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The Week In British Wrestling: Will Ospreay confirmed for NJPW; IPW's non-Final Chapter

Will Ospreay

Here’s 5 things you need to know about British wrestling this week:

1) The UK’s best are spreading their wings again.

The biggest news in the UK this week actually happened 6000 miles away in Japan, when Will Ospreay was officially announced as part of the New Japan roster. Not only that, but he will make his debut at Invasion Attack on April 10th, challenging KUSHIDA for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight title! Ospreay will also slot into Chaos, which is a man down after Shinsuke Nakamura left for NXT, and to say this is a Pretty Big Deal is obviously understating it.

6000 miles in the other direction, UK talent again travelled to Reseda, California, to appear for Pro-Wrestling Guerilla. Marty Scurll, Drew Galloway, and Zack Sabre Jr were once again called up, and were joined by BOLA 2015 participant Mark Andrews for the All-Star Weekend 12 cards. Scurll and Galloway were defeated on both nights but Andrews picked up a win against Evil Uno on night 2. As for Sabre Jr, he warmed up with a win over former PWG title holder Adam Cole on night 1 before facing current champion Roderick Strong on night 2... and winning! With the RevPro title already around his waist, Sabre Jr is on a trophy hunt.

Next weekend sees a slew of British talent making the shorter trip overseas to WXW’s annual 16 Carat tournament. Ospreay and Galloway are first time entrants, but Scurll and Sabre Jr have both done time there before, with Sabre Jr winning last year’s pre-tournament Ambition qualifier in some style. With the top native German stars in, and a handful of top imports, the competition for the top slot should be hot, and the British fans travelling over to Oberhausen will be sure of a good time.

2) Southside had a big weekend.

Making the most of a selection of available imports, Southside Wrestling Entertainment promoted a trio of shows over the weekend, with a Saturday night shot in Essex followed by an all-day two-hander in Nottingham on Sunday. Alongside the American interlopers, Southside were able to call on their regulars, with all three singles belts on the line on all three shows, although the Second City Collective managed to avoid defending their tag-team belts for the whole weekend, which is so them.

In Purfleet, Essex, for Supremacy, the show was headlined by a Southside Heavyweight title match between champion Joseph Conners and man of the moment Will Ospreay. Conners came away with a big win, but the challengers to his belt are lining up and, with his Righteous Army down to two fit members, his days may be numbered. In other title news, The Speed King belt, vacated due to Jimmy Havoc’s injury, was up for grabs in a four-way which saw Andrew Everett overcome Martin Kirby, “Flash” Morgan Webster, and Lucha Underground’s Angelico to take the honours, and Nixon Newell successfully defended her Queen Of Southside title against Leva Bates.

Haskins vs Callihan photo by Brett Hadley

The next day, in Nottingham, the two shows – Day Of Reckoning 9 & Don’t Call It A Comeback – also saw title action, with Conners using a belt-shot to defeat former-TNA star Gunner, and Everett downing Shane Strickland in the match of the day to keep his Speed King title. Outside the title scene, the big stories were a Sami Callihan heel turn after a defeat to Pete Dunne, Joseph Conners challenging el Ligero to a title match at April’s Pandemonium, and a first-time meeting of Ospreay and Angelico, which included a mid-match dance section(!). The weekend also featured appearances by The Hurricane, Leva Bates, Mark Haskins, and Lana Austin, and the shows should be available to watch on Southside’s Vimeo page soon. They return on March 31st, with Let’s Kick Cancer To The Curb, a benefit show in Huntingdon. 

3) The north’s big 2 both came out swinging.

While New Generation Wrestling are based in Hull, and Preston City Wrestling have their home in, well, Preston, both have ventured outside their home cities lately, with NGW embarking on a tour and PCW looking to tick off stops of Lancashire’s major towns. Both held significant shows last weekend, with their respective titles on the line, and the results will have repercussions as 2016 continues to be a hot year for British wrestling.

NGW pulled up in one of their regular stops, Keighley, for Battle Lines, a show built around a match for the NGW Undisputed British championship between champion Nathan Cruz and challenger Rampage Brown. The two didn’t hold back, after NGW commissioner Richie West made it a No DQ match, but Cruz came out on top, still the champion, and possibly with Zack Gibson in his future. Earlier in the show, Gibson submitted Jason Prime, NGW Gen-X champion Bubblegum went to a time-limit draw with Matt Myers, and Justin Sysum & Ace Matthews teamed up to defeat The Proven. NGW return on March 19th, in Hartlepool, and you can see their weekly TV show on their YouTube page.

Over on the west coast  in the Las Vegas of the UK, Blackpool, PCW teamed up with Jeff Jarrett’s Global Force to promote Global Conflict, at Club Domain. As well as Jarrett, who beat Noam Dar, GFW were represented by NEX*GEN champion Sonjay Dutt, who saw off the challenge of Bubblegum. In strictly-PCW action, the PCW Tag-Team champions Team Single handily defeated Jack Baron & Jack Garvon (The Jacks?), and PCW Heavyweight champion Sha Samuels beat Dave Mastiff in a re-match from Road To Glory. On that occasion, 3 masked men helped Samuels win the title and they were in action again, leading to a challenge being made for April’s Who Dares Wins – Samuels & his mystery benefactors against Mastiff, Bubblegum & Team Single! Also on the show, which should be available soon on DVD, were Kenny Williams, Dave Rayne & Johnny Moss.

4) IPW:UK’s Final Chapter is anything but.

Ominously titled Final Chapter, International Pro-Wrestling:UK’s latest show was merely a bookend to what had gone before, opening up possibilities for further shows, with three blockbuster announcements made for their upcoming Supershow 2 on March 28th.

The biggest of these concerns the IPW:UK Heavyweight championship, held by Jimmy Havoc (who was absent from this show through injury) but coveted by veteran Jon Ryan. Recent shenanigans have led to heel referee (and Havoc devotee) Artemis and manager-to-the-stars Dean Ayass butting heads, and challenges were issued which will see Team Artemis & Team Ayass collide at Supershow 2 in a Survivor Series­-style elimination match, with the future of Havoc’s title on the line. The captains will pick their teams over the coming weeks – if Ayass wins, Jon Ryan gets a shot at Havoc’s title but if Artemis triumphs then Havoc gets 5 minutes in the ring with Ayass!

Dean Ayass photo by Oli Sandler

Earlier in the show, Women’s champion Tennessee Honey teamed with Jonathan Windsor to see off the team of James Davis & Jetta, and issued a challenge to Jetta for a title match at Supershow 2. Lastly, “Blackbelt” Tom Dawkins defeated Paul Robinson in a streetfight, and demanded a Loser Leaves IPW:UK match with Robinson’s Swords Of Essex teammate Will Ospreay, also at Supershow 2, which looks to be a show not to missed. Final Chapter, which should be available soon on IPW OnDemand, also featured Timothy Thatcher, Chris Dickinson, IPW:UK All-England champion Sammy Smooth, and Tag-Team champions DnD. 

5) The shows don’t stop coming.

Insane Championship Wrestling opened the doors of the Garage nightclub in Glasgow on Sunday for the latest set of tapings for their Friday Night Fight Club show, which is available on their ICW On Demand service every week. The show was headlined by Big Damo’s second defence of his ICW Heavyweight title, seeing off the challenge of Mikey Whiplash in a decent contest. Earlier in the evening, Carmel defended her Women’s title against Nikki Storm (who was rumoured to have had interest from NXT not so long ago), and Zero G champion Davey Boy teamed with Grado to take on the Black Label team of Red Lightning & Jack Jester.

On a show which also featured Noam Dar, Doug Williams, Joe Hendry & Kenny Williams, one particularly interesting match-up saw Chris Renfrew and his former New Age Kliq brother Wolfgang collide, ending predictably in a no-contest. The ICW lads are off on tour at the end of the month, leading up to Barramania in April.

On a weekend which also saw a visit to the city from Jeff Jarrett’s Frankenstein operation Global Force and the 7th anniversary show for local promotion AMP, Kamikaze Pro-Wrestling made their debut in Coventry on Friday night at the Empire nightclub. Main-evented by Lucha Underground star Angelico taking on Kamikaze-Pro champion Robbie X, the show also featured the El Rey show’s Killshot, Shane Strickland, as well as Andrew Everett and NXT’s Blue Pants, Leva Bates.

The highlight of the night was undoubtedly a fantastic contest between Kamikaze-Pro Relentless Division champion Ryan Smile and debutant Will Ospreay, which saw the champion keep his title to a standing ovation from the crowd. Also on the show were The Hunter Brothers, Pete Dunne, Nixon Newell, and el Ligero. Kamikaze-Pro return on March 27th, with Over The Top 3.

Despite half their roster appearing elsewhere on a very busy day for British wrestling, Revolution Pro-Wrestling presented a top card for the latest in their TV tapings, Live At The Cockpit. Earlier in the week, RevPro launched an On Demand service, and it’s envisaged that all Cockpit tapings will go up on that platform (although they will be free to air for 24 hours first). The show, which still drew a satisfied capacity crowd despite the absences, was closed out by ACH’s RevPro return, seeing off the challenge of Josh Bodom and earning himself a shot at RevPro Cruiserweight champion Pete Dunne at April’s Epic Encounter.

Also on the show - which featured appearances from Jody Fleisch, Jonny Storm, Joel Redman, and Timothy Thatcher - the RevPro Tag-Team champions competed separately, with James Castle downing Wild Boar and Sha Samuels coming up short against debutant Charlie Garrett. In a busy news week, RevPro also announced the first two names for their Summer Sizzler event in July – Katsuyori Shibata & Tomohiro Ishii of New Japan – and sold out the first 6 rows in one evening.