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Pier Fear Report

The atmosphere in the Layton Institute was unrivalled on the 20th November when OPW took over Blackpool for the first time. We all knew what a special night it would be, with tickets sold out, but it really was an amazing thing to experience first hand. It was all for Jordan Banks, and seeing his football team on the stage smiling throughout and enjoying the show was beautiful, as was the incredible atmosphere that the Blackpool community created in his memory. When the wrestling community comes together for a cause that is close to everyone’s hearts, there is no stopping the amazing things that can happen and that was certainly the case here. Join me as I run down the results from the evening.

The opening bout could have easily been the main event, which just about sums up the calibre of all of the matches on this card. It was Ryan Hunter making his Blackpool return to open the show to a loud reception, sporting the Tangerines. Scotty Rawk was shortly after him and wasn’t best impressed with the Blackpool fans, telling them “Shut your traps! Look at the state of you all, it’s no wonder you cheer for Ryan Hunter.” The harsh words didn’t stop the audience from telling Rawk what they thought of him, nor did they stop Hunter breaking out as soon as the bell rang with a flurry of kicks and harsh chops that spilled outside the ring. As the match progressed, it became more evenly matched, as Rawk made use of his characteristically energetic offence, and he thought going to the top rope was going to end it but Hunter proved his strength as he caught him in mid-air and threw him over his head. Hunter appeared to have it won when he reversed Rawk’s kick for a lariat clothesline and powerbomb but Rawk was able to kick out to everyone’s surprise. It was only when he attempted to hit a low blow behind the ref’s back and Hunter caught him before it could connect that Rawk was truly in trouble, as he was sent flipping through the air then hit with Hunter’s finishing running cutter. The roof had nearly blown off the place with this victory and it was only the first match!

The next fight was the women’s match, and one thing that was immediately obvious was that Jennie B’s only supporter in the building was Jackie B. Helena Razor was of course a fan favourite – how can you boo a lady who comes out to the ring with a baby on her hip? Jennie B wasn’t happy as she thought it was the baby who she’d be fighting and was disappointed to find out this was not the case. The referee could not get her to start the match as she bickered with the crowd over why they weren’t cheering for her, and suddenly the Vengaboys rang through the venue and Lana Austin, donning a referee’s shirt, came out. It was announced that she would be the special guest ref and Jennie had yet another thing to complain about. The two women eventually locked up and had an entertaining battle where Helena proved just why they call her the Big Strong Mum with impressive feats of strength, but Jennie fought back showing she is not all talk (but there was a lot of talk). Unfortunately for Helena, she was caught up in the numbers game, with Jackie attacking her. Lana Austin was an alert ref though and caught him in the act, but instead of kicking him out or calling for a DQ, she decided to take a less conventional approach and deck him herself. This distraction meant that Helena could roll Jennie up and Lana jumped in with the quick count, granting Helena the victory.

The first tag team match of the night was up, and you couldn’t have placed two more different teams in the ring. The Freakshow impressed with their dynamic agility and being flanked by Isaiah Quinn meant that they had constant back up and encouragement, something they didn’t gain from the fans. They were more enthusiastic in their support for Mickey Barnes and Nate Reese, and it was hard not to get behind the charismatic team. The size difference played a big part in this bout as Barnes was able to throw Carter halfway across the ring with ease. However, Freakshow used their in-ring smarts to gain the upper hand, performing illegal double team moves when the referee was distracted, leaving Reece in a lot of trouble. He showed off just how resilient he is and eventually got the tag for Barnes to come back with shoulder tackles and a double clothesline that sent both members of the Freakshow flying. Carter was one inch away from hitting the disco light on the back body drop, but this didn’t phase him as he bounced back with a superkick and tagged in Nightmare who landed an impressive Samoan Drop. The drama really started to kick off when Reece went to tag in Barnes, but Quinn stopped it by grabbing him, but was understandably terrified when Barnes pursued him onto the stage. However, this meant that the ref was distracted and the Freakshow were alone in the ring with Reece and had their way with him, and Barnes was too late to break up the pinfall.

This disappointing result didn’t faulter the energy of the fans who were loud in their appreciation for Nick Kutter in the main event of the second half. Jennifer and Byt were as unbothered by this as ever. The two young men went back and forth with technical mat wrestling for much of this bout, exchanging grapples in attempts to wear the other down. Kutter seemed to gain the upper hand early on and had Byt up for a suplex, but Byt was able to reverse and hit a savage chop block which proved to be the turning point. Kutter appeared to be in a lot of pain as the referee checked on him and looked to be out of the match with injury as he was helped out of the ring. He didn’t want to give up, though, and resiliently entered the ring again and attempted to bring back the versatility he had shown us earlier on in the match. Byt was ever opportunistic and targeted the injury brutally and locked Kutter in a knee bar who could not put up with the pain and had no choice but to tap out to avoid ending his own career.

The second half of the show kicked off with a high energy fatal four way where it was impossible to predict a winner from the very start until the final bell. Big Guns Joe and Bailey reignited their team that we have seen in previous OPW shows, including Sandy Beach who wasn’t technically in the match, but due to the no DQ rule of a 4 way match was able to play a part, using this to create an advantage over Rob Drake and Keinen Krishna. Despite this, the latter pair stood their ground and fought back with a plethora of impressive slams from them both. Drake fed off the energy of the crowd as he began to rally early in the match but was caught by Sandy Beach and was attacked on the outside, with this being a familiar theme throughout. But when one battle was outside the ring, there was always another going on inside it, making this fight hard to keep up with. Drake and Keinen weren’t willing to team up as the two crowd favourites and slugged it out in the middle of the ring at one point. There was no doubt that Joe was able to pull out some incredible feats of strength but he wasn’t strong enough to stop Keinen’s reversal which meant that he inadvertently DDT’d Bailey. All four men put up a strong showing but ultimately it was Rob Drake who was able to fight off Sandy Beach and drop Joe in the middle of the ring for the victory.

The next segment had GM Ethan Edwards joining Silent Mark, who announced that the next match would be a “a rising stars match” to showcase the best young talent which is what OPW is all about. It was, of course, none other than Lucas Neon’s time to shine. We never found out who his opponent was supposed to be though, as Andre Dekker stuck to his promise and crashed. “You invited me here, no one in the back is talking to me and you are nowhere to be seen and now you’re giving opportunities to second rate wrestlers?” he complained. “If you’re really wanting an opportunity, Lucas Neon, how about you go one on one with the unforgettable Andre Dekker?” Ethan Edwards was not best pleased with Dekker’s behaviour and told him no, but Neon was quick on the mic to accept the challenge, ever the fighter keen to prove himself. Ethan reluctantly agreed and the exciting match was set, and Neon had to back up his words with high speed attacks to prove he was unafraid of the angry Dekker. Dekker was hot off the press and impossible to stop with his aggression but with the crowd behind him Neon was able to develop some offence, dishing out a cutter, but before he could capitalise Dekker had cleverly rolled out of the ring. Dekker proved to be too much for Neon, brutally shoving him into the ring post and hitting him with a Pedigree for the victory after relentless attacks. This unfortunately didn’t stop even after the bell as Dekker rained the fists down on Neon, refusing to stop. Ethan Edwards re-appeared to try and help but was met with a nasty attack despite having no means to protect himself. Dekker hit him with his finishing move On The Rocks in a sick statement to all of OPW.

Despite all of the action that had already taken place, when the main event rolled around, the Blackpool faithful were even louder than before. The biggest reception was saved for R.P. Davies and Rick Markus, Born Ready, who despite being knocked down by Reece and Rogan repeatedly throughout, kept getting back up and proving their proficiency as a team. Speaking of which, Sinergy worked in cohesion throughout, and this was exemplified in their Dudley Boyz homage. Despite their size, they even went for a double suicide dive early in the match but were caught by Reece and Rogan with vicious steel chair shots to the head. The steel chair appeared to be their weapon of choice as they used it as a dangerous tool throughout, unleashing carnage on all their opponents. Carnage is perhaps the best word to describe this match as a whole - there were big bodies flying all over the Layton and the action spilled in and around the crowd with ladders coming into play and tables being broken and used as weapons. It had everything you love about TLC matches plus more thanks to the charisma of the men involved who engaged the audience throughout. The chaos was thick and fast, with Markus being the one to go through the first table at the hands of Troy Ryan and then thrown to the outside by Anderson Daniels onto Reece and Rogan. RPD was always quick on the attack though and seemed particularly keen to fly in this match, heading to the top rope and taking down two men on the outside at one point and ending the match from the top of a huge ladder, diving straight down onto Daniels who went crashing through a table. He had no chance of kicking out and Born Ready secured an emotional victory in what must be one of the most hard-fought matches of all of these men’s careers. Markus and RPD poignantly held up their Jordan shirts and let his football team in the ring to help them celebrate.

It was a truly heart-warming moment and a perfect end to the tribute, which raised an incredible amount of funds for Brian House Children’s Hospice, a very worthy cause which benefits sick children and their families in the Blackpool area.

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