SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
OVER THE TOP WRESTLING
DECEMBER 16, 2018
BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND
REPORT BY JOHN SERVICE, PWTORCH SUBSCRIBER
If you attend a live event, please send results in the format of the following report to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
(1) Sean Guinness pinned Charlie Sterling. Kicking off OTT’s final show of 2018 was this singles bout between veteran Irish wrestler Sean Guinness, and England’s Charlie Sterling. Guinness is a relative newcomer to OTT, having only made his return to the promotion back in May of this year, after an 18-month stint working for the Zero 1 promotion in Japan. Charlie Sterling meanwhile is a former OTT Tag Team Champion, having held the belt earlier this year as part of the Rapture stable Wirth current NXT UK star Zack Gibson.
As for the match they had here, I thought this was a solid, if surprisingly low-tempo way to open the show. Prior to the start of the match, Charlie Sterling place a “Caution Wet Floor” in front of a group of women located near myself, indicating that post-Rapture Sterling is aiming for the “body” guy gimmick that the likes of Chris Masters, Jessie Godderz etc. have previously prorated on national television. Once the opening bell sounded, Sean Guinness and Charlie Sterling had a surprisingly competitive match. There was lots of stalling at ringside by Sterling during the early portion of this match, but once it really got going it did a pretty decent job of getting the crowd fired top for the matches higher on the card. There was one particular spot where Charlie Sterling nailed Sean Guinness with a superkick/cutter combo that resulted in a nearfall that surprised the crowd. In the end though, Guinness emerged victories using a top-rope double stomp to put away his opponent.
Overall a decent way to get things underway here in Belfast. With NXT UK talent most likely only appearing on UK independent shows going forward into 2019, it will be interesting to see if the likes of Charlie Sterling become more prominently featured on UK independent shows. Sterling has in the past worked for a number of high-profile UK promotions (including RevPro) he could be one of a number of names to start to gain some traction next year. I also wouldn’t be 100 percent surprised that with his physique, WWE doesn’t poach him this time next year (especially with his former tag partner Zack Gibson one fo the bigger stars of NXT UK).
(2) The Mongrels (Eddie Ston & Gavin Fitz & Russel Dempster) defeated Session Moth Martina & Paddy M & Workie via pinfall. The first slightly disappointing match on this Live In Belfast card, this six-person tag match was built around a promo where the three-man team of the Mongrels announced they would be “cancelling” Christmas by winning this match. Meanwhile the Lads from the Flats (Paddy M and Workie) were making their return to Belfast after a two-year absence (their last appearance was on OTT’s debut show in Belfast from December 18, 2016).
This six-person intergender tag match was a solid, if albeit unspectacular bout. As you would expect from a match featuring Session Moth Martina, there was lots of comedy laced throughout this match (although it was much less risqué than usual due to this being an all ages show). Early on in this match, the Mongrels isolated Paddy M in their corner of the ring, leading to a prolonged period that built to Paddy making the “hot” tag to Martina. The babyfaces then made their comeback, hitting some of their signature spots (including a top rope diving cross body by Martina onto two of the Mongrels), before the heel team of Eddie Stone, Gavin Fitz and Russel Dempster picked up the victory. Its official: Christmas in cancelled in Ireland!
While I did find this match to an enjoyable enough, I was slightly disappointed with how flat it felt. Initially my gut instinct was that perhaps it was a case that the law of dominishing returns was starting to pay off in regards to seeing Session Moth Martina. While there’s no denying the Session Moth gimmick is entertaining, it does get very repetitive over time. And with Martina being somewhat hamstrung regarding the vulgarity of some of the antic she can perform at an all ages wrestling show, this may go some way to explaining why I struggled to really get invested in this match.
(3) Raven Creed defeated Valkyrie via DQ. Prior to the start of this women’s match, a pre-recorded VT was played establishing the partnership between heel wrestlers Debbie Keitel and Valkyrie for the more casual OTT fans in attendance,
Unfortunately when both wrestlers came out tot he ring, they received no noticeable reaction from the crowd (apart from a small group of fans who seemed to be fans of Raven Creed’s entrance music). This lack of crowd involvement set the tone of the match, with the crowd staying almost silent for most of the match. However as the match progressed, the Belfast audience did seem to slowly but surely get behind Raven Creed (who is also the OTT Women’s Champion). I would attribute Creed slowly getting the fans behind her to her very physical in-ring style. In particular, Raven Creed’s headbutts looked terrific, and dare I say, looked so stiff they almost reminded me of the ones delivered by Tomohiro Ishii in New Japan Pro-Wrestling.
This match came to a sudden conclusion when Debbie Keitel attacked Raven Creed while she had Valkyrie about to submit to a crossfire submission hold. This attack led to the referee ending the match with Raven Creed declared the winner via disqualification.
(4) Jordan Devlin pinned Scotty Davis. Unquestionably the match of the night, this singles contest between Scotty David and former OTT World Champion Jordan Devlin was a fantastic match that felt like a potential late candidate for MOTY for OTT (at least based on watching it in a live setting).
Before the opening bell had even rung, the crowd inside were fired up with duelling chant of “Let’s Go Scotty! Let’s Go Jordan!” ringing around the Europa Hotel’s Ballroom. Once the match finally got underway, it then became apparent that fans were in for something very special. The pace of the match initially started off fairly slowly, with Devlin and Davis attempting to gain a foothold in the match through a series of chain wrestling holds that included a prolonged sequence involving multiple reversals stemming from Jordan Devlin attempting to apply a top wrist lock on Scotty Davis.
As the match gradually progressed, you could see the pace of the wrestling on display slowly ramp up and the fans continued to make a lot of noise. However it was once this bout entered its final closing stretch that it really kicked into that top gear. During the final minutes of the match, Devlin and David both “Hulked up” out of signature moves (Jordan Devlin immediately got up from a German Suplex from Scotty Davis, and then hit a Saito Suplex that Scotty Davis then immediately got back up from). This sequence got a huge reaction from the Belfast audience, who could scarcely believe what they were seeing. In the end it was Jordan Devlin who picked up the victory in this match, with Devlin nailing Scotty Davis with what looked like a one-handed electric chair powerslam to get the three count.
Following the conclusion of this match, Jordan Devlin’s former tag team partner David Starr came down to ringside. Devlin initially invited him to step into the ring, and fight him so that Jordan could get revenge for David Starr turning on him in a tag match at last month’s Redemptionshow in Dublin. Starr instead cut a promo on how Devlin had been selfish, and tried to justify his actions by saying it had been his mission for three years to defeat OTT Champion WALTER, and that Jordan. Devlin wanted to claim that for himself. This promo culminated in Devlin proposing him and Starr settle things on February 17, 2019 at OTT’s next major show – Homecoming. I thought this promo exchange was fantastic, and with Starr alluding to Devlin having his own “demons” top conquer (a reference to Devlin sometimes being compared with his Mentor Finn Bálor), it featured just enough reality for it to build fan interest in their coming match without feeling too insider-y.
Overall this was an absolutely incredible match that featured a star-making performance from Scotty David. With Jordan Devlin’s long-term status with OTT possibly up in the air due to the recent NXT UK contracts controversy, it is imperative that OTT. create a new generation of Irish wrestlers that can take the place of the likes of Devlin at the top of the card. I feel based on the performance of Scotty Davis in this match, that he could potentially be one of the wrestlers that could replace Jordan Devlin as the “Ace” of OTT. The crowd were fully behind Scotty throughout this match, and if he can continue to capitalize the momentum he will get out of this performance, the name Scotty Davis is one to keep an eye on fin 2019 or followers ofd the UK/Irish wrestling scene.
While Scotty Davis did a great job in this match, I also want to acknowledge how great Jordan Devlin was here. Devlin played subtle heel in this match (which is unusual in OTT), as he came across as overly aggressive at times during this match, and also slightly cocky at times. In my opinion, Jordan Devlin’s more heelish personality really helped Scotty Davis over with the crowd in this match
(5) Damien Corvin pinned Ilja Dragunov. At the start of this show it was announced by OTT commentator that U.S. wrestler David Starr had not been medically cleared to compete tonight, so the card for tonight’s show had several changes. One of these changes was that OTT Tag Team Champion Damien Corvin was replacing Starr as Ilja Dragonov’s opponent. This match was also Ilja Dragunov’s debut appearance for OTT, with the Russian having made a number of appearances in the UK for PROGRESS since the start of the summer.
In the end, this last minute change actually ended up working out for the better, as Corvin and Dragunov had a fantastic hard-hitting singles match that helped get the crowd fired up post-intermission. Momentum in this bout continually swing back and forth, with Ilja Dragonuv using his speed advantage to counter-act the powerful running boot of Damien Corvin. Despite this strong debut showing, it was ultimately the superior power of Damien Corvin that prevailed here. The Belfast wrestler managed to put Ilja Dragunov away with a Falcon Arrow/pinning combination, that was preceded by a number of super stiff boots to the face.
Overall another great match that really helped get the crowd excited for the main event. Much like Scott Davis, I feel Damien Corvin is another name that fans of OTT and Irish Wrestling need to keep an eye on in 2019. Corvin has been an integral part of OTT’s tag team division since the company started in late 2014. However in recent months, Damien Corvin has started to branch out more into singles matches having wrestled Pete Dunne in the main event of September’s Live In Belfast 2 show, and also wrestling in a singles match on one of PROGRESS’ Chapter shows during the summer. While I don’t envisage a sudden transition to being a singles star in OTT happening in the next three or fur months, I could see Corbin starting to have more singles matches in OTT during the second half of next year, especially if the likes of Jordan Devlin/WALTER can no longer continue to appear on OTT shows due to their NXT UK contracts.
(6) Adam Maxsted defeated Curtis Murray and Tucker in a three-way match. Originally scheduled to be a four-way match involving Adam “Flex” Maxsted, Curtis Murray, Tucker and Damien Corvin, this match was changed at the last minute to a three-way match after Corvin was removed from this match so he could replace David Starr as Ilja Dragunov’s opponent. It was also the first match featuring Tucker since his release from his WWE NXT UK contract just a few day’s ago. Prior to the start of the match, it was announced that the winner of this match would get a future championship opportunity (interestingly it was never announced which OTT belt the title shot would be for, perhaps indicating a change in booking for this match).
Once the opening bell rung, this ended up being a really solid three-way match that served as a perfect buffer match between the Corvin/Dragunov match and the main event. NLW Champion Curtis Murray was the clear heel in this match, drawing loud boos from the crowd throughout this match. During the opening stretch of this match, Murray stood at ringside, waiting for the perfect opportunity to steal a victory. This came a few minute into the match, when he rolled up Adam Mexsted for a two count. From this point onwards, Curtis Murray became fully involved in this there-way match. This greater involvement included the finish of the match itself, which saw Adam Maxsted get the victory with a “Falcon Arrow” that was quickly followed by a pin attempt that was good for the three-count.
Following the conclusion of this match, Curtis Murray and Adam Maxsted had a verbal altercation at ringside, indicating that Maxstead’s title opportunity will be against Curtis Murray at a future OTT show. Overall a fun, if slightly throwaway multi-man match that kept the show running at an enjoyable pace.
(7) WALTER defeated Bonesaw to retain the OTT World Championship. Closing tonight’s show was a world championship match involving OTT World Champion and NXT UK bound wrestler WALTER, and the rather unfortunately named Bonesaw. Bonesaw is one half of the OTT Tag Team Champions (alongside Damien Corvin)
The match itself was an extremely brutal and highly physical championship bout. As soon as the opening bell rung, WALTER rushed at Bonesaw, taking the three-time tag team champion to the mat. This surprise attack by the champion set the tone for much of this match, with WALTER using his greater physical stature and power to completely dominate the match and his opponent. The viciousness of these attacks instantly drew boos from the Belfast crows, who loudly cheered on Bonesaw (who is from Belfast, and was therefor the “hometown hero” in this match). Such was the level of domination by WALTER during the opening ten minutes of this match, I thought the Belfast fans were going to see Bonesaw get squashed by WALTER.
After a lengthy period of prolonged domination by WALTER, Bonesaw managed to somehow get himself back into this match, using his own power to chop WALTER’s chest. This comeback really helped the crowd, who gradually became more and more engrossed in the match as it went longer. And with WALTER’s status with NXT UK public knowledge, I know I certainly found myself wondering could we see a shock title change here in Belfast as the match progressed, especially after Bonesaw managed to somehow kick out of a Tombstone Piledriver
The closing stretch of this match in particular was my highlight of the show. During the final few minutes of the main event we had two ref bumps committed by WALTER. The Austrian also attempted to use his OTT Championship belt to KO Bonesaw at one point while the ref was down, and there was also a spot during the final stretch where Bonesaw powerbombed WALTER through a table to an incredibly loud pop from the crowd. Despite all these shenanigans, the referee only made a two count, before WALTER successfully retained his championship using a modified STF submission hold to retain his title.
While I was not a fan of the two ref bumps (nor Bonesaw using the belt to nail WALTER while the referee was knocked out), I was able to forgive these small issues due to how emotionally invested in the match I became. The main event far surpassed my expectations, as I felt from the moment the match was announced, that fans (myself included) would have a hard time believing WALTER could lose the belt to a veteran tag team wrestler like Bonesaw. Nonetheless I did at times find myself questioning the outcome of this match as it unfolded, and this is a reflection of the fantastic job both champion and challenger did in telling a compelling story in the ring.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This was the first OTT Wrestling I have attended this year. I thought this was another excellent wrestling showroom the Irish wrestling promotion. In particular the three matches which stopd out most were Scotty David/Jordan Devlin, Damien Corvin versus wXw wrestler Ilja Dragunov, and the main event Work Championship match involving WALTER and Belfast wrestler Bonesaw.
Since it has been so long since my last OTT live event, I went back and compared my notes from ton night’s show to the previous reports that I submitted to the Torch. In my reports from 2017 one aspect about the promotion I criticised about the promotion was their dependence of imported stars, and a lack of homegrown stars Fast forward to today, and I feel like this critique longer apples. The emergence of OTT’s ‘Contenders’ series of shows over the last eighteen months has led to a group of young Irish talent finally starting to break through, with acts like the tag team More Than Hype, Scotty Davis and Curtis Murray now able to hold their own alongside veteran OTT acts such as Jordan Devlin and the Kings of the North. There are still one or two areas that need a bit of work e.g. OTT needs to continue to invest in developing a deeper women’s division, and the tag team division in OTT needs less comedy teams, and more teams that can be credible challengers for the Kings of the North.
In terms of attendance, this show from the Europa Hotel sold out of its ticket allocation a few days ago and I would estimate a crowd size of between 400-500 fans. This is to the best of my knowledge the first sell-out show OTT has had in Belfast since they moved from the now demolished Mandela Hall to the Europe Hotel at the start of 2018.
As the show was promoted as an all ages event, the crowd in attendance differed slightly from your typical indie show crowd: it was still predominantly males in the 20s-early 30s, but there ware quite a few teenagers and some young children accompanied by parents. Unusually for an independent wrestling, there were a much smaller number of wrestling t-shirts on display than you would normally see, with fans seemingly favouring Christmas jumpers instead.
In terms of who drew the largest merchandise lines, the two biggest lines were for Jordan Devlin and WALTER by a considerable distance. Session Moth Martina was probably the next biggest merchandise seller, drawing a steady amount of traffic at intermission.
– Jordan Devlin
Over the Tope Wrestling’s latest “Live In Belfast” show is now available through their OTT On Demand service, and should also be available to purchase through Vimeo in the next few days.
If you attend a live event, please send results in the format of the following report to email@example.com. Thanks!