by Richard Hart
The final part of the Pro-Evolution trip, Worcester saving the best to last. TNA’s Bram working the main event and the return of Joel Redman, the Pro-Evolution champion. Whilst I was sad to see the end of our sequence of road trips and to hang out with my best friend every Saturday, my girlfriend’s patience was wearing thin with me being away at wrestling every Saturday and so all good things come to an end…. so I dumped her.
No, just kidding, this was the last show and, hey, maybe she’ll become a wrestling fan someday too? We can but dream…
On arrival in Worcester I realised that I had made an amateur error and not brought a pen so had no way of taking notes. So there was nothing for it but to use the sports halls wi-fi to live-tweet the whole night. This proved to be fiddly but actually quite effective.
We had good seats this time, elevated bleachers which meant you could see the whole ring easily. As it would turn out, we got an even better view later on.
There was nearly an opening bout as a couple of drunk guys sat next to us spilled their beer on my best friend Tony’s jeans. I thought we might see an RKO out of nowhere but, no, cooler heads prevailed.
“Ready to Rumble” came blaring out and the announcer did his normal routine, hype matches and sell backstage passes as well as give away a couple. Amusingly he sounded quite hurt when he got booed at one point!
Charlie Garrett opened the show against a big bald lummox who turned out to be called Lomaxx. We had misheard it as “Nomad” or “Low-man” and debated whether he had a gimmick where he was bi-polar. But it turned out he was Lomaxx.
A solid opening match saw both run through offensive and defence before Charlie Garrett went over with a beautiful cross-body block, worthy of the great Ricky Steamboat. Charlie Garrett is one of the most over young workers on the show and has a lot of charisma and understands how to get the crowd going, he just needs to work on his in-ring stuff and to stop feeling like he has to play to the crowd so often.
In a rematch of last weeks title match, The System put up their tag team titles against the Bristol Boys. This time the huge Tower replaced the mean little bald guy from last week. The Bristol Boys are a slick outfit and have nice tag team timing. They did their usual routine as one of them was double teamed before the hot tag.
Continuing the feud but not pleasing the crowd, the Bristol Boys went over by DQ which meant that the System retained the tag team titles. This prolongs the feud but you wonder why Pro-Evolution are slow to pull the trigger on the Bristol Boys for the tag team titles.
T-Bone came out doing his slow heel walk to the ring bit before Robbie Caine came out… as a babyface. Now Tony and I were one of the very small percentage of fans that had been to consecutive shows so we gave Robbie Caine the heel cold shoulder as he had been a heel the week before. We even chanted for a heel turn to no avail as our sixtieth chant died in the middle of the ring.
T-Bone stalled and stalled and stalled some more. He may look like a monster but his ring-work is incredibly boring and I began to just hate on the match rather than any of the workers. T-Bone’s hashtag we designed that night was #StallRestholdRepeat and it rang true. Keeping up Robbie Caine’s anti-streak, he lost again this time to T-Bone’s roll up in the corner.
Big Grizzly came out and beat him down, demanding a title shot against Joel Redman who duly came out and obliged, bailing out Robbie Caine who stuck around for ages looking awkward. There’s not spot in the pro-wrestling world where you get over less than the main babyface’s best mate – just ask Zack Ryder or Kofi Kingston when they had to play second fiddle to Super-Cena.
So Big Grizzly, who this week we treated like our own Welsh Kevin Owens, went up against the former NXT star Joel Redman who looks like a star. Redman and Grizzly worked a hard hitting, heated match and both had a lot of offense and a lot of back and forth. Redman tried on multiple occasions to pick up the much larger opponent and failed. We tried again to get our “Kill Grizzly Kill” chant going but it too fell flat.
However, the pop-up powerbomb and a near fall saw the crowd pop huge and my lone “Kevin Owens” chant got a bit of play until Redman slickly got out of an over the shoulder powerslam into a tombstone piledriver for the three count in great match that would be worthy of actual television.
Redman has good psychology and whilst he’s good at hitting crisp, fierce offense, he sells well too and Grizzly looked like a beast working with him. This was really solid booking too.
After the interlude “The Winner” PJ Jones came out to work with Dan Splash again. Two of the most reliable hands on the Pro-Evolution roster worked a fast paced, slick match which saw Dan Splash finally win one and establish that Robbie Caine is at the bottom of the babyface totem pole.
The main event saw JD Knight versus TNA’s Bram. Bram got the superstar welcome but rightly so, he looked and carried himself like legit star and the two had a fierce, hard hitting arena wide brawl before the match even started. Bram even carried JD all the way up to our bleachers and nearly threw him off which was REALLY cool for us sat right next to it.
The in ring work began and Bram controlled it before heel work by JD Knight saw him take over for a while. JD Knight looked much more comfortable with Bram and the two had one of the best matches we’ve seen with Pro-Evolution, boosted by a hot crowd. Bram went over despite absorbing a beard-assisted powerbomb. On his way out of the arena he had to part a sea of children like Moses. It was awesome.
This was the best Pro-Evolution show to date and a fitting close to our month long road trip of local wrestling shows. We’d enjoyed them all. Tony had become a huge fan of “The Winner” PJ Jones and I joined him being a new fan for Big Grizzly who, with a bit of work, could be a credible pro one day.
Pro-Evolution are more than just a little local company, they are trying to book a serious product, get local talent over and engage with their crowd. Babyfaces like Charlie Garrett and Justin Sysum are local lads and they engage with the crowd in a way that often you don’t see. This is how you build up a grass roots fan base. Yes wrestling audiences are young. Especially during the WWE PG era, but there have to be parents to pay for it and take them to the matches, So you have to deliver a product that pleases them all.
Mild criticisms of Pro-Evolution are that in four events I didn’t see a single female worker, valet or manager but then I’d rather that they had none than eye-candy or bad workers. Plus female workers often get very unpleasant reactions from audiences who seem to think they can abuse them on a level that they’d never be brave enough to try with male workers.
Pro-Evolution kept us amused, entertained and sated with our pro-wrestling needs for a full month. They have an active social media profile and have ambitions that do not feel unrealistic or pretentious.
This is an endorsement of Pro-Evolution but it’s also an endorsement of local grass roots wrestling, go along, watch some local kids give it a go. When they’re good, give them props and cheers because that’s why they do it. When they’re bad, write a hashtag?
It’s often been said that pro-wrestling fans don’t like wrestling, which is in a large part down to our negative reactions to things, especially in the big leagues like the WWE. But the UK is back on the wrestling map. Their are companies in the UK that are getting international play, Neville and Wade Barrett are on the WWE roster and Drew Galloway is on the TNA roster…
Support your local fed, maybe you’ll find the new Welsh Kevin Owens.
You can find details of Pro-Evolution Wrestling’s upcoming shows at their website.