OTT Invasion Supershow
Tape Date: August 6th, 2016
Tivoli Theatre – Dublin, Ireland
Over The Top Wrestling returned to the Tivoli Theatre on the 6th August for their latest show entitled “The Invasion Supershow.” The show sold out weeks in advance for the first time in company history and featured a wide variety of flown in talent mixing it up with the regular home grown roster.
Travis Banks v Charlie Garrett***
The opening match features Banks’ debut in OTT, as the company continues to display a keen eye for spotting the next breakout talents on the UK scene. Garrett has been something of a regular in the promotion in 2016 and is already established as a hated heel. The match is an entertaining opener with Banks having the opportunity to showcase his impressive speed between the ropes, athleticism and blistering range of strikes and kicks. Garrett is one of those performers who genuinely seems to relish garnering heel heat and this match is no different. From his thick-rimmed glasses to his legitimately punchable face to his insistence on bad-mouthing the audience (even while selling Bank’s offence) to his ridiculous accidentally-on-purpose tripping on the ropes, to the goofy standing moonsault that always misses, he is the quintessential English buffoon. The match itself is an entertaining back and forth contest. Make no mistake, behind the tongue in cheek heel shtick, Garrett is a superb wrestler, combining a great look with some spectacular offence, including a beautiful leg lariat. Banks has no problem keeping pace with him and the crowd thoroughly enjoys this opener. The finish comes when Garrett momentarily distracts the referee, allowing him the chance to kick Banks in the balls for the cheap victory. This was a strong debut from Banks, who is clearly a talented performer and he managed to get over quickly with the audience. Hopefully he will be booked again in the future.
Post match, Lord of the Manor Paul Tracey comes to the ring with an offer for Garrett to join his new faction the Social Elite. Garrett is of course overjoyed and gratefully accepts. To the dismay of the OTT faithful, Tracey proceeds to announce that he has also recruited Workie (one half of the Lads from the Flats tag team) to work at the Manor, cleaning the toilets and performing other demeaning and menial duties. Workie hilariously explains that he has “five kids going back to school in September” and he needs the money. Workie as the reluctant dogsbody for the reviled heels should make for some comedy gold in the coming months and the eventual angle where he breaks free from their clutches should be a fantastic pay off.
The Gymnasties v Tyler Bate & Angel Cruz**1/2
This is a lethal lottery match for the tag titles, where the Nasties’ opponents are chosen by random “Lethal Lottery.” First to be chosen is Tyler Bate, who returns after a fantastic debut the previous month, where he put on a techinical masterclass against Jordan Devlin. At 19 years of age, Bate has more talent and potential than any wrestler in Europe and OTT again have proven their astuteness in booking him on a reguular basis going forward. His partner is none other than “The Ultrastar” Angel Cruz, who has been vainly chasing the tag titles for months, with little success. The match itself consists of Cruz doing his usual cowardly gimmick of standing on the ring apron and allowing his partner to all the dirty work, only tagging himself in when there is little apparent danger. As a result, the match basically becomes the Tyler Bate show. As well as his bewildering range of World of Sport style escapes, holds and stretches, he displays his phenomenal strength by performing a full squat with both opponents on his shoulders and later an effortless double vertical suplex. The finish comes when Bate eventually tires of Cruz’ antics and leaves him to the mercy of the tag champs who secure another successful title defence with a pair of super kicks. A quick shout out here to Irish wrestling veteran Justin Shape, the Nasties’ manager , who is fantastic at ringside throughout. He has a quick wit that few in the business can match, including his claim that Bate should no longer be allowed use European uppercuts since the Brits have opted to leave the EU, which cracked me (and everyone around me) up on the night. This was the usual entertaining comedy based match from the Gymnasties, who continue to be my personal favourite act in the company, as well as another opportunity for Tyler Bate to display his limitless potential.
Post match, the Body Bros hit the ring: a trio who look fantastic, but have mainly been used as jobbers thus far in their sporadic appearances. Their leader, Adam “Flex” Maxted is fresh from an appearance on a reality TV show (the name of which I have no inclination to research) and he takes issue with the fact that Angel Cruz dare call himself a superstar. He cuts a promo where he boasts about his social media popularity and proceeds to attack Cruz. He sticks his toe in the Ultrastar’s mouth (why I have no idea) and his stable mate takes a photo (hilariously needing two attempts to do so) to be posted on his Instagram.
Jigsaw v Sean Guinness***
Jigsaw has appeared an a number of OTT shows in the past and this match was billed as being against a mystery opponent, who turns out to be none other that Sean Guinnes. Guinness has been absent from OTT for over a year and has been extensively touring Japan, (including a stint as co holder of the Zero-1 six man tag titles with none other than Japanese legend Atsushi Onita). Guinness receives a decent welcome from the OTT crowd. This match is technically very sound, with some fantastic hard hitting and high flying offence, but for some reason the crowd are a little flat for a good portion of it. Perhaps this had something to do with the fact that they were unsure if Guinness was a face or a heel. While his return made them inclined to cheer for him he acts like a subtle heel throughout, interfering with Jigsaw’s mask and generally seeming quite aloof and unwilling to engage with them. He cements this with a heel promo after the match. In hindsight this would have been more effective being done pre-match, which would have established a clear face/heel divide and encouraged the crowd to get behind Jigsaw from the start. Nonetheless a very good bout which I appreciated far more on second viewing than I did live in person.
The Kings of the North v War Machine****
This was billed as the first time that the Kings had faced a team physically superior to them and the first time they had been given an opportunity against a non comedic opponent. The Kings of the North are the total package as a team. They have a fantastically intimidating entrance routine and theme song, they look the part and are excellent individual and collective workers. It continues to baffle me why we don’t see them booked further afield. War Machine are a sight to behold live in person, two huge men who hit like heavyweights but can move like cruiserweights when they want to. This was a really enjoyable hard hitting big man tag match. Right from the get go the chaos spills to the outside and we get an extended crowd brawling section. Both sides trade control segments and run through all their usual offensive routines. It is interesting seing the Kings having to work differently to their usual OTT matches as they have to sell a lot for the bigger Americans, which they pull it off remarkably well. The finishing sequence is pretty spectacular with a number of near falls that had me completely fooled. The Kings eventually get the win with a roll up, which sounds lame on paper but is anything but to the long term OTT viewer. The Kings have regularly stolen wins using the roll up and call backs like this are what sets the booking in OTT aside from many other promotions, rewarding the eagle eyed regular observer and increasing the molten heat that the heels have already built up. There was one spot that annoyed me a little, when Bonesaw from the Kings of the North pulls the referee out of the ring when he is about to count to three for a War Machine win, which should surely have drawn a DQ. Instead the match proceeded as if nothing had happened. I’m not normally one to read too much into such things, but it did take me out of a match that until then had me completely engrossed. Nonetheless a match that was great fun both live and on second viewing and one that keeps the Kings looking stronger than ever going forward.
Post match the Kings are joined in the ring by Katie Harvey, their new ally, who as ever is wielding a pair of scissors. In recent months the Kings and Katie have developed an inexplicable fetish for cutting their opponents hair and they now threaten to add War Machine to their list of victims. Before they can do so, however, Justin Shape, and Danny Butler (previous victims of the Kings’ penchant for facial grooming) hit the ring to make the save. In a complex turn of events they are joined by the Session Moth Martina and eventually succeed in running off all the heels, including Harvey, who ends up being rescued by Charlie Garrett, (who’s involvement is kind of puzzling). The upshot of all this however is that Shape and Butler challenge all the three members of the Kings of the North to a handicap match at the September show. A somewhat bewildering and over-convoluted segment ends with Martina recording an in ring promo for Botchamania which is a cool little indication of the buzz the promotion has right now.
Zack Sabre Jr v Pete Dunne****1/4
Our semi main event is one I have been dying to see for months, having already been cancelled once due to an unfortunate injury to Zack. This was an incredible live experience. The announcement of Zack for this match at a show earlier in the year was legitimately one of the biggest pops I have heard in OTT and the crowd were similarly hyped to see him here. I have seen Sabre Jr wrestle many times on tape but his was the first time I had seen him in person. He has a superstar aura about him that belies his somewhat laconic, laid back persona. He semed genuinely excited to wrestle in Dublin and he was more fired up and intense in this match than I have ever seen him before. The match itself was exceptional. British wrestling at its best has nothing to do with the cute escapology based mat wrestling for which it has gained an unfair reputation. Instead we were treated to a hard hitting display of realistic technical grappling of which the likes of Terry Rudge and William Regal would be proud. Everything these two did looked like it was meant to hurt, every strike they hit was clean and resounding and their transitioning between holds and submission holds was seamless. This was two of the very best on the planet putting on a clinic and I loved every second of it. In something of a surprise, it was Dunne who took the clean win with his Drop Dead finisher.
Post match, Dunne, normally an out and out heel in OTT, breaks with character completely, showing some humility and shakes hands with Sabre Junior, bowing to him in respect. This felt like a significant moment between the two men, almost a passing of the torch from Sabre Jr to the guy at the forefront of the next wave of breakout British talent. Dunne finishes by challenging Luther Ward to a title rematch at the next show, one he has a great chace of winning. Superb match that is as good as any in OTT history.
Before the main event, OTT owner Gerry Humperdink hits the ring and announces a number of matches for the next show at the Dublin Fringe Festival, including Mark Haskins v Tommy End and Jordan Devlin v Big Damo, both of which should be fantastic. He goes on to give details of WrestleCon in October, which appears to be a double header of shows with a number of flown in talents appearing. He announces Chris Hero (to which I proceed to lose my tiny mind), as well as Abyss, X Pac and Melina who will be one of the participants in a tournament to crown the first Womens’ champion.
Uptown Funkers (Will Ospreay and Ryan Smile) vs Marty Scurll and Jordan Devlin****1/2
Our main event is every bit as mouth watering on paper as the match that preceded it and a number of storylines/subplots are contained within. Ryan Smile and Marty Scurll continue their rivalry in OTT, Will Ospreay and Scurll are adding another chapter to their spectacular feud that has raged all over the world and Jordan Devlin is given the chance to main event a show following on from his heel turn in July.
The Funkers’ ring entrance is as fun as ever, and has the Tivoli Theayre hopping. Joyless fucker that I am, their inviting audience members into the ring to do the Macarena and the back and forth microphone “banter” that directly precededs the match has me rolling my eyes a little, but the audience in general seems to lap it up. The match itself is as spectacular an exhibition of modern high flying wrestling as you will ever see. These are four world class atheletes at the very top of their game and they gel every bit as well as you would expect. Ospreay has that magical quality as a high flyer about him that the likes of Mysterio had at his peak and if he keeps up his rate of progression there is no reason why he cannot reach similar heights in the future. When he steps in the ring he elevates everyone around him to greater levels of performance. It cannot be any co-incidence that the two nights that the Tivoli has been its most packed both featured him in the main event. He is a special one in a lifetime talent and it was a real privilege to see him again at close quarters. At one point he hits a shooting star press off the ring apron completely out of nowhere and lands perfectly on his feet. Ridiculous. Make no mistake though, the other three participants in this match play huge roles too. Scurll is a fantastic villain and is quite unique in that he plays a heel character but is so good at it that people really want to cheer for him. His finger cracking spot continues to both perplex and sicken me. Smile is on the verge of breaking out in 2017. He has finally been booked by Rev Pro in recently months and I could easily see him as being a contender for entry to BOLA or the CWC in 2017. Not only is he an incredibly athletic high flyer who hits all his stuff cleanly and consistently, he has bucket loads of charisma and is a made man as far as the OTT faithful are concerned. The suicide dive he hits here over the ringpost manages to be awe inspiring and terrifying in equal measure. This match is a huge test for Jordan Devlin and he passes it with flying colours. He looked comfortable and believable in his new heel persona, he meshed with Scurll like they have been tagging for years and he effortlessly kept pace with everything the others were were doing. It would be impossible to give a move for move breakdown of everything that happens in such an insane match, nor would I want to spoil it for anyone yet to see it, save to say YOU NEED TO SEE THIS MATCH. It could headline any card in any promotion anywhere in the world. This is state of the art wrestling, with some of the most believable nearfalls I have ever seen. Wonderful stuff.
Post match the Funkers enjoy a prolonged celebration, dancing through the crowd and Ospreay assures us that he will return in 2017, despite his vastly reduced schedule.
Overall this was the best show in OTT history and easily the best show I can recall from any promotion in this country. You cannot argue with the quality of match-up from top to bottom on this card. OTT continue to knock it out of the park. While they seemingly have gone the “super indy” route more and more with their flown in talent since the turn of the year, they also continue to build compelling logical storylines that reward the long term viewer and promote their native talent well. There is something special happeing in the Tivoli Theatre every month and I feel lucky to finally have a credible wrestling company on my doorstep that caters for my tastes as a fan. Month on month they continue to improve on the last and their talented roster are clearly having the time of their lives doing so. They have recently added the commentary team of Aongus Óg Mc Anally and Dom Marnell to their VOD shows. On their debut showing they did a great job, and added greatly to the viewing experience. They had clearly done their homework and came across as both knowledgeable and likable.