A long-awaited debut for the ‘wrestling variety show’, and the UK’s newest promotion, Wrestle Carnival. Housed in the spacious Portland Centre and boasting a stacked card they are providing a compelling reason to visit Nottingham, although future shows are planned for other parts of the country. Without any more guff from me let’s get on with it.
Wrestle Carnival – Fatal 4 Way
Joe Lando vs Maverick Mayhew vs Callum Newman vs Danny Black
The very definition of a hot opener to kick us off. Constant action and each of these four very talented young men got the chance to show. Particularly memorable were the heavy strikes exchanged between Newman and Black. Any one of these four could easily have come out on top at the end but it was Lando who picked up the win, giving him a little bit of company history in the process. Set a high standard for the rest of the night right off the bat.
Wrestle Carnival – Submissions Match
Chris Ridgeway vs Jay Joshua
The variety show continues with a left turn, right into a style that personally fascinates me more than ever. Ridgeway and Joshua (who was new to me) constructed a brilliant technical contest built from a slow-paced feeling out process at the start into something much more heated and physical. Some of the strikes this two-hit would make you wince even in another room. The sound the headbutt Ridgeway delivered to finally win the contest will stay with me for a while. Ridgeway is undoubtedly one of the best in the UK right now but Joshua impressed massively, showing off a huge amount of skill himself.
Wrestle Carnival – The Carnival Gaunlet
Charles Crowley vs Lion Kid vs Jerry Bakewell vs Hari Singh vs Terry Isit vs ‘the best fancy dressed fan’
Where to start with this? Well let’s just say this was entertaining as hell, portions had the crowd laughing out loud, whilst also featuring an awful lot of very good wrestling action. Everyone stood out in their own ways, Charles Crowley anchoring the first half with his genuinely marvellous charisma and nasty submissions. Lion Kid bringing some great high flying and a sympathetic foil to Crowley. Jerry Bakewell brought a strange mix of zaniness and very slick wrestling acumen. Hari Singh and Terry Isit had a very entertaining mini-match towards the end, whether they know each other well or not their chemistry was brilliant. And whilst Isit seemed to think he’d won, another entrant was still the best fancy dressed fan. A Lucha masked John Cena lookalike (with suspiciously big arms) was the lucky entrant chosen. Turns out he had some top wrestling skills, and a lot of John Cena’s playbook to use. Really fun ending as the John Cena (who was apparently called Joe) won.
It wasn’t the end of the ride for the fan though as Will Kroos (on a pitstop on his way to winning the Tidal Wrestling Title in Huddersfield later that evening) entered the ring and absolutely battered him, joined by Powerhouse Blake (I might have caught the name wrong, my apologies). Those two look a force to be reckoned with.
Cracker of a match, really enjoyable in lots of different ways all at once. If there is someone more legitimately charismatic than Charles Crowley right now in the UK, you’d be hard-pressed to find them.
Warren Banks vs ELIJAH
Another left turn on this winding variety show road. Warren Banks and ELIJAH absolutely battered one another here, two very tough, hard strikers going right for each other. Unlike Ridgeway/Joshua, there wasn’t really a feeling out the process here, just aggression and intensity right from the get-go. Great physicality from two men who have really broken out nationally recently. It could easily have gone either way but eventually, the ‘Nigerian Kaiju’ Banks managed to put ELIJAH away. Could watch two guys like this fight for ages and I imagine we shall be seeing a lot more of both men going forward, hopefully.
Wrestle Carnival – Fatal Four Way for the CATCH Pro-Wrestling Women’s Championship
Lizzy Evo vs Ivy vs Sky Smitson vs Chantal Jordan
A bit of a shift around here as Heidi Katrina (herself a late replacement) didn’t appear and was replaced by a surprise Chantal Jordan. This meant that three of these women had been in the tournament a week earlier, ending with Evo being crowned CATCH champion. A nice little nod to Ivy’s longstanding issues with ring announcer Lucy Openshaw as she openly goaded Openshaw during her entrance, good to see neither has forgotten. Lizzy Evo was clearly tired from having a TNT title just the night before but as always gave a great performance, as did all four. Evo and Ivy teaming up for a while before Ivy turned on the champion were interesting to see. Everyone got a chance at the spotlight until the finish, where things came down to Evo and Jordan. It looked like we had a shock victory for Jordan, and she was even announced as the victor, but Evo’s foot was under the ropes and the match was restarted. A sneaky belt shot by Evo and she retains. A fun match with all four having a chance to shine, and even though it felt like a bit of a formality that Evo would retain, the finish put enough doubt into the mind to make it memorable.
Gisele Shaw vs Heidi Katrina
Another bit of shifting around as Gisele Shaw initially faced Session Moth Martina, who’s on a brief trip over to the UK and had already wrestled 4 matches by this point in the weekend. As Martina was making her entrance Shaw attacked her with a chair and we had a substitution. Heidi Katrina, marking a pretty rapid rise given that she was only added to the show a week or so ago. This was two out of three falls as well. Shaw would dominate in the way that only someone who really does live up her billing as one of the top women in what is a very talented scene can. Katrina held her own until Shaw picked up the first fall as the Canadian got nastier and nastier. Eventually, the second fall (and the victory) also went to Shaw, this time with the help of an interfering Lizzy Evo (just the second time this weekend she’s cost someone else a match). A solid match that further ensures Shaw’s place at the top and the visual of her and Evo might be teasing a clash between them, something most would agree would be great.
Wrestle Carnival Main Event:
Brady Phillips vs Charlie Sterling
I’m not usually at a loss for descriptive words, after all, I write a lot and most of that is trying to describe things to people, but this match did that to me. Both Phillips and Sterling have that rare mix of pretty much every attribute you would want in a top guy or a main eventer and they absolutely lived up to that here. Phillips especially looked brilliant given that this was his first match back, an awesome performance, and Sterling showed just why he’s started to the main event in companies across the UK. A bloody good match that capped off the wide variety of wrestling we witnessed in a neat bow. Close calls almost gave both men the victory but in the end, it was the slightly more ring ready Sterling who squeaked out a close victory. On another day it could easily have gone the other way and I think most people who watched this would be happy to see them have a rematch. A fine main event.
Overall, a great showing from a company making its debut. The production quality was absolutely top class and any show with the talents of James R Kennedy and Dave Bradshaw on commentary will surely be great to watch back. The wrestling variety show really did live up to its billing and this show really does bode well for the company going forward to their next show in September.