What appeared to be an unassuming show, however, turned out to be really enjoyable, with 2 cracking singles matches and 2 super-fun tags. Given that it was mostly the core regular audience, they knew the characters and were into the show, making plenty of noise and reacting enthusiastically for the matches.
The main storyline developments continued to concern the scenario which emerged at the last show, that being the establishment of heels Ricky J McKenzie, Kraig Collins and T-Bone as the rival contenders for lead babyface Bubblegum’s GPW Heavyweight Title. The previous event had seen the trio beat the champion in the 6-man tag team headliner, then argue over who would be the one to beat him for the belt. The main event on this night saw ‘Gum defend against RJM one-on-one. They were having an excellent, dramatic match (and easily the best I have ever seen RJM look anywhere), only for the champ to retain by disqualification when Collins ran in to attack him. RJM was visibly narked at that, obviously annoyed that Collins had cost him his shot. Over the years, the GPW audience has been one that has been accepting of non-finishes, no-contests and disqualifications where they form part of a storyline they know and are invested in. Indeed, the regular fanbase was one where such an ending would normally put the heat on the heel who ruined the match, rather than the promotion for cheating them out of a clean, decisive finish. I’m not convinced that’s entirely the same now, but GPW are still able to get away with it more than other places, and where it does advance the story it usually makes the eventual payoff all the more meaningful.
Earlier in the night, Kollins himself actually became the No. 1 Contender to T-Bone’s GPW British Title when he defeated Ashton Smith in another extremely good contest. Given that Ashton was to that point undefeated in his 2-year GPW run, this puts Kollins over very strongly again after his own unsuccessful shot at Bubblegum over the summer. As previously mentioned, T-Bone himself was not on this particular show. The next show, now scheduled for Friday 4 December, is leadingly-titled ‘Double Jeopardy’, which seems to hint at a number possibilities for the title situation. Perhaps Bubblegum will defend against both RJM and Collins in either a 3-way or 2 separate singles matches, or perhaps, given T-Bone’s own title ambitions as well as Kollin’s contendership to his own belt, it will be a high stakes 4-way with both GPW singles titles on the line. That would be my preferred option what with the various intertwined rivalries in play, but the whole storyline is actually one that I am really enjoying and look forward to seeing play out.
Elsewhere, one of the only other running storylines in the promotion came to an abrupt halt and has seemingly been dropped. All year, they had been running a storyline where Soner Durson had turned on his mentor Joey Hayes to side with Dylan Roberts, manager Alan Alan Alan Tasker and protégé Danxig. They had been building to Joey getting his revenge on Soner and then presumably facing his key rival Dylan in the money match. The Hayes vs. Durson match was originally scheduled for last month, but Joey was announced as being injured and they ran an promo where the two rescheduled their match for October instead, with the stipulation that Joey got his match with Roberts if he won. Then, when the ‘Friday Night Thriller’ line-up started being advertised, there was no sign of the announced Hayes/Durson contest. So, on this show Dylan Roberts, who is a hell of a promo these days, came out (without Durson or Danxig, actually) to sarcastically state that Joey was out with a “sick note”, so the Durson match was once again cancelled. Instead of continuing to build heat for a match with Joey, he completely killed that situation by going on to say that they were now giving up on him and turning their attentions elsewhere. It was at this moment he pointed out Jet Fashion, half of the GPW Tag Team Champions, sat in the audience with his Trophy and wearing an obnoxious purple suit that only he could get away with. He challenged him to a tag title match on the December show, the pair had a heated and intense scuffle, and we now have a makeshift tag title match of Dylan Roberts & Danxig vs. Midnight Bin Collection next time out. That should be decent, but it’s such a shame that the Hayes vs. Roberts/Durson/Danxig situation won’t be seen through to conclusion after being one of the few key storylines in GPW’s 2015. I have no idea what is actually going on with Joey, but the best I can tell is that he is genuinely injured since he hasn’t actually wrestled anywhere since August (aside from a couple of tags in PCW and Infinite where he actually did nothing physical).
Other storylines coming out of the show include the continuing fallout of the Island Brothers split, which now looks to be heading to some kind of chain match stipulation as Rio and his manager Simon Valour beat down Sexy Kev with such a gimmick at the conclusion of Valour’s loss to Kev and stated that it was a taste of what was in store for former partner Tabu. Elsewhere, new rivalries between Cyanide & Nate Travis, Chris Ridgeway & Sheikh Mohammed Rizzy Khan, and then The Bad Lads & The Circus were put into motion, with the surprise reveal that Jack Gallagher is now aligned with the big top brigade. He’s been with GPW for a long time, through various gimmicks, but his most recent, more colourful ‘Extraordinary’ Victorian carnival persona is a perfect fit for the group and his involvement instantly elevates their standing.
Again, there continue to be no signs of new releases on DVD or download, despite this show once again being filmed and having live commentary recorded. This time, for the first in as long as I can remember at GPW, there was no big screen/projector displaying match graphics etc. either. I did have a chuckle to myself at the pre-show music playlist, though, as in amongst all the usual modern pop songs and current chart hits they played AC/DC’s ‘Thunderstruck’, which surely had to be a rib (BABY!). And if it wasn’t, it should have been.
As mentioned, the next show is ‘Double Jeopardy’ on Friday 4 December. That is a story in itself, in that GPW was originally scheduled for a week earlier on 27 November, with near neighbours PCW running 4 December as their ‘Festive Fury’ event. Then PCW, in managing to arrange the ROH deal for the second year, needed to move up a weekend. To avoid the head-to-head for the crossover of both wrestlers and fans, GPW moved back. It had been rumoured for some time, but ‘Friday Night Thriller’ was the first time GPW had publically confirmed it, with all publicity material as late as last month continuing to disply the original date.
Brief results from ‘Friday Night Thriller 9’:
Sam Bailey beat Nick Maguire with a top rope splash. This was Bailey’s first match back in about a year, with a new football-inspired look. The match wasn’t great, if I’m honest. Maguire’s ‘Lone Wolf’ mysterious loner character is quite cool, but it does mean he can’t really display that much emotion or ‘show out’ to the crowd much, and with this type of audience it’s therefore a struggle for them to get into his matches. Also, there was a lot of very noticeable pausing and putting heads together on just about every move for Sam to call the next spot, which was very distracting and broke up the natural flow.
Ricky J McKenzie came out next for the Second Segment Alex Shane Talky Spot to build heat for the main event. “RUBBISH J MCKENZIE”, as one fan called him, basically said that he was better than everyone, and would win the title and be on his way to “another Universe”. He also warned T-Bone and Kraig Collins to stay out of his business. He then made sure that he calmly took the microphone with him backstage ready for Matthew Brooks entrance, which did look daft...
Chris Ridgeway & Nate Travis & Jumpin’ Jimmy Jackson beat Cyanide & ‘Deadly’ Damon Leigh & ‘Magnificent’ Matthew Brooks. Brooks did his awesome opera entrance, this time singing a wrestling-themed version of ‘Phantom of the Opera’. This was a super fun match, full of big characters, with goodies being goodies and baddies being baddies. DDL is so enjoyable as a grumpy baddie. The match also sets some new storylines in motion. Cyanide and Travis have been off the shows for ages, so I can’t remember if there was any prior beef between them storyline-wise, but they immediately targeted each other from the start here and that was an interesting theme throughout until they paired off and brawled to the back. After Ridgeway pinned DDL with a Rainmaker-style short-whip knee-strike followed by bicycle kick, The Sheikh attacked him on way out, leaving him lying.
Craig Kollins bt Ashton Smith with un iFOUL! behind the referee’s back, followed by his spike choke for the stoppage. Great match, with action and intensity. Kollins is looking great here this year, and Ashton is a top tier performer.
After this came the interval, with in-ring photos with Sexy Kev for a fiver. After this came the Dylan Roberts segment described above, where he blew-off the Joey Hayes storyline, attacked Jet Fashion in the crowd and set up the tag title match for the next show. Despite the abrupt, out-of-nowhere nature of this, the fight was actually real good and full of anger.
The Bad Lads (Micky Barnes & Drill) beat The Circus (‘Ringmaster’ Nicholas Cartier & Noah w/Melanie Price), using a chain behind the referee’s back. Boo! Cartier started with a promo beforehand explaining that we haven’t seen all the members of The Circus yet. I enjoyed this match so, so much – it’s everything I look for in a live wrestling show. Just so, so, so much fun. Few things in wrestling tickle me more than Barnes’ response to the blouse heckling always being “IT’S A SHIRT!!”. Noah was ridiculously over as a babyface, doing this great fiery performance flying all over the place that I haven’t seen from him before. Everyone has started joining in doing the ‘circus song’ too: “Du Du DuDu DuDu Du Du Du Du”. The Bad Lads tried to, erm, grab Mel after, only to be saved by newest member of the Circus Jack Gallagher. Next time it’s 6-man tag, the Gallagher and Alex The Student joining in. I CAN’T WAIT.
Sexy Kev beat Simon R Valour (w/Rio) with a backslide. Simon & Rio beat down Kev with a chain afterwards (just moments after the Bad Lads had used a similar gimmick in their match) as “a taste of what’s in store at ‘Double Jeopardy’”. People chanted for Tabu, but he wasn’t there.
Bubblegum beat Ricky J McKenzie by DQ to retain Heavyweight Title when Kraig Collins ran in and attacked him, much to RJM’s annoyance. RJM had jumped Gum at the bell, and from there this was a belter of a match; really dramatic and exciting and the best I’ve ever seen McKenzie look. ‘Gum, perfect in his current role as company ‘ace’, put out challenges to both McKenzie and Collins after. ‘DOUBLE JEOPARDY!’
Edited by Big Benny HG, 29 October 2015 - 18:26.