Greetings grapple fans, my name is Will Cooling and this is our recap of the third week of World of Sport Wrestling.
Before we begin, five ground rules. I’ve dialed back on the play-by-play in an attempt to make these recaps better to read. The commentary and production still sucks, but there’s no point in beating that dead horse.
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.
We started with the commentators saying that Justin Sysum, one of the men Rampage beat to win the WOS Wrestling Championship two weeks ago, has demanded a shot at the title. This demand has been accepted, and the match will be our main event.
We then went to footage shot earlier that day of a confrontation between former champion Grado and WOS Wrestling executive producer Stu Bennett. The two had previously clashed over Bennett's belief that Grado is a poor representative for British wrestling due to not taking the sport seriously by always acting the clown. Bennett reluctantly accepted Grado’s request for a match tonight, but he demanded that Grado treat the match seriously.
Grado defeated Sha Samuels
Grado came to the ring in a business suit, with the match built around the idea that he was suppressing his natural exuberance to impress Bennett. Grado and Samuels bantered over the microphone before the match, with Samuels mocking his opponent’s appearance while Grado stressed how seriously he’s been working on improving his physique.
Samuels dominated after Grado got a few early shots in. The key moment was when Grado countered a Samuels powerbomb on the entrance ramp with a back body drop. A fan then gave Grado a copy of his hat, which reminded Grado of who he really was. Grado threw Samuels back into the ring, then took his suit off to reveal his usual ring gear.
Grado went on the offensive after the reveal, ultimately winning with the Grado Cutter at 5 minutes and 6 seconds.
Martin Kirby defeated Joe Hendry
This match was ostensibly built by Kirby walking out on Hendry while the two were seeking to progress in the Tag Team title tournament. Alas, this was not fought as a grudge match, with the emphasis instead on getting Kirby over as a heel, with him either playing the cheat, coward, or show-off.
They started with chain wrestling exchanges, with the idea that Kirby is so arrogant that he’ll grapple with a Commonwealth Games credentialed amateur wrestler. Kirby literally dropped down to his hands and knees, daring Hendry to flip him -- a gambit that went predictably badly for him. After that, they had an even match with Kirby being the quicker and more mobile of the two competitors, while Hendry would have the punching power and grappling strength advantage.
The finish came when Kirby evaded a second fallaway slam from Hendry and went for a powerbomb, but Hendry countered that by going for the Hendry Lock. Kirby sold an injury to his ankle. Hendry walked toward him, only to be rolled up by Kirby, and pinned at 6 minutes and 44 seconds while Kirby had his feet on the ropes.
BT Gunn & Stevie Boy defeated CJ Banks & Brad Slayer in a Tag Team title tournament match
The tag team tournament continues to baffle with yet another makeshift team up against a more establish one. This time, Gunn and Stevie Boy had matching gear and face paint. Banks refused to tag Slayer, instead choosing to struggle against the more accomplished tag team by himself for several minutes.
Banks finally got an opening when Slayer snuck in a cheapshot on the outside while Banks distracted the referee. More than three minutes in, Banks tagged out for the first time. They then suddenly started exchanging fast tags and dominating their opponents. Gunn got the hot tag. He ran wild, even managing to dispatch Banks when he tried to rescue Slayer.
Gunn and Stevie Boy got the victory with a Doomsday Device on Slayer at 6 minutes and 13 seconds.
Crater defeated Gabriel Kidd
This was the "big opportunity" that Kidd won in last week’s ladder match. I’m sure I don’t need to explain the pun, but the commentators sure took the time to do so. This was a total squash match, as the masked super-heavyweight destroyed the youngster. After manhandling Kidd in a match filled with typical big man spots, Crater won with a splash at 3 minutes and 41 seconds. Kidd was gently stretchered out afterwards.
World of Sport Wrestling Champion Rampage (w/ CJ Banks and Sha Samuels) defeated Justin Sysum by countout to retain his title
Rampage scored early offense with clubbing blows, but Sysum responded by using his speed and agility. This was the basic pattern of the match, with periods of control from Rampage being interrupted by moments where Sysum used his high-flying to gain an advantage.
Sysum was in control, and then like an idiot, he clotheslined both him and Rampage to the outside, where the champion had the advantage. As the two competitors got to their feet, Samuels sent Banks under the ring, so that he could grab Banks’ foot before he could beat the referee’s count, thereby allowing Rampage to win by countout. Not that the referee’s count was ever explained on this show (aside from the commentators).
I’ve been mocking the idea that this product should be excused from criticism because it’s aimed at mainstream audiences since the opening weekend. This is not a mainstream product. It uses none of the production tricks or formats that have made ITV such a powerhouse in family entertainment, nor does it pitch a more typical pro wrestling product to a casual audience.
This is simply a bad pro wrestling show. It’s loaded with cliches from WWE. The first match was a clear reference to the corporate Steve Austin turns on Vince McMahon angle from 1998. But it made no sense (as Bennett noted on commentary) -- because how does wrestling in a suit show that you’re being serious? Likewise, Bennett booking Kidd against Crater was clearly mimicking the evil GM booking the babyface against Kane, but again such casual sadism doesn’t make sense because Kidd did nothing to provoke Bennett.
Likewise, there are clear gaps in logic, which will annoy both casual and hardcore fans. Why does a grudge match between former tag partners begin with amateur wrestling holds? Why is Banks tagging with Slayer rather than Samuels? Why would four pro wrestlers fight in a ladder match for the mystery box? Then there are the outright lies -- a babyface like Grado shouldn’t be making ridiculous statements about families and children crying over his title loss.
Ironically, the worst example of the cluelessness was the reference to this website’s very own Dave Meltzer. There is obviously a place in pro wrestling to reference the sport’s leading journalist, but I struggle to see how anyone thought namechecking Dave’s sense of humor was appropriate when urging Grado to throw off his suit. Especially when there was no attempt to explain who he is or why he's important. To place this is in context, I reported on Trent Seven celebrating getting the first ***** tag team match in WWE history at a Fight Club Pro event report for a local newspaper. Rather than randomly namedrop Dave, I explained the positive critical feedback from overseas in a way that would make sense to a casual audience.
Regardless of the booking and production, the wrestling is fine throughout the show. However, this was the first episode not to have a great match. To be blunt, this is not working. Both the viewing figures, and share of the audience, have almost halved in less than three weeks. Forget being renewed, they will be lucky to survive at 5 p.m. on ITV for the next seven weeks.
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. He also recently did a column on Kid Lykos’s recent injury for the Indy Corner. You can follow him on Twitter at @willcooling or harangue him at firstname.lastname@example.org.