Greetings grapple fans, my name is Will Cooling, and I am here to look at the sophomore WOS Wrestling episode.
Just like last week, let me make a few general points to save me from repeating myself.
Firstly, either I was overly generous last week, or the commentary has gotten worse, as they were pretty bad this time around. At a basic level, they would keep contradicting themselves, like when they said that watching Doug Williams was going back in a time machine, but then quickly corrected themselves by adding that World of Sport was going forward.
That type of miscue is understandable in a live broadcast, but on a show that was recorded weeks in advance, there’s no excuse. If Alex Shane wasn’t meant to say that Williams was a throwback, then the commentary should have been redone to avoid confusing the fans. Speaking of confusing the fans, the commentators seemed much more focused on pushing the storyline of Stu Bennett being a heel authority figure, even in matches that had nothing to do with the overarching storyline of him supporting Rampage.
But worst is the commentators’ assumption that fans have a thorough understanding of American pro wrestling, with references to people like Kurt Angle and AJ Styles littered throughout a show that is apparently aimed at a mainstream British audience. Perhaps the WWE influence was worse during the women’s match, where the commentators put Stephanie McMahon to shame in self-congratulating themselves.
Secondly, the camera work was just as annoying as last week, with the overuse of the bird’s eye camera shot being particularly annoying. And as with last week, the promotion also desperately needs to add video packages to explain who the characters are rather than rely on commentary.
Finally, three ground rules. I will divide the recap up into the segments, because I think the ad breaks say something about the rhythm of the program. I’ve tried to time matches, but if anyone shouts at me for getting the times slightly wrong, I’ll just stop timing them! And I’ve included links to Cagematch’s database for each wrestler in case you want to learn more about them and the local promotions they work for.
The opening video spoiled a key announcement that Stu Bennett was about to make to the crowd. In this case, it was that the main event will see the crowning of the first-ever WOS Women’s Champion. This may seem a redundancy, but the commentators and audience sell Bennett’s announcements as breaking news, so it’s a direct contradiction to what the viewers have just seen.
Bennett seems to have settled at the commentators table, standing at the booth to deliver that announcement and introducing Rampage, CJ Banks, and Sha Samuels for the championship celebration. It should be noted that we still have no explanation as to who Banks is, or why Samuels has gone from competing against Rampage for the title shot last week to being aligned with him.
Indeed, Samuels is now acting as Rampage’s mouthpiece. He talked about how we finally have a champion to be proud of, without explaining why he thinks Rampage is an improvement on Grado. He said that nobody has the “minerals” to fight the champion. Joe Hendry interrupted, and this time he got a full entrance that properly got over his gimmick of singing his own entrance. Alas, it was a generic song about why he’s so great, rather than the hilarious parody songs he’s done to mock his opponents in ICW.
Hendry cut an impassioned promo demanding a title shot, and after Rampage non-verbally consented to Bennett, the executive producer granted Hendry the title shot. One thing you have to say in WOS Wrestling’s favor is that it exposes just how bloated WWE television has become, because this typical Raw shtick was delivered in about a tenth of the time, and it didn’t hurt the product at all.
World of Sport Champion Rampage (w/ CJ Banks & Sha Samuels) defeated Joe Hendry to retain his title
They began by locking up and exchanging wrestling holds as the commentators put over the challenger competing for Scotland in the Commonwealth Games. Hendry went for a couple of quick pins on basic moves (fireman’s carry and shoulder charge), which Rampage unsurprisingly kicked out of at one. I wonder if that was meant to be a pun on the difference between amateur and professional rules that the commentators didn’t pick up on.
Rampage bailed to the outside. He conferred with his allies, while the commentators bickered about Bennett’s relationship with Rampage. The champion re-entered the ring while Hendry was distracted by Samuels and Banks, allowing Rampage to club him from behind. He then hit a couple of European uppercuts. He got a two count off a brainbuster. While Hendry was crawling to the ropes, Samuels hit the challenger as Rampage distracted the referee.
Rampage beat down on Hendry. He went for a sleeper, but Hendry powered out of it. Hendry made his comeback, going for three quick pins before Rampage put him down with a clothesline. Rampage completed a bodyslam. He jumped onto Hendry’s back for another sleeper, only for the Scot to escape through a suplex.
Hendry went on the offensive, culminating with a fallaway slam. Rather than the pin, Hendry went for the ankle lock. Rampage rushed to the ropes to break the hold. Hendry pulled him back into the center of the ring and attempted to reapply the hold. However, Banks distracted him, allowing Rampage to hit the implant DDT for the victory at 5 minutes and 50 seconds.
Fine match, albeit one that was more of a showcase for Hendry than the champion.
We rejoined the commentators as they introduced the ladder match. This was a straight Money in the Bank ripoff, with a briefcase being the prize for the competitors to grab, only we were never told what was in the briefcase. According to Bennett, it’s a “big opportunity,” but that’s as much detail as we were given.
Gabriel Kidd defeated Liam Slater, Lionheart, and Robbie X in a ladder match
No ring entrances for the four competitors, as their names were announced in the ring.
There is a fundamental problem with booking a ladder match at 5 p.m. on ITV -- their strict interpretation of the broadcasting regulations means that they won’t allow weapons to be used as weapons. This meant that throughout this match, there was no attempt to hit anybody with a ladder.
For example, when the ladder was first introduced into the ring, Kidd and Lionheart did spots teasing throwing each other into the ladder in the corner. However, the key word is tease, as they clearly were both deliberately landing short of the ladder, only for Lionheart to fail to get his arms up in time to use the ropes to stop himself falling face first into the ladder. So, ITV made sure to not show the impact.
Likewise, when the ladder was edged into another corner, knocking Robbie X onto the top turnbuckle, Slater made sure to superplex Robbie X onto the canvass rather than the prone ladder. Why they decided to book a ladder match with these restrictions is beyond me.
So, with no ladder shots allowed, we got a collection of spots where people walked up ladders and were thrown off them. In between that, we got a lot of two wrestlers doing basic wrestling exchanges, before one of them slid out and was replaced by another. Robbie X looked the best in the ring, with his moonsault off the ladder being the most impressive move in the match. He also took the best bump, falling to the floor after Lionheart tipped the ladder over. Typically, the commentary used that moment to talk about how short he is.
The end came after Slater introduced a second ladder as Lionheart was trying to get the title. Lionheart, however, delivered a Rock Bottom mid-way off the ladders to stop Slater. Kidd and Lionheart then went for the briefcase on the different ladders, with the youngster throwing the veteran off and securing the “big opportunity” at 7 minutes and 58 seconds.
Incredibly, neither the ring announcement nor the post-match interview with Kidd explained what the big opportunity actually entails. On commentary, Bennett mentioned that Kidd will receive his big opportunity next week. At the end of the show, it was hinted it might be a swerve, with Kidd having fought to win a chance of facing the monster Crater. Which makes perfect sense.
We returned to the commentators, who talked about the tournament for the new WOS Wrestling Tag Team titles. They helpfully showed a graphic that, while keeping the identities of the teams a secret, confirmed that we’re looking at an eight-team tournament. Why this title needs a tournament -- when the others were decided by one-off matches -- was never explained.
Adam Maxted & Nathan Cruz defeated Doug Williams & HT Drake in a Tag Team title tournament match
As with last week, more effort was put into explaining the heel tag team’s partnership, with Maxted and Cruz being introduced as a pretty boy team that represent the new generation of British pro wrestling. The two pointed out how good looking they are as they entered, commentary talked about them maybe having matching “His & His” bathrobes, they slapped each other’s butts before entering the ring, and the commentators mentioned how much they like each other.
Meanwhile, Williams and Drake were clearly thrown together.
Williams and Cruz locked up, only to break at the ropes, with Cruz blowing him a kiss. The commentary put over Williams strong as a legend of the business while the two exchanged wrestling holds and pinning combinations. It should be said that WOS Wrestling is certainly doing a better job of integrating technical wrestling into the action than WWE. Williams went on the offense, with a splash off the second rope getting a two count.
Williams tagged in Drake, but Cruz managed to drive him into his corner and tagged Maxted. The man of Love Island fame went on offense until Drake switched momentum with a hurricanrana. The babyfaces then dominated with quick tags and double-team moves. However, as Williams was about to leave the ring, he accidentally occupied the referee, allowing Cruz to distract Drake and allow Maxted to hit a dropkick.
Maxted tagged out, and Cruz went on offense until Maxted tagged back in. He whipped Drake into the corner, then did push-ups while his opponent sold the impact. Drake went for the tag after kicking Maxted off, but Cruz pulled Williams down so the tag was not available. Cruz tagged in to continue the beating. Cruz put Drake in a sleeper, but Drake escaped, did a forward roll to evade a clothesline, and got the tag.
Williams ran wild. He hit an exploder suplex -- but gave up the cover so Maxted hit his partner while going for a splash. Williams threw him out before making a second pin attempt. He then tagged Drake, and they double-teamed Cruz. Maxted interrupted the cover and then hit Williams with a superkick, with Cruz following up with a codebreaker.
Drake went for a Stinger Splash, but Cruz pushed him off. Maxted hit a springboard neckbraker, allowing Cruz to get the victory at 7 minutes 43 seconds as his partner held back Williams. This was a fun tag team match, with Maxted once again showing real poise in the ring.
Kay Lee Ray defeated Bea Priestley and Viper to win the World of Sport Women's Championship
We returned from the commercial break with the reintroductions. In another example of the weird lack of basic quality control, Bennett said that Ray and Priestley’s jaws dropped when Viper was announced as the last competitor, despite the competitors having been announced at the start of the show. We got similar things with the commentators talking about this being a historic breakthrough for women’s pro wrestling, but then comparing Viper to the great competitors of the 70s and 80s.
Ray went for handshakes, but Viper refused. Priestley went for a schoolboy, but Viper kicked out. Viper was on offense early, using her size and power to beat up the other women. Viper hit bodyslams on both her opponents, ultimately throwing Ray onto Priestley. A splash from Viper got a two. Viper whipped both into the corner, but she missed a splash.
Ray hit a dropkick on Viper, but Viper blocked a hurricanrana and buckle bombed her into Priestley. Viper hit a Vader Bomb on Priestley, but Ray broke up the count. Ray went for a Gory Special, but Viper reversed into a short-arm clothesline that got a two count.
Ray and Priestley started double-teaming Viper. They finally got her down with a superkick into a German suplex. Priestley turned on Ray, and then got two counts on both Viper and Ray. Priestley went to the top, Ray got up and tried for a superplex, and Priestley knocked her down and hit a double stomp. That got a two. A Gory Special from Ray on Priestley also got a two.
Viper returned to the fray, but Ray hurt her with open palm slaps. Ray managed to knock Viper down, but she only got two. Ray and Priestley were fighting in the corner before Viper knocked them down and hit a senton. Viper hit a Michinoku Driver on Ray, but Priestley broke the count with a kick to the head. Priestley got a two count on Viper, which Ray broke up.
Priestley rolled Viper out of the ring. Ray went for a tope outside, but Viper countered with a forearm. Priestley went for a hurricanrana off the ring apron, but Viper countered with a powerbomb. Viper threw Ray back into the ring -- and threw Priestley into the ring apron. Ray, however, managed to hit the tope before Viper could re-enter. Viper was wobbly on her feet and went for a running powerslam, but Ray dropped down, hit a superkick, and then the Gory Special for the victory at 8 minutes and 25 seconds. Great match!
The show ended with a video that announced Joe Hendry vs. Martin Kirby for next week, hinted at Kidd vs. Crater, and teased a Rampage title defense.
Other than the ladder match where the wrestlers were put in an impossible position, the in-ring action was actually very strong this week, with the Women’s title match being great. But in terms of the big picture, this was just as flawed as the debut episode, with the attempt to book four matches meaning that nothing was properly explained to the audience.
Worse, they’re making no effort to tell coherent storylines. Take Joe Hendry for example. He looked good against Rampage, but his appearance makes no sense if next week he’s seeking revenge against Kirby. Likewise, it’s silly to talk about Rampage having a “reign of terror” when he’s only made one defense, and has had to cheat in all three of his matches. And having spent so much time getting Grado and Justin Sysum over as babyfaces last week, their absence was very noticeable.
The first week’s viewing figures underperformed based on expectations, but that they went from 920,000 viewers to 609,000 speaks to their failure in creating hooks to get people to keep watching. With the football season about to start, these viewing figures could get very bad, very quickly.
Will Cooling is a regular contributor to Fighting Spirit Magazine, the UK’s biggest and best pro wrestling magazine, which is available worldwide at https://pocketmags.com/fighting-spirit-magazine. He is also the co-host of the It Could Be Wrestling podcast, which you can find on iTunes or real computers. You can follow him on Twitter at @willcooling or harangue him at firstname.lastname@example.org.