OTT ScrapperMania 3 on April 15, 2017
National Stadium, South Circular Road, Dublin
OTT made their debut at the National Stadium on April 15, 2017, the biggest show in their, (or any Irish independent company) history. The show sold out completely in a matter of days, with headline acts The Elite and Uptown Funkers contributing to the sale of a remarkable 2240 tickets.
The venue itself was ideal for pro wrestling. It is normally used for boxing so the sight lines to the ring were excellent from all angles and seats. The atmosphere throughout the night was tremendous, with a responsive crowd determined to make themselves heard. The show aired live on FloSlam – though there were lost of problems with the live feed. The replay should be available on FloSlam and on OTT’s normal Vimeo service this weekend. There were long queues for the bathrooms all night and there were reports that the bar sold out of beer midway through the event. Otherwise, I would say that using the National Stadium itself was a big success as a venue and OTT should aim long term to use it a number of times a year in the manner that Rev Pro use York Hall for their major shows.
Grado vs. Charlie Sterling
This was a predictably comedic affair. Grado’s ring entrance was a highlight of the night with the crowd belting out “Like A Prayer” with gusto. The match itself was pretty forgettable. On a long show with nine matches in total, in hindsight this could have been shortened considerably. As per usual, Sterling ran through his usual spots, spending half the match with his arse hanging out of his trunks and hitting his moonsault onto no one. It would be nice to see some character progression from Charlie as time goes on – the Union Jack wielding comedic heel has a limited shelf life and he has bundles of talent. Grado got the win with an RKO.
Jigsaw vs. Scotty Davis
Davis is a young Irish wrestler who is very highly regarded by those in the know. He made his debut the previous month in the Tivoli in a match that was warmly received. Here he was pitted against the indie veteran Jigsaw who has been a semi regular for OTT since the early days. Jigsaw was a very wise choice of opponent for Scotty, who was able to guide the youngster through the match, allowing him to sell and then giving him the opportunity to fire back when the time was right. I really hope OTT continue giving opportunities like this to young wrestlers. It is clear from the reactions Scotty has been getting that there is an appetite out there for young Irish wrestlers being given the chance to grow and develop before our eyes.
Jurn Simmons vs. Paul Tracey
Seeing Massive Jurn live and in person was one of the highlights of the night for me. His ring entrance has become the thing of legend and he didn’t disappoint, gyrating and playing his air guitar to the point of near exhaustion. Those around me who had never seen him before commented on his superstar aura and he came across as a huge deal in this environment. The match itself was solid, with Tracey a more than capable opponent as ever. Many of the crowd were unfamiliar with Jurn and my attempts to start a “There’s Only One Jurn Simmons” chant were pathetically futile. As a debut, a squash match may have been more effective in getting him over: nonetheless I hope we see Jurn more often in Dublin.
Justin Shape & Logan Bryce vs. The Gymnasties
This was a grudge match that had been building since the Christmas show when Justy turned on the Nasties, costing them their tag titles. I was so happy that this turned out to be one of the best matches of the night. Justy is in the shape of his life and he bumped like a madman, taking some crazy moves on his surgically repaired neck. Everyone came off well here. For a debuting team, Justy and Logan were immediately established as credible threat and their ring entrance with matching jackets and cigars made them seem like a big deal. There were a number of great near falls and lots ringside shenanigans from William Humperdink on the outside. Post-match we had some important storyline advancement with Sammy D walking away from B Cool in disgust. Sammy is a guy who has been improving in leaps and bounds and a heel turn and singles run could do him the world of good. It kind of feels we have come to the end of the line with the Nasties and there really isn’t very much left for them to do in OTT as a pair.
Team Martina: Alex Windsor, Martina & Nixon Newell vs. Team Katey: Bea Priestley, Jinny & Katey Harvey
This was another enjoyable match. Martina’s entrance was a sight to behold. The response she received nearly blew the roof off the stadium and there is no doubt that she is the most beloved act in the company. Alex was making her debut and had a strong showing here. Martina’s in-ring is improving rapidly and really showing the benefit of her getting bookings pretty much every weekend since the turn of the year. Her forearm strikes really pack a punch now. Champion Katey looked like an absolute star. However Jinny and Nixon for me were head and shoulders above everyone in the match. Seeing Jinny live only reinforces that she is one of the best true heels in the business and she carries herself like an absolute star. Nixon is one of the best female wrestlers on the planet. The highlight of the match was her hitting a 450 splash to the floor, a crazy bump considering she is due to report to Full Sail soon. After the match we had a Windsor heel turn as OTT continued to advance storylines for future shows, presumably setting up a match/feud with Martina.
OTT Tag Team Championship: The Kings Of The North (Bonesaw, Damien Corvin & Dunkan Disorderly) (c) vs. The Lads From The Flats (Martin, Paddy M & Workie)
This was the best match on the show and the best OTT has ever put on featuring local talent. Both teams had special ring entrances – The Kings accompanied by drummers and with flag bearers and The Lads with a DJ on stage. Martin was the surprise returnee here to a big reception. The Lads and The Kings have been feuding on and off since the tag belts came into being in OTT and there is a case for this being the greatest feud in the company’s history. The match itself was pure insanity with a number of crazy nearfalls on which I completely bit. I also appreciated the extended segment where the Kings worked over Paddy M’s leg. His selling was exemplary (and even continued into the post-match rave!) and led to a fantastic hot tag. Paddy might be the most underrated wrestler in Europe and there is a case to be made for him being the best wrestler on the night. A veteran of many years on the Irish and UK scene, everything he does looks smooth and effortless, while his character work is perfect. I would be totally on board for a singles push for him. If built properly, a push and title match for Paddy could be a great long term storyline for the company moving forward. I honestly believed the time was right for the Lads to get their big win on this stage, but at the same time KOTN are great champions and have many potential matches left.
Marty Scurll vs. Jay White
Scurll is an absolute superstar and got a massive reaction from the OTT crowd as ever. Most of the crowd seemed unfamiliar with Jay and he struggled a little to connect with them. This was a very good match, one of the more technically sound ones on the card. I felt the crowd was beginning to lose a little energy at this point, so Scurll and his constant playing up to them was the ideal way to wake them up. Scurll is at his best as an out and out face and if were politically possible in the future with his ROH commitments, OTT should really consider him for a run as champion. White put in a good showing here. He looks great and is as fundamentally sound as you would expect from someone trained in the New Japan dojo. I did feel Scurll perhaps swarmed all over Jay a little and as a newcomer he would have benefitted from having a larger portion of the match on offence.
Zack Gibson vs. Angel Cruz
This was an unannounced match and Gibson’s OTT debut. Given that many in the crowd would have been unfamiliar with him, and given that the show had at this point gone well over 3 1/2 hours without an interval, Gibson’s ability to get heel heat froma tired crowd was mightily impressive. He ran through his usual “Number One” schtick only to be interrupted by Angel Cruz. I was delighted that OTT found a spot on the card for Cruz. He is one of the funniest guys in wrestling and always comes up with something completely unique and memorable when he is booked. Here he was accompanied to the ring by a choir. In a genius little twist of character work, the choir botched his entrance and he responded with a typical tantrum. The match itself was pretty much an extended squash, with Gibson looking strong on his debut. I hope he is booked as regular from now on. The heat he could garner in the Tivoli would be nuclear.
The Elite (Kenny Omega, Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) vs. Uptown Funkers (Lio Rush, Ryan Smile & Will Ospreay)
I had high hopes for this main event. The Uptown Funkers, either as a team or against one another, have delivered some of the greatest matches in OTT history. They come to work hard and steal the show and the late replacement of Ricochet with Lio Rush only heightened my sense of anticipation. Alas, The Elite had different ideas. I should note from the outset that I am very much on an island in not enjoying this match. Literally everything that The Elite did from the moment they stepped through the curtain was lapped up by the crowd. Indeed, perhaps that was part of the problem. At least three-quarters of the match was typical Elite comedy schtick, such as doing commentary on the house mic while filming the match on their phones. I expected there to be some of this type of stuff in the match but here it felt completely nonsensical, overdone and excessive, almost a parody of a wrestling match. The idea that the company’s champion Ryan Smile had to lie trapped in a sharpshooter like a jobber for an extended period, while The Elite filmed footage for their YouTube channel blows my mind.
I kept waiting for the match to escalate into the nutty spot fest we know these guys are capable of, but it never really came. I understand too that this was the fourth night in a grueling European Tour for the guys and that they were over anyway without really doing a whole lot, but the nagging feeling remains that this was very much a phoned in-house show type performance. So much of what makes OTT great is that people come and wrestle with hunger and heart and characters for whom we feel genuine affection and emotion. This main event felt cynical, empty, devoid of any reason to care or become emotionally invested. It felt like The Elite were only there to shill their merch and put themselves over and made no effort to help elevate the local champion or Lio Rush on his debut for example.
The post match, however, was where things really fell off a cliff for me. All the local babyfaces were in the ring and we were being treated to the usual Uptown Funkers party when The Elite proceeded to superkick every single one of them and hit a Meltzer Drive on referee Niall Fox. The whole scene left me confused and annoyed. Having worked so hard to put on an amazing show which put Irish wrestlers and Irish wrestling on a pedestal, having all the most beloved characters in the company (including the heavyweight champion no less!) laid out by an act that probably will never set foot in OTT seems ridiculous to me. The Elite couldn’t have been anymore over as they were, so they gained nothing from this either. A disappointing and baffling end to a fantastic, historically significant night of wrestling.
OTT SCRAPPERMANIA 3 ON APRIL 15, 2017
Great - 8/10
Despite my misgivings about the main event, this was a great show and a great night out. OTT really pushed the boat out with Wrestlemania-style special entrances and spared no expense on production. The local talent did themselves proud and were all involved in the best matches of the night. The National Stadium is a great venue for wrestling and I really hope the next show, in August, featuring Mick Foley does as well as this one. For any company to draw a 2000+ crowd is a huge achievement - to do so in only your third year, when you normally draw around 500, with a potential market around the size of Manchester, is genuinely stunning. The formula of using big names to draw a crowd and using hard working local talent on the undercard to keep them coming back could be very successful moving forward. There were fifteen Irish wrestlers featured on the card - in a country where there is little tradition of independent pro wrestling and only a small handful of wrestling schools, this is again most impressive.