Wow. December 2020. We made it, guys! Been a hell of a year. At least we still had wrestling. Has it always been great? Absolutely not. A lack of crowds has really hurt this live interactive form of entertainment. But in amongst the doom and gloom, we’ve had a couple of shining lights. For example, the long-awaited heel turn of Roman Reigns. And- for something a little closer to home- the PWA Premiership.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, or in a shark cage waiting to get into a WarGames match, 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.
- If there is a tie after all wrestlers in a block have faced each other, both/all of those wrestlers advance to the finals.
This week, it’s Round 4 of Block B. We’ve had some killer matches from this block, including Jack Bonza vs. Jessica Troy and Matty Wahlberg vs… Jessica Troy. Jess Troy is the best. And after Big Fudge’s undefeated streak was snapped in the last Block B round, the Arm Collector now leads the block on 5 points. That said, she is tied with the man who broke the streak (and all our hearts), “Full Force” Mat Rogers. This has been an uber competitive tournament and really anything can happen at this stage.
Let’s do this!
Match 1: Mat Rogers (5) vs. Jack J Bonza (1)
The stats graphic tells me that Rogers began his pro wrestling career when he was my age (30). There’s hope for me yet!
Bonza and Rogers begin with a couple of collar and elbow tie ups that result in a stalemate. Moments later, they begin throwing strikes at each other. This reminds me of an app idea that I had, it would match up people that want to fight. I call it OnlyHands. Anyway, Bonza starts leathering Rogers like he forgot to pay the subscription fee. Rogers, of course, responds in kind, but not kindly.
Bonza throws a clothesline that barely budges Full Force, who delivers a scoop slam to the leader of the Red Nation. Big leg drop from Rogers gets a 2 count. More heavy strikes. A shoulder block from the second rope gets another near fall for Rogers. Bonza catches a big boot attempt and grounds the powerhouse with a Dragon Screw. Single leg Boston Crab follows, but Rogers makes the ropes.
Bonza looks for a powerbomb, but Rogers fights out with a back body drop. Bonza ducks another shoulder block attempt and hits a clothesline/lariat for a near fall. I actually don’t know the difference between the two. Lariats always seem harder for some reason- unless you’re JBL. Bonza keeps up the offense for a few moments before running into a Rogers big boot. And another one (TM DJ Khaled). Rogers goes for the pumphandle slam, but Bonza lands on his feet and hits a German suplex. And again. Bonza finally scores with the powerbomb for a long 2 count. Moments later, he follows with a ring-shaking superplex… and that’s good for the 3!
Winner: Jack Bonza (3) (at 5:46)
Star Rating: ***1/2. I’ve joked in past reviews about Big Fudge having “hoss battles”, but this was a genuine hoss battle between Bonza and Rogers. Lots of fun, and great to see Uncle Jack snap out of his funk. This match also carried a bit more weight (no pun intended) due to the imposing force that Rogers has been throughout this tournament (seriously, no pun intended!)
Bonza has a few words. He says he’s been trying to be nice, because he’s been told he has problems with his anger. It’s cost him a few matches. He reminds everyone of his accolades, and says if anyone wants to call him out, watch what just happened. Also, a ton of F Bombs in there, but this is a family show, dammit!
Match 2: Jessica Troy (5) vs. Big Fudge (4)
Fudge offers his hand in a sign of sportsmanship, and Stevie Wonder could see what’s going to happen here… Jess snatches the arm and Fudge screams like a banshee as he scurries to the ropes. “Sounds like someone’s strangling a bandicoot” says Kris Gale. Dead.
Fudge with the fingerlock, Jess reverses into a wristlock. Fudge almost taps but makes the ropes. It gets a tad more intense from here as Jess takes Fudge down, but the Ice Cream Man spins out and applies a front facelock! Finesse! More chain wrestling as they trade the advantage. Troy with a leglock but Fudge makes the ropes. The Arm Colllector shifts her focus to the ankle- nice strategy to slow down the lightning fast moves of Fudge. Fudge manages to reverse out and starts working the ankle as well.
Rose and Gale speculate that Fudge does so well because he doesn’t remember the results of his matches. “The goldfish of professional wrestling”, Rose says. Fudge puts Troy in a pendulum and swings her head-first into the turnbuckles. Jess gets control back and starts working the arm again. Fudge fights out of the Fujiwara armbar by finding the ropes again. He does the Sugar Rush corner charges. Troy avoids one and hits a series of running forearms. Corner Meteora to the back of the head by Troy. Pump kick gets a near fall.
Jess applies a hammerlock and goes to throw Fudge into the corner, but Fudge puts on the brakes. We then get a smooth sequence of chain wrestling- go behinds, leap frogs, arm wringers… all resulting in a Butt Punch by Fudge. Jess clearly does her squats though, as the punch has zero effect. We go into a series of rapid fire pin attempts. I love these spots, and also firmly believe they are done to troll the referee. Poor Big Dick Nick. Moments later, tilt-a-whirl into the armbar… Jess gets the win. Fudge is just another victim.
Winner: Jessica Troy (7) (at 8:48)
Star Rating: ***1/2. That was… a hell of a match. Maybe the most “serious” Fudge match I’ve ever seen. They did comedy stuff early, but got pretty intense down the stretch.
Jess is elated. She thanks Big Fudge. For the arm. She wants all the arms she can get. You might say she’s anything but ‘armless. YEAAAAAH!
Fudge can’t believe he lost again. But it doesn’t matter. He’ll get his winning streak back. Winning tastes sweet. Like Nutella milkshakes. They are tasty. And they bring all the boys to the yard.
Match 3: Jimmy Townsend (2) vs. Jude “The Dude” London (0)
Technical start as they tie up, Jimmy starts working the arm, and Jude cartwheels and flips his way out of it. Traditional vs. flashy. Jimmy throws in a noogie because he hasn’t forgot his schoolboy roots- traditional in a different sense. Jackknife pin for London gets a 2 count.
Rapid fire sequence where leg sweeps and arm drags were traded. Jude hits a great hurricanrana, only for Jimmy to respond with a springboard nipple drag. Not a typo. They go for a Kenny Omega-inspired flip sequence, which Jude performs flawlessly, while Jimmy kinda lands on his head. But I frequently screw my body up by sleeping the wrong way, so I shouldn’t really judge. They have a stand-off, and PWA staff start a Terminator clap against the apron. Bless them.
Jimmy goes for the schoolboy, it’s blocked, Jude goes for the standing moonsault, it misses. Slingblade by London gets a near fall. Handstand into a Meteora scores another 2 count for the Groovy Gladiator. The standing moonsault finally scores for another close call. London with an octopus hold at the WrestlerMerch 5 minute mark, but Jimmy counters with the hip toss into the neckbreaker. Townsend with a unique move, almost looked like a basement version of the Overdrive? Near fall. Double nipplehook suplex by Townsend. Arm drag into a butterfly suplex off the ropes! Jimmy goes for the schoolboy, initially blocked, but then Jude rolls through and hits a low dropkick.
Jimmy goes for the “free shot” but Jude counters by sticking the finger in the circle! London uses it to land a straight kick to the head, followed by the Excommunicado spin kick. He goes up top and lands a double stomp for the 3 count!
Winner: Jude London (2) (at 7:46)
Star Rating: ***1/2. That was wild. Jimmy follows up a great performance at Feats of Strength this past weekend with an amazing showing in defeat here. Loved that!
Jimmy is tired but not tongue-tied. “So much wrestling,” he says. He’s increasing in confidence… but he’s got Jess Troy next. Some mixed emotions from Townsend on that one.
Match 4: Lyrebird Luchi (4) vs. Matty Wahlberg (3)
Wahlberg begins by spitting the contents of his red cup- which remains mysterious- into the face of Luchi. A couple of years ago, I gave Wahlberg shit for having water in his cup, and he eviscerated me in his post-match promo. It was a good time. Wahlberg looks in amazing shape, so I’m going to assume he’s consumed very little, if any, alcohol during lockdown. He’s got far more willpower than me.
Opening 30 second is a feeling out process. Matty scores a quick takedown, and Luchi spoons the ropes. Single leg takedown by Luchi, Wahlberg sweeps and briefly ends up in mount before a quick scramble. Some MMA influence here on both sides. Luchi goes to take a breather outside the ring as Rose & Gale note that it’s a strategy to frustrate his opponents.
Back in the ring, Luchi works the arm. Wahlberg briefly reverses. Crucifix pin by Luchi gets a 2 count. Double leg by Wahlberg, he looks for the triangle choke, but Luchi scrambles out and belts him with a back fist. Wahlberg comes back with some sudden sharp strikes, followed by his trademark rolling groin stomp in the corner. Stinger Splash, followed by the rolling flatliner. He looks for the Kobe elbow but Luchi rolls out of the ring once again. He plays the cat and mouse game, then rams Wahlberg into the apron. He tries to wrap Matty in the apron, like he did to Jimmy Townsend (and Cherry), but it doesn’t work.
Luchi beats down Wahlberg for a while. A cradle pin- where he may have grabbed some hair- gets a near fall for Luchi. Luchi continues the strikes, but Wahlberg scores with a chop that sends Luchi’s areola to Melbourne via express post. Rolling clothesline followed by the Kobe elbow gets a near fall for Wahlberg. Luchi regains control and locks in a Edge-acution (inverted Sharpshooter) but Wahlberg escapes. Lots of trash talk as time winds down. Wahlberg yells “you can’t beat me, bitch!” and another huge backfist gets Luchi a near fall. With a minute left, Luchi goes for the draw and runs around the outside of the ring. Luchi hides under the ring and Wahlberg finds him… and he hits a Posterizer on the concrete. He can’t get Luchi’s limp body back in the ring and time runs out. But if he had just got back in the ring himself, he could have gotten the countout victory? Oh well.
Winners: Time Limit Draw (5) (4) (at 10:00)
Star Rating: ***1/2. The action has been hotter in past Premiership main events, but the character work here elevated this one in a different way. The trash talk from Wahlberg, the smarmy scheming from Luchi, this felt like two polar opposite dudes having a fight and trying to beat each other mentally as well as physically. Extremely captivating stuff. And that Posterize from the apron feels like a “limit breaker” move that Wahlberg could bust out in future big matches, that looked absolutely vicious!
Luchi says “a draw is better than a loss”, but Wahlberg sits down and confronts him. “I used to be you,” Matty says. Didn’t matter how the match went down, as long as he didn’t take a loss. One day, he looked in the mirror and hated who he saw. That thought seems to shake Luchi and he leaves the interview desk. Wahlberg stares down the camera and admits that he may be out of this tournament. He promises to win the next 3 straight and show what superstars are made of. That’s why he reps Gen Now. The passion positively poured from Wahlberg during that. What a promo, and what a way to close this week’s show.
That was perhaps the most consistently great episode of the Premiership to date. We didn’t get any clear match of the tournament contenders out of it, but every match was extremely high quality. The Premiership continues to be the biggest treat a wrestling fan could have. Especially if you’ve gone off WWE’s content as of late. Can’t stomach a 3 hour Raw? Stop in for 50-60 minutes of PWA. They’ve nailed the sports-based approach while continuing to advance storylines. The post-match interviews here are a masterstroke. They’re brief, but oh so effective at clearly showing character motivations. Another week, another review, another time I have to give kudos to PWA!
Overall Score: 8.5/10
Also, PWA Feats of Strength took place this past Saturday night, and it was a hell of a show. As soon as that bad boy is up for on-demand viewing on OVOPlay, I’ll start whipping together that review. One of the mysteries of life is why the PWA singular events take a few days to get uploaded, but the Premiership episodes are on demand a few minutes after the live show airs. It’s how I get the detailed reviews up so quickly. Anyway, look out for the PWA FOS review coming soon, as well as the next AEW Dynamite, featuring Sting’s first interview in All Elite Wrestling!
CURRENT PREMIERSHIP STANDINGS
- Unsocial Jordan: 7
- Sam Osborne: 7
- Mick Moretti: 6
- Charli Evans: 5
- Paris De Silva: 4
- William Preston: 2
- Kai Drake: 1
- Kingsley: 0
- Jessica Troy: 7
- Mat Rogers: 5
- Lyrebird Luchi: 5
- Matty Wahlberg: 4
- Big Fudge: 4
- Jack J. Bonza: 3
- Jimmy Townsend: 2
- Jude London: 2
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.