by Richard Hart
Our third show and the longest trip to the bright lights of Bristol. The Sat-Nav got a bit confused and not being native to Bristol, we weren’t entirely sure where we were. Tony decided to ask someone and we had arrived. We queued up, eagerly awaiting the showdown tag title match between The Bristol Boys and the System.
Working out of a sports hall, by now the Pro-Evolution set up was familiar to us. I think we even got a mild look of acknowledgement from the big bald headed security guard. Four ranks deep of chairs on all sides, we took up our seats at what I described as “the hard camera position”. A highly obnoxious woman took a seat near us and was a massive pain in the neck all night.
Before the action got underway we speculated about how much a show like this would cost to put on and how much money Pro-Evolution would make. I suggested that I thought they might lose money on each show but then we decided that the overheads were probably fairly low and so they may just about break even each time.
Pro Wrestling at a low level is just done for the love of the game and the hope of a later reward. Workers like Dan Splash, the Bristol Boys and even Robbie Caine are probably not getting more than £50 per appearance and having to pay their own travel costs. Wrestling is an industry that taxes its entry level participants more than almost any other. But they do it because they love it. And when a crowd spontaneously pops for you, you must know you’ve made it.
The opening match saw fiery babyface Robbie Caine come out to work with skinny, bland heel Dave Eaton. Caine worked the crowd really well, getting great babyface heat and getting over. He was a good choice as an opening match worker. The match turned into a stalling fest and the sinking panto feeling returned to me. The crowd began to cool down and the match moved very slowly until Eaton went over with a shock roll up.
Post match Robbie Caine complained to the referee that this had happened to him last week (it had) and that he was sick of it and – poof! – he was a heel. Another worker was supposed to come out but blew his timing showing up late and getting heel heat instead. The audience were confused. Scotty Essex, who received some unpleasant gay bashing heel chants, challenged Robbie Caine to pull double duty and wrestle him later which Kane accepted for some reason.
Second up came Richard Parliament, the Terry Thomas looking heel who has clearly watched a few William Regal tapes in his time. He waved to the crowd and then talked a lot. The mic set up was all wrong though so no one could tell what he was saying. Eventually he just resorted to bending over to show everyone that he had a European Union flag on his arse. This strange, UKIP baiting stuff just left me cold. The crowd booed him but I think more because he’s clearly the heel.
His opponent was a lean, athletic worker called Kid Krazy. This was another example of where I never quite caught the kids name. Crazy and Parliament worked a fast paced comedy match with Parliament doing a lot of begging off and heel stuff. Krazy’s selling was horrible, school play level stuff and it did quieten the crowd somewhat. Thankfully the action was cut short by Parliament going over clean with a backstabber.
Third up was Big Grizzly. Last week I’d described him as the Welsh One Man Gang. This week I felt he was aiming for Welsh Vader and I gave him a few Vader signs which, as a heel, he had to ignore. His opponent was the likeable, fiery babyface Charlie Garrett.
Garrett might not be a world-class in ring worker but he knew how to get over with the fans. However he too started the match with an ice-age of stalling. Once the match got into gear it saw some crisp exchanges and Grizzly’s heel work was up a notch on last week. He looked dangerous and his big, lean opponent exchanged some nice looking strikes. Tony and I became Grizzly fans during this match and we attempted one of our many failed chants of “Kill Grizzly Kill”.
Grizzly went over with a pop-up powerbomb but Charlie Garrett stayed over with the crowd. Robbie Caine came back out, now as a heel complete with black knee pads and boots He worked against the pink clad babyface of Scotty Essex who had decided to model himself on late 90’s midcarder Danny Doring.
The match began with some nice, stiff strikes complete with loud “whooo” chants from sections of the crowd. Caine worked nicely as a heel, coming across as a bitter, dangerous character. There was a very strange spot when he charged Essex in a corner and collided with Scotty’s arse and Scotty pulled a camp “oops” expression. This moment left me just puzzled as to what that was supposed to be about.
In the end Essex got the W over Caine with a fireman’s carry into a powerbomb to go over and Robbie Caine was 0-3 with his own anti-streak.
After the interlude in which Tony bought the Pro-Evolution t-shirt which had the stages of man being superkicked in the face, nice, we saw “The Winner” PJ Jones come out with his normal comedy heel schtick. This night he even did his own trip over the bottom rope bit which got a huge cheer from the crowd.
His opponent was “Black Belt” Tom Dawkins who looked like a lean, athletic white babyface. The company just didn’t have enough of those. This was a marked improvement both in work-rate and psychology but the two just never seemed to get the crowd into the match despite the best ring work of the night. PJ Jones stole a win with a roll up. Both men deserved better.
The main event saw the Bristol Boys come out against the System which began with an ambush by the three members of the System against the Bristol Boys. The short, bald member of the system, whose name I never heard, was a stiff, mean little sod but he was a crisp, experienced worker and he got a lot of heel heat and then passed it to the Bristol Boys who, in their hometown, were over like rover.
There were some mean spots, stiff aching strikes and you got to wondering if the Bristol Boys were being taught respect or if it was just heel heat that the System were trying to get. The bald little bastard hit a beautiful, safe as houses suplex before the hot tag lead to a shock count-out finish and a win for the System.
The highly anti-climatic ending saw the heel tag champions retain and the Bristol Boys call them out for a three on three match. This was strange booking to say the least, Tony and I debated during our protracted journey home.
We also had “The Sounds of Science” on his CD player so had a good rap along to various classic Beastie Boys tunes which was a really nice way to finish the penultimate Pro-Evolution show.
The high point of the night, though, was Big Grizzly who had a great exchange with a fan. A small boy of maybe five or six had run over while Grizzly was on the outside of the ring, selling a move. The kid made to attack Grizzly, perhaps the kids parents had said “wrestling is fake, it’ll be fine” or he was just that kind of kid. Grizzly turned, bent down very slightly, and roared in a thick Welsh accent “Don’t even think about it”. The kid ran as fast as he could and probably only stopped running when he got home again! Tony and I were still laughing about it for the rest of our trip back to Cheltenham.
Join Richard for part 4 on Saturday! You can find details of Pro-Evolution Wrestling’s upcoming shows at their website.