On October 6th 2016 WhatCulture Pro Wrestling made the leap from free special events broadcasted on YouTube to hosting their first ever live iPPV via their own service WhatCulture Extra as well as the FITE Network. Now despite this not going quite as well as the company had hope (more on that later) it is fair to say that very few people who saw Refuse To Lose live or later online will have feel short changed on the product they received.
From my position in the crowd I was lucky enough to be able to hear Jim Ross and Jim Cornette (And WCPW regular Alex Shane) call the action throughout the night. Or rather I could when the ravenous Geordie crowd took a second to catch their breath. I have watched thousands of matches with commentary and been to dozens of shows where I have watched well over a hundred matches live but watching a live match while also hearing commentary from two of the best of all time was undoubtedly one of the best, most surreal moments I have ever had in wrestling.
Anyway, enough of that, let’s see the card for the event that at the time was WCPW’s biggest to date:
Joe Coffey vs. Minoru Suzuki
Travis Banks vs. El Ligero vs. Alberto el Patron
For the WCPW Internet Championship
Doug Williams vs. Cody Rhodes
Adam Blampied vs. Rampage
In a street fight
Kimber Lee vs. Nixon Newell (C)
For the WCPW Women’s Championship
Martin Kirby vs. Joseph Conners (C)
For the WCPW Heavyweight Championship
Joe Hendry vs. Kurt Angle
Also for those in attendance there was a meet and greet where fans had the opportunity to meet and greet Cody Rhodes, Kurt Angle and Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart along with the WCPW cast members
The show opened up with the arrival of aforementioned ‘Hitman’ as Hart announced that the WCPW tag team championships will be up for grabs tonight, much to the confusion of the crowd. Most of the audience wasn’t paying that much attention to what Bret said as they seemed to be overwhelmed at the sight of a true wrestling legend (chants of “Holy Shit” erupted as he entered the ring.) The Hitman was soon to be interrupted by Prospect and James R Kennedy teased that the group were going to attack the WWE Hall of Famer before the trio of Liam Slater, Johnny Moss and Gabriel Kidd ran out to make the save. Overall this wasn’t the best WCPW segment I have ever seen but it’s always good to see a childhood hero and legend involved.
The first match of the show was arguably the best. Joe Coffey vs. Minoru Suzuki was stiff to say the least. Suzuki was accompanied to the ring by El Desperado who was very much hated in the Newcastle venue. Chants of “You’re just a shit Sin Cara” echoed around the packed out room. One of the most underrated spots of the match was when Coffey received a kick from Suzuki that was audible no matter where you were standing in that building. I spoke to Coffey after the show as he was leaving the building and he told me “trust me, that hurt”. Coffey managed to hit “Black Coffey” (His discus lariat finishing manoeuvre) only to have Suzuki kick out at 2. Suzuki then hit the Gotch-style piledriver after holding Coffey for an extended period of time, resulting in the 3 count. The match did a fantastic job of getting the crowd going despite the average member of the crowd not being familoar with Suzuki or his legendary status. Usually I wouldn’t agree with the non-WCPW regulars beating active members of the roster, but Coffey definitely did not look weak in defeat to a modern day legend.
Straight after the Coffey/Suzuki war was a match to crown the inaugural WCPW Internet Championship. As far as a debut match for a secondary championship goes, this was incredible. Annoyingly the build up od the match was somewhat spoiled by online know-it-all smarks sharing the opinion that “a third man [Banks] had to be added so that Ligero could win without El Patron being made to look weak”. Whether or not this is true I find completely irrelevant as I for one am glad that it was Travis Banks added to the match even if he didn’t win. Travis put on a great display against one of the best on the British scene and a proven top tier talent from the WWE. Dspite everyone being 99% certain that the workhorse of the indie scene was going to walk away with the title, but it still made for a fun and fast paced match. Unfortunately for me this is an example of the all-to-common case of Internet fans overthinking a match to the point of potentially spoiling it.
Cody Rhodes received the second loudest cheer of the night and was given an almost hometown welcome in Newcastle. If the show didn’t feature Martin Kirby (more on that later!) then the most over man of the night would more than likely have been Cody. This was another great match but it lacked that special something. If this had even the slightest bit of build to it previously I believe it would have meant a lot more. Doug (although fantatic) was never a true credible threat to the debuting son of the son of a plumber. Cody hit the Cross Rhodes to end a solid enough match, gaining some momentum for his upcoming matches against the WCPW champion and Olympic Gold medallist Kurt Angle.
Before I talk about this match, I believe Adam Blampied deserves a lot of credit. He is one of the most dislikeable characters on not only WCPW but anywhere in wrestling. The fact he is able to portray this character while also seeming to be one of the nicest guys ever during meet and greet is remarkable. His comedic timing is often perfect, as shown in the pre-match shenanigans between himself and Rampage. From coming out to the theme of the Nature Boy to offering Rampage £643 (or 64300 pence if you were to ask James R Kennedy) to avoid any physical confrontation. As expected, Rampage beat the shit out of Blampied. He literally torn the shirt from his back and left the man lying there in his pants before the second appearance of Prospect of the night (Yes they were still banned at this point!) Prospect proceeded to lay out Rampage, before he managed to recover and start to get the upper hand turn getting laid out themselves. As if five-on-one was not enough, we were treated to a surprise appearance of NXT bound (and supposedly banished) Big Damo. Damo and Rampage slugged it out before GM Adam Pacciti sent out a diverse cast of characters to deal with the threat of the invaders (surely we should have had the police come out rather than Gabriel Kidd?). Everyone was cleared from the ring leaving only Rampage and Blampied. Blampied took a stiff powerbomb through the table and was left nearly-nude, defeated and officially jobless. This was never expected to be something to rival Ricky Steamboat v Randy Savage at WrestleMania III, but it did its job.
In the short history of WCPW’s women’s division, this is unfortunately one of the worst matches. Apart from it lacking the intensity of some of Newell’s bouts with Bea Priestly something just didn’t click. Given how immensely talented both these wrestlers were and how good earlier matches between the had been (see their match for Fight Club Pro here or their far better bout two nights later at True Legacy here) t was a genuine shock that their bout wasn’t a contender for match of the night. Ultimately Nixon won via pinfall following a slightly botched Welsh Destroyer. The move looked so dangerous that it drew a “are you OK” chant from the crowd (which Newell acknowledged by giving the fans a thumbs up) before Lee proceeded to attack Newell in a post match beat down.
With glow sticks at the ready, it is time to talk about the true main event of the evening. When the lights went out, the room actually got brighter. There wasn’t a soul in that building not holding a pink stick in support of “Everyone’s favourite Dickhead”. The entrance alone was a sight to behold. The match (my favourite of the night) really should have gone on last; the championship should always be the main attraction on paper – even if it isn’t to the fans. In this case however, everyone in that building knew that this match should have went on last. No performer should be bigger than a championship, Kurt Angle is one of my favourite wrestlers of all time but he was only with the promotion for two appearances, the championship will be around presumably as long as the company is. This performance truly had the crowd riled up, a brilliant match was followed by an obvious but somehow still shocking heel turn by the general manager, Adam Pacciti. Kirby was going for the greatest move in wrestling the Zoidberg Elbow, before ‘Parmesan’ ran down to ringside and shoved our hero to his peril. Conners then hit Kirby with a low blow and then follows it up with the Righteous Kill DDT (one of the best looking moves in wrestling ) as the crowd pelted the ring with hundreds of pink glow sticks. It really was a view to behold. This could really go somewhere if WCPW play their cards right and thus far the “Bo Dallas GM” gimmick is working rather well.
The official main event of the evening. American Hero vs. Local Hero. Let me begin with, this was not a bad match. However, when as a promotion you deem a match to be bigger than a championship then it better be a damn near outstanding match. This ended up being close to Kurt Angle versus a fan of Kurt Angle. Don’t get me wrong, Joe Hendry really is brilliant. I personally am just not a fan of opponents hitting each other’s finishers on each other, especially considering we witnessed a very similar spot with Hendry and EC3 only a couple of months earlier in the qualifier for this match. This match was booked as the major draw for the show but unfortunately it wasn’t able to surpass the match that went on prior too it in terms of sheer emotion. Sure it was technically fantastic and there were moments where it seemed Hendry might win (he didn’t) but it would have taken a Five star classic to outshine Conners/Kirby and this match didn’t hit that standard. After this match and his subsequent match with Cody Rhodes, Kurt Angle is one of the few members of the WCPW roster to have appeared more than once with a perfect win record.
Unfortunately for all quality and emotion of the show I feel we must address the issue with the live stream. As previously stated this did not go anywhere newr as smoothly as the company would have liked as many of the viewers of WC Extra were left with major buffering issues. Although viewers on FITE were unaffected this did not stop the company receiving a large amount of criticism from those that experienced the issue. I was in the crowd for RTL so I wasn’t directly affected by the streaming issue but I was in contact with people that were and saw some of the abuse on social media. As you’d expect in there were people throwing around words like “disgrace” and “disgusting” and making ridiculous comparisons between using a streaming service and buying a tshirt from a shop, quite frankly for about 20minutes it was the sort of ridiculous, inane whingeing that the world would be better off without and then all of a sudden it seemed to stop (or at least slow down) as something incredible seemed to happen. The fans of WCPW started to defend the promotion during probably it’s most troubled time and seemingly instantly the tide of online negativity stopped.
Of course it wasn’t long after the show that WCPW and their cast were releasing statements which helped eradicate any final complaints but all in all I think the love and support that the WCPW fans showed for the promotion is one of the biggest things to take away from Refuse To Lose and I believe that RTL is the show where WhatCulture Pro Wrestling established itself as one of the biggest and best promotions around.
Overall I would give this show a solid 7.5/10. It could have easily been an 8.5 or 9 if the layout of the card was changed, the wrestling was there but the layout was not. Solid matches throughout the night, two of the best commentators in the business ever, a brilliant crowd and a passionate promotion. Big things are coming for WCPW, I completely understand their plan to bring in bigger names to get people in the doors, I just don’t want this company to get a reputation of always having home-grown talent losing to the imports. I believe that after the last reaction, WCPW will now have a tad more faith in stars like Conners, Kirby and Coffey to carry shows on their own backs (and rightly so.)
By Lewis Kelly