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"Revival" - 10 Year Anniversary


Big Benny HG
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Indeed, this week marks a full decade since the 2,000 fans hit Crystal Palace in South London for what was supposed to be an event which revolutionised British wrestling. While that might not have happened to the extent which was possibly envisaged by some, and it is a line often repeated about BritWres projects in the 10 years since then, the show was widely regarded as excellent and kick-started the peak era for the FWA.

 

Promoted on the back of Tommy Boyd's weekly wrestling show on TalkSport, 'Revival' was never presented outwardly as an "FWA show" (the advertising on the posters showed it to be a Supreme Wrestling Alliance Tour card), though it was the same brains behind the operation, most of the same roster and is retrospectively remembered by many as such. This was the event that featured the King of England Cup tournament, brought in Eddie Guerrero and Granmasta Sexay, and even featured a surprise appearance from a wheelchair-bound Dynamite Kid at the conclusion, as he awarded Cup winner Jody Fleisch with his, erm, medal.

 

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I personally have very fond memories of the event. I had previously known British wrestling as the pantomime stuff in ancient rings in town halls, with either fat old guys in swimming trucks shouting at kids or guys dressed up as second-rate WWF superstars. Through the TalkSport radio show, I was just starting to take a real interest in British wrestling for the first time. I had worked my way through some FWA video tapes (the first 3 volumes of their 'original' TV series, which did in fact air on local Portsmouth and Southampton cable TV stations) and had liked what I'd seen. This was therefore the first 'modern era' British wrestling show I thought was worth taking my chances on and travelling all the way down from the North-east specifically to see, since it sounded like a bigger deal.

 

The show itself was excellent:

 

February 9 2002, FWA/SWAT Revival, Crystal Palace Indoor Arena

Brian Christopher beat Guy Thunder

 

Drew McDonald pinned Robbie Brookside – King of England qualifier

 

Eddie Guerrero beat Scott Parker – King of England qualifier

 

Doug Williams defeated Flash Barker – King of England qualifier

 

Jody Fleisch downed Jonny Storm – King of England qualifier

 

Nikita beat Lexie Fyfe

 

Doug Williams pinned Eddie Guerrero – King of England semi-final

 

Jody Fleisch upended Drew McDonald – King of England semi-final

 

Alex Shane beat Scott Parker

 

Ulf Herman pinned Brian Christopher

 

Jody Fleisch defeated Doug Williams to win the King of England Tournament

 

Williams vs. Guerrero was a classic technical wrestling match which was a joy to behold. Storm vs. Fleisch was a jaw-dropping high-slying, stunt-based match the likes of which I had never experienced before. Shane vs. Parker was a building-wide brawl (including balcony dives) that I thoroughly enjoyed. Williams vs. Fleisch was a superb way to end the night by showcasing what the new generation of British wrestling was all about. The whole show totally blew me away and exceeded all of my expectations.

 

It was my experience at this event which actually caused me to start travelling to other 'bigger' British shows on a regular basis, such as GWF in Preston that July, NEW in Ipswich the following week, FWA "British Uprising" that October and then every FWA event I could from that December onwards. It was also "Revival" that got me to finally sign up to the UKFF a couple of weeks later in order to follow things closer (taking a user name based on my old Dreamcast online gaming tag)

 

It has to be said that "Revival" was also my first experience of the ticketing and seating chaos which would become a British wrestling signature for the next decade. I first ordered my ticket as soon as the show was announced, gave my details, etc, and was told to pay by cheque (this was 2002, remember. How quaint). So, I sent off my check the next day... and waited.... and waited... and waited... and nothing happened. I checked my bank and it hadn't been cashed, and I obviously received no ticket. Hmmm. I tried ringing the ticket number to see what was happening and they were not very much help at all, so I presumed by cheque had been lost in the post. So, when it was announced on the radio show they were close to selling out, I sent off for another one. Guess what? Yep, turned out they were holding onto the cheques to cash them all at once... and I had bought double tickets (which I then needed to try and flog... unsuccessfully). D'oh.

 

Also, all tickets were the same price and seating in the entire arena was on a first-come-first-served basis. I was determined that, if I was travelling all that way for a show, I was going to be front row. So, unfamiliar with the area, I turned up at Crystal Palace fooking ages before the doors were supposed to open. In order to get ahead of everyone else, I actually bought a ticket to some kind of national swimming gala that was going on that day (couple of quid) so that I could be inside the building. When filling time inside the complex, I managed to catch them setting up for the show which, at the time, was absolutely fascinating for me. I was also completely star-struck when I met Alex Shane for the first time near the canteen, recognising him from my TV screen on those FWA tapes and his voice from the radio show. We had a brief chat and he was remarkably friendly. I was amazed at his enthusiasm, and even got him to sign my "spare" ticket, which I still have in my loft to this day:

 

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I was pleased my plan seemed to have worked when I noticed the massive queue outside the building close to opening time, stood freezing to death in the February wind and rain. I checked with Palace staff that I'd be able to just go straight in when doors opened, since I'd already got tickets to both events there that day, and they agreed. So, when the doors opened for the wrestling, staff guided me downstairs and I took up a front row seat. There were 4 seats on the row each with a "Reserved" sign on them, so I sat further along. The place filled up and I got chatting next to the lads next to me. I remember we were speculating as to whether Christopher Daniels could be there, since he's appeared on an FWA event the week prior. About 5 minutes before the show started (with a Q&A, I remember), wrestling staff came along and told us that "erm, sorry, we actually need the entire row for guests", and we would have to move. Yeah, thanks for that. The place was packed by then, but luckily I managed to find a single seat on the third row. Hours and hours milling around at a swimming gala inside Crystal Palace for a third row seat...

 

Still, the disappointments of the day were soon forgotten by the time the show started which, like I said, was unlike anything I'd ever seen before.

 

A 2-hour (well, 90 minute) version of the show was even shown on national satellite/cable television, when it aired on Bravo the following month. I still have a copy on video tape somewhere, but I was really disappointed on how it came over. I seem to remember how they explained the TV version hadn't been put together by "wrestling" people and they would possibly try to do something with the footage later.

 

An event that really started my own interest in the British/independent scene (and my time on here) is 10 years old. I'm guessing there might be a few more members on here in the same boat who might wish to share their own memories of the day/show. The domestic wrestling scene could be said to be pretty much in the same state now as it was before 'Revival', but one could point to that being a defining show of that 'era', a one-off event on a scale which (with the exception of the International Showdown and Universal Uproar supershows, also Alex Shane projects) hasn't been repeated since.

Edited by Big Benny HG
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Listened to this on the radio and watched it on TV. Was a culture shock for someone who only knew British Wrestling through seeing Earthquake wrestle the British Bushwhacker at the Sunderland Empire, or those Live TV wrestling tapings featuring our very own Kenny McBride. Revival was a belter. I remember especially thinking Doug Williams and Jody Fleisch were as good as anything on the US Indy scene. Doug's promos have came on far better over the years. Remember him stopping mid sentance and doing the clich

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I remember listening to the Talksport show every week. That started my knowledge of everything outside WWE/WCW/ECW (I used to skip past those pages in WOW and all those mags. The hype they gave the FWA and guys like Jody Fleisch, Jonny Storm and Scott Parker made me really want to see the show but there was no way I could go to it back in the days before your parents let you travel alone so my usual Saturday Night tradition of sitting in the loft listening to the wrestling show on Talksport, playing with wrestling figures continued and that night the radio show was the live broadcast of revival.

 

I made sure to tape the Bravo version when it was on to finally get my first look at the guys hyped up so much on that show and still have my original tape version somewhere in the loft, but when I started trading DVDs rather than root through years of WWF TV recordings (B shows & all) I decided to just pick up another copy.

 

I've told Alex & Nikita since that they owe me

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It was only the second British Wrestling show I went to.

 

I loved it.

 

Got there about 3 hours before doors opened in order to take advantage of the unusual first come first serve seating, and we actually ran through the building to get to the seats. We were told to "fill up the back first" for some reason, which we ignored, going straight to the front row. But there was a massive gap between the railing and the seats, and kids just occupied that space with no one seeming to care, so we were hardly front row at all.

 

Great event.

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I remember reading about this show in one of the Bill Apter magazines, like World of Wrestling or something like that. I remember the article and the layout so vividly like it was yesterday. I used to study that article as I so wanted to be there, but without Sky or the internet, I couldn't simply watch it and it seemed really special.

 

It's funny but for me at least 2002 was the start of a new era for me in wrestling. That year a bunch of independent companies began in the wake of WCW and ECW (others like MCW failed quickly the year before), while WWE (as it was now) was desperately trying anything to fend off sliding ratings. In 2002, TNA and ROH both started up, and through the Apter mags I really got more into these smaller companies and it felt like my eyes were really opening to alternatives. So now ten years later, it's incredible that so much time has passed and now these anniversaries are coming up.

 

It makes me look back on that year with a great deal of fondness because so much happened and the gears were starting to move to shape the next couple of years in the industry. Places like 3PW, CZW and PWG would open up with similar models and using loads of new talent some of whom are major stars now on TV. I feel that now the last couple of years all blend together and I have to struggle to remember what happened in which year, but 2002 saw so, so much happen, whether in WWE or American and International indie companies.

Edited by dharmabear
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Yeah. Jerry Jarrett's TNA book is fun for little things like that. His diary of 2002 is pretty cool. It goes along these lines:

 

Thursday: The PPV company told us we need big name talent so I'm ringing around. Phoned Scott Steiner - he told us to fuck off. Phoned Sting - he told us to go whistle.

Friday: Scott Hall just got sacked, fingers crossed there. Emailed the Warrior, he said he'd get back to us.

Saturday: Warrior told us to fuck off.

Sunday: Yorkshire puddings

 

2002 was a year where everyone seemed to be picking themselves up of the canvas. The business was in a right state.

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Yeah. Jerry Jarrett's TNA book is fun for little things like that. His diary of 2002 is pretty cool. It goes along these lines:

 

Thursday: The PPV company told us we need big name talent so I'm ringing around. Phoned Scott Steiner - he told us to fuck off. Phoned Sting - he told us to go whistle.

Friday: Scott Hall just got sacked, fingers crossed there. Emailed the Warrior, he said he'd get back to us.

Saturday: Warrior told us to fuck off.

Sunday: Yorkshire puddings

 

2002 was a year where everyone seemed to be picking themselves up of the canvas. The business was in a right state.

 

 

It continues:

 

Monday: Our office guy phoned the cable companies. We got 100,000 buys. That's a trillion dollars a year.

Tuesday: Spent a fuckload today. Maxed out the cards. It's OK, once the PPV money comes in each week we can pay it off easy.

Wednesday: Turns out it was 10,000 not 100,000. We're fucked.

Thursday: Our office guy stopped coming in.

Friday: Our office guy turns out to be working for Vince.

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What a fantastic event. I didn't see it live, but I did watch it on Bravo and had already seen FWA live once previously. After that, I was hooked. Doug Williams and Jody Fleisch looked superb, and Alex Shane had more charisma than I'd imagined all British wrestlers combined would have. Eddie VS Doug and Doug VS Jody were absolutely cracking matches.

 

FWA done a superb job from this show onwards in putting together a tv-style product for their shows. Normally, it wouldn't work over here as each show is full of locals, but FWA managed to garner quite the cult following (so many guys from up north on bus trips) which allowed them to put on such a product. Their wrestlers captivated the crowd, the angles were as good as anything I've seen out of a major promotion and the matches delivered big time. Their roster was terrific and I looked forward to watching everyone. And the great thing was that everyone stood out individually in their own right. Alex Shane, Ulf Herman, Flash Barker, Jody Fleisch, Jonny Storm, Doug Williams, Zebra Kid, New Breed, UK Pitbulls, The Family, Hade Vansen- I was into them all. Didn't like Jack Xavier particularly though.

 

Edit: dharmabear, I'm totally with you on that. After the InVasion angle had finished and I'd bled the ECW library dry, I wanted alternatives to WWE. Fortunately, so did a lot of people now that WCW and ECW had gone. In 2002 as well as FWA, I got into ROH pretty much as soon as it began. I kept a close eye on TNA as well and watched now and then, some was good whilst most was horrific yet hilarious. But one good thing was that you didn't know who was going to turn up next week- the roster changed like the weather.

Edited by PunkStep
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Wasn't FWA on Bravo as well, I loved watching FWA on Bravo and got really into Burchill, even trying to create him as a CAW on the wrestling game of the time (either Shut Your Mouth or Here Comes The Pain, I think the former).

 

Nope, never on Bravo. I assume you're thinking of the Wrestling Channel show.

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It continues:

 

Monday: Our office guy phoned the cable companies. We got 100,000 buys. That's a trillion dollars a year.

Tuesday: Spent a fuckload today. Maxed out the cards. It's OK, once the PPV money comes in each week we can pay it off easy.

Wednesday: Turns out it was 10,000 not 100,000. We're fucked.

Thursday: Our office guy stopped coming in.

Friday: Our office guy turns out to be working for Vince.

Thats just TNA's luck that. When I read that, I did have a little chuckle. I just imagine Jerry Jarrett in a pannic phoning Jeff and Jeremy Borash saying "cancel the holiday, lads. We're up to our necks here".

 

Makes you wonder why they even believed the PPV guy. I remember everyone reporting at the time that there was no possible way they were getting enough buys to break even weekly. Strange to think, the Jarrett's and Borash and all them thought they were doing 100,000 buys. They still havent had that now, and might never get that amount.

Edited by The_BarbarIAN
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