A snowy drive to Coventry on Friday afternoon saw a busy and physically taxing weekend began, with 2 matches with current Lucha Underground star Shane Strickland kicking things off. The first of these 2 battles saw me return to Kamikaze Pro, as the hugely underrated promotion drew a busy and rowdy crowd to the dark, sticky Empire nightclub, and provided a raucous night of action. I’d tangled with Strickers a couple of times up before, but up until this stage it had been limited to multi-mans over the second Southside/CZW collaboration, a 4-Way and the 6-Way Aerial Assault…thing. Strickland has since upped his game with the ascension to Lucha Underground and everything he does feels tighter, crisper and more high impact. As my face will attest to. Crowd were great for this, with it being the first high-flying match on the card, and despite one or 2 sloppy moments (me crotching myself for reals), I was happy with this. Kamikaze are a promotion that have quietly gone from strength to strength, and are definitely one of the sleeper promotions in the UK, and I’m hoping they’ll be welcomed back to Empire sooner rather than later. It was also nice to catch up with a slightly intoxicated Jetta at the show! Not seen her in yonks, so that was a nice surprise.
Back in the ring the next night in Essex with Strickland, as we opened up Southside’s return to the Circus Tavern. Far far busier than I think anyone was expecting, the match had a different feel to the night before, with Strickland absolutely KILLING me with a Dropkick in the corner at the opening bell. Again, not everything was hit 100% clean here, but the chemistry is there to have a really great match with each other at some point. It was nice to try out some new stuff over these matches as well, some stuff I’d never attempted before, and Strickland’s experience in working a Lucha style was very apparent in how well some of it came off. Being on first also allowed me to watch pretty much the rest of the show, which I still love doing but don’t really get much chance to these days. I’ll always try to watch as much as I can do, to try and see what other people do, to try and learn different styles/structures and just to ingratiate myself into the product.
After that long drive down to Essex and back, it was time to get up ‘nice’ and early to head to Nottingham, where Southside were running a double barrel of wrestling spectaculars. The afternoon show, the 9th Day Of Reckoning (there has been a LOT of reckonings in Southside) was all about the story telling. Anyone who knows me, knows that when it comes to wrestling, I’m into my stories above anything else. It’s always been something I’ve tried to pay as much attention to as possible, those moments that are built up to, and the way they’re built. Recently, I became the number 1 contender to the Southside Championship, held by the leader of the top villain entourage, Joseph Connors of The Righteous Army. I’ve been feuding with the RA for over a year now, with well documented and violent battles with Jimmy Havoc and a turncoat Kay Lee Ray. This was the natural progression for this. The afternoon card saw me teaming with Leva Bates (NXT’s Blue Pants) and the red hot Will Ospreay to face Connors, The Pledge and Lana Austin (drafted in to replace a legitimately sidelined Havoc). I was really feeling the moments between Connors and I here, and it feels like the crowd want to be taken along for the ride as well. There’s few things more frustrating than knowing where you’re going with something and the crowd either not buying it, or ur being lost on them. This wasn’t the case here, and it felt like a big deal when I scored a roll up win over the champion and went nose to nose with him afterwards.
The evening show saw me wrestle one of the most intense men I’ve ever seen work, in Sami Callihan. This match was totally outside the box thinking in many ways, with a style that challenged me and stood out from everything else on the card. Callihan is extremely smart to the job, and gets exactly what it takes to stand out on a card that might occasionally begin blurring together, which I find really inspiring. Hectic and frenetic, this one started with all guns blazing and never let up. I was hugely happy with this, despite picking up a couple of bad knocks near the end. Nobodies fault obviously, these things happen. Back in 2006, I tore my meniscus hitting a Sliced Bread on Jody Fleisch, and every now and then, if not stretched out properly, my knee locks up. This was the case during Callihan’s Stretch Muffler, meaning I was basically functioning for the last few moments on one leg, so if you see the footage back and notice my Bicycle Kicks don’t have much force, or why I’m hoping one footed onto the middle rope for the C4L, you know why. Callihan is someone I’d love to get in there again with though. The post match promo from Connors, who built me up and knocked me down expertly has set the scene beautifully for our encounter on April 30th, back in Nottingham.
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Where You Can See El Ligero This Weekend
Mar 11th: Tidal Wrestling ‘Spring Storm’. TCW Championship: El Ligero (c) vs Martin Kirby. Dolphin Centre, Darlington.
Mar 12th: Pro Wrestling Chaos ‘The Chaos Awakens’. El Ligero vs Flash Morgan Webster. Hanham Community Centre, Hanham.
Mar 12th: Pro Evolution Wrestling ‘The Great Battle Of Gloucester’. El Ligero vs Martin Kirby. GL1 Leisure Centre, Gloucester.
Mar 13th: Tidal Wrestling ‘Best Laid Plans’. El Ligero vs Chuck Taylor. Leeds University Union, Leeds.
*Our thanks to Nik Towers for the use of his artwork in the column header. You can see more of Nik’s artwork at the Wrestling Artwork NT Facebook page.
Additional thanks to Brett Hadley Photography and Southside Wrestling for the images used in the column.