From WWE2k16 to WCPW: How Youtube Lead Me to the UK’s Hottest New Wrestling Promotion
I bet you weren’t expecting to hear from me again, huh? It’s certainly been quite a while since I last posted on this site. I’d like to think of myself like a Steve Austin run-in; you’ll never know when I’m coming, but I make sure to leave a good impression when I do. If you understood the reference, you’re going to enjoy the story I have for you ladies and gentlemen. Tonight, I share the story of how one man helped to re-kindle a childhood passion of mine, and how it lead me to discover one of the most promising new wrestling promotions to arrive in quite some time. The WCPW.
I’m sure if you’ve been on the Internet for any stretch of time, you’ll know that it has a rather uncanny ability to leave you in a very different place than when you started. This is especially true when you surf YouTube, due to its ability to recommend new content for you to view. Say what you will about the site (especially in light of recent events), but when the site does its job, it can end up showing you things you’d never have seen otherwise.
To give my example, I had been following a playthrough of WWE2K16 by creator Dan “NerdCubed” Hardcastle. In this playthrough, he took his created superstar Scipio Africanus (The man who famously defeated Hannibal in the Punic Wars) from his first days in NXT all the way up to a slobberknocker of a Last-Man-Standing match against Brock Lesnar for the World Heavyweight Championship. It was an amazing ride, and I highly recommend you watch it if you’re a fan of Let’s Plays, Pro Wrestling, or English men. After the series had concluded (ending with a stern refusal of The Authority), I had started to notice videos from a channel called WhatCulture Wrestling. Based within the WhatCulture site, it’s similar to other channels like WatchMojo, which focuses on wrestling news and lists, such as “10 Things the WWE Wants You to Forget About CM Punk” or “Vince McMahon’s Biggest Overreactions”, as well as compiling the highs and lows of RAW and SmackDown on a weekly basis. While this is all well and good, what came as a shock to me was the fact that this sub-division of a pop culture website wasn’t simply the most popular portion of their site by a wide margin. It was the fact that this website had grown so massive that it had started its own promotion.
Enter WCPW. Not to be confused with the Illinois-based Windy City Pro Wrestling, WhatCulture Pro Wrestling is a UK-based independent wrestling promotion. While the British Isles are no stranger to the Sports Entertainment world (Progress being an especially famous brand), WCPW has a particularly interesting origin. See, WhatCulture Pro Wrestling had previously gained a cult following for the frequent competition between the site’s two major contributors, Adam Pacitti and Adam Blampied. (For the sake of convenience, I’ll be referring to them by their last names). Said competitions included video games and Pay-Per-View predictions, alongside other activities, eventually gaining its own Kayfabe when Pacitti was poisoned by Blampied with a “Cena-Colada”, and the two formed their own stables, The Pacitti Club and BX respectively. This conflict carries over into WCPW with Pacitti acting as the face and general manager and Blampied being his eternal heel.
As you can tell, the promotion takes a lot of inspiration from the WWE and its Attitude Era, and the connections don’t stop there; several members of its roster have either gone on to join the WWE (such as Noam Dar, who’s set to appear in the Cruiserweight Classic), or previously worked for them (most notably, former WWE Tag Team Champion and two time Slammy winner Damien Samdow). There’s also a healthy amount of TNA, Ring of Honor, and even places like New Japan Pro Wrestling. Imports from other promotions aside, their home-grown talent is also exceptionally skilled, with my personal favorite being Joe Coffey, whose gimmick is being a true ironman, even styling himself after the famous Marvel Comics character for his entrance.
What sets WCPW apart from most other promotions (aside from its primary show Loaded being broadcast over the Internet for free) is the uniquely British charm of its cast and and the audience. Hailing from all across the British Isles, the superstars bring a mix of traditional, lucha, and even some mild strong style fighting, with frequent audience participation, acrobatics, and in-ring theatrics. The audience frequently breaks out into soccer-style chants, restrains the wrestlers as set up for big moves, and makes ample room when matches inevitably spill outside the ring. Matches can often get as brutal as a bar fight in Manchester. Rather apropos, given that Manchester and Liverpool both typically play host to this promotion, with at least one wrestler hailing from Glasgow. In addition, the commentators—Dave Bradshaw and Former British Heavyweight Champion Alex Shane—provide a classic Face-Heel commentary duo that definitely adds that extra layer of British machismo.
The presentation for WCPW also has that nice indie feel, with Titantron videos being a bit more about the audio than the visuals, the pre-fight versus splashes using digital art instead of photographs of the stars, and the intros for each episode being simple and clean affairs often punctuated by hard rock and metal. The Loaded theme song is decently catchy, as is the one for the recent event card Stacked, but it’s not quite as strong as the classic RAW is War intro featuring Union Underground. Card formats are pretty standard stuff, with the show being weekly as opposed to bi-weekly, and includes PPV-style events like Stacked (Effectively a mega-card event with a variety of match types), and Refuse to Lose (Which I can only assume will be a card featuring either lots of title shots or grudge matches.) I’ve yet to see all of what WCPW has put on archive, but if their recent shows are any indication, their booking is getting better by the week. The segments between matches also offer interesting bits, but I wish they were subtitled for the sake of those who aren’t well of hearing.
If I had to make one other nitpick, it’s that the newness of this promotion definitely shows with its Women’s Division. I’ve only seen two women’s matches, and both were between Bea Priestley and Nixon Newell. While I won’t be too harsh on them, as their performances definitely entertained me more than what Raw or SmackDown Live were giving me when I tried to watch them again, it pales in comparison to the much larger roster of Men signed with the company. Hopefully, with rumors circling of new talent coming in from WWE, we’ll see more women’s bouts in the future. For the moment, however, it’s slim pickings.
I’m still amazed I hadn’t found this promotion sooner, because for a weekly promotion that primarily broadcasts on YouTube and primarily sells tickets in Manchester and Liverpool, the amount of talent native and new to this company is stellar, with many of them coming from plenty high pedigrees of success and status. If you need something to give you a change of pace from WWE, Ring of Honor, TNA, or even Lucha Underground, take a walk across the pond and see what the recently-liberated isles of the United Kingdom have in store for you. I guarantee you, it’s bloody great fun.