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10 years since... TWC International Showdown


Big Benny HG

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Yes, 19 March 2015 will mark a full decade since:

 

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To paint the picture, in March 2004, THE WRESTLING CHANNEL launched as a free-to-air service on digital satellite television here in the UK. Some bits of it were good, some bits of it were bad, but the main thing was that, all of a sudden, thousands of people all over the country had this greater awareness of wrestling outside of WWE. Groups like TNA, ROH, Pro Wrestling NOAH and 3PW now had an element of recognition amongst an audience greater than those into tape trading, and people like Mitsuharu Misawa, Samoe Joe, CM Punk, AJ Styles and Christopher Daniels were more well-known. It wasn’t massive mainstream awareness and recognition – this was still a niche interest – but it was still a huge step-up from before.

 

As for the domestic wrestling scene itself towards the end of 2004, the Frontier Wrestling Alliance was still the most popular with the ‘hardcore/internet/smarter’ fans, but had been losing some ground in their traditional south-east home to upstart spin-off groups inspired by FWA such as IPW:UK, LDN and SAS, who were seeing increasing success in also drawing a regular local audience too. On the back of their own TV series on The Wrestling Channel, FWA, headed by Alex Shane, had followed in the footsteps of the likes of UCW and WrestleXpress in attempting to run the Coventry SkyDome that November, drawing 1,800 punters. While in my opinion it would be silly to blame it on one specific thing, some do point directly to this moment as the beginning of the end of FWA.

 

So, as 2004 turned into 2005, we had the news that Shane was going to team up with The Wrestling Channel in another attempt to run the SkyDome. That’s right, TWC were going to be running their first very own ‘supershow’, based on the programming on their station and bringing in multiple international guests that would now have some name value with their viewership. This wasn’t like we have today, where Southside or PCW might bring in 4-5 imports every month. This was even before 1PW (which started later that same year, using a similar formula) who would bring in 8-10 guys each time. This was a time when FWA would run every 2-3 months, bringing in a maximum of 2 imports, usually either current US indie stars or former ECW names. The other difference was that the imports would actually be fighting the other imports, rather than some Andy Local like you would normally get when British promotions booked international talent. Indeed, this ‘International Showdown’ came over as a one-time opportunity to see genuine match-ups just like you could see each week on TWC in their home promotions. Sure, it didn’t build to anything or put anyone over for the ‘next show’, but from a fan’s point of view this was a one-off showcase card, based on legitimate existing rivalries, not part of a promotion you had to follow.

 

While at this point my young self was used to attending wrestling events up and down the country on nearly a monthly basis, it was still all very exciting. It came across as a massive occasion, and I was greatly looking forward to it. As I tended to do back then, I ordered my £50 front row tickets. As it would turn out, I then won an additional pair of tickets to the show in a raffle at an FWA show a few months before, but managed to sell them on and make some of my money back. Actually, that might have been 'Universal Uproar'. Can't remember.

 

Actually found my ticket. It wasn't £50, it was SEVENTY-FIVE pounds. JEEEESSUUUSSSS. If I had that kind of cash these days it wouldn't be going on fucking wrestling, that's for sure.

 

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Friday 18 March

 

My own ‘International Showdown’ experience actually started the night before, on Friday 18 March 2005, 175 miles away in Middlesbrough. You see, some of the international guest stars were hired out to other UK promotions in the days immediately before and after the main show itself (depending on their booked flights). It was a process that would be repeated later that same year for ‘Universal Uproar’ and 1PW’s debut show, with dudes hired out to 3CW, WZW, UCW, IPW:UK and more. It’s still a common practice today, with promotions splitting flight costs and sharing international guests over the course of, say, a weekend’s worth of multiple events.

 

So, the day before 'International Showdown' saw a BCW show up in Scotland with Mitsuharu Misawa & Yoshinari ‘Ratboy’ Ogawa vs. Doug Williams & Stevie Knight, as well as Wrestle Zone Wrestling's (yes, that was really the name) ‘Town Hall Brawl’ in Middlesbrough, yep, Town Hall, featuring Samoa Joe and Petey Williams. Being only half an hour up the road, it was the latter of the two that I would attend with my buddy Martin.

 

It was a bumper 8-match show which acted as WZW’s first ever ‘supershow’ (they would do further supershows in conjunction with the Universal Uproar and 1PW debut shows later in the same year). My mate Martin won a steel chair in the raffle, signed by every wrestler on the show. The main event was Samoa Joe vs. Iceman (during which Joe stole Martin’s newly won chair to use it for the Ole Ole Kick) in what I recall as a brilliant hard-hitting match in the same vein as Joe's matches with Necro Butcher. Shady Nattrass vs. Petey Williams was a decent match, and there was also Stevie Lynn vs. Anthony McIntyre in a TLC match, GTS vs. Tron, Full Pack vs. Alex Pain & Stevie Douglas, Lance Thunder vs. Spitfire in British Rules match, and a couple of other tag matches involving the likes of Carbon, Super Ted Taylor, more Nattrasses, AJ Anderson, Bomber Mills, John Britain & Juvenile.

 

I remember it as a really fun, enjoyable show. WZW were a decent north-east based promotion and I went to about half-a-dozen of their events between 2004 and 2005. They had decent production, with fancy entrance ways, good ring, lighting, smoke machines, guardrails etc. and, like FWA, they were one of the few UK promotions of the time to really have their own strong branding across their events. Like much north-east wrestling, some of the guys on their shows were the drizzling shits, but there were also some good talents like Stevie Lynn, Lance Thunder and Iain Robinson, who would also be involved in 3CW. Lynn would additionally do some stuff for FWA and 1PW over the next couple of years. Shady Natrass was good too, and is still involved in TTP/Target Wrestling in Carlisle, but never seemed to make it beyond this level. Carbon was a guy who showed absolute bag-loads of potential around that time and could have been a big star on these shores but, again, never seemed to go any further. He has actually started popping up again on ‘Tidal Wrestling’ events in Darlington, still looking decent after all these years.

 

Recording DVD commentary for the show, by the way, were a Teesside lad called Lee (more on him later) and the guy who would later become Mojo in WZW/3CW tag team Los Pervitos, then a few years later reinvented and finding greatest success as Prince Mohmed Ameen.

 

Saturday 19 March

 

As we had for FWA ‘British Uprising 3’ some 6 months earlier, Martin and I set off from North Yorkshire pretty damn early for the 3-hour drive down to Coventry. Both in our early 20s at the time, we were in a phase of, as well as travelling to see a variety of wrestling shows, using those shows as an excuse to go and party in different towns and cities across the country. Manchester, London, Morecambe, Grimsby, Cleethorpes, Sheffield or, as in this case, Coventry. I think it was fair to say we were probably looking forward as much to the night out as we were for the wrestling show.

 

Again just like the FWA show, as these things tended to, the day started with a FAN SLAM taking place at Jumpin’ Jak’s nightclub. Parking up in the SkyDome multi-storey, we had arrived not long before the doors to the FAN SLAM were supposed to open, so found ourselves in a big queue. The guy immediately behind us in the queue heard us talking, and it turned out he had come down from Northallerton, the tiny town that Martin and I both worked in at the time. Once inside, we also met Lee The Commentator from WZW who recognised me and Martin as the gobby ones in the front row from the night before. We got chatting, and would meet and chat with him numerous times at shows up and down the country over the next few months, going on to become friends that have since attended shows together all over the country. These days, Lee is ‘kind of a big deal’ in sports at whatever Sky News Radio is now called...

 

The main part of the FAN SLAM was the Q&A sessions with people like Mick Foley and CM Punk being interviewed by Bill Apter. I've never watched them back, but I remember a highlight being Punk’s story about the gimmick WWE wanted to give Heidenreich (Nazi soldier frozen in ice during the 1940s, then thawed in the 2000s, unaware of what had happened over the last 60 years. Also, some utter turd wearing ONE BLACK LEATHER FINGERLESS GLOVE trying to be a smart arse by asking him what his favourite alcoholic drink was. Even in those days, Punk reacted exactly like you would expect him to. Like the guy was wearing this weightlifting glove, and he actually went out in public dressed like that. As if he might happen to come across a weight-lifting emergency in the middle of the street where he might need ONE EXTRA HAND’S WORTH of grip strength. That's not what Punk said, by the way, just what we came up with. Kept us laughing for ages afterwards.

 

There was a Meet n' Greet with the international stars, though you can tell from the autograph page of my programme how long we stayed:

 

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I remember being interested in getting photos with/autographs from the Japanese guys (most of the others had already been here for shows before), but they weren't there so we headed off to the Menzies LeOfric hotel in the city centre to check-in, get changed and dump out bags. It turned out that the Japs did turn up in a bit, as people were later showing off their Misawa autographs to me. We, though, had a beer or two in the Shakespeare, a pub on Spon Street we discovered after Uprising, then headed over to show.

 

We were allowed in early for the Exclusive Premium Ticket Holders' Match. Should think so too. Seventy-five fucking quid. We also got a free event poster and a copy of the programme. I'm fairly certain that this was the show where the guys that were producing the FWA fanzine at the time had asked me to write one or two of the match previews for this (I was doing stuff for them in the 'Frontier News') and did so, but for whatever reason they hadn't used it and a different team had done it instead. Oh well. The first thing to strike me on entering the Dome again was that they were using the shitty little FWA ring. Yes, it was seen every week on FWA TV on the channel, and had used it on the last show here 6 months ago, but I couldn't believe that such a big event, with a big crowd, big hype and big attention would be using that piece of shit.

 

The bonus match saw Jack Xavier, Ross Jordan & Aviv Maayan beat Mark Sloan, Stevie Knight & Stixx. I remember absolutely nothing about it, but it reads like it should have been fun. It's on the DVD extras, anyway.

 

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When they did open the doors to the general public (i.e. those that had spent a more reasonable amount on tickets), it soon became clear that they'd done virtually a 3,500 sell-out. Or, put another way, almost DOUBLE the attendance FWA managed in the same building 6 months earlier.

 

While stood at the guardrail chatting to various familiar faces in the crowd, someone came up to me, very politely and asked if I knew where Block B was. Very sarcastically, I pointed to the 5ft 'BLOCK B' sign stood next to me and said "B". “Okay, smartarse”, he said. Yep, believe it or not I was a bit of a knob in those days...

.

Anyway, the full show itself is actually available to view for free on YouTube:

 

I haven't watched it for years (I do plan to shortly), but I remember it being superb. One drawback about running an arena this size was that the seats were miles away from the ring, and miles away from the barrier, to the point people kept rushing forwards and standing at the guardrail right in front of you. SEVENTY-FIVE POUNDS. Still, security did a fairly decent job in getting them away. One bloke, though, just casually sauntered up to the barrier in the middle of one match and just stayed there. When security failed to remove him, I did it myself. He didn't come back. Again, I was a bit of a knob...

 

We remembered the trick from 'British Uprising' that the floor (being an actual ice rink) was freezing cold, so stocked up on bottles of beer early doors to avoid the massive queues later on and kept them chilled beneath our seats. We also were glad of the opportunity to once again try one of those hollowed-out baguette hotdogs that I've STILL never seen anywhere but the SkyDome.

 

Petey Williams beat Chris Sabin & Spud & Jonny Storm in an action-packed 4-way.

 

Steve Grey bt Mal Sanders in a 'British Rules' match, since World of Sport was doing great ratings on TWC. I'd seen these guys doing ‘World of Sport’ guest matches on FWA shows in 2004 that had gone down really well. Thing was, that was in smaller halls with the majority of the audience a lot closer to what they were doing, able to pick up on the little movements and detail of the holds. It just didn’t translate to the big arena and instead played out in front of a deathly silent audience that started with polite applause, then got bored, went silent, and then restless and started with the ‘ironic’ chanting. Grey hit a crossbody for a 3-count about 4 rounds in. Like everyone else, Grey and Sanders looked like they thought it was the usual 2/3 falls and planned to keep going, but the music played them off. They laughed, shrugged their shoulders and got out of there.

 

Bill Apter came out to present Mick Foley with LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD. Yes, this was back when people still liked Mick Foley (though I get the idea it was maybe this show where people sgtarted to sour on him). Greg Lambert & Alex Shane came out instead, threatening Apter. Foley arrived, there was a bit of verbal, then Shane backed down.

 

Samoa Joe beat CM Punk. Seeing these two go at it in the tiny ring was something else. Both had done some stuff in this country before for FWA in both 2003 and 2004. Joe was a massive deal back then, with real star presence. This couldn't touch any of their ROH matches, but was in itself very good indeed. I'm fairly sure this match was given away on a free DVD with Fighting Spirit magazine a few years later, back in the days when that mag was shite.

 

Doug Williams, Too Cold Scorpio & James Tighe beat Mitsuharu Misawa, Yoshinari Ogawa & Tiger Emperor. Emperor was Kotaro Suzuki trying a new masked gimmick. Remember, this was back when NOAH was relevant and, realistically, the top Japanese group of the time. Williams & Scorpio were GHC Heavyweight Tag Champs, and would be until dropping them later in the year to Naomichi Marufuji and Minoru Suzuki in MORECAMBE, of all places. There really were NOAH Limits to where they'd appear... This was probably not a great NOAH ‘main event’-style match, but definitely a good house show/tour show bout.

 

Raven beat Alex Shane in a Raven's Rules Match. This was The Alex Shane Brawl TM. That’s no bad thing – he was terrific at it. He’d put together a formula for a tremendously entertaining match and would go back to it again and again. It was there for his matches with Scott Parker in 2001-2002. It was there for his tag feud against The Family in 2003-2004. It was there for his FutureShock (the new FWA-linked Manchester training school) and GPW matches against the likes of Damon Leigh and Declan O’Connor in 2004-2005. Start with wild brawl around the building. Get back in ring. Bump ref. Run-ins. Kick-out of finishers. Finish. He had that down to a tee, and it worked. During the crowd brawl, Raven knocked Shane off the balcony to the floor (read: gathering of trainees) some 15ft below. That was great. Back inside, the ref went down and Shane’s Security run in to beat Raven up. Based on what had happened earlier, Mick Foley returned to make the save with Mr Socko.

 

Christopher Daniels beat AJ Styles in the main event to retain the TNA X-Division Title. I remember this being superb, very much what I was into at the time. They'd had absolutely dozens of matches against each other, from tiny halls in IWA MId South to worldwide PPVs for TNA, but I recall this being one of their best. The crowd was pretty enthusiastic most of the night, but they were rocking for this one. Martin and I got into a bit of a flirty chant battle with two girls sat opposite us (we were cheering AJ, they liked the baddie), but we'd be damned if we could find them again afterwards...

 

And with that, the show was done. We didn't stick around among the hyuuuuuge crowds around the merchandise and autograph tables and instead headed straight out as the night was young. Obviously not wanting to take our freebies with us (and not wanting to trudge all the way back over to the hotel), I repeated my 'genius' idea from the FWA show of stashing my free event poster in a nearby hedge to come back for on the way home. Thinking about it now, we must have got our free programmes at the Meet n' Greet and already left at the hotel, since my copy is still in absolute pristine condition. Unlike my poster:

 

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Sunday 20 March

 

The party was still going. Just as they had at 'Uprising' most of the wrestlers ended up turning up in Jumpin' Jaks. I remember us trying to spy what CM Punk was drinking, to see of the straight edge thing was just gimmick. It wasn't - he was on the water. CHristopher Daniels wasn't, though - he was quite happily necking back the Smirnoff Ices people kept buying him, laughing his head off at a fat drunk dancing British guy thinking he had the moves. Punk looked absolutely horrified, like this lardy was the biggest dickhead in the world. We chatted with the FutureShock Wrestling guys and girls, since Martin and I were known vocal front row regulars during that promotion’s early days (when they didn’t have that many regulars...), then after kicking-out time we went for Fish & Chips from takeaway on Spon Street that I always seemed to run into Stevie Knight in.

 

As had been the case with the Friday, the day after the big event featured the international stars appearing on shows for IPW:UK in Orpington (Samoa Joe in a round-robin with Martin Stone and Spud, Super Dragon, El Generico and Stevie Douglas also featuring) and IWW in Dublin (Daniels and Styles doing a rematch, plus Chris Sabin). Raven stuck around on these shores for a couple of weeks and did further shows for FWA, IWW and 3CW. There might have been an MPW show in the then Tam O'Shanter Burns Club, just voer the road from the SkyDome, but I knew nothing about it at the time. Martin and I didn't do any shows that day, and instead headed home, reflecting on what had been a top-notch weekend.

 

The Aftermath

 

I seem to remember the 2-disc DVD of the show came out really quick, and then full show aired on TWC later that year. Commentary was done by Dean Ayass and IWW's Eamon Darcy, and it was a fairly impressive, polished production. Matches from BCW, IWW and FWA featuring some of the TWC guests were included, as was footage from the FAN SLAM. I've still got it:

 

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Scorpio's face on that back cover is a thing of beauty. I've seen original copies of this set fetch a pretty penny sometimes, though I'm not sure that'd be the case now it's on YouTube.

 

Although The Wrestling Channel continued to exist for a few more years in varying forms, there was never another 'International Showdown'. What the event did do, however, was issue in 'the supershow era' that seemed to dominate the British wrestling scene for the next couple of years. Alex Shane would be back in the SkyDome another 6 months later to present 'Universal Uproar', the unofficial sequel to 'Showdown', featuring the same formula and the payoff to the Shane-Foley feud. They did 2,400. Just a few weeks before that, Steven Gauntley debuted 1PW on 1 October 2005 in Doncaster with a similar approach to international guest names, but with a plan to run every couple of months with loaded up shows. You all know how that ended up, and I'm sure we can do the much separate 10-year anniversary discussion on that one later this year.

 

The concept would eventually evolve to the point where entire foreign promotions would be brought over to present a 'genuine' full show, rather than just individual names being flown in for guest appearances. ROH, PWG, Pro Wrestling NOAH, Dragon Gate and probably more took advantage of that, at which point the one-off 'supershow' became less attractive to punters, as seen when Wolverhampton-based 'IndyPendence Day' struggled to draw more than 200 fans by just flying in a random selection of individuals. Still, the influence of 'International Showdown' continues to be felt to this day in terms of the approach to bringing in hot, current international names, using them for a weekend's-worth of bookings. They would probably never even realise it, but the likes of PCW and Southside definitely come as a result of the path started by 'Showdown'.

 

With that, I'll leave you to recount your own memories, ending with this glimpse at my 'free' event programme...

 

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That's right - a trader specialising in bootleg copies of international wrestling shows (Outcast Video, my trader of choice during those days) had ad space in the official programme! Also, I've got that Cababa WrestleStuff DVD somewhere - must dig it out!

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Unless we somehow missed it, there wasn't an MPW show the afternoon after -- that was the day after Universal Uproar, which we'll get to later this year.

 

My main memory is how ridiculously obvious during Styles-Daniels that the crowd was there to see moves and not a single person seemed to care who would win. I also remember some blokes dressed up as A-Train (with furry car footwell mats over their torsos) doing a petition to bring him back to WWE, which was funny at first and then got very tiresome.

 

I rewatched Grey-Sanders back fairly recently and it's actually got a pretty decent story when you're watching on TV. Very simple stuff with them starting out clean, Grey repeatedly coming out on top, Sanders getting frustrated and resorting to cheating, and then it backfiring and Grey taking the win.

 

A couple of posts from the old Real in Memphis board at the time by UKFFers past and present:

 

Midnight Zeus:

 

 

 

 

 

Fan Fest

I never intended to go to this but Coventry is hell on earth and as we got there very early it was the only thing to do. The wrestler Q & A’s were interesting, though I didn’t appreciate CM Punk telling us how he thought he was pretty bad and nothing special – I understand modesty but we all paid to see him wrestle, he could have made that seem like a wise purchase just a little bit! It was busier than I expected and I met a few people like Moorish and Plancha Dan who were cool – Moorish is taller than I expected, and not blond – don’t ask! Also met up with Mo and MOJ who I know anyway. I had a chat with Bill Apter and his wife which was nice – having been an avid reader of his Magazines for almost 20 years it was great to chat with him, and not about wrestling strangely enough – more about the similarity of our respective home towns and the horse shows! In all I thought the Fan Slam was very well done and I’m glad I went.

 

Onto the show…

 

Seats and Attendance

I got £10 seats at the last minute and I had a fantastic view. I was in block 2 and thanks to an empty seat next to me MOJ was able to relocate so we could be excited fans together! We guestimated that there were no more than 200 empty seats so it was a very good turn out.

 

The matches…

 

Sabin v P Williams v Spud v Storm

Not my thing at all, really didn’t like this. It was choreographed gymnastics and nothing more. However, I see it’s place on the card because the fans were well into it and it was the right choice for a show opener. I had some 6 year olds to me left and at one point one of them said “He just jumped off himself” when someone was being ‘pushed’ off the top rope – when you aren’t fooling a 6 year old you need to re-think things a little. I didn’t like Spud at all – he doesn’t look like a wrestler and he makes it all look very silly, even more so!

 

Steve Grey v Mal Saunders

This was nostalgia 101 for me – this is what I started watching some 25+ years ago and I loved this. However, in a turn around from the last match the crowd wasn’t into this at all, the concession stands did record business and I could understand if this style of match was left off in future – I had a blast watching it though.

 

Foley/Truth/Shane/Apter

How good is Doug Lambert on the mic? I saw his managing debut a while back and he is even more awesome now. Oh how I’d love to see he and Dean Ayass at war on the mic, with their charges battling it out in the ring. Alex needs to slow down his promos and do someting more original than I screwed your Mum jokes, but he does a have a great heel aura. With his security he’s back to how I remember him when I first started watching FWA and it’s a welcome return. Foley was great and this whole section went down really well.

 

Samoa Joe v CM Punk

I’ve never seen either so I had no past experiences to go on. I like how the heel/face dynamic was established very early so I even though I didn’t know their history there was a something to build on. Samoa Joe is so much fun to watch – the highlight of the match was his devastating lariat on Punk which ‘folded him up like an accordion’! Punk I wasn’t so keen on and his finisher is awful – Joe puts more effort into setting it up than Punk does! Overall though I enjoyed the match and it made a Samoa Joe fan out of me.

 

Misawa/ratboy/Tiger v D Williams/Tighe/Scorpio

This was the match I was probably looking forward to most and wow! This was worth the 8 hours of travelling alone – amazing match and credit to everyone involved. I was so happy for James Tighe being in their with the likes of Misawa, I remember watching him as a trainee in Portsmouth and he should be proud of his efforts, as should everyone. Scorpio is cool as a cucumber but Misawa is the king of cool. I adored this match – MOJ and I didn’t want them to leave so we started shouting encore! The hand shakes at the end were a nice touch and seeing a beat up Tighe shaking hands with Misawa was a highlight for me. Also worth mentioning Mo's announcing of the wrestlers for this match which was top notch - job very well done.

 

Alex Shane v Raven

I’ve been a harsh critic of Alex’s before but he impressed me tonight. Not only is he far better as a heel than as a face but he didn’t do the one thing I’ve always criticised him most for – he didn’t work a junior style. He used his size to his advantage and worked ‘big man’ – much much better! The one thing this match highlighted was the non-existent security – that needs improving, drastically. Couldn’t see the big arena spot but it got a huge reaction. Alex put Raven over very admirably and put on a good show with Foley too. This was a really fun match to watch and changed the pace perfectly.

 

Euroboy v Chris Daniels

I’ve seen 4 AJ matches before this and liked what I have seen, especially his Zero One match with Low Ki and his TNA match with Candido. Daniels I have seen plenty of in NJPW as Curry Man and a few times on the indy circuit, most memorably v Williams at Crunch 2002. This was a really really good match which the crowd were so into. Styles works the ‘babyface in peril’ role really well and Daniels is wonderfully cocky as a heel. Very well built up match which had MOJ and I gasping at the near falls. Great match to finish a great show.

 

The Programme

It’s nice to get something for your money and the programme was as much a magazine as it was a picture book. A few dodgy graphics on the NOAH page but that aside it was the best value programme I’ve bought at a major show in years!

 

Overall

I don’t get the Wrestling Channel and only really watch WWE, NJPW and OVW – this was a nice introduction to what it else is out there at the moment. The card was a great mix of styles and I was into 5 out of 6 of the matches which is a pretty damn good percentage. From my viewpoint it was a huge success and well done to all involved – I had a great time.

 

Bobbins:

 

 

 

 

 

Opener was a fun spotfest, Jonny was great, I couldn't tell the difference between Sabin and Petey, and Spud has something, but he's going to need more if he's going to get away with looking like a 12 year old girl. At least he stood out. The Canadian Destroyer is shit.

 

I loved Grey vs Sanders, despite the retarded rounds, no seconds, the ref being the only guy with a towel in his corner, and the crowd not being into it. Someone could have told the ring announcer that it was only going to be one fall. Sanders slowly bringing more and more heeling into it was great. Punches behind the ref's back, and stomping on the ground. I think I was the only one booing though.

 

Joe vs Punk was good. Although we probably spent most of the match debating whether straight-edgers should show such love for massive world-dominating corporations. The Pepsi Plunge is shit.

 

Interval was very long, but it gave a great opportunity for meeting lots of people. Sadly I didn't get to shake hands with King Slim.

 

NOAH 6-man was match of the night by a mile. I marked out for the ratboy eye-rakes. 

 

Didn't pay any attention to Shane vs Raven, probably because I couldn't see 90% of it. Did see Alex spilling off the balcony feet first, which was quite funny (pun courtesy of Lister).

 

Euroboy vs Daniels made everyone happy, so it did it's job, and they worked really hard, but it was pretty gay stuff. The best bit was AJ getting fired up and really laying in the forearms. We also discussed how Daniels is the future of wrestling and how far his career has come in the last five years since he last headlined the Skydome. unsure.gif

 

Linus:

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, here are my thoughts from Saturday's show. I would have put something up yesterday but I was too monged out from lack of sleep and inebriation. Seriously, I lost a whole day. Stupid RIMtogethers.

 

Well, it won't surprise you to hear that I didn't enjoy the show. To be fair to them, I was never going to, but you always live in hope that they might put on something approaching a pro-wrestling show rather than a collection of very athletic and crisply performed action pieces. Ho hum.

 

Still, what do they care? They got 3000 people to pay (although an employee/volunteer at the show told me he was comping people all morning & lunchtime - and doing a great job of giving the £10 seats to the mongs and the £20 seats to normal people, not that there were a lot of them around) and made a shitload of money due to the shenanigan of letting all the other promotions in the country lose money on the overseas stars. It's was a very clever, if questionably shitty thing to do.

 

The SkyDome wasn't a great venue for pro-wrestling the last time I was there, and it still isn't. While the views are great, there's something about the tiered seats that makes people feel disconnected from the action, and the majority of floor seats are useless if (when!) people stand up. But most people seemed happy, even if they only seemed to be there to make themselves look clever by chanting something "witty".

 

We had £10 seats but as the show started 5 seats - the magic number for the 5-strong RIM contingent - opened up in front of us in the bronze ringside area. It was as if God wanted us nearer to the action, obviously as punishment for something we'd done earlier. Maybe kicking that cripple? I just don't know.

 

The RIM5, by the way, were myself, John Lister (courtesy of the ever-punctual British Rail), Kenny McBride (courtesy of an 8hr coach ride, during which he slept, slept, slept), Bobbins (by stolen car from Liverpool), and Dougular (by Viking longship powered by real ale). Rob Edwards was around somewhere, but more of that later. Oh, MOJ & Steve, too. And Mo - who admitted to being Old School. That's the poster Old School, by the way, not Eton or Harrow, though his leather overcoat certainly suggested sexual perversions of the kind taught there.

 

We got to the arena at about 6.25, having elected not to queue with the great unwashed, and instead sunk some pints in the pub next door. We missed nothing except lots of people $hilling stuff, including a bootleg tape dealer - which I thought was nice, considering that the channel the show was supposed to be promoting actually pays for its footage.

 

 

Jonny Storm vs Spud vs Chris Sabin vs Petey Williams

 

I feared for Spud beforehand. The guy had three things against him: his name (worst. name. ever.), his look (the 12yr old girl look, so popular amongst rent boys), and his inexperience. However, he did have one thing going for him: these guys plan their matches to the last cough and Spud has a very good memory. He was good, I have to say. Good at what was required, anyway. I told him afterwards, "I thought you'd be out of your depth but you did alright," and I hope he took it as a compliment. Because you gotta stay in with teh boyz, right? Jonny was great, as usual, Sabin did his bit, but Petey Williams was the drizzling shits, looking a step off the pace and grabbing the win with that business-exposing dance move they call the Canadian Destroyer.

 

As a (sometime, kind of sloppy) wrestler, I'd have loved to work the opening match on this show. The crowd were eating up everything. I could have stuck my thumb up my ass and they'd have popped. They were up, up, uppppp.

 

Steve Grey vs Mal Sanders

 

And then they were down, down, downnnnnnnnn. This was the World of Sport match. World of Sport matches were the single greatest reason I never became a wrestling fan when I was young. If I'd have grown up anywhere else than the UK, I'd have been sold on this crazy sport, but old men in big pants and "glamourous beauties" like Princess Paula were the stuff of comedy, not greatness. So this was never gonna grab me.

 

Add to that the fact that I'd seen this very match four years before, and Grey had won it with a backdrop, and I decided this was the time to go poop poop. There was a huge queue at the toilet and by the time I got to the cubicle there was no paper. I really did need to shit so I had one option: the disabled toilet. Some security guard tried to stop me using it, arguing that there might be disabled people who needed the toilet. I told him, "they're already wearing nappies," and slipped inside, locking the door for palatial sanctuary.

 

I emerged feeling lighter and at ease with the world to find that the match was still going on. It seems I wasn't the only one not interested, because the concession stands were doing brisk business. To argue that this match had a place on the card would be self-defeating, because this was a show sold on exhibition flip-floppiness. The people who bought the tickets came expecting highspot after highspot, or cheap pop after cheap pop. To take two men from the WoS era (just) that were never really known for their enormous charisma was a mistake. But at least they got a pay-off, I guess.

 

To echo other complaints: why only one fall? Why no seconds? No bucketmen? And why the bizarrely-arbitrarily 4 minutes per round. It's almost as if they were half-assing it....

 

Ego Wankery

 

So Bill Apter came out. I cannot express in words how much this guy creeps me out. There's something about him, and his basement wrestling "bouts", and his career telling lies to the world that just doesn't sit right. He also looks like a child molester and seems to have become a cult figure for all the wrong reasons. Apter's not a "respected wrestling journalist", that's Mrs Angle. He was a man who got rich on $hilling whatever the offices wanted him to, and has been desperately trying to reclaim the glory years ever since with a succession of really bad magazines. Only cocks could respect that.

 

So, anyway, Apter's out there giving an award to someone. And here comes Greg Lambert, who needs to be Bruno Short full-time. He's a competent speaker, but needs to learn how to hold a microphone. They proceeded to lay out some tedious angle involving Alex Shane & Mick Foley. What's that, I hear you say? Surely the man who booked the show wouldn't give himself an angle with the top guy on the card? As well as a match against the other biggest WWF/ECW/ECW legend? You cynical people. As if he would. The upshot of all this was that Alex Shane spoke too fast, gave a really bad promo insulting people's mums, and we learned that Mick Foley didn't like him. Ooooh, intrigue....

 

Samoa Joe vs CM Punk

 

Their 60 minute draw was one of those matches that made me hate professional wrestling, so I wasn't looking forward to this. I like Joe. He's got a cool look (which could be improved by bigger sideburns) and he hits people hard. Now long-time admirers and detractors will know that I hate stiff wrestling - actively despise it - but when Joe does it it's okay, because he's usually against someone I despise. That's how it works, you see: take someone I like, put them against someone I don't like, and make them fight. Nothing simpler. You'd think...

 

Anyway, this was the third match in a row to have no heel/face dynamic. It got tiring by this point. I can understand that the majority of the people who bought tickets don't give a shit about that kind of thing but if they don't care either way, why not make an effort for the people who do? It's a long-standing point of discussion with certain people who will never get it.

 

Anyway, they did their thing. Joe won with something but I really don't remember because it failed to hold my attention and I was chatting with Kenny or Bobbins or something. Oh, and I was a little drunk by this point. Take that, CM Stunk!

 

Interval

 

I talked to some people. MOJ appeared, as did Mo. I found Moo, too, who is tall and not like I imagined him at all.

 

Doug Williams, Scorpio & James Tighe vs Mitsuharu Misawa, ratboy & Tiger Emperor

 

The wisdom of crowbarring all three NOAH guys into one match makes no sense, especially as there were only 6 matches the whole night. But I guess the bookerman had to have his angle. I'd much rather have seen James Tighe go one on one with Tiger Emperor, and have a straight-up NOAH GHC Tag Team title match with the other four. But what do I know? I didn't con money out of people to put on my own show, so I can't complain. I guess.

 

Anyway, match of the night, by a long chalk, even though ratboy & Misawa did fuck all in it. Oh, wait, they threw some elbows or something. I mean, don't get me wrong, seeing Misawa just 15 feet away was cool & all, but I'd have preferred to see him wrestle. Ho hum. All this meant that Tiger Emperor did most of the work for his team and looked cool doing it, so kudos to him. I guess that was why he was brought over. "Hey, Kotaro - me & Yoshi are going over to England and we want to half-ass it - can you come and do the work for us?"

 

Doug was all smooth & shit, Tighe didn't let the side down, and Scorpio... well, let's just say that at one point last night, monged as I was, I actually made the statement, "there wasn't a single black wrestler on the show." He was that memorable. So despite half the participants not actually doing much, the match was cool and stuff.

 

And you know what? If I was Misawa and some fat shit with a backstage pass said "Hello, Misawa sir, you are number one", I'd have punched him in the gut, tore up his pass and refused to go on until he was executed, gangland style. Am I a bad man?

 

Raven vs Alex Shane

 

Arena-wide brawl that did nothing for me. Again, it was probably never going to, and I've steadily hated Raven this whole year, putting in crappy brawl after crappy brawl against whoever he's nonsensically feuding with on TNA that week. He's in it for the money now, you can tell, his soul long since having departed his body.

 

If I hadn't ever stepped through the ropes & wrestled, I wouldn't be qualified to say that Alex was quite bad here. A fault of the booker, I'd say. He's just not good at brawls, though he thinks he is. He's actually better at tight matches, but seems to get off on wandering round the building. Whatever turns you on, I guess. It's a shame because he books himself into the spotlight and then books himself in matches where he's not going to do himself justice. One of the perils of having the book, I guess - see also HHH booking himself in long matches with schlubs.

 

They did some kerrazy balcony dive thing, where Alex landed feet first on his FSW trainees. Ruffneck from Pain Inc ended up with a messed-up face because Shane doesn't realise that a feet first bump is either a) going to bust your ankles when somebody doesn't catch you, cool.gif going to bust the body of someone who does catch you, and c) look rubbish. It woke the crowd up, though, I'll give them that.

 

Raven won the match, I gather, though I was busy talking to Andy Simmons at the back and no-selling Tom Lancaster's clumsy putdowns. Then Alex got the socko spot, and who can begrudge him that. Something to tell his steroid-prevented non-kids about.

 

Euroboy vs Christopher Daniels

 

Just what is the Fallen Angel gimmick now? As far as I can tell, it's wearing a cloak to the ring. That's it. He needs to watch Carnivale to see a real evil preacher in action.

 

Well, they did their thing, and they did it well, and people liked it. Some absolute fucking morons chanted "MATCH OF THE YEAR!" and "THIS IS AWESOME!", as if they'd never used their eyes & mouths before. It was functional and well-performed, but I'm not sure it was professional wrestling. Once again, there was no heel/face dynamic. I'd say if you've got the crowd alternately chanting your name, you've done your job wrong. Wrestling is about confilct, it's about the good guy versus the bad guy. There are going to be rare times when good guys fight good guys (bad guys should never fight bad guys, IMO, because it kills their heat), but they should be just that: rare. Daniels plays a heel on TNA - would it have been so difficult to make the crowd hate him? Oh, I forgot, this is exhibition wrestling, where you pop for how well a move is performed by both men, rather than whether it looks like it hurts the guy you hate or the guy you love. Bah, I'm old.

 

 

So that was it. I wish I'd gone to the Collosseum afterwards, where random slags were on offer, I hear. As it was, we went for a beer with Rob Edwards and his mate: somehow Rob found the only wrestling fan more metrosexual than him. Good job, both of you! Actually, I dug the hell out of his mate because he was wearing a Godspeed You Black Emperor t-shirt. Which means nothing to any of you except Bobbins, I'd guess.

 

Talking of Bobbins, some very drunk girl wanted to dance with him, and then fell over. He picked her up and they danced. And then we left. Bad Bobbins. You could have nailed her on the bunk. We wouldn't have watched or anything.

 

We wound our way back through Coventry, got told off by a policeman, who said we should respect the estate agent that we were shouting at, and went back to the hotel, where we watched TNA's Destination X PPV. Kind of. It was a bad show, made worse by my constant bad Dugganing. I didn't even remember seeing the fat guys or the first blood match. Ho hum

 

Like I said earlier, I didn't like the show, but it wasn't for me. It was for all the people that mark for themselves chanting, for all the people that love heartless, soulless exhibition wrestling, and for all the people who get off on meeting wrestlers who are "just normal people, like me."

 

The frustrating thing is that it's just lazy. There's a way to please people like me without taking anything away from the others, but they're just not prepared to do it. And wrestling is an emptier place for that.

 

Me:

 

 

 

 

 

Spud should be booked solely against people at least six inches and fifty pounds taller, at which point he becomes a super-sympathetic underdog who has to use high-flying because it's the only hope he has. 

Unfortunately the idea at Coventry was to make people leave thinking "Wow, Spud's as good as the TNA guys" and while that happened, a lot of people also probably thought "Jesus, those TNA guys are as small as Spud". Seeing Spud against people of the same size is like watching Matt Morgan and Nathan Jones tower over Brock Lesnar.

 

And a wonderful memory of the late great $tew:

 

 

 

 

 

(JNLister @ Mar 21 2005, 11:07 PM) Random recovering alcohol memory here - did I discuss epornreview.com with someone?

Don't know about that, but I just had a look at that site - for purely educational reasons, of course. I put some random search criteria on the "Girl Finder" and got the following response...

 

Sorry, no bitches match your query. Try a less specific search.

 

Here are some recommendations:

There are only a few girls with big asses. Try your search on all asses

 

Hey - made me laugh, anyway.

 

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I remember being in the queue at the Skydome waiting to get in when the fire door opened.  At that point I was face to face with Mitsuharu Misawa who was looking to pop out for a crafty cigarette before the show.  He clocked us, smiled and went back inside, closing the door behind him. Pretty damned surreal.

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I think I prefer 2014 'Hey, It's' Linus to 2004 Grumpy Linus. Why did everybody call AJ Styles Euroboy?

 

Excellent post as always, Benny. £75, was it worth it?

 

I was really excited for Showdown but couldn't make it down to Coventry, so I kept up with all the happenings on the TWC forum (I didn't join these hallowed halls until 2007). There was a big buzz, I remember that much, I couldn't wait until the inevitable TWC broadcast. Great stuff.

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I think I prefer 2014 'Hey, It's' Linus to 2004 Grumpy Linus. Why did everybody call AJ Styles Euroboy?

 

Excellent post as always, Benny. £75, was it worth it?

 

I was really excited for Showdown but couldn't make it down to Coventry, so I kept up with all the happenings on the TWC forum (I didn't join these hallowed halls until 2007). There was a big buzz, I remember that much, I couldn't wait until the inevitable TWC broadcast. Great stuff.

I'm surprised how grumpy I was :(

 

AJ Styles was called Euroboy because of his uncanny resemblance to that genre of gay porn.

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I think I prefer 2014 'Hey, It's' Linus to 2004 Grumpy Linus. Why did everybody call AJ Styles Euroboy?

 

Excellent post as always, Benny. £75, was it worth it?

 

I was really excited for Showdown but couldn't make it down to Coventry, so I kept up with all the happenings on the TWC forum (I didn't join these hallowed halls until 2007). There was a big buzz, I remember that much, I couldn't wait until the inevitable TWC broadcast. Great stuff.

I'm surprised how grumpy I was :(

 

AJ Styles was called Euroboy because of his uncanny resemblance to that genre of gay porn.

Glass Smash will be jumping up and down screaming, “I KNEW IT! I FUCKIN’ KNEW ALL THOSE FORUMERS WERE GAY AND WATCHED GAY PORN!”

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Great post as always, Ben! I actually remember yours was the first envelope I printed when sending out tickets, and it printed portrait instead of landscape as I was trying to set up my printer to print directly onto the envelopes. Didn't I also write Ben "Hat & Horn" on it? I posted the tickets that were bought through our site myself; we all got our hands dirty.

 

I also operated the 2 wide cameras up in the balcony at the same time. The fucking stress of that show. I got up at 4am to drive from Coventry to Heathrow to collect Foley that morning - the fog on the motorway was mental. Then on the way back to Coventry, I ran out of petrol - luckily I had AA who were quick to sort me out. Hassle though and around a 40min delay to my tight day. And that was the day after driving over from Dublin via the ferry, then searching around Coventry for a frame for that poxy award we gave Foley. It said "For Outstanding Achievement In the field of Excellence" - a Simpsons reference.

 

Hat Guy has already posted the remastered version of the show that I actually only did last week! I touched up the picture a bit and remixed the sound.

 

Anyway - here's the official poster:

 

showdown_a3.jpg

 

Ad from Powerslam:

Powerslam%202.jpg

 

Seating:

Seating.gif

 

Love this photo - the Champs!

Champs.jpg

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IIRC, the "Save the A-Train" ringleader was, at the time, attending uni with my friend Craig (who last posted on here about a million years ago, as "Dork" - the name by which I refer to him to this day) so I had the misfortune of meeting them numerous times - and yes, very tiresome, very quickly. Dork wasn't involved, incidentally.

 

We nearly missed the start of the show because we were in the Wetherspoon rip-off opposite (The Orange House?) watching Norwich away at Bolton on Sky. We lost, 1-0.

 

I tried to drunkenly hold a conversation with Raven in Jumpin' Jaks. That didn't go so well.

 

Did Daniels bust out the Curry Man dance in JJ's that night? Or have I made that up in my head?

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I too was front row. I too, would never dream of paying £75 on a single wrestling ticket ever again. This was the first show I went to since Passport To Pain in 2003 and the first show other than the WWF/E or WCW tours I ever went to. Me and two mates went the second I knew Misawa and his mates were coming over because we were ludicrously into Noah at the time. And yes, reasonably into TNA and ROH too, so the announcements of Styles/Daniels and Punk/Joe made us very happy. In the end, the Styles/Daniels match and the amusement I found in meeting Punk & Joe especially were the highlights of my evening.

 

I'd have posted more detailed thoughts on how much I enjoyed practically the whole show, but Linus doesn't need to know how much of a "mark for myself" or "absolute fucking moron" I am.

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I was training to be a wrestler at this time (a short lived venture) with Stevie Knight and Mick Romeo at 'FWA North-East' in Barton-Upon-Humber, every Sunday.

I remember Stevie the day after International Showdown, packet of fags in hand as always arriving at the training. Obviously we were all keen for stories of his weekend and he was happy to oblige. I remember him saying that he thought CM Punk was a 'dick', how meticulous the NOAH guys were when it came to the ring in Scotland and insisting on the ropes being straight and in alignment, how Misawa thought James Tighe was 'green' and how he was a little miffed that the 6-man was a dark match instead of opening the main show. 
Stevie was also practicing moonsaults at that time as his character in the FWA kept teasing it and it had got over quite well with the audience so apparently Alex Shane wanted him to do one on a show.....well, I say he was practicing. If I remember rightly, he was going to try one with a big crash mat in the ring but instead, before even climbing the buckles, said something akin to 'Fuck that! Mavis (he'd always call Alex 'Mavis' for some reason) can do one'. Stevie never did do a moonsault.

Stevie was quite the character. Although how he ended the school was a little shitty in my opinion I appreciate now that he was pissed off with the wrestling business (especially after he lost so much money on the Celebrity Carnage tour) and wanted to move abroad (which he eventually did).
Still, those 6 months in 2005 I trained with him were fun and left me with some great memories - especially from the tour itself.

 

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