If I’m completely honest, my favourite part of Southside Wrestling’s Raw Deal 2 came at the start of the second half, as the partisan crowd voiced their objections to Stixx and his very own voice of the voice of the voiceless Harvey Dale.
Rather than being outraged and offended by the really rather pathetic homophobic abuse, the pair did what any self-respecting Punk/Heymanesque duo should do, and hugged instead.
And much as I like El Ligero, I was sneakily pleased that Stixx picked up the win as well.
This was my first trip to Southside, hosted this time by the rather irritatingly jobsworth folk at the Stevenage Arts and Leisure Centre, in an impressive hall with excellent production (despite some errant microphones).
I was keen to see Ted DiBiase, who was managing Mark Haskins in the opener against his Screw Indy Wrestling buddy Nathan Cruz, and Tommy Dreamer, closing the first half by tagging with Max Angelus versus the Predators. (Of course, as always with imports who are cramming in multiple appearances in a very short space of time, their being there didn’t make any storyline sense, and they were only there for half the evening because they had to get over to Sudbury for Pro Wrestling EVE, but hey ho.)
Sandwiched between the two was a very brief match between the returning Martin Kirby and ‘Loco Imbecil’, and a talk show segment hosted by Dale and featuring MK McKinnan and Noam Dar, to build the main event between the pair. Strangely, this dragged a little; both wrestlers, still short on years albeit with growing in-ring experience, did not seem entirely at ease with their microphones.
After Stixx and El Ligero opened the second half, I really enjoyed Mad Man Manson v T-Bone – I’ve liked these two when I’ve seen them at PCW, and this match was a bit of light relief. Manson was the Buttons to T-Bone’s Wicked Stepmother, if you’ll forgive the metaphor, all hapless and hilarious in the face of evil; the small children in the audience were crowding round the ring in order to shout advice to the straitjacketed one, and both wrestlers were revelling in the pantomime they were telling.
A quick match-up between Darrell Allen and Speedking champion Robbie X later, and it was down to McKinnan and Dar for the last event of the night. I’ve enthused before about how highly I rate Dar (although I’m not convinced that he’s right when he shouts at southern audiences, “You CAN understand my accent!”), and the grudge here was that McKinnan sees himself, not his opponent, as the future of professional wrestling.
I’d not seen McKinnan in person before, although he’s been kicking around the scene for a fair few years (in promotions that are miles away from me), and wasn’t as impressed as I was expecting to be (although that might be partly because he wrestled the entire match with his trunks ever so slightly pulled down, which was distracting; and I didn’t appreciate the bastardisation of the Back to the Future theme employed in his entrance music). Dar, for me, is a much more compelling wrestler and performer, and I was glad that he picked up the win as well.
It’s always good to see top-class British talent heading the bill, and nice to see a show that’s (mostly) appropriate for a family audience. I was also very interested to see a sizeable number of people with limited mobility in the audience, some using wheelchairs and some using sticks – I was wondering whether this might affect shows at this venue in the future, because of course if your mobility is restricted, you can’t bob up and down in order to follow the action outside the ring (and most of the matches last night had at least some skirmishes out on the floor).
Southside have another show this afternoon – this one’s in Huntingdon, featuring Kevin Steen and Johnny Gargano. They also announced last night that Sabu will be a guest on their show in August – if you can get along, they’re definitely worth checking out.