WrestleWatch- MCW Ballroom Brawl 2022
By Mick Robson
The Melbourne pro wrestling scene is one of the most high calibre in all of Australia. My last exposure to Melbourne wrestling was the inaugural Renegades of Wrestling event, a show I was fortunate enough to watch in person at Collingwood Town Hall. And while it was a high quality show, it was the new kid on the block. Today, we look to a more established promotion in Aussie wrestling- Melbourne City Wrestling.
My last MCW show was New Horizons in 2018. It was the night before WWE Super Showdown at the MCG, and I was in town with my mate. While WWE undoubtedly had the glitz and the glamour, purely as a wrestling show, I actually preferred MCW New Horizons, with Slex vs. Adam Brooks and Robbie Eagles vs. Gino Gambino standing out on a stacked card at the Thornbury Theatre.
Thanks to the magic of FITE TV, I can watch today's show without needing to shell out on plane tickets and hotels. It's one of MCW's signature events, Ballroom Brawl. While I'm familiar with a good amount of MCW talent as many travel the country, I'm not so much familiar with their event schedule. I'm fairly sure the Ballroom Brawl match is an MCW take on the Royal Rumble, so that should be fun.
Let's do this!
We had some production difficulties in the opening several minutes, delaying the start of the show and causing the FITE chat to go off.
We then get an acknowledgement of country, then an introductory video highlighting the struggles Melbourne has had in recent years, with COVID and lockdowns and general hardship, interspersed with MCW clips.
Match 1: Falls Count Anywhere- Tommy Knight vs. Slex
Thoughts: This was a wild start to the show! According to the commentary, these two have been in a physical rivalry, and the only way to settle it was in a Falls Count Anywhere match. Knight and Slex took full advantage of that stipulation, as early on, Knight press slammed Slex into the 5th row at ringside, and Slex returned fire a few moments later by crotching Knight on the guardrail then hitting a suicide dive that sent the big man into about the 3rd row. They also brawled into the kitchen, the bar, the merch area (where Knight hit a powerbomb through a table), before finally settling in the ring. Great finish as Knight goes for a back suplex on Slex from the apron to a ringside table- but Slex turned it into a cross body in mid-air to score the win! Excellent way to kick things off in (and around) the Thornbury Theatre.
Winner: Slex (***3/4). Hard to fault the action at all in this one, both guys brought it. The only real knock I could give this is the continuing production issues- audio dropped out several times and the video got choppy in parts.
We cut to the commentary team to hype the big matches on the card- Jessica Troy vs. Cherry Stephens for the MCW Women's Championship, the Natural Classics vs. The Nations for the MCW Tag Team Championship, and the Ballroom Brawl, which they confirm- for newer viewers like myself- is a 20 man Rumble.
A video plays on the big screen, announcing that the return of the Colosseum tournament will be coming to Melbourne on October 7 & 8. It'll be a joint production between Sydney's PWA & MCW. Well, I'm definitely heading down to Melbourne then. I hope it's not just PWA vs. MCW- as good as the Worlds Collide show was (which, whoops, I guess makes this show actually my 3rd proper exposure to MCW), part of the fun of Colosseum was bringing in international names, with Orange Cassidy & Travis Banks being involved in the previous one. PWA Colosseum 2019 is still the best Aussie wrestling event I've seen in the almost 5 years of being into it.
The ring announcer introduces MCW World Heavyweight Champion Mitch Waterman. He says it's MCW's first time on FITE- I guess I can be a little more forgiving of production growing pains then- and that he'll be watching the Ballroom Brawl closely to scout his next challenger. He wanted to be involved in this show though, so produces a piece of paper with a Ballroom entry number on it. Waterman calls it the "golden ticket", and he'll defend the championship against whoever it is right now. It's #2, and the music starts almost before Mitch can spit it out- it's "the Godfather" Davis Storm! He delivers a passionate promo about earning this opportunity with 22 years in wrestling before we get Referee Edwin out there to make this official.
Match 2: MCW World Championship- Mitch Waterman (c) vs. Davis Storm
Thoughts: This match built masterfully to its conclusion, and was really enhanced by the commentary, who did a tremendous job explaining the history of both Waterman and Storm. As the veteran, Storm found various ways to attack the midsection of Waterman, attempting to drain the younger man's stamina. It worked to a point, and near falls from a Disaster Kick and an Eye of the Storm (Unprettier) were quite convincing. However, the champ rallied, kicking out of a sunset flip powerbomb out of the corner at 1, countering a second Disaster Kick attempt with a superkick, and putting the Godfather away with the Tempest Backfist in a thrilling effort!
Winner: Mitch Waterman (****). Both guys worked really well together, and structured the match so it peaked at the right time- Waterman's fiery comeback had the Thornbury Theatre rocking!
A promo airs for the MCW Academy. Looks very professional and high class.
Match 3: MCW Tag Team Championship- The Nations (Mick Moretti & Jack Bonza) vs. The Natural Classics (Tome & Stevie Filip) (c)
Thoughts: They told the story of Bonza & Moretti's on-again/off-again rivalrly here, as they spent much of this match bickering and fighting amongst themselves, and it cost them crucial opportunities against the Filips, who operated seamlessly with tag team synergy. Whenever the Nations could put aside their pettiness and get on the same page, they also had some big moments, including catching the Classics off dives and powerbombing them together. Ultimately, their tension would be their undoing, as they argued over who would get the pin following the Nations Bomb, and the defending champs struck. Air Raid Crash by Tome. Phoenix Splash by Filip. And still.
Winners: The Natural Classics (***3/4). I've always enjoyed the Nations in-fighting, and Bonza and Moretti are so polar opposite as characters that it's very easy to buy into. It did almost feel like the champs were taking a backseat to the story between the challengers, but hey, at least they got the win!
Match 4: MCW Women's Championship- Cherry Stephens vs. Jessica Troy (c)
Thoughts: This was brilliant. Psychology of Jess Troy matches always revolve around attacking the arm, and the intrigue is always in how the opponent will deal with that strategy. It's like some high level MMA fighters- you can know exactly what their gameplan and skill set is, and you can train endlessly to stop it, but actually being able to do it is another thing entirely. For Cherry Stephens, who is "the student of wrestling", she had her trusty notebook and obviously studied well, having many counters to Troy's various arm attacks. Jess was forced to go outside the box, and hit an unique arm drag on Cherry into the steel guardrail. Back in the ring, Cherry was forced to dig deep into the arsenal, busting out both a TKO and a Gory Special. The ending was both clever and humorous- Cherry gets stuck in the Fujiwara armbar and calls on Referee Edwin to get her notebook, but Jess kicks it away and modifies the armbar for the win!
Winner: Jessica Troy (****). This worked so well. Both ladies were babyfaces as far as I'm aware- they are in PWA, and received mostly that same reaction in MCW. Cherry got the bigger cheers, while Jess received a few boos in amongst the cheering- so she ever so slightly cranked up the viciousness to build sympathy for Cherry. Would love to see this match again in a PWA ring so I can be there live!
Post-match, Jess grabs a mic. She gives it up for Cherry, showing respect, but says that one person she can't respect is Delta. She begs Delta to step in the ring with her, so she can add her "big, strong arms" to the collection. Troy also said that she's one of the best wrestlers in Australia. Damn right!
Intermission. On FITE, they play Adam Brooks vs. Ricky South from PWA X MCW Worlds Collide. For my full review of that show, click here.
Match 5: Ballroom Brawl Match (20 Man Rumble)
Thoughts: This was a fun look at the rest of the MCW roster. Several of the competitors were wrestlers pulling double duty from earlier matches, but it was enjoyable seeing other key players get an extended run, such as Adam Brooks (replacing Davis Storm at #2) being the ironman, Jake Andrewartha being the monster of the match, and the Bastard Brothers, Krackerjak and Gore getting a fun spot or two. The big surprise at #20 was the return of Buddy Matthews after 9 years away from MCW! The current AEW star got it done after handling Adam Brooks, Slex and Rocky Menero in the final four to the adulation of the Thornbury Theatre.
Winner: Buddy Matthews (***1/2). The battle royal stipulation doesn't make for as fun action bell-to-bell as the stuff on the undercard, but the MOMENT of Matthews returning to MCW supercedes that. Great way to finish a stacked card!
Post-match, Buddy grabs a mic. He asks the "members of the House of Black to rise" to the approval of the crowd. He makes his intentions clear- he's coming for the MCW Championship, and is no. 1 contender as a result of winning the Ballroom Brawl.
Excellent first show for MCW on FITE. They loaded the card with big matches and championship battles, and nothing disappointed. The only thing that let the show down in parts was production issues- the audio righted itself after the first 20 or so minutes, but the video got jittery at various points all throughout the entire show- something that's never happened when I watch PWA or AEW shows on FITE. Hopefully, those things are sorted out for subsequent shows, as the actual pro wrestling product here is top-notch. I'll be covering MCW's next show in September, New Horizons, on here... then I guess I'm jumping on a plane in October for PWA/MCW Colosseum!
Overall Score: 8/10
Until next time, take care!