PWA Colosseum 2023 Night 2 Review (22/10/2023)
By Mick Robson
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Okay, we're back for Night 2. Everyone should know the deal by now. Colosseum Tournament. Some of the best wrestlers from around Australia (and the world). Winner gets a giant f**k off sword. Cool? Cool. Cool.
Sitting here the next day. Spent the morning smashing out the second half of the Night 1 review, found myself just as engaged as I was being there live watching it ringside. So why not take a snack break then keep writing?
A mixture of excitement and poor decisions have me running on relatively little sleep over the past few days. Definitely hyped for Colosseum. Also hyped for UFC 294, seeing my man Alex Volkanovski challenge for the lightweight title. Happy to be writing reviews, and also Night 2 saw me bringing a few friends along.
Pro wrestling being a niche product, and Aussie pro wrestling even more so, it makes sense that we have a close-knit, tight community. I could go to virtually any wrestling show in NSW alone and run into a couple of people I know. Decent chance of it in Victoria and Queensland as well. But there's something about bringing friends into wrestling, the ones who go, "Hey Mick, you're always talking about wrestling and love it so much, I want to see what it's all about!", then they come along and have the time of their lives. That's the good shit... pal.
So being there live, I was running on 3 hours sleep and definitely not at my brightest and most social. That said, I did have a great time and was hyped, so...
Let's do this!
Acknowledgement of country by Diego, PWA opening video airs. And we're wasting no time getting back to the Colosseum tournament!
Match 1: PWA Colosseum Semi-Final- Matt "Grimm" Basso vs. Paris De Silva
Rose marvels over the size of Basso, saying he looks bigger than he did just yesterday. Apparently Rose is also working on 3 hours sleep. Poor bastard. Paris interestingly comes out to the Velocities team music instead of his solo theme. Diego's ring introductions include noting who each competitor beat in the previous round.
Paris immediately begins with a shotgun dropkick- the move that led to his match winning Shooting Star Press against DELTA yesterday- but Basso stays upright. Paris low-bridges a charging Basso then hits a suicide dive on the outside. And again. Third time lucky? Nope, Basso catches him and smashes him into the apron! Basso press slams Paris back into the ring, but gets caught on the ropes as De Silva gets up and goes on the attack. Paris goes for the sleeper just as Cherry did yesterday- but immediately gets snapmared down. Commentary do a nice job selling the difference in quarter final matches for these two men- while Basso got through relatively unscathed against Cherry, Paris took quite the beating against DELTA.
Paris crawls to the apron and takes a springboard clubbing blow from Basso. Basso beats him up around ringside then tries to chop him along the apron. Paris dodges and Basso's hand strikes THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING (TM). Paris follows up by slamming his hand against the ring post. Back in the ring, Basso drops Paris with a back elbow. Paris tries to fight back but is caught in a sleeper on the ropes. Basso is risking disqualification here but breaks at the count of 4.
Paris tries to fight back but takes a massive knee to the guts. Basso goes for the springboard shot again but is caught mid-air with a kick! Paris follows up with a slingshot cutter for a good near fall. Paris goes up top but is caught by the throat and slammed down violently for a Basso near fall. Basso mounts Paris and throws punches but that hand is bothering him. He changes tack and hits a devastating big boot... and Paris still kicks out! A frustrated Basso rains down knees ala Georges St Pierre. Basso looks for a chokeslam- but Paris suddenly turns it into a hurricanrana pin for the 3!
Winner: Paris De Silva (at 10:30)
Star Rating: ***1/4. Basso was dominant in defeat, but the victory (and the spoils) go to the Spartan Spirit. The dream of a Velocities final is still alive!
Match 2: Colosseum Semi-Final- Jude London vs. Zack Sabre Jr
Once again, Jude doesn't have his solo theme as he did on Night 1, but rather the Velocities team theme. As with yesterday, ZSJ comes out to a strong ovation.
They trade front facelocks and waistlocks, and we get an early stalemate. Jude keeping up with Zach technically, good to see. Sabre zeroes in on the arm, Jude tries to escape with a monkey flip, but Zack rolls through and regains control of the arm. London changes gears with a springboard arm drag and a dropkick that sends ZSJ to the outside!
A plancha wipes out Sabre on the floor. Back in the ring, Jude hits a knee drop, but only gets a 1 count. A big kick and a standing moonsault get a 2 count. They run the ropes and Jude drops down- only to get caught with Zack's legs in a neck twist! ZSJ drops Jude with a European uppercut. More clubbing shots and another neck twist on the mat. Sabre puts Jude in a straightjacket hold and London's in trouble. Jude works his way out of it and hits a satellite DDT! Jude throws some forearms and Sabre just absorbs them. An elbow in the corner has an effect, so Jude follows up with an exploder suplex! Springboard flying forearm gets a near fall.
They get to the feet and ZSJ locks in a guillotine choke. London escapes and hits a slingblade. He goes for the top rope double stomp, but Sabre rolls into a submission- half crab, then a choke, then Jude desperately makes the ropes. They trade strikes and Zack hits a wicked bridging German suplex for a near fall. Jude gets the boots up on a charging ZSJ and hits a top rope double stomp to the back of the head for a near fall of his own.
Jude hits the handspring stunner but the Excommunicado is blocked. Jude is able to roll Zach up for a great near fall. They trade various pin attempts, but are unable to get the job done. Sabre creates separation with an uppercut. Jude avoids a penalty kick and rolls him up for a near fall. Hurricanrana pin, like Paris did, but this one only gets a 2. ZSJ goes for the armbar but Paris stacks him up. Near fall. ZSJ hits a penalty kick but London comes back with a Spanish Fly. 2 count again. Jude looks for the Excommunicado kick, it's ducked. London looks for the Springboard Stunner, it's blocked, and ZSJ hits a spinning Michinoku Driver for the win!
Winner: Zack Sabre Jr (at 15:23)
Star Rating: ****1/4. As much of a clinic as Bonza vs. ZSJ was on Night 1, Jude London had his coming out party here. Paris is often seeing as THE singles star of the Velocities, but performances like that help show why Jude is equally capable of breaking through. An amazing display!
Post-match, Jude London bows to the crowd and gets applause, along with a brief "Jude" chant.
Match 3: Wayward Brewing 6 Pack Challenge- David Streamer vs. Nathan Pidgeon vs. Jay Sorbet vs. Big Brother Billy Preston vs. Ben Braxton vs. Caveman Ugg
Unfortunately, the arrival of Billy Preston means the arrival of the Playtime Pals. They wind up near me, but thankfully they've learnt and stay low during the match to not obscure anyone's vision. Hey, that banana looks a lot like my boy, Scott Green! It's clear who the favourites are here with dueling "Braxton! Ugg!" chants. Although I do love Jay Sorbet. Salt of the earth, that guy.
The other 4 try and get in Braxton and Ugg's way and they're initally swatted aside before being sent to ringside with a pair of dual superkicks. Strength in numbers. Pidgey with a rana on Preston, Sorbet catches him in DDT position, Pidgey hits Sorbet with a clothesline. It's like human Jenga. Pidgey with a dropkick on Streamer. We get a stack of bodies in the corner. Streamer dropkicks Pidgey, then Sorbet takes a sidewalk slam from the Executive. Streamer with a running crossbody on Preston, but Pidgeon breaks up the pin.
Ugg and Braxton back in, and they slam Streamer and Pidgey into opposite corners. We get a bit of a pissing contest between Braxton and Ugg as they take turns punching the opposition. Braxton and Ugg throw bombs at each other before getting low-bridged to ringside by Streamer and Pidgey. Preston back in to unload with his overhand chops to the head. Billy does a terrible Spinaroonie then forms a temporary alliance with Sorbet as they do the 10 punches in the corner in stereo. Ugg back in with a swinging uranage on Sorbet. Braxton hits Billy with a belly to belly. Back to the more serious Braxton/Ugg showdown.
We get more shenanigans soon though, as Streamer uses his injured finger to hit Preston with the Power Point, sending him off the apron (he literally pointed at him), and Sorbet comes in to hit him with the Silly Boy Clothesline. The fight spills through the crowd and Streamer calls in reinforcements of the Backslide Girls! They appear on the (sadly empty) mezzanine, and just like years ago when Jude London leapt off there, Barnaby makes the sacrifice, diving down fearlessly onto a sea of wrestlers! Oh, and for those unaware, Barnaby is Shay's teddy bear.
Ugg grabs Barnaby, who "chokes" him and throws him around the ring! Streamer back in to defend Barnaby's honour with a Lou Thesz press. Ugg comes back with a stomp, then Braxton re-enters to smash Ugg with a superkick! He follows up with a Claymore right into a nip up, which is still one of the most athletically ridiculous moves I've ever seen. Braxton looks for his spinning flatliner, but Ugg counters with a huge uranage! Braxton escapes a powerbomb attempt and hits a brainbuster, but Ugg rolls out. Streamer in and he delivers a choke bomb to Braxton for a near fall. Preston in to hit an Overdrive. Sorbet in to hit a Wasteland, followed by a Lionsault. Pidgeon in with the Implant DDT. Braxton nails Pidgey with the spinning flatliner. Ugg in to throw them both out. Sorbet goes up top, and despite my pleas to "don't die", Sorbet gets caught with the Fire Thunder Driver by Ugg! He's done.
Winner: Caveman Ugg (at 11:43)
Star Rating: ***1/4. That was silly comedy for most of it, but the kind of silly comedy I like, with some actually impressive action sprinkled throughout as well. Barnaby for world champion!
Post-match, Braxton, who is JUST late breaking up the pin, stares Ugg down. Damn, that would be a fun match, say, on the next Black Label show?
Match 4: Last Man Standing- Backman vs. Jack Pain (Special Ref: Gym Bro Jessie)
This came out of nowhere! They split on Night 1, but apparently got in a fight earlier on this day at the Fanfest, so a Last Man Standing match was made. No long build, just right to big meaty men slapping meat. I'm cool with it.
Immediate Spear by Jack and he's throwing hands. Right into a superplex in the first few seconds of the match! They brawl to the outside and Backman throws Jack head-first into the ring post. Back in the ring, it looks like Jack is setting up for a powerbomb, but takes a back body drop instead. Big spinebuster by Backman. Backman grabs a wooden board (no DQ) and throws Jack into it. They fight up to the stage. Backman gets a table and sets it up underneath the stage- only for Jack to Spear him through it right off the stage! Crazy.
They both get up at 9 and we continue. They trade punches in the ring. Jessie pleads for them to stop, and she gets sandwiched between two clotheslines! Backman gets a chair, and once again, Jessie asks him to stop- but he hits Gym Bro in the back with a chair! That bastard! He jabs the chair into Jack's gut and hits the SBW. Referee Hannah is out to replace Jessie. Jack makes it to his feet, ducks a clothesline, and hits the spinebuster! Nobody in PWA does it better. Batista Bomb follows. Backman makes it up and Jack has a larger wooden board- basically the size of a table. Backman kicks him in the nuts and hits the SBW through the board! The count is on but Backman's not done- he hits a Coast to Coast! And that keeps Jack Pain down for 10.
Winner: Backman (at 11:09)
Star Rating: ***1/2. Weird match in terms of build and crowd reaction, but can't fault the physicality at all. Suitably intense for their characters, and while the actual time between break up and match was super short, the tension has been evident for months. Hard-hitting action. Backman went HARD into being an irredeemable heel here.
Post-match, Jack Pain takes his boots off and leaves them in the ring. He bows to the crowd. Apparently he's retiring?! Again, incredibly out of nowhere. Thank you for everything, Jack Pain. Wish we saw BackPain as tag champs, but that's life- you don't always get what you want.
Match 5: DELTA, Emman Azman, Cherry Stephens & Jack J Bonza vs. Jessica Troy, Mick Moretti, Jimmy Townsend, & The Tuckman
An all-star match, with the eliminated Colosseum competitors facing all PWA's champions!
The crowd chant "Everyone but Bonza!" Bonza does not seem to be a fan of his teammates at all. We start the match with the Joker and the Thief messing with Cherry- turns out Jimmy stole Cherry's notebook. Is this like when a little boy has a crush on a girl and he pulls her hair or something? Eventually they give the book back.
Trip by Jimmy, rolling senton by Moretti, slingshot splash by Jimmy. Cherry's rocked early. She fights back with a cazadora into an arm drag. Tags to Emman and Tuckman. They briefly bond over both being "young blokes"- how good? Is Emman 18? Tuckman avoids an Emman spin kick and offers a beer. Emman looks happy to accept, but Bonza interrupts and takes it, chugging it down. Tuckman says, "are you my dad" and gets the can smashed over his head. Hey, that's not a no, probably something my dad would have done.
We get a fun anti-Bonza spot where DELTA leads the team with splashes in the corner, but every time Bonza tries, he takes a boot or elbow. Tuckman comes in to drop Bonza with a pump kick, then he celebrates with DELTA, Cherry, & Emman- forgetting he's not on that team. DELTA drops Tuckman with a F5! Then she suplexes Mick and Jimmy at the same time! Jimmy comes back with a springboard cross body, then Emman comes in to hit a Sliced Bread. Emman goes up top, and Tuckman catches him with a springboard cutter! Beautiful. Moretti comes in as the legal man, does the "You Can't See Me" and hits the AA on DELTA! Cherry in and she goes for a hurricanrana, but Moretti headstands out of it! He goes for a powerbomb, Cherry turns it into a Code Red! Jess breaks up the pin.
Troy hits a brainbuster but Cherry fires up and knocks her out of the ring with an enziguri! Cherry goes up top- and Jimmy superplexes her to the outside onto everyone else in the match! Jimmy throws Emman back into the ring and looks for a moonsault- but Bonza pulls Emman out of the ring! He makes himself legal due to PWA's lucha rules, hits a lariat, then the Napalm Thunder Driver for the win!
Winners: DELTA, Emman Azman, Cherry Stephens & Jack Bonza (at 14:29)
Star Rating: ***3/4. That was incredibly fun as an all-star match. It saved a couple of the stars that had big performances on Night 1 from having to do too much- Jess didn't factor in a massive amount following her half hour main event the previous night. And the "f**k Bonza" antics from the crowd resulted in more crowd investment than we've seen through a lot of Colosseum weekend. Crowd reaction and atmosphere counts a lot for me, and this certainly had that!
Time for the live Goober Report. Lots of groans from the people around me that this was happening. The crowd greets Sam Osborne and Will Kiedis with "North Shore Wanker" chants. "Boom boom boom, let me hear you say Goober... we're having fun!" Kiedis responds to a heckler asking "where's your socks?" with "I left them at your mum's house last night." Gold. As gold as the obnoxious jackets Kiedis and Osborne are wearing.
Osborne reads the nominees for Goober of the Year, including Cherry Stephens, Charli Evans, Digby Robinson, and Jada Pinkett-Smith. The boys repeatedly say, "we're having fun" through the speech.
They're interrupted by the music of Digby Robinson of Big Red Fire Truck! He wrestled in the Rumble, and is out here in his wrestling attire with Emmy from Red Hook, who is dressed like Lita. Digby challenges the North Shore lads to a tag match, and introduces Mat Diamond as his partner!
Match 6: North Shore Wrestling (Will Kiedis & Sam Osborne) vs. Digby Robinson & Mat Diamond
Osborne laughs off Digby's wrestling attempts in the early going, "Oh no, a musician has me in a headlock!" and easily escapes. Digby drops him with a forearm shot and that changes his tune. After a back suplex by Digby, Osborne tags in Kiedis. Digby hits an arm drag and tags in Diamond. Double back elbow leads to a near fall.
Diamond gets on the move and blasts Kiedis down with a dropkick before a nip up and a standing moonsault. Crazy speed and athleticism. Osborne storms the ring and they hit a backbreaker/elbow drop combo. Digby also gets launched off the apron. They're having fun- beating down Diamond.
Diamond eventually creates separation with a DDT and tags in Digby! Clotheslines and a swinging neckbreaker connect on Kiedis. Digby hits a powerslam but Osborne blind tags in. Digby hits a slam and tags in Diamond, who delivers a split-legged moonsault for a near fall. Diamond with the Cutter and tries to follow up with the 450, but misses! Osborne delivers a version of the Stormbreaker for the win!
Winners: North Shore Wrestling (at 7:07)
Star Rating: ***. Fun little outing and the Goober Report was funnier/more entertaining than expected. Digby looks fairly comfortable in the ring- a credit to PWA's training. Get yourself to an Academy tryout!
Post-match, Digby and Diamond aren't finished with Will Kiedis. Then Emmy comes in and hits him with a hurricanrana! She said she wasn't a wrestler before this, she bamboozled us! Digby hits the Fameasser and Kiedis is out of there as the babyfaces celebrate. Cool moment.
Here we go. The winner of this Colosseum gets the beautiful Iron Mercy sword, and all the prestige that goes along with it.
Main Event: Colosseum Finals- Paris De Silva vs. Zack Sabre Jr
They scramble looking for limbs and ZSJ just pie-faces Paris. He's not going to take that, and fires away with forearms. Zack tries to tie him up, but Paris flips through and dropkicks him down. Zack looks a little shocked, but comes back with a series of European uppercuts. Paris creates separation, sending him to the outside with a rana, then wiping him out with a tope con hilo!
Back in the ring, the shotgun dropkick, which leads to the Shooting Star Press- but Zack got the knees up! Into a triangle choke, but Paris gets his feet on the ropes. ZSJ continues to implement the submission game, applying a figure four headscissors while wrenching at the arms and legs of De Silva. He goes to the neck twist that gave Jude so many problems earlier. The arms and legs of Paris get stomped and kicked and he cries in agony.
Sabre Jr is extremely confident but Paris rallies with a series of rapid kicks. Paris takes a page out of Jude's book with the top rope double stomp for a near fall. He shows off his own submission skills, applying the Throne, then transitioning to the crossface! ZSJ interestingly gets to the ropes. No technical escape here. He does manage to turn the tides moments later by catching a kick and simply wrenching the leg to the mat. Zack goes for a penalty kick, but Paris rolls through to a single leg crab. ZSJ rolls through to a triangle choke, but Paris counters into a jackknife pin! Great near fall.
ZSJ tries the pin that beat Jude but Paris escapes. He looks for the Michinoku Driver but Paris counters with a huge DDT! He tries to climb the ropes to the top but his legs are shot. Zach catches him with a kimura on the ropes. Paris headbutts his way free then drops him with a kick! He's got an opening! Shooting Star Press! ...And it only gets 2.
Paris tries to fire off a series of strikes, and ZSJ drops him to the mat with a single hard slap. Zack applies a Liontamer but De Silva slaps him relentlessly in an effort to escape. He flips out into a Stunner! He hits a springboard DDT then borrows Jude's Excommunicado kick! Sabre Jr kicks out!
De Silva goes for the Shooting Star DDT, but Zack moves out of the way and kicks the hell out of his legs. Penalty Kick lands- but we get a kickout. Another penalty kick- and this time Paris kicks out on 1! Fighting spirit! Spinning Michinoku Driver- and another kickout! Triangle choke, wristlock, high angle cloverleaf- Zack's ripping and tearing at every limb he can grab- and Paris submits!
Winner: Zack Sabre Jr. (at 18:27)
Star Rating: ****1/2. Another classic on Colosseum weekend. Zack Sabre Jr brought his working boots to Sydney, delivering three absolute bangers in the space of about 24 hours, and Paris De Silva- and Jude London- showed that they're just as gifted as singles wrestlers as they are in a tag team. This particular match saw the vicious streak of ZSJ cranked up to 11, while Paris gave every last bit that his body could muster. Phenomenal.
Post-match, Jude comes out to check on Paris, while Zack Sabre Jr is handed his NJPW World TV title and his sword. ZSJ interrupts the love-fest, but gives Paris a small hug and Jude a fist bump. Madison Eagles hands Zack a TMDK flag to go along with the celebration- small thing, I noticed it rolled up in her pocket sitting ringside before the main event, which gave things away a little, but ah well, it wasn't seen on camera.
Zack grabs the microphone. Oh, I didn't think this would have been on the FITE broadcast! "In the immortal words of Kosei Fujita, what's up, c**ts?" ZSJ begins. He puts over the toughness of the Velocities and tells us to enjoy them while they're here. Amen. He responds to calls of "please come back" with, "the winner of a tournament normally gets a title shot, and I'm very eager to come back to Sydney." Ooh, hook ZSJ vs. Jessica Troy to my veins! The FITE broadcast cuts off just before the end of his speech, where he says "TMDK is very special to me-"
Another brilliant show by PWA. Bell to bell, as good a product as it gets. The tournament format really leans into PWA playing to its strengths. I thought Night 1 was slightly stronger in terms of big, crowd-pleasing moments along with the killer matches, big payoffs for our new babyface champions. But Night 2 was the Zack Sabre Jr and Velocities Show, and those 3 guys put on two of the best matches you'll see in Australia this year. Highly recommended viewing on FITE+!
Overall Score: 9/10
The crowd attendance was a little concerning, there was a bunch of empty seats behind me, no mezzanine seating as in past PWA shows, and generally less people for Night 2 than we had Night 1. Part of that could be attributed to running a Sunday night show, but even Night 1 wasn't the most packed PWA show at Liberty Hall I've attended. Part of that might be the Rumble disaster- we had a packed house for that, only for the champ to say "no" and Jess having to earn her shot again. So that was a miss, but the ship righted itself here. Strong stories and payoffs along with the world class matches, as we had on these shows, should bring the crowds back strong for PWA.
Until next time, take care.