WSU’s 8th Anniversary show was a white-hot bed of non-stop action, with a plethora of outstanding matches. External circumstances (largely weather-related) meant that the show was delayed by about half an hour and that the crowd was significantly smaller than was expected, but was that going to stop these women from putting on the show of their lives? Hell no! Let’s take a look:

The show started off with Jenny Rose looking to get her foot back on the ladder following her failed attempt at capturing LuFisto‘s WSU World Championship at the previous show. This time, Rose was up against the up-and-coming CZW Academy graduate Brittany Blake. Blake proved herself an ideal opponent for Rose, her diminutive figure allowing her to be tossed around to no end while her rookie status and drive to succeed provided the perfect backdrop, making her pinfall escapes and offensive comebacks so much more special, and making both women look a million dollars in the process. Rose would get the win with a reverse STO but Blake can be proud of what was arguably her best performance yet in a WSU ring.

Another upstart making significant inroads on the scene is the third-generation Tessa Blanchard, who had another good showing last night as she faced Sassy Stephie. As always, Stephie was accompanied by her grunts at The Office, Amanda Rodriguez and Mademoiselle Rachelle, who used their ringside presence to Stephie’s advantage. It almost looked like it had paid off, after Blanchard pinned Stephie clean from a springboard bulldog only for the referee to find brass knuckles in her boot – which Rachelle had placed there when the ref wasn’t looking. LuFisto came out to argue Tessa’s case and the match was restarted – with Tessa getting the pinfall again, almost immediately and with no controversy. An interesting booking decision, but one that shows WSU see a heck of a lot of potential in Blanchard. And why wouldn’t they?

Solo Darling is always a joy to watch, and she created the second big upset of the night as she pulled off a shock victory over Mickie Knuckles. A mismatch on paper, but Solo shattered Knuckles’ illusion of dominance by having the nous to do what all underdogs should do in the face of a monster: treat them with as little respect as possible. Sure enough, the sugar, marshmallow guns and leg-humping got Solo inside her opponent’s head, riling Knuckles up and catching her off-guard. When Solo offered an Oreo as an olive branch, Knuckles aggressively declined, sending Solo into a fit of rage, resulting in an X Factor for a sensational clean pinfall win.

The first title match of the night saw Niya Barela put her WSU Spirit Championship on the line against Nevaeh, who was making her return to in-ring action after a knee injury. Niya took full advantage of this, ambushing Nevaeh as she was making her entrance and unleashing a torrent of offense to her newly-healed knee before the match even started. Niya continued this strategy once the bell had rung, but her vitriol got the better of her as she took her belt in an attempt to use it as a weapon, only for her to be in plain view of the referee, who snatched it out of her hands, giving Nevaeh some precious few seconds to recover and hit a double underhook DDT – Niya’s own finisher – to become the new Spirit Champion. A good result, if a somewhat short match considering the extensive buildup.

After WSU legend Amy Lee made her expletive-laden acceptance speech for her Hall of Fame induction (seriously, I couldn’t make out a single word she said apart from “fuck” and I still understood about 50% of the speech), the WSU World Championship match concluded the first half of the show, with champion LuFisto facing “Portugal’s Perfect Athlete” Shanna in singles action. This was exactly the quality of match you’d expect from these two incredibly talented women, with both competitors pulling out all of their big moves to try and get the win. The finish was kind of cheap though – after three consecutive dragon suplexes without a successful pinfall, Shanna took Lufi’s title belt with the intention of laying out her opponent with it, only for the referee to see it and wrest it away from her. Sound familiar? LuFisto took the opportunity to capitalise on Shanna’s distraction, hitting a Burning Hammer for the pinfall. Two title matches in a row, two near-identical finishes. Not the smartest move.

Things got more confusing after the match, when Sassy Stephie and The Office came out to beat down LuFisto, only for Shanna to abruptly turn face and send them packing. Lufi and Shanna embraced respectfully in the ring, despite Shanna having tried to beat her by cheating mere seconds ago. Confusing and haphazard booking, but I’m willing to afford it clemency because the match itself was so good.

After the interval we saw Cherry Bomb and Leva Bates have an excellent match. Leva was dressed in classic ECW Dudley Boyz attire – a nod to the guys who trained her to be a wrestler and the 2300 Arena where the Dudleys made their name in the ’90s – and paid a number of homages to them throughout the match, including a Bubba Bomb and a one-person 3D (so basically a cutter, but use your imagination) to a flying Cherry Bomb. The pair showed how well they work together, not letting the comedy spots and the bickering get in the way of high-quality wrestling action, and the final moments of the match, where a devastating exchange of superkicks culminated in Cherry Bomb getting the pin and continuing her winning streak, were breathtaking. A great contest, and with Cherry Bomb now racking up the W’s, we could well see her get a WSU World Championship shot very soon.

The final hour of the show was taken up by two matches, and boy, were they something special. Chicks Using Nasty Tactics (Kimber Lee and Annie Social) took on longtime rivals The Juicy Product (JT Dunn and David Starr) for the opportunity to win back the WSU Tag Team Championships. Dunn and Starr, accompanied by Rick Cataldo, took control of the match early on, but things started to even themselves out as the match progressed until part way through, when JT Dunn drove a lethal double stomp into Lee’s back while she was hanging from the guardrails on the outside, reducing her to a crumpled heap and leaving Social to go it alone. She came pretty close, hitting Starr with an Acid Bomb only for Dunn to break the pin. Finally and miraculously, Kimber Lee made it back to her feet and in the ring, her face dripping with blood but with those Tag Team Titles still firmly on her mind. A sweet one-two of offense between her and Social culminating in a Code Red to Starr, and the WSU Tag Team Championships were firmly back in their rightful – and female! – hands.

To add insult to injury for Starr and Dunn, an incensed Cataldo vented his frustration on Starr, putting an end to this feud with a surprise face turn. As much as I enjoyed Juicy Product’s run with the belts (despite being justifiably skeptical at first), I’m looking forward to some new tag team talent emerging to challenge Lee and Annie Social moving forward. Preferably teams made up of women.

The main event was a TLC match between Hania and Athena, a rubber match following two show-stealing performances from the two competitors at previous shows, with each woman getting a win apiece. The action was chaotic from the moment the bell rang – although in the initial phases of the match, not all for the right reasons. Some sloppy and uncharacteristic mistakes, largely on Athena’s part, dampened proceedings slightly (and the ensuing “you fucked up” chants did little to quell the wounds – have some respect, for christ’s sake), but from roughly the halfway point onwards it was all forgotten as the pair tore each other apart with spots that would make even the most hardened deathmatch wrestler wince.

From Hania spearing Athena onto a horizontally-perched ladder, to Athena suplexing Hania into a tightly-tessellated stack of chairs, this was a hair-raising, edge-of-seat contest that by the closing sequences had every single person in attendance on their feet in fixation and respect. It looked like Hania had it after she hit TWO sentons through a table onto Athena (albeit inadvertently after the table refused to break the first time. You watching, Maffew?), but Athena showed her resilience and kept fighting back, this time with Hania showing her guts, taking a powerbomb through a table AND a fisherman buster onto a chair and still kicking out. After what seemed like an eternity of these two incredible human beings destroying each other, it was Athena who would put the match to rest, climbing up the tallest ladder available and planting Hania with an O-Face from the heavens. Glorious.

Because we hadn’t had enough shocks already, Athena and Hania shook hands and hugged it out, only for Hania to grab a chair and lay it into Athena’s back, before flipping the bird to the crowd and storming out. This may have been intended to be a blow-off match, but perhaps this isn’t over yet.

Over the past year or so I’ve given WSU its fair share of criticism. This show, however, was anything but criticism-worthy. A fantastic array of good-to-downright-amazing matches, with plenty of young stars given the rub against experienced opponents, championships that feel like they actually mean something and a main event that was beyond words. Unlike most WSU shows, the late start wasn’t actually anyone’s fault this time, and the poor attendance was unavoidable due to the errant weather (although to be honest, the crowd made enough noise throughout the show that I didn’t even notice its sparsity for most of it). The only gripe I can really say I have was with the iPPV stream – the resolution was poor (see the screenshot at the top of the page) and it lagged at times – but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the show.

As for where we go from here, there are plenty of places to explore. Nevaeh will hopefully attract some regular competition to her Spirit Title, while I have no doubt that C.U.N.T. will be the harbingers of a new era in WSU’s tag team division. Young up-and-comers like Tessa Blanchard, Solo Darling and Brittany Blake continue to impress greatly and are sure to have bright futures – not just in WSU, but elsewhere too. As for the WSU Championship, we now have a few names that will surely have their eye on LuFisto’s prize, most notably Athena and Cherry Bomb. Any combination of those three women is certain to be a heck of match, so it looks like the next few shows are in safe hands.

All in all, Anniversary was a superb advertisement of the WSU product and women’s wrestling in general, and another perfect and vital step for WSU to continue its journey back into the spotlight. It looks like we’re finally almost at the other end of the tunnel.

Matches from WSU Anniversary will be available soon on ClickWrestle.com.