Review: WrestleZone (@WrestleZone) ‘Station Hotel Showdown’ (28 Jan)

When I’m writing this, Station Hotel Showdown finished about two hours ago, the Royal Rumble is on, I’ve got my snacks, and I’m about 24 hours away from turning 22. Life is pretty cushty when you don’t revolve your entire existence around being voted for in a bit-of-fun series of awards. Who knew?

The first stop on the WrestleZone calendar has often been A Night. Incredible matches upon incredible storytelling, it’s a night that typically sees various pieces of lore set in stone for the remainder of the year ahead, and Station Hotel Showdown was no different. Damien vs. Ronan, Archer vs. Vago, Tri-Counties Dynamite, oh my! I can’t wait for 2023. It has a special feeling about it. Like a warm cuddle on a cold winter’s night, it’s going to be the year – a repeated saying every year admittedly, but for good reason.

It was a return to the Station Hotel for the event, easily the most accessible venue run by WrestleZone. Directly across from Union Square, it allowed for a full day in the town, a Nandos was on the cards, Plane was viewed, and juice was purchased from the nearby Sainsburys. It’s boiling in that venue. Not quite Northern Hotel levels mind, but it’s easily second place. Off to queue it was and thus the usual slew of questionable looks from passers-by wondering what was going on.

Sitting up the back, out the way, a perfect view of the ring and its surrounding areas, I soon realised I was sat two rows behind a wild Scotty Swift. Once the initial dread of almost certainly being on camera passed, the overthinking side of my mind ran everywhere, was Swift genuinely just there to watch, was he going to deck Bryan Tucker, was his hair brown again, so many questions and very few answers provided.

As for the actual show?

VIP Ticket Holders – Ronan King def. Chris Archer by Pinfall

It was announced ahead of time that both Dino and Captain Alan Sterling were off the Station Hotel Showdown card and subsequent amendments had been made as a result. They’re stuck in Scandinavia apparently. Of course they’re stuck in Scandinavia.

As such, the VIP ticket holders match was changed to a singles affair between Ronan King and Chris Archer. Ronan’s getting too disgustingly talented now, there are clear influences in the way he carries himself from Seth Rollins and Adam Cole that help him stand out in a sea of talent. He towered over Archer by a good inch or so, call him ‘kid’ at one point that got a chuckle out of me. Imagine wee Toby in primary five strutting about with knackered knees? Kid.

Chris Archer finally stood out later in the show (yes, it happened) but here he just looked a tad bland. Ronan is simply too flashy and cocky that you really have to be vocal and put yourself out there to stand alongside him. A couple of false finishes dominated the latter portion of the match before a knee to the neck got the W.

Ronan King said when he entered that 2023 was the year of Ronan and how can it not be? You forget that he’s still only just over a year into this and he’s already this talented. It’s insane. And disgusting. But insane. He’s so good, words can’t do it justice. He’s really one of those names you have to see in-person to fully understand the magnitude of their aura, it’s arguably unlike anyone else to come out of Aberdeen. So easy to hate and yet so easy to gravitate towards. He’s mastered it all already. He’ll be a major deal very soon – and he’ll let you know it every second he’s out there.

There’s no tales about the price of drinks and snacks after sneaking in a cherry Pepsi. Folk were strutting about with crisps and Capri Suns though so there’s the exciting stock on offer from the Station Hotel.

Caleb Valhalla def. Connor Molloy by Pinfall

Right, I’ll say it – Caleb Valhalla suits the baldness. I rushed to attack it when he was first shaved but when he burst through the curtain, you could instantly tell that he’s fully embraced the glistening baldness that has now become his personality.

Captain Alan Sterling was unable to appear due to being stuck in Scandinavia, so it was Connor Molloy who stepped up to fight the Mighty Caleb, a real mismatch of sizes that harkened back to last year’s Summerhill Showdown when Connor and Crusher Craib were battered by Caleb. One year later and the difference was night and day, Connor was holding himself against a man three times the size of him despite almost being Speared out of his boots right off the bat. The crowd was electric for all of this, buzzing from the moment Connor was announced as Caleb’s new opponent and staying hot right through to the end.

What I liked about this was it was such a different match to the last time they shared a ring together. Connor, though he got chucked about again as well, was doing bridging German suplexes and Death Valley Drivers, diving off the apron, having an answer for everything Caleb had for him. Back-and-forth matches tend to get a bit stale after a while but they made the concept work so seamlessly, the crowd teetering on the edge for the next big move.

Another comeback was thwarted when Caleb caught Connor in the Helride to score his first win of 2023. Skol!

Am I still invested in Caleb vs. Alan? Yes. But was this better than what we would have originally had? Absolutely. Caleb and Connor have such great chemistry together that every moment mattered here, every smack, every throw, every slam, it genuinely could have gone either way. Connor’s yet to properly get on track since dropping the Tag Team Championships and Crusher Craib decided to head off into the sunset, just sort of dipping in and out of random matches with everyone. I look forward to that changing in 2023. Get him in there with Zach Dynamite at Aberdeen Anarchy.

Caleb Valhalla was also very very nice. Hard to be bad when your whole thing is chucking folk about every time.

Handicap Match – Bryan Tucker & Rhys Dawkins def. Umar Mohammed by Pinfall

The WrestleZone crowd will tell you straight away if they’re on board with you and for Bryan Tucker, the answer is a resounding no. Even with Scotty Swift off the roster, Tucker and Rhys Dawkins are still massive WALLYs, Swift leading the crowd like an orchestra. Bryan Tucker entered to the ‘Bye Bye Scotty (Scotty Goodbye)’ soundtrack while Umar Mohammed had a brand spankin’ new entrance video featuring footage of him, maybe this is the weird media-obsessed side of me speaking but there’s just something different about entrance videos that aren’t just a nameplate on a looped background.


Tucker and Dawkins were a hoot throughout this, failing to tag each other in properly, going for the 3D and Poetry In Motion, and generally being on completely different pages of different books. Umar was on edge throughout. Constantly at a disadvantage, he had to stay one step ahead of the game, powered by a single pair of black gloves. Double knees in the corner led to the Big Kachowski submission until Tucker broke it up. Picking up the pieces of a Bryan Tucker distraction, Rhys wrote the Fifth Act to secure another victory over the Mohammed and Swift side.

Tucker, Dawkins, and Swift got into it afterwards, Swift revealed a Where’s Wally? striped shirt with Bryan Tucker’s face over it to a thunderous reaction. Tucker snapped, a big pull apart, and Swift got ejected. Ooohhh.

I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. It sounds bad when I actually type that out, I just wasn’t sure what to expect as Handicap matches tend to only really go one way and it’s never usually a good way, but this did the stipulation justice. Umar was perfect as the good guy in peril against the cowardly-yet-dastardly duo, staying light on his feet so as to not get too tied down. It’s what happened afterwards that’s intrigued me. I really can’t tell what’s happening with these four going forward and that’s what I like, I get to theorise, I get to lay in my thoughts and concoct a million different scenarios that all end with the same outcome.

Once again, though, it’s all building naturally, none of it is forced, and the crowd is beyond invested. Dare I say best storytelling in Scottish wrestling?

WrestleZone Tag Team Championships – The Fair City Saints (Alex Webb & Air Myles) (c) def. Murphy & Ronan King to retain

With Dino out of action, Murphy was left to find himself a new partner for what was the new Outfit’s first crack at the WrestleZone Tag Team Championships. If you gave me a list of ten possible candidates, I’d have had the actual replacement at a respectable number eleven. Ronan King? In the Outfit? I’m not against it. I just would never have expected it in a million and one years.

Ronan King, the self-proclaimed drip king, and Murphy, a man who used to wear tight pleather by choice. It’s hardly a match made in heaven. I did like that Ronan had his own leather jacket, albeit one that was either tight by choice (#FASHION) or two sizes two small. Either way, he fit the bill, replaced Dino, and found himself with the chance to become a champion.

Like Bryan Tucker and Rhys Dawkins, I liked that Ronan and Murphy didn’t act like a cohesive unit. It was their first and probably last time tagging together, so why would they be best mates? Constant bickering on their side whereas the Fair City Saints were a well-oiled machine, mocking Ronan’s lack of tag team knowledge and making frequent tags to keep Murphy on edge. They both got suitably twatted about obviously, but it’s the thought that counts.

The crowd was considerably quieter for this one compared to the previous two matches until the Canadian Destroyers arrived. From my knowledge, it was the first execution of such a move in WrestleZone. Ronan did one, Alex did one, and Murphy? He said f*ck that and did a Powerbomb instead. Probably for the best, let’s be honest. A little Dudley Boyz tribute got Webb and Myles the win, their first defence in the books.

Like with Caleb Valhalla vs. Connor Molloy, this was far different to what would have been the original match, but it was just really good, wasn’t it? Murphy and Ronan may not have the refined chemistry that the Fair City Saints possess, however, they had decent comedic timing. It was a weird choice to have Ronan there – I wildly predicted William Sterling, for example – and yet, as he seemingly always does, the ‘One to Watch’ proved why he won the award in the rigged poll.

Break time, one of Caleb Valhalla’s finest Skol t-shirts bought for James, and it was back to the wrestles before you knew it.

WrestleZone Tri-Counties Championship – Zach Dynamite def. Mikkey Vago (c) w/Chris Archer to win the title

There’s not specific divisions per se but if you know what I mean, the Tri-Counties division might be the best thing in WrestleZone right now. That’s a strong feat.

Having been dominated by defending champion Mikkey Vago since September, it was time for Hunter Hearst Vago to face Zach Dynamite, a pioneer of the championship following his two reigns in 2017 and 2018. Dynamite entered alone surprisingly whereas Vago had Chris Archer backing him up, all the seeds were there and Archer was looking a bit more serious than he usually does, seemingly disgruntled to exist.

Dynamite mocked Vago early on, finding various ways to apply a standard headlock. I liked this a lot, he’s been at the top as the Undisputed Champion so of course he’s on a higher pedestal than Mikkey Vago, even when it comes to something as simple as headlock. Vago responded with a series of closed-fist punches, some stiff throws that made my cheeks crumple thinking about it. This brought Bruiser Brad Evans out, during which time Dynamite actually poked Vago with his kendo stick in a moment I don’t think many spotted.

Paying homage to the Great Muta with the cartwheel corner splash and following a nasty Stroke on the ring apron (hardest part of the ring etc etc), an attempt at spraying red mist in Zach Dynamite’s face led to Mikkey Vago blinding the referee, hitting a Stunner on Dynamite, and failing to retain the title. What, oh what, could happen next?

Chris Archer decked Mikkey Vago. Yas!

Zach Dynamite won the Tri-Counties Championship, but it was more of an afterthought really. It had actually happened, the moment that began as nothing more than a thought in the minds of *those* fans had actually transpired. A chain-wrapped fist knocked out Vago, Archer dumping his Rejected cut on top of his now-former partner. As he backed away, Chris Archer looked dejected, demented, like he wanted to literally kill Vago. I smell big gimmick match in the coming months.

Bruiser Brad Evans def. Tommy Raiden by Pinfall

I don’t know what it is about me, maybe it’s because of Chris Archer’s actions and I was in a frenzied state, but I was buzzing to see Tommy Raiden get absolutely twatted. Genuinely, who did he p*ss off?

He stood no chance against Bruiser Brad Evans, but he tried. He put up a fighting chance, he did his best, and he showed the crowd why he deserves to be on show. Then he got knocked down with a light shove, Gotch-style Piledriven, and that was that.

There’s a time and a place for brief, story-less matches on big WrestleZone shows – and this was that time and place. The crowd was coming down from the euphoria of Zach Dynamite becoming a three-time Tri-Counties Champion and the breakup of the Rejected, so a short match between a big hoss like Bruiser Brad and a young upstart like Tommy is the perfect cool-down for such a slot. Hell of a Gotch-style Piledriver as well.

Damien returns soon

A genuine surprise followed as Damien ventured out, limp and all, to draw the raffle. He did it, make a joke at Len Ironside’s expense, and there was some Aberdeen Football Club banter that I won’t even attempt to understand.

And then Ronan King popped in. Three times in one night, aren’t we lucky?

Informing Damien that his time was up, Ronan was reliably told that Damien would be cleared “soon”. Essentially, we’ve got Damien vs. Ronan King to look forward to whenever Damien is good to go. Sign me up now. A cheeky kick to Damien’s torn hamstring followed before Ronan quickly scarpered. That scoundrel.

Luckily, it looks like Damien won’t be out of action for too long but that his first match back will seemingly be against Ronan King makes his return all the more exciting. Two similarly hard-hitting strikers in front of a packed crowd has all the bones of a corker. Be it at the Regal Rumble, Aberdeen Anarchy, or any other show, it’ll be a hoot.

Undisputed WrestleZone Championship – Aspen Faith (c) def. Ryan Riley w/Bruiser Brad Evans to retain

This was just two big lads smacking the beef off each other and I was living for it. It was a gruelling, gritty, nasty, disgusting fight that, really, I wasn’t expecting from Ryan Riley. He’s not the lightest puncher but Christ, he was going in on Aspen Faith, eyeing up that Undisputed Championship.

Attacking Aspen before the bell rang, Ryan and Bruiser Brad Evans did a number on him, the sound of his head smacking the corner post still ringing in my ears. Brad was chucked out straight away by one of the new referees so clearly he’s heard how harsh SWN is on the refs for their every move.

Chop after chop, forearm after forearm, it was tough to watch in places. A half-Nelson suplex saw Ryan spike Aspen on his neck at one point to which Aspen responded with a series of thick Lariats, both men so defiant to leave with the Undisputed Championship intact. Like many matches, it could have gone either way. It almost did when Ryan came within inches of the title.

Then he got both a Darkest Lariat and a Jay Driller to end his night. Poor lad.

It was tense, but the only expected ending. Aspen Faith is going to have one of the greatest runs as the Undisputed Champion if this match was anything to go by. There’s nothing purer in wrestling than the sound of tits being slapped.

If this was anyone’s first time attending a WrestleZone show, then they’ll be back next time. This was easily one of the most solid shows I’ve been to. Everything clicked, everything entertained in some way, and everyone put their best foot forward to kickstart 2023 in style. A true rollercoaster of a show between the surprises, shocks, and twists, it was pure, unadulterated sports entertainment. For the price you pay, you’re getting your money’s worth plus extra goodies. Where else are you going to find a roster that’s all on the same page, has the same goal in mind for the audience they draw, and uses their knowledge to consistently put on the best shows every month?

Can’t say that of course. It’s all just one big wankathon.

Aberdeen wrestling is the best.

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