UKW has been on a roll for over a year. Their flagship programme, Showdown, is often shocking, usually surprising and generally superb. They have a programme for less experienced talent too, Ignite, which is getting there too.
This Showdown was 6 days after their last PPV, Pick Your Poison, the lead-up to which saw combatants choose their stipulations as if they grew naturally from action or antagonism – how many wrestling promotions do that? – and here was the aftermath.
So I reckon UKW is good – here are my reasons
The Heels And Faces Are Different
No tweeners here. Heels are either nefarious and almost ridiculously nasty whilst faces stand proud with the weight of bad guys on their back.
And there’s a feeling of old skool wrestling about this, a time before we peeked behind the curtain, a time before swerves and Vince Russo.
Those heels, playground shouters like Women’s Champ Leonie Rose and arrogant grappling-avoider Chris Castle, Round The Clock champ when Showdown started, are odiously obvious.
Meanwhile, the Dogs Of War, Genesis Champ Jacob Reid and ‘The Mercenary’ Sebastian Mercer, are bad men who can back it up with brutality and Joe Sedgwick, who turned on his dad, UKW head honcho Jonathan, is a smiling, spoilt success – one half of the Tag Team Champs.
We’re not asked to make out what the intentions of heels are, it’s clear, it allows us a full-throated booing, simple and classic.
What A Heel Stable
Just one. One. There are tag teams. And they’ve had more. But the pre-eminent heel group are the Persian Empire, built around the huge personality and stature of Mustafa Khan, a man with such self-belief that a fallback position is not possible.
And that’s the delight here. The stable is full of gold at the moment – tag, Round The Clock, women’s titles – but they had a reversal recently when Big Duncan, a man who lived up to his name, left the faction. The crowd love to see the reversals the Persian Empire suffer, there is nowhere to hide their faces when that happens.
And the fans revel in it.
UKW Showdown doesn’t worry about making big decisions.
Mustafa Khan turned on boss Jonathan Sedgwick. Then his son did. To join the hated Persian Empire. That must have hurt. Almost as much as the punch his son delivered to him on Smackdown this week.
We’ve also got the former tag champs the Playtime Mafia, Jayrow Lewis and Cerebral Ste. Former because Ste turned on his partner, seemingly for little reason.
Usually, that would be a bit odd, but Cerebral Ste is a character who sits within himself, difficult to second guess. And brutal; he’s not called the walking weapon for nothing.
UKW takes chances, never shying away from the big decisions and that gives them places to go.
The Voices Burnish The Action
The Voice Of UKW, Brett Hadley (I like to think I gave him that moniker, I think I did) and his commentary partner Shelby Sinar add to the excellence.
Sometimes joined by Sid Phoenix and Tommy Dillon, Brett has honeyed tones but likes to react personally too and Shelby, who has a seething discontent with Leonie Rose, joins him.
It makes Showdown seem warm and welcoming.
The Champ Is Here!
He won it at Pick Your Poison. He’s the Seychelles’ most popular wrestler. JPR is loved by the fans, who don’t even mind his air horn (that’s not a euphemism), JPR likes to make noise.
He arrived on Showdown as a fan favourite, joined a heel faction, disgusting the fans for months, then turned on his heel ‘friend’ Cayman Carlisle and revealed on my podcast that he had been a sleeper cell in the faction all along.
He has a wicked DDT in his arsenal too, the RedRum finisher.
And he was cheered like a champ should be when he arrived, quite literally lit up, to show off the belt. That never goes smoothly, particularly when you ask who wants the belt.
Who? Cerebral Ste, that’s who. The brutal, precise, destroyer of men. What a great match that would make; not yet though, let JPR, a champ with a real link to the fans, enjoy that shiny gold belt.
And This Week’s Showdown Matches
Match Of The Night? It could have been many. It could almost have been any.
The Yorkshireman (you can tell what the character is, this promotion is based there) wanted Joe Sedgwick after his tag partner was given a Conchairto from the nasty heel, forcing the Yorkshireman to utter ‘I quit’ with a plaintive openness which few could have pulled off.
On Showdown, Joe showed his smarts by simply not engaging, until his opponent went out to find him, then synched in an Ankle Lock and a Cutter but wouldn’t pin him.
Oh no, he wanted to inflict more damage. Now, do we think that may come back go bite him? Well, he hit a Spear, so it’s probably OK and, oh, Joe rolled him up with aid of the ropes for the pin.
Good match and used a well-worn wrestling trope too.
Tommy Dillon versus Cliff Harrison was a great match too; Dillon’s work has jumped up several notches recently, whilst former Genesis Champ Harrison has been on a losing streak recently and so joined the current Genesis Champ Jacob Reid in the Dogs of War. Boo! They rain down.
Harrison has ring smarts though, taking them both over the top rope to avoid Dillon’s Claw which he calls The Dead Man’s Hand, then following up with a Cannonball off the apron.
Even though Harrison hit a neat Neckbreaker, Dillon bounced back with a running side slam and his Kiara Lock finisher.
Cue Harrison’s mates the Dogs Of War, who ran in to cause the DQ.
Rather a good match, a little more usual than Mo Menttum (dig that groovy name) facing oddity Ian Creed, who carries an oozing bag to the ring and likes to get up close and personal with combatants; he put his fingers in Mo’s mouth then a finger in his ear and savoured the contents – he likes to do that.
He can wrestle too, with a Falcon Arrow, a well-placed finisher Knee to the face and a pin.
He’s getting a bit of a push, Ian Creed, which is well deserved, but Mo Menttum is usually great in the ring too – he deserves better.
The Match Of The Night
Go on then, arrogant blowhard heel Chris Castle, defending his Round The Clock championship not in the dressing room or the car park after the event, but in the ring against finely muscled Mikey Andrews.
The surprise? This was a wrestling match, which Castle foesnf exactly excel at and yet he hammered Andrews to the mat after their first lockup, he even got Andrews up for a Michinoku Driver, but Andrews hit a massive Clothesline and concussion Spinebuster for the pin.
That was a surprise too, and yet entirely correct, a Spinebuster so fierce the champ lost his belt.
Castle has done so much more than I thought. The heel work is good. The ring work wasn’t half bad either.
Showdown Isn’t A Let Down
The main wrestling event was Rose versus Alexandra Lee for the Women’s title, which didn’t go too long before the deposed champ Sarah Sky attacked Rose and Lee, who was fixing to win herself, had a beef with Sky.
Remember what I said about big decisions? Lee is very well-liked. Sky was. But after this, the crowd booed her. It was an odd move, but the right move, Rose watching all this from the stage, beaming.
Showdown made me happy this week. It does every week. UKW is the wrestling that cheers….