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Big Benny HG

2014 UKFF UK50 - Results Thread

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Kirby sux.

Well, he doesn't, but I'm purposefully leaving this bit at the moment, as I'm hoping to get to see some of his best Southside stuff from the year on DVD in the next few days, so will likely have more stuff to say.

 

 

Honestly his work against Ligero and Kay Lee Ray has been some of his best work to date. Eligible for next years UKFF50 his singles Speed King title match against Kay Lee Ray was my favourite UK match of 2014.

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It's my second favourite of the year too (after the Progress 8-man tag, which live Benny said was his favourite UK match ever)

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It's my second favourite of the year too (after the Progress 8-man tag, which live Benny said was his favourite UK match ever)

Favourite all-UK, yes. That also fell outside the eligibility period, but will be getting my BMOTY vote in whatever polls I come across.

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Loved Kirby's match against Kay Lee Ray it was brilliant. Equally so was his HOPE match against Paul Malen where he came to the ring suffering with man flu. He was accompanied by a duvet, snot rag and a note from Mother Kirby. Brilliant stuff.

Things like that make him one of Britain's top talents.

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~~WARNING! SHITARSE ALERT!~~

 

Disclaimer: the comments, opinions and stories contained below have been provided by the nominating members of the UK Fan Forum and should not be taken in any way as a reflection of my own personal views which, if applicable, are clearly indicated.

 

Battle Squad Awesome

 

A special double-shitarse entry, as every nomination received for these guys was as a shitarse tag team.

 

BattleSquadAwful.jpg

 

Battle Squad Awesome comprise 'Diamond' Dave Andrews and 'Adrenaline' Danny Chase and can mainly be seen around the East Midlands in promotions such as House of Pain and HOP:E.  I am fairly certain, however, that everyone who nominated them did so on the basis of their one-off appearance in Preston City Wrestling back in February.  Let me give you the background...

 

As part of PCW's 'Road to Glory' weekend in February 2014, PCW ran an open competition for British tag teams to come in and face the champions T-Bone and Rampage Brown.  IN the weeks leading up to the show, teams were invited to film and submit videos to the PCW Facebook page, setting out who they were, what they were about and why they should appear in PCW.  PCW fans would then indicate which of the teams they wanted to see actually appear on the show by 'liking' the various entries.  Whichever video got the most 'likes' would see that team appear on the show.  The competition was going well, with videos submitted from the likes of The Hench Men, The Magnums, the Nattrass Boys, Team PAID and more, with fans discussing who they wanted to see.  It actually gained quite a bit of interest, from fans enjoying the chance to actually have somewhat of a say in what they wanted to see on the show itself.

 

What happened next, however, was that British wrestling personality Harvey Dale (as seen this year on 'Come Dine With Me') submitted an entry on behalf of Battle Squad Awesome, and then took the time to go and tag every single member of his Facebook friends list over the course of a few dozen 'comments', the vast majority of whom had no interest in wrestling, begging them to 'like' the video.  They did, and Andrews & Chase won the contest by a landslide, despite no-one who would actually see the eventual match wanting to see them.

 

Dale.jpg

 

So what, started as a fun thing for PCW fans to choose what they wanted to see actually ended up being won by a team that no-one there had actually voted for, in a match that no-one actually wanted to see.  What's worse, the 'winning' team came jumping out looking like the biggest pair of geeks going: skinny guys in kick-pads, one in Iron Man-themed gear and the other in Captain America pants, with dumb looks on their faces looking like they had no idea what they were getting themselves into.  Dale himself appeared on the night as the team's ringside manager.  PCW tends to use the very best from around the UK, who look the part, in decent guy and full of personality.  That's what their fans expect, and then these two came out:

 

Chase.jpgandrews.png

 

It started with people laughing at them, then booing them, then wanting to see them get killed.  Their opponents Rampage & T-Bone were in the middle of a red-hot run of shows as mega-heels, getting into confrontations with the audience etc. but this single match reversed all that and actually had the top bad guys being cheered on for battering these lads.  They just did a quick squash match, and that was that, making what was once an interesting and cool competition in which people were actually genuinely interested into a complete waste of time for everyone involved.  Battle Squad Awesome were never seen or heard from again, apart from when PCW fans reminisce about the very worst they've seen.  Indeed, in PCW lore Battle Squad Awesome are now mentioned in the same breath as Leah Von Dutch vs. Addy Starr, Valkabious vs. Shaun 'The Hammer' Davis and the Pro Wrestling EVE afternoon show.  If you don't know what that means, it means very very very bad...

 

Dave Andrews and Danny Chase - you have been nominated for the Shit List.

 

UKFF says:

"Just that one match at PCW vs Team Single equals shite (just look like two lads who had turned up for a bit of work experience)"

 

"They turned something quite fun into a massive waste of time.  No-one wanted to see them i the first place, and they looked shite when they did win"

 

"it's cheating a bit putting them in as a tag team, but they just about weigh the same as a regular sized person so that's my excuse"

 

"Exposed as being way over their heads in PCW when given an opportunity showing that getting all of your friends to like a video isn't the way to success. They could be amazing elsewhere, but first impressions are hard to shake off..."

 

"Only one I can think of who deserve it and hopefully the winners, Battlesquad Awful. Their shitty manager can also have a vote if it counts"

 

"Shit Squad Shit"

 

Benny says:

Probably a bit harsh to judge people on a single match, but the saying goes you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and these guys managed to stir up a shit load of bad feeling while looking rotten in the process.  I'd never seen 'Diamond' Dave Andrews before this one match, but had seen 'Adrenaline' years earlier in the relaunched FWA and in FutureShock, in both of which he looked the absolute shits.  I think I voted for him as Worst British Wrestler in the UKFF year-end awards that year, when that category still existed.  Probably fair to say this one, quick squash match was no way to judge if he had actually improved form the in-ring side of things since that time, so I'll keep an open mind as to whether, in a different environment, these guys are actually any good.

 

Credit for photos to Gordon Harris & Tony Knox

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No. 3 – Mark Andrews
Twitter: @MandrewsTNA
Entrance theme: 'Last Words' - Ice Nine Kills 
Did anyone vote him No. 1 in 2014? Yeah, buddy.


UKFF UK50 history:
34th in 2013... 26th in 2012... 26th in 2011.

Regular promotions during period:
PROGRESS Wrestling in London... ATTACK! Wrestling in Cardiff, Bristol & Birmingham... Triple-X Wrestling in Coventry... Southside Wrestling Entertainment in Hertfordshire & East Midlands... Pro Wrestling Kingdom in Birmingham... Fight Club:Pro in Wolverhampton
 

Mandrews.jpg

Photo credit - Gordon Harris & Preston City Wrestling

 

Beat Jonathan Windsor to advance to the final of PROGRESS’ Natural Progression Series, then defeated Paul Robinson at ‘Chapter Ten’ to win the tournament.  Earning a PROGRESS Title shot as a result, chose to redeem that reward that same night, challenging and then defeating Rampage Brown in an impromptu bout to lift the championship.  The fell-good moment was short-lived, however, as he was immediately set upon by Jimmy Havoc and the London Riots, with Jimmy then taking up his own apparent guaranteed title match there and then to bring Mandrews’ reign to a quick end... Chance at revenge on Havoc came in the Ladder match main event of ‘Chapter Thirteen’ in May, but not before Andrews & Eddie Dennis (as F.S.U. – Friends Stand United... or F**k S**t Up) won the tournament to become the first ever PROGRESS Tag Team Champions.  Failed to regain the singles title in the Ladder match when Paul Robinson joined Havoc’s ranks, but F.S.U. did manage to retain their Tag, erm, Shield in handing the Riots their first ever PROGRESS pinfall loss in July... Contested Southside singles matches with Mark Haskins, Rich Swann, Tommy End and AR Fox, then reprised his rivalry with 2013 PROGRESS opponent Will Ospreay...

Won a 4-way at Triple-X’s July 2013 show, then beat Tyler Bate a month later at the promotion’s rebirth as a ‘nightclub’ show. Found himself the focus of unwanted invader Flash Morgan Webster, with Mandrews’ loss to the Mod in their eventual January contest meaning Webster officially received a Triple-X contract... Enjoyed multiple reigns with ATTACK! Wrestling’s 24/7 championship, mixing it up with Pete Dunne, Damien Dunne, The Hunter Brothers, Nixon Newell and more... Forms the tag team ‘Flips n’ Forearms’ with Pete to compete in ATTACK!, Fight Club: Pro, Tidal and others... Arrived in Preston City Wrestling as a surprise at the ‘Supershow 4’ weekend in May, battling Kris Travis in a singles match on Night One and in a 3-way with added Bubblegum the following night.  Returned for another 3-way with ‘Gum over the summer, this time with former TNA and ROH World Champion Austin Aries joining them as an unadvertised surprise... Made fleeting appearances in ICW, HXC and NGW... Joined Pete Dunne for a 3-month autumn tour of Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey independent promotions, then the pair returned with Damien Dunne a year later to participate in Chikara’s big ‘King of Trios’ tournament weekend... After the end of this year’s eligibility period, took part in TNA’s ‘British Bootcamp 2’ series, facing Kris Travis at the York Hall showcase in August and DJZ back in the States in September before being officially announced as the winner of the entire process, thus receiving a TNA contract, on Challenge TV in December...

 

Mandrews3.jpg

Photo credit - Grae Davidson (Y2Grae Photography) & Triple-X Wrestling

 

UKFF says:
"A really big year for Andrews, making his debut for Southside, Fight Club and Rev Pro and impressing greatly in all of them. Best matches were Will Ospreay, Rich Swann and Tommy End in Southside plus The Kartel and Marty Scurll in Rev Pro"

 

"Improves with every match I see him in"

 

"Andrews has the ability to get a crowd emotionally invested in him. Looking at Mark Andrews maybe you won't see much but his heart and ability has resulted in him being perhaps an unlikely Progress Champion and Challenger the fans really want to see Andrews win a relationship that isn't easy to develop. Andrews doesn't have to do much to get a reaction but that doesn't stop him giving 100% everytime he steps in the ring"

 

"If Pac is 'the man that gravity forgot' then Mandrews is 'the man that anti-gravity remembered', plenty a time I've though the stuff he can do isn't possible, yet he manages to pull it off, world class cruiserweight"

 

"UK wrestling is lucky to have Mark Andrews, and it seems like most of the promoters in the UK agree. For me Mark's the poster boy of the resurgence British wrestling is seeing at the moment. Talented, likeable, and genuinely cool"

 

"Another massively improved guy this year. His technical wrestling is vastly underrated, and in his match against Paul Robinson at PROGRESS the two high flyers put on a clinic for the early part of the match. His promo work has really come on too"

 

"The most over guy at progress bar jim smallman thanks to his amazing matches with paul robinson(chapter 10 and 11), will ospreay (chapter 11) and his ladder match with jimmy havoc (chapter 13) has him deserving high spot for me"

 

"Mandrews is a delight to watch in the ring, his matches in Progress and RPW are high octane and his teaming with Eddie Dennis only adds to his standing"

 

"best high flyer in the country and that's mainly because he isn't just an aerial artist. Mandrews can do it all, he hadn't had a bad match at all this year from what I've seen and he's become quite the tag expect as well as a singles guy"

 

""White Lightning" is one of my newest favourites, having first seen him wrestle when I paid a mere £8 to watch him wrestle Brian Kendrick in Wolverhampton last year. There are dozens of guys that work a high-flying style but don't really know how to time their shit properly, but Andrews just "gets it" - he knows what to do and when to maximize the effect. It's a shame TNA is going down the shitter, because he'd have been a great fit for the X Division."

Benny says:
If anyone has improved the most in British wrestling over the last 6 years or so, it simply has to be Mark Andrews.  I first saw this guy years ago as the masked Lightning Kid when he was, to put it bluntly, the absolute sh*ts.  After ditching the mask I watched in over the years in Triple-X where he started to look better and better, then by the time he was having singles matches with Jonathan Gresham and Zack Sabre Jr. in 2012-2013 it was clear that he was something a bit special.  These days, there is no doubt in my mind that he is one of the best we have.  Smooth, slick in ring movement, perfect timing, jaw-dropping aerials, a friendly, laid-back nature and likeable natural charisma make him the perfect pro wrestling babyface.  His story in PROGRESS, where he rose through the ranks from likeable high-flyer to champion, only to have it snatched away, was fantastic and established him as a credible headline act.  His F.S.U. tag team with Eddie Dennis brings infectious energy making it impossible not to be drawn into everything they do.

 

His winning of ‘British Bootcamp’ became the worst-kept secret in wrestling when he was pulled from PCW's recent ROH weekend, but he does deserve the success he has gained.  UK promoters are keen to let everyone know that he will still regularly be seen on these shores between TNA commitments (given TNA’s penchant for taping months of TV in a few days and lack of house show circuit, TNA wrestlers have more available time than ever) which I see as a great thing – despite 2013/4 being a period where he has branched out and had more eyes on him than ever before, there are still so many fantastic potential matches out there for him  it would be a shame if he wasn’t able to continue expanding have having more and more great matches with more and more opponents.

 

mandrews2.jpg

Photo credit - 'Big' Rob Brazier (Rob Brazier Photography) & PROGRESS Wrestling

Edited by Big Benny HG

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~~WARNING! SHITARSE ALERT!~~

Disclaimer: the comments, opinions and stories contained below have been provided by the nominating members of the UK Fan Forum and should not be taken in any way as a reflection of my own personal views which, if applicable, are clearly indicated.

Shitarse Round-up

 

A disappointing response to the invitation to nominate people for the Shit List this year.  Indeed, only Ozzy St. Vaio, Dave Andrews and Danny Chase were actually nominated by more than a few people, or had sufficient supporting comments/stories to do a write-up.  So, I just thought I'd summarise and share a few more that were nominated by at least one UKFFer this year (toegther with the nominating person's reasons), without officially including them in the 'Shit List'...

 

TJ Sky

 

TJSky.jpg

 

"Guy who has more sets of gear than he's had matches. Sets out his tank tops and photos on the merch table when he's only in for the rumble. No concept of story telling. Just doing moves for the sake of doing moves. Uploads insufferable selfies pulling moronic faces whilst travelling to shows seemingly for no reason than making sure people know he's doing a show that day. Got a public dressing down from someone sure to be in the top five of the good list for a Facebook melt down over not getting booked somewhere. I hate the word "Strawb" but if it was in the dictionary, this guy would be the definition"

 

Bonus: here's TJ Sky vs. Ozzy St Vio in a Ladder Match from PWA:UK this year.

 

********************

 

Angel Of Death Tony

 

angelofdeathtony.png

 

No, not Tony "The Angel of Death" [someone], or "The Angel of Death" [enter cool-sounding demonic gimmick name], but simply straight-up Angel-of-Death-Tony.  "Blue Banana-ish goth gimmick with probably the worst gimmick name ever. Of course he has no gear"

 

********************

 

Nadia Sapphire

 

nadia.jpg

 

"4FW trainee with a sort-of Blackpool hen night look. Cannot make anyone look good. Takes a headscissors by doing a slow forwards roll. Constantly retweets praise about herself"

 

**********************

Lana Austin

 

lana.jpg

 

"Being friends with everyone in the UK wrestling business doesn't make you a good wrestler, and wrestling the same person over and over again still doesn't make you any better. Very unsafe, 'tries and fails' most of the time, and absolutely no charisma or mic skills. Inspirational facebook statuses don't count as promos"

 

*******************

Evan Sarven

 

sarven.jpg

 

"Terrible, lazy wrestler, even worse booker. He was that desperate to book himself onto his show and ran out of heel opponents, so he booked a face/face match with noooo reason behind it whatsoever. he failed to book a Blue Eye match and instead booked a Cross Eyed match"

 

**************

'The Japanese Sensation' Pyro

 

Pyro.jpg

 

"so he's the head trainer at BWP, he's a poster boy for the promotion. yet all he's done is win the BWP Rookie's division championship. way to go! Head Trainer! you train the future of the company yet you're no better than the rookies themselves, HA! all that aside he's not that good a wrestler let alone a trainer"

 

***********************

Also receiving a single nomination from someone for the Shit List were Grado, Noam Dar, Chris Brookes, Loco Mike Mason/El Perro Loco, Babyface Pitbull, Sparx, Mad Dog Maxx, Muzlem, Joe Vega, Val Kabious, Ricky J McKenzie and AJ Anderson...

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No. 2 – Kris Travis
Twitter: @RealKrisTravis
Entrance theme: ’99 Quite Bitter Things’ - CKY
Did anyone vote him No. 1 in 2014? Ooooooo Yeeeaahh.


UKFF UK50 history:
3rd in 2013... 4th in 2012... 11th in 2011... 6th in 2010... 11th in 2009... 19th in 2008.

Regular promotions during period:
Preston City Wrestling in Preston... Southside Wrestling Entertainment in the East Midlands & Hertfordshire... House of Pain: Evolution in Nottinghamshire... Revolution Pro Wrestling in the south-east... PROGRESS Wrestling in London... True Grit Wrestling in Leeds... Pro Wrestling Kingdom in Birmingham.

 

travis.jpg

Photo credit: Gordon Harris & Preston City Wrestling

 

 

For Travis’ goings-on with Martin Kirby as part of Project Ego, see Kirby’s own UKFF UK50 entry at #4 that I wrote to cover both.

Ended up the winner of PCW’s 6-way ‘Money in the Bank’ Ladder match at the promotion’s second anniversary event.  Tried to cash-in his contract midway through that evening’s main event Iron Man match, only to be intercepted by the meddling Joey Hayes, who made off with his briefcase.  Fell to Hayes in the main event at ‘Final Fight’, then officially relinquished ownership of the Money In The Bank briefcase to Hayes in another Ladder match at the ‘Fright Night’ Halloween special.  November saw him win a rematch over April opponent Kevin Steen and emerge victorious from his epic year-long trilogy with Chris Masters, before finally winning his feud over Hayes by beating him in a hair vs. hair bout to  headline the year-end ‘Festive Fury’ show... Beat Martin Kirby and Mike Bennett to reach the semi-finals of March’s ‘Road to Glory’ tournament before being eliminated by Dave Mastiff... Tore the roof down in defeat to Prince Devitt at ‘Who Dares Wins’, and failed to even the score in an even better rematch at the following month’s ‘Spring Slam’... Fought PCW newcomer Mark Andrews in 2 well-received matches over the ‘Supershow 4’ weekend, the latter also including Cruiserweight Champion Bubblegum, though a scheduled singles encounter with M.V.P. didn’t happen after the former WWE star was injured during their tag main event the previous evening...

Opponents in Southside, away from Kirby tag bouts, have included Sabu, Uhaa Nation (x2), Trent?, AR Fox and Tommaso Ciampa, the latter match being for Ciampa’s ROH Television Title... Was one of the cornerstones of the new HOP:E promotion, featuring on 7 of their first 9 shows and taking on the likes of Doug Williams, Jimmy Havoc, Jack Jester, Sam Wilder and more... Went to the final of True Grit Wrestling’s ‘TG Cup’ in June, beating Martin Kirby and Cyanide in the quarter- and semi-finals respectively.  Lost out to Rampage Brown later that night in a wild decider... Featured in solo bouts across Tidal Wrestling’s first UK tour, facing the likes of Marty Scurll and Dave Mastiff... Returned to Wigan’s GPW for the first time in years to beat Dylan Roberts, Voodoo and Jim Nastic in a 4-way to qualify for the 2013 ‘Crazy Cruiser 8’ tournament.  Lost to Zack Gibson in the opening round of the tourney itself... Also appeared in British Championship Wrestling (against Openweight Champion Noam Dar) Premier British Wrestling (against Ricochet), HXC (against Dutchman Tommy End), Leicester Championship Wrestling, IPW:UK, Revolution Pro Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Elite and New Generation Wrestling...

 

travis2.jpg

Photo credit - Tony Knox & True Grit Wrestling

 

UKFF says:
"No. 1 - This was a complete no-brainer. Of all the shows I've been to in the last 12 months, Trav has had the best matches. Whether he goes on last or not, his match is usually what sells me the ticket. Equally adept as face or heel, Trav is the guy on the domestic scene that I would must like to see given a chance to showcase his talent on a bigger stage."

 

"Impressive year for Travis. Continues to develop as a singles competitor when not tagging with Kirby. Now firmly a guy that brings that big match feel"

 

"only seen Trav in singles competition at PCW this year and mostly against imports. I'd like to see him branch out a bit more in singles"

 

"by far the best in the UK, standout matches and a great presence every time he steps foot in the ring"

 

"Project Ego or on his own - always quiality. His matches in PCW this year have been excellent especially against Devitt"

 

"Has top matches with everyone. If he was American he'd in the WWE having a series of 5000 with Dolph Ziggler. He can tailer his style from big men to cruiser weights and even the ladies"

 

"He's not really been on my radar until this year, if I'm honest, but he's very good, isn't he?"

 

"One of the most reliable workers in the UK. He had the best match with Prince Devitt of Devitt's entire UK tour before"

 

"The best singles wrestler in the UK and one half of the best tag teams in the UK. Always reliable to steal the show great matches with Devitt and Steen in PCW, The Young Bucks in Rev Pro and AR Fox & Ciampa in Southside"

 

Benny says:

Despite considering them both to be two of the absolute best wrestlers in the UK, I personally found Travis’ PCW feud with Joey Hayes really disappointing.  It just never seemed to live up to the potential you thought they could put on together.  Oh well.  Against other PCW opponents, though, Trav has continued to look absolutely world class.  His November ‘Supershow’ bouts with Kevin Steen and Chris Masters didn’t reach the levels of his awesome contests with those same opponents earlier in 2013, but still were excellent bouts in their own right.  From there, his spring clashes with Prince Devitt were without question PCW’s 2 best matches of 2014, and his spectacular ‘Supershow 4’ matches involving Mark Andrews and Bubblegum weren’t far behind either.

I also saw Travis as one of the standout performers on True Grit’s smashing June event, facing Kirby, Cyanide and rampage in fantastic tournament matches.  The final against Rampage was particularly brilliant, as they put together a thrilling and dramatic brawl.  His match in GPW with Zack Gibson was very good indeed, but could have been a match-of-the-year calibre effort had they not been rushed for time (Travis had to make an early exit to make a RevPro show the same night the other side of the Pennines) and I sincerely hope I get to see them go at it again one day...

... because not long after voting in this year’s UKFF UK50 came to a close, Travis revealed that he was battling stomach cancer that had necessitated surgery and an immediate step away from the ring (including pulling out of the TNA British Bootcamp series, in which he had been selected as one of the 6 finalists).  The outpouring of support from wrestlers, fans and promoters has been nothing short of incredible, with fund-raising efforts in the form of donations, merchandise and special shows all giving an indication of how well thought of Trav is within the British wrestling community.  Whether or not Kris will one day return to the ring is at this point unknown, but what is absolutely certain is his almost universal recognition as one of the very elite performers we have in this country, as evidenced by a fantastic body of work over the year and this thoroughly-deserved ranking.

 

Travis3.jpg

Photo credit - Gordon Harris & Preston City Wrestling

Edited by Big Benny HG

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No. 1 – Zack Sabre Jr.
Twitter: @zacksabrejr
Did anyone vote him No. 1 in 2014? They absolutely did.


UKFF UK50 history:
6th in 2013... 3rd in 2012... 2nd in 2011... 5th in 2010... 5th in 2009... 10th in 2008... 50th in 2007.

Regular promotions during period:
Pro Wrestling NOAH in Japan... Westside Xtreme Wrestling in Oberhausen (Germany)... Southside Wrestling Entertainment in Hertfordshire & East Midlands... IPW:UK in Kent... PROGRESS Wrestling in London... Revolution Pro Wrestling in the south-east... Premier Promotions on the south coast... Triple-X Wrestling in Coventry... Great Bear Promotions in Cheshire... WrestlingStore.co.uk in the south-east.

 

zack2.jpg

Photo credit - 'Big' Rob Brazier (Rob Brazier Photography) & PROGRESS Wrestling

Won his RevPro series with MK McKinnan by defeating him in a 3-fall contest at ‘Summer Sizzler 2013’.  Returned to the promotion to beat Davey Richards in an engrossing contest at the ‘Uprising’ Bethnal Green supershow.  Wrestled Doug Williams, Mark Haskins and El Ligero on the road with WrestleStore.co.uk, then fell to IWGP Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura in a featured attraction at RevPro’s June 2014 supershow... Beat Ricochet and Mark Haskins in a thrilling triple-threat at PROGRESS ‘Chapter Nine’, then headed up the road to beat Ricochet again in a tag bout the same night at IPW:UK’s Ninth Anniversary Show (with Marty Scurll and AR Fox as respective partners).  In a similar scenario, was defeated by former tag partner Jimmy Havoc in a PROGRESS Title tilt at ‘Chapter Eleven’ thanks to shenanigans from Havoc’s ‘Regression’ buddies, then immediately sped off to Coventry to beat Pete Dunne in the main event of Triple-X Wrestling’s ‘ClusterF**k III’... Next appearance in PROGRESS was a highly-anticipated bout with Prince Devitt at ‘Chapter Thirteen’.  Sabre lost, but tore the house down in the process... Other international stars to face Sabre in English rings this year have included Chris Hero (IPW:UK), PWG Champion Kyle O’Reilly (also IPW:UK) and ‘World Warrior’ Low-Ki (Triple-X)...

Tied-up with fellow Hammerlock graduate Danny Garnell and ex-ROH star John Walters in the classic environment of Premier Promotions, as well as beating Josh Faulkner and Stingray Stevenson in the same night to win their annual year-end Worthing Trophy... Took on Tommy End, Robbie X, Ricochet and Kenbai in singles matches for Southside... Appeared in Scotland for Elite, PBW and SWA in September 2013, facing Joe Coffey, Jackie Polo, Kenny Williams and Andy Wild with mixed results... Matches with Tipton-based youngster Chris Brookes in both Fight Club:Pro and Great Bear drew acclaim... Also managed to appear at Pro Wrestling Chaos (south-west), Future Pro Wrestling (London) and 4 Front Wrestling, the latter of which saw him go to a time-limit draw with Japanese independent star Fujita Hayato as part of 4FW’s hosting of the Michinoku Pro organisation...

Away from the UK, forms a regular tag team in NOAH with veteran Yoshinari ‘Ratboy’ Ogawa, with the pair competing in the annual summer junior heavyweight tag league, defeating NJPW team Jushin Liger & Tiger Mask for the GHC Junior-Heavyweight Tag Titles, then trading said championship with Atsushi Kotoge & Taiji Ishimori of the BRAVE stable... Over in Germany, went to the final of the wXw vs. CZW vs. BJW World Triangle League (losing out to Daisuke Sekimoto) and challenged Tommy End for the wXw Unified Title... Since the end of this year’s UKFF UK50 eligibility period, Sabre returned to the USA where he fought in EVOLVE and at PWG’s ‘Battle of Los Angeles’ tournament (arguably the biggest and most noted annual US independent wrestling tourney), and beat Marty Scurll, Dave Mastiff and Will Ospreay consecutively in a single night back home to win IPW:UK’s ‘Super 8’ tournament.

 

zack3.jpg

Photo credit - Grae Davidson (Y2Grae Photography) & Triple-X Wrestling

 

UKFF says:
"Easily the best the UK has to offer"

 

"Really establishing himself in NOAH and always a top performer when he is in the UK. 2 epic matches with Nakamura and Davey Richards for Rev Pro and a great match with Hayato at 4FW are his most memorable his highlights"

 

"More of an attraction this year than ever before, but still has the best match on the show whenever we're lucky enough to have him. His match with Davey Richards was one of the highlights of a fantastic RevPro show. I'm going to miss him when he goes to Japan full time"

 

"The flag bearer and standard for British wrestling right now. Another year where I've not seen him have a bad match. Always understands the crowd he is in front of. Never half arsed. Just untouchable right now"

 

"It's almost unbelievable that Zack could get any better, but somehow these recent tours of Japan have given him a real polish and imbued him with an incredible amount of fire and explosivity"

 

"Just the best wrestler in the world, period. His matches with Nakamura and Devitt showed he was their equal. Last November his triple threat with Haskins and Ricochet at PROGRESS is still one of the best matches I've ever seen, and his clash with Jimmy Havoc four months later had amazing drama and some incredible storytelling. I could watch him every day"

 

"whilst he has not been in any major storylines in the uk due to his Japanese commitments all the matches i have seen him in have been amazing most notably vs Nakamura (rev pro uprising), vs Devitt (progress chapter 13) and vs davey richards (Rev Pro Uprising 2013)"

 

"When he is on the card it makes it exciting"

 

"for me best in the country. Since coming back from japan with the tag strap he's been at a who different level"

 

"Put simply, Zack is still the best purveyor of the traditional British style but with the 21st Century twist. I expect him to be given a run with Noah's Junior belt within 18 months or so, and it's thoroughly deserved. The man simply never has a bad match"

Benny says:
It was a delight for me to see him come back to Triple-X Wrestling as the returning, home-grown world-conquering star, since it was arguably in that promotion years ago that he first started being talked about as being special, leading to his first break.  His main event matches there this year with Pete Dunne and Low-Ki were really strong.  I have to say, his IPW:UK singles match with Kyle O’Reilly bored me to tears when I was shown it on DVD, but that is definitely an exception.  His bouts against Ricochet & Mark Haskins (3-way, PROGRESS, September 2013), Davey Richards (RevPro, October 2013) and NJPW stars Prince Devitt (PROGRESS, May 2014) and Shinsuke Nakamura (RevPro, June 2014) were simply tremendous by any worldwide standard, all 4 right up there as genuine BMOTY candidates in their respective calendar years.  Another fun little match I personally saw him have was in the intimate setting of the ‘Resistance Gallery’, under the railway arches in Bethnal Green (I am not making this up), where he lost the IPW:UK All-England Title to ‘Wonderkid’ Jonny Storm as part of a Lucha vs. IPW show.

 

For me, a worthy winner of this process.  I love his stoic facial expressions and the way he draws you into a match with masterful control over timing and tempo.  The way he sells opponent’s offence is different to anything anyone else in the UK does (a very ‘Japanese’ performance), which makes him stand out yet also is more effective in engrossing you in the story of his match.  We might be losing more and more of him to his international tours, but there is no doubt that his bouts back on these shores have been both a treat and a pleasure.

 

zack.jpg

Photo credit - 'Big' Rob Brazier (Rob Brazier Photography) & PROGRESS Wrestling

Edited by Big Benny HG

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Ladies and gentlemen, your 2014 (and TENTH ANNUAL) UKFF UK50:

 

1. Zack Sabre Jr.

 

2. Kris Travis

3. Mark Andrews

4. Martin Kirby

5. El Ligero

6. Dave Mastiff

7. Rampage Brown

8. Jimmy Havoc

9. Grado

10. Will Ospreay

 

11. Noam Dar

12. Mark Haskins

13. Doug Williams

14. Bubblegum

15. Robbie X

16. Rob Lynch

17. Eddie Dennis

18. Jack Jester

19. James Davis

20. Pete Dunne

 

21. Damien Dunne

22. James Mason

23. Kay Lee Ray

24. Joe Coffey

25. T-Bone

26. Flash Morgan Webster

27. Joseph Conners

28. Tyler Bate

29. Stixx

30. Josh Bodom

 

31. Zack Gibson

32. Mad Man Manson

33. Dean Allmark

34. Lee Hunter

35. Paul Robinson

36. CJ Banks

37. Jim Diehard

38. Sha Samuels

39. Mikey Whiplash

40. Wild Boar

 

41. Dave Rayne

42. Joey Hayes

43. Jim Hunter

44. Cyanide

45. Ashton Smith

46. Liam Thomson

47. Jack Gallagher

48. Marty Scurll

49. Xander Cooper

50. Danny Hope

 

Thank you to everyone that contributed, nominated, voted or even read the project this year.  I apologise for the length of time it has taken to get the entries written up and posted, but didn't want to half-arse it for the sake of getting it out.  All in all, I think we've ended up with a pretty decent list.  There's a few I would have ranked higher, a few I would have ranked lower, but at the end of the day it's the combined opinions of the forum.

 

And with that, I'd like to announce my retirement from the annual running of the UKFF UK50.  I've been doing this for the last TEN YEARS now and it seems an appropriate point to step down.  It does become more and more difficult to find the time to do the project justice, but I was determined to take it through the full-decade mark, which I'm not ashamed to say is an achievement I'm proud of.  Heading along to live shows is one of the most fun things to do, and I was glad this project was able to reflect some of that sense of enjoyment we get from shows.  While people may mock the UKFF UK50 and put it down, I still don't see anywhere else over the last ten years where somewhere between 60 and 160 British wrestling fans (and the type who are more likely to see shows from around the country, so have a basis of comparison) who pay their money to see the matches , get together every year to state a collective view on the scene like this.  So, yes, thank you all for giving me something to work with.  I didn't necessarily enjoy that visit from the police or someone trying to get me sacked from work a few years ago about this thing, but I suppose it was memorable.

 

We've had Adrian Neville, Sheamus, Drew McIntyre and more feature over the years, and some British names you've probably forgotten.  Some were one-and-done, and there is one small group of wrestlers that have featured in every single one of the ten years.

 

If someone else wants to pick up the reins and run with this for 2015, I certainly don't mind and would be willing to help point someone in the right direction if they wanted.  If not, then at least we can say we took it through 10 years at a time when the British wrestling scene has transformed and grown beyond expectations.

 

So, yes, that's me done.  Thank you all very much, and enjoy reading.

 

Ben.

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Cheers Ben. Coming back to this stuff after time out, this list has been invaluable. I also know from so many uncompleted projects at RIM how hard it is to do even one, let alone ten!

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Please don't go! Please don't go! 

Man, that's a tough break Benny but I understand you wanting to give it up after ten freaking years. It's quite an undertaking. Honestly I'd be tempted to give it a go but I probably don't see enough shows outside of PROGRESS, PCW, Rev Pro and ICW - though maybe if I could enlist the help of some other BritWres stalwarts...

Thank you for doing this for ten years, whatever others say you've done a service to the community. 

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Thanks for doing this again BBHG, and thanks for all the previous ones as well. I remember when I was working at a shop in summer 2006, it was really quiet so I snuck on the computer to have a look at TWCF. There was a link to what must have been the 05/06 UK50, so I had a look. That was probably my first time reading this forum, and I'm still here, reading it each year - that's down to you.

 

It's been a fixture of my time here, really sorry to see you retire from it. Thanks again.

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Thanks for putting the effort in and doing such a good job of these. Really enjoyed reading these the past few years that I have gone to UK shows.

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