Let’s be honest for a second. 2020 has been an absolute shitshow. We can’t travel, we can’t go to concerts, and more importantly, we can’t go to wrestling shows! Also, people are getting sick and dying. That also really sucks.
However, one shining light of this year has been the return of Sydney’s PWA promotion. At the end of 2019, Pro Wrestling Australia were firing on all cylinders. They had put on the massively successful Colosseum tournament, as well as Break Their Backs And Make Them Rumble- which, as you might be able to guess, was PWA’s spin on the Royal Rumble match. Make Them Rumble was one of the most fun Rumbles I’ve seen in years (although WWE did manage a return to form with their 2020 edition). And the 2019 Colosseum is an event I’d put up against any from a major wrestling promotion over the past few years.
Coming into 2020, PWA looked set to continue that momentum. The centerpiece of the promotion seemed to be a brewing Matty Wahlberg vs. Mick Moretti feud. The winner of the 2019 Colosseum against the 2018 winner. The young upstart in Aussie wrestling, who gained some mainstream exposure as a contestant on Australian Survivor, against the veteran who’s been plugging away on the Aussie scene in front of minimal crowds for over a decade. Wahlberg wants to take over, Moretti wants respect for helping build what we have today.
Also, the title scene in PWA was gaining some clarity, with long reigning champion Caveman Ugg, splitting his time between MCW, PWA and the Fale Dojo, scheduled to face “Tuff Stuff” Ricky South. While Ugg wasn’t on a full time schedule with PWA, the PWWA Champion Jessica Troy stepped up, with her women’s championship becoming an intergender title. Her next challenge would be her biggest yet, as at Coming Out Of My Cave, she was going to face the Ace of PWA- and current NJPW star- Robbie Eagles.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 struck, and Coming Out My Cave was cancelled. PWA organised a new event, called Don’t Call It A Cancel, and at a time when WWE and AEW were struggling to find their feet in terms of presenting a compelling pro wrestling show in a pandemic world, PWA nailed it. Streaming on OVO Play as an empty arena show, they provided a high quality event full of exceptional wrestling, as well as a good dose of comedy to provide some much needed escapism from the shit-show- even putting on a Toilet Paper On A Pole match!
After that, PWA took a hiatus. They emerged for the big anniversary show, Call To Arms. While it was a quality show, an event of that magnitude did suffer for not having a live audience. Finally, with some restrictions easing, PWA put on their first show in front of a live audience a few weeks ago, Wristlocks and Piledrivers. It was great, the wrestlers looked re-energised performing in front of people again, and we fans appreciated the entertainment. They needed a way to keep that positive momentum going, and came up with the PWA Premiership.
- 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.
Every Monday at 8PM on OVO Play, a 50 minute episode of the Premiership airs. It’s only been a couple of weeks, but it’s rapidly become my favourite episodic wrestling show currently airing. Raw is a slog, NXT has become Raw-lite over the past several months, and Smackdown- while improving- hasn’t found the consistency yet. The only other show in the conversation for me is AEW Dynamite (review coming later this week).
So let’s get to the action. This week marks the second round of Block A. The wrestlers in Block A are:
Mick Moretti, Kingsley, William Preston, Unsocial Jordan, Kai Drake, Paris De Silva, Charli Evans & Sam Osborne.
Match 1: Mick Moretti vs. Kingsley.
An intense Moretti gets in the face of Kingsley, pushing her against the ropes. Rose and Gale remind us of Kingsley’s vow to win the rest of the matches in the Premiership to prove she belongs in the Nations. Kingsley bails from the ring to get her breath back. Moretti gives chase and she cracks him with a forearm. She gets back in the ring to gain the high ground.
Moretti grabs Kingsley by the hair, which enrages her. She flies at the Rapscallion with chops and punches. Matty Wahlberg is shown watching at ringside. Kingsley hits a basement Codebreaker for a near fall. Kingsley goes for a neckbreaker, Moretti breaks the grip, Kingsley counters into a backslide for another near fall. On the kick-out, Moretti goes into his trademark handstand, which he turns into a headscissors. Moretti with a nice vertical suplex, but enjoys his work a little too much, allowing Kingsley to power out at 2.
Moretti acknowledges Wahlberg sitting at ringside, before hitting the Sweaty Moretti elbow drop for a second 2 count. Rose says of Wahlberg’s “Generation Now” t-shirt, “It’s a cool design, but I’m not wearing one”. Seated pump kick gains another close call for Moretti- he’s got clear control of this match now. Kingsley goes for a desperation guillotine choke but Mick converts it to a Muscle Buster to almost put this match away at the 5 minute mark.
Moretti goes for a suplex, but Kingsley reverses into a neckbreaker for a 2.5 count. She recognises the opening and immediately ups the tempo, hitting an awesome looking cazadora into the X-Factor! Somehow Moretti kicks out! Kingsley goes for a cross body, but Moretti catches her and nails a Death Valley Driver! He stares right at Wahlberg again, and locks Kingsley in a triangle choke! Kingsley is forced to tap, and that’s two rounds in a row where Moretti has used a Wahlberg signature move to win. Mind games!
Winner: Mick Moretti (4) (at 6:57)
Star Rating: ***1/2. Very high energy. Kingsley was obviously outmatched, and they didn’t shy away from that story. She had her moments though. I feel like she’s one big match away from truly breaking out in PWA. I thought she may have gotten the upset win over Moretti thanks to Wahlberg’s involvement, but instead we’re seeing that Moretti is too slick to allow Matty to mess with his head.
Post-match, Moretti crawls under the table to get to the microphone. Okay then. Moretti says sorry to Kingsley, but she needs to get her head on straight. The Rapscallion reminds us that he won the first Colosseum and promises to repeat the feat here. He says he will put Gen Now to shame- “then try and tell us what you f**king deserve”. Moretti with the naughty words two interviews in a row!
No interview from Kingsley, who appeared distraught after the loss. Wahlberg tried to console her, but she kind of brushed him off.
Match 2: William Preston vs. Paris De Silva
Preston comes out with a sign that says “Paris is a wholesome human, change my mind”. Keeping it respectful, unlike last round when he called Unsocial Jordan a “simp”. Paris comes out next, and of note, his lower back is sporting some tape. Both men are sitting on 0 points in this tournament so far.
Technical start as Preston goes with the hammerlock, Paris counters into a headlock, and they take turns wrenching each other’s arm. As commentary discusses William trying to put his Prefect days behind him, it’s actually Paris who goes to the schoolyard tactics, turning an armbar into a Chinese burn! William makes it to the ropes.
Preston brings the match back to a more serious approach, going back to the hammerlock and transitioning to a headlock of his own. He considers giving Paris a noogie but thinks better of it. Paris escapes and applies a headlock of his own, and he uses the noogie instead! He does it for the noogie for a while. Eventually Preston gains the upper hand with a couple of deep arm drags. Later, Preston hits a twisting cross body of the second rope for a near fall. We’ll have to start calling him William Steamboat at this rate!
Paris speeds up the pace and gets more serious himself. Tilt a whirl into an arm drag, followed by a flying forearm in the corner gains him a near fall. Preston returns fire with a rolling neckbreaker for a 2 count. He decides to go back into the Prefect bag of tricks- he actually tries for the schoolboy- nobody kicks out of the schoolboy- but Paris holds onto the ropes. William catches him with the “free shot”, but instead of the traditional punch, kicks him in the gut and goes for the Overdrive/Playmaker (I still hate that move). Paris escapes and hits a jumping kick to the head, followed by a gorgeous Shooting Star Press for the win!
Winner: Paris De Silva (2) (at 6:50)
Star Rating: ***. I appreciated the story being told here, with the constant inner conflict of William Preston being shown. His most effective moments were when he embraced the old Prefect Billy side, and Paris won after William deviated from that and tried to use the shittest finisher ever (besides maybe John Cena’s Lightning Fist).
Post-match, William Preston looks dejected. He says that he entered this tournament to show that he’s more than a tag wrestler, more than a Prefect. He vows to do better next time. No Paris De Silva interview.
A recap airs of the Kai Drake vs. Sam Osborne draw from Round 1.
Match 3: Kai Drake vs. Unsocial Jordan
Drake bullies Jordan back into the corner, and the Unsocial one shoves him back. Some chain wrestling, Jordan gets the better of it, takes the back and slaps Kai around the head. Drake takes Jordan down and rides him for a moment, but Jordan escapes and hits a DDT of sorts to the leg. We get some movement and Kai halts Jordan’s momentum with a sharp kick to the gut. Kick attempt by Drake, roll through by Jordan, stand off.
Jordan hits a shoulder to the gut from the apron, following by a flying arm drag as he leaps back into the ring. Lucha things- while wearing a turtleneck. Impressive. Drake looks to get a breather, but Jordan follows up with a unique move- he slides out of the ring and hits him with a side Russian leg sweep into the apron! Ouch! He gets him back into the ring via a back suplex onto the apron- double ouch! Unsocial Jordan definitely seems to have a renewed focus in this return to PWA.
Jordan whips Drake into the corner and goes for a pin, but referee Xander catches him using the ropes. Jordan continues to work the back, and Kai is in agony. Reverse Boston crab applied, and Kai escapes by biting the bottom rope. Kai Drake has been known to enter a eating contest or two! Jordan applies a Camel Clutch- will he make Kai humble? Nope! Kai escapes the hold by biting Jordan’s hands! Jordan goes for Eat Defeat, but Kai bites his foot! Drake hits the running knee to gain a near fall, but now he’s got a decided advantage.
Kai charges at Jordan but takes Xander out instead! REF BUMP! Kai nails the superkick on Jordan, who appears to be out cold, but there’s no one to count the pin! Kai grabs the PWA Tag title belt, Jordan grabs his tripod (no, not that). Both swing and miss, but Jordan kicks a goal into the neither regions of the Dragonheart. Shining Wizard and the ref comes to in time to count the pin! It’s all over!
Winner: Unsocial Jordan (4) (at 6:31)
Star Rating: ***. Who would have thought that Unsocial Jordan would be topping the leaderboard alongside Mick Moretti? I don’t know if it’ll last, but a very impressive outing by Jordan. The biting stuff got a little too comedic for my tastes though (no pun intended).
Post-match, Unsocial Jordan basks in his glory. He says he has integrity, and this tournament is his chance to be heard. Stand With SMS.
Match 4: Charli Evans vs. Sam Osborne (w/ Don Marnell)
Don Marnell has a mic in his hand, naturally. He talks about being friendly with Charli from their time in the UK, but finishes his signature rhyming promo with, “stay the f**k out of our way”. Osborne walks out, but is sure to grab his coffee before starting the contest. I, too, cannot work without coffee. Rose speculates on the type of coffee that the Prize Bull drinks, using it as an opportunity to call him a “soy boy”.
Feeling out process to start the match in the first minute or so before initiating the grappling exchanges. Charli jumps on the back, Sam responds by attempting to work the leg. They scramble back to their feet. Strong feeling of tension in the room. Both have points on the board- Charli with a big win in the 1st round, while Osborne had the tough draw with Kai Drake, so a win here is paramount.
They grapple again and Sam uses his weight advantage to lean on Charli. Charli picks the leg, Osborne scrambles to the outside, and Charli opens the ropes to invite him back in the ring. Tactical battle. Osborne taunts Charli, and tactics go out the window for a moment as she blasts him with chops and forearms in the corner. As the ref backs her up, Osborne mows her down with a shoulder block- but she pops right back up! Osborne goes for a scoop slam but Charli lands on her feet, then strikes with some low kicks and an awkward looking Dragon Screw. And another one. Running cross body gains a near fall for Miss Evans. Charli keeps working the leg, and this seems to be a submission-based fight. We get the WrestlerMerch 5 minute warning.
Osborne breaks out of a grounded headscissors and floats over into a bow and arrow hold. Some of that technical wrestling ability shining through for the Prize Bull. Charli looks to grab an arm which forces Sam to relinquish the hold. Snapmare into a crucifix pin gets a 2 count. Camel Clutch applied by Osborne, and Charli escapes by looking to attack the leg. Osborne pushes her into the ropes and blasts her with a forearm. Strong style. Charli starts swinging bombs back, Osborne looks to smother that flurry with a headlock, and Evans fires back with a series of Saito suplexes. Osborne goes for his rolling kneebar but Charli grabs the ropes.
Osborne attacks her legs like a piranha as we hit 1 minute left. Strike fest. Charli hits a superkick, followed by a clothesline for a near fall. 30 seconds left. Charli rolls through and applies an ankle lock. Osborne rolls through into the kneebar. Time ticking down…and Charli taps with 7 seconds remaining!
Winner: Sam Osborne (3) at (9:53)
Star Rating: ***3/4. Damn! That was intense and physical AF. Can’t say enough good things about the work Charli Evans has done since returning to PWA, every performance she’s had has been a banger, and Osborne has been killing it himself, especially over the past year plus. They played with expectations there, with a similar structure to the two matches in the Premiership that ended in draws. What made this work a lot better than Drake vs. Osborne for me is that both wrestlers worked on each other’s legs throughout, making it equally likely that Charli could have forced Sam to tap in those closing seconds with the ankle lock. Bonza vs. Jess is still my match of the Premiership so far, but this was damn close.
Post-match, a jubilant Sam Osborne heads to the interview table. He’s in a far better mood than the first round, and of course, Marnell is pumped up. He says, “What is the boat that does not sink?” Osborne finishes the line, “Sam Osborne’s Premiership!” Still a great line.
Another week, another quality display from PWA. I didn’t love the middle two matches, but I didn’t dislike them either. Just thought a couple of bits got overplayed, like the noogies and the biting. As a one-off spot, cool, but they didn’t need to happen 3 times in a 6 minute match. However, the first match was full of energy, advanced the Moretti/Wahlberg story, and positioned Kingsley as a valiant underdog as she tries to gain acceptance into the Nations. And that main event was worth the billing! Osborne and Evans have both spent time working internationally, but they’re products of Sydney, proving that Aussie wrestling can be put up against any wrestling scene in the world.
I love that wrestlers are selling the wins and losses as important. Week 1 saw Osborne unhappy about a draw, this week saw Kingsley unsatisfied with a competitive battle against someone the calibre of Moretti. There’s no moral victories here, actual wins is what matters the most. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.
Overall Score: 8/10
CURRENT PREMIERSHIP STANDINGS
- Mick Moretti: 4
- Unsocial Jordan: 4
- Sam Osborne: 3
- Charli Evans: 2
- Paris De Silva: 2
- Kai Drake: 1
- William Preston: 0
- Kingsley: 0
- Matty Wahlberg: 2
- Mat Rogers: 2
- Big Fudge: 2
- Jessica Troy: 1
- Jack J Bonza: 1
- Jude London: 0
- Jimmy Townsend: 0
- Lyrebird Luchi: 0
I’ll be back next week with my coverage of the PWA Premiership! Hope you all have a great week!
Until next time, take care,