Oran War Review

By Scott Reid

Since it was announced, Oran War was a show that Scottish wrestling fans were anxiously waiting to see. Selling out in four days, Oran War promised to showcase the very best in Scottish wrestling talent, and that is absolutely what was delivered.

Put together by Scottish TV stars Greg Hemphill and Robert Florence, what started out as a simple wrestling show grew into a heated battle of egos, with each man captaining a hand-picked team of Scotland’s best and brightest in-ring talent. The rules were simple; each match would involve participants from both teams and at the end of the night, whichever team had the most match victories would be crowned the Oran War champion. Even before the show began, fans were very vocal about which team they were behind, but with both Florence and Hemphill carefully picking the best wrestlers they could find, a victory was not going to come easily for either man.

To kick off the proceedings, the crowd was treated by the arrival of guest MC, Billy Kirkwood. Kirkwood welcomed the fans to show as only he can, and introduced both Greg Hemphill and Robert Florence. Both men made it very clear that they had every intention of winning, and after a brief handshake, they moved to ringside to get things officially underway.

The opening bout of the night saw “The Peoples Champion” Grado square off against “The Vigilante” Johnny Moss. As Grado stood in the ring, with a genuine look of terror in his eyes, Mossy took to the mic, stating that he didn’t care for either Florence or Hemphill, but that he agreed to be part of Team Hemphill as it made him more money. With his feelings out in the open, “The Vigilante” locked up with the fan-favourite, using his superior strength to overpower Grado at every opportunity. Never one to give up though, Grado fought admirably, and even managed to take down Moss on a few occasions, but more often than not, he was quickly back on the defensive, with Moss suplexing him around the ring, and chopping him from corner to corner. Eventually, Grado was able to fight off his monstrous opponent to set up his finishing move, The Wee Boot, but Mossy was having none of it, and quickly reversed Grado’s attack, before planting him to the canvas with a Tombstone Piledriver to seal the victory, and take the first point for Team Hemphill.

Next up was a face-off between Team Florence’s representative, Wolfgang, and the hardcore inclusion to Team Hemphill, Jack Jester. Both of these men are well known as top contenders in the Scottish Wrestling scene and tonight showed why. Neither competitor backed down from their opponent, with the match even moving to ringside, where Jester slammed Wolfgang to the wooden floor, then delivered a vicious elbow drop from the ring apron. Back in the ring, Wolfgang recovered and took the fight back to Jester, but after missing a springboard Moonsault, it looked like Wolfgang would fall victim to his enigmatic opponent. Taking advantage of his opponents weakened state, Jester decided it was time to draw blood, and looked to drive his trusty corkscrew into the skull of Wolfgang, but the referee was quick to get involved, stopping the violent Jester from ripping into Wolfgang’s flesh. The referee’s distraction gave Wolfgang just enough time to recover and take Jester down, and after delivering a beautiful Senton, Wolfgang covered his bloodthirsty opponent for the victory, which took the score to 1-1.

Then, it was onto some Tag-Team action, with Davey Blaze tagging with Chris Renfrew for Team Florence, to take on Red Lightning and Liam Thompson of Team Hemphill. Red Lightning and Florence had been at each other’s throats on Twitter leading up to the event, so fans were almost certain that there would be some serious tension surrounding this match. Before the opening bell, Billy Kirkwood announced that the match would be contested under No-Disqualification rules, and with that, Renfrew and Blaze stormed the ring, assaulting Liam Thompson, while Red ducked out to safety at ringside, leaving his partner to take a beating. Once the referee had the match under control, Thompson and Red managed to wrestle a very methodical tag team contest, by isolating Blaze, and continually attacking Renfrew to keep the Buckfast brawler from tagging himself in. Eventually, Blaze managed to will himself back into the fight, gaining the advantage and finally making the tag to his partner. Renfrew came in firing on all cylinders, taking down both opponents with a serious of clotheslines and big power moves before making his way outside to grab his trademark Kendo stick. Red Lightning managed to steal the weapon from Renfrew, but Robert Florence was quick to help his team member. With revenge in his mind, Florence looked to strike Red with the stick, but the devious competitor dodged the attack, and Florence inadvertently nailed Renfrew instead. Always looking to take advantage of a situation, Red Lightning quickly covered Renfrew for the win, giving Team Hemphill the 2-1 lead.

BT Gunn took to the ring next to represent Team Hemphill, to face off against James Scott. From the moment the bell rang, this match was a fast paced affair, with both Scott and Gunn firmly on the attack. The action remained firmly back-and-forth for the majority of the match, with Scott trying to ground his high flying opponent, and Gunn working hard to stay one step ahead of his tough adversary. On several occasions, it looked like either man would score the victory, but both Scott and Gunn refused to stay down, no matter how badly they were beaten. Eventually, Scott chased a retreating Gunn to the outside, but was distracted an altercation between Robert Florence and a vocal fan at ringside. When the fan knocked the hat from Florence’s head, James Scott took exception to the show of disrespect, and jumped to his team captain’s defence, launching the fan over the barrier and hurling him into the ring posts. While Scott may have felt like he was doing the right thing, the referee had no choice but to disqualify the enraged competitor, and award the victory to BT Gunn. Team Hemphill went 3-1 up, and were at match point against Team Florence going into the interval.

After a short break, the action kicked off once again with Kid Fite of Team Hemphill, taking on Adam Shame of Team Florence. With two tough competitors like these, this match was sure to be hard hitting, and it did not disappoint. After going head-to-head in the middle of the ring, the fight spilled out into the crowd, with both men nailing their opponent with steel chairs, bins, and even plastic beer cups. Going right around the hall, the brawl even saw Kid Fite take a high risk dive from the bar area, but he was caught by Shame, and slammed unceremoniously into the hall pillars. Back in the ring, Shamer and Fite gave everything they had, but after a hard fought battle and a trademark Teabag Drop, Kid Fite covered his opponent for the win, and it looked like Team Hemphill had won the war. As Greg Hemphill ran into the ring celebrating, Kid Fite informed him that he does not like Florence or Hemphill, but a few years ago, when he was looking for TV work, Florence was kind enough to e-mail Fite back, while Hemphill ignored his request completely. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Fite dropped Hemphill with a DDT, and informed the crowd that his victory point would go to Team Florence. The war was back on, with the score at 3-2 to Team Hemphill.

It was then time for the only women’s match on the card, with Kay Lee Ray from Team Hemphill taking on Nikki Storm of Team Florence. Nikki Storm is, without question, one of the most skilled women’s wrestlers in Scotland today, but Kay Lee Ray is no slouch herself, having made a name for herself over the last few years as a top women’s contender. Once the match was underway, Storm quickly went on the offensive, in an attempt to keep her opponent grounded, but Kay Lee refused to be beaten. Whether it was submission holds or high risk moves, both competitors pulled out every trick in their arsenal to beat down their opponent, but the resilience of both Kay Lee and Nikki was undeniable, as one pin attempt after another proved futile. Eventually, it looked like Kay Lee Ray may have been on the verge of defeating her opponent, but Storm was able to battle back and secure a much needed victory for Team Florence. At 3-3, it all came down to the final match of the night.

The final match of the night was the clash of a veteran and an up-and-comer. Lionheart, of Team Hemphill, was set to go one-on-one with Team Florence’s Noam Dar. While fans expected a great match between these two extremely talented wrestlers, no one could be prepared for just how good this match became. As both men stood in the ring, there was a definite knowledge of what was at stake. Whoever won this match would win the entire contest for their team, but rather than attacking each other from the outset, Dar and Lionheart began the match with a respectful handshake. Once the action began however, it was all business. From the first lock-up, each man tried desperately to out-manoeuvre the other, countering one move after another in lightning fast succession. After finally gaining some offensive momentum, Dar sent Lionheart over the guardrail and into the crowd, before following him with awe-inspiring suicide dive through the ropes. Lionheart was soon able to fight back, becoming more aggressive as the match continued, but his young adversary would not back down, and eventually, Dar slapped on a brutal heel lock which almost caused Lionheart to pass out. The tough veteran managed to break free of the hold, and delivered a Superkick/Frog Splash combination to Dar, but this was still not enough to keep the young man down for the 3 count. Irritation became visible on the face of Lionheart, who spat in the face of Dar in a final act of defiance, before Noam delivered the finishing blow to defeat Lionheart, and crown Team Florence as Oran War champions.

With Team Florence victorious, Greg Hemphill took to the mic to thank the fans for coming, and to congratulate Robert Florence on a job well done. As Florence took the mic to give his victory speech however, Hemphill showed his true colours, and attacked his nemesis from behind. This led to a huge brawl, with both teams storming the ring. As Team Florence stood united in the ring, Team Hemphill retreated to the locker room, knowing they were defeated. Robert Florence, enraged at Hemphill’s attack, and then decided to issue his adversary a challenge. A challenge to train for 6 months, and meet him, one-on-one, in the ring at the Oran War II. After the bad blood that has started to show, this should be a very interesting encounter for return of Oran War.

Overall, the first Oran War lived up to the massive hype surrounding it. With a roster of the best talent that Scotland has to offer, each match was entertaining, competitive and thoroughly enjoyable. My only hope is that in the course of the next six months, Oran War II can build up feuds and stories more effectively , so that by the time the show comes around, the fans can have more of an emotional investment in the matches, as well as enjoying the in-ring action. That being said however, I feel privileged to say that I was one of the lucky few who bore witness to the first Oran War.

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