Its January 2017 and to say it is exciting times in OTT Wrestling is an understatement. This year promises to be the best year yet for the members of this hard working company. With the action of the WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament fresh in our minds and the exposure it brings to Irish wrestling along with the memorable highlights of “The Dream Before Christmas” and “Belfast Invasion” from last month it seems only appropriate to look forward to 2017 with excited anticipation. Sitting Front Row was at both events in December and saw the ever growing confidence of this promotion reach new heights. With that in mind we look back to these cards as well as ahead to what the new year could bring!
The Dream Before Christmas
They couldn’t have billed this anymore accurately than they did. Nobody expected OTT to be able to pull off such a coup but they somehow managed to sign Will Ospreay vs Ricochet to take place smack bang in the middle of The Tivoli in Dublin a week before Christmas. Of course before the highly anticipated main event there was the small matter of the undercard that had to be taken care of first. And what an undercard it was!! The night got off to the most amazing start when Finn Balor (Fergal Devitt) made an unadvertised surprise appearance. Cutting a promo which took fans down memory lane with a quick history of Irish wrestling including Devitt and Paul Tracey’s budding rivalry all those years ago bringing the NWA to Ireland against Joe Cabray who was then a part of Irish Whip Wrestling. Balor spoke of the current scene and how excited he was that everybody was now working together for the betterment of the industry overall. It was an inspired promo which warmed the fans up nicely for the evening ahead. Incidentally Balor’s entrance nearly blew the roof off the Tivoli when fans realised just who was in the building. A special moment in OTT’s ever growing history. After a comedy opener between Justin Shape and the always entertaining Charlie Sterling (formerly Charlie Garrett) which saw Shape go over, it was time for OTT veterans Paul Tracey and Fabulous Nicky to go one on one. Tracey won by pinfall in a solid encounter. Next up was the sleeper hit of the night which pitted The Hangovers, Jordan Devlin & Sean Guinness vs Dave Mastiff & Fabian Aichner. This encounter had all the classic ingredients of a tag team match up with the two smaller guys, Devlin & Guinness, taking on the big men of Mastiff and Aichner. In the end the cunning and speedy combination of Devlin & Guinness proved to be the key to success when they pulled off a big win! Former WWE star Hornswoggle now wrestling as Swoggle teamed up with The Lads From The Flats (Paddy M and Workie) next to take on Angel Cruz and his personal bodyguards Pricks. This match contended the perfect amount of comedy and action that had the crowd cheering non stop from start to finish. A high spot in this encounter saw Swoggle dive from the crowd barrier onto his opponents while the fans cheered feverishly.
Then it got serious as The Gymnasties (Sammie D and Be Cool) defended their OTT Tag Team Titles against The Kings Of The North (Damien Corvin & Bonesaw). Each teams third member (Justin Shape for the Nasties and Dunkan Disorderly for The Kings) were handcuffed together to make sure neither one could interfere on their teams behalf.This match had been built over the last few months to the point that the crowd couldn’t wait for the lock up to start the match. The atmosphere was electric as both teams traded stiff shots back and forth. In the end the match was decided when a huge swerve unfolded and Shape betrayed his buddies to hand the title to The Kings with a double cross. This was so well executed that you could feel the shock among the fans as it happened. It was a well deserved win for The Kings that topped off a super year for the best team on this island.
Finally it was time for the main event of the evening Will Ospreay vs Ricochet. To even try to describe this match wouldn’t do it justice. You simply have to go back and watch it for yourself. The sheer number of flips and dives and kicks are too numerous to count. In the end it was Ricochet who came out the victor in what can only be called a bone fide match of the year candidate for 2016. The only thing that came close to this for me in OTT in 2016 was Scurll vs Smile II. To tweak their previous matches Ospreay and Ricochet took a small portion of this clash into the crowd where Ricochet managed to add a dive OVER part of the crowd to connect with Ospreay at ringside. It was truly a sight to behold from start to finish. Afterwards both men celebrated the Christmas spirit with a toast alongside Swoggle before a dance off ensued between both men and party crashers The Lads From The Flats, Fabulous Nicky and Session Moth Martina! The crowd left with a smile on their faces after this card. The next day we were off to Belfast to continue the OTT party!
The next night was OTT’s debut show in Northern Ireland which took place in Belfast’s Clayton Hotel. As an opening match to warm up the crowd with familiar faces, Tucker vs Luther Valentine was the perfect introduction. Always a crowd favourite in his home town Tucker is a steady, tidy and exciting wrestler to watch perform. Valentine provided him with an ample foil and in the end Tucker went over by pinfall in a solid match. Next up were OTT stalwarts The Ward’s (Rocky Mac & Pa Ward) against Kenny Williams and Be Cool of The Gymnasties with Sammie D at ringside. The Wards went over here in another solid match. Things went up a gear in the third match of the evening as Joe Coffey took on and defeated Fabian Aincher in a hard hitting affair next. A regular in Scotland for ICW, Coffey has made previous appearances for OTT and this time was no different than before. A hard hitter who always delivers he did so again on this night. After that it was time for Swoggle to team up once more with The Lads From The Flats for the second night on the trot, this time to take on the trio of The Body Bros. (Adam Maxted, Brian Abs and CT Flexor). Yet again Swoggle gave the crowd what they came to expect with comedy and excitement thrown in by the ex WWE veteran of nearly ten years. Not to be overlooked Paddy M and Workie also contributed to the enjoyment of this match. The always improving Adam Maxted has to be credited for his part played in this match too, he plays the vain heel to perfection and leads the way for his team every time. In the end his body conscious team fell to defeat to the crowd favourites.
After the intermission things went up a level. First up were the newly crowned OTT Tag Team Champions The Kings Of The North (Damien Corvin and Bonesaw along with stable mate Dunkan Disorderly) against the Social Elite (Paul Tracey, Jordan Devlin and Charlie Sterling). This encounter was unique as the ultimate heel tag team The Kings were treated as heroes in their hometown of Belfast and cheered every step of the way in the fight. Reminiscent of the heel Hart Foundation returning to Calgary for WWE pay per view In Your House 16: Canadian Stampede on July 6th 1997, The Kings wore pink trunks and were greeted as the most over of baby faces here. The crowd was not to be disappointed as the Kings successfully defended their tag title in this 6 man encounter were it had been ruled that the titles could change hands should the Social Elite score a pinfall or submission. Very clever booking here!
In somewhat of a upset Session Moth Martina lost her OTT Women’s title in a Three Way Elimination match next. It was Martina vs Katey Harvey vs Kay Lee Ray. What was strange here was that Martina was the first lady to be eliminated. This left the crowd wondering who the new champion would be but yet it somehow felt strange seeing the recently crowned champion unseated so early into her reign. Harvey would go on to be crowned (a very deserved) new champion. One gets the impression that we haven’t seen the last of the long running Harvey-Martina rivalry and that 2017 will bring a rematch at some point.
Then it was on to the main event of “The Villian” Marty Scurll vs Ricochet. These men had of course met before in the ring but never before in an OTT ring and it had been nearly a year since their last encounter too. This left the crowd excited to see what exactly they had in store. More of a technical mat affair than the previous nights aerial tour de force main event, the action was top notch as the momentum shifted back and forth throughout. In the end Scurll caught his opponent in a flying chicken wing as Ricochet came bouncing back from the ropes in the air. It was a thing of beauty to watch and timed to perfection by both men. After Scurll gained the tap out victory it was his turn to lead the post card dance celebrations. The crowd were happy and you sensed that they would be looking forward to February when OTT returns to Belfast. A quick note on the venue the Clayton Hotel. Although it is a fantastic hotel inside, the layout of the room for a wrestling card was a little out of sorts. It made sense when it was announced that the next OTT card in February would be taking place at a familiar wrestling venue of Pro Wrestling Ulster, Mandella Hall. That venue will provide a similar feel to the Tivoli in Dublin and should help the talent also to showcase their skills that little bit better too.
WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament
The sheer amount of exposure alone that OTT gained from this 2 day WWE event in Blackpool England is incredible. Mentioned by Triple H originally in his press conference when they announced the tournament, this meant a whole new audience will be turned on to the OTT product. It also helped that OTT promoter Joe Cabray was pictured alongside Finn Balor at ringside the first night of the tournament too! This is all good news for Ireland’s biggest and best wrestling company. It shows that OTT can hold its own with the best promotions in the UK. And then there were the participates of the tournament. OTT’s very own Jordan Devlin got past the first round and fell in the quarter finals but not before providing good heel heat for his efforts. Devlin was eliminated from the tournament by eventual winner and OTT regular Tyler Bate. Bate is about to see his stock sky rocket as a result of this win. The man he defeated in the final was of course Champion of OTT, Pete Dunne. A UK native who also regularly appears for OTT, Dunne definitely caught the eye of important people in WWE, including Triple H, so a similar sky rocket in his future is expected now. Next month Mark Andrews makes his debut for the Irish promotion coming off the back of his appearance in this tournament which saw him go as far as the semi-finals. All this means that extra eyes will be on the OTT product going forward and that can only be good news!
As the new year officially gets underway for OTT at next month’s double “Gaff Parties” on February 4th and 5th in Dublin and Belfast, Sitting Front Row looks forward to the year ahead with great excitement. With regular appearances from the same UK wrestlers blended in with the home grown Irish born stars means the roster is at its all time strongest.
Pete Dunne’s experience in the WWE UK Championship will mean it will be interesting to see how long his current reign as OTT Champion lasts now that America is sure to come calling for him. You can’t deny its deserved and nobody can begrudge him should the opportunity come his way. Dunne has worked his socks off for this chance. It also means the rub he gives when he drops the title will be all the more significant when it happens!
OTT Tag Team Champions The Kings Of The North are only warming up. 2016 was a very good year for Damien Corvin and Bonesaw and 2017 promises to be even better for the best team in Ireland. Every great heel team needs worthy baby face opponents to square off against so hopefully they get to test themselves against more great teams from around the world in the next 12 months.
The Women’s Title currently held by the formidable Katey Harvey is in for an interesting run this year. With the female version of Stone Cold Steve Austin, Session Moth Martina, hot on her heels it will be interesting to see where OTT takes its audience in this division.
The first ever WWE UK Champion and regular OTT member Tyler Bate will now become a much more important member of the roster. He now has to be considered main event material which will give the whole title picture a lift. It opens up the possibility of a rematch of Bate and Dunne in the coming months too which everybody will pay to see.
Will we see as much of “The Villain” Marty Scurll in OTT in 2017. Lets hope so! The current Ring of Honour TV Champion is on fire at the moment and as was shown in the booking of Belfast Invasion he is receives top billing most places he goes these days. Who wouldn’t love to see the hotly anticipated clash between Scurll and Dunne happen in OTT in 2017!! It has the potiential to be a match of the year candidate straight away.
Let’s also not forget OTT promoter Joe Cabray’s alter ego Luther Ward. Last seen in September when he lost the title to Pete Dunne he hasn’t been seen since. You would like to think that Ward will pop up again early on this year to challenge Dunne or who ever else may be champion. If and when he reappears he is sure to get a warm welcome from the OTT faithful.
Jordan Devlin did himself no harm whatsoever with his showing in the WWE UK Championship Tournament. This will elevate him and increase his heat with the crowd who always give him a hard time. There’s no denying this young man’s talent and his heel character is always a bright spot on any given OTT card.
The new version of Justin Shape and where his character takes us as a heel this year should be interesting. The men he betrayed, Sammie D and Be Cool of The Gymnasties will be now flying alone and will have to fight their way back into contention, no doubt entertaining us along the way. Charlie Sterling could have a big year ahead of him if he keeps improving at the rate he has so far in his career. Similarly Adam Maxted has all the tools to become a top heel in 2017. His dedication to his craft is second to none and in a recent interview with Sitting Front Row his humbleness was refreshing. Ryan Smile is due to come back from injury in 2017 and hopefully pick up where he left off at WrestleCon 2016. Lets not forget the veterans Paul Tracey, The Lads From The Flats, Fabulous Nicky and Rocky Mac who will surely still hold down regular spots on the card and deservedly so too.
Then there are the special appearances, the big stars who come in from time to time to add a little extra star power. We’ve been treated with UK stars like Will Ospreay, Zack Sabre Junior, Dave Mastiff and Joe Coffey in 2016. On top of that we’ve also had superstar veterans from America like X Pac, Tommy Dreamer, Chris Hero, Abyss, Mr Anderson, Swoggle and Rhyno.
There has also been two Audience With nights presented by OTT featuring Scott Hall and Honky Tonk Man respectively. Again this showcases OTT’s pulling power with retired stars too that still prove they can draw a crowd.
If you have read this far and haven’t been to an OTT wrestling show before do yourself a favour and get a ticket for their event in March (February is already sold out). This promotion always entertains and always delivers above and beyond everything else. 2016 was a great year for OTT and 2017 promises to be even better!!!