We had been building up to this moment for months. Over a year of preparation and delay, of waiting and hoping that this show could be put on. When the 7th of August finally rolled around, everyone was eager to get started and the nervous energy in Morecambe was palpable. However, any nerves faded away quickly once the crowd started to appear at the Carleton. Almost 250 wrestling fans who had waited for 2 years to cheer made their way, and you could tell they had been waiting for a long time as the atmosphere was electric. The Carleton could probably be heard all the way across the Irish Sea. If you missed it, or want to relive it, I’m here to run down the matches and results and give my thoughts.
The first person subjected to the rowdy fans was SilentMark, the amazing ring announcer who, as if it was possible, riled the crowd up even more in preparation for the first match. We also had the commentators announced, Simon Hill and Kurt Johansson who I’m sure did an incredible job and we will all get to hear their analysis of the matches very soon. Out next was general manager Ethan Edwards who was clearly delighted to be back and excited to get the show going. There was no better man to do this than Ryan Hunter who is a veteran of the Morecambe scene and you could tell the crowd had missed him based on their reaction, but this was unfortunately cut short by his scheduled opponent, Big Joe and an injured Sandy Beach who had apparently hurt his arm when “lifting the biggest weights”. Despite the crowd’s attempts to boo them out of the building, Big Joe was undeterred and announced that he was not only the strongest but also the smartest wrestler in OPW, having secured a new tag team partner. It was none other than JJ Webb, a formidable opponent for Hunter, and if he didn’t already know this he soon found out when he was subjected to a three on one attack. It all seemed on the rocks for the main event until a show stopping moment occurred - Chris Ridgeway made his gigantic Morecambe return to make the save, and Hunter had his new tag team partner ready for the huge main event later in the evening.
Before that, though, we had plenty more incredible matches to get through. First off was Rick Markus vs Lance Revera, and this clash of styles did not go amiss with the Morecambe faithful who decided quickly that no-nonsense Markus was their favourite. Revera didn’t take kindly to this, reacting to the crowd’s taunts with taunts of his own.
Despite his fighting talk, he didn’t appear too eager to fight Markus, as he avoided the initial lock up attempts and retreated to the outside, even taking a seat on a poor fan in the front row for refuge. Markus didn’t allow this to last long though and chased him back into the ring, showing off both his strength and agility when stopping Revera’s attempt at a hip toss and instead hitting him with one of his own.
For a while it seemed like Markus had the upper hand, taking Revera outside of the ring on his own terms this time and dishing out some brutal offence much to the fans delight who got a HD view of it all. Revera had some fierce offence up his sleeve too, though, gaining some momentum back and attempting to capitalise on this with a tight chokehold but it wasn’t enough to keep the Cumbrian Outlaw down.
Markus appeared to be making his comeback after hitting a giant spine buster but Revera’s knee put a stop to this after hitting Rick firmly in the face which was followed by a German suplex. However, ever adaptable, Markus caught Revera’s second attempt at the knee strike and reversed it, starting to rally with a flurry of slams and clotheslines. Revera proved his versatility in the ring though when he jumped out with the reversal of his own, but to the delight of the fans Markus was only down for 2. The encouragement of the fans must have spurred him on because not long after this, he caught everyone off guard with an explosive spear which ended the match in a definitive victory for Rick Markus, in the very first OPW match. It was a history making moment and both men proved their worth on the roster - so it was a shame when Revera tried to ruin the moment by going for the attack on Rick afterwards and had to be restrained by the referee.
The audience didn’t have a moment to recover as the next match was a big tag team bout. Out first was the “Big Thicc Bois” Troy Ryan and Anderson Daniels, Sinergy. Morecambe was firmly behind the athletic pair who were full of energy and raring to go. On the other hand we then had the Freakshow who were a bit of a contrast to say the least. The masked Nightmare and the “unhinged” Will Carter freaked everyone in the crowd out with their weird staring at random people, and Isaiah Quinn demanded that we respect his Freakshow which the Morecambe fans were keen to disregard.
As the bell rang, Sinergy were busy riling the fans up when they were attacked from behind by the opportunistic Freakshow.
But Sinergy weren’t on the back foot for long as they displayed their amazing strength and caught them both in mid air. At one point the pair were passing Carter around like a rag doll, with Daniels spinning him around on his shoulders before he got too dizzy and had to pass him to Ryan which, although hilarious, was equally impressive.
A few times we had Isaiah causing a distraction and despite getting taken out many times, he wasn’t put off - probably because of his effectiveness in helping the Freakshow gain the upper hand. Ryan was being worn down when chaos unfolded, meaning the ref was distracted again when Daniels was tagged and was stopped from attempting a pin. However, Ryan showed resolve and fought back, getting the tag in front of the ref and allowing Daniels to come in hot, fighting both members of the Freakshow with his train of destruction. Carter almost fought back but Sinergy couldn’t be denied, hitting their double team finisher for the 1, 2, 3.
Isaiah may have been visibly disappointed but the charisma and talent of his team was obvious - Sinergy were just too much for them on the night.
The next match had everyone talking about who Ty Byt’s mystery opponent would be. There were no hints so everyone was in anticipation up until the music hit. It was Sexy Kev, a familiar face to all of the Morecambe fans who responded in a huge way to this surprise.
Sexy Kev isn’t just a pretty face as he proved by overpowering Byt at first and bringing it to the mat. Despite his aggressive exterior, Byt has technical skill as he proved here - there was no clear better man at this stage. Jennifer predictably played a huge role in this match as she grabbed Kev’s legs allowing Byt to go for the choke on the ropes and then the chop block, leaving Kev reeling in pain. Resourceful as ever, Byt targeted the knee for the rest of the match and with Jennifer antagonising him throughout it was hard to see how Kev could fight back. Characteristically, he of course tried and with the help of the crowd rallying behind him he was able to build some offence but his knee injury stopped him from capitalising. It wasn’t the end yet though and Kev managed to drop Byt all the way over the top rope to the hard floor, and back in the ring hit a huge super kick and a German suplex with the bridge but Byt couldn’t be kept down.
Byt then went back to the injury and attempted the submission on the ankle lock which wasn’t enough but Jennifer’s interference meant that Byt was able to lock in the Rat Trap and the ref had no choice but to end the match.
Byt’s dominant victory didn’t change the fans’ minds though, as Sexy Kev was applauded as he left the ring.
The main event for the first half of the show was coming up. As Ethan Edwards had announced earlier in the night, Lizzy Evo could not make it and Alexxis Falcon was injured so unfortunately this became a one on one match - but it was still bound to be amazing, and Falcon was here to address the crowd as a returning hero. She welcomed the fans back, and emotionally recalled how she had started her career in Morecambe when her hair was less red. The one thing that hasn’t changed, she said, was that “it’s still real in Morecambe”. She can’t wait to “show the people who gave me my first chance just how much I’ve improved” and wants to become the first ever woman to be a 3 time champion in Morecambe and the first ever OPW women’s champion. Who knows when this will come true; hopefully by the next show we will know more about the women’s championship picture and get to see Falcon in action, but for tonight she was on the commentary desk.
Out first was Gia Adams who was a fan favourite as expected followed closely by Taonga who was not, to say the least. She didn’t care though, exhibiting her sassy attitude as soon as she came out of the curtain. She did try to convince them that she was more deserving of their support but was firmly ignored.
To begin the match, Gia beat her in a battle of strength but it wasn’t long before Taonga was showing her technical skill by gaining the upper hand and making the most of the refs count to wear Adams down. The underhand tactics just angered Adams though, and she was riled on to fight back with a huge slam into the corner which got her on the mat for a huge leg drop, but only for the 2 count.
Taonga was back on the attack and went as far as to cover Adams ears to stop her from being encouraged by the chants of the fans. It wasn’t successful though as Adams wasn’t down for long, hitting back with some massive chops. Getting frustrated, Taonga warns Gia that “you will never be me” but Gia doesn’t want to as she rallies back and nearly gets the 3 count off a huge side slam.
However, as Adams had her up ready to finish the match, Taonga raked the eyes and was able to hit the kill switch for the win.
The fans were angry at Taonga for this sketchy victory but it didn’t stop them from cheering Adams as she made it out.
After the interval, we had an appearance from stand up comedian Chris Brooker who had a few words on the mic. First, he was confirming that it is still real in Morecambe and the fans are the real stars. It took a strange turn when he then called the fans simple, said that they have no money and it's amazing that they choose to spend it here, and he wants to give back to improve Morecambe like Eric Morecambe did. He said there is something big coming up on the next show, so God knows what that could be….
Brooker was booed out and it was time for another match. This time it was Scotty Rawk coming in to another unfriendly reception - hardly surprising as he got on the mic and started talking about how Morecambe is “a second rate Blackpool”. He then claimed that his opponent was “a second rate boxer stepping into my world”, and RP Davies was soon out to prove him wrong. He had probably the biggest reaction of the night so far when he emerged from the curtain despite it being his Morecambe wrestling debut.
To start the match, Rawk unsurprisingly started antagonising RPD, criticising him for stepping into the ring and questioning “How about a wrestler stepping into a boxers world?” and going for the punch, but hurt his hand proving his cockiness will get him nowhere.
RPD’s offence showed he has clearly done his homework and was well prepared for this moment, including pulling off an impressive hurricanrana. The action spilled to the outside and Rawk got caught with a huge sucker punch to the gut, but he fought back with a chop that echoed throughout the Carleton.
Rawk clearly had the upper hand at this point and nearly broke RPD’s shoulder with a painful looking submission. He then hit a running senton and had him in a rear chin lock which must have had RPD wondering if he had bitten off more than he could chew. Rawk headed to the top rope and attempted a moonsault but RPD moved at just the right moment.
If he was feeling like he was losing confidence he didn’t show it, using this as a chance to kip up and hit a flurry of clotheslines and a spiking DDT. Rawk nearly flipped it his way and made it up to the top rope but RPD caught him in mid air with a huge elbow strike which no one would have got up from. The huge reaction he got blew the roof off the place in his successful debut. RPD tried to top it off with a respectful handshake to Rawk, but he declined, and sulked off backstage as RPD took to the mic to thank the fans for being behind him.
He then dropped a huge bombshell as he announced that a OPW title tournament would be occurring at the next show and he was the first entrant. The anticipation for Stormy Waters began right here and we have to believe that RPD has a good chance of being the victor.
However, we had no time to digest this before Andre Dekker had appeared out of nowhere and launched a brutal attack on RPD. It took all of the security guards to separate the two and drag Dekker out of the building at the demand of Ethan Edwards. Is Dekker going to be at Stormy Waters too? For the sake of OPW management and the safety of the wrestlers, I hope not.
Now it was the battle of the generations. Lucas Neon, despite making his Morecambe debut, was met with a big cheer as his energy was infectious. Then, Mark Meltzer came out to the ring to bagpipes sporting a kilt and Roddy Piper shirt in tribute to one of the greatest of all time. This along with the fact that he is a returning Morecambe legend meant that the fans were behind him too, so it was a difficult one for the audience to decide who they wanted to win. It was a good job then that it was back and forth, and perhaps surprisingly fast paced considering the size and age difference. Neon dished out some hard strikes and a cutter, but Meltzer showed his experience as he rolled out of the ring preventing a pin.
Suddenly, music hit and the Freakshow with Quinn in tow came out and sat on the stage - eating crisps and watching the match, no less. The two in the ring were distracted for a moment but returned to each other, with Meltzer proving he has strikes of his own and hitting offence from the second rope. However, when Neon later himself made it to the second rope, he was taken out handing Meltzer the victory. Experience won this bout, but Quinn clapping and seemingly impressed by what he saw made this strange and left me wondering what the Freakshow’s intentions are.
After such an action packed show, it was hard to believe there was still a main event to go.
There was a huge fan reaction for Chris Ridgeway and Ryan Hunter which was expected for the returning Morecambe legends but still goosebump-inducing.
Before the action could start, there was a war of words between Webb, Joe and the crowd which was to be expected from such big personalities. It wasn’t long before it went to the mat though, with Webb showing off some impressive technical skills to prove the fans wrong. Big Guns Joe, on the other hand, was reluctant to get in the ring and perhaps understandably as Ridgeway was on fire - when he finally got his hands on him, he caught him with a chop that could be heard throughout Morecambe.
Ridgeway and Hunter worked like a well oiled team, pulling off cooperative moves. However, their opponents showed smarts to isolate Hunter and not allow him to get the tag. Sandy Beach interfered to help with this but fortunately was caught by the referee, who threw him out much to everyone’s delight. This was then Hunter’s chance to make his comeback, hitting a back body drop on Webb and heading to the top rope. Joe was quick to try and stop him but Hunter fought him off, only to then be thrown off by Webb.
The chaos was never ending in this match, as Ridgeway attempted to get in the ring to help his opponent which distracted the ref and meant Joe and Webb could perf
orm some illegal double team moves behind his back. Just as it appeared that Ridgeway would finally get in the ring, Webb cleverly pulled him off the apron. It really did appear that the end was near as Joe had Hunter in a half Boston crab, but Hunter showed his unbelievable resilience by refusing to tap. Ridgeway jumped in to help giving Hunter the chance to eventually tag him in in a red hot way. He went immediately on the attack with a huge flurry of kicks to both Joe and Webb. Everyone in attendance thought that a double submission was in order as both Ridgeway and Hunter had submissions locked in but it wasn’t to be just yet. The action was fast and it continued, with Joe thinking he was about to gain the victory at one point and taking down his straps only to be met with a harsh chop. It was then that Hunter was able to hit the hook kick for the victory and the biggest reaction of the night that was much deserved.
As a true local hero, Hunter then took to the mic to address the crowd before they headed home. He thanked them for everything before announcing himself as the second entrant for the championship tournament which is already shaping up to be something you don’t want to miss. Hunter claims he is going to become a 2 time champion in Morecambe - but will he? Only time will tell, and you have to buy a ticket for Stormy Waters to find out.