This is my second attempt at watching Refuse to Lose. I tried to watch the live iPPV and my lord was it a total disaster. Apparently the Fite TV version was fine but What Culture’s Extra service was a total flop. The audio kept jumping and looping and the video was largely non-existent.

The feed finally settled down halfway through the main event (yes really) and I got to watch about six minutes of the show live. Which is pretty rotten considering the show was nearly three hours. At least the WCPW lads left the stream up so after it finished I could essentially rewind to the beginning and watch it like that. The frustrations of not being able to see it live were overwhelming though and have left a stain on the company, which is a pity because they were going big and ambitious and it didn’t work.

We’re in Newcastle at the O2. Hosts are Jim Ross, Jim Cornette and Alex Shane. Bringing in two announcers from another country is a bit of a slight for UK commentators. I could understand one or the other but both is overkill. The bonus of having JR and Cornette is that both of them are relentless shills with a big audience on social media so they hyped the show coming in and helped to get more eyes on the product. Which would have been great if the live stream had gone off without a hitch. Or without a hundred hitches. The commentators run an introduction from ringside while the crowd chatter amongst themselves.

What Culture Pro Wrestling
Refuse to Lose
October 6, 2016
O2 Academy
Newcastle, England

Watch: What Culture Extra

WCPW have a strong belief in bringing in famous wrestlers to put over the product. Bret specifically puts over JR by calling him “the best there is, best there was and best there ever will be”. So now we’ve got imports in to put imports over as being great. Bret thinks we’ll have a show of the year contender tonight. Bret also puts over Angle, saying he was the guy he always wanted to wrestle and never got the chance. Bret’s final piece of business is announcing WCPW will be having tag team champions*. Stevie Aaron brings the belts out and they’re proper tasty. White straps. James R Kennedy and his Prospect guys interrupt the festivities. Kennedy’s microphone doesn’t work and Bret has to lend him a microphone or we’d be waiting all night to get one that works. Kennedy does good work winging the promo around the angle and the technical difficulties. Prospect run their mouths and then get run off by the babyfaces. 

*Bret erroneously stated we’ll be crowning tag team champions tonight, which isn’t true. Presumably Prospect vs. Slater & Moss/Kidd will be the first title match.

Minoru Suzuki def. Joe Coffey

Suzuki is one of the world’s most outstanding wrestlers. When I heard MiSu was booked on this tour I nearly dropped what I was doing to go and see him. He’s a lovely bloke outside of the ring but once he’s out in the arena he’s a frightening man. Plus he’s a shooter so if he doesn’t like you, you’re doing the match his way. He’s brought El Desperado with him from Suzuki-gun. The usual WCPW piledriver ban has been lifted for this match because it’s MiSu’s finisher, the excuse being given is it’s under NOAH rules. Coffey is a decent talent with reasonable mat skills and he’s well-rounded but he’s nowhere near Suzuki’s level. Minoru discovers this early and makes it more about showmanship. Suzuki’s aggression is a mixture of shoot-style and being a total jerk. Desperado helps out from the floor and JR has no idea who he is. These are not commentators who watch NOAH and having watched a lot of NOAH recently I don’t blame them. Suzuki is in no mood to sell and he alternates between shoot-esque holds and ignoring Coffey before feeding him a power comeback. You have to battle against MiSu and Joe has to fight for everything. Eventually he earns enough respect to pop off his discus lariat and it’s not the best of executions. Suzuki slips out of another one, gets the sleeper and finishes with the Gotch Piledriver. Suzuki was on a different level and Coffey could barely hang in there. Suzuki is never interested in elevating people. He thinks you should elevate yourself. ***

WCPW Internet Championship
El Ligero def. Travis Banks & Alberto El Patron

Ligero was supposed to get a title shot at Jay Lethal for the ROH title but Jay lost the title and then couldn’t get over here for this match. WCPW’s trick has been to throw UK guys randomly into triple threat matches so they can do jobs instead of the expensive imports. Pete Dunne did a job last time so that Ligero could win a match featuring Ethan Carter III. Travis, like Dunne, is an excellent pro-wrestler. Alberto works the match wearing a WCPW t-shirt, the big shill. Alberto is a lot bigger than both opponents and has little issue in dominating the match, but it’s a lot better when he’s not in there allowing the two smaller men to work a faster paced match. Alberto gets a bit jealous of the action and gets involved in some of the bigger spots but it’s still a pretty lazy performance from him. Ligero rolls up Travis for the win, in a shock to absolutely no one. The Ligero-Banks stuff was fluid and exciting and, if anything, Del Rio dragged it down. **3/4

Cody Rhodes def. Doug Williams

Doug’s rants about Americans working here and British guys working in America is pretty rich considering his run in TNA. It’s such strong hypocrisy that it batters the viewer over the head. Cody’s “personal ring announcer” is Kenny McIntosh who comes out and reminds everyone of Doug’s hypocrisy. Keep bashing them viewers over the head chaps. Running a Brexit gimmick up in the Tory hating North creates a degree of heat. “You shagged Thatcher” is chanted, for example. Ross finds himself perversely entertained by both the profanity and creativity of the fans. Cody brings some reasonable grappling to the show and Doug is a seasoned pro which makes this the least awkward match so far. However technical issues raise their ugly head again with Alex Shane’s microphone stopping and the video skips around like it did live. The match almost senses the technical problems with Cody taking a couple of butt ugly bumps after a missed spot to the floor. Cody comes back with the Cross Rhodes for the win. The first half of this match was really solid but it went off the rails and never came back. **1/2

Street Fight
Rampage Brown def. Adam Blampied

Blampied used to be Rampage’s manager but turned on him to put the title on Big Damo. Blampied turns up in the suit to offer Rampage a pay off of £643. Better not spend all that iPPV cash just yet Adam. I fear it’ll be Refund City. Rampage rejects the pay off because it’s more fun to beat up a listy list-maker. Poor Adam takes a shellacking and would get beaten in about a minute but Prospect run in as there’s no DQ. JR pokes a big hole in the booking by saying he can’t believe no one is coming to help Rampage when it’s four on one. Rampage makes his own save but Damo makes a surprise run in. It’s very surprising because Damo had moved to Florida and had already been written out of WCPW (and indeed just about every UK promotion). Adam Pacitti sends reinforcements down there, including Moustache Mountain. Why weren’t they on this show? That’s a major error of judgement. It comes down to Rampage vs. Blampied and Adam gets tabled for the loss. Well, after the bastard thing fell over and got put back in place by the ref and Adam blew the jump on the spot twice. This was all booking but the fans seemed to enjoy themselves on the finish. Blampied has done fine character work as a heel and got his deserved comeuppance here. Shame the match was so awful. 1/4*

WCPW Women’s Championship
Nixon Newell def. Kimber Lee

Kimber is underrated and had a great match with Nixon for Fight Club Pro earlier this year. Nixon is over huge but would be even more popular if they could afford “C’est le vie” as her entrance music. Cornette buries WWE for booking lingerie models for many years before finally realising the potential with the newer women. The match starts out quite well but a botched neckbreaker hurts the flow of things. A few of the strikes are ‘off’ after that. They get all fired up by no selling suplexes but the pattern of selling in the match is a bit of a mess. Nixon sells the leg at the start but then just stops and they oversell on strikes right after no selling on the suplexes. Once the wheels come off a match it’s hard to get them back on. This is apparent on a counter on a Canadian Destroyer and the finish is supposed to be a Tiger Suplex but there’s no bridge with no shoulders down. Nixon gets the pin and everyone stands around looking confused. Oh dear. I’ve seen these two have a match that was around **** but this didn’t click at all and was botch-heavy. *1/2

Video Control takes us to pre-recorded footage of Matt Hardy threatening to delete WCPW when he’s over for the November 30 and December 1 shows. Back in the ring Jack the Jobber comes out to make a play for So Cal Val with some £4.50 roses from the local Sainsbury’s. “Women don’t date jobbers” yells JR. That’s a shoot. Jack gets shot down for being just a boy. Val needs a man, which brings out Primate. Jack gets speared. Suzie Kennedy rushes to Jack’s protection so Primate chokes her out to end that association. Primate murders all the security guys too. I have no idea why they had Primate turn on Suzie as they’d been quite a good little act. The spear on Jack was mint though. Two of my favourite WCPW moments have involved Jack getting fucked up.

WCPW Championship
Joseph Conners def. Martin Kirby

Kirby is the hottest entity WCPW has; he’s connected with the crowd from day one. Firstly as a heel but then as an anti-authority babyface. He’s still technically a heel, just one that gets cheered. It’s happened organically so it feels a bit like the Austin rise in 1996/1997 if Austin was a total goofball. Only really rushed. WCPW handed out glowsticks and they’re in evidence for Kirby’s entrance. I do love it when people get over, especially when they deserve it. Kirby is a great guy, he deserves to be a star. Connors has grown into the championship slot and he’s far better as a heel than a face. Both men are not intimidated by the big crowd and settle into a slow burn match. Kirby is still wrestling heel with eye rakes and hair pulls. He’s still completely over with the fans. Connors makes a point of throwing himself into everything, whether it’s a clothesline or a bump to the floor, to make sure the match feels important. He might not be the best wrestler on this show but he’s going to treat the match with the respect it deserves: it’s a top performance from Connors. Kirby has to do very little to get the crowd going, although he steps it up with a suicide dive where he nearly kills himself. That’s a move where you’re never sure how it’s going to come off. Connors gives him a beating and Kirby gets by on desperation kick-outs. Due to the sheer length of the match it starts to get epic and structure-wise it’s an excellent contest. Referee gets knocked out, Kirby goes low, hits the Sablebomb and goes after the Zoidberg Elbow. He’s going for a bit of a scuttle! That bastard Adam Pacitti runs out to push Kirby off the ropes and turn himself heel and glow sticks rain down on him from everywhere in the building. It’s quite the visual. Connors gets a receipt for the low blow and finishes with the Righteous Kill. Easily the best match on the show from a booking, storyline and in-ring perspective. ***3/4

Kurt Angle def. Joe Hendry

Hendry bastardises “Born in the USA” for his entrance theme. As per usual it’s really good. He has a rare talent for doing stuff like this; I’m surprised it’s not gotten him noticed in the USA. Hendry’s only been wrestling for three years and this is a great opportunity for him to showcase what he’s learned in those three years. This is one of those occasions where ICW is a good thing because they run regularly so Hendry has had the chance to work frequently for three years. It puts him in a better place than say Damon Moser in Progress who’s not had the same number of opportunities over the past three years. Angle has only had a couple of matches since leaving TNA in January because he charges a lot. He worked Rev Pro in June and Cody Rhodes over in the states in August.

Like with Angle’s other UK appearance it’s a solid match. Hendry wrestles a more mainstream style than Zack Sabre Jr. and that fits into how Kurt wants to wrestle the match. Angle has a match he enjoys where it’s all about finisher theft and Hendry slots into that nicely. Hendry survives an Angleslam off the top but gets beaten with the heel hook after trading on Anklelocks. It’s a very solid, albeit brief contest. Angle puts Hendry over post match and Joe did fine work in making this feel legitimately good. ***1/4

Final Thoughts:

The actual iPPV stream was a disaster. We know this. It should have been more rigorously tested before airing a live PPV on it. It was nowhere near good enough and most people just wasted their Thursday evening staring at the odd still or the buffering wheel, or the occasional loop.

However the actual show was pretty good, although bringing in heavy hitters from America to fill the majority of the top spots was perhaps overdoing it when the rest of the world is envious of the strength of the BritWres scene right now. Having Jim Ross call the show was the one thing I do agree with. While he has certain ticks (like refusing to call a kimura, talking about American sports) there’s still nobody better at getting over the importance of a big moment or a big performance. I just wish he’d had a better show to call. While this was fine, there are British promotions who are killing it on supercard shows without using Angle, Del Rio or Cody. Maybe WCPW felt they needed those big import names to draw a big crowd but every step of their development has felt rushed. As if they’re eager to move on the next level and the next thing before the whole promotion fizzles out. They want to be a global competitor after a few months of existence. It’s brave, it’s ballsy and there are going to be disasters along the way. When they iron out the kinks, this is going to be a promotion worth keeping tabs on though. Especially if they can retain the crowds they’ve drawn in the early going.