After six months of action, from hundreds of competitors, all from nine countries across four continents, WhatCulture Pro Wrestling (WCPW) is down to the Round of 16 of the Pro Wrestling World Cup. Night 1 of the finals will feature some huge matches, including Rey Mysterio versus Will Ospreay, Jay Lethal facing off against Zack Sabre Jr, and a battle between Lucha Underground alumni as Ricochet does battle with Angelico. WCPW mainstay Joe Coffey is also part of the Round of 16, but with would-be opponent Michael Elgin unable to compete, will he have a bye to the quarter finals, or will another competitor be found? Other competitors in the tournament include, Hiromu Takahashi, KUSHIDA, Penta El Zero M and WCPW mainstays Joe Coffey and Travis Banks, and a huge six-man tag team match will see Marty Scurll team up with War Machine to face WCPW super group The Prestige.
+ Rey Mysterio vs Will Ospreay (Round of 16 Match): the ropes were tighened before this match begun, and with good reason, because this was a pheomenal high flying affair. The back and forth action, with counter-after-counter from both men was fantastic, with a final few minutes that might well leave you speechless. This was easily the mastch of the show, and certainly deserved to headline the show
+ Ricochet vs Angelico (Round of 16 Match): for the second time, following the Hiromu/Kid matchup, the commentary really added to the match. I’m a fan of Angelico, despite my limited exposure (Lucha Underground and various supershows from the Indies, mostly with Jack Evans), but Ricochet is simply phenomenal no matter where he performs. Some fantastic sequences were the lead up to a handful of incredible big moves, but I also saw a few things I don’t know I’ve seen before. This would have been match of the night on most other shows
+ Hiromu Takahashi vs Lucky Kid (Round of 16 Match): this was a good match, made even better by some surprisngly good commentary. The discussions of the mental state of each competitor was punctuated by some international action, as the hard strikes of New Japan and the more technical stylings of GWF, in Germany, made for a good spectacle. One big German Suplex was particularly impressive. The ending was somewhat anti-climactic (maybe a referee miscue?) but it was still a pretty good match
+ Penta El Zero M vs Bad Bones (Round of 16 Match): Bad Bones looked fantastic against the (most likely) more well known Penta(gon Jr.). Penta’s gunshot-like chops were the highlight here, though Bad Bones does have an impressive physical presence about him. This was another good-but-not-great match
+ Mike Bailey vs Travis Banks (Round of 16 Match): the first match of the show had some real international flair, as New Zealand’s Banks fought against Bailey, a Canadian. Bailey has always been a low-key favourite of mine, and he looked really good here, as did Banks. This was an exciting match, and a good start to the show
– Jay Lethal vs Zack Sabre Jr (Round of 16 Match): Lethal had a bit of a gut showing, especially when compared to Sabre’s lanky-er frame. This was a technical versus all-rounder battle, but it never felt like anything special. A short ‘this is awesome’ chant come out of nowhere, and a CM Punk chant was shut down quickly, with Sabre not particularly pleased at the crowd. The commentary was putting this over as one of the greatest matches (as is their job, sure) but it never clicked for me, and I’d call it a disappointment
– KUSHIDA vs Kenny Williams (Round of 16 Match): this was almost a mirror battle, as the two Back to the Future themed wrestlers went at each other move for move. KUSHIDA busted out a Cattle Mutilation (as in, the old finisher of one Bryan Danielson), and Williams had a few tributes to former Indie stars himself. This was an okay-ish match, but it was clear the two had not worked together before, and there may have been a language barrier between the two, owing to a few smaller timing issues
– Joe Coffey Segment: the idea of whether Coffey would have the night off, and therefore a bye into the quarter finals, was the idea here, and it got it’s answer, quite definitively. I am not a fan of the way it ended up going, whether that be Coffey getting a bye or his eventual opponent, and frankly I’d have prefered it not have gone this way in the first place
– War Machine (Hanson & Raymond Rowe) & Marty Scurll vs The Prestige (Joe Hendry, El Ligero & BT Gunn): War Machine are monsters, the Prestige are (supposedly) an elite unit, but it was Ligero’s physical comedy that was my personal highlight. Some after the match shenanigans helped, but for the most part this never felt like anything special, despite having some of my more liked guys in it
– all throughout the show there were some minor audio issues, especially as announcer David Bradshaw would get too excited and loud.
> Apparently Hiromu Takahashi advanced via a win over Ryusuke Taguchi, and KUSHIDA defeated BUSHI. I didn’t see either match, but I want to try and seek them out
> The crowd was unbearable for the final two matches (Lethal/Sabre and Ospreay/Mysterio), with chants of “Yes”, “Si”, “AH” for Tozawa and even some of Nakamura’s theme song.
Should you watch this event: I have only tangentially kept in touch with WCPW since Drew Galloway lost the title, but I knew of this worldwide tournament from its beginning. It is a testament to WCPW, and all competitors, that the tournament has worked so smoothly, both up to and through this event. The main event was fantastic, with other good showings from Ricochet, Angelico, Takahashi and Lucky Kid, the last of which I admit I was not familiar with, but certainly want to see more of. This was a good show, from start to finish, and worth watching for the rest of the tournament.