Well, wasn’t that just a little bit lovely, eh?
Personally, this was my first Regal Rumble since 2019 after the 2020 and 2021 events succumbed to that there COVID and the 2022 one landing on the same weekend as my sister’s wedding when, in a shocking turn of events, I wasn’t able to justify ditching the day to see Aspen Faith and Zach Dynamite tussle in the final two. Shocking, I know.
It’s very telling in both the trust the fans have in WrestleZone to produce a quality show and the general feeling that comes with Rumbles that the feeling inside the venue as soon as you walked in was palpable. Everybody loves a Rumble, it’s a fact, if you look up ‘excitement’ in the fine Oxford dictionaries, it’ll come with a picture of the Regal Rumble logo. There was a different atmosphere to this year’s Rumble compared to past events though, it was going to be incredible, but there wasn’t even a moment to breathe with the noise created.
It was also a return to the Curl Aberdeen Sports Complex, a venue that I’ll admit I was a bit sceptical about after Halloween Hijinx felt a tad cramped but thankfully, WrestleZone were a bit more lenient in their layout of the main room, moving the merchandise area into a little side room that made everything a lot easier and a lot nicer. There was a little WrestleZone logo-adorned backdrop in there for fan pictures that made it all appear more professional that was nice. Lovely stuff. A big Tesco next door as well that had my eye for after the show, even if Danestone is the better big Tesco. Fellow Tesco fanatics will agree I’m sure.
Enough about my supermarket tier lists…
VIP Ticket Holders – Connor Molloy def. Murphy by Pinfall
I don’t know if it’s just because I was a bit lost waiting for James and his mum to come back from the tuck shop or if it was because I was overthinking who the Regal Rumble’s surprise entrants could be – it wasn’t the Three Faces of Sterling, maybe one year… – but Connor Molloy vs. Murphy was…a match. It was fine, it did what it needed to, and everyone was invested, so it did all the right things. Murphy was excellent in chucking Connor about. He often gets a ton of flak here at SWN but this might have been his best singles outing yet, he played the domineering heavy role exceptionally well that perfectly matched Connor’s fiery youngster aura.
Connor did his usual schtick, there was a nice little Pele kick that staggered Murphy and a Shining Wizard-esque finish for the three, picking up MOMENTUM for the Regal Rumble match. Between this and Mikkey Vago‘s use of the mist and cartwheel elbow, perhaps there’s an ongoing battle for number one Great Muta superfan, but that’s just me convoluting things. A nice little match for the all but two folk who didn’t have VIP tickets. Fools.
It’s been a bit of a repeated statement since Crusher Craib retired last May but Connor’s been a little directionless, he’s had some good matches and is always a highlight of the show, but he doesn’t have a clear-cut future ahead of him. His Aberdeen Anarchy status seems to be leaning in favour of a Tri-Counties Championship challenge vs. Zach Dynamite if the Rumble was anything to go by, which again will be a highlight, especially if it’s contested as a Ladder match as per the cheeky ladders on the show poster, so let’s just hope that it’s actually the case because I’d very much so like to see it thank you very much indeed.
Break time, so naturally it was time to purchase Aberdeen Anarchy tickets and…
Clashing with Eurovision again! Blasphemy.
Of course I’m saying this now but I’ll still not care on the night itself. Back to the Danestone Community Centre as well for its first non-Christmas Chaos WrestleZone outing, not going to complain particularly much since a quick Google of the originally-announced venue that I’ve now forgotten the name of looked a bit rubbish. Certainly didn’t have the right look for an Aberdeen Anarchy anyway. Who knows, maybe you need to be inside it to appreciate it more wink wink nudge nudge.
WrestleZone Tag Team Championships – The Fair City Saints (Alex Webb & Air Myles) (c) def. The Foundation of the Future (Bruiser Brad Evans & Ryan Riley) by Pinfall to retain the titles
Up first for the ‘main’ card was one of the more hotly-anticipated matches for the night, a Christmas Chaos rematch for the Tag Team Championships as The Fair City Saints and The Foundation of the Future met again. Their previous collison was great but felt like there was maybe more that they could do, so I was happy when the rematch was confirmed and oh boy.
I’ll always put tag team wrestling above any other variation, many of my favourite matches fall under the banner, and I’d honestly put this up there. It all flowed together so well with an OUTSTANDING opener that saw Air Myles somersault into the ring and immediately flip the other way from a Ryan Riley Lariat. Chef’s kiss, five Michelin stars, Gordon Ramsay would be pleased. I feel like Ryan put more force into that Lariat than usual which I liked. It was an important match for him and Bruiser Brad Evans so it always adds that little something when the wrestlers…wrestle…like that.
It meant that Ryan and Brad battered Alex Webb all match while Myles struggled and clambered back onto the apron. They’re so cohesive in the way they work, the way they move, the way they control a ring even when it’s essentially a 2-on-1 Handicap match. They moved so effortlessly. At one point they used a unique suplex tossed into a spinning Powerslam, sort of like The House of Black’s AEW finish, that looked really cool, it might murder folk but a variant with Ryan tossing the opponent into a Granite Driver from Brad would be sick.
Air Myles finally got back in and clearly there were some people in Aberdeen that night who hadn’t seen him before, there were raucous amazed wows in abundance whenever he flipped and twisted off the ropes. His standing Moonsault was executed without flaw, as was his and Alex’s back suplex/neckbreaker combination. A Motor City Machine Guns-esque Skull and Bones to Ryan got them the win, not before I was *this* convinced that Ryan and Brad were two-time champions when they got in their elevated reverse DDT wonder.
Ryan grabbed a microphone after the match as my mind started racing as to what he had to say – Two out of Three Falls at Aberdeen Anarchy, you Perth twats.
Yeah, you tell ’em, Ryan!
This match was everything a tag team match needed to be. It further established The Foundation of the Future as these dominiative, conniving, cunning bad guys, doing everything they felt they needed to get back to the top of the mountain, and it cemented The Fair City Saints as the underdogs backed by the audience, told through Alex Webb’s refusal to go down. It was a perfect representation of the artform between two of the (self-proclaimed and official let’s be honest) best tag teams in Scotland.
Aberdeen hasn’t always been a hotbed for tag team wrestling in Scotland, I’ll admit that, but some of these matches really deserve to be placed on a higher pedestal with outings like this, The Rejected and The Sterling Brothers, The Thunder Buddies and The Granite City Hotshots, etc.
Aberdeen Anarchy‘ll soon be added to that list too. Two out of Three Falls! Get in.
Mikkey Vago def. Dino by Pinfall
Mikkey Vago and Dino had a fundamentally fine match, but the crowd could not have cared less. I don’t know if it was because of the hot opener, the lack of a purpose following Chris Archer‘s illness ruling him out, or a combination of the two, but it was so quiet throughout this compared to how intense the crowd was for the first two matches.
The match wasn’t half bad either, another take on the VIP ticket holders match that saw the larger Dino overpower Vago a few times. Vago got his own schtick in as well, hitting a nice succession of elbow drops before Dino kicked him square in the jaw. Oof. There was a bit of stalling with rest holds and the like, a bit of methodical chain wrestling before Vago got the W.
The crowd maybe didn’t care that much, but you can’t argue the match didn’t have its place, the really hot opener needed that palate cleanser to cool off the crowd before moving into another anticipated bout in Damien vs. Ronan King, so putting Mikkey and Dino in here was the right call. It was hardly a bad match either – it just suffered from a lack of crowd interaction, one of the fuels that WrestleZone drives itself on.
With Chris Archer there or without him, I was still of the belief that Kaden Garrick was sitting somewhere ready to come and Spear Vago, perhaps he was one of the Regal Rumble match’s surprises. Maybe next time…
10 Minute Challenge – Damien def. Ronan King by lasting 10 minutes
From the minute Ronan King twatted Damien in the leg at Station Hotel Showdown, I was ready for this match, both are unique wrestlers in that they’re flashy, quick performers, those more likely to try out something new on the bigger shows. I was expecting a high-octane match not too dissimilar to the Tag Team Championships match but instead, we got something that was arguably better.
Getting on the mic before the match, Ronan stated how Damien couldn’t last ten minutes in the ring with him, thus creating the 10 minute challenge stipulation. Got it? Good.
Codbreaker straight out the gate for a two count. Oh, Damien, you cheeky devil, you had me fooled.
I really liked the flow of this match, Ronan being desperate to put Damien down and Damien being cocky when he wasn’t able to. It was a real difference to what we’re used to with Damien, which was nice. Ronan managed to sneak in his Adam Cole knee to the rear of the head for a two count so close it would’ve easily passed for a three in a Dennis Law-officiated match. The ending was superb, as Damien realised he didn’t have long left to withstand Ronan targeting his leg, so he fled the ring. With Ronan in pursuit, Damien slid back in, Ronan followed, and charged at Damien, finding himself trapped in the tree of woe as the seconds slipped away. So simple, yet so effective.
Damien challenged Ronan after the match to rejoin him in the ring for a fight to a finish that Ronan wasn’t too keen to accept. For now. Damien then passionately stated his intentions of winning his first Regal Rumble match, which seems like an odd statement given that he’s done everything else, and with that it entered him into my pool of potential Regal Rumble winners that was, if we’re really honest, about half the actual field. I just like to keep my options open.
The Ronan King praise is always high in these WrestleZone reviews, and it’ll continue for as long as he continues putting in performances like this. He adapts himself to each situation better than anyone else I’ve seen. The story was that Damien had a knackered leg, so that was Ronan’s target. It could’ve gone ignored or, worse, it could’ve become the domineering story of the match, but the fact it was used in such a way to not overstay its welcome was grand.
He’s venturing off to Ravie Davie‘s Community Pro Wrestling in April to team with his bestest friend ever Connor Molloy (I’m sure they’re both thrilled…) but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him rocking up to somewhere like Discovery Wrestling by the year’s end. He’s got the full package for someone who’s a) less than two years into it, and b) 19. It depresses me every time.
(The IMPACT fan in me REALLY wants him to go there and face an Ace Austin or a Chris Bey but that’s not relevant to this.)
Aspen Faith, Caleb Valhalla & Umar Mohammed def. Zach Dynamite, Bryan Tucker & Rhys Dawkins by Pinfall
The Big Annual Regal Rumble Schmozz™ this year pitted Undisputed Champion Aspen Faith and Tri-Counties Champion Zach Dynamite at the helm of opposing squads, joined by Caleb Valhalla and Umar Mohammed, and Bryan Tucker and Rhys Dawkins, respectively, which Dynamite was less than chuffed about. I liked that he wasn’t exactly fond of Tucker and Dawkins, you’ll often get folk just getting on with it when there’s a random pairing announced so he definitely added a new layer to the match that ended with him eventually walking out on his team that was great.
No sherwani for Aspen though. Robbed of a pink and black number, truly disgraceful scenes.
This took on the format of your usual pure good guys vs. evil bad guys multi-man match. The ring was cut in half and Umar Mohammed got battered for a bit, it’s probably what he deserved after a bit of ‘dancing’ at the beginning that made me miss The Dancing Dads. There was a neat bit at the start where Zach, Bryan, and Rhys made constant tags, none of them eager to face Caleb or Aspen, which only made their team-up on Umar all the more meaningful.
Aspen, Caleb, and Umar got back into it later on, hitting a trifecta of German suplexes before Zach walked out, leaving Rhys to be twatted for the win.
If you’ve seen a six-man tag team match, then you’ve seen them all, there’s very little leeway for fresh ideas. The formula will usually stay the same; one guy gets battered for a while, makes a hot tag, and then the finish comes. It’s simple, easy, and gets the job done. That said, there was something unique to this, Dynamite detecting his own team and eventually walking out worked to the match’s benefit. He knows exactly what a good trio looks like, so of course he wasn’t complying with Bryan and Rhys. Good stuff.
There was an interval where I spent the entire time drawing up plausible Regal Rumble match theories in my mind. Would Kaden Garrick rock up? Would there be a surprise 25th entrant to replace Chris Archer? Would Lord Mr Malice‘s head spontaneously combust?
No, no, and yes.
2023 Regal Rumble match – Caleb Valhalla last eliminated Bruiser Brad Evans to win the Regal Rumble
Rumble matches are a different beast when it comes to live wrestling. Everyone can get invested and they can build stories to attach the viewer to the eventual winner; case in point, James and his mum – neither of whom are regular wrestling fans and have seen little to nothing outside of WrestleZone – were chanting and cheering throughout and after the match.
A testament to how well WrestleZone works at getting you back in the door for the next show.
Recapping Rumbles is a near-impossible task, especially when you decide this year will be the year you decide to not be a nerd and take note of the order of entrants. The moments from the match are the ones that stick with you a week removed from the event. Connor Molloy’s arduous performance had me convinced he had a chance of winning until Zach Dynamite chucked him out, Dynamite having had an equally-as-impressive performance after entering second. Mikkey Vago did exactly what I’d hoped and wailed a kendo stick at Dynamite for a minute or two at the start, a shame it went flying from the ring to remove it from the remainder of the match. Rhys Dawkins entered to Scotty Swift‘s entrance music and video, a fabulous touch that really hit the nail on the head with this saga, almost as if he was thinking ‘Hey, what else can I do?’ Swift, for the uninitiated, was dogsitting on the night, officially definitely absolutely 100% removing him from contention as a surprise entrant. The debuting Mr WrestleZone appeared, sporting a cape, mask, name badge, and familiar red singlet that Billy has keenly pointed out was similar to that of Jimbo Bannon, everyone’s favourite WrestleZone Training Academy graduate. What is even doing here…
Dino and Murphy controlled the ring that then saw the first surprise of the night, a returning Ted O’Keefe, not seen in WrestleZone since Summerhill Showdown 2022. Feigning scalping Murphy with Dino, they instead embraced, an Outfit that is now a trio is something I didn’t know I needed until now, wee Ted leading the big lads into chaos, sign me up. He did so immediately when favourite to win Caleb Valhalla sauntered in, decimating The Outfit in one fell swoop. Then Lord Mr Malice came in.
Lord Mr Malice did a Canadian Destroyer.
I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Lord Mr Malice, a man whose two feet should never leave the ground for any reason, did a front-flip Piledriver – and he did it so well! The fall off the turnbuckles? Not so much. Caleb sent him flying to the ground below. From my view, I thought he was landing on everyone else, seeing as they’d been commanded to leave the ring so Caleb and Malice could settle their differences but instead, he fell to the floor, his head bouncing off the apron, and causing a nasty cut on his head. Oof. He walked out mind; nothing can destroy that man. Deacon Matthews was the second surprise entrant in a move I’d have never predicted in a million years but instantly, I got it. There’s been rumblings of him being a joy to watch and it was immediately noticeable in his mannerisms and interactions with Caleb. Ronan King was last in, having number 25 plastered on his LED glasses when he in fact was number 24, so that pleased me greatly. He took his time going in, went in, and was out within what felt like a second by Damien. He genuinely may have broken Aspen Faith’s 2013 record. Hilarious. Security tried escorting him out before he managed to find a way back in, only to be suitably sent packing, again within a second or two.
The match eventually came down to Caleb Valhalla, Damien, Ryan Riley, and Bruiser Brad Evans, which saw Damien initially side with the Foundation lads before launching himself at them (it sounds less awkward/sexual than I’ve made it out there…), all while roars of SKOL boomed off the walls. Ronan King goading Damien’s daughter eventually led to him being dumped out by Riley, who himself was soon gone at the hands of Caleb. A few minutes of Caleb and Brad knocking lumps out of each other ended with a Caleb Valhalla Regal Rumble victory.
I don’t know if WrestleZone’ll upload the footage and even if they do, the sound may not do it justice. This was a genuine you had to be there moment to fully understand the magnitude of Caleb’s win. The crowd went nuts for him. Every single person. Normally you’ll get the majority of the room going mental, but this was different, this was a desired winner getting the whole building behind him en route to picking up that lovely Regal Rumble trophy. Every Regal Rumble I’ve seen live, this being the fifth one, has had a different impact on the crowd, but this was the best one for my money. It had unforgettable moments, numerous stories being told/matches being set for Aberdeen Anarchy, genuine surprise entrants, and a winner that everybody wanted.
A win win win win situation. Incredible.
A real big fight feel was set in when Caleb and Aspen came face to face afterwards. It’ll divide SWN, but it’ll be mint. I. Can’t. Wait.
I really don’t want to keep saying it because of bias/wankathon naysayers, but WrestleZone, right now, is the best product in Scottish wrestling. Every show is up there with their best, they fail to ever underdeliver to the point even their smaller town hall shows are slowly creeping into must-see territory. Obviously I don’t know what happens behind the scenes, but you have to think they’re getting back into their groove, constant sell-outs, a promised return to towns that put them on the map, stellar shows like this. 2018 for me was their peak, but 2022 onwards has been outstanding. 2023 looks set to continue that curve. Aberdeen Anarchy already has over half of its tickets sold, probably more than that by the time I’m writing/you’re reading this. You don’t want to miss it.
Just buy your ticket.