We’re in London at the Coronet Theatre for the biggest Lucha Forever show to date. The card for the event is out of this world with just about every top UK indie guy appearing.
October 5, 2017
Watch: Lucha Forever on Demand
Hosts are Magic Mark and Rob Maltman.
Road to Glory Ladder Match
Kip Sabian def. Bea Priestley, Cara Noir, Chief Deputy Dunne, Maverick Mayhew & Paul Robinson
This is Money in the Bank, basically, which is one of the most irritating gimmicks WWE have persisted with in quite some time and it’s not the kind of thing I want my indies to be borrowing. Mayhew is a skinny young kid. He’s not even 18 years old. Robinson, as you might remember, “retired” earlier in the year but now he’s doing ladder matches and shit. That’s not how retirements work, Paul. Cara Noir’s such a tremendous gimmick. Imagine it in PROGRESS at the Ballroom; my god. Lucha Forever have a bash at making it look incredible but only succeed messing it up with their weird filter.
Ladder matches are a rarity in BritWres so nobody has the experience of them. Robbo knows the ladder is a weapon, not something to slowly walk up. Robinson brings the most logic of anyone, dodging the ladder, climbing quickly and looking to take his opponents out. Everyone else behaves like a chump. Even Cara climbs slowly. I never got that. It’s like being in a race and when you get the near the finishing line you slow right up and wait for everyone to catch you. The spots onto ladders are the highlights. Cara Noir hitting a piledriver on Bea on the ladder for example, pops the shit out of the crowd. Unfortunately Bea is back up within moments to hit a Cheeky Nandos kick, which is the second massive issue with the match: the selling is completely inconsistent. Kip shoves her off another ladder and pulls down the briefcase. Bea took the two sickest bumps in this match, fair play to her. The match felt wildly inconsistent from every possible perspective and came up short of being a big old spotfest. Some of the spots were nice but honestly, this was forgettable. ***
Omari def. Moose
This is an intriguing match up as Moose thinks he’s a solid agile big man and Omari actually is. Moose is a hoss; he needs to come to terms with that. In his defence he plays the ‘big man’ in this match and allows Omari to shine by hitting a wider variety of offence. It’s great to see Omari developing the way he is. Omari’s selling is getting good. I’m convinced that he’s in trouble. His short term game should be taking a thrashing from more established names. I’m a big fan of Omari’s leaping leg lariat in the corner, and when Moose stops fucking around with his arm pump business and just wrestles I like him a lot more. His “Moose” business results in a double KO spot where the crowd chant ahead of the referee and chant Moose. The trouble with this is once that bullshit has gotten into some fans heads it never leaves. The match is at its best when they start kicking out at one, to mess with each others heads. Moose eats The Big O for the pin. Omari seems to get put over frequently considering his relative inexperience; he beat Keith Lee earlier in the year. Good showing here and Omari will only get better. He’s already actually good. ***1/4
Moustache Mountain def. Aussie Open
After the British Strong Style angle in PROGRESS it’s nice to see Trent and Tyler back goofing around as Moustache Mountain again. Incidentally I’m very impressed with Lucha Forever’s “Ultimo Battle” canvas for this show. Also the green ropes. It’s all about branding and making their show look different to everyone elses. I appreciate the effort.
Mark Davis vs. Trent Seven is something I’ve wanted to see ever since Davis set foot on British soil. There’s a lot of pleasant comedy here with Trent calling the shots. This includes a few comedy miscues but the match takes a turn for the serious when Dunkzilla comes in to clean house. I love his intensity. There’s a cracking spot where Davis javelins Tyler into a flying cutter from Kyle Fletcher. Oh, it’s tasty. If they work on the distance of that it could be a world-beating spot. Davis’ one handed powerbomb on Tyler is sensational too. It’s a pity his pull-up piledriver on Tyler doesn’t come off. When I saw him hit that move the first time my mouth was agape. Power, combined with danger. Kyle gets isolated and the Tyler Driver ’97 finishes. This was really good and all the Londoners who weren’t familiar with Aussie Open just found themselves a new favourite team. ****
Naomichi Marufuji vs. Pete Dunne
Pete Dunne shows Marufuji a little respect but stays within character. Pete Dunne vs. random indie darlings has been a tremendous streak in 2017. I loved the Meiko Satomura interaction at KoT and CIMA for FCP. Both these guys are good at creating an atmosphere without doing much. They’re also good at slow building logical matches. Marufuji was criticised for doing this too often but he’s really good at it. Pete Dunne gets a lot of praise, and rightly so, but here’s a criticism (and one that applies to a lot of indie boys); slapping your thigh on a double stomp isn’t necessary. The basic guide to thigh slapping is that if I notice it, without looking for it, then it’s bad.
Dunne does fine work in getting over Marufuji’s big spots. He falls out of the ring to sell the Shiranui. The same can’t be said of Marufuji. Maybe the positioning was off but the Bitter End sees him roll out of the ring and he’s miles from the ropes. Dunne does fine work, again, in trying to scramble across the ring to get him. The match has a twenty minute time limit, which strikes me as somewhat short, which is deliberate to allow both men to not lose. You don’t get a lot of time limit draws on the indies and you really should. It’s a fine way of building to a rematch, even if that’s not intention and it’s solely for political reasons. Marufuji gets the Shiranui off the top but can’t cover in time and we finish in a draw. Good booking. This was solid but both guys have a higher gear. ***3/4
Toni Storm def. Viper
Two Mae Young competitors. “This is a rematch of the semi-finals” chirps Magic Mark. Quarter finals mate. If it was a semi-final one of them would have been in the final. Their quarter final was one of my favourite Mae Young matches to be fair, clocking in at ***3/4. A lot of the stuff they do here reappeared in the Femmes Fatales match a few days later in Germany. The bridging and handshaking etc. I’m not saying that’s lazy because it’s a different audience but it’s on the uncreative side. Having already seen the match it means I lose interest in it pretty quickly. As in Germany the hip attack is followed by Strong Zero for the Toni win. ***
Last Man Standing Lucha Forever Championship Match
Mark Haskins def. Chris Ridgeway
Haskins is a heel in Lucha Forever and that’s refreshing. Part of the issue with undergraps promotions is they frequently copy the main promotions for heel/face alignment. Even ATTACK! have opted to stop using Travis Banks as a heel. Ridgeway hasn’t wrestled in London before because, for some inexplicable reason, he doesn’t get booked anywhere. Lucha Forever have got themselves a genuine star in Ridgeway though, and a leg up on everywhere else. He’s a fresh match for any number of UK wrestlers and has an intense, snug style.
Haskins as a babyface does a lot of in-ring technical stuff so it’s nice to see a switch in style here. They kick shit out of each other on the floor, for example. The lack of rules allows Haskins to put a beating on Ridgeway, with kicks and normally illegal plunder. It draws tremendous sympathy for Ridgeway and Haskins knows when to assert his cockiness. The Last Man Standing rule creates a unique situation where Haskins taps out to a choke, which would normally see the belt switch, only for him to realise that wouldn’t stop the match. Then he found a counter out of it. If that sets up another match where Ridgeway gets that choke on we could be on for storytelling gold. Ridgeway takes some sickening bumps here; including a powerbomb through two set up chairs. It all helps toward his sympathy as Haskins administers a savage beating. Ridgeway does an excellent job of convincing the crowd that he’s got nothing left. Fatigue selling is hard to get right but Haskins level of abuse is so severe that it leaves Ridgeway needing to do very little but sell. Haskins kills him with spots until a Package Piledriver onto an already busted chair and Ridgeway is done. ***3/4
Haskins nails Ridgeway with a belt shot post match to show what a dick he is as champion. This leads to some….unusual booking. Ryan Smile, the promoter of Lucha Forever, comes out to stop Haskins from being a prick. Smile wants a fight, which makes no sense and has rumblings of ‘what the fuck is he doing’ from around the crowd. If Ryan wanted to get his champion over he should have taken a thrashing from him here. Instead he superkicks Haskins, leaves him laying and then lays out Kip Sabian when he tries to cash in his title shot. Smile hitting the Cutter on Sabian is met with legitimate heat and I bet Ryan thinks he booked himself as a babyface here. If you want to be an authority figure, that’s completely fine but don’t book yourself as the saviour of babyfaces when it’s your booking that’s put them in peril to begin with. You can’t do both. The crowd’s reaction was a palpable rejection of this whole booking concept. Basically Ryan, pick a role and stick to it.
LDRS 2000 def. CCK (Brookes & Banks) & Jimmy Havoc
This was booked as CCK vs. LDRS2000 but Kid Lykos broke his wrist so that’s not happening. It’s an intriguing concept to pair up Ospreay with the LDRS although the way the show has been booked the crowd has like 15 other things on their mind before we even start. The talent in this match is astounding and I can see why LF opted to put it on last but it’s probably the wrong positioning for it because there’s no storyline. It’s just a bunch of famous dudes having a throwaway trios match and there have been a shit load of those this year. At least they do something to distinguish here by having Jimmy Havoc wear Kid Lykos’ mask.
Ospreay does a unique job of selling Brookes’ wet willy. “He was touching my brain” Ospreay claimed on Twitter. The story is “poor Will Ospreay” as he takes a beating from everyone. Jimmy Havoc slips in one of my favourite spots; the blinded babyface accidentally hot tagging a heel who’s cleared the other faces out of the babyface corner. They do a lot of fun trios stuff with Zack bringing the creative stretches. Ospreay thinks he’s a cat. It feels like a ‘best of’ match from an assortment of matches these six have had over the past year or so. There are bits and pieces that look familiar and bits that are new. The problem lies in the sheer number of British Strong Style trios matches on the UK scene this year. We don’t get the same thrills that were had back in January when RPW ran a trios match at the Cockpit that blew me away. It doesn’t help that the fans are burned out and the show ran super late. You can hear them slowly losing interest in the match, only popping when Ospreay does something daft. Whether it’s a flip, or the sell on the ear thing, or doing tandem Chickenwings with Marty. Some of the sequences are terrific but it would have been better positioned lower down the card before everyone got to mentally fatigued. The structure is way better towards the end with Lykos preventing Ospreay from scoring the winning pin on Havoc. Which leads to Marty, the bastard, finger snapping his bad finger. Havoc is treated as largely disposable here, as he’s the last gasp replacement, and Ospreay has him beaten clean once before hitting the OsCutter for the eventual win. ***1/2
British Strong Style turn up to challenge LDRS 2000 to another trios match. The CCK match didn’t quite pan out how Lucha Forever were hoping but that has a lot of potential to be one of the best matches of the year.
This was a good show from Lucha Forever with everything being good at the very least. I enjoyed the variety on the show, although live reports suggest they had issues with overrunning, which is why the crowd feels tired as the show progresses. There are three really good matches on this show and they’re all different. Your mileage on the main will vary depending on if you’ve not seen this style overdone during the year. Lucha Forever doesn’t quite have an identity of its own yet but it’s fast becoming one of the promotions in the UK that’s putting out cards and storylines that are drawing crowds. It’s not wXw on the storylines and it’s not PROGRESS on the match quality but it’s a promotion that is getting there. They’ve come a long way in a short time and I appreciate them using guys like Ridgeway and Sabian to differentiate from other promotions. Both those guys are going places.