We’re finally here! After 12 weeks, we are now at the final round of the PWA Premiership! It’s been a tremendous watch since it began in October. I still maintain that it is the single best hour of pro wrestling content out there, but we’re a bit spoiled today, as we have TWO HOURS in this special double episode finale!
In case you’ve been living under a rock, or stuck in your air-conditioned bedroom avoiding the heatwave, here’s the gist of what the PWA Premiership is all about:
- It is a round-robin tournament, similar in style to NJPW’s G1 tournament.
- There are two blocks- Block A and Block B- consisting of 8 wrestlers each.
- Matches have a strict 10 minute time limit.
- All wrestlers in each block will face each other, and the winner of Block A will face the winner of Block B in the finals.
- Points are awarded as follows- 2 for a win, 1 for a draw and 0 for a loss.
CURRENT PREMIERSHIP STANDINGS
- Unsocial Jordan: 10
- Sam Osborne: 10
- Mick Moretti: 10
- Charli Evans: 7
- Kai Drake: 5
- Paris De Silva: 4
- William Preston: 2
- Kingsley: 0
- Lyrebird Luchi: 9
- Mat Rogers: 8
- Jessica Troy: 8
- Matty Wahlberg: 8
- Jack Bonza: 5
- Jimmy Townsend: 4
- Big Fudge: 4
- Jude London: 2
This is it. Tonight’s episode will decide the winner of both blocks. A number of the competitors are mathematically eliminated from the tournament, but they will still compete in their final matches in order to complete the round robin. There’s also a number of intriguing stories to follow, as detailed in the PWA Premiership preview show that I was fortunate enough to be part of a few nights ago along with Lord Andy Coyne and PWA commentator Andy Rose. Check it out here if you’re so inclined:
And if you’re still interested in my opinions after hearing some of my terrible jokes in that preview show, read on! Added bonus- I don’t say “umm” or “you know” a bunch of times in my writing. Yes, I watched it back and am mad at myself for that. But hey, it was my first time on camera doing something like that, so I’ll work to improve for next time!
Let’s do this!
Rose and Gale welcome us to the show. They recap the leaderboard. In the event of a draw, the tied wrestlers move into a sudden death match. Not a deathmatch, that’s a different promotion. But ooh, a new wrinkle!
JT Robinson is back doing the ring announcing! Bit of a blast from the past. He does a good job, and has great energy. I believe he’s one of the producers of the Premiership. A stellar job all the way through the tournament from the whole crew, it’s got to be a massive challenge pumping out these weekly shows. Unfortunately, we get a rare mess up on production as we can hear someone on a headset through the first 5 minutes or so of the show- besides Gale and Rose, I mean. Whoops. They fix it relatively soon into the first match though.
Match 1: Kingsley (0) vs. Sam Osborne (10) w/ Don Marnell
Marnell begins with his customary rhyming promo. “On beer and whisky we sip, what’s the boat that doesn’t sink?…” You know the rest.
Osborne tells Kingsley to be a team player for Gen Now, so she goes to leave, but is ultimately talked into it by Uncle Jack, who is at ringside. Good Guy Bonza. Kingsley gets fired up and begins with some big forearm shots, then mounts Osborne and rains down strikes. A basement Codebreaker follows for the first near fall of the night. The favourite, Osborne, soon responds with the backbreaker/T-Bone suplex combo for a close call of his own. And when I say “favourite”, I’m strictly talking about the odds here. I’m Team Kingsley all the way.
Osborne keeps up the pressure on Kingsley. Snap suplex for a 2 count. Hard Irish whip into the corner for another 2. Wahlberg is at ringside with Generation Now and he looks concerned. It looks as if the majority of the PWA roster are ringside, actually, with Bonza, Big Fudge and William Preston all around as well. Osborne continues to attack, including a hard stomp that makes Kingsley cry out in agony. As Kingsley begins a comeback, Rose & Gale have a little banter over giving more than 100%. Kris says it’s not mathematically possible. “It is in PWA!” replies Rose. Amen, brother.
Kingsley fires off a series of chops, followed by a basement clothesline for a near fall. Soon after, she hits a wheelbarrow X-Factor for another near fall. She applies a STF- going into the Bonza playbook- but Osborne makes the ropes. Kingsley gets her trademark cup of tea and throws in into the face of the Prize Bull. Osborne is blinded and mistakes the ref for Kingsley, destroying him. Kingsley hits a sunset flip and would have the 3 count, but there’s no ref to count it. Time is ticking down. Osborne hits his finisher that’s almost a Stormbreaker, but it ends in a DDT, but I don’t know what else to call it, so f**k it, it’s a Stormbreaker. Referee Nick eventually gets into the ring to replace Xander and counts the pin… but Kingsley kicks out at 2! Time expires and it’s a draw!
Winner: Time Limit Draw (at 10:00) (11) (1)
Star Rating: ***1/2. That was great! I predicted Kingsley would upset Osborne’s plans, but I didn’t expect it quite in that fashion. Well structured to fit with the Uncle Jack/Gen Now stories going into this, and Kingsley’s stock rises despite not getting an actual win in this tournament.
We get an interview with Sam Osborne and Don Marnell. Osborne is unhappy- although the draw puts him in the lead at 11 points, he knows it’s not enough to outright win in the Premiership. Marnell tries to diffuse the situation. He did his job- Osborne went through the tournament undefeated.
Kingsley gets a little mic time. Jack Bonza comes to congratulate her on her effort. Kingsley looks up at him and asks tentatively, “so you’re proud of me?” Uncle Jack confirms, and she hugs him. Man. All the feels.
Match 2: William Preston (2) vs. Charli Evans (7)
We get a backstage look at Charli Evans as she makes her entrance. Full of intensity as she misses out on contention for the Premiership title by a single point. She’s in kill mode. Poor Billy, I mean, William.
Evans immediately boots Preston’s head off and delivers a barrage of punches and kicks. We get a rare smile from Charli as she chops Preston in the corner. Chilling. The chops prompt a Yuji Nagata reference on commentary. Blue Justice! Charli really seems to be savouring this beating.
Preston tries to fight back with forearms, but Evans shrugs him off and takes him to Suplex City for a near fall. Charli applies a leg lace submission and then stomps William into the mat. Preston starts to come back with a clothesline and a back elbow. A bulldog and a flipping neckbreaker score a couple of near falls for the… former Prefect? William goes for the Overdrive (boo) but Charli reverses into the ankle lock. It’s panic stations, but Preston makes the ropes at the WrestlerMerch 5 minute mark.
It’s desperation time, not to be confused with Desperation Day, which is a few weeks away. William makes an honest attempt at the schoolboy! He’s trying with all his might, but Charli squats, preventing the pin from taking place. Some squat for Instagram thirst traps, some squat to win wrestling matches. Respect. Charli detachs Preston’s head from his neck again with a huge knee strike for a near fall. Evans has the momentum, and applies the ankle lock again, this time with a grapevine, and William is forced to tap!
Winner: Charli Evans (9) (at 6:09)
Star Rating: ***. That was essentially a demolition job, but a damn fun one. Even though Charli Evans is mathematically prevented from winning the tournament, her vicious attack in this match helped sell her mindset on how important the Premiership was to her. Good stuff.
Preston with a few words. He did the Premiership his way, leaving the schoolboy stuff behind. He does “man things”. Hey, what you do in your own private time is your business, buddy.
Charli with a victory speech. She told everyone she was good at the wrestling. She campaigns for a sponsorship from Monster energy drinks. She lists her favourite flavours, but says the regular one “f**king sucks”. She almost got through a promo without swearing. Almost.
Match 3: Kai Drake (5) vs. Paris De Silva (4)
Kai comes out with Spencer in tow. Spencer’s still on crutches. Damn those persistent never-ending injuries! They grab a ladder so Kai can yell at the Colosseum poster of Paris on the PWA Academy wall. Okay then. Nice indirect hype for the ladder match at Back In Black Label.
Paris is a man on a mission, coming out of the gates with a shotgun dropkick and a tornado kick. Unleashing fury! He gets up in Spencer’s face at ringside. Jude London walks out and takes Spencer’s crutch away from him. Jude then hands the crutch to Paris and he wallops Kai with it! That’s a blatant DQ!
Winner: Kai Drake (7) via DQ (at 1:07)
Star Rating: *1/2. Saved my word count, I guess? Great passion from Paris. Looks like he is leaving that “nice guy bullshit” behind, as Sam Osborne suggested the other week.
Post-match, Paris takes his PWA Tag Team Championship belt back and clocks Drake in the head with it! Always thought it was weird that the Velocities kinda just… let MK Plus Ultra walk around with the stolen tag belts for the last year or so. De Silva is very emotional, it appears he really took Osborne’s words to heart.
The Velocities go to the interview desk. Paris says that he knew he wasn’t close to winning the Premiership… but he was close to Kai Drake. They’ll do anything to get the belts back. Well, they now have one of the two!
MK Plus Ultra with a few words. Kai Drake is really struggling. Spencer says they need a change of plans. He tells Drake to stop yelling, which goes down about as well as you would expect.
Match 4: Unsocial Jordan (10) vs. Mick Moretti (10)
Since Sam Osborne drew in his opening match, this match likely decides Block A of the Premiership. Unless we get a draw in this one, too. Big fight feel! Unsocial Jordan walks out with a main event level jacket. Kris Gale calls it “resplendent”. Excellent word. He also asks Rose to be impartial. I’m sure the man wearing a Rapscallion t-shirt will have no favourites in this match.
Moretti starts aggressively. Jordan runs him into the turnbuckle. Jordan goes for the Shining Wizard, which misses, and Moretti hits the fisherman buster for a very early near fall. Very high paced start to this contest, the urgency really sells the heightened stakes. They set up for a superplex, Jordan shoves Moretti off, who backflips and lands on his feet! Ah, he’s been watching Adam Cole vs. Pat McAfee. Apparently, so has Jordan, because he comes off the ropes with a Panama Sunrise and gets a razor close near fall!
Jordan cracks Moretti with a high knee. Moretti goes for a bucklebomb but Jordan punches his way out of it. Moretti then leaps to the top rope and hits a superplex! Ain’t no stopping him, no. It gets a near fall. Moretti with the Cactus clothesline and they brawl around ringside. He throws Jordan into the ring post, and the Academy wall a few times. Jordan fires with a Shining Wizard on the outside! Matty Wahlberg stands over Moretti, screaming in his face, “you ain’t shit!”
Back in the ring, Jordan hits a superkick on a kneeling Moretti- who immediately fires back with a Superman Punch! The Unsocial one responds with a half and half suplex that gets a long 2 count. Jordan reaches into his bag of tricks and gets his tripod- but Moretti headbutts through it! Snapmare driver and the Rapscallion has done it! Moretti takes Block A!
Winner: Mick Moretti (12) (at approx. 7 mins)
Star Rating: ***3/4. A wild battle. Jordan and Moretti really went balls to the wall here, with both men displaying some new elements to their arsenal. This appears to be setting the table nicely for the long-awaited Moretti vs. Wahlberg match.
Unsocial Jordan arrives at the interview desk. A few words, Mr. Jordan? Nope.
Moretti is on the scene. “F**k a microphone!” he says. “You can hear me, see me, smell me.” He said the words a few years ago- now we conquer. He calls Generation Now “a load of shit” with “a false leader” (Wahlberg). He promises to “beat some f**king sense” into Wahlberg and “rip the flesh off his face”. That’s if he makes it through.
And now we go to Block B action! Whoaaaaa, we’re halfway there… and talk about a tonal shift! From the seriousness of the Block A decider between Jordan and Moretti to… Big Fudge. Probably a good choice to allow us to catch our breath, honestly.
Match 5: Big Fudge (4) vs. Jude London (2)
This is the “wooden spoon” match. The point totals for both men are deceiving, though- Fudge started the tournament well until he ran into the juggernaut known as Mat Rogers, and Jude has been consistently impressive against top level opponents despite taking the L a lot of the time.
Michael Spencer is at ringside, and Jude kicks him in the crutch. CRUTCH, I said, you deviants. Jude tosses his mascot dog into the crowd- it’s a toy one, don’t worry- and Ricky South catches it. Ricky’s not in the tournament, so it’s good of him to be here supporting his PWA brethren.
Fudge starts the action with the dreaded fingerlock. London reverses and Fudge teases tapping immediately. Kris Gale says he’s going to give a TED Talk on how Fudge can get back to his winning ways. Fudge and London trade pinfall attempts- jackknife, backslide, sunset flip, crucifix. Shades of the rapid pins during the infamous Ironman match a couple of months ago. They have a stand-off and Fudge hits Jude with the babooshka! Jude responds with a tilt-a-whirl headscissors. I think that sequence perfectly encapsulates the wrestling styles of both men.
Fudge hits a nice spike DDT for a near fall. He follows up with his own whirly bird version of the flying headscissors. They run a comedy spot with both of them getting in and out of the ring, until London cracks him with a running boot. Jude runs around the ring again- right into a punch from Fudge! Fudge follows up with a senton off the apron! Damn!
Back in the ring, Big Fudge hits the Sugar Rush. He goes for it again, but Jude counters with a slingblade for a near fall. They exchange hard forearm strikes- what is this, NJPW? Jude goes for a handspring, but Fudge counters with a Butt Punch. Poetry in motion. Jude and Fudge clash heads. Spencer and Paris have a commotion at ringside, each with a crutch in hand. Referee Xander ejects them both from ringside, and as that’s happening, Kai Drake hits Jude with the PWA tag belt! Fudge takes advantage with the chickenwing pin, and that’s all she wrote!
Winner: Big Fudge (6) (at 9:40)
Star Rating: ***3/4. That was legitimately one of my favourite matches of the tournament. Where did that come from? Sure, they had a little comedy, but Fudge looked actually… credible through a lot of that. Despite being out of the running to win the tournament, Jude and Fudge wrestled like that was the decider. Plus, it gave great hype to the Velocities vs. MK Plus Ultra ladder match at PWA Back In Black Label. I’m really impressed how they’ve intertwined build for that match into this tournament final show. Great match!
Jude has a few words. He acknowledges that he got loopy, but doesn’t hold any ill will towards Fudge- he took advantage of an opportunity. London says he left his heart in the Premiership. He needs to wrestle with his head and not his heart. He shifts focus to the Velocities, and hypes the ladder match some more. I was already excited when they announced that match, but the way they’re going out of the way to build the match strongly, makes me think they’ve got some crazy shit planned.
Fudge is ecstatic! He won! He eats and drinks victory and success! He promised to win the Premiership… and someone off-camera tells him that it’s over and he hasn’t got enough points to win. Oh well.
Match 6: Jack Bonza (5) vs. Matty Wahlberg (8)
A pivotal match in the Premiership. It’s win or go home for Matty Wahlberg. Wahlberg makes his entrance wearing Moretti-style facepaint and a Kingsley shirt. Mind games.
They trade takedowns and engage in a chain wrestling sequence. Then they get up and start shoving each other. This falls in line with what I said on the preview show- a technical battle, but also a hell of a fight. Wahlberg goes for a leg lariat, Bonza ducks and hits some blistering chops. Wahlberg kips up and hits a STO. Bonza rolls to the outside and eats a superkick off the apron, followed by a cannonball. Wahlberg throws Bonza into Moretti… it’s the old “hit a MFer with another MFer”. Wahlberg sets up for his leaping chair spot, and gets Kingsley to sit in the other chair. Bonza catches Wahlberg in mid-air and powerbombs him onto the rest of Gen Now at ringside.
Back in the ring, Wahlberg goes for the Stinger Splash, but Bonza catches him again and sets him up on the ropes for a superplex. Wahlberg shoves him off and goes for the Kobe elbow… but Bonza counters with a crucifix pin for a great near fall! Bonza and Wahlberg trade clotheslines. Bonza gets the advantage after a huge discus lariat. I was thinking that was a nice tribute to Brodie Lee, and the “yeah yeah yeah!” on commentary from Rose confirms it. Very cool. Wahlberg gets a convincing 2 count off an inside cradle.
Bonza plants him with another powerbomb with a minute to go. Bonza goes for the Napalm Thunder Driver, but Wahlberg counters with the Posterizer! 1, 2… and Bonza kicks out! 30 seconds left. Wahlberg goes up top for a finishing blow, but Kingsley distracts him- she doesn’t want him to hurt Uncle Jack. Uncle Jack takes the opportunity to hit the Napalm Thunder Driver- and he gets the 3 count with 5 seconds remaining!
Winner: Jack Bonza (7) (at 9:55)
Star Rating: ****1/4. As heartbreaking as it was, it was a hell of a match, taking me on that emotional ride. The result absolutely shocked me, even when Bonza had Wahlberg up for that final Napalm Thunder Driver, I was expecting Matty to wiggle out and get a late roll up or something. So they’re not going with Wahlberg vs. Moretti at this massive show on FITE… it’s probably the biggest single match they can put on, with over a year of build… are they saving it for Call 2 Arms?
A dejected Wahlberg sits at the interview desk. A gloating Moretti sits besides him and taunts him. “I told you so…” Wahlberg says they’ve been too focused on each other. Moretti has been focused on not wrestling Wahlberg, Wahlberg has been focused on nothing but wrestling Moretti. Matty states that he earnt everything he has. “I don’t need to wrestle you, you need to wrestle me”, he finishes. Going for the reverse psychology tactic?
Match 7: Jimmy Townsend (4) vs. Mat Rogers (8)
Rose predicts this match will last 40 seconds. In what seems to be the theme of the night, Townsend charges at Rogers with a flurry of strikes… and Full Force smashes him with a big boot. Rogers sets up for the pumphandle slam… and Jimmy counters with the schoolboy for the 3 count!
Winner: Jimmy Townsend (6) (at 0:39)
Star Rating: ***. That was awesome. Jimmy’s gotten some big wins in this tournament! Always love an underdog story. Now our boy just needs to sort his love life out. Don’t worry, Jimmy, I’m right there with you!
Jimmy is elated at the interview desk. Nobody kicks out of the schoolboy! He notes the success he’s had in the Premiership. He’s “pretty happy” with it.
Before the main event, Andrew Rose and Kris Gale give shoutouts to the crew involved in the Premiership, in particular the production staff. They all deserve a ton of credit, Rose and Gale included. All the wrestlers too. Through these reviews, I’ve developed a friendship with Rose and Gale, who have given me great feedback and included me and my writing contributions as part of the PWA family. It means a lot to me- honestly, I’m just a fan with a keyboard. I love pro wrestling, I love writing, so covering the Premiership has been a blast. It’d be a much different story if Lord Andy Coyne had me writing reviews of Monday Night Raw, I’ll say that much.
One more match. One last ride. It’s main event time.
Match 8: Lyrebird Luchi (9) vs. Jessica Troy (8)
It’s an uphill battle for Jess here- given the results of the tournament to this point, Luchi doesn’t even need to win. A draw gives him the Premiership final spot. As a result, he does everything he can to avoid contact with the PWWA Champion, hiding in the ropes while Troy goes for the arm. He gets out of the ring to burn the clock. At this point, commentary mentions Luchi’s big, thick… playbook. I was worried for a second there. Rose then ties it to Eminem’s book of rhymes, and I pop like a MFer. No question that Luchi has gotten to this point in the tournament through his seemingly unlimited intelligent tactics, rather than having any physical advantage.
Jess finally catches Luchi and starts laying in forearms. The Lyrebird keeps trying to escape. Jess goes for a boot but misses. Quick drop down sequence culminates in Troy hitting a gorgeous flying armbar, and Luchi scrambles to the ropes like his life depends on it. Luchi once again exits the ring, and this time Jess chases him and beats him down. She wraps his arm in the apron and stomps on it- vicious! Troy throws Luchi through the rows of chairs, and then smashes his arm into the stairs. Jess is set to add to her arm collection!
Troy goes for a Meteora, but Luchi catches her and delivers a nasty T-Bone suplex! Rough landing for Jess, it appeared she was just able to tuck her head in time. Luchi then gets some duct tape, ties Jess to a ringside chairs and demands that Referee Nick count. She gets back in the ring with the chair still stuck to her. Nick frees her and the match continues. Moments later, Luchi goes for his trademark springboard corkscrew splash but misses, Jess goes for the armbar but Luchi escapes. Hotly contested battle here.
Luchi hits a flying forearm and gets a near fall. Troy responds with a big slap and a pump kick. Luchi with a basement DDT. Troy with a brainbuster, followed by a reverse Meteora for a near fall of her own. With time ticking down, Jess locks in the Fujiwara armbar! With everyone ringside- and me at home- screaming for him to tap, Luchi holds on and the time expires!
Winner: Time Limit Draw (10:00) (10) (9)
Star Rating: ***1/2. It was deflating, but it was a whirlwind of emotions throughout. Who would have thought that the guy who got squashed by Mat Rogers in 45 seconds in Round 1 would ultimately take the block? Throughout the match- and the tournament as a whole- Luchi displayed his cerebral side, but he also had spells here where he looked great trading big moves with Jess Troy. I was convinced that Luchi was a red herring, set up as an unlikely threat to be taken out at the final hurdle. Even more so when Wahlberg was out of the running and Jess was our last hope- Moretti vs. Jess would have been a fantastic final- a battle of Nations members, but also Jess is kind of in the middle as far as this Gen Now vs. Old Guard feud goes. But no, it’ll be Moretti vs. Luchi.
Luchi has something to say. Everyone thought Moretti vs. Wahlberg was the way it was going. Guilty. It’s storytime. There was a fish too big for the pond, so he took to land. Then one day, he grew wings and flew. The Lyrebird, right? Luchi puts over his intellect. He has no team, no alliance, he’s just an innocuous Lyrebird.
Jess has a turn at the interview desk. She’s accompanied by her old buddy, Charli Evans. She simply says, “I want his arm” and leaves.
As Rose and Gale go to sign off, they say that Mat Rogers has a few words for us. Cut back to the interview desk with Full Force. He simply pounds the table until it breaks. I feel ya, big man.
I summed it up in a Tweet last night- pro wrestling is a rollercoaster ride. As far as PWA are concerned, I’m buying a season pass to the theme park any time. And like a rollercoaster, the Premiership- and this episode specifically- had plenty of ups and downs. I was happy, I was sad, I was nervous, I was excited, I was laughing, I was crying… I mean, I’m a tough manly man, I don’t cry. Yeah. But that’s what good, or great, pro wrestling is. It makes you feel a range of emotions. We get invested in the characters- investment in the personality of a wrestler is more important than a shooting star press (although shooting star presses are awesome, ngl).
Really curious to see what’s next for Luchi. I hope he wasn’t just made the winner for the sake of swerving people. Yeah, Moretti vs. Wahlberg was the predictable path, but predictable isn’t always a bad thing. I hope it wasn’t PWA’s equivalent of “oh shit, everyone guessed it was Christian, quick, turn Matt Hardy heel.” But I have faith in PWA’s storytelling that it was a little more than that. Luchi is a great talent, and I’m interested in seeing how he goes with a bigger spotlight- his approach is certainly different to most in PWA.
According to the event description when I bought tickets, the Premiership Final will take place at Back In Black Label, at the Factory Theatre on February 12. Last time we had a major PWA event at the Factory Theatre, it was Liger Down Under. Besides the major appearance of the NJPW legend, the most memorable thing about the show was Ricky South chopping the soul out of Luchi’s body. Quite a redemption story for the Lyrebird!
The PWA Premiership was a great thing for Aussie wrestling, pro wrestling in general, and for me. Now what the hell am I going to do on Monday nights? Think I need some Netflix suggestions…
Overall Score: 9/10
Until next time, take care.