Wrestling X reviews Uprising
Posted by Terry on 10/17/2002
To read Greg The Truth Lambert’s diaries of British Uprising click here then select Truth On Tour from the menu on the left.
WRESTLINGX ON TOUR-
THE TRUTH DIARIES (VOLUME V)
FWA BRITISH UPRISING
Sunday October 13 The York Hall, Bethnal Green
Simon Lilsboy reads The Truth Diaries. Dino Scarlo is a huge fan of the The Truth Diaries. In fact just about everybody who matters in the British wrestling industry is on tenterhooks waiting for the latest instalment all about the story of FWA British Uprising. So if you are lucky enough to be reading then you are in elite company. And far be it from me to deny the British wrestling public what they so desperately want to see.
So after a five-and-a-half hour train journey from Morecambe in Lancashire, and armed with nothing but an FWA press pass, a notepad and a dodgy digital camera with no zoom lens, The Truth went ‘Access Almost All Areas’ at British Uprising. On this night The Truth was the Kate Adie of wrestling reporting, as he stared danger dead in the face and lived to tell the tale. He stood just inches away when Balls Mahoney and Ulf Hermann wrecked the Strong Style tapes table and was nearly crushed by stampeding fans as the two lunatics brawled past him. He was cowering underneath the balcony when Jody Fleisch took his life in his own hands by moonsaulting off it and landing on a crash mat named Flash Barker.
And right at the end The Truth was proud to be the man who Jerry Lynn looked right in the eye and said: “British fans are better than American fans.”
It was the latest and perhaps the greatest night in a banner year for British wrestling. So without any further ado, here are The Truth Diaries Volume V for your reading pleasure…
Have been in London since yesterday but it still looks as though I’m going to be late for FWA British Uprising. The Tube has picked tonight of all nights to go all unreliable on me, but finally the Hammersmith and City service bothers to show up enabling me to crawl into Bethnal Green station with 20 minutes to spare. As I hang around by the station exit I play ‘spot the obvious wrestling fan’ in the crowds of people pouring through the turnstiles. Yep, there’s one in an n.W.o T-Shirt. And there’s another one wearing an ‘ULF IST GUT’ tee. Hang on a minute. Could that be THE ‘Ulf Ist Gut’ of UK Fan Forum fame? I ask him, but he looks at me blankly. It’s a case of mistaken identity. It seems there is indeed more than just one Ulf Hermann fan in the world.
Make it into the York Hall with five minutes to spare, or so I think. Luckily the show starts 25 minutes late giving me chance to get my bearings. The York Hall is packed and there aren’t many empty seats. At a guess I would say there’s about 800 people here but this is a deceptively small arena so it could be closer to 600. Later on the noise was so deafening it felt closer to 2,000. The FWA looks to have done a decent job on the entranceway and some tell-tale holes in the ramp loom suspiciously like the homes of some serious pyrotechnics. We all know the promotion has the talent within its roster to make a real impact if they can secure a TV deal, but production values are just as important these days if they are to succeed in a marketplace dominated by the technical wizardry of Vince McMahon and co.
Being a huge boxing fan growing up I should feel a sense of spine-tingling history at being in the York Hall, scene of so many top professional domestic punch-ups over the years. But feeling stressed after my late arrival I instead head right for the bar for a soothing pint. Afterwards decide to spend some time mingling around the arena and notice that on this celebrity-studded night (as far as British wrestling goes) the stars are definitely out in force. And New Era Wrestling promoter Dan Read is here as well. We bump into Jorge Castano, who recently returned to the country and is taking bookings once again. John Farrer, Total Wrestling journalist and Global Wrestling Force promoter, is also wandering about. Mark from Strong Style Tapes has his usual table at the back of the hall, behind which my fellow journo Tom Lancaster is setting up a video camera. Tom and I have something in common as we are probably the only two people in the building who were also at the Great Britain Hardcore Wrestling show in Stoke-on-Trent just 48 hours earlier, unless GBH stars Five Star Flash, Johnny Phere and Dirk Feelgood have managed to sneak in. In my view after the recent performances of this terrific but under-exposed trio, the FWA would do well to take a look at all three of them.
‘The World’s Number One Alternate Lifestyles Wrestler’ Baxter Burridge says hello but it is a brief one. Baxter has his ‘game-face’ on because tonight he is part of the Frontier Wrestling Alliance security team. And FWA hot prospect The Duke of Danger is his usual amiable self as he stops by for a chat. This quickly leads into a discussion on his experiences of being recognised and signing autographs. OK, it happened just the once. But remember Duke, we’ve all got to start somewhere.
The FWA music hits, the fireworks blast upwards from the rampway with an impressive bang and both ring announcer Jane Childs and referee Steve Lynsky come bounding down to the ring. It’s show time!!! I still don’t know where I’m supposed to be sitting and remain none the wiser after a glance at my FWA press pass. Here’s where having a mate on the security team comes in handy as Baxter Burridge says with a press pass I can pretty much sit wherever I want.
So the opening attraction is a Triple Threat Match to decide the Number One contender to the All-England Title. Here are the match reports, with the usual marks out of 10. The WrestlingX ratings system breaks down like this.
10- All-time classic 9 – A cracking match 8 – A real good’un 7 – Decent stuff
6 – Average 5- Seen Better 4- Bit of a Stinker 3- Dire
2- Absolute Shite! 1- A Big Show match
JAMES TIGHE beat RAJ GHOSH and JACK XAVIER
(The Truth’s Position- Front Row Ringside)
The night got off to a slightly embarrassing start for the FWA as James Tighe caught his foot on part of the ring entrance structure and nearly tripped over, much to the crowd’s amusement. But that was the last time a spot was blown in this cracking little opener.
Tighe, Ghosh and Xavier are three of the FWA’s success stories of 2002. The trio had the perfect platform to demonstrate how much they have improved during the year but were also under incredible pressure to deliver. And they did, by immediately hooking the crowd with some inventive triple submission exchanges. It soon became clear that this was a hugely knowledgeable and appreciative audience of predominantly ‘smart’ fans as they applauded every single spot with enthusiasm….and rightly so.
I prefer James Tighe as a heel, and there was one occasion when it looked as though he would play the ‘bad guy’ role in this match. But to be honest the fans were enjoying the action so much they probably wouldn’t have booed him anyway. First big pop of the night came when Ghosh went for a Tajiri-style Tarantula on Xavier only for Tighe to drop kick the pair of them over the top rope and follow up with an Asai moonsault on Jack. Raj then showed his own aerial prowess with a springboard flying bodypress onto the pair of them. This brought the first of many ‘HOLY SHIT!’ chants of the night.
Tighe, Ghosh and Xavier continued to pull out all the stops before coming up with a creative finish where Tighe somehow managed to roll-up and pin Xavier while simultaneously hurling Ghosh over with a German suplex. The fans went absolutely mental. The heat in the York Hall was searing and we were only one match in!!!
Congratulations to the three guys who worked their socks off and produced a little gem. 8/10
ALEX SHANE RETURNS
(The Truth’s Position- Front Row Ringside)
“WELCOME BACK! WELCOME BACK!” screamed the ECW-esque crowd as ‘The Show Stealer’ made his way down the aisle for his first in-ring appearance since suffering a serious neck injury at FWA Urban Legends in March. Production problems continued as Alex tried to speak into a duff microphone. To his credit he laughed it off and grabbed a second mic, leading to a collective audience sigh of relief when this one actually worked.
There are none better in the FWA at delivering a promo than the ubiquitous (look it up) Mr Shane and once again he proved it with a scathingly hilarious synopsis of the many changes in world events since he last set foot in the ring. Tommy Boyd, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Scott Hall….hell, not even Jade from Big Brother was safe from the Show Stealer’s sharp tongue. Then Alex cut to the chase and promised to make sure Jody Fleisch left British Uprising as the FWA Heavyweight Champion. This brought out Dean Ayass and Flash Barker to ‘YOU SUCK!’ chants from the heaving throng. Line of the night as ‘The Twisted Genius’ turned on one of the fans and cried: “If I suck it’s only because your mother taught me!” Twisted? Maybe. Genius? Most definitely.
At this point a group of fans picked up a ‘Dean’s Dream Theme!’ chant and directed it at the Talk Wrestling radio show’s finest, so Alex and the sound man decided to give them what they wanted to hear. The by-now infamous and superbly cheesy ‘theme tune’ of Dean Ayass was soon reverberating around the arena. But although a few of us were singing along with gusto, I didn’t think the song got over as well as expected. Note to FWA- get ‘Dean’s Dream Theme’ some well-deserved airplay on Radio One and next time it might get a better reaction. Meanwhile the man himself sold the camper-than-camp music like he was hearing the most horrendous duet possible between S Club Juniors and Westlife and called the crowd ‘retard ingrates’. But this only brought a ‘WE’RE ALL RETARDS!’ chant from the un-fazed masses.
In the middle of all this tomfoolery, Alex Shane vowed to ‘take out the Old School brick by brick’ but had reckoned without the cement, otherwise known as ‘The Specialist’ Mark Sloan, sneaking down the aisle and into the ring behind him. WHAM!! Chair shot to the face and down went ‘The Show Stealer’, giving first blood to Dean Ayass and his less-than-merry men. But as the old saying goes, he who laughs last…etc. Great angle, by the way.
FWA All-England Champion THE ZEBRA KID pinned HADE VANSEN
(The Truth’s Position- Back of the Hall)
A gang of jokers in the front row thought it would be really cool to hold up a ‘JODY’ sign as Hade Vansen came to the ring. I don’t really understand why people think Hade is a Jody Fleisch clone because to me he has a style all of his own. The Zebra Kid also has a style all of his own when it comes to hair. The fans had a great time chanting ‘BRUTUS BEEFCAKE!’ and ‘BILLY RAY CYRUS!’ at the mullet-clad Kid, whose angry reaction to the taunts made him the fully-fledged heel in this heated encounter.
There were lots of well-executed high spots, stiff exchanges of kicks and outside-ring brawling to catch the eye in this one. Zebra hit a five star frog splash but Hade countered with a top rope moonsault bodyblock and then a running somersault dive off the apron Cactus Jack-style. The All-England Champ came back with a top rope drop kick and then in a rare display of psychology inbetween the high spots, distracted the ref beautifully for a low blow which Hade sold like he’d just been castrated.
Zebra maintained the advantage with a tight Boston Crab but Hade fought out of it and hit a Shining Wizard then a top rope huracanrana. The finish came when Vansen missed a flying splash from the third floor, and the WAW’s top cruiserweight recovered to scramble up and deliver his patented Randy Savage elbow for the three count. A slightly unpredictable ending as I’d expected Hade to go over but his time will come. Overall, a mightily impressive match full of great athleticism from both youngsters. 8/10
FWA Tag Team Champions THE UK PITBULLS squashed THE NEW BREED
(The Truth’s Position- Back of the Hall)
No sooner had Ashe and Curve arrived at ringside then out came a destruction machine called Paul Burchill. Dan Read has told me before about Burchill’s potential as a monster heel but this was my first sighting of him in the flesh, and he completely annihilated The New Breed in classic Sid/Goldberg/Lesnar style. A powerful series of offensive moves ended with a cataclysmic Emerald Fusion (Rikishi Driver) of Curve through a ringside table. Although the ‘table spot’ is over-used these days and means far less than it did 10 years ago (blame Bubba Dudley) credit is due to Curve who lay in a splintered heap for the entire match, selling the devastating blow superbly and really making Burchill look like a killer.
Pity poor Ashe who then had to face the combined mass of the Pitbulls all by his lonesome. He made a good fist of it by hitting a Spanky-esque ‘Sliced Bread Number Two’ on Big Dave but was eventually obliterated by a Bulk legdrop and Dave splash, then a Dave power bomb into a Bulk X-Factor for the pinfall.
The handicap squash match scenario certainly played to the Pitbulls’ strengths and the outcome was a decent enough match helped by a cracking little angle at the start. By the way, Curve was helped out by FWA officials afterwards to a huge ovation. 7/10
DREW McDONALD battled ROBBIE BROOKSIDE to a Double Disqualification
(The Truth’s Position- Front Row Ringside)
It was obvious the crowd was getting restless when one bright spark decided to shout: “THREE MINUTES!” Yes, the intervention of Rosey and Jamal might just have livened up McDonald v Brookside as the consensus opinion in the arena was that this was the least popular match of the night.
‘The Highlander from Hell’ came out to his usual heated response and cut a sinisterly impressive promo but when the action got under way the early pace dragged too much for the ‘Pro-New School’ crowd’s tastes. Drew seems to have bulked up quite a bit over the past few months and is slower of foot than he was at Revival when he and ‘The Wildcat’ assembled a more than acceptable battle. But tonight the slightly bored fans contended themselves by getting on the case of TWA promoter and special guest referee Scott Conway, imploring him to “GIVE HIM A PUBLIC WARNING!” in tribute to Scott’s refusal to abandon the old British rules system in his own promotion.
The action picked up when Drew began whipping Brookside with his belt, but Robbie seized control of the leather strap and after wrapping it around the Scotsman’s throat he nailed him with his Iconclasm finishing move. Brookside followed up with a patented Tree of Woe drop kick and then the two men brawled uncontrollably in a corner. In trying to separate them Scott Conway was shoved down twice and called for the bell. The inconclusive DDQ ending led to a huge chorus of boos until Conway was flattened by a Drew clothes line and suffered further punishment from Robbie’s Tree of Woe! The crowd seemed to enjoy Conway’s plight and I have to say Scott takes a bump rather well. 6/10
DOUG WILLIAMS pinned JERRY LYNN
(The Truth’s Position- Front Row Ringside)
The volume in the York Hall went off-the-charts when Jerry Lynn made his entrance. Ear-splitting chants of ‘JERRY! JERRY!’ and ‘NEW F***IN’ SHOW! NEW F***IN’ SHOW!’ rang around the arena. This was hero worship on a massive scale, and I was right in the thick of the most hysterical ‘Jerry Lynn marks’ congregated in the front row. Everyone was on their feet for this match and straining to get the best vantage point. And when hundreds of young adult males are packed together in a confined space like sardines you don’t half experience some fishy smells. Odours of fart, bad breath and sweat perpetually wafted in the air around the ringside fans. On the other hand, Doug Williams and Jerry Lynn were not here to stink out the arena. Quite the opposite in fact.
I must mention my fellow ringsiders ‘The Mile End Posse’ at this point, particularly ‘Mark’ who came up with some hilarious chants all night (“BROOKSIDE’S CANCELLED!” during the previous match being my favourite) and their boisterous ringleader ‘Liam’ who was fascinated by my shorthand writing abilities and said his wrestling heroes were: “Jerry Lynn, Chris Jericho, Matt Hardy and The Truth”. Unfortunately he meant Ron Killings but at least the sentiment was there.
Back to the match itself. I wondered if Jerry Lynn has ever experienced anywhere near this kind of crowd reaction in NWA TNA or Ring of Honor, but the thought soon passed and was replaced by complete absorption in a true mat wrestling clinic. Every single move by both men was excellently executed. It was almost like watching a pair of Bret Harts in the ring, going one-on-one, move-for-move and counter-for-counter.
Jerry started the ball rolling with a cracking scissors kick legdrop knocking Doug (who was also playing babyface having dropped ‘The Anarchist’ gimmick) off the ring apron, leading to an internal Mile End Posse argument as ‘Mark’ turned patriotic and started supporting Doug much to ‘Liam’s chagrin. (“F*** England, Jerry Lynn’s the man!”) Lynn hit a bulldog off the middle rope but Doug fired back with a tremendous Gory Special backbreaker and rammed Jerry chest-first into the cornerpads. After a near-fall festival of highly-appreciated roll-ups, cradles and reversals Williams executed a top rope kneedrop for a close two count.
Two counts became the order of the day as Lynn caught Doug trying to climb the ropes and power bombed him down, then executed a fabulous superplex and went for the Cradle Piledriver. A roar of expectation went up from the crowd but Maidstone’s own countered it creatively with a front slam for a two count, then delivered a fisherman buster for another desperately close call. By this point the fans were yelling ’3!’ at referee Andrew Coyne whenever he called ‘2’, leading to some good-natured back-and-forth banter between the official and the noisy ‘Fourth Man in the Ring’- otherwise known as the crowd.
Lynn soon slowed down the pace with a Fujiwara armbar but was back in trouble again as Williams went for the Revolution DDT. Lynn countered it with a Bossman (sacrilegious, I know) Slam but soon fell prey to a vicious anklelock followed by the Revolution DDT itself. Doug couldn’t quite follow up in time to get the three, and instead went for the Chaos Theory. Lynn reversed it into a roll-up but Williams kicked out on about two and nine tenths. Finally he shockingly managed to trap his American foe in the Chaos Theory and rolled Lynn up for the three count and a standing ovation to end an almost flawless match.
To think I used to say Jerry Lynn was over-rated. But that was before watching his tremendous battles with AJ Styles in NWA TNA and experiencing his stellar performance live at British Uprising. I take it all back Jerry. Please accept this 10/10 by way of an apology.
Made my way to the VIP Bar (it was easier to get served than in the heaving main one) and annoyed Dan Read by managing to persuade the security guard to let him in. He said he got me started in the business, but now I’M the one getting HIM into VIP bars. It softened the blow when he was recognised by a few fans who had been at Dawn of a NEW Era. Met UK Fan Forum regulars UK Hat Guy and Seph Jnr, and had a nice chat with FWA ref and Talk Wrestling colleague Tony Giles (top geezer and proud to have designed Balls Mahoney’s steel chair for the evening) and met up with ‘WrestlingX’s German Fan Base’ Felix Kohlenberg and pal. And yes, I managed to get them into the VIP Bar as well.
‘RIGHTEOUS’ PAUL TRAVELL pinned THE LOVELY NIKITA
(The Truth’s Position- Front Row Ringside)
Even in these post-kayfabe days there’s still something quite disturbing about watching a man beating up a woman and especially when said woman is The Lovely Nikita. But at least Travell’s buddies from The Family (Scottie Rock, Ian DiSciple and Brandon Thomas) were banished from ringside making this inter-gender battle a one-on-one fight.
Those of you who were at Revival will remember The Lovely Nikita wrestled by her own admission a disappointing match against Lexie Fyfe. She has come on in leaps and bounds since then, and contributed greatly to probably the most entertaining man v woman bout since Dean Malenko wrestled Lita. She delivered a running springboard plancha dive on Travell, absorbed a sickening T-Bone Suplex in reply and then kicked out of a Cradle Suplex from the Not-Very-Righteous One at the count of two.
The Lovely Nikita proved her flexibility as Travell (whose twitchy facial expressions reminded me of a young Hurricane, and that’s Alex Higgins the snooker player not Gregory Helms) bent her around the ringpost in a painful-looking surfboard manoeuvre. He then piled on the punishment with a choke slam into a backbreaker, and an Arn Anderson spinebuster. Somehow our heroine survived and stunned Travell with a middle rope drop kick before finally succumbing to a Dominator variation from The Family member. 7/10 and she’s drop dead gorgeous to boot.
ULF HERMANN pinned BALLS MAHONEY in a Hardcore Match
(The Truth’s position- Back of Hall)
Poor Simon Lilsboy. The Talk Wrestling co-presenter and his yellow bow tie received the biggest boos of the night. But he took it all in stride and did an excellent job as ring announcer.
I don’t fully understand Balls Mahoney’s theme music. “SHE’S GOT BIG BALLS”(?!!) Who is ‘she’? Nicole Bass? But the by-now delirious York Hall crowd didn’t care about the biological impossibility of the lyrics and sang along with abandon. Balls meanwhile looked as if he could not quite believe or comprehend the overwhelming reaction he was getting. “E-C-W!” came the chants but Balls grabbed the mic and rebuked the chanters by saying: “Paul Heyman went bankrupt and made us all homeless so I don’t want you to chant ECW. What’s the name of this company again?” Cue earth-shattering ‘F-W-A!’ chanting and this continued for the rest of the night.
Spent most of this match talking to fellow Power Slam writer Mo Chatra near the back door and straining to see the ring over the heads of even those fans who had seats but preferred to stand up and watch what I’m told was a brutal hardcore match. “BALLS CAN WRESTLE!” came the chant as Mahoney started proceedings with some slick in-ring moves, but it soon all broke down to outside-ring barmy-ness. Hermann and Mahoney were soon headed our way, and Balls used Ulf’s head as a wrecking ball to smash the Strong Style table in two. As the psychotic pair continued their rampage towards us pursued by an uncontrollable mob of fans I found myself falling backwards into the back row of chairs as Balls, Ulf and the surging mass hurtled towards me. Somehow I maintained my balance and the uncomfortable moment soon passed with the bloodthirsty entourage.
Back in the ring the Giant German delighted the ‘Ulf Ist Gut’ T-Shirt wearing posse (and any one of about six of them could have been THE ‘Ulf Ist Gut’) by shouting “F***K YOU, YOU WENKERS!” at the crowd. Before I could work out what on earth a ‘wenker’ was, the two men were battering each other senseless with clanging steel chair shots, a contest Balls Mahoney won and then celebrated by producing a bag of thumbtacks. Both men were bleeding from the forehead by this point so Balls of course had to dig some of the tacks into his own brow and make the cut even worse. What a trooper.
At this point Mo and I opted to rush upstairs to watch the closing moments from the balcony, which was a mistake because we missed the finish. The Duke of Danger reliably informed us it was Ulf power bombing Mahoney into the thumbtacks before scoring an unpopular victory with everyone apart from his devoted supporters club. “PLEASE COME BACK!” was the chant as the heroic Balls soaked up the adulation afterwards. FWA Promoter Elisar Cabrera later told me Balls does indeed want to come back to these shores because he was blown away by how respectful British fans were in comparison to some of those over in the States.
I didn’t actually see the match in its entirety but judging by the insane crowd response it must have been one hell of a spectacle. Balls Mahoney is one charismatic dude and it’s hard to believe this is the same guy who once played Xanta Claus in the WWF. Go on then, 8/10.
JONNY STORM defeated AJ STYLES
(The Truth’s Position- The Balcony)
Had a great view of this one, overlooking the ring from the edge of the balcony. It was immediately obvious that AJ Styles was totally fired-up by the crowd who were showing no signs of getting tired and gave him a thunderous welcome. Storm and Styles then produced a match of blinding creativity and athletic endeavour.
After Jonny hit a corkscrew moonsault off the top to the outside he Irish whipped Styles towards the crowd barrier, only for AJ to leapfrog it and in one fluid motion catch ‘The Wonder Kid’ with a super stiff super kick upside the jaw as he rushed in. Back inside the ring Styles somehow converted an Asai moonsault into a reverse DDT and then the action spilled to the floor once more, with Storm being hurled into the front row on top of some unsuspecting fans.
The high spots came thick and fast. AJ ran up to the middle rope and German Suplexed Jonny face-first off it. He then went for the Styles Clash but Storm grabbed the ropes, only for AJ to change the move into a sit-out power bomb for a two count. He then hit a very realistic sliding drop kick while Storm slumped in a corner and delivered a stunning Kryptonite Krunch for another massive crowd pop and close near fall.
Jonny managed to get in a couple of Rewind Frankensteiners but AJ was more than matching him for innovation, coming up with a stupendous Styles Clash from the top rope to take a short-lived lead in the Move of the Night contest. AJ then went for a spectacular finish as he pressed ‘Style in Action’ above his head while standing on the middle rope in an amazing feat of strength, only for Jonny to counter with a marvellous Tornado DDT for a pinfall against the run of play.
This was a wonderful exhibition albeit with a couple of sloppy spots, although anyone who chanted ‘YOU F***ED UP’ wants shooting because these two guys gave it their all. I hate that chant, especially during a match of this quality because it’s totally unnecessary. Jonny went over to make it a clean sweep for the Europeans against the Americans and rightly so because the FWA wants to prove our wrestlers are just as good as our US counterparts. And although AJ Styles and his offensive manoeuvres stole the show, remember it takes two to tango and Jonny deserves a ton of credit for his usual enthusiastic and hard working performance. 9/10
JODY FLEISCH downed FLASH BARKER in a ladder match to capture the vacant FWA Heavyweight Title
(The Truth’s Position- Front Row Ringside)
Glad to see this match take main event status. Again the message is clear- British wrestlers are good enough to headline a card of this magnitude featuring international superstars like Jerry Lynn and AJ Styles. By making this bold booking statement, the FWA top brass proved they, like Mr Mahoney, have Big Balls. By the way, the man himself was having a well-earned fag on the York Hall’s front doorstep at this point. I know this because I saw him on the way back down from the balcony to re-take my place on the front line for the final match of the night.
Elisar Cabrera was darting around the York Hall looking like the cat who got the cream because he knew things were going well. But some of his facial expressions during the main event were a little bit more of the ‘just shit himself’ variety because of the potential for danger to the crowd from some of Jody and Flash’s more insane spots.
Dean Ayass worked the fans into a frenzy before things got under way with a classic steel chair-hurling tantrum as referee Andrew Coyne (who is also damned good on the stick) banished him from ringside. Then the match proper began with some early ladder-less exchanges, where Jody and Flash signalled their intent by brawling into the crowd right in front of me. “F*** HIM UP JODY, F*** HIM UP!” was the cry as ‘The Phoenix’ soon set up the ladder twixt the ring and crowd barrier, placed a chair on it and suplexed Barker onto both metal objects, a painful favour Flash would return later in the match.
At this point the ringside barricades were taking a real battering, and FWA security and officials (including Elisar) were fighting a losing battle to keep us protected behind them. Suddenly the pair were back on our side again and Jody was positioning the ladder about three feet away from me, directly underneath one of the balconies. He scaled it and I immediately realised what he was going to do. BASTARD! Just as I pointed and clicked my dodgy digital camera to capture this incredible moment the blasted batteries ran out! So instead I watched helplessly as from around 15 feet in the air Jody Fleisch then hurled himself backwards with a flying moonsault bodyblock and crash landed on Flash Barker. I swear for a moment I thought he was coming down on my head, he was that close. This was the move of the night and the fans went absolutely ape. The crowd reaction was so intense (“F*** THE HARDYS!”) even Jerry Lynn popped his head through the entrance curtain to watch what was going on.
Flash regained control inside the ring with a Snow Plow-style manoeuvre but was soon back on the defensive as Fleisch used the ladder to hit the ‘Wall Unit’ moonsault. Back came Barker with a German suplex off the ladder and countered a springboard huracanrana attempt with a sit-out power bomb. Meanwhile Balls Mahoney sneaked around the side wall behind me and into the VIP Bar. A slight distraction perhaps, but not enough to spoil the enjoyment of a belting finale.
Barker had things well under control after he laid Jody down on the ladder then crushed him with a running flip. Things looked even bleaker for Fleisch when Mark Sloan re-appeared and attacked him, before trying to hand-cuff him to the ropes and initially failing miserably (an occasion where the “YOU F***ED UP!” chant was entirely justified!). Eventually he succeeded, only to be planted by a vengeful Alex Shane and a One Night Stand. Alex dragged ‘The Specialist’ back to the locker room, dropped a key on the canvas for Jody to release himself, and then there were two once again.
The finish was very creative as the two men climbed a ladder each and tried to grab for the belt. Flash pushed Jody’s ladder and he teetered towards the ropes only for Fleisch to block his own fall with a foot and propel himself back towards Barker. The momentum sent Jody crashing into Barker, whose ladder toppled and the former Mr Blond was sent crashing to ringside. Unopposed, Jody Fleisch grabbed the FWA Title belt to become the new champion. Alex Shane, Jerry Lynn, AJ Styles and virtually the entire locker room then came out to acclaim Jody in a ticker-tape finish. It was a feel good finish very similar to Revival but really the only logical one to send the fans home happy.
Overall this was a great match with lots of high-impact high spots. Like Storm v Styles there were a couple of errors but nothing to detract from the overall effect. And as for Jody’s moonsault….WOW! 9/10
In another show of class from the FWA, most of the talent roster stayed around afterwards to talk to fans, pose for photos and sign autographs. Balls Mahoney appeared to be having a whale of a time as fans clamoured for his attention. A be-spectacled Jerry Lynn posed for photos with Jody Fleisch and the FWA Title belt. Alex Shane told me he’d found it unbearably hot in the ring as he was cutting his promo. He’s right. You can’t beat the York Hall as a venue for atmosphere but it’s one hell of a compact sweat-box. Elisar Cabrera and Mark Sloan shared a friendly hug of triumph on the rampway. Tony Giles and AJ Styles came down the ramp together to join the party (Styles and Giles- now there’s a tag team!) Meanwhile the ring crew was working hard to take the ring down and it was interesting to spot Raj Ghosh sweeping up confetti from the canvas. Raj definitely played his part in the evening’s events but still didn’t think such a mundane task was beneath him. It’s just another example of the great attitude displayed by most of the British wrestlers and the sense of camaraderie that exists in the FWA.
I had two interesting conversations during the aftermath and for me they summed up the evening’s events. One was with Dean Ayass who said the idea of the show was to cater for all tastes. He said British Uprising had something for everyone- great scientific wrestling, brutal hardcore wrestling, deliberately-paced Old School wrestling and dramatic high spot wrestling. And he’s absolutely right. FWA British Uprising was a terrific show, well-organised, well-booked with almost a clean sweep of clean finishes and to say it was well-received by the fans would be a gross understatement.
My only slight criticism of British Uprising was that a few of the matches appeared to be a little too choreographed. For example, Styles v Storm and Fleisch v Barker were both phenomenal athletic exhibitions but I didn’t feel either match had a natural flow or much in the way of crowd psychology. Granted, there wasn’t a lot of time to ‘work the crowd’ because of the intricacies involved in setting up spectacular move after spectacular move. But that was the problem. Perhaps the outrageous bumps and dives verged a little on overkill. Don’t get me wrong, the matches were still fantastic but the lesson is a long-term one for the FWA. It’s like Jake Roberts always says- “less is more”. Look at Jody. He’s now done one moonsault off a balcony, so he will be under pressure to outdo this outrageous stunt next time out. There’s always a limit and the FWA must be careful not to reach it too soon. If the bookers run out of fresh ideas before they even get a TV deal the eventual televised product will suffer and could disappoint fans whose expectations have been raised sky-high by Revival and Uprising.
On the other side of the coin Lynn and Williams moved between manoeuvres so seamlessly you couldn’t see the join and captivated the audience from bell to bell with their ability to ‘tell a story with their bodies’. They kept things fairly simple and this is perhaps why their match was marginally easier on the eye than the ‘car wreck’ style favoured by Messrs Fleisch, Storm, Barker and Styles. It’s quite a weird departure for me because I usually prefer dramatic high spots to a good old-fashioned wrestling match but Doug and Jerry just about sneaked my Match of the Night vote. Maybe my tastes are changing, or more likely I’m just getting old.
Oh yes, the second conversation. That was with Jerry Lynn himself. It was very brief, but I managed to ask him what he thought of the reaction from the York Hall fans. He said: “British fans are better than American fans.” No disrespect to our US cousins but based on the evidence of Sunday October 13 in the York Hall, Bethnal Green, he’s spot-on. So maybe that explains why some of the wrestlers didn’t feel the need to work the crowd that often. This was one hot crowd from the very start and it didn’t really need much working. The emotion and electricity generated was off the page, and all the wrestlers had to do was feed off it.
And that they did. In doing so they helped British Uprising become a shade superior show to Revival in my view, worthy of a 9/10 overall rating and up there with WWE Summerslam as one of the two best events of 2002. The only problem now is- how can the FWA top this?
The only way to go one better is to finally achieve that elusive television deal and I certainly hope they do. Mainstream TV audiences deserve to see the FWA in their living rooms as long as they can continue to produce superb quality shows like British Uprising. And the FWA itself deserves such success because everyone in the entire company, from the backroom staff to the boys out front, works damned hard to create the best possible product for its fans.
And if you were one of the lucky ones at British Uprising you can’t deny that is The Truth, the whole and nothing but.