Kris Travis photo by Sarah Barraclough
Here’s 5 things you need to know about British wrestling this week:
1) Kris Travis, 1983-2016
When I came back to watching live British wrestling in the fall of 2014, I sought out a few old friends who had stayed true to the scene and asked them who I needed to see, who had become the top guys in the time I was away. They fired various names at me, and some of the same names cropped up again and again, ensuring they made it onto that must-see list I was mentally compiling. One of those names was Kris Travis, a Sheffield grappler who worked all over the UK, but my timing was off because Travis had just been diagnosed with stomach cancer, and forced to take a break from the sport.
Although he made a brief return last summer when it seemed like he’d recovered from his illness, that horrible disease returned and he announced his retirement – for good this time – as friends and fans rallied round to ensure the transition from wrestler to ex-wrestler would be as smooth as possible. Unfortunately, for all his fight, cancer claimed another victim last week, as Travis succumbed to his illness at just 32-years old.
I never got to see him wrestle live, never met him, never even spoke to him through social media, yet I felt his loss acutely, such was the effect his criminally-brief life had on those I did know, those I respect, and even those who you could be forgiven for thinking for moving in circles way above the news of the death of a British independent wrestler would resonate. It’s a mark of the man, and his love of life, of professional wrestling, and of his fellow human being, that he left such a legacy, such a mark on those he left behind. RIP Trav.
If you want to donate in Kris Travis’s honour, he was a patron of Cavendish Cancer Care, who desperately need funds to help those suffering from the disease.
2) Southside’s roster honoured their fallen brother.
Many promotions – including CZW in Dallas, a promotion where he never worked – held tributes to Travis on their shows over the weekend, but few would have been emotional than at Southside on Thursday, the day the news broke of Travis’s death, who were promoting Let’s Kick Cancer To The Curb!! At the Commemoration Hall in Huntingdon, a fund-raiser for the charities that had taken such good care of Travis during his illness.
Few would have blamed all involved for cancelling the show, but it went ahead and raised some much-needed funds amid all the emotion. Starting with a tribute to their fallen friend, the wrestlers and staff gathered around the ring with nary a dry eye in the house, and then embarked on an evening of high-octane entertainment, in honour of the Shooting Star.
Two nights later, at Stevenage’s Gordon Craig Theatre, the promotion returned with Raw Deal V, headlined by a 2-out-3 falls heavyweight championship match between the champion Joseph Conners and the touring former-TNA star Mr Anderson. Conners triumphed with some help from his sidekick The Pledge, and so did Southside Tag-Team champions the Second City Collective, who kept their belts against the London Riots because of a disqualification caused by an invading Chris Brookes & Travis Banks, who then lost a number one contenders’ match to Tyler Bate & Dan Moloney!
Elsewhere on the show, TNA’s Jade beat Nixon Newell to become the new Queen of Southside in a four-way which also included Toni Storm and Penelope, Martin Kirby beat Cedric Alexander, and there were appearances from Pete Dunne, el Ligero, Angelico, and Mark Haskins, who was attacked by the returning former Southside champion, Robbie X. Both these shows should be available on Southside’s Vimeo channel soon, and the promotion run Sheffield on Saturday.
3) ATTACK! had a MASSIVE! weekend.
Ploughing their own field out in the wrestling hotbed of Bristol (and across the border in Cardiff), ATTACK! Pro-Wrestling’s shows probably aren’t to everyone’s tastes. Which is weird because their shows are selling out quicker than ever at their regular venues, and this past weekend they sold out the Walkabout in Cardiff, their biggest venue to date!
On Friday, at the Trinity Centre in Bristol, they promoted the first of the weekend’s two shows, I Think I Broke My Tailbone, which opened – I’d imagine like the majority of the weekend’s shows – with a tribute to Kris Travis in the form of a minute’s applause, and then a super bout between two of the most promising youngsters in the UK, Tyler Bate and Charlie Garrett.
The show continued with appearances from ATTACK! regulars like the Love Making Demon, Ol’ Poppa Sunflower, Sebastian Radclaw, and the Brothers Of Construction, and also featured appearances from US indy stars Jigsaw, Eddie Kingston, and Ricky Shane Page, who found himself in trouble with the hilarious Anti-Fun Police and was carted off to the back. The main event, a tag-team match between Eddie Dennis & Wild Boar and Pete Dunne & Kingston, broke down after Boar attacked Dennis, ahead of the title-deciding three-way between the two – and Dunne – on Sunday’s show.
That show, titled How Do You Learn To Fall Off A 20ft Ladder?, saw a rabid audience packed into the Walkabout for a spectacular and incident-packed night of ATTACK! shenanigans. As well as the frankly creepy Love Making Demon, Ol’ Poppa Sunflower was also joined by Wonderland of Wrestle to ensure the weirdness quota was kept high, and the show also featured appearances from “Flash” Morgan Webster, Mike Bird, and Tyler Bate.
Mark Andrews photo by Oli Sandler
The most notable matches saw Sebastian Radclaw joined by a surprise partner (Uncle Eggbert) to defeat the Anti-Fun Police, which saw the break-up of the buzzkillers when Superintendant Smile superkicked Detective Dunne and admit that Ryan Loves Fun. In other tag-team action, the Bayside High team of Mark Andrews & Nixon Newell claimed the ATTACK! Tag-Team titles from CCK (Chris Brookes & Kid Lykos), before the main event saw Pete Dunne cement his claim on the ATTACK! 24-7 Championship (the company’s main belt), overcoming Eddie Dennis & Wild Boar in a brutal three-way.
The belt’s 24-7 properties had been suspended in the run-up to the match but as soon as Dunne won the title they were reinstated, and referee Shay (who somehow always manages at least one dive per show) rolled him up to become the new champion! Both shows should be available soon on ATTACK!’s on demand service and come highly recommended.
4) The British invaded Dallas.
While many of us were attending WrestleMania parties in the UK, and some shows even included the marathon PPV as an aftershow to their Sunday presentations, more than a few hardy souls ventured over to Dallas to see the thing in person, and that included a handful of our best talent. They weren’t just there to see the big show, however, they were also there to showcase their talent on the weekend’s parasitical (in the best possible way!) independent shows, and our boys came away with some of the top plaudits.
As well as US regulars like Drew Galloway and Zack Sabre Jr, most eyes were on Marty Scurll and man-of-the-moment Will Ospreay, who featured in a number of high-profile bouts across the weekend – none more so than their PROGRESS Heavyweight title match at WrestleCon on Saturday evening, which will show up soon on Demand PROGRESS. Besides that match, Ospreay had outstanding battles with Sabre Jr, Ricochet, and as part of a team with Scurll & Tommy End against TJ Perkins, Johnny Gargano & Kota Ibushi.
Scurll also stepped out against Fred Yehi and Timothy Thatcher for EVOLVE, while Sabre Jr was featured in matches against former-UFC fighter Matt Riddle and Chris Hero, and then teamed with Hero & Brian Cage to take on the high-flying dream team of Rey Mysterio Jr, Ricochet & Matt Sydal.
Outside of showing the world what the best of Brits had to offer, the first batch of names were released for the WWE’s Global Cruiserweight Series, and it included Zack Sabre Jr and Scotland’s Noam Dar, as well as Ho Ho Lun, from Hong Kong, who was trained at Swindon’s 4-Front Wrestling, and made many appearances on the UK indy scene a few years ago for the likes of ATTACK!, Triple-X, and Great Bear. In addition, it’s reported that Nikki Storm will soon report to the WWE Performance Center after impressing in a series of try-outs – and one NXT TV match – last year. An exciting time for British talent!
5) There was, of course, shows.
Presenting a four-match card is not the done thing in UK independent wrestling these days, although you can forgive Grand Pro-Wrestling for doing just that last Friday, at the Rose Club in Hindley, for Only The Strong Survive. Two of those 4 matches were multi-man affairs, with the event crowned by an eight-man tag-team elimination match which saw Team T-Bone (Grand-Pro Heavyweight champion T-Bone, Grand-Pro British champion Bubblegum, Ashton Smith & Chris Ridgeway) go up against Team Roberts (Dylan Roberts, Craig Kollins, Damon Leigh & Travis Banks).
Grand-Pro photo by Grand Pro-Wrestling
After the match, which was won by T-Bone’s outfit, both champions left their belts in the ring – along with a Kris Travis t-shirt – as a mark of respect for the former Grand-Pro tag-team champion, who made some of his earliest appearances for the promotion. The show also featured Cyanide, Martin Kirby, Jack Gallagher & the Midnight Bin Collection, and Grand-Pro return to the Rose Club on May 13th.
Another promotion that heavily featured Travis, and was the site of his comeback match last summer, was Preston City Wrestling. Their show on Sunday was another emotional affair, and was dedicated to the man who held the company’s Heavyweight Championship for six months over the winter of 2012-13. The show, Who Dares Wins, was built around PCW’s annual battle royale to find a number one contender to champion PCW Heavyweight champion Sha Samuels, which was won by T-Bone after he overcame the final challengers – the London Riots, who were revealed to have been the masked men who aided Samuels in winning the title from Dave Mastiff last month.
The show also featured a host of the top UK guys – no small feat given the big shows in Cardiff & Glasgow that night – and TNA’s Jade, ROH’s Cedric Alexander & Chikara’s Eddie Kingston. The show will be available on DVD soon.
That big show in Glasgow I mentioned above was Insane Championship Wrestling’s BarraMania 2, at the Barrowlands, the culmination of their Hey Look! It’s That Mad Wrestling Thing Aff The Telly tour, which had ended the previous night in Newcastle. The show was built around the ICW Heavyweight title match between Big Damo – who had won the title earlier in the tour, in Belfast – and Drew Galloway, whose TNA World title belt has become the most hated and oft-used foreign object in ICW. Damo triumphed against all the odds, overcoming interference from Red Lighting & Jack Jester, to keep his title and stride into the rest of 2016 as a formidable champion.
Nikki Storm photo by David J Wilson
Elsewhere on the show, which began with a special tribute to Kris Travis, Nikki Storm lost a Loser Leaves ICW match against Sammi Jayne (and had to be carried out, kicking & screaming), Polo Promotions (who had teased leaving ICW themselves earlier in the week) beat the 55 to become the new ICW Tag-Team champions, and Lionheart won the ICW Zero-G title in a scramble match which kicked off the show.
The card also featured a brutal contest between Trent Seven and Mikey Whiplash, a bloody streetfight that saw the remnants of the New Age Kliq – Chris Renfrew & BT Gunn – down their former comrades Wolfgang & Kay Lee Ray, and a Barrowlands Hall of Fame ceremony, which Mark Dallas accepted on behalf of ICW. If you want to see this show – and keep up with the frantic goings-on in ICW, you can sign up to ICW On Demand, which also airs their Friday Night Fight Club for free every Friday.