MCW End Game 2023 Review (10/12/2023) (Aired 16/12/2023)
By Mick Robson
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Ending our reviews for the year- at least as far as Aussie wrestling goes- with a return to Melbourne City Wrestling! I was a little surprised to see that I haven't reviewed a MCW show since MCW 12 just over a year ago (review here: https://www.thearenamedia.net/single-post/wrestlewatch-mcw-12-26-11-2022).
A lot of my reviews and focus goes towards Sydney's PWA and other NSW-based promotions. But I want to be clear here- my lack of reviewing MCW isn't because of some tribalistic thing, or even a dislike of the Melbourne product. Far from it- I consider MCW to be among the absolute best pro wrestling Australia has to offer. It's simply a bit of an accessibility issue- I don't have the ability to regularly travel to Melbourne, and one of the problems I did have with MCW the last time I watched was that the FITE stream was quite bad, particularly in audio quality. I did tune in for a couple of shows earlier in 2023, but found it a struggle because of those production problems.
Thankfully, MCW seemed aware of this, and changed their distribution of a show from a live streaming broadcast, to a tape delay of a week or so. I assume that allows them to iron out any audiovisual kinks before playing it on FITE. That creates some other small problems- spoilers are inevitable in that week in between usually, but I come into End Game spoiler-free somehow. I guess I've been too busy with work/family/Christmas commitments to spend too much time on social media. So while, as the title says, the show occured on the 10th, it didn't air until the 16th, when I was down in Canberra at SLAM (review here: https://www.thearenamedia.net/single-post/slam-pro-wrestling-league-rage-in-the-cage-review-16-12-2023).
I'm hoping to use this event as a springboard to follow MCW more closely in 2024. I see they have a big double-header anniversary show planned in early February, which I'm sure will be excellent. But before then...
Let's do this!
The FITE (sorry, technically they've rebranded to Triller TV) broadcast opens up with a "previously at MCW" video package. Incredibly grateful that they've done this! The No. 1 Contender, Slex, was the sole survivor at Fight To Survive. He's facing Buddy Matthews for the MCW title at the Anniversary show in February. Before that, he faces JK Moody. Natural Classics face Shadow Alley in order to bid for the Parea's tag titles. Rocky Menero and Robbie Thorpe "meet in the ring", which is what the graphic reads, rather than saying "vs." Hmm... Erika Reid faces Aysha after a friendly rivalry got heated. At Fight to Survive, Delta "decimated" Jarvis. She's the MCW Women's AND Intercommonwealth Champion. We determine a new contender for the latter championship in a Battle Royal. And, in what appears to be the headliner after they've put each other through some crazy shit, it's Edward Dusk vs. Adam Brooks III.
And just like that, I'm caught up! Brilliant move to bring people up to speed. More promotions should produce videos like that. Great for the casual fan or first timer, and also serves as a nice little reminder/extra bit of hype, for the more hardcore fan.
Simon Takla & Nims Azoor, our commentary team, welcome us to the show. The ring is filling with wrestlers as our opening contest is the Battle Royal. The music is drowning out their commentary a bit, but early days, let's see how we go.
Match 1: MCW Intercommonwealth Championship No. 1 Contender's Battle Royal
Names include Emman Azman, Zhan Wen, Jarvis and Caveman Ugg. Shen is the first competitor eliminated as he is booted to ringside by Jake Taylor. Taylor then throws out WAIK, who was weakened by a double team between Zhan Wen and Emman. Levi Nixon takes Taylor down with a Shining Wizard. Taylor gets up and throws Nixon out! Soon after, he boots Zhan Wen out! Ugg gets in his face and the meaty men slap meat. Gutwrench slam by Ugg, and he throws Taylor to the floor! Everyone gangs up on Ugg, and Lucky O'Leary hits him with a chop block. Lockie scores a takedown and yells 'hit my music!" Production obliges and we get a mid-match dance break! Too Cool would be proud. He goes for a leg drop, misses and Jarvis throws him out. Fun Time Phil and Nick Armstrong trade punches. Jarvis ruins the fun and eliminates Phil. Ugg goes on a rampage. After a Fire Thunder Driver, he throws O'Leary to the floor.
Mick Moretti appears on the big screen and says "surprise". Shadow Alley attack Ugg. Ugg deals with them but the distraction allows Armstrong and Jarvis to toss him out! Emman takes the fight to Jarvis. They battle to the apron and Emman knocks Jarvis to the floor! And into the guard rail on the way down, ouch. Emman throws Nick Armstrong to the floor but the referees are dealing with Jarvis, who is throwing a fit on the floor. Nick gets back into the ring, wearing a wig, and now the commentators are calling him Nick "Legstrong"? He throws Emman out and wins.
Winner: Nick 'Legstrong" (at 10:36)
Star Rating: ***1/2. Fun battle royal. I don't get the wig and the "Legstrong" thing- it's silly, but why did he feel the need to do it? He could have just gotten back into the ring as himself, since the referees were dealing with Jarvis and were none the wiser to Armstrong's elimination. Feels like a hat on a hat. Maybe there's some lore I'm not privy to.
We go to our MCW 2023 End of Year Awards. Feud of the Year is Jarvis and Delta. Oh, and that's it for now. I guess we get more awards throughout the show?
Match 2: Aysha vs. Erika Reid
Although I'm behind on MCW, I have some familarity with these two- been very impressed with Aysha in Renegades (attended the inaugural show, Sydney Knotfest and the Sydney leg of the GCW vs. ROW tour). Meanwhile, Erika Reid shone at the Impact/OPW tour in Wagga, becoming the inaugural OPW Women's Champion. So based on those performances, I'm looking forward to this one.
Intense lock-up and Aysha eventually moves into a side headlock. Erika reverses and Aysha escapes with a little assist from a hair pull. This is going to be competitive, but we establish early that Aysha's not above breaking the rules to get ahead. Erika gets the first near fall after the Three Amigos. They fight on the outside and Aysha charges, but collides with the steel barricade. Back in the ring, Aysha rakes the eyes and hits a spinning heel kick for a near fall. Aysha in firm control as the commentators explain that she trained under Shawn Spears and Tyler Breeze at Flatbacks. That goes some way to explaining her considerable level of talent, those guys are excellent.
Erika kicks out of a Champagne Driver and a Code Red, and "First Class" Aysha is getting frustrated. We get a double down and the crowd rises. They slowly get up and trade strikes. Yay/boo. Erika scores with Eat Defeat and the Stunner. They rain strikes on each other in the corner and in the ropes, the ref tries to stop them but they both shove him away. He calls for the bell after multiple shoves.
Winner: Double DQ (at 8:34)
Star Rating: ***1/4. The lack of a finish hurt this, but what we got before that was really, really good. I can only assume, given this and the similar level of intensity we saw from these two in the hype package, that we're building towards some kind of big gimmick match where they can go nuts and everything's legal. Great work here, I'm disappointed but I feel like I'm supposed to be.
Crowd chants "let them fight" as MCW General Manager Rocky Menero comes out. At Anniversary, it's Aysha vs. Erika Reid, No Holds Barred. There we go. Crowd boos because they're not getting it right now.
Back to the MCW 2023 End of Year Awards. Breakout Star of the Year goes to Jarvis.
Match 3: JK Moody vs. Slex
This is my first time seeing JK Moody, first I've heard of him, hailing from New Zealand. I'm very familiar with The Business, Slex, an Australian wrestling mainstay.
They lock up, and on the break, Moody slaps Slex. Ooh. We get some running of the ropes and Slex returns fire with a back elbow. He then lands a suicide dive to a roar of approval from the faithful at the Thornbury Theatre! Moody fights back and hits a back suplex on the apron- THE HARDEST PART OF THE- well, you know. Back in the ring, Moody takes control, mocking Slex and the crowd in the process.
Slex tries to fight back but Moody flattens him with a dropkick. Soon after, a neckbreaker gets the Kiwi a near fall. Slex fires up eventually and rallies back, cutting through Moody with a Spear! Slex hits a superplex but they stay locked in a suplex, all the way over the ropes to the outside and hard on the floor! They slowly get up and trade strikes on the outside, and at the count of 9 realise there's a count happening, and dive back in the ring.
They trade more strikes then Slex fakes Moody out into a DDT. Near fall. Slex applies the Close of Business submission but Moody makes the ropes. Moody hits a headbutt but Slex comes back with a torture rack bomb for another near fall. Slex looks for the Close of Business again, but Moody reverses into the Syringe Driver (Tombstone) for a near fall of his own. Moody looks for the top rope double stomp, Slex avoids and goes for the ROI, Moody avoids. Moody hits Made In The Lab (pumphandle driver) for a great near fall. Moody goes up top, but is cut off and hit with a top rope rana. Slex goes for the moonsault but eats the canvas. He comes back with a discus forearm and the ROI, and the crowd is rocking. Disaster kick, Slexecution tornado kick... and it's over!
Winner: Slex (at 15:10)
Star Rating: ****. As this match started, my brain went all logical, like "Slex isn't going to take a loss with a huge match against Buddy Matthews coming up". And as this match went on, I forgot all about that because Moody was so good. I bit on the Made In The Lab near fall and started going "well, hey, maybe they'll have Moody win here to set up a future title shot or something!" But this was so damn good, I found myself enjoying the action and rallying behind Slex, even though I thought I knew the result. My disbelief was suspended, and I had a blast. Excellent match between Slex and Moody.
Jarvis comes out to a chorus of boos. He talks about the awards he's won. He didn't win the battle royal, "but neither did your golden boy, Emman Azman". He's got a special guest to present his awards to him- Santa Claus! Santa comes out throwing candy canes and other lollies into the crowd. Jarvis takes a photo with Santa and his framed End of Year awards. He throws to the screen to find out who won MCW Match of the Year (nothing on this show is in consideration, then?)... it's Mitch Waterman vs. Buddy Matthews from The House Always Wins! I had a ticket to that show but ultimately couldn't make it, sad times.
Jarvis looks upset. Then says he'll accept the award, since Buddy and Mitch aren't here. He poses with his awards and the Match of the Year award. Last award- MCW Wrestler of the Year goes to... Delta! Now Jarvis is really pissed, screaming at the crowd to shut up. "I made Delta!" he yells. He snatches the award out of Santa's hands- then breaks the frame over his head! "Hey Santa, next time check your list twice."
We throw to a video package on The Parea. They talk about sending Slex and Tommy Knight packing, and GM Rocky Menero (their former manager) not being happy about it. They feel disrespected, but they'll be back in MCW at Anniversary.
Match 4: Shadow Alley (Ryan Rapid & Blake Malik) vs. The Natural Classics (Stevie & Tome Filip)
The screen calls the new team "Mick Moretti's Shadow Alley", and the boys are dressed Moretti-esque. Between this and Jimmy Townsend in PWA, Mickey Mo won't rest until everyone in Aus Wres is dressed like him! Apparently their names are "Snap" and "Crackle" now.
Snap offers Stevie $50 to lay down. Bit cheap. Stevie pretends to accept- and Snap takes the $50 note back apparently undetected- but Stevie kicks him and hits an inside cradle for a near fall. Springboard arm drag and a dropkick follows. Snapmare and a kick to the back. Tome tags in to hit a scoop slam and a leg drop for a near fall. The Classics in early control.
Crackle tags in and hits a slingblade. From the outside, Snap hits a dropkick on Tome while the ref is dealing with Stevie. Snap tags in and hits a chopblock on Tome, then mockingly limps. Dropkick in the corner gets a near fall. Shadow Alley isolate and beat down Tome for an extended period of time. Tome almost gets separation but takes a German suplex from Crackle for a near fall.
Finally the hot tag is made to Stevie, who hits a dropkick/moonsault combo for a 2 count before a quick tag back to Tome, which commentary call out as a bad idea. Death Valley Driver by Tome. Stevie goes up top, but is crotched by a mystery clown assailant behind the ref's back! Flatliner by Crackle, Stomp by Snap- but we get a kick out! The clown gets in the ring, but Ugg comes out to flatten him! Good job Ugg. Tome starts to fight back against Shadow Alley. Tope con hilo to the outside lands! Stevie's back and they hit the powerbomb/neckbreaker combo- and that does it!
Winners: The Natural Classics (at 12:40)
Star Rating: ***1/4. One thing I had heard about in my time not watching MCW was Mick Moretti going heel and having a little clown army or something. I figured I would withhold judgement until I saw it for myself, and now that I have... yeah, not a fan. It just looks and feels low rent, especially when you've got world class talent like Moretti, Ugg and the Classics involved in it. Really, it feels like something a far less successful indie promotion would do. Shadow Alley performed well enough in the match, but it was definitely on the lower end of matches I've seen from the Filips, especially after watching their barnburner last weekend with the Velocities at SLAM.
I've been waiting for an intermission, but I guess with this being pre-taped, they cut that out? Let's keep rolling.
Robbie Thorpe makes his entrance. With the moniker, "The Gift", he stands at 6'6" and weighs 120kg. A real specimen of a man. Then the GM, Rocky Menero makes his entrance- and yep, he's not in wrestling attire. They've been particular with this "meet in the ring" wording, not saying it's an actual match. Hang on, Rocky didn't think Thorpe was serious. "2 minutes, I'll get changed, unveil your gift and I'll be back." Thorpe takes off his jacket and flexes... not gonna lie, that's impressive. Rocky's music hits, and he comes out in a referee's outfit! So the opponent... is Delta! Damn!
Match 5: Robbie Thorpe vs. Delta
Thorpe is beside himself and getting in Rocky's face, but immediately gets his head taken off by a Delta clothesline. German suplex, Thorpe is quickly back up but reeling. He goes to the top rope but gets thrown straight back to the mat. Delta goes for the F5 but Thorpe reverses into the O'Connor roll- and Menero catches him holding the tights. After Delta shoves Menero out of the way, Thorpe takes control after an eye poke.
Thorpe taunts Menero and Delta delivers a back suplex. She goes for the F5 again but gets her eyes raked. Thorpe goes for a suplex- and Delta reverses into an inside cradle for the 3 count!
Winner: Delta (at 2:36)
Star Rating: **. More of an angle than a match, but fun for what it was. Delta (I should be capitalising her name, right? Like DELTA) got a superstar reaction and has that superstar aura. Had to suspend the disbelief a little bit to believe she could absolutely destroy someone THAT massive in Thorpe, but at least there's the element of surprise excuse.
Thorpe is despondent and Menero applauds him with a shit-eating grin on his face. Thorpe puts him in the Rings of Saturn, and backstage personnel run out to break it up. "He's not an active competitor!" Nims Azoor yells repeatedly.
A hype package airs for Edward Dusk vs Adam Brooks. Then we get an explanation of what "The Sacrament" is- no countouts, no disqualifications, falls can occur anywhere in the building, the match can only end by pinfall... or surrender.
I find out through a "In Memoriam" poster on the stage that Brooksy is actually a year younger than me. What am I doing with my life... Masked men lay roses in front of it before Edward Dusk makes his entrance.
Main Event: The Sacrament- Edward Dusk vs. Adam Brooks
Like The Offspring, they come out swinging- just to date myself further. They trade chops and Dusk nails a big boot. Brooks comes back with a kick and a spinning back elbow. Brooksy with a violent hip toss right into the turnbuckles. High levels of aggression here.
Brooks goes to get some weapons. First up, a trash can and the lid to go with it. He also has... a cookie sheet, I guess? He belts Dusk in the face with it. He drapes Dusk over the ropes and hits a flying knee drop. Time for some chairs. Dusk charges and takes a flatliner into the corner. Dusk returns fire with a right hand and throws Brooks through a chair wedged in the corner. He grabs another chair but Brooksy boots it back into his face. Dusk comes back with a back suplex on a chair. Back and forth we go!
Dusk grabs one of the roses off the stage and uses the thorns to cut at the fingers and hand of Brooks. Dusk sets up a row of chairs in the ring and looks to have bad intentions, but Brooks drops him with an enziguri. Dusk bails to the outside but takes a suicide dive. Back in the ring, Brooks hits a Meteora on Dusk through the metal bin! Near fall. They battle on the top rope with the row of chairs below, and Brooks plants him with a fireman's carry driver through the chairs! Somehow Dusk kicks out!
Brooks looks to elevate the violence and opts to do so by getting a table! That's not enough, and he gets a ladder as well! Dusk catches him on the way back in with a DDT. Time for Dusk to get a weapon, and he settles on a chain, wrapping it around the head and mouth of Brooks. He then uses the chain to clothesline Brooks! Brutal. Soon after, Dusk hits a cutter for a near fall. Brooks looks for another dive but gets smashed mid-flight with a bin lid. Dusk looks for the Wicked End through a ringside table, but Brooks fights out and hits a slingshot DDT. Brooks looks for a Swanton but Dusk moves and the Loose Ledge lands on a chair. A brainbuster on a chair follows, near fall for Dusk. Thumbtacks come into play next. They battle up top and it's Brooksy who takes the fall onto the tacks! Off the shoulder DDT follows- but Brooks kicks out! We fight on!
Dusk sets up the ladder but Brooks stops him and hits an ushigoroshi for a near fall. They trade strikes. Dusk hits a snap German. Brooks comes right back with a stomp. Brooks sets up a table under the ladder but takes a low blow from Dusk. He looks for the Wicked End again but Brooks counters with a Death Valley Driver into the corner. Brooks follows up by smashing Dusk in the head with a metal bar! He places Dusk on the table, climbs the ladder and hits a Swanton- and gets the 3!
Winner: Adam Brooks (at 31:20)
Star Rating: ****1/4. That was an absolute war. MCW is technically an all-ages product, but that wouldn't have looked out of place on a 18+ show at all. Brooks has been brilliant for years, and Edward Dusk has really come into his own over the last couple of years, convincingly violent and sadistic the whole way through. And despite the run time, there was never a dull moment in the match. Even the finish being a bit off couldn't knock this one- Brooks overshot a bit and the table Dusk was on didn't break. An amazing effort for over half an hour regardless. Both guys gave everything they could.
The crowd gives Adam Brooks an ovation as he limps away. Commentary note that this is the first time that Edward Dusk has lost a Sacrament match. Simons and Nims hype Anniversary weekend to close the show.
A bit like my first MCW experience- New Horizons 2018- Slex and Adam Brooks were the highlights of the show. But it takes two to tango, and the showings from JK Moody and Edward Dusk show that the future of MCW is also in good hands if Slex and Brooks get signed internationally again. MCW have a strong roster, and although it was clear that a lot of general focus was already ahead to Anniversary weekend, Melbourne City Wrestling didn't phone it in by any means, closing 2023 with one of the more violent, spectacular matches I've seen in MCW.
Overall Score: 8/10
Until next time, take care.