Renegades of Wrestling @ Knotfest Sydney Review (25/03/2023)
Photo Credits: Renegades of Wrestling, Mikey Jay & Gym Bro Jessie
By Mick Robson
One of my favourite things to see as a lifelong pro wrestling fan is when our weird and wacky brand of entertainment has some level of cross-over into the mainstream, or into other forms of entertainment. It's a tried and tested formula- we saw it in the 80s with the Rock N Wrestling Connection, where the likes of Hulk Hogan, Mr T & Cyndi Lauper all crossed paths, and we saw it in the 90s when Mike Tyson was brought in to complement a surging Stone Cold Steve Austin. It helped create two major boom periods for WWE.
So, it warmed my heart to see a similar thing happen in the Australian scene, where the worlds of wrestling and music have collided at Knotfest. Melbourne-based Renegades of Wrestling announced their inclusion in the heavy metal festival a few days before it was set to kick off. I attended the inaugural Renegades event last May, headlined by Jonah Rock (now known as Bronson Reed in WWE) vs. Caveman Ugg (review here). The high-energy product that Renegades put out seemed like the perfect addition to a loaded festival line-up, with the iconic Slipknot topping the bill.
I was on the fence about going to Knotfest prior to the Renegades announcement. I'm a fan of Slipknot, as well as Parkway Drive, Megadeth, among other bands playing, but money's tight and with recent health issues, I wasn't sure if my legs would hold up being up and about all day. Renegades of Wrestling was the thing that tipped me over the edge a couple of days before it was all set to go down. I've got some music to rock out to and some bodies I need to see get slammed! In the ring or in the pit, either way is good.
Let's do this!
I missed the first match at a minimum. I got into the festival at 11am, and with the first session of Renegades starting at 12, I figured I had plenty of time. By 12:20, I finally got my shirt and moseyed on over to the tent in time to see Will Kiedis & Albie Anne Troska entering the ring!
Our MC/ring announcer is Criss Fresh. Mikey Jay is ringside doing photography, and hey, the great Robbie Eagles is crouched ringside by the bell, apparently playing timekeeper!
Match 2?: Will Kiedis & Albie Anne Troska vs. Chanel Phoenix & Hector Jones
I'm not overly familiar with Chanel, and I don't believe I've ever seen Hector wrestle. He represents the Dominion of Violence, which I recall from the first Renegades show is a stable led by the monstrous Jake Andrewartha. This left Kiedis & Albie as the babyfaces- jarring as I only know Kiedis from his PWA work, and I've only ever seen him as a dastardly heel. That said, he showed great fire and even hit a plancha at one point! Then there's Albie, who I've seen a couple of times through Newy Pro. She had great energy on the hot tag and was really eye-catching at the metal festival with the colourful aesthetic. She fought hard but Chanel was a powerhouse, and dropped her with a fireman's carry gutbuster for the win!
Winners: Chanel Phoenix & Hector Jones
Great energy from the wrestlers and the crowd. A lot of them don't seem to be pro wrestling fans, and certainly not Aussie wrestling fans, but that's kind of the point, isn't it? Reel them in.
Match 3?: Murdoch vs. Lochy Hendricks
The people were getting rowdy with chants of "twist his dick!" Murdoch obliges to a massive pop. The fight gets more intense to the point that Murdoch hits a superplex, but we're not at the end of the dick-based shenanigans, as Lochy hits a low blow- undetected by the referee. This allows Lochy to hit a Spear for the tainted win.
Winner: Lochy Hendricks
Capitalising on the shenanigans from a lively crowd, making the most of the 18+ atmosphere. Love to see it.
Match 4?: ROW Women's Championship- Kingsley vs. Aysha (c)
Aysha's introduction includes the note that she beat Shazza McKenzie to win the championship. Almost tripping over the dropped name there. She's also referred to as a "First Class Bitch", but despite that moniker, is seemingly babyface in this one, with Kingsley taunting the crowd with her nasally "oh no"s and throwing tea in the champ's face. Despite Kingsley's attempts to do anything to win- rules be damned- Aysha would rally and hit the double arm DDT to retain.
The championship being on the line helped give this a big fight feel, and the work in between the ropes reflected that. Good chemistry between Kingsley and Aysha, would be cool to see that match get run back on a future Renegades show.
It's announced that Robbie Eagles is in action in the next session, which gets virtually no reaction. Well, if they didn't know Robbie before, they sure would after his match!
Match 5?: The Chief Rig vs. Gore (w/ Krackerjak)
Rig is introduced as "Headhunter Rig", but he hasn't gone by that name in a couple of years, and he's billed as Chief in the subsequent sessions, so we're going with that. And damn, Gore is a physical specimen! Absolutely jacked. Rig's no small man himself, so this was a hard hitting affair. The "twist his dick" chants continued to ring out, so Gore gives the people what that want, followed by the Dominator to end it. In the brief notes I took on my phone, I just had "Gore dick twist Dominator" written down- not a phrase I ever thought I'd write!
Post-match, an angry Rig knocks Gore out of the ring, scoops up his Bastard Brother Krackerjak, and hits him with an F5 to a chorus of boos. Krackerjak gets up slowly and challenges Rig to a hardcore match at the next session!
I like that they're making an effort to differentiate these sessions and actually have something of a narrative continuing through the afternoon. I've been to wrestling shows at comic cons and festivals before, and sometimes promotions just run the same matches on a loop. Definitely respect this approach more.
In between sessions, I have just enough time to get a drink from the bar. Ned's Whisky & Coke, not bad at all!
Match 1: Lochy Hendricks vs. Hector Jones (w/ Chanel Phoenix)
Lochy went from taunting the crowd as a heel in the first session to slapping hands as a babyface in this one. Guess they didn't have enough wrestlers there to maintain continuity AND have fresh match ups every session, so we'll roll with it. Jones is a hard hitting striker- reminds me a little of Steve Blackman, for any old Attitude Era fans reading along. Lochy is holding his own, but he falls victim to shenanigans, as the ref gets distracted, allowing Chanel to sneak in the ring and hit a Codebreaker! Jones follows up with the Pedigree and it's game over.
Winner: Hector Jones
Match 2: Anth Cava & Will Kiedis vs. Backpain (Backman & Jack Pain)
I love Backpain. I also have a decent amount of back pain. But in a world without the Velocities, these guys are my favourite tag team. Anth comes across pretty arrogant here, allowing Kiedis to restore himself to factory settings. It's fun watching Backpain go to work with strong strikes and power moves. Unfortunately, the finish is a mess due to the slingshot not being executed properly, so Jack just scoops Kiedis up and smashes him with the spinebuster.
Match 3: Dazza vs. Gore
The people get right behind the good old country boy Dazza! I forgot to mention earlier, the wrestlers enter from a separate tent way across the grass, and it was pretty hilarious watching passing by festival goers basically going "what the f**k?" seeing these characters march across the field. Anyway, bit of a David vs. Goliath battle here, as Dazza battles to body slam Gore, but Gore's just too big. Finally, he hits it, followed by a running leg drop, and the Bogan Hogan gets a near fall. Ultimately, Dazza falls victim to the Dominator. To quote the great philosopher DJ Khaled, "and another one".
Match 4: Murdoch vs. Robbie Eagles
No Afterglow for Robbie's entrance theme... copyright issue, or is that the TMDK theme? Eagles comes out wearing that shirt, as he just joined the faction in NJPW. Ever the pro, Robbie gets the crowd behind him to start with the chants of "Robbie, Robbie, Robbie, Oi, Oi, Oi". Eagles gets a good amount of offense in, chopping the slightly bigger Murdoch down to size. The Knotfest crowd continued to chant "twist his dick" throughout this session, so Eagles includes it as part of his set up to the Ron Miller Special, although he seemed a tad annoyed by it. It was funny the first couple of times, but it definitely wore a bit thin for me as well as time went on.
Winner: Robbie Eagles
Best match of the day so far. No surprise, really, it is Robbie Eagles we're talking about here.
Match 5: Hardcore Match- The Chief Rig vs. Krackerjak
Krackerjak pulls a staple gun out from his singlet and we see some fear from The Chief! They brawl around ringside, but mostly adhere to the KISS principle, after all, there's still 2 more sessions to go. Rig does get slammed or suplexed on a bin at one stage, I couldn't see clearly from where I was. Rig gets control of the staple gun and is able to use it to bust the Australian Wrestling Legend open. In the end, Krackers gets his toy back and staples Rig in the dick- which he had promised to do earlier. Spear gets the 3 count.
Fun brawl, and the crowd responded to the blood on display.
In between sessions, I head back to the stages for a bit of music. Story of the Year were on. I was hoping to hear them play Just Close Your Eyes, but no luck... unless they snuck it in during the last couple of minutes as I raced back to the tent for session three?
Match 1: Dazza vs. Hector Jones
Amusing mistake as Criss Fresh announces Dazza as being from The Dominion of Violence, before correcting himself. Dazza gets far more offense here than he did against Gore, and it pays off as he hits the Wagon Wheel (cartwheel Death Valley Driver) to get the winner's purse. Although Knotfest is cashless, so hopefully he got a bank transfer.
Decent outing there. Boosted by the crowd being very invested in Dazza.
Match 2: Gym Bro Jessie vs. Chanel Phoenix
I've really enjoyed seeing Gym Bro work singles here at Rock N Roll Wrestling, so this was a cool treat at Renegades. Her character work wasn't as over the top as it is at RNR, which is probably a good call for this audience. The ladies do have a bit of a posedown, both with very impressive physiques, and exhibit their strength throughout the match. In the end, Chanel grabs Jessie and gives her a kiss, followed by the gutbuster. Alrighty then!
Winner: Chanel Phoenix
Good battle of powerhouses. Jessie keeps progressing every time out, and I definitely need to watch some more Chanel Phoenix stuff!
Match 3: Will Kiedis & Charli Evans vs. Murdoch & Aysha
Back to good guy Kiedis for this one. Kiedis sells for Murdoch for a while, but when Charli gets involved, the intensity level skyrockets, with some great throws and facewash kicks in the corner. Kiedis picks his spot nicely with a big Shining Wizard. Good comedy spot to play into some of the vulgar chants- Charli drop toe holds Murdoch, who lands face first in Will's crotch... and stays there for a decent length of time. Hmm... They hit a double chokeslam for the win! Team work makes the dream work.
Winners: Will Kiedis & Charli Evans
It is announced that Charli will challenge Aysha for the title in the last session of the day.
Match 4: The Chief Rig vs. Lochy Hendricks
The Chief gets his shit in, including a big F5, but Lochy fights on. Not an especially long match, but Lochy gets on the winner's board after hitting a Spear. And just to really put the finishing touches on things, Lochy gives Rig a dick twist post-match, to the crowd's delight.
Winner: Lochy Hendricks
Match 5: The Bastard Brothers (Gore & Krackerjak) vs. Backpain (Backman & Jack Pain) (w/ Gym Bro Jessie)
A battle of big beefy men... and Krackerjak. Luckily, the elder Bastard Bro got a little respite during this one, as Gore pulled a lot of the weight here. Impressive displays of power between Gore and Backman, and Jack Pain brought some hard hitting strikes. In the end, the action breaks down, and Gore hits a Dominator, using Krackerjak's body as a weapon for yet another big victory.
Winners: The Bastard Brothers
Criss Fresh quips that he's so glad Gore is able to stand out at Knotfest, he wasn't sure if he would. Hard to pick that masked, absolute juggernaut of a human being out of a line up, really.
Break time. Ya boi needs some food. $38 for a burger, fries and coke?!? Absolute robbery. I mean, I paid it, wasn't going to starve, but still.
It started to bucket down rain right as I was finishing my chips. I got my arse back under cover to avoid getting soaked, and this led to the final session of Renegades being the biggest crowd of them all, as everyone was racing to the tent to get some cover. Good job, Mother Nature!
Match 1: Hector Jones vs. Robbie Eagles
Robbie gave Hector a fair bit of offense here. Hector upped the intensity, bringing his best fight, but Eagles is so experienced and so tough, that he was able to fire back in kind. Strong kicks to the chest that winded Hector. Springboard dropkick to the knee, and finally, a running kick to the head for the win. Robbie changing up tactics with precision to take out a new opponent, that's why they call him The Sniper of the Skies.
Winner: Robbie Eagles
Match 2: Kingsley vs. Albie Anne Troska
Albie came out doing the chicken dance, which some of the crowd did with her. Albie got to show off a little more here, hitting a cool cartwheel splash for a near fall. Not to be outdone, Kingsley hits a Codebreaker- awesome sell by Albie- and it's all over. Fun for as long it lasted. Of note, Jack Pain, Dazza and Rig were ringside watching along in this session.
Match 3: Gore vs. Backman
This picked up right where the battle in last session's tag team match left off. Battle of bulls here as they charge at each other trading shoulder blocks. Impressive moment where Backman hits a fall away slam, but Gore comes back strong- quite literally- as he hits a powerslam for the win!
Gore absolutely dominated at Knotfest. He really was a big hit- his whole aesthetic matches the festival vibes, but he really put in the work as well through all the matches. Love to see it, he could definitely be a huge star for Renegades, he's got that "it" factor.
Match 4: ROW Women's Championship- Charli Evans vs. Aysha (c)
This was about as intense as it gets. Again, championship being on the line gave it a big fight feel, but the added spectators due to the rain elevated it as well- massive boos for the introduction of Aysha "from Melbourne". "Melbourne sucks" chants erupted when Aysha was on offense. They brawled to ringside and the drama level shot up dramatically when Aysha threw Charli into the ring post and she came up a bloody mess. A hush came over the crowd as Aysha continued the beatdown. When Charli came back with a superkick and the facewash boots in the corner, the tent was rocking! Ultimately though, the champ cut the comeback off and nailed the double arm DDT. And still...
I'd say this was the match of the day. Perfect example of blood being used in wrestling in an effective way- it was a major stage- Knotfest- with major stakes- the ROW Women's Championship- and it created sympathy and a sense of danger for the challenger. Plus, Charli got to look like a major badass for being able to fight through that pain and adversity. Brilliant performance by Charli Evans and Aysha!
Match 5: Hardcore- Krackerjak vs. Lochy Hendricks
There's a story here about Krackerjak being a mentor to Lochy, but the crowd aren't really privy to that, so they told the story in the ring- crazy hardcore bastard teaches young pretty boy a lesson. Oh, and Lochy's back to antagonising the crowd in this one. Krackerjak's got his staple gun, but he's also got a fork! They maim each other and come up bloody messes. There's also the trash can getting used to great effect. Ultimately, a Krackerjak Spear ends the carnage. Officially, anyway.
Post-match, Krackerjak offers Locky a handshake out of respect. When Lochy accepts, Krackers staples him in the dick with the staple gun he had hidden behind his back. That sends us... well, not home, but away happy.
And it's back to the music! I had a blast capping off my night with Megadeth, Parkway Drive & Slipknot back-to-back-to-back. An unforgettable day and night, and a large part of that was thanks to Renegades of Wrestling!
I feel like Renegades X Knotfest was a smashing success! Part of me wonders if Corey Taylor was able to sneak an incognito watch. We know he's a big wrestling fan, having appeared at a NXT show at a festival and punching out Baron Corbin, as well as giving Black And Gold NXT its theme music- that was a blast to hear during Slipknot's set.
Some people might think that a wrestling sideshow at a festival might not go as balls to the wall as a stand-alone show would. I did have that thought in the back of my head going in, based on previous experience with similar events. But everyone on Renegades worked damn hard. Most wrestlers worked at least 3 matches, and bearing in mind they had Melbourne the day before and Brisbane the day after.
Match of the day for me was Charli Evans vs. Aysha. Nothing sideshow about the battle those two gave us. Robbie Eagles vs. Murdoch was of similar high quality in a different style, and shout out to Krackerjak for giving us two bloody, physical hardcore matches on one Saturday afternoon. That's why he's an Australian Wrestling Legend.
Shoutout to the crowd too. Yeah, the "twist his dick" chants kinda jumped the shark after being worth a chuckle early on, but despite running that joke into the ground, everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun and getting into the action, even if they weren't "wrestling fans". Had more than one bloke say to me, "I don't really watch this wrestling shit, but this is pretty good!"
I hope there's another Knotfest next year. And after what Renegades gave us, I really hope Aussie pro wrestling is part of it again. If nothing else, it showed a new audience that it can hold its own against any entertainment medium in the world.
Until next time, take care.