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TonyPulis'Cap posted a topic in July 2002That is Squire Dave Taylor of WCW fame, and of course a British veteran. He’s brought in here as a mystery opponent for Drew McDonald, as part of the show long storyline that if any members of the Old School lose then they will be fired. On the face of it a slightly jarring, given Dave Taylor would seem a natural fit for the Old School, but it’s played up as him coming back to the UK to help the younger guys. Going into this match I was excited at the prospect of two tough veterans just laying into each other, but, while this match is technically solid, it’s really dull. I don’t mind a methodical pace, and there is a contrast in this match to what the younger guys on the card were doing, moving too fast and doing too much, but this tips over too much the other way. We some long battles over headlocks and a figure four, but I was hoping for much more of a heated brawl. Taylor doesn’t get to showcase much of his technical wrestling, while McDonald does little of interest. McDonald was a good character in the FWA and a good heel but very rarely were any of his matches any good, as he seemed reluctant to want to work with his opponent much, especially the young guys working the new indie style. Which is why I was disappointed in this one as I thought Taylor would’ve been the type of guy McDonald would’ve been more prepared to put the effort in against. The ending is fairly cliched as well, with McDonald’s manager Dean Ayass sacrificing himself as a distraction, allowing McDonald to hit the stunner for the win. This was the only match Taylor would work for the FWA. (* ½)
This is a scenario that I think shows how compelling storytelling can fall flat when a match fails to come together in the ring. Going in, this match had a number of interweaving and engaging storylines that deserved a chaotic and action packed payoff. In the end it falls massively flat. While other matches from British Uprising III perhaps deserve a critical reappraisal, this one still very much fails to hit the mark all these years later. The build up mainly centres on the disintegration of The Family; the religious cult heel group that had been the main antagonists in the FWA in 2003; and the baby face turn of Paul Travell. The increased levels of punishment Travell was taking in matches had led to the crowd starting to rally behind him. Having his head turned by the cheers of the crowd had increasingly put Travell at odds with The Family’s manager Greg Lambert and their new leader Drew McDonald. The resulting Family ‘civil war’ led to Travell turning his back on the group after suffering months of abuse and Lambert’s attempts to control him - costing the group the tag team titles. At the same time as Travell in storyline left the group, other members like Scott Parker and Ian DaSciple – holdovers from the pre ‘boom’ era of the FWA – also stopped being used by the company, meaning the birth of The Triad out of The Family’s ashes, comprising of McDonald, Raj Ghosh and a big jacked up newcomer called Thunder. Showing the strength of the company at this time to interweave different storylines, at the same time you had the rookie monster of the company Burchill being drawn in. In a match where a tag title shot was on the line, and in an effort to keep Burchill away from being able to challenge The Family, McDonald had interfered in a match between Simmonz and Burchill to give the former an unlikely upset count out win and end the latter’s unbeaten streak. So Travell and Burchill are the unlikely allies teaming up against a common foe. With the FWA determined to cement Travell’s face turn and push him to the next level, the original aim was to try to get Mick Foley in as their third man and help pass the ‘hardcore legend’ baton onto Travell. With that failing to materialise, Terry Funk was brought in to perform a similar role. When reviewing matches, I think most try to focus solely on what the people in the ring are doing without trying to factor in other things, either behind the scenes stuff or the booking. Sometimes in wrestling this becomes impossible to separate; what is being presented in the ring is a direct product of issues backstage. This is one of those examples. Knowing some of the tensions pre-match between competitors and clear differences in how they wanted to take things manifests itself 100 per cent in how the match is executed and why it comes across so badly. Greg Lambert’s book is incredibly enlightening for why this match is a mess, with the massively dysfunctional way it was put together, and the old school guys like McDonald and Thunder not wanting to do anything in the match that would put their younger opponents over. Onto the match then, and another moving part is Jimmy Hart as the special guest ref. In storyline this was an appointment by FWA Commissioner Flash Barker because of the duelling managers in Lambert and Dean Ayass on the outside, which had been another big part of the build up. The argument being that Hart would know their tricks as a legendary manager himself. While I like that idea, unfortunately, I’m not sure he really knows what he’s doing in the match… The match starts with some technical wrestling between Travell and Ghosh, but considering they are tag team partners that have broken up, you really want to see more aggression from them rather than exchanging hammer locks. The match quickly breaks down, but not in the fun crazy brawl sense rather in a messy incoherent sense. There are some fun punch exchanges between Funk and McDonald, as old veterans just going after each other, but as was clear from the way they intended to do business before the match, McDonald and Thunder barely sell or leave their feat, especially not for Travell, and not really for Burchill either. Thunder looks imposing with his look but he basically sucks and brings nothing to the table. This is his only match in the FWA. Travell brings some fun moments like an elbow drop off the apron to Ghosh on a chair and taking a back drop on the ramp, and Burchill hits some of his impressive power and agility spots, but too often he’s also forced to sell from opponents clearly not willing to work much with him. At previous FWA shows there had been quite a bit of heat on a Burchill vs Drew McDonald singles encounter but that’s something that we never get paid off. Given this match however that was probably for the best. Due to not wanting help Travell and Burchill to get over, McDonald – who had been a semi-regular for the company during the previous two years – was never booked again. In hindsight this should’ve been a crazy ECW brawl with lots of weapon shots and should not be the near 19 minutes long that it is. It’s just way, way too long. Travell ultimately ends up beating Ghosh to win the match in a pinfall that comes out of nowhere. There’s a nice ceremonial passing off the torch…or rather barbed wire baseball bat between Funk and Travell which gets a good pop but it will be interesting to see Travell going forward into the next year of FWA shows and whether this match achieved the desired result of getting him across as ‘the UK’s hardcore icon’. (**)