Ladies and gentlemen! Boys and girls! Children of all ages!
…Only one group of you is allowed here, because this is PWA Black Label! On February 12, 2021– yep, that’s this Friday night for those keeping score at home- Pro Wrestling Australia returns to the blistering roar of an AC/DC song, because it’s PWA Back In Black Label. With the Factory Theatre in Sydney playing host, the biggest and brightest stars in New South Wales wage war on each other. And because I’m a good brother- and I’m ridiculously excited for this event- I’m here writing this preview to give you all a little heads up on what to expect!
So, Mick, What Is Black Label?
An excellent question indeed! PWA decided to start hosting Black Label shows a few years ago. The Black Label branding means that the shows are for audiences 18 years and older- which means a little more adult content, it gets a little more violent, with a little more curse words, and a little more beer pong.
Now, as much as I would love to claim to be an OG and say that I’ve been around since PWA’s inception… I haven’t. The first PWA show I attended was in January 2018. As luck would have it- according to Cagematch at least- it was the first PWA show under the Black Label banner! I feel like that information is inaccurate and I’ll look to confirm with someone at PWA this weekend, but if true, what a ridiculous stroke of luck for me! I just happened to see that the show was happening through the power of Facebook targeted advertising. Two things mainly caught my eye- the show was called Lock, Stock & Too Sweet Barrels, because they were bringing in NJPW/Bullet Club stars Bad Luck Fale and Gino Gambino. The other thing was the presence of wrestlers I had seen at my local fed in Wollongong- Robbie Eagles, Jack Bonza and Mick Moretti. All of whom were easily the most impressive guys on the card at every show I had been to. So I knew this would be a good time.
What I didn’t realise was how good it would be. Taking place at Parramatta RSL, it featured hard hitting battles such as Robbie Eagles vs. Caveman Ugg, Shazza McKenzie vs. Indi Hartwell, and the Nations vs. Bullet Club, I was immediately hooked. Plus, since it was Black Label, me and my mate got the seats closest to the bar and kept a steady flow of Jack Daniels going all night. PWA had a winning formula.
Very quickly, the Black Label branding saw PWA go from success to success. The next month, Will Ospreay main evented at Paddington RSL. Then… PWA ran a cross-promotional show with Progress Wrestling at the Star Casino. Aussie wrestling had never felt bigger. Following that, PWA made the Max Watts concert venue their home, and developed a rabid fanbase that consistently sold events out.
We were on one hell of a ride with PWA. They were streaming live events on OVOPlay, which could be seen worldwide, they were putting on banger after banger at Max Watts, including Call 2 Arms, Break Their Backs & Make Them Rumble, and the Colosseum tournament, which attracted international stars from WWE and AEW.
And then… the pandemic hit. PWA stopped running shows for several months, before returning late in 2020 with some very limited attendance shows at the PWA Academy. With a roster of hungry wrestlers and a high-quality production team, PWA then hosted a weekly tournament known as the Premiership, which I was privileged enough to cover here on Snap Mayors. Against all odds, PWA were building momentum again.
Okay, Now Tell Me About This Show!
Finally, the smoke has cleared, the dust has settled and Australia is beginning to return to some level of normalcy. So this will be the first show with a significant gathering of loyal PWA fans since PWA Rick South For The Boys, 12 entire months ago. Funnily enough for me, this will be the first major show I’ve attended live since the last time PWA was at the Factory Theatre in December 2019, Liger Down Under. It featured Jushin Thunder Liger in the main event, teaming with Robbie Eagles to face Jack Bonza & Bad Luck Fale. It also featured current No. 1 Contender Ricky South chopping the soul out of Luchi’s body. Good times. Damn, I’ve missed this!
PWA Premiership Finals- Mick Moretti vs. Lyrebird Luchi
The beginning of the Premiership tournament saw Luchi undergo a metamorphosis, from the environmentally-savvy Treehugger to the eccentric and “innocuous” Lyrebird. It wasn’t a promising start for Luchi, as he got squashed in 45 seconds in the first round by Mat Rogers. From there though, Luchi realised that while he may not have been a physical match for some of his opponents, he could beat them mentally, employing mind games and every other trick in the book in order to squeak wins out round after round. While he wasn’t a favourite by any means going into the tournament, he quietly made himself a threat- to the point that he didn’t even need a win going into the final round- narrowly making his way to a time limit draw with PWWA Champion Jessica Troy was enough to make him the winner of Block B.
The winner in Block A was a man who has had great success and experience in tournaments previously, the 2018 winner of the Colosseum tournament, the Rapscallion, Mick Moretti. It seemed like he was set for a collision course with the 2019 Colosseum winner, Matty Wahlberg. In fact, the simmering feud with Wahlberg seemed to be a key motivation throughout the Premiership for Moretti, at times showing his best self, and other times letting his anger get the better of him.
As much as Moretti has denied Wahlberg the opportunity to fight him, I believe secretly he wanted the match just as much as Wahlberg did, he just relished the mental torture in not giving the 21st Century Success Story what he desired. If I’m right, then Luchi being the proverbial spanner in the works may have provoked the Rapscallion. This could lead to fireworks in determining the inaugural winner of the PWA Premiership!
PWWA Championship- Jessica Troy (c) vs. Robbie Eagles
For me, this is an absolute dream match. It was briefly scheduled for the event PWA Coming Out Of My Cave- an event ultimately cancelled due to COVID. It was replaced by an empty arena event called Don’t Call It A Cancel, so yeah, sorry guys. But PWA weren’t about to waste such a marquee match on an empty arena event, so it was ultimately postponed, and here we are.
Robbie Eagles is one of the forefathers of PWA as we know it. He’s been grinding for years on the Aussie independent scene, and was rewarded for that by becoming a member of the NJPW roster in late 2018. As such, he’s been featured a little less prominently on PWA events over the last couple of years, seeing as he’s had major events like the Super Jr Tag League and Best Of The Super Juniors, representing Aussie wrestling proudly overseas.
While Eagles has been busy doing his thing in the land of the Rising Sun, Jess Troy has stepped up to become a top tier player in PWA. Her PWWA Championship transitioned from being the women’s championship to becoming an intergender title, and whether she’s facing Mat Diamond or Steph De Lander, she always seems to leave the ring with another arm to add to her collection. We got a little taste of what Robbie vs. Jess could look like in the HVWA vs. Nations tag match at Wristlocks & Piledrivers, and while Robbie’s been gone on another NJPW tour, Jess has been killing it during the Premiership, with her matches against the likes of Jack Bonza, Matty Wahlberg… and hell, Jimmy Townsend, being among my favourites in the whole tournament. This should be a truly classic match.
PWA Tag Team Championship- Ladder Match- The Velocities (c) vs. MK Plus Ultra
Even though the Velocities are the PWA Tag Team Champions, they haven’t had the physical belts for around a year now. Kai Drake and Michael Spencer blatantly stole the belts and have been parading them around PWA shows ever since. While it remains a mystery to me why Jude and Paris didn’t make more of an effort to get them back, finally some harsh but truthful words from Sam Osborne caused Paris De Silva to take action, smashing up Drake and taking back one of the titles.
At Back In Black Label, however, neither team will have the belts. They’ll be suspended high above the ring, and the four men will do battle in a good old tag team ladder match! With the Velocities being like a modern twist on classic high flying teams like the Hardyz and Edge & Christian, I’m expecting absolute carnage in this one. With Jude London, you’ve got a man who Swantoned off the balcony at Max Watts. Paris De Silva is the innovator of the Shooting Star DDT- no, that wasn’t a typo! Contrast that with the severe striking style of Kai Drake, and the cunning of Michael Spencer, and we’ve got an absolute war on our hands at the Factory Theatre!
Matty Wahlberg & Ricky South Open Challenge
One of the big stories of the Premiership tournament- and PWA as a whole over the past few months- has been the brewing rivalry between The Old Guard and Generation Now. It’s a tale as old as time in wrestling circles- with the young lions challenging the old lions for control of the pride- but PWA’s version has some interesting layers.
Crucially, it transcends the boundaries of babyfaces and heels. Wahlberg is a bit of an anti-hero, but not exactly what you would call “a good guy”, while Ricky is one of the most beloved in the company. Sam Osborne doesn’t exactly endear himself to people with his North Shore upbringing, but Jimmy Townsend is one of the most endearing characters we have, and they share the ring together. On the other side of things, Robbie Eagles is the quintessential babyface- even briefly seeing him in Bullet Club just never felt quite right- but he’s unquestionably Old Guard, along with the Nations, who have very little love for the fans.
Matty Wahlberg is the self-appointed leader of Gen Now, much like he assumed something of a leadership role during his time on Australian Survivor. And you have to imagine that he has a chip on his shoulder heading into this show, being so close to being in Luchi’s spot opposite Moretti for the Premiership. Likewise, Ricky South may not be his usual jovial self, having waited so long for his PWA Championship shot against Caveman Ugg, something he earnt over a year ago but is yet to receive.
So representing Generation Now, both Wahlberg and South issued an open challenge. I’m assuming it’s a tag team match (playa)? The interesting part for me about this is that in the advertising, PWA have teased the challenge being answered by “anyone around Australia”. Borders are open…
Kingsley vs. Jack Bonza- If Kingsley wins, she becomes the leader of the Red Nation.
One of the more compelling stories for me during the Premiership was Kingsley’s desire to get a win in order to prove she belonged in the Red Nation. Week after week, she came so close, but couldn’t get the job done. In the final round though, she made a little progress, taking fellow Gen Now member Sam Osborne to a draw, ending his hopes of winning the tournament. Bonza was proud of Kingsley, but not so much to grant her a spot in the Nations.
Kingsley has always been on the periphery of the Nations, serving as Bonza’s flag bearer. Bonza was always protective of her and treated her as a niece. Well, kind Uncle Jack needs to put that aside this Friday, because if the rapidly improving Kingsley can score the upset, not only is she IN the Red Nation, she will be the leader!
Steph De Lander vs. Sam Osborne
Steph De Lander has been a consistently impressive presence in PWA. She had an amazing cage match with Jess Troy pre-pandemic, and her triple threat with Charli Evans and Jess was one of the best matches to happen from those Academy shows. She’s been chilling in Adelaide for the last little while, but she’s back to drop some more bodies, starting with the North Shore Wan- I mean, one. The North Shore one.
Jokes aside, Sam Osborne has been seriously great since aligning with Don Marnell. The MMA has done wonders for Osborne’s career, and he’s looked damn near unstoppable since. Maybe not as much of a personal issue in this one as some other matches on the card, but I’d bet that won’t stop it from being physical AF.
And The Rest?
Although not confirmed yet, this video seems to indicate the Prefects, Jimmy Townsend and William “Billy” Preston, having some kind of match or confrontation at Back In Black Label. Or maybe they do a cinematic match in the playground at lunch time. I’m up for either to be honest. Jimmy still believes in the schoolboy ways, Preston’s trying to become a man, what will happen?
Also, Rhys Angel seems set for some kind of action at the Factory Theatre. I’ve gotten a kick out of his egocentric character over the past few months, and Nikki Van Blair at ringside is definitely an X-Factor.
Needless to say, PWA are looking to come out all guns blazing in their debut on FITE TV. (You can watch the show on PPV via the links in the embedded Tweets above). Sitting alongside major promotions like AEW, they’re looking to prove that they’re at that level. I believe they are.
Until next time, take care.