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OVER THE TOP WRESTLING
FEBRUARY 5, 2017
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND AT MANDELA HALL
REPORT BY JOHN FROM BELFAST, PWTORCH VIP MEMBER
This is PWTorch VIP subscriber John from Belfast, Northern Ireland. I am just back from Over the Top Wrestling’s latest show at Belfast’s Mandela Hall venue. This show featured several wrestlers from the recent WWE UK Championship tournament, as well as rising indy star Matt Riddle. Here are the results from the show, along with my thoughts.
(1) Tucker pinned Charlie Sterling. Initially set-up as an in-ring promo segment for the Belfast fans to celebrate Tucker’s participation in the WWE UK Championship tournament, this match got started when Charlie Sterling attacked Tucker from behind. Early on in the match, Tucker and Sterling ended up brawling through the crowd and around Mandel Hall, before the action returned to the ring. Once this happened, the match settled into quite a nice pace. Sterling made for quite the effective heel, using his size and power advantage to counter Tucker’s athleticism. The Belfast man did eventually pick up the win using a superkick.
(2) The Lads from the Flats & Session Moth Martina defeated Paul Tracey & Jinny Couture & Renee Dupree. An extended comedy match, this six-person tag match saw the heel trio of Paul Tracey, Jinny Couture and former WWE star Reneé Dupree face off against the team of the Lads from the Flats and Session Moth Martha. Much of the comedy in this match revolved around class warfare, with the upper crust heel trio looking down on the working class babyface ladies. This got a decent amount of heat from the Belfast fans, with Dupree in particular. Ring singled out by the crowd.
The match itself was your typical comedy match, with lots of playing to the crowd for laughs. The most memorable moment in the match saw one of the babyfaces pull down Dupree’s wrestling trunks, much to the dismay of the former WWE star. The babyfaces picked up the victory here, with one of the “lads” hitting Paul Tracey with a Swanton Bomb. Overall an entertaining match, although I felt this last for far too long.
(3) Tyler Bate pinned Jordan Devlin. Another enjoyable match, this singles bout saw WWE UK Championship tournament participants Jordan Devlin and Tyler Bate square off. Tyler Bate received a huge babyface response from the crowd in this match, with there being lots of chants for Tyler to wave at them. Jordan Devlin surprisingly received very little reaction from the crowd initially, before he started to get more of a response from the crowd as the match progressed.
This singles match was a technical wrestling masterclass, was one of my favourite matches of the whole evening. The opening moments of this match saw Bate repeatedly escape from Devlin’s attempted top wrist locks, before the Irishman did finally manage to take his opponent to the mat. Over the course of this match momentum swing back and forth, until Tyler Bate managed to defeat Jordan Devlin with his “Tyler Driver 97” sit-out powerbomb.
I absolutely loved this match. In my opinion, Tyler Bate is a legitimate star at only 19 years old. Despite this young age and his small stature, Bate carries himself like a star in the ring, and has a likability that means he could easily become a top babyface for WWE in the future.
(4) The Kings of the North defeated The Wards in an OTT Tag Team Championship Match. The only championship match of the evening, this six-man Tag Team match saw OTT Tag Team Champions The King of the North defend their belts against the Wards. As the hometown heroes, the Kings of the North were the clear fan favourites in this match.
Like most matches involving the Kings of the North, this was a highly physical affair. At one point the action spilled out to the ringside area, with one of the Kings being thrown over the ringside barricade and into the crowd. In the end this solid, but ultimately forgettable tag match saw the champions retain their titles to send the crowd into the intermission happy.
(5) Matt Riddle defeated Mark Haskins via submission. The first of three matches to take place after intermission, this singles contest saw former PROGRESS Champion Mark Haskins take on current PROGRESS Atlas Champion Matt Riddle. This was one of Haskin’s first matches since making a surprise return from injury at PROGRESS Wrestling’s Chapter 43 show. Matt Riddle meanwhile was making his Belfast debut here, and received a surprisingly tepid reaction from the crowd.
Despite having just come back from a potentially career-threatening injury, Mark Haskins played the role of the heel in this match. Over the course of this match, Hawkins ground down his opponent and did an excellent job of building sympathy for his babyface opponent. This strong heel work allowed Matt Riddle to make an instant impression on the fans using his mixed-martial-arts inspired offence. Riddle picked up the submission victory here over Haskins, applying a cross arm breaker submission following a “Falcon Arrow”.
This match was my second favourite match of the night. While Mark Haskins certainly helped establish Matt Riddle as a star in the eyes of the Belfast fans, I was incredibly impressed by Riddle. Like Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne, Matt Riddle carries himself like a top star, and with the former UFC fighter having a great look too, it seems almost inevitable he’ll end up in NXT sooner rather than later.
(6) Eddie Kingston pinned Luther Valentine. Providing a brief buffer match between the two major singles matches of the evening was this bout involving local wrestler Luther Valentine and TNA wrestler Eddie Kingston. Eddie received a surprisingly strong response from the Belfast fans (especially with TNA no longer airing on TV in the U.K.), with their being lots of drilling “Let’s go Eddie! Let’s go Valentine!” Chants.
With Luther Valentine being from Belfast, Eddie Kingston played the heel here in this match. Kingston got the pinfall victory in this match, nailing Luther Valentine with a spinning backhand that knocked Valentine out. Following the match Eddie Kingston cut a short promo praising the Belfast fans.
(7) Pete Dunne defeated Mark Andrews via submission. The main event of this show was a rematch from the WWE UK Championship tournament semi-finals, as Pete Dunne took on Mark Andrews. Before the match, both wrestlers made their way to the ring to huge cheers from the Belfast fans. In particular, Pete Dunne received the biggest pop of the evening, with the crowd chanting “Bruiserweight” throughout this 20-minute match.
Once the opening bell ring, this match delivered on every possibly level. Despite receiving the biggest pop of the night, Dunne continued to play the heel persona he played during the UK Championship tournament. During the opening stretch of this match, Dunne kept Andrews grounded for the most part, viciously working over the right arm of Andrews.
As the match progressed, the pace slowly began to pick up, and Mark Andrews began to gain more of a foothold in this match. This would lead to a frenetic closing stretch that saw Andrews produce some incredible counters including one sequence of moves that saw Mark Andrews reverse a brainbuster into his “Stundog Millionaire” signature move. Despite this valiant comeback, Pete Dunne was able to defeat Andrews, putting the Welshman away with his flatliner finishing move.
This was a fantastic match that perfectly capped off a fun night of professional wrestling. Looking at where Pete Dunne and Mark Andrews could fit into the WWE landscape, I see Andrews ending up in the role of a utility player if WWE does pursue a weekly television show for the UK. While there is no doubting his in-ring ability (especially when fighting from underneath), I think his deficiencies as a talker will ultimate hinder his upward mobility.
These weakness are in stark contrast to Pete Dunne, who seems ready made for either NXT or the main roster. With his vicious “Bruiserweight” persona that is complimented by his hard-hitting in-ring style, Dunne seems like a future main event Star and should be a focal point of any future UK specific WWE programming.
Overall Thoughts: With so many talented wrestlers sprinkled throughout the card, this was a highly enjoyable show from OTT Wrestling. I was at the promotion’s debut show in Belfast last December, and this was a much better show in terms of workrate. If I was to provide one piece of negative feedback, it would be that I feel OTT rely slightly too heavily on visiting stars to draw crowds to their shows. Most of OTT Wrestling’s (with the exception of maybe The Kings of the North, Tucker and Luther Valentine) tend to be more suited to comedy matches. While there is certainly a place for comedy characters in the world of professional wrestling, I feel this reliance on visiting attractions to draw fans limits OTT’s ability to create a true breakout star.
In terms of attendance, it looked like OTT Wrestling had set up Mandela Hall to hold between 450 and 500 people. It looked like somewhere around 300 professional wrestling fans came along for this show, with most of the fans being males in the mid-late 20s. Unusually for a wrestling show the venue was set up with no seating (besides a small upper balcony area that held approximately. 100 people). Following the show, OTT Wresting announced they will be returning to Belfast on Sunday April 9, 2017 with another show from Mandela Hall featuring TNA stars Grado and Drew Galloway.
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