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Jack Reviews Lucha Forever The Dawning of Forever

May 3, 2017 | Posted by Jack Stevenson
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Jack Reviews Lucha Forever The Dawning of Forever  

With this debut show, streaming live on FloSlam on Easter Monday, Lucha Forever signalled their intention to be ranked among the other U.K. super indies, your PROGRESS and your RevPro and Fight Club and what have you. They put together a stacked card with an appealing mixture of homegrown talent and high profile imports, with Sami Callihan vs. Will Ospreay (supporting the promotion behind the scenes along with Ryan Smile) and Shane Strickland vs. Travis Banks among the most eye catching matches from what was a very busy Easter weekend across the whole country, with RevPro, Fight Club and OTT all running huge shows. Could Lucha Forever deliver on their potential? Let’s find out together!

1- Four Corner Survival- ‘That Guy’ vs. Kelly Sixx vs. Ashley Dunn vs. Kip Sabian
This was originally scheduled to be a three way dance, but Sabian issued an open challenge to anyone from the crowd to join in, hence the presence of That Guy. The three pre-announced wrestlers at least are regulars with the HOPE promotion, who sometimes get my attention by putting Gaslight Anthem references in their show titles. I’ve never got round to checking out a show though, and I suspect I’m not missing much. Sixx, Dunn, Sabian and That Guy all looked to have potential, but there were several sloppy moments in this and even the spots that did come off well didn’t leave a lasting impression. Sabian promised a zany spotfest and any match that tries to pull that off and doesn’t suffer a complete meltdown in doing so will be an OK watch, just because of the energy and constant movement that’s required. But beyond that there was nothing of note here. Sabian pinned That Guy, but only after Ashley Dunn had taken the fellow out for him with a Canadian Destroyer. **.

2- Nixon Newell vs. Alex Windsor
This was originally scheduled to be Alex Windsor vs. Toni Storm, but Dahlia Black took out Storm with a crutch during her entrance, and Windsor got the easiest count-out victory of her life. Nixon Newell immediately came out to deputise!

This was very competent, solid but unspectacular for the majority of its run time. Newell is clearly further along in her development that Alex Windsor and the bits of the bout that Windsor controls aren’t its most exciting, but there’s few moments that are actively shabby. The match concludes with a good stretch of near falls, albeit one that went on slightly too long considering the quiet first two thirds of the bout. Windsor dumped Newell with the Canadian Destroyer for the win. So, erm, the first two matches of the show have both ended off a Canadian Destroyer… ** 3/4.

On her way to greener pastures, Newell cuts a farewell promo after the match. In real life, she and Windsor appear to be very close friends, and they both shed tears and embrace. Very sweet moment! It might not have been a brilliant match, but rest assured that Nixon Newell is the woman and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the year holds for her.

3- Omari vs. Jigsaw
Another OK to good singles match. Jigsaw’s a veteran who is still capable of having very strong matches, and Omari has an insane amount of potential, tall and handsome and a terrific athlete, on the cusp of being a proper big deal on the UK scene. With a faster, more purposeful pace they could have had a great match here, but instead they went with a more basic veteran/rookie match, Jigsaw controlling a lot of it in quiet fashion. It was all very watchable but nothing memorable, which is a shame because this was arguably the most high profile match Omari has ever had. I did really like the finish, which was sudden and out of nowhere in a good way. Omari caught Jigsaw in mid-air with the O Zone (Deep Six), and that was enough for the win! No extended near fall stretch or anything, and it made Omari look so good to be able to just pull out the victory like that. ** 3/4.

4- Will Ospreay vs. Sami Callihan
Jesus Christ. So, the majority of this match was absolutely fantastic and everything you would want Sami Callihan-Will Ospreay to be. Sometimes, Callihan approaches matches with the intent of murdering people in the first five minutes, and when he does he’s among the greatest pro wrestlers in the world. He is so bloody intense, so bloody exciting, so bloody nasty. That was the attitude he brought to this match, and a delightful, furious sprint developed as a result. It wasn’t even quite as brilliant as it could have been- there wasn’t much of a sense of mad high flyer Ospreay vs. mad brawler Callihan, which would have been the most compelling dynamic; instead, both guys wrestled in a fairly similar style, which held the bout back slightly. But, still, a really tremendous match was developing, a definite ****+ sort of match. Then, Callihan pulled Will Ospreay’s trunks down to reveal his Uptown Funk tights, and the familiar music hit, and the rest of the match was all Uptown Funk dance comedy. Now, I am not philosophically opposed to Uptown Funk dance comedy in the way some other reviewers are. I mean, I completely get why TJ Hawke despises it, for example, but I don’t see anything wrong with goofy, weird fun if it matches the tone of the match. The Team Ricochet-Team Ospreay match at WrestleCon had an extended dance breakdown segment and I gave that bout *****, and perhaps would have gone lower had the dancing not happened. In that match, the likes of Ospreay and Ricochet and Lio Rush and A.R. Fox inexplicably ceasing the relentless flipping to bust a move felt like an escalation of the insanity. I was watching everyone soaring in and out the ring with a big dumb smile on my face, and watching Sami Callihan’s ludicrous dance moves only etched that smile in deeper, and then Drew Galloway broke it up by headbutting a dude and the crazy aerials recommenced with a vengeance, and everything just slotted together perfectly in it’s own, curious way. This Ospreay-Callihan singles match was serious and aggressive and very very terrific, not quite as very very terrific as it could be, but getting there. So you can imagine the frustration when they stopped all of this to DANCE. In the WrestleCon ten man tag, the dancing sequence felt confident and gleeful. Here, it seemed utterly self indulgent. The worst thing was, that was how the match ended- they danced for a bit, segued into a laboured routine with referee Shay Purser being cajoled by both men into attacking each other, and then Purser hit a Swanton Bomb on Callihan and Ospreay counted the three and that was it. The referee won. It was enforced fun. “LAUGH AT THIS,” they practically screamed in your face. “AREN’T WE ALL HAVING A GOOD TIME?!” It’s tough to square the terrific body of this match with the way it met its end. How do you accurately summarise that in star ratings? I will go with a generous ***, but with the caveat that this is going to let you down, big time. Gah.

Intermission time for the live crowd, but for FloSlam viewers there’s a guest match from a Fight Nation show in February, Mark Andrews vs. Chris Ridgeway. This was a really neat idea, I’d never seen anything from Fight Nation before and it would have been a cool change of pace. Sadly, the audio was completely out of sync, to the point where it’s impossible to focus on the actual match. There were issues with the video skipping about in the Jigsaw-Omari match as well, but that was unobtrusive enough that I still felt capable of watching and fairly rating the match. Still, considering FloSlam’s premium price point it’s really disappointing that issues like this are allowed to crop up on their live streams and aren’t even fixed by the time it hits Video on Demand. Also, while I’m making complaints not related to the wrestling, the commentary duo for the show itself have been dismal. Constant bickering, irritating attempts at humour. Death to almost all heel commentators.

5- El Ligero, Drew Parker & Bea Priestley vs. #CCK & Chief Deputy Dunne
In a respect, this was my favourite match on the show, and exactly the sort of thing Lucha Forever need to be booking in order to stand out in a saturated U.K. scene. There’s no one else that puts a focus on trios wrestlers, and this match up featured relatively unsung wrestlers who don’t interact with each other all that often. There were some occasional very nice sequences in this, enough to make the idea of a prolonged Trios tournament quite appealing. Alas, there was also a lot of awkwardness, an only sporadically lively crowd, and persistently dreadful commentary, all of which really limited its quality. Plenty of potential, but not all of it realised. #CCK picked up the win with a Gory Bomb/Springboard Ace Crusher combination. ** 3/4.

Toni Storm returned to the ring, determined for a match with Dahlia Black. Black claims to have a broken leg, but Storm is able to goad her boyfriend TK Cooper into accepting the challenge instead!

6- Toni Storm vs. TK Cooper
More decent wrestling, although the commentators picked this match to reach the apex of unlistenable. I think the main problem, like the Newell-Windsor match, was that the near falls were disproportionate to the action that went before them, which was relatively low key. Then all of a sudden Toni Storm was kicking out of a top rope Spanish Fly at two, and fighting spiriting out of a spike Michinoku Driver at just one. It was entertaining, but jarring at the same time. Still, not at all bad on the whole. Storm flattened Cooper with a short piledriver for the win, after Cooper became distracted by making out with Black. Post match, there was a short piledriver for Dahlia Black as well! ** 3/4.

7- Shane Strickland vs. Travis Banks
Ahh, this just wasn’t for me. If you like slow burning sort of main events you might get something out of this, but for me the glacial, methodical early parts of these matches leave me disconnected from the finishing stretches. Just go half as long and let it all hang out from the beginning, says I. It’s a pity as well because both men were obviously working so hard and said finishing stretch did have its moments. I particularly liked Travis Banks spiking Strickland with a Michinoku Driver from the top rope, and Strickland DVDing Travis all over the place. Alas, there were also two ref bumps. It was very cool of Lucha Forever to put these two in their main event, they’re both accomplished, well liked wrestlers that nevertheless don’t seem to get so many high profile singles outings, so this felt like a bold, confident step from the promotion. And, maybe they would consider their faith rewarded, because some people like these matches, but like I say, not for me. ** 3/4.

The final score: review Poor
The 411
I think the best thing I can say about Lucha Forever's debut show is that I liked a lot of what they were trying to do. Despite relying on the same imports that several other promotions had already used that weekend, they were able to put together a very distinctive and intriguing card. Putting Shane Strickland and Travis Banks in the main event was an assertive and eye catching move, and gave a big opportunity to two deserving talents. Women's wrestling was well represented, with three of the seven matches having at least some female participation and the only angle on the show being centred around Toni Storm and Dahlia Black. I even liked the red canvas they used on the ring, it looked really nice. Sadly, for all the hard work that went into the show, very little reward came out of it. I don't know if the acoustics just didn't flatter them, but the crowd seemed quiet for a lot of the show, and with absolutely excruciating commentary from 'Magic Mark' and Harvey Dale, audible energy and enthusiasm from them was desperately needed. The matches themselves were largely OK but far from great. Shane Strickland vs. Travis Banks may well appeal to others more than it did me, in fairness, but nothing else truly shone, and Will Ospreay vs. Sami Callihan spectacularly shot itself in the foot. Lucha Forever came off as a company with a bright future ahead of it, and I saw enough to make me willing to give it a second chance on FloSlam, but the commentators need to go, and the wrestling needs to be stronger.

article topics :

Lucha Forever, Jack Stevenson