To truly value what exists today and to understand the path into the future, we must look into the past. I don’t know if that Is the history teacher in me speaking, but it is something that I truly believe and the reason this column exists.
Thanks to the fantastic video-on-demand library of the Australian Wrestling Network, I get to take you back in time to relive and review shows of the past. We will relive the days when I became a fan of Australian Wrestling and revisit significant shows from days gone by. I hope this inspires you to check out the back catalogue of shows and see where today’s stars began their journey and icons of the Australian wrestling scene.
Thanks to the suggestion of the Australian Wrestling Network’s owner, we begin with 2008’s PWA Melbourne Reunion show from the Jordanville Community Centre. Some of you may be familiar with the long-running Sydney incarnation of PWA. Still, it was actually founded in Melbourne in 2004. It ran for three years, inspiring promotions to be launched in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra and Sydney.
The buckets of blood, sweat and tears shed on the PWA Melbourne mat are acknowledged by founder Lobo in a video package of him speaking about his reason for establishing the promotion.
Personal accounts from talent follow as we hear from some familiar faces such as Dowie James, Jay Andrews (MCW’s Head Trainer), Gino Gambino, current Ring of Honor talent Slex, current TNA star Tenille Dashwood, Cletus and KrackerJak along with other top stars of the Australian wrestling scene.
PWA Commissioner, Paul Jones, welcomes us to the event and runs through the list of talent to participate on the show. On commentary for the evening, are ‘Big Daddy’ Julian James and ‘Mr Wrestling’ Bass.
Tre vs Adam Gambino (Gino Gambino)
The opening match of the show is Tre up against Adam Gambino (Gino Gambino). The match opens hot after Tre’s attempt for a handshake is met by a slap to the face by Gambino. The action quickly spills to the outside, with big man Tre showing off his athleticism before bringing the fight back in to avoid the count-out.
The match continues as a slugfest with control alternating back and forth, with Gambino utilising the shady tactics we are familiar with. Gambino’s attempts for an easy win are thwarted by a returning Adam Wyatt allowing Tre to pick up the win in a hot opener with a huge splash off the top rope.
Seth Maxx vs Hector Von Fuzzy Pants
Next up, is monstrous Seth Maxx calling for anyone from the back to face him in an open challenge. His request is accepted by Hector von Fuzzy Pants – looking like he turned Oscar the Grouch into a pair of furry flares. Hector ups the ante, making it Career versus Career before sliding into the ring and met by a massive spine buster for a quick 1, 2, 3.
Maxx celebrates before calling for another challenger, the lights dim and the dub-step starts as Laser arrives to take the big man off his feet with a quick missile dropkick. Laser uses his high-flying arsenal and speed to keep Maxx grounded before too much showboating opens the door for the big man.
Maxx dominates with power moves before a quick counter followed up by a coast-to-coast drop quick gets a 2 count.
Cremator vs Seth Maxx
Despite Laser’s best effort, Maxx proves too much dispatching him with a military press into a gutbuster followed by a tombstone-ish piledriver for the win. Maxx berates the quality of opponent, calling for more and the music of Cremator hits and the one man who matches Maxx for size makes his way to the ring. Maxx is quick to attack, and knowing that he has met his equal introduces a chair to the equation.
The veteran Cremator shows off his experience and neutralises the chair before sending Maxx straight to hell with a chokeslam followed by the three-count. PWA Melbourne’s name and honour are defended.
Justin Cross & Ryan Eagles vs Mike Burr and Stephen James
Third on the card, Justin Cross & Ryan Eagles accompanied by Madison Eagles look to “entertain us” as the lyrics of Robbie Williams suggest in their entrance. The interstate-trio representing PWA Canberra and PWA Sydney immediately draw heat before they even speak on the mic, and this is furthered as they tear the crowd to shreds.
Thankfully, the music of The Ultimate (Mike Burr and Stephen James) hits and the hometown-duo are out to defend their turf and the memory of PWA Melbourne.
Cross and James start things off with a fast-paced technical exchange of submissions and reversals. The wrestling masterclass continues as a wiry Burr and Eagles are tagged in, before showcasing their physicality as well. Even lighting malfunctions could not stop the momentum of this match.
All four men showed their entire repertoire of moves; the match seamlessly sliding between technical masterpiece, a showcase of power and hard-hitting brawl. The match breaks down as a series of double team moves looks to end it, leaving all four men exhausted before James hits a Spanish Fly off the top on Cross for the win for PWA Melbourne.
Ryan Blood vs Chip
Next up, Ryan Blood channelling an emo Daniel Larusso faces off with fan favourite Chip with Valentine (Tenille Dashwood). Blood and Chip exchange wristlocks highlighting their speed, talent and ingenuity before a near fall slows the pace. Chip sends Blood to the outside before utilising the environment as a weapon and showing why he is popular with the fans with his risk-taking moves and audience interaction.
Valentine even gets into the action with her own crossbody from the top turnbuckle to Blood on the outside. The action moves back into the ring as Chip looks to end it but a cunning counter from Blood swings the momentum in his favour. A series of near falls builds the intensity before both men look to hit their finishers with Chip putting Blood away with a chicken-wing facebuster.
Rave vs Slex
Rage Against the Machine brings out Rave then the familiar bass riff of ‘Beat It’ announces his opponent a very non-business Slex with popular starlet Ruby. It is business as usual Slex as he takes quick control of the match and plays to the crowd. A cheap shot gives Rave the advantage. Rave dominates Slex as Ruby shouts words of encouragement to no avail. A decapitating turnbuckle powerbomb forces Slex to roll to the outside for a reprieve but Rave stalks him and returns him to the ring.
A double clothesline forces the ref to begin the ten-count but Slex rallies and takes control, showing the high flying we have come to expect from him in and outside the ring. Rave wrestles control back leading to a series of momentum swings and an almost 3 from a top rope belly-to-back suplex from Slex. Both men hit their biggest moves but cannot put each other away until Slex hits his patented Slexecution. The former best friends look to shake hands before an unexpected heel turn occurs.
Mad Dog vs Lee Starr
Sixth on the mammoth card is a less-scarred Mad Dog squaring off with the glamourous Lee Starr. A chop exchange kicks things off with Mad Dog gaining an early advantage. The action quickly spills to the outside with Mad Dog brutalising Starr to the pleasure of the Jordanville crowd. Starr takes advantage of an existing injury with a superkick to the recently reattached ear of Mag Dog. Starr highlights his submission game, grounding Mad Dog with a Figure Four.
Starr impresses technically by reversing a tornado DDT attempt into a Northern Lights suplex and matches Mad Dog’s brutality by biting the damaged ear of his opponent. A scary moment occurs as Starr looks for have injured himself before revealing his cunning and deception.
A blood-soaked Mad Dog gains control with a jumping piledriver, but his ear injury leaves him off balance and unable to capitalise. Starr hits a running Death Valley Driver for the statement win. Paul Jones and referees attend to Mad Dog post-match and help him to the back before Starr announces his retirement from the business after paving the way for many years.
The Bastard Brothers vs The Ruthless Wolves
The event continues with Tag Team Championship action. The challengers, The Bastard Brothers (KrackerJak and Logan) enter to ‘Raining Blood’ before KrackerJak delivers one of his trademark NSFW promos. The champions, The Ruthless Wolves (Enforcer and Brave Dave) enter to a mash-up of the 1986 Transformers movie theme song and Metallica dressed in Optimus Prime colours. Former tag team partners, KrackerJak and Brave Dave start off the action, with KrackerJak reminding everyone that he is quite the technician and not just a ‘Mad Bastard’.
The excellent teamwork of the Ruthless Wolves is highlighted as they isolate KrackerJak and then Logan, with the strength and agility of Enforcer and the sacrificial natural of Brave Dave a focus.
The Bastard Brothers manage to gain control and exploit the rules to maintain it. The power of Logan is too much for Brave Dave, as the Brothers take turns working him over until the hot tag to Enforcer is made. As the action escalates, a Dave Cutter to KrackerJak almost ends it, but Logan breaks it up and goes on a rampage. KrackerJak goes for This is Spinal Tap on Brave Dave but its countered into a roll-up, KrackerJak reverses it and secures the surprise pin and the belts in an entertaining encounter.
Cletus Blood vs Champagne Pyro
Bass is in the ring to introduce the special referee, Adam Wyatt, for the next match – a PWA Victorian Title bout. Challenger Cletus Blood enters and then the champion, with a custom embellished introduction, Champagne Pyro with his entourage of Mr Higgins and Samantha Stunningham. This match opens with both competitors tentatively locking it up collar and elbow style. A stalemate leads to a test of strength that seesaws in dominance.
The match quickly transitions into the high-flying, risk-taking exhibition that would be expected from these two. Interference from the members of Team Pyro helps swing the momentum back in favour of their leader. Cletus throws everything he has at Champagne Pyro on offence getting several near falls until a mid-ring collision knocks the wind out of both men and the pace of the match.
The continued interference of Team Pyro sees them ejected before Cletus gets a head of steam leading to impactful offence however he fails to seal the deal. Champagne Pyro’s slight power advantage comes into play, allowing a showcasing of his technical and submission game. Whilst the crowd took exception to his Muay Thai inspired ring gear, they could not deny the showcase of how to deconstruct an opponent that he put on. The crowd favourite rallies, countering a top rope Razors Edge into a hurricanrana for a 2 count. Pyro attempts to use the ropes for leverage in a pin but is stopped by the referee. Pyro confronts Wyatt who slams Pyro to the mat leaving him open to the Shooting Star Press from Cletus. Pyro gets his knees up to counter the impact.
Wyatt is forced to reluctantly count the three after Pyro retains with an impressive tiger bomb from the top turnbuckle.
As Team Pyro celebrates in the ring, Stunningham is attacked by Madison Eagles setting up…
Madison Eagles vs Samantha Stunningham
Madison Eagles takes on Samantha Stunningham in an impromptu match. Stunningham is immediately on the defensive against Eagles who hits a nasty backbreaker for one. The ferocity of Eagles is evident as she throws Stunningham to the outside and then unceremoniously into the barricade.
With the action back in the ring, the athleticism of Stunningham manages to counter the power game of the larger Eagles whilst Champagne Pyro provides special commentary for his young charge. Despite the support, a hard elbow and sit-out powerbomb from Eagles ends the match in short time.
Jay Andrews vs Spike Steel vs Mad Dog
Finally, the main event of this mammoth event is a match for the PWA Australian Title with champion Jay Andrews defending against Spike Steele. Before the match can start a bruised, bandaged and disorientated Mad Dog comes to ringside.
He grabs the mic and demands to be inserted into the match so he can attempt to reclaim the title he lost to Andrews. Steele takes advantage of the momentary distraction and jump-starts the match with a back and forth brawl between the three men breaking out in front of the commentary team. With Mad Dog left lying on the hard wooden floor of the Jordanville Community Centre, Steele and Andrews are in the ring exchanging holds and strikes.
Mad Dog breaks up a submission hold with a senton from the top and begins his assault against Andrews. All three men showcase their wrestling prowess as they engage in double team moves and exhibitions of strength, risk-taking and technique inside and outside the ring.
Referee Dave Morgan does his best to maintain control, but with three of Australian Wrestling’s top stars doing it one more time for PWA Melbourne, there is no containing their passion or enthusiasm. Steele wears a crimson mask after clashing with a lighting rig and show real heart throughout the match. As Mad Dog also bleeds on the canvas, Andrews looks to show why he is the PWA Champion.
Andrews brutalises Mad Dog until Commissioner Paul Jones has no option but to pull Mad Dog from the match leaving Andrews to square off with Steele who rallies. Steele takes control with a superplex and battles with Andrews as Mad Dog refuses to leave and crawls back to the ring. The match takes a hardcore turn with the introduction of chairs and tables by Steele which leads to Andrews blood dripping onto the mat too.
Mad Dog executes a Death Valley Driver from the 2nd rope on Andrews through the table for a near count, but it takes Steele and Mad Dog teaming up to pin Andrews, eliminating him from the match. With the realisation that one of them will be the new PWA Champion, a slugfest breaks out with Steele and Mad Dog exchanging blows.
The entire PWA roster surrounds the ring to watch who will be their last champion. Mad Dog hits a piledriver from the 2nd rope and becomes the final PWA Champion as the roster joins him in the ring to celebrate the emotional victory. Lobo enters the ring and to announce his appreciation to the fans and to ask them to continue to support the Australian wrestling industry – because without the fans the industry would never survive.
Clearly, we – the fans – have done precisely what Lobo asked us to do 12 years ago, we’ve stuck by the industry, and it has grown and matured along with us. Whether you are looking to feel the nostalgia of a bygone era, or just looking to see the beginnings of one of your modern-day favourites – PWA Reunion is a great event.
It holds up solidly unlike some events and will impress modern fans.
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Please reach out and suggest any shows that you think I should check out and review. Stay safe and keep supporting this great industry.