Heralded as one of the hottest promotions in the UK, NORTH has been making waves in the industry that are beginning to lap on the shores across the Atlantic.
Celebrating their biggest show ever in July last year, the Newcastle based company has been doing things their way, backed by the ever loyal and vocal NORTH faithful. Over the years, the promotion has visited different venues around the region, but their spiritual home has long become the quirky surroundings of Anarchy Brewery, tucked away in the corner of an industrial estate.
At Slamfest, NORTH continued their mission to bring the best independent wrestling shows to the North East, moving a few miles down the road to North Shields and the confines of the Linskill Centre.
Any fears that a change of venue would lose some of the atmosphere and heart they have worked so hard to build was quickly dispelled by a rowdy yet family friendly crowd.
As new calendars are unwrapped signalling the start of January, wrestling fans far and wide recognise this particular month for two things. Wrestle Kingdom and the iconic Royal Rumble.
So what would a wrestling show in January be without its very own version of the over the top rope extravaganza?
Kicking off Slamfest, the NORTH Rumble offered the winner a spot in this year’s NCL Cup tournament. Familiar faces and rookies came and went. Ace Matthews in particular playing up to his entertainingly loathsome personal motivator gimmick, easily drawing the ire of the Geordie crowd by invoking the name of local rivals Sunderland. Wearing a microphone while being subjected to a beatdown, gained little sympathy from a crowd all too happy to revel in his misery.
The field eventually whittled down to just Kemper and Henry Faust, the latter gaining the NORTH Faithful’s support in the face of Kemper’s overwhelming height differential. Clinging on to the top rope, Faust sent the giant to the floor to claim the victory and his spot in the 2024 NCL Cup.
There aren’t many places in England that would gleefully serenade a tag team from Yorkshire (Big Hoss Rogan & Wrecking Ball Reece) with chants of “southern fairies”, but there is after all, a reason the promotion is called NORTH. In a clash of big meaty men slapping meat, it was the gigantic team of Will Kroos and Rampage Brown that emerged victorious.
The first singles match of the night saw Gene Muny face off against TNA star, Joe Hendry.
Wildly charismatic, Muny has quickly become a NORTH favourite for his comedic timing and ability to make even the most grizzled of wrestling fans crack a smile. The ability to entertain the family friendly audience here compared to the usual over 18 crowd NORTH regularly caters for, shouldn’t be underestimated. Even as a heel, Muny couldn’t escape support from sections of the crowd with chants of “he’s our bad boi” filling the air much to the chagrin of the man himself.
His opponent at Slamfest, Joe Hendry, enjoyed a huge 2023. Getting over Stateside, the Scotsman has displayed his own comedy chops and musical stylings in TNA with an infectiously catchy entrance theme and the in-ring ability to back it up. Here the pair put on a hugely entertaining match from start to finish with Joe Hendry claiming the win, foiling some typically nefarious plans by Muny with a cutter followed by his Inverted Front Powerslam finisher.
As has become the norm in NORTH a clash of two fantastic British talents, the next match offered up Emersyn Jayne Vs Rhio.
Rhio experienced a mixed 2023. From the highs of claiming the NCL Cup to the bitter disappointment of losing in the main event of NORTH’s last event against champion Leon Slater.
A nasty looking missile dropkick from the top rope nearly claimed what could have been considered an upset victory for Jayne. A Shinsuke Nakamura-esque sliding German Suplex by Emerysn showed exactly why she gained rave reviews in her recent GCW appearance.
Even a huge Spanish Fly from the top rope wouldn’t be enough to put down Rhio. Instead it would be the current NCL Cup champion that would end the bout with her hand raised, after delivering two package piledrivers. One on the ring apron and one planting Jayne in the middle of the ring. Hard hitting, physical and perhaps the sleeper match of the night, this was a fantastic advert for women’s British wrestling.
The NORTH dream team of Rory Coyle, Liam Slater and Natalie Sykes proved too much for the much maligned trio of Ace Matthews and The Landed Gentry. The match provided typical British wrestling fare, a mix of technical prowess with a dash of pantomime.
From the moment it was announced, the main event promised to steal the show. Leon Slater Vs Speedball Mike Bailey for the NORTH Championship.
If you were expecting a catch-as-catch-can wrestling match, this may not be the one for you. But for everyone else in attendance this was a jaw-dropping spectacle played out at a frenetic pace.
Chain wrestling and rest holds be damned, Slater Vs Speedball was all about lightning quick strikes and aerial assaults from start to finish.
Mixed in to dives to the outside, Bailey’s quick as a hiccup kicks and knees threatened to dethrone the fledgling NORTH champion throughout. The Canadian looked every inch the imported star to act as a foil to the homegrown Slater.
It’s hard to describe just how crisp and lethal a bout this pairing laid on inside the Linskill Centre. It wouldn’t have looked out of place on TNA’s recent Hard To Kill PPV. Signing with the company last year, the sky in which he frequents throughout his matches, seems to be the limit for Leon Slater. It’s easy to see why we recently named him as our Top British Wrestler to Watch in 2024.
A proud NORTH champion, it is now just a matter of time before the rest of the world is exposed to one of the hottest talents in the British scene. The fact Will Osprey dropped his name as the future of professional wrestling speaks volumes for his potential.
For those that haven’t witnessed Slater’s signature Swanton 450, it isn’t until after the referee counts to three that your mind can truly appreciate the athleticism required to not just land the move, but make it look so smooth in its execution.
Michael Oku’s appearance at the end of the show, tantalisingly set up another banger main event at NORTH’s next show, All Roads Lead North. Another event that is sure to prove box office viewing.