HXC Wrestling: An Extreme Dark Night
The indy wrestling scene in the UK is growing more and more. With big international superstars flooding in to our promotions over here and fans lining up to get in, this is becoming more apparent. HXC, the wrestling brand based in Manchester, certainly has grown and their latest show at The Ritz was certainly proof of that. It may not be as big as some of the other British promotions, like PCW and ICW, but the sheer atmosphere at The Ritz and the size of the crowd certainly seemed impressive, to me at least. It’s been awhile since I’ve been to an indy wrestling show. The last time I was at one it was in a tiny nightclub with barely 100 people. So this was quite a decent sized show in comparison. The months leading up to the event, the promotion for the show was pretty much relentless, and it shows too. With people who are interested in the scene, and some newcomers there too, the night was filled with a fun, relaxed and entertaining atmosphere.
The lights dimmed and the show began with a small promo welcoming people to the event, introducing the commentary team of Harvey Dale and Mark Adams and generally kicking off the night with a few laughs. The being said and done, the first match gets under way. Lad Banter vs The Bravehearts. This was a well done match it worked out for the heel team, Lad Banter, in the end but overall this was rather entertaining. There was a good team chemistry between The Bravehearts. Joe Coffey and Damo O’Connor were genuinely fun as performers and really got the crowd going with big hard hitting moves and a few technical maneuvers. Whilst it was just fun to boo and jeer Lad Banter. Both teams ran with their personas to full effect and immediately I knew I was in for a good night. Working off the interference Lad Banter pick up the win with a foreign object, it was pretty much textbook. Decent match to kick off the show. I don’t really have much else to say regarding it, just a fun little tag team match to get things going, this wasn’t meant to steal the show, it was still good though.
Before the next match got underway we had small segment introducing Dani Divine, the special guest for the evening, to the stage. It was fine enough I suppose but I got nothing out of it, it was just a small segment. So onwards then, due to a scheduling conflict, Cyanide was unable to perform at the show. So he was replaced with Mark Massa, accompanied by Melanie Price, to face Wild Boar. This ended up being a really well wrestled match with a lot of good moves that were executed quite well. Massa, I suppose, being a part of the faction “The Investment”, which I’m also guessing a play on the WWE’s “The Authority”, was clearly the heel however he didn’t really act it and he won clean, so kinda useless on that front. However the way he finished the match was pretty cool, I don’t know what the move is called but it looked amazing and was really well executed. Just another win for the heels, somewhat of a theme over the night, looking back on it. The night rolled on quite smoothly straight into the the next match, which to me was the best match of the night.
Next was BT Gunn vs Mikey Whiplash, and this was probably my favourite match of the night, it was so well done all I could do was applaud. Honestly there were so many near falls in this match there was just a constant barrage of people shouting “TWO!” it was so much fun. Although BT Gunn was the favourite going in to the match it was clear there was no favourite between the two everyone was cheering pretty much all match. By the way it might be good to mention at this point that nearly every match spilled to the outside, as nearly every match in current day wrestling can’t be kept to the ring. In all honesty that’s good though as it gets the crowd involved and makes them louder, at the end of the day it’s all for the sake of entertainment. I’m not kidding though this match kicked ass, it was all technical moves and crazy energy, Gunn and Whiplash worked off each other so well and both came out looking better for it. Whiplash picked up the win, but like I said this did nothing but get the crowd more hyped for the night.
Another quick break we geared up for match number four. it was between the awesome Dutch wrestler Tommy End and American wrestler Jigsaw who is pretty damn awesome too. In a match with one hell of a stipulation. Are you ready for this? It was a “Shots for Kicks” match, so in simple terms “Every Kick to the Head…. Take a Shot”. Oh what fun this match caused. I think it’s safe to say the commentary team were completely out of it after this match, so much alcohol was consumed. To be honest, it was a good match and very entertaining. The crowd made this one especially fun with every kick to the head, everyone yelling “SHOT!”, and just getting louder as the match went on. Also chants of “F*** Him Up Tommy” and “Let’s Go Jigsaw” were fun to have a sing along with too/ In all honesty, I really didn’t want this match to end, I loved it. Tommy End picked up the win with an awesome German suplex bridged into a pin. However, after the match was over there were no antics or bulls***. No, there was nothing but respect between the two. They shared a drink and left the stage, top stuff really.
This lead into the intermission, all I thought at the time was finally I go take a p***. Up to now the show had been pretty good. With more promised I was getting ready for the second half of the show. During the intermission, people having photos with Jigsaw and Dani Divine in the ring, and there was also a raffle, for some merch. To be honest, it was just a cool down like I said the night had been awesome until now. Then, the lights dimmed again and we got ready for the second half.
Music hits and out comes Sam Bailey, and I think the crowd was relatively unenthused. He starts with a promo, calling out Ashton Smith and generally talking trash about him. I suppose due to some result at an event I wasn’t aware of, apologies. I suppose, he sold the promo OK but I didn’t really know what to make of him. Then his opponent, Iestyn Rees, came out. The match went pretty much how I thought it was going to go down. Bailey runs away from Rees, Rees corners Bailey and has the upper hand for a while. Then, the interference came from Mark Massa and Bailey picks up the win. It was all pretty standard. It seemed like the crowd had the same reaction as me as no one seemed to be interested at all in the match itself. What happened after the match on the other hand, well… You know how I said we started this with a promo, well Ashton Smith comes out and takes out both Massa and Bailey whilst they were wailing on Rees. The end result? Smith challenges Bailey to a Ladder match and a future event. Bailey doesn’t respond there and then and the segment sorta just… ends. Rather anti-climatic I think, but never mind. I’d like to say this was well done, but the whole thing just felt stilted and awkward. I can’t say I enjoyed this one all too much.
Next was something a little better. A tag match between The Blackpool Blonds, accompanied by Violet Vendetta versus DDL and a mystery tag partner, which turned out to be Dave Rayne. To stunning audience ovation DDL and Rayne make their way to the ring. It was a no DQ match, so yeh, after 5 matches we actually get to the “extreme” part of An Extreme Dark Night, good stuff. It was well worth it though because this was a great match. There was a moment of it where Rayne gets hit, and I mean lightly tapped, but then sells it like he’d been shot, that’s commitment to the part. It was just a spectacular performance overall, I really enjoyed this one. The introduction of chairs and bins… OK then “trash cans”, was well worked in the wrestlers looked really good as things were swung at their head. DDL and Rayne pick up the victory by pinfall. Pretty much right afterward we’re treated to another promo which ends with Rayne “DDTing” Violet Vendetta, in the middle of the ring. It was kinda shocking to watch, I’ll tell you one thing you wouldn’t see it on TV.
The penultimate match was the woman's battle royal. Now here’s the thing, I hate battle royals, I can’t stand them. Their just clusterfucks, you don’t know what’s happening until it’s over. It’s just a mess of arms, legs and in this case tits, until someone claims victory. In all honesty as well it never looks like a victory, hey well done you’re not thrown over the top rope you… win? It’s never entertaining for me. Say what you want about the women in the match, all of them are fine wrestlers and put on good shows. But to me battle royals are not fun. So what about this, I guess was fine, I mean I can’t say I was bored at anytime. So how was the quality of the wrestling? It was fine, a lot of the moves were well executed some of the near saves from elimination were fun to watch so like I said it was fine. Anyway, Viper wins, I think everyone knew that was going to happen as she came to the ring, but yeh she won. So yeah let’s move on to the main event.
Finally it was time for the highlight of the evening and what all the promotion in previous months was building up to. Sabu in HXC, and the crowd went absolutely nuts, and why not? He is a legend of the industry after all. It was a triple threat match between Sabu, Jack Jester and everyone's favourite asshole, Jimmy Havoc. I’ll admit, I’m a fan of Havoc, it’s so clear he loves what he does, and his performance on the night was excellent. Definitely one of my favourite british wrestlers currently. The match itself was great, well it was a triple threat, no DQ match so yeh it was going to be awesome. The weapons used were pretty cool and the way used were a mixture of standard to inventive. The mayhem went through the crowd to both sides of the bar. It was pretty hectic. Of course it wouldn’t be Sabu if there weren’t any tables and it just so happens there was one. It was used to end the match, I mean as soon as you saw the table, you could tell the match was coming to a close. Sabu picked up the win via pinfall. and the night wrapped up. With an obligatory “HXC” chant the night ended.
So how was the show? Well, how do you think it was? it was a good night of some local and international talent performing for a crowd of drunk mancunians. It was pretty damn good. I will admit it’s been awhile since I’ve watched the indy’s but you know what, I just might be getting back into it, this was a top night with some memorable moments. If you’re into wrestling, and never checked out these UK shows, let me tell you it’ll always be worth your time.
Words: Mick Birchall | Photos: Frederick Apps