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[2002-07-28-FWA-No Surprises 4] The Family (Brandon Thomas & Paul Travell) vs The New Breed (Ashe & Curve)
TonyPulis'Cap posted a topic in July 2002This is essentially the beginning of the Family stable, a religious cult group that would become home to wrestlers on losing streaks or going nowhere with their career, with the idea that Brandon Thomas – ‘The Messiah’ – would give them direction. After the end of the Old School storyline, they would become arguably the top heels in the company in 2003. Before the match Paul Travell turns heel in his home town to become Thomas’ first member. In this match they are up against the New Breed, who in the early days of the FWA were it’s top tag team, but who are close to the end of their run as they would soon get squashed by the UK Pitbulls and then taken out by Paul Burchill at British Uprising a couple of months after this. This match is a bit of a mess. Despite being the company’s top team (the FWA’s tag division was never it’s strong point) the New Breed were very hit and miss. As they show here they hit some cool double teams, but were often attempting things above their skill level. In turn, Brandon Thomas was more of a personality than a wrestler, and while he has presence and charisma, brings very little to the table in being capable in ring. Travell for his part is still very raw here, but shows flashes of the decent worker he would turn into, and it’s his nutty bumping – which would become a staple for the rest of his FWA run – which makes this somewhat watchable. For the finish, the New Breed hit a double diamond cutter off the top rope, but rather than going for the pin go for a double van terminator, leaving Ashe to get hit behind the refs back with a chair, and Travell to score the win with a big splash from the top rope. This made sense to put The Family over to start building their momentum, but this one is really rough. (* ¼)
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’. (**)
TonyPulis'Cap posted a topic in October 2003This is a match with a huge amount of backstory coming in and a huge amount of controversy coming out. It’s the final chapter in a violent rivalry that had been building since The Family defeated the team of Shane and Herman for the tag team titles at Crunch in March. Since then almost every FWA show had seen an escalation of the feud, as different combinations of The Family clashed with Shane, Herman and others such as Nikita and Stevie Knight, with the tag belts changing hands at different times but always ending up back with corrupted quasi-religious cult The Family. This match is titled, rather grandiosely, as an ‘Apocalypse Grudge Match’ but that basically means it’s just No DQ. It follows on from falls count anywhere, first blood, street fights and barbed wire baseball bat matches that these teams have had. Despite them being champions, The Family’s titles are not on the line after Shane & Herman lost their final shot at them at Hotwired the month before, in a match marred by an awful Dusty finish. The stipulations are that if The Family win then Shane and Herman must leave the FWA, while if they lose, their manager Greg Lambert has to take a Herman chair shot. As you’ll have seen in the title of the thread though, due to a storyline injury sustained the month before (in reality Shane wanted to focus on the booking and running of the show) he is being represented by Mikey Whipwreck. It’s an interesting dynamic – having your career being held in someone else’s hands – but never really plays into the match and feels odd given how prolonged and personal this feud has been. The match itself is pretty brutal, with parts varying between both of the uses of that word. Most of the matches in this feud were pretty clearly ECW inspired, and this features a selection of suitably random weapons including: cameras, video recorders, baking trays, baseball bats, barbed wire, drawing pins, golf clubs and a computer keyboard. As previously it’s Paul Travell who takes an insane amount of punishment (with the worst to come) including taking a press slam from Herman onto the pins (tacks) and then being stepped on to where they become firmly embedded in his head. Lovely. Which brings us to the big controversial moment of the match. With the violence having been escalated and escalated during the year, and this match already having had blood, drawing pins and every other type of weapon used - not to mention this being the big blow off to the feud and the big show of the year – fire is introduced as a way of trying to keep the bar raised. Greg Lambert’s book Holy Grail gives an excellent summary of what happened next, given he was ringside and just a few yards away. The Family light a ringside table on fire and go to powerbomb Herman through it. Due to the inexperience of the guys involved with creating the fire, not enough lighter fluid was initially used and by the time that Paul Travell ends up going through the table the fire has almost gone out. However, in trying to keep it going, and squirting extra fluid onto the table, the end result is the cap of the lighter fluid bottle catching alight. In an effort to try and salvage the spot Whipwreck - although it’s hard to know what he was really attempting to do - squirts the bottle at Travel unaware that it has now become effectively a homemade flame thrower and the result is suitably disastrous with Travel being set alight. On the video it’s hard to see exactly what happens next as the camera pulls out and you see Whipwreck diving on top of him to help put out the flames. Thankfully it’s an incident that I don’t think caused long term damage, but it’s an understandably horrifying moment that resulted in the FWA being banned from the York Hall by the building’s management. The company would never run there again. All this means that the finish, just a moment later when Herman suplexes Raj Ghosh into the tacks, is hugely anti-climatic, with most fans, and people at ringside focussing rightly on the aftermath of the fire spot gone wrong. As an ending to a rivalry built over the year and at the end of which the faces finally get a decisive win, it’s completely overshadowed. As a match it’s also hard to judge. You could argue the standard of the matches peaked in the summer and that the constant screw job finishes had stretched things on too long while also diminishing fan interest. The guys in the match do put everything into it, taking some brutal punishment and there’s a whole boatload of weapon shots – the match rating is as much for the guys efforts. Unfortunately the ECW inspired plunder brawl was already looking tired even back then. (** ½) As per the stipulation, Alex Shane comes to ringside to stop Greg Lambert from leaving and him and Ulf proceed to tape him to the ring ropes for the big revenge chair shot until…Shane stabs his partner in the back and turns heel to a huge chorus of boos. Shane’s ascent to be the top heel in the company was to be the predominant story in 2004, and in truth, probably needed, given the void of a heel at the top of the card.