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TonyPulis'Cap posted a topic in November 2004This match stems from events in the build up to Uprising III, and then events from that show itself. At BU3, Ulf Herman had made his big return to the FWA after being out for a year following being turned on by Alex Shane. His return came during the Williams/Shane FWA title bout, but rather than get his revenge on Shane, his interference backfired and he inadvertently cost Williams the title. That’s your intrigue for this match – can they get along against Shane’s henchman? Williams also wants revenge on Legend (Just Joe of WWF fame) for bloodying him on the FWA title at Shane’s behest two months before this. Indeed, before the match Legend tries to foster dissent between Williams and Herman by reminding Doug of what happened in the previous shows title match, but the faces get the shine at the beginning and clear house despite a tease of them almost colliding again. Herman was massively over with FWA fans, but I think the polite way to describe is his in ring skills would be ‘limited’. Doug works the vast majority of the match for his team, which is understandable given how much of a class above he is the rest of the guys. The match is much more storyline/angle advancement than workrate, and while the story they are trying to tell – Doug keeps getting isolated and beat up two on one due to Herman’s short temper and him constantly trying to get in the ring illegally, playing up the fact Williams has good reason to be pissed off at him – makes sense, there’s just no interesting work to keep you invested. Both the heels are very bland with their offence, and there’s little to get inspired by; the heat segment on Doug feels very repetitive and much longer than it actually is. Ulf’s overness with the crowd does mean that when he finally gets in they are still behind his hot tag, but just as you hope the match can get some momentum, there’s an odd sequence where everyone misses moves off the top rope. It's really jarring and doesn't fit with the vibe of the match. We then run through a series of nearfalls, with Legend in particular really nailing Doug with a dragon suplex. As is his way, Ulf can’t help going for the weapons, and the stamping on Stixx with the rail looked particularly brutal. Just as at Uprising, Herman’s hardcore temper ends up costing them when in the confusion Legend is able to stop the Chaos Theory with a chair shot and then hit a Flatliner on the chair for the win. After the match Herman cleans house with the chair, leading to an accusation from Doug that he was the one that hit him. The match is more about storyline development than match quality, but even in saying that it is very laboured at times, with the heels bringing little excitement with their work. There was a consistent story to what the guys were doing, it’s just they weren’t doing it in a particularly interesting way. (**)
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.
I’ve talked over the previous shows I’ve reviewed about the rivalry between The Family and Shane/Herman, and the increased violence in the feud being something that the UK scene had not been used to. As you will see from the stipulation for this match, clear inspiration is being drawn from ECW. I enjoyed the two teams last match at Vendetta – a tag team first blood match – which had the right kind of BS finish that builds heat on top of being a fun match, but this in contrast is a real mess and comes with an ending that even Dusty Rhodes would balk at in terms of screwing over the fans and trying to be too clever. This is Shane and Herman’s last shot at the belts while The Family are champions, with the violence escalating to where we have two barbed wire baseball bats hanging from the entrance way. The fact there is a somewhat convoluted rule whereby a fall needs to happen before the bats come into play, and then another fall after that to decide the match is a bad sign of things to come. As previously, The Family mix and match their numbers to defend the belts. In all of these matches Paul Travell has been a constant, given his propensity from show to show to take more and more punishment, but this time he is joined by Raj Ghosh, the newest member, who had cost Shane and Herman the first blood match the previous month. Unfortunately while it makes sense from a storyline perspective, Ghosh is really out of his element in a match with weapons. Greg Lambert, the Family’s manager, in his book looking back at this event talks about how Ghosh never seemed to want to be part of the group and didn’t want to be taking part in hardcore brawls, and you can definitely tell. He looks really off his game and you can see several spots where Travell is constantly trying to get him more involved. The first fall is a standard tag team match and tells the familiar story of The Family/Showswearers matches of the smaller heels being outmatched by their bigger opponents in a fair fight but cheating to get the advantage. Sadly the action is pretty sloppy throughout and it’s clear everyone is just killing time until the barbed wire bats come into play, which they do when following Shane accidently taking out the ref when temporarily blinded, a replacement ref runs in to give Shane the first pinfall. This is important and comes into play at the conclusion of the match. The increased violence with the barbed wire bats means that we get some welcome intensity and there are some nasty looking shots with them. In particular, Travell is busted open to where you can see the blood from his head dripping onto the wooden floor. The brawling on the outside between Shane and Travell is more inspired as the two have good chemistry, but once again the Herman section in the ring is him doing his New Jack rip off routine to diminishing returns. The finish of the match is a real killer, not helped by following the screwy finish in the Storm/Harmrick match directly before it. Sadly it’s the sort of booking that would start to have an impact long term on fans investment in the FWA. In their last shot at the titles, and after all the instances of The Family playing the numbers game, Shane and Herman seemingly win the titles to a good pop when Shane hits his 1 Night Stand finisher on Travell off the top rope into drawing pins…until, that is amid a fair bit of confusion, FWA head ref Steve Lynskey reverses the decision due to him being the assigned ref to the contest and Shane taking him out during the first fall which wasn’t No DQ - thus the titles go back to The Family. If wrestling was a real sport, I’m not sure this decision or interpretation of the rules by the official would stand up to much scrutiny… It all leads to Shane making one last challenge to The Family for British Uprising now they can no longer challenge for the tag titles – if he and Herman lose then he is gone from the FWA forever, but if they win then The Family’s manager Greg Lambert has to take a Herman chair shot. I’ve long felt that wrestling, from seemingly the dawn of time up to the current day is obsessed with building the heat to make a payoff even bigger, but so many times the hoped for cathartic ending comes too late after fans have become fed up with being pissed off. This was one of those occasions. There is a big storyline coming with Shane and a major change in direction, but this was a big mess and not a particularly good match to boot. (* ½)
[2003-06-22-FWA-Vendetta] The Family (Scott Parker & Paul Travell) vs Alex Shane & Ulf Herman (First Blood Match)
TonyPulis'Cap posted a topic in June 2003This is the latest chapter in what was arguably the most violent feud the UK scene had seen at this point. Following on from them defeating Shane and Herman (affectionately known as the Showswearers) for the tag titles, different combinations of The Family (there were five in-ring members at this stage) had been trying to fight off the challenge of the former champs in matches around the country where the violence would continue to escalate. These matches place on the card was very much to cater to the audience brought up on ECW and Attitude era brawling. The month before at Frontiers of Honor these teams had been part of a No DQ 6 Person Tag Match that I didn’t like very much at all. It was too long and too much of a mess with lots of sloppy moments. This though is much better – more tight and compact, and with a clearer storyline running through the match. This is First Blood rules meaning that both members of a team have to be bleeding for their opponents to win. The Family is represented by Paul Travell and Scott Parker who were probably the best in-ring members of the stable at this stage. As you can imagine, there are a lot of weapons shots in this and general chaos, and while at times it drifts off into WWF Hardcore division stuff, the intensity of the match keeps it from descending into your basic plunder brawl. For a lot of the match there are effectively two separate singles matches going on; Ulf brutalising Parker in the ring in a New Jackesque manner featuring various items including bizarrely a garden gnome, while more interestingly Shane and Travell brawl around the building. Shane in particular really puts over Travell’s offence taking a swinging neckbreaker on the stage, a rana off the stage and a Russian Legsweep into a brick wall. Parker is the first to bleed, followed by Shane who gets busted open via the ever popular cheese grater, meaning that really, both teams should’ve been trying to isolate the man on the opposing team not bleeding. Shane is taken out of the match by a crazy looking tornado DDT off the ring apron through a wooden board but with Parker basically dead on the outside, it comes down to Ulf and Travell. In the chaos the referee ends up being taken out by an errant Herman chair shot, meaning that as is the way in these matches, there is no ref to see Travell when he starts bleeding. We then get a second ref, but one of the other family members Ian DaSciple, coming into the ring to switch places with Travell. All of this isn’t executed as smoothly as it could be – there is a long period of the second ref having to look the wrong way – but there is a satisfying intertwining of different stories in the finish. Earlier in the night, we would see the first of two Chekhov's Gun’s, the rather random awarding of a glass decanter by the Broxbourne Hall management to the FWA for their series of sold out shows there. All very odd, but it comes into play when Lambert brings it into the ring to use, only for it to be taken away by Raj Ghosh. If you’ve watched wrestling before you’ll know that Ghosh then turns and joins the Family by smashing the glass into Herman, making him bleed and giving the win to the Tag Team Champions. While some may find a lot of the brawling clichéd, and while some of the execution was a little off at times – the sequence where the second ref is just standing watching the crowd for no reason while the finish is happening is very jarring – I enjoyed this match, for mixing violent and chaotic action, with an interweaving of different wrestlers character arcs and motivations. Long term, too many screw job finishes start to drive some fans away, and while we will chart that, at this point, this felt like it worked and helped to introduce a new member to the lead heel stable. I think they should also get points for actually going to the trouble earlier in the night of setting up why a glass decanter would be at ringside. Perhaps a half star is for continuity. (***)
The Most Ultimate of Warriors goes to germany and do battle for the Power Wrestling Trophy (amazingly pronounced by Manfred Koch). This is more fascinating than good - altough it's probably one of the more fun matches the Warrior has been in. If you are not familiar with Ulf Herman: he is basically the most pro-wrestler looking dude to come out of germany. I mean, if you had a sitcom or something where a guy who you look at and makes you go "Yep that is a pro wrestler" was supposed to appear as a spoof pro wrestler Ulf would be the guy. This is from some commercial tape - I assume the CWA organizers were getting desperate and trying to cash in on the WWF fanbase - this match didn't even have rounds, altough there are still fines. I am sure the Warrior immediately regreted smashing Herman's head into the announce table when he was given a fine of 200 Deutsche Mark. The Warrior is all energetic and Herman and the insanely hype crowd makes this really fun. Herman busts out dives and actually gets to have somewhat of a match against Warrior, but ultimately falls victim to the Ultimate Splash. Also the commentating Peter William does is hilarious, if you speak the language. You can tell when Peter is really hype for a match (e.g. Finlay vs. Mile Zrno) and when he is trying his darndest to sell something.