The final PWA event for 2020- excluding the Premiership, that is. The final event with fans in attendance at the Academy. I’ll tell you what, being able to attend these shows has helped me retain what remains of my sanity this year. That said, we’ve been fortunate here in NSW, especially in my area. The extent of COVID’s effect has mostly been shutting down entertainment. As much as I’ve missed entertainment, whether it be concerts, comedy shows, pro wrestling and even pub nights, I recognise that many have had it much worse. Hopefully we can all head into 2021 better, stronger, faster, all that good stuff.
So PWA loaded up this show with a stacked card. It was thought that a number one contender’s match between Ricky South and Kyle Fletcher would headline the show. But in the midst of the PWA Premiership tournament, they upped the ante and booked a 14 person tag match, with the participants in Block A vs. the participants of Block B. Multi-man matches this large tend to go one of two ways- either they’re epics or they’re absolute clusterf**ks. Hoping for the former, but the latter would definitely have its own brand of entertainment value.
Let’s do this!
We have a cold open with the acknowledgement of country. Always a classy touch by Andrew Rose, and Kris Gale is rocking the sparkly jacket once again, so we know this event is a big deal.
Opening video. The music along with the PWA highlights in Max Watts looks and sounds so great. Hopefully we end up back at that venue very soon! I’ve converted a mate of mine to PWA and he’s come to a couple of Academy shows now, but Max Watts is a whole other level as far as atmosphere goes.
Match 1: Parker Tomas vs. Michael Spencer
We are told that Parker has a single-digit body fat percentage. Absolute specimen!
We get a strong tie up to get the action underway, as Tomas and Spencer take turns working the arm. The crowd is on Spencer’s case as usual, but since this is Green Label and there are some children in attendance, the chants aren’t quite as colourful as they would usually be. Spencer fights back but Tomas stalls him with a painful looking Manhattan Drop, and discombobulates him with a couple of arm drags. After a stand-off, Tomas challenges Spencer to a push-up contest. The Prince of All Wrestling briefly obliges, before kicking him while he’s down! That scoundrel! That’s Green Label appropriate, right?
Spencer lays in a beatdown. We get a quick exchange which the faster Spencer gets the better of, hitting a basement Codebreaker following a sunset flip roll-through for a 2 count. Tomas fights back and hits a very impressive delayed vertical suplex for a near fall of his own. Incredible display of strength! Spencer rallies by hitting a high knee in the corner, followed by a low 619 and a slingshot spear for a long 2 count. Clear speed vs. power in this one.
Spencer with a combination of neckbreakers for another near fall. Tomas blocks a Codebreaker and starts to make a comeback. He goes for what looked like was meant to be a Kotaro Crusher but it sort of missed, ending up as more of a botched bulldog. Quick recovery though, as he hits a half nelson into a spike DDT for a great near fall. Tomas goes up top but Spencer catches him with a high knee. Spencer goes for the gutbuster, but Tomas counters and rolls through into a STF, but Spencer makes the ropes. Tomas goes for a leaping Codebreaker, but Spencer catches him in a Liontamer! I think these guys love Chris Jericho about as much as I do. Tomas has no choice but to tap!
Winner: Michael Spencer (at 7:46)
Star Rating: ***1/2. Really strong technical battle with a clash of styles. I mentioned it was power vs. speed, but Tomas had no trouble keeping pace with the smaller Spencer. And the submission game from both showed great versatility. Great action to kick the show off.
We get a promo from Lyrebird Luchi. One of the more intriguing characters of the past few weeks in the Premiership. Nikki asks Luchi how he’s going to get along with his teammates. Luchi says. “The trees have no sides, because no one’s on the side of the trees.” Well, he used to be a Treehugger. He says that whether you’re Old Guard, Gen Now, Block A, Block B… they all forget about the “innocuous” Lyrebird. And he has a plan.
Match 2: $200 On A Pole- Jay Sorbet vs. Cherry Stephens vs. Rhys Angel (w/ Nikki Van Blair) vs. Nathan Pidgeon
As Sorbet makes his entrance, he says, “I know these matches can be a bit polarising”. Booooo. Seriously though, Sorbet is an awesome guy and I’m really glad to see him get this opportunity. Speaking of opportunities… CJ Phoenix was originally scheduled for this match but became unwell, so the shot goes to the Green Dingo, Nathan Pidgeon.
Right out of the gate, Angel hits Cherry with a Superman Punch. Rose notes that that’s 2 shows in a row where Rhys has punched the schoolgirl. A frantic scramble to climb the pole commences. Rhys hits Sorbet with a DDT, then prevents Cherry from climbing the pole by hitting her again. Pidgeon tries to scale up top but takes a powerbomb from Sorbet. The action is fast and furious in this one.
Sorbet hits Angel with a scoop slam but misses with a Lionsault (shout out to the GOAT). Moments later, Cherry wipes out everyone with a crossbody. Cherry and Pidgeon go up top for the money, but Sorbet powerbombs them both down. It looks like Sorbet has a clear path, but Nikki Van Blair grabs his leg, enabling Angel to knock him down with a Superman Punch! Rhys asks for a photo op but Pidgeon drags him down. Cherry and Pidgeon volley Angel back and forth with strikes, until Cherry hits an enziguri and Pidgeon follows with a clothesline. Cherry goes for the money but Sorbet catches her, looking for another powerbomb, but she counters with a rana, followed by a neckbreaker/DDT combo on Sorbet and Pidgeon! Damn!
Cherry seems to have a clear path to the money, but Nikki gets up on the apron and yells in her face. The distraction allows Rhys to push her off the top rope, wiping out Sorbet and Pidgeon, and Angel goes up top himself to get the money!
Winner: Rhys Angel (at 5:10)
Star Rating: ***. Fun dose of action, the time absolutely flew by. The phrase “maximising your minutes” seems to apply here, everyone got a moment to shine.
Match 3: Goober Open Challenge- Will Kiedis vs. Donnie Mako
This could be a great one. Saw Mako on a few Green Label shows last year, and he really stood out. Before the match starts, Mako drops an elbow on an “OK Goober” shirt, which infuriates Kiedis.
The match starts and Kiedis is all out of sorts. Mako hits a hurricanrana, followed by an enziguri. Twisting standing moonsault gets an early near fall. Kiedis goes for a springboard move but Mako dropkicks him off the apron. He follows up with a suicide dive, and we have a thrill ride on our hands!
Mako goes for a DDT, but Kiedis blocks and delivers a suplex on the apron! Back in the ring, Mako is able to kick out. Kiedis maintains control while trashtalking everyone in sight- and even the people on OVOPlay! He hits his Goober elbow drop for a 2 count. Mako fights back with a headbutt that basically goes through Kiedis, then hits the Sharkbro (Destino) for a great near fall. High cradle suplex for another close call.
Kiedis goes for a powerbomb but Mako lands on his feet and delivers a cyclone kick. Handstand in the corner into a DDT gets another long 2 count. A series of counter moves turns into a series of roll ups… and Kiedis holds the ropes to get the victory!
Winner: Will Kiedis (at 8:30)
Star Rating: ***1/2. That was a crazy level of action and some really high energy sequences. Even when it slowed down in sections, Kiedis kept the entertainment value high with his antics- while also increasing fan desire to see him get punched in the face. Good effort for a goober.
Nikki Brown is standing by with Mick Moretti. She questions his motives heading into the main event. Moretti gets manic as he talks about doing well tonight and using it to give himself the psychological advantage for the remainder of the Premiership. He closes with “victory tastes so good” and walks away cackling. That’s the Rapscallion we know and love.
Match 4: Shazza McKenzie vs. Steph De Lander
Rose and Gale call this a “dream match” but also note Shazza’s recent absence from wrestling, calling her “the former queen of PWA”. Interesting…
Steph immediately goes for the Death Adder but Shazza avoids it. Shazza goes for a quick roll up that gets a 2 count. De Lander has the power advantage but McKenzie is the more resourceful veteran here. Shazza goes for a sunset flip but Steph stacks her up for a near fall of her own. A massive running cross body gets another close call for the Python Powerhouse. Shazza gets back on track with a rana out of the corner. Shazza goes for a cross body but Steph catches her and lifts her into a Samoan Drop for a near fall. Scary levels of strength!
Steph maintains control with a bodyscissors, and Shazza really seems to be struggling with the size and strength of De Lander. De Lander catches Shazza on a handspring attempt and lawn darts her into the corner. Again, a near fall, and again, I say, insane levels of strength! This match is making me want to go bulk up the noodles I call arms. Gutwrench suplex sends Shazza flying across the ring, and it looks effortless.
Great little moment between Steph and new referee Hannah- “is this your first day?” “Maybe it is!” De Lander takes out her frustration at the referee on McKenzie with another suplex. Shazza is trying with all her heart to fight back, and eventually gets a break after connecting with a bulldog off the ropes. They trade strikes. Shazza scores with a back suplex, but Steph pops up immediately and launches her with a German! Shazza sweeps the leg and hits her 10 kicks in the ropes. Huge cross body from the top gets Shazza a near fall!
Shazza baseball slides Steph to the outside. Steph responds with a Death Adder on the apron! Ow. Back in the ring, De Lander goes for another Death Adder, but McKenzie counters with a Stunner. She goes into a Camel Clutch but Steph powers out of it. She levels Shazza with a big boot and connects with another Death Adder for the 3 count!
Winner: Steph De Lander (at 9:45)
Star Rating: ***3/4. This was hard hitting, and Steph looked like a monster. For all her accolades, Shazza just didn’t have an answer for the Python Powerhouse. She had moments, but the moments weren’t enough to win.
After the match, Shazza McKenzie was highly emotional over the loss. Seems like she’s questioning herself… something to keep an eye on.
We get a promo video on the epic feud between Unsocial Jordan and Big Fudge. These are the only two men in the Premiership not in the main event, and this grudge match is why.
Match 5: 5 Minute Ironman Match- Unsocial Jordan (w/ Bel Pierce) vs. Big Fudge
Not a typo. Fudge comes out dressed in an Iron Man hoodie. As in the Marvel character. Jordan unveils a sleeveless turtleneck. Upper body business, baby.
They tie up. Jordan with an arm wrench… and Fudge immediately taps!
They trade strikes. Jordan goes for a sunset flip- but Fudge sits down and gets the 3 count!
Jordan reverses the pin! 3 count!
Jordan hits Fudge with a tripod! That’s a DQ!
Jordan gets the pin off it though!
Shining Wizard by Jordan!
Superkick by Jordan!
Another stack pin by Jordan!
Crucifix pin by Fudge!
Double underhook into a pin by Fudge!
Look, at this point we get a couple of pin attempts that were double pins. The ring announcer definitely screwed up a couple of the announcements, as the ref tried to correct him a few times, but I’m not sure if he just threw up his hands and decided to say that Nick Wray’s calls were the right ones. The early rapid pin attempts confused everyone. Moving on.
Bel Pierce gets involved, and Jordan tries to use the tripod again, but Fudge blocks it and uses the tripod himself! He gets a pin and we’re calling it 7-7.
Butt Punch misses. Jordan with a Tiger Suplex and a superkick. He goes for the Shining Wizard but Fudge blocks and hits a chokeslam. He can’t get the pin in time and the clock runs out!
Winner: Time Limit Dr-
But we get Sudden Death! Jordan refuses, but Fudge drags him back into the ring. Jordan nails a superkick and then grabs the ref. Bel gets in the ring and spears Fudge! Jordan follows with the Shining Wizard and gets the final 3 count!
Winner: Unsocial Jordan (at 5:20)
Star Rating: *****. Honestly brilliant. Move over Owen Hart and 123 Kid, Jordan and Fudge just had the best 5 minute match ever. Confusing, brilliant, non-stop fun, that was a joy to watch. Not so much to recap though.
It’s Intermission Time at the PWA Academy. We throw to a braggadocious promo with Sam Osborne and Don Marnell. Marnell gives Osborne a captain’s blazer and hat. Because he’s team captain. Charli Evans takes issue with this, but agrees on one condition- Marnell isn’t at ringside for the main event.
Match 6: No. 1 Contender’s Match- Kyle Fletcher vs. Ricky South
Fletcher has half his face painted, almost in a Darby Allin style. Ricky’s rocking a lovely purple outfit. Fashion choices aside, we have a hell of a battle on our hands! Winner faces Caveman Ugg in 2021!
We start with an INTENSE lock up. Ricky gives Kyle a push and says, “C’mon son!” Ooh. He “son”ed him! The disrespect! They collide with shoulder blocks but neither man goes down. They trade forearms. Somewhere, Minoru Suzuki is smiling that evil smile, because these two are just barely stopping short of knocking each other out here. A big boot to the head rocks Ricky, but he fires back a boot of each own. As evenly matched as it gets!
A huge dropkick send South flying to the outside. Fletcher goes for a penalty kick, but Ricky catches it and slams him face first on the apron. Back suplex on the apron and Tuff Stuff takes control. Springboard dropkick by Ricky! A new move in the arsenal? Huge forearms and chops on both sides as South tells Fletcher, “Back of the line”, reminding everyone of the stakes here. Ricky goes up top but Kyle kicks him to the outside, followed by a moonsault! Hard landing on the concrete! Both men beat the 10 count back into the ring.
South and Fletcher continue to trade forearms. And European uppercuts. And clotheslines. Neither man going down. The facepaint of Fletcher is basically gone at this point. Ricky finally gains the advantage after a kitchen sink knee and a cannonball to a seated Fletcher. A powerslam gets a long two count for South. Ricky sets up for a superplex but Fletcher counters with a top rope Michinoku Driver! What the hell! 1, 2… and Ricky somehows kicks out! Fletcher with a lariat, then a lawn dart into the corner. He goes for the Grimstone. Ricky reverses and hits the powerslam, followed by a massive lariat! Piledriver follows, and South is still the number one contender!
Winner: The Fans. And Ricky South (at 11:55)
Star Rating: ****1/2. That was incredible. I didn’t know if I was at PWA or NJPW. South and Fletcher absolutely destroyed each other for our entertainment. Unbelievable battle! The borders are open, Caveman Ugg!
Nikki Brown standing by with members of Generation Now- Matty Wahlberg, Jimmy Townsend & Paris De Silva. How do they feel about facing Generation Now teammates? Jimmy and Paris talk about facing teammates and friends. All Wahlberg cares about is the chance to get his hands on Moretti. And I’ve just realised that the Gen Now shirt that Jimmy is wearing is the one that Bonza ripped off his body during their Premiership match. Excellent!
Match 7: AJ & Silvio Milano vs. Back Pain (Backman & Jack Pain)
AJ comes out with a furious flurry in the corner on Pain as commentary reminds us of his history teaming with Rhys Angel. Maybe he’ll have better luck with Silvio. He takes Jack down with a dropkick. Pain fires back with a single leg dropkick, sending AJ out of the ring. Silvio becomes the legal man as PWA operates under lucha rules.
Silvio delivers a series of knees followed by a hangman in the ropes. Pain falls to the outside, making Backman legal now. Backman goes for the Pounce but Silvio holds the ropes. The man who has a back scores moments later with a shoulder block. Silvio fights back with chops and kicks, but Pain enters the ring and spears him out of his boots! AJ comes in and Pain gives him a spinebreaker, because calling it a spinebuster just doesn’t do it justice! Wow! Back Pain isolate AJ and hit him with a double spinebuster for the win!
Winners: Back Pain (at 4:00)
Star Rating: **1/2. Short and one-sided, but the impact in that closing sequence rivalled the hits we saw in the South/Fletcher match. Back Pain could be a future great tag team in PWA.
Match 8: Block A (Sam Osborne, Mick Moretti, Charli Evans, William Preston, Kai Drake, Paris De Silva & Kingsley) vs. Block B (Jessica Troy, Matty Wahlberg, Jack Bonza, Mat Rogers, Jimmy Townsend, Jude London & Lyrebird Luchi)
Wahlberg is fired up and wants to start with Moretti. Instead, Kai Drake comes in. Matty immediately throws him out. Ditto for Charli Evans. Preston takes a leg lariat. Moretti finally gets in the ring, but Bonza blind tags himself in. Nations members, but also have history as opponents- PWA fans will never forget the Fight For Black Metal. Osborne comes in to have a mat wrestling exchange with Bonza that’s lucky to last 10 seconds, as the hands and feet start flying!
Kingsley tags in to get in the face of Uncle Jack, who opts to tag out to Luchi. Bonza fears Kingsley. Luchi grabs Kingsley by the hair and Kingsley hits him right in the teabags. The Lyrebird decides that enough is enough, it’s time for a change, and he walks backstage. He’s no longer in the match.
Back in the ring, Jimmy gets everyone with the “free shot” but they reverse it. Every member of Block A gets to chop Townsend, and I’m having flashbacks to Daniel Puder in the ’05 Rumble. Everyone gets in the ring to throw down and we get a crazy spot where each block tries to hit a multi-person suplex on the other. Troy and De Silva climb the wall of bodies, and Jess suplexs Paris onto them all! And they all fall down. This is madness!
Jess with a suicide dive into a tornado DDT on Moretti! Jude with an Asai moonsault on everyone! Townsend throws Preston into the pile of bodies and then Wahlberg comes off the top with a Kobe elbow onto all of Block A. I’m going to need a smoke after this, and I don’t even smoke!
Back in the ring, we get our first near fall of the match following a blockbuster/German Suplex combo by Jude and Bonza on Drake. Velocities fight it out. Lightning fast exchange that I couldn’t hope to recap. Jess is back in. Jess and Wahlberg hit a Jess-troyer/sunset flip combo. The action breaks down with wrestlers in and out in quick succession. We get some Nations bickering involving Kingsley. Jess and Charli face off. They trade finisher attempts and it devolves into a strike-fest. Osborne gets in the ring wearing his captain’s hat. Oh captain, my captain. Moretti throws his own teammate out and steals his hat. “Look at me, I’m the captain now!” Outstanding.
Rogers in to level Moretti with a big boot. Rogers and Charli fight, and Full Force military presses her to the outside, right onto the rest of Block A. The ring fills with bodies again, and Mick Moretti is climbing the walls of the Academy! He shimmies across a beam on the roof and falls onto everyone! Holy shit, what a moment! I couldn’t even enjoy that spot live, I was so fearful that Moretti was going to slip and fall. As I said to Moretti on the night, you’re a crazy bastard, but I love you.
London and Drake in the ring having a brutal strike exchange. Jude drops Kai with a Spanish Fly. Michael Spencer runs out. If Spencer was a Dragonball Z character, he’d be Krillin, I swear. He passes Drake the PWA tag belt. Kai clocks both Velocities with it. Rogers to the rescue, booting Kai’s head to the rafters and dropping Spencer with a Pumphandle Slam. Rogers and Spencer brawl backstage. Luchi runs back out to try and steal the victory but De Silva kicks out! What a scumbag.
Charli suplexes the turncoat Luchi and we’re back to Charli vs. Jess. Charli goes for the Gory Stretch, Jess goes for the Fujiwara armbar. Osborne hits Jess with a Stormbreaker but Bonza takes his head off with a lariat. Kingsley gets in but Bonza refuses to hit her. Kingsley throws the tea in his face! Osborne locks in the kneebar but Wahlberg breaks it up with the Kobe Elbow. Wahlberg punches Kingsley, and she runs out of the ring distressed. Moretti in and Wahlberg hits him with the Posterizer, but Bonza drags Matty out of the ring, angry at what he did to his “niece” Kingsley. We get a battle of the Prefects as Townsend and Preston face off. Preston goes for the Overdrive, but Townsend counters into the schoolboy for the win! The Prefect wins this star-studded tag mach!
Winners: Block A (at 19:00)
Star Rating: *****. That’s a genuine classic in my book- not just a “Big Fudge is hilarious so he gets all the stars” rating. The amount of stories interwoven into that, along with the endless amount of action. With longer main event matches especially, I try and stick to recapping the big/important moments. But just about all of it was. Telling stories about factions, alliances, friendships…. along with a plethora of jaw-dropping moments, this was a damn perfect pro wrestling match, featuring the best stars of Australian wrestling.
We close with Andrew Rose yelling, “Go to hell, 2020!” I couldn’t agree more.
That was an absolutely outstanding show. I can only imagine what that would have been like in front of Max Watts, but it’s a massive credit to PWA that they managed to get the limited attendance crowd at the Academy cheering at the top of their voices. From start to finish, this show had something for everyone. I particularly enjoy how all the matches are fun in isolation, but are also littered with little Easter Eggs for the long-time viewer. Something as simple to the finish of the main event- so much of that was wrapped up in the story arc of the Prefects and their development as wrestlers and people. The symbolism of Townsend winning by staying true to who he is resonates deeply, but also there’s the surface level thing of “hey, the underdog got the big victory for his team”. Brilliant work.
Overall Score: 9/10
Until next time, take care.