I love Aussie wrestling. I’ve said for a while that the Australian wrestling scene is one of the most underrated in the world. Places like the UK and Europe get attention for the wrestling products they produce, and rightly so, but Aussie wrestlers are right there with them. The world is finally starting to notice us, though. WWE has a number of Australians on its roster, including Murphy, Peyton Royce and Billie Kay on the main roster, and Bronson Reed (fka Jonah Rock) and Indi Hartwell in NXT. Plus Robbie Eagles in New Japan. Plus Slex and Adam Brooks, who were signed to ROH pre-pandemic. I could go on and name drop some more, but that’s not what I’m here to do. Just wanted to make the point that Aussie wrestling is awesome, and any fan not familiar with the scene is doing themselves a disservice.
Last weekend, Sydney-based promotion PWA returned to prominence with a live show, streamed on OVO Play. For the first time since COVID, they had a small number of fans in attendance, all in accordance with NSW health guidelines, and I was among the lucky few able to attend. The show was called PWA WAP- Wristlocks & Piledrivers– check the main page for my review of that show. Quick summary- it was excellent.
PWA made an announcement on that show that piqued my interest- the PWA Premiership was set to take place, starting on Monday the 19th of October. We weren’t told anything beyond that at the time, but social media has filled in the gaps for us:
- 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.
- If there is a tie after all wrestlers in a block have faced each other, both/all of those wrestlers advance to the finals.
Monday nights are usually pretty mundane for me. I get struck by a severe case of Monday-itis, and I normally spend my nights aimlessly surfing through YouTube and/or Netflix. Thankfully, PWA gave me something to look forward to. 8PM every Monday from now on, the PWA Premiership is live on OVO Play. Get amongst it! (You do have to buy a $10 fan pass, but considering you get weekly wrestling as well as access to PWA’s archive of amazing shows, it’s definitely worth it)
We open the show with the usual intro. It is unfair how talented CJ Phoenix is. He does an awesome job as the frontman of Set Me On Fire, providing PWA’s theme song as well as a number of other themes for wrestlers in PWA… and he can do incredible flippy shit like he showed off at PWA WAP. Unreal.
Commentators Andrew Rose and Kris Gale welcome us to the show. Kris isn’t wearing his usual sparkly jacket tonight. Boo-urns. They re-cap the rules I just mentioned above, and go over the participants in each block, which is as follows:
Block A: Mick Moretti, Kingsley, Kai Drake, William Preston, Charli Evans, Unsocial Jordan & Sam Osborne.
Block B: Mat Rogers, Jack J. Bonza, Jimmy Townsend, Big Fudge, Jude London, Lyrebird Luchi, Matty Wahlberg & Jessica Troy
Tonight’s all about the first round of Block A matches, so let’s do this!
They’ve got some sweet looking stats graphics too, providing information on wrestler’s heights, weights, age and years of experience in wrestling. Awesome, awesome touch.
Match 1: Kai Drake vs. Sam Osborne (w/ Don Marnell)
Marnell comes out cutting a promo. He says that Kai is Sideshow Bob, and Sam Osborne is the rake. Quality Simpsons reference. Marnell is quickly challenging Matty Wahlberg as my favourite promo guy in PWA.
Drake and Osborne begin with a little chain wrestling, while Kai tries to put a stop to with a roundhouse kick. Sam bails from the ring to regain his composure. He quickly gets back in the ring, sweeps the leg (someone’s been binging Cobra Kai on Netflix) and goes for a series of pinning combinations, including a nice crucifix for a near fall. Osborne follows up with a gator roll into a lateral press. Marnell tries to assist by holding Kai’s legs down for the pin, but the ref catches him.
Kai ups the tempo with some sharp strikes, including a basement dropkick and a beatdown in the corner. Sam stops the assault by targeting Drake’s arm with surgical precision. Kai tries to fight back with a chop, but again hurts his arm, allowing Osborne to take advantage of the opening with a chopblock. So now the seasoned striker Drake has two of his limbs compromised.
Kai pulls Osborne into the ring post when Sam tries to wrap his leg around it. It’s comeback time. A hard German suplex scores a two count for Kai Drake. A brainbuster gets another near fall for “Dragonheart”. Kai goes for a body slam, but is countered into Osborne’s trademark rolling kneebar. Drake makes the ropes.
Drake fights back with a leaping enziguri which looks to have put Osborne’s lights out, but Marnell puts his foot on the ropes. The clock is the enemy of both men at this point, and both furiously trade strikes. Neither man can get the advantage in this brawl, and time runs out.
Winner: Time Limit Draw (at 10:00) (Drake- 1, Osborne- 1)
Star Rating: ***. High quality action to start this tournament off, really tidy match. I did think the “work a body part” strategy was a little ill-fitting given the speedy nature of the tournament, so glad to see it come into play here. This creates a greater sense of urgency for all the other competitors in the tournament. But that 10 minutes absolutely flew by to watch.
Post-match interview. Marnell is happy with the draw, as long as they’re not losing. Sam Osborne seems less pleased, but Don says that he’ll be right. “You know what boat doesn’t sink? Sam Osborne’s Premiership.” Damn, this man is winning me over with lines like that! Also, the post match interview set up really adds to the sports vibe that PWA have created with this presentation, and I dig it.
Match 2: Charli Evans vs. Kingsley
Technical start here with a lock-up, then a test of strength, then some chain wrestling which Charlie gets the better of, transitioning from a headlock to work the arm, then dropping down into a leg lock, but Kingsley grabs the ropes.
Kingsley makes the fight a bit rougher and tips the scales in her favour with some snug forearm strikes and kicks. Evans quickly returns fire with a kick of her own, but Kingsley keeps coming forward, and nails a DDT for a near fall. Charli responds by upping the aggression, hitting Kingsley with a flatliner into the middle turnbuckle, followed by a running boot. She gets a near fall with a suplex and keeps the pressure up, tying Kingsley into knots. Charli with a submission that is like half a STF, half a Fujiwara armbar (must find out the actual name of that hold, she used it at WAP too). Kingsley makes the ropes.
Kingsley comes back with a big basement clothesline for a near fall. Charli responds in kind with a roll up into a running knee strike for a close count of her own. Kingsley tries to play the submission game herself by applying a guillotine choke, but Charli hits the DDT! And that’s enough to put Charli Evans on the board!
Winner: Charlie Evans (2) (at 6:30)
Star Rating: ***. That was some serious high energy. About as good as a match of that length could be. It’s been fantastic seeing Charli Evans back in PWA. I watched her about 5 years ago just starting out in some shows in Wollongong, and the difference between then and now is night and day. Like obviously people improve over that kind of time span, but as someone who never saw what she did in the UK, it’s astounding to see how great she is now. And Kingsley is shining more and more every time she wrestles, too.
Post-match interviews. Both Charli and Kingsley get some mic time. Charli swears a bunch, hard to tell exactly what was being said because she got beeped a bunch, but I think she called Kingsley a tough bitch and promised to win the Premiership. Meanwhile, Kingsley swears that she’ll win the rest of her matches and prove to Uncle Jack (Jack J. Bonza) that she deserves to be in the Red Nation. The desperation and willingness to prove herself is great character motivation. Both ladies really got over the importance of this tournament.
Just quickly, PWA have really made lemonade out of lemons with this whole situation. I assume the Premiership was made as a Plan B when they had to cancel the annual Colosseum tournament. Usually, PWA drafts in top level wrestlers from interstate and worldwide for a massive extravaganza at Max Watts, but damn COVID… but this Premiership is an excellent concept, and it gives PWA’s homegrown talent more chance to shine.
Match 3: Paris De Silva vs. Mick Moretti
This should be awesomeness, no matter how long it lasts. As Andrew Rose notes on commentary, Paris and Moretti had a banger at PWG in the States that got a little viral traction, and they have a lot of history in singles and tag matches. As it’s about to start though, Matty Wahlberg distracts Moretti, sitting at ringside. This enrages the usually eccentric but composed Rapscallion, who flies at Paris and they trade big forearm strikes. Crazy aggression and speed. Moretti hits his patented slingshot tope for a near fall. Then he just grabs Paris and impales him head-first into the middle turnbuckle for another near fall. Basement pump kick for a trifecta of near falls for Moretti. Damn.
Paris mounts a comeback with a snap rana and a spinning heel kick. Standing Shooting Star Press gives Paris a near fall. Moretti then throws him off with the old headstand gimmick, followed by a jaw-cracking forearm strike. He then drapes Paris across the apron and nails a running leg drop (eat your heart out, Taker). It only gets 2, though.
Moretti goes for a fisherman suplex but Paris counters into a Stunner! The Spartan Spirit quickly follows up with a Frog Splash, then goes for a corkscrew moonsault… which finds nothing but canvas. Moretti wipes him out with a Muscle Buster, but rather than go for the cover… he looks over at Wahlberg, and hits Wahlberg’s finish, the Posterize, for the 3 count!
Winner: Mick Moretti (2) (at 6:00)
Star Rating: ***1/4. Shit! Not the technical, flashy exhibition I was expecting, but damn thrilling in his own right, with the veteran Moretti losing his shit and employing some unusual tactics for him. Really furthered that story between Moretti & Wahlberg, and the Old Guard vs. Generation Now, and Paris still got some flashy moments to shine, because he’s incapable of having a boring outing. Great stuff.
Post-match, a fired-up Mick Moretti gets on the headset for an interview. Killer promo where he blasts the Gen Now faction, passionate as hell as he says, “I wish I had half the shit you did four years in!” He says that now Matty Wahlberg has his chance to face him through the Premiership. “See you in the f**king final, Matty”, snarls Moretti. Goosebumps.
Match 4: William Preston vs. Unsocial Jordan
Preston has a “Jordan is a simp” sign. Gold! I mean, it’s hard not to simp for Shazza McKenzie, we all get it. Well, except Andrew Rose, who wants to know what a simp is. He asks someone on Twitter to let him know. I’m sure someone has obliged him by now.
Jordan offers Preston a turtleneck. Is that a symbol of an offer to join SMS? Turns out it was a ruse though, as Jordan throws the Prefect into the corner and chokes him with the turtleneck. He finally adhered to the rules of a wrestling match after a bit and starts to work the arm, followed by some stomps in the corner.
William starts a comeback with a wheelbarrow bulldog, followed by a cross body for a near fall. He goes for a Playmaker (god, I hate that move), and Jordan counters into a Falcon Arrow for a near fall of his own. He keeps up the beating until Preston gains some separation and goes for a top rope dive, but misses. Half and half suplex gets a 2 count for the Unsocial one.
Jordan goes to use the tripod, which the ref prevents. Meanwhile, William has the opportunity to use the schoolboy, and almost does it, but he battles with himself and doesn’t execute the pin. This opens the door for Jordan to hit an electric chair drop into the turnbuckle, followed by a leg lariat and finally a superkick for the win!
Winner: Unsocial Jordan (2) (at 5:50)
Star Rating: **3/4. Not quite as intense or action-packed as the other bouts around this length, but still did a good job telling a story of William Preston struggling with his connection to the Prefects and not wanting to rely on the schoolboy, but that hesitation costing him in the end. The character dynamics were a bit off too, Jordan is the heel of all heels in PWA, but William hasn’t been the most likeable either during this story arc, so the face/heel dynamic wasn’t very strong. Definitely a fine outing though.
Post-match, Jordan gets on the headset and takes shots at both Gen Now and the Old Guard. As always, he tells us to “Stand With SMS”.
This was an excellent hour (well, 50 minutes or so) of pro wrestling. Absolutely flew by, and the production and presentation of this was top notch. Everyone from the commentators to the production team to the wrestlers themselves appear to be taking this tournament super seriously, and it makes for such a compelling watch. The PWA Premiership just became destination programming for me on Monday nights. 8PM on OVO Play, check it out!
Overall Score: 9/10