I’ve decided to start a blog on my latest adventures in the wrestling world – not in the expectation that anyone will read it, but more as a way of chronicling what I’ve been doing so I can look back at these entries when I’m an old man and think “Wowzers, James R. Kennedy really was an idiot!” (I assume old people use the word “wowzers”). With that in mind, here are my latest random thoughts from the beautiful, crazy industry in which I work:
I thoroughly enjoyed myself at Defiant’s Magnificent Seven pay-per-view last Saturday (16th March) – a historic night according to our ring announce Stevie Aaron who, despite lacking any corroborating evidence, repeatedly insisted that this was the first ever wrestling pay-per-view from the city of Sunderland. In the end I said it on-air just to shut him up, and no-one has corrected me so I’m pretty confident he was right. Probably by total chance, but right nonetheless!
Anyway, the main news coming out of the show was the end of Rampage’s 322-day reign as Defiant World Champion, the longest in company history. More importantly still, it felt like the end of an era with rumours abounding that the match against Rory Coyle may have been Rampage’s last in the company. If so, that’s an enormous loss because Rampage has been one of the names synonymous with Defiant/WCPW from the start. If I recall correctly, he was the first wrestler announced for the promotion in summer 2016 and has spent almost three years as a mainstay at the top of the card. He also commands tremendous respect from everyone in the locker room – a leader both on-air and behind the scenes who is regarded by many of his peers as the best heavyweight on the British scene. If the rumours are true then I wish him all the best in whatever he chooses to do next.
As for Coyle, his ascension to the world title has been both rapid and unique – his “video nasty” promos are unlike anything I’ve ever seen and are extremely clever in their call-backs to things that happened weeks, months or even years ago. He may have a twisted mind but it’s a sharp mind too, and it will make for some fascinating television in the weeks and months ahead. I also like his in-ring style: there’s a primal, barbaric tone to his offence that suggests a real menace and unpredictability. Does he scare the bejesus out of me? Yes. Am I morbidly curious as to what he will do next? Absolutely.
Another highlight in Sunderland for me was Joe Hendry and Gabriel Kidd’s 20-minute time limit draw, not least because it’s the first time in recent memory that we’ve had a match go the distance like that so it was an ending that I don’t think anyone saw coming. That wasn’t the only surprise though: I was expecting an all-out brawl as an angry Kidd returned from suspension while Hendry was hell-bent on teaching the Young Bull a lesson. Instead we got something arguably much better: an absorbing technical clinic in which Kidd seemed determined to show he could hang on the mat with a man who has represented his country in amateur wrestling at the Commonwealth Games. Granted, it looked like Kidd was moments away from succumbing to the Hendry Lock by the time the clock ran out but credit where it’s due: Kidd more than held his own in a bout that showed just how versatile both men are as in-ring performers.
The Magnificent Seven match itself was very entertaining, by the way. Multi-man elimination matches of this kind always make me nervous because they have the potential to be chaotic to the point of incoherence, but this was really fun and everyone involved shone. It was my first chance to see one Maxwell Jacob Friedman in the flesh, and my God he’s obnoxious – which is a compliment, I suppose? The speed with which he was able to turn the entire crowd against him was stunning, and it was clear from the get-go that he is one of the most charismatic personalities to emerge in wrestling for quite some time. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him become a major player in AEW within their first year… but then he would probably dispute that there was ever any doubt about that in the first place. Everyone else in the match more than held their own too: eventual winner Benji seems to have captured lightning in a bottle in terms of connecting with the fans, and everyone else involved in the match has their own loyal following too. Despite the fact that only one of the seven could win in Sunderland, any one of them could still have a breakout year in 2019.
My only regret from Saturday is that I couldn’t be in two places at once because two of my other favourite promotions were also on display a couple of hours south in Nottingham. Wrestle Gate Pro and New Generation Wrestling (NGW) both held shows at the Rushcliffe Arena – the former holding their second ever event and the latter putting on one of their excellent “Proving Ground” shows that mixes established talent with up-and-comers from their academy. I was gutted that I couldn’t be there to call the action because the list of talent on display was phenomenal: Ilya Dragunov, Chris Ridgeway, Robbie X, Stixx, Adam Maxted, Lucas Steel, Malik, Jody Fleisch, Ricky Knight Jr – the list goes on and on. But that’s the thing with British wrestling at present: the roster of talent is so deep that there can be major shows in 5 or 6 places on a single day and there are still enough world-class performers to ensure that all of those shows knock it out of the park. A golden age, indeed.
Lastly, it’s come to my attention that just about everyone in the wrestling world seems to have their birthday today: the amazing former two-time Defiant women’s champion Bea Priestley is celebrating over in Japan, where she is currently making waves with Stardom; Kid Lykos of CCK also has candles to blow out today, as does NXT UK star Eddie Dennis, Fight Club Pro promoter Martin Zaki and my old pal, manager-extraordinaire Gilligan Gordon. I assume I’ve missed others out too, but I’m too excited to care because it’s my own birthday on Sunday and I share mine with the Undertaker which makes me, like, the coolest.
That’s all for now!