Originally Posted by Lord Santa Claus IV.
I remember WOOLCOCK spending the 2nd half of 2011 saying he'd watch that Mason/Allmark series. No faith man. That series last summer was so fun. Great wrestling and great angles. Them 2 rule.
Better late than never!
James Mason vs Dean Allmark, ASW (2/6/11)
Great way to introduce the feud and establish the characteristics of both men. Mason is by far the more accomplished mat wizard and looks super smooth in all his hold trading, whilst Allmark comes off more agile and capable in the matwork department albeit relying more on his agility to overcome the experience and greater technical accumen of Mason. Its wrestled almost entirely on the mat with a lot of counters and transitions which are fought for well and they really lay in the strikes when the time calls for it. Honestly felt at times like a 00s version of WOS with how they seemed to be noticeably getting more tense in every lockup as the match progressed and the strikes got stiffer.
I know Mason is the heel in the feud and I thought they really teased his eventual turn remarkably well. Things like conning the ref into position to use him as a device to execute a knip-up whilst not blatant cheating was certainly close to being unsportsmanlike. By far the most impressive hint at Masons' heelishness however was the spot where he headbutted Allmark in the ribs after yet another stalemate in a hold exchange. It was the first time Allmark had gotten the better of Mason in an exchange and where previously Allmark would shake the hand of Mason after an exchange, Mason immediately went for a cheap headbutt which highlighted he was prone to taking shortcuts unlike Allmark. I probably wouldn't have picked up on it without knowing Mason eventually becomes a clear heel, but even still I appreciated how subtle it was.
James Mason vs Dean Allmark, ASW (7/27/11)
For the most part this is wrestled almost exactly the same as the first match. It really feels like they have a general set formula of exchanges and hold trading to establish their characters and respective strengths, but crucially there's always an element of struggle in achieving each counter. It really feels like a modern take on classic british wrestling, especially seeing Mason visibly failing at escaping holds initially and having to bide his time and try numerous times to eventually pull off a successful counter.
There's numerous examples of great counter wrestling and matwork in the match, and whilst the injection of a couple of comedy moments could seem wasted to some, comedy in british wrestling is nothing new and given both men were originally working a sporting contest it seemed appropriate to me (as well as potentially being a contributive factor to Masons' antics at the close of the match). Both men eventually take a bump to the floor and it ends up angering Mason to the point where the sporting contest breaks down into an all out fight with Mason mauling Allmark who seems apologetic and more content at wrestling a clean match. I generally prefer when matches break down from hold trading into stiff striking/brawling without the need of big bumps, but in the context of the feud I thought it was well done and sets up the remaining matches very nicely with Mason now being a clear heel.
James Mason vs Dean Allmark, ASW (8/3/11)
God damn this was just what you want in terms of escalating the rivalry between both men. Mason is a tremendous heel here and his performance screams of something you'd associate with Regal or Finlay. He's vicious and far more strike orientated here than in the previous two matches, and any chance of the match being a sporting contest is pretty much dismissed right from the off.
There's still a fair amount of chain wrestling in the match, since both men desperately want to decisively outwrestle the other to prove their dominance. The match however features far more heel schtick from Mason as well as more striking from both men after Masons' heel turn the week before. There's a couple of brilliant sequences where Mason uses a closed fist on Allmark but successfully cons the referee into believing it was a palm strike before dragging him in full view of the crowd and deliveing a series of brutal looking punches. The strikes from both men are as appropriately stiff as you'd expect from british wrestling, with a couple of knee lifts and punches from Mason really standing out. Mason also successfully dragging the referee out of position to expose a turnbuckle and injure Allmark's shoulder undetected was also another terrific bit of heel work from Mason.
The match really develops however when Mason works over the shoulder briefly before Allmark makes a comeback only to land awkwardly on his left knee from a moonsault and immediately crumble in the corner. Safe to say Mason is terrific in casually kicking Allmark in the bad knee to assess the injury and even goads him into continuing by ringing the bell and trying to claim a forfeit. Allmarks' selling is really super as this defiant and passionate babyface who refuses to quit even if he stands no chance against a vicious and methodical Mason who senses victory. Mason works the leg like a champ and looks like the scummiest prick in the process before securing a submission with an STF. Crowd reaction is perfect and Mason taunts a beaten Allmark which sets up the next match.
James Mason & Nathan Cruz vs Dean Allmark & Carl Cool, ASW (8/10/11)
Oh man, southern tag wrestling done brilliantly with Mason putting in a masterclass performance. He's everything you want in a heel in this match. A cowardly weasel who does his best to avoid Allmark at all costs, suckering Allmark into a sneak attack by his partner, stalling repeatedly, chirping at the crowd whenever he gets a chance, being a slimey tactician in pulling the referee out of position, being a stiff bully to young Carl Cool whenever he gets an opportunity..just perfection.
Match does a really good job at making you want to see Allmark get his hands on Mason. Mason finally is forced to lockup but manages to draw Cruz into the ring with Allmark unaware and this allows him to quickly blindside Allmark and escape unharmed. There's plenty of great comical bumping from Mason and Cruz throughout including a great comedy spot where Mason gets flown through the ropes to the floor and immediately bolts out the door to escape the punishment before returning. Heat segment is packed full of great heel mannerisms from Mason in antagonising Allmark and drawing him into the ring to allow for illegal choking, brutalising and a general violent beatdown of poor Cool. I could go on forever about some of Masons' offence and how nasty it looks, but I'll say his running flip senton looked spectacular and potentially rib breaking.
Hot tag and babyface comeback is really good and they do a really sensational finish where Mason is seemingly unaware that Allmark is positioning for a superkick only for Mason to help his partner to his feet and then immediately duck the incoming superkick, sacrificing his partner and the match but again outsmarting and evading Allmarks' revenge. Great way to get Allmark some credibility but still have the fans wanting Mason to finally get a proper comeuppance.
James Mason vs Dean Allmark, Lumberjack Match, ASW (8/31/11)
Terrific end to the feud and a really strong performance from both men. Mason controls the bulk of the match thanks to the heel lumberjacks continually interjecting themselves into the match and keeping Allmark restricted to short bursts of offence, with Mason really being able to control and dictate the pace and lay in a vicious beating on Allmark in the process. Thought the lumberjack stip actually added to the match with the heels constantly pick-pocketing Allmark and keeping the heat at a maximum whilst allowing them to build to Allmarks' revenge and Masons' eventual comeuppance.
Thought the dive by Allmark onto all the heel lumberjacks and Mason was well timed in the context of the match and was setup very well for what could have been a rather aimless and simply crowd pleasing spot in worse hands. Eventual brawl between the lumberjacks which spills into the ring could divide some, but I liked how it added to the chaos and unpredictability and the way it allowed Mason to rob Allmark of the belt through a belt shot by a lumberjack undetected in amongst the fighting was a great dickhead heel win. Eventual overturn and restarting of the match worked for me as well because of how well they setup Allmark finally getting his hands on Mason. I wanted to see him destroy him regardless of how it came about and its one of those instances where you just accept the lunacy and surrealism that you'll get in pro wrestling. Allmark playing possum and goading Mason into a relaxed state and setting up a brilliant superkick was the perfect finish. Crowd was molten hot for the last few minutes and especially everything after the false finish.
Well, safe to say the year and a bit it took me to finally jump on Seabs' recommedation was certainly worth the wait. Mason for me was the real star and has this great Finlay/Regal presence to his work and he's an excellent performer as well as evidenced by his work in the final 3 matches where he had to be more of a pure heel rather than a de facto babyface working a sportsmanlike contest. Allmark is a really fun and energetic babyface and I definitely want to watch more of his 2012 run. Good thing he has his own youtube page with all his matches, because I get the impression even the less than stellar matches will at the least be fun with the whole vibe of ASW and the presentation of the product. Well worth the time for anyone who appreciates British/Euro wrestling and also southern wrestling, or heck just great wrestling in general.