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The WrestleCenter Is The New Pride of Memphis

Championship Wrestling from Memphis Review—May 22nd

Welcome grapple fans to Sports Obsessive’s Championship Wrestling from Memphis review! This week is a special one as, after last week’s Grind City Rumble, we say goodbye to the Top of the Line Banquet Hall and say hello to the Memphis WrestleCenter, an arena set up solely for CWFM. I know a lot of love and hard work has gone into this building and Dustin Starr is very proud and excited of what they’ve created. Not only that, but with the new building, Dustin has promised a re-premiere for Championship Wrestling from Memphis. There’ll be new looks, new music and a new feel to the show as the WrestleCenter will free them up to present the show in the way they want to.

But enough talk: let’s get into the fastest hour in wrestling!

Notes On The New WrestleCenter

Just to start off with some observations on the WrestleCenter; well, it looks great first of all. Working with a red, light and dark blue colour scheme, visually it just pops beautifully on your TV screen. It looks fun. It also matches the Championship Wrestling branding, giving things a nice unifying feel overall.

Secondly, if you’re a fan of old-school CWA/USWA/Power Pro Memphis wrestling, you won’t be able to stop a little flutter in your heart at the site of Maria and Dustin behind a desk at ringside presenting the action and being interrupted for interviews and promos, just like the legendary Lance Russell, Dave Brown and Corey Maclin did in the old Channel 5 studios all those years ago. This is a change in format from how the show was presented in the Top of the Line but it suits the show very well and nods to the past in an affectionate manner.

It must be said as well that the crowd volume was much more noticeable too. I don’t know if that’s because there were more people there or that people are more familiar with the wrestlers now or that even the change of venue made for a different atmosphere, but it was certainly noticeable and in a good way.

There is also some new theme music to open the show too. It’s still rocking but it’s a bit more moody and minor key; a bit more serious. As Dusty might have said, maybe some ‘hard times’ are coming to Memphis…

“Alan Sucks!”

Starting things off this week were the new Memphis Heritage Champion, Alan Steel, and his henchman Johnny Dotson. Dismissing Dustin Starr’s congratulation on winning the title, Alan Steel sends us to a highlight package of what he has achieved in CWFM so far. As Dustin drew his attention to the fans chants of “Alan sucks”, Steel claimed not to care about what the fans think; all he cared about was being presented with his title belt by “the real Double J”, Jerry Jarrett later in the programme.

“We’ll be back”, promised Steel. “Thanks for the warning”, deadpanned Dustin, clearly not impressed…

The Posse

The Posse were out at the desk now, both men wearing construction helmets as a video package showed the pair helping to build various items in the WrestleCenter, including the desk. Dustin wondered if the desk might fall down as some kind of prank, but Big Simon revealed that Dustin and Maria are on their “No Prank” list, before pulling out said list and showing it to them! You know you’ve got a pranking problem when you’ve had to write a small list of the people you won’t prank.

The Posse were not impressed with their opponents, The Skimahorns, tonight, leading a chant of “Stinkahorns” from the audience. This should be a good match, and we’re in luck—because it was happening next!

The Skimahorns vs. The Posse

Lil’ Chris started as he meant to go on, rolling up Briar Skimahorn for a near fall. As we came back from a break, Brad Skimahorn was distracting the referee as Briar was choking out Simon in the corner. Simon was able to body slam both men though and made the hot tag to Lil’ Chris, the pair nailing Brad with a double atomic drop before Chris hit a clothesline, knocking Briar off the apron for good measure.

Brad nailed Lil’ Chris from behind, allowing the Skimahorns to take turns in putting a hurt on Chris. A Brad charge into the corner found nothing but boot, however. A Death Valley Driver followed, both men lying exhausted on the mat. Both men made the hot tag but it was Simon who made the biggest impact, throwing both Skimahorns into the corner before blowing his nose on a Skimahorns t-shirt and splashing both men in the corner.

Brad reversed an Irish whip attempt, sending Chris straight into Simon and toppling him out of the ring. Chris, however, was able to take out both Skimahorns with a leaping shoulder block before a roll-up on Briar earned him the 1-2-3. Fun match!

Dustin Starr is not impressed with the raging Skimahorns over at the commentary desk!

Afterwards, an enranged Skimahorns screamed about how sick they were being treated by Dustin and the other teams like it’s all a political game, and next week they’ll be bringing backup. Now that’s interesting. I’m definitely intrigued to see who they’ve got in their corner.

“I Slayed The Queen and Dethroned The King”

Nikki Lane came out now to the desk as we got another highlight package, this one on how well Nikki did in the Grind City Rumble. Back at the desk, Nikki told Dustin she did what she came to do—slay the Queen and dethrone the King! Now she’s focussed on the Memphis Women’s Championship, and Dustin confirmed we will have a women’s champion crowned in the near future. Exciting news!

As Nikki made her way to the ring for her match with Diane Taylor, Eric McMahon cam out and interrupted proceedings, telling Dustin he fired Super Ed (probably for the best for both men, to be honest), before telling everybody he’s representing Paris Kelly. Paris came out, her eyes blackened. As Eric showed a photo of Paris from a few weeks earlier with really bad bruising, he claimed that the bruising came from the match Paris had with Diana Taylor a few weeks ago and wanted an explanation.

Diana came out to deny that she tried to hurt Paris, but Eric claimed it wasn’t good enough and that Diana can’t talk to his client anymore, not until they get to court anyway.

Not sure what to make of that. Why didn’t Diana just claim that she never did that—when do you ever see a wrestler’s face that badly bruised? Maybe I should represent her in court. Now, if Dustin would just send me my air fare…

Nikki Lane vs. Diana Taylor

Eric McMahon hung around at ringside to berate Diana, allowing Nikki Lane to take advantage of the distraction and nail Diana with a forearm. A Thez press followed. Diana sent Nikki into the corner but a charge found nothing but pain as Nikki moved out of the way. Nikki kept the pressure on with a snap mare and a diving clothesline before a face buster earned her a two count.

Diana thought back with fists before attempting a chin lock. Nikki countered with a jawbreaker before laying in the kicks and a legdrop. Diana stood up out of a roll-up and shouted at Eric who had just made a money sign with his fingers. Nikki sent Diana into the ropes but Diana hung on and told Nikki to move out of the way. I was thinking a dive might occur to the outside but instead, Diana jumped out and left the arena, frustrated that she couldn’t concentrate on the match. Nikki was therefore awarded the match by count-out.

Eric shouted out “see ya in court” as Diana left…

Brett Michaels Is Not a Fan of Jimmy Blaylock

Making his debut in the new WrestleCenter, longtime Memphis manager ‘Hollywood’ Jimmy Blaylock angrily shouted at Dustin that he’s not a manager, he’s a director, and with The Crowleys and Walker Hayes he’s creating a Hollywood Horror Show. Dismissing Dustin’s claims that Brett Michaels would not be happy after the way the group caused him to be eliminated from the Grind City Rumble, he soon changed his tune when ‘The Gun Show’ made an appearance, dodging behind Dustin to try and use him as a human shield.

Screaming at Blaylock that he should have been the Memphis Heritage Champion, Michaels turned to the ring and told his opponent, Maxx Stone, that he’s sorry but Jimmy Blaylock has caused what he’s about to do. Oh-oh. Run, Max, run!

Brett Michaels vs. Maxx Stone

Brett Michaels has a firm grasp on Maxx Stone

Stone, of course, didn’t run. He instead tried charge Michaels on the bell and take an advantage with an onslaught of heavy hands. Michaels reacted simply by pushing Stone pretty much all the way across the ring! Stone went for a crossbody but Michaels caught him. Maxx elbowed his way out though but it was to no avail. Michaels decimated Stone with a spine buster, taking a moment to shout at Jimmy Blaylock at ringside, before finishing things off with the Gunshow Lariat.

Stone may have lost, but the real loser though was Jimmy Blaylock, who took one look at Michaels as he left the ring and ran off! Ha! Dustin had some good news for Brett, though: in two weeks, Brett Michaels will get a match with Alan Steel for the Memphis Heritage title. Brett told Dustin the opportunity means a lot, as the Hollywood Horror Show cheated him out of the title last week, but you’re looking at the next Memphis Heritage Champion!

How would Alan Steel react?

Handing Out Title Shots Like Trick or Treat Candy

We didn’t have long to wait to find out. Steel and Dotson arrived at the desk to accuse Dustin Starr of giving out title shots before demanding to know when Steel would get his belt. Dustin assured Steel that Jerry Jarrett is in the building and the presentation would take place after the next match. Steel, however, was still upset that Dustin was giving out title shots like it was trick or treat candy. Dotson stirred the pot, telling Steel that Dustin doesn’t like them. Alan Steel asked if Dustin regretted having them in his house for the interview he cut a couple of weeks back, to which, as Steel and Dotson made their exit, Dustin replied that he did.

I know Dustin is meant to have punched someone at this TV taping. I think there’s a good chance Steel and Dotson might have been on the receiving end.

Chris Lexx vs. Action Jackson

These two have regularly impressed in previous weeks, so this should definitely be a good match.

And indeed it was. Action started things off with a cheeky slap to that ass(!) so Lexx made a point of shaking his hand and hanging on that little bit longer and tighter, just to make Action aware that this is business. In fact, Lexx locked in a hammerlock and delivered an ass slap of his own. Now, now, boys. Action didn’t take too kindly to that, taking Lexx to the mat and rolling him up for a two count.

A fluid exchange of moves saw Lexx take Jackson down with a shoulder block and Action respond with a dropkick. Chops and a chin lock followed, Jackson taking the chance to take a sip of that juice, before he missed a big moonsault from the top. ‘The King of Pow’ unleashed some big shots and a jumping scissor kick for a near fall. Jackson tried to roll Lexx up from behind but Lexx elbowed him off. A big crossbody from Jackson earned him a near fall but it was Sliced Bread that earned him the victory in the end, 1-2-3.

These two are great and they put on a solid match here. In fact, I’d love to see them even get a bit more time and go at it again. Good stuff.

After the match, Jackson praised Lexx to Dustin Starr and got the audience chanting ‘POW!’ before leading the audience in a “When I say Action, you say Jackson!” chant. Man, has he got natural charisma. I could see him going far in CWFM.

Jerry Jarrett Presents Alan Steel With The Memphis Heritage Title

Finally, it was time for the title presentation. Jarrett stood in the ring, proudly holding the Memphis Heritage belt, as Steel and Dotson made their way to the ring to a chorus of boos. Jeff Jarrett had a few words with Steel who, in fairness, nodded respectfully, before Jarrett handed over the title belt and raised his arm. Steel, however, snatched his arm away as a laughing Dotson handed him those assassin-like black gloves. Jarrett backed off as Dotson stuck his finger in Jarrett’s face. Well now, that’s one way to make a statement; jump a Memphis legend.

Jerry Jarrett raises the arm of Alan Steel

Fortunately for Jarrett, Brett Michaels ran in to make the save. Unfortunately for Brett, Steel and Dotson beat him down. However, Action Jackson was having none of it and ran in to even the odds, the show closing with Steel and Dotson looking battered at ringside while Jackson and Michaels stood tall in the ring…

Final Thoughts

Wow, Memphis. What a difference a new location and format makes! Now, look. I enjoyed what went before, especially the Grind City Rumble. But this was almost like watching a different show and not in a bad way. The WrestleCenter looks amazing and makes a difference visually to the feel of the show. Meanwhile, the energy just ramped up tenfold and, with having promos and interactions take place around the desk at ringside, just like in classic Memphis wrestling, that feeling of chaos and unpredictability lent the show a real excitement that perhaps had been missing on occasion. When I spoke to Dustin Starr about the show all the way back in January of this year, this was how I imagined the show would feel. Now here we are, and it feels good!

I’m so excited to see where Championship Wrestling from Memphis goes from here. Exciting times.

I’ll see you next week, grapple fans, for more from the fastest hour in wrestling!

Written by Chris Flackett

Wrestling obsessed since '91. Lived through the Monday Night Wars and is still here to tell the tale. Major fan of Strong Style, technical and Super Jr. Wrestling, as well as big versatile hosses smacking the hell out of each other. Lives in Manchester, England.

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