Morecambe wrestling fans went through mixed emotions on Saturday night as two of their longtime favourites had differing fortunes.
Popular grapple star ‘The Heavyweight House of Pain’ Stixx finally captured the British heavyweight title after an 11-year quest to wild cheers and a standing ovation at the historic Winter Gardens theatre.
But earlier in the night, fans were in tears after the high-flying masked hero El Ligero lost a ‘Loser Leaves Morecambe’ match.
Stixx’s championship win came after an epic ‘No Disqualification’ battle with reigning champion ‘One Man Riot’ Craig Kollins.
With the 300-strong crowd on their feet, the rivals fought all over the Winter Gardens auditorium.
Nottingham-based Stixx, real name Paul Grint, eventually scored the match-winning three count after delivering his finishing move the Stixx Bomb.
It marked Stixx’s first singles championship reign in Morecambe, 11 years after his debut in the town.
Grint, 33, hasn’t lost a wrestling match in the seaside resort in more than seven years.
But his previous three title challenges - in 2011, 2012 and earlier this year against Kollins - had all ended in disqualifications, meaning he did not capture the prestigious championship.
Afterwards, he posted on Facebook: “Battered, bruised, sore and most importantly, champion.
“Hell of a war with Craig Kollins in Morecambe.
“One more memory for me in this town. Thank you ALL for the support.”
Earlier in the evening, fans were in shock at the demise of ‘Mexican Sensation’ El Ligero.
Ligero was beaten by his bitter rival ‘The Priority’ Chris Ridgeway after a dramatic encounter where the loser could never again wrestle in Morecambe.
During the match, the Leeds-based ‘lucha libre’ star was unmasked for the first time in his 13-year career.
For a Mexican wrestler, being unmasked is the ultimate dishonour.
As he covered his face with his hands, Ligero was vulnerable to Ridgeway’s final assault, and the Barrow-in-Furness grappler was able to roll his rival’s shoulders to the canvas for the match-winning pinfall.
The three count was greeted with shocked groans of despair from the fans, some of whom were crying in disbelief.
A visibly upset Ligero, who put his mask back on after the bout, received a standing ovation as he kneeled in the Winter Gardens ring and kissed the Mexican flag.
Later he said: “Morecambe has been one of the most passionate crowds I’ve ever been in front of. “A massive thank you to the fans for a superb 10 years. Your support has been incredible.”
The 30-year-old, who is based in Leeds, first competed in Morecambe at The Dome in 2005. He captured the British Flyweight Championship three times in the town (in 2007 and twice in 2010) and engaged in memorable feuds with RockStar Spud, RJ Singh and Ridgeway, whom he had defeated twice at the Winter Gardens in matches earlier this year.
In other results from Saturday night’s ‘All Or Nothing’ card; James Drake beat Solar, Bobby Roberts and Viper defeated Sexy Kev and Lana Austin, Joey Hayes pinned Barricade, Laird Grayson upset Johnny Phere by countout, Bubblegum and Cyanide beat Ryan Smile and Damian Dunne.
The next show at the Winter Gardens is on Saturday, August 15, and will be headlined by a tag team match pitting Stixx and Joey Hayes against Johnny Phere and Craig Kollins where Stixx’s title, his undefeated streak, and the name of the company will be on the line.
Tickets from www.paidpromotionswrestling.co.uk or from Studio Bronze on Queen Street, Morecambe.
PHOTOS by Tony Knox.