Homecoming was OTT’s first main show of the year after taking the whole month of January off. The show was the first to be held in OTT’s potential new home venue of The Arena on Suir Road and it was a stacked line up to christen the new place. The show was headlined by a dual main event of the first ever OTT cage match for the tag straps and Jordan Devlin defending his newly won No Limits belt against the debuting former EVOLVE Champion Timothy Thatcher. The undercard featured returns to OTT for Speedball Mike Bailey, Keith Lee and Zack Sabre Jr and the OTT debuts of Adam Brooks and Chuck Taylor.
Over the Top Wrestling
February 3, 2018
The Arena on Suir Road
Watch: OTT on Demand
Trent Seven def. LJ Cleary
Okay so bear with me on this one. This match was initially scheduled to be Pete Dunne against Ryan Smile in a battle of two former NLW Champions. Unfortunately Pete was pulled from the show for WWE based reasons and Trent Seven was named as an adequate replacement to replace his British Strong Style mate. On the night of the show however Ryan Smile was not in Dublin so Trent issued an open challenge to anyone in the audience. This brought many laughs but sadly no challengers and Trent was forced to extend his challenge to anyone backstage.
It’s a beautiful life by Ace of Base was played and the OTT crowd exploded as this meant the arrival of LJ Cleary! LJ is a favourite of the OTT fans, especially those who attend the monthly Contenders shows on which LJ has shone recently. This was an opportunity not to be missed and LJ certainly grasped the moment as he more than held his own on the mic with Trent before the match even going so far as to brilliantly call Trent “ Tyler Bate’s fat da”. This match struck the balance between comedy and solid in ring work perfectly. Trent battered poor LJ with chops but LJ never looked out of his league. Trent would get the win after a ferocious snap piledriver but LJ definitely established himself as someone to contend with on the main shows in the future. The perfect opener. ***1/2
Mark Haskins def. Adam Brooks
This month marked one calendar year since Mark Haskins returned to OTT and wrestling in general from what was supposed to be a career ending neck injury. In that year Haskins has been pretty much an ever present on every OTT show while retaining a ridiculously high standard in every match he had and in August he captured the NLW title from Ryan Smile. Haskins lost the title to Jordan Devlin at December’s Being the Elite show and this match against the debuting Brooks left little doubt that even though he is no longer the champ Haskins is very much still a top man in OTT. This match was a good if somewhat forgettable affair but exactly the kind of win Haskins needed coming off the loss to Devlin. Brooks impressed where he could but really the match was all about Haskins and he got the tapout win via sharpshooter. ***1/4
OTT Gender Neutral Championship
Martina def. Angel Cruz, B. Cool & Chuck Taylor
I didn’t like this match on the night and on rewatch I still don’t like it. The action in the match was good and all the participants worked hard but there was never any doubt that Martina was going to win. What I really disliked about it though is that the match has led to the breakup of the ultra popular Angel Cruzers team of Angel Cruz and B-Cool. The Cruzers are in my opinion one of the best comedy acts in all of wrestling and they are being broken up before OTT have even scratched the surface of everything they could do as a duo. Chuck was fine and his return as a Session Moth lookalike got a good pop from the crowd but ultimately the match was a vehicle to speed up the split between Angel and B-Cool. Martina retained when Angel tapped out to a crossface just as it appeared that B-Cool was about to get the win after a brainbuster on Chuck. **1/2
Zack Sabre Jr. def. Travis Banks
Zack Sabre Jr. is somebody I have been anticipating returning to OTT since his one previous appearance against Pete Dunne in August 2016. What a return this proved to be as this match was everything you would want a ZSJ and Travis Banks match to be. It had some stiff kicks, great matwork, phenomenal transitions and Zack at his dickhead best. Zack is always great as heel and he seems to have an extra bit of torque on all his submissions and his strikes seem to hurt that much more. Zack from the off was deadset and laser focused on Banks left ankle and heel and this proved to be no accident. Banks struggled to deal with Sabre’s superior grappling ability but when he got an opportunity to kick the EVOLVE Champion he left his mark. However Sabre’s technical prowess was too much to overcome and Banks was forced to tap out to a heel hook elevated Boston crab type submission. Just a fantastic match that I could watch over and over again. ****
Keith Lee def. Mike Bailey
Earlier on the show it was established in a backstage video that the winner of this match would have a match at OTT’s biggest show of the year: ScrapperMania IV. Speedball has been a low key MVP of OTT cards over recent months with fantastic matches against Matt Riddle, Jordan Devlin and Nathan Martin but this match was his best so far in an OTT ring. The match told a simple story of the smaller Bailey needing numerous strikes to takedown the much larger Lee while all Lee needed was one shot to slow down Bailey. The match built wonderfully with Lee using his power advantage throughout but Bailey slowly but surely breaking the Limitless One down as the match wore on. The match peaked with one of the most amazing sights I have ever seen when Lee hit the Spirit Bomb on Speedball and Bailey bounced what looked to be nearly a foot off the mat such was the velocity with which the move was delivered. Somehow Bailey would kick out of the pin attempt that followed and even rallied momentarily and had Lee reeling but he took one risk too many and when attempting a shooting star knee drop Lee caught him hit what I can only describe as a death valley driver powerslam hybrid for the win. A brilliant match. ****1/4
OTT No Limits Championship
Jordan Devlin def. Timothy Thatcher
This match was my first time seeing Thatcher live in person and I was a fan before but he is now one of my favourite wrestlers in the world. If ever there was a guy that gets all the little things that goes into being a top wrestler its Thatcher. From the moment Devlin walked through the curtain Tim never took his eyes off his opponent. He was almost shark like in his gaze as he waited for his moment to finally reach out and grab his prize. He worked over Devlin’s ribs, his arm and his ankle and it felt like at any moment Jordan could tap to one of the disgustingly vicious submissions Thatcher applied.
While I loved Thatcher in this match don’t for a moment think I am ignoring Devlin’s performance. In his first defense of the NLW belt which he won from Mark Haskins at December’s Being the Elite, Devlin had to earn every little moment he got in this one. He worked from underneath right from the get go and while there was a vocal minority in support of Thatcher in the crowd Devlin had the backing of the OTT fans like never before. Thatcher tortured Devlin with knee strikes to the ribs while applying a variety of submissions any chance he got but Jordan showed true resilience and fighting spirit to not quit and fight on. It was a burst of offense from the champ catching Thatcher off guard culminating with the package piledriver with was enough for Devlin to retain his crown. ****1/4
and christened Jordan the first ever OTT World Heavyweight Champion. Interestingly as Devlin celebrated with his new title Zack Sabre Jr made his way to the ring, took a look at the new belt and kissed Devlin on the head. Was this a kiss of death from the Suzukigun member?
OTT Tag Team Championships Steel Cage Match
The Rapture def. Kings of the North
The first ever steel cage match in OTT and it delivered on what it promised. The match could only begin when all six men had entered the ring and would end when all three members from one team had escaped the cage either over the top or through the door. The Kings entered as reigning champions of over 400 days dating back to December 2016 when they defeated The Gymnasties at The Dream Before Christmas show. The match began with some brawling around the arena with the Kings trio taking it to the challengers outside the cage. Eventually they made their way back to the ring but Bonesaw got trapped inside the cage on his own with Gibson, Sterling and Samuels when Samuels put a chain and lock on the cage door stranding Corvin and Dunkan outside the cage. The Rapture worked over ‘saw as they prevented Corvin and Dunkan from entering the cage.
When the British trio hit a spike piledriver on Bonesaw that was all the Kings could take as they went backstage and re-emerged with a ladder. Corvin made it to the top of the 15ft high structure and flew off the top with a crossbody onto all three members of The Rapture. But that wasn’t the end of the insanity as Dunkan was still on the outside and when he reached the top of the cage he entered the match in breath taking fashion with a frog splash to the fallen Zack Gibson and then the match could begin. All six men were beaten and bruised at this stage and neither team let up as they used the cage as a weapon to batter each other. The Rapture looked to have the match won as Gibson and Samuels escaped the cage but Sterling was snatched by the Kings and he would be left in a one on three in the cage just like Bonesaw had suffered at the beginning of the match. All three members of the Kings climbed the cage to escape but when Gibson and Samuels used chairs to prevent their escape Bonesaw and Dunkan dropped back into the ring and left through the door to get at Liverpool’s #1 and the East End Butcher. This distraction allowed Sterling to recover, scale the cage and, in a moment never to be forgotten, deliver a superplex from the top of the cage to Corvin. As Sterling stirred his Rapture mates began to pull him out of the cage as all three member of the Kings tried to prevent Sterling’s escape they just didn’t have enough left and Sterling escaped and the reign of the Kings came to an end. The gasp of the crowd as the realisation set in that the Kings had finally been beaten was almost movie-esque. As The Rapture celebrated and it dawned on The Kings that they were no longer the champions the crowd showed their appreciation for the fallen champions. Not a great technical match but a spectacle and moment that will be remembered in OTT history. ****1/4
Homecoming was without a doubt the best top to bottom show OTT has ever produced. From LJ and Trent in the opener all the way through to The Rapture ending the momentous reign of The Kings of the North in the main event this show had it all. Top class wrestling, matches with stakes and consequences, unforgettable moments… The final four matches all being **** or higher tell you just how much I enjoyed this. Needless to say I highly recommend you seek out this show and get aboard the OTT train as they steam towards ScrapperMania IV in May.