The Week In British Wrestling: How Marty Scurll won & lost an NWA title
Main image of Big Damo, courtesy of Chris Goodfellow)
Here’s 5 things you need to know about British wrestling this week:
1) A Sort Of Homecoming Goes Gold.
He may be resident in Scotland but, as his nickname tells you, “The Beast of Belfast” Big Damo is very much an Ulster lad, and he celebrated a homecoming on Saturday night for Insane Championship Wrestling at the Mandela Hall in Belfast by claiming the ICW Heavyweight title from Chris Renfrew. Renfrew, who’s been having quite the time of it lately, had successfully defended his title on the first night of the Hey Look! It’s That Mad Wrestling Thing Aff The Telly tour, in Liverpool, against Drew Galloway, but fell to Big Damo (who had himself picked up a big win in Liverpool, against Doug Williams).
Damo went on to the third leg of the weekend’s tour, in Dublin on Sunday, and saw off the challenge of Jack Jester, and it’ll be a formidable foe that manages to uncrown Damian O’Connor.
In other news from the tour, Davey Boy kept his ICW Zero-G championship, despite challenges from BT Gunn, Kenny Williams, and Noam Dar (in a four-way), from Kid Fite, and from Marty Scurll, while the ICW Women’s title was also defended, in Liverpool, by Carmel Jacob, who beat Kay Lee Ray and Robbie Brookside’s daughter, Xia. The final ICW belt, the tag-team title, remains in the clutches of The 55, who beat The New Age Kliq team of Renfrew & Gunn in Dublin on Sunday night.
The tour resumes at the end of March, with dates in London, Cardiff, and Bournemouth, and given that this first leg included all of the above plus Zack Gibson, Grado, Wolfgang, Nathan Cruz, and Joe Coffey (who picked up three big wins), it’s safe to say the cards will be stacked. Before that, though, there’s another Friday Night Fight Club taping at the Garage, in Glasgow, on Sunday. You can see FNFC for free for the first 24 hours of it going up on ICW OnDemand, a subscription to which allows viewing of all the promotion’s shows, including the most recent from last weekend.
2) You Gotta Fight.
For a long time, the UK was outside the auspices of the National Wrestling Alliance. That wasn’t a deliberate decision on anyone’s behalf, it was just that Europe tended to march to its own wrestling beat in the time when the NWA was on the ascendant. In the mid-1990s, however, Andre Baker’s Hammerlock school and promotion became a part of the organisation, and saw one of its own – Gary Steele – become NWA World Heavyweight champion in the dying days of that actually meaning much at all.
Since that time, various promotions around the UK have affiliated to the NWA, and the latest of them – NWA: Fight Nation! – held their most recent show in Eastbourne at the weekend.
A young promotion, which holds shows in the seaside town of Weymouth as well as Eastbourne, Fight Nation! have built upon each card, progressing using talent from Andy Simmonz’s Portsmouth School of Wrestling (which also serves Revolution Pro-Wrestling well) alongside a sprinkling of the UK’s best known names. Saturday’s card was no exception, with James Castle & Simmonz himself joining former-NXT star Joel Redman, former-TNA wrestler Gunner, and former-ECW standout (himself a former NWA World Heavyweight champion) Shane Douglas.
The show was headlined by an NWA British Heavyweight championship match between Marty Scurll and Doug Williams with Scurll coming out on top to take the gold.
However, the fallout of the weekend saw an amicable split between the NWA and Fight Nation!, and Scurll’s championship has been transformed into the FNW title, to be defended on subsequent shows. While it’s sad that the NWA name no longer has a home in the UK (at least for now), Fight Nation! have promised to keep on bringing quality professional wrestling to the Great British seaside, and with talent like Mark Haskins, the GZRS, and IPW:UK All-England champion Sammy Smooth on board, things look sunny down on the south coast.
3) VII Is A Very Lucky Number.
Tucked out of the way near the border between England and Wales, but easily accessible via the M54, is Shropshire. This unassuming county is the home to VII-Pro Wrestling – I assume named for the river that flows through the county (I should ask) – who run shows in Shrewsbury and the Dawley suburb of Telford. The company erupted out of the ashes of the Shropshire Wrestling Association in the summer of 2015 (the SWA still run academy shows) and have found their niche presenting smart but family-friendly events, featuring the best of the young talent emerging in the West Midlands and South Wales.
On Friday, VII-Pro presented A New Genesis, which sadly had nothing to do with the reformation of Phil Collins, Peter Gabriel & Mike Rutherford, and everything to do with a clash at the top of the card between VII-Pro champion Ryan Smile and US invader Chris Dickinson. Smile, working well as a babyface here when he’s so successful as a heel elsewhere, took the match, and the applause of his challenger, after a hard-fought victory which included a balcony dive.
Smile’s belt wasn’t the only one defended on the show – Chris Brookes put up his British Lions championship against Mark Andrews, and the TNA man came up just short of taking the Calamari Catch’s title.
(Image of Dahlia Black by Oli Sandler)
Elsewhere on the show, Damian Dunne issued an open challenge, which was answered by TK Cooper, and the Kiwi guest took the win to leave the egotistical Dunne with egg on his face. The show also featured Mike Bird, Wild Boar, “Flash” Morgan Webster, Jinny, and Dahlia Black, and will be available on DVD in the near-future. In the meantime, VII-Pro return to Shrewsbury on March 11th, for the latest instalment of VII-Pro Underground. If you like a fun show that doesn’t insult your intelligence, this might be the one for you.
4) Tidal Experience An Unwelcome Undercurrent.
Just when you think someone has cracked wrestling in the tricky northern city of Leeds, things go all pear-shaped and a spanner gets thrown into the works. Having promoted successful monthly shows at the University of Leeds Student Union building, Tidal Championship Wrestling gave notice that April’s event will be the last at the venue, and the company are searching for another suitable city centre venue to hold events.
After the closure of The Cockpit, a Leeds gig venue perfect for intimate wrestling action, and the withdrawal from the city of True Grit Wrestling who ran at the Pryzm nightclub, it’s a blow to the city’s resurgent scene, but one the promoters will be keen to parry.
There are still 2 shows left at the venue, however, and they also present Riptide there on Sunday evening, with a healthy crowd packing in to see a main event of The Proven versus The New Nation. It was the latter – made up of Alexander Henry and the heavily-bearded Jason Prime – who overcame the challenge of Caz Crash & Sam Wilder, and it closed out a show which opened with a bang as JD Boom (who works family shows as a Daniel Bryan tribute to earn his rent money) defeated the Ugandan Warrior Nsereko.
Also on the show, Liam Lazarus beat Chris Ridgway, with both men getting plaudits on the northern scene of late, and Tidal champion el Ligero beat high-flying Andrew Everett. NXT enhancement talent Leva “Blue Pants” Bates lost to Addy Starr as part of her extended tour of the UK, while arch-grappler Jack Gallagher also appeared, defending his Tidal Open Championship. Tidal return to Leeds for the penultimate show at this venue on March 13th, but hit Darlington 2 days earlier on March 11th for Spring Storm. Details – and tickets – are available on their Facebook page.
5) The Nights Are Getting Lighter & The Shows Keep Coming.
If it’s the Rose Club in Hindley, on the outskirts of Wigan, then it must be Grand-Pro Wrestling. They opened their doors on Friday night for Bad Blood, which has given me a Taylor Swift earworm that Jimmy Havoc would kill for. The show was headlined by a Grand-Pro British championship match between Bubblegum and challenger Chris Ridgeway, with the champion coming out on top and cutting an emotionally-charged promo in the ring afterwards.
Earlier in the show, Grand-Pro Tag-Team champions The Midnight Bin Collection (and I challenge you to find me a better tag-team name that that) were dethroned by The Hate League, and Grand-Pro Heavyweight champion T-Bone lost to Dylan Roberts by DQ, but held onto his title. The show also featured Ashton Smith, Jack Gallagher, and Martin Kirby, and will be available soon via Grand-Pro’s Vimeo channel. They return to Hindley on April 1st for Only The Strong Survive.
(Image of Nikki Storm by Oli Sandler)
The XWA formed out of the ashes of the FWA to run shows in Morecambe under the auspices of former-FWA on-screen personality Greg Lambert. The Morecambe promotion has since transformed into Alpha-Omega Wrestling (still with Lambert’s involvement) but the XWA name was transferred – lock, stock, and smoking barrel – to East Anglia, where Dann Read runs events in Colchester and Sudbury.
With the promotion’s champion – Big Damo – busy elsewhere, Sunday’s Goldrush show was set up to find a new number one contender to that title, and in the eponymous main event rumble it was The Lion Kid who emerged with that honor. Also on the show, Lord Gideon Grey issued an open challenge, which was answered by the huge Bulk in what turned out to be a literal squash match, and Rhia O’Reilly defended her Pro-Wrestling EVE title against Nikki Storm, coming up short and resulting in a new champion for that promotion.
Also on the show were Doug Williams, Nick Aldis, Pollyanna, Jody Fleisch, Jonny Storm, and man of the hour Will Ospreay, who narrowly lost out to XWA Frontier Sports champion Danny Blaze. The XWA packed 700 fans into Colchester’s Charter Hall for the show – definitely something to keep an eye on if you’re out east.
As well as the southern-based Bellatrix, Empress Pro-Wrestling, and Pro-Wrestling EVE, the British women’s scene is well-served in Scotland by Fierce Females, a Glasgow-based promotion formed in 2012. On Friday night, at the Walkabout in Glasgow, they held The IT Girls, a tournament to crown their first Fierce Females Internet Champion. Four quarter-finals came down to a four-way for the title, and it was Dannii Hunter who overcame Nikki Storm, Lana Austin, and Sammi Jayne to lift the title. The Owens Twins were in action, losing in the tournament first round, and also picking up wins on the show were Courtney and Debbie Sharp.
Fierce Females return on April 3rd at St Luke’s, in the Calton suburb of Glasgow, and you can see past shows on their YouTube page.
Bonus Number 6) Ireland’s a part of the British Isles, so…
Although the Irish wrestling scene isn’t strictly part of my remit, it would be remiss of me not to mention Over The Top Wrestling’s Ah Ted event, at the Tivoli Theatre in Dublin on Saturday night. Headlined by an electric three-way between Will Ospreay, Ryan Smile, and OTT No Limits champion Pete Dunne, the show drew a great crowd to witness guests from TV’s Father Ted, and a card stacked with the best of Ireland’s pro-wrestling scene. It’s available on Vimeo, and comes very well recommended!