WrestleWatch: PWA Green Label: Let Them Fight
Writing this one as a labour of love for Australian wrestling. I've been attending PWA shows for a year and a half. I first saw a good portion of the roster locally in Wollongong at Rock and Roll Wrestling shows- names like Robbie Eagles, Jack Bonza and Shazza McKenzie. Then PWA advertised a show advertising an appearance by the Bullet Club- Bad Luck Fale & Gino Gambino. Since I've started getting into New Japan Pro Wrestling over the past few years through names like AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura and more recently Okada, Omega and of course, Chris Jericho, the Bullet Club drew my attention enough to make the trip from Wollongong to Parramatta. So, through a strange domino effect of wrestling fandom, I've found myself attending almost every PWA show over the past 18 months, and the shows I couldn't make, I've watched through streaming services- previously it was PWA Play, now OVO Play. Let's dive right in.
Let Them Fight was one of the shows I couldn't make live, but it was very intriguing to me. The PWA shows I've attended- first at a couple of RSLs, then Max Watts- have all been branded "PWA Black Label". They're 18+ wrestling shows, showcasing the best Australian talent on offer. Over the past year, Max Watts has become to PWA almost what the Hammerstein Ballroom was to ECW- a rabid venue and atmosphere unique to this wrestling promotion.
But this was the first "Green Label" event. Still an 18+ show, at the Crowbar dive bar in Sydney, it was promoted as a smaller show to showcase up and coming talent from the PWA Academy. So it was set to involve a few names I hadn't seen much of, or even at all. Then they announced a crazy main event. The Lightspeed Express, comprised of Robbie Eagles & Mat Diamond- the first ever PWA Tag Team Champions- against their new generation counterparts, the Velocities- Jude "The Dude" London & Paris De Silva. Paris has gone viral over the past few months with his insane Shooting Star DDT on Jack Bonza (which I was there live for). Not to be outdone, Jude performed a freaking somersault dive off the Max Watts balcony at the last Black Label event, Once Upon A Time (which I was also there for). Mat Diamond has been a mainstay of Aussie wrestling for the past decade, although by no means is an old lion at 30 years old. And of course, Robbie Eagles. Perhaps the most prolific Australian wrestler on the scene today. He comes back to Australia following his participation in NJPW's Best of the Super Juniors tournament, and this main event is his very first match back in the country.
Damn, I've fired myself up just writing that. Let's do this!
Commentary: Jack J. Bonza & Don Marnell
Announcer: JT Robinson
Match 1: Kai Drake vs. Richard South
Sound issues with this one. From what I could hear, the story being told was that Ricky was struggling with his new affiliation with SMS, but ultimately taking the more aggressive approach. Kai threw his usual hard strikes, Richard responded in kind but not kindly. Standard piledriver (without the head tucked in the tights) gets South the victory.
Winner: Richard South (in 9:00). Good opener. Both guys kept the intensity up with a serious, hard-hitting style. Great “Fight Club” atmosphere here. (**1/2)
Match 2: Xena vs. Bel Pierce
Sound still a little choppy in this one, but they finally get the mix right of crowd/ring audio and commentary. Marnell and Bonza bringing a much more intelligent approach to commentary than the Triple M guys that work the Max Watts shows. Rather than coming across as casual wrestling fans, they take a more analytical approach of looking at how both ladies are recent PWA graduates and how they want to make a good impression. Bonza also with some truth nuggets about Bel not hooking the sunset flip correctly, perhaps due to some untimely showboating. They also note how the Crowbar venue has a low roof, allowing for few high flying moves (betting Robbie Eagles and friends change that in the main event). Hard hitting stuff, highlights being a brutal Curb Stomp from Xena and a dizzying spinning sidewalk slam which sees several rotations. Pierce is able to bounce back with an impactful Spear to pick up the win on this Sunday afternoon.
Winner: Bel Pierce (in 8:00) Another nice outing. Marnell notes that everyone is bringing top form on this show, and so far, so good, the man speaks the truth. (**1/2)
Promo for All Eyez On Troy this Friday. Will be there live front row for that one, cannot wait! The main event of Jessica Troy vs. Shazza McKenzie has been a long time in the making.
Match 3: A.J vs. Jay Sorbet
J.T calls him Aaron Jake, graphic says A.J. Going with A.J for the ease of writing this. Bit biased in this one- I talk to Jay frequently at Rock And Roll Wrestling shows, he’s a great guy. Here at PWA, he seems to be doing some different stuff- he brought a tie to the ring that he apparently talks to. Like Al Snow and Head, I guess? AJ and Sorbet start with some slick chain wrestling, they break away from that and Sorbet unloads in the corner with some nice palm strikes. Sorbet gets dumped to the outside, AJ looks to line up a suicide dive, but Jay flips back into the ring and hits a giant clothesline! Shades of Hangman Page and his Buckshot Lariat. AJ tries to fight back with some running back elbows in the corner but falls victim to Jay’s consecutive Scoop Slams. “That’s The Sorbet” elbow drop for a 2 count. Even Bonza has to note how impressive Sorbet has been to this point. Tiger Bomb for another near fall. AJ fights out of a fireman’s carry, locks in a Crossface, Sorbet escapes. Sorbet goes to use his tie, but takes a dropkick. AJ on the comeback and hits a powerslam for a near fall. AJ looks to hit some sort of DDT move, Sorbet counters and hits Just Desserts (Wasteland) for the big win!
Winner: Jay Sorbet (at 8:00) Pretty one-sided match, but honestly a hell of a showcase for my man, the Scooperman, Jay Sorbet! Very cool to see a different style from him than I’m using to seeing at Rock and Roll (**3/4)
Match 4: Michael Spencer vs. Carter Deams
Co-main event time, apparently. Expecting a lot from this one. Both are a constant on PWA Black Label shows, and Spencer’s another name that has been on my local Rock and Roll shows. Deams is coming off a stint in the New Japan Dojo. Crowd into it early with a “Spencer’s a wanker” chant. Bonza correctly identifies Spencer’s gear as “Perfect Cell” tights, and just jumped to the top of my favourite commentator list. Deams gets an early amateur style takedown, which pisses Spencer off. Deams continues to out-wrestle and toy with the self-proclaimed Prince of Wrestling, and Spencer hits him with a dropkick. Pace quickens with a lot of running the ropes, Deams counters a hip toss attempt into an arm drag, followed by a big dropkick of his own. Hot start.
Deams shushes the crowd to hit a chop in the corner, but misses. Both men trade chop attempts, and finally Spencer connects with a high knee that absolutely crumbles Carter for a near fall. Deams gets back in it with a step up enziguri, Spencer to the outside, Deams goes for a superkick but obliterates a ring crew member instead. Oh, I’m having beautiful NJPW flashbacks to seeing young lions getting destroyed. Another Spencer knee connects, followed by a DDT spiking the blonde man on the apron. Slingshot spear back in the ring for a near fall. Spencer maintains control as Marnell calls Deams “the Zack Morris of PWA”. That’s fantastic. Spencer goes for the 619, Deams ducks to the bottom rope, so Spencer hits a lowered version of the 619, followed up by a flip into a backslide. Tremendous techniques, but only gets a 2. Rolling superkick gets Deams back in the game. Fisherman Suplex by Deams. Codebreaker by Spencer. Damn this is great!
Trading strikes, which quickly becomes New Japan esque stiff forearms. More big strikes on both sides. Deams nails a counter superkick, followed by Bloody Sunday for a nearfall. Spencer with the gutbuster, followed by a torture rack neckbreaker for a long 2 count. I said to myself, “alright, I’ll just play by play the big moves to save the amount of writing I do”, but these guys are non-stop with the big moves! Superkick from Deams for another near fall. Spencer grabs the referee, and is able to use this to hit a low blow. He follows up with a Disaster Kick to the back of the neck to finally get the win.
Winner: Michael Spencer (at 12:00) That was a ton of action packed into a pretty short timeframe. Back and forth action. Both guys put everything into that performance, and the Crowbar crowd, although a small one in this intimate venue, were extremely invested in everything they did. Good psychology with Spencer targeting the neck repeatedly through the match, and ultimately a move targeting the neck got him the win (after the shortcut, anyway) (****)
15 minute intermission for the Crowbar crowd, for the OVO Play audience they replay a match from the Colosseum event, a fatal four way between Michael Spencer, Madison Eagles, Snapchad and Marcus Kool. You can faintly see me and Brent in the crowd as Eagles and Spencer brawl past us. Spencer knocked my drink out of my hand, the bastard.
Match 5: Sam Osborne vs. Big Fudge
So, I guess co-main event doesn’t mean “second last match” on this show. Fudge is wearing MMA shorts and hails from the Octagon. Love it. Fudge throws some leg kicks to no effect, Osborne throws one and knocks him on his arse. They chain wrestle a little and Osborne gets the better of it with a roll through kimura. Kneebar attempt from Fudge, again no effect. Fudge does hit a headscissors to send Osborne to the outside. He then takes the opportunity to have a break “between rounds”, complete with a stool and a water bottle. Osborne punches him in the face and the fight is back on. Butt punch from Fudge, followed by the armbar, into the omoplata, into the Yes Lock. Osborne escapes. Osborne starts taking the fight seriously and begins the beatdown on Fudge. Electric chair, smashes his head into the low roof (on purpose) for a near fall. Creative use of the venue’s limitations. Fudge counters a punch into a flying armbar. The MMA stuff, which started as comedy, is actually becoming effective offense now. Osborne hits a chopblock and keeps working the leg. Fudge fires back with punches, Osborne turns away in the corner, so Fudge works his butt like a speedbag. He then hits a GTS for a near fall. “CM Fudge” chant from the crowd. I love PWA. Crucifix pin by Fudge, kick out, so he follows up with elbows, Matt Riddle style. Rear naked choke, which Osbourne escape. Osborne with the backbreaker, followed by a T-Bone suplex for a near fall. A bit more back and forth, then Osborne locks in a rolling kneebar. Fudge taps.
Winner: Sam Osborne (at 11:00). Ultimate Fighter Fudge is a national treasure. Honestly, really fun stuff. Big Fudge is always a great comedy wrestler, but I like how it veered into serious territory, and some great teases at the upset (***)
Match 6: Will Kiedis vs. Donnie Mako
Never seen either guy wrestle before, so this’ll be interesting. Early advantage for Mako, with some forearms, followed a hurricanrana, tornado kick in the corner, then a running corkscrew moonsault. Damn son! Belly to belly into the corner turns the momentum back in the favour of Kiedis. He gets Mako to the apron- AND DROPKICKS HIM INTO THE FUCKING BRICK WALL! More creative use of the small venue! Back in the ring, Kiedis works the shoulder, Mako tries to fight back with a Pele kick. Roll up for a near fall. Kiedis nails a neckbreaker off the ropes for a 2. Trading chops, then an especially hard Mako chop sends Kiedis to the apron. They end up on the side where all the fans are standing, and after a bit of jockeying for position, Mako faceplants him on the apron, almost like a flapjack. Never seen an apron bump quite like that, looked very painful. Mako goes for his Sharknado (pop up corkscrew moonsault) but misses. Kiedis goes for a Shining Wizard, misses, but hits it on a second try for the win!
Winner: Will Kiedis (at 10:00) That did not feel like 10 minutes at all, absolutely flew by. Tremendous first impression for both guys. These shows are meant to be about showcasing the less established stars, and matches like that are a great advert for the future of Australian wrestling! (***1/2)
Match 7: The Velocities (Jude London & Paris De Silva) vs Lightspeed Express (Mat Diamond & Robbie Eagles)
Main event time. This is Robbie Eagles’ first match back in Australia after his awesome performance in the BOSJ for New Japan Pro Wrestling (more on that in my next blog post). This should be a wildly athletic, high flying match- low roof be damned. It was actually in seeing Eagles for the first time, I believe it was 2014, where he somehow hit a 450 splash despite the roof being about 3 feet higher than the top rope. He’s my favourite Aussie wrestler by far, and has been since that day.
Huge cheers for Eagles, a “welcome back” chant and the old “Robbie, Robbie, Robbie” chant. Then a “Also Matt” chant. Then the singing “Oh Paris De Silva” as he’s the legal man for the Velocities. Some nice chain wrestling to kick it off, tags made out quickly to Diamond and London. Marnell and Bonza mention that Mat was in a four way ladder match last night. Running the ropes, hurricanranas and dropkicks a plenty. Robbie back in and he starts throwing chops, as Bonza hilariously notes that Eagles is the heavyweight of this match at 80 kg. London stops his momentum with the Hardiac Arrest dropkick in the corner. De Silva back in under lucha tag rules. Double Buzzsaw kick from the Lightspeed Express and Diamond is legal again. He also lays in a hard chop. Aggression level elevating here despite the respect between all four men. Velocities take control with some mat wrestling. Victory roll into a double stomp gains London a near fall. A big series of reversals allows Mat to suddenly strike with the Diamond Cutter! Hot tag to Eagles who nails the shotgun dropkick on both Velocities, followed by a series of Yes Kicks on both. Lightspeed Express hit stereo dives- somersault by Eagles, moonsault by Diamond, crowd comes unglued! They get the Velocities back in the ring, only to be hit with stereo reverse ranas! Lightspeed Express bounce up and hit stereo Canadian Destroyers! Holy fuck! All four men in the ring trading every strike imaginable. Eagles finally gets Paris in the ring by himself to lock in the Ron Miller Special, but Paris makes the ropes. Turbo Backpack follows for a near fall. Diamond comes in to help with a running Shooting Star, but Paris still kicks out! Robbie hits the 450- fuck the roof- but the pin is broken up. Robbie goes for double Sliced Bread, but the Velocities counter and hit Poetry In Motion. Robbie goes for a roll through but is spiked on his head for a near fall. Diamond with both Velocities and hits a double Pele Kick. Velocities return fire with a slingblade/shooting star combo for a 2 count on Diamond. Jude takes Eagles out with a slingshot DDT on the apron, then returns to hit Diamond with a tiger suplex. Velocities with a springboard blockbuster- and it’s over!
Winners: The Velocities (at 22:00). Remember what I said about only calling the big moves in Spencer/Deams? Yeah, that was this X 2. Insane action from bell to bell. Some of it was straight video game shit, with very little selling on either side, but hey, you can excuse it with the idea that both teams felt like they had a lot to prove, fueled by adrenilane etc. But damn, was it a lot of fun. Four of the most athletic wrestlers in Australia going all out to prove they’re the best. Absolute brilliance (****1/2)
Production issues aside, this was one hell of a show. You might expect the show to not deliver as highly when it features some newer, more unknown talent, but it was outstanding. Felt like everyone on that show wanted to prove that they belonged on a bigger stage. And for those like Eagles and Diamond, who are well established stars in the Australian scene, they gave everything they had in front of maybe 50 people, and helped push the younger Velocities to another level. Another great PWA event, I’m yet to be disappointed by one, and I can’t wait to be there live for the next one this Friday at Max Watts!
Overall Score: 8/10
Until next time, take care,
Photo Credit: PWA and New Photography Studios