Pro Wrestling World Cup 2017: English Qualifying Round (Review)

WCPW presents the first qualifying round in the inaugural Pro Wrestling World Cup, a competition in which each man will compete not only against the best from his own country, but the best from across the entire planet. First up, it’s England, with two qualifying spots for the Pro Wrestling World Cup finals available…


Will Ospreay
vs.
Martin Kirby
1st Round Qualifier for Pro Wrestling World Cup 2017
2half_star
(Winner: Will Ospreay, via pinfall)

Nick Aldis
vs.
Rampage
1st Round Qualifier for Pro Wrestling World Cup 2017
2half_star
(Winner: Rampage, via pinfall)

Matt Riddle & Liam Slater
vs.
Prospect (Alex Gracie & Lucas Archer)
2half_star
(Winners: Matt Riddle & Liam Slater, via pinfall)

Zack Sabre Jr.
vs.
Marty Scurll
1st Round Qualifier for Pro Wrestling World Cup 2017
3half_star
(Winner: Zack Sabre Jr., via pinfall)

Zack Gibson
vs.
Jimmy Havoc
1st Round Qualifier for Pro Wrestling World Cup 2017
3half_star
(Winner: Jimmy Havoc, via pinfall)

Christopher Daniels (C)
vs.
El Ligero
ROH World Championship
3star
(Winner: Christopher Daniels, via pinfall)

Ricochet
vs.
Drew Galloway
4star
(Winner: Drew Galloway, via pinfall)

Will Ospreay
vs.
Rampage
2nd Round Qualifier for Pro Wrestling World Cup 2017
3star
(Winner: Will Ospreay, via pinfall)

Jimmy Havoc
vs.
Zack Sabre Jr.
3half_star
2nd Round Qualifier for Pro Wrestling World Cup 2017
(Winner: Zack Sabre Jr., via pinfall)

Prestige (Joe Hendry, Joe Coffey, Travis Banks, BT Gunn)
vs.
Bullet Club (Adam Cole, The Young Bucks) & Gabriel Kidd
3star
(Winners: Prestige, via pinfall)


Review

Without question, WCPW‘s concept for the Pro Wrestling World Cup is an ambitious one. A two night tournament, aired live, but preceded by eight shows taking place over the months prior, featuring qualifying matches contested by wrestlers who are only from the country of that specific shows theme (in this case, England). Not unexpectedly, some big names from the wrestling scene have been booked for these shows already, so by the time this tournament is all said and done, WCPW might have put out one of the best highlights of 2017. That said, the English Qualifying Round didn’t open the tournament with quite the big bang that I had expected.

In the ‘1st Round Qualifiers’, Sabre Jr. and Scurll had a nice little professional wrestling match. As stated on commentary, what they were doing was real wrestling, and not the flippy stuff most young people are probably used to seeing in todays modern wrestling. Personally, I think there’s room for both styles in the sport, but this technical affair did make for a nice little change to what we’d already seen on the show. As usual, in a  ZSJ match, we saw some beautiful holds and transitions throughout, and the pinfall victory was creative with ZSJ standing on Scurll’s arms during the roll up, preventing his opponent from getting his shoulders up to break the count.

Havoc and Gibson gave us our supposed ‘main event’ of the first round, wrestling at a pace we’d not seen in the previous qualifiers, and featuring a great heel promo from Gibson prior to the match that got the crowd really on his back. I’d expected Gibson to win, given his style would have created a nice match with ZSJ in the next round, but Havoc was likely always going to win this just on name recognition alone. Special mention goes to a double stomp delivered by Havoc, jumping from the ring and clearing the railings before connecting with the upper body of Zack Gibson.

Not a whole lot to say about the Ospreay and Rampage victories, other than them being your standard run of the mill matches that didn’t offend, but didn’t excite either. Both winners clearly were conserving energy, which can’t be faulted, especially when the commentators themselves are pushing the importance of doing such a thing.

When it came to the final qualifying matches, things picked up a bit for both Rampage and Ospreay. They took things to ringside very early on, and Ospreay hit a great cross body splash from the ring to the outside, wiping out Rampage on contact. That said, the story here was that Ospreay couldn’t keep Rampage down, making his chances of a victory appear slim. Cue a referee bump, and the arrival of Bea Priestley, who helped distract Rampage long enough for Ospreay to take Rampage out with a championship belt hit to the head. 1-2-3. Ospreay became the first person to qualify for the Pro Wrestling World Cup finals, but in reality he was always going to be there, regardless of the story being told in the match. Rampage looked strong coming out of it too.

ZSJ and Jimmy Havoc had the best match of the round, however. Havoc was on ZSJ right from the get go, and the commentators played on the fact that they hadn’t seen ZSJ so incapable of mounting offence in a long time. ZSJ was rattled, but soon managed to take control, and locked in a brutal submission to win the match. Havoc’s body was bent and tied in positions that did not look natural for a human body, so the submission was genuinely believable. Zack Sabre Jr. moved on to the finals of the tournament in summer 2017 as a result, meaning England actually has two of the best wrestlers in the world representing it. Would’ve been nice to see a bit more out of all the competitors though, if I’m honest.

My biggest problem with the show was just how many matches were not related to the core premise. We got give four matches that had nothing to do with the Pro Wrestling World Cup, with one of them actually being the main event for the evening. That the show was not main vented by one of the final qualifying matches baffled me at the time, and still does now, a few hours removed. I get it, Bullet Club were on the card and so had to be prominent, but how about booking your tournament to look damn important and instead put Bullet Club on before the final qualifying matches?

It didn’t help that we got a pointless tag team match early on the show. Riddle gets some great booking around the world, but I wasn’t impressed with how he was presented on this show. Also, when the two men in the ring start having a stick fight competition, it really does hurt the momentum of the show. Save that stuff for the live audience in attendance, not the audience watching at home.

The same could be said of the antics at the start of the surprise ROH World Championship match. The crowd were into it, but I think the men in the ring really got it wrong when they started playing up to the crowd with silliness about Daniels not being able to flip himself up onto his own feet, etc. Typical house show entertainment, is how it felt, and for me that kinda thing has no place in a televised championship match. It brought the match down a little actually, but thankfully both men got into their strides eventually and gave us a good second half and a nice finish.

I don’t get the Gabriel Kidd love, and thought he looked incredibly out of place with Bullet Club. They actually played that up, but it still didn’t feel right, regardless. Some good tag team action throughout though, and it was quite funny when Kidd got psyched up by the Too Sweet moment and then went and threw himself off the top turnbuckle onto his opponents who were at ringside.

Special shout out goes to Drew Galloway and Ricochet, who put on the best match of the night by quite some distance. From the first bell, Galloway was a beast, and his size and strength easily gave him the advantage. As the match became more competitive, so too did audience appreciation, as the crowd got hotter and hotter the longer the match went on. It was a hard-hitting affair, both men giving as good as they got, Galloway’s three consecutive Future Shock DDT’s ensured he put his opponent away to give him the victory. A really great match, which has deservedly received a lot of love on social media. Best I’ve seen of Galloway in a little while, too.

All in all, Pro Wrestling World Cup 2017 – English Qualifying Round felt like more of a WCPW showcase than the first stop on the way to a big summer tournament. Given this didn’t air live, I’d have kept some of the matches as for the live crowd only, and maybe released them onto On Demand further down the line, so that the broadcasted show was actually prioritising what was important here: the World Cup. With seven more qualifying shows to go though, there is plenty of time to get the format right.

Match of the Night

Ricochet vs Drew Galloway

Pro Wrestling World Cup 2017 – English Qualifying Round Rating

 3star

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