I’ve waxed lyrical in the past after the strength of Pro Wrestling Australia’s production team. Ben Anderson, Jax Jordan and everyone else involved do an exceptional job of making PWA look and sound like a world-class product. Normally when I mention it, I’m talking about the visuals- sharp graphics, detailed high-quality hype videos, labours of love like the Prefects cinematic match. But right now, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the sound, specifically the music. PWA utilise covers and remixes of popular chart songs to provide a contemporary sound. As I reference in my preview article (here), the theme of PWA It Started Out With A Kiss is based around the Killers “Mr. Brightside”, but one thing I failed to mention is that it transitions beautifully into Eminem’s verse on Drake’s track “Forever”.
I feel like that one music choice sums up the type of product that PWA puts out pretty well. High energy, a melding of genres, a little something for everyone. It’s where ideologies, characters and conflicts collide in order to create something beautiful. Plus, it’s- what do the kids say? Ah, it’s a bop. Yes, a bop. Yes boy.
So, a loaded show- I feel like I say this in almost every review, but the truth is the truth! Only 5 matches on the bill, but what a handful we have! Finally, after over a year of waiting, Dan Andrews let Caveman Ugg out of his cave to defend his PWA Heavyweight Championship against the self-professed gatekeeper, “Tuff Stuff” Ricky South. Two of the best in wrestling (screw the qualifiers of “Australian” or “women”) Jessica Troy and Charli Evans, wage war in a No DQ match. And we have a 30 Person Rumble to determine the next No. 1 Contender.
There’s more- oh, so much more!- but we’ll get to that in just a moment. This was a big day for me and PWA- not only the massive Black Label show at Factory Theatre, broadcast live on FITE TV, but also an advertisement to be an audience member for a Channel Nine show, featuring PWA. Since I was already making the trip up, I thought “hey, a free wrestling show, let’s go”. Silly me read the graphic on PWA’s post, and not so much the caption- what I thought was potentially a weekly PWA show on a major network, it was in fact filming for a reality TV show. PWA wrestlers filmed short matches with contestants who were clearly not trained wrestlers. Based on the stunning beauty of the women involved, and the lack of apparent athleticism from the guys, it looks something like Beauty And The Geek? Something to keep an eye on.
Also, I have excellent seats. Missed out on the first allocation due to low funds when tickets went on sale, and PWA shows are selling out faster and faster, but a second release gave us seats on the stage. Outside of the times I’ve splurged for front row, this is easily the best seats I’ve had. Loving it!
Anyway. PWA. It Started Out With A Kiss. Let’s do this.
Customary intro by Andrew Rose and Kris Gale. The usually silver-tongued Kris fumbles over his words a bit. It’s okay, Kris, we’re all very excited here! Rose refers to the opening tag match as one that could “break the Internet”…
Match 1: Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis) vs. The Nations (Jack J. Bonza & Mick Moretti)
Told you there was more. This could have main evented a regular PWA show and it wouldn’t have looked out of place. Fletcher & Davis vs. Bonza & Moretti. Aussie Arrow & Dunk-zilla vs. The Red Commander & The Rapscallion. Davis is looking a little leaner to me than he did last month, everyone in this match is looking tremendous and making me feel bad about the Maccas breakfast I had before my big drive up to Marrickville.
The Nations jump Aussie Open as they make their entrance. Fists start flying, and early on this is just last call at my local pub. Bonza hits a powerbomb on Fletcher with a pop-up assist from Moretti for an early near fall. Moretti becomes legal and is immediately back dropped to the outside by Fletcher, a low bridge causes Bonza to suffer the same fate, and Davis comes barreling through with a suicide dive to take out both members of the Nations! What knee injury?
Aussie Open take over in the ring with blistering strikes on Moretti, chops and kicks aplenty. Kris with a line that makes up for his earlier stumble- “I’ve never been prouder to see our national colours wrapped around the groins of two men”- referring to the green and gold gear of Fletcher and Davis. Assisted Blackout by Davis on Moretti gets a near fall. Moments later, Moretti scores with a sunset flip on Fletcher with the help of a Bonza clothesline. Loving the synergy between both teams with these tandem moves.
The Nations assert themselves and isolate Kyle Fletcher with some brutal shots of their own, including a chop that folded him up like an accordion, to borrow a commentator cliche. Moretti hits the Sweaty Moretti elbow drop for a near fall. No, I will not explain what that is. If you know, you know. Bonza briefly wraps Fletcher in a painful looking submission… one day, I’m going to sit down with Bonza and get a lesson on submission holds, he does so many that I don’t know the name of! Fletcher makes the ropes, so Bonza just kicks the shit out of him.
Finally, we get a leapfrog, a roll-through and a hot tag to Davis! Dunkzilla comes in and cleans house. He stacks Bonza and Moretti up and bodyslams them both at the same time! The Factory Theatre just became the Silverdome! Davis puts Bonza on his shoulder and Fletcher scores with a top rope cutter! 1, 2… and Moretti makes the save! He becomes legal through the power of PWA’s lucha tag rules. German suplex on Davis and a dragon suplex on Fletcher. Nations double team ends with a Moretti Meteora, then the Rapscallion wipes out Davis with a flip dive on the outside. Bonza nails the Tombstone for a great near fall.
All four men in the ring trading massive shots. Moretti with a headbutt to be the last man standing? Nope, he collapses to the mat as well. He did work the Channel Nine taping in the afternoon. Those geeks must have really taken it out of him. Everybody’s down! They slowly get to their knees for a yay/boo strike exchange. Fletcher puts Bonza in an abdominal stretch just as Moretti does the same to Davis! Fletcher and Moretti exchange trash-talk and slaps- while still applying the holds! Madness. Bonza and Davis reverse the holds into single leg Boston Crabs and start slapping each other as well. More madness!
Down to just Davis and Bonza in the ring. A smooth exchange with both men going for big power moves and getting countered. Ultimately, Bonza applies the ankle lock and Moretti prevents Fletcher from intervening. Davis reverses into an inside cradle for a razor close near fall. Nations rally with a huge Doomsday Device- rough landing for Davis high on the back of the shoulders and neck- but he still kicks out! Nations set up for the superplex/splash tandem finisher, but Fletcher catches Moretti with a superplex instead! Double high cradle buster by Aussie Open on Bonza- and that’s all she wrote! I mean, that’s all I wrote. I’m done. I need a rest. And a smoke. And I don’t even smoke!
Winners: Aussie Open (at 18:10)
Star Rating: ****. Two PWA matches, two stellar outings for Aussie Open. The Nations absolutely held their own with some great moments, but Fletcher and Davis were two killing machines on this night. Can’t accuse any of these men of working too soft or light!
Post-match, Kyle Fletcher gets on the mic. The message is simple- “We want Velocities”. Aussie Open vs. Velocities… look, PWA, just take my damn money. All of it. And hook this match to my veins!
True friends stab you in the front, as the outstanding hype video for Jess Troy vs. Charli Evans plays. Slightly odd card placement to me, but with a card this stacked, there’s really no “wrong” spot to put any match.
Match 2: PWWA Championship- No DQ- Jessica Troy (c) vs. Charli Evans
So, umm, Jess comes out with her trademark mannequin arm… wrapped in barbed wire. What the f**k?!? Charli has a chair. They immediately trade slaps to set an aggressive tone. Charli ducks under and hits a high angle back suplex, which Jess no-sells, popping to her feet and blasting Evans with a pump kick! Tilt-a-whirl and Troy goes for the Fujiwara armbar early, but Charli scrambles away to the safety of ringside.
Jess gives chase and wraps Charli’s arm in the apron, slamming it against The Hardest Part Of The Ring (TM). One of the ringside cameras goes out, but it seems that Troy gave Evans some kind of papercut with a photo of the two of them. Painful and symbolic. Charli gets the advantage by attacking the leg. She wraps Jess’ leg around the ring post and then smashes it with a steel chair! She tosses a few more chairs into the ring and keeps up the leg attack. Another steel chair shot to the leg, followed by a facewash with a big boot in the corner. Troy is in trouble. She’s getting bee-booped around the ring by one half of the Medusa Complex!
Charli blasts Jess with a knee before hitting a Roll The Dice neckbreaker on a steel chair! Jess squirms out of the pin at 2, but this is looking bad for her. Evans considers using the barbed wire arm but decides against it, and the hesitation is the opening for Jess to blast her with a series of forearms. A single strike back from Charli forces the champ to once again crumple to the mat. Evans locks in a tight-looking STF- John Cena, take notes- but Troy escapes by pulling at the fingers.
Charli opens a chair and places it sideways on the mat. She goes for a suplex on Jess, who counters with a bodyslam on the legs of the chair! Ouch! Troy goes for her signature series of running elbows, but her damaged leg renders her unable to get her usual speed and momentum. Regardless, the champ soldiers on, using a chair to her advantage- drop toe hold to a chair in the corner, followed by a Meteora, followed by a swift running kick from the apron, causing the chair to blast the face of Evans! Meteora off the second rope through Charli and the chair, but Jess pays the price too by further hurting her leg, allowing Charli the time to kick out.
Troy gets a kendo stick and beats the f**k out of Charli with it. I could word it in a more classy manner, but sometimes it’s more important to be accurate than eloquent. Charli blocks a kendo stick shot and hits Jess with a Gory Bomb- with the stick over her throat! Jess somehow raises the shoulder before the 3 count. Charli wedges Jess’ head in a chair and decapitates her with a running kick. The old Winter Is Coming. Evans gives the double bird salute to the Factory Theatre and the fans all around the world on FITE TV.
Charli assembles all the steel chairs in a pyramid of destruction. Wait, Rose just called it a “death machine”. That might be better. Jess fights back and delivers a superplex through the pile of now-twisted metal! Holy shit! They trade strikes as they slowly make their way back to their feet. Jess ducks a kick and hits a high back suplex for a near fall. She gets a sack from under the ring- I’ve seen enough Mick Foley matches to know where this is going- it’s thumbtacks! They cover the canvas, and moments later, Charli scores with a Saito suplex into the tacks! Extreme acupuncture for Jessica Troy… but she still kicks out!
Charli hits a superkick, which Jess absorbs and says “f**k you!” Pump kick to the arm, followed by a brainbuster on the tacks! Jess then gets a pack of wooden spikes, literally skewers Charli’s head with them. Charli smiles and flips the bird once again. So Jess takes the hand/arm and stomps it into the thumbtacks! Fujiwara armbar locked in! Charli reaches for the ropes- but Jess grabs the barbed wire mannequin arm, wraps it around Evans’ actual arm, and she’s forced to tap!
Winner: Jessica Troy (at 20:35)
Star Rating: ****1/2. My god. It doesn’t get much more barbaric than that. What a ride. Troy and Evans didn’t hold a single thing back. That was easily the most violent women’s match I’ve ever seen- but like I said earlier, there’s no need to qualify what they do with gender. They are two badasses, two amazing professional wrestlers, and what they put themselves through for our entertainment is something I’ll never forget.
Post-match, beaten and exhausted, Jess and Charli hug. Charli raises Jess’ arm and they bow to each other in the ring. High emotions all over the place.
Match 3: AJ Istria vs. Sam Osborne (w/ Don Marnell)
The depth of this card when THIS is the “come down” match. Between this show and the two hours of filming in the afternoon, I’m putting my voice and hands through quite the workout. Marnell comes out to give his usual spiel, but Istria cuts him off and threatens to rip him apart if he gets involved in this match. A panicked Marnell quickly calls out Osborne to protect him.
They tie up and have a quick grappling exchange which neither gain an advantage from. Looking like this will be a very technical battle- a stark contrast to the ultraviolence we just saw. Istria with an arm wringer, Osborne counters with a chop- and AJ responds with a blistering chop that knocks the Prize Bull down! Okay, maybe this will still be a little violent.
Osborne hits a standing switch from the waistlock and unloads some quick strikes. Istria with a springboard… punch? Forearm? Fancy way to hit a basic move. Textbook belly to belly by Istria. Lovely stuff. Top wristlock followed by a stomp by Istria. We haven’t seen Punch-Drunk in a PWA ring for quite some time, but he’s looking sharp as ever here. They trade low kicks, MMA-style (appropriate), then Osborne hits a gutwrench powerbomb! The stack gets a 2 count, but Osborne cartwheels out of it and connects with a boot to the face for another near fall!
The Prize Bull applies a leg lock as the crowd get on his case with a “North Shore Wanker” chant. Istria gets to the ropes. Osborne hits the backbreaker, and Istria prevents the standard follow up T-Bone suplex- for a moment anyway, with a hard punch. The suplex is then hit, but Osborne is struggling here. Istria comes back with a running boot and a double underhook slam for a near fall. Istria keeps up the intense attack by stomping Osborne’s arm into the mat. He’s feeling some pain in his leg though from Osborne’s earlier attack. Osborne rallies with a series of clotheslines. Full contact.
A spinning back fist by Istria forces Sam to faceplant the canvas. Hammerlock by Istria into some Kawada kicks. Vicious. Istria hits a flying armbar but Osborne stacks him up for a 2 count. Rolling kneebar by Osborne. Istria rolls through to a kneebar of his own. Submission masterclass by these two. Transition to the armbar by Istria, and Marnell jumps up on the apron. Osborne taps behind the referee’s back so the match continues. Istria drags Marnell in the ring and locks him in the armbar. Marnell slaps the mat harder than Stephanie McMahon slaps, well, everyone, but his tapping doesn’t mean a thing. Osborne applies the kneebar again, and as Istria reaches the ropes, Osborne grabs the ref. Behind the referee’s back once again, Marnell smacks Istria away from the ropes. Osborne repositions the kneebar and Punch-Drunk has no choice but to tap!
Winner: Sam Osborne (at 9:40)
Star Rating: ***3/4. At times, this resembled a MMA fight more than a pro wrestling match. Tremendous submission offence by both men. Nice match structure in that it showed that Osborne has a ton of talent in his own right, yet still uses Marnell to get the job done. Osborne and Marnell are such an effective duo.
Match 4: PWA Heavyweight Championship- Caveman Ugg (c) vs. Ricky South
Lots of pomp and circumstance here. A guy comes out dressed in regal attire to tell a story in poetic, almost fairytale-esque fashion about a man who can put an end to the Caveman. Enter Ricky South. Ugg follows, stomping out in all white gear. Big fight feel! Ugg gets big time boos. He hasn’t really done anything wrong, but he has been champion since August 2018, and in this case, absence didn’t make the heart grow fonder. Plus, we love Ricky!
They immediately charge at each other with shoulder blocks. Neither man goes down. Ricky with a boot to the face, which Ugg absorbs. Ugg delivers a massive overhand chop, which Ricky absorbs! Big chop exchange, then Ricky hits an atomic drop. Big boot sends the champ sprawling to the outside. Tuff Stuff with the suicide dive! Something we rarely see from South, an incredible pace to start this championship fight!
Ugg and South brawl outside the ring. Ricky with some snug European uppercuts, and Ugg responds with a huge headbutt that flattens Tuff Stuff. He then chops Ricky as he lays flat on his back. I’ve seen many chops before, but I don’t think I’ve seen it quite like that! Ugg then catapults the challenger into the edge of the apron. Damn! Ugg is always aggressive, but it almost seems like he’s levelling up here.
Back in the ring, Ugg continues the clubbering as South tries to fight from his knees. Ugg hits a monkey flip that almost sends Ricky into orbit! Ricky battles back with some chops, Ugg is only too happy to return fire, and someone’s going to lose a nipple at this rate. Ugg goes for the Cave-In stomp, but South blocks it! Ricky hits the piledriver- but Ugg kicks out at 1! Holy shit! The Caveman gets up and starts wailing on Tuff Stuff in the corner with clubbing blows. Southern lariat by Ugg blasts Ricky to the mat. Running splash by Ugg gets a 2 count.
Ugg goes for the Splash Mountain bomb, but Ricky fights out and locks in the single leg crab. Ugg fights his way out with chops from his back. Incredible. They stand up and trade more chops… and Ricky is getting the better of it! Ugg goes for a gutwrench slam, but Ricky lands on his feet and hits a second piledriver! 1, 2… and Ugg kicks out again! But, one step closer, it’s beginning to feel like there’s hope for Tuff Stuff!
Ugg comes back with the gutwrench slam he attempted a moment earlier. Every time it feels like Ricky is gaining momentum, Ugg is there to snuff it out. They trade clotheslines repeatedly but neither man goes off their feet. Top rope shotgun dropkick by South sends Ugg reeling into the opposite corner. Huge suplex into a powerslam gets a great near fall for South. Ricky goes for the piledriver, but Ugg fights out and hits the Cave-In! Ugg goes up top but Ricky crotches him. Top rope German Suplex from South! Unbelievable! A top rope senton follows… but Ugg kicks out at the last moment!
Ricky goes for the piledriver again but Ugg charges him into the corner, squashing referee Ando in the process. With the ref down, Ugg almost immediately kicks Ricky in the dick. Okay, he’s earning all those boos now. Splash Mountain Bomb, referee Nick runs out… but South kicks out! Ugg hits a second bomb, the cover… but Ricky gets a foot on the ropes! An enraged Ugg grabs referee Nick and hits him with a sit down Tombstone! Ugg sets up for a top rope Splash Mountain, but Ricky wriggles out to the apron and sweeps the leg, whiplashing Ugg’s head into the turnbuckle. He connects with a third piledriver, then a massive lariat, then a FOURTH piledriver! He seals it with a kiss, and piledriver No. 5 for the 1, 2, 3!
Winner: Ricky South (at 18:10)
Star Rating: ****3/4. What a war. Ricky earnt every bit of that championship and then some. Ugg still looked incredibly strong throughout that entire match, making it mean that much more when South finally slayed him. Also, the piledriver has been a protected finisher in PWA- few kick out of it, so Ugg surviving so many is a testament to the champion he was. Honestly brilliant, and the atmosphere at the Factory Theatre helped bring it up a notch too.
Intermission. I got a photo with the new champ Ricky South, a quick chat with Jay Sorbet, and also Charli Evans. I told her that she and Jess were “f**king insane” and thankfully she took it in the complimentary way I intended it. I do not want that lady mad at me.
Also, a shoutout to one of my best mates, Chad, who normally comes to PWA shows with me. He missed this one due to the birth of his second child, a baby boy named Henry. I got Kris Gale to do a shoutout on the broadcast- many thanks for that- but just wanted to clarify a few details. A big congratulations to Chad, his wife Shannon and daughter Melissa, who is now a big sister. Uncle Mick can’t wait to meet baby Henry!
Match 5: 30 Person PWA Rumble
Okay, so I’m not doing full play by play on this match. First of all, this review has already gone on far longer than I intended, and I want to get this thing uploaded today. Also, you do get stretches in Rumbles where there’s some slight lulls in the action. So you guys get entrants and highlights.
Entrant #1 is Matty Wahlberg… and Entrant #2 is Mick Moretti! The long awaited match finally comes to us courtesy of the Rumble! They fight for a bit before #3, Lyrebird Luchi enters. He thinks better of getting involved in this fight and bails to the outside, through the ropes and not over. #4 is Dazza, who gets in a brief flurry of offense, including a cartwheel Death Valley Driver on Moretti, before quickly getting thrown out. #5 is Silvio, who doesn’t fare much better. #6 is Ben Braxton, who briefly shines with a Lionsault and a Claymore into a kip up before getting eliminated as well. Rose and Gale note that Wahlberg and Moretti seem intent on getting rid of everyone else so they can fight it out.
#7 is Bonza, here to back Moretti up against Wahlberg. #8 is Carter Deams, to give Wahlberg a fighting chance. Yeah the BABES! #9 is Donnie Mako, who has a few moments before getting taken out quickly by the BABES, who mock him with a shark taunt on the way out. The BABES go for the double team Posterize on Moretti, but Bonza catches Wahlberg and tries to throw him out, but Matty hangs on. Matty turns the tables and tries to kick Bonza out, but misses and takes out Deams instead! Now he’s got no back-up.
#10 is Rat Daddy! From Adelaide, he gets a massive pop. #11 is Kai Drake. Massive chop battle between Kai Drake and… everyone. #12 is Kingsley. She aligns with Bonza, since they’re in the Bad Bitch Nation. #13 is Rochelle Rogue. I haven’t seen her before, but I believe she wrestles up in Newcastle. She has a nice flurry but is eliminated quickly by Bonza. #14 is Mat Diamond. Diamond Cutters for everyone. Bonza eliminates himself to save Kingsley, but Kingsley is gone moments later at the hands, or more specifically, the fist of Wahlberg.
Halfway there with #15, Steph De Lander! She runs through everyone before encountering Rat Daddy, who we know from social media is her boyfriend IRL. They have an affectionate moment before the Rat turns on her, but that leads to his elimination fairly soon after. #16 is Headhunter Rig. We’ve got some HOSS added to the Rumble! #17 is Big Fudge! He does the Hurricane spot with Rig and SDL. It doesn’t work but he does score with Butt Punches! #18 is Concrete Davidson! I thought he retired! We haven’t seen him in a long time. He now has a shaved head and looks in great shape. He has a brief alignment with old tag partner Fudge, but it breaks down and they soon face elimination. #19 is Unsocial Jordan. He takes out everyone with his tripod, and then cuts a promo. He congratulates and takes credit for Ricky (or “Richard”) winning the PWA title. We boo the hell out of him.
#20 is Cherry Stephens. She comes out wearing a black turtleneck and briefly tries to join SMS, but it doesn’t work out, and she hits Jordan with Diamond Dust. #21 is Jimmy Townsend, who is no longer a Prefect and has a backpacker (Gap Year) gimmick. Excellent. #22 is Paris De Silva. He hits a springboard top rope Frankensteiner on Moretti onto everyone, knocking them down like bowling pins. Luchi, who is still legal, sneaks in to eliminate SDL. And Rig. And Diamond. And Cherry.
#23 is Will Kiedis. He’s out very quickly. What a Goober. Wahlberg throws out Townsend, despite their Gen Now affiliation. #24 is Jude London. #25 is Backman and #26 is Jack Pain, both accompanied by Jessie Wilde, their Financial Simp Advisor. #27 is Mat Rogers, one of few men on the PWA roster that could match up physically with BackPain. #28 is Bel Pierce, who spears Backman and Jack Pain. That takes a little suspending of the old disbelief. Velocities dispose of SMS. #29 is Shazza McKenzie… who surprisingly is in and out without doing much beyond a double Shazz-tastic Stunner. BackPain and Velocities are gone. Luchi sneaks up on Rogers to throw him out. Moretti and Wahlberg team up to throw Luchi out. #30 is Sam Osborne, who is beat up from earlier in the night. It looks like Wahlberg threw him out, but Don Marnell prevents his feet from touching the floor. Moretti and Wahlberg resume battle… and Osborne knocks them both off the apron to win!
Winner: Sam Osborne (at approx 1:08:00)
Star Rating: ****1/2. I could go the rest of my life without seeing the “he was never really eliminated” trope, seeing it seems to be the way 99.5% of battle royals end these days. But beyond that, really strong action, with a ton of story threads, and hey, I finally got the Moretti vs. Wahlberg match I’ve wanted, and they went over an hour. I also mentioned at the start that Rumbles tend to have lulls… not so much here. Always something happening. Awesome stuff.
Post-match, new PWA Champion Ricky South comes out to congratulate Osborne and proclaim himself as a fighting champion, ready to face the Prize Bull. Osborne replies, “What makes you think I’m challenging you?” The PWWA Championship is also an option, and Jess Troy made Osborne tap out at the last Academy show…
After the FITE TV feed cut off, Matty Wahlberg gives a long emotional speech in front of his Gen Now faction. He’s leaving PWA. He didn’t say what’s next, although my leading guesses are AEW and NXT. Wahlberg is a top star in PWA, someone I’ve followed for many years. Got me right in the damn feels.
It would take a f**k-up of Goldberg vs. Undertaker proportions for this show to not be a roaring success, and PWA smashed it at the top level. Every match delivered beyond my high expectations. I can nit-pick how the formula in the finishing sequence of the Rumble is overdone, but that’s like complaining about Irish whips in wrestling- it’s just a part of how it works now. With Ricky dethroning Ugg, and with Sam Osborne claiming the Rumble victory over some more established names, there’s a real sense of change and new blood in PWA’s main event scene.
As Wahlberg alluded to in his post-FITE speech, the PWA roster is that loaded that they can lose someone like him and be fine (although I’m definitely going to miss watching him). They’ve got so much talent that they can give a star like Shazza McKenzie a smaller role and the show doesn’t suffer for it. Hell, the best in PWA, Robbie Eagles, was nowhere near this show and it was still outstanding!
Overall Score: 9.5/10
Until next time, take care.