British wrestling returns to free television, as 5 Star Wrestling launch their new weekly show, this time airing live from Liverpool…
Flash Morgan Webster
Submission Elimination Match for the 5 Star Tap Or Snap Championship
(Winner via submission, and new champion: Mark Haskins)
(Winner via pinfall: Rampage Brown)
Adam Maxted & Charlie Sterling (“Max Money”)
Carlito & Chris Masters
5 Star Tag Team Championship Tournament -Semi-Final
(Winners via pinfall: Max Money)
(Winner via pinfall: Jake Hager)
(Winner via disqualification: Rey Mysterio)
Jody Fleisch & El Ligero
Dave Mastiff & Big Grizzly
5 Star Tag Team Championship Tournament – Semi-Final
(Winners via pinfall: Fleisch & El Ligero)
John Morrison (C)
Rob Van Dam
5 Star Championship
(Winner via pinfall: John Morrison)
There were a lot of question marks over 5 Star Wrestling‘s live debut on FreeSports, a United Kingdom television channel that is free to view, and as such has the potential to attract many more viewers than most wrestling companies have subscribers for their On Demand libraries. The main question, of course, was could they actually make it work?
After cancelling a lot of their arena dates in 2017, and costing many wrestlers a lot of money as a result, it’s safe to say that 5 Star aren’t everyones cup of tea at the moment. As such, many approached this show with negative opinions on the company, and what it could produce on air. For me, I was looking past all of that, and was simply paranoid about them making significant production errors during their live transmission. As it turned out, I was right to have concerns.
Everything started smoothly, all things considered, until Greg Lambert misspoke about where they were going to cut away to. Joe Hendry, also providing commentary, stepped in and saved the day. From this moment on, Lambert had a pretty horrible night, making significant errors throughout, and seemingly frustrating Hendry too. The fact that the cameras kept bringing us back to the commentators so regularly made the viewing experience even more painful, not to mention very dull. I was sick of everyones voices by the time the show reached the main event, and was spending most of my time squirming in fear that Lambert was going to make another mistake. Some of it can be put down to nerves, but my gut was telling me that he simply isn’t the right person to be calling these live shows.
The main production issues, as alluded to above, included them playing a wrong backstage interview to what Lambert and Hendry introduced, and they even lost the transmission for a split second. There was also the issue with the ring, where the ropes were dangerously loose. The latter had clearly been identified backstage, because John Morrison checked them himself during his entrance, begging the question of why weren’t they fixed when the problem was first identified?
To hang 5 Star out to dry for the production problems would be unfair, however, because the in-ring action was fairly entertaining, if mostly average. Nothing was bad, but nothing really stood out in a month that has provided some wonderful wrestling across the world. There was also very little about the ring action that was British, or at least what British wrestling looks like at this time, but I’ll come to that in the conclusion of this review.
The opening match, a five-way to determine the first ever 5 Star Tap Or Snap Champion, never really got going. I wrote on Twitter about this briefly (@kylethomaswest), saying that the main problem was that five men having to eliminate each other via submissions meant that men were tapping out to holds that were being done on body parts that hadn’t barely been worked. This isn’t MMA, where one well executed submission hold can do so much damage that the victim has to tap out, this is professional wrestling. In wrestling, you have to target certain body parts, work them over, and then hit that submission hold that is going to get your opponent to submit. When I head about this championship, that was the kind of action I was excited to see, but instead we were given a fast-paced multi-man offering that had no business being a submissions match. The winner, Mark Haskins, certainly is the right man to lead this kind of division, but I hope he’s given an opportunity to do it the right way, because this wasn’t it.
Rampage Brown and Moose did some big lads wrestling, and it was fun. There wasn’t really anything else like this on the show, and it was very different to the match that preceded it, so it offered some variety. The commentary team continued to tell us about an apparent rivalry that existed between the British and international stars, that the British felt they deserved more respect, and whilst that isn’t an accurate depiction of the wrestling scene right now at all (British wrestling gets lots of respect), I could go along with it. But then Rampage Brown hit a low blow, got the win, and was boo’d out of the arena. I immediately questioned why, in a British wrestling show where they were apparently trying to create an angle about the British talent wanting more respect from their international colleagues, was the Brit in this match turned into the heel? This would become a recurring theme throughout the show.
Immediately following that, we were presented with more British heels doing dastardly things to international stars, as Max Money overcame Carlito and Chris Masters in what was a fun match, but mostly due to the heel antics of Adam Maxted and Charlie Sterling. The right team won, with Max Money moving into next weeks final to crown 5 Star Tag Team Champions.
The best match of the night was the other tag team match, which saw El Ligero and Jody Fleisch overcome Dave Mastiff and Big Grizzly to book the second spot in the tournament final. This was one that ticked along nicely, until the tempo was kicked up a gear, and suddenly you realised that you were watching a very good wrestling match. Given some of the matches on the card, I never would have expected this to be the one to steal the show, but it absolutely did, and a match with Max Money now awaits them in Newcastle, at the next 5 Star show.
I was quite disappointed by Jake Hager and Eddie Ryan’s match. It was the one with the most build (including backstage segments on this show, too), but it never seemed to reach the heights 5 Star were suggesting it would. It was decent, in that it wasn’t bad, but special? Not at all. It didn’t live up to the hype at all, yet somehow Hager got a title opportunity next week due to his performance here. Well, more his reputation than performance, if we’re honest. Which brings us to Zack Gibson.
Liverpool’s Number One, quite possibly the best talker in the world of professional wrestling right now, cut a scathing promo as he approached the ring for his match with Rey Mysterio. He called out the company for the shameful situation with the entrance music, pointed out their favouritism toward international stars, and more. Gibson never holds back, but on this occasion is was shocking that 5 Star would let him run them down for all the things we were already thinking at home, or posting on Twitter, etc.
His match with Mysterio was fun, but was cut short by Gibson delivering a kick to the groin region, which led to an immediate disqualification for the Liverpudlian. Whilst there was some followup later on the show, via Gibson’s interference in the main event, I won’t pretend to have not been disappointed by how this match finished or the lack of any angle immediately following it. Gibson simply kicked Mysterio in the bollocks, then we were onto our next segment (or, more likely, a commercial break). It felt so awkward and, for the money Mysterio supposedly demands per appearance, seemed quite the misuse of him. By this point of the show, though, Gibson had quickly cemented himself as the true star of the show, and that was before we’d even had our main event.
In a match that was called out by Gibson for its lack of British stars, John Morrison defended the 5 Star Championship against Rob Van Dam. This was actually a decent main event, but it’s hard to look past the fact that there was no British representation in this match, on a show that 5 Star kept telling us [on-air] represented British wrestling on television. A second major point is that, at the best British wrestling promotions, you don’t get “decent main events,” you get f***ing brilliant ones. This main event was not representative of what British wrestling looks like in 2018, and nor was the show as a whole, really.
This review likely reads as negative to many, but it’s not designed to be. Unlike many, I went into this with an open mind, but what I saw was a show based in Britain that was using international stars in all its prominent spots, and positioned Brits as villains on almost every occasion. John Morrison, Chris Masters, Rob van Dam and Carlito might be fun nostalgic acts, but the top brass of 5 Star need to realise that they are not big names on the British scene, and instead are just nostalgic acts who won’t keep interest long enough to sustain a weekly wrestling TV programme.
The true top stars you need to book are the guys and girls who are busting their arses every night across this fine kingdom of ours, turning their names into top wrestling brands completely on their own, and who now have people travelling all across the country to watch them because they are seriously big time players. If you only follow WWE, you might not know who they are, but if you follow anything else, you’ll know about the top names on the British scene. I wonder which camp the 5 Star production team fall into? If its the former, they best start becoming the latter, because they’ll need British wrestling fans to enjoy their product if they want it to continue long-term, and that won’t happen if you have John Morrison and RVD main eventing, whilst Flash Morgan Webster makes the first tap out in a multi-man match to open the show. It’s common sense.
Visually, I liked the arena set up, and I liked that they used a larger ring than most British promotions (20×20 I’m assuming, compared to the 16×16 many use). I would have liked to have seen the crowd lit better, and I could have done with less talking to the camera from the commentators. Never again should we be given a backstage segment that features three men talking who I cannot understand a word of (and I’m a Brit!), but there’s no question that we should get more backstage material, even if it’s just pre-taped interviews letting us know who the talents are, and so on. I absolutely adored the fact they didn’t go to commercial breaks during the matches too, something I absolutely hate a certain US promotion for doing on a weekly basis.
There’s a lot of hope for this show, but 5 Star Wrestling‘s top brass need to take all feedback onboard, and listen to everyone they can. It would be easy to get their backs up, and start ignoring a lot of the people being critical of them, but what good would that do 5 Star? The fact so many viewed this show means there is an interest in their product, so now they need to act quick to keep those naysayers on board, and turn them from skeptics into supporters. Luckily for 5 Star, they have a chance to do that each and every Thursday.
All I’d ask of 5 Star Wrestling is that they put out a product that is actually representative of the British scene. I’m not asking for them to copy the other promotions, because that’s not the answer, but they should still ensure that the style of wrestling that is being utilised across the country right now is used in their ring too. And you know what? They should be telling their international stars to deliver that style too, or not book them.
Be a true representative of British wrestling, 5 Star, and you could have significant success.
Match of the Night
Jody Fleisch & El Ligero vs. Dave Mastiff & Big Grizzly