Fight Club Pro surged to prominence in the BritWres scene last year after beginning to put their shows on Vimeo, moving to a new home in the Fixxion Warehouse, and putting on some tremendous shows with no bullshit overbooking and a strong focus on native wrestlers and their in-ring abilities. Their 2016 culminated with a special Infinity tournament show, won by Travis Banks in front of an enraptured crowd, a show that pushed FCP over the line to win the ‘prestigious’ Brit Wres Roundtable Show of the Year Britty award. After a strong start to 2017, FCP went across the road to the Diamond Banqueting Suite for Elite Friday, where they put on their biggest show ever with a stacked super-indie lineup, including a British Strong Style vs The Elite main event. WWE UK vs New Japan’s top gaijin wrestlers. This was a big one.
Elite Friday felt like a huge deal and despite ridiculously late start and end times, was a lot of fun to attend due to the sheer range of BritWres fans in attendance who I got to meet. It felt like every indie wrestling fan in the country had descended on Wolverhampton for one night and that made the event feel genuinely special.
Fight Club: PRO
Dream Tag Team Invitational: Night 1 (Elite Friday)
April 14, 2017
Diamond Banqueting Suite
Watch: Fight Club: PRO Vimeo
Mark Haskins def. Chris Brookes, Dan Moloney, Omari, Jimmy Havoc and Nixon Newell
An all-action opener with several big characters clashing all at once, including surprise additions to the match in Havoc and Newell. It seemed like Nixon had wrapped up all her indie dates in early April, but she’s stuck around for longer than expected. At least that meant we got to see her face off against her ultimate rival Brookes one more time here, with their exchanges being the highlight of the match.
It could have been easy for an inexperienced guy like Omari to get lost in this type of clusterfuck match, but he actually got to stand out a lot here and looked on a par with the veterans here. Haskins put him firmly back in his place in the hierarchy by making him tap to a Sharpshooter though; great to see that kind of veteran-young boy dynamic going on in BritWres. This match was full of fun dynamics like that as all the characters interacted with each other, making it a really good way to heat up the show after an age waiting for it to start. ***
DTTI First Round Match
FSU def. Los Güeros del Cielo
This match was all about the crazy dives that Angelico and Jack Evans hit from the wall alcoves, which were a great way to get the packed-in throngs of standing fans (including myself) well into the show. It’s impossible not to get excited when you see a man flying over you. Everything before and after those dives was decent but there was nothing particularly memorable and some of the setups for moves were a little clumsy. At least Mark Andrews’ finishing sequence of a Stundog Millionaire into a Shooting Star Press looked great, rounding off the match well. **½
Sami Callihan def. Lio Rush and Shane Strickland
There was a base level of chemistry between all three guys here that is necessary for a spotfest match like this to really succeed, perhaps due to the trio’s CZW connection. For whatever reason, they were on the same page right from the start and managed some challenging three person spots throughout without many problems. My biggest gripe here was that a lot of the match took place on the outside and meant there was neither great visibility for much of the action or a lot of room to work with. That said, a lot of the action both inside and outside the ring was insane, with Callihan bossing the smaller high-flyers around before inevitably getting dived on or kicked in the head. His powerbomb on Rush through the ringside chairs (which were not plastic lawn chairs I assure you) looked especially brutal.
Rush’s athleticism made several moments back in the ring really pop. He really raised his stock with his performances in the UK on Easter weekend. He and Callihan had some fun moments to end the match, but the highlights here were the creative three-person spots that made this feel like a true triple threat and not a ‘one guy rests on the outside’ affair. ****
Fight Club: PRO Championship
Travis Banks (c) def. Will Ospreay
Travis Banks is now Mr. Fight Club Pro after winning the title at their last show before DTTI, and now with so many other UK promotions pushing him in some manner, it’s important to remember that FCP got there first. Ospreay is a very recent addition to the FCP roster and so was playing the ‘outsider’ here, with Banks as the babyface defender of ‘his’ promotion. Some of the ‘Elite’ members of the crowd were all for Ospreay though and didn’t really know Banks’ FCP story, but that actually added to the atmosphere around me, as I and Arn Furious chant-battled with the Ospreay fans next to us throughout this one.
Both men are at the top of their respective games right now and brought their best work here, with Ospreay playing the cocky superstar and Banks as the straight shooter defending ‘strong style’ home turf, an excellent dynamic that they worked well into the match. Ospreay did a very good job of earning his boos; he didn’t treat Banks lightly but did treat him disrespectfully by kicking Banks while he was down and generally being a prat, letting the crowd get behind Banks as he got riled up. This brought the intensity of the match and the whole show up a level and when combined with the rowdy crowd atmosphere, things got pretty heated in the Banqueting Suite during this one.
Of course both men can pull off some incredible-looking moves and there was plenty of that here, but the raw intensity of both the action and the crowd chants was the most memorable aspect of this match. I felt a genuine connection to Banks as I willed him on to win, much as I did at last year’s incredible FCP Infinity show. Banks seems to be one of the special few wrestlers capable of connecting to the crowd in such a way, particularly in FCP. His eventual submission win was so satisfying and I’m very excited for his future defences of this title. ****
DTTI First Round Match
The Hunter Brothers def. The LDRS
FCP were going to put an intermission on after the Championship match, but then decided to power through due to the start delay… and later decided to have a very long intermission after this match anyway. The Hunters and the LDRS suffered as a result of that faff, since several fans left thinking there would be an intermission and the crowd that stayed were fairly worn out after the emotion of the previous match and the already very long evening they’d had by this point.
The LDRS were in full-on ‘antics’ mode here which didn’t play too well with such a worn-out crowd. Scurll and the Hunters did a Tye Dillinger ’10 Count’ bit but most of the crowd wanted no part of that as pro-babyface schtick, which is actually very good news because it means one more crap chant is fading out of BritWres. All the early silliness meant the match just never started clicking, although it was more enjoyable watching on VOD than live, when I was mentally checked out. The Hunters’ scrappy underdog surprise win was good to see though, and freed up the LDRS for some more interesting non-tournament matches on the next two nights. **
Penta El 0M def. Rey Fenix
A refreshed crowd was more than ready for a Lucha Brothers showcase. This was my first time seeing Penta live and he looks fantastic up close-ish. The pair went through the match with impressive fluidity, but also made their moves genuinely look painful with an extra snap to them that other ‘dancing’ high-flyers sometimes don’t achieve. There was plenty of graceful manoeuvring but backed up with violent end results too, which is exactly what you want to see from characters as exciting as Penta and Fenix. Even the now-required Canadian Destroyers looked good and weren’t out of place in this match’s environment at all. I was a little disappointed that the pair didn’t bust out their one-of-a-kind pop-up rana reversal spot that put them on the map in Lucha Underground and which they performed when they were last in the UK at the Royal Albert Hall. This was still a great showcase of their skills though, and any problems with crowd fatigue or show length were well in the rear view by the end of this match. ***½
The Elite def. British Strong Style
A true marquee match and the reason why your VOD purchase for this show is £15. The Elite had four matches in the UK over Easter weekend but this was best due to the calibre of their opponents here. While other companies put out indie all-star lineups, Fight Club Pro here used a Fight Club Pro all-star lineup. Both teams have themselves built such unique brands around themselves in very different ways, making this feel like a collision of worlds and a match that really could only happen once, yet still authentically FCP.
Every interaction here was milked for absolutely all it was worth and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. After the two teams tested each other out, the Elite cut a mid-match promo taking a shot at BSS’ WWE deals in comparison to the money they’d made on the merch tables in the previous two days. From here on out, your tolerance for the Elite silliness will affect what you get out of the match. If you’ve already seen their RevPro and OTT matches, there’s nothing to see here because it’s much the same stuff, even with a more compelling opposing team. I mostly enjoyed everything but the triple mirror spots BSS do in every match are far too cutesy for me. There was a whole lot of fun here though, especially live, with every single one of the six men getting at least one moment to shine.
It certainly seemed like the Elite were willing to give a tad more away to BSS than any of their other opponents on their UK tour, or you could argue BSS had the star power to hang in there with them and not get eaten up by their schtick. Either way, it was that battle of genuine trios chemistry and identity that made this the most special Elite match of their tour, and the one that I would recommend the most, despite the price tag of this show. ****
It’s perfectly understandable if you balk at the £15 price (unless you buy ROH PPVs/subscribe to FloSlam), but to do so you would be missing out on a great show here. Three 4*+ matches and a strong variety of matches on the card will surely make DTTI Night 1 a potential BritWres Show of the Year candidate. A very good start to the DTTI tournament, which continues on Night 2 in Manchester.