King Of Europe Cup 2007

by Will Benson on 6th July 2008

Last year, the good and the great from sixteen of the world’s top wrestling promotions gathered in Liverpool for a two night knock-out tournament. Stars such as Rhino, Trent Acid, Doug Williams, Chris Hero, Go Shiozaki and many more gathered to determine who would be the winner of the first King of Europe tournament, and it’s the two disc DVD release of these two shows that we’re going to be taking a look at now.  Dann Read and Dean Ayass will be handling commentary duties for this one.

Disc one begins with the first round of the tournament as Chris Hero, representing CZW, faces his sometime tag-team partner Claudio Castagnoli, representing Chikara. For some reason I’ve never really taken to Chris Hero. I don’t know why, it’s just something I can’t put my finger on. But even though I’m not really that struck on the guy, I have to admit that this was a great opener with some good solid wrestling and hard hitting action, so hard in fact that the ring broke when Hero dropped Claudio with a back suplex. And speaking of Claudio, he put in a hell of a performance here, and I can see just why WWE were showing great interest in him. Despite the broken ring, the wrestlers still managed to continue with the great action, and in the end Hero, coming off the second rope with a foot to Claudio’s chest, getting the three count immediately afterwards to advance in the tournament.

The next match saw Martin Stone, representing RQW, taking on Go Shiozaki, representing Pro Wrestling NOAH. I’m a big fan of Martin Stone, one of the brightest prospects in Britain at the moment, so this is one match I was looking forward to. Thankfully, the ring has been repaired for this one. As good as the first match was, this one was even better, a great hard-hitting contest between two evenly matched wrestlers. Neither man held anything back in their attempt to progress in the tournament. Both wrestlers impressed me greatly in this one, and it was a shame that only one of them could forward. After tons of false finishes, which involved each man kicking out of their opponent’s finisher, Shiozaki emerged victorious, pinning Stone with his variation of the brain buster suplex. Boy, was this good, and they rightfully earned a standing ovation.

Then it was the turn of the high-flying Pac, representing IPW:UK, to take on Backseat Boy Trent Acid, representing PWU. After the excitement of the previous match, this one had a lot to live up to as the follow-up. Despite some fine flying from Pac, this match just didn’t do it for me. The long moments where Acid set up a series of chairs at ringside seemed to go on for ages, and it didn’t help matters much when, having placed Pac on those chairs, he completely missed the target when he came jumping off the ropes. I think you can guess what the fans began chanting when this happened. That being said, there were some other good moves involving the chairs, although I’m puzzled why the referee failed to disqualify either of the wrestlers for their use of the chairs. In the end Pac emerged victorious, pinning Acid after his spiral tap off the top rope. Enough said about this one.

On to the next match, with El Generico, representing IWS, facing Matt Sydal, representing IWA: Mid-South. At the beginning of the match both wrestlers expressed concern about the previously broken ring, and did their best to wrestle around the edge of the ring. If this was meant to be their attempt at comedy, then the attempt sadly failed, and it was only after Sydal caught Generico with a back suplex in the middle of the ring that things got better. Once it got going Generico and Sydal proved to be perfect foils for each other in what became quite an entertaining contest. Generico in particular looked great, including his diving DDT which has to be seen to be believed. Sydal came out on top here, taking Generico out with his shooting star press off the top rope before getting the pin. This could have been a five star match, if it hadn’t been for the awful comedy at the beginning.

Then it’s on to Ares, representing WXW, taking on Doug Williams, facing Premier Promotions. Williams begins this one by taunting Ares, coming to the ring wearing a tie. (Those of you not familiar with Ares’ ring attire, let’s just say it’s similar to Irwin R. Schyster’s.) Needless to say it’s we get the usual solid match here, which isn’t unusual when you’ve got these two involved, mixed in with a bit of humour which, unlike the previous match, worked quite well. In short, it’s a very good match, with two good performances, plenty of false finishes, and Williams winning with the simplest of moves, the small package, setting up the first quarter-final match, with Williams facing Chris Hero.

The action continues with the Zebra Kid, representing WAW, facing Davey Richards, representing PWG. This was actually one of the Zebra Kid’s first matches after having spent time in one of Her Majesty’s finest establishments. Earlier on Dean Ayass had announced that there had been some sort of altercation between these two backstage. What it was he didn’t say. This was nothing more than a hard-hitting brawl that, in true TNA style, took in the entire arena. Zebra showed that he hadn’t lost a thing during his time away, scoring with a flying elbow from the balcony onto a table below, and then pile driving Richards on the merchandise table, before hitting him with sealed boxes of DVDs. And let’s not forget the move where he placed Richards on a couple of chairs by the stage, then ran from the back of the stage and came down on Richards with a flying elbow drop. In fact, this was probably the best Zebra Kid performance I’d seen since Fightmare I way back in 2001. For his part, Richards also put in a great performance, using some great MMA-inspired moves as he tried to put Zebra away. In fact it was Richards’ submission skills that earned him the win, as, after delivering a low blow, he applied a keylock to get the win, earning a quarter-final with Go Shiozaki. An awesome performance from both men here, especially the Zebra Kid.

The penultimate first round match sees Ryo Saito, representing Dragon Gate, take on Jody Fleisch, representing 1PW. It’s fast-paced high-flying stuff here, but that’s to be expected as far as Jody Fleisch is concerned. The action is so fast at times that it’s hard to follow, but it’s great to say the least. We get fast exchanges in the ring, a Fleisch moonsault on Saito off the railings, and Fleisch almost knocking himself out. As Saito stood stunned near the stage steps, Fleisch tried to connect with a moonsault off the top rope, overshooting Saito and smashing his head into the steps, with his jaw visibly swelling afterwards. But credit to the Phoenix, he carried on with the match, and it was just as good as it had been. But then there was another tricky moment as Saito tried to set up for a superplex, with both men slipping off the top rope and onto the floor. After a few moments stunned on the floor, Saito went for the same move, and executed it perfectly. But in the end Fleisch’s gutsy performance wasn’t enough, as Saito came out on top with a bridging full nelson suplex, earning a match with Matt Sydal in the next round.

The final match of the first round features Nigel McGuinness, representing ROH, facing Rhino, representing TNA, probably the match I was looking forward to most of all. This one started out as a brawl, and contained the obligatory fight through the crowd (well Rhino is representing TNA you know), which involved McGuinness throwing Rhino over a balcony and onto the merchandise table below, making me think that there must have been a couple of Spaniards doing commentary there, given the treatment that table had received. McGuinness, known primarily for his technical wrestling, showed that he can brawl with the best of them. When they finally returned to the ring, the action was just as good. Each wrestler used their signature moves, with Rhino looking very surprised when McGuinness kicked out after the gore, and after the Brit dodged a second gore attempt, he took Rhino down with a third lariat to get the pin to end a great match, and earning a quarter-final match with Pac.

Two matches come in the extras section of disc one, with Pac facing El Generico in a best of three falls match from an IPW:UK show, and Doug Williams and Go Shiozaki against Davey Richards and Atsushi Aoki from an RQW show.

On to disc two, and the second night of the tournament. The first quarter-final sees Chris Hero facing off against Doug Williams. This was kind of surprised me from the beginning? Why? Because it was a good, old fashioned British style of wrestling match. Williams, of course, was at his best here, and Hero was able to match him move for move. It was a joy to behold, and it was a shame that one of these guys had to lose. But lose they did, with Williams, for the second match running, defeated Hero with a small package after a great series of moves and counter moves. Nothing like a good old fashioned British style match to get things going.

The second quarter-final features Pac, who discharged himself from hospital at 3am following the injuries he suffered in the match against Trent Acid, taking on Nigel McGuinness. Pac came to the ring with his head heavily bandaged, and it’s because of this that McGuinness suggested that because of his injuries Pac should consider forfeiting the match, showing genuine concern for his opponent and for his career. Despite the advice, Pac decided to go ahead with the match. So what we have here is a great technical wrestler against a great high-flyer, a distinct difference in styles which certainly made for a very interesting, and very good match. Despite his condition Pac pulled out all the stops, all the great high risk moves. McGuinness threw everything he could at Pac, and he still kept kicking out of the pin attempts. Three lariats couldn’t put him away, and it wasn’t until McGuinness took Pac down with his Tower of London finisher that he was finally able to finish the match, getting the pin three seconds later. Two great matches in a row on this disc so far people!

Then it’s on to Davey Richards against Go Shiozaki. Richards once again endeared himself to the fans with his miserable demeanour. As for the match itself, it’s another good match, with Shiozaki working over Richards’ leg, and doing to good effect, before Richards came back after the Japanese star missed a shoulder attack and was taken down with an enziguri. We later got an exchange of chops, with Shiozaki showing just who his mentor is with his multiple chop combination that turned Richards’ chest beet red. Plenty of false finishes followed, including a half Boston crab and kimura attempt, as well as Shiozaki countering Richards’ shooting star press by bringing up his knees, before Richards got the submission victory with his key lock. Good performances from both men here.

The last quarter-final sees Ryo Saito taking on Matt Sydal. Now I’m know I’m going to sound like I’m repeating myself here, but it’s another good match with two great performances between two men who were well suited to each other. There really wasn’t a dull moment in this match as both men went all out. This certainly was hard hitting stuff, and some of the moves even made the referee grimace, and after what seemed an eternity of fast paced action, Sydal emerged victorious, taking Saito out with a shooting star press. Excellent stuff here.

Then it’s straight on to the semi-finals, with Nigel McGuinness versus Davey Richards. Richards came to the ring limping, still feeling the punishment inflicted upon him by Go Shiozaki in his last match. Richards began this one early, jumping McGuinness before the bell, obviously wanting to finish the match quickly. What followed was another hard hitter, with the crowd firmly behind the British star. Richards display of submission wrestling was once again impressive as he tried to put McGuinness away. The end series of moves was quick and exciting, before McGuinness got the win with his lariat clothesline, pinning Richards straight afterwards.

With one finalist decided, it was up to Doug Williams and Matt Sydal to fight it out to join him. Having seen their previous efforts in this tournament, this one looked great on paper. This time it was the turn of Williams to star the match before the bell, and the Anarchist tried to finish the match early. It backfired on him a little as Sydal fought back after kicking out of Williams’ pin following his bomb scare knee drop off the top rope. Williams also began to show heel tendencies, having disrespected Chris Hero in their previous match when Hero offered to shake his hand following the match, and having become annoyed when the fans began to chant for Sydal. So not only did this match look good on paper, it looked good in the ring as well. Williams’ growing annoyance saw him use several questionable tactics, while Sydal simply played by the rules. Once again, after Sydal missed his shooting star press, landing on his feet, and went for a standing moonsault, which Williams countered by raising his knees, the Anarchist got the pin with yet another small package to end what was a great match.

Then it was straight on to the final, with Nigel McGuinness facing Doug Williams. Before the match began, All-Star Wrestling promoter Brian Dixon was introduced to the crowd, who made his way to the ring with the King of Europe trophy. Once again Williams came to the ring hearing boos from the crowd, with McGuinness getting the crowd firmly behind him. As for the match, I was expecting a technical wrestling classic, but what I got was something a little different. It started off as a technical match in the ring, before Williams’ tactics angered McGuinness, and after taking Williams down with a running European uppercut that sent Williams crashing through a ring barrier, they undertook a TNA-style brawl through the crowd. Thankfully that brawl didn’t last that long, and they soon returned to the ring, where they soon returned to the technical action, with Williams throwing in a few underhanded tactics for good measure. Each man used their signature moves, the Tower of London, the lariat, the bomb scare knee drop, and a referee bump to boot. We even got drama between Steve Lynskey, the original referee, and Andy Quildan, the second referee, with McGuinness head butting Lynskey after he stopped Quildan from making a count. As Lynskey lay on the floor with a bloody nose, McGuiness pinned Williams with a small package to get the pin. Then, as the ring filled with some of the other wrestlers who appeared in the tournament, Doug Williams, who was about to leave the ring, came back to congratulate McGuinness with a handshake, before Brian Dixon presented him with the trophy. A classic match here, and a great way to end the tournament.

As with disc one, there are two matches in the extras section on disc two, a six-man tag featuring El Generico, Martin Stone and Atsushi Aoki versus Swiss Money Holding and Trent Acid, and the RQW title tournament final, Martin Stone against Pac.

In conclusion – the promotional genius that is Alex Shane has done it again. Having successfully promoted The Wrestling Channel’s International Showdown and his own Universal Uproar super-shows, he’s got it right for the third time in a row with the King of Europe Cup. While a couple of the first round matches didn’t really set my pulse racing, the rest of the tournament did, with the final between Doug Williams and Nigel McGuinness capping off a fine show. As Dean Ayass said in his commentary, this was a special show.

Production wise it can’t be faulted. The Spectrum Multimedia crew, responsible for the RQW shows on TWC Fight, and soon to be responsible for the WAW and IPW:UK shows on German television, did a good job of capturing the action, although they did have a few difficulties when the action went into the crowd. As for the announcers, messrs Ayass and Read did a great job of calling the action, and I think it’s a great shame that Dean Ayass  has recently announced his retirement from the wrestling business, as he’s the best commentator we’ve got in Britain right now.

So in all, the King of Europe Cup 2007 gets my stamp of approval. Whether there will be a follow-up to this great event this year remains to be seen. But let’s hope that this can become an annual event.

Revied by JuLian Rodbourne

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