Review of WhatCulture Pro Wrestling – Series 1

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If you’re reading this it means that you, like many other wrestling fans don’t just enjoy watching wrestling you also like, or at least have some form of interest, reading/hearing/watching about other people’s thoughts on something wrestling related.

Although I’m not much of a fan of message boards or searching the internet for the latest rumours/theories, I do spend a ridiculous amount of time on YouTube watching random videos on everything from Steph Curry disappearing during game 7 of the NBA Finals to Hulk Hogan and his Gawker trial. Because I have spent so much time on YouTube I have slowly managed to build up a list of channels that I enjoy going to for different things. If I want to watch something interesting and vaguely educational I might check out Vsauce or The Game Theorists, if I want to watch something sport related I tend to check out TYT Sports and if I want to watch something to do with wrestling I have found only one channel is able to keep my interest. That channel is of course WhatCulture Wrestling (previous WhatCulture WWE). I’m particularly a fan of Adam Blampied talking about how the WWE should (or in some cases should have) book a particular storyline or angle.

Now sadly, due to starting a new job I had fallen behind in my YouTube watching and missed WhatCulture’s initial announcement that they were going to stop “just” talking about wrestling and set up their own promotion and the first I heard about it was in passing at a wrestling themed quiz I attended (‘cos that’s the kinda guy I am). Instantly filled with the level of excitement normally associated with a teenage girl meeting their favourite boyband (I was going to say One Direction but apparently they aren’t a thing anymore and I don’t know who the new heartthrobs on the scene are). So I rang my mate Al and managed to convince him to buy tickets for the show based on what I had overheard a random stranger say about a Rampage Brown vs Noam Dar match for a new company that had decided to start a new wrestling promotion. When I got home that night I looked up the show and I was taken aback that for once something I had overheard in a pub turned out to be true I was also impressed that the show appeared to have an incredible card with Big Damo, El Ligero, Jay Lethal and best of all, my personal favourite Joe Hendry. Now for those of you that don’t know anything about “The Local Hero’ (shame on you!) all you need to know are two things. Firstly his ‘standard’ entrance music tells us “Joe Hendry makes things better” and secondly, that’s an understatement. Joe Hendry is awesome. Therefore WhatCulture had to be awesome. Right?

So the big day arrived and there were a few problems, one it was a Wednesday which meant it was a school night. Now I’m by no means a big drinker so this didn’t affect me, or my pal Al who claims to be straight edge (he drank a bottle of Desperado recently so it’s all lies!), but as Newcastle’s reputation as a big drinking city is well deserved I wasn’t sure how this would affect the crowd. Two, the show was being held in a warehouse in some industrial estate that I had never heard of and getting there would require some Googling. Thankfully Google maps gave clear instructions and it didn’t appear to be too difficult a place to get to so after a long day at work I met Al in town and set off to WCPW. Other than getting some random comments about Al wearing an Iceland shirt (the nation not supermarket) getting there was fairly painless and it was clear we were in the right place when we saw a large group of people wearing black t-shirts.why are all the best wrestling shirts black? I have no idea but maybe that is why no one likes Mr Cena as gaudy green tees aren’t the most flattering things for your average wrestling aficionado to wear. The large number of people waiting outside the venue and the amount of people who had purchased VIP tickets to get in early allayed my other fear about the crowd possibly being affected by the show being on midweek. Is it Field Of Dreams where Kevin Costner hears some random voice saying “If you build it they will come”? Because this appears to be true of wrestling as well as ghost baseball and if you say you are going to put on a world class wrestling show then wrestling fans will attend. Who knew?!

My first impression of WhatCulture Pro Wrestling was how different it felt to a normal indie show. Usually a local Indy show is ran by one or two people and they enlist their friends and family to help set up and sell tickets etc. Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with that but WCPW is different. There appeared to be at least 30 members of staff all wearing WCPW t-shirts so you knew who they were (although the shirts were black so they didn’t stand out too much) and they had also hired professional doormen to check tickets before you got inside. Once inside I then noticed that although the venue was essentially one massive empty shed it had been remarkably setup with professional lighting around an impressive looking ring and although there was only a free rows of seats for the VIP ticket holders, there was nothing to obstruct any views and each member of the crowd should be able to see the ring without a problem. Now you’d think it’d be obvious that every show needs lighting and clear views but I think we have all attended at least one wrestling event where at least one of these things were a problem.

After a quick peruse of the merch stand we bumped into some Maffew from Botchamania (excuse me while I bend over and pick up that name that I just dropped) and some mutual friends and we chose what would be our spot for the show ahead. WCPW General Manager Adam Pacitti came out to thank the crowd and announce some of the matches that would be taking part during the show. Now as I attended two shows over two days and witnessed around seven hours of wrestling and wrestling related shenanigans I don’t think reviewing every match and angle that took place, especially when pretty much all of matches that took place on either show is now available to view for free on the WhatCulture Wrestling channel on YouTube. Instead I’d like to give my opinions on the shows as a whole and point out anything I felt went well or anything that I’m didn’t enjoy, Not only am I basing this decision on what I saw live but also on what I have what I have seen when I rewatched on YouTube since I attended the shows. I will also try my best to not give away the results where possible.

Ring Of Honor champion Jay Lethal was particularly impressive in both of his matches. Across the two nights he was pitted off against El Ligero in a non-title bout and also Noam Dar in a match for his ROH title. As someone who does not watch ROH and has not seen much of Lethal since his days as Black Machismo in TNA, I have often heard very good things about Lethal but I was still incredibly impressed by not only his in-ring ability but also his ability to interact with the crowd. Many members in the crowd told me that they believe Lethal is among the best wrestlers in the world and based on his performances in WCPW I would struggle to argue against that. I would however argue that based on the their ability to go hold for hold with Lethal and at times even outshine the ROH star, Ligero and Dar proved that the standard of British wrestling is a high as anywhere in the world. Dar in particular was outstanding showed off why he was selected by WWE for their Cruiserweight Classic. Dar was also very impressive in his match with Rampage Brown, despite that contest being a far different style of match.

Along with the established names I was also impressed with some performers I had not seen before. Although I had heard of Alex Gracie and Joseph Connors I had not seen them perform before. Gracie played an entertaining cowardly heel in his triple threat match with Connors and Kidd Gabriel (who I have to admit I was unfamiliar with) and I thoroughly enjoyed that match. He then changed his role and performed with a new level of confidence and swag during his tag match. He successfully teamed with Lucas Archer (again someone who was new to me) while managed by James R. Kennedy against Mitchell Myers & Ryan Mercer. Although WCPW does not currently have a tag team championship I believe the team of Gracie and Archer will definitely be in the running for the titles once they are created.

 

(from right to left) Archer, Gracie and Kennedy made a statement after a dominant victory

(from right to left) Archer, Gracie and Kennedy made a statement after a dominant victory

‘The Primate’ Jason Prime used his matches to showcase his incredible talent. For a guy/animal that has been wrestling for less than three years it is definitely noteworthy that he is now knocking on the door of international stardom. Within a relatively short space of time ‘The Primate’ has established himself as one of the best monster heels in the country. That he was able to put on great matches with opponents with styles as different as the powerful Joe Coffey and the technically skilled Drake speaks to how talented Prime is. I look forward to seeing what is planned for Prime in WCPW as he not only appeared dominant in his matches but he has also been given a manager who can serve as his mouthpiece. His manager is none other than WhatCulture’s resident bombshell Suzie, who seemed to channel her inner Sensational Sherri while she cheered on her client from ringside.

The Primate's manager Suzie was definitely a factor at ringside

The Primate’s manager Suzie was definitely a factor at ringside

This brings me to something that has stood out to me when I have been on Twitter and Facebook. For some reason many people are unhappy that the WhatCulture staff have been placed in high profile roles and storylines in the first few episodes of WCPW. Now it is too early to say whether this is something that will continue on in future or episodes or not remains to be seen but either way I do not understand the criticism. Most critics appear to be of the opinion that the WCPW is focusing more on “getting over” the WC staff rather than the wrestlers but I completely disagree with this. Yes the WhatCulture staff are being highlighted but in my opinion that is because they are the reason that WCPW exists. The WhatCulture Wrestling channel has almost 788k subscribers. This is despite them having to compete with hundreds, if not thousands of other content creators from around the world. So why are they so successful? They are not the first people to make predictions or review a show, they are not the first to do a “what if/how it should have happened” video and they certainly aren’t the first people to do a top 10 list. All of these things have been done numerous times before so what makes WhatCulture succeed where others haven’t? For me there are two distinct reasons. Firstly their videos are always of a high standard visually, yes some of the content itself may not be my cup of tea but every video they upload has been filmed and edited to a very high level and this makes them stand out. Secondly, the WC staff are all good characters. I have met Adam Blampied, the guy is lovely and in no way like his onscreen persona. In person I like him but in character I just want to slap him across his smug face. On screen the man often comes across as a bit of a gobby prick, and that is being polite, and this makes me want to watch him in the hope that someone else gives him a slap or, as sometimes happens, chokeslam him through a pile of cardboard boxes.

Most of the WhatCulture team posing before the show

Most of the WhatCulture team posing before the show

Blampied is not the only unique character, Adam #2 (aka Adam Pacitti) is also very watchable despite him being completely different to Adam #1. Kenny McIntosh is another interesting and different persona and the video of him interviewing Paul Heyman around WrestleMania this year is one of my favorite videos on the channel. I enjoy watching Suzie in the Suzaro Section as I love how she can instantly dismiss trolls who suggest she is just there as eye candy. Not only does the lass definitely know more about wrestling than you or I but she also knows the wrestlers and they hold her is such high regard that if she asks them to drop what they are doing and come take a picture with a fan they do it without question. Finally there is WhatCulture’s resident five year old Jack The Jobber who manages to be the likeable, sympathetic character who is constantly kicked on and put in awkward situations by his colleagues. Yes he looks and sounds nervous sometimes but there is something likeable about the lad.

Getting back to my point WCPW does not exist as a vanity project for the staff with the intent of getting them over. WCPW exists because they are already over and have already created characters that their fans are emotionally invested in. So with this in mind why would you not make them a large part of the focus for show? People go to WhatCulture Wrestling on YouTube as they want to see the staff, if they “just” wanted wrestling there are a lot of other channels they can go to. Want to know how many YouTube subscribers Britain’s biggest wrestling companies have? Preston City Wrestling have nearly 7k, PROGRESS Wrestling have nearly 8k and Insane Championship Wrestling has nearly 23k. Assuming all of the people who subscribe to those channels do not subscribe to one of the others that is 38k subs or approximately 5% of WhatCulture’s audience. Perhaps I’m being unfair, after all it is the WORLDWIDE web so let’s compare WC to companies from around the globe. Combat Zone Wrestling has about 44k subscribers, New Japan Pro Wrestling have 113k and Ring Of Honor have 123k. Again none of them are even close. The only wrestling company I could see with similar numbers is TNA who have 755k which is still some 30k less. Now in no way do I intend to put down any of those companies and want to make it clear that I was the utmost respect for their promoters and management but I feel that comparing WhatCulture to their peers shows how fantastically well they are doing. Less than a month ago they had never ran a show and they were effectively in the same boat as all the other content creators on YouTube and now after two nights of shows they can legitimately claim to be the second biggest wrestling company in the world (WWE has approximate 12million subs).

WCPW have already shown that they intend to use the biggest names on the UK scene. They have already used Hendry, Brown and Damo with Will Ospreay and Grado are confirmed for series two. On top of the UK talent they are also bringing over Aaron Stevens (better known as Damien Sandow from WWE) From the United States. Along with the big names they are also providing lesser known performers such as ‘The Primate’ Jason Prime, Prince Ameen and Joseph Connors a place to show their talents. There are also many others that I have not mentioned and I’m sure there will be many more in the future. Even if you are not a fan of the type of product WhatCulture Pro Wrestling show it is undeniable that WCPW is good for wrestling in this country. How can it not be?

If you would like information on any WhatCulture event or would like to purchase tickets or merchandise go to WhatCulture shop.

 

New episodes of WCPW are available on their YouTube channel every Monday at 10pm

New episodes of WCPW are available on their YouTube channel every Monday at 10pmif

 

Credit to The Ringside Perspective for photographs

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