Here we are, fans! It’s the day we have been heavily anticipating – the debut of United Wrestling Network and the NWA’s joint weekly pay-per-view series, Prime Time Live. The real world’s championship, the NWA World Heavyweight title, is on the line. Will Mike Bennett get the redemption and the chance to change his life that he is desperate for.
Let’s get to the ring and find out!
Disclaimer: I am aware there were major buffering issues for the majority of people who watched the show live on Fite. There were also timing issues which led to the main event to be truncated. The version of the show I watched was on-demand, so I escaped the buffering problems, therefore this will not be accounted for in my enjoyment of the show across the review. But, for the record, I am completely aware of the situation.
WCPW Champion Alexander Hammerstone vs. EJ Sparks
This was the match I was looking forward to the most when it was announced. Hammerstone is one of my favourite wrestlers for MLW and is, of course, a member of ‘The Dynasty’, formerly led by a certain MJF. He is an absolute powerhouse in the ring. EJ Sparks, on the other hand, recently had an awesome match with Dan Joseph on Championship Wrestling. So this match was definitely something I was hyped up about seeing.
After a quick feeling out process, EJ used his speed and his kickboxing background to try and gain an advantage, hitting a series of strikes to the champ, but Hammerstone’s furious power quickly proved to be a deciding factor. He grabbed EJ in a double underhook whilst Sparks was outside the ring, pulled him through the ropes, and dropped him with the ‘Spinal Countdown’ slam, taking the air out of EJ’s sails.
Hammerstone continued by slowing the pace and battering Sparks with a massive Irish whip to the corner and a backbreaker that seemed to snap EJ in half. Hammerstone looked so crisp in his delivery. Every move looked designed to obliterate. EJ gamely tried to fight back, but Hammerstone nearly killed him twice – once with a brutal lariat, and the second with a humongous overhead suplex ala Scott Steiner.
EJ finally got a flurry of offence in with a jumping kick to the head, a jawbreaker and a DDT. A flurry of strikes and a Diamond Cutter earned a near fall, but Hammerstone wasn’t in the mood to quit. A smooth sequence of an uppercut, pump kick, German suplex and a sit-down powerbomb almost sealed the deal but couldn’t quite do it. The ‘Nightmare Pendulum’ slam, however, did the job.
This was a great opener. EJ Sparks played the plucky underdog well, trying his best to play to his advantage, whilst Hammerstone looked like an absolute beast. Very well done.
The Real World’s Champion Has Nothing to Say
So says Nick Aldis, but of course, he really has plenty to say and thank god he does because he has proven over the last two years to be one of the best talkers in the game right now. It’s no wonder the NWA family has clutched him to their hearts. He just carries himself like a champion should.
As he did during the recent (and excellent) edition of the NWA’s Ten Pounds of Gold, he put across the fact that winning the match and being the champ would mean everything to Mike Bennett’s family. But it also means everything to the Aldis family too. So, they’re going to settle it in the ring, like men.
That’s how you give a match a big fight feel!
Jordan Clearwater vs. Will Allday
It’s my boy, Jordan Clearwater! I’ve said before how much Clearwater reminds me of a young ‘Natural’ Dustin Rhodes; it’s something in the way he presents and carries himself. Will Allday has recently been appearing on Championship Wrestling and has shown some real fire and skill. So, this one should go down a treat.
We got a little character development to start, as Jordan Clearwater showed a little more of that new mean streak he’s been displaying recently as he made his way to the ring. Allday, meanwhile, showed a heel side that we’ve not seen from him before on Championship Wrestling, forcing ring announcer Adnan to do his “damn job” and reannounce him as ‘The Main Event, All Damn Day, Will Allday.” I can’t see that shtick flying with Clearwater.
Allday dominated the first part of the match, frustrating Clearwater by being that little bit faster and using that to gain an advantage. Clearwater nearly took off Allday’s head with a lariat, but Allday kept the pressure on. In a nice sequence, Clearwater went for a bulldog (the Natural!) but Allday pushed him off, only for Clearwater to counter that with a spinebuster.
An avalanche and a bulldog got Clearwater a near-fall, but he signalled the Midas Touch, allowing Allday to counter with a superkick (I really like that, as part of a change-up in gear, that Clearwater is wearing a gold boot on his Midas Touch-foot now, as he called the move the “gold standard” on Saturday. It’s a nice touch).
A second Midas Touch attempt saw Clearwater miss and find himself thrown to the outside. A suicide dive followed. Clearwater, though, made it back in the ring first, and when Allday flipped himself in, a third Midas Touch connected for the 1-2-3.
This was a neat little match that showcased both talents well. Will that stubborn insistence on the Midas Touch cost Jordan Clearwater in the future? We’ll have to wait and see.
‘The Killer Bae’ Heather Monroe (w/Halston Boddy) vs. Kamille
Before the bell, if you were asked to make a quick guess as to who would win this match, I’m sure most of us would have said Kamille.
And you’d be right. But maybe not quite in the way you think.
Kamille battered Heather from the start with elbows, slams and a big gut wrench suplex. Heather tried a hip toss and a sleeper but they didn’t really work for her. Heather had enough wits about her, though, to slide out of the ring when Kamille set up for the spear.
Outside, Heather pulled Halston Boddy in front of her as a human sacrifice, and I must say Halston opening his fan up as a form of self-defence made me laugh, as did his squeals when Kamille batted the fan away. Heather then jumped on Kamille but was caught by her. Fortunately for Heather, she was able to push Kamille into the ring post, before using said post to bend her arm in ways it isn’t meant to.
Back in the ring, Kamille was able to get brief moments of respite with moves like the Samoan Drop, a torture rack and a swinging neck breaker, but the arm was bothering her. Heather kept on it, but Kamille nailed a spear from out of nowhere for the 1-2-3.
What I liked about this match was that, although Kamille has been portrayed as this monster, this match proved she has weaknesses while still letting her win, plus it allowed Heather to come out looking strong. A win-win situation, in my book.
The Tribe vs. The Wolf Zaddies
This was just two teams of hosses slapping the ever-loving c**p out of each other and was all the better for it. There was some history here, as Bad Dude Tito was in a tag team called the Banditos who took the UWN tag titles from The Tribe a few years ago. So, there was already bad blood before they began.
Imagine the Faces of Fear (who The Tribe have a move named after in tribute) scrapping with two modern Wahoo McDaniels’s and you’ve got the idea. The Hawaiian Lion took a hell of a nasty looking DDT on the rampway outside at one point. Meanwhile, elbows, fists and kicks were thrown with wild abandonment.
Both teams were able to nail double team finishing moves but just couldn’t get their hand raised. A time-limit draw was called, which is fine by me. I quite like the idea of a rematch after this.
A Desperate Man
One thing that has impressed me during the build-up to this event has been the quality of Mike Bennett’s promo work, putting self across as a man who needs a victory here in a very believable manner.
His interview here was no exception, putting across how he’s no longer a hungry young man but is, in fact, a desperate veteran who needs this win to change his family’s life. The conviction with which he speaks is impressive.
Is it main event time yet?
‘The Dirty Daddy’ Chris Dickinson vs. Jordan Cruz
I might have found my new favourite wrestler.
Chris Dickinson is entitled, arrogant and violent. He’s also unbelievably entertaining.
Attacking Cruz on the ramp as he made his entrance, he clotheslined him onto the hard wood before sending him onto the floor in a daze with a barrage of fists.
Taking the mic, he laughed at Cruz, mocking the fact that this was the best David Marquez and Billy Corgan had to offer him. Cruz wasn’t going to give up without a fight, though. He fought gamely, but Dickinson, who with his black trunks, bald head and muscular build would have been perfect for the NWA in the 80s and is perfect for now, demolished Cruz with hard chops and fists and a half-crab that saw him kick his opponent in the back at the same time. A Death Valley Driver sealed the deal.
An impressive debut for Dickinson. It’ll be interesting to see who he upsets first for his first feud.
United Television Champion Dan Joseph vs. Levi Shapiro (w/Howdy Price)
Outside of transmission issues, I’d say this was the only let down on the card. With just over 20 minutes left, I knew it wouldn’t be a long match. I hadn’t realised it, but there must have been some issues with match timings. Something would have to go short. But to be over in less than 3 minutes when the commentators were playing up this as Levi’s third chance at taking Dan Joseph’s title, it felt disappointing to me. I really enjoyed their previous matches and was looking forward to more of the same. I did enjoy Shapiro attacking Joseph after the bell and dragging him into the darkness of backstage whilst Howdy lay on the title belt.
Hopefully, we get the rematch very soon!
NWA World Heavyweight Champion Nick Aldis vs. Mike Bennett
I must admit, I was never the biggest fan of Mike Bennett in the WWE, but the strength of his conviction during his promos leading up to this match were outstanding, so I was really looking forward to this match.
It became clear quite quickly that, with the little time they had left, the match was going to be truncated. Nick Aldis arrived in the ring without even his entrance music playing. I got the feeling that the way this match started; it would have occurred in the middle of the match if it had been given the time. See, when Aldis and Bennett went straight into exchanging heated fists, but when Bennett went for a spear, Aldis moved and the ref was taken out instead.
While this gave the match a strange, rushed feeling at first, what it also did was give the match an urgency and tension that was certainly not unattractive. Aldis took advantage of the ref being down to nail Bennett with a tombstone on the ramp. Whilst Maria tried to rouse Mike, Aldis warned her off. Then poor Maria was chased off by Kamille. Clearly the champion was taking no chances.
Back in the ring, with a new referee officiating, the two men exchanged some big moves, with Aldis nailing another tombstone and Bennett dropping Aldis on his head with a piledriver. Maria handed Mike the Ten Pounds of Gold as a motivator at one point, which was a nice touch. However, the champ was able to counter a Bennett leap from the second rope by grabbing the legs and tying him up in the Kings Lynn Cloverleaf. Bennett struggled but he would not submit. Remember how much this meant to him. Aldis, however, would not be denied and his victory was attained eventually once Bennett had passed out from the pain…
This was clearly subject to time restrictions, but what we did get was in fact very good. Bennett looked strong and determined and was in great shape. He would be a genuine asset to the NWA if they booked him again. He and Aldis seemed to have solid chemistry together, and the drama from the ref bump and the tombstone on the ramp was palpable if a little dampened by the time issue. Would I watch a rematch? Hell yeah. Here’s hoping!
The debut edition of Prime Time Live will probably become better known for its technical and timing issues than its wrestling, which is a shame. Because there was much to admire here. Hammerstone and EJ Sparks had a great opener, Jordan Clearwater and Will Allday had a solid outing, as did Heather Monroe and Kamille, and the main event was certainly entertaining. The commentary team worked really well together, and the promos were fine. Would it benefit from a bit more overt storytelling between matches? It’s a delicate balance. You want the show to feel special, but you also want the matches to have meaning. This is where Championship Wrestling and Ten Pounds of Gold are going to be vital.
If this is the worst that the United Wrestling Network and the NWA can do, then wait until they give us their best! Yes, I watched the on-demand version, so I missed a lot of the glitches and buffering that caught people, but at the same time I can honestly say that judging by the actual wrestling I saw, we’re in capable hands. I’m optimistic that things will approve. I think the fact that people paid for the show is a large factor in why people are so upset. If the show was free, would there be as much upset? But that’s the risk you get with pay-per-view, for both purchaser and promotion. Knowing the little I know about David Marquez and his production team; I genuinely believe they will work tirelessly to improve and fix the technical and timing issues.
I believe in second chances. Don’t you?
Feature image used by kind permission of the United Wrestling Network.