WrestleWatch: PWA Colosseum 2019 (Night 2)
Alright, it's here. After attending Colosseum weekend, and seeing Night 1 uploaded to OVO Play in record time, I was disappointed that we had a day delay for the upload of Night 2. After writing my WrestleWatch review for Night 1, I was amped up to watch and review Night 2. As I said in the previous review, as live experiences, both Colosseum shows were an absolute 10/10. But I feel like I have to be objective, put my love and pride in seeing Aussie wrestling explode the way it has, and review these shows as I would anything from WWE, AEW or NJPW. Because honestly, PWA is on that level, and deserves to be treated as such.
The review for Night 1 can be found below this on the home page, but to summarise:
-Ricky South def. Davis Storm in a hard hitting opener to advance to Round 2. An enraged Storm attacked Ricky's arm post-match. He won't be at 100% in his next Colosseum match.
-Matty Wahlberg forced "World Class" Chris Basso to submit to the triangle choke. Heading into the next round, the former Survivor: Australia star looks to take that next step in PWA, after falling short in recent headline matches against PWA Champion Caveman Ugg and former WWE star TJP.
-Travis Banks took out "Prize Bull" Sam Osborne with the Slice of Heaven. This was a highly competitive match, where Osborne really took it to the NXT UK star, but ultimately the experience in big matches made the difference. Banks moves on, and this was a valuable learning experience for the North Shore wan- I mean, native. North Shore native.
-In the main event, AEW star "Freshly Squeezed" Orange Cassidy scored a major win over PWWA Champion Jessica Troy. The Arm Collector, Troy had a difficult time locking in her signature Fujiwara armbar on the enigmatic Cassidy, but when she ultimately did, Cassidy had a counter, and got the impressive victory with a counter roll-up.
In non-tournament action, Shazza McKenzie won a Fatal 4 Way to become No. 1 Contender to the PWA Championship, facing the winner of Bonza vs. Ugg tonight. Also, the Nations won a Trios match over the Velocities and Ugg when Adam Hoffman rolled up Jude "The Dude" London.
Okay, now that we're all caught up... Night 2. Let's do this!
We open once again with the slick new intro video and song. So well produced. The PWA production team are really bringing their A game. Everything looks major league.
Ring announcer Diego is ready for the opening match. The crowd immediately chant "Dance Diego Dance" and he obliges. Them hips don't lie.
Match 1: Matty Wahlberg def. Orange Cassidy to advance to the Finals of the Colosseum tournament
Thoughts: The contrast in personalities made this really fun from the outset. We get a camera shot of Wahlberg backstage, in the now customary aping of the MMA style walkout. The 21st Century Success story is AMPED UP for this. Commentator Rose notes that Matty has been pacing through Max Watts for 2 days, with "steam coming out of his ears". In stark contrast, the camera finds Orange Cassidy backstage sleeping, using Travis Banks' headgear as a pillow. A PWA Young Lion wakes him, and he makes his way to the ring... eventually. As the match starts, Wahlberg tries to goad the sloth-like Cassidy into firing up by giving him some light slaps. Cassidy responds by removing his sunglasses and throwing them at Wahlberg. And it's on! Well... kinda. The mind games continue for a little while before the action heats up. Wahlberg exhibits some impressive athletic ability by doing his usual rolling stomp on the groin in the corner... with his hands in his pockets. Back and forth action ultimately ends with Matty hitting the Posterize for the emphatic 3 count. Huge win and great action (***3/4)
Match 2: Travis Banks def. Ricky South to advance to the Finals of the Colosseum tournament
Thoughts: First of all, I really appreciate that both semi final matches occurred back-to-back. That's fair and important to the integrity of the tournament. Yes, I take pro wrestling seriously. Especially tournaments. Anyway, Ricky has a glamorous entrance, featuring some (quite attractive) lady dancers. Tuff Stuff dances a little to start the match and shouts "Come on, darling!" which is chanted by, well, us. Travis responds by also yelling "Come on, darling!" and swivelling his hips. His hips are also truthful. "Sexy Trav" chant from the crowd. I can claim no responsibility for starting these chants, but fuck, we have some creative people in the building! Anyway, the frivolity of all of this quickly gives way to a strong style affair. Banks targets Ricky's weakened arm, and they trade German suplexes while fighting through the pain of being dropped on their head in an AWESOME sequence. This is a war! Banks counters a South piledriver and hits the Slice of Heaven, but Ricky kicks out! Undeterred, Travis transitions into the Lion Clutch (Crossface with the arm trapped behind the back). The pressure, especially on the injured arm, is too much and Tuff Stuff is forced to tap! The Kiwi Buzzsaw moves on! My favourite in this tournament is Wahlberg, but Travis Banks is not half-assing his guest appearance in PWA by any means! (****)
Post-match, we go to the commentator's table. Kris Gale was unable to make Night 2 of Colosseum, so in his place is Unsocial Jordan, who is grinning ear to ear. At the previous PWA show, Call To Arms, Ricky South turned on SMS and joined the Black Shirt Cool Group. "How can you be happy about this?" exclaimed Rose. Jordan, with his best shit-eating grin, quickly responds, "Cause he tapped." His delivery of that line almost made me spit my coffee out.
Hype video. The opening chords of AC/DC Thunderstruck play over PWA highlights. December 14. Factory Theatre. PWA. Fale Dojo. And... Jyushin Thunder Liger!?!?!? What the fuck? Okay, this is massive. Liger is a Japanese wrestling legend, a wrestling legend full stop, but most importantly... he retires three weeks after this event at NJPW Wrestle Kingdom. I never in a million years thought I would see him live, but here we are. As I write this, I've already bought front row tickets. A well-deserved "Holy shit" chant rings out in Max Watts after the airing of that video. Wow!
Match 3: Steph De Lander def. Headhunter Rig, Big Fudge and Royce Chambers in a Fatal 4 Way to become No. 1 Contender for the PWWA Championship
Thoughts: Talk about a clash of styles. The aggression of Rig, the power of De Lander, the high flying of Chambers and... Big Fudge. This is the PWA debut of Royce Chambers, and he quickly shows why he got to debut on the biggest show of the year. His ability to fly and flip is- dare I say it- Will Ospreay-esque. He wipes everyone out with a crazy handspring I-Don't-Even-Know-WTF-To-Call-It and comes super close to winning the thing with his 630 Splash finisher on Headhunter Rig. Big Fudge has moments with his patented Butt Punches on everyone. Rig wipes out Steph De Lander with the best cannonball going- either him or Shane Thorne, anyway. Fudge chokeslams Chambers, who takes a Phoenix Splash bump off it for some reason. Okay, that was a little much, dude. So this match was definitely a coming out party for Royce Chambers, but the victory and the spoils go to Steph De Lander, who pins Fudge after a sit out slam. SDL vs. Troy is going to be A LOT of fun. This match was the better of the Fatal 4 Ways on this weekend in my opinion. (***1/2)
The bass from De Lander's music is making the camera shake as we go to the commentary table for a quick transition. Not pointing out as a criticism, just thought it was a little funny. All about that bass!
Match 4: Shazza McKenzie & Rory Gulak def. The Nations (Mick Moretti & Adam Hoffman)
Thoughts: This was maybe as good as I've ever seen Shazza McKenzie look. I don't know if it was increased confidence, her recent tours in the States, having great dance partners or all of the above, but this was the Shazza showcase. The Nations take advantage of the lucha tag rules early, rolling out of the ring frequently to get a fresh partner in and wear down Rory Gulak, but once Shazza gets the opportunity to get in there, she shines bright like a diamond, showing off some new lucha libre moves, including a unique springboard arm drag and a hurricanrana off the apron to the outside. At one point, Hoffman looks to be seriously hurt, the ref stalls the action, and a hush falls over Max Watts as Hoff gets helped out of the ring. The mood falls drastically... but it was all a ruse! The Nations attack and Hoffman does jumping jacks to show he's fine! That bastard! That was some fine acting though, get that man an Academy Award or something. "Fuck you Hoffman" chants ring through the building. Fisherman buster by Moretti on Gulak gets a near fall. Shazza gets tagged back in and starts handing out chops like a steakhouse special to both members of the Nations! The trademark 10 kicks to Moretti and Hoffman on the apron. She back suplexes them both at the same time! Shaz is looking like an absolute destroyer here. A Stunner on Moretti sends him literally flying out of the ring, and the Shazmission is locked in on Hoffman! He taps! This was absolutely excellent. PWA gave Shazza a big spot here and she rose to the occasion. Gulak, Moretti and Hoffman (that bastard) were outstanding in their roles here too. (***3/4)
Match 5: PWA Heavyweight Championship- Caveman Ugg def. Jack Bonza
Thoughts: This was probably the hardest hitting match I've ever seen in person. Ugg's been training at the Fale Dojo this year, hence a decreased presence on PWA shows this year despite being the champion. And Bonza worked on NJPW's Sydney show when they toured this year. This match had a clear Japanese strong style influence, the hard hits back and forth reminded me of the classic Stan Hansen vs. Vader battle. Bonza and Ugg both had bloody chests due to seemingly a never-ending barrage of chops on both sides. Huge power moves from both as well. Definition of a hoss battle. Also of note, the PWA crowd was massively behind perennial heel, the leader of the Red Nation, Jack Bonza, and actually booed the reigning champion Ugg, which seems to take him by surprise. Bonza tries several times to hit the Napalm Thunder Driver (vertical suplex into a tombstone) but Ugg counters. Ugg Splash bomb... and Bonza kicks out on 1! Fighting spirit! This match and this atmosphere is hitting the highest gear! They trade shotgun dropkicks, massive lariat from Bonza actually flips Ugg inside out! Napalm Thunder Driver connects... but Ugg kicks out at the very last second! Ugg sets up for a powerbomb, Bonza rolls into an Ankle Lock, but Ugg fights out. I'm getting into this just as much watching it back as I did watching live! Bonza rolls to the apron but he's not safe there- Ugg barges him off the apron through the timekeeper's table! Bonza gets back in the ring at 9.99. High drama. Ugg Smash bomb as soon as he gets to his feet, following by a Phoenix Splash! It's all over! People may have turned on Ugg for not being at every show, but with the Wahlberg vs Ugg match and now this, Caveman Ugg has put on two of the greatest matches in PWA history this year. This was sublime pro wrestling. (*****)
The crowd gives Bonza a standing ovation post-match. He raises a fist in the air in acknowledgement. Bonza told the live audience at a previous show that this match could be it for him as he was having neck surgery. It's not known for sure if this is it or not (I really fucking hope not), but if so, what a way to go out!
Intermission time. And oh THANK FUCK they've taken out the beeping sound in the timer! Okay, I can actually watch this match. Rather than going way back in the PWA vault for a classic match, OVO are showing the viewers a match from the pre-show on Night 1. I got into Max Watts 5 minutes before the main show started, so this is one match I didn't see live. It's Kai Drake vs. Link Barnett. Kai hits the Michinoku Driver for a hard-fought win. Good action, both guys got moments to shine and got more and more reaction as fans arrived to start filling the venue up.
Match 6: Speed Force (Mat Diamond, Jude London, Paris De Silva & Mat Rogers) def. Sam Osborne, Chris Basso, Davis Storm & Jessica Troy in a 8 Man Tag
Thoughts: This was a fun "get everyone on the show" type match. A little bit clusterfucky (I just made that word up), but an entertaining dose of action. Funny dynamic with the losing team, where Davis, Osborne and Basso tried to leave the uber-popular Jessica Troy out of things. In-fighting and hilarious high jinks ensued. Mat Rogers joining the Velocities to form Speed Force was a good move- he's far better in small doses hitting power moves here and there. As a singles wrestler his style wasn't the most exciting, felt like his matches often dragged a lot. Much better dynamic when he can get in and out quickly. Troy works a bit with the Velocities, and Davis Storm ruins the fun by tagging himself in. "You are a shit cunt", chants the crowd. Velocities with a triple dropkick on Storm, Basso and Osborne. Nice. The spot of the match occurs when Diamond hits a corkscrew 630 to the outside on all his opponents. The Jess vs. the "Boys Club" continues, and Davis Storm actually attacks her! She manages to reverse and lock in a Fujiwara armbar on Storm. The teams fall apart, the action breaks down and Diamond and Paris hit stereo top rope moves- a 450 and a Shooting Star Press, respectively, for the win! (***1/2- extra half star for the corkscrew 630)
Match 7: James Adultman def. Massive Q
Thoughts: So, to the uninitiated... James Adultman is the "uncle" of the Prefects. Actually, it's Jimmy Townsend, wearing a fake moustache, sitting on Billy Preston's shoulders... covered by a trench coat. And it's the greatest thing ever in wrestling. James gets a "free shot" on Q by doing the old schoolyard "look at the circle" trick. He does a Khali chop. Moments later, James hits the "schoolman" on Q to pick up the massive victory. Easy 7 star classic there. I love wrestling (*******)
Match 8: Matty Wahlberg def. Travis Banks to win the 2019 Colosseum tournament
Thoughts: This felt so big time. Travis Banks is known for his intensity, but Wahlberg matched him. The Max Watts faithful (including myself) were salivating to see Matty win the big one after coming up short in recent matches, but always delivering in every performance, whether it was a match, a promo, or even beer pong during intermission. A chant of "Swordberg" rings out. Strikes fly early, and Wahlberg leans against the ropes and invites Banks to chop him. He obliges. Travis then hits a couple of suicide dives, but the final dive is caught with a triangle choke. Banks powers up and powerbombs him on the apron. Damn. So much energy and tension here. On the outside, Wahlberg gets two chairs, makes a couple of fans sit in them, and leaps over them both with a somersault senton on Banks. Crazy athleticism and innovation. Moments later, they fight up onto the stage, Wahlberg shoves Banks off... and hits him with another somersault dive off the stage! Unreal! In the ring, pumphandle Ushigoroshi by Wahlberg. This man can do it all. He follows up with a top rope Kobe elbow. Top rope flying triangle, Banks makes the ropes. Banks responds with a top rope Kiwi Crusher! Matty barely kicks out. He responds with a Posterize for another near fall. Both men are spent. Matty misses a top rope move, Banks hits the Slice of Heaven immediately followed by another Kiwi Crusher- but Wahlberg kicks out at the last second! Banks straight into the Lions Clutch, shades of his Round 2 finish- but Wahlberg makes the ropes! Banks goes up top, is cut off with a dropkick. Wahlberg hits Posterize from the top rope- and it's all over! Matty Wahlberg has won the Green Thunder sword! He's the 2019 Colosseum winner! (****1/2)
The crowd erupt in cheers. To say this was a special moment feels like an understatement. As much as this was a win for Matty Wahlberg over a world-class competitor in Travis Banks, it was also a victory for Australian wrestling- putting our best against the world's best and coming out on top.
This was one of the best wrestling events I've ever seen. Not just Aussie wrestling, but pro wrestling, period. Night 2 of Colosseum was the culmination of a year of storylines and character building for Matty Wahlberg, where he went from being the biggest heel in the company to PWA's most beloved star. A similar character arc occurred for Jack Bonza, who has the respect of the PWA crowd after years of fighting and simply proving himself to be one of the best talents in Australia. The atmosphere and emotion elevated Colosseum to that rarefied air of classic shows. I've made comparisons between PWA and ECW before, and the vibe and quality of this show was like taking the fan investment and passion of the One Night Stand show- and then adding classic matches. Bonza vs. Ugg and Wahlberg vs. Banks were two polar opposite matches, between the two of them it covered just about everything that makes pro wrestling great. Throughout the whole show (and really, the whole weekend), there wasn't a single match that I didn't enjoy. As good as it gets.
Until next time, take care,