EWA Iron Man Review (08/07/2023)
By Mick Robson
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Back again on The Arena with another review of another Aussie indie wrestling show! This past weekend was full of action in both the world of pro wrestling and MMA, and next up after this review, we step into the Octagon at UFC 290, highlighted by our own Alexander Volkanovski defending the UFC Featherweight Champion against Interim Champion Yair Rodriguez.
The night before that though, I had a little Saturday Night Fever, and the only way to deal with it was to go to Elite Wrestling Australia. EWA put on a hell of a show last time out, my first time attending (check out the review here: https://www.thearenamedia.net/single-post/ewa-lethal-weapon-results-thoughts-11-02-2023). I was certain that I must have missed a show in between, but according to a quick Cagematch check- there was indeed a 5 month break between shows. The event history on Cagematch backs that up, as does the layout to this show, which features video packages directly tied to the story beats of Lethal Weapon.
Let's do this!
The show is advertised as starting at 7pm, with pre-show festivities- including a basketball hoop and face-painting for the kiddies- starting at 5pm. But in classic fashion, the show doesn't actually start until about 7:30. The ring announcer fires up the crowd a little, then introduces EWA General Manager Osama Hussein, who also seeks a larger response from the crowd. Well, maybe if people weren't waiting so long for the show to start, they might be more hyped. There's a fine line between making people wait to build anticipation and just frustrating/pissing people off, and I think EWA crossed that line. Especially with a 2 hour pre-show thing, and broadcasting to YouTube, it should have started on time.
Anyway, Osama has a couple of announcements- one, the Lethal Weapon match between Otis and Ryan Eagles is now Falls Count Anywhere. Secondly, he injured his back in the Rumble at the last show, and as such is retiring from in-ring competition. He promises to continue to shake things up as GM in EWA.
Hussein announced his retirement in a very understated way, and comes across quite heelish, so hard to tell if it's genuine. Even if it is, we know what retirements in pro wrestling are like! If he is genuine, then I wish him all the best.
Match 1: Vinnie Vain (w/ Piers Austin) vs. Albie
Albie is a bodybuilder and social media personality of sorts, this is the first time I had seen him perform. He has a great physique, and continually flexed and pointed to his abs... not exactly a strong babyface move, so even though he came out smiling and slapping hands, I'm not sure the crowd knew how to feel about him.
Vinnie Vain did his best to draw heat from the crowd, continually talking trash to the audience and mocking the people. As for the actual wrestling- Albie was moving very awkwardly throughout the whole thing. Since it was the first time I had seen him wrestle, I assumed that's just how he was, but I found out after the show that he blew out his knee 30 seconds into the match. Albie was quite clearly lost as Vinnie guided him through the rest of the match, and a Cross Rhodes ended it. Credit to Albie for his toughness, and hopefully the injury isn't too severe, wishing him a speedy recovery.
Winner: Vinnie Vain (at 8:16)
Match 2: Double Impact Tag Team Championship- The Original Greasers (Tristan Slade & Robbie Zucco) (c) vs. Lee Morrow & Apollo
The Greasers are a tremendous tag act, and it showed massively in a pre-match promo video where they're hamming it up, lust in their eyes- ooh yeah, dig it- but the lust isn't for the ladies in their life, it's for their tag team championships.
The Greasers were full of shenanigans and shortcuts, and used thumbs to the eyes, chokes and anything else at their disposal to beat down and isolate The Australian Hero, Lee Morrow. At one point, Morrow is close to a tag, but the Greasers instead shove Morrow hard into Apollo, sending him flying to the floor. The over the top reaction and glare from Apollo telegraphs the finish- once Morrow does make the hot tag, Apollo instead turns and puts the boots into Lee. He tells the Greasers to pick Morrow up and they oblige. Apollo decimates his own partner with a Spear and leaves, giving the Greasers the victory.
Winner: The Original Greasers (at 13:50)
A fun outing despite the ending being so telegraphed. Apollo was just so over the top in his anger about getting knocked off the apron, it gave the game away a couple of minutes before it went down. Greasers and Morrow held the rest down extremely well though.
Match 3: Lethal Weapon Championship- Falls Count Anywhere- Otis (c) vs. Ryan Eagles
As someone who has only seen the veteran Ryan Eagles wrestle in All-Star Wrestling, where he's recently been their top heel champion, it was jarring seeing him come out here high fiving with a semblance of a smile on his face. Luckily, Otis- the owner of one of the coolest entrance themes in Aussie wrestling- is highly punchable when he's on his game.
They wasted little time getting the plunder and hitting the big moves, as Otis hits an early GTS, but Eagles just absorbs it and hits a brainbuster for an early near fall. They brawl up to the stage, and Eagles disappears for a moment, re-emerging with a ladder! The fight returns to the ring and they lay into each other, the appropriate level of aggression and intensity for a big title match. Otis eventually prevails with a couple of big moves- a powerbomb into the ladder, his GTS finisher, then using the ladder for assistance in the pin. The Grub keeps the gold!
Winner: Otis (at 16:18)
The high point of the show to this point. Two rugged guys who weren't afraid to get physical here. My big criticism of the Lethal Weapon Rumble last show was, as fun as it was, there were certain wrestlers who threw some of the weakest looking weapon strikes I've ever seen. Think Lance Storm at Barely Legal 1997. None of that here. Otis and Eagles made it all look good. Very entertaining outing.
Intermission. They emphasise over the microphone a couple of times that it's only a 5 minute intermission, but lands somewhere between 15-20. Man, these guys really need to work on timing!
Match 4: Akell vs. Mick Farook
Akell comes out as this social media influencer type, aggressively dabbing at the crowd. How do you do, fellow kids? Farook comes out with his girlfriend. They trade strikes but Akell manages to ground and pound Farook. The girlfriend is very supportive with a "Let's go Mick" chant, and I get to experience the feeling of a whole crowd chanting for me. Just as Farook begins to make a comeback, the music of Osama Hussein hits, and the distraction is enough for Akell to hit a big uranage for the win.
Winner: Akell (at 7:18)
Felt a lot longer than its 7 minute run-time. Very grounded, and I don't think Mick had the crowd support there for it to work. And as I suspected, Osama may not be done if he's continuing this feud from the last show with Farook.
Post-match, Akell grabs Mick's girlfriend by the hair and carries her away. A kidnapping? Pretty uncomfortable stuff.
Match 5: EWA Heavyweight Championship- Kasai vs. Scottie Paulo (c)
Kasai comes out with a bunch of lookalike masked men in his corner- although one is notably bigger and another seems somewhat "vain". Scottie comes out to a good reaction.
Big time size difference in this one, and Kasai goes to his jujitsu to try and negate it, taking the back with ease and looking for a rear naked choke. Paulo muscles his way out of it, but the masked men at ringside get involved at different points, allowing Kasai to once again get ahead. The big champ charges, but Kasai gets the ref in the way. REF BUMP! Paulo needs an equaliser, so gets his championship belt to use as a weapon... but the ref comes to and sees Paulo wallop Kasai with the belt after dispatching of all his masked cronies... and that's a DQ!
Winner: Kasai (via DQ) (at 10:12)
Fine match, with the deck stacked against the champ. Need something where it can be settled one-on-one... perhaps a solid steel cage?
Main Event- 30 Minute Ironman Match- Tyson Gibbs vs. Djaysonic
This had months of build-up, a heated grudge match... but we'd have to wait a significant length of time to see Djaysonic properly get his hands on Gibbs, as Tyson's manager, Benny English interfered at every possible turn to choke and take cheap shots. In over 15 minutes, I registered two significant moves from Djaysonic- a running hurricanrana and a German suplex. Asides from that, that's one extended beatdown spot.
The action picked up a bit in the last 5 or so minutes, but we hit the 30 minute time limit with not a single fall scored. Djaysonic went to the top rope and Gibbs hit him with a superplex- a spot that ate up a couple of minutes by itself. Gibbs locks Djaysonic in the Sharpshooter, but fails to get the submission before time expires. So the decision was made to quickly go into overtime, and after some leg attacks by Gibbs intended to incapacitate Djaysonic, he gets an inside cradle for the 3 count.
Winner: Djaysonic (31:53)
So, the underdog babyface gets the win in this big grudge match... but it's a wacky roll up that lacks that finality. Not that I'm saying I want this to continue- this was a 30 min + version of the match they had at Lethal Weapon, where I mentioned that the level of interference stretched the suspension of disbelief- like how is the referee that inept that he just never catches it? I'm not even that mad at the heels any more for exploiting that dumbassery. This feels like it should have been the blow off- but I've seen 45 minutes of Djaysonic getting his ass kicked by Gibbs and his cheating manager, and Djaysonic just has a fluky 3 count to show for it.
I felt like this show wasn't as strong as my first exposure to EWA with Lethal Weapon. Iron Man matches can be very hit or miss, and are generally polarising among the fanbase- ask a large portion of old school wrestling fans how they feel about Bret vs. Shawn- another Ironman match that went the distance with no falls, and you'll get a pretty clear split between "classic" and "awful/overrated". My personal favourite Ironmans are more faster paced, dynamic ones, that often have multiple falls and make use of the dynamic where a DQ could have been a fall... there was a clear example towards the end where they could have called a DQ when English stopped Djaysonic from climbing to the top rope in plain sight of the ref. Then a desperate Gibbs would have had to frantically work to tie the score, let alone win, injecting the match with more drama.
The rest of the card was up and down as well. Strongest match would have to be the Lethal Weapon match, and the tag title match was pretty good also. I thought Kasai vs. Scottie Paulo was fairly strong, and the finish made me want to see a rematch, so well done in that regard.
I will say that EWA generally seems to have a direction and a plan, which makes the promotion enjoyable to follow. I don't feel like they're doing anything without reason, whether it's to my personal taste or not. Although I felt like this show was not their strongest, I still feel the promotion and roster is strong enough that I'm keen to see the next show to see where things go next.
Overall Score: 7/10
Until next time, take care.