Pro Wrestling Pride - Nevermore...Never Again (Live Event Review) (August 2nd 2014)

By Nathan P Hunt

Company: Pro Wrestling Pride
Date: August 2nd 2014
Venue: Torquay Town Hall

Upon hearing that Raven would be making his last appearance in the UK (due to mounting injuries, wanting to scale back his wrestling appearances in favour of holding seminars & training camps), I didn't hesitate in making plans to be present for this once in a lifetime show. To make things even better, Pro Wrestling Pride - the company behind the show - had arranged for a Q&A session earlier in the day, and a meet and greet with all the performers afterwards. Being the huge Raven fan that I am, I opted for the full package. I also contacted one of Raven's tag partners for the evening, Ultimo Tiger, to arrange a quick one-on-one interview about British wrestling, training and some other topics, which he graciously accepted and will feature in some future articles. You can listen to the full, unedited interview (just over 8 minutes) at this link. (Please note that this was my first face-to-face interview and I was quite nervous.)

Torquay Town Hall

The Q&A was held in Torquay Town Hall, where the show itself would be held a few hours later. The acoustics of the hall were not ideal, but the session went well and was genuinely interesting, informative and entertaining.  The questions were fairly varied and although there were some generic and typical questions asked, everyone on the panel were patient, professional and tried to answer everything as fully as possible. The vast majority of the questions were solely for Raven, although a couple were aimed at the whole panel, which also included his  partners for the upcoming match, Ultimo Tiger & Darren Saviour, their opponents - collectively known as 'The C2 Agenda' - Mark Walsh, Calum Cain and Tyler Hawke, as well as Danny Walsh (the Pro Wrestling Pride Heavyweight Champion) and the host/MC for the show, John Harding. The heels were in character for the Q&A, which I was hesitant to embrace at first but it was appropriate given that there were several kids in attendance and also gave a little build-up for the event to be held that evening. Mark Walsh stated in response to someone asking Raven who had been his toughest opponent that his toughest challenge was still to come later that night when he faced the C2 Agenda. Later on, while Raven was snacking on some fries, Ultimo Tiger threw one across the room and it landed perfectly on Mark Walsh's shoulder, generating some laughs from the attendees and even from his brother Danny, who was sitting next to him and joked to Mark that 'you literally have a chip on your shoulder'.

After a break of a couple of hours, the show would begin. There was a good sized crowd of about 450 people in Torquay Town Hall, and while they were mostly there for Raven, the whole crowd got into the show from the very start, giving great reactions to the performers from the very first match, all the way through to the main event. We had travelled by coach all the way from Manchester, which was essentially a full day of travelling in each direction, so we were obviously hoping for a good show, but what we got would exceed our expectations.
Dick Riley makes his entrance

In the opening match, Dick Riley defeated Josh Knott, successfully defending the Pro Wrestling Pride Catch Division Trophy. The match started with some sports-entertainment showcasing and playing up to the crowd, who were already giving a great reaction from the moment the two made their entrances. Two guys in the front row, one of whom we had met in a bar across from the town hall (and was a primary school teacher) were starting chants of 'We love Dick', as well as some other amusing ECW-esque Dick-related humour. The two competitors had a good, entertaining and solid match, interlacing some hold-for-hold traditional British style wrestling with a few highspots from babyface Josh Knott, and some hard hitting from both.
If there was a low point on the card, then the next match was it, although to be fair, I would not go so far to say that it was a bad match, but some of the offense was too hesitant to be thoroughly believable and it was a much more sports-entertainment style than is usually seen in British wrestling. The heel team of Marcus Baine & Samson were the stronger of the teams, but would come up short against the babyface team of “Showcase” Paul Barnett & Rob Brittania. The crowd responded well throughout, and gave a good ovation to the winning babyfaces.
Next up, The UK Dominator defeated Kay Jutler, who was playing the patriotic babyface role against the Scottish heel veteran. This was a really good, strong and varied contest. Both men put on a performance they could be proud of and certainly recieved the reactions they were working for. UK Dominator got in the faces of several fans and taunted the entire crowd before, during and after the match, generating the most heat of anyone on the card until this point. He had won a money in the bank match at PWP's previous show, and would be presented with the case later in the evening by ring announcer John Harding.
UK Dominator

In our next match, the already lively crowd was brought to it's feet for the first time by the hard hitting and high flying of Ryan Smile, Dynamite Pete Dunne, Damian Dunne, Dan Moloney & Chris Brookes. Brookes would take the majority of the crowd heat in the opening moments, as his tall, lean frame led to chants and cat-calls of 'daddy long legs' and various other insults. He played up to this really well, and after he unleashed some particularly ferocious kicks, which elicited sympathy and audible surprise from the crowd, he turned to his detractors and in a fashion reminiscent of Ric Flair's heel responses to individuals in the crowd, he sneered 'These long legs are good for something!' Moloney would impress with some powerful suplexes and strikes, as would Damian Dunne, whose silent-movie-era-villain style moustache was a highlight all of its own, let alone his strong, solid in-ring work. The two babyfaces of the match, Pete Dunne & Ryan Smile, punctuated the contest with high flying and crowd-pleasing spots aplenty before Smile won the match in spectacular fashion. I have to say that this match could stand up there with the usual output in with any Cruiserweight, Light-Heavyweight, X-Division, or other adrenaline fueled division anywhere, and that Ryan Smile in particular (although certainly not exclusively) is a star that is waiting to explode onto the international scene. He already has his fans, as evidenced by at least one sign held up by a young child in attendance which simply (but effectively) stated 'Ryan Makes Us Smile'. In this case, Ryan's win made the audience pop so loudly that you would have thought him to be an international star already.

The penultimate match was for the Pro Wrestling Pride Heavyweight Championship. This was a rematch from their previous show where Danny Walsh got himself intentionally disqualified in his defense against PJ Jones. PJ would be greeted for the rematch in large part by cheers, although, as in any crowd, there were some who were not as quick to accept him as the babyface hero, and were likening his outfit to a Power Ranger (although to me it was more reminiscent of Jushin Liger's outfit mixed with AJ Styles' entrance jacket). Any detractors would soon change their tune however, when some well placed dropkicks and a springboard moonsault hit their mark effectively and pretty soon, (thanks also to Danny's outstanding job of playing up his heel role) everyone was rooting for a title change. History would repeat itself as Walsh would get himself disqualifed after several public warnings from the official. This time, though, the match was restarted immediately and while Walsh argued with the referee and John Harding, he was caught in a schoolboy rollup and pinned, losing the title. The new champion had little time to celebrate as giant heel Groza Alexander hit the ring to attack PJ from behind. He was joined by Baine and the UK Dominator, who entered with his newly aquired Money In The Bank case to cash in on the fallen champion. After the assault of his comrades, UK Dominator won the title and held it aloft, mocking the fans and getting in the face of John Harding. Harding even took a nasty shot to the face from Dominator before the heels left with the championship, squaring up to fans again during their exit.

Lastly we moved on to the main event, pitting Raven and his teammates, Darren Saviour and Ultimo Tiger against the C2 Agenda, consisting of Tyler Hawke, Calum Cain & Mark Walsh. The match was action packed from the outset, with Raven bringing a bin (trash can, for any American readers) full of weapons to the ring, and using all of them to full effect. He seemed to favour the A-frame Caution signs (those small yellow sandwich boards used to warn people about wet floors), and proceeded to batter all three of his opponents over the head with these, all around the ringside area, throughout the match, interspersed of course with the use of chairs and other implements. The crowd were rabid for everything that Raven did, and the heat for the heels was intense, serving as a huge compliment to all of them. In the days that followed the event, Ultimo Tiger admitted on social media that he had been a little apprehensive going into the match, as he had worried that when Raven tagged himself or Darren into the match that they may get little reaction from the audience. His fears were certainly unfounded, as when Raven tagged him into the match it prompted an immediate and booming 'Tiger' chant that echoed throughout the hall. This was before he had even showcased any offense, so when he quickly began to unleash his arsenal, the audience started popping like bubblewrap under a steamroller. Equally, Darren Saviour got a reaction akin to an international star babyface. The natural chemistry between Tiger and Saviour was clear to see, and they truly felt like a team that deserved to be in the top spot on the card, both in terms of crowd reaction and their in-ring performance. Ultimo Tiger's influences from Ultimo Dragon and Tiger Mask were clear to see, while Darren seemed somewhat reminiscent of a young Brian Pillman in his WCW babyface days, mixed with the selling and sympathy-garnering ability of someone like Tommy Dreamer. While Raven gave the crowd what they had come to see by unleashing the hardcore style beatdown on the heels, the workrate, skill and exuberance of his partners added a welcome dimension to the match. The heels were all on top form and were equally at home in this main event setting. Mark Walsh's cocky swagger, Calum Cain's brutality and Tyler Hawke's intensity were underlined by smooth execution, clear ability and athleticism, and suitable crowd interaction from all three, riling and infuriating the crowd.
Like the rest of the card as a whole, the match contained something for everyone, and was a genuine crowd pleaser. While Raven was on the offensive for his whole involvement in the match, it either went largely unnoticed, or rather no-one in the audience cared. No-one had not come out to see Raven take a beating, but rather dish one out in his usual aggressive and entertaining style, and his partners more than compensated by taking some brutal suplexes, hard strikes and building the match to a dramatic crescendo when Raven hit his Evenflow DDT for the win. The babyfaces then invited the kids in the audience to come into the ring and attack the heels themselves with kicks, weapons, punches, and moves, in one case, a Raven-assisted superfly splash from the top, and in another, a Raven-assisted double foot stomp to the testicles. This ended the card on a massive high note and it was great to see the company make some lifelong memories for the kids by bringing them into the show.


The meet and greet afterwards was great, and I recieved compliments from every wrestler on the show for my Dr. Death Steve Williams T-Shirt, with many asking where they could get one themselves. Then when they saw my girlfriend wearing Terry Funk T-Shirt, one wrestler commented 'I think I'm love with this couple!' I obviously thanked Ultimo TIger again for granting me the interview earlier in the day, and Darren Saviour gave the PWP email address to my girlfriend and offered her a free DVD of the show as thanks for us travelling so far to be there. I think I may have made some enemies (on a very minor scale) when I held up the queue by chatting with UK Dominator about the YouTube documentary he features in, and about general wrestling and training. He seemed to welcome the conversation and enjoy talking to me, and he was very open about wrestling and his training school, so I was really glad to have the opportunity to speak with him.
There is no doubt in my mind that I would welcome the chance to see another show by this company, and would certainly look out for any matches or shows featuring their performers. I would seriously recommmend them to anyone and hope that they continue to do well and grow their company in the Devon area and beyond. They put on so much more than just another wrestling show, and it is an experience that even a fan who is unfamiliar or jaded with the British independent scene would enjoy.

The DVD of this show is now available from the PWP website store.
To keep up to date with details of other interviews, reviews & articles from Eye On Wrestling, as well as news and trivia, please follow on Twitter and like the Facebook page.
You can find out more about Pro Wrestling Pride on their website, Facebook page or by following them on Twitter.
(This review was originally posted on the 'Inside The Squared Circle' website on 31st December 2014, but was moved here after the site closed.)