Full Tilt Wrestling emanates from the Universal Martial Arts Centre in Walkergate, Newcastle. With a wide range of combat sports facilitated under its roof, wrestling is no exception, and the FTW academy is a prestigious and highly valued commodity which attracts athletes from across the North East and beyond.
Out of part necessity and part promotion, Full Tilt Wrestling as a federation was founded to facilitate this talented roster, giving them a chance to aspire to gain real world experience in a professional show. As well as this, FTW is an all inclusive federation, inviting other performers who weren’t trained through the Academy to come and wrestle; often at the bequest of younger students wishing to see their protégés in action. Currently, Full Tilt Wrestling is collaboratively run by Paul Chirnside, Kristopher Davies and Adam Lumley; all of whom wrestle under their respective kayfabe and bring with them over four decades worth of in ring experience.
Tonight we’re gathered for ‘The Big Slam Theory’ which is Episode 4 of the second ‘Season’ of Wrestling events since FTW’s more recent redesign on their live shows. While this redesign has led to a bigger focus on collaborative efforts with outside media, as well as increased seating for public attendance, it’s also so titled as each show is recorded for exclusive broadcast on ‘Nothing Else on TV’; a UK based streaming platform which houses global wrestling events – among other things – for a monthly fee.
Each FTW event is truly a spectacle to behold, and tonight is no exception, with two title matches for the Vacant FTW Heavyweight Championship and FTW Tag Team Championships as well as a number of deciding matches to see who will qualify for the federation’s first ever TLC match next month. This is, of course, to say nothing of a 20 Minute Iron Man match as well as a more traditional World of Sport match which encompasses the diversity and skill available here tonight.
Our first match is a Tag Team match, which sees ‘The Geek Squad’ (graduates of Full Tilt’s own academy) facing off against Pauly C and Naz, part of a stable which has become known as ‘The Cull’. Pauly C is the Executive Director of FTW, known for his short temper and cut throat attitude, he’s not afraid to do what has to be done. With that said, despite his tendencies to exhibit a somewhat astonishing abuse of power, he is not afraid to put his body on the line. Having begun his career almost two decades prior as a tag team wrestler, Pauly C knows his way around a wrestling ring, but spends an inordinate amount of time outside it – at the expense of his body.
The Geek Squad, Samuel & Milton, are high flyers by nature and their actions bring to mind easily comparisons of the most (at time of writing) WWE Smackdown Tag Team Champions; whom I’m sure will be a direct influence. But rather than simply mimic this duo’s style, the pair bring it to a level of their own, adding a fast paced drama and high risk maneuvers in an effort to gain their reward. The winner of this match will find their team part of the TLC extravaganza planned for next month, and when you consider that Pauly C’s partner is Naz – the winner of last month’s “Alpha Prime” Tournament – future audiences are in for a real treat regardless of the result.
Taking to the top rope for a high risk reward maneuver, Samuel just manages to connect; his weary body barely able to take a well deserved three count, securing the Geek Squad a place in next month’s triple threat. Robbed of their titles in a disgraceful handicap match against current Champions the Ashen Brothers last month, the Geek Squad is certainly the fan favorites’ to recapture their titles. As the match ends, Naz pleads with his tag team partner to utter the word and restart proceedings, but Pauly C is out for the 10 and we’ve got more action to get through.
Our next match is also a qualifier for the TLC match, though it’s one with a difference, as single’s competition see’s Spike Trivet take on Curtis Reed. Trivet is wrestling for pride as he makes his FTW debut here tonight, but Reed needs to win this match to secure his place in the TLC match. His partner will either be Big Kris (if the latter can win his own scheduled singles competition a little later on) or nobody, if Big Kris’ mystery opponent manages to gain that upper hand. Ring announcer Jake explains to the audience exactly what the stipulations are; doing a phenomenal job throughout the entire evening making sure everyone is kept abreast of the rules and regulations.
Trivet may not be a popular personality, but he’s certainly a talented tactician, his technical experience giving him the upper hand against Reed in the early stages of this match. Big Kris has come to ringside to lend his support, many speculating as to whether this could lead to interference, but Kris is a steadfast believer in a fair fight and plays no part in altering the decision – Que Sera, Sera – what will be will be.
Somehow Curtis Reed manages to find his strength and overcome the odds, roundly succeeding in overcoming Spike Trivet. Trivet hasn’t just lost the match, he’s also a few points down, as Full Tilt employ a grading system based on win-loss ratio; Pauly C eager to see that those who don’t possess the wins needed are quickly ‘relegated’ (or ‘culled’) from the federation. This controversial tactic has led to performers such as Matty Mayhem already being banned from returning through its doors and others looking over their shoulders while lacing up their boots.
Next, we’ve got a more traditional match, with Jack Knoxsville taking on Man like Dereiss (who himself was in the relegation zone not too long ago) in a ‘World of Sport’ match. Since most of the competitors tonight may not have been born before traditional British Wrestling stopped broadcasting on ITV in 1985 it’s important to state that World of Sport matches do not follow the more popularized American rules that have become the norm in wrestling today.
Most WoS singles matches – as tag matches are much rarer – have 5 rounds, each lasting approximately two minutes each. If a wrestler is taken to the mat, his opponent is not permitted to attack until he has got back up, leading to the reigning in of instinct for those unfamiliar with the concept. Furthermore, the referee counts his pinfall aloud and does not use his hand against the mat. For this reason, it’s perhaps wise that FTW have employed the skill and experience of Senior Official Ben Stewart. His time in the ring has led to Ben officiating matches of all different calibers across the country, and his presence tonight is just one reminder of the skill and expertise that FTW employs.
Having the upper hand, Jack Knoxsville begins his match with steadfast dedication, his new contract changes meaning that every match he wrestles in FTW from now on must be done under these rules. Putting his opponent at a deciding disadvantage, short of him wrestling Johnny Saint, he is unlikely to be entirely matched skill for skill. The crowd falls noticeably silent though during this match, in awe of the spectacle, some because it’s the first time they’ve seen such an encounter in person. It does perhaps look a little archaic to see Knoxsvilles’ valet hold on a card up during each round; a throwback to past behaviors’, but a fascinating effort to authenticity to a man so clearly influenced by it.
With the rounds paired at 2-2 we enter the last round with everything to play for. With both men so evenly matched it seems impossible for this bout to be decided here tonight, until in the dying seconds of the match Knoxville is able to find – and lock in – a brutal cross face hold for a quick submission. Just five seconds to spare and it could have gone either way.
Next up is another true test of skill and determination – a tale as old as time – it’s an Iron Man match between master and student, with FTW’s Head Coach Adam Christ taking on Ryan Ace, an assassin of a wrestler whom he helped mould into the formidable tactician he is today. In the one type of match where a pin fall doesn’t spell the end of the action, Ryan and Adam are matched toe to toe, but whereas Ryan may have been thought everything he knows by Christ; Adam hasn’t thought Ryan every trick he’s ever learned! As the final bell rings we’re all tied at 2-2, and the referee decides on extra time, since a coin toss and a handshake simply won’t do it for these two!
With Adam Christ finding his 16th wind – and taking the strength from somewhere – he delivers a devastating maneuver to his former pupil. Weak is the student who does not soon become the master, yet Ryan doesn’t seem to take the loss with grace and civility, instead unleashing a volley of chair shots towards official Ryan Wooley, going on to break the boy’s ankle in the process. It’s a sad turn for a once highly adored wrestler, a different person being restrained and removed from the ring by FTW staff.
here’s no time to mourn, however, as Tag Team Championship Gold is on the line – the Ashen Brothers taking on The Lion Kings. Experience, check, powerhouses, check, ambition; check.
These two teams don’t possess the high risk moves of their younger counterparts, it’s true, but what they do hold is a devastating assault record and it’s literally anybodies match as Nicky and Damian are eager to prove their critics wrong as to their deserving of the titles. Heck, who am I kidding, the Ashen Brother’s don’t care about their critics and are unlikely unthawed as to how they became Champions other than the result. Tonight’s title defense ends with a backbreaking double power bomb, the gold is not going anywhere near Uganda.
Big Kris returns to the ring, this time as a competitor, neither saving officials or backing his tag team partner – though Curtis Reed is happy to return the favor and accompany him to the ring. His mystery opponent is Nills Lark, a man even bigger than Kris, who helps shake the building with the hatred he emanates as he enters the arena. Seasoned and wise, Kris knows all too well that fighting in the ring with such an opponent is unwise, and no sooner has the bell rung then Kris capitalizes on those 10 count out seconds to take his opponent into the crowd. Devastating his opponent with a spine buster through a nearby table – thankfully, no Spanish Announcer’s were present or injured – Nills is unable to answer the referee’s count and Kris makes it back to the ring in time.
Big Kris celebrating with Curtis Reed in the ring after this short, shocking and brutal match; his victory meaning a full house of six wrestlers present for the Tag Team Triple Threat Championship Match later this month at Wrestling All Star’s!
Finally it’s time for your main event, a vacant title match for Heavyweight Championship Gold, guaranteeing us a new champion for tonight’s lucky audience. Both TK Cooper and Jack Sexsmith would easily be deserving winners, and their main event match is a chance for FTW to see some of the incredible talent from across the North East eager to represent their federation as Champion. To the thrill of many, it is Sexsmith who defeats Cooper to become the new Champion – but the celebrations don’t last too long, as FTW Executive Pauly C (recovered somewhat from his misfortune earlier tonight) manages to struggle to ringside to ‘congratulate’ his newest champion.
Bringing with him The Cull, Pauly challenges Sexsmith to a title defense there and then, unlikely that the weary new champion can do anything about it. Ready to fight fair, he is hit with a ‘Final Cull’ before Pauly makes short work of his ‘opponent’ and crowns himself the new Full Tilt Wrestling Champion. Reminiscent of scenes in Montreal from November 1997, I’m fairly confident I saw a child throw garbage into the ring, as Pauly declares he doesn’t care – he’s the Executive Director – and by executive order he’s the greatest champion that Full Tilt Wrestling have ever had. Naz applauds his masters’ victory, the irony perhaps somewhat lost on him, before The Cull make a hasty retreat back to the lock room.
While it’s the kind of ending that calls for a hero from the shadows, a savior in the darkness perhaps; we wonder who will be our only hope. Full Tilt Wrestling has raised the bar, even if Pauly C used it as a weapon!
By Wayne Madden