The following is the first in our new series of articles from DS at Sitting Front Row following the goings on with Over The Top Wrestling in Ireland, one of the hottest independent promotions in the World.
THIS. IS. OTT! These three words embody what makes Over The Top Wrestling one of the most unique wrestling promotions in the world. A motto uttered effortlessly but directly to the point. OTT does it right and does it with a passion reminiscent of ECW of the 1990’s: Paul Heyman was doing things that made Vince McMahon sit up and take notice, to such a point that WWE changed its appearance to that of a bigger and better ECW. Yes, the crowds flock to OTT because of both their storylines and intense in-ring action, but promotor Joe Cabray has also tapped into the crowds’ passion. Once a fan steps foot inside the 500 person capacity Tivoli Theatre each month, they get to park their real life worries at the door and proceed to have 2 and a half hours of fun and excitement. Like most Indy wrestling promotions the fans play their part in making each monthly card different and special. Their loyalty and passion is unquestionable. You see regular faces in the crowd each month and that’s when, as a promoter, you know you are doing something right. Of course none of this would happen without the wrestlers and personalities of this promotion. Each month the commentary team of Aonghus Og McAnally and Don Marnell start things off by climbing through the ropes, welcoming the crowd ahead of the coming nights action. Play by play commentator McAnally and heel colour commentator Marnell always get the crowd geared up for the forthcoming action. Then it’s over to ring announcer Butch to get proceedings under way with introductions for the first match.
OTT has a core stable of wrestlers who perform on events. Some perform more regularly than others depending on how over they are with the fans. Among the more regular performers you will find such talents as Jordan Devlin, The Gymnasties, The Kings Of The North, Ryan Smile, Session Moth Martina, Angel Cruz, Justin Shape, Paul Tracey, Charlie Sterling, Kathy Harvey and The Lads From Da Flats.
Devlin, trained by Finn Balor and Paul Tracey, has grown into a top European talent, wrestling for both ICW and Southside in the UK, as well as making the cut for the WWE UK Championship Tournament. The Gymnasties were until recently the OTT tag team champions and one of the most over acts in the entire company with their comedy skits and in ring squats. If you pass The Tivoli on the night of an OTT card you will most likely hear 500 voices combining together to chant each SQUAT the Nasties perform in the ring either to psych themselves up or intimidate their “less agile” opponents. The current tag team champions are of course the Kings Of The North, hailing from Belfast. The Kings are as good a team as you are likely to see anywhere at the moment, be it in 2 on 2 action when it’s Damien Corvin and Bonesaw teaming, or in 3 on 3 action when they are joined by Dunkan Disorderly. They wouldn’t look out of place in any of the big promotions in the US or Japan. OTT’s current No Limits Wrestling Champion is the UK’s very own Ryan Smile. Smile, who has been with the company since their first show in 2014, captured the belt in February of this year. Smile has a very special relationship with the fans and fully deserves the spot he is currently in.
Session Moth Martina is the ultimate raver and in between dancing, drinking and smoking on her way to the ring, and on occasion during her matches too, she is an all-round machine when it comes to moves in the ring. She’s taken on her fair share of female AND male talent over the last few years and always entertains the crowd with her antics. UK promotions have recently started to notice and fans in the UK are now getting to see what OTT fans have always known: she is the most unique female wrestler in Ireland and the UK at the moment.
Angel Cruz, OTT’s notorious bad guy, is so funny and endearing that the crowds have turned him into a babyface. Although, given Cruz’s past, how long can this last?
Last December Justin Shape turned on his long time buddies in The Gymnasties and branched out as a heel in one of the most well executed heel turns in OTT history. Instant heat from the crowd, as well as his veteran understanding of the business, mixed in with his over the top comedy bad guy routine, makes this year a big year for Shape.
Paul Tracey and Charlie Sterling form the heel stable of The Social Elite alongside Jordan Devlin and the chemistry between all 3 members is organic. Tracey is the leader and old school snooty bad guy. Devlin is the technical mercenary, while Sterling is the comedy bad guy whose constant disdain for the OTT crowd often gets him caught in precarious positions by his opponents. Current OTT Women’s Champion is the all-round performer Katey Harvey. Harvey added a heel element to her character that has sown the seeds of a long-term feud with Martina which should run for some time. And then there’s The Lads From Da Flats, Workie and Paddy M. Like Session Moth, these two lads like nothing more than a rave before, during and after a match, but don’t be thrown off by their comedy. These lads can work alongside any opponents inside the squared circle. They will always give you comedy but they will also give you technical wrestling and/or aerial wrestling if, and when the time requires it. As well as this core of regular talent there is also the ever improving Adam “Flex” Maxted and the recently blooded Connor Andrews and Scotty Davies to keep your eye out for as this year progresses.
The International Stars
On top of all our homegrown talent here in Ireland, OTT have also played host to an array of International stars from Britain and America: Ring of Honor TV Champion Marty Scurll, Matt Riddle, Ricochet, Will Ospreay, and the trio made up of Trent Seven, Pete Dunne, and Tyler Bate, known as British Strong Style, all of whom have recently been signed as WWE UK talents.
Marty Scurll has built a special bond with the OTT faithful to such an extent that he regularly gets more cheers than any of the babyfaces. His moniker is “The Villain” and the dictionary will tell you that a villain is a character whose evil actions or motives are important to the plot. Maybe the latter part of that meaning is especially true when it comes to Scurll and OTT. Riddle is set for his second appearance with the company next month when they host Marble Zone Act 1 on May 6th. Ricochet squared off against Will Ospreay in the last card of 2016 in what many consider the best match to date in OTT and was due to wrestle this month but unfortunately had to pull out due to injury. Indications are that he will be back again soon. Ospreay himself has appeared a few times now and each time he entertains the crowd with a high flying offense like only he can. As well as competing in singles competition he also occasionally forms the tag team of the Uptown Funkers with Champion Smile.
Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne have appeared regularly over the last couple of years and recently brought along their buddy Trent Seven to experience the atmosphere of the Tivoli crowd. Dunne is the former NLW Champion and has always put in a shift when he stepped between the ropes. Sometimes they even add in names like X Pac, Sabu, Tommy Dreamer, Chris Hero, Melina, Abyss or Hornswoggle to put the icing on top of the already perfect ingredients. They pull out all the stops each month to put on the best show possible. Since it opened its doors in 2014 this promotion has gone from strength to strength. Now it is running regular shows in Belfast as well as Dublin each month. If you can’t catch the action live you can always watch it on Flo Slam or Vimeo. This allows fans from all over the world to get a glimpse of the vibrant live atmosphere each month.
And so all roads lead to April 15th 2017 when OTT presents Scrappermania 3. Billed as the biggest night in Irish Wrestling History there will be 2,200 fans inside The National Stadium in Dublin. This will be the biggest Irish run wrestling card to ever take place in the country and the fact that it sold out so quickly in advance is a testament in itself. As well as the usual crew of OTT wrestlers fans can also look forward to welcoming back Marty Scurll, Grado, Bea Priestly and Nixon Newell as well as the OTT debuts of Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, Jurn Simmons, Jay White and Lio Rush. Will there be any surprise unannounced appearances similar to that of Finn Balor, Drew Galloway and Marty Scurll in the last few months? Who knows. One thing for sure though is that if you haven’t been lucky enough to bag a ticket for Scrappermania 3 then you better tune in live to Flo Slam to find out. It promises to be the biggest night OTT has ever had. If you are going to see OTT live for the first time in person, you best brace yourself. Brace yourself for the athleticism and enthusiasm of the wrestlers. Brace yourself for the passion of the fans. Brace yourself for the rock star entrances. Brace yourself for the fun you are about to have. Brace yourself for when Aonghus Og McAnally stands centre ring and proclaims… THIS. IS. OTT!
– DS / Sitting Front Row
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