WoS Wrestling makes its much-anticipated return to ITV with a new series of ten episodes, bringing us some of the best talent in the United Kingdom today.
“This is the dawn of a new era” announces Stu Bennett at the start of the show, stating that “the jokers and the clowns are gone.” It’s a bold claim, but a sound one.
“Gone are the days of the jokers, the clowns, the professional buffoons who have sullied the name of professional wrestling.” And, the first wrestler we see is Grado, the current WoS Champion and Bennett takes umbrage at the man who doesn’t go to the gym, but does work his dog.
Bennett sets up a five-man match for a chance to win the WoS Championship – Rampage, Adam Maxted, Sha Samuels, Justin Sysum and Crater will fight it out.
Rampage vs Adam Maxted vs Sha Samuels vs Justin Sysum vs Crater
With Crater being dominant early in the match and taking advantage of Maxted, Lynskey disqualifies Crater, but the monster is slow to leave. Against the aggressive, Samuels and Rampage, Sysum proves to be a fleet-footed hero, pinning Samuels after both try to tag team the impressive Sysum. An arrogant Maxted returns to the ring to take down Sysum but Sysum rallies, keeping Maxted outside the ring. After the count out, the ref declares Sysum the winner, but Rampage also beat the count and Bennett corrects the error, giving us Grado vs Rampage vs Sysum for the main event.
A solid, if somewhat confusing, opener that had some stand out moments – Maxted is an impressive performer, as is Sysum, whilst Rampage proves why he’s one of the best performers in the UK today and Samuels deserves to be seen by more people. Sadly, there wasn’t enough Crater, but it looks like WoS have their monster in that man.
Will Ospreay vs British Bulldog Jr
Ospreay comes out to an amazing reaction and he instantly looks like he’s made for this stage and British Bulldog Jr gets a strong, enthusiastic reception. This is a “global” match, the commentators say, and it gets off to a quick start.
Ospreay is a consummate showman, one of the greatest of his generation and one that people will talk about long after he retires. British Bulldog Jr is the powerhouse in the match, pacing himself and picking apart Ospreay’s offence.
Whilst Smith may have the strength and gets the upper hand, scoring the victory, this match is a showcase in disguise for Will Ospreay.
Backstage with Rachel Stringer
We get the first look at the WoS Tag Team Championship and the first appearance of Superbad Kip Sabian, and Iestyn Rees, as Sabian places himself at the top of the tag team division, saying that the competition is pointless as they’re going to win, while Rachel Stringer interviews him backstage.
Instant charisma from Sabian in a short segment and that man, right there, is going to be a star.
Martin Kirby and Joe Hendry vs Iestyn Rees and Kip Sabian
Hendry, naturally, has a custom entrance and the crowd are behind the Scot, much to the dismay of Bennett. SoCal Val, by contrast, is certainly taken by the team of Rees and Sabian and they do look impressive together.
Kirby allows Hendry to be the excess to his counter-number, Kip Sabian. There’s no wasted motion from Kirby as he takes to the stage he deserves, whilst Rees is yet another powerhouse presence in WoS Wrestling, something that Sabian uses to his advantage.
For all of the attitude, Sabian is a phenomenal in-ring talent and teaming him with Rees is a smart move, especially as they dominate Hendry. As Hendry reaches to tag Kirby, he finds himself abandoned at ringside, making this a two on one match between Hendry and his opponents.
Fired up and furious, Hendry proves to be more than capable of taking on both men, but the numbers finally get the advantage, leading to Rees and Sabian progressing in the tag team tournament.
Rampage vs Justin Sysum vs Grado
And, now we have our main event, with the WoS Championship on the line.
Rampage comes out with Sha Samuels and CJ Banks, whilst Justin Sysum comes out with nobody by his side, nor does Grado. This can’t be a good thing!
Bennett doesn’t appreciate Grado at all, and he makes this quite clear on commentary, exchanging barbs with his commentary partners as the match gets underway.
Grado is as much as a performer as Ospreay, though obviously far less athletic. There’s something purely pantomime about him, but with a commitment that makes him so watchable. As Rampage is rapidly ejected from the ring, Grado and Sysum exchange silliness, with Sysum as the Herculean fall guy to the comedy of Grado. Rampage picks his moment, only to be ejected from the ring again, taking his fury out on Sysum, who gets too close to the ropes and dragged to the outside to be beaten down by Rampage and his cronies.
A moment of athleticism from Grado and we get Rampage back into the ring, demolishing the plucky Scot. It does nothing to put off Grado as he fights back against both his opponents, displaying more unexpected athletic skill, including a very tight cannonball. Rampage, however, manages to take control of both men and comes close to hitting a spike piledriver on Grado, a move apparently banned in WoS Wrestling, before levelling the champion for the win.
We have a new WoS Wrestling Champion in the form of Rampage Brown.
A strong start for WoS Wrestling and it’ll be interesting to see how they can capitalise on the stories over the next nine weeks. Next week promises to bring us a women’s championship and another match in the tag team tournament, with Nathan Cruz, Doug Williams, Bea Priestley and Viper all joining the fray.
The standouts in this show were many – Kip Sabian has every tool to make him a star and Joe Hendry has already proven that, Rampage (Brown) is an absolute beast, Will Ospreay has proven that he’s at the very top of his game for the past couple of years and continues that here. Justin Sysum as a championship contender makes perfect sense when you see him and you could put a bet on Adam Maxted being the next big thing in British wrestling. Grado may not be to everyone’s taste, but he’s an attraction in his own right. Hopefully, over the next few weeks, we’ll see more of Martin Kirby, Sha Samuels and Crater.
There’s plenty of stuff in this episode for everyone to get behind, whether you’re a British wrestling fan or new to WoS Wrestling.
The staging looks fantastic; the ring has an LED apron, the lighting focuses on the in-ring talent as opposed to the crowd (who are partially bathed in blue lighting). The video screens on either side of the entrance add to the epic feel of this promotion. It’s a slick production that borrows from the best and delivers with ITV’s sensibilities.
With Alex Shane, a veritable encyclopaedia of British wrestling and the man behind some rather suspect jokey statements – Cheeky Fernando’s Kick? – joined by SoCal Val, the friendly face of WoS Wrestling and Stu Bennett doubling as the authority figure with a large chip on his shoulder, WoS has a great commentary team.
There’s plenty of replays, and not all of them for the moments you’d expect, but it certainly helps highlight the action and gives the commentary team time to lay out what we’re seeing. It’s perfect for the audience that the show is trying to attract; a casual audience of new fans to expand upon the audience of wrestling fans who are, hopefully, already watching.
All in all, WoS Wrestling got off to a strong start and it has nine more weeks to get even better!
You can watch WoS Wrestling, up to 30 days after broadcast, on the ITV Player.