Friday, 18 April 2014

True Grit Wrestling - War Of The Roses

17th April 2014. Control, Leeds.

An evening of pro-wrestling, pitting Yorkshire against Lancashire athletes...

After managing to blag out of work an hour early, and making it on time to catch a reasonable train to Leeds, I arrived at the venue with plenty of time to have a catch up with Craig Anderson (my commentating colleague for Tidal, and presenter of DirtSheetMania podcast). We headed on over to a bar to meet up with a bunch of Grapple trainee wrestlers, and literally waited a good 20 minutes at the bar to get a Guinness, which pretty much left no time to relax, it was chug the pint and head on over to the venue. Inside it looked pretty sweet, a nightclub usually, it had a screen playing video clips of wrestling and it was all standing room, which I much prefer than seated wrestling venues. And then the dance music started. I could've killed the DJs myself, but I figured it was all they were used to playing, and I was in a good mood, so I let it slide and headed over to the bar for a Guinness which I was looking forward to drinking at a reasonable pace. "We have no Guinness" said the bar man, which added him to the list of people I wanted to kill, along with the DJ who I no longer had any tolerance for. I settled for a bottle of Amigo, because everything else in the fridges looked proper wack. I was here to watch wrestling, and not to kill innocent staff, so I wandered about, spoke to a few friends I'd made from the last few Tidal Wrestling shows and waited patiently for the wrestling to start. Some douchebag that looked like Timmy Mallet was walking around waving the Lancashire Flag and shouting down a megaphone at people, trying to rustle up some heat, but was getting ignored as best as the crowd could. It turned out he was one of the manager-types for the Lancashire wrestling team, and would be out with some of the wrestlers later on in the night. Then, out of the soulless generic dance music came some Guns & Roses, the crowd started cheering and the night was about to begin... After the ring announcer introduced the evening, and my second favourite referee of all time, Daniel Eagles entered the ring and got himself some cheers & chants, we were treated to a tribute to the recently deceased Ultimate Warrior. Although the video screen didn't work for it, so we just got to listen to his theme song for a bit, as the DJs looked nervous about the fact heavy guitars were blasting through the sound system instead of 'euphoric synths'. It amused me anyway. Thankfully this seemed to be the only time that the video screen wouldn't work, and as dry ice filled the air, it was time for our first contest of the evening...
Sam Wilder (Yorkshire) vs ‘The Model’ Joey Hayes (Lancashire)
I'd heard a lot about Joey Hayes, but I don't think I've ever seen him wrestle, however I'd seen Wilder a few times at Tidal, and despite his short time as a pro, he's never failed to impress me. As far as first matches go, this was good enough. Hayes set the tone of the evening, alongside manager Chris Egan (who was subject to numerous 'Timmy Mallet chants) pitting the Lancashire wrestlers as the heels, and thus the hometown Yorkshire wrestlers as 'the good guys'. Hayes was perfect as heel, just the right amount of brash cockyness, using cheating when needed and has that 'I want to smash his face in' look going about him. Wilder looked a little less comfortable playing the face, as most times Ive seen him he's played the heel, however I can't knock his skills, totally intense and smooth moves at a decent pace. The action went back and forth, some after interference by Egan (which resulted in the less offensive 'Timmy Mallet' chants being replaced by 'You're just a wanker with a flag', or something along those lines). Hayes eventually picked up the win via crossface submission, setting the score at 1-0 to Lancashire. 

Valkabious (Yorks) vs R.J.McKenzie (Lancs)
Both these men walked to the ring exuding confidence, and looking in great shape. I'd seen a few Valkabious matches before on YouTube, but never even heard of McKenzie, so was looking forward to what both men had to offer. It was pretty clear from the bell that Valkabious wasn't going to let Lancashire go 2-0 up, as he smashed his opponent all over the ring with powerful shots and devastating slams, rarely allowing McKensie to take an advantage. The crowd loved this beating, as chants of 'Beast! Beast! Beast!' filled the air. It wasn't long before Valkabious took the win, and levelled the score at 1-1.

Project Ego (Yorks) vs Blackpool Blondes (Lancs)
Tag team action next, as one of the UKs (if not the worlds) greatest teams - Kris Travis & Martin Kirby, better known as Project Ego went head to head with The Blackpool Blondes (James Drake and Axl Rag). Both teams were accompanied by a valet, The Blondes by Shax, and Project Ego only went and got themselves Fearn Wai, who I talk about way too much when I commentate for Tidal. The crowd switched between 'Sexy Travis' chants and 'Kirby Squats', and occasionally Motley Crue based insults aimed towards the Blondes. If you've never seen Project Ego before, you really need to, these guys work so fluidly together, its unreal, I bet they even breathe in time with each other. The action was great from the get go, and the audience loved every minute of it, and it heated up at a great pace until it eventually got out of control, and Shax & Fearn both got in the ring for a stare down, which turned into a cat-fight and the crowd lost control. After the two ladies had been separated, the action kicked off again, with the Blondes stealing the win after some of the usual heart stopping back and forth moves that are becoming synonymous with Project Ego finishes. An awesome match, and if we weren't already all standing, I'm sure they would've received a standing ovation.

Bonus Match - Big Daddy (Yorks) vs Giant Haystacks (Lancs)
We were then 'treated' to a bonus match, as two guys dressed like Daddy & Haystacks gave us a very fair tribute to two of the biggest names of UK wrestling of yester-year. The action was appalling, but that's exactly how it was back in the day, with a bunch of shoulder blocks, belly bounces and not a lot more. The action ended as both men collided in the centre of the ring, and knocked each other out, with neither man able to answer the ten count. In all honesty, it was a fun match, and the crowd seemed to enjoy chanting 'Easy Easy', and thankfully it didn't last long enough to out stay it's welcome. The score remained 2-1 to Lancashire, with two more bouts to take place...
Bubblegum (Lancs) Vs El Ligero (Mexico, via Yorkshire)
El Ligero, although originating from Los Sanchos, Mexico, spends most of his time in Leeds, and so was granted 'honoury Yorkshire citizenship' for the evening. I've got a soft spot for Ligero, he's one of the hardest working wrestlers on the UK circuit, and helped get me through commentary on my first Tidal show (is that breaking kayfabe?), so this was the match I was looking forward to the most of the evening. These two guys have faced each other plenty of times, and are even well accomplished as a tag team, under the moniker 'Hubba-Bubba-Lucha', so we all knew that this was going to be a great match, and we weren't disappointed. Bubblegum whined down the microphone, threatening to walk out, and eventually telling the crowd that their disrespect towards him was going to fuel him to beating Ligero. The action was fast paced, with some real breath-taking spots, the action spilt to the outside, as both men made their way to the entrance ramp, and battled back and forth over a suplex over the barrier, until Ligero dived over it and onto Bubblegum. The crowd were going mental for both guys, and both of them put on a great match, doing everything they could to keep the energy and entertainment flowing. At one point Bubblegum stooped to a wrestling low, by sticking his finger up his arse and attempting to shove it in the face of Ligero, however the Mexican wasn't going to allow such dastardly tactics and battled back even harder, and after a whole load of trading superb moves and near falls, he eventually scored the win. Another great match, I just love watching El Ligero work, and look forward to seeing more from Bubblegum.
Rampage Brown (Yorks) vs Cyanide (Lancs)
The final match of the night, and the score set at 2-2, this bout had a lot riding on it. Rampage was on the receiving end of cheers for a change, even cracking a few smiles (Rampage has a legit scary persona, he's a regular at Tidal shows and I barely dare look at him in case he pulls my limbs off). Cyanide, covered in green paint and with a very unattractive bit of side boob showing, was accompanied by that flag waving wanker, Chris Egan. This bout was unbelievable, seriously, you had to be there. Hard hitting from the get go, and soon spiralled out of control, and not only to the outside of the ring, but bursting through the barrier, crashing through the crowd, with beers and people spilling everywhere. Exchanging stiff shots, and throwing barriers, cans and anything else they could get their hands on, and even taking to the air a couple of times (no mean feat for guys of their size), they battled all over the venue as the crowd followed. Eventually the two behemoths took it back to the ring, where Rampage showed his uncanny power when he managed to hoist up Cyanide for a Samoan Drop from the turnbuckle. The action continued until referee Dan Eagles was caught by a shot, and was knocked to the ground unconscious. Cue The Blackpool Blondes, who raced out to give Cyanide a hand, beating down Rampage, until Project Ego came out for the save and chased The Blondes back to the locker room. With the venue in bits, the crowd exhausted from shouting, and both men half dead, Rampage managed to score the three count, to a huge pop, and taking Team Yorkshire to a 3-2 victory. The rest of the Yorkshire wrestlers headed out to the ring to celebrate with Rampage, as pryro-techics and a confetti machine exploded, ending a great night of wrestling to chants of 'Yorkshire Yorkshire Yorkshire!'.
 A superb debut show by True Grit, and despite my initial apprehensions due to crappy music and no Guinness (and my loyalty to Tidal), this show turned out to be totally rad, every match delivering the goods, and has left me really looking forward to what they do next. Definitely a promotion to keep an eye out for. The show will be available on DVD soon, filmed by the excellent IMedia, looking forward to seeing this all over again...

True Grit Wrestling:

Photo Credits:
Thanks to Tony Knox & StuartsPhotographyLeeds for the photographs. You should check out both their Facebook pages & check out the full albums from the night, some amazing shots by some really talented photographers... Hopefully these links will work, if not just search on Facebook, or the True Grit Facebook page...
Tony Knox:

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