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The Week In British Wrestling: AJ Styles vs. Zack Sabre Jr., Brits all over TNA TV

David Andrews

1) We’re gearing up for High Stakes.

After a successful TV taping the other Sunday – at which they bizarrely announced they would be producing action figures! – Revolution Pro-Wrestling is gear up for their first big show of the year, next Saturday’s High Stakes at the York Hall in Bethnal Green. Main eventing the show is what will likely to turn out to be the final non-WWE appearance in the UK by AJ Styles, who is defending his Undisputed British Heavyweight title against Zack Sabre Jr, who seems to be upping the amount of dates he’s doing in the UK of late.

RevPro run the York Hall three times a year, and last year’s final show – Uprising - featured eleven New Japan stars as part of a formal agreement between the two promotions which should hopefully see some of the UK’s top wrestlers get a chance to go over to New Japan. Also on the High Stakes card is a rematch from the TV taping’s Undisputed British Cruiserweight tournament final, as champion Pete Dunne takes on “Flash” Morgan Webster, a Will Ospreay versus Marty Scurll warm-up before their PROGRESS title match a week later, and the UK debut of “Speedball” Mike Bailey. As one of the UK’s “big three”, RevPro’s shows are always worth looking out for, and the results of this one will be eagerly awaited.

2) If you liked “one fall!”, how about “one show”?

Yes, for some odd reason, in the middle of blockbuster January – the last weekend in the month alone has over 25 shows scheduled – there was only one show this week – another of Insane Championship Wrestling’s Friday Night Fight Club TV tapings at the Garage nightclub in Glasgow, Scotland. The exclusive content taped for their ICW On Demand service – which, I’m reliably informed is actually unexclusively free to non-subscribers for the first 24 hours – has been a shining light in the winter gloom these past few weeks, and this week’s show was no different.

The latest taping was dominated by heel stable The 55 (who, for the uninitiated, play on the percentage of Scots who rejected independence in 2014’s referendum), with tag-team champions Sha Samuels & Kid Fite retaining their titles against Mikey Whiplash & Tommy End, and the whole group attacking not only babyface hero Joe Coffey after the main event, but also ICW owner Mark Dallas. With Grado & Galloway over in Pennsylvania, the rest of the roster got the chance to step up and shine, and by the sounds of the slobberknocker between Jimmy Havoc and Big Damo, they did just that.

3) The Brits returned on TNA.

Although we’re very much focussed on what goes on over here in the UK, we also like to keep an eye out for what our talent is up to overseas. This past week’s TNA tapings heavily featured Drew Galloway, who formed an alliance with the soon-to-depart Kurt Angle, as well as the usual antics from Bram, Rockstar Spud, Mark Andrews (who did a must-see spot with a skateboard that will make you forget the Dynamic Dudes ever existed), and Grado in a Monster’s Ball match with Abyss, which included barbed-wire and thumb tacks (or “drawing pins” as we call them in the UK).

While all but Galloway (and, to a lesser extent, Bram) are used in a way that disappoints most British fans of their work, the exposure they receive benefits both them and the promotions they work for in the UK, and so we swallow it down like bad medicine (cue Dr Wagner Jr earworm). In the case of Andrews, and after a year in which he based himself in Nashville and did few UK shots, he’s upping his UK dates this year, appearing regularly for the ATTACK!-Pro promotion he helped to create and getting a shot at the PROGRESS tag-team titles at the upcoming Chapter 25: Chat Sh*t, Get Banged.

4) I get things wrong.

I told you last week about the ultra-ambitious (in a good way!) upcoming show from Pro-Wrestling Chaos, running a 3000-seater hall in Bristol for an exclusive English date by The Young Bucks. Well, in amongst all that, I got the date wrong. The show is on April 9th, not April 8th as I wrote last week. Apologies for that, Chaos lads. They have another show coming up next month, with Grado, Trevor Lee, and UK legend Johnny Kidd joining all the usual regulars, and you should check their website for details.

5) Robbie Brookside gave a history lesson.

Chris Jericho’s podcasts are an acquired taste for some, but when he gets a good guest with lots to say, they’re essential listening. This week he had British wrestling legend and NXT trainer Robbie Brookside on the show, and gave his guest the room to speak at length about his career. It must have been an eye-opener for US fans of the show to hear tales of Terry Rudge and Scrubber Daly, as well as a spot-on impression of All-Star promoter Brian Dixon, but long-time UK fans will have emerged from it basking in the warm glow of nostalgia. One day someone will write a proper book on all this, and I hope they go to Brookside for first-hand material.