Five matches! Five matches in episode 3 of WOS Wrestling. Five matches in an hour, with adverts, and other bits. That’s a lot of matches in not much time.
The episode starts with a refreshing change as we get a segment recorded earlier that sees Grado confront the dismissive Stu Bennett who demands that, if Grado wants to be a part of WOS Wrestling, the Scot needs to be more serious.
Grado vs Sha Samuels
We’ve got a man in a bomber jacket, trunks, braces and a scarf saying that a man in an ill-fitting suit looks ridiculous and it’s an entertaining first match on the show. Grado is pure gold on the microphone, it’s impossible not to love the man.
He is, however, facing an East End wrecking ball in the form of Sha Samuels and he easily overpowers the new, serious Grado, much to the joy of Bennett.
Borrowing a Grado cap from a fan, then revealing his much more traditional wrestling garb underneath the suit, we get the Grado we know and love, a cannonball, a cutter and a sliver of a chance turned into a massive victory for WOS Wrestling‘s favourite Scot.
Martin Kirby vs Joe Hendry
An “exhibition match” next as Joe Hendry takes on former tag team partner Martin Kirby. It’s curious the ring announcer would say this is an exhibition match as opposed to just saying it’s a match. It’s not like we think it’s for anything other than a win. Alex Shane points out that, given their history, this is more of a grudge match.
Kirby cuts through the jeers from the fans and tries to turn it into an amateur wrestling match, taking a shot at Hendry’s other career, before it returns to more familiar fare.
Kirby proves that he’s, once again, one of the best in the country by keeping the focus on him, an achievement given he’s against one of most charismatic men in the business today. He showboats, he gloats and he dominates and, despite the best efforts of Hendry, scores the win the help of the second rope.
BT Gunn & Stevie Boy vs CJ Banks & Brad Slayer
Again, tag teams with no tag teams name. The Tag Team Championship Tournament continues.
Banks, who we’ve seen walking to the ring with Rampage, has a tag partner in the form of Brad Slayer, a young wrestler who we don’t really get to know much about. With matching face paint and matching gear. Gunn and Stevie Boy are a great looking team that move in unity, whilst Slayer and Banks never really gel. Banks is the workhorse of the match, whilst Slayer is occasionally awkward.
Eventually, Gunn and Stevie Boy get the win, despite efforts from Banks to get the advantage.
Gabriel Kidd vs Crater
Now, the winner of the big opportunity in the briefcase gets his reward as Gabriel Kidd takes on the 36 stone Crater… a big opportunity, indeed.
Bennett revels in this match as Crater throws Kidd around the ring and smashes the young man around the ring before hitting a big body splash for the victory.
Rampage vs Justin Sysum
The WOS Wrestling Championship is on the line as Justin Sysum takes on the reigning and defending WOS Champion, Rampage.
Once more accompanied by CJ Banks and Sha Samuels, Rampage is a beast of a man, whilst Sysum is the “hero we all need”, according to So Cal Val. They couldn’t look further apart in the ring as Rampage looks like a man of pure evil whilst Sysum may as well have his own heavenly light shining upon him.
Rampage is a dominant presence, with Banks and Samuels playing their role perfectly to give him an advantage over his heroic opponent. For everything that the brawler may throw at the athletic specimen that is Sysum, the champion finds himself stymied and frustrated. Sysum demonstrates pure athleticism and it looks like he could become champion until a sneaky moment from Banks eventually leads to Rampage retaining.
More matches don’t always make for a better wrestling TV show and this episode of WOS Wrestling proves it, especially when you’ve only got an hour with adverts! Whilst, as has been the case all series, the in-ring action has been strong, it’s the lack of storytelling between the matches that hurt the programme. It looked like we were getting somewhere with the opening segment in the management office, but that was it. No further backstage intermissions, no Rachel Stringer and no interaction between the wrestlers anywhere but in front of the audience.
It’s odd to see Joe Hendry as anything but the loud explosion of charisma that he usually is, but he really stood out this week by not standing out. With Kirby being the boisterous one, it gave us a chance to see the talent of Hendry and his skill in the ring without the filter of pure showmanship.
Gabriel Kidd was another highlight for this show. Even on the losing end of a squash match, he looked great, as did Crater as the monster of the match. Elsewhere, Banks and Kirby stood out for very good reasons.
Bennett as the corrupt authority figure on commentary is still a great thing, alongside the hyperactively entertaining Alex Shane and the wonderful So Cal Val. They’ve got the balance just right, there and they’ll hopefully continue to expand on their roles as the series goes on. There’s plenty of silly comments between Val and Shane, with Bennett patronising the pair like a scolding parent, even when Shane is lambasting him for his attitude.
Some of the editing choices are interesting, to say the least. Much is made of the live audience, just in case we forget they are there, and some of the replays feel out of step – did we really need to see a replay of the look Grado gave Bennett? There are, however, some nice touches as the camera catches the expressions of the competitors, but they sometimes cut away at odd moments and it occasionally feels a bit jarring.
A third of the way through the series and WOS Wrestling still has highly entertaining in-ring action that is trying to emulate the look of other Saturday tea-time slot entertainment instead of becoming something of its own. The end result isn’t unwatchable so much as occasionally jarring and it’s certainly great to see such a mix of talent, up-and-coming and established, getting this level of exposure on prime time national television.