In wrestling, the most effective names are usually the most obvious. WWF’s Survivor Series featured a series of survivor matches. WCW’s Bash At The Beach always had a lot of bashing and usually a beach. ECW’s November To Remember was, funnily enough, held in November. And now we can add another name to the effective and obvious list, as Chris Pilkington attended Preston City Wrestling Blood Sweats and Beers event - a night of copious amounts of blood, litres of perspiration and lashings of reasonably priced beer…
Date: Friday 24th February 2012
Location: Lava Ignite, Preston, UK
English promotion PCW is still in its infancy, debuting in August 2011. In that short time they have garnered somewhat of a buzz, thanks to smart booking, a great location, high production values and, of course, a stellar roster of talent. I’m pleased to say that Blood Sweat and Beers continued this trend.
Emanating from Lava Ignite nightclub right in the heart of Preston and in front of a 476-strong crowd, Blood Sweat and Beers started with a four way match between Dean Allmark, Zack Sabre Jr, Joey Hayes and Noam Dar. Noam Dar was the first to the ring. Grabbing himself a microphone on entry, he quickly began to get under the skin of the crowd. The young Scots’ attempt at a Preston accent (more Barnsley on reflection, certainly South Yorkshire) and his claims that the Government are trying to kill everybody in Preston by making Paracetamol cheaper than bananas drew equal part jeers and cheers – and set him out as the clear heel in this match.
This was a hard-hitting affair with each man dishing out a barrage of vicious kicks. Zack Sabre Jr. in particular showcased a crisp style that was backed up with a brutal array of leg kicks and submission manoeuvres. The match was contested under tag rules with only two men in the ring at once, but as the action wore on, it soon degenerated into the four-way free-for-all that it perhaps should have been from the start. Despite being portrayed for most of the match as the weakest of the four competitors, it was Dar who was able to pick up the surprise victory in what was a thoroughly entertaining match up. All four men contributed towards a great showcase of British Cruiserweight wrestling, displaying a hard-hitting and technically sound style that warmed the crowd up nicely.
Next up was Roughneck’s Alehouse, a segment in which Roughneck invited The Blackpool Blondes into the ring to share a drink. It was a predictable segment that perhaps ran a little long, but the live crowd were into it. Anybody who has followed wrestling for more than five minutes could have seen the payoff coming (it involved The Blackpool Blondes drinking one of Roughneck’s bodily fluids), but regardless, that didn’t detract from the comedy value one little bit.
This was followed by two of the most entertaining wrestlers on the circuit as The Cockney Crusader Greg Burridge battled Bubblegum for the right to be named number one contender for the PCW Title. The crowd was all over Bubblegum, who used it to garner some heel heat. In contrast to this, Burridge was immediately over, “Whoof”ing along with the crowd and encouraging their anti-Bubblegum chanting every step of the way. Anybody who has seen Burridge knows that wherever he goes, his furry dice are never far behind, and I’m glad to report that they made an appearance early-on and remained draped over his trunks for the rest of the match.
Burridge had the upper hand for most of the match but would find himself on the receiving end of outside interference, resulting in a loss via countout. Burridge had taken the action to the ringside area where he was hit by Becky James who was wielding a loaded handbag, the contents of which Burridge would later empty all over the ring. Personally, I would have preferred a Burridge victory, but it was an entertaining match nonetheless.
The last match before the interval was considered by many in attendance to be the main event, a fact that one of the competitors was quick to point out.
Kris Travis made his way to the ring and proclaimed that his I Quit match against Lionheart should have been given the main event slot, but he promised that he would give Lionheart a “main event kicking.” Lionheart was quick to respond, saying that he is the only British wrestler to compete in TNA and WWE in the same year. The two men argued back and forth before it eventually boiled over and the match was on.
The crowd were chomping at the bit from the off, seeing if they could top their Last Man Standing bout from last October. The general consensus seems to be that they did. This got violent very early on as the two men brawled all around the room. It was here that my first complaint of the evening came into effect. Whilst it is great to see the wrestlers competing up close, brawling around the bars and taking spills on the floor, it’s not so great for the fans that can’t see the action from their vantage point. As a result there were several moments where I’m pretty sure something big was happening due to the reaction of the crowd, but I just couldn’t see what was going on. As a result the crowd in the area where I was located did become a little restless during these segments. With that being said, I now cannot wait to see everything I missed on Blu-ray (PCW shows are filmed in HD), so maybe this is a masterstroke from the promoters after all…
The action I did see was amazing. A kendo stick was heavily involved, with several brutal shots along with the almost obligatory trashcan-over-the-head spot that got a great reaction. Travis and Lionheart each took a pounding but refused to give in, eliciting several expletives over the house mic! Travis was on the receiving end of a huge splash through a table, but got his revenge with a sick moonsault onto Lionheart from the balcony. Even the introduction of thumbtacks wasn’t enough to end the match, with Lionheart refusing to quit following a vicious slam onto them. I lost count of how many kendo stick shots it took to finally make Lionheart say “I Quit”, but the fact that he lasted so long won him a lot of respect from the electric crowd.
After the match there was a standing ovation for both men. Granted, it was a mostly standing-room-only event so the standing part of the ovation was pretty much mandatory, but it was a great ovation nonetheless. The final mark-out moment before the interval saw an in-ring interview conducted by PCW member Stephen Tovey. Tovey tried to get a word with Lionheart with regards to rumours that this was his last match in PCW, only for Lionheart to hit him with a side slam and leave him laying on the thumbtacks! The ring was a bloody mess, the crowd was pumped and I’m pretty sure at least one microphone was irreversibly damaged in the carnage.
After a brief interval during which a photo session with TNA star Mark Haskins was scheduled, it was back to the in-ring action. Any lost momentum that an interlude inevitably brings was soon regained when the cult phenomenon that is Dave Rayne made his way to the ring. I’m not entirely sure how it originated, but there is a chant that goes something like this: “We’re all Dave Rayne” clap, clap, clapclapclap. To go along with the chant, several people around ringside actually took the time to print off Dave Rayne masks to bring with them to the show. Now that’s the kind of dedication you only get at a UK show.
Dave and his tag partner, Terry Frazier, took on the team of D.I.S.C.O. Madness, made up of Mad Man Manson and Sam Bailey. This was played mostly for laughs in the early going, with Manson revealing that he had “Hello, I’m Dave Rayne” printed on his chest. There was a funny CHIKARA-esque slow-motion spot between Rayne and Manson which culminated in Terry Frazier taking the mic and demanding a serious wrestling match. At this point we got a more traditional wrestling match, until Frazier became enraged by Rayne constantly blind tagging himself into the match. Frazier turned on Rayne and joined up with D.I.S.C.O. Madness, allowing them to get the victory. After the match, Rayne was quick to scarper backstage as Frazier shook hands with Manson and Bailey. Manson incited the crowd to implore Frazier to come back and wrestle for the promotion in the future (he made up an incredibly long chant which I’m afraid I can’t remember) and he seemed agreeable to the idea!
Manson proved to be a great asset in this match. Not only can he work genuinely funny comedy spots, he is also great at giving the rub to the other talent. Whenever a Manson chant would spread around the room, he was quick to turn it into a chant for his tag partner, and his work at getting the crowd behind Terry Frazier after the match was stellar.
Next was the battle of two huge behemoths as Preston’s own Shaun The Hammer Davies went one-on-one with MVK (Most Valuable Killer) Valkabious. It is fair to say that the reaction to this match was mixed. Whilst it was never going to be a technical master class, both men have an intensity and aggression to their actions that is needed when two huge guys face off. Valkabious in particular has a real menace about him, which is one of the reasons why he has recently signed a developmental deal with WWE; he certainly has the look and enough raw talent to make the grade Stateside.
The match was billed as a No Disqualification match so we got a lot more ringside action. The brawling finally made its way back into the ring where hometown hero The Hammer accidentally hit a huge spear on referee Des Robinson. The match began to break down quickly as interference from The Blackpool Blondes (last seen being kicked out of Roughneck’s Alehouse by The Hammer himself) and a further, this time intentional, attack on the referee by MVK gave Des Robinson no choice but to call the match a no contest. This seemed to rub a section of the crowd up the wrong way as this was basically a DQ in a no DQ match. Logic aside, the result of the match didn’t really matter as it was the chaos in the aftermath that proved more memorable.
Roughneck made his way to the ring to help The Hammer overcome the odds, hitting stunners on pretty much anything that moved. They held the upper hand for a short time but soon the numbers game would catch up and MVK and The Blondes left the ring as the aggressors. As Roughneck came to, he promised The Blackpool Blondes that if they wanted a war, they were going to get one. This was perhaps another example of something running longer than it needed to, but the story was well told.
After a brief interlude that featured an apparent member of the council’s health and safety team as well as the drawing of the raffle (I won’t delve too deeply into this, but the raffle did seem to get one of the biggest pops of the night) we were ready for our main event of the evening …
At this point I should state that the show was running long. Previous PCW shows have tended to finish at around 9:50pm which was the scheduled finish time of Blood Sweat and Beers. The main event had not begun and we were already at 10:20pm meaning that sadly, due to travel and other issues, several of the crowd had to leave before the conclusion. I was one of these people.
The main event featured PCW Champion T-Bone versus Johnny Moss and TNA star Mark Haskins. From what I saw and from what was later confirmed by other attendees, this was a decent match bogged down by time constraints and a somewhat confusing finish. It was a match that featured first class power wrestling combined with the agility and grace of Haskins but it really needed longer to flesh out. Time that could maybe have been trimmed off of matches and segments lower on the card. T-Bone retained his title in confusing circumstances as the three-count that won the match had seemed like a two-count to many in attendance. The referee confirmed that the count was a three and the match was over.
Overall I cannot praise this show highly enough. Sure, there were a few problems with timing and visibility, but these are to be expected from a promotion that is still less than a year old. This was the biggest crowd that Preston City Wrestling has ever had and as such they went above and beyond to entertain the fans. Did this perhaps result in overdoing certain aspects? Probably, yes. But it is a small price to pay for what was an amazing experience from top to bottom. It’s just a shame that I missed the bit right at the top, but the fact that I don’t feel short changed due to having to leave early speaks volumes for the quality of the rest of the card. My match of the night goes to the opening cruiserweight four-way match, which for me at least was the most complete match of the night.
PCW’s next show Spring Slam takes place on Friday March 30th and tickets are available now. I urge anybody in the vicinity to give it a try.
This article was written by Chris Pilkingon.