next however many paragraphs by saying that although I wasn’t always a Scotty Swift fan – because of course I had to have a teenage phase of cheering the bad guys and booing the good guys, I’ll see myself out thank you very much – but I understand the importance he’s had in building this scene, in the growth and development of WrestleZone, and the work he’s put in behind the scenes to make the company one that stands out head and shoulders above everywhere else.

When Johnny Lions retired, it was emotional. When Crusher Craib retired, it was shocking. But when Scotty Swift lost here, his career over, it was plain sad. Nobody wanted to see him go. Ever.

Many were in tears when Mikey Innes’ hand hit the mat for the third time. That’s the impact Scotty Swift has had on many. He’s the guy you see one time when you take your kids to see the big WWE names, Scotty Swift then becomes your child’s favourite and before you know it, you’re buying t-shirts, 8x10s, birthday parties, red hair dye, and all sorts, all because of one man’s dedication to the business.

The first time I saw him was in Macduff in 2013 against Chris Archer before he discovered denim. The match is online for all who wish to see it so there’s no offence in saying that it wasn’t one of the biggest crowds WrestleZone had drawn (it’s Macduff, cut them some slack). That didn’t matter when Scotty Swift came out, though; he controlled the room like they were his orchestra, receiving in response a reaction as if he was indeed wrestling at the Beach Ballroom.

I’ve seen him against Creators of Carnage, Revolutionaries, Iron Men, Hotshots, Blood Tourists, and just about everything else inbetween, capturing championships, losing championships, headlining, opening the show, doing comedy, storytelling, brawling, anything you can imagine, he was involved. The consummate professional.

Except for that one time he almost killed a man…

There was no big speech like Johnny Lions and Crusher Craib had done before him. Instead, Swift tearfully left the ring to a standing ovation, no noise except the clapping of hands from a disbelieved audience. His only words were to keep following and supporting both WrestleZone and Umar Mohammed, who he embraced.

Ironically, by not saying much, Swift said more than he needed to. The moment was visibly too big for him to construct a sentence; you could barely hear what he said about Umar because of the tears. As real a moment as you’ll ever see. He cared about what he did.

Now that that’s out of the way, go check out his numerous appearances on the SWN Podcast. There’s enough content to fill a reasonably lengthy plane journey.

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Christmas Brawl
Caleb Valhalla def. Captain Alan Sterling w/The Outfit (Dino & Murphy) by Pinfall

To echo what Billy had to say, it’s a shame that Caleb Valhalla and Captain Alan Sterling had to follow the deflating atmosphere caused by Scotty Swift’s retirement. It wasn’t an easy position for anyone to fill, let’s face it, but even more so when it’s one of the hottest stories of the year. As we’ll get to, it doesn’t appear to be the end quite yet, so at least it’s not going out on a low.

The annual Christmas Brawl, I love it, you love it, the dog loves it, Captain Alan Sterling…probably doesn’t love it. He got battered, tossed around, and battered some more by Caleb Valhalla. The Christmas-themed weapons were few and far between this time around, bits of tinsel here and there and a sledge that of course saw Alan Sterling set sail into Valhalla’s gut. Chaos of the Christmas variant indeed. Dino and Murphy were also adorned in tinsel ties while accompanying Captain Alan, being sent to the back once they were removed. Because they were no longer weapons. Genius. Absolute genius. James pointed it out to me so perhaps I’m slowly turning him into a overthinking WrestleZone superfan as well.

Caleb Valhalla one with a Helride after evading a DDT, quickly being knocked back down with a swift Dino Roaring Forearm and subsequent Murphy Frog Splash. For all the criticism I’ve had with Murphy in the past, he has a hell of a Frog Splash for a bigger lad. Squish a Cysto in 2023 with it, come on.

Valhalla’s head was then shaved in a strange, albeit effective, moment. You don’t often get out-of-the-blue character-altering moments like this in WrestleZone, but now Caleb Valhalla has a reason to continue chasing the Captain. Where, exactly, it’s leading is anyone’s guess. Bit hard to have a Hair vs. Hair match now; Caleb’s bald and Alan had little hair to start with. Eyebrows vs. Eyebrows match? Chest Wax match? Dare I say a Wig on a Pole match?

Shame about the crowd reaction, though. They’d normally be all over this sort of thing. Here’s hoping it rebounds from Station Hotel Showdown onwards.

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WrestleZone Tri-Counties Championship – Fatal Four Way
Mikkey Vago (c) def. Connor Molloy, Ronan King, and Rhys Dawkins by Pinfall to retain the title

It’s something of a Christmas Chaos staple, the Tri-Counties Championship four-way. It happened in 2017 and again in 2019, both leading to great contests that 2022 more than lived up to.

Mikkey Vago, Connor Molloy, Ronan King, and Rhys Dawkins is a strange lineup on paper, but it really delivered a strong performance. You believed each of them had the chance to leave Danestone as the new WrestleZone Tri-Counties Champion, heading into 2023 as the King of what is slowly becoming one of the most prestigious championships in Scotland from a match quality perspective. I can’t remember the last time a match contested for the title fell flat. Here, the only thing falling flat was Rhys Dawkins’ attempt at a chop. His nipple tickle was quickly outshone by Ronan King smacking the blood, sweat, and gin out of Connor Molloy. On the plus side, Dawkins and King had surprisingly decent chemistry together, an oddball pairing perhaps but one I’d love to see more of for their massively different personalities alone.

A top-rope somersault dive from Molloy was the highlight of the match, the anticipation from the fans growing as he climbed the turnbuckles to reach its crescendo when he stepped off. Executed perfectly as well. Youths.

The Skull Crushing Finale led Mikkey Vago to retain the Tri-Counties Championship once more, ending what has been a wildly successful year for ‘The Heavy Metal Hooligan’. Any of the four could have left as champion. Rhys could have obtained the title either for himself or to hand to Bryan Tucker Ted DiBiase style, Connor could have continued his ceiling-free growth, or – the avenue many had forecast – Ronan could have delivered one last blow to Mikkey Vago, having already confronted him as soon as he made his entrance. That’s what WrestleZone excels at; continuation. They’ve not been involved together since August’s Battle of the Nations, but they still detest one another.

Once more, simplicity is the icing on the cake.

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Undisputed WrestleZone Championship – Triple Threat Steel Cage Match
Aspen Faith def. Zach Dynamite (c) and Damien by Pinfall to win the title

Hospital beds were needed for the main event.

Not for Aspen Faith, Zach Dynamite, and Damien. For everyone in the crowd, on the edge of their seats, hearts almost thumping out of their chest, at the prospect of something very special happening.

And for Blue Thunder, I guess. He’s never stress-free as it is, let alone when there’s cage-building involved.

The three men responsible for the single greatest match in WrestleZone history colliding again inside a steel cage. It felt special. Obviously there’s more to it than just a few good matches, but it’s headliners like this that would benefit enormously from a capacity Beach Ballroom audience. Oh, to relive those days.

Everyone had a different tactic here. Zach Dynamite was hellbent on wrestling a singles match, leaving Damien laid out outside the cage while he fought Aspen for a while and later having Bruiser Brad Evans keep Aspen held back, wrapping his chain around Aspen’s chest. Aspen just wanted a fight, as evident by him lobbing chairs around. As for Damien? He wanted the Undisputed WrestleZone Championship back so desperately, he needed it, so his first move of the official match was a Cutter off the top of the cage on Zach Dynamite.

What.

The.

Hell.

Both Brad and Ryan Riley interfered at various stages, infuriating everyone watching on. James was surprisingly mad, he’s on board this WrestleZone officiating hate train now as well. In fairness, Dennis Law had the night off and it was a new referee, so not exactly an easy way to start your run. Poor lad was decked at one point.

Damien went through a table at one stage, rendering him unable to continue for the remainder of the match, while Aspen and Zach destroyed each other. Aspen kicking out of a major move at one, HulkingAspening up, only to be smacked back down with one strike was such an exemplary spot that, again, WrestleZone doesn’t often offer. The Killshot couldn’t keep him down. The Darkest Lariat kept Dynamite down, though.

Aspen Faith is the new Undisputed WresOh look, the roof’s come off the Danestone Community Centre.

The reaction was insane. A moment almost a decade in the making, a year-long journey from return to failure to victory. Being positioned against The Foundation of the Future massively helped Aspen’s journey. They’re so detested, yet such a tremendous group that you can’t help but admire the work they do to help not only the story and match they’re involved in, but each other. They’ve only bettered themselves since coming together. With cracks now forming, it’ll be interesting to see where they go in 2023.

But that’s for next year.

Aspen Faith is champion!

An outstanding end to 2022. Moving to Aberdeen during the pandemic meant that I only missed a couple of shows this year, so I was witness to all of the big moments, the big returns, the big debuts, the shocks, the swerves, the turns, the shenanigans, the capers. As with the end of every year, it feels like such a repetitive statement to say that WrestleZone just had their best ever year but in 2022, there’s enough to justify that they actually did achieve that feat.

The best wrestling in Scotland.

Period.

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