So another year in the books, another year watching a decent amount of graps. Not as much as previous years though, as I’ve had a slightly less love for wrestling this year than previous years. Sure I’ve done a lot, probably more than your average sane member of society should do, but it feels slightly less. This is reflected in the list, which has dropped two matches, as I couldn’t quite justify making this a top 5 list. There’s some quality shows that should be checked out (alas, a number of the Tuesday Night Graps shows have been lost in the ether), but actual stand out matches are slightly down on last year.
I’m not sure why, maybe I’m just being a picky wrestling fan. Who knows?
Anyway, as the same as last year, the honourable mentions are listed below. Here are my matches of 2019.
3. Jordan Devlin vs. Kyle Fletcher – Super Strong Style 16, Night 2
Man. This was close.
Two matches were fighting it out for spot 3 of the list – this match, and WALTER vs Fenix from wXw Day 2. Something about day 2’s of tournaments being particularly strong. In the end I gave the nod to this match.
Kyle Fletcher, along with Jordan Devlin & David Starr, have been the standout performers of 2019 in my opinion. Although Starr & Devlin have been getting plaudits, some of Fletcher’s work has been excellent, and this was the best match I saw him in this year. A hard hitting 20 minute that woke up the fairly lackluster Super Strong Style 16 after a weakish day 1. This was the tonic that the tournament needed, as you felt it improved tenfold after this match. A hard hitting, good, solid match between two youngsters that saw believable near falls and a cracking finishing stretch that saw The Irish Ace win. Well worth checking out.
This match is available on Demand PROGRESS.
2. Schadenfreude & Friends 1 – Gene Munny vs. Chief Deputy Dunne: Bandersmatch
One of the highlights of 2019 has been the rise of the Schadenfreude shows. And Schadenfreude in general. A Fight Club Pro concept, starting as a nWo style faction, this year they’ve appeared in wXw amongst others, and started their own shows.
Taking over the Tuesday Night Graps spot in the Frog & Bucket, the first show did eventually sell out, but didn’t do it too quick. Tuesday Night Graps was not for everybody – they were quite expensive shows, boutique comedy wrestling – and on a school night. I must admit I missed a fair few shows of TNG this year. Eventually IPW pulled out of the booking, and in it’s place was the Schadenfreude group.
I attended the first show with a bit of trepidation. It was familiar names, of course, but in unfamiliar situations. Often leaning heavily into comedy. Going into the main event the first Schadenfreude show was fun, an evening well spent but you didn’t quite get it.
And then Bandersmatch happened.
You see, Schadenfreude shows rely on everybody being in on the joke. And when everybody knows how wrestling works (yes, I don’t want to say the ‘F’-word, but yes, it’s predetermined), you can have fun with it. People die on these shows, and then are brought back to life either with explanations or not (which lead to one of the laugh out loud moments from a blown-up-with-a-grenade Dani Luna who demanded a match with Chris Brookes “as he murdered me yesterday!”). And when everybody is in on the joke, it means these shows have become must see.
And so, onto Bandersmatch.
I always like things that have never been done before, as a jaded fan. This match was based on the Black Mirror episode “Bansdersnatch”, where the crowd – through a series of 1 minute twitter polls, booked the match. The match stopped at some point and then determined what happened. The ending happened when Chief Deputy Dunne – the heel in the match – ignored the poll and won with a roll up. Because of course he did.
Since then, Schadenfreude shows are under-two minute sell outs. They’ve never done another Bandersmatch since then (they’ve been doing other fun stipulations) since. This match probably goes a long way to make Schadenfreude & Friends the must see promotion of 2020.
Schadenfreude don’t put their shows online because they cannot be arsed, but occasionally they stream them on Twitch.
1. WWE NXT UK TakeOver Cardiff – Gallus vs. Grizzled Young Veterans vs. South Wales Subculture
I hate nationalism in wrestling.
From the Sgt. Slaughter storyline, to Muhammad Hassan, the whole “we’re from here, you’re from there, that’s why I don’t like you!” irks me a little bit. Primarily because hearing chants of “USA, USA, USA!” doesn’t really connect with a mid 30’s bloke from Wales.
However, I understand why people do it, it fucking works. And no such time have I felt it work more than in this match.
South Wales Subculture – Mark Andrews & Flash Morgan Webster – were going into The Metro Arena in Cardiff against two teams: the long time champions of the Grizzled Young Veterans & the team Gallus. The match was excellent, a three way tag that was better than it had any right to be, but the crowd, oh the crowd.
You see, this crowd was hot. Imagine Wales in Euro 2016 hot. An acceptable face of nationalism that wasn’t about shooting anybody down, but instead lifting people up. Cardiff was buzzing (read: more than slightly inebriated) that day as well – 2pm saw Wales play Ireland in their final warm up match before the Rugby World Cup. That match saw a loss to Ireland. I’m not sure how Wales would have coped if Webster & Andrews had not picked up the win here. After 20 or so minutes of near falls, some hard looking bumps, and singing of “Don’t Take Me Home”, South Wales Subculture won, becoming the first Welsh born WWE champions. Cardiff went loud, very loud.
So, whilst this is probably not on many people’s match of the year, it is on mine. Top work.
This match is available on the WWE Network.
FutureShock UnderGround #31
Big & Brave, JJ Webb & Thomas Wolfe vs Callum Corrie, Joe Bailey & The Young Guns
Soner Durson vs Pac
wXw 16 Carat Gold Night 1
Fenix vs. Rey Horus
Ilja Dragunov vs. Daisuke Sekimoto
WALTER vs. David Starr
wXw 16 Carat Gold Night 2
The entire Day 2. Seriously. But in particular these matches:-
Ilja Dragunov vs. Pentagon Jr.
WALTER vs. Fenix
Lucky Kid vs. Axel Dieter Jr.
wXw 16 Carat Gold Night 3
Hot n Spicy vs. Jay FK
Lucky Kid vs. Ilja Dragunov
Shadenfraude vs. Lucha Bros
Tuesday Night Graps – 16th April 2019
“The Aussie Experience” vs. Addicted to Adrenaline
Kip Sabian vs Joe Nelson
The Invisible Man, El Phantasmo & Drew Parker vs. Chris Brookes, Kid Lykos & Inflatable Kid Lykos
The Anti-Fun Police vs Hallowicked & Frightmare (if Anti Fun Police win, they are reborn)
Super Strong Style 16 – Night 1
Kyle O’Reilly vs. Chris Ridgeway
Super Strong Style 16 – Night 2
Aerostar vs. Daga
WALTER vs. Trent Seven
Super Strong Style 16 – Night 3
Jimmy Havoc vs. Paul Robinson
PROGRESS Chapter 92 – Entertaining Friends
Jordan Devlin vs Connor Mills
WALTER vs Ilja Dragunov
Futureshock Tapped VI
Chris Ridgeway vs Luke Jacobs
Schadenfreude & Friends 1
Dani Luna vs Chris Brookes – 1 Count Bout
WWE NXT UK Takeover Cardiff
WALTER vs. Tyler Bate
PROGRESS Wrestling – Natural Progression Series
Cara Noir vs. Dan Moloney
PROGRESS Wrestling Chapter 95: Still Chasing
Proteus Rumble Match
Schadenfreude & Friends 2
Kyle Fletcher vs. Joe Nelson
Dean Allmark vs. Tyler Bate
Schadenfreude & Friends 4
David Starr vs Joe Nelson
“Inflatable” Kurtis Champman vs Dan Moloney
Tetsujin Is Fucking Dead
Apparently this whole card was amazing. Unfortunately, I was so twatted for the event I cannot remember any of this show. It’s on YouTube, check it out though.
PROGRESS Chapter 99 – With a Flake, Please
Cara Noir vs. Ilja Dragunov
PROGRESS Chapter 100 – Unboxing Live
Ilja Dragunov vs. Kyle Fletcher