After ten shows leading up to this, WCPW finally brought its inaugural super-tournament to its conclusion in Newcastle. The night featured the Pro Wrestling World Cup Final and Semi-Finals with a final four of Ospreay, KUSHIDA, Conners and Ricochet, as well as some non-tournament action highlighted by Jack Swagger making his WCPW debut to challenge for the WCPW title.
What Culture Pro Wrestling
Pro Wrestling World Cup Final
August 26, 2017
Regular team of Kennedy and Bradshaw on duty for commentary.
Pro Wrestling World Cup Semi-Final
KUSHIDA def. Joseph Conners
While it isn’t the strongest of praise due to my low opinion of his prior output, I will say that this was Conners’ best work and match of the tournament. It was far from without its issues, it was a shade overly long with it dragging in the middle, and for a man with the moniker “Righteous Killer” Conners’ offense really lacks intensity, but overall this was a solid outing for him and an enjoyable match. He clearly isn’t on the same level as the rest of the semi-finalists though so thankfully, and much to my suprise, he ended up losing here allowing KUSHIDA to move on. ***1/4
Pro Wrestling World Cup Semi-Final
Will Ospreay def. Ricochet
They started this match off with a great pace which really got the crowd all in on it right from the get go. In the past when finding themselves opposite each other their matches often have included technically proficient but ultimately purposeless and directionless extended grappling sequences where it felt like they were only doing it so they could say “look we’re not just flippy guys, we can wrestle too”. None of that was present here; they just got right into it.
Unfortunately they lost the energy of the match somewhat towards the middle, with it descending into a slower paced trading of moves not hidden by the freneticism of the early portion, but they managed to hold onto the crowd investment leading into the close. Ricochet found himself strongly in control, with a clear lead in the match with him just needing to hit one killer blow to put away Ospreay. Ospreay managed to just about hang in there though, managing to avoid some of Ricochet’s bigger shots and in general just be simply too resilient to put down. He hung on just long enough to counter into a modified reverse sunset flip bomb to pull off a shock finish. I really liked this way to end this match, as it made it stick out from all their other 50/50 structured matches that they’ve had in the past. ***3/4
Penta El Zero M def. Mike Bailey
This was hard hitting but a tad laboured. They didn’t quite mesh as well as I way hoping; it stayed in its gear and while it was good never stepped up and became great. Penta picked up the win with the Fear Factor package piledriver. ***1/4
El Ligero def. Rampage
This was no good. It was basically a squash, with Rampage no selling all of Ligero’s offense until the ref decided to get distracted and Ligero hit a low blow and just won. Urgh. *
Internet Championship #1 Contendership
Zack Sabre Jr. def. Alex Gracie
This was a big singles test for the freshly turned Gracie, and it’s pretty safe to say he well and truly failed it. To be fair not having a great match with Sabre Jr. isn’t the end of the world (it actually puts you in the company of AJ Styles, KUSHIDA and Shibata), as while Zack has some pretty incredible highs he’s also extremely inconsistent, but it’s not a good sign for sure. This was just painfully boring. The crowd was completely silent, and I can’t really blame them. Gracie just doesn’t seem ready to be controlling matches from the dominant position; he has no dynamism to his work. If I was to draw one positive from his work, it would be that for a few isolated moments scattered throughout this match he did well at briefly bringing some viciousness to his work. He needs to bring that far more consistently though if he wants to make this heel run a success though. Sabre thankfully was the one to win here, setting up a rubber match between himself and Gabriel Kidd for the Internet Championship. **
WCPW World Championship
Joe Hendry def. Jack Swagger
This was the first Swagger indie match that I’ve seen and, while he didn’t blow me away, there were some good signs. He looked in good shape, explosive and prepared to work hard. Unfortunately for him though, he was in there with Joe Hendry who is in the midst of one of the most lifeless title runs I’ve ever had to misfortune to witness. He’s lost all his charisma since turning and is now just a paint-by-numbers generic heel champion coupled with some very lethargic matches. He’s just been no good at all, and this was no different. Hendry retained with a high angle boston crab that the commentary tried to sell as a modified double ankle lock despite that clearly making no sense. **1/4
Pro Wrestling World Cup Final
KUSHIDA def. Will Ospreay
These two always have very good matches together at every time of asking, and this was no different. They somewhat worked the math around KUSHIDA working over Ospreay’s arm, but if I was being picky I’d say I’d have preferred a bit more focus. The work on the arm was good, as was Ospreay’s selling of it, but as a story point it seemed to fade in and out of the match over its course. They did a great job of conveying their familiarity with each-other though, with both guys busting out new and innovative routes out of one another’s finishes (OsCutter and Back to the Future Driver).
It says a lot about the quality of these two performers that they managed to have a very What Culture ref bump induced interference segment, where Ospreay solidified his face turn by stopping Bea Priestley interfering on his behalf, without it negatively affecting the flow of their match too badly. They managed to work the somewhat heavy-handed but overall effective story point into the match then seamlessly flow back into the action. While this isn’t the best encounter, it was another very good match in their series and a solid way to cap off the World Cup.
What I was suprised at though was the result. With Ospreay being a WCPW regular and just having turned face I thought it made all the sense in the world for him to pick up the tournament win. Instead, the now multi-company story of Ospreay being unable to get the best of NJPW’s junior ace continued when KUSHIDA managed to catch Ospreay when going for an OsCutter and hit him with the Back to the Future small package driver to take the World Cup for Japan. I don’t have any problem with the booking here, I was just suprised. It definitely establishes the World Cup strongly as its own thing though, somewhat separate from the WCPW regular promotion, which will make future incarnations of the tournament (assuming they occur) all the more unpredictable and intriguing. ***3/4
After the match KUSHIDA celebrated, with Ospreay handing him the World Cup trophy and Bea showing KUSHIDA respect and apologizing for her interference. The show then abruptly cut off, I believe due to an upcoming episode of Loaded airing the events that immediately followed as the Prestige attacked both finalists.
The WCPW Pro Wrestling World Cup Final show was a thumbs in the middle affair overall. The actual World Cup content delivered and was booked well, but the non-tournament stuff in the middle of the show was mostly trash and dragged the show down significantly.