OTT Fifth Year Anniversary
October 26, 2019
We’re in Dublin, Ireland at the National Stadium. OTT has brought me here with their storytelling capacity and their slick production associated with it.
This is the second show I’ve seen this week that’s done a grand job of utilizing dancing girls.
Trent Seven, Mike Bailey & Calum Black vs. Cara Noir, Omari & The OJMO
Is this the Fight Club: PRO produce match plus Calum? Cara’s entrance is sheer magic and the other lads help with the reactions.
Bailey looks freaked out in the corner. Everyone in this match has been to the Marty Scurll school of catching as both Calum and OJMO come flying over the top and are completely missed. This group don’t click as well as you’d hope but everyone looks energized and there’s so much talent involved it can’t flop outright. Bailey and Cara had a great match in FCP the month before so they’re able to throw together some great sequences. It’s palpable that people aren’t familiar with Cara’s in ring so the reaction isn’t there for Swansong, nor Swan Woo. They almost work around Calum Black until the finish where he picks off OJMO for the win. Bailey did the bulk of the work for his team, which is no bad thing.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Terry Thatcher vs. Eddie Kingston
Thatcher is famous for being scarred up with chops and he comes out here with a red target drawn on his chest. Over to you Eddie. Terry is a veritable cruiser so there’s a big size difference. Eddie is capable of telling that story but it’s not Kingston at his best. Naturally Terry gets his chest reddened by chops but that target doesn’t help with the visual. The work isn’t great either with a lack of chemistry. The match does benefit from the hot crowd but even they struggle to get invested. They drift through the match and Thatcher hits his neckbreaker to finish. The crowd’s pop feels like an approval of Thatcher in general rather than this match in particular.
Final Rating: **1/2
OTT No Limits Championship
Scotty Davis (c) vs. LJ Cleary
Two very popular young Irish lads going head to head. They do a good job of establishing parity before bringing the ladder into play and also establishing their familiarity. They slowly build momentum and LJ pops the crowd with a flying DDT through the ladder. The match does suffer a little bit from them setting spots up and not being able to change it on the fly. There’s also a lack of intensity, as if they’re thinking about the next spot rather than living in the moment. As with many Irish matches the shortcomings are papered over by an excitable crowd and well built characters. They build nicely to the Gator Roll off the ladder, which is a sensational spot and it works as Scotty using one of his regular moves but off the ladder. Scotty pulls the belt down and that’s it. I like the basic nature of this where they didn’t do a bunch of wacky shit but rather built slowly and only did one massive spot right at the finish. Very reminiscent of HBK/Razor circa 1994.
Final Rating: ****
OTT Women’s Championship
Valkyrie (c) vs. Katey Harvey
Katey has been off for 8 months with two broken arms because Veda Scott doesn’t know how to catch. Valkyrie works the arm from the start, which is smart and gets the crowd into the storyline.
Katey looks a little the worst for wear after 8 months out and there’s definitely ring rust. Valkyrie is not in the position, yet, to control a match on her own. She has a go at it but it comes up short. The match uses CT Flexor and Debbie Keitel at ringside and leans heavily on the arm storyline. Any time they deviate from that the quality suffers. Harvey’s comeback win is a nice moment and the crowd appreciate it but this match was rotten.
Final Rating: *1/2
B Cool vs. Orange Cassidy
B Cool prepares the crowd and tells them he wants them to react big for him like if “it was Hogan coming out before he was a racist”. Coolamania is running wild!
They manage to run a very slow International and the Cassidy material is over huge. They mess around for ten minutes and then Cool eats the Orange Mist and is rolled up for the loss. Sadly that means no title shot for B Cool.
Final Rating: ***
There should be a Guerrillas of Destiny match here and I did watch it, sort of, but I have no opinion. So let’s skip ahead.
Grizzled Young Veterans vs. More Than Hype
Winners gets a tag title shot. Wait, are British Strong Style still tag champs? Holy shit. Incidentally you shouldn’t run tag matches back to back. Booking 101. Nathan Martin’s hair advancement is quite something. Has he been at the minoxidil? Gibson gets a pleasant reception, as always. GYV have had an array of great matches this year but this isn’t one of them. They don’t click with MTH at all. Especially Drake who is so slick and exciting at his best. He reminds me of the guy Progress tried to push in singles when he was known as “Piss Break” at the Ballroom here. The crowd are just wanting the main event at this point. Drake still shines coming off the ropes but he’s not as crisp as usual.
Psycho Nathan clears house and taps out Drake with a half crab. This felt like a far less important match than it should have been on paper.
Final Rating: ***1/4
OTT World Championship
Jordan Devlin (c) vs. David Starr
The build for this is insanely good. Devlin, the “Irish Ace”, has been the most beloved home grown wrestler in decades but now he faces his biggest challenge. Starr has undermined him, as his friend, but he makes excellent points, as any great public speaker does. So much so that the bulk of the fans now look at union-driven Starr as the hero in this. The promos have been sensational, the video package is amazing and before anyone has even touched I am all in on this.
I’ve never seen Starr so focused. If he’s aware the crowd are there he doesn’t acknowledge it. The crowd is rampant and there are deep divisions here. It’s like Brexit all over again. A clash of ideologies! Corporate America vs. Independent Wrestling. The reaction for Devlin floors me. People are cheering but you cannot hear them. The crowd make it abundantly clear why they’re jeering him. “You sold out”.
Once the match gets underway it’s heated, frenetically paced and hard-hitting. Both guys have improved so much over the past year. This is smoother and more intense than anything that’s come before. The fact that they’re more evenly matched allows Devlin to bring his full range, which makes this feel more important and more worthwhile than the WALTER matches. Starr’s selling is immaculate. Devlin’s frustrations with his own fans is palpable. It’s like Wayne Rooney at the 2010 World Cup, moaning about a lack of support against Algeria.
These guys always have good matches but what’s usually missing is the gravitas of the main event (I see them in Wolves all the time, having great little undercard matches) and the heat of the crowd. That’s all here in spades. So it’s got just about everything. The work is there, the heat is there and the match feels important. Both Starr and Devlin are prepared to do daft things to make their matches better and they do that here too. Devlin gets busted open over the eyebrow with an errant punch and Starr revels in the moment, licking blood from his hands. They have the crowd in the palm of their hand to the point where Starr asks for the crowd to stand and they do!
They hit into a hot stretch of Starr hitting all his finishes (Kaepernick, Product Placement included) but they don’t feel like the end.
Starr, unable to keep Devlin down, then opts to cheat. Which is within his capacity as a babyface. He can probably find an argument to support his actions. Which is the great thing about having someone with Starr’s promo capacities. I also like that when Devlin is tempted to cheat Starr calls him a corporate pig and wants him to prove him right. If Jordan had cheated Starr still wins!
The ideas at play with who does what and who provokes what is near perfect. Starr is responsible for all of Devlin’s cheating by doing it first but it’s Jordan who’s booed and he deserves it. It’s been a masterful angle to get to this moment. Devlin’s kick-outs at the end are unreal. The kick out at one from the lariat is amazing but the follow up gets it done and Starr is world champion.
With highly touted Irish matches there’s always an element of the crowd making the match better but this was near perfect and it used the crowd as another prop for the overall story. I love that there was no screwy booking and they trusted the wrestlers to get the job done on their own. And boy did they ever. Starr can talk you into the building but at the end of the day his wrestling is what makes you come back. Jordan Devlin is a special talent and showed his true range here.
I said it last year; the first company to put their belt on Starr is going to reap the rewards. I have certainly been proved right here. This felt like a moment. The birth of a revolution. The crowning of the true king. Starr can work this title run any way he pleases and it’ll be a success. As for Devlin; his time was truly incredible and he took OTT to new heights as the Irish Ace. He’s stepping away for a bit now and that makes sense because how can you top this?
Final Rating: *****
I literally don’t remember the undercard to this show, which is no knock on the undercard itself but rather praise of an utterly sensational main event. I sometimes feel that the Irish matches that get big hype don’t always come across as MOTY on tape. This did and the storyline that built to it was so good that they had this incredible foundation before they even started. The Starr/Devlin/WALTER angle that OTT have had going for the past two years has been magical. How can they top it? I’m sure Starr can continue to talk the fans into the building as champion but it’s hard to imagine who he’ll compete against that can bring the same level of intensity and quality that Devlin brought. Watch the main event here. It’ll be on people’s end of year ballots and deservedly so.