It’s nice to see the world get back to some semblance of normalcy. What that means is work, family, social commitments, and of course, pro wrestling shows as often as I can attend them. Rock N Roll Wrestling is my local promotion, and although we’re not quite post-COVID, we’re getting a glimpse into what that world will look like, as RNR features a group of wrestlers who are more than ready to put on a show for the people! Making a grand return a couple of months ago at the RNR Academy, we return there for this show- the beginnings of the Super 8 Tournament.
I love a good tournament in pro wrestling. Whether it’s WWE’s King Of The Ring or PWA’s Colosseum, the tournament format offers so many storytelling options to play with, so many compelling choices to work with. I’m just happy to be along for the ride as we move the chess pieces into place, and in addition to the tournament qualifiers on this show, we also have a big title match, as defending champion Hunter PS Hayes takes on promising star Eric Fisher for the RNR Heavyweight Championship!
Let’s do this!
Match 1: Super 8 Qualifier- Otis (w/ Wayne Pickford) vs. Big Fudge
As the match starts, Pickford tries to have a go at super heavyweight Big Fudge. Since Fudge is salt of the earth (sorry MJF), he doesn’t want to hurt a senior citizen, and eventually the manager gets out of the ring, allowing the match to start. It’s a major juxtaposition of characters here, as Fudge is a fun-loving, often comical guy, while Otis is all business and pushes the levels of violence and aggression as far as Rock N Roll’s family-friendly parameters will allow.
We get a funny spot where Fudge hits Otis with a airplane spin, and a dizzy Otis mistakenly schoolboys the ref and Fudge counts the fall. Brilliant. Fudge maintains control until Otis kicks the middle rope into his groin. Pickford gets involved behind the referee’s back. Otis with the nice tribute to Brodie Lee with the discus lariat. He even does the taunt. Lovely. It gets a near fall. Fudge rallies and hits a painful looking senton on Otis, who is hunched over. It gets a close two count, but Fudge has mometum. He hits the Butt Punch, followed by the chokeslam for the win!
Winner: Big Fudge
Star Rating: ***. Really solid action. Great choice to start as Fudge is one of the most popular acts with the kids (and with me, since I’m a big kid), while Otis is one of the most despised heels, meaning the crowd were immediately invested in the show.
Match 2: Super 8 Qualifier- Lee Morrow vs. Hydro
Morrow is great value, wearing a shirt that reads “Your Mum’s Favourite Wrestler”. My mum hates wrestling, but yeah, she might like Morrow. Handsome bastard. Hydro comes out to jazz up the crowd, to the tune of Gangnam Style, doing the dance as well.
The match starts with a comedic cat and mouse routine, as Morrow can’t figure out how to get his hands on Hydro. Be like water, my friend. Eventually Morrow catches him and powers him down, but it doesn’t last too long as Hydro makes the comeback. We get the “you can’t see me”, which the crowd doesn’t really respond to. Has Cena been gone that long that kids don’t recognise his moves? Anyway, the Five Knuckle Shuffle is ineffective, as Morrow returns fire with a Rock Bottom and a Widowmaker for the victory!
Winner: Lee Morrow
Star Rating: **. Pretty simple stuff, not quite as fun as the opener but good for what it was. Morrow is a great addition to RNR, with a lot of natural charisma, drawing the people in.
Match 3: Super 8 Qualifier- Morgan Rose vs. Jay Sorbet
We kick this one off with a test of strength. Bit of a more serious tone to this match- similar formula of fun loving face vs. no-nonsense heel, but Sorbet can flip a switch and be more dialed in if the situation calls for it, and Rose allows for a little comedy which gives his character a bit of depth.
Sorbet gets Rose to the mat and applies a chinlock. It looked for a moment like Sorbet was wrenching the beard, not the chin, so I yelled, “pull his beard”. Jay obliges, and then quips, “I call that a Chinny Weasley!” NEVER misses an opportunity for a pun. He follows up with a scoop slam- causing Rose to let out a high pitched squeal- followed by the Lionsault for a near fall.
Rose manages to cut Sorbet off with a Gordbuster and beats him down for a short while. Sorbet mounts a comeback with clotheslines and back elbows. He grounds Rose and goes up top for a picture perfect moonsault- but Rose gets the knees up! This winds Sorbet, allowing Rose to stack him up for the 3 count!
Winner: Morgan Rose
Star Rating: ***1/4. Did I rate this higher because of the “Chinny Weasley” line? I’ll never tell my secrets. But seriously, this was well done. Sorbet looked strong with the amount of offense he got, and Rose looked resourceful, if not definitively the better man, by the way he won the match.
Intermission. A quick chat with Fudge and Sorbet outside. I’m sad about the fact that Jay is out of the Super 8, but then I’m reminded that he has the Gold Rush briefcase (aka Money In The Bank). I suggest that he could cash in during the main event, making it a triple threat ala Seth Rollins. Sorbet replied, “it’s never been cashed in for a fatal 4 way either”. This comment confused me in the moment, but turns out my man was dropping a clue…
Match 4: Super 8 Qualifier- Donnie Zucco vs. The Tradie
This was advertised as Robbie Zucco vs. Tradie, but instead we get his “cousin” Donnie. Donnie gives a cocky promo introducing himself, before The Tradie comes out to take care of business. However, the match barely gets started when Lucas Parker hits the ring, and hits Tradie in the back of the leg with a bat! Man, he didn’t pull that shot at all, Tradie’s leg immediately comes up with a purple welt. Parker and Zucco beat down Tradie some more and leave him laying. Well, technically Tradie advances in the tournament?
Winner: The Tradie (via DQ)
Star Rating: N/A. Just a mechanism to further the Parker/Tradie feud, but a good one. That would be a good match to feature if RNR can return to the Diggers venue soon in Wollongong, depending on health restrictions etc.
It’s main event time! For all the marbles. It appears that the RNR Elite Championship has been upgraded to the Heavyweight Championship, in the absence of former champion Ryback. I remain hopeful that he’ll return one day to have a unification ladder match, in the tradition of HBK vs. Razor Ramon and Santos Escobar vs. Jordan Devlin.
Anyway. Hunter makes his entrance. Badstreet, baby! Fisher makes his entrance, and he feels like he’s going to be a pretty big star. Noticed him getting really strong reactions at the last few shows. Some of that seems to be a few of his friends coming along, but all the same, there’s something about his work, and he’s 100% grinding. He’s working a bit up at FWA in Sydney, which I would like to attend one day, but they often run Sunday shows, which doesn’t work too well with my job.
Before the match can start, we’re interrupted by the music and presence of Parker Tomas! This is a nice surprise! He declares that he can beat both men in the ring (despite losing to Fisher at the last show), and after some back and forth, our main event becomes a triple threat! There we go.
Match 5: RNR Heavyweight Championship- Hunter PS Hayes (c) vs. Eric Fisher vs. Parker Tomas
Funnily enough, this largely functions as the original Hayes vs. Fisher singles match to start, with Tomas functioning as the irritant to constantly interrupt. Hunter continually knocks him off the apron to keep it one-on-one. Tomas takes a rest in the seat next to me since my mate Pirate couldn’t make it- somebody might as well use it! He eventually gets back in and clears Hunter out to take his own shots at Fisher, including a nice stalling vertical suplex for a near fall.
Fisher and Tomas pick up where they left off at the last RNR show with some smooth exchanges. Fisher sets up for the Fisherman Suplex, but Tomas spins out of it and hits a solid neckbreaker. Hunter gets back in and soars through the skies with a flying fist drop on Tomas. Fisher is sent tumbling to the outside near me, and full disclosure, I missed the finish as I was looking down at Fisher near my feet, expecting him to jump up and return to the ring. I’m going to assume it was a DDT, as I looked up to see Hunter get the 3 count.
Winner: Hunter PS Hayes
Star Rating: ***1/2. Fast and furious action, but seemed to be setting up for something bigger down the line. That makes sense as I was a little surprised that they booked Fisher vs. Hayes for this show- it wasn’t an overly promoted show and I feel like it’s a bit of a marquee match- Hayes is the established star, but Fisher is rapidly developing a following. This triple threat gave us a brief preview of what Fisher vs. Hayes could look like, while ultimately protecting Fisher by having Tomas be the one to eat the pinfall. Appreciate those kind of details.
No Sorbet for the Heist Of The Century here. Ah well. Maybe next time.
A fun show, but by the very nature of the show, was more of a building block to bigger things for the Super 8 Tournament. Curious to see who fills the other 4 spots- the core Rock N Roll roster isn’t massive, and I imagine we’ll get a name or two from Sydney or Newcastle to at least participate in the next round of qualifiers. We still have a proper Fisher vs. Hayes match to get to, and the heated grudge match between Parker & Tradie. Very much looking forward to both of those. You really can’t go wrong with Rock N Roll. Billed as a school holiday show, it’s definitely one that would have sent kids back to school with smiles on their faces.
Overall Score: 7.5/10
And for what it’s worth, the first times I ever saw Matty Wahlberg & Steph De Lander was at one of these small RNR Academy shows in 2017, and they’ve just been signed to WWE. So you never know, come along to one of these and you could be watching future WWE Superstars!
Until next time, take care.
(All image credits to Rock N Roll Wrestling)