HOP:E The Story So Far
This is not so much your standard show review although I shall cover the outcome and main points of the various matches but more the story so far of this exciting new All British Promotion with it’s many unique concepts and different matchtypes and focusing a lot upon the background stories running throughout the shows, even in these early stages HOP:E is coming across as a professionaly put together show with a strong emphasis upon storytelling hence why I have decided to focus this piece more heavily along those lines.
HOP:E shows always commence with the big countdown from 10 and then we get the man who in my book is the most naturally charismatic ring announcer in the business House Of Pain wrestler and DJ Mr Zero Tolerance pictured above walking down to the ring, however we then had the first of what became a pattern during the show of a pause in the proceedings as the camera crew went to the commentary table and filmed the commentators who at that point were Magic Mark Adams and HOP:E Promoter Harvey Dale who previewed the show, this is something I have not seen before at a British show and it emphasises the level of detail and professionalism which HOP:E put into everything that they do as it means that the DVD will be built up into something akin to a WWE taping with the live comments from the commentary table – makes the purchase of the DVD an interesting one, incidentally I would recommend highly anyway as it was an excellent show.
A theme throughout this show was the above House Of Pain tag team the sexiest tag team on the planet (their claim not mine!) icandy who were running a petition to present assumingly to either General Manager Adam Curtis or Promoter Harvey Dale for their inclusion on a future HOP:E show, personally I certainly hope that they do make it, they are wildly entertaining a bit like a decent but funny tag team who once at a House Of Pain Academy show undid my son’s laces and tried to tie them together whilst lying on the floor making out that they were seriously hurt before springing a surprise on their opponents,always interacting, always making you laugh and damn good wrestlers to boot these if they get their way will be an excellent addition to the already strong roster.
G Man then decided to make an appearance, at the first HOP:E show both he and Adam Curtis had wanted the then vacant General Manager role and it was decided in the main event of the night which left Curtis as the victor and the GM and G Man in this case not the GM (get it?) but actually the official bitch of Adam Curtis!
As on this night Adam Curtis was not present due to his need to be on twitter abusing all wrestling fans G Man was under the illusion that he was running the show alas he was soon drowned out by the arrival of this couple.
At the first HOP:E show Adam Curtis was represented by Mark Haskins in the main event so here came Haskins accompanied by his valet on the show his wife Vicky Haskins, Vicky got on the mic and was damn impressive at it by the way and during her speech she made it absolutely clear that it was her who was running the show on the night due to instructions left by Mr Curtis in between his tweeting and she was making the rules and the main event would be her husband Mark up against one of the top stars in the UK Martin Kirby.
We then got into our first match! (I said that it was storyline heavy!!) which featured the previously profiled on Lockup breakout HOP star Jurgen Heimlich who was being managed by Alex Gracie up against Ryan Smile, this was a match that I was looking forward to immensely knowing well the work of both guys and I was also intrigued by the involvement of Mr Gracie, the presence of Alex Gracie did not last long as due to early interference he was sent to the back but that then allowed the remaining two guys to put on a match which I was delighted with, I was really keen for Jurgen in particular to shine on here and he took Ryan Smile to his limits, given that Smile recently fought Sabu in a very close match it shows the level which Jurgen is already at and this young man who trains so hard and is so richly talented will only go from strength to strength and is one to watch but on this occasion the added experience of Ryan Smile made the difference.
Then we moved onto the second match which saw Bubblegum take on ‘The Bastard’ Dave Mastiff.
The tale of this match really was Bubblegum attempting to derail Mastiff with sharp kicks when he could get them in but it was like a ‘kick and run’ policy as wisely Bubblegum had clearly decided pre-match he had better not get to close to this Monster Mastiff. As the match progressed you could understand why as whenever Mastiff got within touching range of Bubblegum he quite literally destroyed him, Bubblegum was tossed around a bit like a toy is when my 3 year old son has a tantrum and in the end Mastiff hit his famous finisher into the corner and poor Bubblegum had to be aided from the scene probably muttering to himself ‘I must never fight Mastiff again, I must never fight Mastiff again…’.
In what I felt was another sign of the professionalism of HOP:E and the detail that they think through again Rob Maltman ‘The Voice Of UK Wrestling’ and one of Lockup’s writers came to the ring and regaled us with what happened at Show 2 of HOP:E which was a match involving Battle Squad Awesome and Robbie X tagging together as faces but at the end of the match Robbie X inexplicably turned on his tag partners and left to a crescendo of boos abusing the crowd as he left.
This was a good touch as the previous show was in Coventry and now we were in Nottingham so clearly there were fans in the building who would have been unaware of this heel turn, no other British promotion that I’ve attended has gone to this level of care and thought into what they do and again with HOP:E being new it really is a tribute to Harvey Dale and his team.
This brought out Robbie X and his tag partner for the night Xander Cooper, we learnt that Robbie X is now to be called Robert X which led to all kinds of abbreviations including Bobby Kiss (get it?) but it is a move which I am delighted to see as we all know how good Robbie X is in the ring but turning heel allows him to show character which perhaps his usual face persona doesn’t and in a flash he went from Robbie X the adorable to all teenaged lad with this remarkable ability who we all love and admire to Robert X this suddenly dislikeable arrogant, bad mannered and disrespectful teenage almost yob character who interacted with the fans as a heel incredibly naturally so this is one to follow.
Then we had the third match which was a six man tag match pitting Max Angelus, CJ Banks and Alex Gracie as the heels up against LJ Heron, Joseph Connors and El Ligero, this was a decent enough match with plenty going on, Angelus appeared to be intent on taking off the mask of Ligero, given that these two have already met up in singles action in HOP:E I suspect that this will become an on running feud, in the end the face team won but not before Connors and CJ Banks had had a real battle and I understand that HOP:E have recently announced that the two of them will now have a best of five series of matches to be held one a show over the next five HOP:E shows, again how often does any British Promotion do this, I am aware of one in EAW between Stixx and Mark Massa which is brewing nicely and each match is growing in ferocity from the previous one and I’d fully expect Connors and Banks to be the same with the intensity levels just increasing by the match.
What happened next was a blur, for those of you unaware for several months now Harvey Dale and Keith Colwill have been having a feud through Social Media which has reached levels I have never seen before including threats of Harvey Dale being shut into a car boot on a dodgy Manchester estate to never be seen again, people thought on HOP:E show one that Harvey had laid out the olive branch to Keith Colwill by inviting him into the ring and thanking him for his contribution to wrestling (as Colwill had just announced his retirement) but then SC Supreme and Bam Bam Barton who form the tag team of Animosity ran in and destroyed Colwill, on Show Two Keith Colwill was inserted into a gauntlet match of which the winner earnt a HOP:E contract, Colwill started off in the ring as the first entrant, he got through the first couple of opponents and was looking impregnable when Animosity under instruction from Harvey Dale ran in and took him out leaving Mark Massa free to pin and eliminate Colwill.
Keith though had his revenge later in the night taking out Animosity when they were tagging with Xander Cooper against Battlesquad Awesome and Robbie X with the most brutal chair shots ever seen in Coventry (or most other places), since then Colwill has been threatening Harvey Dale with violence on the person on a previously unseen scale and out of nowhere moving like a whippet but built like a bulldog Colwill arrived and instantly beat down Harvey Dale.
To be honest beatdown does not do Colwill justice for what he did to Harvey Dale, attempted murder might be nearer the truth, it took most of the roster coming out from the back to stop this savagery but something tells me that this is only the beginning (of the end for Harvey Dale?).
Then we went into the match which turned out to be my personal favourite on the show pitting The Deathmatch specialist Jimmy Havoc up against the multi talented multi versatile Joey Hayes lookalike Kris Travis.
What I enjoyed so much about this one was how the story of the match was teased out, Most people associate Havoc purely with the hardcore stuff although in reality he can wrestle to a very high technical standard being one of the main trainers of the PROGRESS school, Travis who probably is the master of all trades I rate him that highly was playing the part of the mega talented technical wrestler (which he is!), so Havoc entered the ring carrying a steel chair (even though the match was trailed as a standard singles non hardcore) and Travis was saying let’s wrestle, you cannot wrestle etc etc.
They played a few minutes where Travis basically wrestled the fuck out of Havoc simply toying with him until the point was reached where the cocky Travis was lying down inviting Havoc to have a free go then rolling Havoc up to the point where Havoc kicked him then it all kicked off quite literally and was quickly declared a No DQ match with chairs being wrecked, my energy drink can being used round the head, various weapons being pulled from under the ring, tables being broken, the most gruesome shot was a stainless steel frying pan being hit around the head HARD a sound which still resonates around my head now, great stuff!
In the end Travis out hardcored the hardcore specialist Havoc in a brutal encounter, interestingly moving on Travis is now booked to go up against Jack Jester at HOP:E 4, is Travis on a mission in HOP:E to prove that actually it is he and not Jester or Havoc or Maghera who is the hardcore legend of the UK? Time will tell.
After the interval we had the tag match which was a very good one of BattleSquad Awesome vowing revenge upon Robert X and Xander Cooper, during this match Diamond Dave Andrews took one hell of a bump and there was top interaction between Danny Chase and Robert X and Xander Cooper (or Xander Pooper as the crowd chanted) also demonstrated his value so a good little match here which ended in a win for the X guys due to a heelish play where they pretended that Robert X had been taken out by a chair and when the ref turned having been distracted he saw Robert X flat out next to a chair again sure more to come on this one.
We had then T Bone with his valet Melanie Price up against Zack Gibson.
This was an enjoyable back and forth contest eventually won by T Bone although not before he had held in a vertical suplex Zack Gibson for the longest time imaginable what a display of power from the recharged T Bone, however there is some history here in HOP:E, on Show One the massive Barricade who has been collecting bodies for some time on the HOP Academy shows suddenly surfaced and attacked T Bone and on Show Two Barricade appeared when Melanie Price was the valet to Stixx and he kidnapped her.
I was fully expecting this body collecting beast to surface in this match but his arrival was cleverly done, Harvey Dale’s music hit, Harvey struggled down the rampway following his earlier decimation at the hands of Ruffneck (Keith Colwill) and whilst people were looking at Harvey from one of the side doors arrived with the stealth of a black panther and the monstrous power of a black bear the huge massive Barricade, the picture above tells the picture, the guy being thrown is the boyfriend of T Bone’s sister, Barricade was instructed (after attacking T Bone) by Harvey Dale to take out the potential brother in law which he did with erm aplomb!
However the hungry animal Barricade was certainly not finished,smelling a feed he then grabbed T Bone’s hapless sister and dragged her to the ring, slammed her then worshipped his ‘kill’. Pictures say a thousand words they say, please see below!!
What more can I say!
Once we had recovered (well partially) it was onto the final match of the previously mentioned main event between Haskins and Kirby, at this point I shall remind you of the under running theme on HOP:E that ALL matches count, win loss records matter in this promotion, again a unique concept in current British times and so whilst on paper an awesome match up between two of the very best in Europe but also a match which further down the line will make a difference.
This was all I hoped that it would be, some wonderful technical stuff, some quick moving and at times high flying stuff, some good moments building up the next little section of the match, Kirby managed to slap the backside of Mrs Haskins who was ringside and at the end Kirby did also sneak the win which led to Mrs Haskins who remember was the appointed GM of the night to declare the result null and void and wiped from HOP:E’s records again remember my earlier point about win loss records so this does matter if indeed she succeeded in her aim, I can only hope for a rematch!
Overall a strong show which as I say was cleverly produced, contained elements of professionalism rarely seen in this country and very strong storylines running I cannot wait until the next show which is in Coventry on October 5th, looking at the line up already forming I feel that it possesses the potential to be the best yet and given that the first three shows have all been excellent that is an exciting prospect.
I would like to thank the excellent Brett Hadley for the use of his photographs, enjoyed his work? You should do! He can be found on https://www.facebook.com/bretthadley?fref=ts.