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FWA Round Robin Tournament 2005 DVD Review



25 September 2006

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The story behind my acquisition of this particular versatile disc formatted dose of British Wrestling is an odd one: after chasing up an erstwhile order with former Showstealer-Events production bods Red Church, said people very kindly offered me a free DVD of my choice from their back catalogue. I subsequently picked out... erm.... an event that wasn't the FWA's 2005 Round Robin, but given events prior, it wasn't a case of complete shock when this landed on my doorstep. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I simply shrugged, placed the disc on my shelf, and proceeded to forget about it for 12 months.

Herein, I begin a sojourn through the non-American annals of the wrestling footage occupying our spare bedroom. To kick off this epic trek, I simply pulled a disc out at random, as I will continue to do at regular intervals. Onwards & upwards we go...

This event took place on July 31st 2005, at Southbury Leisure Centre, which is as overwhelmingly, and disconcertingly, green a venue as you are likely to bare witness to.

I had been lead to believe that the Frontier Wrestling Alliance had, in the year or so prior, suffered something of a fall from prominence, and the opening frames of this offering was to provide evidence: the sparse & subdued attendance on this night, for a group who were pulling in 1000 plus in Bethnal Green a mere two years earlier, painted an instant portrait of “just another British wrestling promotion” .The familiar tones of Nick London detailed happenings, assisted by a geezer named Dan Read: instant kudos, as I had spent the minutes before pressing play dreading the excruciating sound of Tony Giles. Huuzah!

Thankfully, the larger of the two regular FWA rings was employed for this evening's festivities. London took a decent bash at putting the concept of the Round Robin (and the potential strategies of those involved) across as a precursor to the opening bell, speculating on how things might pan out & why. Analysers actually analysing, a la professional sports broadcasters; always a plus point in the credibility column- none of that Michael Cole-esque “what's going to happen?” rhetorical ga-ga here, folks.

The first of the “six” (more on which later) RRT matches pit Jonny Storm against Spud in what essentially amounted to an extended squash, concluding with a Wonderwhirl enabled pinfall for the Southerner. The “Wonderkid” did a commendable job in keeping the match grounded, and employing mainly “bigger man” offence against the diminutive Midlander. The same could be said of Jody Fleisch later in the evening, as the whole pith & notion of proceedings served to create the kind of environment that allows Spud to truly thrive, whereas when lazily lumped amongst the flippy-flop, bump n' dive element, he is instantly stripped of general purpose. Nonetheless, despite a couple of erratic moments courtesy of the man from Spudleyville, an intelligent “tournament” match... if that makes sense.

Dan Read cannot say “Cabana”- ROH regular Colt & the aforementioned Fleisch, rounding off the tourney participants, took a good while in reaching their collective apex in a decidedly stop-start, stall, you go-I go, take turns, no establishing of an advantage or story, display of chain wrestling reversal sufferage that was the second match of the night. The Yank put the finishing point on the reversal strewn mat-fest, gaining victory by way of a roll up into a bridge. This mediocre outing could've been compressed considerably- a few exchanges looked most contrived, and the two opponents simply didn't mesh well during the up-tempo exchanges.

A short segment saw Alex Shane (who everybody seems to have now realised isn't, in fact, the devil incarnate) pull out of a later match with Paul Travell, and All-England kingpin Hade Vansen take his place, although if there was any attempt at an explanation as to Vansen's motivation for doing so, it went right over my head. Travell's entrance tune is truly atrocious.

The esteem in which the Pac/Bubblegum etc loving, “This Is Awesome” imitating section of the UK scene fanbase seemingly hold comparative brute (and with that label, model pro wrestler) Martin Stone gives this writer a renewed faith in humanity: the current LDN & IPW:UK top gun was the integral cog around which the tag title bout pitting he & Stixx against Aviv Mayaaan & Ross Jordan revolved. Mayaan is one guy I'll admit to never having “got”, per se. Not that he's actively bad- indeed he's never looked especially sloppy or messy (maybe that's the problem- his stuff is a little too uniform, ergo he never comes across as being involved in a fight/contest)- but there are many that are actively more convincing at the same schtick (his partner here being one such example). The result of this gathering was a crisp, enjoyable following of the powerful heels/speedy babyfaces blueprint, the only glitches in which were a series of weak strike exchanges between Jordan & Stixx (although it may have just appeared so by contrast to all the old UWFi I've been watching recently), and one awkward miscue between the tag champs. Stixx & Stone's title retaining, Spike DDT finish came following some unnecessary extra curricular activity involving Jordan & Dean Ayass- a totally clean defeat wouldn't have damaged the face tandem at all, in my eyes- yet this capped an ultimately encouraging display.

A more calculated pace & tempo, in comparison to their myriad of other encounters, set the 4,912th meeting of Storm & Fleisch apart from it's predecessors in welcome fashion, and was blessed with a viable explanation within context, given Fleisch's implied tentativeness, stemming from a lengthy injury layoff. In that time, Storm has added several minor quirks to his game, which has seen him, for my money, surpass his long-time contemporary as an all-round worker. A second straight rewarding encounter ended in irksome fashion, with JS Wonderwhirling “The Phoenix” onto his (Storm's) ankle, drawing an instant stoppage, and necessitating his withdrawl from the night's ongoing affairs. Once more, keep reading....

Struggling to catch the gist of the in-ring banter over the drawl of the announcers, it became apparent that Spud vs Colt Cabana was the kind of match that is great fun to observe in person, yet (in all likelyhood) loses a fair bit when watched outside of a live environment. The crux of the narrative saw Cabana playfully indulging the Brummie in a game of hold & counter hold, before a tilt-a-whirl 'rana on the Chicago native served as a turning point, raising the ire of CC & prompting him to take the match by the proverbial scruff of the neck. More contrived nonsense came to pass, regrettably, in the finale, as the roll-up/bridge combo that served Colt well earlier, lead to a double-pin, meaning that everything would rest, oh so conveniently, on the final match.

The only real sour point of this July night in Enfield was the dour, lifeless clash between Hade Vansen & Paul Travell, with the latter in particular lacking general conviction throughout. A tope by “Righteous” Paul instigated a ringside brawling sequence- incorporating spots involving a row of chairs, a ringpost, & the apron- which not only constituted the sole highlight of a seemingly long battle, but also prompted me to disable the up-until-then utilised fast forward function. The audience certainly weren't buying the silly disqualification Dusty Finish (audibly, at least), that saw Travell emerge triumphant.

The realisation set in during the final match of the Round Robin Series, & was amplified in the closing moments of the show: this whole night was all about Spud, and elevating the perception of he to levels similar to those occupied by his three opponents- witness the bantam warrior giving as good as he was getting throughout the (albeit rather frivolous & needless) extended brawl around the building, and later surviving the heavy duty offence of the juxtapose veteran in an (ultimately vain) attempt to stay in contention for overall victory. A pair of 720 DDTs were capped with a standing SSP, earning Jody the spoils, and concluding a match infinitely richer in subtext than any that preceded it. Indeed, the worthy focal point of commentary, painting the tournament as Fleisch's triumphant return, only served to strengthen the subtle inference that this was, in fact, Spud's coming-of-age, of sorts, in that he hung on until the very end, having been annihilated in the opener, and wrestling twice consecutively thereafter, having faced the largest man in contention in the first of those two matches.

A mixed bag of individual bouts can be summarised, from my point of view, by one instance: at the conclusion of the “Round Robin Tournament,” Colt Cabana (with help from Ross Jordan) hoisted overall winner Jody Fleisch onto his shoulders...which was bloody decent of him, considering the man to whom he finished second (and defeated earlier on) had three matches in which to accumulate his points, whilst he was afforded a mere two. Surely he should have been awarded a win over Jonny Storm by default? Reconciling earlier the scoring system with the presence of four participants (ie. one too many), I got a feeling in my waters that, in order to keep the field open to the bitter end, they would have to concoct some shenanigans along the way, and so it came to pass. Therefore, although it did showcase several examples of some bloody decent professional wrestling, for the aforementioned reasons, I'd have to classify the Second Annual Enfield Round Robin as a fundamentally puerile experience.

Points: 6 / 10

Stew Boyd



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