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The Week In British Wrestling: WWE UK heroes go home

Main photo by David J Wilson

Here’s five things you need to know about British wrestling this week:

1) 2016’s breakout promotion started 2017 with a bang!

After a 2016 in which they broke out from being a solid regional promotion into one with national -- even international -- buzz, Fight Club: PRO began their 2017 season at their regular home -- the Fixxion Warehouse in Wolverhampton -- last Friday, with All The Best 2017.

With the rump of their roster playing a big part in the WWE United Kingdom Championship, it was something of a homecoming for the stars of that tournament, and runner-up Pete Dunne emerged at the beginning of the show to defend his FCP Championship in an open challenge.

This was answered by Joe Coffey, who made his FCP debut last year, and he took Dunne to the limit before the champion escaped with his title. Dunne appeared again later, after the main event -- declared a WrestleHouse four-way by ring announcer Matt Taylor-Richards, and won by WWE UK Champion Tyler Bate over Trent Seven, Mark Haskins, and Travis Banks -- when he attacked Banks, who won the Infinity tournament to earn a future shot at Dunne’s title.

Dunne declared that Banks wasn’t worthy but offered him a chance to beat him for that title shot -- which Banks duly did in seconds. With a double-shot in March, Banks may be coming for the title sooner rather than later.

WWE UK Champion Tyler Bate receives a rapturous welcome home -- photo by The Ringside Perspective's Oli Sandler

There was a farewell on the show to Nixon Newell, who will soon be joining the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, after she and Kay Lee Ray reprised their Stardom tag team to beat #CCK. After Newell had taken the applause of the crowd, Chris Brookes re-emerged and initially hugged his former tag partner, before attacking her -- which brought out Jimmy Havoc to make the save.

Havoc was himself attacked by Mikey Whiplash, and an impromptu match ended with Havoc winning. Afterwards, Whiplash challenged Havoc to a “World of Sport rules” match next month.

The show -- which also featured wins for Dan Moloney (over Andrew Everett) and Clint Margera (against Eddie Kingston) -- began with the announcement of the main event for the promotion’s Good Friday event -- held over the road at the lush-sounding Diamond Banqueting Suite -- which will pit the British Strong Style team of Dunne, Seven & Bate against Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks.

All The Best will be available on Vimeo soon, and Fight Club: PRO return on March 17th.

2) Ridgeway and Smile booked their tickets to Fight!Nation New York

Not content with running three south coast towns -- and expanding into a fourth with an adults-only brand in May -- Fight!Nation are also opening a New York arm next month.

The debut show will feature two new champions, after Chris Ridgeway beat Mark Andrews for the F!N British Championship and Ryan Smile became the inaugural Z-Force Champion when he won a tournament, beating Josh Bodom in the final.

Ryan Smile celebrates with the fans -- photo by Turning Face’s Jim Maitland

All this took place on a weekend swing across all three of F!N’s regular venues, beginning in Canterbury last Friday, going through Eastbourne on Saturday, and finishing up in Weymouth on Sunday.

Andrews, who won the title when it became vacant after Mark Haskins had to step down due to injury, was himself injured in the defense of the belt, and missed the rest of the weekend. New champion Ridgeway stepped up to the plate, though, and put the title on the line -- successfully -- against Lewis Howley and PJ Black.

Smile’s Z-Force Championship win against Bodom came at the end of an eight-man tournament, which also featured Jonny Storm, Chris Brookes, Robert Sharpe, Sid Scala, Ash Draven, and Lion Kid. Weymouth also saw British wrestling veteran Klondyke Kate brought in as a special guest, and she got involved in the action, acting as an impromptu commissioner, and throwing her considerable might around.

James Castle, Adam Maxted, and Sammy Smooth were also in action, and Fight!Nation are next in action in late April, with that New York date on March 18th.

3) Will Ospreay stole the show -- twice -- at WCPW’s True Destiny

When the main event is a super crowd-pleasing first-time encounter between Kurt Angle and Alberto El Patron, it takes something extra special to steal the limelight, but -- if it wasn’t completely obvious by now -- Will Ospreay is that special something.

Thirty hours after facing Katsuyori Shibata in Osaka (and just off a fifteen-hour flight from Japan), Ospreay pulled double duty on What Culture Pro Wrestling’s True Destiny iPPV, held at Planet Ice in Milton Keynes last Sunday.

After opening the show proper with a reprisal of his wonderful clash with Ricochet from last year’s Best of the Super Juniors, and having to work a completely different -- but no less enthralling -- match when the top rope broke at the beginning of the match, Ospreay reappeared to partner Swords of Essex compadre Scotty Wainwright to the WCPW Tag Team titles in a spectacular four-team ladder match, which also featured El Ligero & Gabriel Kidd, Lucas Archer & Alex Gracie, and champions Johnny Moss & Liam Slater.

Ospreay & Ricochet and that broken rope

Spectacular in a different way was that Angle vs. Alberto match, with the crowd heavily partisan towards the former Olympian. Noticeably slow, he retained all of his charisma, and a victory over the erstwhile Del Rio was about to send the crowd home happy when Joe Hendry -- fresh off a WCPW Heavyweight title loss to Drew Galloway -- sneak-attacked the former WWE Champion.

Hendry’s reward was a match with Alberto in Leicester the following night, where he beat the Mexican to re-establish his title credentials.

The WCPW Women’s title did a quick switch -- of sorts -- with title claimant Bea Priestley issuing an open challenge at True Destiny after her scheduled opponent Tessa Blanchard withdrew. It was answered by Nixon Newell, who never lost the belt before she left for a tour of Japan with Stardom, and Newell duly dispatched her to reclaim her title. In Leicester, however, and under no DQ rules, Priestley pinned Newell to take the title.

The slickly-run show -- which was used to announce the debut of the Bullet Club in WCPW, as well as to launch the upcoming Pro Wrestling World Cup -- also saw wins for Zack Sabre Jr. over Travis Banks, Drago (against a clearly unprepared late replacement for Pentagon Jr., El Hijo del Dos Caras), and Rampage Brown, who beat Jason Prime in an I Quit match to go 3-2 up in their best of seven series.

Leicester was successful for Liam Slater -- downing Zack Sabre Jr. in an impressive victory -- and Joe Coffey (who beat his fellow ICW traveler BT Gunn), and also witnessed the Swords of Essex defend their titles against Drew Galloway & Martin Kirby.

4) The Bucky Boys reunited for one night only at ICW

Though they’ve feuded since breaking up their successful tag team over almost two years ago, Davey Blaze and Stevie Xavier now find themselves on the same side of the locker room as heels, and reunited the Bucky Boys for a one-off at Insane Championship Wrestling’s Friday Night Fight Club taping at the Garage in Glasgow last Sunday.

They faced the New Age Kliq of Chris Renfrew & BT Gunn, and left damage in their wake, with Renfrew left hurting at the climax of the show, after the Boys picked up the win.

Trent Seven rocked up at the Garage to defend his ICW Heavyweight title for the first time and found Jimmy Havoc waiting for him. He overcame that hurdle but was punched out by Wolfgang and his brass knuckles post-match, and the former champion demanded a rematch -- which will happen in Manchester on Sunday.

Further in Seven’s future is Joe Coffey, who was asked when he would be cashing in the title shot he won at Square Go. Coffey, who had just beaten James Scott, promised to save it for a big occasion -- possibly Barramania in April.

Session Moth Martina gets a gift -- photo by David J Wilson

The ICW Zero-G title was also on the line, as Lewis Girvan finally got his shot at champion Kenny Williams, but the challenger came up short. More successful were ICW Tag Team Champions The Marauders (the new name for the team of Mike Bird & Wild Boar), Jack Jester (who beat the returning Dave Mastiff), Zack Gibson (who won a three-way against Nathan Cruz and Charlie Sterling), and Martina the Session Moth, who defeated Viper and Kasey Owens.

After that match, ICW Women’s Champion Kay Lee Ray appeared but was taken out by Viper.

All the action will soon be available on the Friday Night Fight Club show on ICW On Demand (and on the Fight Network), and they’re taking the show on the road, beginning this weekend in Southampton, Sheffield, and Manchester.

5) Haskins returns to IPW:UK to make things add up (and other stuff)

Interrupting a lecture on mathematics by strange character Fentos, Mark Haskins made his third appearance of his first weekend back in British action (after a double-shot in Dublin and Belfast last week) by storming back into IPW:UK.

Quickly defeating Fentos in the opener of Your PayPal Receipt Serves As Your E-Ticket, at the Angel Centre in Tonbridge last Sunday, Haskins is sure to be after IPW:UK Champion Jimmy Havoc -- and Timothy Thatcher might also join that queue after a win over Cieran Donnelly in the main event. The show also featured wins for Danny Duggan, Cuban Heat, and the London Riots, and the newly-heel Sammy Smooth went to a no contest with Tom Dawkins.

IPW:UK return this weekend in Harlow, which will be shown on delay on FloSlam.

Thatcher claims another victim -- photo by ShootWrestle’s JD Howells

Grand Pro-Wrestling followed up a critically-acclaimed 2016 with their first event of 2017 -- Back With A Bang at their regular haunt, the Rose Club in Hindley.

The show was headlined by a GPW Heavyweight title match between Dylan Roberts and Ashton Smith, which Smith won by reverse decision after Roberts refused to release his winning submission hold. Both men have since been suspended by GPW for their post-match actions.

The GPW British Championship was also on the line, when Cyanide cashed in the instant title shot he won in the opener to challenge Jimmy Jackson, but came up empty handed, but there was more success for the Island Brothers, who beat GPW Tag Team Champions The Hate League to capture the titles.

Grand-Pro return on March 24th with Northern Soul 2, featuring a rematch from the WWE UK tournament between Sam Gradwell and Pete Dunne.

Bubblegum stretches Ryan Hunter in Morecambe -- photo by Tony Knox

A little further north west, on the coast at Morecambe, Alpha-Omega Wrestling opened their 2017 account with Love And War 2017 last Saturday.

Main-evented by King Grayson’s first AOW Championship defense -- against Joey Hayes, the show also featured successful title defenses by AOW Tag Team Champions Solar Power (over Big Sexy) and AOW Women’s Champion Lana Austin (against Xia Brookside), as well as wins for Sam Gradwell, Ryan Hunter (a big one over Bubblegum), Danny Hope, and Matt Brookes.

Alpha-Omega return in April with War On The Shore 2017, topped by King Grayson vs. Danny Hope.