WCPW launched their ambitious 64 person 10 show Pro Wrestling World Cup tournament in Nottingham with their British qualifiers. Ospreay, Kirby, Scurll, Sabre, Aldis, Rampage, Havoc and Gibson were all vying for the two finals spots, and the show also boasted some quality looking non-tournament action.

What Culture Pro Wrestling
Pro Wrestling World Cup
March 21, 2017 (aired March 25)
Harvey Hadden Sports Village
Nottingham, England

Watch: YouTube

Dave Bradshaw and Matt Striker took commentary duties for the night.

Pro Wrestling World Cup First Round
Will Ospreay def. Martin Kirby

This was a very good opener to kick things off. WCPW continues to be the perfect place for Kirby; he’s really over. It wasn’t on the level of some of their previous encounter, but they put on a compact yet constantly exciting match that at the same time seemed to make a conscious effort not run through too much since Ospreay would be out there again later in the night. The finish was pretty spectacular though, with Ospreay landing on his feet off of a top rope frankensteiner and transitioning straight across to the OsCutter to advance. ***1/2

Pro Wrestling World Cup First Round
Rampage def. Nick Aldis

This was garbage, it just felt like there was no effort put into this match. Everything felt laboured, and it had an incredibly anticlimactic finish to boot. Rampage advanced with a small package after both men rolled back into the ring following some uninspired  brawling on the outside. Rubbish, but at least the right guy advanced. Moving on. *3/4

Liam Slater & Matt Riddle def. Prospect

This was half of the four way tag match from Bulletproof the night prior which also included the Swords of Essex and the Young Bucks, and this ended up actually being a bit better. While it lacked the flashy spots it had a far superior flow to it, and it really allowed Riddle to shine. They went down the comedy route for the first half of this match, which was fine, but when it picked up Riddle gave WCPW their first taste of why he’s something special. He was throwing both members of Prospect all over the ring in this one, and every move he hit just pops in a way few on the indies have the ability to replicate. His team would pick up the win after a jumping piledriver followed by a diving headbutt. ***

Pro Wrestling World Cup First Round
Zack Sabre Jr. def. Marty Scurll

This was very disappointing. I was hoping we’d get to see a compact and trimmed down version of their match seeing as it’s a first round match in the tournament early in the show, but instead we got what felt like the first fifteen minutes of one of their long forty minute matches. Given that my biggest criticisms of their other matches has been that the first fifteen or so minutes are purposeless and don’t really add anything to what they’re offering, that really is a damning observation for this one. There’s was enough nifty technical stuff that I enjoyed for me to go any lower on the rating, but I had hoped for so much more. Sabre advanced by using the European clutch flash pin as a reversal to the crossface chickenwing. ***

Pro Wrestling World Cup First Round
Jimmy Havoc def. Zack Gibson

I’m still not really used to seeing Gibson with a beard, it just doesn’t look right. This was another good first round match. Gibson  kicked things off with his infamous promo, which works brilliantly everywhere and anywhere, and from there Havoc was a very good face foil. Gibson showcased his technical superiority early, but Havoc fought back with brawling and recklessness. They kept things relatively simple, but the crowd was constantly engaged and they peaked the match well for its bigger spots. The finish did feel a bit abrupt though. It felt as if things were just kicking into a higher gear when Havoc hit the Acid Rainmaker to advance. ***1/4

Post intermission GM Adam Blampied started things back up, announcing that Christopher Daniels would be defending the ROH Championship against El Ligero tonight, and that Gabriel Kidd would be replacing Cody Rhodes (who was away filming Arrow) in the eight man tag main event. He also added Kidd to the Rhodes vs. Hendry internet championship match, making that a triple threat match for their April iPPV.

ROH World Championship
Christopher Daniels def. El Ligero

I ended up disappointed by this match. It really struggled to build any momentum in its first half, and had an overall sense of awkwardness. The cause of that may have been Ligero perhaps breaking his nose early on in this match, as he really seemed to be having trouble with his mask after a trip early on, and Daniels seemed concerned.

The second half of the match picked up though, and they eventually found a flow. Both Daniels and Ligero are just about the most consummate professionals you’re going to get, and as such there was a very high floor here, but the match we got was probably about the worst you could get from these two. Daniels retained with the BME. ***

WCPW Championship
Drew Galloway def. Ricochet

This was announced as a non-title match, although I’m fairly sure it had previously been announced as being for the gold. I wasn’t the only one confused either, both Striker and Bradshaw seemed very confused on commentary. Title match or no, however, this was excellent.

Galloway put on one of the most compelling heat segments I’ve ever seen. It’s an overused phrase, a crime of which I’m probably guilty myself, to say a big guy “threw around” a high flyer but I can think of very few instances where it was a more apt description of the action than here. They had the crowd utterly in the palms of their hands with every comeback and cutoff, and pretty much every move was crisp and satisfying.

The only thing stopping this match from ascending even higher on the star scale and being a true match of the year/month contender was one somewhat awkward sequence in the middle of the match based around a top turnbuckle move where the two guys didn’t quite seem on the same page. Both guys went up and down repeatedly without a move actually being hit, before eventually moving over to the opposite turnbuckle and finally hitting a second rope air raid crash. It wasn’t anything too terrible, but it disrupted the flow of the action slightly which aside from that sequence was near sublime.

This was the best match I’ve seen take place under the WCPW banner. If you check out nothing else on this show, it is well worth you checking out this. Galloway eventually gained victory after a definitive trio of Future Shock DDTs. ****

Pro Wrestling World Cup Second Round
Will Ospreay def. Rampage

This was a perfectly solid but somewhat uninspired bout with a bunch of interference from Priestley. They logically worked the big guy-high flier match, but being forced to follow Galloway-Ricochet it couldn’t help but feel like a far inferior version. This was a good match, but ultimately forgettable. Ospreay defeated Rampage with the OsCutter, earning his place in the final 16 of the World Cup. ***

Pro Wrestling World Cup Second Round
Zack Sabre Jr. def. Jimmy Havoc

Whenever these two wrestle they never seem to play to Havoc’s strengths. They always seem to wrestle a match with the story of “look, Jimmy can do the technical stuff too”. To a degree he can, he’s a competent technical wrestler, but it really isn’t where his strengths lie. It worked when they first wrestled in PROGRESS because that was the on-going story, but since then it has felt like it’s a repetitive story that’s holding back a match that could be a lot better. This feel of mine was mirrored by the crowd here too, who were fairly tepid throughout. What we end up with is a good technical display with a couple of really good violent sequences that leave you hungry for these two to have a very different match. Sabre tapped out Havoc to join Ospreay in the final 16. ***1/4

The Prestige (Gunn, Coffey, Hendry & Banks) def. Bullet Club (Cole & Young Bucks) & Gabriel Kidd

This was a really fun way to close out the show, and in a match loaded on star power they made the relative no-name Gabriel Kidd the focus, and did so to great effect. The story was Cole and the Bucks seeing Kidd as the weak link on their team and had Kidd continuously trying to prove that he could hang in a main event level match. As a performer he did excellently in this role, and when his time to finally shine came he did a great job and had the crowd fully on side.

When things all came to a head though, it turned out that Kidd did still just come up short and got pinned by Coffey’s discus lariat. I’ve seen some say that this should have been the moment where he picked up his big win, but I was fine with the decision to have him eat another fall. They’re saving his big win for a singles match where it’ll mean more, and keeping the new heel unit strong by not having them drop a fall so early in their existence to a winless rookie. ***1/2

After the match the Bullet Club chased off the Prestige with chairs, then teased showing respect to Kidd, only to superkick him for losing the match for their team.

Final Thoughts:

This was a good show that had the potential to be so much more. A lot of the Pro Wrestling World Cup action was solid but slightly underdelivered, but thankfully the non-tournament stuff really hit and pulled the show up a notch. Ricochet vs. Galloway especially is well worth checking out.