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Riptide: The Storm
March 14th 2020
Report by Alan Counihan, PWTorch contributor
As with a great deal of the pro wrestling world right now, uncertainty is the order of the day when it comes to the independent scene. When public gatherings resume, it’s going to be very interesting to see what wrestling will look like on the indie level and what promotions are left standing. That is going to be the case everywhere – Japan, Mexico, the U.S. and certainly the United Kingdom.
The UK scene which was at its heights in 2016 has taken all kinds of hits in recent years as has been well documented by the Torch’s own Will Cooling amongst others. With many fans losing interest in what they feel are the “co-opted” promotions, the talent pool becoming shallower, and staples of the scene having to close their doors – one promotion started to turn heads as a bastion of hope for even the most jaded and disappointed fans. It’s a promotion which clearly does things the right way – an underdog with a cool aesthetic, that became easy to root for. It harnessed the do it yourself, punk rock ethos that many feel had been abandoned by others. As such, it’s very fitting that it was Riptide Wrestling that provided a glimmer of hope with essentially the last notable British wrestling show in front of fans before the lockdown.
“Riptide The Storm” gives the BritWres fan something to cling to as we wait out the next few weeks or more likely months before “normal” shows start to happen again. The qualities that have made Riptide the up and coming promotion on the UK scene were on full display here and they will leave you itching to get back to attending indie shows again.
As with all of Riptide’s shows since their June 2017 debut, this emanated from Brighton, a lovely seaside area in the East Sussex county of the UK. The vibe of the promotion reflects the location. Brighton is renowned for it’s diversity, culture, quirkiness and just being a really inclusive, happy place. It’s known as being “the UK’s hippest city” and the “unofficial gay capital of the UK”. The venue for this show is the Brighton Youth Centre, a great complement to the Brighthelm Centre which has hosted the vast majority of Riptide events. Moving forward the promotion plan to use both spots, and they both offer a unique cool feel.
What has become Riptide’s calling card is their outside the box, high quality production. They clearly have invested in very good, modern equipment but even so they aren’t going to have the budget of a major league wrestling promotion with TV backing when it comes to that. What Riptide does to bridge the gap is something that so many indies are guilty of slacking on. They put a ton of thought and creativity into their production. They say, “Okay, this is what we’re working with” and they get the absolute most out of it.
A couple of notes about the production on this show:
– There is no commentary. With commentary at this the independent level often more of a hindrance than a help, sometimes this is the safer route to go. But it really works for the Riptide product as it allows you to really feel like you’re in the room for the show with every interaction between wrestlers and fans coming through clearly.The acoustics are great and you’ll feel every bump and every bit of atmosphere.
– As a nice nod to the deaf community, Riptide offer subtitles throughout the show for backstage promos and in-ring banter/trash-talk. It’s done in cool ways with stylish graphic work.
– There is a roving camera which is used really well and picks up some amazing shots throughout the show. Keep an eye out for the shadow effect they get when Killer Kelly is posing on the turnbuckles – it’s awesome!
– Rather than seeing full entrances on this show, what they present is an amazing little idea. Between matches it will cut to an old style dial television which is showing footage from news coverage of “The Great Storm” in 1987 which wreaked havoc on Brighton. The dial will change and it will cut to inset promos by the wrestlers leading into their matches. It’s all done seamlessly with footage and quick clips of the entrances utilised as well. Honestly it was one of the more creative things I’ve ever seen on a wrestling show from a production point of view.
(1) Gene Munny & Millie McKenzie vs. Paul Robinson & Damon Moser
This was a really simple, easy to watch opener with clear-cut faces and heels that lead the show off on steady footing. Robinson is one of the best, and most experienced workers in the country and is a master of getting heel heat from any audience. Moser is looking to model himself in the same way and seems to have improved a lot since I last saw him. Munny & Millie got their whacky babyface personalities across in their pre-match video. McKenzie who has spent a large amount of the last few years under the tutelage of Meiko Satomura in Sendai Girls, normally wrestles a serious, no nonsense style but here she was playing off the over the top personality of Gene Munny.
After a spirited comeback, the faces had some miscommunication which lead to Robinson & Moser capitalising in decisive fashion to get the win. 8 minutes or so, in and out. No complaints.
Match Rating : 5/10
(2) TK Cooper vs. Warren Banks
TK is one of the faces of the promotion and one of the main reasons why some call Riptide “the land of the broken toys”. He entered 2017 as one of the biggest prospects in Europe and was set to make his PWG debut after a fantastic showing at WrestleMania weekend in Orlando that year. A badly broken leg came at the worst time for him and things went really off track. PROGRESS misused him and killed the connection that the crowd still had for him after coming back from his injury. He struggled to gain footing anywhere else until things clicked for him in Riptide. As a character and a wrestler he has done great work there in the last year and is showing once again why people thought he had a world of potential three years ago. The book is far from written on Cooper’s career, and Riptide is a fantastic platform for him to continue to rebuild his stock.
Warren Banks was an unknown commodity to me admittedly, but he represented himself well here with a confident promo and a good performance in the match.
Match Rating : 5.5/10
(3) Travis Banks vs. Chuck Mambo
Banks, the lone NXT:UK wrestler on the show, was the perfect opponent for Mambo to prove himself against here. The likeable young surfer dude (I’m aware I’m sounding very old there) is right there with Cooper as being one of Riptide’s star performers. Again someone who’s not been used to their potential by other promotions, Chuck has found his feet in Brighton and put forth some of Riptide’s best matches and moments. In storyline though, he was in a bit of a slump and his old rival TK Cooper was at ringside here trying to will him on against stiff competition.
If you haven’t seen Travis Banks wrestle in the last 18 months (very understandable), he’s not really changed at all. Still the same intense, hard working guy he’s always been in the ring. He put in a good effort here and gave Mambo plenty before making him submit. They worked very hard and gave to crowd an energetic back and forth match.
Match Rating : 6/10
(4) Killer Kelly vs. Mad Kurt
Ahhh Mad Kurt, sorry…. THE Mad Kurt. Where to begin in describing this enthusiastic young man. Once upon a time there was a mild mannered young lad breaking into the UK scene by the name of Kurtis Chapman. In a very sad development, young Kurtis …. died.
But from his death rose THE MAD KURT – a massively irritating individual who has picked fights with everyone from Eddie Kingston to Minoru Suzuki and has somehow not died as of yet. He’s like a cross between 1999 Super Heavyweight Crash Holly, Stalker Ichikawa and Zack Sabre Jr’s less cool annoying younger brother. Here, Kurt picked a fight with Killer Kelly and they had themselves a really fun match. Kelly has been at the top of wXw’s women’s division for a couple of years now and she’s always improving. She played off the antics of Mad Kurt perfectly here. A highlight of the show for what it was.
Match Rating : 6/10
(5) Mike Bird vs. Cara Noir
Wow, was this ever better than I expected!
A tremendous video package outlined a feud that was coming to boiling point on this show. The no-nonsense, all business grizzled veteran in Mike Bird taking on a fellow veteran, but one he resented in Cara Noir. Bird cut a great promo talking about Cara Noir’s “Black Swan” character, focusing on how insulting he found it – basically calling him a fraud and a disgrace. The intensity dripped off every word he said and it carried into the match.
They went hell for leather right from the start and this broke down into a wild brawl. Cara Noir has been accused of being too performative at times – almost like the indie version of the Gargano/Ciampa stuff, or some of the other guys in the NXT system who’ve been too heavily influenced by HBK and “I’m sorry, I love you”. However I feel that’s a bit harsh. I don’t think he ever goes over the top of the parameters set out by his character, and it always feels natural to me whether it’s selling a beating like he did against PAC or going toe to toe with Mike Bird here. I think he generally walks the line carefully.
I won’t ruin the finish of this match because it will sound worse on paper than it was in execution. I really liked it. I was fired up in the post match as these two were separated by everyone else in the back. I loved the touch of them taking one man backstage and the other out the front door – as them both walking into what is presumably a small backstage area would have been unrealistic.
Match Rating : 7.5/10
(6) Spike Trivet (c) vs. Jordon Breaks – Riptide Brighton Championship
The main event featured top heel Spike Trivet defending against local lad Jordon Breaks in what was another really well built match. Trivet is the perfect heel character in this environment as his rich young Tory schtick cuts at everything that Brighton as a community and Riptide as a company represents. He’s an outstanding speaker, very confident on the mic and carries the gimmick off well.
We got a great video package looking at the rise of Breaks, a young wrestler who started coming to the shows just to help out, earned his way onto the cards and then started to climb the ranks in quick fashion. He fashions himself as a bit of an old school throwback style British wrestler, a bit like Jack Gallagher, and has the skills to back it up.
This was his first time in a big main event wrestled to this style and he acquitted himself well. That said, for two young guys still trying to gain experience, this may have been too long for what they’re ready for. There were some slow periods during the match and it relied a bit too much on the interference spots at the end. It will no doubt have been a good learning experience for both wrestlers but it couldn’t match the entertainment level of the match that preceded it.
They did a very good job in further establishing Trivet though, and this is a good foundation title defence for him to build his reign on. It also legitimised Breaks as a feature player for the company and while he’ll likely slip down the card for now, he’s a guy they can absolutely look to build back up gradually. Look for him to hopefully get some marquee opponents that suit his style hopefully when things get back up and running.
Match Rating : 6/10
Overall recommendation – BIG THUMBS UP!! Looking purely at match ratings, Riptide The Storm may not jump off the page, but this show offers much more than that. It is so easy to watch, has awesome production, features enthusiastic performers in every match and there’s a great atmosphere. This is a show that gives a real look at what could be a positive future for BritWres and a sense of hope for what we can look forward to once we have shows back. Until then we just have to weather the storm!